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Oh, Just Write It!

Is cooking conducive to writing? Discuss amongst yourselves.

I am not exactly cooking as I write this (by hand in a notebook, standing at my kitchen counter). I am popping popcorn (on the stove in oil, as God intended) (it’s JUST an EXPRESSION! Sheesh!).

I wrote that much and got stuck. Still, I got the urge to open the notebook and start writing as soon as I got the oil in the pot. I thought that was interesting.

You know, I think Wrist to Forehead Sunday is becoming even more deeply ingrained into my schedule than Lame Post Friday. Actually, this morning, I am more inclined to put the palm of my hand or my cold fingers on my forehead, because I have a dreadful headache. Partying too heartily on Saturday night, you ask? Well, I don’t know about that, but I did stay up later than normal.

Be all that as it may, what is a blogger to do when a post must be written (according to my rules, anyways) but her head is aching and she wants nothing better than to retreat into the TV watching and crocheting portion of the day (I got some new yarn especially for the purpose)? What I did do was eat the popcorn and think about it (Steven was hogging the computer anyways), then pour myself some blue Gatorade (for some reason good for headaches) and get onto the computer to Write The Damn Thing Anyways.

We did go for a most enjoyable walk with Tabby earlier (before the headache had kicked in). It was still cool out, not too sunny, which was good since I had forgotten my Crazy Old Lady hat. We stopped and chatted with some neighbors who were having a garage sale (didn’t buy anything for once). We discussed our respective flood experiences, what we’d heard about who lost what, and had anybody gotten any money from insurance or the government yet. We concluded that we had been more fortunate than some others.

Well, look at that, word count over 300. I call that respectable. Don’t worry (if you even were), I won’t be too lame in the coming days. We saw an awesomely cheesy movie last night (when I may or may not have been partying too heartily), and I hope to do some bloggable cooking today. As always, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Walking for the Blog

So I said, “Let’s take Tabby for a walk, then I’ll write a blog post about it.” That usually works.

My plan was to walk out German Street, towards where the flood damage was pretty bad. They have cleaned up a lot, of course, but I know one street is still blocked off, and there is still a big empty spot where a garage used to be. These things I drive by on my way to work. I thought at a pedestrian’s pace, we could take a closer look.

At first my plan seemed to be working, because Tabby agreed to walk in that direction. She often wants to walk the other way on German Street. I know, one can usually win an argument with a 17-pound schnoodle, especially one with as sweet a disposition as Tabby’s. However, the walk is for her entertainment as well as ours. I don’t like to be mean.

First we saw a lady with a couple of Shi-tzu-looking dogs across the street. I may have petted those dogs while out running one day. Unfortunately, I have not been running in a while. We waved to the lady and she waved back. Then we saw a lady coming up Margaret Street with two little Scotty-looking dogs. They saw Tabby and barked and pulled on the leash. She continued down German, in the same direction on the same side of the street as we had been heading. We turned down Margaret.

Well, Margaret is a pleasant enough street to walk down. We admired several gardens and screened-in porches. We saw a couple of For Sale signs and indulged in a little “What if?” We went almost all the way down Margaret, then turned down Park Avenue (doesn’t that sound swank?). Our new plan was go go through Myers Park. Then we saw a labrador-looking dog up ahead, so we turned up Henry.

About this time, I asked myself (I was writing this post in my head as we walked) why I feel I must add the suffix “-looking” when I guess which breed a dog is. In the first place, most of the people who read this blog won’t know which dog I’m talking about, so how would they know I was wrong? “A black dog on Park Avenue? That COULDN’T have been a labrador!” Yes it could! It was a different black dog from the one you’re thinking of! In the second place, I just might be right about the breed. Stranger things have happened.

The only really flood-related observation I made was that some stretches of sidewalk are still covered with dirt, from where people did not rinse off the mud. But I hope you enjoyed reading about our canine encounters. We enjoyed our walk.

Is Help on the Way?

