The domino theory

I’ve been struggling with the organization of my living space for approximately the same amount of time as I have been alive. (I’ll have to ask my mother about the first few years, but it’s quite possible that I arranged my alphabet blocks first by letter order, then by color.)

Alphabet blocks

Many years ago I was married to a man who, when I met him, had an apartment as neat as a pin. Granted, at that time Michael lived alone, had no pets, and owned exactly six books. (I counted.) I was absolutely flabbergasted as he proudly showed off his apartment. There wasn’t a stray hair on the couch. Each piece of furniture sat at right angles to the others. His small dining room table had a tablecloth and a simple centerpiece that was perfectly centered. His spices were alphabetized.

During the time that we were married, the situation changed a bit. We had different work areas and while he did not impose his neurotic levels of tidiness upon me, I did not allow myself to be adversely affected by his neurotic levels of tidiness. We also, eventually, came to be the pet-parents of twelve cats and a rabbit, which took a bit of an edge off the most neurotic levels. Though the cats and the rabbit were as tidy as their species could be, their actions could be somewhat unpredictable, and we slightly altered our human inclinations to accommodate theirs; Michael wound I-don’t-know-how-many feet of sisal rope around a pillar that connected the first floor to the basement. The kittens fell through the open stairs, then scampered up the rope-encased pillar to continue chasing each other through the condo. I count that as success.

It was within that living arrangement that Michael noticed a particular tic I had whenever I got emotionally or functionally logjammed. When everything seemed hopelessly stuck, I did a load of laundry. That seemed to be the only act I could count on to “unstick” things and allow me to focus on the next task — or decide what the next task would be. In fact, several years later, in honor of this particular conversation, I actually registered a website titled (I never did a thing with it.)

In my mind, I was in a search for the first domino. I’m certain that you have seen videos of domino-toppling, part or not-part of videos of elaborate Rube Goldberg machines. After everything has been properly set up, you tip the first domino and everything proceeds from there. So, much weight is given to the ordering of the tasks needed to be done.

Rube Goldberg

This weekend culminated with a marvelous example of finding the first domino. For the last several weeks (if not months) I have been accumulating furniture for our (the kids and I’s) new vision of the house. An oversized chair was stuck here, a headboard was moved there, and our lives (and rooms) became more and more crowded.

One day last week I woke at 3:30am with an epiphany of how everything could be arranged differently to create the New House Order. All we had to do was agree to get rid of the couch, a worn-down leftover from a former brother-in-law. Then this could go here and that could go here, if only the children would agree.

But they didn’t. They liked the smelly, soft, squishy old couch and didn’t want to see it go. Mom’s plan was stupid, the couch would stay, and that was that.

So I let them live with it.

Last night — very late — I went on craigslist and found two pieces of furniture that would complete the whole scheme. I emailed the sellers and started making arrangements to purchase the final pieces to our puzzle.

In the morning I let the kids know about the processes I had started. There was a desk in Madison we needed to pick up, so could they please help me empty out the van and store the seats? And, oh yes, there was a corner shelving unit that would be perfect for the dining room and we could get that too.

We prepared the van, drove to Madison, picked up the pieces, and eventually returned home. It was a few hours later before the logjam broke with a pair of texts from MiddleSon: “Can we talk about the room more?/Up here?”

When I went upstairs, I saw the problem. Goodness me, the room shared by MiddleSon and Youngest was impassable. I couldn’t imagine how Youngest would even get to his bed, let alone sleep in it.

“Can we bring in the desk?” MiddleSon begged.

“Of course,” I replied. “First we need to take out the couch….”

I vacuumed the couch, then Eldest and I took it to the garage. Then I vacuumed the area where the couch had been before we put a cover on the futon mattress, dismantled the futon, and moved the futon to the TV room. While Eldest and MiddleSon reassembled the futon and added a pair of long-stored armrests, I moved MiddleSon’s bed frame, box spring, and mattress (and Daughter’s headboard) to my room and remade my new bed.

