Monday, February 26, 2007

A Fresh Start (recovering from February)

Last week I personally declared that March 1 is a new start. It feels good just to think about it. Things were going smoothly and positive changes were made--then February came along. I usually go with the flow, at least most of the time, but these particular stresses accumulated. I became weary, melancholy, and uninspired. Yuck.

It began when our almost 14 year-old pet turtle died on January 28. True, this didn't happen in February, but close enough. A couple of us at our house have grieved for Donald, myself included. This was on the heels of our oldest Border Collie, Jack, getting injured which required surgery. He was kept inside and endured ten days of large antibiotic pills.

On Thursday, February 1, I received a frantic phone call from the home office of my former mortgage company. At 10:30 a.m. they said that I had to send via my dusty files to them via overnight courier that afternoon for an audit the following Monday. Sure. Take into consideration: 1. I hadn't closed a loan in over six months and had closed my business before Thanksgiving; 2. I brought the files home the night before after being told two days earlier to possibly expect an audit in the next month; and 3. FedEx picks up at 2:30 pm in Floyd. The day was a whirlwind of Stress with a capital S. When I came back home that night (with mush brain and zero energy), we discovered our client's bedroom door ajar and his parakeet cage opened upside down on the floor. Apparently, our outdoor cat snuck in when we left, there was nothing left of the keet but a couple of yellow feathers.

On Friday, February 2, I received a frantic email: Where's this? Where's that? This loan doesn't have X. I replied that I didn't have those items. They didn't give me time to review the files nor did they indicate any urgency when they first called on Monday. They asked for documents that were not needed in previous audits. It didn't sound good; I was mentally swirling around in the mortgage world and worrying about an audit for my now defunct business. I had a new job (since last June), but I found myself concerned about mortgage loans again.

That was how February began, it continued from there.

Last Thursday, February 22, my son's beloved blue parakeet, Birdy, died of natural causes. It was most likely from getting too cold during the ice storm on Tuesday, February 13th which left us without power until the evening on Friday, February 16th.

Between the 1st and the 22nd we lost more animals. Our comical duck trio 'disappeared' one by one when the pond froze solid in late January. There were two drakes and one hen, then a few days later just one drake and one hen, then soon thereafter only the lone black hen. She held her own for another week until, she, too, disappeared. We tried to pen them up at night in the old hen house to protect them, but it didn't work. The door flew open in the brisk winter wind and they escaped twice.

I've mentioned the power outage. When the electricity occasionally goes out all is calm and peaceful in the house, there is no appliance humming. This time there was constant production during daylight hours to generate heat and/or light. It was cold. It was so cold that the water in cat's dish in the mudroom was frozen Friday morning. It was warmer in the kitchen, when the kerosene heater came on Friday night the digital thermometer registered 43 degrees. That was the warmest room in the house.

It's a fact that we had the most memorable Valentine's Day in our family's history; the holiday fell during the outage. We ate an Indian dinner prepared by lamp light and afterwards huddled around the wood stove, reading together by the same lamp. We heard a loud crack--thinking it was another tree breaking from the weight of the ice--when the encased hearth mirror fell in large pieces to the floor. This caused the lamp to fall, it landed on the rug and my husband quickly picked it up. Miraculously, the lamp did not break and nothing caught on fire.

When the power came back on Friday evening February 16th we were jubilant and exhausted by having been so cold. We were grateful it was only for three days. When we had a brief storm of freezing rain last night, we filled up the bath tub and a couple pans just in case. We all said the same thing, "I hope the power stays on." No desire to repeat that experience any time soon.

I haven't called to ask about the audit. I'm not in the mortgage business any more; the mortgage broker life is behind me for good.

There were some highlights this month, we had friends over last Friday night and have enjoyed a couple of warmer days in the upper 50's since the outage. Jack has healed and our remaining pets appear to be fine. But overall, February has left me anticipating March in a big way and eager for a fresh, new start.

How is your year going? Any setbacks and/or progress made?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday 13 #6

1. I just clicked off on a open window and all my tabs closed--including my draft of this post. I was on #10! I hadn't hit "Save as Draft" anywhere along the way. Aaaargh!

