An admiring…blog?!

Time flies. Today is September 13, 2014. Already! We’re not quite two weeks into the month, but Labor Day might as well have been months ago instead of just twelve days.

What is that?

Is it age? Is it the way we live these days? Is it all the electronic wizardry we’re beholden to that makes everything instantaneous and time fly?  Whatever it is, I really hate it.

Screen shot 2014-09-13 at 8.30.46 AM

Twelve months, 365 days, 46 posts and 26,144 words later, I’m still here. Blogging activated my previously sluggish creative juices so that ideas tumble around in my head like clothes in the washer, while bad ideas still clonk annoyingly as if they were coins in the dryer.

On this date a year ago, I clicked “publish” and sent my very first post, “We’ve arrived and to prove it, we’re here”  out there, into the great wherever!  My heart pounded and I was so light-headed I thought I would faint. Terrifying and satisfying, at the same time.

A couple weeks later I was almost blasé about the publishing process. And, if you had peeked in my window on October 6 you would have seen me doing the happy dance because my seventh post, “Nasturtiums askance,” was accepted to the Erma Bombeck Workshop site. Since then ten more have been published there.

Last month, I jumped into the deep end of the pond and started another blog, “Dementia isn’t funny.”

What was I thinking?

Are you thinking, La-dee-whoopin’-dah?  Just who does she think she is anyway? Lots of people, millions of people, write blogs, multiple blogs, and they have a lot more followers than she does.

Well, fifty-three years before I was born, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) summed me up in eight lines and forty-two words, in what has always been one of my very favorite poems. This is who I am:

I’m nobody!  Who are you?
Are you — nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise — you know!

Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 12.26.51 PMHow dreary — to be — Somebody!
How public — like a Frog —
To tell one’s name — the livelong June —
To an admiring Blog Bog!



What new car smell?

I’m not a car person, but I do become very attached to my vehicles and quite weepy when I hand over the keys. A few months ago I decided it was time to replace my eleven-year-old Subaru Forester.  It was a less stressful parting than usual because our grandson Miah bought it.

In years past, husband Peter did extensive research to scope car options for me, but dementia has him in a vice-grip. I did my own research and felt confident, thanks to encouragement from  our son-in-law.  When the day came to pick the car up, my friend Joanne, who is a car person, was more excited than I was.

My Dad’s car-loving genes didn’t jump into my pool.  He bought a new car every two years except during WWII when he rode a bike to work.  Automobiles weren’t readily available and gas was rationed anyway.

Dad was a car-washer too — it was nothing short of a sin to drive a dirty car. Every Sunday, religiously, he washed his “machine” in the heated garage tucked beneath our little house. He even hooked the hose to the hot water tap in the basement. “You can’t get a car clean using cold water,” he preached. I didn’t get car-cleaning genes either.

On the other hand, a car-maintainer he was not.  He once drove the 500 miles to visit us with a “little red light blinking” on the dash.  The car was gasping for oil.  Another time, a loud, repetitive flap-smack-flap-smack announced his arrival. Two tires had worn through to the steel belts. He grumbled about having to buy new tires. “Dad, do you ever check the oil, or have your tires rotated?” I ranted.

“Nope,” he said, “cars are supposed to last.”  Since he traded every two years, it was a moot point. His vehicles still had their new car smell when he was ready for another.

When I picked up my new Forester it didn’t smell “new,” but my old nose probably needed a tune-up.  Joanne’s nose worked and she was giddy on Essence of New Car. She sat in the backseat while I got nearly a ninety-minute instruction, not that I remembered it sixty minutes later! If I choose, the car will tell me its lifetime fuel consumption, accelerator opening ratio, journey time and distance, average vehicle speed for entire drive time, and mundane things I actually understand like engine oil status, tire pressure, and maintenance schedule.

My car is way smarter than I ever was or ever will be. If I keep it as long as I’ve kept my others, I’ll be too old to drive anything except a three-wheeled scooter.

I’ve had it nearly two months and still haven’t been able to reset the clock to daylight savings time. The manual directed me to section 3, page 35, then 3-39, 3-45, 3-47, and 3-55 before I found “DST select.” It takes time to absorb all that information, so it still shows EST. That’s OK. I hate DST. I do not like to be outsmarted by a car though!

The clock/calendar feature, if I could use it, would let me add birthday and anniversary reminders, but I already remember those dates without assistance.  This would help Peter — he doesn’t remember his own birthday, much less mine or our anniversary — but he doesn’t drive!