By the time Daughter emerged from her room after having completed a half-mountain of homework, three rooms had been drastically changed and new sleeping arrangements were in place. By the time I returned from dropping off Daughter at her father’s house, the new desk was ready to be reassembled in the boys’ room.

We still have many, many boxes to sort and items to discard as we move forward. I have to adjust to sleeping in a proper bed again after sleeping on a futon for the last six (or so) years. Nobody knows where the dog is going to sleep. But we have moved the first domino and toppled several others that needed toppling, so that is good.


I have left several spaces in this narrative because, due to an error I have not seen in all my years of blogging, I have been unable to save drafts of this post or publish illustrations. I hope that I soon shall be able to make this post complete in the way I have intended. Until I can add the pictures I hope that the more than a thousand words will suffice to tell the tale.

Update: After I restarted the computer everything seemed to work just fine. And this afternoon I worked on moving and tossing the cluttery items in Daughter’s room. Tomorrow, Eldest should be able to disassemble his old desk, move it to Daughter’s room, and reassemble it. Then he can unbox and assemble the new desk I bought him last weekend.

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 9:24 pm  Comments (1)  

The long way around

Last week, construction began on a road that is part of my daily commute. Actually, it’s quite a small part of my daily commute: perhaps 150 yards. Nevertheless, the road work has forced me to find another path. (That’s actually what the big electric sign said the week before construction began: FIND ALTERNATE ROUTE. Not, “take County Y to County D until August 1” but “find a way around it yourself if you’re so local.”) Because there is no official posted detour, driving to work has become an episode of “Choose Your Own Adventure.”

My alternatives aren’t great. The better roads take me a few more miles than necessary, but the shorter routes are in much poorer condition than the road that’s being reconstructed this summer. And despite having lived in the same location for the last ten or eleven years (who’s counting?), I am much familiar with the outside twelve miles of my “country block” than whatever lies within the interior square mileage. Just in the last week I have discovered huge horse farms, a family cemetery, several houses that must be over a century old, and the campgrounds that bring so many summer visitors (and their guns and fireworks) to our area.


Lakes, giant lobsters, dragons; Wisconsin has it all!

This road closure has also re-routed several tons of Harley-Davidsons that growl through the tiny village within walking distance of our house, then open up into full roars in front of our house. This past weekend we had lovely weather on Saturday morning, and dozens of Harleys blasted by in full song. I hope their roar keeps the wildlife back from the road; I’ve seen frogs, turtles, Sandhill cranes, barn cats, coyotes, raccoons, opossum, and deer try to cross the road at this point, with varying degrees of success. Any encounter between them and a motorcycle would be an unpleasant one.

When I’m not taking new routes to work, I have been reading. I was disappointed in the monthly page count in my bullet journal entry, but I have been ordering and starting more books. I already have two lengthy books in the category of “finished in May” that will surpass the April total. In the last two months piles of books have arrived at work, arrived at home, and jumped into my shopping basket at Half Price Books. I have ordered them from Amazon, bought them from eBay, accepted them from friends, rescued them from carts of library discards, and borrowed them from the library.

I would need a dozen lifetimes in order to read them all, but so far that realization has not discouraged me from making further acquisitions. I have also run out of places to put books, but that’s not a deterrent, either. At the moment I’m still busy collecting and reading all the published works of Alan Paton; this experience has made me slightly more amenable to eventually re-homing works that are not by Alan Paton. It’s a start. The books I described as “on the way” in my last blog post are here on the Alan Paton Memorial Bookcase Shelf, arranged in order of publication. I’ll take a new picture, but after I had a little falling down on my phone’s eBay app last night — alcohol may have been a factor — I can report that several more Alan Paton works have shipped and are headed my way. Next week’s shelf will look different.


One book is new; three volumes replace those I borrowed from the university library this semester.

