The Naked Habit

I admit it, I need help. I need one of those support groups for bad behavior. Something like this:

“Hi, my name is Jeanie, and I’m a procrastinator.”

I live for the future. There is always tomorrow. Scarlett O’Hara has nothing on my abilities to put off today, what can be done tomorrow because tomorrow is always another day.

Until this last couple of weeks. The snow and being snowed in has provided just the opposite of scenarios for planning my daily tasks. The snow has shouted “There is NO tomorrow.”

I have always thought of myself as organized, that everything is prearranged and well thought-out. Case in point: my Christmas cards. I had planned finishing up my Christmas cards on Friday the 18th because my boss would be out of town and I would have free slots of time to label envelopes, fold already printed letters, and write quick notes to everyone.

And then it snowed. It snowed a lot. I had a snow day on Thursday. But I felt content in the knowledge that I still had Friday. After all – this was the first snow day in 35 years. Naturally it would abate enough for me to get to work on Friday and get my cards out.

Friday it was another snow day. And I have been pretty much snow bound ever since, which overlapped into my **prearranged** and **preplanned** vacation, scheduled through to the 5th of the New Year.

Did I learn my lesson? (The lesson to “live in the now” as if there is NO tomorrow) Nope. Sunday was my laundry day – and I live in a house with no laundry services. I was *planning* on going to the Laundromat Sunday but for some reason, that procrastinator gene popped up and said, “Hey! You can get out on the roads today! Why not go shopping! Why do chores! You can do the laundry TOMORROW.”

And this morning I am once again snowed in and the snow isn’t stopping. EVER. It will snow tomorrow, too, but since there is no tomorrow, that means it is going to snow FOREVER.

I have no clean clothes. (I have an abundance of clean underwear because you never know when something unplanned might happen.) No clean jeans, no clean shirts, lots of cotton underwear.

So, uh, I am planning on attending my Procrastinator’s Anonymous meetings in the future but since I’m trying to rehabilitate myself, live in the now, I might not make it. I’d go tonight, but I’m snowed in, so . . .

Tomorrow is another day. Maybe.



I have such good intentions
Making New Year’s Resolutions
Why is it that my ambitions
Fall short of absolution


Why I hate 2008 Just a Little

The reason(s) I am really looking forward to a New Year and all these reasons happened in only the last two weeks of 2008:

  • Wednesday - Fifteen days before New Year’s it snowed two feet; an hour and a half to get home

  • Thursday - Snowed another foot; first “snow day” from work

  • Friday - Second “snow” day; screen door sealed shut from two inches of ice on other side; after slipping hot water through door sill and then tossing out rock salt, finally slipped through with coal shovel and pounded on remaining ice; ceiling leaked in living room, soaking and sopping the dry wall until it fell in white chalky gooey globs onto the carpet; climbed up to roof, shoveled and pounded ice

  • Saturday - Shoveled and shoveled and snow blowed four hours; water leaking at corner of living room ceiling, sending rivulets down behind plate glass mirror; repeat “up on the rooftop”; renter next door called to say furnace was not working; called repairman who said he would get there later (five hours later at 7:30); time and a half, $500 repair; 11:30 out on roof again because center of living room ceiling is dripping (eventually a gallon before finished shoveling

  • Sunday - Screen door sealed shut again; same routine as before.

  • Monday - First day of two-week vacation. Uncovered cars (again) of new foot of snow; shoveled and snow blowed the parking area, the neighbor’s parking area, the mail boxes, the paper boxes (another four hours). Haven’t seen mail since Wednesday; paper arrives every other day

  • Tuesday - Got my one and only Christmas card; back on the roof to shovel because of dripping in the middle of the living room ceiling; furnace next door went out again; picked up small part for furnace;

  • Wednesday - Christmas Eve – 20 minutes after putting the pies in the oven, the power went out for the entire neighborhood of 2100 houses; discovered the power supply for computer had been fried by the power outage; snowed four inches; plows came by at 11:30 at night and plowed me in.

