Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reprise: "Great Balls of Fire"

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In the midst of my ongoing writer's block, here is another repeat posting from May, 2010....maybe you've never seen it!   

I'm pretty sure that by now, you have all realized that I am NOT a domestic goddess! Don't like to cook. Vacuuming is a major pain. I hate all those repetitive chores. I don't do crafts. I'm not a seamstress. I despise grocery shopping. None of it! Not my thing. (You could, I guess, just say I'm lazy, but I'd rather be thought of as pursuing my bliss....and my bliss doesn't include dishpan hands!!)

I do realize that there are certain things that must be least occasionally. In fact, I did all of those things.....fairly frequently over the course of the years, but I didn't like it! There is, however, one thing that absolutely MUST be done unless you are a hermit living in a cave. Laundry! There inevitably comes a day (generally several times a month) when you are completely out of clean underwear....and so is every other member of your household! You do the laundry.

I've done a lot of laundry in my lifetime. I remember helping mom hang wet clothes on the clothesline and then collecting same when dry as soon as I was tall enough! When I hit about 12, ironing became my chore. It was a big deal, we (well, I) ironed my mom's dresses, my school uniforms, my dad's shirts, and all flat work (handkerchiefs, sheets and pillowcases). I didn't mind ironing too much, at least I got to sit down while I was doing it! When permanent press was brought into the world, I rejoiced! By the time I was a senior in high school all the laundry was my job, while mom worked. I hated that because I had to go to the laundromat and people could see me fold my dad's underwear!!! EWW! How embarrassing!

After I got married, of course, all the laundry fell to me. Baby clothes, mommy clothes, and daddy clothes, several times a week. It seemed like I was always having to do laundry. Another milestone day in my life was the day we bought our very own washer and dryer!! No more laundromat!! I could do it from the privacy and comfort of my own home! Wow! We were finally livin' high!

But it was still laundry. Of course, once the baby stopped throwing up and pooping on everything in sight, things got somewhat better. Nevertheless, it was basically an un-ending chore. Now that its just the Big Guy and me and I'm not working, there's not nearly as much. This is good. Even better, is the fact that the Big Guy has begun doing a lot of his own laundry. There are several reasons for that, but the end result is that I have less laundry to do. Yay!

But I still have laundry to do. Darn stuff, just keeps on piling up. I can try to ignore it, but that's pointless. Sooner or later comes the day when I'm out of clean underwear! (Of course, I don't always wait until that time, but its funnier to say that I do!! -- LOL!)

The other day I was contemplating doing some laundry (no urgency, I still had clean stuff !) I don't know how or why it happened, but I started to think about how much time laundry takes and that it really eats up a lot of time. So I tried to add it up. How much time is taken up with laundry?

Well, I decided there was no way to count it up accurately, the best I could do was estimate. So I figured that ON AVERAGE, the time it takes to do the laundry (4 loads: gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away) is a bit less than 2 hours.

Here's what I came up with (again using averages):

Laundry: 3x/month @ 2 hours each = 72 hours/ year

Starting at age 14 to present day = 50 years

50 Years @ 72 hours/year = 3,600 hours

24 hours/day into 3,600 hours = 150 days

30 days = 1 month

150 days divided by 30 = 5 MONTHS!!  5 MONTHS??   5 MONTHS!!!


"Goodness gracious, Great Balls of Fire!!"

No wonder I hated it! That's nearly half a year!! Gone. Used up. Wasted. Erased. Eradicated. Forever!! Unbelievable. And no end in sight! Well, Crap!

Oops, gotta go, the dryer just buzzed....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"In the Still of the Night"

I seem to still be having great difficulty in finding inspiration to write these days.  It is enormously frustrating because I really don't want to give up writing this blog!  I have mentioned before, I think, that I have probably used up all my good stories after writing this blog since July of 2009!    It occurred to me that a way to carry over at least some of my writer's block, might be to reprint some of those early posts I did way back when I started writing.  Except for a limited few of you (mostly my relatives!), most of my "followers" are reasonably recent and may not have taken the time to go back to some of my earlier posts on their own.  Soooooooooo, because I am scrounging around for ideas again, if no one minds too much, I'm going to re-post something from 2010 that you may (or may not, I hope) have seen.  I hope that's okay with you.  If nothing else it does prove that I am trying to stay in the loop with writing.  
Anyway, here is a story from a long time ago, back when.... 

