The Return of Pandemonic

I can hardly believe it has been three years since I posted as Pandemonic. However, lest you think I have been lazy, incarcerated, or perhaps both, my real life person has been busy writing novels. Also busy working in the Real Life business, but that’s boring.

So far, I have completed three novels, self-published one, and am in the process of editing the other two. Also working on finishing a fourth. So I have been very busy. I’ve also been blogging in my real name.

So why would I come back to the Pandemonic blog?

In a word, anonymity. I love that while here, I am a nameless, faceless pandemonic person. My other blog features my real name. There I feel as though I can’t quite cut loose as myself. You always have to worry about stepping on someone’s toes. If you can say one thing about the modern man, most of us are too sensitive to take a joke, and too closed minded to look at things from varying perspectives.

This is why Pandemonic’s Time and Space was started: as a way to vent and bitch and moan and be politically incorrect without suffering the slings of Internet trolls. Been there, done that, and I can tell you, it’s no fun.

I nearly forgot the password and the email address I had used to launch this area of WordPress. But…obviously not. Perhaps I am not getting as old as I thought I was.

Anywhooo…I will be changing around the look of the blog. I feel a bigger need for anonymity.

NaNo Finished & Stuff

This November, I’ve been a good little girl. I have NaNoWriMo’ed myself into shape. The 50K word mark was met on Saturday (two entire working days early) and I’m liking the story. It’s off-beat, whacky, a bit nonsensical but damn, it was fun writing it. It’s so out there, I’m thinking it’s my only hope to published stardom.

Now I need to keep the momentum going. I am the first to admit of my lazy, easily distracted personality.

As for other news, the kids did not come home. MiniD spent the holiday at Mr. Demonic Jr.’s house. They also did not ask for any money, which was a first. The older one is a bona fide adult, although I’m not sure how he’s making money. All I know is that he doesn’t ask for any and hasn’t dipped into the remainder of the college fund. Ms. MiniD, I believe – hope – pray, is learning to live within her means. She also found a team sport that keeps her out of trouble. (YAY! *doing happy dance*)

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving with our manager. Turkey, homemade pie, crab cakes for an appetizer. Yes, indeed. I have exploded into another pants size and it’s only been a few days.

I hurt my left thumb. I smacked it with a mallet during my jewelry class, but that’s not what’s wrong. I have De Quervain syndrome which is probably related to jewelry and the prolonged typing I’ve been doing lately. I have a brace, and plenty of drugs. Except for the pain, I am in bliss.

Business sucks, but that’s the breaks.

I will go into all of this in some detail at some future point. Right now, I want to remain in the NaNo zone and will write a few thousand words today. I will also visit blog friends who probably thought I dropped off the face of the earth.

A Return and Confusion

As one might guess, I’ve been conspicuously absent the last month or so.

I’ve been trying to finish my YA book, which is a little past the half-way point. However, then fall (winter) began to settle in. It sort of snuck up on me unawares. One day, my alarm went off at 5 a.m. and I noticed it was pitch black dark outside. I stayed in bed until 6 a.m., and the darkness didn’t change. It was still like night time.

As some might know, I suspect I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This means I get depressed in the winter time. Last year, I got a jump on it by taking my meds in early September. This year I forgot until that morning in the dark.

It takes a few weeks before the medicine kicks in. I found myself driving to the store and my heart began to sink for no reason at all and my eyes clouded up. I made an appointment with the doctor.

It’s hard to be light and breezy (as in writing YA) when you are feeling down in the dumps. So the book came to a slow but crushing halt. I want to finish it before the end of the year, so I have started working on it a little at a time. When faced with the prospects of writing or jumping into bed, I choose the bed more often than not, but I am trying to curb that bad habit.

On the positive news front, I am taking a class, wire wrapping jewelry. This is a very expensive hobby. We are provided copper in the class, but if you want to upgrade to silver or gold you’re on your own.  I’ve met some interesting women in the class. It’s on Tuesday mornings, so I have to make sure the office is covered, but the time away helps. Plus, I am making Christmas presents with my own two hands.

My daughter broke up with her once Mohawk boyfriend this weekend. She’s young and flighty but that doesn’t mean the guy deserved it. It’s too bad. I like all of Ms. MiniD’s boyfriends, usually more than she likes them. Parental approval is the kiss of death for these guys. I’m sure when she finds a no-good wife-beating serial killer that we disapprove of, she will latch on to him.

Other than that, we are hunkering down in the Tundra for another long winter. The first freeze was weeks ago. So much for global warming.

Euphoria and the Real World

As I was taking my shower today, I thought about a few things. (You must know I was taking my shower, because many times I sing and few times I think. There’s something about the scent of sandalwood that causes my mind to synapse.)

One thing I thought of was euphoria.

The event that came to mind was when my youngest, darling Ms. MiniD was born. I had spent twelve hours in labor and was really proud of myself for my counting abilities. Mr. D Jr. was born by emergency C-section meaning I was heavily drugged and missed the entire show. Mr. D also missed the birth of D Jr, because as he was getting ready and putting on his scrubs to go into the operating room all pristine and pure, he put the hat on his feet and his footie on his head. The doctor took one look and told him to wait outside.

Ms. MiniD’s birth, however, was splendid by comparison. I was counting to a song which vanished from my memory as soon as she squirted out. I was so involved in counting that I didn’t notice anything else, including my husband. The baby had crowned and the doctor, who had a cheesecake waiting for her in another room, admonished me to push. I wasn’t ready, so I held her in. Besides, I was going for midnight, when I would have two whole days in the hospital instead of one day. Insurance, you know.

Ms. MiniD ruined that for me by bursting forth eighteen minutes early. Mr. D placated my ire by bringing me steak and lobster take out the next day.

What does this have to do with euphoria? Well, euphoria kept me counting. Lamaze was going well.

Euphoria also caused my husband to say just moments after Ms. MiniD was placed on my stomach, “Let’s do this again!” Mind you, she was still covered in goo and slimy. The doctor took one look at him and then at me and shook her head.

Of course, he doesn’t remember saying that. He was in the rapture of the moment.

Love often makes one euphoric. For women, it causes them to remember. I can remember the day I met Mr. D. It was October 29, 1983. I also vividly remember our first date which was January 13, 1984. There’s something about a red rose hand delivered in a raging snowstorm that sticks in the memory banks.

I can see why some people fall in love with being in love. There’s something seductive and addicting to the euphoric state. It’s a lot like falling out of an airplane. I imagine it might be like shooting up heroin.

I’m imagining there’s a bit of euphoria in the Mr. D Jr house these days, he and the wife being married and all. (Boy, does that feel funny to call her “the wife.” That’s what my husband used to call me. Now he doesn’t call me anything. He doesn’t have to.) Mr. & Mrs. D Jr have always been a mushy pair.

I suppose Ms. MiniD is euphoric being back in SoCal. If I were in California, I’d be happy too. It would mean I somehow came into a pile of money and could afford to live there. I’m still stuck in the Tundra so it’s a pipe dream and my happiness level is a little low.

Come to think of it, when you get older, euphoria is not a waste a time but it’s just so unnecessary. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way. Well, yes I can.


Home Alone

Mr. Demonic and his “boy” (I call him the other “b” word most of the time) are over on the West Coast of the state on a mission. They are moving a classroom from one store location to another one in the same mall.

This calls for an overnight stay. This is because the West Coast is a long drive away. They could come home, but it would be after midnight by the time they get back into town.

I have no problem being home alone. In fact, I rather enjoy the unencumbrance.

For one thing, I can do what I want, when I want. Like eat junk food. I had junk food for dinner, and it was sinfully awful. I will not divulge which form of junk I consumed, just know that my cholesteral is probably peaking even as I type.

For another thing, I can lay out my craft work. Take over the entire living room. I did this, until my fingers got numb. My fingers don’t take long to be numbed.

I can play my etudes on the violin. If Mr. D is home, I can only play melodies. Etudes are studies and they are not supposed to sound harmonius. No, they are supposed to confound your brain and your fingers at the same time, contain more flats than sharps, and sound like the cries from Hell. In fact, they are hellish for the first couple of weeks until I figure out when to shift and what the notes are. In the meantime, it sounds like a cat in heat.

I took the opportunity of Mr. D’s absence at work to get caught up on some other projects. I worked on some computer designed brochures, business cards and the like that I had been putting off for weeks.

I worked out a little too. I work out very little, because working out is boring. I can only take fifteen minutes of it. I cannot work out when Mr. D is around because his workout machine is next to mine. He likes to watch golf or the news, and I like music. He also sweats like a pig. I work up a mild sweat. Sweating like a pig I save for mowing the lawn in 100% humidity.

When Mr. D is gone, I can work on my writing. Thus, my presence here in the dark tapping at the keys. I’m about one third of the way finished with my YA novel. I am working slowly compared to some, but compared to myself only a year ago, I’m on freakin’ fire!

I haven’t heard from Mr. D. I think he took his friend to the casino. Good for them.

I think I will get a glass of wine and go to bed early. I’m entirely wiped out from my loneliness.

My Memory Fails Me…

I have been seeing my memory slip down the memory meter for the last couple of years.

This is not a good thing.

My paternal grandmother had a severe case of Alzheimer’s syndrome at the end of her life. The last time I saw her, she didn’t even recognize me. She recognized my dad, but none of the other fifteen relatives that were there that day.

I am deathly afraid of Alzheimer’s. The only thing worse than cutting off my fingers would be to have my mind succumb to such a brain sucking illness.

I used to have a memory like the proverbial steel trap. I could remember lyrics after hearing a song only once. I would sit through college classes and not take a note. I somehow passed the test at the post office, which is 99% remembering numbers and letters and 1% correctly marking FOSDIC circles. I knew zip codes, phone numbers for not only my friends and family but for half my employees and my driver’s license number.

Now I can’t remember a movie I saw three weeks ago, Seven Pounds. I know Will Smith was in it but other than that, my mind’s a blank, a total empty white canvas. Either Will Smith or the movie was unforgettable or I’m going nuts.

Food, now, is another thing. I can remember memorable dishes and fine wines. The mediocre, no… but the good and the bad, yes.

My husband, Mr. Demonic is quite the note taker. Every day he sets up a list of things to do in handwriting that resembles chickens scratching at feed. He can read it, which is the most important thing. I used to think it was foolhardy, but now I know he’s just trying to keep it together.

So taking his lead, I have purchased a little notebook for putting down things I might like to remember. Like ideas I have for my book, or names I want to remember. Otherwise I wouldn’t remember a thing.

One of these days I’m going to have to use it to find my way home. I just know it.

Mr. Demonic Jr. Gets Married, and Other Earth Shattering Events

My son, the outrageously talented Mr. Demonic Junior, emailed me three weeks ago on a Friday afternoon and announced he was getting married the following Tuesday.

What was most curious about the email was that there was no cc: to his father.

Eventually he told his father. Like twelve hours before.

To bring some of you clueless about the Demonic household up to speed, Mr. D Jr. is recently turned 22 and has recently graduated from a chi-chi music conservatory (where he was the recipient of the President’s Scholarship and was also on the Dean’s List) with a degree in piano performance.

Mr. D Jr. has just enough left in his college fund for a year and a half of graduate study. However, the previous 17 years of education have left him with a bitter aftertaste when it comes to academics. He announced wanting to take a year off before making a move.

(Motherly input here: if anyone deserves a year off, that would be ME.)

In the ensuing months, Mr. D Jr. has been applying for positions. Unfortunately for him, he lives in San Francisco where every other person is a musician or artist. In the meantime, he’s been doing some gigs here and there.

Yesterday he played for a funeral.

If you knew Mr. D Jr., you’d know that he tends to gravitate toward funeral marches. His fascination with them began long ago, at age 7 when he discovered the Chopin funeral march. He likes the dark Russian pieces evocative of depression and angst.