When the entire shelf is full of Alan Paton books, I’m not sure where the rest of the Africa-related books will go. These bookcases are themed with writing and the research for my own present and future writing. The second shelf carries reference material for a novel and a cookbook; the third shelf and the top of the bookcase bear source material for Jerome K. Jerome and the New Woman controversies of 1891. The fourth shelf is packed with scholarly science fiction journals from the 1980s and more Victoriana; the bottom shelf holds photo albums and binders I can’t access because they’re blocked by a rolling cart of hanging files related to Jerome. The adjacent bookcase is also more than full, with several shelves on their way to becoming double-stacked with literature and poetry anthologies, books on the craft of writing, a full shelf of resources for learning French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish, and the bottom two shelves are full of nothingtoseehere and can’tgettoitanyway.

But if liking some new things comparatively more means that I may be favoring some topics comparatively less, the space problem should soon be solved — as long as Mr. Paton doesn’t take up more than one shelf. (We’ll see what happens.)

This week also finds me, suddenly, baking and/or cooking for three separate events. Tonight I made a batch of brownies, Wednesday night I will make something else (yet to be determined, so I had better get on that), and Thursday night I should be back on my bread-baking schedule.

The brownies are to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Yarn-a-Latte, the knitting group I founded that meets at a local hotspot that offers both coffee and tanning. You’re welcome to drop by with or without a project in hand, and with or without a dish to pass. We’re pretty casual.


With just a few hours of the evening left to me, it’s time to choose. Do I write about what I haven’t gotten done yet — and can’t possibly finish tonight — or put off the writing in an attempt to hit some sort of benchmark for the day or even the month? (I’m not worried about the goals for the week; there is plenty of week left.)

I could finish reading a book to boost my page count for the month, as I only count the books I finish. Right now I’m about one-third of the way through In No Uncertain Terms: A South African Memoir by Helen Suzman. It’s a very enjoyable read, but finishing two hundred pages in two days seems a bit of a reach. I have only 150 pages left of The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun. I’m not reading anything by Alan Paton right this second, although more of his books are arriving this week. The next one I have waiting in chronological order is his 1973 Apartheid and the Archbishop: The Life and Times of Geoffrey Clayton. That’s another 300 pages, but before it came his 1964 (or 1965, depending on the publisher) biography of Jan Hofmeyr. (It’s en route and may arrive this week. Amazon won’t tell me how many pages it has, but it does weigh 2.2 pounds.)


So far, such good reading.

That’s the long way ’round of saying I’m not close to finishing anything I’m reading right now, with the possible exception of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (page 74 of 230…oh, never mind).

In the area of Formula One, last weekend I actually watched all three free practices, the qualifying session, and the race of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Okay, two of the practices were foreshortened due to red-flag incidents, and my mind drifted off during the actual race, which was considerably less exciting than practice and qualifying. The point is that I watched them all and deleted the recordings from the DVR. Except for the Spanish-language broadcast I recorded from Univision so I could brush up on my racing-technical Spanish… rats. More to do.

But I got something done on my F1 cooking project as well: Azerbaijani chicken plov, which came out almost perfect, and which Eldest actually ate. He even made a suggestion for the “next time” I cook the dish, which is an extremely positive sign. On the other hand, his suggestions was to leave out the two onions, which may slightly impact the flavor and character and cooking chemistry of the dish. But I feel glad to have finally taken a step into researching and preparing Azerbaijani cuisine, so there’s that.


Chicken thighs and onions…


Yes, that is a HEAD of garlic.


Absolutely fabulous!

This weekend I also walked to raise money for the March of Dimes, saw Avengers: Endgame, survived a spring snow squall that melted within 24 hours, went to a Yom Ha’Shoah event at Congregation Emanu-El of Waukesha, did a little laundry, and (with Eldest) diagnosed and fixed my van’s overheating problem. (We are so proud of ourselves.)

In knitting news, I cast on for a baby blanket last week and have been making steady progress of 2-4 rows each day. This morning before work I pulled out my knitting and was surprised to discover that I had left my pattern at home. But I was just at the point where I could read my knitting and proceed accurately without the pattern. Which I did, for two rows.

