A Fireplace Type of Day

Today seemed like a good in-between day. Neither too lazy nor too productive, so I thought I’d write about it.

I slept in, I will admit, until 10:30, and it felt really good. After struggling last week with very bad insomnia (try unable to sleep until 5:30 or 6:00 multiple nights), to feel like I slept well was a breath of relief. Discounting my dreams, of course, which involved a holocaust in the USA targeting children.

Following the necessary cup of coffee, and answering a few annoying emails–including one that was NOT helpful for resolving insurance coverage for the rental car I crashed, I decided to start the day with reading a fun book rather than diving straight into any additional emails. Since my sisters and I are rereading all the Jane Austen books together, and Northanger Abbey is up next, I grabbed it, curled up on the sofa next to Daniel, who was working, and read until the chimney sweeps came about half an hour later. Then I went through the rest of my emails, and closed it to do my devotions. I decided last week that, as I tried to get back on something of a schedule, I should do devotions after I caught up on email/social media so God could calm down any ruffled spirits.

By the time I finished that, the chimney sweeps were done, and it was time for me to actually contribute to the Gibson Girl story – as you both well know. So, I stared at a blank document for awhile, then got up, made some tea, set a timer for 15 minutes, and managed to get over 400 words done. Since that seemed to be the extent of my inspiration, I took a break to light a fire in the newly cleaned fire place, and sat in front of it while I slowly tapped out another 500ish words.

Feeling ridiculously tired after this very minor activity, I laid down for a few minutes, drifting in and out, and then sat up, inspired. I ran upstairs, grabbed all my Oregon/California trail books, a few writing books, and then my planner, poured myself a whiskey and coke, and laid down on the floor to plot out an exact timeline for editing Picture of the Past (spoiler alert: if all goes well, I plan to solicit beta readers in March). I know, I’m a type A to the core.

Around 6ish, I put all that away, played the piano a couple minutes, put a couple puzzle pieces in place, and then Daniel and I ran some errands. Once we got back, I re-lit the fire (because I’m obsessed with fires now), turned on Bones Season One, and am now writing this extremely boring post because I’ve not written anything in here in a long time.

So that was my boring/typical day as I slowly go back to being a productive person.


A Jonah Kind of Day

Yesterday was a Jonah day, to quote Anne. And therefore I have to share it with my best friends.

The morning started deceptively well, kind of like Jonah probably thought as he successfully boarded that ship. We woke up late, and got up with the happy thought that pancakes were in order for the day. So, I went down to start making them, only to realize that, of course, we didn’t have milk. But, happiness! Daniel had leftover “Just add water” pancake mix from his last camping trip, and it was just enough for a batch! I also found some chocolate chips, so went ahead and threw those in, mixed up the batter, and started them on the griddle.

At which point, Daniel came up from the basement, where he had been putting laundry in, and looked at me with great unhappiness. Apparently, there was a dead mouse behind the water heater, and the question was whether he had to take it out before or after breakfast. That was our first hint of our Jonah day. He decided to get it over with, carried the dead mouse out the door on a shovel, and washed his hands thoroughly.

Thankfully, the pancakes were ready by the time he finished, and he was much happier as he sat down to those chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, and dug in.

About halfway through, I hear a horrified gasp from him and look up at his even more horrified eyes. He lifted the bite on his fork so I could clearly see the legs on the stink bug that had been cooked in the pancakes, and apparently looked just like chocolate chips in the thick batter.

The bite I was currently chewing turned to ash as I stared at that specimen, and sat there for awhile as I tried to determine whether it would be worse to swallow or spit. I eventually convinced myself that if there had been a bug in my bite, it would have crunched, and forced myself to swallow, and then Daniel and I went to the other room, and thoroughly washed out mouths and then then our stomachs with whiskey. I don’t know how long we sat there, staring at each other, our stomachs roiling, But three conclusions were reached.

  1. There are legitimate excuses for drinking whiskey in the morning.
  2. We were never again eating Daniel’s camping leftovers, particularly when it involved pancake mix.
  3. We might never eat pancakes again anyway.

Once we could force ourselves to move again, we began cleaning the house, in preparation for both our 3:00 PM meeting with a notary to finish the refi on our house and because we were having guests at 7:00 PM to try the whiskeys we bought in Kentucky. Around 2:30, we got a call from the notary who told us that the title company had never uploaded our paperwork, so we couldn’t close. Which means we have to hope that we can get it straightened out before we leave again in two days. or we won’t be able to close before next year.

