Putting Things Together

How were they taken apart, you ask?
Well, those of you who have been following my life this year (it’s hard. It’s been bouncing all over like a rubber ball) know it’s not the easiest year to deal with.

To begin with, it was always going to be a transitional year.  What I mean by that is that with both the boys graduating, and at least one of them for sure moving out of state, and the other one punting to our basement apartment till he found a job, (who knows where?) it was going to be…. oh, messy is a good term.

But then starting in January the year went …. interesting.

Come January we found that a lot of things might be delayed/take another direction.  And I got what felt like a cold from hell and had to get an asthma inhaler for the first time in years. (I’d been using mine so rarely that I actually hadn’t refilled in … two? years?)  I spent the first two months of the year kind of in a daze.

Which is a problem, because …. well, I had a book finished ready to edit, and three almost finished, and they should be out.  Yep, they’re still in the same state. Bear with me.

Just as I was recovering, we took one of our days off. This is known as the date night (It’s usually from twelve to eight or so, but roll with it, or just “We go to the museum/zoo/botanic gardens and out to eat.” (We haven’t done this since the lockdown, for various reasons. And I’ve found its’ not good for me.)  We got in our car to drive 20 minutes on the expressway…..  And an exit in, the car slowed to a crawl.  We pulled to the side just before it STOPPED cold.  We restarted it to get off the exit. I think that’s when we killed the engine.

Later we found what looked like a gasket in our driveway. I think it popped off, we were losing oil….

Anyway, RIP Old Blue, the expedition Dan bought me “practically new” (Seriously, we think retired corporate vehicle, a year old and very low mileage) for my 35th birthday because I was tired of ending up stranded by the side of the road with two toddlers, when one of our beaters went paws up. (In Colorado, with snow, this is not a happy-making feeling.)  And he knew my tendency to have furniture for refinishing follow me home, so he made sure it was a BIG car.

That car was the “away pod” in my kids’s spaceship games, and it took us everywhere.  Okay, fine, mostly to museums, zoo, botanic gardens, special exhibits and occasional lectures.  We’re not just geeks. We’re boring geeks. And I’m afraid we raised the kids in our idea of fun.  It also was the vehicle that after his last job search, my husband hauled a dresser that happened to be in pieces home to me.  I first knew he’d got the job when I heard the pieces hit the porch.  (Even in pieces it was something like $100 as it was a French antique dresser.  He’d said we’d get it if he got the job. Unfortunately I used it in the boys bathroom in the last house, and it was much the worse for the wear. Though we still sold it okay.)

ANYWAY if you do the math it was 23 years old, and we shouldn’t exactly have been shocked that it broke down, right?

Except that it died suddenly and without warning, and we’d been counting/hoping for one more year.  AND it cost us almost three weeks car shopping, to find something I was comfortable driving.

We had just bought it, when someone — glares at government in general, not that they’ll notice, since that’s pretty much my normal stance — thought it was a really good idea to — on the basis of the science fair project of the daughter of a FOB (Friend of Bush and no I’m not making this up) lock the entire nation up to prevent the fast spread of a respiratory virus.

The fact that the virus is far less lethal than advertised, had probably been here for months already, and that they had to leave stuff like grocery stores open, while smashing the economy with a hammer otherwise was just the icing on the cake.

Here I must confess I’m broken in a peculiar way. I can take any level of evil and nastiness. I just can’t handle either rudeness or irrationality.  Rudeness makes me spend weeks trying to figure out if I read it right/if I somehow caused it. Irrationally just drives me nuts. I keep trying to figure out HOW anyone can believe that nonsense, and end up tied in knots and unable to work/think/function.

So, you know, finding out that this virus could absolutely attack you in the open zoo where you normally don’t come within six feet of a living soul, but is completely innocuous in a pot dispensary or even a big grocery store, packed with people who all touch the same things?  I’m still not over the fact that government officials would make such ridiculous demands, or that PEOPLE FELL FOR IT instead of standing there, with middle fingers aloft.

