January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was always shown as having two heads. He looked back to
the last year and forward to the new one.
“January, month of empty pockets! … let us endure this evil month…” – Colette
“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”
– Ruth Stout
Obviously, I have mixed feelings about January!
I’ve been hard at work updating my blog with a new look, and a (hopefully) more user-friendly lay out. After begging my husband, father-in-law and a techno-savvy friend for help, and getting little or no response, I decided to try it on my own. It’s been interesting, although not without a few headaches and frustration. Surprise, surprise – I think I may have done it. Looking at the different themes and playing with the design aspect was fun for the creative side of my brain. Not so fun was trying to figure out which widgets and plugins did what and how to activate them. When I got overconfident, those aspects brought me back to earth. Still, I did it. I do have one little glitch that is definitely above my pay grade and I’m this close to completing negotiations with hubby dearest. Once I secure his technical assistance and Q&A, I should be good to go. Fingers crossed that the new look will be up this week. And when it does, I’ll have a giveaway to celebrate.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because aside from some awards show recaps, I haven’t done much blogging. I have two book reviews due, and I’m working on a couple pieces that I plan to submit to other outlets, which is very nerve-wracking and exciting. I’ve had lots of things I’ve wanted to blog about, but time has been disappearing for me – poof, it’s gone. So I’m going with another random post, like the one I did in December.
Probably a bit long for a hash tag, but it came to me as my cousin Jan was laughing hysterically at the bad luck we had, during the first week of January. Over the holidays I kept mentioning how I was looking forward to a new year, after all that happened to our family last year. As I was telling Jan about our latest calamities, she couldn’t stop laughing, and in her southern drawl said, “And y’all were so looking forward to 2014!” I guess constantly expressing my hopes that after the strike of midnight on New Year’s we’d be blessed with all good things was a bit naive.
What was I thinking? I may have jinxed us. Bad things, little and big, can and do happen all the time. January 7th was supposed to be the first day back to school for the kids, but we had a “snow day” due to frigid temperatures. We were sleeping in that morning, but when we woke up it was 6 degrees outside and we discovered that we had no electricity. Rich drove around to see how big of an area was affected, only to discover our neighbors had electricity, as did everyone else within a two mile radius. Uh-oh. We were the only ones dark (and yes, we paid our bill), so it was hard to not feel picked on. We called the electric company and it appeared that our transformer had blown, whatever that means.
Because we were the only ones without power, we didn’t have to wait too long for service. Our heat was back on by lunch time. Crisis averted, or so we thought. After lunch I was doing laundry and heard a hissing sound. I turned off the washing machine, and still heard it. I thought it was a gas leak, until I remembered we don’t have gas. Hmmm. I turned the machine back on and two seconds later Rich runs in screaming,
“Turn it off! Turn it off!”
“Why?” I asked.
“It’s raining in the basement.”
Holy hell. I will spare you the details of the chaos and panic-filled couple of minutes that followed, but suffice it to say, we had a burst pipe. Thank goodness Rich was in the basement when it happened and he knew how to turn the water off.
Unfortunately there were pipes bursting all over the city. We called our plumber, who was swamped – we weren’t going to get any help that day. So, off to the Marriott we went. I was cold, tired, deflated. The kids had been home almost three weeks. We’d just recovered from flu, lots of company, and lots of cold weather. I had no idea if there was going to be school the next day, since I’d received an ominous email from the county warning that some schools were having “issues” with their heating systems. Of course they were. Rich suggested we make lemonade out of lemons, which was uncharacteristic as I’m the lemonade maker in the family. We had an Italian dinner and some wine, and I began to see the humor in the situation like my cousin Jan had. After all, we’d been so looking forward to 2014…
As a post script to this story, I’ll share this. The next morning in the hotel, after Rich had already departed for work, Hunter woke me up at 8:20 in a panic. “Mom, wake up. There’s school today and the maid is trying to get into our room!” Talk about dazed and confused. Oh damn, we were so not off to a good start!
Although part of the basement did get “rained” on, it wasn’t a “flood,” since we got the water off rather quickly. But the space that was affected was our storage area, which contains boxes and boxes of stuff from long ago. Rich is pretty anal about how things are packed, so I’m happy to report we didn’t lose anything. But it did motivate me to redirect my organizational focus to the basement. I’ve committed to going through two boxes a weekend, so we can weed out the disposable and categorized the keepsakes. Well so far, this project has been like a treasure hunt. I found some of my grandmother’s china, which I feared was long gone since my dad didn’t really ever take care of things after mom died and my brother and I left for school. After Dad died, all the things he had in storage ended up with me, but we’ve moved so many times that I’ve never gotten around to investigating what he had. According to the newspapers that the pieces were wrapped in, the box was packed in the summer of 1983, when we moved from Naples Park to Palm River. No one had ever bothered to unpack it. Sadly, some of it was broken, which honestly hurt – a hurt that produced sharp pains in my chest. I can still picture these pieces in the corner china cabinet of my grandparent’s dining room.
