Saturday, November 17, 2007


Finished the book not long after midnight last night. I'm thrilled to have my decks cleared for Thanksgiving week because MY GIRL IS COMING HOME! Three more days.

After that, I need a new project. It's been a long, long time since I finished a book without another waiting in the wings, but here I am. No new book contracts in sight, and it's making me nervous.

I'll deal with that on Monday. I've worked 40 of the last 48 hours. It's time to rest. And clean my house. And shave my legs. And tweeze the hairs on my chin. Trust me, that's gonna take some time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Five Good Things on a Friday

1. I was up in time to see the sun rise over the pond.

2. Pink reflects beautifully on its surface.

3. I ended yesterday laughing with Deb and Carrie over white hairs and toilet brushes.

4. I started today laughing with Michelle and Jenny.

5. By the end of today, I'll be FINISHED writing 1001 Bathrooms.

And a Bonus Good Thing: Katie arrives for Thanksgiving in FOUR MORE DAYS.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Have You Ever Noticed...

when it really bugs you, a little bit of something feels like a whole lot of that thing?

I've been writing like crazy the last few days and have neglected my hair removal responsibilities. In return, my neck and chin have sprouted 7 (yes, I counted) stiff hairs that MAKE ME CRAZY, make me feel like I have a full beard, make me want to buy stock in Gilette.

I find myself stroking my neck when I stop to think, a little like I imagine Rasputin may have done. And every single time, I am shocked and disgusted with myself for allowing something so ugly to grow on my face.

Why didn't I tweeze them instead of taking time to write about how awful they are? Can't. Find. The. Damn. Tweezers.

Stuck. In. Whisker. Hell.

Mom says dogs have stiff whiskers that they use to understand the world.

If only.

No Cute Stories Here

I love the stories you guys post about the adorable things your children do and say. I love your stories about funny things that happen as you go through life.

My kids are grown and unless a clown car pulls into my driveway and unloads a laugh or two, there's nothing funny to report here. Just me, typing until my fingers hurt, trying to finish 1001 Bathrooms before tomorrow night.

Back to work with me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Patience Is a Virtue

Have I mentioned the downside of submiting stuff?

You write like crazy, edit til your eyes are crossed, and proofread til you can't spell your own name. Finally, you put everything together and hit "send."

Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The reading period for my first ever submission--the one I posted about a week or so ago--starts the tomorrow, the 15th. I am filled with excitement and dread and hope and resignation. I am not filled with patience.

Seasoned writers tell me the secret is to send it and forget it until you receive a rejection. . .or acceptance. Good idea. But isn't that another way to say, Be patient?

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

I don't feel good, and have been up most of the night. I've whiled away some of the time exchanging e-mails with the European manager of the book project I'm working on right now. (The middle of my night is the start of his workday.) He sent a couple of rather stern e-mails, one of which chided me for missing a deadline and demanded an update and an ETA on the materials.

He correctly identified the deadline as the 16th of November, which is this Friday. Somehow, though, he thought that was LAST Friday. When I gently pointed out that today is the 14th, he responded with: "Of course. I had my calendar wrong."

Half an hour later, his colleague, who had been copied on the e-mails, sent me an apology. She had not contributed to the snafu, yet she apologized.

Truth to tell, it wasn't a big deal once I knew for sure I had not missed the deadline. I'm no champion at calendar tracking mine own self, and I know how easy it is to get off track. Still, a simple "I'm sorry," would have been appropriate. And clearly, I'm not the only one who thought so. His colleague had no reason to apologize, and yet she did, on his behalf. Hmmmm.

Last week my sister got very short with me over a situation in which she did not have her facts straight. Eventually she acknowledged that she did not have a full grasp on the situation but did not apologize for her rudeness. Hmmmm.

Methinks perhaps the Universe is trying to tell me how important it is to watch my mouth, especially when I'm angry or stressed, how necessary it is to acknowledge my mistakes and offer a simple, heartfelt apology when I've let myself run amok.

I'm gonna work on that. Right after I get some sleep.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cleaning by Candlelight

Last night I lit a fire and some candles and invited Paul Potts to sing to me in the twilight (via iPod, of course). Then I cleaned house.

I turn on the lights in whatever room I'm working on, but each time I pass through the glowing living room to the trash or laundry room, beauty presses in on me. Paul's voice fills the house with joy.

Cleaning is not usually my favorite activity. Candles and music transform it into a celebration, a demonstration of gratitude.

