Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whipping through my to-do list

My upcoming VACation has turned out to be a source not only of ANTICIPation, but also of INSPIRation and MOTIVation. Usually I'm mired in PROCRASTINation, but lately I've been moving as if my hind end were on fire. Maybe it's just that the excitement won't let me sit still.

Whatever the source of this unexpected burst of energy, I've been getting so many things done that I'm feeling rather pleased about it. I started out by cleaning out closets, drawers, and bookcases, and last week I hauled ten bags of clothes, 21 boxes of books, including the ones below, and a whole bunch of other stuff to Goodwill. It took two trips, my car packed tightly on both of them.

Among other stuff there was a three-piece set of luggage, two briefcases, sheets, dishes, a large framed picture, a set of canisters, some vases, a small, porcelain-headed clown, and a dozen cute little jars I bought sometime before 1997 and never did use.


Once all that stuff was out of my way, I was able to clean corners I hadn't seen for a while. In the midst of the cleaning my old, trusty vacuum cleaner broke. It still worked fine for bare floors, but a little piece of plastic broke off the box where the carpet attachment plugs in, and the plug kept falling out. I considered the aggravation of continuing to use it as it was, the cost of buying replacement parts, and the cost of a new vacuum cleaner. After a little online research helped me pick out a new vacuum, one that happened to be on sale at the time, I called my daughter Kelli and asked her if she wanted to go shopping with me.

We went to the mall, where the department store had one vacuum cleaner left in the model I wanted, and we had to wait for about 45 minutes until the lone salesclerk was available to help us. I might not have been so willing to wait except that the sale price was $80 off the regular price and I had good company while I waited. When the clerk finally rang up the sale, we were surprised when the cash register displayed a message: "This purchase qualifies for a free gift card." I whispered to Kelli that I didn't want to wait another half hour for five or ten dollars, and right after that the clerk finished entering the sale information on her gift-card screen and another message popped up stating that the value of the gift card was $75. The clerk was as shocked as we were and had to check with her manager to verify that this sweet deal wasn't too good to be true. 

I now think of my new cleaning appliance as my "lucky vacuum."


My spare bedroom is generally neglected because it's so seldom used, but having had boxes of Goodwill stuff piled in there, it was time to give it a good cleaning. I washed all the bedding from the mattress pad out. Sadly, that was one too many washings for the quilt I use as a bedspread, and many of the little quilt pieces came partially unstitched. The easiest thing to do would have been to get a new bedspread, but I like this quilt and wanted to keep it because a couple of years ago I found two framed pictures that match the quilt beautifully. So, I've spent the last two evenings on the sofa, needle and thread in  hand and the quilt spread across my lap, mending and stitching each loose piece I found. Never mind that I never actually got around to hanging those pictures on the wall; I'll do it now for sure.


Speaking of sewing, I used to do a lot of it. When my girls were little I made nearly all of their clothes and quite a few of my own. In recent years I got away from sewing, but when I redecorated my living room, it was my intention to make the window treatments myself. I had no deadline for doing that, but I bought the fabric, and sometime later, when  a sewing machine I liked went on sale, I decided to upgrade. Kim happened to be going into Baton Rouge that day, so I asked her to pick it up for me. She did. She brought it to me, I took it out of the box and looked it over, then put it back on a closet shelf to wait until I was ready to get out the manual and learn to use it. I mentioned to someone the other day that I had a "brand-new" sewing machine that was "about three years old" and had never been used.

Well, in the meantime, the bedskirt on my own bed died because of too many dog toenails latching onto the crocheted lace, so I've been keeping my eye out for a new bedskirt. I needed an ecru color, and you'd be surprised how many shades of ecru exist. Finally, I found one that was just the right color, but it had pleats on the corners and I needed the corners to be split. I thought about it and decided I could do that myself on my new sewing machine. So, a couple of days ago I did. The bedskirt turned out great, and the sewing machine couldn't have been any easier to use.

The sewing machine is still out on the table in my den. Yesterday I altered a too-large pair of pants, and they turned out well enough that I plan to do two more pairs (making them fit and turning them into capris) in the next couple of days.

Coincidentally, the receipt for the sewing machine was in the packet with the manual, and the date on the receipt was 12/15/04. Time really does fly.


I've had to cut out daytime television in order to accomplish all this busyness, but I've still managed to get a little reading done. And I'm still on the Appalachian kick, working my way through Vicki Lane's Tales of Appalachia. I'm trying to pace myself so I'll have the last book to read while I'm traveling, but they're entertaining enough that I may not be able to wait.