Flood recovery in the Mohawk Valley continues. This being a topic of surpassing local concern, I dare to write about it, even though I cannot call it “totally fun,” as my subhead promises.

FEMA has deemed individuals in Central New York unworthy of federal aid. They are helping municipalities, which is something (do I mean “municipalities”? “Towns, counties, villages and cities” seemed cumbersome) (I suppose parenthetical comments also become cumbersome, but I gotta be me). Gov. Cuomo has declared that the state will step in and help. Yesterday’s adventure involved the first step in Steven’s and my search for this help.

Actually, one could say we had already taken a first step, because we have gotten in touch with our insurance company to get a statement from them saying we’re not covered. I felt a little silly bothering them. It seems to me one could look at our policy and see there’s no flood coverage. I have also been told, by people with flood insurance, that it does not cover basements, where our damages took place. Still, “everybody” said you needed the official statement. So I bothered them.

I also called FEMA, because somebody on the local news seemed to think it was a good idea. I talked to a nice young lady who told me there really wasn’t anything she could do for me, because there had not been a declaration or delegation or something saying individuals would be helped.

So much for 800 numbers. The state sent people out to help flood victims apply for state aid. Last night (Tuesday), Steven and I went to apply.

The people were going to be at Herkimer County Community College (HCCC) Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We went Tuesday after work. I had been going to just change my shoes and go in all my blue collar glory, but I felt grubby so decided to shower first.

Then I had to figure out what to wear, never an easy task. My green capris pants were clean and comfortable; I only needed a shirt big enough to cover my fat ass. Usually a Hawaiian shirt fit the bill, but I felt a little silly going out with my begging bowl dressed for a party. Steven was changing into more respectable-looking shorts himself. I finally settled on my t-shirt from Living History Weekend at the Fort Herkimer Church.

Some readers may think it silly that I take up a whole paragraph on wardrobe, but I like to think I was sneaking in a little fun after all.

Handy signs directed us where to go on the HCCC campus. We signed in and were given a form to fill out. Soon we were called in to talk to somebody. A nice young man went over the form with us, answered our questions and explained what would happen next. Then we had an exit interview where they asked us how it went and did we have any suggestions for improvement.

The entire process was actually fairly quick and painless. I must confess as I was debating what shirt to wear, I was fairly dreading the ordeal ahead. I thought the lines would be long, the form would be longer and I just didn’t want to mess with it. It was really not at all bad.

I asked the lady at the exit interview if they were volunteers or paid. She said she worked for the state but had volunteered to do this instead of her regular work. As it extended beyond the normal workday, she was volunteering the extra time. I thought that was pretty cool.

So did I get any help, you may ask. Well, I don’t know yet. This was only step one. But I’ll keep you posted.

Help from the Belly Up

I realized I had neglected to write about a Mohawk Valley adventure Steven and I had the Saturday before last. We went to the Belly Up Pub in Herkimer, NY for their Summer Saturday, which on July 6 was also a fundraiser for victims of the recent flooding in the Mohawk Valley.

We went to a previous Summer Saturday and enjoyed it very much (perhaps you read my blog post about it). We may not have attended another that Saturday, what with our own flooded basement blues, but we felt we should support the cause. Also, blues notwithstanding (or maybe because of the blues), I thought it would benefit me to get out of the house for the evening.

We stopped for dinner first at Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner, handily located just a few doors down. After filling up on burgers and homemade chips (or is that a misnomer: homemade in a restaurant?) we repaired to the Belly Up.

It was early enough to easily find a table inside (tall bar tables such as I love). We figured we could go outside for dancing later if we decided to. For the moment, the air conditioning felt good.

It continued to feel good, and we ended up not going outside at all. DJ Big Poppa was spinning tunes. We enjoyed his selections. Our friends Phyllis and Jim joined us, and we had a fine time visiting and making silly jokes (two of my favorite pastimes). At one point we saw somebody setting up a camera.