When I told Mr. Demonic of his son’s funeral gig, he laughed and said Junior should print up business cards and hand them out to local funeral homes. People die in San Francisco, you know.

Back to the wedding… With such short notice, I was unable to attend. EVERYONE was unable to attend, which caused a furor among my family. You see, we like to party. (Mr. D’s side doesn’t party at all. They rarely speak to each other.) Mr. and Mrs. D Jr. tied the knot at the Courthouse in downtown San Francisco, a stunning building to be sure.

Basically, they did what his father and I did, but for different reasons. Mr. D says to me one day, “Let’s get married, but I don’t want a big wedding.” to which I reply, “I’ll go along with that, but only if a get a substantial diamond to make up for the lack of party.”

So yeah, it wasn’t exactly like that.

Mr. D Jr. had been dating the girl for two years. I like her. She’s rather quirky in some ways, but basically good to him. I’ve only witnessed one tiff between them and it was nasty as all tiffs can be. I’ve even used her as the basis for one of the characters in my first novel.


I am not without motherly reservations. Junior is only 22. He doesn’t have steady, gainful employment. (She works part time at Victoria’s Secret, not exactly a money maker.) There’s also an immigration issue, which is why I think they speeded up the process to begin with. Her student visa extention was coming up shortly and she’d have to go back to Japan.

Don’t worry, my dear readers. Mr. & Mrs. D Jr. are NOT pregnant. Wouldn’t that be the icing on the cake?


I cannot be the kind of mother-in-law my last one was. Come to think of it the first mother-in-law was rather a bitch too. I just can’t be that way. I remember many days crying over the tenuous relationship and at the end the lack of relationship. I had no mother of my own so I adopted my MIL. Bad deal. I expected as much from her as I was giving and it wasn’t going to happen.

So I’m being a good MIL, congratulatory whilst biting my tongue (again and again and again).

Oh, this is rather long. I’m going to have to put the other earth shattering events in another post.

A Couple of Things I Noticed

It is so hot in So Cal.

My online friend who I had dinner with last night, lost real life weight.

I write more when I’m out of town. I actually wrote an article and pumped out six pages of novel in less than two days. I wonder how I can transfer that energy for when I return to my boring, humdrum existence in the Tundra.

My daughter is a slob. Her car is a mess. She’s not much of a mechanic either. Oh, and let’s not forget the forgotten traffic tickets.

Futons are for children, not grown adults with bad backs like me.

It’s really far from La Jolla to where I’m staying. I think it was farther because it was 10 p.m.

There’s real life traffic here, not like where I’m from. The failing economy has eliminated our rush hours.

I had the best crab on the planet last night. It came from the Bering Sea.  I should feel guilty because I’m not eating local crab but I don’t.

If you noticed anything I missed, please let me know.

Mr. Demonic Gives Up the Ghost

Actually, Mr. Demonic’s car finally breathed its last, and it’s about freaking time.

When last we left Mr. D, he was nursing along a very old Malibu with over 250,000 miles on it. It’s a car that’s seen a lot of action, first with a multitude of teenagers who invariably aim straight for curbs.

At 80,000 miles, he coopted the car and started driving it himself. At that point, it was still a reasonably nice ride. Leather seats, nice stereo. Luckily he took off the stickers and the dual brake. Such items are a dead giveaway as to the perilous nature of the operator.

Fast forward a hundred thousand miles, four years and several pots of coffee later: the car is beginning to show its age. It shakes, it shimmies, and the worst part of all, it smells like rotting caffeine. Hint: you don’t want to set your purse on the floor.

Nonetheless, Mr. D decides to take it on numerous cross country journeys. He motors to the Twin Cities, to Kansas City, and to Nashville, in addition to driving it back and forth across our Rust Belt state several times a week. I held my breath every time he backed the car out of the driveway.

This was two years ago.

After that, it was a matter of principle. It was pride. It was a matter of tenacity. Plus, he’s a tightwad. Mix all of these wonderful characteristics together and you have a person taking his driving life into his own hands. He wasn’t going to get rid of the car until it died and he was darned ready to give up the car. He was going to see clear to the end of the relationship.

Three months ago, as the odometer edged nearer to the 250K mark, Mr. D’s Malibu began to run even rougher than before. It smelled of burning fluids. I was afraid to get in it to go for a quick run to the grocery store. Then he started to run out of gas on a regular basis. Like three or four times a week.

For those who know Mr. D, he has run out of gas with amazing regularity. He times it so that just as the last fumes are circulating through the engine, he rolls right up to a gas pump. It’s something of a joke. On those other unlucky occasions when he’s stranded, he calls other people to come and get him out of his fix. That’s because even though I’m the wife, I think it’s ridiculous in the modern age to run out of gas. Gas stations are like fast food joints, there’s one on every street corner.

I ran out of gas once. I was on southbound I-35 north of Minneapolis. I was 20. It was 1976.

For me, walking two miles to a gas station that one time cured me. My gas gauge never goes below 1/4.

Mr. D’s car appeared to suffer from a malfunctioning catalytic converter, which was replaced. Twice. However, he still continued to run out of gas. This is because the gas gauge hasn’t worked in six months, and with the catalytic converter gone awry, his miles per gallon fluctuated. Wildly. Most of the time he was getting right around ten miles to the gallon. Or less.

Cash for Clunkers came in the news, and I told Mr. D (no, I begged. I implored. I nagged.) please, oh please, could you maybe see fit to get a new car? Something with a working gas gauge maybe?

He was resistant to my idea. He still had hope. (!) He wanted to see the odometer hit 300K.

Last week, his car bit the proverbial dust. Mr. D called around and learned that since the car was titled in the business name, he couldn’t take advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. (What? Businesses don’t have clunkers?)

But it’s over for good, so let’s get out a requiem, or a pitcher of margaritas. He cleaned out the car over the weekend. I’m embarrassed to say we’ve pulled up to valet parking at ritzy restaurants in that sad ride.

He’s not sure what the next car will be. It’s the end of summer and they all come back to roost, so he’ll choose one out of the fleet and probably drive it until it drops.

You Can Go Home But It Won’t Be The Same

Just returned from a quick trip to Colorado. More later… The basic premise is that you can go home again, it’s just not going to be the same as you left it.

OMG! I’ve been gone for over a month!

I just realized that I hadn’t visited WordPress for awhile, but I was amazed to find out after just logging in today that it’s been over a month!

What the hell?

There’s much news and no time to devote to sharing it. For those of you who wish to follow my escapades, send me a quick note at the end of this entry and I will send you an email with links to what I’ve been doing.

Let’s just say summer  has been busy.

The best thing is that I’ve been writing, usually for an hour or two every day. Yesterday I pumped out four pages of the novel which sprung from the loins of the novel I was working on. Tandem novels! Whee!

My garden is super, all in place. Except for the critters, things are going great. Now if the weather would cooperate. We haven’t had much for a summer this year. It’s mostly been cold, rainy, foggy and gray. Just like San Francisco but without the culture or the sushi.

I’ll try to come back this weekend…

A Guilty Pleasure

Hello, all, I have been away.

Not that anyone cares…

Life is full of things to do, especially this time of year. My husband got the bright idea to pressure the home office into putting up a web site for us, since because of the name we cannot do it ourselves. Actually, he’s been nagging them for about five years. This week, it finally became operational.

It’s still in its infancy, which means I have to do a lot of back and forth work. My husband has been driving all over the state and is unable to work on the bugs, but he’s not too adept at bugging, so it’s a good thing he’s out of the office.

It’s hot here, summer came up and over us in about two days time. Really, it’s not too hot,  but the humidity is horrible. Going from the house to the car to the office is excruciating. I don’t know what people did before air conditioning.

This morning I woke up at 6 and started mowing the front lawn. (Don’t worry, I have an electric lawnmower that makes less noise than my vacuum.) Even though it was very early and not yet hot, by the time I finished 45 minutes later, I was dripping in sweat.

I received a huge bead shipment and it has taken me a few weeks to sort through it. In fact, I’m still not finished, but I have all winter for that.

My one guilty pleasure came when I went to my favorite discount store, Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom the real store is nice, but very pricey. I feel like I’m hitting the lottery when I shop at the Rack. Last week, I had a coupon. I didn’t need anything in particular, but I’m getting to the age where I don’t need much these days.

I happened upon a pair of marked down shoes. These weren’t just regular marked down shoes, these were Ferragamo slides. Originally sold for $500, now less than a hundred and with a $20 coupon, I couldn’t let them go to someone else’s feet.

Before I continue, people who don’t know me must realize that I have a thing for shoes. I sometimes buy shoes just because they are architecturally superior and sometimes because they are works of art. I also collect vintage shoes, especially those produced during the disco era. The clothes sucked then, but the shoes were to die for.

I would never pay $500 for a pair of shoes, but I can see why people do. The Ferragamos are the most comfortable, softest sandals I’ve ever worn. The leather is soft like cool butter, and even though there is a bit of a heel involved, it’s not hard to stay atop them. Shoes that are poorly envisioned are easy to teeter off of.

If you must know, I’m not wearing them yet. It’s because it’s too darn hot and I don’t want my sweat to ruin them. I’ll wait for a cold spell before I take those puppies out for a stroll.

The New Food Addiction: Molten Lava Cakes

Leave it to Sam’s Club to come up with tasty desserts.

The big box warehouse club is famous for such yummies as angel food cake, quart boxes of strawberries, damned good carrot cake, baklava (during the fall) and other fattening wonders has come up with a new dessert.

Molten Lava Cakes.

Four come to a box, and each is big enough to split. There are two chocolate and two apple/caramel. Forty-five seconds in the microwave, a dollop of ice cream, and folks, it’s as close to heaven as a person can get on earth. Imagine chocolaty goodness with a warm center.

The advent of molten lava cakes is laying waste my plans on slimming down. I wasn’t hoping for swimsuit material, but I at least wanted to fit into my skinny clothes. Right now, I’m in my fat clothes and two and a half pounds away from having to buy a new wardrobe.

I wish I had more willpower, but sadly I must admit to having less than none. In my line of work, and because it’s a mile away, I’m at my local Sam’s Club at least three days a week. That’s because for less than $5 one can buy a rotisserie chicken that makes a meal for a couple of days. The croissants are to die for, and sample weekend is enough so that I don’t have to make lunch on Saturdays.

Since the molten lava cakes are a seasonal item, I can only pray for the season to come to a close.


Biscuit Poisoning

Thanks to a bona fide doctor in the house, I have discovered the source for my belly fat.

That’s right, I’ve been biscuit poisoned. And not by any biscuit, the kind that come in cans.

Dr. B is from the south, where most genteel women (and men) know how to make a biscuit or two. When we lived in Arkansas, even my mother, an Asian military bride, got into the fine art of biscuit making. She also made cornbread and grits but that’s another gastronomical story.

Me, I don’t really care for breads of any kind. It took me two decades to eat dinner rolls at restaurants. Before I started eating dinner rolls in restaurants, they would just sit there in handsome baskets, making lovely props while I picked at my food. (One eats like a bird while dating, but makes up for it after the nuptials.) I’ve just recently started to like dinner rolls, especially the flavored chi-chi ones, which may also be a small part of why the belly fat.

When we do have biscuits at the Demonic house, I opt for the canned variety. However, canned biscuits are not without their inherent dangers.

I was scared by an exploding can of biscuits once. It was early in our marriage. To free the biscuits, one must place the end of a spoon on the edge of the can and press, but the ensuing blast is sometimes jarring. This is a hazard associated with biscuits past their expiration date.

Since the biscuit explosion (where I almost lost an eye), whenever we have biscuits (usually with soup or stew), I must enlist Mr. D’s help to open the can. Similarly, I cannot open a bottle of champagne. I was knocked to near unconsciousness by an errant cork.