2. February has been one lesson after another and full of lovely experiences. On Thursday, March 1, I am giving myself a fresh start. I'll develop a new, good habit and lose a less desirable one.

3. Less than one month to the first day of Spring--on March 20th.

4. Tomorrow night two friends are coming over for dinner, first time we've had anyone over in who-knows-how-long. We are celebrating the birthday of one of them.

5. The 79th annual Academy Awards are on Sunday. This past week husband and I enjoyed watching The Goodbye Girl (1977) on AMC with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason. Dreyfuss won for Best Actor and was the youngest in this category (then age 29--which means he's almost 60!), until Adrien Brody won in 2002 for The Pianist, he was a few months younger.

6. We heard on the radio this morning that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is 75 years young today. My husband and I said "75?!" at the same time, then both remarked that we're getting older.

7. My half-birthday is this Sunday, I'll be 44 1/2. We don't celebrate half-birthdays, but we acknowledge them. It's a reminder to make progress with your life because time is fleeting and passing by

8. There is an unintentional 'numbers or age theme' running through this post.

9. Last week we lost power for 68+ hours in the ice storm. Previous record was 57 hours from Hurricane Jeanne in September 2004. It was cold enough in our mudroom to freeze the cat's water in the dish. When power came back on in the kitchen, the digital thermostat registered 43. Brrr. The kitchen is located in the half of the house with a wood stove.

10. My TT post last week was delayed until after comments were closed thanks to the power outage.

11. Listen to the song Big Chief by Professor Longhair, it's often played for Mardi Gras. You'll find yourself doing the chair boogie. A better song by the same guy, is Going to the Mardi Gras. My husband dug it out of his collection to play for us Tuesday night, but I can't find a listenable link.

12. I'm trying to resurrect an almost dead jade plant. Apparently I didn't water it much the last few months, but the family is fed three squares every darn day (four or five meals for Spencer, the nearly 17 year-old son).

13. Whew! Made it to the end. Only took me two hours+. The second post went by quickly compared to the first draft. Want to begin upgrading and changing my blog site, but still in the thinking stage. Just learned that TT is retiring until someone else purchases the rights. Another lesson learned! Have a great week.

Thursday 13 site.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Less is More

An old familiar saying is 'less is more'. We don't usually arrive at this gem until we're older and wiser. We age every day, when wisdom occurs is up to you. I didn't appreciate this until several years ago. Ever since, we've been trying to pare back and learn a new habit.

Old friends of ours have a One-in, One-out rule that works for them. When they buy something new, an old version must go--no exceptions. This can be a 'no brainer', when you buy a new stove to replace an old one (that was going to cost as much to repair as to buy new). You need one, the old model goes out the door when the new one is delivered (unless a charity picks it up later, but it still leaves your house). Try as we might, in general, this rule does not work for us.

What works is having an occasional 'purge' (or moving every two years). Here's an example. We buy good, used books at LaPointe's Used Books in Floyd or online through or We seldom purchase new. We read and accumulate, resulting in overflowing stacks of books on shelves and beside the bed. The stacks tip over so we take a large box--or two or three--to LaPointe's where we earn credit in exchange for the books. We are paring down to our favorite, most essential books that we can not live without, the books we truly want to pack and move yet again when we are ready to sell the farm. The 'purge' (rhymes with surge) works with clothes, bathroom drawers and so forth. Until then, we're learning less really is more.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

To Rise Above

I had an experience yesterday that left me foaming at the mouth and conjuring the many ways I could react in my defense to the person who caused these feelings.

I took deep breaths, I drank a beer (it was early evening), I walked in quick paces around the house trying to rid myself of negative energy. I talked to my husband and shared my thoughts with him about what I wanted to say and do. He understood. But he also knew, as I did, that I should take the high road. The other person did not, but I would.

I poured myself a hot bath and grabbed a magazine to read. After sharing more wisecrack remarks with my husband, I got in the tub to sulk and soak. I took a couple more deep breaths, the hot water felt soothing.

