Monthly Archives: October 2012

Too Cynical?

On one hand, I’m far too trusting. Unless someone gives me a reason, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Usually. But I’ve seen the subject of helping ‘panhandlers’ out come up a couple of times recently, and both times have taken a long, hard look at myself.

Granted, I don’t see too many people holding signs out, but I’ve had some that approach me with a story. They’ve driven to my area from a distance of up to a couple of hours. It’s always to help out a family member or friend in need…and now they don’t have enough gas money to get back home.

I have a problem with that. Obviously started off knowing they didn’t have enough gas, nor the money to fill the tank once they got here.

If I were that broke, I’d probably have tried to help the person in need find someone in a better position to help them. If there was actually a person in need to begin with. But I certainly wouldn’t put myself in a position where I would have only two choices…be stranded, or start begging.

So yes, I’m cynical. I’ve helped enough people out in the past, only to find out later that I was scammed, and now I’m leery of helping anyone. And so I limit what I do to organizations.

At the top of the list is Hospice. This wonderful organization helps make dying people more comfortable. They provide medical care, either at the patient’s home, or a peaceful environment in nice home-like buildings. And many of them do it at no cost to the patient or family. They exist entirely on cash donations, or clothing, furniture and other household items donated to their stores.

They have given top-notch care to several of my dying relatives, including my dad and grandparents, and they will always have a special place in my heart.

I will also donate to food drives.

But I flatly refuse to give cash to strangers. The people I’ve known, the ones who don’t think twice about stealing from friends and acquaintances, are part of the reason. But reports like this don’t help either. The thieves look so genuine that you can’t tell that they’re doing a job.

What about you? If you see someone with a sign, telling about how down on their luck they are, or someone approaches you asking for cash, what do you do?

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Slow, Deep Breaths…Pep Talk!

Okay, so if you saw the blog yesterday, you know I went to the NaNoWriMo Kickoff party and…

Yeah. I guess I’m going to give it a shot. I’d say I’m going to do it, but I’ve accepted the fact that my life is not my own a good deal of the time, and making that 50,000 word goal is all going to depend on…how many excuses I wind up making. Or (hopefully) not making. Because let me tell you, sometimes scrubbing a toilet, sweeping down cobwebs, or organizing an armoire I haven’t opened in six months seems a million times easier than writing a couple thousand words. (and can someone tell my WHY ‘armoire’ is always red-lined?)

Okay…so I have the story I want to work on, in addition to working on two other WIPs (works in progress, for my non-writer friends). That makes the total word count I want to write in November…like way too high!

I need the name of a great therapist please.

This pep talk isn’t going quite the way I planned, but that’s okay. Not much in life does, right?

Anyway, I’ll be posting periodic updates. Probably on Sundays. Only because it will make me feel accountable to someone. All right, all right. So I’m hoping it will humiliate me into staying on track.

Sigh…

There are several more episodes on YouTube. If you’re interested, click on the YouTube link in the lower right hand corner and you’ll see links along the right side of the screen.

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Today Is Full of Nice Surprises

First, after much waffling over it, I finally decided to attend the local NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Kickoff party in Lansing, MI. Many of you know I keep a third shift schedule, so attending an early afternoon event isn’t something I’m really thrilled about.

But it was so worth it! I had the opportunity to listen to fantasy author Jim C. Hines talk about…writing. Funny guy.

I also had the opportunity to see that there are a whole lot more writers in the area than I realized, and am going to actively work to seek out a group that meets regularly. One that’s not too far from home. I hope.

The second nice thing is this… There was an email waiting for me from Morgen Bailey. She’s rerunning my interview from May, if anyone missed it and/or is interested in reading it.

And now, since this isn’t a regular day for me to be posting, and since driving to Lansing on not enough sleep made me even more tired than I was, I think I may take a Sunday afternoon nap. And if I get in there quick, its still will be afternoon.

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Misadventures In Home Ownership, Part 3 (rerun)

And now for the final installment…

I quickly called the second cleaning service back to let them know we finally got the lid off and they could come anytime. Uh-huh. Given it was now late afternoon, we’d have to wait until the next morning, sometime before noon.

It would only cost us another fifty dollars…because the next morning happened to fall on a Saturda,y and weekend rates would go into effect then. Yippee.

The woman instructed us to put the lid most of the way back on. Not only would it prevent someone from accidentally falling in during the night (now there’s a peachy thought!), but it might also enable us to successfully flush the toilet until their guy arrived.

Didn‘t help even a little bit, but at least no one fell in.

You can imagine that we were extremely relieved when the guy from the septic company arrived the next day, barely before noon. I knew right off that the young man wasn’t getting paid enough. It was right there to see, in the black stuff all over his clothes and skin.