  • Thursday - Getting ready for Christmas dinner at son’s; at noon, center of ceiling pouring water like turning on a faucet; spent next hour on ceiling shoveling, pounding, jumping up and down, spreading rock salt; got stuck on berm created the night before; shoveled; became point man for hubby to barrel out of parking spot; point man again half a mile later to get over berm created along Park – looked both ways and said “gun it!” and miraculously made it to clearer passage way of Park.

  • Friday - New leak on east side of house, back on roof for another hour, shoveling and scraping and taking up asphalt, generally really tired of this; head for Eager Beaver on Evergreen to fix computer; do the gunning of Park again; very heavy, very slow traffic

  • Saturday - Snowed another four inches; snow blowing walkway working out to parking area. Gee – a whole day without the ceiling leaking somewhere.

  • Sunday -

  • Monday -

  • Tuesday -

  • Wednesday -

  • Thursday - New Year’s Day – and hopefully this is a sign that 2009 will be a whole lot better than 2008.
  • 12.24.2008


    I am thinking of many things this Christmas 2008. I have many losses this year and it is more poignant at Christmas – missing my parents, missing the childhood days of traditions at Christmas and the total unbelievable excitement that permeated the air and made all of us giddy.

    I miss the infancy of my oldest child, who was born 15 days before Christmas. The birth of Jesus never meant more to me than at that time. I was filled with awe thinking of Mary giving birth in a barn; thinking about the future of her baby and that he would become my Lord. I am remembering holding my new little baby on Christmas Day, dressed in a red and white sleeper with a Santa hat, looking more beautiful than the Gerber baby! I was the envy of the entire world! I think of Christmas as birth, as a new beginning, a fresh start, the dawn of HOPE.

    I want to grasp this HOPE and clutch it tight to my chest, let it carry me forward through 2009. This is my goal today, now. To bring this HOPE to the new year like a flaming torch.



    Remembering Dad

    If I could, if there was some way I could talk to him once again, I would let him know I am thinking of him:

    Hey Dad,

    I have missed you so much! Your unconditional love for me (your Pumpkin), has guided me all these years without you. I have wanted so much to show off my boys to you; you were such a great influence on them. They loved “Grandpa from the farm” and then when you moved to the Oregon coast, “Grandpa from the beach.”
    They’ve grown! One got married! Can you believe it?

    Dad, I wish you were here – so many good things about my life are because of you. I want to emulate your goodness, kindness, and compassion. I want to be held to your high standards of professionalism and integrity.

    And I want to have the same enthusiasm you did for the little things in life – the short cuts that really weren’t; the home made sling shots that were the best invention for sibling interaction – why call it anything else – we weren’t rivals. No way! We were warriors and soldiers and adventurers, our only “prop” a simple wooden sling shot made from old inner tubes. The fantastically fast six-man toboggan run you made, that got so smoothed out from many rides that we could make a complete loop and never have to get off the toboggan. The igloo made out of the two feet of snow we had in 1964. In 1969 we had another record breaking snow and that’s the last time you ever shouted to the winter gods, “I wish it would snow two feet deep!”

    I thought of you the last few days as I spent about eight hours cumulative in shoveling and scraping snow, and finding a place to dump the snow I shoveled. We have had three feet of snow in the last four days! Isn’t that phenomenal? Imagine the igloo palaces you could make!

    As I move on and leave you over the Rainbow Bridge, I would really like to crawl in your lap and just lean into you, my comfort and my strength.

    God bless you, Dad!

    Dedicated to my Dad, Don Rice, Spokane Chronicle Editor, who passed away 15 years ago this week at the age of 67.




    This is the Week of Anticipation. It's seen in every child as they peer through the window at the snow-crested trees, the lights and decorations draping the tree in the living room, the bells ringing on maybe sleighs drawn by horses, adorned with bells and red leather reigns. You can feel the eagerness that sets everyone on the edge of their seats with expectations of dreams and wishes coming true! It is the underlying and tangible Hope of aspirations; the optimism of expectation!

    You remember keenly being that child. All good things were coming your way just because it was Christmas! Christmas meant birth. It was a New Beginning topped by a fresh new year so the slate was entirely clean, ready for your footprint. It was perfect bliss! I loved the feeling of Christmas – all the excitement, the delight, the smiles, the exhilaration!