I hadn't been in the tub for a minute when it happened. The perfect response, "Thank you." Yes, thank you! I felt light and happy. I sat up straight. The anger was gone as quickly as it had consumed me, I couldn't believe it. I mentally thanked the person for giving me an energy boost to clean the house and for this lovely experience to rise above. Through the closed bathroom door I shouted to my husband that I was happy again. I took another deep breath and exhaled. I felt peaceful. A lesson learned and a moment of Zen. Someone had been rude and mean-spirited to me and I rose above it. Wahoo!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday 13 #5

1. We lost power Tuesday night at 10:30 pm after it had been blinking for two hours (ice storm).

2. My husband and sons made Bittersweet Chocolate Pancakes with Roasted Pear Butter and Maple Pear Syrup for Valentine's breakfast, thanks to a stove with gas burners. We also gave each other bars of dark chocolate (naturally). I'm writing from my husband's music store in town where we seldom lose electricity.

3. The electricity is due to come back on by Friday night.

4. Last night we huddled around the woodstove at home, wearing hats and our warmest Pjs, with blankets thrown over us and reading by the light of the Aladdin kerosene lamp on the hearth. We heard a loud crack, different from a tree snapping under the weight of ice, followed by the encased hearth mirror falling in pieces and causing the kerosene lamp to also fall and land on the rug. It was like watching a small ball of fire fall in slow motion, my husband quickly picked up the lamp--amazingly still in one piece--and put it aside. The rug did not catch fire, we were fortunate. After that we decided to have another sip of red wine, I believe it was merlot. We laughed nervously; this was a Valentine's Day we'll never forget.

5. Ice storms are deceptively beautiful; everything is transformed into the appearance of sparkling cut glass. Our deck furniture, house and cars have shiny icicle fringes along edges. Trees and bushes particularly, but even ordinary objects such as grass, barbed wire fence and sign posts are turned into glittering works of art.

6. Using a battery powered radio, I briefly listened to the news this a.m. Is anyone concerned about Iran? It hasn't been resolved whether President Bush is sending more troops to Iraq, yet the news is abuzz with eerily similar discussions on Iran to those of Iraq, now four years ago.

7. Four years ago feels like it could be ten. I had turned 40, my husband wasn't yet 40 and our sons were almost 13 and 7 1/2. We were in a different phase of our lives raising sons who were still boys. We hadn't yet built our addition nor started down the path to become Foster Care Providers.

8. In years past, I've started tomato plants from seeds on February 15. My target this year is March 1.

9. A month ago today we had a new record high of 67 degrees in nearby Blackburg, but believe it only reached 65 here in Floyd. Was that really just a month ago?

10. It's now Saturday 2/17. I went to the gym with my client yesterday so he could work and I could shower. Hot water never felt so good, it was very cold in the house Thursday night and sleep was hard to find.
11. Our power came back on at 6:44 pm last night for a new record of 68+ hours without power. Our previous record was 57 hours when remnants of Hurricane Jeanne passed through in September 2004. Emerson and I did the jig of joy and promptly went throughout the house turning up the heat to unfreeze water pipes. Luckily, none of our pipes burst.

12. If it wasn't for being so darned cold, we would have enjoyed the power break as we have in the past. The absence of electrical humming from appliances allows the house to be truly quiet and peaceful. My good friend Laura lives off the grid and therefore never experiences the magic and thrill of a power outage.

13. I'll finish The Poisonwood Bible today, I just have the last two short chapters to read. I'm sorry to come to the end of this book, but I've got good ones waiting in my stack beside the bed.

My Thursday 13 #4.
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Monday, February 12, 2007

Don't Hesitate

I ran across this quote today in the back of a magazine. Let this be food for thought.
"There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other fellow to make the first move - and he, in turn, waits for you." - Marian Anderson (1897-1993), African American Opera Singer
Whatever your current interest in activism may be and how you choose to champion your cause, Ms. Anderson reminds us to get started. Stand up, speak out, mail a letter, send an email, write a check to support your cause in an amount you can afford. Your voice, your action matters. You are not alone. We are not alone. Don't hesitate.

[Photo of Marian Anderson by Richard Avedon, 1955.]

Friday, February 09, 2007

$2.9 Trillion Dollars

On Monday of this week, President Bush unveiled a four-volume, 2,500 page, $2.9 trillion dollar budget for the U.S. Government. My initial thought was to the environment, "How many copies are printed? What a waste of paper; they must recycle since it's the government." I repeated the $2.9 trillion dollar figure in my head.