That they keep piling on the contradictions hasn’t helped. And the new hotness of masks which actually stop nothing (99% of your home made masks) BUT do make breathing way harder, at a time when we all already know this is NOT THE SMALL POX and when death rates are falling straight down (and btw, the infections are going up, which means, yes, wayyyyy less lethal than even I suspected.)

I don’t like to see vast numbers of people acting irrationally. It made me wonder if I even understood the world at all.  Which made the writing stop.

See, where no writing has happened this year, besides blog and a very few PJM articles.

Partly as self therapy and partly because I don’t want new car hit by hammer of the gods sudden Colorado hail storm, and partly because I don’t know how long free laborer younger son will be nearby, I’ve been tearing the house apart and putting it back together. Or rather…. long story short, but we had enough wood to redo floors stacked in the garage for 2 years. And carpet in this house is mostly dirt held together by our imagination.  It was bad when we bought, and it got worse.  So, I’ve been laying down floors, and also rearranging things in basement apartment, so son can move in next week week and a half.

Needless to say, once you start on something like this, you get bright ideas on how to more efficiently organize your space. So, there is (ongoing) the great office swap of 2020.  My office was packed up a month ago. I painted and floored it, and husband took it for his office (kind of needed a better office, as he’s now working from home.)  We then emptied, painted, refloored his old office.  And when that was done, we moved the household management office into it.  That room has now been painted and floored, and I’m waiting for varnish to cure, before I move my office into it.

Still to be done are art/craft room, bedroom and guest room, oh, and family room.

But right now the big push is getting basement apartment done so son can move in.  My biggest issue there is the shower stall which was installed backwards and sideways by former owners and needs to be completely ripped up (It’s actually broken) and replaced.  I found a system I can install, but I’m terrified of installing the shower pan on the floor. I mean, I’d pay someone if I knew who’d do it. (Yeah, that bad.) I’ve seen it done and let’s just say me and making something level are kind of antithetical.

That said, things are taking shape. I’ll have an office next week, and maybe I can schedule time in it and actually finish the work that should have been done in January? (Would be nice.)

I really, really, really am going nuts from being unable to write. I know that finishing everything is probably going to take us into the fall, but I’m trying to shift the “rebuilding the house” to the weekends, so I can actually do some writing this year.

On the good side, we normally do this just before we move. We intend to stay put for four to five years more, so if I can get this finished, at least FOR ONCE we get to enjoy it, right?  And I’ll have an office organized the way I want it for the first time in twenty years.  That alone would be worth it.  I find a pleasant working environment helps. A lot.

Other good sides.  Younger son, who is a lot like me, says I’ve been lost for a while because my “framework” fell apart.  I.e. the previous house was not conducive to working in (My office was half the bedroom, which made it mentally untidy, if that makes sense) and I couldn’t establish routines.  He says he has the same problem with things that don’t fit quite right.  Well, I can’t promise, but we’re doing what we can, including getting rid of stuff we no longer need/use (to the charity store. I mean, we get a ton of stuff from there, so….) and organizing what we need in a way that makes sense to us.

Also, since everything was going to change, anyway, at least we have had an intervening time of total chaos.  And if you just went “Arooo?”  Well, you see, I have trouble with changes in routine. It’s somehow easier to go through a period of total chaos and set the routine anew, than to creep to new routine by incremental steps.

So….  At least I hope the taking everything part is done, and we’re putting things back together.

I can’t wait to get Another Rhodes (Android, sf/mystery), Winter Prince (space opera) and A Well Inlaid Death (Dyce Dare Mystery) out there at last.  I’m tired of the chaos of 2020.  One of us, myself or the year is going to win this.  I hope it’s me and I can be productive again.

Keep your fingers crossed.


