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Posts Tagged ‘Southern California’

Welcome to Southern California. Contrary to popular belief, we DO have four seasons here: earthquake, fire, flood, and riot. Presently it is heading into fire season, otherwise known as summer to the rest of the northern hemisphere. Though, like with all seasonal transitions, earthquake still has a few last kicks to it, giving us a M3.2 burp as I write this, only a few miles from my house. At least, according to the news it happened. Anything less than books flopping off shelves I tend to not notice. The jaded laissez-faire reality of living here most of my life.

This transitional period is affectionately called shake and bake by us locals. All the heat without the flavor. Instead of getting mouth-watering pork chops, you just run outside because your house is collapsing, and get fried by the giant bug zapper in the sky. The end.

 

california-the-original-shake-n-bake-eartquakes-wildfires-he-demotivational-posters-1466693472

Do you want fries with that?

 

It’s not that I’m unafraid of such things. I’ve been through several significant temblors in my time, including Ferndale (Cape Mendocino) in 1992, and Whittier Narrows in 1987, the latter of which caught me driving into downtown L.A. on the Hollywood Freeway. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen a skyscraper ripple. But there’s not a lot you can do about earthquakes except ride them out and be prepared for afterwards. They offer almost no warning and cover huge swaths of geography, making them almost impossible to avoid. And the bulk of the shifting is done in a matter of seconds. It may take days, months, or even years to clean up and rebuild, but the sheer terror is over pretty quickly, allowing us to shake our fists at the government for their lack of instantaneous and perfect response all the quicker.

Wildfires, on the other hand, scare the fuck out of me. Part of that, I’m sure, is the primal lizard brain and its programming to fear fire just ‘cause. But the majority is because I’ve seen what they do. Wild, often unpredictable, they can mosey along at ground level keeping down the underbrush while a herd of elk graze nearby. Or they can blast flaming tornadoes a hundred feet tall, incinerating just about everything in the way in seconds.

We’ve been lucky in that we’ve never been directly affected by wildfires. Fires have teased the borders of where we live, leaving the air thick with smoke. But we haven’t had it any worse. Unfortunately, we do know many people who have. From being evacuated as a precaution and then returning to a house largely unscathed, to mad-dashing to the car with child/animal/laptop in hand as the raging inferno engulfs everything they ever owned mere seconds behind them. It may be fascinating to watch on the news, until you recognize the house of your friend going up in smoke. And then it is just heartbreaking.

 

fire-danger-wmrk

Off the chart takes on a whole new meaning.

 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are thirty large wildfires active in the US right now. The majority of them are in western states. Arizona leads the way with seven. Right behind them is California, with four. And these numbers are considered light for this time of year. After the wet winter we had, which encouraged all sorts of wild flora to spring up just about everywhere, the dry summer will cook it all to crispy tinder just waiting for something to spark off the flames until flood season returns and mudslides put out the fires still not fully contained after days – and even weeks – of effort.

A study by the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Earth Lab revealed over 80% of wildfires during the period 1992 to 2012 were caused by humans. Over one-fifth were directly attributed to arsonists. Because, like Alfred said in The Dark Knight, some men just like to watch the world burn. And the study also found that more fires were started on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to have a holiday at the height of summer feature fireworks and alcohol.

 

4th-july-alcohol

Or maybe just stay inside and have ice cream.

 

With climate change bringing about longer and warmer springs and summers, as well as increasing the range and duration of drought, fire season will only grow longer and more dangerous. We as stewards to this fine little blue marble need to take better care of her. The danger isn’t that the planet will be destroyed if we don’t’, it’s that WE will be destroyed. Short of being blown completely apart, Earth will be around long after we’ve led ourselves to oblivion. Just maybe not in a form we would recognize.

So, in the long term, doing something about pollution and renewable energy will serve to give us a nice place to keep living. We have the technology to have our toys and live WITH the planet at the same time. It’s just a matter of will. We need to put the planet and its people before profits. Which means getting the politicians out of the mix and handing things back to the scientists before it’s too late.