He thinks this is silly. Of course, Mr. D must also open jars for me. Carpal tunnel. I can barely open the car door.

Come to think of it, I can barely open a bag of kettle corn. 😛

When Mr. D is gone — meaning dead because he’s not ditching me now — I’ll probably lose weight because I won’t be able to free food from its containers.

Thank goodness for summer. The likelihood of biscuit ingestion goes way down with warm weather. I should use this time to thin down for winter’s upcoming biscuit poisoning.

I Wish I Could Still Fit into My Bikini…

‘Nuff said.

Mohawk Boyfriend

This weekend we were treated to a visit from my daughter’s current Boy Du Jour.

Now Ms. MiniD has had countless BDJs in the last year. I’ve run out of fingers and am working on the toes for my abacus. This is because Ms. MiniD is quite attractive. She’s also flighty, ADD, loud and seemingly self-absorbed. The ADD could be the reason why she tires of them quickly and then moves on.

BDJ showed up at the house on Thursday. He had taken the train from Chicago. He lives in California with his family, his mom, a successful character actress of small and large screen (if you saw her, you’d know who she is) and step-dad, a director. They were visiting the older brother and his girlfriend in the Windy City.

My daughter had only been home three days when BDJ came over for a visit. It wasn’t even enough time to let the dust settle on her suitcase.

BDJ endured a five hour train trip, but arrived with plenty of enthusiasm. It is at this point that I’m going to refer to him by his new name, The Mohawk Boyfriend.

That’s because just before he left California, he decided to get a Mohawk haircut. And he doesn’t just have hair, he has red, curly hair.

Lest you think this kid is Goth or some sort of aberrant creep, I will reassure you that he’s far from it. In fact, Mohawk BF is quite personable. He matches my daughter in verbal decibels which is a good thing. Her first two boyfriends were soft-spoken.

He also seems to be quite intelligent, even though his speech is peppered with California-isms like “gnarly.”

He ate everything I put before him, including brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus.

The Mohawk BF stayed in my daughter’s room. This was quite upsetting to my husband. Mr. Demonic tends to view his youngest child as a child, when in actuality she is almost 19.

I like the Mohawk BF and told him so. I also warned that my approval is the kiss of death for the relationship, to which he laughed it off.  This is true. My daughter once loved Beanie Babies, but as soon as I expressed an interest, hers cooled. When she got a bird, I found I liked it a lot. Then she decided she didn’t like birds. I liked the first boyfriend and the second boyfriend, but she didn’t like that we liked them so much. I think that’s why she dumped them.

Loss of an Albatross

I’ve been in San Francisco for a week, then came home to a big mess. So I have lots of stories, just no time to write. This is in no chronological order, just as how I think of them.

It was a week ago Friday that my son, the dear Mr. Demonic Junior, graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

So ends the saga of parent taking care of child. At almost 22, he is far from being a child anyway. When I was 22, I was engaged for the third time and had years of living alone under my belt but that was another time in a completely different universe.

I had to park under the Civic Center complex which is a good five blocks away. This is because there is no parking near the Conservatory. This lot is underground, so it took a while to find my way to street level and a return of orientation. Thank goodness there’s City Hall. Who could get lost with that as a landmark? I then had to run the five blocks in dressy clothes and high heels against a fairly strong wind coming in from the ocean. But, I made it.

The graduation was exciting! Just as it was getting underway, with a processional provided by a quartet of trombones and horns, a man behind us fell to the floor.

Mr. D overreacted. He kept whispering, “That man is dead! Why don’t they stop the graduation?”

True, he hit the floor with an astounding wallop, but there were at least two doctors in the house, who propped up his head and legs before the paramedics came to wheel him away. I am thinking he suffered from a heart attack of the non-deadly variety.

The ceremony continued. The commencement speaker was Peter Oundjian, who is the conductor for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I love that guy! He’s been the guest conductor at our TSO (Tundra Symphony Orchestra) and he gives the best speeches. I wanted to meet him after the ceremony, but he was whisked away.

When it came time for Mr. D Junior to receive his diploma, he looked inside to make sure his name was on it. Good idea. At last year’s graduation at Ms. MiniD’s high school, several “graduates” received folders and no sheepskin. That’s because they had requirements to fill.

It would have been bad news to receive an empty graduation folder.

Afterward, there was a reception at the school, where sushi, spring rolls and meatballs and cheese were served. My son hovered over the meatball tray and scarfed down approximately one month’s tuition worth of meatballs. (Yay, Mr. D Jr.!) It was very crowded, and by the time the masses parted, all that was left was spring rolls. I had one. Very tasty.

At the reception, I met up with two of my internet buddies. One was from the Orange Hell Hole at the other side of the world wide web. Those of you who are familiar with the place know of the place I speak. The other was a person I’ve known online since 1997. We are in a “loop” that sprung from a Beanie Baby chatroom. This was the first time I met my friend, but it was like we’ve known each other forever. That’s because we’ve spent the last 12 years trading personal information, Christmas cards and stuff like that.

Later in the day, Mr. D Junior’s girlfriend graduated. Hers was at San Francisco State University, and she has a degree in International Relations. Her graduation was for international students only. It was a different scene, lots of rowdy students and parents crowding the stage. It also didn’t last as long, and refreshments were limited to cake and punch. The Girlfriend’s mother came from Japan.

It was a happy day for the graduates, but a happier day for the parents.

Busy with Business and Other Things

The past few weeks have been horrendously busy.

First I was busy with business, which is always fun. (NOT!) Our business had to endure a state audit. State auditors are notorious for having a lack of a sense of humor, but I’ve had a state audit with this woman before and she’s rather nice. So we talked and joked in between getting serious. There were a few failings, but nothing of consequence. Mr. Demonic was responsible for losing two very important pieces of paper that should have been in the files. (I made copies, but entrusting Mr. D to shuttle these two pieces of paper back to the other location was my bad. I’ll never do that again!) Ms. State Auditor let it slide, since last year at this time I drove to a far western suburb to hand her the originals. We are not so old as to forget something like that. She has a copy, even if we do not.

The sun has been out, it’s not been too hot, so I’ve spent every dry moment outside firming up the garden. So far the color bowls are finished and the tomatoes are in the ground. I moved rocks from one side to the other, but feel a need to move them again. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

The Zen garden is coming along. I’m at a loss as to the type of gravel to get. Sand is too light and will blow away in the wind, and slag is too ugly. Pea gravel is too big. This all has to be complete before Tuesday, because that’s the day I’m going to San Francisco for my son’s graduation (YEAH!), and after that, I’m thinking the temperatures will rise and the humidity will be deadly. By that time, I’ll want to sit on my deck and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Good news! The two koi we thought had perished in the severe Tundra winter actually survived! I guess that electricity we spent on the pond heater helped. We didn’t realize it until after I’d purchased three replacement fish. Now all five are happy as pigs in a poke.

The cat is spoiled, the dog is too, thanks to Mr. D. Now if I could get him to warm up to the cranky lovebird… Ms. MiniD is returning home for the summer and it was a mad rush to finish her room, which is now spic and span, sporting a new paint job, crown moulding and adult furnishings.

My first novel has been shuttered, but I’ve been poking at the second one and plotting out a third. Also playing around with a short story or two, which I’m not very good at.

Now, if I could only find the time.

Musings of a Motherless Mother on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has come and gone, another Hallmark holiday meant to guilt-trip the neglectful – perhaps spoken like a person whose mother (and mother-in-law) is long gone. It’s nice to be recognized throughout the year, not just on major or minor holidays. Do we really need sappy commercials to remind us that somewhere, sometime, someone was there to push the slimy being you once were out into the brave new world?

I’m sometimes annoyed when I hear people talking about their mothers in disparaging terms. They may have their problems, be eccentric, weird, dysfunctional, heartless, or abusive. They may wear miniskirts and push-up bras when you might wish they would choose something more demure. God forbid, they might like your bands, your sports, and your movies. They may drone on and on and on, repeating the same stories you’ve heard forever until you think the muscles in your face could cringe no more. They may be physically unwell or emotionally crippling.

Or they could be like mine, taking up space under a shady tree in a Fountain, Colorado cemetery. Or like my mother-in-law, whose ashes are on a shelf in my basement.

Though I have no mothers left in my life, I happen to be one, blessed with two children of my own. While they would describe me as a “mean” mom (or clueless, embarrassing, stupid, or hopelessly out of date, among other descriptors), they won’t know the depth of my feelings toward them until they become parents themselves.

That’s how it was for me.

Mothers aren’t perfect humans, although many of them strive to be. My own mother was the least perfect person I knew. If my husband’s mother had known her, she would have thought her to be incredibly selfish and mentally unbalanced. Her life was hers, and never once did it revolve around her children. My mother-in-law was the exact opposite; she lived and breathed through her children and mine. She bent over backward in the opposite direction in an attempt to be the perfect mother and grandmother.

I had hoped to find a happy medium, but it’s easy to get swept into the lives of your spawn. After all, it’s through them that you witness a new germination of hopes and dreams, dreams you were either too busy or too lazy to see to fruition for yourself. There were dance recitals, sports, music competitions, cheerleading, scouts, gymnastics, scholastic achievements, art classes, and more. Motherly pride got quite a workout in those days. Perhaps I felt a need to make up for all the parent-teacher conferences my own mother never attended.

As it happens all too often, somewhere along the way it became un-cool to have such an attentive mother. It’s sometimes un-cool to have any mother at all. So like many mothers, I faded to the background of my children’s lives, only to emerge for culinary or monetary emergencies. Besides, they’re adults now.

My favorite book growing up was Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and my favorite passage was “On Children.”

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

This passage carried me through my turbulent teen years and a strained relationship with my own mother. When I was 16, I read this to her in an attempt to get her to look at my perspective. She thought it was the most onerous thing ever written. Like a lot of mothers of her era, she believed in the exact opposite. Children were your property and responsibility to be molded and beaten into shape, not given opportunities for discovery.

Mothers are the building blocks for life, not the entire foundation. They hold an important role, one that deserves respect, but at some point the child has to take a step up and away. I know many people who blame their mothers for the life they have today. Children should be able to learn from the missteps of their parents as well as from their success. You can only levy so much of your circumstance on your mother; the rest is up to you.

On this motherless Mother’s Day, I didn’t wait for phone calls or presents from my faraway kids. My day was already planned from dawn to dusk with things I wanted to do.

I’m too far away to have visited my mother’s grave last Sunday (coincidentally her birthday), but I think I’ll get my mother-in-law a new urn.

And I’ll open up The Prophet and have a cup of tea.

SAD No More, But Still a Procrastinator

Many of you have considered me missing in action. I admit, I have been.

If you think that the past few weeks were full of progress and hard work, you’d be dead wrong.

My name is Pandemonic, and I am a slacker. Show me a 12-step program, please.

At least I had a good time! (I believe this was the argument I gave myself in my 20s when I was enjoying the late 1970s by partying a bit hard.)

The most wondrous thing that happened was when the sun came up about two weeks ago and with the exception of a few rainy days, has been glorious out ever since.

Hip, hip, hooray! My SAD has disappeared!

Of course, with the advent of pleasant weather and sunshine, comes the overdoing. It’s been a long, tough winter here in the Tundra, folks. On the first day over 40 degrees, the local restaurants were carving out space on the sidewalks and getting the market umbrellas out of storage. Such actions proved premature, especially since the temps dipped back into the low 30s that night.

Still, the People of the Tundra embrace spring and summer. We’re glad for whatever sunshine comes our way. I’ve been out in the yard trying to figure out the extension of my Asian garden, pulling weeds, wrestling with grapevines, raking, you get the picture.