But new car smell?  Um, no. What I smell is a faint Eau de Dog Vomit. I’d had the car less than a week when Nobby went on a short road trip with us. I thought he’d outgrown his carsickness. Wrong!  When he started his telltale gulping, I couldn’t pull over quickly enough. He deposited his stomach contents down the opening in the seat cover where the seatbelts come through.  Usually- prepared me didn’t have anything to clean up with except three tissues. I improvised with plastic bags and a sheet of newspaper.


That same day I had a backing-up incident, first time ever.  I realized I’d missed a turn-off and backed into the parking lot of a country church. A shrill, ear-shattering crunch came from the car’s nether region. I didn’t know what was wrong because I was slighly rear-end down in a shallow ditch. All-wheel drive hauled me out easily and I pulled forward into the lot. I’d flattened a mailbox that had already been knocked down, but there wasn’t even a scratch on the car. Whew!

Now, a rear-view camera connects to the multi-function display, but with polarized sunglasses the screen has a big brown smudge. I’m a good backer-upper, and side mirrors have always worked for me. Later I realized, even if I’d used the rear-view feature, the mailbox wouldn’t have been visible.  A search in the owner’s manual warned, “…you should always check the rear view…with your eyes and mirror…. Moving backward only by checking the rear-view [screen] could cause an accident.”

I rest my case.

In addition to being a mailbox flattener, I was still lost, my phone was dead, and I couldn’t make the #!*^ GPS work either. Help came from a man working down the road.

We were an hour late.

The dog was fine.

The car was unscathed.

But my self-confidence was wrecked — State Farm Insurance doesn’t cover that.








How do we wash our clothes?

We wash our clothes expensively, that’s how!  At the moment I’m ready to try beating my clothes against a rock in the river.

It was still as dark outside as my six o’clock mug of coffee when I heard an annoying high pitched beep.  Every three minutes the sound interrupted my morning solitude.  None of the usual culprits was guilty, not my tinnitus-affected ears, nor cell phone, dishwasher, or microwave. The beep came from the laundry room.  My washer’s control panel was lit up like the instrument panel on an airplane. The machine was frozen on “Express,” a setting I’d never used in 15 years, and I hadn’t done any laundry in three days. The darn thing wouldn’t run, nor would “stop” make the lights go off.

I pulled the plug.

When the rest of the world woke up I placed a mayday call to Dan, the repair superman I found several years ago. Dan can fix any major home appliance. He came as soon as he could, carefully performed a number of tests, then shook his head sadly. My washer had spun out for the last time. A new printed circuit board and power supply would cost more than three hundred dollars, labor not included. I could buy a new washer for that. The dryer still worked, though barely. The rational me said, “No new dryer” — I hang most things outside to dry in the sun or, during bad weather, in the basement — but the fussy me whispered, “Matchy, matchy.”

After a quick recce to “kick the tires” on what I thought would be my pick, I came home and logged in to Consumer Reports. Should have done that first of course.

Oh my.

I spent hours comparing features and benefits.  No, I do not want to communicate with my laundry while I’m playing canasta with my friends.  No, I do not want a dryer with steam option that would necessitate a water line to an appliance that is supposed to be drying my clothes.  Maybe that’s a good thing, but it seems counterintuitive to me.  I’m just sayin’.

Some of the newest washday appliances will let you link to the manufacturer via an app on your smart phone. You can select your equipment’s symptoms and get a diagnosis before the repairman comes.  Not only that, you can phone your washer to check on the status of your delicates while you’re visiting the in-laws.

Just what I need! Another set of commands to learn, more passwords to forget, oh, and a smart phone to buy. Note to Maytag, GE, Whirlpool, Samsung et al:  I’m doing laundry here, not launching a submarine! When someone invents a machine that moves the washed clothes into the dryer, and a dryer that matches socks, folds towels, and puts everything away…then we’ll talk.

Satisfied with my choice at last, I clicked on “user comments.”  Some were enthusiastic, but most were not suitable for a G-rated blog!  I’d spent a gorgeous autumn weekend researching laundry appliances, and I was no further ahead than when I’d started.

And the laundry hamper overflowed.

Oh yes! Cost!  That printed circuit board/power supply replacement suddenly seemed a bargain.  Some of the highest end appliances cost more than six thousand dollars for a washer/dryer combo.  My first car didn’t cost even half that much.

Who needs a “smart” washer?  I’m a smart washer.

I’ll get my DublHandi washboard out. These primitive “appliances,” first manufactured in 1938, are “ideal for silks, hosiery and lingerie or handkerchiefs.”  Plus, at 8.5″ x 18″ they’re “just the right size to fit a bucket, pail or lavatory.” They “pack easily into suitcase or traveling bag” too. What’s not to love?

