Sheltering in Place ?? Day 75

We live a two-bedroom, two-bath condo, coming in at 1223 sq. feet. I mention this because we have 4 landlines, plus 2 smartphones. This means that at about every two feet, give or take, you are going to fall over a phone. This plethora of phones wasn’t by design, but happenstance. When you shop at Costco, you are going to find exorbitant amounts of anything and everything. So it is with phones. For about a dollar, give or take, you, too, can get your hands on a set of 4 or 5 landlines including the answering machine. I mention all of this because one of our cordless, landline phones has gone missing. We’ve instituted a search and come up with nothing. Where has the little darling gone? What could have happened to it? Did it run away from home? When we ring it, there’s no reply. After a certain amount of days, if it’s not recharged the batteries run down. But before it dies, it comes to life screaming to be reattached to its mother-stand. This can be extremely unnerving the first few times it happens. But this time, nothing. No screaming. No phone. These days when the phones ring, and I reached out from wherever I am, there seems to be no phone but an empty stand. I find we are moving the 3 remaining phones around depending on where we are, which as I mentioned, is about 2 feet apart from one another. Now instead of taking 1 ring to answer the phone, it can take me up to 3! We should have bought the 5-phone set.

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Sheltering in Place – Day 74

Happiness. So Let’s talk kitty litter. I’ve been nervous about going to the pet store. Sheltering in place, doncha know. So lately, I have been buying my litter online. Much more expensive, especially the green tea litter I like. Let me be clear about this. Ellie doesn’t seem to care. Just keep it coming and keep it clean. But I like the scentless, lightweight, and easy to get rid of litter. It makes me happy. So a couple of times I paid the exorbitant price to get what I wanted. However, when hubby and I were at Target early one morning I lost my mind and decided to try another litter, The brand will remain nameless. Terrible stuff. It doesn’t get rid of the smell. It weighed so much, we practically needed a Uhaul to get it home. Sand and clay weigh even more when you add – ahem – tinkle.  Also when wet, it adheres to the bottom of the litter pan like glue. It is rendered an immovable object. I know this because a couple of days ago I strained a muscle in my arm trying to remove it. So bad, in fact, I couldn’t lift anything heavier than the olive for my martini. My only excuse is, it was early morning, I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and I was used to the other litter. But then I had a wounded wing on top of a smelly, disgusting litter pan. Hubby to the rescue. Mask in place and gloves on hands, he went to the pet store, bought my wonderful litter, removed the ghastly sand and clay, and brought it to the trash. Even wounded, I was able to put in the green tea litter in the pan. I am happy, hubby is happy, Ellie is happy.…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 73

Today a dear friend had a coloscopy. She was looking forward to it because she would be able to socialize with someone other than her husband. The doctors and nurses wore masks, as did she. Before she went under she listened to them chatting over rock music playing in the background. Hubby went to a rehearsal today. He was looking forward to it because he would be able to socialize with someone other than me. The four men and their instruments stayed outside on the patio, where breezes were blowing. They wore masks when they weren’t singing and always stayed 8 to 15 feet apart. With musicians, rock music is never in the background. I chit-chatted with my neighbor’s daughter today outside on the porch. We both wore masks and practiced safe distancing. I fought to remember the art of conversation. Mainly, one person speaks and then the other. It is always good manners to let the other person finish speaking before you leap in with something to say. It is not necessary to pay attention to what the other person said but it is a good idea to let them finish saying it before you take your turn. I kept forgetting that part. Without practice, I have become a poor conversationalist. A few more weeks of shelter-in-place and it may be necessary to send me back to Kindergarten to relearn playground rules.  I look forward to it.  

