December 21, 2012 § 4 Comments
Today is the day that the Mayan calendar ends and so does the world … so some people say. I’ve been amazed to see how many “survivalists” are out there, building homes into the sides of mountains—back to caveman days?—stockpiling freeze dried foods—have you tasted that stuff?—and buying up automatic and semi-automatic weapons of war to protect themselves from … from what?
I don’t know what you think, but if the world ends today, no one is going to need food or weapons or holes in the ground to live in. We just won’t be here!
And then there are those like the spiritualist (from Sedona?) last night on Diane Sawyer who believes the world isn’t going to end. Instead, she believes that special “forces” are going to merge and the world will immediately change … for the better. She’s down in Maya land right now doing that “voo-doo” she “do” (my apologies to Cole Porter) to welcome the new world.
Call me an optimist, but I will stand with the spiritualist … well … sort of! And not too close!
Therefore, in honor of this day, I choose to stay above ground, eat chocolate, and watch all my favorite movies until midnight. Of course, I’ll take time out to watch Baylor Men’s Basketball play BYU (in Waco). I do that on my laptop if it’s not televised nationally. Sic ’em Bears!
Hmmm, that is indeed a strange bucket list. But if today is THE day … “TEotW” (The End of the World) … I don’t have time for much else. Actually, I don’t have time for the world to end either. I don’t think the Mayans thought about that. How inconsiderate of them to choose today of all days and during this season, too!
I still have Christmas presents to buy, and I’ve promised myself to finish editing Linda’s book. This one doesn’t need a lot of line editing, nor does it need structural editing. It’s a joy to work on a book like this, and I plan to finish it by tomorrow.
Tomorrow, my sis and I are driving to Eustis to get our hair cut. It takes about 45 minutes through orange-grove and cattle country. We often see eagles on that route, maybe even some Sandhill Cranes and … dare we hope … a Whooping Crane? Think we’ll stop by to see Peggy on the way back. I have a few Louis L’Amour novels to give her. She loves westerns and these are my favorites, too. However, I don’t need the paperbacks. I have them all loaded onto my Kindle.
We’re going Brasileiro tomorrow night to celebrate my birthday (actually, I was born on Dec 23, but that’s Sunday this year and we’re doing the Christmas cantata at church) with a wonderful meal at Ipanema’s Churrascaria! Mmm Mmm, GOOD.
Next come Christmas Eve and Day and a New Braunfels Smokehouse ham for lunch. Then Bowl games all next week … the world can’t end before we know who the pundits think is number one … it wouldn’t dare! And you know which team I’ll be rooting for next Thursday night!
And we just ordered tickets for a Yankee / Detroit pre-season baseball game on March 23 – we can’t miss that! Or the Flower and Garden Festival, or the Food and Wine Festival (both at EPCOT). And I certainly must attend the Fiction Among Friends Women’s Writers Retreat next November …
Nope. Not today or next year. The Mayans will just have to predict another date! I can’t go yet!
Merry Christmas, BTW.
July 13, 2012 § 3 Comments
Let’s talk Texas! We’ve just returned from our bi-annual trip to old haunts and family rounds … 2,950 or so miles, 17 days, countless activities, and an average temp of 106!
We played golf with some friends -
We attended the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Annual Assembly in Fort Worth -
We visited with Tom’s brother and sister-in-law and my aunt and cousin -
We had the thermostat, radiator and AC fixed on the van -
But the rest of the trip … I’ll not say “highlight” … we spent in the central Texas town of Tom’s birth. Although he didn’t grow up there (he was about 6 months old when his parents moved), his mother did, and when she retired from teaching, she moved back. Now that she’s gone, it’s time to deal with family mementos, photos and ‘stuff’ and then sell her house. Not easy!
My sister and I did this when our parents passed. I never knew that Mom kept all our letters! She also had shoeboxes filled with the front halves of greeting cards—she taught Sunday School and needed them! (After Dad died, we found scads of toilet paper rolls under his sink—still saving them for Mom’s church work I guess … old habits are hard to break!)
In the middle of inventorying and sorting my mother-in-law’s clothes to donate to a local clothes closet, I began thinking about us. Tom and I don’t have children. Who will sort and donate and etc. for us when we are gone? No one. Yikes. We’d better start now if we are to do it ourselves.
