Monday, November 17, 2014

Countdown crazy

Yes, folks, this is the same tree that just a few weeks ago was in flaming color. Now it's almost lost in the flurry of flakes. And the countdown to winter it going off like an alarm clock.

 Time's up!

Technically we still have two weeks before we leave for Florida but winter is pushing us out the door. That doesn't mean I'm ready. This is the week for the final paperwork. Finish all the tasks I promised at church, put AT&T on vacation hold, get the mail forwarded and  submit the final payrolls for my freelance work.

It's also the last hurrah for book sales. I need to check with all the stores that carry my books to be sure they have the necessary supplies to carry then through the winter. Then I finish the week with two big sales events. Friday night is our second annual Holiday Book Bash at Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake. That was a great party last year and features even more authors this year. Then Saturday we are scheduled at the Muskegon Farmer's Market.

The hectic holiday season is about to begin.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A storm is brewing

      A cloudy sky framed the bare tree yesterday as I took my walk. Even the most stubborn leaves had been torn from the branches. Winter is almost here.
      If you've been following my weekly updates on this particular tree, you know the count is down to three weeks from today. That's when we leave for Florida. But that final week I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving at my mother's house so there's really only two weeks left to get ready for Florida.
      Like the winds that have picked the tree clean, I have been picking away at the home tasks, trying to get this life in order before I move on to my Florida life. I've made amazing progress. My bathroom redecorating is finished. It looks a little like purple grape juice has stained one wall, as well as towels and shower curtain.I even cleaned out the linen closet yesterday, a job I have been putting off for years.
      The kitchen cabinet cleaning that I have been postponing just as long moved to top priority when the silverware drawer fell out again. It's too heavy and the hardware pulls right out of the screw holes. I stuff broken toothpick pieces in the hole -- Daddy used to use wooden matches but I don't have any of those -- to make the screw tight again. The drawer is back in place for another year, but cleaning it out made me consider a lighter arrangement for that drawer, new homes for the less used pieces.
       Once the kitchen is back in order, it will be time to concentrate on this week's tasks: The first preparations for Florida. I need to renew the insurance policy on my convertible which is in storage in Florida and pick up license plates. While I'm at it, I need to change my supplemental health insurance.
      It's also a week of celebrations. My son Ryan and his wife Angela celebrate their 10th anniversary on Tuesday with a Vow Renewal party. Then next weekend we'll squeeze in a quick Christmas celebration.
      I'll close the week by reviewing "Mary Poppins" at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, my final review before Florida.
      I can almost smell the snow. It's coming!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Countdown continues!

      Yes, this is the same tree that was so beautiful two weeks ago. Now only a handful of stubborn leaves remain.
       And as of today only four weeks remain until we leave for Florida. Naturally I have added projects to my to-do list. With leaves falling all around outdoors, I decided to bring fall indoors and have been stripping wallpaper in my bathroom. The leaves fall much more effortlessly, I can assure you. My blue sky and angel decor, which I installed 10 years ago on top of the original pink stripped paper,  is going right down to plain paint. That means scoring and spraying and scraping, and scoring and spraying and scraping the next layer. Then washing down the walls to get off the paste residue. After a week of bursts of work each day, I finally have smooth, white walls which will become "Hazelnut Cream" and "Plum Good"  tomorrow.
        But the other projects to prepare for leaving have been taking a back seat to the bathroom project. So I still need to prepare the church library for my winter replacement. Give my final speech in the Competent Communicator book at Toastmasters, vote, review a couple of plays, (did I mention vote?) feed my son's cats while he's on vacation and rake some of his leaves. And vote, of course!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blowin' in the wind.

      When I walked by this tree today, the same one I posted last week, I realized how very fast the countdown to winter is going. Branches that were bursting with color are now bare.
        Oh, there's still some leaves left. Some glorious days of sunshine and blue skies. But the wind is howling, like the clock ticking loudly, reminding us that these sunny days won't last long.
        As for my countdown to get ready for Florida, I've made some progress. Took the cat to the vet to be checked out, sorted out my supplemental health insurance and prescriptions,even made those pillows for my outdoor furniture in Florida and packed them away! One box down!
       And I have good plans for the week ahead: reconnecting with friends I won't see all winter, getting the church library ready to turn over to another volunteer, making holiday plans with my son Ryan Wallace and his wife Angela.
     This will be our sixth winter in Florida and the longest visit yet...a full four months.You'd think I'd  be an expert at packing by now, or at least have a full proof list, but every year requires something different. No sense taking exactly the same clothes every year. And I plan different projects. This year I'll be working on a family genealogy. In fact, I'm so interested in the genealogy project that it keeps getting in the way of my countdown projects. No dessert until you eat your veggies!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Before the last leaves fall