....we were young and fearless, The Big Guy and I decided that we needed a vacation. Ratchlet was not quite 4 years old, and other than one or two short trips for a couple of days here and there, we hadn't had much of a "real" vacation at all during the time we'd been married. You know what I mean by a "real" vacation, "an out-of-state, stop the newspaper and mail delivery, go stay in a hotel where someone else makes the beds, gone for two whole weeks," vacation!! After a quick stop-off in Atlanta to see my BFF, we would go on to Florida, my old stomping ground, and I could show all the sights to Ratchlet and the Big Guy. Besides it was "going home" for me, at least for a little while.

We decided to take my Little Sis along, both as a break for her and as an additional someone for Ratchlet to play with. Little Sis would be 12 that summer, just the right age to be fairly responsible but still enough of a kid to enjoy being with us! She and Ratchlet have always had a pretty close relationship (even now), which is understandable. The are closer together in age than Little Sis and I are! Anyway, it was a win/win deal!

In order to be able to afford this adventure, we decided we would drive there. Well, in fact, we decided that the Big Guy would drive there! (I was a late bloomer and didn't have a license, but that's whole 'nother story.) The Big Guy, being the the kind of guy he is, said we should drive straight through, and not spend money on motels along the way, besides, that would mean we would have more time actually IN Florida. Although I had some real reservations about that, he SWORE that if he got too tired, we would stop at a motel. Plus, the idea of trying to entertain a 4 yr old in a car for several days held very little appeal.

As I said, we were young and fearless, so off we went!

At the time, we were still living in Chicago proper in the same apartment we'd lived in since before Ratchlet was born. It was smack dab in the middle of one of Chicago's neighborhoods and the building had no courtyard or play area, or pool. In fact, it pretty much had no amenities at all! We didn't have a covered, designated, parking space, we had to find on-street parking. We were right on Irving Park Road, which at that time, still had noisy, obnoxious, and frequent trolley buses! Anyway, it wasn't a place to spend much time outside.

We thought Ratchlet would enjoy seeing the country from the car. She loved going for rides in the much to see!! Besides which she could always fall asleep in a car! No danger of driving for 27 hours straight with a cranky, unhappy, sleepy but unrested child!

On the day we were to leave, by the time we picked up Little Sis, and got everything situated, and finally got on the road, it was later than we hoped. That was okay, because we wanted to be driving mostly at night when it was cooler. It was, indeed, a lovely ride. Of course we stopped fairly frequently for food and potty stops (we had a 4 year old in the car....'nuff said!) We sang songs and played word games and watched for cows, horses, and other critters (again, remember the 4 year old!) But after supper, once it finally got dark, Ratchlet and Little Sis drifted off and it was peaceful and quiet. They slept for a long time. I can't sleep in a car so I kept the Big Guy company as he drove

We were somewhere in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee in the middle of the night. It was a clear night, with not much moon so it was pitch black, there were big tall trees on both sides, the road was empty, except for us! It wasn't scary (it was an interstate after all), just DARK.

Somewhere around 2 am, we heard Ratchlet's little voice, pop up, with a question. "Mommy, what are all those little white things in the sky?" OH. MY. GOD. My almost 4 year old daughter, did not recognize STARS!! She had a great view out of the back window and there were millions of stars visible. (There's nothing like star-gazing on top of a mountain!!) But my poor, city-bred, apartment-raised, little girl, hadn't ever actually seen stars. I was crushed! How could we have neglected teaching her about this rather significant portion of the world she lived in?? Luckily, not too far ahead there was a place we could pull off the road to park and get out of the car.

So we did! There we were, all four of us, at 2 o'clock in the morning, standing in the parking area, somewhere in the Smokey Mountains, looking up at the sky while we explained about the stars to our little girl!