Let’s see … I don’t teach voice any longer, so I can give my music away. Who would want a collection of art songs for high soprano, I wonder, or opera scores, with all those director’s notes scribbled in the margins? And does anyone these days even know what LPs are?
I have two dining room suites … one formal (Duncan Fife) and one informal (from Brazil). Do I really NEED two? Hmmm, would I do better selling the Duncan Fife on eBay, or donating it to a charity sales shop and taking the deduction?
And if I get rid of the Duncan Fife, I’ll have to sell my good china and crystal. Hate to do that … it looks great in the hutch. But then, I’ve not actually used them in almost 25 years so I have no real sentimental attachment to them … wait that’s not true. The crystal was a wedding present from the Baptist missionaries where I worked in Recife, Brazil. Maybe if I don’t tell them though ….
I think what I need to do is hire an estate sale’s team … but not for everything … at least not yet!
Which brings me back to my mother-in-law’s house. We only spent 5 days there this time, assessing what needs to be done and how much time we’ll need to do it. We are planning another trip back soon … for a month at least … to complete the job, hire the estate sales people and put the house on the market. I hope I’m up for this! I hope Tom is!
Then I think we’ll wait to do our own “clean out” until later. One house a year is enough!
February 21, 2012 § 3 Comments
Our county’s inspection office is rigorous and thorough. In fact, these people are notorious in the construction industry here in central Florida … but that’s a good thing! Who wants to learn after-the-fact that that new roof wasn’t tied down according to the 1996 hurricane building regulations? Who wants to know after the lightning strikes that the new screens on the lanai weren’t grounded properly.
We passed and our new Florida Room is now ready to move in … just as soon as Tom has steamed the new tile floor one more time!
I almost hate to move in, though. It’s so pristine and pure … so glistening! I can’t think of a worse sin (well, I can, but that’s another blog) than cluttering up that wonderful, lovely new space!
But of course, we will … Murphy’s Law, etc.
Ever thought about how many times in our lives we have to ‘pass inspection’? So much angst. So many sleepless nights!
- School Exams
- Routine Physicals
- Driver’s License
- First Dates
- Meeting the In-laws
- Interviewing for a Job
For a writer, the ‘inspections’ begin when we write that first short story and are brave enough to share it with a critique group. The next test of our skill comes from that editor we want to buy the story and publish it. Or the agent we hope will represent that novel to the publishing world.
There are those writers who have a hard time finishing a project, and then, once they have, just can’t let it graduate … can’t push the ‘baby’ out of the nest. That manuscript is like my new Florida Room … pristine, uncluttered, un-tainted by human hands.
But eventually, they do it. They mail it to an editor or agent … and wait … and wait ….
Finally, the manuscript returns in its SASE (Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope) with a standard rejection letter—‘doesn’t fit our list’, etc.—all semi-neatly copied by an assistant.
I’ve known writers who collected ‘nonstandard’ rejection letters with pride … ‘she signed it herself and said she thought it had promise!’
That’s when the questions begin. Why didn’t she want it if it has promise? What does that mean? Who knows? And that’s the problem! With a construction inspection, you get a detailed report on what needs to be fixed in order to pass next time. With writing, you don’t get that!
Last year my agent and I had high hopes for my YA historical fiction novel, but editor after editor said no. Finally, one editor gave us a review and it changed my perspective. Her suggestions made needed revisions clear.
I will soon embark on the rewrite of that novel … now aimed at the middle grade reader (9-12). Meanwhile, I have been hard at work with the final revisions to another middle-grade novel … another historical, this one starring a boy of 12 in 1774 western Virginia. I will be sending it out into the world, via my agent, hopefully to pass inspection and gain an audience.
And then, I will begin the cycle all over again with a new project. After all, that’s what we do, we writers. We send our ‘children’ out into the world and hope they pass instruction.
Cross your fingers! That’s an order!
January 9, 2012 § 5 Comments
My Heart is Racing, Pounding! My ears are RINGING!
No, I’m not having a heart attack. The contractors are taking the two sets of sliding doors down between the “old” living room/dining room and the new Florida room.
I think a little onomatopoeia is appropriate!
Buzzzzzzzzzzz! (is that a small jack-hammer I hear?)