It’s been a stressful month for me. I’m trying to make my choices very carefully this week (and next month). I could be upset but I choose not to. I could be angry but I choose not to. I choose to be careful and kind and full of hope.

Published in: on April 29, 2019 at 10:04 pm  Comments (1)  

It’s raining words

In the last 24 hours there has been a word explosion in my life. Jagged-ended syllables hang on my sleeves like shrapnel.

On Monday I finished an Alan Paton book that was published in 1969. The next book of his that I had on hand wasn’t published until 1981, and I was anxious to fill the gap. I went on an economical online book-buying spree and ordered half a dozen books that will not only fill the gap but fill an entire shelf that now holds half “books by Alan Paton” and half “books about Africa that were not, in fact, written by Alan Paton.”

Tuesday was too busy for me to worry much about what I might read next, but Wednesday brought an opportunity for me to visit a local library, where I checked out a memoir by South African politician Helen Suzman. I read the first chapter almost immediately. Later in the evening I picked up two more books from the thrift store that will soon be on my reading list.

On Wednesday I started receiving alerts that my various books orders were shipping, with estimated arrival dates. I continued reading the memoir.

But today….

A student I had never seen before walked into my office, and I correctly intuited that he was the same person who had emailed me several times over the last two years to ask for help in finding an editor for his manuscript. I agreed, and before I went home for the day he had already emailed me the manuscript.

When I did get home, there was a package in the mail — not an Alan Paton book, but two copies of my cousin’s latest book.

MiddleSon took a look at the pair of paperbacks and said, “I’m going to write a book, too. Longer than his.” He went off to his computer (but might not have started writing yet).

Almost immediately I received an email from Youngest. After a brief exchange regarding events related to his imminent birthday, he wrote:

Also, I’m writing a book. Would you like me to share the document with you?

At this juncture, somewhat alarmed, I paused to text Daughter to inquire whether or not she had a manuscript that she needed me to review.

The universe is screaming for me to put on my Editor hat again. I’m not sure I know what that looks like.


Reporter hat…

Editor_hat copy

Writer and Editor hats…


William Randolph Hearst hat.

Published in: on April 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  


My last few weeks have been incredibly stressful, without much relief when switching from home to work and back again. I haven’t been able to sleep deeply, to knit very much, to read for relaxation, or generally to let my guard down for the whole of the month. I tell you, bad things happen when I let my guard down. BAD things.

It has been very, very hard to write. So I haven’t been writing. Mostly I have been doing puzzles on my phone: Words With Friends, Scrabble, Mahjong, Duolingo (if one could call it a puzzle), the New York Time daily mini-puzzle, and some App-centric games like Flow Free, Polysphere, and Puzzle Page, which has a combination of word, number, and logic puzzles to solve. Some days are better for crosswords and others are better for Sudoku, but this game has them all. (Note: I am not being paid to endorse this free game.)


Sometimes not so relaxing.

I use some games (Flow Free, NYT) to wake up my brain before I get out of bed. I use other games (Polysphere) to make myself see things from a different perspective, or at least I did before I completed all the free puzzles. I play the word games not to win but for social interaction; WWF gives you about four days without a move before it “resigns” you, but Scrabble lets you drift away indefinitely, eventually sending you gentle nudges to come back to the game.


This month has been a time of forgotten deadlines, crossed wires, mixed messages, and words that aren’t really words. At work people stop by my office for reality checks. I may not be the best service provider in that category of the industry, but I can tell them what I think might be normal. I hope it helps. I also hope they go on to get a second opinion.

I’ve been dragging things around the house and trying but failing to get rid of things and realizing that I really do have too many things. I bought a few more things and then wondered where to put them.

I did manage to finish a knitting project. I bound it off, wove in the ends, and eventually washed and blocked it. Then I looked in vain for the bag of gift bags that I’ve been maintaining for years. I can’t find it anywhere in the house. Since I started looking for it I have been to Walmart twice. Did I think to buy a gift bag there? No! Maybe that’s because I still hope to look in a corner I’ve already looked in a dozen times and suddenly spot the bag of gift bags. Why should I buy something I already have? But the gift bags have vanished.