    I felt it again driving home Friday night – first when I passed a horse drawn carriage elegantly moving along Lincoln towards Riverfront Park – beautiful, graceful horses slowly dancing down the street. Then I passed a truck carrying a Santa sleigh, totally engulfed in twinkling red and white lights, ready to be the carrier for the Great Saint Nicholas himself! You could taste the thrill in the air, the crispiness of the night, the anticipation of Santa, of holidays, of Christmas, of magic!

    Even as an adult, I am transported to a higher version of myself. I feel an expectation within me that is just bursting; I drag all my Christmas sweaters out of storage and eagerly go through each one; which to wear today; which to wear tomorrow. I gather all my dangly, sparkly earrings that are snow flakes, crystal icicles, blinking reindeers, laughing Santas. What to wear first!

    This is the Week of Anticipation!


    Boxes and More Boxes

    Off The Cuff -- Boxes Galore
    I packed up my entire house today in 14 boxes and some bags. It was sad to see my life sitting in my living room, and its only destination is a storage unit/Alexis. From Huckleberries Online here

    Other than college days, I have never been able to get all my belongings in just 14 boxes. I have 20 boxes right now filled with collectible glassware that are sitting in my cellar. I have thousands of books that would probably fill 30 boxes. My bedding alone would fill my car! And I save everything because I collect everything.

    As soon as I read this quote on Huckleberries, a memory flashed into my mind of the day we moved Grandmom out of her apartment to live in a nursing home. She lived in a one-bedroom assisted living apartment, half the size of my 730 square foot house. She had spices in her cupboard that had petrified, probably purchased in the late 30s. She had piles of new slacks that still had the price tag on them from stores that have been closed for a couple decades.

    As I was going through her things, trying to pare it down to what would fit in a side table (or in one box), I kept going over MY things in my mind. I vowed then and there that I was going to whittle down my stuff so that my sons would not be sitting on the floor of my living room surrounded by endless empty little jars of makeup (because they were milk glass and probably collectible); magazines from the 70s; canned food from the 70s; 29,000 pens and pencils; glue sticks that were glueless and sticky notes that had lost their stick; a gazillion balls of yarn and just as many mid-process uncompleted knitting projects; cross word puzzles already filled out. . .

    So far, I have only managed to put these things in boxes and store them in closets. I have managed, though, to record them on tape for which I will transcribe them later. It's been several years since I started the tape and stored the boxes. I have a box full of all those travel size soaps and shampoos you get in hotels. I wonder what the shelf life is for generic motel shampoo?


    I Know a Short Cut!

    “I know a short cut!” my Dad would shout in triumph.

    And the rest of the carload – Mom, two brothers, one sister, and me – would, in unison, tremble and shudder. A short cut meant only one thing: Dad was lost and we were doomed.

    We frequently went for “Sunday drives” with Mom packing a loaf of bread and peanut butter. Off we would go in the family station wagon, over hill and dale, paved highway traversed by thousands of cars or rocky road never seen by man or machine in centuries. It didn’t matter – it was a short cut.

    I remember once traveling up a road that could scarcely be defined as a legal mode of transportation, narrow, barely wide enough for the family wagon. Traversing up and up and zigzagging and back ending and tail whipping to the highest reaches of the earth, the car lumbering and laboring like a breathless elephant, suddenly Dad would decide this wasn’t a road at all and then proceed to back down with the sheer drop to the earth far, far below and a rock face spearing the sky on the other side. Dad would steer the monster behemoth car precariously close to the edge. We’d hold our collective breath, clamp our eyes tight shut, and PRAY!

    Twice, we went on “short cuts” through uninhabited frontier and ended up in gullies, formed from some recent flash flooding, so that the “road” disappeared into a black, inky, gooey muddy mire that Dad would bravely plow through because he knew it was only a minor detail – until – well, the wheels stopped turning because they were essentially enveloped in a cement like gunk. We’d all get out and push the car while Dad steered. One of those muddy abysses was at least a mile long surrounded by watery swamps on either side tempting the car as Dad fishtailed, zigged, and zagged and finally landed on firm soil.