FYI, DublHandi washboards are still manufactured in Logan, Ohio. They sell for about twenty-three bucks.  If you’re interested in a cost effective option to a smart washer, here’s some nitty gritty info:


How old is too old to blog?

When I went to my first New River Writers’ meeting in 2009 I just wanted to be a groupie and rub elbows with other writers. I never dreamed I’d actually have to write in order to be a member.  I know, duh!  But, shamed into participating—my two non-fiction books were published after all—I started writing a novel.

In the time since I’ve drafted a dozen chapters, well received by my pals, and I finally came up with a title, But Why?  Early this year though, circumstances stopped me cold.  Months later, I volunteered to submit something, though not another chapter, for the August meeting. I intended to write about a topic that turned out to be “too near the bone” to tackle without a lot more research.

Panic hovered. How about a blog?  Millions of people, more than half of them women, blog these days.  I hadn’t actually thought much about building a site nor what that meant when I wrote six potential posts. The group liked my drafts and encouraged me to go for it.  Fueled by their enthusiasm, I plunged ahead.  I could do this.  Yes!

One young woman in the group, Andrea with the “butterfly mind,” knows her way around a blog.  She oozes passion and confidence. I’m sure she never thought a blog was some awful plumbing problem that the Rotorooter guy could fix.  Never would she have thought that a gravatar was a tool to measure six-foot holes in the cemetery next to the church.  Andrea’s not even 40 yet!  She’s more than a decade younger than my daughters. Her children are young enough to be my great-grandchildren.

After several weeks’ trying to leap confounding techno-hurdles and frustrated by slogging through the mire of jargon, I decided to pack it in.  Quit, in other words!  My seventy-four-year-old brain just could not decode and absorb all the blogobabble.

But I’m not a quitter, damnit!  After my walk the next morning I came home determined to be a blogger! I had a plan. I’d Google “older bloggers” to find, if not help, then at least commiseration, justification. I found several interesting sites, but in one, “old” Jen wrote, “I read…bloggers fall into a certain age category, and anyone outside that neat little box is…’too old’ to blog.…I am 26…being told you are too old can…hit a nerve, especially if you’re a teensy bit sensitive about your age to begin with.”  C’mon! Sensitive about being twenty-six?

Next I looked up “bloggers…seventies” but that brought up lists of people who were nostalgic about the “me decade.”  I wouldn’t go there again if you paid me.

Then I found “Senior blog for my senior years.”  Ah, a like mind, though Adele, too, is younger than I.  She asked, “How do you get a blog?” then answered her own question with, “Beats me…[but it] sure helps to have children who grew up in the computer era…my twin sons created this…site as a Mother’s Day gift. …It is not…a walk in the park to absorb this techno-babble,…I envy the generation who, in the blink of an eye, can make a new blog site.”  

OK, so maybe blogging really is the province of youngsters who have grown up playing on computers the way I played with my abacus.  They were born knowing the meaning of URL, FTP, TTL, CMS, PHP, MySQL, avatar, blavatar, and widget.

At the deservedly biased recommendation of friend Mollie I started following her daughter’s blog. Paige has a busy life with a full-time job, a husband, and young teens and, get this, she writes her blog on her smart phone! 

I don’t even have a smart phone. The thought of writing on the site terrifies me. What if I accidentally posted it before all the t’s and i’s were crossed and dotted, the spelling checked?  Uh unh, I will continue to write in Word, and will copy and paste my posts into my waiting site, thank you very much.

So anyway, with tips from Andrea and Internet know-how from grandson Miah, I kept going. Way more than half the credit that this site exists at all goes to daughter Leslie who patiently, laboriously walked me through the process without pulling out her hair, or mine.

There’ve been no end of  “blogjams” regarding PINs, domains, and passwords—why so many passwords and why an assigned one that reads like a Greek dessert?

I’ve spent hours on the phone with help sites.  About 45 minutes into one call I asked the young man in Arizona if the number was toll free.  He didn’t know. “Are you calling from your cell or landline?” he asked.

“Landline,” I said.

“I don’t know about those,” he sniffed, “although both my mother and my grandmother worked for Ma Bell.”  If that was supposed to help it failed. I told him I’d known Ma Bell personally.  It was so quiet on his end I thought he’d hung up.

“You could use your cell phone,” he went on. “Depending on your plan, if this isn’t a toll-free call, your wireless plan should cover it.”

I told him I almost never use my cell.  More silence as he tried to process almost never use my cell.

After all this I’m still not sure about the difference between a host and, well, a host.  I have two, uh, maybe three.  I Googled the name of one host and found that it has the same name as one of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s newer restaurants, Fat Cow. Now if he were my host I know I’d understand his language. I’d probably have to wash his mouth out with soap though.