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Category Archives: Writing is fun

The Suit: Write it! (Yes, You.)

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I saw this suit jacket in front of an empty building for lease.

Can’t help wondering how it ended up on the ramp. Where is the owner? How did this happen? Why leave the jacket but not the pants?

It appears to be arranged with some care. Did the jacket have a family? Why was it abandoned? Does the owner plan to retrieve it?

Now, take my challenge. Write the story of this coat.

Rules:

  1. You may not read anyone else’s story until you write your own.
  2. Link to your story in the comments below.
  3. Make it as short or as long as you like.
  4. Enjoy writing!

I look forward to seeing your imagination at work.

Casey XO

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A Day in the Life…

Writing 101 assignment, Day 14: Recreate a single day

Saturday, October 3.

11 am. Hubby and I decide it’s time.

We’ve been planning an overhaul of the downstairs bathroom for almost a year. The new cabinet and toilet have been sitting in my kitchen (in boxes) for about a month, waiting until we completed more urgent projects (like repairing areas where leaks occurred). The floor is a bit soft; we’ll have to replace some of the plyboard.

He removes the toilet that refuses to work properly. We find that the previous owner (PO) never installed a wax ring. Now the soft floor makes more sense.

For those of you not prone to replacing your own ceramic thrones, the wax ring fits under the toilet and prevents water from escaping. Without it, water had been slowly leaking for years.

First person to spot the new place for the toilet gets three points. (Don’t worry, it’s not permanent. We’re going to pot a mum inside it and put it in our neighbors’ yard. They’re going to be thrilled.)

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We remove the mirror and pull the sink top from the cabinet. It looks pretty good in these pictures, but it’s actually falling apart and still smells like smoke inside. (The PO left a lot of tar and nicotine behind.) It was white; I painted it chocolate when we moved in, hoping to forestall the bathroom remodel until we had settled.

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We pull the cabinet out. That thing is darn heavy. Note the “Danger, Construction Zone” sign. Guess whose handiwork and you get another three points. Ignore the spelling; he was in a rush.

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We find decent white vinyl underneath the gross stained vinyl.

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It’s important to score the sheet rock heavily before demolition; this allows a clean break and causes less mess.

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The boy is thrilled to hear that he MAY kick holes in the wall. Just this once.

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See that grey pipe? That has to go. It (and its fittings) have caused seven leaks in the last year. We’ve re-piped most of the house but waited to replace these until now.

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We pull up the top layer of vinyl to find the PO’s lack of wax ring use has caused a really nasty mess. The toilet leaked under the top layer of vinyl. UGH.

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This is the moment we bring the kids in for a look. And an object lesson.

Hubby says, “The guy who used to live here decided not to bother with a $5 part. Because of that, the floor is damaged. We have to spend a LOT more than $5 to replace the floor. The directions for installing a toilet say to use a wax ring, but he decided not to follow the directions. His decision to ignore the rules is costing us a lot of time and money.

When we don’t follow the rules, it affects someone. Sometimes it affects us. Other times it impacts somebody else. And SOMEtimes, we don’t feel the effects right away. This guy actually owns his own contracting business, so he knows how to install a toilet properly—he just didn’t do it.

We know a lot of people, and many of them ask my advice about who can fix their house. After this, I’ll be letting them know that they should not use the guy who built our house. So, even though he made the decision to ignore the directions years ago, that choice will start to affect him now.”

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The kids peer at the damaged floor.

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“You know how we always talk about following directions and we make you correct anything you don’t do properly? This is why. We want you to know how to follow the rules and directions in small things as a child, so you’ll be able to do it with the big stuff when you grow up. Does that make sense?”

(The floor in the below picture was so saturated, it crumbled when Hubby pressed it. I wonder…if the floor had collapsed while someone was sitting, would that cause a toilet-phobia? Is that even a thing? I’ll have to look that up in the DSM-V…)

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Our girl nods. “So when I grow up and build a house, I will remember to put the wax ring on before the toilet.”