Sounds crazy, I know. But try it some time. You might be surprised.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Own Personal Helicopter

Something miraculous happened Thursday and Friday.

In the middle of my fretting about money and PIN numbers and my check hung up in the banking system, I heard a news report about unclaimed property and how easy it is to search for your name on data bases set up by individual states.

On a whim, I searched. Lo and behold, there was my name. I called the moment the Dept. of Commerce opened on Friday, and they verified it: they're holding a substantial amount of money in my name. I have all the necessary records to show ownership, I just can not understand how this happened.

The Winged One and I talked at length about the morality of claiming the money if I can't be 100 percent sure it's owed to me. It's the legacy of a complicated insurance claim when my house was damaged by hail at the time my insurance carrier was being bought out by another company. Yada. Yada. Yada.

The Dept. of Commerce explained that the money had been turned over to them by the insurance company. The only things that can happen to it now are: I can claim it, my heirs can claim it after I die, or it can stay in the state's coffers, drawing interest.

Insurance companies are not known for their generosity nor for their willingness to turn loose of money when not absolutely necessary. I have much greater faith in their accounting abilities than in my own. If they turned this money over to the State, they did it because they had to. I may not understand how all this worked, but you can bet your sweet patootie they do.

As we talked, Mystic Wing asked why I feared the bad karma of claiming something I don't recognize as mine without even wondering if this turn of events might simply be good karma. We laughed about the old joke where a guy is on a roof top in a flood, praying to be delivered. He turns down help from a bunch of sources, including a rowboat and a helicopter, always saying he's a believer and that God will save him. When he meets God, he asks why God didn't save him. God replies, "What did you want from me? I sent you a rowboat and a XXX and a XXX and a helicopter."

Is this unclaimed property a rowboat? Am I too stubborn to get into the damn helicopter?

I filled out the claim forms. Later, I was driving through the countryside. The sky was a brilliant, clear blue. The only marks, horizon to horizon, were two vapor trails that crossed in such a way they created a perfect heart.

I'd never seen anything like it. Vapor trails, being the paths of planes and all, are almost always fairly straight. Not these. They curved into a beautiful, expressive heart, the sight of which stopped mine for a second.

Is it pure arrogance to imagine the Universe was sending me a sign?

I believe in signs, in omens and portent. I believe we can steer by the signals the Universe sends us if we pay attention. Or, I think I believe that. It's easy in the abstract. But face-to-face with what could be a sighting of the Great Unknown, it's hard to be certain.

I mailed the claim an hour later. What's that? You can't hear me? Pay no attention to that noise. It's just my helicopter, getting ready to land.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And Then. . .

My bank cancelled my debit card the other day. There I was, in a quilt store, paying for a few additions to my fabric stash. The clerk frowned and looked at me over the top of her reading glasses.

"It didn't go through. Your card has been reported lost or stolen."

"That can't be. Run it again," I suggested naively.

10 minutes and two phone calls to my bank later, I was told my card had been suspended for "misuse" and my account marked for fraud. The person I was referred to in the Fraud Department told me I had deposited an empty envelope in an ATM, which I knew I had not. God knows I can be absent minded, but I specifically remembered putting the check from my British publisher in that ATM because it didn't fit the deposit envelope. I folded the flap up and over it, sealed it carefully, and wondered if that check size is standard in England.

Panic ensued. Where could the check have gone? It was the middle of the night in England, so I couldn't call and have the publisher stop payment on it. My mind reeled as I made my way to the branch where I'd made the deposit.

It took a few tellings of my story, but I ended up in the Branch Manager's office. She explained that they had the check. It was never lost. She sent it to their Collections Department because it was written by an British company, in British pounds she claimed, and she had to "protect you and the bank."

I'm pretty sure it was marked USD, and it was the third check I've deposited from that company. All at the same branch. All through the same ATM. AND I have had that bank account for 29 years. TWENTY-NINE YEARS and they couldn't give me the benefit of the doubt? Or a phone call? But truly, I was so relieved it wasn't lost that I simply thanked her for her help and left after she had called to remove the fraud marker and order a new debit card. She "graciously" waived the fee for the new card and paid for it to be overnighted.

The check will have to make its way through the collections system, which may take as long as six weeks. They can hold my money up to SIX WEEKS before they have to credit it to my account.