Before blocking.


After blocking.

While I was all set up for blocking, with the extra leaves in the dining room table and all, I went on to block a shawl that my friend Christa had finished. She gave it to me at least a month ago, just to block. It may be a giftknit, so I won’t presume that I have permission to post a picture of it here.

I did, however, start another knitting project: a baby blanket in the same yarn and colorway as the nursing shawl shown above, for (eventually) the newborn daughter of the nurser. I have now started this blanket three times: once on the original number of cast-on stitches before I realized that I had one-third the yarn called for in the pattern, once on the recalculated number for a square version after I did a lot of math and realized that the number of cast-on stitches was in the form of 6x + 3, and once again when I realized that the real formula was 9x, where x must be an odd number. By the time I got to that point I wanted to lie down and take a very long nap. But as I have said before, sleep was not restful and naps were probably impossible. So I just kept taking it off the needles and casting on all over again. I’m on Row 2 now, fingers crossed. Things are looking up!

This evening I was going to bake a flourless chocolate cake for the gustatory pleasures of my knitting group tomorrow night, but I finally realized that it was chock full of nuts and I couldn’t make it for a group that contains a knitter with a severe allergy to nuts. I can’t make it for the folks at work, either, because on every recent shopping trip I left my carefully researched shopping list at home, meaning I don’t have the hazelnuts I need for the recipe anyway.

This week alone, a cell phone broke and was repaired, a car window fell into the door and was repaired, and another car died and was revived. If someone’s out to get me, they must be pretty darned close!


If you’re sensing a dismal pattern here, you’re not the only one. Fortunately there are a few twinkling stars in the sky that keep me going.

  • This semester I have helped to organize three major social events; the first went well despite several minor hitches, the second went off almost hitchless, and the third takes place tomorrow afternoon. I am glad when they go well, and I am also glad to be on the other side of them, taking to heart the lessons learned for the next iteration.
  • I just finished a knitting project, which gives me the chance to start a new knitting project.
  • I just finished a book, which gives me the chance to start a new book.
  • I found a way to reorganize the items in my bedroom that finally allowed me to open the curtains and let in the light.

Tomorrow after the party, and after the knitting, I can look for the hazelnuts and bake the cake on another night. I can start a new book, make progress on the blanket, and take a few steps forward before I’m forced back, yet again. The thunderstorms worry the dog, whom I can soothe. A movie will be released and a race will be run. I’ll walk to raise money for a worthy charity (follow the link to donate). I’ll read some things, bake some things, write some things, and get rid of some things. I’ll keep the faith. I’ll solve the puzzles and finally find the words.

Hocus focus

So far this month I’ve been training my attention on certain things in order to stop training my attention on certain other things. For example, now that the clutter in the house can be measured with a yardstick, it feels like the perfect time to start reading half a dozen books. Would it be more functional to sip a cup of tea while I read some Alan Paton, then rise to tidy up a bit? Probably. It might even help me find where I put my Marie Kondo book, as I’m sorry to admit. But it’s around here somewhere.

I also have about 85 daily lessons yet to read of the online series to which I subscribed just after my surgery, when I was eager for personal growth and I had entirely too much time on my hands. Maybe when I get to one of those increasingly rare days when I’m totally alone in the house I will do a DailyOM Course binge. By then I might only have about 250 more lessons to learn this year.

Time on my hands

This hand has “Tom time”: 12:34.

That’s actually a fairly low estimate of the lessons that need to be learned. The last week has taught me that, no matter what I think I have learned, I have so many things to learn that it might be more efficient to return to “GO” and restart the game.

Many of the things I am learning this week are things that I already knew.

#1: Never brag about how your knitting pattern is so easy that it’s impossible to make a mistake. I know, know, KNOW this but I did it anyway. Guess what happened.