This is not exactly what we were looking for, but yes, that’s an important step when constructing a home, so we’ll call it a win for now. Next time they have to re-write spelling words in a legible manner or pick up the trash after forgetting to close the lid (to keep out the dogs), there will be another “wax ring” discussion.

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Hubby cuts out the rotten sub-floor (above), then reinforces with 2x4s (below). Note the vinyl (above) is gone (below). That was me. The installers used staples all around the edge. In order to remove the vinyl, I had to pull the staples out with needle-nose pliers. All fifty-million of them. (Slight hyperbole. Slight.)

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He cuts a new piece of plywood. I think it looks like that game everyone is playing…Cornhole.

Great. This is what I’ll think of the next time someone suggests a toss tournament. Because…ha ha ha cornhole. When you eat corn it doesn’t always…never mind. Stop looking at me like that.

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While the floor is open, Hubby drops down into the crawl space to replace the pipes. I push the pipe through the holes and he connects it.

As we work, one of the kids uses the bathroom upstairs and flushes the toilet…re-pressurizing the pipes. Thankfully, it’s clean water, but still—Hubby gets soaked.

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We install the new piece of sheet rock.

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I start layering the plaster.

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I use fiberglass mesh tape to cover the gap on the wall and paper tape in the corners. In the corner on the right, you can see a trick I figured out when we had to make repairs in the boy’s room: remove the old paper tape first. This leaves a cavity the exact size needed, requiring less plaster work.

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The key to seamless plaster work is several layers, wider each time.

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Hubby installs the final floor covering before we put in the new vinyl.

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Done for the night. I’ll sand tomorrow, then add one final, wider layer.

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Our son re-purposes the commode box into a submarine, complete with hinged top, gun turret and front window. Of course.

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So, there’s our day. In under 24 hours, we pulled out and replaced the damaged wall, flooring and pipes.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. —Dr. Seuss

How was your day?

***

All photos: Casey Alexander

Survivors Blog Here

Hey, just a quick note; I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve been invited to join the team at

Survivors Blog Here

Take a moment to check it out. You’ll be glad you did!

Other Survivor blogs include (links to individual blogs are below):

  • 4 Times and Counting — Sharon Greene, breast cancer survivor (four times, in case you didn’t catch the title). She’s pretty amazing.
  • Art by Rob Goldstein — Rob Goldstein blogs about Dissociative Identity Disorder, mental health and shares his heart and art.
  • Carissa’s World — Carissa Provenzano writes about healing and life.
  • Doted On — Domestic abuse and suicide prevention.
  • From the Darkness into the Sunshine — Lisa brings us along on her journey from the darkness of childhood sexual abuse to the sunshine of working toward healing.
  • The Starting End — Heather Rheingold’s poetry about love, life and new beginnings after losing her spouse.
  • Hyperion Sturm — Randstein writes, and it looks INTERESTING. (I haven’t gotten far enough in to give a good description. I’ll get back to you.)
  • SheketEchad — I like this: “Life is a constant change.  Sometimes the seas are in your favor and other times the Storm is larger than you can imagine.  Our job is to remain above the water – above the darkness that lies below.”
  • Looking for the Light — Melinda has survived more than most of us can imagine. Abuse at the hands of family members, the suicide of her father, Bipolar disorder…and yet, she works and writes for others.
  • Surviving the Specter — Chris opens up about depression and surviving a suicide attempt.
  • Army of Angels — waiting for a link, but she describes survival and recovery from domestic abuse.
  • And me, Casey. But you’re already here, so you know that I blog about surviving evil government departments, horrible social workers and HellOnEarth to give two kids a chance for a successful and wonderful life. We’re getting there!

**

If you are the owner of one of the above blogs and would like a better description than the one I came up with, please feel free to post it in the comments and I’ll update the post. 🙂

When I’m Not With You…

Pre-Post 

Sometimes I wonder what you do when we’re not together. Not always, because my life is insane and I don’t have time to think about anything except my immediate situation. But sometimes.