“And me having a bad hair day,” I lamented. This, of course, was another silly joke. I have only one kind of hair day since my St. Baldrick’s Day adventure in June. It’s actually now about a half inch long (haven’t measured). I think it looks cute, although I may be flattering myself.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the camera after that, but I guess they did interview somebody. A fellow I work with saw it on the news and said Phyllis and I were in the background. I knew there was a reason I should watch my local news on Sunday.

We later learned the evening raised over $1,800, to be donated to the United Way CNY Flood Recovery Fund. This is especially good news, as it seems FEMA is not going to come through with help for individuals. In light of that, I’m wondering if we will see fundraisers in other venues. Way to set the example, Belly Up Pub!

Not Beaten, But Not Upbeat

My spell of bad writing days continues.

I was not able to write my post while at work today. I don’t feel able to write it now, either. I know other bloggers seem to like my silly posts about Why I Can’t Write a Post, but all I can think right now is, “My mother is going to read this!”

Ooh, didn’t that sound like I was going to write something racy? Sorry to disappoint (you know who you are).

The thing is, I bill this as a positive blog — “totally fun,” it says at the top. But one cannot be upbeat at all times. At least, I suppose one could, but not this one. And I bet the one that could gets on most people’s nerves. (Should I have put that last sentence in parentheses?)

I have not yet dried out from the flooding experienced recently by the Mohawk Valley. Of course I have a lot to be thankful for. I lost far less than others. I had help from family and friends. My basement is now in the process of drying out completely. My husband and I are in the process of cleaning out the mildew (yuck!). The hot water heater is on the way to being replaced, at which time the gas can be turned back on (warm showers and cooking on the stove! Woohoo!) (Ooh, that’s another thing to be thankful for: the electricity never got turned off).

It is, in fact, good weather to appreciate a cold shower. And who wants to heat up the kitchen by cooking on the stove anyways? I haven’t washed a pot or pan in two weeks!

Am I beginning to sound like the annoying one who is upbeat at all times? I didn’t think so, but it is good to check these things.

So I guess this is my Monday Middle-aged Musing for the week. I am well aware of many things I can be thankful for. Sometimes this knowledge does not bring about a corresponding rise in spirits. In other words, sometimes you just have to feel that way till you don’t feel that way any more.

And I hope tomorrow I will feel more like writing.

I Am Never Going to Get to that Murderer

I tried, just now, to finish the post I was writing about the movie concerning the murderer dropping his victims in the Seine. I wrote a whole post about how I got hung up on it last weekend. I thought sure when I got back to it, I would breeze through it.

Not so much.

I think the problem is I got hung up on the Seine before I had written as much as I thought I had. And what I had written was, well, really not as good as I had hoped. What’s a blogger to do?

My original plan, in fact, was not to write about movies today at all. I wanted to do a Saturday Running Commentary. Then I decided not to run. I took my schnoodle Tabby for a walk instead. A pedestrian post, perhaps?

It was a pleasant walk, before the day got too hot and humid. It was, unfortunately, quite uneventful.

The reason I decided not to run was that I was recruiting my energies to clean my house. We plan major basement cleaning (the site of the flooding I’ve been kvetching about for two weeks now) after Steven gets home. My self-imposed assignment while he worked was to clean as much of the house above ground level as I could get to.

Well, I’ve done a cleaning post before. I don’t know that it makes for that great a post, but it adds interest to the actual cleaning. When you are mentally searching for words to describe cleaning a toilet while you are actually cleaning said toilet, it somehow becomes just a little less burdensome to clean the toilet.

There is also the thought that one could wait till later to make the blog post. One could think of more things to write about the movie. One could watch a different movie. One could have further Mohawk Valley adventures that would be more worth the writing about.

One, of course, being me.

But I want to get this done now, so here it is. Call it Wrist to Forehead Saturday, call it another Blogger’s Day off, call it Yet Another Post About Why I Haven’t Written a Post. In fact, under the circumstances, you can even call me late for dinner. Ooh, maybe that should have been the headline.