On rainy days, when I’ve not been glued to the Scramble board on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, I’ve been busy making jewelry. In fact, I’ll probably catalog and Etsy my creations, because 1. I don’t have that many friends where I need this stuff to gift as presents and 2. I enjoy making it, so I am probably not going to stop in the near future. Being an artsy-craftsy type person is part of my being. Working with my hands is relaxing.

All of this outside-inside activity speaks for one thing: I am still a world-class procrastinator when it comes to my editing and writing.

But, there is some book/writing news. After eliminating all of the -LY adverbs from my book — which took much longer than I had anticipated —  and taking out a chapter and a half, I’m still left with over 167K words. I tried to refashion the first few chapters, but gave up. Slashing is not the answer here. A major transplant is in order.

I have begun to rewrite the entire first third of the book.

This is starting from scratch. My finished novel is dark and sad. It’s hard to write dark, sad, depressing stories when one is reveling in the splendor of Spring. I have to get in the proper mood, so to find my way there, I wrote a short story of dark and depressing circumstances.

This helped, but that damned sunlight beckoned.

In the meantime, I had a dream about a third book. Uh, oh, you might be thinking. Can’t she finish one project before starting another?

Well, I finished the first epic tome, so YES, I can. However, it took a lot of berating from my writing friend cheerleaders, a commitment to NaNoWriMo, and self-inflicted flogging to get to those magic words “The End.”

However, after my third novel dream, I began to worry. I do want to finish all of these projects. And I’m no spring chicken, much as spring is my season.

I’m going to have to get off my lazy butt and start working.

So if you see even less of me here, that’s the reason why.

Gah! Tearing My Hair Out!

For those of you bemoaning my lack of presence here (or not) it’s not that I don’t like you (or love you), because I really do. I’m up to my eyeballs in work, and trying to get those damnedable first four or five chapters re-written.

I spent Monday and Tuesday of last week poring over the sentences, barely able to take anything out but adverbs. That’s because my protagonist is an intelligent person, but her brains have been reduced to ditziness after 20 odd years of marriage. It’s hard to convey those abstract qualities in few words.

Wednesday I came to my senses. Though I had eliminated 5K worth of adverbs and “thats” 170K words is about 50K too many. I took to the knife and wacked out entire chunks, paragraphs falling to the wayside willy and nilly.

Re-reading my weeding, I couldn’t make any sense of it.

I took a step back on Friday and Saturday due to nice weather. Since a week’s worth of rain was in the forecast, I had to get in grape vine pruning and raking during the two good days I had available.

By Saturday night, I was feeling quite irritated with the whole thing.  I really want to get my portion of the re-write completed by the end of May, and that’s going to be tough since 1. I’m a world class procrastinator and 2. I’m lazy. “Daunting” is not a strong enough adjective to describe this task.

In addition, there’s some truth to be said for the fact that writers are often weary of their work, especially during the re-write process. Then Saturday night, I had a dream about my book, which is good. I woke up at 3 a.m. and began to think.

Such a revelation means only one thing: I’m going to have to re-write the entire first 13 chapters from scratch, taking bits and pieces from the 50K or more words I have written to describe the first part of this journey.

So, if you’re wondering where I am, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in angst.

Slash and Burn

Okay, I’ve spent the last three days mulling over the first three chapters of my epic women’s book.

It has to be pared down from 175K words to somewhere around 100K.

The easy part was getting rid of the adverbs. LY words are appearing everywhere I look. They are the obvious sore thumbs.

Chapter 3 bit the dust completely. No one understand dream sequences anyway, and I can reinsert some of them at the appropriate times later on.

At the time I started writing, which was two years and two months ago, I had only a vague idea as to what my message was going to be. I was also into flowery prose and 300 word sentences. (Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but thanks to my friends like LFC, I have learned the finer points of using my words wisely.

I can see my confusion from back then glowing in the dark. This made it somewhat easy to chop, slash and burn away.

Even so, I’ve only reduced the word count by 5K. Of course, I still have 32 more chapters to go, and if I continue on the same path, that means I will have weeded out 40K words. (I’m hoping more than that, but who knows?)

On the flip side, I’ve been neglecting WordPress and it shows. My stats stink. But, consider this, I am on a mission (from God?) and I want to have my rewrite complete to ship off to Rochester by the end of May. I’m sure he is looking forward to the income, and perhaps the entertainment.

Preparing for My First Recital

My violin teacher has decided to include me in her June recital.

This is momentous! For the last four years, she has tried to tamp down my enthusiasm for playing with others. True, I’m a slow study, but the ambition is there.

I plan on playing some Bartok dances. My husband might accompany me, even though he cannot stand Bartok. Most Bartok doesn’t bother me; in fact, I studied it when I took piano many years ago.

The weird thing is that I’m getting a little nervous. It’s not that the piece is hard; it’s easy. It’s not like I’m playing in front of a hall full of people; we will be entertaining at a nursing home about two blocks from my house. It’s where my teacher’s husband currently resides. He’s 92 years old, fell down a while back and is unable to move himself.

I’ve played nursing homes before. In fact, my church group in high school used to go every Saturday and play guitar. When Ms. MiniD was still here playing flute, she did the same.

Nursing home audiences are grateful for the break in the usual schedule. Sometimes you wonder if they are cognizant of what’s going on around them.

This is a perfect group to practice my chops on. Most of them can’t chase us out of the building, and that’s good.


The Drunk Man Saga

Our ex-manager no longer works for us. It’s because he ended up in the hospital back in November. We’re still not sure what was wrong with him. He couldn’t breathe, fell down in his filthy apartment, and was lacking oxygen. He spent a week in the hospital, and was released no longer able to work. He won’t tell us what is wrong, but we’re thinking emphysema, among other things.

I am referring to him as the Drunk Man, because he most likely is. Being a heavy drinker is probably what caused his problem. He thought we didn’t know, but we were all well aware of what was going on. He had one of those beet red noses, and made a mad dash for home each day at 5 p.m. to get his fix. Oh, and he was a heavy smoker as well, which came to a screeching halt after the hospital incident. That’s because I hear that oxygen is highly flammable.

Since November, we paid him twice, but when it appeared he was never coming back, we terminated him. Mr. D gave TDM a car, and continues to pay his health insurance, at least until the disability kicks in. He was grossly overpaid anyway. For the amount of money he was making, he should have done more than sleep five hours a day at his desk.

TDM now uses my husband’s “bitch” as his own. This little twerp of a man is 70 years old but can’t retire because his life is in a shambles. So he acts as a go-fer for Mr. D. Now he has become the paid go-fer for TDM.

We learned that Go-Fer has been providing TDM with groceries each week. In those groceries is three liters of vodka. I couldn’t drink three liters of vodka in three years, but I’ve seen TDM drink. I’m thinking the Go-Fer is TDM’s pusher, and I told him so. However, TDM pays well, so he’s not going to offer up his advice.

TDM now lives with his elderly mother, who liquidated her entire life on the West Coast of the state to move here. The mother stayed with us while TDM was in the hospital, and we like her a lot. TDM used to complain about his mother, but it’s true that people usually complain about their own mothers. Mr. D and I no longer have living mothers, and TDM’s mother was very nice.

Since she moved here, we have been trying to have her over for dinner. She refuses to leave TDM alone. I don’t know if she realizes he has a serious drinking problem or not. TDM takes his alcohol into his room, according to Go-Fer.

In the meantime, we promoted a guy (one that I originally hired for the office, above the objections of everyone) from instructor to TDM’s position. I was hoping this would happen. New Manager is personable, knows the office, has been teaching for over a year and I like him. Plus he smells good, which is always handy.

The drama comes in because New Manager really has the least amount of seniority. Of course, when Mr. D initially hired TDM, he had only been working as an instructor for a month. Talk about low man on the totem pole.

There’s a lot of rumblings within the ranks, and New Manager doesn’t like it, because he want everyone to like him. I told him to get a tougher skin. When you’re at the top of the food chain, lots of people aren’t going to like you. In fact, many people don’t like me, and I know it. However, the buck stops here, and that’s why I’m such a hard ass.

Lost in Translation and a Few Other Places Chapter 1

When I last left WordPress, I was suffering from a terrible neck pain. My subsequent visit to the doctor pumped me full of muscle relaxers and pain medication. This did NOT work, much to my dismay. My appointment with the physical therapist isn’t until next week.

I spent a week in torture, and then more torture occurred. I was felled by a cold, a really bad one. My #2 contracted one from her boyfriend, and seeing that she was sniffling and sneezing for three weeks straight, there was no way to avoid her germs. There’s nothing worse than having a head full of boogers whilst one cannot turn said head to the right.

As a result of my assembled maladies, I became lazy beyond belief.  No, really, I am not exaggerating. I haven’t looked at my now-completed novel in a month. Instead of writing, I played on Twitter and Facebook. I think I am even “getting” Twitter now.  However, it wasn’t really playing… I logged on in bed and then promptly fell asleep. That’s what a combination of Nyquil and Flexoril will do for you.

All of this uncomfortableness caused me to seek another trip to the doctor this week. She sent me for X-rays, and a couple of days later I learned that I have developed minor arthritis in my vertebrae not far from where my neck is located.

I knew I was getting old, but to be slapped in the face with arthritis is the wakeup call. I restarted my stalled exercise of Malibu Pilates, purchased a huge bottle of glucosamine chondroitin from Sam’s Club and started taking the dog for afternoon strolls.

I thought long and hard about dying, which is something I do on a regular basis anyway. When you’re over the hill and coasting downward, you want to get in everything before the final farewell.

So, I am now reformed and on my way to productivity and creativity.

In the meantime, there has been a little drama going on with the Drunk Manager, which I will get to as soon as I send a care package off to Ms. MiniD. All it takes is one email titled “Moooommmmmyyyyyy!!!” and I’m there.

A Pain in the Neck

I have a referral for the physical therapist, because I have a pain in my neck.

Said pain developed after going to the writers’ conference. For three days, I schlepped my bag around, which contained a computer, business cards, phone, credit card, pens and plenty of synopsis (synopses?) of my book. My bag weighed about 15 pounds.

I have a recurring neck problem, and I’m not supposed to carry anything bigger than a small wallet. This was hard to do when first ordered by my doctor. In the good old days of good necks (and other younger things), I used to carry a purse the size of a small suitcase. My cell phone was one of those enormous monster flip phones, and I had to have snacks, ready change, napkins, sunglasses, etc. My kids were younger, so it doubled as a diaper bag. This way I would only have one bag and not two.

My current choice for purse is one of those small organizer things that looks like a wallet with a long shoulder strap. I have a closet full of those. For most days, I just need a license, a credit card, my checkbook and a pen. Oh, and my cell phone, but I’ve taken to putting that in my pocket, now that I don’t have a Blackberry.

I came back from the conference a month ago, but I’ve been putting off the doctor visit until this week. That’s because 1. I don’t like going and 2. our insurance sucks. But on Friday, I had to make an appointment. That’s because I couldn’t turn my head to the right. Being so crippled makes it difficult to drive. It’s also painful.

So now I have to go to the physical therapist, because massive doses of drugs and muscle relaxers aren’t doing anything. Oh, and the heating pad makes it feel better, but not for long.

I knew a psychologist who explained that when people complain of aches and pains, it related directly to their life and may not be so much to their body.  If your shoulders ache, it may be because you feel like you have the world’s problems on your shoulders. Therefore a “pain in the neck” really means that something in my life is figuratively a pain in the neck.

I can think of a thousand things that are “paining” me in the neck right now, but I doubt the physical therapist will help me with that.

More Weekend Screaming “&%#*&!”

Now that the squirrel has vacated, it’s time for the weekend.

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s nice out today. Sunny, bright, warm. All the climatic occurrences that I love best.

We went outside and straightened out the yard and the window awnings that were blown down from the last windstorm. Some little green things are poking themselves out of the ground.