17 thoughts on “Putting Things Together

  1. I really, really, really am going nuts from being unable to write. You seem pretty sane to me. *twitches*


    Yeah, I feel you on the uncertainty, and getting the right workspace set up.

  2. One of the things that I did, the first day I was put on work furlough, was to set up a schedule and make calendar notes.

    I have a schedule for every week, and I’ve checked off stuff and saved the schedules.

    I have a routine. It isn’t much of a routine-when I wake up, get out of bed. Breakfast, walk (not right now, right foot’s a bit banged up), exercise, shower, get dressed. Vacuum the carpets in the living room when the Parents are out. Bio-feedback training two days a week. Alarms set for bills that I have to pay, days when I need to file for Unemployment (and, I filed the DAY I was furloughed, so I got in just ahead of the curve), Going to have to start paying for my health insurance at the end of the month (out of PTO), set a date on the calendar.

    My brain and depression issues are not good right now, but I know I’d be in a lot worse shape without some points of reference.

    1. Without getting too personal, what does your bio-feedback entail? Do you need any equipment for it? I’ve been interested in bio-feedback for years, but didn’t know anyone using it, and figured trying to find out on my own via the Internet or books would be overwhelming and ultimately useless.

  3. I knew back in 2019 that this year was going to be messy. Family stuff. Not pretty. But going down for the count for about 2 months this year was… not what I expected, no. (Normally so long as I’ve had the vaccine, the flu only takes me down for a week.)

    The irrationality – yes. Drives the brain into knots. Been having a similar problem writing much besides blogposts. I have been writing, slowly, but getting 300 words on a draft when I’m used to being able to get 1K on a regular basis… it’s beyond frustrating!

    Still. Keeping on. There are accounts out that the Wu Flu is dropping below what can be qualified as an epidemic, by the CDC’s own standards.


    Now we’ll get to see if our government will live up to their own rules!

  4. I think that I am about to the point where I can afford membership in AAA again … since both of our family cars are … well, one is a total champ but 20 years old, and the other 16 years old … a good investment. At least, someone will have to come with a tow, the next time one of us winds up on the roadside in a non-functioning car.
    My occasional part-time employer begged me to come back part-time and gave me a raise. He sells ranch and potentially-commercial real estate in Texas.

    1. If you don’t have the $$$ for AAA, see if you can add towing to your standard car insurance. It might be cheaper (especially for multiple drivers). OTOH, if you need long range towing insurance, IIRC the more expensive AAA options go up to 200 miles or so.

  5. This sounds so familiar. The particulars may vary, but the basics are pretty much the same.

    The second weekend of November, 2019 was our last convention for the season. When we came home, I unloaded the van, did bookwork, then thought I’d be so productive during the five months before our first spring convention.

    The day before Thanksgiving, a powerful windstorm swept through the Midwest, bringing near-hurricane-force straight-line winds. Even indoors, the sound of it was pervasive, overwhelming. Then, as I was about to get up to fix lunch, there was a horrible crash and I realized the wind was blowing inside my office. I looked over to see the curtains blowing and a huge tree limb poking through the smashed window.

    So now I’m dealing with our insurance company and a contractor, getting the window boarded up and discovering there was also damage to the roof over my office, which then had to be tarped. So everything’s in disarray all December, while I try to be somewhat productive.

    In January the contractor finally starts making permanent repairs, and we think that within a few weeks life will be back to normal. However, the day after the new rubber roof is put on, we have heavy rain. I get up and go into the kitchen and realize the plinking sound I’m hearing is not a drippy faucet — it’s raining right there in my office. The crack in the ceiling has reappeared and is actively dripping rain. I grab the phone and call the contractor, and they come over and re-tarp the roof. The lead contractor gets up there, takes a look, and is very unhappy — the roof is bowing in the middle, and the roofer should never have done the re-roofing job.