How much is 2.9 trillion dollars? Round it up to 3 to make it easier. $3,000,000,000,000.00. Twelve zeroes to the left of the decimal point. A trillion is a million million dollars. In Jim Loy's article, A Trillion Dollars, he states "It will take me more than 30 years to count (out loud) to one billion and more than 30,000 years to count to one trillion." In other words, 2.9 trillion is a number too high to count and hard to comprehend. My desk calculator only goes to twelve digits--as high as 300 million. It, too, can not compute a trillion dollars.

Of the immense sum, $145.2 billion goes to war, mostly for Iraq and Afghanistan (from October 1) with another $99.6 billion dollars for the remainder of the current fiscal year (to September 30). This is a humdinger of a total. $244.8 billion dollars spent on war for 12 months or $20,400,000,000.00 per month. As you turn a new calendar page, another $20.4 billion of taxpayer dollars goes goodbye. If we collectively decided enough was enough, could we save it and apply it to debt or redirect how the $245 billion dollars was spent?

Mr. David Leonhardt suggests a few ideas in his New York Times article "What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy", he writes:

"Treating heart disease and diabetes, would probably cost about $50 billion a year. The remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations — held up in Congress partly because of their cost — might cost somewhat less. Universal preschool would be $35 billion. In Afghanistan, $10 billion could make a real difference. At the National Cancer Institute, annual budget is about $6 billion." Earlier he mentions that more money could be contributed to the reconstruction of New Orleans.

The President's budget is part of a five year plan to have a balanced budget by 2012. He assumes we'll quit spending money in Iraq (hopefully he's right this time) and various other expenditures. But I ask, can you take five years to balance your family budget or would that land you in Bankruptcy and/or Divorce Court? At our house, if we can't afford something we don't buy it. Sure, we've made plenty of mistakes over the years. When we purchased items on credit, the end result is a future bill that must be paid. We've learned our lesson and work to eliminate our consumer debt, but how about the government? Can it wait to reduce its debt? Can we really afford the war?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday 13 #4

1. Just came back from ice skating with Emerson, this pond has a fresh 2-3" of powdery snow on top. We skated through it--like ski skating. I made Emerson a cup of hot cocoa and warmed up chai tea for myself that I'd made earlier.

2. Our Muscovy duck's (hen) final appearance was on Monday. Since the pond has been frozen solid we went from having a duck trio to, sadly, none. We miss them. We tried to shut the ducks in the barn hen house two nights but the mini door blew open in the wind. If we're going to have more poultry, we have to make sure the hen house is safe and secure.

3. Yesterday was a Snow Day, the third (?) for Floyd County schools. I made another creative pot of homemade soup, this one was so good I wrote down the recipe. Some of my creations never make it to an index card.

4. A week ago today I was in a dither organizing mortgage loan files from the first six months of 2006 for an audit this past Monday. It wasn't pretty. I haven't heard from the lender, nor do I care to, really. I passed two previous audits without problems and I have a different life now as a Foster Care Provider.

5. I took our client to the pet store last Friday to replace the parakeet that bit the dust the night before (at the end of an already crappy day). Things are back to usual. Our client is going home tomorrow for the weekend. We are all--client and us--looking forward to the break.

6. I'm making homemade macaroni and cheese tonight. I also made it for dinner the evening of my first Thursday 13 on January 18. Perhaps I should post the recipe.

7. Scott, my husband, got his confirmation from the May LEAF festival this past week. He's been hired for four days of entertainment, we' are excited.

8. I balanced my checkbook this morning. Yesterday I entered information from our DirecTV and State Farm insurance accounts into, now I can pay more bills online. I find it to be a time saver and like choosing what day bills get paid.

9. I'm reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. She had a speaking engagement in Floyd last year but I wasn't able to attend. I don't know how to use underline in Blogger, another thing to learn. I have a stack of books by my bed to read that is more than a foot tall.