Finally, we took off to run some errands before our guests arrived, went to Costco, Daniel went to get gas, and. . . the car died. Died so thoroughly, in fact, that he couldn’t even get it to jump.

On the upside, we were at Costco, so he unhooked the battery, carried it into the tire center, and got a new one. FYI, it is unwise to travel in winter without mittens or scarf, no matter how quickly you think your errands are going to go. . .amazing how fast it gets cold when you are working on a car outside.

And thus our Jonah day ended. Apparently, God decided we had had enough because the rest of our errands went well, and we got back home with fifteen minutes to eat dinner before our guests arrived.

I Can Make it Through Today | My Lesson in Motivation

Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

Saturday, we conducted our annual Operation Christmas Child Packing Party! Now, most years, we order like 100-200 boxes, invite 100-200 people, prepare several bucket-loads of food, and get 1-2 families. . .3 at the most . . .coming out to help, and have enough leftover food to last us the entire rest of the year. No complaints – we usually still get between 75-100 boxes done; it just takes hours.

So, this year, because of COVID, we cut the invite down to five families, expecting at the VERY most, two of them to come, and I planned a minimal amount of food and we only ordered 100 boxes (just to be safe, you know). Also, just to be safe, we ordered 75 boxes worth of the “essentials” (soap, washcloths, toothbrushes, etc). In case I haven’t explained this to you before, our general method is to provide the shoeboxes, food, and essential items, and ask people to bring toys. Of course, we also go buy a bunch of toys – usually enough to fill 50-ish boxes – and then we count on everyone else to bring the rest.

My friends, I would like you to know that out of the five families we invited, four came. FOUR! Either everyone is tired of being stuck indoors or we no longer live in the city . . .we were delighted, of course, but also…Daniel had to assure me over and over again that we had enough food, and we got 95 boxes packed in 3 hours, stopping only when we ran out of toys.

Clearly this means that next year we should order 400 boxes and invite 100 people again. Our house can fit that amount, right?

I will say the most adorable part was watching the children pack boxes for children. One friend’s little girl (3 years old) ONLY wanted to pack boxes for girls her age. Her mother would occasionally convince her that they should pack a boy box, or maybe even an older girl box, and then they would get the toy sections, and she would instantly renege and go back to a little girl box. And by the end of the day, she was pretty good–I would watch her settle on the floor, squishing that washcloth around that doll until it was good and tight before reaching for something else. I really wish I’d caught a picture of that.

Oh, the food? We had enough, but only just. We had only enough leftovers for two days.

And that is my weekend update.

P.S. No, I did not get any writing done.



Maybe someday I will start attaching pretty, well composed pictures to my blog post instead of grainy candids, but today is not that day.

I arrived at my laptop somewhat automatically this evening, without particularly making myself. So that’s good, right? Maybe I’m forming a habit? Although I think that takes 27 days or something, rather than just five, so . . .

There’s this thing about writing that I forget when I’m not doing it. Every day, I show up empty handed, wondering WHAT on earth I will write. But if I just sit down and write a sentence, and then another, it writes itself.

I find it very hard to have faith in this, however. And I don’t want to gloss over the fact that it also feels kind of like torture. And ones hands need to be actually ON the keyboard. If I sit back and fold my arms to “think,” I get stuck straight away.

But my story has been going in some interesting ways, thanks to this weird “where does it come from” aspect of writing. I started by writing a story based on the life of my great great grandmother, but my main character is definitely becoming her own person and taking some liberties.

And, would you believe it, I actually wrote a marriage proposal yesterday. Me! It was the sappy kind of thing that if I came across it in a book I was reading, I would probably roll my eyes.

Is it weird that I seem to tend to write stories that I wouldn’t, personally, read if I found them out in the wild? Or is that a thing?

Oh well. I think I’m three hundred words behind, so I’d better skedaddle.

P.s. 45 minutes later…..oops! Jinxed myself.

NaNoWriMo Countdown

I was going to make this post days ago with a title like “three days to go” or something. But here we are, and it’s tomorrow (since I’ll be staying up till midnight to start!) Yikes!

And here is a picture of my freezer.