          It was my great pleasure this weekend to drive up to Traverse City and explore all the way along Mission Peninsula, to the 45th parallel (halfway to the north pole!).The colors were indescribably  beautiful. At times it felt like the landscape was ablaze and I was driving through the flames.
          But already some of the trees are spent, their branches almost bare, their colorful life scattered on the ground below. It reminds me that the countdown has begun. For some of you, that is the countdown to the first snowfall. For snowbirds like me, it's the countdown to Florida. We leave six weeks from today.
           That's six weeks to finish all the projects around the house that haven't gotten done over the summer. Time to get the church library in order for the winter months. Six weeks to make those final doctor visits, the last hair appointment. Time to make the rounds to visit the relatives and friends I won't get to see over the winter. I need to squeeze in my last visits to local theater,  file my final reviews for The Press. Six weeks to finish my pre-holiday book sales events and have my holiday celebrations with family in advance. Buy my Christmas gifts, address my cards.
           And time to pack, of course. To remember all the things I forgot last year and sort out all those items I took last year but never used. To clean out the fridge and prepare the house for winter.
            It sounds so overwhelming. But the leaves fall a few at a time and so the tasks that remain will fall. The countdown begins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bookin' it!

      "What library are you from?"
As I perused the displays at the Michigan Library Association conference in Grand Rapids today, that was the question every vendor asked.  How to answer?
      Should I say the Grandville Library which hosted the kick off party for Full Moon Friday last June or the Sparta Library that welcomed me for a presentation on Laughing for a Living just a couple of weeks ago? Perhaps I should say the Cedar Springs Library or the Traverse City Library which carry my books. Or the Joliet and O'Fallon libraries in Illinois, that also stock my books.
       Or maybe I should say the library at Grandville United Methodist Church. I've been volunteer librarian there since I retired from The Press five years ago.
        Or maybe I should say the Akama Public School library on Epi Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific. Our church raised $900 to stock a new library for that school.
        When I think about it, I've had a lot of libraries in my life. The one at McKendree College where I read Bruce Catton's books on the Civil War for a research paper in high school. The one at Southwest Baptist College where I went to read daily newspapers when the USS Pueblo was taken in North Korea in 1968 and my boyfriend was serving in South Korea. Or the library in Toledo, Ohio, where I read about Cystic Fibrosis after my son was diagnosed in 1979.
        There was the library in Richmond, Va., where my son used to go to reading group and the one in Joliet, Ill., where I checked out old black and white movies to share with him back before we had a VCR. There's the library in Kentwood, Mi.,  where we looked up college information for him.And now the one in Grandville where I stock up on books on CD whenever I take a car trip.
         Libraries are my life.They have kept me informed and entertained. I'd hate to imagine life without libraries.
         What library are you from?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Full Moon Monday

The moon wasn't quite full tonight -- 95 percent the chart says-- but it sure felt full in terms of things going wrong.
       My presentation tonight at Sparta Carnegie Library started off like one of the catastrophe chapters in Full Moon Friday. I arrived about 6 p.m. for the 6:30 presentation, knowing that's running a little tight when technology's involved.
        The room was all set up, including apple cider and great pumpkin cookies. The video screen was in place, as was the projector. First we couldn't find the plug to connect the projector to the electricity. Once that was located, we inserted my flash drive that contained the power point presentation, but the projector couldn't find any of the Windows-based programs on the flash drive. It could only see the jpegs.
         No problem. I'd brought a computer along and with the help of Librarian Nicole we connected it to the projector. It's an older computer that had the right connection to match the projector. It turned on and then zap... turned off and simply wouldn't turn on again.  After trying several restart procedures, Nicole went home to get her laptop.  In the meantime, I managed to get my computer to turn on but it insisted on a "startup repair." Major delay.
          As the guests began arriving, Nicole returned with her computer. We hurriedly connected it, added my flash drive and voila! Power point!
          The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. Cheryl Currier of the library staff gave a great introduction. The crowd was small, but we enjoyed talking about movie star interviews, favorite plays and creative cursing.
          Much thanks to library director Lois Lovell. And thanks to the almost full moon for setting just the right mood!