Blat! Rumble! GRRRR! (loosening the calking and mortar?)
Wrestle, wrestle, wrestle and twist (taking the doorframes down now!)
Plink! Plunk! Plonk! (falling plaster, nails, aluminum frames – concrete? Yikes!)
Quiet now – except for:
“What did you do to my broom? That’s new!”
“It was bent that way the other day.”
“XXXXX!!!!” (and a few choice words I NEVER use!)
Different from the insulation guys. They were so quiet I never even heard them!
The fun of renovation projects lies in the buying-stuff expeditions! Since Christmas, Tom and I have bought:
- Three ceiling fans with lights—two for indoors, one for the new lanai (over the swim-spa);
- Five sconces—three for outside the new doors, two for inside the lanai giving light to the swim-spa)
- 600 square feet of tile flooring (or there abouts)—with another bunch bought and stored for when we get around to replacing the vinyl flooring in the living room/dining room/kitchen great room and have to match it with the new floor in the Florida Room! (Sooner than later, I hope.)
We have also spent engrossing hours with:
The Electrician—where, oh where, to place the electrical outlets and new switches?
The Air/Heat guy—which ductless AC/Heat unit will fit code, and where will it be placed?
The Sheetrock guys—how low do we need to go for the arch over the openings (where the two sliding doors used to be) from the “old house” to the “new addition.” We decided that the “old arches” (in the rest of the house) aren’t uniform, so no need for the “new arches” to be! They are putting these in NOW!
The new garage back door looks good, even without paint! This one has a window and screen so that we get cross-ventilation in the garage all summer. Whoopee!
Hammer, hammer, hammer!
They are sheet-rocking the lanai now! According to the plan, they will finish putting up the sheetrock in the Florida Room this week. Then it’s brick laying, plaster, finish, paint and clean up—the plastic sheeting must stay up for about two weeks, or will it be three?
Drill, drill, driiiiiiiillllllllll!
Time we started thinking about how we will furnish the new space, too. It surely is much larger than I envisioned. Ah! Another shopping expedition in the works, I think!
Stay tuned. This is going to be good!
December 31, 2011 § 3 Comments
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.
December 19, 2011 § 5 Comments
I love Christmas and I have no trouble getting into the spirit of the season, as a rule. But this year is different. You see, we’re in construction … we’re adding a Florida Room on the back of our house where the Lanai and birdcage used to be.
Who wants to use an unfinished Florida Room as a backdrop for a gorgeous tree? Next year we will have a great new place to decorate and party … but not this year!
What to do? What to do? How can one get into the holiday spirit without decorating and baking?
I know! We’ll go to Disney World. Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re not planning to spend Christmas week with the swarms from around the world. We’re smarter than that! We went the first week in December!
We “ooo’d & ah’d” over huge, theme decorated trees in all the hotels. My favorites this year were the trees at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge.
After contemplating these trees, we proceeded to count ‘hidden Mickeys’ on all of the gingerbread creations – the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian,
Stitch’s Bakery at the Yacht Club,
The Carrousel at Boardwalk.
(I found all the hidden Mickeys on these last two this year!)
Nothing like the smell of gingerbread and the sounds of carols in the air to get me in the holiday spirit!
I’ll finish my shopping this week – I don’t believe in buying Christmas presents before Thanksgiving – no fun in that! Of course, stocking stuffers are different – I find these all over, in craft shops and in catalogues. Those are fun!
And while I’m shopping I’ll listen to my Christmas CDs in my car – Josh Groban, John Denver, Liberty Singers, King Singers, Boston Pops. Let’s see … that’s five different versions of Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, and the Twelve Days of Christmas … hmmmm!
As to Christmas Day itself, Sarah has invited us to her house this year (it was our turn, but she graciously volunteered). After worship and the Christmas cantata (Christmas is on Sunday this year, after all), we’ll return to her house for presents and a dinner of ham, green bean bake (why not!), twice-baked sweet potatoes, fried apples – to go with the ham, don’t you know! – dinner rolls, orange slices from the oranges of our own trees, and salad. The desert will depend on what I get for my birthday – cake or chocolate pudding pie. We shall see! I will probably add a pecan pie, however. Pecan-anything is a Summers-Sanders’ favorite!