#2: Who is a good boy? Monty is a good boy. In the last week he “alerted” at the water when it started to boil for the pasta, leading me to believe that he may become a more helpful household companion than I had previously supposed. This afternoon he scented (or heard) a ground squirrel that was hiding in a drainpipe. One less pest in the yard is a good thing, especially if this particular ground squirrel was the one who got into the crawl space under the kitchen. So long, buddy.

#3: When you have teenagers in the house, they will be hungry. Can you make dust bunnies into hassenpfeffer? They might just eat it if you don’t put anything weird on it. Mushrooms are weird, garlic is not.

#4: Check your calendar. Last Friday I drove an hour to pick up a kid who wasn’t actually coming back until Saturday. (Then, when I picked up Daughter on Saturday, she thought it was Friday.) The whole weekend was an example of what people usually mean when they resort to saying “Mercury was in retrograde.”

It’s time to focus on whatever is going to work. Books? Knitting? Cooking? Baking? Bring it on. As for me, I think I will go curl up now with some Alan Paton.

Published in: on April 8, 2019 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  


I was planning to write a blog post tonight, even though I didn’t know what I would write about. I still don’t know, so let’s just see how it turns out.


I could write about bullet journaling, which I still enjoy. I think of it sometimes as permission to draw, something I often did in the margins of my school notes but rarely did for its own sake after my freshman-year art class in high school.

I could write about how busy it’s getting at work, but those are stories I can’t really tell. Still, it’s good to have a lot of tasks to do and just enough time in which to do them. This month will have some important events for our department, and as much as I am looking forward to them I am looking forward to being on the other side of them.

I could also write about thinking about writing, and about all the thoughts swirling around in my head when I knit, when I read, and when I dream.

I could write about being on Facebook and being off Facebook and about wanting to correct every typographical error on Facebook but choosing to log off instead.

I could write about waiting for things to change.

I could write about writing, and reading, and planning writing, and planning reading, and cataloguing books and ordering books and responding with delight when the long-ago-ordered volumes finally arrive.

I could write about sleep and its interruption by anxiety, by worry, by dreams, and by rogue doorbells that play the ghost.

I’m plugging away at the writing and at the living. The waiting takes its toll but gives me more time to write and think and write some more. I think that’s what I am supposed to do right now.

Published in: on April 3, 2019 at 10:30 pm  Leave a Comment  


I’m pleased to be able to bring my Sears saga to a successful conclusion. Just before noon the Sears technician called me to say that his GPS indicated he was 37 minutes away from my location and he was ready to head over. Thankfully, I was less than 37 minutes away from my house and I was able to arrive before he did and unlock the door.

I had a little bit of wiggle room in the schedule because of the words “my GPS,” which I had at first overlooked. GPS in my area thinks it’s April Fools’ Day every day. Fortunately I spotted his van and was able to wave at him as he sped by my house on his way to the middle of nowhere.

M_o_N_Joel Davis-Aldridge

Photo © Joel Davis-Aldridge

By the time I got outside, he had pulled over to the side of the road and was figuring everything out. I called him, but he didn’t answer. Then he managed a neat U-turn and made it back to the house. I apologized for the GPS, and we had a laugh over it.

So…he fixed the washing machine, helped me renew my service agreement for the next two years, and chatted with me about racing after we discovered we were both Formula One fans.

The appointment took care of a lot of unfinished business — and let me have lunch at home — but it broke the rest of my day into pieces and I’m still trying to recover. I hope that getting this writing done will prepare me to get other writing done and I’ll start feeling as if I’m back on track again.


Tracks? What tracks?

Tonight I plan to write about racing-related food. Or maybe I should use the term “food to eat when you’re watching racing.” I’ll set a timer and see how much I can get done without wandering off into Facebookland and clicking and sharing my evening away until it’s time to go to bed and I’m exhausted but I still can’t sleep and then I finally fall asleep but wake up at 1:30am wondering if I can find free cinder blocks on Craigslist. (They’re not for me, but clearly they are Much On My Mind.) I’ve been stuck on this writing project for a while now because I can’t visualize the perfect final version. Perhaps I should start with an imperfect version, which should be easier to tackle.

Shitty First Draft

Art probably © Austin Kleon.

