The Big Dryer Project

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I had plenty of things going on yesterday. The dogs were going to the groomer, to have their nails clipped and to get rid of the smells of all the gross things that they love to roll in. I had a visit planned with my friend, Judi. There was a package at the airport, mail to pick up at the Post Office and a couple items I needed from the store. I had class notes to go over, and materials to prepare. The focus of my day, though, was “The Big Dryer Project.”

It was way last spring when an ink pen leaped of its own accord out of the basket, that sits on top of the dryer for mismatched socks and miscellaneous items found in pockets, and dropped down the chute where the lint filter goes. I was emptying the lint filter at the time. The pen dropped all the way down and got stuck in the fan that keeps the air moving out the exhaust tube. I didn’t know that at the time. I only knew that whenever I tried to use the dryer, it made a huge racket sounding like it was about to take off, or break apart at the seams.

But, it was spring. The weather was fine. And I have a clothesline. I knew that eventually I’d have to deal with the dryer. But not immediately. So, over the course of the long summer, while drying clothes outside, I made my plans. I turned what was going to be a small – though daunting enough – project, taking the back panel off the dryer to find and remove the pen, into a big project. I decided that, since I had to pull the dryer out anyway, I should take that time to prime and paint the laundry room floor. I should also replace the elbow at the back of the dryer, and the flexible aluminum vent hose.

The bigger the project became, the easier it was to continue to put it off. Until rainy September. One week, my clothes hung on the line for eight days! The next week, it was even longer. I finally carried them in – damp – to finish drying while slung over the backs of my dining room chairs. And decided I could procrastinate no longer. Still, it took a few trips back and forth to the hardware to find the right bit to fit the hex head sheet metal  screws in the back of the dryer. And assemble everything I needed: new aluminum elbow,  hose clamps, flexible vent, primer and paint.

Finally, Sunday after work, I was ready to get started. After walking the dogs…writing my blog…making a couple phone calls…and fixing dinner. Shortly after dark, I started. First, there was the gigantic mound of laundry, gathered from over two weeks now, to move out of the way. I got a dish to hold the screws as I removed them, no time for searching for wayward hardware. The dryer had been unplugged for weeks, in anticipation of this job, so then it was only necessary to put it away from the wall.

Leaving a pathway through to the bathroom was a major consideration for every aspect of this job. The laundry room is a wide hallway leading to the bathroom. With closets built into one side, and the alcove for washer and dryer on the other, it becomes just a normal width hallway. When the laundry basket is on the floor – as it is whenever the washing machine is in use – it becomes an even narrower space. Quick access to the bathroom, at my age, is a necessity.

With the dryer pulled out into the room, it was easy to see the job at hand. First, I pulled off the existing vent and removed the PVC elbow. I removed the sheet metal screws one-by-one, then gently pulled off the the metal plate from the back of the dryer. There was the pen, firmly lodged between the blades of the fan. I managed to work it out of there without hurting anything, and replaced the back. I swept the floor and walls where the dryer goes, resulting in a gratifying mound of dryer lint. Midnight, I washed then primed that section of floor, and went to bed.

Monday, dogs to the groomers, then home to put a coat of paint on the floor. To town, for all my other running around, pick up the sweet-smelling but unhappy dogs, then home. With brand new hose clamps, I fastened the new aluminum elbow to the back of the dryer, then the flexible vent to the elbow, then the dryer could be pushed back into place. The most difficult part of the entire job was squeezing out from behind the dryer after plugging it in. Then,it was quick work to hook the other end of the flexible vet to the wall-hung contraption that catches the lint. Done! Now to the laundry! By the time I left to visit Judi, both washer and dryer were working just as they should be. Success!

