Tuesday, October 25, 2011

25 October 2011

Update -- the closing is done, they had the funds, the utilities are turned off and the insurance is canceled.  We went to dinner to celebrate and brought dessert home.  We are now going to enjoy Tres Leche cake and watch a scary movie.  It is a good day.  Well, except for the scary movie maybe. 
25 October 2011


I think I have discovered why I am getting up so early.  Since Hubs retirement, the flow of my days has changed -- it isn't what "I" am doing anymore but what "we" are doing.  I enjoy that, to a point, but having grown up an only child and having spent a lot of time alone what with his traveling and all, I sort of miss my alone time to do with what I want and I think my early rising is an effort to recapture some of that time.  I spent some of my alone time, this morning, reading blogs.  I really enjoy reading blogs, I feel like I have made real friends through these blogs and have really gotten to know people.  I love the photos and just hearing about people's days.  The more I read blogs the less I like the social network sites.  Blogs are just less manic and more real.  I don't understand Twitter at all even though I have an account but I forget I have an account so I don't think it matters much.  I feel like Facebook has the potential to be dangerous. I digress.

While reading one of my favorite blogs -- Angela's Tracing Rainbows -- I  discovered a  new site that I hadn't seen before called PomPom's Ponderings.  I decided to give it a look and was completed charmed! So cute and creative -- I will visit again soon and have added her to my blogroll. You can find Tracing Rainbows on my blogroll as well.

Well, today is starting out promising.  Supposedly we will close on the house this morning and possibly celebrate with lunch or dinner out -- who knows.  I think I am getting past my creative slump and feeling a bit more energetic this morning -- that is what reading blogs does to me.  It gets me going and now, after reading Joy's blog about fountain pens, I want a fountain pen complete with cartridges. You can find this discussion at Supply Cabinet Chronicles also listed in my blogroll. 

So, with a renewed interest in things and my mind going a mile a minute, I think I should go get ready for THE CLOSING.  If it doesn't happen, I am sure you will be able to hear me screaming wherever you might be.  I will let you know what happens -- wish us luck although luck really shouldn't have anything to do with it at this point.  More on that later.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Aunt Dimity Digs In

Today's teaser is from  page 28.

I could scarcely believe it myself, much less explain how it worked, or why Dimity's spirit lingered in the cottage long after her mortal remains had departed the earth -- but I couldn't deny the evidence of my own eyes.  The skeptic within me fell silent each time Aunt Dimity's words appeared, written in royal-blue ink in her fine copperplate, on the blue journal's blank, unlined pages.

So, there you go.  I wish I had a blue journal that somebody would write to me in. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

 24 October 2011

Today's  question is  do you listen to audio books? Why or why not?

I have never listened to an audio book.  I am not sure why but it seems like a great thing to do now when I drive back and forth to my daughter's house -- I might try it!
It Is Monday -- That Explains a LOT

The last week has been horrendous.  I haven't felt well.  Let's just say you don't really want to know and leave it at that.  We have been trying to get this stupid house closed on and just can't seem to get there -- so close and yet so far away.  The buyers signed the papers on Friday but, oddly, they didn't have any money with them.  Not sure why they were allowed to sign without money but they did.  We were told we could come in that afternoon and sign --- uh, no, not without some money! We weren't  home anyway to get the call so we missed that "window of opportunity" -- probably better since there WASN'T ANY MONEY!  So, we called this morning to see what was up, they said the person dealing with it wasn't in the office yet but they would call us.  We finally called at three after hanging out all day waiting and they said they still didn't have the money but we would sign at 11 tomorrow.  Really.  Well, we aren't signing anything unless there is some money for me to see.  Seriously, this whole thing has turned into a complete farce -- word of warning -- do lots and lots of "checking" if you decide to sell to an investor.  Make sure your investor is, indeed, an investor and not just a middle-person.  Make sure that the person has some experience and does things in a logical order.  Our "person" was clearly a novice and it actually cost her several thousand dollars as well as  good BBB rating.  I will probably make a report.  This has been excrutiating.