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Sheltering in Place – Day 72

Okay, so you want to write a novel. You’re excited, filled with energy, hope, and something to say. You can’t wait to start the process, do the research, meet the characters, and create a spiffy plot, all that good stuff. If you’re a mystery writer like me, you pretty much know what the ending is going to be, but the ‘how’ of getting there! It’s elixir for the soul. In the beginning, you’re open to all the possibilities that will spur you on during the forthcoming, never-ending months. Writing a novel – at least at the start of it – is a wonderful adventure. Just you, your ideas, a computer, and buckets of strong coffee. But at some point in the process, trying to reach eighty-five thousand words with what you often suspect is pure, unadulterated drivel is another matter. You become bogged down, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. You discover you need more than just a fire in the belly (which could also be labeled as heartburn). For me, that’s the place where ‘talent’ and ‘craft’ need to cohabitate. The craft of writing is a practiced art, much like learning to play tennis. The more you practice, the better you get. You also need the tools that make the process more doable. Where would tennis be without a racket? So I’ve learned – and continue to learn – certain tricks to help me get through the arduous parts of completing a novel. I’m in the throes of writing my 14th novel, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book Seven of The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, so I’d better have learned a thing or two. Some things could be called obvious, but often the obvious gets overlooked along the way. Better to repeat them endlessly than lose sight of them. Here’s a few of…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 71

We’re having a heatwave. I don’t know how tropical it is, but it sure is hot. For three days it’s been well over 90 degrees. For a writer with a deadline, though, other than going out and watering the plants, I’ve been chained to my desk. I’m forcing myself to make do with airconditioning and a cool man who is doing all the housework. Plus hubby ran out to buy more kitty litter for the little darling, Ellie, even in this sweltering heat. What a good guy! So to show him what a sport I am, I’m going to give him a touch of Marilyn Monroe singing Heat Wave.

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Sheltering in Place – Day 70

Mail call is a pretty organized thing around our house these days. And I have not earned the name Decontaminatrix for nothing. Always on the lookout for cross-contamination, how to deal with the mail was initially tricky. But I devised a plan. Playing on the good cop/bad cop routine, one of us is the Dirty Person. That’s the person who picks up the mail that has been dropped through the slot. Dirty Person, usually hubby, takes the mail to a corner of our dining room table where all the dirty mail is placed. Dirty Person picks up a pair of scissors, which are now designated as dirty. Dirty Person (let’s just call him DP from now on)  picks up one piece of mail. Clean person, usually me, is standing by barking orders. I will simply be CP from now on. DP cuts the very tippy end of the envelope off, careful not to cut what’s inside. That’s why CP barks, to make sure nothing gets sliced in half. Then DP presses the envelop together so it opens up. CP, careful not to touch the outside of the envelope, pulls out the contents with her fingernails and sets the contents down on the other side of the table. The process is repeated until all the mail is opened. Dirty Person throws the envelopes away and washes his hands. Clean person disinfects the table, scissors, doorknob, light switch, and the cat, for good measure. Both DP and CP sit down and leisurely read the mail. But, of course, it usually doesn’t go as smoothly as that. Often parts of the contents are glued to the inside of the envelope or stuffed inside in such a manner as to not be joggled free. That’s when the yelling begins. DP starts ripping at the…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 69

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens wrote that in A Tale of Two Cities. If he hadn’t thrown in the word epoch it could have been written today. The word epoch means a period of time in history or a person’s life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics. I know this because I had to look it up. Of course, a lot of you may already know the word. I didn’t. As I go through life, I find there are a few holes in my education. For instance, if a cumulous cloud drifted over Wyoming, I would have no idea where that was. I am a little fuzzy on just where Wyoming is other than being somewhere up and over to the right. That’s because I live in California. If I lived back East, it would be up and over the left. Because I know my geography. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I know what makes a cloud cumulous. But I do know it, too, is up there and over to the right. Probably hovering over Wyoming. But back to epoch. It’s a great word but not used much, especially now. I say, bring it back. And not just to honor Charles Dicken. If ever I’ve seen an epoch period of time, it is now. And life is tough enough without not having good words that fit the bill. EPOCH. Remember it. Use it. And if anyone…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 68