    Many road trips later, I grew up, moved out, had a couple children, and teamed up with my Significant Other. When the boys were about 10 and 11, Lovey decided he wanted to go for a Sunday drive and look for grouse. We traveled towards Chewelah, all the time he is telling us tales of his grouse hunts with his dad, when he veers the car left to a side road, while exclaiming, “I know a short cut!”

    Déjà vu set in. I shuddered. Closed my eyes tight. And PRAYED. We were even in an old classic Dodge station wagon, a big black hulking thing. The road started out paved, then turned to gravel, then turned to a wagon train trail, with grass growing knee-high up the middle of the “road.” And then pretty soon it was only a couple of trails, leading up, up, up into the clouds, the proverbial drop off cliff on MY side, the road getting, if possible, NARROWER, still going up, when we reach a “bump” in the road which made you feel like you were going to launch into outer space – where you couldn’t see where you were going to “land.” And the road immediately started to go down, bumpy and jarring – huge boulders in the way – we jumbled and dumbled our way down when we finally came out onto a forest road that branched in two different directions. Lovey took the left route and we ended up on a highway outside of Ford, Washington.

    We found no grouse in this little adventure – however, when we reached the highway (alive), the forest road had a sign: “Grouse Trail Road.”

    And that’s my last “short cut.”


    Elder Care; Edler Abuse

    In answer to a post I made on Community Comment on Elder Abuse here, and to Stickman’s reply at Huckleberries (see right hand panel to check out Huckleberries):

    This subject is a sore one for me. Anywhere else in this world and they don't have such facilities. The families just take care of the elderly and treat them with respect and honor that is due them. Is that all I have to say on this, Yes! Fire away, I'm ready.
    Posted by the stickman | 5 Dec 8:36 PM

    Stickman, I so agree. As I get older, the more I am aware that the way we care for elderly is sorely inadequate. Families are more disparate, careers take precedence in the priority chain, children are moving far, far away leaving parents to spend their last years in isolation. When these parents are unable to care for themselves, they either die or they are entered into a nursing home.

    My mother-in-law (well, my significant other’s (Lovey) mother) had a very debilitating stroke in May 2005. The hospital required that she be moved out to a nursing home within two weeks. We never intended for her to be in a nursing home. However, Medicare covered 100 days of nursing home care for her, which was badly needed – she was paralyzed, had a colostomy, feeding tube, breathing tube, and extremely short term memory. She needed skilled nursing until we could manage all the different care needs on our own.

    The care was adequate but not quality. We sat vigil in shifts so that one of us was with her all the time. It was hard to do. I have a day job and so there were periods of time neither one of us could be with her. One Saturday morning I arrived for the day and discovered her laying in urine. How can that happen!!! What about the people who have no family members checking on them?

    At the end of the 100 days, Lovey moved into her home and fixed her bedroom to accommodate all the critical health needs and we brought her home in September. We had very little outside help. It was 24/7 and we relieved each other in care duties. Besides all her health needs, we did physical therapy with her. Our hopes were that she would improve enough to stand on her own and be able to transfer from her bed to her wheelchair. I would help her with mind games, reading, math – to keep her mind active.

    When we got her home, she was 88 pounds, weak, unable to stand or move. The first night home, we had her in a rocker recliner and she was able to rock herself – a monumental achievement in just twelve hours after 100 days of nothing. By Christmas we had her up to her normal 100 pounds. She was able to feed herself puréed food (Cream of Wheat, applesauce, soft scrambled eggs).

    In the three years we had her at home, she was content and comfortable. She never reached the point of being able to transfer herself, but I believe with all my heart that our care for her gave her the quality of life she deserved. Had we left her in the nursing home, she would have died in a few weeks.

    In the ideal world, yes, it would be nice if families extended to keep parents and grandparents in the fold. That is only natural, I believe. But times are changing and children grow up and distance themselves from their parents, moving out of the city, even out of the country. I hate it! What can we do? As I get older, my retirement is looking less golden and my care as I get more feeble is fading fast!



    The Christmas Tree

    One year when my boys were in grade school, Christmas approached and I had absolutely no money. I was strapped. It was all I could do to find a couple fun gifts for each boy (and not hear "Boring clothes, AGAIN?"). I decided not to get a tree. We'd just do without the dang thing. A tree didn't express the meaning of Christmas anyway. That's what I'd tell the boys. There was no fir tree decorated with handmade bells and angels at the Manger.