10. I read a tip this past week to help us bloggers avoid aching backs and shoulders. Think "earlobes, shoulders, hips." They should be in alignment from top to bottom--or lobe to hip.
11. I made two homemade cards this week, one for an anniversary, the other for an upcoming birthday. Once in a while I feel like creating cards and have a big time doing it. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

12. It's been so cold this past week. We heat with wood and electric. Our January electric bill was 25% higher than last year--and half of January was warm. Apparently AEP (Appalachian Electric Power) had a significant rate increase last fall, they surely needed more of my hard earned money.

13. Check out Colleen Redman's site, she's been a 13er for a long-time and blogging for even longer. She is also a fellow Floydian and discovered Floyd before we did.

The Thursday 13 site here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Snow Day Soup

Before we went to bed last night school was cancelled for Floyd County. We received 3" of snow (it mostly covered the ground) followed by a glazing of fine hail. I called the Vet this a.m. to reschedule another day to take out Jack's stitches. I knew (from previous harrowing experiences) that the minivan would not make it across the hilly 1.5 mile dirt road we lived off of before hitting the cleared main paved road. Hubby had taken the 4-wheel drive Jeep into town to get to his store.

I took this picture of lamb's ear in the front garden bed, still decidedly green, a little bit of snow won't phase it. Recall that it was just three weeks ago on January 15th that we had a record high, then there were several hollyhocks a foot tall. Poor, confused flowers. Truth is the weather (climate?) was confused. No matter how good a 65 degree day feels in mid-January, it is just plain wrong for our neck of the woods.

The photo to the right is the top of a small table on the deck, the design reminded me of a Zen or Chinese symbol.

Here's the recipe for tonight's meal: Snow Day Soup.
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 15.5 oz. cans of black beans, well drained
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 10 oz. package of frozen spinach (could also use collards or kale w/rib removed)
Garlic, minced - to taste
3 c. water

I would have also added frozen or canned corn and a sweet potato (diced) but happened to be out of both. I thought about cooking one large chicken breast, dicing it, and adding in place of the beans. We're making cornbread to serve with the soup tonight. What are you having for dinner?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Taming of the Shrew

This is not what you're thinking, it's not about the play by Shakespeare. This is about a real, live shrew in our house. Emerson thought at first that it was "a fat mouse," as he put it. It was under our kitchen cabinet this afternoon where we had a mouse a few months ago. We finally got that one out and relocated it to the great outdoors. Emerson removed the trim from under the cabinet and thought he could get it. The mouse that turned out to be a shrew, ran out the other side around Emerson and along the edge of the kitchen. It disappeared under the dishwasher into a hole we never knew existed. Emerson proceeded to dismantle the bottom front of the dishwasher revealing the secret hideout full of wires, but no shrew. He had truly disappeared. Apparently other mice or similar critters had been here before the shrew, from what was visible on the floor underneath. When Emerson tells his story tonight, Scott will probably say "That's life living in the country," as he said before a time or two.

In the last 6 1/2 years of living in our Floyd County farmhouse, we've experienced and shared our living space with numerous critters--not including pets. In separate incidences we've had three black snakes, not poisonous and thankfully a foot or less in length, otherwise neither my husband nor myself would be alive to share this story with you because we would have died from fright. They were found by walking downstairs or around a corner and there it was on the floor--appeared out of nowhere, but somewhere. Then someone, probably one of our sons (it sure wasn't me), had to relocate the snake to a new home outside. We have a house rule: all animals (not our pets) deserve to live, but they must live outside. This includes wasps. Yes, wasps. They find holes in a couple screens in the summer--or this past warm December--and find a way inside. Then we usually get the wasp to crawl onto a piece of paper and then quickly run it outside. We think Emerson is a Wasp Whisperer as he can pick them up by their wings and not get stung. It makes me nervous to watch him though I know the worst that can happen is that he'll be stung, but he loves it. I wonder, does he do it because he is able or because he knows it makes me nervous?