Then, in my effort to save money and be green, I decided to go back to  my childhood and buy Ivory dishwashing liquid.  I now remember why I quit using it.  My hands have cracked, bled, and itched until they were raw.  I woke up in the night scratching myself raw.  I tried gloves but I am such a weird, random, kitchen cleaner that it was off and on and off and on and finally I just got annoyed.  I refuse to buy the Caldrea soap I have been using because I think it is too pricey so I settled on Method.  My hands have calmed down and I feel better.  Lesson learned -- not all cost saving methods are really great.

I seem to be slipping back into the insomnia pattern I experienced some years back.  Twice this week I started my day before dawn -- one at 3:30 a.m. and the next day found me up ironing at 4:30 a.m.  Saturday night found me snoozing like a baby until 2:30 a.m. when my DD called to let me know a huge storm was coming my way and she knew my car was out of the garage.  Well, I spent about 30 minutes watching the weather on tv and, after all that, I almost couldn't get back to sleep but I did and managed to stay that way until 8:30 a.m.  It seems like I have gone through my entire adult like on a substantial amount of sleep deprivation -- not a good memory!

I think the lack of sleep in causing my latest slump -- or maybe the weather that can't decide if it want to be summer or fall.  It just seems like all I want to do is clean house and read.  I am not interested in quilting or stitching or anything.  Ok, I seem to have this irrational interest in cooking.  That is very odd -- very.

So, that is what I have been doing.  Reading and cooking.  Cleaning and NOT sleeping.   Maybe this week will be more interesting -- I have to sew a cap for  my granddaughter's Halloween costume -- she is going to be a chicken.  I will definitely post photos of that!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Musing Mondays -- 17 October 2011

The question today is "do you judge a book by its cover?".  Unfortunately, yes, I do.  I have read some really lousy books that way, too, and I am sure I have bypassed some wonderful books for the same reason.  I can't help it, I love a pretty book!
And this one time -- at the grocery store --

Since Hubs retirement, we have been sort of tap dancing through our days trying to sort out our roles.  He seems to be under the impression that because he is no longer working at a job outside of the home that all his time is playtime and that my job goes on without a hitch -- clearly no "retirement".   It seems that we have traded places -- he is home and I am babysitting the Bean and so I am gone and he isn't.  When I came home a couple of weeks ago I was more than a little miffed to find him sitting in the same chair watching the same television that I left him at in the morning.  We are working on this little hiccup and, in an attempt to mend his evil ways, he decided to do the grocery shopping one day.  We frequent a grocery store that is a spin off of the store that he worked at when we were teenagers.  It is different than the regular chain and has different things and a huge wine section and many organic fruits and veggies.  They also have a large bakery which, honestly, I am not all that taken with.  I tend to prefer my homemade bread machine bread.  But, I digress.  The day he went they had put out a lot of muffins that can be bought individually so he called and asked me if I wanted one.  He gets really excited about these muffins because they do have some sugar-free varieties. So, I said yes and to get me one of the white chocolate apricot  ones.  I couldn't wait for the evening to get here to sit down with my tea and my muffin and watch "Parenthood".  Well, I took a bite from the top and it was really salty but I thought I was just an odd bite and I dove into the middle.  It was all good until I got a piece of the edge -- VERY salty and a little chemical tasting.  I gave a bit to Hubs to taste and he couldn't swallow it and the next bite -- I know, why was there even a next bite -- I figured it was poisoned.  If the store hadn't already been closed I would have returned it but instead I sat there wondering if rat poison tastes salty.  I figure somebody either got the sugar and salt mixed up or put too much of some additive in it but whatever happened it was exceptionally bad and I spent the rest of the evening trying to decide if I should look for the ipecac or call a lawyer.  In the end, I did nothing and I was fine but I have pretty much decided to eat only my own food from now on.