You might wonder about me. On the other hand, perhaps you are also too caught up in craziness to consider anything other than your next meeting, or whether you have spinach between your teeth.

“How did she know that?” you muse. Mostly because I am, this moment, trying to determine whether have broccoli in my teeth. We’re all much too caught up in ourselves to wonder, to truly consider others.

I explain to our kids all the time: most people are so worried about what YOU will think of them, they don’t even think about you. Our daughter thinks everyone will assume she’s a boy, thanks to her pixie haircut. I disagree. “You’re really pretty. There’s no way they’ll think you’re a boy. Besides, you wear earrings.”

“But some boys wear earrings!” she wails.

“Yes,” I say, “but most boys are not getting boobs.” She is not amused.

Perhaps I’m wrong. You might spend hours wondering, “Does Casey actually have a life?”

If so, you’re either a stalker or wayyyy too obsessed with people you’ve never met. I’ve already had one stalker, thanks (remind me to tell you later; my story highlights all the reasons you should educate your children about life online).

Side note: If you find yourself obsessing over any blogger, it’s time for a hobby that includes people you can touch. And no, I don’t mean tracking one down.

Per the Writing 101 Day 11 assignment, I will now regale you with Tales from the Crypt. Wait, no, that’s something else. Tales of What I Do Without You.

Actual Post

Things I do for fun when I’m not with you: 

  1. Read. Or rather, listen. Since the kids came to our house, I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve actually read with my own eyes, touching paper, smelling that…bookish…scent all paperbacks and most hardbacks carry. Audible.com gave me my life back. Well, my fantasy. Thanks to that fabulous website, I’ve read over 300 books in the last four years. Mythology, biograpy, dystopia, utopia, fantasy, reality, fiction and non. I’m currently listening to The Martian. Again. Andy Wier writes with the humor of John Scalzi and the believability (which is, per spell check, not a word) of a space mission technical handbook. LOVE.
  2. Cook. For the first three years transitioning the kids to our home, “Survive” would have been number two on the list, but thankfully we’ve morphed to a new phase. I hope it sticks, because I can finally do some of the things I love. Like read and cook. I’m not a fabulous gourmet chef, but I swipe recipes from my incredible aunt, who is. She’s also great at giving directions in writing, so my attempts at cooking her recipes almost always come out right. Visiting her is like having a front row seat at a cooking show. One of these days I will convince her to start a blog and share her talent with the world, but for now, she’s all mine.
  3. Write. (You’re shocked, right?) Interesting—well, interesting to me—thoughts pop into my brain all the time. If only science would catch up with my needs; a download port in the side of my head would be awesome. Even a mini-SD slot might work. Half the time I can’t find a pen in time to capture these world-changing ideas (hence, I’ve not yet changed the world). The other half, I’m desperate to remember the amazing thought that just flitted through…and escaped in entirety. I’m not much for blogvertisement, but there is FINALLY a partial solution. Cheri mentioned Simplenote in one of her posts, and I’ve since been using it to jot down, well, pretty much everything. The feature I love is search. I have this stack of papers in my room, filled with random thoughts. I considered typing them out but had no way to categorize them (as I said, random thoughts). With Simplenote, you can search any word once you’ve written a piece. Perfect.
  4. Train a German Shepherd. I also attempt to train the children. The pup is amazing. He’s quick to learn and loves to obey. The children, not so much. Maybe I need to try the click-and-kibble strategy on the kids.
  5. Restoration. Recent projects include hand-sanding and staining a large piece of furniture, a rocking chair and wooden pieces for the interior of a vehicle Hubby is painting and fixing. Oh, and I worked on the latches to the vehicle doors. I think Hubby lets me help to give me a feeling of purpose, a creative outlet and a sense of fulfillment. Also, I have smaller hands which fit inside the door access holes.
  6. Construction. Our home has had several leaks thanks to shoddy work on the part of the previous owner, and we fix most of the problems ourselves. Unlike the PO, Hubby and I have a bit of talent. (I’m not bitter or anything.) Taping and plastering sheet rock is the perfect match for my OCD. Most of the time—especially if you look at the state of the kitchen—my OCD is not evident. At all. This is because I’ve given up perfection in any area of the home the kids touch. Plastering a wall or ceiling, though, my obsession is clear. I’ve realized I enjoy it because it’s the one place in life in which I can truly control the outcome. I also enjoyed demolishing a wall in our home. Great stress relief. Not for Hubby, who wasn’t aware I was demolishing it that particular day.
  7. Sleep. I should probably do this more.