In the mean time, we do our part in our own little neck of the world. And we stay prepared. Because no matter where you are, so is Mother Nature. And she’ll get you sooner or later…

 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/make-a-plan

https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/index.asp

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

https://www.ready.gov/

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The week started out a little rough here in SoCal. No, there were no major earthquakes. Though there is some tectonic movement almost daily here, I just don’t bother to notice if it’s anything less than a 4.0. Yes, I’ve lived here that long. Anyway, our exciting Monday consisted of losing power in our neighborhood. I know that probably rates as a First World Problem for most people outside the USA, but you’d have thought the world was ending by the behavior of some of our neighbors.

And while very short term outages and brown outs are reasonably uncommon, even at the height of summer when everybody is cranking their ACs, we do have them. So I didn’t think too much of it when the grid went down at about twenty ‘till 5:00 Monday evening. Minorly annoyed because I was in the middle of watching a video on my computer, but not really concerned. It flickered on and off a couple times, then was back on solidly after about five minutes. La Di Da. Went back to my video. Had just finished it when hubby called to say he was on his way home from work. That’s my cue to start dinner.

The chicken was in the oven broiler and the potatoes were in the microwave when the power went out again at 5:54pm. Even though we have a gas stove, the oven is controlled by the electronics as far as temperature and time, so down it went. No microwave, no lights, no working fridge either. No big deal. The electricity’s not usually off that long. I activated the flashlight app on my iPhone so I could find the regular flashlight.

My husband had just pulled up in front of the house when the whole neighborhood went dark. He has an LED mini-light on his key chain and made his way to the front door with that. One thing people don’t seem to really comprehend about Southern California is that, no matter what time of night, it’s lit up like a Christmas tree decorating contest ALL THE TIME. There’s a street light just in front of our house, plus we have a porch light and a bright security light over the garage/driveway. There’s freakin’ light everywhere. And you really notice when it’s gone.

We puttered around awhile waiting for the electricity to come back on and listened to our neighbors on their patios calling all their friends to let them know about this latest bit of earth-shattering news. Being the middle of dinnertime on a weeknight did make it somewhat more annoying than usual, but the voices ranged from nonchalant laughing to paranoid panic so I found it an amusing bit of anthropological study. After about a half hour I pulled up the power company’s website on my phone to check the status. They estimated it would be 9:00pm before power could be restored. Hubby and I debated cooking the entirety of dinner on the stove top, since we could light the burners with matches, but decided it was getting too late even for that. The partially cooked food went into the fridge (now just an ice box) and we went to the local burger joint.

Now, being medieval recreationists, we tend to have candles and lanterns all over the place. When we returned with the food, I retrieved one of the hurricane lamps from the fireplace mantel and set it on the kitchen table.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

My husband and I ate and chatted by lamplight and didn’t really think much about the power being out. Temperatures were mild so we weren’t worried about the food in the fridge or sleeping without a heater. We’ve certainly camped in much less hospitable situations. About 9:00pm I checked the power company’s website again and the repair estimate had been revised to midnight. Shrug. Hubby set his cell phone’s alarm and we went to bed.

Normally I don’t go to bed that early in the evening, but 1) I’d been having a bad couple of days because of body aches and a touch of insomnia and needed to lay down anyway, and 2) what the hell else was there to do? When I woke up a few hours later and couldn’t get back to sleep, I trundled back down stairs and lit up the hurricane lamp again. The new estimate on the power company’s website was 6:00am. Wow. The longest outage prior that I could remember was about seven hours. Of course, at the height of a summer heat wave, which made it even more memorable. Thank the gods for whoever invented battery-operated fans.

So here I am, in the middle of the night, no lights, no TV, no computer, the phone running low on power – what’s a girl to do? Well, this one pulled out her favorite paper and her favorite fountain pen and let the imagination go. I sat there noodling on a couple of short stories as I listened to the sounds outside – nearly constant sirens, dogs barking, the couple down the street having their weekly argument, the boom box car that so loves to cruise through our residential neighborhood at 3:00 in the morning rattling our windows – and really enjoying the experience. There’s something about putting actual pen to actual paper that just can’t be duplicated with electronics. The paper’s texture, the smell of the ink, the scratch-scritch of the nib as the words tumble out under the golden flicker of firelight. It sent me back to the early days of my writing – #2 pencil on notebook paper – when the process seemed so much more visceral and organic.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my iMac with its Scrivener software and its instant research (read: Internet) access – but spending a few hours with pen and paper again really reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. It gives me a connection to the process I just can’t get any other way, and I realized how much I missed it.