After I write, I need to knit. Tomorrow evening I’m going to a friend’s senior-year trumpet performance and I won’t have much time for knitting.

Surrounding all of these hopes and shoulds is the aroma of fourteen bananas given to me by a friend who didn’t have time to turn them into banana bread. By the time I get to them I may need a recipe for banana soup. If anyone out there has a recipe for banana soup, please be a dear and post a link in the comments. Thank you ever so much! I would look for the recipe myself, but I’m trying my best not to get off track.

Published in: on April 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Time to call Sears

My Sears saga has taken an odd turn since I last wrote about it. To recap, the dryer was fixed and I set up an appointment to have the washer repaired. The appointment was set for the morning of the first day of Eldest’s spring break. Splendid, I thought. He will be here when the technician arrives and I won’t even have to leave work. How convenient!

Then I received a robocall informing me that my appointment had changed from Monday morning to Friday afternoon. That’s fine, I thought. Eldest will still be here when the technician arrives and I won’t even have to leave work. How convenient.

All week I was also receiving random sales calls from all across the country. I don’t usually answer the phone unless I recognize the number, so most of the time I let the call go to voicemail — if one is left at all — and sometimes I Google the phone number to see if it’s a caller I need to block. One number in Los Angeles was especially persistent, but finally left a voicemail: it was Sears, calling about the renewal of my maintenance agreement. Unfortunately, when I called the number back I got the main menu for the front desk of a calling center and I couldn’t connect with people I actually wanted to talk to.

On Friday, just before 1:30pm, Eldest texted me to inquire about the repair visit, as a technician had not yet arrived.

Just before 2pm, he texted to report that a large box, presumably the remanufactured transmission for our washing machine, had been delivered to our porch. Nobody called or rang the doorbell.

Still nothing.

More nothing.
          That’s a lot of nothing.
Sure is.

Boys are here, still no repairman.

Boys are going.
Still no repairman.

Still no repairman…

Are you sure the repair didn’t get rescheduled for next week?

This afternoon I received a phone call from somewhere in Wisconsin. I had seen the city name come up in my received calls before, so I decided to answer it. Lo and behold, it was a robot from Sears. “Please call to reschedule your service appointment!” Whenever it takes place, this should be an interesting conversation. Great, I’m thinking. Nobody will be here when the technician arrives, and I’ll have to leave work. How inconvenient.

I hope that I can get the maintenance agreement renewed before someone shows up to fix my washing machine.


In other news about service providers continuing to provide service even as they go out of business, we recently got the news that ShopKo would be closing all of its stores, and not just the small number announced earlier in the year. Our closest ShopKo is basically the only small discount store for thirty miles. If you don’t want to go to Walmart for your everyday items, you’re going to be driving for quite a while to do your shopping; the Kmarts in this area are closing now or have already closed a few years ago.

I stopped by our store yesterday to see if I could pick up any bargains — I found a few — and decided to ask the Optical department what would be done with the records of my eye exams. It had been a long time since my last exam, but that was where I had gone.

The conversation was slightly awkward; the employees didn’t know whether or not a buyer for the optical business would be found, so their jobs were pretty much up in the air. And on the one hand, they were supposed to keep all patient records for seven more years. On the other hand, who was “they” and how would people access them? Nobody knew.

Well, the easiest thing to do would be to schedule an eye exam, since that would be possible for the next six weeks. I gave my name and birthdate, but it seemed to be taking quite some time to find my records. Finally the tech looked up and asked, kindly, “It is possible that you could have had your last appointment under a different name?”

They were right. I have not had an eye exam since before my divorce…five years ago? Six?

I scheduled an appointment for two weeks from Friday, in the afternoon.

Knitwise, I have actually been doing some knitting. (Well, I did start one project by crocheting, but as my crocheting skills have now proven to be utterly unreliable, I have frogged the project and restarted it as knitting. I don’t have a progress shot, but I will take one when there is more…progress.)

I finished another pair of slippers for my grandmother, and I’ll ship them out next week.