 

 

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The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #42

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List the ways money cannot buy happiness:

  • Money cannot buy respect. It has to be earned. Mostly, I have no trouble with that. Still, I remember bringing my two little grandsons up north to spend a week with me on Beaver Island. Michael was seven years old; Brandon was five. We traveled from Lapeer to Charlevoix in my Aunt Katie’s  brand new Trailblazer. We flew across to the island in a pretty impressive little airplane. Then we walked across to the parking lot, where my battered and dust-covered three hundred dollar island “beater” was waiting. Michael’s little face fell. “Grandma Cindy, your car is a piece of garbage,” he said, and I believe in that instant, his estimation of me dropped a little, too. I laughed and told him, seriously, “Why, Michael, this is the best car I’ve ever owned!” I loaded boys and luggage, and we rattled off for home. I had a full week to bolster up his opinion of me. Long drives in my old car delivered them to sandy beaches in the daytime, and down tree covered roads after dark as we – all dressed in our pajamas – went to see what the island looked like by moonlight. We traveled to shops and stores and the Toy Museum; we went fishing, rock collecting, swimming and dune climbing. That old car would come to a quick stop for getting a better look at bird, squirrel or deer. or when either little boy yelled “Can!” Then, one of them would exit the car to retrieve the sighted aluminum can, for the ten-cent profit it would bring. By the time the week was up, Michael had decided my car wasn’t so bad. A shiny new vehicle in that parking lot, though, would have garnered instant respect from that seven-year-old boy!
  • Money can’t fill lonely days…
  • It can’t give recognition for a job well-done…
  • And it can’t turn sadness around. But it often feels like it might, and I’ve frequently stopped at the store, or went on-line shopping, just to test the possibility.
  • Money can’t buy love. Even though teen-agers would often try to convince otherwise. Most love comes by happy accident (as in the many good friends that have happened into my life) or undeserved blessings (as in my children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers and other family members who I am so fortunate to have in my life at all, doubly fortunate that we all love each other). Sometimes, though, you have to look for love, pursue it, or work for it. That seems, often, like a job best suited to those with youth and beauty, and the confidence that comes with those attributes. So, usually, I put ideas of love or romance “on the shelf.” I don’t think about it, or I think, “I’m too old for that.” And that works…most of the time.
  • Money can’t buy all the myriad of little things that bring me joy on a daily basis: the color of the sky; wag-tail dogs; roads lined with trees; the sound of waves; sunrise, sunset and the moon and stars. All the best things are free!

A Late Report

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“Late” seems to be the theme today. I was up late last night working on home projects. I slept in late this morning. I was barely on time for my drawing class. After walking the dogs, working in the yard and fixing supper, I am now, late in the evening, finally sitting down to write my Tuesday blog.

I had a little trouble coming up with a theme. I’ve been publishing a blog for seven years now. Since I most often write about myself and my own experiences, I feel like raw material is getting rather scarce. I’m afraid I’m getting repetitive. Looking for inspiration, I went through a couple books of writing prompts; nothing piqued my interest.

When I was about to give up hope, I remembered: my “birthday list!” Each year, for my birthday, I have published a list, corresponding to my age:  favorite people and life-changing books have been the theme of past birthday lists. Of course my birthday this year is long past; I was in Chicago then, having a glorious time with my youngest daughter and her family. That’s okay, I can do the list now. Late. Because that’s how my day is going.