The power was out for a total of eighteen hours. One of the longest I’ve ever experienced. And while a number of my neighbors seemed to have had serious issues (judging by the sirens), it wasn’t really a problem for me. My husband recently asked me if I would mind living in a mobile home if it meant we could get out of California. I told him I’d happily live in our tent for that reward (it’s not like it would be really roughing it – see “Playing Dress Up” for an explanation). It would mean less computer and TV and energy saving light bulbs, and more pen and paper and hurricane lamps. But I think I could live with that.

 

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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Southern California had another of its standard issue wake up calls this morning: a 4.4 earthquake that hit about 6:25am local time. I didn’t notice it myself, partly because we’re about eighty miles from the reported epicenter, but mostly because I was stone cold asleep at the time. Or maybe I’ve just lived in SoCal too long and have become way too blasé about the ground rumbling beneath my feet. Whatever the reason, it did make me think that maybe it is time to shake things up around here, just not in the same way Mother Nature may have in mind.

I started this blog in October of 2009 (“The Middle Ages ain’t what they used to be…”). It was meant to be a release valve and a way to get my writing chops back into some semblance of order. I never really thought about anybody else paying attention to what I might have to say. I didn’t even expect my own family to bother, since they had heard me mumble so much over the years about wanting to be a writer, and watched me never really do anything about it. But not only did my family start following me, and then friends, but over the months so did a wondrous select few of strangers from across the planet. While my subscribers are not nearly approaching the numbers many other Internet sites and blogs claim, I am still agog.

And since this will be my 100th entry, I thought it appropriate to open things up to review. I’m not one for change simply for change’s sake, but I do believe that you have to periodically examine the who, what, where, why and how’s of your life to make sure things are still on track. To help me out with that evaluation, I’d like your honest opinions, constructive criticisms and heartfelt pleas for sanity (not that the latter will really do you any good…). Below are some questions I have to get you started, but feel free to riff on the theme.

  1)        Why did you subscribe to my blog?

  2)        If you’re not a subscriber, why the hell not???

  3)        Do you read every entry? Why/Why Not?

  4)        Is it really true what they say about men with big feet?

  5)        What do you like most/least about what I do here?

  6)        What do you think about the layout?

  7)        Should I include a picture of me?

  8)        What do you want to see more/less of?

  9)        Should I organize entries into categories?

10)        Was Flight MH370 taken by aliens or J.J. Abrams?

11)         Should I send a thank you to every new subscriber? (I’m not exactly clear on a lot of Netiquette issues, so help is really needed in this area.)

12)         Is there a topic I haven’t touched on that you would like me to?

13)         Is there a topic I’ve ranted too much about?

14)         Should the blog become more focused on a particular topic? (i.e., just writing, or mental health, or middle-age, etc.)

15)         What’s your favorite color?

16)         Should I even keep doing this blog?

Okay, let me have it. And thanks. I think…

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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My husband and I are two very independent, solitary creatures. We don’t do the party thing, or just about any other kind of social thing, besides our activities in our historical group. And that has been extremely limited over the last couple years due to a soap-operatic variety of bullshit thrown at us by the numerous gods we somehow pissed off at some point. For the most part, we’re okay with just the two of us. But lately I’ve come to realize that if the zombie apocalypse happened on a weekend, we’d never know until my husband went back to work on Monday. And even then it might take awhile to notice, given some of the people he works with.

I had that thought as I was steaming about a nastygram we received from the city regarding our yard. It was the second time in as many months that our local bürgermeisters had slapped their mighty Yuppie-Nazi paws on us. The first time was for parking one of the vehicles on the front yard, or, in their language, an “unimproved surface.”

That happened while my husband was in the hospital. We had all three vehicles to get off the street due to the street sweeper. Since I wasn’t going to the hospital until the afternoon, I parked one of the cars on the front lawn. I came home late from visiting him, exhausted and stressed and worried, and didn’t think anything about leaving the car in the yard. I’d just move it the next day. Having spent a good chunk of my childhood in the mid-west, I thought that parking a car in the middle of your front yard when you were out of driveway space was no big deal. In fact, in some places, if there WASN’T a car parked on the lawn, it meant Bubba Jim Bob was off fishing or hunting somewhere and there would be good eats when he came back.