Post-Flood Perambulation

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that we are in the habit of referring to walks as perambulations, because most dogs know “the w word.” As I was writing this post in my head while I fixed dinner, I thought, “I’ll call it Wednesday Walk. Alliterative.”

And then I remembered today was Thursday. That’s what I get for cooking with wine. Or does that make this Non-Sequitur Thursday? No matter, Steven and I just took a walk with our schnoodle Tabby, and I’m going to write a post about it.

It was Steven’s idea to take a walk. Of course I always want to walk with our nice dog, but lately it’s been so stinking hot and humid. And it has rained just about every damn day (perhaps you’ve read some of my posts about the area flooding). Today was beautiful.

I had written most of a letter to my sister during work today. I suggested Steven add his two cents and we walk it to the post office. After a minor crisis looking for the stamps and some debate about appropriate footwear (are there still copious patches of mud from the flood?), we were off.

Sunny with a nice breeze. No mud to speak of, although we did encounter a few patches of dry dirt where bare sidewalk ought to be. Really, things are getting cleaned up nicely. For the past two weeks many houses have had sad piles of garbage next to the curb, the ruined contents of basements. Most of that has been hauled away.

We admired some flowers in flower boxes and on porches. Some front yard gardens were still blooming and beautiful. Some yards had not fared so well.

The breeze died down and the sun began to feel a little stronger. I encouraged Tabby to not stop and sniff while we were in the direct sunlight. I was more lenient in the shade. Steven pointed out that Tabby had not been for a walk in a few days; she was making the most of it.

We got the letter mailed then walked all the way up Main Street and down German to home. Herkimer is definitely looking better. Here’s hoping for better days to come!

Tired on Tuesday

I was afraid this would happen, and I don’t have a label to hide behind.

Wrist to Forehead Sunday, Middle-aged Musings Monday, Wuss-Out Wednesday, Non-Sequitur Thursday, Lame Post Friday. I was about to add Running Commentary Saturday, but since that one involves actually going for a run and writing about it, I don’t think it’s in the same category as my taking-it-easy days. In my defense, I don’t use all those categories every week. In my — accusation? guilt? where’s that thesaurus when you need it! — I’ve been using them a lot lately. In my defense again, I’m still recovering from a flood.

This could go back and forth for a while, but I think my point is clear. I do not have a blog post for today and I do not have an excuse not to have one.

For any astute reader who just said, “What about that murderer dumping bodies in the Seine you keep saying you’re going to write about?” I answer, “Good question.”

That post is partially written, but I want to write more and edit what I wrote so far and, you know, make it sound really good.

“So do that now,” the reader continues, beginning to sound less like an astute reader and more like that inner critic I keep mistaking for a legitimate blog reader.

Listen kids, Aunt Cindy is tired (oh yeah, like any nieces and nephews read my blog!). The temperature and humidity are enough to melt any wicked old witch (yes, admitting to belonging in that category), I worked all day, and then I came home and went to the laundromat and did LOTS of laundry.

Yes, my husband helped me with the laundry. What are you getting at?

In fact, as I waited for the washers and then the driers, I worked on another blog post about a movie, this one in the psycho-biddy genre. Just to give a preview of coming attractions.

Even as I was writing, I said to Steven, “Oh, I am just going to go home and write something off the cuff. It’s all I can handle today.”

So here it is. I’m afraid not as clever as I had hoped, but it will have to do.

Musings After the Deluge

You see what I was trying to do there, that internal rhyme with the “oo” in “Musings” and the “oo” in “Deluge”? Oh well, my other idea for a title was “Hi Ho, Hi Ho,” because I went back to work today, but I felt certain somebody would say, “Who you callin’ a ho?”

Yes, after a Wrist to Forehead Sunday and a Saturday post about Why I Couldn’t Write a Post, I am indulging in another Middle-aged Musings Monday. I’ll have to get back to the murderer dumping bodies in the Seine (that I had been going to write about Saturday, for those of you just tuning in). Today I’m tired.

