Saturday, January 31, 2009

Down Time


Unless you've gotten a mortgage since all the furor over subprime loans and the economic meltdown, you're not going to believe all this. But I swear it's true.

My live-in handyman and I closed early on our old house in order to take advantage of locking in an outstanding low rate on our new mortgage. I'm still glad we did that. That was accomplished on Thursday, January 15.

We were scheduled to close on our new digs on Wednesday, January 28, with a promise from the mortgage company that it could be a few days sooner. So we came to San Antonio on Tuesday. Along with the ice storm that hammered much of the country. Including Dallas, where our lender is.

Wednesday came and went. We were still homeless. Thursday, the title company calls us at 3:30 to ask why we didn't show up for our 3:00 closing. Hello? No one told us. So we zipped over there and signed our lives away.

Since it was late, we knew the loan wouldn't fund until the next day, Friday. However, glitches abounded. First, a new problem cropped up with the deed. It went missing. Around noon, the seller emailed it to the title company, but needed to send a hard copy that won't arrive until Monday. The title company closer requested funding approval from the lender, based on having a copy of the deed.

The lender didn't have a problem with it . . . but wait, there's more! All of a sudden, after all the papers have been signed by all parties, the lender decides they want proof that the appraisal was paid outside of closing, which is standard practice here. Lucky for us, our check has already cleared the bank and I was smart enough to write "for appraisal" and the address down on the note line. The mortgage company we went through had a copy of it and sent it on. Again. It was part of the original package.

So late yesterday, the title company finally received funding approval, but it was too late in the day to fund. We're told funding will take place Monday morning.

As soon as I have computer access after that, I'll let you know.

I think it will be mid-to-late week. I expect to have my computer on Monday or Tuesday, but I don't yet know when the cable company will hook us up.

Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Between us, my live-in handyman and I own three computers. One of them is a laptop. Do you think we were smart enough to bring it along? Oh, no.

In all fairness, however, I don't know where we would have put it. Every spare cubic inch was stuffed with something as it was.

As a result, I have to bum computer time from others. And the one computer where I am now is going to the Big Apple for the weekend. So I'll be totally disconnected from cyberspace until at least Monday evening.

On the housing front, we are keeping our fingers crossed for closing next week. Closing, then funding, then moving. Then, as soon as possible, a return to normal for at least a couple hours each day.

Before too much longer, you'll be hearing from me every day again. Enjoy the quiet!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Homeless

The first half of The Move is complete.

For those of you who've never had a home, whether that home is a rented room or a grand mansion, let me tell you it's an odd feeling not to have a place to call home. A little bittersweet. Behind us are familiar faces and places. Our comfort zone is being jiggled a bit.

But we've left behind a little trace evidence, and we've picked up pieces of the South Texas coast that will stay with us forever.

The second half of The Move will come in a few weeks. Just as exhausting as the first, but overlaid with a sense of excitement. As it should be with a new adventure.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

I was going to write about two funny things that happened this morning before I sipped any caffeine, but maybe they were only funny to me. Or maybe my brain is too tired for me to make you smile with the words here. I tried, but the result was blah. Just know that I laughed out loud twice before ever tasting the first sip of coffee. Once at Shiner, and once at myself.

Almost everything is packed. After I write this post, I'll disconnect my computer and finish packing the bathroom and kitchen.

Then comes the great clean-up.

Now, I hate housekeeping. I should say, instead, I HATE housekeeping. The only nice thing about cleaning now is that it's not too bad cleaning empty rooms. Wipe down any flat surface, run the duster over anything that hangs, vacuum, and you're done. Ta-da!

Bathrooms remain bathrooms, however. And the kitchen. All the cupboards are bare, but the fridge looms. Not looking forward to that. I'll save it for last. Maybe I'll find a hidden jar of olives to keep me company while I toss and clean!

I'll post when I can, but probably not before the weekend. I'm going to miss everyone until we get settled and I'm back here every day.