So when I came out the next day to head back to the hospital, and saw the ticket on the car, a few choice words came to mind. It’s MY yard, dammit! Who the hell am I hurting by parking there? We had been very careful to not buy a house under control of a Home Owners Association because we didn’t want to be nit-picked to death about how long our dog’s hair was, or what color our begonias were. But, more concerned about helping my husband recover than fighting city hall, I paid the ticket and made a mental note to not park there again.

And then they struck a second time. As part of our own personal sequestration plan, we decided to stop watering the lawn. Given that most of Southern California is technically a desert, the amount of money we were spending a month to keep the yard sort of green was just stupid. Enough to keep fuel in the truck for a week of commuting. We felt that getting the husband-unit back and forth to work was far more important than having a patch of putting green for the neighbor’s rat-on-a-string to shit on. Plus both the State and the County encourage water conservation efforts, so we had the additional feeling of pride for accomplishing our civic duty.

Apparently, the City did not agree. Now, admittedly, a few weeds had sprung up because of some recent (painfully brief) rains, and the PNO’d vehicles in the driveway were sporting some decent cobwebs. But, in looking around the neighborhood, we were hardly alone in our wanton disregard for picture post card perfectness. Again, I had a few choice words, which my husband embellished upon. You might have noticed that we don’t really cotton to the idea of being told what to do. Yes, he was a Marine and I grew up in the Air Force, so you’d think we’d be used to it. But we aren’t contracted to the city – the city is contracted to us. The term “public servant” comes to mind, so we have a hard time taking orders from people that should be taking orders from us.

But we finally calmed down and looked at what we could do. We whacked the weeds, trimmed the bushes, swept off the spider webs and cleaned up the edges. I even repotted a couple plants that desperately needed it. An exhaustive afternoon, which left us sunburnt and overheated, despite sunscreen, hats and plenty of water. During all that I was composing a response to the city. I had a hard time keeping the blatant snark out of it, but finally managed to come up with something that we both felt was administratively correct, with just a small, satisfying hint of “fuck you.”

One of their reasons for dinging us was because of their “concern for the health, safety and general welfare of residents.” That sentence in particular set me off, so, of course, I had to respond:

“…while you claim to be ‘concerned for the health, safety, and general welfare’ of the residents, we find it distressing that after eleven years of uneventful occupancy in our house, you chose to send us a nastygram about a change in our property instead of inquiring as to our well-being. If you had bothered to take a more compassionate approach, you would have found out [what a crappy couple of years we’ve had]…”

And that’s why I was thinking about a zombie apocalypse and us being, perhaps, a little too alone. We’re just this side of being that elderly couple that dies and nobody notices is missing until the weeds have grown higher than the house and the mail is stacked up in the street. It made me realize that we need to do more about building a stronger social network, maybe even do things *shudder* outside the SCA.

It also made me realize that maybe we ALL need to take a little more time and look outside of ourselves. We as a culture have become too consumed with me-me-me and buried ourselves in our electronic toys. We have forgotten that we exist in a co-dependent relationship with six billion others. Somewhere there is a balance between getting everyone to play nice together and allowing for individual freedoms. I don’t see where having a vegetable garden, a sculpture garden (both with friends that have also been cited for their yards), or a temporary vehicle garden causes anyone a problem. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and start thinking for yourself. Let’s bring some reason and common-sense back to the world.

In the mean time, the flying monkeys and I will be sitting on the hood of the car parked on the front lawn waiting for Big Brother to strike again. Maybe I’ll even shake my cane at him.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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This last week in Southern California has seen record-breaking heat temperatures. We had several days at our house where it was well over 100°F, with one day hitting 107°F (42°C). Normally this time of year we’re running in the low to mid 80’s, and summer in general averages about the mid-90’s. When I was researching the weather history, it actually made it up to 117°F here back in 2006. Not that I’m liking ANY of those temperatures, but it is kind of amazing what a difference 10 degrees can make. Makes that 107 almost seem balmy by comparison. The only (and very small) saving grace is that we generally don’t have to suffer through high humidity on top of the heat. I’ve lived in places where that happens, and it’s a large part of the reason I don’t anymore.