I had all last week off (regularly scheduled factory shut-down, not emergency flood-related leave). I spent a good part of the week saying things like, “It’ll be a relief to go back to work!” and “I can’t WAIT to be back at work!” And now, here I am at work, once again facing the fact that work is, you know, work.

It really isn’t so bad.

For one thing, it’s a lot more cut and dried what I’m supposed to do next at work (and after my flood experience, I REALLY appreciate the “dried” aspect of it). I admit to spending a ridiculous amount of time last week sitting in a daze or wandering from room to room, wondering what to do first.

In my defense, there were times when there wasn’t a whole lot I could do. Sometimes I just had to wait for the sump pump to do it’s thang (no, that’s not a typo; I meant to say “thang.” Is that too precious?).

I made my blog post every day, and I worked at least a little on my novel each day. I took my dog for several walks, which was not the relaxing activity it normally is. We had to pick our way around oceans of mud as well as avoiding the various clean up crews (who were doing a very good job, by the way). I went running twice and exercised at Curves twice.

So much for non-flood-related chores. I almost included going to the laundromat in that list, which I did once (and wrote a blog post about), because I didn’t wash things dirtied in the flood. However, since the flood made it impossible for me to do laundry at home, I deemed it flood-related.

Typing this post into the computer now, after work, exercise and a cold shower (haven’t replaced the hot water heater yet), I reflect that it was not a bad day at all. I got some sympathy from my co-workers about my lousy vacation. Some of them had pretty bad ones, too.

I will end with a musing which my husband, Steven, mused on Sunday, about the time he was holding a towel on the cracked pipe in the bathroom and I was frantically on the phone with the plumber. “What,” he asked, “did we do to deserve all this?” I believe that calls for some half-baked philosophy suitable for Lame Post Friday. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Stopped by the Seine

So there I was, writing away at a post about a cheesy movie, when I began to write a sentence I had clearly written before. I completely remembered writing it. Those words were in my head, and I had put them there. Definitely. There was no way I could continue the sentence I was about to write next without using those very words again.

Why, you may argue, would that stop me? I repeat myself in this blog all the time, especially when I’m having any kind of trouble writing the damn thing. I argue back, in the first place, give me a break. In the second place, this sentence involved a murderer dumping a dead body into the Seine.

How many movies could that possibly have happened in? And how many of them could I possibly have seen recently? I was stopped cold.

Before I go on, a little background (another way to put this: in my defense). Earlier this week I experienced a flood. No, not as bad as other people have experienced (I’m also quite certain I’ve written about how there is always somebody who has worse problems than me), certainly not as bad as it could have been. But, still, a pretty bad experience.

I believe I mentioned briefly yesterday that some have believe I am handling it well. Oh, I am trying to. I really, really am. But at intervals, I suppose it’s bound to happen: not so much. I was having, as they say, a moment earlier today. Rather than write about it and look like I was making a colossal bid for sympathy, I decided to write about the cheesy movie I had viewed. Surely that was a good plan (and I’ll call you Shirley if I want to).

My first move, when I could move at all after coming to a complete standstill, was to go to the computer and search previous blog posts. Hmmmm… nothing that takes place in Paris, no place where I possibly could have mentioned the Seine.

After a couple of more distractions (when I have a moment, I really have a moment), I found the notebook I have been writing blog posts in for the past couple of weeks. On going through the whole thing (it’s not a big notebook), I found very few movie posts, none I did not remember, and no mention of the Seine. I sat and pondered.

At last I picked up the TV Journal. Oh. There it was. In a note I had made about the very movie I was attempting to write a post about. I tell you what, I felt so stupid about that, I almost had another moment.

But not quite, because I thought I could make a decent blog post about that silly writing crisis and then I would have two posts for the price of one. I ought to anyways, because I’ve taken a long enough time about this.

By the way, my moment is over. I’m back to handling things, if not exactly well (I’m not that competent), at least cheerfully and with a sense of humor. No need to make a colossal bid for sympathy. Thank you for bearing with me.