On a happier note, I found my First Communion dress! Two years too late for Audrey and it’s very yellowed. Does anyone have any tips on how to bring the white back without damaging the dress? Other discovered treasures included my old paper dolls, celebrity scrap books and Disney memorabilia from the 1970’s! There were letters and so many pictures, which I haven’t gone through yet. I found a post card that my great grandfather wrote in fountain pen to my grandmother, dated 1913 and sent from Milan, Italy. How cool is that?
He’s so Tall!
I’m a small person, and other than my friend Michele B, I’m usually the shortest adult in the room. I’ll go a couple months (or in some cases years) without seeing certain children, and then one day they are standing before me, and I have to look up at them. Even though it always eventually happens, I’m still surprised when it actually does, even more so this time because it’s my own child. The other day Rich ordered me to stop. Then he took this picture:
My Bear, who started out at 2 pounds, 5 ounces, is now the same height as me. At the rate he’s eating and growing (some of the clothes I gave him for his early December birthday are already tight), I’m sure he’ll pass me by Easter. Sniffle, sniffle.
Update on the Rainbow Mystery
I don’t have one, I am sorry to report. I kind of feel bad that I put it out there (although I truly appreciated all the advice), because I’ve been asked quite a few times if we ever solved the mystery. I promise, if it’s ever solved, I will share.
Mini Motorcycle Momma
My daughter has started riding a motorcycle. I never expected to find myself writing those words. How weird is that? She is her daddy’s girl, and she does have three brothers, so I guess it’s not totally out there, but still… The dirt bike used to be Hunter’s, who has out grown it and lost interest. I suspect a wee bit of her motivation was to irritate her brother, and her mission was accomplished. I’ve very nervous about this new interest.
In other Audrey news, she has found herself to be the only girl in her hip hop class. Three boys signed up in January and two girls dropped out. Her teacher is male, which means its Audrey and five boys alone together in a room, gyrating their hips. This makes motorcycle riding look relatively safe by comparison. She did look very nervous when I dropped her off last week, and she gave me a look that asked if I was really going to leave her there. I did, although reluctantly. I watched her on the monitors (all the classrooms have cameras) in the lobby and she looked like she was having a good time. This is going to be very interesting. Strangely, I’m proud of her. There is no way in hell I would have been able to do that at nine. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t be able to do that now.
Oh it is been cold in Atlanta this month. It even snowed one day, albeit very briefly, and they’re calling for a wintery mix today. And yes, I feel sorry for friends, family and readers up north. Very sorry for all of you! I’m ready for summer, which makes me sad, because I keep wishing each season away! I’d intended to take the kids to Florida for President’s Day weekend, but a number of circumstances have changed those plans. Instead, we’re doing a mini make-up road trip to Jackson and Birmingham (stops we missed last summer). We’re heading north to Michigan for Spring Break, to see family – so warm temps are far off for us, I’m afraid. This is bleak reality for me as I shiver in my turtle neck, sweater and fuzzy slippers. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading, though. I just finished a wonderful book, We’ll Always Have Paris, by Jennifer Coburn – to be published in April. The book is a travel memoir about a mother and daughter who took four summer trips to Europe, over an eight year period. It’s also a memoir that deals with the grief of losing a parent when you’re young and the possibility that you may really get over it. The book really resonated with me and I loved it! I’ll be reviewing it for Chick Lit Central in the coming months.
That’s all I’ve got right now, a mixed bag of this and that. I just wanted to touch base with everyone, but I do have more blogs coming up, my new site launch, a Things to Be Excited About post and a couple of book reviews. January blahs have sidetracked some of my “non-resolutions,” but over all I’m doing well. I’m learning that moderation is key – and it makes me happy.
What have you been up to? Is it cold where you are? What are you reading? How’s 2014 going for you? Do you have children who are taller than you, and how does that feel? Do you fear they’ll laugh at you when you discipline them? I do! Have you ever discovered lost treasures from you childhood? What do you do when you find old pictures, and you have no idea who the people are? Be sure to check back later this week to see the new blog design!
We got a little more than a wintery mix…