Then Mr. D went back to tackle Ms. MiniD’s room.

As you might recall, we had a little bit of trouble getting the crown moulding up. One wall went up fine, but the other fell down, making a mess everywhere. Mr. D went to Home Depot and procured more wood.

This morning, I helped him put up the other two walls. There was much screaming, since I was on the step ladder, and while Mr. D is very tall, he wasn’t tall enough. Then he found out his nails weren’t long enough. Well, I pointed out that his nails weren’t long enough, so he left in a huff while I was still holding a piece of wood to the ceiling.

The dog and cat were scared to death. I’m still not sure where either are at the moment.

Several expletives and general yelling then ensued. This is how the conversation went:

Mr. D: %$#! *&^*&! !@&&*^!

Me: What? What?

Mr. D: *&^%!

Me: I’m holding it up like you said!

Mr. D: *&^&! **^%$!

Me: Your nails are too little. You need longer nails. Get sharper ones, too.

Mr. D: This looks like shit. *%^#!

Me: It looks good. If you can’t see the flaw from arm’s length, no one will notice!

Mr. D decided that opening our 7 day a week business this morning was better than continuing the urban renewal.

He just emailed me to say he was going to Home Depot again. Did I want anything?

The Demonics Host an Unwanted Visitor

Last night, the Demonic family hosted a most unwanted visitor:

A squirrel.

People who know me know I hate squirrels with a passion. I don’t want them in my neighborhood, much less in my house. I see them as glorified rodents, rats with big fluffy tails. I don’t like rats in the house either, which is why when Mr. D became enamored of them a few years ago, I told him they had to stay in the office, not in my house.

Anyway, said creature slid down the chimney. (Damn those roofers who forgot to put up the critter barrier!) He landed on our gas logs and decided he didn’t like the look of the arrangement, so he threw a couple of them around, thus ensuring his escape from behind the glass doors.

Behind our fireplace is the sunroom, where I keep my cranky love bird and all of my orchids. The bird eats seeds; squirrels eat seeds. Squirrels like green things; orchids are green things. Ergo, the squirrel went for the sunroom.

I had heard some crashing about when I was upstairs, but figured it was just the cat and dog in some spirited play. They tend to chase each other around the house. I yelled downstairs and the noise stopped so I figured that was the source.

An hour later, Mr. D comes home and we prepare dinner. Mr. D hears an unusual noise coming from the direction of the living room, which is a misnomer because we never use the room. “What’s that?” he says.

“It’s just the bird.”

“Doesn’t sound like the bird.”

We go about our business, and the noise becomes louder. Mr. D goes to investigate and confronts a very fat squirrel. He manages to corral the critter in the sunroom, which is no easy task. Trying to herd a squirrel is much like trying to herd a cat.

The cat follows, but at a reasonably safe distance, the coward. The dog retreats to her crate upstairs.  She’s not stupid. The bird is going nuts, hopping from one side of the cage to the other. Cranky lovebird is trapped in the sunroom.

Mr. D grabs a broom and attempts to broom it into a corner. No luck. The squirrel is almost as big as the cat, and is bleeding profusely. There’s squirrel blood on the doors and windows.

Our sunroom is full of windows. Eleven to be exact, and they extend from ceiling to near the floor. Being an old house, there’s considerable framework around the windows. Our unwanted visitor parks his butt at the top of the windows, and traverses them to get around the room.

We lay out a critter trap which we have saved from when we lived in a northern suburb and used to trap baby skunks from under our deck. You would think peanut butter covered almonds would entice a battered squirrel, but no.

After dinner, we go back and attempt to round up the squirrel. Mr. D gives up when the squirrel dive bombs him from across the room. Flying squirrel? My friends, all squirrels fly. He secured the room, and we went upstairs and did the same before going to sleep.

This morning, Mr. D opened one of the windows, which hasn’t been open for at least 40 years. (No screens. I was going to have some made, but it cost too much.) It was still dark outside, but the squirrel wasn’t budging. In fact, he sat on the windowsill of the open window but refused to go. I told Mr. D to take his broom and shoo him out. When he attempted this, the squirrel lunged at him again.

It’s 20 freaking degrees outside and we had to go to work. It took an enormous amount of sneakiness to get the birdcage out of the room. Mr. D again secured the room and we left.

I emailed the roofer and let him know he should get a critter catcher on our chimney TODAY. Not tomorrow, not next week, but this morning.  I’m keeping the number of our local critter control company handy in case our house guest refuses to vacate by noon.

I’m not going back in until that thing is gone.

Mr. Demonic Buys a Craftsman Circular Saw

One thing that is going on in our house is urban renewal. We cannot sell our house, because in our Tundra town and in this financial environment, a buyer would turn their nose up at our house and snap up a foreclosed 6-bedroom mansion for less than $250,000. No joke. We are among the unfortunate empty nesters who have a four-bedroom house for two people and no way to unload it to downsize.

There’s nothing wrong with this scenario, of course. I happen to love our house. Every night when I go to bed, I look out through our wall of windows to oak trees and stars. My bedroom is like a hotel room, and my bathroom is to die for.

Before the economy really headed south last year (and that is literally as well as figuratively), Mr. Demonic started upon a plan of home improvements. At the time we were flush, so we spent a summer of enduring painters and carpenters. Last winter, we completed the gutting of the bathroom in the old, 1927 part of the house, complete with Jacuzzi tub and granite. It was probably overkill in a room that’s only 6’x6′ (or maybe smaller) but hey, at least now it’s not peacock blue from floor to ceiling.

This year is a different story. This year, we barely have enough money to make the mortgage. True, Mr. D put us on an aggressive mortgage schedule, 15 years, and he pays extra on the months when he can. We could have cushioned ourselves with a 30-year, but Mr. D thinks we won’t be around in 30 years. (He’s right.)

Around Christmas time, we decided to redo Ms. MiniD’s old room. She had pasted all sorts of memorabilia on the walls, which were an unsavory green. Think frog poop. She also spilled fingernail polish remover on the hardwood floors we had redone before moving in. It was a mess.

I picked a more calming sage green, and Mr. D set about painting. He was also going to put in crown moulding to match the rest of the house.

A little back story: Mr. D is a fuss budget when it comes to home repair. If it’s not 100% perfect, he’s not happy. When my oldest was just a fetus, Mr. D set about to redo a room and make it a nursery. I kid you not when I say that the room and the baby came at about the same time. Mr. D was redoing wood trim, and every time something came out less than perfect, he chopped up the wood, threw it in the fireplace and took a trip to Home Depot for more. It took two whole months to wallpaper one wall.

Mr. D is handy, but not really. He’s self-schooled and tries very hard, but if he can afford it, would rather pay a professional. That’s because they can complete the task in less time.

Last week, Mr. D went to Sears. People who know us know he’s in the store all the time. He returned with a huge box. It was a circular saw. A HUGE circular saw. He informed me it was to cut the crown moulding, because his tiny little miter box couldn’t do the intricate angle.

Today, I helped Mr. D hold long strips of wood while he cut them, right in the bedroom. My first impression: Mr. D isn’t very safety conscious. He works with his mug of coffee right on the saw and with no goggles or gloves. My second impression: a circular saw makes a lot of noise and sawdust, sawdust that gets tracked throughout the house by people, cats and dogs.

He had to cut each piece three or four times. That’s because it had to be perfect.

I prayed Mr. D wouldn’t slip and cut himself. I don’t do blood very well.

All is well. We both emerged from the room unscathed.

Competitive Depression

Hand it to Random Name to give me a smile at least once every couple of weeks. He did it again today.

At the end of this New Permanent First Post of Blog for 2009, he responded to a comment I made, where he coined the term “competitive depression.”

Well, okay, maybe he didn’t say it exactly, but I knew what he meant.

I was comparing my dire circumstances (which aren’t really that dire) to those of our dear David Rochester, who for some reason seems to have the worst luck in the world. At times. Other times, I find Mr. Rochester’s posts to be amusing glimpses into his life. (Honestly, David. I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you.)

As many of you might know, I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I came by the diagnosis quite late in life. It was only a couple of years ago when I was talking to my doctor about something unrelated that she pointed out all my depressive episodes occurred in winter. There was a light bulb moment and a hastily scrawled prescription. (Nowadays, they just send the script to the pharmacy online. No need for paper or the World MD/English Dictionary to translate messy MD writing.

January was a particularly brutal month for me, as we had only three days of temperatures over 30 degrees (Farenheit, not Celcius), and the sun did little shining. As I look at our sales figures for that month, we were 25% down from the same month last year, which was 23% down from 2007. There were other upsets as well, but there always seems to be more of them at the beginning of the year.

The glory days are over, and I for one am scrambling for a Plan B. Mr. Demonic, I believe, thinks he will die of a heart attack or some other malaise before he’s 60, only because his people have a long history of early demise. When he said it again last weekend, I replied, “Oh, sure. Die and leave me all alone to deal with this mess.” It would be a mess too, not counting the clutter in Mr. D’s office.

I once worked at a federal agency where we were ruled by tyrannical sadists who liked to browbeat their workers. That is a true story. It was the kind of federal agency that was well known for having employees turn on their coworkers and gun them down in fits of rage because of the inequity of it all. As a former government worker, I can tell you that working for the government is no cakewalk.

But I digress… We employees would get together (working) and hash out the latest botched plan of one of the supervisors. Of course, we weren’t supposed to be talking to each other, that was a no-no. I was amazed at how negativity breeds negativity. By the end of our ten hour shift, we were all so beaten down, we headed straight for the bar. Thank God, the bar opened at 7 a.m.

Sure, being drunk by 10 a.m. wasn’t the optimal solution, but it was the only one I had at the time.

Let me say now that I’m not competing with anyone for the prize of Most Depressed. I like to think I’m a good-natured and basically happy cynic. If Rochester wants the coveted prize, he can have it.


I Saw a Chipmunk Today

The critter was drinking water out of my fish pond. The pond was heated all winter by a small floating thing. I think we have fish in there, but you never know. Something ate our fish two years ago. I doubt a chipmunk was the culprit.

You know what this means?

This means it’s warm enough for animals to come out of hibernation!

Maybe spring is almost ready to be sprung.

And Now For Something Silly…

Okay, I know I’ve been entirely too morose lately. Blame it on economics, SAD and an extended winter.

My next novel is already cranking. It’s a bona fide chick-lit piece, and I’m trying to use all of the concepts I learned during the recent writers’ conference I attended. It’s light, it’s funny (I hope), and it’s a diversion that I am counting on changing my mood.

So I will share with you today the first couple of paragraphs.

Chapter 1

If you think I wanted to come back to the imagined warm embrace of the family home, you don’t know me at all. To return as a grown adult, contrite and groveling, tail between my legs, and hat in hand looking for a soft place to land? Oh, no, no, no. That’s not the life for me. I left this burg fifteen years ago for the sole purpose of avoiding my mother’s utterance of those death knell words “I told you so.” Making my escape from the confines of small-town living in Royal Oak and turning my back on its soul-sucking heartache was my life’s crowning achievement. The operative word is ‘was.’ My unblemished record of success now sports the big, fat ugly zit of failure.

My mother, the infamous Diana Ventimiglia, took an uncanny skill for inflicting guilt and formed a lifelong career out of “I told you so.” The “I told you so” business is so lucrative, it’s afforded her a fat retirement account. I’m sure she even gives herself periodic bonuses for outstanding performance in “I told you so.” If she ever retires as Jewish mama wannabe, which will be now… let’s see, never? perhaps I’ll find peace in my heart. By that time, there’ll be a colony on Mars, the budget will be balanced with plenty of zeros in the black and thousands of years of Middle Eastern conflict will be but an unpleasant afterthought, too. Oh, yes. And don’t forget; donkeys will fly.

I think I will go and do something creative now.