I am a crazy writer. I admit it freely. Even though I try to write every day, I got thrown off my stride by the silliness of trying to write a romance novel, which was a kiss of death for me. I fell behind on my self-imposed deadlines and have yet to catch up. Christmas Trifle was the culprit. Once I turned it into a romantic suspense novel it came out all right, but it took me 18-months to do it. I used to pride myself on turning out a new book every year or so. I’m still trying to catch up. It’s been 2 years since my last Alvarez book, and my fans, the ones who are still with me, are chomping at the bit for me to finish the new book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. Okay, maybe not quite chomping at the bit. But one or two have inquired about it. This series is my bread and butter. So I am breaking my neck to get Casting Call for a Corpse finished. Frankly, writing a novel is hard. I keep expecting each one to get a little easier. After all, this is my 14th some such endeavor. But they are never easy. Let’s face it, eating is easy. Writing is hard. Furthermore, I promised myself a deadline of June 1st to get it to the editor. I am writing frantically trying to live up to that. Every waking moment I can, I devote myself to this stupid book. I have neglected my friends, my cat, my hubby. Hubby has even taken up the slack in the housework department (the one bright spot in all of this). And still, I don’t know if I am going to meet this self-imposed deadline. I could just let it go.…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 67

I have a lot of time on my hands these days. I was struck by the idea of potty training my cat, Ellie, to use the facilities instead of the litter pan.  I trip over her litter pan every time I go into the laundry room, so this seemed like a good idea. It can’t be so hard, I reasoned. After all, Ellie is the cat and I am the mastress. And Ellie is a very intelligent, obedient cat. Okay, she’s very intelligent. That’s a start. After reading a particularly entrancing ad on the internet, I acted. Several days later, I received a pair of steel, reinforced gloves in the mail, and a set of instructions that went like this: Remember, it’s essential to take the upper hand when laying down the law to your cat. You can achieve your goal if your commands are clear and concise. You will be rewarded by an animal who loves you even more for your discipline. Below are three foolproof steps to employ: 1 – Discuss the overall goal with self. You must be in total agreement with self on objective and how to achieve it. Keep cat out of room during this discussion. There is no sense in alerting cat ahead of time. They have their ways. 2 – Now relay overall goal to cat before you begin the training process. You will find that sitting cat down in a quiet place, void of distractions, and outlining the situation is the way to go. They will usually pay rapt attention to you, especially if you are waving catnip about. They may not remember all you’ve said, but it is a bonding experience.   3 –When you see cat doing business in litter pan, carefully lift animal out of pan while wearing aforementioned,…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 66

I bit the bullet and decided to color my hair today. What, what, you say?? She colors her hair??? I thought she was a nat– Oh, wait a minute. I already did that.  Okay, so yes I do. And I have done so most of my life. And it’s all because of Gregor Mendel. You may remember him from high school No, not personally, but we all had to learn about him in science. Mendel is considered the father of modern genetics. You see, when you combine a mother who had black hair and a father who had platinum blonde hair, Mendel decreed the daughter would come out with hair the color of dried-up peanut butter. Not fresh, creamy peanut butter, but the stuff that fell behind the toaster oven and you didn’t find until a week later. The natural color of my hair is all his fault. But back to today. I bit the bullet, as I say, and after over two months of the sunshine growing out to reveal salt and pepper roots, I knew it was time to do something. Now I used to do my own hair all the time. That was back in my salad days. Now that I’m in my peanut butter behind the toaster oven days, I’ve been having the wonderful Trisha Greenwood, hairdresser supreme, do it.  But we’re all sheltering, my roots are growing, and I had to do something. Even Ellie, the cat, was appalled. I was super careful and did not leave handprints on the wall or drops of dye on the floor or towel like I did the last time. It didn’t’ turn pink or orange or blue, thank gawd, even though those colors are totally acceptable these days. I’m sure I missed some spots in the back, but…

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