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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Studio


About one hundred feet behind the house sits a building. Unassuming in nature and not in the best of condition, it serves a purpose divinely. You see, as I love my home and even the gardens surrounding it, the water beyond the shed is where my muse lives. She is lovely; she softly sings as I tappity tap the keys and she never fails to bring ideas or words to spur me onward. She is my breath on paper. Without her voice, without her presence, I cannot write or edit or even think clearly. The ‘shack’ has become my beloved studio. Windows can be opened for fresh air and sunlight. Windows can be sealed shut to guard against dreary and dismal weather and inside the natural lights and the bright lemony walls with dark brown floors and flower paintings lining the wall all work together to bring spring to my heart throughout the most dreary of times. That sky you see surrounding my beloved studio is far, far from my heart as I sit and tap out my thoughts. The flowers are blooming and the sun is shining all over these walls hugging me as my muse sings off in the distance and my mind becomes liquid. Thoughts, ideas and warmth fill me and then spill from my fingertips into your head and your heart and we share. Writing is all about sharing for me. Emptying my head and sharing my heart.

As bleak and miserable as winter months are for me, I am reminded sitting in the ‘studio of perpetual spring’, that all I have around me is love. I cannot ignore the people who care about me and the warmth they exude in their words and deeds. I know that I have been blessed beyond measure with family and friends who would always be there for me, if a need arose. I know that God takes care of me daily and that nothing is impossible with Him in my life. I can see our comfortable, but humble home. I know there will be food to prepare for each meal and I know that we have enough money to live meager but nice days from now until the end, if the end comes soon.  I am keenly aware of all of this and yet…
My shoulders ache. My head has a dull and annoying pain which aspirin, Aleve nor Advil will relieve. I feel heavy. Not heavy as in overweight. Not heavy as in burdened with care. Heavy and sluggish and unconcerned about almost everything around me. I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t really want to talk to people because I have nothing good to say. I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want, period. I am not angry. I am not sad. I am not sick. There is nothing wrong with me except that I have no motivation to participate in life right now. I am actually feeling nothing.  
Each day of these ‘periods’, I get up and have coffee.  I read my emails and check in on Facebook. I play a game or two with friends on my phone. I have another cup of coffee. I shower, make my bed and then sit my butt down to watch whatever is on TV.  In the afternoon I will do whatever housework must be done and nothing more. I will prepare dinner and it might be good or it might be a little something to eat. I will do these things because I don’t live alone. If I did, I would probably not be doing any of those things. I read, I knit and I watch TV. All are sedentary activities and do not stretch either a muscle or a brain cell. That is what I can handle most days from January until well into March.  If the sun shines for a couple of days, I will be energized and I will get things done. I will start a project or finish one which I have neglected because I lost motivation. I truly am solar powered and as long as the sun makes occasional appearances for multiple days, I will get through another Michigan winter.  I will laugh and I will communicate on the good days and I will always be counting the days til spring.  Always.
Forgive me, I will return and I sincerely hope some of you are still hanging around when I do.  The little studio and the lake are not part of my life right now, just a part of my imagination and on days like today, the thought of them and of course, my muse, make me feel just a bit more human.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

15 Minute Mind Purge

The assignment is to sit and write without editing or really thinking for 15 minutes. Anything that comes to mind goes on the page. Time is ticking and at this point, nothing is forming for me but telling you why there is no substance here.  Just words.

Words. Some of them are so powerful and some are so weak. When you say you like something, it's a bit on the order of agreeing that whatever the thing is, can exist in your world without bothering you, but you wouldn't notice if it was gone. It's a weak word. Loving an item or an idea, however, is strong. It would change your life to lose that thing or not follow the idea. When like things, they may exist; when we love things, they must exist.

Words can be so healing and so calming. Telling someone in pain that you are hurting with them or for them, telling someone who is sad how much you care about them or how important they are to you can completely change their day. Knowing we are not alone in this world is usually accomplished by hearing or saying the words that affirm our importance to another human. A hug is nice, too.

Knowing the value of words in my life does not keep me from coming to points in my life where there are no words. None that mean enough. None I haven't already said. None that quite fill the bill for what is happening around me or to me. Days come when I cannot write because nothing new comes to my  head and the old thoughts feel tired and used to me. The books I so want finished are waiting, waiting to tell me where to go from here. I am the slave of the keyboard, but the story must reveal itself to me and creatively speaking, I'm barren right now.

How unusual is this?  I, who always have something to say, truly has nothing to say. It happens at least once a winter.  Maybe it's good to get it over with early this year. Maybe it'll be gone shortly and I can move on.

Time's up...


Monday, January 7, 2013

Oh NO, Not Again

In 1998 I closed my salon and started a booth rental position in a nice downtown Durand salon called Teaser's. We sold our house and moved into the one we currently own on January 6, 1999. That was about 5 weeks after we closed the salon. Roomy started talking about retirement. He was approaching the point at which he could retire from then General Telephone with full benefits and insurance for life for both of us. It was a time of change and we were very happy.

In 2003, he retired from General Telephone and took his pension in a lump sum. We invested the money and set up an automatic payment from one account to pay our mortgage. We could have paid for our home, but the financial adviser convinced us that the low interest of a home mortgage was in fact, a good investment. Over time, we would actually gain more than we paid in interest and therefore, while paying down our mortgage, we would be building equity in our investment account. It all made sense to us and we agreed.

Two days later Roomy started working full time for a contracting company doing the same work he had done at General Telephone for about half the money. He was nowhere near ready to retire and this job would carry less stress and no union. He would be a supervisor with a crew of 1 or 2 or 3, depending on what he needed for any given job. 

So the first retirement lasted 2 days.