I have finished Aunt Dimity's Good Deed  and, as with the other's I have read in this series, enjoyed it thoroughly.  In this "episode", if you will, we were introduced to the extended Willis family which builds on the previous two books.  While these books can be read alone, it is great fun reading them in order and learning how all the  people fit together without just going on a brief back story description.  I will be starting the next one, Aunt Dimity Digs In, tonight.

I have also just finished When the Light Goes by Larry McMurtry.  It is the sequel to Duane's Depressed.  It is just as funny and poignant and quite a bit shorter than the other books in the series and it was a quick read.  The book begins with Duane's return to Thalia from Egypt, only a two week span of time from the end of the previous book, but things have changed and not for the better.  He makes some major life decisions, has some major surgery, and starts his life over for the second time.  When I began the book, I figured that it would end with Duane's end but I was very wrong -- didn't see THAT one coming! Yep, not gonna tell you -- you will have to read it yourself.

I have also been working at reading a book entitled "Leaving the Saints" by Martha Beck.  I have had it on my shelf for a long, long time and I think I bought it because of a tv interview.  Well, I decided to give it a go and now I am going to give it a toss.  It is about a woman, the author, who is the daughter of a high ranking leader of the LDS church.  It chronicles her major health problems as well as her quest for some sort of spiritual understanding and peace.  The book started out a bit disturbing but when she started discussing flashbacks and describing the horrible abuse she was subjected to by her father from the age of 5 to 8, well, I was done.  The book is frank, graphic and horrific and I cannot continue to read it.  I am sorry, Martha, for what you went through and for your dysfunctional family and I really hope you regained your health and found peace but I will never know because I cannot read your book.  Had I known the contents of this book I would never have purchased it but it won't have a place in my personal library.  I am sorry.

And, on a sad note, the last remaining member of my dad's circle of friends has passed away, night before last.  I cannot remember a time when Jim Houston was not involved with our family. He was a character with a good heart and he will be missed. I was invited to his 90th birthday party but couldn't go so I sent him some chocolate covered strawberries and balloons and he put the balloons on his wheel chair! He apparently got a real kick out of them. As I told his daughter, as long as he was still around I felt like part of my dad was still around but now he is gone.  I told his grandson that I can just picture him and his wife and my folks sitting around catching up -- I am sure my dad was there to meet him on the other side -- him talking remote control airplanes while my dad doodled cartoons on a paper napkin.  Yep, that's what they are doing. Rest in peace, Big Guy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good morning!

I can't believe it is already the middle of October! Where has this month gone to?  Just an update -- part of the papers for the house sale have been signed -- an amended contract which has made the Hubs even growlier (is that a word?) and we will close somewhere around the 19th.   I am having a lot of mixed emotions with this house sale.  We moved into our current house about six years ago and I love the house.  It is a garden home although we have a huge yard -- go figure-- and it is as much house as I want to vacuum.  I wouldn't mind another bedroom for a sewing room but I don't do that much sewing so it is ok.  We have been very happy here but it doesn't feel like home because there is no history.  In each of my previous houses I have memories of my children and in this home all I have is memory of a husband with heart surgery and a blind/deaf/diabetic/senile cairn terrier that I had to put down.  Oh, and Rollie the cat that I had to give up because everybody is allergic to cats.  So, I need to figure out how to make this house "home" and I am not doing a very good job of it -- maybe I need to adopt a child -- I don't think anybody is allergic to children. Hmmm..on further review,  maybe I could just borrow one.  House plants, maybe?

In any event, I am, on the whole, glad to be rid of the house even though I think we have been "taken" or scammed or something -- can't put my finger on it but I definitely think that something is a bit askew here. That isn't how you spell "askew" -- is it? I digress -- be patient, it is only 5:30 a.m.