Death Valley enjoyed a record high for this time of year, hitting 129°F. Just a little shy of its world-record of 134°F from 1913, but when you get into those kind of numbers, does it really matter any more? I mean, who’s still conscious enough to care? I’m sure there are places in the deep Sahara or the Australian Outback that probably have had temperatures to rival Death Valley’s, but that’s the one on record, and also the main reason I will only visit any of those places via pictures.

But, just to show you everything’s relative, my mother informed me of their raging heat wave on the Northern California coastland the other day. It set a new high and even made the front page of what purports to be the local paper. My nieces were apoplectic with heat frustration. Poor things: it was a raging 72 °F there. My air conditioner is set to 74. I’d turn them into toads if I didn’t need them to take care of me in my old age.

And, of course, when such unusual weather streaks hit us, the Chicken Little’s are out in full force crying about Global Warming and the end of civilization, as we know it. Just to be clear, weather is not the same as climate. And when some of the world’s hottest recorded temperatures are from a hundred years ago, maybe what’s going on today isn’t so much about long-term global changes and is actually more about short-term jet stream weirdness.

Yes, I do believe in Global Warming. No, I don’t believe it’s (entirely) man-made (“Global Warming: Natural or Manmade”). We certainly can affect things on the local level, and there’s absolutely no reason to live on our planet like raping and pillaging Wall Street financial weasels, but there is also paleontological evidence that our planet has gone through many warming and cooling periods over its long existence (“Scientists Research Stretches of Global Warming”). Just because we’ve recorded a gradual increase over the last 150 years (not even a blip in the life of a planet) doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

It doesn’t make me any more comfortable, though. I don’t do the heat. I’m prone to heat exhaustion under the best of times, and it doesn’t seem to get any better as you get older. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, where it’s green and foggy and you can actually breath the air instead of chewing it. Having my AC set at 74 is a major concession for someone who feels a lot happier at 65. My genetic heritage doesn’t support a love for warmer temps, either. I’m mostly Northern European (German/Dutch/Swedish) and us fair-skinned Viking types just don’t do the sun thing. It burns the precious, it does.

Then you add all the fat on top of that, and you just have the recipe for a hot, sweaty, cranky old woman. The last couple of days have been even worse, because somewhere in the limited exercise episodes I managed before the treadmill crapped out (it decided it didn’t want to respond to the touch screen anymore *sigh*), I seem to have injured myself. My left leg doesn’t want to hold me up anymore without searing pain shooting down the front of the thigh, and it’s been a bitch to stand up straight. That’s what I get for trying to walk myself to health.

My husband gets the brunt of my moods, unfortunately, as he’s often the only human I deal with on most days. He should probably be given combat pay and a medal. Us depressive artist types can be difficult under the best of circumstances and then you add in physical discomfort and you might as well put on the flack vest and grab the MOPP suit and hope you survive the ride. Thankfully, he was a Marine, and I guess I’m just not as scary as a boot camp DI.

So there’s this blazing ball of fire crisping everything it touches outside, and me hiding on the inside doing laps around the kitchen table to try and accomplish SOMETHING toward my health goals while the cat and dog watch me pass with lackadaisical amusement. They don’t even raise their heads anymore. Smug little bastards. But 74 beats the hell out of 104, so I’ll keep doing my laps every couple hours while imagining walking a trail in the Sequoias. If I’m going to be sweaty, at least I can have something cool to dream of.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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I’ve been feeling my age lately. Well, to tell the truth, I’ve been feeling my weight lately. According to most medical charts, I’m considered morbidly obese. According to Gabriel Iglesias, I’m fluffy. Let’s just call it what it is: fat.

It has been a life-long battle, fat and me. I was over eight pounds when I was born in the early ‘60’s to a smoking teenaged mom. I shudder to think what size I might have been had modern health precautions been the norm then. My mom is tiny compared to me and wouldn’t have done well with a ten pound baby.