Last year my husband and I were drifting off to sleep. Actually, I was drifting, he was asleep. I heard scurrying sounds in the walls over my head, as I had for several weeks. I figured it was mice and no big deal. I chalked it up, as we always to do, to living in the country and continued to drift. I then heard a definite "ping." No longer drifting, instantly awake. What the heck was that? I laid there determining what the ping was and where it came from, figuring it must have been the ceiling fan. Before I could figure out what it was, I began to hear a whirring noise. It sounded like it came closer then went away, repeatedly. I barely peeked out from under my pillow and I let my eyes adjust to the dark, it took a few seconds. I could see a shape flying around in circles around the fan and knew it was a bat. (We had a similar experience several years ago when we lived in Maine and a bat was in Spencer's bedroom, he was then 6. We heard a scared little boy voice calling, "Papa, Mama, there's something in my room!"). I woke up Scott who couldn't believe he had to get up and relocate a bat outside. He grabbed a bath towel to trap it and threw it. He missed. He missed again. The bat, now disturbed, abandoned its circular pattern and flew helter-skelter all over the room. I stayed under the covers with them pulled up tight to my neck. I offered support and encouragement, "Honey, get it! Don't kill it!" Scott swung the towel again and the bat got stuck inside. Whew. He grabbed his parcel and went downstairs, opened the front door and opened the towel outside. Another critter successfully relocated.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

President Bush Said...

Yesterday President Bush attended a Democratic congressional retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, the first he attended since 2001. In last night's news on NPR, it was reported that President Bush said the war in Iraq is "sapping our soul." This quote struck me; it resonated with my strong personal feelings opposing the war in Iraq. I actually agreed with him--and that surprised me. Yet it didn't sound like something he would say unless it was, perhaps, coming from a religious perspective. If the President truly believes the war is sapping our soul, how could he possibly commit 21,500 more troops to Iraq? Could there be a glimmer of hope that he is waking up, or is it more likely that he said something to appease the crowd of Democrats? The soul-sapping war will begin its fifth year in just six weeks.

Read the article which mentions the quote: Bush Puts 'ic' Back in 'Democrat Party' (s).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

In a Floyd Five Minutes

Perhaps other areas of the country experience similar oddities with the time space continuum, but Floyd is semi-regionally- famous for ours. If you tell someone you'll be meet them in a Floyd Five Minutes, what you're really saying is that you'll show up slightly late or be as much as 45 minutes to an hour behind the arranged time. It's loosey-goosey and expected from certain factions within the Floyd community, who shall remain nameless. It used to drive my husband and I completely nuts when we moved to Floyd going on eight years ago, but over the years we've relaxed and occasionally use the Floyd Five Minutes principle ourselves. My husband went to the reopening of the newly renovated Floyd Country Store last night to attend the Friday Night Jamboree. He mentioned that he wanted to say hi to some people and then he'd leave, but he thought about it for a second and then said he'd probably be there for a Floyd Five Minutes. I laughed and said I'd see him when he got home in an hour or so, but who's counting?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday's Feast #2

What was one of the fashion fads when you were a teenager?

In my pre-teen years, I vividly recall hip-hugging bell bottom pants called Palazzo pants. I had two pair; one was light pink and other other was a pale aqua blue. I thought I was really cool whenever I wore them. In my teenage years which was during the late 70's, some of the styles were similar to what you see today. I read a great quote, but forget the source (darn it), if you remember the fad the first time around then you're too old to wear it the second time! I think of that quote whenever I see someone my age (mid-40's) who is trying to look like she's still 16.


Name one thing you think people assume about you when they first meet you.

Oh, I don't like this one. For years I was a mortgage broker and I began avoiding people in public because they almost always wanted to ask me a question about interest rates or talk about a possible loan scenario they had in mind. They assumed I wanted to talk shop everywhere I went, even at a festival, but I didn't. I felt like I was losing the real me and was being replaced by 'the mortgage broker'. I have no idea what people might assume about me now that I'm not in the business, but I hope they find me to be friendlier and happier than I used to be.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how hard do you work?

I over analyze everything; when it comes to scales I break it down into halves. This is a general question and depends on the subject. I tend to do things in phases in terms of applying myself a full 110% to then relaxing and giving 75% (or so) and back again. I switched to percentages but you get the idea.

Main Course
If you were given a free 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl to sell anything you currently own, what would you advertise?

There is nothing I own that I'd want to advertise. I'd use my thirty seconds to promote world peace. I'd ask governments to redirect money spent on every war in the world to worthwhile causes that improved peoples lives.