    I got up one morning and started the ritual of getting everyone ready to leave for the day – matching socks (so they couldn't find matching socks and I see them walking down the sidewalk as I am driving away, each wearing one brown sock and one red sock), cereal, make beds, get myself dressed. I started to leave and I couldn't get my back door open. There was a HUGE Christmas tree laying on its side right at the door. I had to go around through the front door to get to the carport, where I discovered that I pretty much had to get INTO the tree in order to lift it up and move it. So, I'm kind of inside the tree, waddling out into the front yard, meandering and zigzagging to keep upright. What my neighbors saw at 6:30 in the morning was a drunk Christmas Tree trying to break in the front door. But I finally made it!

    There was a card, Goofy on the front, signed by "Anonymous." "Have a Merry Christmas!"

    I have two very good friends who happened to also be Spokane police officers – high up in rank, too – one was a Sergeant and one was a Lieutenant. I'd have them both over for coffee or dinner; holidays were a buffet style where each could stop in on his dinner break, grab a plate, eat, and run.

    After much sleuthing on my part, it turned out that one night they both ended up on the graveyard shift. They got to talking about their poor pitiful friend (moi) and came up with a plan. (There should be a drum roll and suspenseful sounding orchestra music here.)

    They met at a tree lot that was pretty sparse, being so close to Christmas. They snuck in and stole a tree! (They said later that they borrowed it but that since I had used it and its needles were falling off in droves, they really couldn't take it back in that pitiful condition, now could they?) I have often wondered what this looked like, but here you go.

    So, after Christmas and guiltlessly enjoying someone else's stolen property, I quietly surreptitiously got rid of the tree in the middle of the night, limb by limb, filling the dumpster. It was the largest tree I have ever had in my house, and the one with the darkest history, too. Imagine two of our finest, just common thieves in the night.


    All I Want For Christmas Is . . .

    I know you've been there. It's December what's-it and your spouse asks you what you want for Christmas. Suddenly your mind is blank. Why didn't you come to me and ask that very question back in February when I found the pretty little red sweater I have been dying for, on SALE??? Huh? Where were you then? Or when I said to myself, it would really be nice to have a [fill in the blank]. I don't know why I don't write this stuff down. And I don't want much. A memory card for my digital camera is only about $12. But I can't remember to think about it in December. I have holes in my brain. All the little things I have wished for, drooled over, wanted, desired, coveted – they are all out there somewhere, floating around in the ozone, having entered my brain in some other month than December and filtered out my brain through the holes.

    So I'm making a list and checking it twice and I have been good all year, yes I have been nice!

    My list:

  • Bubble bath and the uninterrupted hour to soak, read a book, listen to Il Divo on my Bose, and be surrounded by the scent of my almond candles. (Read the little hints: book, CD of Il Divo, Bose radio (kinda spendy but I'm worth it), aromatic candles.)
  • Two hours of time-out for my significant other to keep his hands off the remote control (think FREE gift)
  • Personal body massage (this has benefits that carry over to the masseuse if he happens to be my significant other).
  • Breakfast totally made by my significant other who requests that I simply sit back in a lounge chair and enjoy my coffee that he poured for me. This includes kitchen clean up.
  • Boxed set of "Sex and the City"
  • Russell Stover Cherry Cordials
  • O! A bottle of Butterscotch Schnapps. A big, big bottle. Maybe a case.
  • A year's worth of Sodoku puzzles.
  • A kitten (and you will take care of the litter box)
  • A weekend at "Run of the River" in Leavenworth (ok, that's half a Bose radio)
  • Cuddle time every night watching chick flicks

    See. I just have to remember to carry my list with me. Or you can carry it with you. That's probably better. I can't be trusted to remember where I put my list and maybe I changed purses half-way through the year and the list got trapped in one of those little pockets and I didn't see it so I didn't transfer it to my new purse and tossed it into the back of the closet never to be seen again for another three years. . . uh, you take the list.