I take after my paternal grandfather a lot. He was a big man, 6’4” when he died in his early eighties, with a barrel chest and the broad face of his distant Choctaw heritage. At 6’ tall myself, with a large bone structure and dense musculature, I get away with carrying a WHOLE lot more than most people suspect. Part of that is the height, but part is also that I seem to carry my fat all over, not focused in one place like the belly or the hips. And I’ve always been a naturally very strong individual. At my peak in college I was bench-pressing 250lbs., leg-pressing 450lbs (with bad knees!), and riding my bicycle nearly 100 miles a week. Yes, I was substantially lighter then, too, but I was still out-performing GUYS my size on a regular basis. When the star college football center just looks at you aghast as you pop that leg press even he can’t manage, you know you might be a little on the strong side.

So I got away with carrying far more weight than I should for far longer than I should. And it steadily snuck up on me. Never being able to do much athletically as a kid because of the knee defect gave me a foundation of inactivity that was nearly impossible to circumvent. I did manage to be on the swim team in high school, marching band in both high school and college, and a necessary (read: primary transportation form) bicyclist for all those years as well. But in my late twenties the knees finally decided they weren’t going to work at all anymore without great amounts of pain, and my activity level took a beating. These last few years working at home, sitting on the couch playing with string or sitting in front of the computer playing with words didn’t help that at all, either.

Now, don’t get all bent out of shape yet. I’m a staunch supporter of loving yourself no matter what (not that I’m all that great at doing that for myself, but that’s another issue). People can be happy and healthy at any size and we each need to find our own comfort zone and just tell everyone who doesn’t like it to fuck off. I think the medical community still doesn’t have it figured out, that BMI is a bogus way to measure someone’s health (most NFL players would be considered obese, despite their low body fat percentages), that the ADA diet (or any diet, for that matter) doesn’t work for everyone, and that the weight loss industry doesn’t really want us all to be thin and healthy because then what would happen to their profit margin?

What I DO think is I just reached critical mass and it’s time for me and my body to have a serious sit down. Up to this point I’ve been very lucky in that my overall health isn’t really showing any adverse affects at carrying all this blubber around. My blood work would make most people half my age and weight weep with envy. But the chassis is starting to complain.

Last week I had to appear for jury duty. We only have one operating vehicle and, this being Southern California, public transport is never where you need it when you need it (though, I have to admit, they are SLOWLY improving). So hubby dropped me off and the plan was to pick me up after work. I was released from duty at noon, and decided I didn’t want to wait around five or six hours until my husband could get back to me. I looked up the bus schedule and found one that seemed reasonable as far as route and time, so off I went. The pick up spot was about half a mile from the courthouse. I began walking. Within a few minutes I was huffing and puffing like I was crawling up Everest, while at the same time sweating buckets in the balmy 80-something afternoon son. Simultaneously, my back decided it needed to spasm while shooting pains down my left leg, forcing me to shuffle along looking something akin to the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The hour bus ride in air conditioning was heaven after that. Then I got off at the closest stop to my house, which ended up being about ¾ of a mile from my door. It’s all flat on decent sidewalks so it should have been okay. But by the time I finally stumbled into my house, you’d have thought I just run a marathon through the Andes. I was overheated, hurting like I’d been hit by a truck, and exhausted. Then I saw myself in the full-length mirror on the closet door. It was like looking at a fun house mirror, where your head and feet are tiny and your body is huge. That was me. That’s what hit home like I’d never seen it before. That was my proverbial Come-To-Jesus moment.

Now, some people might have that moment and decide to go all commando on their diet and exercise program. And most of them would have stunning failures. Very few people can really pull themselves together enough to make such drastic changes. But nearly everyone can make one, little, change, and stick to it, and then slowly build on that. If I were to look at the big picture, the one where I need to lose over 100lbs, I’d just go back under the blankets and forget about it until the next time I have to walk back from jury duty. And that’s where so many people fail. They look at the total package, not at just one piece of it. Thankfully, being in the age and treachery division allows me greater sense than that.

So I’m getting up and walking on the treadmill for at least five minutes every even hour I’m awake. Not fast, not with a heavy incline, just get up and move a little bit. That’s what I really need the most, just to get up and move. We’ve already tweaked our diet to the point we’re willing, eating lean meats and leafy green vegetables and avoiding processed foods. Now I just need to reprogram the body to accept the fact we’re going to be moving more. I have lovely titanium knees now, so no more excuses there.