Then I finished the Secret Project I hinted at a few weeks ago. It didn’t actually take too long to knit — three sessions of sitting down and knitting, perhaps? — but it was a while in my Lost and Found section. I don’t know when I will send it out, and the recipient might be reading this blog, so here is a picture of the back of the project. It’s somewhat in disguise.


While I had out the needle and scissors (my tool kit had been in the Lost and Found for a while as well), I decided to weave in the ends of the scarf I had made for the Student Food Pantry. I will save it to donate to them in the fall, when they will need scarves again. They spent this week moving from their current location and are thinking up a new name for themselves, since they are much more than a food pantry. While they’re busy, I will turn my other two skeins of this yarn into a matching hat. I’d also like to come up with some designs for tags for the items that I donate to the Pantry. If you’re going to get a hand-knitted item, you should also get some care instructions for it, no?


AND THEN I started another nursing shawl for another mom-to-be in my building. She was due this week, so it’s one of those knit-like-the-wind-Bullseye kind of projects. She mentioned a severe wool allergy as well as a liking for turquoise. I was stumped until I saw a friend in my Tuesday night yarn group crocheting with a lovely colorway of sea greens. “Wow, that’s beautiful,” I said. “Do you know if they have a similar colorway in blue?” Eventually, someone pointed out that the pattern on the ball band was done in a similar colorway in blue. I picked up two skeins of it the same night and cast on for a slightly modified version of a shawl I had knitted several years ago: Chastain Park.


To shift gears slightly, it’s a Formula One weekend and tomorrow I will be trying to cook some item from the national cuisine of Bahrain. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to send them my way. I have already taken care of the relevant beverage: coffee made with 100% Arabica beans.

Published in: on March 30, 2019 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The start of so many things

I was a bit worried about last week. Every day I received another idea for a Big Plan, and they all seemed like such exciting projects. By the time I got to the weekend I was wondering how, exactly, time would pause so that I would be able to work on them all. Then, as usual, a weekend with all my kids reminded me that my time isn’t my own anyway.

I did channel some of the creative energy into the re-imagining of Daughter’s room. I took several containers of my own things out of the middle of her room, and suddenly I could see how to rearrange her furniture into a transitional state much closer to the end goal we had had in mind. This did mean I was pushing, pulling, and dragging furniture around for a few hours. (I paid for this on Saturday night and all day Sunday.) It also meant that I had to rearrange the items that had left her room and gone, temporarily, into my room. This I managed, there they they remain — for now.

Africa map 1644 blaeu

I don’t have this 1644 map.

For the rest of the weekend, when I wasn’t visiting thrift stores I was reading about South Africa from the Alan Paton point of view circa 1948-1955. My vintage maps of South Africa had arrived on Thursday; they remain at work, where I am showing them off to every half-interested party. Soon I will need to have them tidily framed. If that process takes a while, it may give me time to figure out where I’m going to hang them.


I don’t have this 1840 map either.

All these ideas and projects and energies were, eventually, managed. Each impulse was not allowed to develop into an obsession. Some of my more fantastic notions were held in my head for a while and then were let go. Well, sometimes they were temporarily replaced by different fantastic notions.

It may sound as if I’m describing a room full of butterflies. The ideas and notions were certainly fun to look at, and learning to enjoy looking at them instead of chasing them about is probably a step in the right direction. And if they flew away, I wasn’t upset. There seem to be a lot of butterflies around here.

Between the house-rearranging and the decluttering (just where did that KonMari book get to, by the way?) and the bullet journal and the history and the literary studies and the fiction and the design work I have done at work, I’m giving myself several ways to express my creativity. Reorganizing things helps burn off some extra energy, and sometimes creates energy when it wasn’t there to begin with.

Knitwise, I have finished two projects all but for the seaming-up. If only I could find where I have stored my knitting toolkit, I could be done with them and take some pictures to show you. Alas….

I’d better be going. It’s starting to look like time to do another sink full of dishes. While I am doing the chores, maybe I’ll see some butterflies.