You guys, I have never had so much ready made food in my freezer at one time before EVER. Two lasagnas, two chilis, two chicken spaghettis. Two pizzas, two gyro kits. Two, two, two. It is a veritable Noah’s Ark in there!

Hopefully this will keep me from squandering my evening writing time in the kitchen. I think I will skip grocery shopping this weekend so I don’t have any fresh ingredients tempting me and telling me they’re perishable and I need to do something with them.

Because depend upon it, I will want to procrastinate. 😅 I am already feeling so massively paralyzed and blocked. Even to the point of being bored of my story. It feels stale. Probably because I have been thinking about it for years instead of actually, you know, writing it. 🤦‍♀️

Welp! I’ll just have to open my laptop tomorrow night and start typing at random and hope that some life can yet be breathed into this thing!

Tally ho!

Just a Rainy Day

Today it is rainy and cool out, but I don’t mind because Daniel has lit a fire in the fireplace. Which means I am curled up on the couch, sipping coffee out of my Anastasia cup, listening to the fire crackle, and watching the rain drip through the bright green leaves of the morning glories out on the fence. Below is a picture of when it WASN’T raining, but still beautiful.

It is astounding to me how, only a few days from November, I still have hordes of morning glories blooming, new rosebuds on the rose bush, and a plethora of flowers in the garden. We even still have some peppers on the pepper plants. Even after all these years of being away from Minnesota, I expect all plants to die in September.

But not yet, and I’m so grateful for it. We even still occasionally get a finch or cardinal at the birdfeeder. And, of course, the squirrels are as active as ever. This time, even the forks aren’t keeping them from trying to bury treasures in the potted plants.

And below, I’ve posted a picture of the “fall” flowers I recently bought for the front of the house, interspersed with fallen leaves, because we can’t keep up. 🙂

Here’s hoping my other Ingleside girls have a wonderful fall morning as well.

Arizona, Anxiety, and (missing) Autumn.

I am actively avoiding A Thing, and what better way than with quasi-productivity, so one can convince oneself that what they are doing is Beneficial, if not necessarily The Thing.

Heavens to Betsy. Where even to begin? The last weeks – months, really – have been an utter whirlwind. I have moved from glorious Colorado to the arid, starkly-beautiful Arizona, a process that began in absolute earnest right after my birthday in June. That weekend, in which my dear friend Heather flew out to celebrate our birthdays jointly (with matching tattoos, no less!) was perhaps the last stress-free weekend I have known. The day after she flew out, our house was on the market, and of course an endless stream of showings means your house no longer feels like your castle.

Writers have the privilege of being able to skip over long, drawn out processes with blithe freedom, and I exercise that liberty now. With a snap of my fingers, I skip over the ensuing months, and suddenly, here I am in Arizona!

It is very hot in Arizona.

I have had a great deal of anxiety in Arizona. The debilitating kind, where your brain defies rationality and refuses to be redefined.

We have contractors, electricians, delivery men, bug-men (the kind that exterminate bugs, not the alien kind) and all sorts of men crawling throughout the house. The house in which there is no Internet, no couches, no kitchen chairs, no television, no peace.

But I have library books.

We also, humorously enough, live in a gated community. We thought this was amusing and somewhat charming initially, in a bit of a pretentious way – I’ve practiced wearing my chin “quite high at present” and sticking out my pinkie and saying, “ah yes, we live in the country club. Gated, you know,” with just enough of a twinkle to show how ridiculous we all know it is. But it turns out the guardsmen take their duties extremely seriously, and guests need an address, a valid reason, and a photograph taken of their license plate taken before they are allowed entrance. I’m afraid it spoiled the most wonderful surprise the other day when DJ got a call from the guardhouse: “Mr. Calvin? Yes, there’s a floral delivery van who says they have a delivery for you. Shall I let them through?”

Perhaps it wasn’t a ruined surprise after all, for if anticipation is half the delicious joy, my mind wandered most wonderfully trying to figure out who had sent flowers!

(Spoiler: it was Rissa, and I all but cried when they arrived, all golden and purple mums, a spray of maple leaves (maple leaves!! in Arizona!) and wheat; a reminder of love and friendship and glorious, glorious autumn!)

Our neighbors are proving delightfully friendly, and are extremely welcoming. We were invited to a social hour last night, and it was, indeed, the most social we have been in quite some time.