    It turns out the roof is structurally deficient — unsurprising when one realizes the addition was put on by an amateur handyman, not a professional contractor. After much brangling with the insurance company, the contractor brings in a new subcontractor to completely reframe the roof, connecting it to the roofline of the original part of the house, then putting in a whole new ceiling and extending the walls to meet it. In order to do that, the whole room has to be emptied of every single item — every book, every paper, every computer and peripheral, every stick of furniture. In the process, one bookcase fell apart, and one computer’s PS died.

    And just when we had that wound up and started putting my office back together again, the whole CCP Flu ordeal started. In fact, the new glass was put into the window the week the first restrictions were going into effect. I was going around to thrift stores in search of furniture as they were beginning to reduce hours — and I was still without several items I needed when everything closed down. Worse, conventions were closing right and left, and I literally didn’t have any idea from hour to hour what would be happening.

    That was a period when I simply couldn’t concentrate or focus. I’d spend hours just sort of spinning my wheels. The only writing I was getting done was my various writing challenges. I finally got fed up enough to just start sorting and cleaning what I could, just to have one part of my life I could legitimately control. That and putting in a garden did help me get centered again, and I started an experiment in storytelling using one of the spare domain names I had on hand.

    Last month I was finally starting to get my stride back when we had the whole fiasco with our second biggest convention of the season first being Definitely On, and a mere week later, Not Happening. It threw me for enough of a loop that I was spending days spinning my wheels again. So I decided that I was going to take a novelette that had been sitting around in my files for far too long, get it finalized, and get it up on KDP. I did manage to get that accomplished, and now I’m struggling again to maintain concentration and focus — probably because we should’ve been on the road to Tampa right now, and instead I’m here at home, but it’s not an ordinary week either.

    There are times when I quite honestly wish I could just wake up and find out this whole year’s been one giant bad dream.

  6. I know I’m not as dislocated as some folks are as I’m used to having summers to myself (minus the class prep and research). But, my husband is now hanging out, OK, working from home, and that’s really distracting and to a degree discombobulating. We share an office and that means if somebody has a Zoom meeting the other one needs to be elsewhere. Fortunately, I’m done with that sort of thing now, but I’m trying to write while sitting on the living room sofa. Sort of OK, but not really. I am grateful my problems are not overwhelming, I am sending all good thoughts and prayers for the best outcomes possible for everybody.

  7. My 17 year old car — I pronounced it dead two weeks ago. (I had it taken it because “battery light” MIGHT mean something simple, but it wasn’t. Good. I was already wondering about whether to buy a new car when it went on.)

    New one in the garage as of Monday.

    COVID-19 makes car shopping — well, less interesting than you might think but still more so than in its absence.

  8. This all reminds me of 2001. When the world dropped into a Bizarro planet.

    I was semi-functional for most of the year – AND, well into the next. If it hadn’t been for the blogging world, I’d have gone mad.

    Fortunately, I was able to find some rational sites that didn’t blame BusHitler for everything, and actually were tied to reality. Eventually, I joined a blog-in-progress, and, when that died out, started my own site.

    Been doing that ever since.

    But, yes, I’ve been down for the better part of a year. I was just starting to get going with Medicare sales, when I got a HORRIBLE respiratory infection – was basically non-functional for almost 2 months (if I later find that I’d had C-19 then, it really wouldn’t surprise me a bit).

    Couple that with a knee injury in late October, that I’m still healing from, and it’s easy for you to see that I’d not been able to write for a LONG time.

    I finally jump-started the process with a non-fiction collection of my old blog posts. Right now, I’m just making the last edits, then – off to be edited, then get ‘er out there!

    I’m so thankful that I’ve apparently gotten past that long dry spell. I’ve even been itching to get back to the fiction work I had in process when all the SHTF.

  9. Health has been odd for me. Low energy in general, and I’m still adjusting to my new glasses. I’m taking the time to read to the kiddlies – The Three Billy Goats Gruff is the current favorite as I do voices. Hard to go from squeaky littlest goat to troll-grrr-y though. XD

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