After about half an hour later, we got back in the car and went on our way. The rest of the trip was great, we all had a wonderful time. I introduced my family to the places I grew up. We saw a lot of the sights. It was terrific. In fact, we all enjoyed it so much we did it again a couple of years later!

But the thing I always remember first about that trip, was when Ratchlet discovered the stars "in the still of the night".

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

The rumble of snickering and laughing you have been hearing in the background over the course of this winter has been good ol' Mother Nature, while she has been playing pranks and making life uncomfortable all over the country.  She has just been having the best time this winter, I'll bet!   She's has dragged winter on well past the time it has usually begun to moderate.  She has popped in plunging temperatures wherever and whenever she pleases.  It does not please anyone else!  She doesn't care!

 Nearly every person you talk to from all across the country has been complaining about the snow, the cold, the ice, the wind, the sleet, what it all does to traffic, and well, gee, isn't this winter ever going to end???  Can hardly blame them, it's been pretty crazy.  Even those odd ducks (sorry, Cathy) who swear they like snow and love winter have been significantly silent this year, because the weather has pushed even them to the limits of their endurance.

Now I don't know if you've noticed, but I haven't had one post about the winter here in Austin.  This is not because it has been a sweet mild little winter.  Oh no, it is because it is so refreshing to hear everybody else kvetching over all the problem the weather has brought!   For once in my life I am not the cranky voice of one of the weather minority!  I've just been sitting here thinking "Baby, It's Cold Outside!"

Austin has delayed the opening of school or closed the schools because of the forecasted weather three times....none of which turned out to be much of anything.  Even the kids were complaining because they'll have make up days at the end of school! 

As far as I'm concerned there has been too much cold, that down-to-the-bone cold that just seeps into your fingers and toes no matter of many pairs of socks or gloves you try to wear!  Even though the actual temperatures have not dipped into frigidity very much, what we have had is a very sharp wind, very minimal precipitation, lots and lots of grey skies.  The actual temperatures mixed with the humidity, barometric pressure, and the scattered  precipitation have just been uncomfortable for a long time.  We never actually got much snow (of course Austin drivers DO NOT KNOW how to deal with any snow or ice.)  But the roads have been slick and dangerous several times and the numbers of accidents that have occurred due to those conditions has been staggering!  All of that comes with the territory of winter and as it hasn't been very rainy either (even though just about everyone would have celebrated having the drought "done in"....but that didn't happen, at least not enough! KNEW there had to be a however, I'll bet.....however, it is now the middle of March.  Things that grow are giving it their best shot.  There are a couple of different types of flowering trees and have bloomed and the flowers are actually sticking around a bit longer than usual.  I've seen daffodils popping up all over town.  It hasn't all exploded at once like sometimes happens, just a spot of color here and there.  Two nights ago, I actually heard a couple of chirping birds after many months of silence.  (Well, silent except for the grackles....they never shut up....ever!!  They don't chirp pretty little tunes, they SQUAWK....loudly!)  The flowers and the birdsong are all welcome signs of Spring.  It feels like it's been a long time coming.  Now if it would just warm up!!!

I am tired of jackets and gloves, tired of sweaters and pants all the time, tired of wearing socks, tired of dark wintry colors, and most especially tired of the wind whipping around everything from hairdos to trash cans!!   Because even though it is mid-March in Austin, TX the temperature tonight is 49 and with the wind it feels about 39F!  Yep, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." 

I know that Spring doesn't officially start for another week.  But I am ready for it NOW!!!   In fact, I think EVERYBODY is ready for it now!  Except. of course, for that tricky Mother Nature.....I wouldn't be at all surprised if she has a few more arctic blasts up her sleeve that she will let loose while she laughs out loud at all us shivery mortals! 

She's funny, that Mother Nature....oh yeah, a real hoot.  Well, I'll show her!   I've made up my mind, no Christmas present for Mother Nature next December!  Except, perhaps a lump of coal in her stocking.....though come to think of it, if it doesn't warm up soon, there probably won't be any coal left to shove in her stocking.  We will have burned it all up in our fireplaces in August!!

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