A few months into the new job his old boss called him and asked if he would like to return to work at the company now Verizon owned. He explained he could return at his seniority and have all the benefits he had as a full time 20 plus year employee. It seemed a no brainer to Roomy because he had already collected his pension and felt he had nothing to lose. The new company would possibly be better and if not, he could just leave again. So he took the job. Giving notice to his new employer, they told him he was welcomed back anytime and they wished him luck with Verizon.

Five weeks later he retired again. Yes, retired for the second time because they had given him his seniority back, they also paid him a full second retirement for this five weeks of hard labor.
Off to the investment office we went, quickly, before they changed their minds. The adviser was familiar with this happenstance and assured us that the money was paid willingly and correctly by the union contract. We kept a chunk of this one and bought a new 2004 van and paid cash and also took our family (all of it) to Key West as a Christmas gift that year. The rest of the money we invested in an annuity for life. We will get that money monthly, as long as either of us is alive.  

Back to the contractor for round two after two retirements.

9/11 happened. Our investments shrunk by $70,000 and the account we were using to pay the house payment was too little to cover the debt. I went back to work after a 6 year retirement to get the house paid off. I couldn't stand that he was working while I wasn't and the debt was looming. I worked 4 years and then retired for REAL. The loan was under control and would be paid in 2 years or less and immediately if he wanted to retire.  

Now 8 years into the second round at the contractor, he told me come December he was finally ready to retire for REAL.  LOL

He turned 74 in September and I thought it was time for him to hang up the work boots and hang out for a while. 

December came and went and Roomy is now laid off. Not retired. He changed his mind. One more year, he says. He has said this for 3 years.  I am happy he has this break and hope it lasts until spring. He is enjoying the time off, but says he really isn't ready to retire, yet. I don't get it, but it's his choice. 

So next year when December comes, I'll expect another change of heart and won't find myself saying what I've said for the last 3 years, "NO, not again!"  Then if he does actually retire, I'll quietly say, "Yes, AGAIN!"  And not help him send out resumes no matter how hard he begs.

Gotta love a hardworking man, don't ya?  



For those of you who read me regularly (both of you) know that I am not one for wishing. I am one who normally accepts what is and just makes it work. I do that because it is stress free and also allows me to live with what I have and who I am, without regret. A nice and relatively happy way to live. 

For the purpose of this writing prompt, however, I shall set about creating a wish list.

1) I wish war was abolished world wide. 

2) I wish love was the norm. Hate and envy and anger were all non-existent.

3) I wish hunger was just a word.

4) I wish every child born was wanted, loved and raised with intelligence and nurturing.

5) I wish every dog and cat was born into a forever home or had one waiting.

6) I wish when death came, it always came quietly during sleep.

7) I wish random acts of kindness were human nature.

8) I wish guns were used only to defend against attacking animals, if there were any.

9) I wish humans had never tasted meat. ( Especially me, cuz I love it.)

10) I wish cancer was just an astrological sign.

I am sure I could go on and on and on, but for now, for this post, I am done wishing.

Now back to reality and my not so bad life.  

Oh, I have a lot of reading to do so number eleven might have been I wish I had taken a speed reading class!  But I stopped at ten.



Raising a family means teaching your kids how to make good decisions and also how to live with the results if they make poor ones. I remember many times biting my lip when my teenagers made decisions which were clearly not well thought out, but they needed to see and live with the consequences. They needed to learn and they also thought I knew nothing; so they needed to learn that might not be accurate as well. I don't know much, but I do know more about life than most teenagers so I felt fairly superior most of the time. 

As a grandparent, I am equally concerned with watching my grandchildren learn to make good choices. I am often impressed with their ability at pre-teen ages to think through what consequences might occur. Does that go away when they turn 13? I can't really remember my kids being quite as good at this process as the babies are. I sometimes see one of them actually thinking! Maybe even talking it over with me and (are you ready for this?) listening to my response!  Yes, my kids didn't do that. They would sit with glazed eyes while I gave my thoughts, but never listened.  I love that they are actually learning decision making at younger ages and their parents are allowing the lessons of poor decision making to be played out.  It's tough, but it's so necessary. 

Now our house is a whole different story!

In this house the decisions are made by lengthy discussions where both sides freely speak their views and then a period of thinking and evaluating follows. In a day or a few hours or a week, depending on how big the decision is and how far apart the two views are, more discussion which ends with, "Whatever you want to do. I don't care." Those words will be spoken by Roomy and what they actually mean is, "I plan to either blame you for this not working out or share the credit if it works."  I can live with that.

I am a thinker througher. I must think money costing decisions through until I am either convinced that we will enjoy some benefit from the spending or the house will increase in value for the expenditure, when it's time to sell or preferably both!  Once I am at that place, the decision is made to go ahead or chuck that idea.  I may act on the go ahead immediately or begin to save for it, depending again on how large this investment might be.

Now, the decisions made by Roomy, with little input from moi, would involve his truck, his lawn stuff and his lawn. Those things, not my area. Whatever he needs or wants is good with me and I'll budget it somehow or another. He asks for very little and when he does, I know it has come after a long time of contemplating. He's a thinker througher, also.

It would be fun for you to know some of my not so good decisions to date, but not so fun for me to recall, so I'll skip that.

His not so good decisions have been very few and I can't even think of one right now.  The reason for that is obvious, I am the idea person!  Roomy thinks everything is fine just as it is. Nothing ever needs to be updated or maintained, just repaired if it absolutely will not work.  If you can jiggle it and make it work, it's all good. Therefore, since he seldom makes a decision, he seldom makes bad ones!

Wanna share you bad decisions?  Feel free to do so below in the comments!