 Anyway, babysitting again today.  It is great fun but I have to get up so early and I am not an early riser.  Well, I am, but not THIS early -- you would think I would be getting used to it but I don't think so.

Haven't had any time to participate in any of  the meme's I usually do but I will say that I have read "Aunt Dimity's Good Deed" and am working on the latest sequel to "The Last Picture Show" and a book called "Leaving the Saints".  I will get back to you with reviews of all of them.  I am getting a lot of reading in because I read during the baby's nap which can be as long as three hours.  Of course, I pretty much read myself to sleep but that is ok too.

Well, I must go pack a lunch and get on the road -- I have an hour drive.  I lost a follower and that makes me sad -- I guess I didn't comment enough or blog often enough or about the right things and I am sorry but maybe she will be back.

See you later, folks! Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear Followers and Readers,

I realize that it has been a week since I have posted anything although I have a draft started but it has been crazy busy around here.  I have been babysitting a LOT and we are in the final stages of selling the "old" house.  Hopefully that will be done by Monday and we can breathe a sigh of relief over THAT.  Note to anybody who is curious -- selling to an investor is NOT that easy -- and it seems a little shady, actually.  So, between sitting on the baby, selling the house and trying to cheer up the grumpy hubs who is getting more and more upset about retirement, it has been a bit hectic.  I will be back with a couple of book reviews, some photos and hopefully a lot calmer. 

See you soon!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

4 October 2011

It is time for another Teaser Tuesdays.  My teaser is from Aunt Dimity's Good Deed by Nancy Atherton.

They say that three wishes are never enough, and maybe what they say is true.  There'd  been a time when, given a genie and a lamp, I'd have wished for nothing more than a job I didn't hate and a rent-controlled apartment in the part of Boston that reminded me of England, a country I'd loved since childhood.  My third wish -- the result, no doubt, of a dreary first marriage and an even drearier divorce -- would have been for a more or less stable relationship with a guy who wasn't a total creep, who would tell me the truth at least as often as he picked up his socks.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Musing Mondays  3 October 2011

The question of the day is -- What are you most excited about reading, right now?

I would have to say that I am most excited about reading the book I am currently working on.  It would be Aunt Dimity's Good Deed, the third in the Aunt Dimity series.  I have only just started this book but it had me hooked right away.  The first two books develop the back story of Lori and Emma and this book blends those two books to create the current environment.  It is just as charming, so far, as the first two and am sure it is going to be a completely engaging read.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Duane's Depressed by Larry McMurtry

I just finished reading Duane's Depressed by Larry McMurty and I have to say that I couldn't have enjoyed a book more.  In the first place, I love McMurtry and have read several of his works.  This book is the third in the series of The Last Picture Show.  In this book, Duane Moore is now sixty one years old and at a crossroads of his life.  He makes one monumental decision involving his pick-up truck and that decision leads to a chain of events that changes his, and others, lives forever.

Had I read this book ten years ago, or even five for that matter, I don't think I  would have identified with it quite like I have now.  So many things that Duane worked through are things that I have thought about myself.  McMurtry seems to have a great working knowledge of human nature so I suppose the situations that the main character had to work through are sort of universal but I still thought it to be very timely for me.  Also, it is amazing to see how one simple, personal decision by one individual can impact so many people in so many different ways.  The range of emotion expressed in this book is broad -- it is funny, it is poignant, it is straight up sad, hopeless yet hopeful and, in the end, peaceful.

It is a great book and I would recommend it, mostly to people of a similar age.

Meal Planning 101

I have been doing some considerable thinking about how we handle things here at Brinkley's Place and I am really up for some changes.  In the last two weeks I have heard several news stories about people returning to using cash instead of debit cards, checks, or just good ol' plastic.  Of course, Dave Ramsey is all for this and I have a feeling with Bank of America now charging folks for using their debit card a lot of people  are going to be rethinking  the virtures of cash -- I mean, think about it, what could be more convenient with less chance of identity theft!