My In-House Nostradamus

This post was rather a downer. Sorry.

It could be because Mr. Demonic and I spent the time hashing out the current state of affairs. We don’t stay long on the Demonic household, because our state of affairs, while wobbly, is better than many others. What Mr. D is concerned about is the general state of affairs, in our rust-bucketed Tundra state and in the country and world.

I used to laugh at Mr. D’s predictions. Partly because some of the things he thinks about are really out there. But he’s been right more times than he’s been wrong, so now I am a convert. Besides, it’s nice to have an in-house Nostradamus as a barometer in these difficult times.

Lest you think I’m making stuff up (true, on occasion I make stuff up), I will list some of the things he got right:

1. The fall of the stock market. He’s known that for a couple of years. I didn’t believe him, but then again, I don’t study the market as much as he does. He believes in cyclical natures of economy.

2. The fall of the housing market. Not long after we purchased our house for a big vat of money, Mr. D told me that the market was dropping and that in a few years we would not be able to get one-half what we paid for it. True, we bought the thing right at the peak of the boom. Some of you might remember a post I made on another social networking site about two years ago.  He predicted then that after a time, our house would be worthless.

He’s not quite right, but we were just barely able to refinance it last month.

His next predictions? Here they are:

1. Our children will be saddled with incredible debt, resulting in their standard of living being less than what they’re used to.

2. The government will end up owning everything. (I can expand on that later, but I really don’t want to think about it.)

3. We’ll have to work until we die.

4. At some point there will be martial law. (I’m really hoping that one does NOT come true.)

5. Before martial law, there’ll be civil unrest. The truly disadvantaged are going to commit crimes to survive. There’s already some of that going on here.

Hmm… sometimes I wish he’d have visions of lollypops and rainbows. It would make sleeping at night a whole lot easier.

Scary Times

Sorry if this post is a downer, but I believe we are heading into scary times.

I don’t know if the culture is out of whack, or just the politicians. I’m fairly certain the politicians are on a destructive course of action. Because they’re all millionaires or better, they’re so out of touch with the Real World, it’s unfathomable. The culture, I’m not so sure. Every now and then, I’ll find pockets of sensibility, but for the most part, I think the world at large is selfish and consuming.

Everyone is throwing money around as if you could grow a field of it and harvest it next September. Of course, no one is throwing money at me, not that I would want that anyway. There’s a certain satisfaction in working hard to reap your rewards, and I’m not afraid of working. I guess you have to have friends in high places in order to get a lucky freebie catch.

I won’t even go into how crazy this is making Mr. Demonic. Even though we are losing a child deduction and expense come May 23rd when said adult person is graduating from college, it’s not going to make life any easier. I believe he’s gotten more gray and wrinkly in the last two months.

I am ashamed and afraid to say this, but I foresee a world where no one except the select few have anything, and those people will have everything. The rest of us will be like cattle or sheep, living off the crumbs of the rich. It won’t just be the value of the dollar shrinking, the value of anything good and right will drop to nothing. This includes creativity and freedom. I already see where the arts in my area are losing funding. No one has the money to donate.

I fear the future world that I have no say so in my own decisions.

Writes, Rites and Re-Writes

I haven’t been here much, because as some know, I went to the writers’ conference in San Francisco, and that pumped me up but good. My head is full of ideas and strategies, and I’m as juiced up as Ms. MiniD on her ADD meds. When I’m not working the day job, I’m writing.

In fact, I’m writing so much, I’m beginning to neglect the house.  I used to clean our bathroom and the dog’s area every couple of weeks, but it’s now been three weeks and neither has been done. Gracie’s bed is starting to smell like dog, and although I took out the rugs and swept the bath, I haven’t done much else.

The other thing suffering is my exercise routine and my violin practice. The middle of me is getting back to post-holiday spread, so I suppose I’d better make time for that. As for violin, thankfully the teacher has given me a break and I’m doing easy pieces, plus scales.

Thank goodness it’s not nice out yet, or my yard would be knee length in grass.

Why exercise, clean or play the violin when you can write?

The blame goes to NaNoWriMo. Thanks to November writing month, I have established a routine, which is quite amazing when you consider what kind of world-class procrastinator I am. Without fail, I go home in the afternoon and pound out a couple thousand words on my new book. It’s a relief in a way, because this one is light and hopefully humorous, whereas the first one was dark. There’s a happy ending in the first one, but no hook up. There’s a happy ending in the second one, and a hook up.

I know I have to go back to the first one and rewrite, but I’m letting that one marinate for a while, at least another week or two. I have an online friend looking at it first, then I’ll go in, then send it on for the “real” editing. My first baby is going to have to undergo massive surgery, and I’m not quite up for the challenge yet. But, I know I will be, once I get the bones going on the second one.

So, if anyone wants to volunteer to come and clean my house, I’m game. I’m sorry I can’t pay with money, but I can always whip up a good meal.

Diversionary Bird-Dom

This post is dedicated to my friend, Mimi. I’m sure she would have screamed louder than I did.

Our office building is nothing fancy. In fact, it’s made out of cinderblock, so it’s damned cold in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. It has a flat roof, so every few years we have to retar the thing. My husband, the dear Mr. Demonic, is on an austerity kick due to two kids in private college and an economy that’s going south faster than a flock of geese, and we have foregone the usual maintenance, like roof, painting and new furniture.

As a result, the roof leaks and our drop ceiling tiles are all spotted and ugly. The paint is peeling on the outside of the building due to the massive icicle that formed on the side of the building. I took a picture of it, because it looked like it was edging toward the door and was going to devour us whole.

The other problem is the toilet. Oh, Lord. Not only is it old, but it doesn’t flush well. I’m thinking something is stuck in the escape pipe.

Our office bathroom fan is home to an army of sparrows. I don’t mind birds, in fact I have a cranky lovebird in my house. However, when they take up residence in the vent leading to the outside, that’s when I have to object.

Sparrows have to be one intelligence quotient above a chicken. They seem to prefer feathering their nests in vents rather than in bird houses. We had this problem in my house and I bought an assortment of bird dwellings to get them to lay off the vent. No luck. I solved the problem by shoving a bright yellow tennis ball in the vent, and voila! no more birds.

I can’t reach the vent at the office, it’s at second floor level. The birds come and go, and in the spring you can hear the baby birds cheeping away like they owned the place.

Last night, my Number 2 thought she heard a bird, but she claimed it was inside the building. Mr. Demonic pooh-poohed the idea, thinking how the hell would a bird get inside a building. (Let’s see… hole in roof? hole in vent?)

It turns out Number 2 was right. A sparrow decended out of our false ceiling and began to buzz her. Mr. D grabbed a box and cornered it in the copy room. He thought he had eliminated the bird problem, but noooo….

This morning I’m sitting at my desk minding my own business when a sparrow dive-bombs me, narrowly missing my head. He bounced off a window, and I screamed. (What? It could have been a bat.) The screaming caused him to fly to the other side of the office, where he flew into another window, obviously not hard enough, because he escaped. He flew back and forth for a time before hiding in a far corner.

The noise rousted Mr. D from his comfy office down the hall. He began to open all of the windows (there are eight big ones) to release our little avian visitor. It’s freaking 18 degrees outside, and a cinder block building doesn’t retain any heat whatsoever. We were reduced to Creamsicles in mere seconds. Mr. D took a huge piece of cardboard and shepherded the bird out of the window.

It’s now two hours later, and I’m just starting to warm up.

We should have left the bird inside. You know the thing is just going to find his way back in.

All Jazzed Up: A Postscript

It’s been a couple of days since I returned home from the writers’ conference, with my head all jazzed up with new strategies and ideas.

Monday was a dead day. Not only did I miss my return flight (they changed the time without telling me), the subsequent red-eye I was scheduled on was two hours late getting to San Francisco. I used the time to write the first chapter of my next book, and this one promises to be less of a downer than the first one. Instead of getting home before 6, the plane landed at about a quarter to 7. However, since I was chock full of enthusiasm, I actually went straight back to my day job and went to work.

Around 2, I started to fade quickly. Back in the day when I was young, staying up all night was a no-brainer. These days, this lady can’t take it. She is old. I barely made it back home before the peepers shut down completely.

Of course, it was just a nap. I had to wake up at 5:30 to go grocery shopping. That’s because the dear Mr. Demonic eats out when I am away.

It was tough to get out of bed, but I did it.

Now… for the news: I participated in the “speed-dating” of agents. I got to talk to two. One said my novel wasn’t interesting enough. I pitched my coming of age novel to the next woman, and she said I could send her a query letter! I do have a slight problem in that the novella doesn’t have an ending, and it wasn’t the book I was hoping to sell in the first place.

I learned that my epic woman’s literature (chick-lit is not the correct genre for the piece, since there’s no hook up at the end) will need to be trimmed by, oh, let’s say one-third? It’s massively huge. I knew there were plot and movement problems, and to have someone tell me it wasn’t interesting is lighting a fire under me. I’m going to let that one sit for a week or two before I attack it again.

I learned a lot of other things too, which I will divulge in later posts. Right now, I have to get some people paid.

It’s good to be back!

Elevator Riding

Novel: check.

Synopsis: check.

Elevator intro: not quite.

After a flurry of email regarding the Godzilla synopsis problem, I managed to condense 500+ pages into two reasonably informational pages, double-spaced. I’m prize-winning when it comes to blowing up a story and adding 100K extra words to it, in fact, that’s easy, but whittling has never been my strong suit.

It’s not that I have a vested interest in my words as they are, because I’m not that kind of writer. When criticized, I tend to view it as a learning experience and not as an assault on my character. I’ve been truly assaulted before, and I know the difference.

My problem yesterday was coming up with an “elevator introduction” — something of a couple minutes length to explain my novel to (hopefully) some publishing Joe I have hopelessly trapped in an elevator ride between the 2nd and 5th floors.

I’d heard the term before, but I thought it was a quaint little metaphor, not an actual spiel I’d have to have in order to launch an attack on said captive book publisher. I mean, really. Who hangs in an elevator when there’s a writing conference going on right downstairs?

Turns out, it’s an actual thing one does.

Oh, the naivete of this poor little bumpkin! This job was to take my synopsis and turn it into three or four quick yet enthusiastic sentences. And don’t let me forget that other magic ingredient, turning on the charm.

Both tasks are impossible for me. Let’s see, I’m the kind who runs off at the keyboard. The reason I do that is because I’ve never been comfortable with talking to real people. My lack of self-worth might have been the result of my looks, my teeth, my size, my troubled upbringing, who knows? Writing has been the easy release, made more simple through my sheer love of words.

The other obstacle is my disdain of glad-handing. You can call it that, or brown-nosing, or greasing the palm. It’s the main reason I’m leery of politicians and used car salesmen. I want people to like me for me, not to like me for my charm.

Oh, well. After another flurry of email back and forth to my mentor and cheerleader, I think I’ve come up with something for my proposed trip in the elevator.

I just hope I remember my name.

Not Really Finished…

As the Little Fluffy Cat knows, after the blush and triumph of finally finishing my book wore off, Monday morning I received an email of the upcoming activities at the Writers’ Conference. It’s action packed from morning until late night with presentations, food (! a plus, I thought I was on my own there…) and a hotel more full of agents, editors and publishing houses than I could imagine in my lifetime.

My business cards arrived at my son’s house, addressed to him, so he opened the package. They’re beautiful! All that worrying and hair-pulling (we know I don’t have much hair) for nothing.

Then, of course, came the bad news. Well, more bad news. My fear level is at an all time high. When Friday comes, I hope I can remember my name. That’s bad news number one.

Now I learn in order to participate in the “speed-dating” event, I must have a synopsis of my novel.