On May 31, 2007, I wrote about misplacing (or losing) a handful of my favorite photos:

"LOST: A handful of old photos I've been trying to find for almost two years. They're some of my favorites, ones that I've pulled out and scanned to make copies for others. Unfortunately, those scans were on my last computer, the one that died, so I don't have backup copies. I usually keep my photos filed by decade, and I'd pulled some of the best ones from each file and put them all together in a folder so I could keep track of which ones I'd copied. I'm still hoping they'll turn up, but after searching for them for so long, I've run out of places to look. So far I've insisted on thinking of them as "misplaced." Now I'm beginning to move out of denial and consider the possibility that they might be lost for good. It breaks my heart."
Well, last week I found them. They were in a plastic bag in a box that I thought contained nothing but old printouts of genealogy information entered into my database long ago. I was about to throw out the whole box, then decided to flip through the pages one last time. I'm so glad I did. One of those lost pictures was this one of my little sister:

You can tell she was a fun person even then.

I was also missing some (less important) pictures I knew I'd taken on our trip to Eureka Springs 15 years ago. Those turned up, too, neatly organized in an album. Who would ever have thought to look there?


For ten days of this recent cleaning spree, I was puppy-sitting for Lucy and Oliver, Kim's dogs, while she was on vacation in Sturgis, South Dakota. Butch pretty much found himself a quiet corner and stayed out of the way, but Lucy, Oliver and Levi stayed right with me and supervised every task. The work might have been less challenging without them, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Thelma and Louise on the road again

Several weeks ago I read two novels in a row that were set in Appalachia. I enjoyed the characters and customs of the region so much that I promptly ordered and read two more books set in the same part of the country. In fact, I sort of went on an Appalachian binge for a couple of weeks. I Googled Appalachian images and checked out Appalachian videos and music on YouTube.

On the heels of that, my sister, who lives in Texas, called me one day on her lunch break. She said she has vacation time she needs to use, her husband can't get away from work anytime soon, and she'd really enjoy a change of scenery. She asked if I'd be interested in going somewhere with her. "My mind isn't made up about any particular place," she said, "but I've been thinking about Tennessee."

My head started spinning. Was her invitation a timely coincidence, or was there really something to this whole law-of-attraction thing?

It took me less than two minutes to say an enthusiastic, if conditional, yes. Of course, I'd have to check with Kim to see if she'd be available to stay here with Butch and Kadi. And I didn't want to cramp my sister's style by not being able to keep up with her, but I am walking much better these days and should be able to maintain a decent pace for a couple of hours at a time. I have budgetary issues, too, but if we travel as economically as we comfortably can, I'll be much happier about dipping into my savings for a vacation than I was about spending money on that last dental crown.

After several more phone calls and a handful of e-mails, it's all working out. We're totally together in our thoughts about what we want and what we don't want on this trip. Our route is planned, hotel reservations have been made, and I don't know about my sister, but I've already started hanging vacation clothes together in one section of my closet so I can see at a glance if there's anything else I need.

At the end of this month we're going to the Smoky Mountains, and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Golden oldie, oldier, oldiest

This Saturday's song selection is my second-favorite song of all time (edged out only slightly by Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale"). It's a song almost everybody knows: "Unchained Melody."

My grandchildren would tell you that this is an oldie, dating all the way back to 1995 when it was featured in the movie "Ghost."

My children would tell you--and they'd tell their children--"Oh, no, it's older than that. It was popular in 1965 when we were just toddlers."

And those of you who are near my own age would tell my children and grandchildren, "Why, that song was a top-ten hit for weeks on end in 1955!" And you would be right. I loved it back then, when I was 12 years old, and I've never stopped.

The best known version, the one that was popular in 1965 and enjoyed a huge resurgence in 1995, was sung by The Righteous Brothers*:

A whole bunch of people recorded this song in 1955, so I've listened to several of them, and I'm pretty sure that the version that was usually played on the radio in Springfield, Missouri was this one by Roy Hamilton*:

And a whole lot of people have recorded it in the intervening years, too. Just goes to show you that a really good song stays really good.

*Thanks to the folks who posted these videos on YouTube.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Foto File: Outside the Gym on a Rainy Afternoon

This shot was taken through a wet windshield, so it was blurry to begin with, but to further obscure the identity of the half-dressed person working out in front of the door, I decided to digitally alter the original photo with Photoshop's cutout filter. I like the effect, and I really like the colors in this shot.

The only other thing I have to say about it is that this is about as close as I like to get to a gym.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A matter of the utmost urgency

The sky opened up yesterday afternoon, and Levi immediately went into panic mode. Unlike Butch and Kadi, he wasn't afraid of the storm. Instead, despite the thunder and torrential rain, he banged against the back door and pleaded for me to let him outside -- immediately! I hesitated a moment or two, then, realizing it had been a while since he'd been outside to relieve himself, I decided to let him make a run for it.

And run he did, though clearly not for that reason. He ran as fast as he could go, his body low to the ground, feet scrabbling, on a straight path to a specific point not too far from the back fence, where he grabbed something in his teeth, then whirled around and headed  just as quickly back to the house. He'd gone out in the storm to rescue his "baby," the tattered remains of what was once a stuffed pink pig.

I dried Levi with a towel when he came back in, then he watched while I towel-dried the sopping wet "baby." He's a good boy, that dog.