Fill in the blank: I love to ________ when it is _________.

I love to take a hot bath when it's cold outside, it always feels luxurious.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday 13 #3

My last post was two days ago, Wednesday is a busy day for my foster client. Thursday is my day off, but not today. No graphics or good pictures, but I'll tell you about it.

1. The day began at 5:42 a.m. when the cat woke me up by meowing loudly in the hallway. I silently cursed the cat when I got out of bed, then quietly cursed her again (even though she's old) when I picked her up and took her to the mudroom.

2. My husband woke up when I went back to bed and I told him it was beginning to snow. He said he'd take the cars up to the top of our driveway since we were expecting sleet. Since I was awake, I'd drive the van. Back to bed again. I finally fell back asleep and got up past 8:30 a.m. This was, after all, my day off. On the radio they announced that school was closed.

3. By mid-morning, I was sitting in the kitchen reviewing year-old mortgage loans from my now defunct business when the phone rang. Scott said I needed to call the home office. I had just made a pot of of Irish Breakfast tea and had hoped to have a leisurely morning sipping tea and looking through the files in preparation for an audit.

4. I reached the owner and she was frantic. She had tried to call my office to tell me the audit had been moved from the 12th to the 5th (next Monday). I reminded her that I had told her in early December that I had closed (the phone was turned off November 17). I had found the misplaced files. [I had moved my office home last June, then my husband re-arranged my files at his music store to make a new waiting room area.]

5. She insisted that I courier the files to her today and as she spoke, I watched the snowflakes fall. The forecast was supposed to be worse Friday, so I figured it was today or never. I began looking through the files with real urgency or near panic (you decide) since FedEx picks up at 2:30 p.m. in Floyd.

6. I called my husband to give him an update and got his voice mail. He called back in five minutes to say he'd pick me up at 1:30 p.m. The next three hours are a complete blur. I had only 7 files to review from January through May. [I wasn't busy in part because I didn't jump start the business for 2006 as we expected a new client to move in by June.]

7. Three of my files were in pristine condition and needed no further attention. The remaining four files had glaring omissions of important documents. I sent in original documents and didn't copy them for the file, I recalled thinking my business was closing before year end and the files would be buried in a dusty box. I had sailed through two audits in the previous five years and survived, why would a business that was no longer open and had only closed a half-dozen loans need to be audited?

8. I printed missing documents to be copied in town. My husband picked me up and we were in town before 2 p.m. I had thirty minutes before the FedEx deadline. I worked on the worst file first then the next. The last file only took a few minutes but I was rattled--and past my deadline.

9. I shoved the files into a FedEx envelope and hoped for the best. I quickly jogged to the Post Office (in my sturdy black snow boots) where the FedEx box is located, just two-minutes from my former office. I was twenty minutes past the deadline and Joel, the driver, had already been there. I can't tell you how many times he's picked up at 3:00, 3:30 or even as late as 4:00 pm, but not today.

10. I had a decision to make: drop my big envelope into the box or schlep it to Christiansburg (30 minutes away) where the FedEx deadline was 6:00 pm. By this time I was just plain ticked off about the whole thing. I was mostly mad at the state for auditing me a third time in six years (and my business was closed), but also wasn't happy with my former parent company. I let the envelope go and shut the door.

11. I was in a fog the rest of the day. I called home and gave the boys various instructions including making lentil soup for dinner. I would be at the music store with Scott until his guitar lessons were done at 6:30 pm since he had picked me up due to anticipated bad weather that never occurred.

12. We walked in the door at 7:15 pm. Our foster client went to his room, his bedroom door was wide open. He found his parakeet cage upside down on his bed from its normal position on a nearby dresser. We crossed our fingers we'd find the parakeet unharmed, but my son found feathers on the rug and nothing else. Hobbes, our predator tiger cat, was found in the house and is the guilty suspect. Earlier this week our long-time pet turtle died.

13. I went to do a spell and grammar check in Word on this post to learn that the 2007 Beta version I had has expired and will no longer work, I hope the 2003 version is still on my computer.

Next week's TT shall be more upbeat. Last week's happier 13. Thursday 13 site.