I have a lime tree by the front door, and two olive trees in baskets indoors.

For the first time in a looong time, I’m ready for summer to end. I miss autumn.

Did I also mention it’s quite hot?

The dangers of ball pits

After three months of working out on a regular basis, I can do ten push-ups a day (with breaks in between sets of three), 100 tricep extensions, kayak for an hour before getting tired, and hike a few miles without an issue. But did all this prepare me for playing with children? No, no it did not.

So, we had our friends, who have three children, over for the weekend, which was a ton of fun! In preparation for entertaining all the children of our acquaintances, Daniel and I own a good amount of toys, including a small ball pit with 200 of those little plastic balls.

Well, one of the kids’ new favorite games became ball wars – in which we pelted everyone else with the balls as fast as we could. The night they left, Daniel and I sat on the couch and I finally complained to Daniel about how much my arm, particularly around my elbow, was hurting.

He smirked at me and was like, “You know that’s from throwing balls, right?”

Insert the shocked face emoji. For like 10 seconds. Me: “NO.” Him: “Oh, yes. Mine hurts too.”

Folks, I had to take IbProfen. Actual pain reliever, from throwing small, plastic balls! And I haven’t been able to work out for two days! I feel like my workout routine might need an overhaul.


Not sure how exactly I have ended up over on wordpress this evening. 🙂 Maybe it’s just that everyone seems a little busy or distant over in the messenger chats and here is a venue where I can natter on for paragraphs and paragraphs without feeling guilty about being a pest or a conversation hog or such.

That said, I don’t think I have any funny stories to share (and isn’t that what this blog is best for?) So I apologize for that.

Anyway, somewhere, some time, I saw a recipe for a cocktail involving bourbon, fresh rosemary, and St. Germain,and I am here to here to tell you that that’s a good idea. Well, I had to substitute some crushed dry rosemary, actually, in this case. And I dropped in some lemon zest which was maybe unadvisable. (Chewing my cocktail over here.)

And speaking of DIYing stuff, I am addicted to makeup removal wipes. But I like the Yes To brand and it is no longer carried locally. Bah. So I had this genius idea that I would try to make some homemade ones. We will see how it goes. So far I have ordered some sweet almond oil, castile soap, and a bottle of Thayers witch hazel which is alcohol free and also contains rose water and aloe vera which were two of the other ingredients on my wishlist. Oh, and Frankincense oil. Because I read somewhere that it’s anti-aging. (Did I verify that before clicking buy it now, though? No, no I did not.) Hopefully it turns out, because all these ingredients have cost about as much as I spend on the wipes themselves in a year!

What else was I going to say. Oh, apples. Trotting off to a local orchard tomorrow to pick up a quarter peck each of Empire and Spartan apples. Ooooh…. Ahhhh… I am all of a sudden rather fascinated by how many fruits and vegetables varieties there are in the world that one can’t find in ones grocery stores. This orchard, in particular, says they are having a record breaking sales year. I think something about the current environment has people thinking more local, seeking out local producers. It is definitely the first year I have regularly bought things directly from growers.

Ironically, I started reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal,Vegetable, Miracle this spring, just weeks before the covid panic emptied our local grocery store shelves. So it had already kind of been putting the bee in my bonnet about eating local and supporting small farmers, and then WHOOSH, weeks went by when you could hardly find chicken, ground beef, yeast…around here.

I am happy to report, by the way, that my pepper plant has ended up putting forth four or five actual peppers. I used the largest one (which was still small) the other day, though, and I’ve got to say it was NOT the most delicious bell pepper I’ve ever eaten.

And now I’m going to end up throwing out and dumping MOST of the rest of my container plants. The indoor ones are still crazy with fungus gnats, and the outdoor ones recently got a dose of wasp spray from my well meaning and organic-unconcerned husband. 😛 there were a few days recently where we could hardly open our front door due to a plague of hornets swarming on our porch….I will keep a couple of the indoor ones and try to re-pot and start over. The eucalyptus, aloe, orchid,and baby rubber plant for sure.

Speaking of husbands, since he has started working second shift I have finally succeeded in losing some weight! Ha. It turns out reverting to my bahelorette eating habits is all it takes. See, I’m still cooking all kinds of Josh’s food staples (fried pork chops, hamburger patties, hamburger steaks, sausage and biscuits….) But I don’t actually feel the need to EAT this stuff when we’re not sitting down to a meal together. So according to my natural bent, I will eat less and typically leaner. Dinner of cottage cheese, some kind of vegetable and an apple? No prob. So now…. He just has to stay working second shift for good… Jk.