66 Random Things That I Know

  1. The sky is most beautiful, here on Beaver Island, in the fall of the year.
  2. The water in Lake Michigan is warmest in the fall. That probably holds true for other bodies of water, too.
  3. In places where there are evergreens among the deciduous trees, fall colors are most breathtaking.
  4. Water, too, provides a good backdrop for the changing autumn colors.
  5. Winter apples need a frost to bring out their juicy sweetness.
  6. If you count the seconds between the sound of thunder and the flash of lightning, that is how many miles away the storm is.
  7. Sleep is better when it’s raining.
  8. A jet stream is a weather pattern. Until I was forty years old, I thought a jet stream was a contrail. A contrail is the white trail that a jet leaves in the sky.
  9. Cheap wine is better appreciated if you can’t see the label.
  10. Better vodka is worth the extra cost.
  11. A good haircut can be life-altering.
  12. Sisters and brothers who grew up in the same household are more alike than even they know, no matter what their current differences.
  13. It takes about thirty days to form a good habit or to get rid of a bad habit.
  14. Either can be turned around in one moment of weakness.
  15. I think lateness is a way of revolting from life experiences that are not ideal.
  16. I believe procrastination is a side-effect of perfectionism.
  17. And perhaps what looks like laziness is actually the inability to act because of a lack of direction (or too many directions to pursue).
  18. Dogs are comforted by familiar voices.
  19. Pigs are some of the smartest animals.
  20. Chickens respond to novelty.
  21. You can move a chicken at night, without them knowing. Just drape a cloth over them to keep out the light, pick them up and carry them to their new location.
  22. Having the right tools for a project makes a big difference.
  23. Bicycling is easier on the knees than running.
  24. Cheaters never win.
  25. Honesty is the best policy.
  26. Summer always goes too fast.
  27. Humidity makes hot weather feel hotter, and cold weather more bitter.
  28. Most savory dishes can be improved with something from the onion family, or by lemon.
  29. Butter is now healthier than margarine.
  30. When it was new, margarine was sold as a block of white fat. The purchaser had to stir in the little packet of yellow colorant to make it look like butter.
  31. Friends that I know only through their writing are still true friends. Sometimes I know more about their lives and inner feelings than people I see every day. Likewise, I often reveal more in my writing than I ever would in “real life.”
  32. Letter writing is a great way to communicate.
  33. Everybody, deep down, wants to be accepted, appreciated and loved.
  34. Morning glories and moon flowers are more likely to sprout if the seeds are nicked before they are planted.
  35. Dogs have the right attitude toward life.
  36. We are all born with a sixth sense. It can be recognized and nurtured or denied and buried. In either case, awareness and practice will always improve intuitive ability.
  37. Anyone can learn to draw. If they want to.
  38. People that are good readers and enjoy reading, have a richer life than those who don’t.
  39. A book doesn’t have to be high literature to be good. It only has to speak to the reader at the time.
  40. That said, there is a lot of lousy writing out there.
  41. That holds true in the art world, too. If you like a piece, good. Enjoy it.
  42. Good teachers change lives.
  43. Continuing to learn, through life, is the best way to feel truly alive.
  44. Music communicates with us through our beating heart.
  45. Games are good for the mind.
  46. Plants have feelings.
  47. All life is precious (though I still set mouse traps this time of year).
  48. Daughters are more fun than sons (says this mother of two girls).
  49. Grandchildren are a blessing.
  50. Grocery shopping when hungry is never a good idea.
  51. A good experience, in a restaurant, is expected. Often food and service needs to be over-the-top before it is recognized.
  52. Inadequate service or a bad meal in a restaurant will be noticed right away, and never forgotten.
  53. A word of encouragement or praise goes a long way.
  54. Coming from a boss, it’s great incentive.
  55. Coming from a co-worker, it builds camaraderie.
  56. A compliment from a stranger is easier to believe than the same from an acquaintance.
  57. We are all, generally, too stingy with our feelings.
  58. Everyone deserves to hear something nice.
  59. A day can seem interminably long, when doing something unpleasant.
  60. Hours speed by when doing something enjoyable
  61. On that same theme, children seem to remain at two years old much longer than any other age…
  62. Until they reach their teen years, which drag on for a lifetime.
  63. But all in all, children grow up way too quickly.
  64. The longer you live, the more loss you have to bear.
  65. It’s always worth it.
  66. Life goes on, like it or not. May as well find the silver lining.