So, there it is, folks. My life in a nutshell. Thrilling, I know.

I dished. Your turn. What do you do when you’re not reading my blog?

And why are you doing that instead of reading my blog? Seriously.

I’ll be back in a minute to read your comments. I have to get the broccoli out of my teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog Ate My… Part 2

So, the dog demolished my laptop power cord.

My to-do list:

  1. Get new power cord
  2. Find temporary power for my odd-shaped charge port

I took my computer to the electronics store and perused a wall of universal power cords.

Found one. Hyperventilated at the price.

Then I sauntered over to the computer section and unplugged one of the display computers. Bingo.

My laptop plugged, I browsed new computers and tried to look nonchalant.

By the way, I think I might have a stalker.

A girl in a blue shirt kept walking past, staring at me.

Should I inform her manager?

****

Day 12, play with word count.

100 words, baby, on the nose. Boom.

The Dog Ate My Homework

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Soooooo. I planned to take tomorrow to catch up on Writing 101 assignments.

For the last few days I’ve been working on all the projects I needed to finish (refinishing a coffee table, cooking ahead for a crazy week, cleaning up the disaster zone we call the master bedroom…).

I was REALLY excited about tomorrow.

In other news, we have a German Shepherd puppy.

He’s 4 months old and has been an absolute joy. He is easy to train and doesn’t chew things up.

Until today.

My laptop was on the floor, so I put it on  the bed. He doesn’t climb up there.

Until today.

You know that feeling you get when the kids are playing in complete silence and you know you should check to be sure they’re not lighting matches? I had it, but ignored.

Too late, I found the pup with my computer cord. Fortunate animal that he is, it wasn’t plugged in.

Unfortunate girl that I am, I did not charge my computer today, so tomorrow I will have to write really, really fast.

Should be fun.


How I Got That Black Eye

I keep telling him to stop hitting me so hard. Our son likes to leap out of nowhere and hug me tight enough to crush my spine and ribs.

Okay, you caught me in hyperbole, but it feels that way. He does hit me like a mini-linebacker. Occasionally, now that he’s taller, his head hits my cheek. I love his enthusiasm, but the effects—not so much.

This morning, the dog woke me up early. Rather than force myself back to sleep, I took a few minutes to try out new eye liner and shadow. I don’t normally bother, but after the, “wow, you look cute today!” response from Hubby, I just might wear it more often.

Luckily, the kid didn’t hit me during application, or more than my ribs might be bruised. He did, however, accost me a few minutes later. After castigating him (no, not castrating…it may help obedience in puppies but is frowned upon regarding children) yet again, I limped out the door.

We spent the afternoon in sweltering heat at a crowded festival. And boy, did I get some great pictures of Americana (and Weird-Eccentric-ana). But that’s another post.

I, misreading the morning weather yet again, wore jeans. Everyone was sticky and sweaty and…yes, a bit stinky. My eyes stung; not sure whether from the odor or from the sunblock running down my face. On the shuttle back to the parking lot, at least six individuals definitely had neglected deodorant AND had eaten raw onions.

By the time we arrived home, I was ready for bed. I flipped the light switch and reached for soap, intending to wash my face. I was NOT prepared for what I saw.

There were no mirrors at the festival, so I’d been unaware of the state of my cheekbone, and Hubby hadn’t said a word. I stared.

A very BIG black eye stared back.

I’ve never had a black eye, but I’ve seen them, and this one was definitely a shiner. I started toward the bathroom door, intending to show the boy exactly why I’ve asked him to stop tackling me.