Synopsis? Gah… I thought my “job” was finished and it was on to the editing. I was looking forward to red marks and streamlining my baby from a chubby blob to something sleek and muscular. Whodathunk that I’d have to have a synopsis, too? The word hasn’t been in my vocabulary since college. What the hell was a synopsis, no, what was a good one?

I sent out word to Little Kitty, who emailed me more information than I could possible absorb. I printed every email out, and every link to every page. (My eyes can’t handle a lot of words on a computer screen.)

I find I work best under pressure, which is why deadlines are no problem for me. In the yearbook biz, you set a deadline for your schools that is about a week before the actual deadline for you. It’s called a cushion, and although I was supposed to be finished with the book by December 31, completing the task on February 9 at 1:05 p.m. was actually not bad for me. However, a few things happened on Monday which made for concentration to be a commodity in short supply. Writing that day was crazy.

My #2 girl came in to inform me she had an abscessed wisdom tooth. Why did she wait until the day before my trip to go to the dentist? And on a Monday, the busiest day of the week? She lasted three hours and left. Then a call came in from Ms. MiniD, who reminded me I needed to put her ADD medicine in the box I was sending her. I hadn’t taken her prescription to the pharmacy yet. I also had to finish the laundry and pack, and with the conference, I had laid out just about everything I owned and nothing seemed right.  (Except for those new pumps I bought. Black, stylish, and tres comfortable.)

The day was long and hectic. I was practically chained to my desk until 6 p.m., and people, when you get there at  8 and don’t get up but once to use the facilities, that is a long, long day. I can sometimes write during my day job, but with all the stress and the phones ringing, my attempt at crafting my synopsis was lame-o.

Tuesday morning, before going to the airport, I had to pick up my own cholesterol prescription, mail the box to Ms. MiniD, and get the rest of the junk off my desk by 10. I also had to email a corrected yearbook proof to a school, because they were going on winter break at the end of the week.

My husband was being pokey, as per usual. When he wants to go somewhere, he is waiting in the car with a pained expression on his face. When I want to go somewhere, he has to go to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee and lose his car keys. These are the keys to the brand new Hyundai which he lost the afternoon the car was delivered back in September. It appears there was only one key since it was a repo, and to get another one took several hundred dollars and a lot of legwork, which is why the car sat all winter under two feet of snow.

If you saw his office, you would know why he loses things. If he were to die tomorrow, I swear, it would take three or four years to wade through the junk. It’s not just papers, under those papers are tons of pens and pencils, personal letters and at least a hundred keys, most of which he doesn’t know where they belong too. I also happen think my husband and I are both pre-Alzheimer-y now that we are in our 50s.

Anyway, he finally located the keys, but he was lackadaisical about getting to the airport. That’s because he took two phone calls and he tends to weave while on the phone. Somehow I made it to the airport in just enough time to get on the plane. Now I am sitting in my hotel room, where I hope to get a decent synopsis finished before Friday.

Thank goodness for that cushion.

Finally, Finished :-)

Yup. I have typed those magic words “The End” at the end of my epic chick-lit novel.

The final tally is 175,621 words and 550 pages. I realize I will now need to edit, according to some, about 10% out.

But, I finished! I finished! I can’t believe it!

Now to celebrate with a quick trip to the mall and later, a glass of bubbly…

Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m finished! *dances*

Chaotic Updates

1. The lady from the business card place finally emailed. She was called out of the country for a week, but has promised that my order is placed and will be forwarded posthaste to my son in San Francisco. She also implied there would be a little token enclosed for my tearing my hair out. I hope it’s a wig.

2. I finally hooked up with my attorney. He was in LA, then he was backed up with work when he arrived here on Monday. A vigorous volley of phone tag then ensued. Finally, I called his cell this morning, and he answered it! We had a nice chat, and he was quite helpful about my legal loose ends regarding the end of my book. As luck would have it, his firm has an entertainment lawyer. One of his clients is Elmore Leonard. He offered to read my chicky-book. I asked him “how much” and he said complimentary. I asked, are you sure? It’s a chick book, and he said yes.

3. Cosmetics. A boatload of them came in the mail today. Hallelujah. I hope I remember how to use them.

4. The ending. It’s drawing near. I think I’m a chapter and a half away. This means I should be typing those magic words “The End” by dusk on Sunday.

5. My cheerleaders have been busy cheering and urging (egging?) me on. I am grateful for it, because there were times I might have jumped under the covers and said “screw this noise” – actually, there were a couple of dozen times I’ve felt that way in the last 72 hours alone. So, keep nagging, cajoling, goading, pushing, harassing, bullying, coaxing, hounding, needling, badgering, bothering, spurring, hassling, heckling, riding, nudging, pleading, provoking and poking me along. (Can you tell my Thesaurus and I are close friends?) I need it.

Anyway, things are falling into place.

There is a God, and she is great… 🙂

Happy Belated Birthday to Me

I’ve been busy, but yesterday I noticed this post by Mr. Random, patting himself on the back for surviving yet another birthday.

I thought that peculiar, because as luck would have it, last week it was my birthday too. I only think it peculiar, because I share some sort of affinity with Mr. Random. This is not the same bond I share with my Internet-Boyfriend-Now-Friend. I think Mr. Random and I are brother and sister separated at birth.

I’m not going to tell you which day was the dreaded day. I like to completely avoid acknowledging the fact that I still have birthdays. I can tell you that I spend it the same way every year: I do nothing.

I don’t come into work, and I usually amuse myself somehow. In past years, I have trekked to San Francisco (or Alabama) for my birthday. This is because my family is so mean to me, I would much rather spend the day being somewhere I love.

Sidebar: I don’t really love Alabama, but my friend moved there, and she is very nice. She threw me a huge birthday party with her friends, even though they didn’t know me from a random guy at the Publix. I brought my violin and played with her cello friends.  She invited me this year too, but since I’m leaving for out of town next week, I declined.

My husband is nine months younger than me, and for three months out of the year, we are the same age. The other nine months, he is razzing me about me being so much older than he is, even though we graduated from high school in the same year. My daughter, Ms. MiniD, hopped on that bandwagon long ago. To hear the two of them, you’d think I was ready for a wheelchair and the nursing home.

This year, I wrote a chapter and a half and a piece for another forum I write for. Then we went out to dinner at a very chi-chi French place. It’s the kind of rich food that you must savor over the period of at least three hours, accompanied by wine and champagne. (Their housemade truffles are to die for.)

Something else also happened that day. (If you are of manly persuasion, you may want to fold up this post right now and move on.)

It was the return of The Curse.

Damn it, but I had been reveling in menopause for the last year! I practically told everyone I knew (including co-workers) because I was so happy to 1. not have that monthly thing going on and 2.  was finally warm enough at night that I didn’t need to hog the blankets. Of course, with over a year’s enjoyment of no need for feminine protection, I was caught with my pants down and no help. I even scoured Ms. MiniD’s bathroom, but to no avail.

I know if I go to Sam’s Club and buy the economy, jumbo box of tampons, my uterus will dry up completely next month, and there I will be. Of course, if I choose the other route and only buy as much as I need, I will have a great, big need for the jumbo box next month. (And the next, and the next.)

I was depressed before over the fact that I am again wintering in the Tundra. (In January, there were only three days – THREE – count ’em, that reached the 30 degree mark. That’s cold, people.) Now I am truly despondent. Here I am, 53 – friggin’ – years old and still not over it yet!

Well, that’s it for my birthday.

Happy Birthday to Me.

The Chicken Begins Running With Her Head Off

In eight days, I will be in San Francisco, in advance of a writers’ conference I signed up for last year.

I had good intentions. I paid for the conference back in March. I paid for my plane ticket back in September. I have lined up a rental car using gift certificates, so that’s taken care of. I even have my son dropping me off at the hotel location, because it’s in a very congested and chi-chi area of downtown and parking is $80 a day.

I have toiled at my novel full steam since the first of November. I’ve somehow managed to add an additional 100,000 words since then. There are three, maybe four more chapters to go. I’ve been good, even though I’ve done other things, like work, eat, play the violin, make jewelry, etc. There was the holiday and the extended stay of Ms. MiniD, always a disruptive influence. I’ve even had time to be sick.

Now comes crunch time, and I feel like a chicken with her head cut off.

I have been working with an online business card company that specializes in authors. I had trouble sending in my photograph (actually, the real trouble came finding one that doesn’t make me look like a serial killer) and my emails kept bouncing back. It’s been ten days, and so far no word. In a panic, I emailed again on Saturday. Nothing.

I still need to get with an attorney so I can wrap up the novel. That’s because an attorney plays a prominent part in the ending. I have emailed our business attorney, hoping for some free input. The guy is nice, but he’s one of those super-slick shyster dudes, and his office, in a very trendy neighborhood, likely has a high lease. However, I feel comfortable with him, so I even promised to pay. Hopefully, he’ll be like my other advisors and will take a mention in the beginning of the book instead.

Finally, I have new clothes and have been exercising like a fiend to fit into my old ones. Some writer who sends me newsletters suggested I get a smokin’ hot red dress. I don’t want to look like a hooker, so I bought some red cashmere sweaters instead. After my daughter returned to school (that was the longest six weeks of my life), I found out she raided my bathroom and all my cosmetics are GONE. (I might slap on some make up once in a blue friggin’ moon, so I expect it all to be there when I need it.)

I hope I don’t look like a boob. There’s always the possibility I might laugh too hard, look needy, or become unexpectedly mute.


Some Violin Stuff, and My Ear

Now that I have journeyed through five Maia Bang theory books, my violin teacher is giving me a break of sorts. She told me to pick up a copy of some Junior Festival pieces (ordinarily played by five year olds) and we will now be concentrating on style.

I have to admit, my style is still stilted and stiff. I am not one with my instrument. This week marks the fourth year I’ve been attempting to play, and I still cannot vibrate. It’s the classic case of not being able to do several things at once, at least, not on the violin. Ask me to answer the phone, drive a stick shift and drink a cup of coffee while cruising FM radio and I can do that. Vibrate and play the correct notes while doing so – um, no.

The other thing she wants me to concentrate on is dynamics, or getting different sounds out of the instrument. I’m a weak player. My idea of dynamics is pianissimo and more pianissimo. (This means very quietly in music lingo) No matter what I do, I cannot play loud. I also cannot distinguish when I’m playing softly and more softly.

I think my problem stems from having a violin right next to my left ear. All of my noises sound the same. This might be why I can barely make out when I am playing sharp. I always play sharp, I never play flat. Unlike my son, the talented Mr. Demonic Jr., I am not blessed with perfect pitch. I can sing out the first couple of notes of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and know that it’s G-G and C, but beyond that, I’m clueless. My electronic tuner gets a bigger work out than the violin does.

Since this is my four year anniversary, I’m trying to re-evaluate my goal. At first, it was to play with my family and others. My family dislikes playing with me (at least Mr. D does); and when I play with my son, he’s constantly correcting my sharps and counting. My teacher doesn’t think I’m ready to play with other people.

I might quit, but don’t think I will. My teacher is making plans. Her husband is older than just about anyone I know (she was a former student, and a child bride) and currently in a nursing home. When he is gone (which might be ten years from now when he’s 102), she is going to sell everything and move to Maine, where the rest of her family is. When she moves, I’ll look for a different teacher.

In the meantime, I will take one small step forward and slide back two steps. That’s how it is with me and violin.

More Oddly Missing Items

After Ms. MiniD went back to college, we decided to resume our regular schedule of crazy living. My husband went about refilling his “wine cellar” (since he’s finished painting it and putting in new moulding). The “cellar” is not a room, per se. It’s actually the closet under the stairs. However, it’s now a very nice closet under the stairs.

For the last year, the bottles have been stacked in a haphazard fashion right at the cellar door. This is because our basement flooded from above (toilet that kept running, and ran for two hours before anyone noticed it) and we moved everything out. This was when Mr. D. got the bright idea of urban renewal for the wine cellar.