Personally, I’d have liked to have driven somewhere far, far away, but bright girl that I am, I thought I’d play the nice, interested homeowner and stand on the porch while the tank was being sucked clean. Or as clean as a septic tank can get, which isn’t much at all.

Turns out the porch wasn’t the best place to be.

Actually, I’m not sure that Ohio would have been far enough away once he stuck the hose down in the hole and turned the suction switch on.

I can’t even begin to describe the stink that assaulted my nose.

And this guy was bent directly over the hole, without benefit of a gas mask, or oxygen tank, or anything else to filter the noxious odor that probably offended people for miles.

Still trying to fulfill my duties as the property owner, I tried to tough it out, slapping my hand over my nose and mouth. That might have been effective had I been holding a washcloth doused in Lysol. As it was, I could have inhaled my hand all the way up to my wrist and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

Apparently the guy must have noticed, because I saw him grinning from ear-to-ear. Most likely because I looked like an idiot.

I then tried pulling the neck of my tee shirt up, thinking that my perfume might mask the odor a little but, wonder of wonders, that didn’t help either. That’s when I gave up trying to be a good homeowner and quickly fled into the house.

I wasn’t getting paid to breathe that kind of pollution. In fact, I was paying big bucks so that he could have that privilege!

Anyway…

The job is finally finished, lid back on the tank (oh thank God!), and the guy, with his nasty, black stained hands, says, “Hang on, I’ll get your receipt.”

What?!!!

You’re going to touch my receipt with those hands…and you seriously think I’m going to take it?

But I did, briefly, by the tiniest little bit of the corner. For a second I thought I might take it to town and have it laminated so I could put it in my file box. Then I realized it would be a pretty rotten thing to do to anyone who used the machine after me. Eventually I decided the canceled check would be all the proof I’d need…and pitched the receipt in the trash.

And then it was time to flush the toilet and sanitize the bathtub. Oh yay.  Can’t tell you how thrilled I was to tackle that job…

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Misadventures In Home Ownership, Part 2 (rerun)

Continuing where we left off yesterday….

She was a big help there. Somewhere in the yard was a septic tank. And on the top of the tank was a lid. A lid that we’d have to find, expose and remove.

Yeah right. Like that location was in the reams of papers we signed when we bought the house. Not!

She suggested I make a trip to the county office. They’re supposed to have inspection records of things such as where your septic tank might be found. And sure enough, they did have the exact information I needed. They were even kind enough to print a diagram for me.

Are we in business or what?!

We immediately headed for the hardware store to buy a dirt shovel, because sure as shooting the snow shovel wouldn’t be much help.

Turns out the dirt shovel wasn’t a whole lot of help either.

Apparently this house sits on some pretty hard ground. More like clay. Or a combination of super glue, concrete and clay. All we could do was chip away at it. Actually the kids chipped away at it. I chipped twice and gave up.

My daughter thought it was great fun. The rest of us, on the other hand, were fully aware that it wasn’t. But I guess like beauty, fun is in the eye of the beholder. And my eye didn’t behold it as even remotely close to fun.

After two and a half hours of my family taking turns, I ran back to town for a second shovel. The only progress at that point was a three foot square, ten inch deep hole. With no sign of the tank at all. At that rate I was afraid it would be about six months before we could schedule the appointment.

But the second shovel helped the whole process along and, after another couple of hours, there it was! The access hole.

Our elation quickly turned to dismay when we discovered that not only was it a thick concrete lid, the only handle, and I’m being very generous calling it a handle, was this curved, tiny, narrow metal thing. So narrow that the only way you could have worked two fingers in it side-by-side was if you happened to be that stretchy guy from the Fantastic Four. Or Casper. There was no way any of us would be able to grab it.

One brilliant suggestion was to rent a crane to get it off. I thought that might be overkill.

Finally we tried the claw part of the hammer, and the tip of one side fit in the small opening, only the lid wouldn’t budge. Some gentle tapping around the edge was all it took and voilà! The lid was removed.

Whoa!

I’d been in a few outhouses as a kid. A lot of roadside parks had them back then. And for those of you thinking that must have been around the turn of the last century, trust me, they’re still out there. And they will always smell bad. Really bad.

A septic tank with its lid off smells a lot worse though.

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Misadventures In Home Ownership, Part 1 (rerun)

When I first started blogging, I had so few readers that I’ve decided to recycle some of the ones I wrote back then. Here’s the first in a three-part series, originally published on June 24, 2011. Hope you enjoy it.

After far too many years of renting, I have had some very eye-opening experiences over the past few months as a first time home owner. I’ve also discovered that some of these experiences are, well, something less than pleasant.

The most notable example having begun, and note that I said begun, not happened, on a Thursday night, as I was packing to leave for a three day weekend in Mackinaw City..

Or not.