Hum de dum…. I have probably overstayed my welcome here.

So who else is ready for November 3 to be over?? Although, really, I’m sure the furor will continue well past inauguration day no matter what happens anyway. Ugh.

Welp. Here’s hoping you all have some blue skies and bright apples and autumnal breezes soon 🙂


Last night as I crawled into bed, I said to myself, “well, I think I’m pretty much caught up on housework at the moment. That means tomorrow I should probably open my laptop and work on my book.”


But then I had the inspiration (procrastiration?) that it’s been awhile since I have posted on our blog, so maybe I should do that instead.


Well, anyway, I have had the gardening bug even worse than usual this year, so here I shall relate the whole Saga. It is very possible this will be interesting to no one but myself. In the case, carry on. 😉

Ever since the spring I have been waging war against fungus gnats. At one point out foyer was completely overrun. We are talking HUNDREDS. For a long time I was blaming this bellflower Josh had brought home from the grocery store, but it turns out that Better Homes & Gardens organic potting mix was the culprit. Two unopened bags in the foyer were completely infested when I cut into them — I thought maybe it was a fluke. I had been storing them in that infested room, and maybe the existing population tunneled in? But no! I brought home a brand new bag of the same mix some time later, and opened it to use almost immediately, and it, too, was crawling. So I’ve used mosquito bits, hydrogen peroxide, fly tape, sticky traps in the pots themselves– I have even covered the soil of most of my plants with a layer of sand, because supposedly that will smother them out and they can’t reproduce unless there is exposed soil.

Lies! I watered my indoor plants today, and one of them, a handful of gnats zoomed straight up out of the sand like tiny desert warriors. The battle goes on.

Some incidentals: I started some lavender and rosemary from seed, and they are NOT flourishing. I cut my orchid back today to see if I can get it to rebloom. The spearmint continues to be the highlight of my summer.

But perhaps the plant I have obsessed over the most is my bell pepper. I tried to start some from seed but they didn’t take, and eventually I bought one lone seedling from the store to play with.

It did double or triple in size, but set a couple blooms rather too early and remained stunted for most of the summer. The foliage was sparse enough that the peppers it produced developed sun scald. (I mean, I think so? It sounds like an unusual problem for a pepper to have, but it definitely wasn’t the more common blossom end rot.)

Eventually, I pulled the two tiny peppers off the plant and did some research. I saw it recommended to prune pepper plants to force denser leaves to grow — that sounded like a good idea. So I lopped it back, and for a few weeks it looked very sad indeed. At the same time of the cutting, I also fertilized with a standard vegetable fertilizer and crushed egg shells. After two weeks, it suddenly burst forth!

The leaves are a dark lush green now, and it’s setting buds like crazy and surpassed the size it was when I cut it.

On Saturday night I stood lovingly with it in my porch and photographed its biggest, most beautiful bloom.

On Sunday morning, I awoke to find it ravaged by squirrels or rabbits. The little dodgasted blighters didn’t actually eat it. They just ripped off branches and threw them on the ground. The blossom I had admired just hours earlier lay crumpled and browning.

I felt I could now fully empathize with Jacinta’s squirrel woes.

Well, I have started taking the pepper plant inside every night now (perks of having everything in containers) and it does seem to be pretty resilient. I have high hopes for it now, barring any further marauding.

I guess for last I will mention my oblong box of salad greens. It has been stringy and odd from the get go. It was over crowded, definitely and maybe wanted more light. They started to bolt early in the summer,too, so I had them inside for the most part. Just lately I’ve set them back out, though. I’m wondering if I let them bolt, if they might possibly reseed as a fall crop?

We shall see.

Here was the pepper right after pruning. You can see the two stumps from the cuts I made about an inch below the top of the central stem. Also note the feeble color of the leaves.
Here was the pepper pre squirrel butchery. It has actually recovered in the past two days and looks pretty much the same now. Phew!
My sole surviving green bean plant is starting to fill out! Not sure why the lower leaves started turning BURGUNDY though. Smh. In the background you can see my funky lettuce situation.

Signing off. 🙂