We keep the really good stuff in the “cellar.” Sunday, Mr. D began to put the bottles back. He’s actually been working on it for the last few weekends. He’s very particular. He has a computer program and a scanner where he logs the bottles in, and also a notebook where he writes the new bottles in and crosses off any we decide to drink.

He came upstairs later in the day asking me had I taken any bottles out? Hell no. We have plenty of house wine upstairs. Not that I would open a bottle myself. I rarely drink alone, and if he’s out of town, I might have a glass if the bottle is open.

I asked Mr. D why. “I think I’m missing 20 bottles of wine!” he says.

20 bottles! That’s a lot.

We thought it might be our daughter, but no, Ms. MiniD’s alcohol of choice is the hard stuff, and that’s upstairs. Anyway, she wouldn’t know how to use a corkscrew if her life depended on it. She can’t even hide her dirty shot glasses without getting caught.

This morning, he decided to come to work a little later and play the piano for a few minutes. When he got to work, he asked me, did I do anything with his music books? No… I have my own music books, for violin. I ask why. He says, “My two Neil Young books are gone!”

Who would take those? My son made off with all of the Beethoven books, and also Chopin, but he can’t stand Neil Young.

As some might remember, my mother-in-law’s ashes have mysteriously disappeared, as have one of my paintings and my husband’s old sword collection.

We have a lot of keys out, to cleaners, exterminators. One exterminator left his employ with our key, but we were told that everything was just hunky dory. The contractor who remodeled our bathroom had a key. We’ve sometimes let workmen in and left, trusting them to lock up and not rob us blind. I even let the piano tuner tune by himself, but not any more.

I hate to think anyone I know and have known for ten years or more would be guilty of the five-finger discount, but these items didn’t walk out of the house on their own.

I decided to get all of the locks changed, and I did. From now on, with my diligence, we should not be missing anything of consequence (or not).

I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway.

I Take Thee, House, Back into Possession

I just came back from dropping Ms. MiniD off at the airport, and I am giddy with excitement. Please sing after me: She’s going back to college! She’s going back to college!

Now I don’t dislike my daughter, but let’s face it, she’s high maintenance, moody, negative, and a slob. She’s the perfect model for one of the characters in my next book. I won’ t even have to fluff anything up, because the real Ms. MiniD is quite the character and seems to have quite the adventures.

Did we cry at the airport? She didn’t, but I could have when I paid for her checked luggage. $165! And for three bags that weren’t particularly heavy. Airlines are getting rather adept at nickel and diming a person out of their money. You’re lucky if you get free soft drinks these days. I can remember past trips on other carriers where a hot lunch or honest to goodness Subway sandwiches were served. Alcoholic beverages were actually worthwhile. Now they cost as much as the ones in the airport bar. Me, I’d rather sit in the airport bar and get tanked in comfort, rather than drink a $6 glass of wine on a crowded plane.

I’ve yet to go back to the house, because I’m supposed to be working all weekend. (Don’t worry, Little Cat, I’m not visiting the dreaded monster time-sucking Facebook.) I’ll have to clean out the bedroom she was using, and that should take a couple of days. Thank goodness it wasn’t her old bedroom, because Mr. D has that room completed gutted for his long-term painting and wood moulding project. No, we put Ms. MiniD in the microscopic bedroom slash sewing room, where her mess could be contained.

I’m not looking forward to cleaning her bathroom, but I am looking forward to soaking in the bubble tub.

In the meantime, I’m trying to steer Ms. MiniD toward a path of staying on the Left Coast for summer break. That’s because I will likely kill her if she comes back here. You don’t know how close I came in the last week. I love Ms. MiniD dearly, but I told her if she decides to come back, we would be laying down some ground rules first. Like, one, you can’t sleep until 1 p.m. every day. And two, you have to load the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen after you make two boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese.

It’s funny, but I don’t feel like a bad mom for taking my house back. I feel like a conquering warrior. I feel like Cortez, the explorer. I feel like the peace and quiet and lack of drama will be curiously Utopian.


Yes, I am.

I won’t go into gory details, but let’s just say whatever it is happens to be flu-like in nature. I barely got my people paid today, then went home at noon and hid under the covers. It felt good to sleep for four hours in the middle of the afternoon, but once I got up to check a few online things, I regretted leaving my cozy covers.

So I am going back. Now.

See ya.

Another Weird Dream, No Airplane, Just Prius

Preface: Last night, we went to our daughter’s favorite Italian restaurant, because their lasagna is to die for.  I didn’t get the lasagna, I instead ordered the veal piccata, which wasn’t bad but also wasn’t as good as mine.

Yes, people, I was blessed with another weird dream. Thankfully, no jumbo jets were involved. Instead, the star of my dream was my car, which is a Toyota Prius.

For some reason, there was a family with a small child staying with us. It could have been my own children’s child, or it could have been my sisters’ (although my sisters all have older children) but I wasn’t concentrating on the parental faces. All I knew was that the mother had to be somewhere, and I had to be somewhere, and the child had to go to school.

I decided to find a mommy’s helper online at Craigslist. This was a bad idea, but I was rushed for time. I needed someone with a driver’s license, and would let the person use my car.

The guy who showed up was what most people would consider to be, well… scary. He had a huge purple birthmark over half of his face, he was skinny to the point of being malnourished or a suspected drug addict, his arms were lined with colorful tattoos, and he was wearing old and smelly clothing, a ripped tee shirt and jeans that hadn’t been washed in God knows how long.

I should have backed out of the deal, but there was too much running around to do in the house. I don’t know what his name was, but I asked him, “Do you know how to drive a Prius?” to which he replied, “Of course!”

For those of you out of the loop, a Prius is a push-button car. You don’t even need to put the key into the ignition, all you have to do is have it in close proximity to the dash, like in your purse or pocket. The gearshift is on the dash next to where you can put the key if you so choose to be that antiquated.

Baby-sitting dude jumps in and instantly I know he doesn’t know how to drive my car. The young girl who needs to go to school looks at the two of us like we’re nuts. The guy smells like he hasn’t had a bath in weeks, and she’s rolling her eyes. He may not even know how to drive at all. I get in with him, and show him how to turn it on, and how to back up. Then I get out.

He doesn’t even make it out of the driveway. Close to the garage, we have a picket fence that is gated. It’s quite narrow, only one car width in length, and on the other side is the house. I’ve hit the fence with the back end of my Monte Carlo, and Mr. D has hit the house with his Tahoe, it’s that narrow.

Finally, I tell him to leave, but then he gets violent. He still wants his money. I throw a 20 dollar bill at him, and then wake up.

I wonder what I’ll dream tonight. I’m making pasta with mild Italian sausage.

Another Weird Airplane Dream

Perhaps I shouldn’t eat chili dogs, but every once in a while, I get a craving for a hot dog slathered in hot mustard, chili with beans, onions and cheese. That’s what we had for dinner last night, and it could explain my latest weird airplane dream.

Last night, I dreamt that Mr. D and I were again on an airplane. It was a big one, bigger than a 757. I would call it a 787 or a 797, it was that big. As usual, we were seated in the rear of the plane, which was so large that it was ten or 15 seats across.  Not only was it huge, but the seats were tiny. In fact, one fellow traveler pointed out that some seats were much tinier than others. (Think of a concert hall or movie theater where they use smaller seats to give the illusion of a flow down to the stage.)

We were in Colorado and flying home. We weren’t just in Colorado, however; we were on top of Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is the third highest mountain in Colorado, over 14 thousand feet high. If you’ve ever been there, you would know that the top of Pikes Peak is rocky, strewn with lots of big boulders. You couldn’t land a single engine glider on that summit, much less a jumbo jetliner.

Most of the dream had to do with wrestling our personal effects to the back of the plane. Plane etiquette requires that you use the storage around your seat, although I’ve seldom seen plane etiquette carried forth. By the time we got to the back of the plane, there was little room to put my purse, much less anything larger.

The plane was filled to the brim with all sorts of humanity. It reminded me of those movies you see about third world countries where villagers travel in buses with their chickens and baby goats in little cages.

The back door of the plane was open, and Mr. D all of a sudden sees that we are on the mountaintop. Why it didn’t occur to him before is anyone’s guess. Someone had fashioned a makeshift runway and it wasn’t flat.

Mr. D asked the pilot, “Do you have enough room to lift off?”

To which the pilot answered, “Not really for a plane this size, but if I get going fast enough, we can lift off as soon as we clear the top of the mountain.”

We wanted to jump off after that, but the ground was so far away. Besides, where would we go? (Of course, I knew we could walk down or take the tram that goes down to Manitou. But I didn’t think of that in my dream.) We decided to take our chances and get home on the plane.

Pretty soon, the plane was packed and the pilot taxied, but he was taxiing around the mountain. It was strange.

As soon as he got enough speed to take off, I woke up.

Perhaps I should eat something bland tonight, like a broiled chicken breast and some green beans.

Living in the Tundra

I have often hinted that my location is in the “Tundra.” Not to offend any caribou or polar bears in the so-called real tundra, I have to admit that, no, I’m not quite that far north. Some days it feels like it. Other times we are blessed with rain instead of snow and strangely warm weather instead of cold. This coming week will not be of the tropic variety.

Preparing for a week-long onslaught of high temperatures in the single digits, low temperatures below zero and wind chills way, way below zero takes a bit of planning. I personally hate grocery shopping in frigid temperatures, so I plan accordingly. When there’s snow on the ground, there are less parking spaces in the lot. That’s because the snow plow guys build a great big mountain of snow in one corner. It’s also hell to push your cart  across a snow-packed parking lot. I remarked to one check out clerk that the carts should have skis. She was not impressed.

I have different pieces of outerwear for varying temperatures. I started doing this when I lived in the Twin Cities, where it can be brutally cold in the winter, and for a very long time. Over 40 degrees, and I can get by with leather. A nice wool coat does fine between 30 and 40 degrees. I have a parka for the 20 to 30 degree range. Anything below 20 degrees, and I get out the fur.

I’m sure the animal lovers and PETA cringe at the mere mention of fur. I’m unashamedly a carnivore, so why wouldn’t I make use of the rest of an animal’s body? After all, I’m not making coats from dog or kitty, or hamsters. Having had different coats in my life, the consensus is that the warmest outerwear is made from fur, then down. My one fur is Mongolian lamb, a kicky little coat I purchased from eBay because it reminded me of a coat I had in Minnesota that was subsequently destroyed in a housefire. The other one is something I can’t even pronounce. I can proudly say that no American animals were harmed in the production of either garment. One came from Mongolia, the other from Canada.

The other pre-zero Tundra preparation is to make sure the hats are located and the gloves and mittens have mates. I don’t know about anyone else, but my household loses more gloves and mittens than socks in the dryer. I don’t understand it, because I keep all of them in baskets above my china cabinet. Every winter, I take the baskets down and for some reason am usually missing one or more glove(s).

This year, I have also had to consider Grace, the dog. She’s a Boston terrier, and when it’s colder than 20 degrees and there is more than a couple of inches of snow on the ground, she doesn’t like to go outside. I have attempted to allay her fears and her chills by getting her a coat to wear and by shoveling a clear spot to do her business only a few feet from the deck. We had another blizzard last night, so I was out shoveling my grass. I’m sure it’s comical to see, but it’s a necessary precaution to avoid in the house accidents.

When it’s this cold, I also have to refill the humidifier in the music room about four times a day. That’s four gallons a day! If I didn’t, my violin would go quickly out of tune. I also have to make sure my flannel lined khakis are washed and available, and that I have plenty of wool socks.

I only have 24 hours before the temperatures take a nose dive, so I will be off. Anyone who complains of their supposedly “cold” weather and I find out it’s above zero will get no sympathy from me.