I realize that, in order to operate primarily with cash, I need to know how much I spend on certain things.  The first thing that comes to mind is groceries.  I am ashamed to say but I really have no idea how much money I spend on groceries because we are always running to the store for this and that -- example, I went to Target today  to pick up a prescription and a few other things but got home and realized I needed milk as well which will require another stop and I can guarantee  I won't buy just milk.  So...you see the problem.  Clearly there needs to be a list and a plan.  Last night I considered all the options to creating the plan and this is what I came up with.

Growing up, my mother -- a most excellent cook -- had a plan.  We didn't have a car so she went shopping with my grandfather, her sister, my cousin and me, in his Studebaker Champion -- I am not sure how we all fit in there with three families groceries as well.

My father got paid every two weeks so she shopped for two weeks.  If we ran out of basics, like milk, she walked to one of two convenience stores a block from the house --  Zim's to the north or Thompson's to the south.

I liked the way my mother planned our meals.  The first of the week -- usually on Sunday, we had a big meal.  Then we had leftovers.  The rest of the week went the same way with a meat, a starch, two sides and a salad -- sometimes vegetable sometimes fruit.  We didn't have desserts often but she would buy cookies and make pudding and once in a while a cake with Swell frosting.  As she worked closer to payday the meals got less fancy and finally, the day before she shopped again we had what she called a "poor" meal -- usually a pot of beans with cornbread, salad and....always....a pie! That made it less "poor".  I actually thought that, much of the time, it was the best day of the two weeks.  She was always particular about presentation and worked to make our meals attractive and, believe it or not, she used some of the recipes she had learned in her jr. high school cooking class at the same school I went to (see yesterdays post) and....here it comes ... with the same teacher that I had.  Odd little woman named Birdie but I digress.

So, going on that same premise and with the knowledge that my husband has certain likes and dislikes I have devised the plan.  I am assigning a meat to each day of the week -- ex:  Monday -- beef.  This will allow me some room to serve stuffed peppers or steak -- flexible, I believe.  Growing up in San Antonio, Wednesday was Mexican food day in school -- all schools -- and we still think in those terms.  So, Wednesday is going to be Mexican food for us. The other days will be either chicken or fish, one a meatless meal that could be soup and sandwiches, the aforementioned pot of beans or breakfast-for-supper food.  I think that will at least take the chaos out of the planning.

One of my blog friends suggested that I blog my menu so I would have a permanent record of it rather than keep a notebook and I think that is a stellar idea and I will probably do it.  However, I need a visual for me to see on a daily basis to keep me focused.  While at Target today, I was searching for a dry  erase board and came across this.

Hmm..the photo is sort of small but you get the idea.  I wish Thrifty Thursday was going on, even though it isn't Thursday, because this would be a great thing to mention -- I got it for 50% off which came to $2.50.  I also bought a magnetized grocery list tablet at the dollar section -- it has Snoopy on it -- who can turn their back on Snoopy? So, that is my springboard for getting control of my groceries.  I will start tomorrow since we will probably hit the grocery store in the evening.  I am going to try to be very exacting so I will know how much I need so possibly the NEXT week I can go with cash.

I read an interesting post from a woman who went with only cash for two weeks and I was surprised at her comment that she felt "poor" while digging through her wallet counting out ones and change.  I don't feel that way, I feel empowered.  It feels good to use real money and not be frightened that by swiping the card I am possibly jeopardizing our entire financial security.  I don't know if it is the wave of the future but I think it might be the wave of MY future.

Does anybody here use cash primarily?

BTW -- the clip art at the top of this post came from http://americanwomendidntgetfat.blogspot.com.  The young woman who hosts that blog also has a great blog about how American women of the 40's and 50's didn't gain weight and why.  She also posts an old MetLife weight chart which I final fascinating -- it is what I grew up with being the standard for weight concerns.  It is an interesting read -- give it a look!