Or in Arnold's words . . . I'll be back!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life is an Adventure

Yesterday I told you I was officially mid-move.

Guess what?

I was wrong.

Our closing date has been moved up to Thursday. That's right . . . the day after tomorrow. Yikes!

Now I'm officially in running-around-like-crazy mode. Last night I made significant progress in packing the rest of my office. Everything here is packed that will go to storage. Things I'll take with us are scattered about.

Today I tackle clothing. Again, I know what's going with us, so it's a matter of packing everything else. When I finish there, it's straight to the kitchen.

There will, of course, be puppy breaks.

Which brings me to something that dawned on me yesterday while I watched Wrangler and Shiner play. I observed time and time again that it's often the one who makes the most noise and sounds like he's dying who is, in fact, the instigator and not in any danger whatsoever.

When I realized this, it occurred to me that this behavior translates to humans. Often the one who makes himself into the aggrieved party is nothing but a trouble-maker, a pot-stirrer, or the guilty party. This isn't always the case, but look back over the news the past few years and see what you think.

I hope to see all of you tomorrow for at least a brief post before the Official Coastal Disconnect, after which posting will be spotty until we reconnect in San Antonio in a couple of weeks or so. In between I'll be begging and borrowing computers around the Lone Star State.

Off to Packing Land!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Writing Under Stress

Since I'm officially mid-move, I thought today's topic was appropriate.

It's not like we've never moved before. My live-in handyman spent the first part his adult life in the U.S. Coast Guard, and I tagged along. We never lived any one place longer than three years. A few times we moved every six months. So while it's still a pain and a chore, it's different for us than it would be for someone who's lived in the same town for forty years. But it's still time consuming and deadline oriented. And stress filled. Especially with a new puppy.

How do you find time to write at times like these?

Everyone will tell you if you want to write, you'll make the time. I'll tell you it ain't that easy. But you will find time to write something. And the important thing is to get something on the screen because you can rework and edit those words. While the words may be some of the worst you've ever written, you'll be surprised at the emotion that comes through. If you have nothing . . . well, you get the point.

If you find you can't focus enough to get into the story and characters, write yourself an email or change the color of the text in your manuscript and get personal. Vent, exult over minor victories of finally getting the linen closet packed, details of your day, whatever. As if you were journaling. Just don't call it that if you happen to be journal-phobic like yours truly.

You will be amazed at what comes out. Some really usable stuff that you would have missed otherwise. Your thoughts and emotions will add depth to your characters, or may bring in a subplot or two.

I found what works best for me is to open the place where I choose to write and leave the file or email open all day. I'm grabbing snatches of time throughout the day, some longer than others. I can just click on the file, pop in my thoughts at the moment, hit save, and I'm off and running again. After doing this a few times, I find on some days I'm actually able to jump into my character's head every once in a while.

And if it works for someone as scattered as I am these days, it will work for you.

Trust me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Name Is Dorothy . . .

. . . and I've lost my red shoes.

So I can't click my heels together three times and say, "I want to go home."

For starters, I am home. But it's becoming less home and more space to be cleared by the day. The guest room is empty except for the bed and dresser and a few clothes hanging in the closet that will go into the next wardrobe box. The guest bath IS empty.

Most of my books are packed. Most of my files are packed.

In the kitchen, all the fancy stuff we don't use often is packed. We've begun to eat strange combinations of food at dinner to use as much of what's in the pantry as possible.

My live-in handyman said he feels as if the move is done because he's emptied the shed of all his toys.

Each day our home becomes more of a shell. And the storage spaces we've rented become fuller. It's all part of the process. Before we know it, we'll be emptying those spaces and loading a truck. The happy part will be filling an empty house and making it our new home.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cold and Hot

Who knew it would be afternoon before I ever sat down at my computer today!

And I have only a few minutes, so I'll make this post short and sweet.