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #41

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List the ways money can buy happiness:

  • Money can take away some of the worry of “what if”s, that can be a huge drain on the potential for joy. What if I need to replace my roof? What if I break a leg and can’t work? What if I get sick? What if my car breaks down? A little money socked away can be extremely reassuring.
  • I would have so much fun finishing my house, if money were no object. Never settling, I’d expect the very best materials and workmanship. I would love to insist that every single electrical outlet be replaced, so that they are all straight, and all matching white. Walls would be smoothed and covered  with fresh paint. Floors would be finished. I’d have nice woodwork around every closet, window and door. I wouldn’t worry about what needs to be done first, or what might fall apart next, because it would ALL be done! Meantime, whenever I have the means to finish a project, no matter how small, I am happy about it.
  • With enough money, I could do more for the people I care about. When I was making good tips as a waitress, before I had a mortgage on my house, I often found myself with enough disposable income for occasional bouts of unrestrained spending. One Christmas, I bought each of my daughters a sewing machine. After so many Christmases when every gift had to be tightly budgeted, that felt like a huge extravagance, and it brought me unquestionable joy. I’ve enjoyed rare shopping trips when money was no object. When I make lists (which I do, more often than I like to admit) of how I’d spend a million dollars, if it were to drop into my lap, first on the list are the things I’d buy or do for others. How exciting to plan a trip with my daughters and their families, to treat my sisters to a luxury vacation, to take Chris on a shopping spree, to make sure there are college funds for any of my grandchildren that want to pursue higher education, and to see that Madeline gets to Paris. I’d love to provide comfort and even a touch of wild excess to those friends and family members who have known, as I do, the grind of living paycheck to paycheck, without anything to fall back on if those earnings were stopped. In the meantime, I take pleasure in doing what I can, with the funds that I have. A few times, I’ve been able to treat others who are important to me (and who have often been generous to me), to a meal or a special gift, and that makes me happy, too.

A Lazy Day Off

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Yesterday, on the first of October, I woke up before 3 AM.

I was worried, mostly, about all the things I wanted to accomplish that day. I had a long list, as usual. I had clothes, that might finally be dry, to retrieve from the clothesline. If the rain held off, I planned to mow the back yard. I wanted to pull out the dryer, make a couple repairs, then clean, prime and maybe paint that section of floor before moving it back into place. Sweep. Clean windows. Go over class notes and prepare materials.

I am continuing a whole-house deep-clean, purge and organize endeavor that can fill any spare time. So far, I have cleaned out one cupboard, resulting in a giant cardboard box, labelled “Re-Sale Shop” sitting in the middle of the kitchen. It contains five small items. In the back of that cupboard I found, rolled up behind an old roasting pan and a stack of colanders, the big vinyl kitty-cat place mat that belonged to my daughter, Jen, when she was little. Her name, in red ink and backwards as she wrote it when she was five: “ynneJ” was on the back. Where was the other, matching place mat, that had belonged to my daughter, Kate? That was also playing on my mind in the middle of the night.

Finally, there were questions running through my head. I’d love to say I was troubled by world and national events, weather patterns, war or poverty. I do worry about all of those things, and they have been responsible for plenty of sleepless nights, but no. The questions that were keeping me awake were these: What is the name of that beautiful blonde woman that Burt Reynolds was married to? The one that played in WKRP in Cincinnati?  How old is she? Is she still alive? Wonder what she looks like. Oh, and who was his first wife? The one that he said ruined him on marriage…that was on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In? And who was Paul McCartney’s second wife? And who is that beautiful Asian woman on A Million Little Things, and why does she look so familiar?

I finally got up. Not to dive in to all the things I had to do, mind you, but to get on the computer to find some answers. Which, by the way, are: Loni Anderson, still living and still gorgeous at 72 years old; Judy Carne, who died in 2015; Heather Mills; Grace Park, who played a regular character on Hawaii Five-0 until she left last year over a wage dispute. Having, by that time, drank too much coffee to make going back to bed a possibility, I struggled to get some things done, while walking zombie-like through the day.