A shiner.

I stopped for a closer look. It didn’t just shine. It…sparkled.

What I’d thought was a black eye was actually black eyeliner and blue eye shadow mixed with salty sunblock. I had makeup smeared all down my cheek.

THIS is why we can’t have nice things.

No, wait, that’s another corollary. THIS is why I never wear makeup.

My main concern has become twofold:

  1. My family let me walk around like this for hours
  2. We ran into several of the kids’ teachers, and they now think I’m a victim of domestic abuse (or they just think I’m really bad at wearing makeup)

Today, I pillow my head a little humbler, a little wiser. I’ve learned my lesson.

Next time I wear makeup, it’s going to be waterproof.

Best Quotes Ever

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. —George Washington Carver

The above is my favorite quote and the underlying driver of my life. I was prepared to write a post about George Washington Carver (one of my favorite historical figures), but then started looking for quotes about writing.

These are don’t-miss wit and wisdom:

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
Robert Frost

I remember reading an article, years ago, about J. K. Rowling. She’d just written the scene of (SPOILER if you’ve not read Harry Potter) Dumbledore’s demise, and described the pain, sadness and tears. I couldn’t find the interview (just looked) but someone asked why she didn’t just rewrite the story line, and she said something like, “I can’t. He’s already dead.” At the time, I thought, “You’re crazy, lady. You’re the author.” And then I started writing. Ah.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

Mark Twain is arguably one of the best writers in history. He gives us a window to the soul of the world during a time of enlightenment and ignorance. His wisdom is great; his words still make me laugh aloud. Like this one:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Mark Twain

I plan to try this if I ever submit a manuscript.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
Madeleine L’Engle

Tesseract. That is all.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
Saul Bellow

This one is a favorite, because it’s true. Of the stories I’ve written, the best were penned (or tapped, as the case may be) after midnight. Which leads me to

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” —my mother

She was right, as far as dating life. In college, I went on (the only) blind date and stayed up in the lobby talking (yes, just talking) until almost 4 am. He was great. When I stood, with regret, to head to my dorm, he asked, “no kiss goodnight?” His tone gave me pause, and I said something along the lines of “not on your life; we just met.” The next day, I saw him with friends, and he looked straight through me. This was the day I realized my mom might know some stuff.

Her quote, however, is not true of writing. All the best writing happens after midnight.

And luckily, now I’m married and don’t have to worry about dating anyone but Hubby.

But if you have teens, feel free to quote my mom.

***
Quotes pulled from Goodreads.com

I’m Reading YOUR Blog, Writing 101!

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My goal: to read at least one post from every blogger participating in Writing 101.

Help me out—comment below with a link to your favorite piece. Feel free to come back more than once. You leave it, I’ll read it.

If you want a specific type of feedback beyond “like,” just let me know you’re looking for something a little more in-depth. (Be specific; “how’s the grammar?” or “English isn’t my first language; anything I should change?” will help me focus.) I enjoy proofreading almost more than I love ice cream (yes, I’m aware I should go to rehab).

Looking forward to YOUR story!

XO

Casey

P.S. Scroll through the comments and click on a blog you’ve never read! 

***

Picture: Casey Alexander (https://lynnmlovewords.wordpress.com)

The Globe

My response to Writing 101 Assignment, Day 4– be inspired by a picture. Sourced from Unsplash, no photo credit listed.

A Globe where I reside

My globe is fragile.

I live inside, among the green. I peer out at the world around me, held by a force I do not always understand. I look past the thin blue line to the infinite space beyond.

I try not to be concerned about what will happen if something collides with my globe. How we will live if the supply of water is not replenished. And yet, it is.

Unseen eyes follow my movements around the globe. I think I see a face in the sky, feel the hands holding us above destruction below, protective.

What choices should we make to ensure the survival of our generation, and the next? What if we allow another colony of ants to join us, only to find they are bigger, stronger. Should we trust them? They speak of peace, but I worry.

My globe is fragile.

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