The other day while I was driving back from San Antonio, something happened to me that's never happened before. I've driven all over this country, for the most part, in all seasons, and in all kinds of weather. Once, while driving with my dad in Tennessee, we even saw some strange and unexplainable green lights in the eastern sky.

What occurred this time isn't as freaky as those lights, because I know what it was and why it came about, but it was still a strange happening.

It was cold in San Antonio, in the 40s. The front had pushed through early that morning. As I drove southeast, it was still cloudy and cold, until I neared the coast. About an hour out, the clouds lowered and the wind picked up. It got pretty dark, but no rain fell.

All of a sudden, every window in my car fogged up. At first I thought it was foggy outside, but when I switched on my windshield wipers, I found that wasn't the case. I glanced at the thermometer, which had been hovering in the upper 40s to low 50s. It said 62. And it climbed as I watched. 64. 65. 67. 68. 70. 72. In well less than a minute, probably more like 30 seconds.

I had passed through the leading edge of the cold front. Within about two minutes, the outside temp was 76, and a few minutes later, 82. I was driving about 75 mph. A few minutes later, the sky was clear and sunny. This all took place about 1 p.m. The cold front reached the coast that night about 7.

I've driven the other way and crossed from hot to cold, but this was my first experience going from cold to hot.

Have any of you ever done this?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Tiki Hut Is Moving

I've been telling you that my life is a zoo this past month or so. Yesterday I showed you Shiner. Today I'll tell the rest of the story - to borrow from Paul Harvey.

In a few weeks we'll be moving to San Antonio.

Our home here at the coast had been on the market since the spring and the listing was due to expire next week. We'd already decided not to renew it and to stay here until the market improves. After all, we love living here, but we have a long list of reasons to want to move to San Antonio, too.

Lo and behold, the week before Christmas, we received a good offer. And last week we found a great house in San Antonio. And the perfect spot for the Tiki Hut!

You know how much I love the coast, but sand and salt water will be only a couple hours away. Great for weekending. San Antonio offers a lot - great connections for writers, a more cosmopolitan feel, and it's a bustling, fun city.

I'll be sharing a lot of stories with you, I'm sure, about our move. And Monday's writing corner will still be alive and well. So stay tuned and see how f-r-a-n-t-i-c looks on a writer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Addition

Amid all the hoopla of the holiday season, Wrangler became a big brother to a new little furry guy in our household. His name is Shiner, and he's a Blue Heeler, also known as an Australian Cattle Dog. Right now, he's eight weeks old.

The little guy came into our lives unexpectedly, and we couldn't say no.

We had no idea how Wrangler would react, but he looks out for him and they play together better than I ever dreamed possible.

I've tried and tried to insert another couple of photos here, but for some reason unknown to me, Blogger isn't letting me do so. I'll try again later in the week. I imagine it's not really Blogger's fault, but User Error instead. This user is a little tired.

Anyway, Shiner was a hit at the vet's office the other day. Everyone had to hold him and talk to him. And he was a very good boy. He's pretty smart, too. We're coming along with housebreaking, but he's not there yet. However, he sits on command at least half the time and will give you his paw. We're still working on stay and come.

He loves the outside. Big time. We've always had inside dogs, and I hope Shiner will be one, but I'm not counting on it. We've never had a dog who wanted to stay outside like he does. So we'll see.

This is the first time I've tried to housebreak a puppy with an older dog present. It's a little different. Please let me know if you have any tricks that work.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I'm Cheating

Since I'm still officially on holiday, I'm going to post someone else's words here. My cousin sent this to me, and I thought it was appropriate to begin the new year. If anyone knows who wrote it, please post in the comments section. I'd like to give them credit.

See you next week back on a regular schedule, although next week may begin on Tuesday for me instead of Monday, for reasons beyond my control.

An Old Cowboy's Advice
  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
  • Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don't judge folks by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
  • Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
  • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
  • Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
  • The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
  • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
  • Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
  • Leave the rest to God.