After dinner, we’ll call family and wish them a Merry Christmas and tell each other that we loved the presents received – and we always do. I have a philosophy – whatever someone gives me, I love. Then it will be naptime (another Summers’ tradition from days of old!), followed by a favorite Christmas movie.
The spirit of the season will have been fulfilled; old traditions observed; new traditions begun.
Whatever your traditions, I wish you joy this holiday season!
Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah – or, as in the case of some friends, both!
December 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
You might not think so, but Christmas Birthdays are COOL! Everyone is in a good mood (mostly). Everyone decorates for the season (mostly). And special bargains abound for present givers. And the best of all, the birthday child gets to celebrate a special bond with the meaning of Christmas – “For unto us a child is born”. As a child, I always liked to think they were singing that song in the Messiah for me, too. My birthday is December 23rd.
But having a birthday during Christmas celebrations can pose problems.
First problem – when to give the birthday party. Oh, yes! There must be one, else the birthday child will feel cheated. My brother’s birthday is in April – he always got a party! My sister’s birthday is in August – well, her party was usually just family, since we were always on a family cross-country vacation then. But we made a big deal about it!
[Actually, I did give her a party one year - with cake and presents - when she was a camper and I a camp counselor at Camp Crestridge for Girls in NC. That party included all of her camp friends and I think she enjoyed it.]
But birthday children whose big day is just before or after, or even ON Christmas Day, need a party, too.
Mother’s solution – I got a party two weeks before the actual day, so that all my friends in school and church could come. Of course, that posed another dilemma – what to do on the actual day? No problem! Celebrate again – just family this time – with a special dinner, followed by my favorite – Mom’s Chocolate Pudding Pie with whipped cream topping – MMMMM GOOOOOOD – and she even put another candle in the middle. So, actually, I had two birthday parties – not bad!
Second Problem – presents. Now, I’ve heard of families giving one big present for both, but is that fair? Mother didn’t think so. “If you give MLS one present for both, then consider your Christmas present from her as your birthday present as well,” she’d tell my siblings. I got two presents each from David and Sarah.
Fast forward from childhood to graduate-student-hood. Sarah and I were planning a ski trip for the week following Christmas and I wanted my own ski boots. Now, by this time, I had developed a tradition, that of giving myself a birthday present. I usually waited until I received other presents before deciding, but this present would be something I knew no one would think of and was really too expensive anyway to expect anyone to give. Such a present were the ski boots, but as a graduate student on limited funds, how was I going to afford them?
Sister to the rescue. She was also in grad school, in Fort Worth, and when I finished my classes at the University of Texas opera theater, I drove up from Austin to visit her. We went to the mall (doesn’t everybody?) and there, in a sports shop, I found a pair of ski boots that just were perfect – but without a perfect price.
“You go away now,” SNS said. “Shoo! I’ll meet you at El Chico’s.”
“You can’t afford them,” I said.
“Never you mind!” she responded.
On December 23, after my birthday dinner with the family, out came the presents (gone were the days of the two-week-prior-party-for-school-friends. Too old for those at 24!). When I opened Sarah’s present there were the ski boots – or I should say the “ski boot”! Two days later, I received the other boot for Christmas. Fair is fair – two boots, two presents. And exactly what I wanted!
Two weeks from tomorrow, I will celebrate my birthday with Tom and Sarah. We’ll go out to a favorite restaurant (Ipanema’s in Ocala, I hope … great Brazilian food) and afterward return home for “cake” and presents. I say “cake” because sometimes it’s a Chocolate Pudding Pie (Marie Callender’s is about as close to mother’s as you can get!).
The point, of course, is that all birthdays are special, even the ones that fall on holidays.
This year, I’m already gearing up. Next week we will begin the “house decorations tour” in The Villages and surrounding areas. We’ll sing carols and light Advent candles in church, and on Christmas morning, our church choir will present a cantata.
And during all of this fun and frolic and remembering the reason for this best of all seasons, I’ll celebrate by picking up another “Angel child” card (Sarah and I’ve already done one for Christmas) and go shopping for a child who needs some Christmas love this year. The child will receive my gifts and enjoy them, I hope, and I will enjoy giving them. However, only I will know that these gifts are for my birthday, too!