Because, without the slightest bit of warning, the toilet in the main bathroom started backing up. Into the bathtub. Which was, to put it mildly…disgusting.

Thinking someone must have used just a little too much toilet paper (I‘m not classy enough to say bathroom tissue). I think to myself, ‘One of the kids can take care of that, and I’ll just keep packing.’ But I shortly after they started to plunge, I heard gurgling from my kitchen.

Aghast at the thought of some of that stuff backing up in my sink, the sink I wash my dishes in, I immediately grabbed the plunger that I keep in the kitchen and did some plunging of my own. Ah, togetherness…

During the short breaks to rest our arms, I was pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drains like mad.

Well…

Around two-thirty in the morning, after nearly four hours of trying to clear the drains, I realized that we can kiss the trip goodbye because, Houston, we’ve got a problem.

So instead of loading the van, first thing the next morning I called a friend who also lives in the country and explained what was going on. She thought it sounded like the septic tank needed to be pumped out. Great. We’re going to have to pay to have other people’s waste cleaned out of our tank. Even better, we bought that waste the day we bought the house.  Talk about a superfluous purchase!

So I whip out the phone book and discover that we have only two companies in the area that are into the most awful job I can conceive of. My hope was to get someone out right away in an effort to salvage most of the weekend.

The first woman was one of the nicest I’ve ever talked to. In fact, she was incredibly pleasant when she said they could squeeze us in sometime Tuesday morning.

I quickly started counting on my fingers because, having stayed up half the night dealing with the stuff nightmares are made of, I was more than a little punchy. Hmm. Four days away.

Given that we’ve got eau de latrine wafting through the house, courtesy of the cesspool in the bathtub, I’m thinking that Tuesday morning just wasn’t going to work for me.

So I quickly thanked her and called the other company. They only charged ten dollars more than their competition, and could be here that very afternoon.

All we have to do is dig up the access hole and remove the lid.

Umm…

What’s an access hole?

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For Anyone Who Thought I Was Nuts About the Borax…

Yeah, I’m probably beating a dead horse here but, after nearly four months of using it to wash my hair…I continue to be impressed with the results. Every time I glance in the mirror and think, “Gosh, it looks like I flat ironed my hair,” because it’s so straight and shiny, I love Borax more.

I’ve only used the coconut oil and bag once (the second time wasn’t convenient), and smoothed on a very little bit twice, so I know that the end to my Bozo hair days really are over thanks to that nifty laundry booster. And the itchy scalp? Totally a thing of the past.

No question about it…I’ll never use commercial hair products again. And it’s looking like I can donate my flat iron to the Hospice store, too. Yay!

So how do I use Borax? After the first time I knew I wouldn’t be pouring the dry stuff on again. It doesn’t dissolve well…and it’s really hard to rinse out. I put maybe a quarter cup of it in a 20 ounce glass, fill it with hot tap water, and stir a couple of times over a ten to fifteen minute period of time.

Because it’s basically water, if you decide to try it you need to know one thing. As you’re pouring the glass, pour it slow…and scrub like mad with your other hand. If you don’t, it will just go down the drain. Also, don’t put all of it on your head. About half will not dissolve, and you’ll wind up with a glob of hard to rinse gunk in your hair. It takes a time or two to get the technique down but….so, so worth the results.

A couple of other tricks I’ve learned this week are courtesy of Shineka Robinson sharing a link for Coconut Oil Cures (Sharon Daniels).

Coconut oil is goodfor acne. Yes, folks, I still have occasional issues with it. As soon as I saw it in the book, I dabbed a little on. Let’s just say that within a few hours, my daughter was so impressed that she wanted some.

It’s also a great moisturizer for your skin. Trust me when I say that you will want to pull your hair back. I use a plastic headband and hair clips. Then I get a tiny little bit between my hands, rub them together, then smooth it over my face and neck. When I say a tiny little bit, I’m talking maybe a teaspoon.

I use Spectrum Organic (expeller pressed). Shineka knows I’ve been using it to combat hypothyroidism-related fatigue…with fantastic success…and she thought I might be interested in the book. She was right. Thanks, Shineka!  🙂

Sorry, I know this isn’t a beauty blog, but I just walked past a mirror and smiled. My hair looks fantastic (at least compared to what it did when I was using shampoos), and my skin looks better, so I thought I’d share some ‘home remedies’ that are working well for me.

Yup, this is what I use for my hair. And how COOL! I love old Doris Day movies, and the woman in this commercial is in one of my favorites…On Moonlight Bay.

***A quick update here. I started being diligent about using the coconut oil on my face on Tuesday. I’ll keep experimenting, but I don’t think I’m going to use it more than a couple of times a week. It might be too greasy for daily use. Of course when I remember to get some cocoa butter, and something else, I’ll try to make my own face cream, and let you know how that works.

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