The new card arrived yesterday, as scheduled. When I tried to activate it, the system told me my PIN number was invalid. I called the Customer Service number printed on the back of the card, only to hit dead ends over and over because my PIN number did not match the new card number. I was ready to sharpen my teeth on someone's neck bones by the time I got through to a human who explained that my PIN had been reset for the new card and the preset number would be mailed to me separately. By snail mail. Within 10 days.


I need cash to get through the PINless days, so I drove to the bank and went in to the teller's window. The teller gamely tried to help me sort out the mess. In looking through my account records, he noticed that my "account type" was obsolete and I was being charged service charges and fees that could be avoided if I changed to an updated type. He clicked his mouse a couple of times to fix it and mentioned this would save $15 every month and as much as $25 in certain situations.

This is how they reward long-time customers? By charging them up the wazoo for things that are now offered free? Seriously--no one thought to tell me about the high price of being obsolete?

And, typing this just now, I realized they replaced my card that racked up frequent flier miles with a standard one that doesn't do anything besides give me access to my money. Damn! I'm going to have to go back there today.


I am not feeling kindly toward ATMs, computerized phone systems, or banks at the moment.

Even my little dog is sick of this whole mess. I woke in the night to the sound of her retching. In. My. Bed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Dad stretched the truth a little the other day when he told me he was fine. To review: He was talking about the arrangements he'd made for Mom after his death. I asked if he had any reason to be concerned. He said no. He said he was in better health now than 10 years ago. He said he was merely facing statistical realities.

He left out a few things.

Yesterday I walked into Mom and Dad's house and found Dad in bed, his head wrapped in huge bandages. He looked like he'd wandered out of one of the hospital scenes in Gone with the Wind. Scary. Hilarious. Confusing.

It turns out Dad has skin cancer. A few weeks ago, a doctor removed a couple small growths from his forehead. The pathology reports indicated cancer so he returned yesterday for a fairly extensive excision. They think they got it all. According to the doctor, the type of cancer Dad has is common and treatable.

Dad drove himself to and from the surgery. He didn't want anyone to worry.

It was about lunch time when I stopped in over there. Mom asked me to stay for lunch and of course I did. She made one of Dad's favorite lunches. In the early afternoon she called and asked me to come over for dinner. She was making salmon, another of Dad's favorite foods. I couldn't resist, and I'm so glad I went. I'll remember this exchange the rest of my life.

Dad: Thank you, Honey. That was a wonderful dinner. You should have planned to come for dinner all along, Jerri. I have an owie. You knew Mom would make something special.

Me: She does baby you when you're sick or hurt.

Dad: Not too much. You see I didn't get any dessert. I'm going to make me a chocolate sundae. Anyone else want one?

Mom: Oh, Honey. I'm sorry. Would you like me to make you some of the World's Best Hot Fudge Sauce?

Dad: No, that's okay. You can do it later. I'll still have cancer tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hard Habit to Break

My dad broke my heart yesterday. He stopped in at the salon to talk to me about presents for Mom. Her birthday and their anniversary are in November and Christmas is right around the corner.

"I've got Christmas covered because I'm buying her a quilting machine." He heard my gasp and stopped. "You don't think she'll like it?"

"She'd love it, Dad. But it's SO expensive."

"Well, yes. But I'm realistic. She could have many many years to fill after I'm gone. I want her to have something interesting and fun to do, something she looks forward to every day. It could be a long time until we see each other again. I want her to be happy."

Dad then talked for 10 minutes about all the things he had set up to take care of Mom after he's gone. He's not sick or worried about dying particularly, he just wants to make sure their finances are in order and everything is organized to smooth the transition as much as possible.

They've been taking care of each other for 58 years now. It's a hard habit to break.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Standard Time

I love this time of year—crisp, clean air. Beautiful mornings. Repeating an hour when we "fall back" to Standard Time.

This year I spent that golden hour pinning together the layers of the project you see here. I pieced the top several years ago, and now I'm going to quilt it. I am trying so hard to become a woman who finishes things.

Old people tell you how fast time flies. I used to brush that off, thinking I had plenty left. I don't. No one does. Not even on Standard Time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Don't Worry Spiders. . .

I keep house casually.

Found this little fantasy at the top of one of the pendant lights that hang over my breakfast bar. Hated to do it, but Halloween's over. I crawled up on the bar and wiped it away.

I couldn't help noticing its beauty and and its strength. And something else: I'll bet the spider doesn't waste a single moment, not a nano second, complaining or plotting revenge. It will just get on with the business of building a new web.

Spiders are smart that way.