  • Notebook for my list

  • 12.02.2008

    The Simple Season

    I remember making bells for the Christmas tree out of egg cartons and foil; this and chain links made out of different strips of colored construction paper and Elmer's glue (or even homemade flour glue). All our decorations were home made. Most of our gifts were homemade. My best dresses were sewn by my mother; toys made by my Dad. Those were the simple days of Christmas.

    Our tradition was to put the tree up very late – sometimes on Christmas Eve. It was hand cut by Dad after a drive in the country. It had to be a tree that needed loving. A "Charlie Brown" tree. We would put our handmade decorations on it and then stand around with the only store bought item – icicles – and one by one, we would lay the strands individually on branches. It was a lovely tree!

    Christmas Eve day we would make cookies. These were for Santa – but we would test drive a couple dozen before we left them on a plate for the jolly fellow, along with a glass of milk. Every year this little gift would be miraculously gone on Christmas morning. We were in awe! There would even be sleigh tracks in the snow in our front yard. I was always so impressed that he landed in OUR yard!

    The night before Christmas we would all get in the station wagon and Dad would tour the town looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We had our tree – but everyone else had "outside" decorations! Every year they were more and more fantastic! Even as an adult, I must go out Christmas Eve and tour the Christmas Village our town has become. It is a magical thing!

    Christmas morning we had strict traditions:

  • we had to sleep in until at LEAST 6:30 in the morning. (My brothers, sister, and I would stay up all night in anticipation, hoping to at least hear Santa – just once. Never happened – but still the anticipation was delicious and enchanting.)
  • We had to have a substantial breakfast – boring, boring, boring – but this one morning it would be individual cereal boxes of sugar coated, not Mom approved cereal.
  • After breakfast we could check out our stocking which always had an apple and a banana in it. That was it. Our whole stocking was fruit (to make up for the Sugar Pops)
  • Once we were done with our obligatory fruit, we lined up to go to the Christmas tree, shortest first. As the years went by, my siblings grew taller than me, so that when I was 18, the oldest, I was first in line!
  • Dad was assigned the Santa duty of doling out presents, one-at-a-time. While one present was being opened, exclaimed over, gushed over – the rest of us silently sat on our hands, whispering ooos and ahhs to the recipient, all the while trying to patiently wait for the next dole-out.
  • The rest of the day would be wonderfully exciting – we'd feel love in the air, we could smell it! The banquet would be a feast of scents and tastes. Everything was brand new and bright.

  • We would sleep like lambs Christmas night, tucked in our beds, still twinkling with the sounds and scents of Christmas!



    Christmas Message

    I was appalled to read the news of shoppers stomping a Wal*Mart worker to death on "Black Friday." This is in response.

    You may not know me. I roam in the background; I am the rays of the sun filtering through the trees; I am the laughing brook as it skips over stones and pebbles; I am every new born babe; I am the stars twinkling on high.

    I am the Spirit of Christmas, with God's great hand on my soul; assigned to my position over two thousand years ago.

    I was there when a sweet innocent girl gave birth in a humble beginning in a barn. She gave birth to the Son of God; she gave birth to the Rescuer of us all, surrounded by shepherds and common people.

    What a miraculous night! Love was born! I watched with awe. I carried that love with me and have guarded and nurtured that love for over two thousand years!

    But my heart is breaking. Change has happened. The message has been lost. Now, instead of earth's people celebrating the birth of awesome love, they are frantically "shopping" for over-indulgent gifts and they are avoiding entirely the celebration I bring – the reminder that this is a time to remember the Child in a manger so long ago, who would grow to be a fisherman of souls and the Lamb of God whose blood would cleanse and cover those same souls.

    How I weep today at the profound pathos Christmas has become. My heart broke at the chaos of "Black Friday" and knowing that one that I watched over died at the feet of frenzied shoppers looking for a "gift." I cried to God with weary soul and wretched aching for all involved.

    May God bless you, who blithely stepped on one of His favorite children, for you are one of his favorites, too. May God bless the soul stomped upon by a crowd of hysterical madness, insanity, spurred by greed.

    I am the Spirit of Christmas. I am a whisper in your ear. Hear me. Hear my plea. Turn your eyes to the amazing night over two thousand years ago when Christ was born. Turn your heart to that humble beginning of Amazing Grace, the giver of Life.

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

    His Humble Messenger