I knocked off a few easy tasks. I grabbed the clothes from the line, folded them and put them away. I washed the glass in the dining room doors and windows while talking to my sister on the telephone. While on the phone with a friend, I dug out Kate’s old place mat from the back of another cabinet. I set up my bullet journal for the month of October. I wrote in my journal, then took a bath, then cleaned the bathroom. Then I took a nap. When I woke up, it was raining, and time to think about supper. All in all, not a very productive day.

Ah, well. There’s always tomorrow. Which is today…so I’d better get busy!

 

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #40

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List the things that felt important five or ten years ago but are unimportant now:

  • Work. As in employment. It used to bother me quite a bit that I was not working “in my field.” Every so often, I’d put a new resume’ and  portfolio together, and go on a career search. Meanwhile, it was important to be recognized as a good employee in whatever job I was working at. Though I continue to be an excellent worker, I neither need or expect to be noticed as such. I am no longer looking for something better. I go to my job; I work hard; I support myself. That’s enough.
  • Relationships. I was married, then divorced. Over the years, and with long gaps in-between, I’ve been involved in a few serious relationships. Though I’ve been alone for much of my adult life, I used to think being alone was just a break from the norm, and that having a partner was the thing to strive for. That no longer seems necessary or possible. I have gotten more set in my ways over the years. I’ve also gotten more stubborn and cranky. Not to mention flabby and wrinkly. I don’t think I could adjust to having another person in my life,  even on the rare chance that there would be someone interested in me making the effort. Ten years ago, I would not have been okay with that. Now, it feels just fine.
  • Getting along. For most of my life, it has been important that people “like” me. I would go to great lengths to make others understand my motivations. I’d over-explain things. I smiled all the time. Now, not so much. Of course, it would be nice if everyone saw me for the wonderful human being I think that I am…but I don’t work so hard to ensure it. I am myself, and am unwilling to compromise on that, in order to be looked on more favorably by anyone. I’m a good person, even though I have strong opinions. I’m a hard worker. I always try to be nice. I still smile all the time. People can accept me as I am, and like me or not. I’m okay.

Too Long

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“What have you held onto too long?”

That is the question presented to me when I opened a book of writing prompts this evening. Further, it says, “Go. Ten minutes.” Well, no matter how late in the day, and in spite of my weariness, I can write for ten minutes. About what I have held onto for too long.

I have held onto old grudges and resentments and angers…forever, I think. Definitely for too long. I wonder sometimes if I ever truly let go of anything

When I was four or five years old, my mother punished me unfairly. I was standing on the little brown wooden stool at the bathroom sink, giving my doll a bath. My mother came in, and accused me of having gotten into the medicine cabinet. She was alert to the dangers of the bathroom, as I had recently nearly cut off my thumb with a razor blade I’d retrieved from the trash can. I had not gotten into the medicine cabinet.

“I’m just giving my baby a bath,” I told her, honestly. She spanked me for getting into the medicine cabinet. Then she spanked me for lying about it.

Before I grew up, I managed to break a thousand rules, and many times got away scot-free. I think. I’ve forgotten much of it. But I never forgot the one incident when I got two spankings, when I had done nothing wrong. And, though more than sixty years has passed, I can still manage to feel a bit of resentment about it.

I remember when Brenda blamed me for something I didn’t do, when Ted got away with pinching and pulling hair, and when I didn’t get a birthday party. That’s just my childhood! Looking over my adult years, I can recall every snub, slight or expression of hostility that I encountered – or imagined that I encountered – in my whole long life.

I could write a book about my marriage alone, and all the anger that festered there. Other relationships could have a book of their own. Then, consider my dealings with landlords, medical professionals, lawyers, bosses and co-workers over all these many years.

Even though I know it’s silly to remember all that stuff, and I can laugh at myself for my long-lasting bitterness, it’s still a lot to hold onto. I could let go of all of that. And save my failing memory for the good things.