The truth is, none of us have any excuses. There’s always something you can do to help yourself in whatever form you’re working on. Whether it is weight loss or writing, you can always fit a little change in. Me looking at 100lbs. that need to go, or someone else deciding to take on their first novel are really not that different in the worlds of planning and discipline. Put the big goal into the back of your mind, forget the calendar, and focus on a little thing you can do right now. Five minutes here and there, five words here or there, and small victories add up to completed projects.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I’ve taken my first step. Now let’s see yours.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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My husband and I will be celebrating eight years in our house this coming summer.  That’s coming up on the longest time I’ve lived at any one address, if memory serves.  Hard to keep track when you’ve spent so much time bundled from post to post as an Air Force brat.

It’s nice being a homeowner.  You can paint the living room whatever color you want, and put nails in the wall where ever you want.  Don’t need the landlord’s permission to rip out the carpet and put in tile, or change the locks on the door.  You also don’t need to scrounge the couch for just one more quarter to do laundry, because you have a washer and dryer under the stairs.  There’s also that nice little tax write off of all the interest you’ve paid to your mortgage holder.  Owning a home is probably the one single investment most American adults can manage that will likely make them some money, in the long run.

Of course, in the short run, we’re presently “under water,” as they say in the mortgage business, having re-fied our house a few years ago when the values were high and the rates were low (at least, lower than what our original loan was).  Now, well, like so many others out there, we’re stuck here until the values come back up (they will, eventually – real estate always does), or until we win the lottery, which ever comes first.  I’m hoping for the lottery because it could mean getting out of Southern California sooner, but that’s just me.  Fortunately, we’re not in any serious danger of losing the house at this point, so we’re a little better off than so many others I read about in the news every day.  Though I’m happy to clear the roads of traffic so those who’ve been screwed by the mortgage industry can have their protest march and burn the CEOs in effigy, since burning the real CEOs would create too much really stinky pollution.

So, since we’re going to be here for awhile, my husband and I have a list of improvement projects we’ve decided to start working on.  See, that’s another joy of home ownership – the do it yourself projects.  Like any good Harley owner, just like there’s always something to be done on your bike, so there is too always something to be done on your house.  Theoretically, we can do most of them ourselves, but, as I’ve learned this last weekend, theory and practice don’t always meet in the middle.

After handling some minor things (paint a wall, put up some shelves), and with summer roaring upon us, I decided it was time to service the sprinkler system.  The system came with the house, and we have since discovered it was likely put in by the former owner, who fancied himself a DIY maven.  We have also since discovered he was not so much.  The first couple years it seemed to work okay, though we always had this dead spot in the middle of the front yard by the middle of the summer.  Water got there, sort of, but it’s also one of those spots that’s in full sunlight most of the day, and when it’s 100 degrees out for weeks at a time, those poor little blades have no chance.

The last couple summers, we ended up with a striped lawn, green strips divided by brown strips because the water just wasn’t reaching as far as it needed to.  That really annoyed me, one: because it just looked tacky, and, two: it proved we weren’t managing our grounds as well as we could.  So this past weekend I cracked the whip on my husband and we went out to the back yard to try and figure the mess out.  What I thought would be just a couple hours of cleaning heads and adjusting sprays not only turned out to be a seven hour marathon of frustration, but a lesson in just how much we didn’t know about sprinklers.

We actually hadn’t had the system on in a couple months because we’ve had unusual amounts of rain for our area over the winter and it just seemed silly to run the sprinklers in the middle of that.  So when it came time to clean heads, well, we had to find them first.  Most of them had been buried by the over-zealous patch of meadow land known as our back yard, so off I went with a weed digger to root them out, while hubby followed behind weed-whacking.  Then he pulled each head and I cleaned them out with a blast of water.  Leaving the nozzles off, we ran each bank of sprinklers to blow any crap out of them, then we put the nozzles back on.  Then we tested each bank.  The first one actually looked okay.  The second two banks looked like a before picture for a landscape company ad.  I was crushed.

Of course, by that time, we were both so tired and grumpy, and it was all we could do to keep from setting some C4 and calling it good.  So we decided to do some research and tackle the front yard next weekend – less heads and more experience may equal a better result.  If not, I’ll just blast the whole damn thing to dirt and wait until we win the lottery so I can call that landscape company to give us their after picture.

Ah, the joys of home ownership.

© 2010  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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