Monday, November 26, 2007

Notes on "Box"-ING

The great thing about being a kid is that even though there are innumerable toys - electronic, plastic, and otherwise - all you need to have a good time is a cardboard box. I believe that this remains true today, despite the number of high-tech gadgets available to even the tiniest of tots.

As a child, a cardboard box had unlimited potential. If a box were big enough - say, a refrigerator-sized box - it alone could be a fortress to play in and around. Many boxes of this size, tipped on their sides and lined in a row, could be a spooky tunnel. Smaller boxes could be stacked upon one another to create any number of structures. There were countless possibilities.

My most recent encounter with cardboard boxes had less to do with creative innovation than with necessity. I was moving and I needed cheap, temporary storage for my many possessions. Cardboard boxes fit the bill.

I collected Dole boxes from the grocery store and booze boxes from the saloon and filled them with crap until they were ready to burst. Each box was masting taped to secure its contents, then heaved into a mighty trailer for transport.

After serving their noble purpose, the boxes - some empty, some full - have come to occupy space in rooms throughout my new house. Last week, I built my first cardboard box tower, albeit inadvertently, as I stacked the boxes that were stapled in the bottoms and would require scissors to render flat. A few days before that, I created a cardboard box wall designed to prevent Ella from escaping the confines of the kitchen. After about 15 seconds behind the wall, Ella made a dramatic escape and the boxes fell to the ground.

I hope one day to put the cardboard boxes where they belong - packed away in the basement, keeping seasonal items safe from dust and damage.

But in the meantime, they will be whatever I need them to as I organize my new home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Road Reservations

A long-awaited lunch, purchased by my editor, is now sitting uneasily at the bottom of my belly. I continue on with my day, seemingly unawares that the grease-laden meal is slowly planning to wreak havoc on my arteries. Oh joy. But who can say no to a free lunch? Not me. In any case, I have been consuming more than my share of low-fat, low cholesterol Subway sandwiches (and chocolate chip cookies – uh, oh) lately so maybe the effects of this, my midday meal transgression, will be minimal. Things are winding down here and soon I will be on my way *home. I don’t much enjoy the trip *home. I am not accustomed to long drives and regard them as perilous, especially this time of year when weather can be spontaneous and creative in its crappy manifestations. Adding to my anxiety about this particular trip is daylight savings time, which thrusts my Grand Prix and me into the unwelcome darkness that much sooner.

But before I can even get on the road, I will have to unload some excess baggage from my trunk and my backseat: cleaning supplies and miscellaneous other items I brought home from the apartment last night and was too tired to unload at 9 p.m. Then I should really throw some personal items into a bag for the next few days. I won’t need much; I will only be home for two days. There are a few items that are imperative to the trip (glasses, contact lenses, my purse, gas money, maybe one nice outfit to wear on Thanksgiving), anything else (soap, underwear, socks, clothes that in general match) aren’t as important because the homestead continues to have many of these items in stock.

Then I will have to drop off the sunshine of my life, the consummate underwear inspector, Ella dog, at the Doggy Boarding House. Oh my sweet little Ella dog. I am feeling like a bad “mother” lately for having put her through such trauma as moving, then refining her to a cage in the nippy, three-season porch during the long workday. Next week things will be much more normal: I will be working eight-hour days and we can go for a nice walk over my lunch break AND after work. Unfortunately, try as I might to convey this to her, it is highly unlikely that she understands. If only it were as easy to breakdown as “Walk” or “Potty outside.” Despite her usual, unaffected, ever-optimistic demeanor, I have to believe the situation has been stressful on her, too.

The first day I left her in the new home, alone, unhindered. She chewed a hole in “our” bed comforter. Chewing anything other than a bone is not really part of her usual behaviour.

Again I feel guilt. Bad “mother.”

They like Ella at the Doggy Boardinghouse, and she is a brave little soldier when I drop her off. This experience, I believe, is more traumatizing for me, than for her. We will only be apart for a few days, but throwing yet another trauma right on top of the move - right on the heels of my “bad mothering” – I can’t help but feel guilty.

I know of course, she will be fine, and God-willing, so will I. Soon it will be time to hit the road. I better get ready.

*Home refers to the “Mother ship” or my “place of origins” in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Digs

As of this weekend, Nov. 17, I moved into a new place. It's a cozy little house on Birch Street. Could I sound anymore cliche? But its true - all of it - the "cozy little house" part and its location on Birch Street. I will have more to say about this when I have more time.

Thought Bulemia

OK. I am officially operating on pilot. I cannot think I cannot feel I can only move from one thing until the next until I get home for Thanksgiving tomorrow night/Thursday morning. My brain has reach maximum capacity. All new information will have to go on a waiting list. I will let the world know when I will be accepting new information again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Bane Of My Existence

Top 10 Reasons Why I am Stressed Out
10. Work. We are putting together a 16-page "special section" in addition to our three section edition next week, and we have one less day to accomplish this because of the Thanksgiving holiday. This is not even the result of poor planning, it is just how the cards fell.

9. Money. I am still trying to master my new budget (week four) and am not doing a very good job. I am staying pretty close to what the budget allows, but I think I may need to find a new way to spread the money so I don't end each second and fourth week with barely nothing in the allowabl-funds-I-can-spend category and two or more days before I get paid again.

8. Christmas. This could also fall under the "Money" Category. I am concerned about about saving some money to spend on gifts for my loved ones and friends.

7. Friends for Life. I didn’t get to go to the Pet CPR class I wanted to go to this week and I haven’t had time to call all of the Humane Societies I need to call for our calendar of events. The first publication is coming out and I really want things to go over well so maybe someday THAT could be my full-time job.

6. Ill relations with my soon-to-be former landlord. He is a dink and he is causing me a bit of stress and he is taking up too much of my time.

5. Family. Several members of my family are dealing with health related issues and it stinks.

4. Unpacking.

3. Moving.

2. Packing

1. Ella. How will naughty dog behave once she is in our new place. I am terrified that she will ruin something. We have never been in a “nice” nice place before. Real wood floors, fancy bathroom tiles. I cringe just thinking about her and the kind of damage she is capable of. It’s true, it’s small; but the number of things she could potentially wreck is infinite. Please, dear Lord, let her be a civilized little lady and not ruin this great new opportunity for us!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Best of Times

Heifers don't know it, but this is the best time of their lives. Frolicking in the fields with their friends. Running and playing. Eating. Life is carefree. But not for long. Soon they will be bred and turned into milking machines. They will probably have calving complications the first go 'round, and every move they make will be monitored. If they don't say healthy, provide ample, quality milk and good offspring, it's off to the salesbarn; or worse yet, the meat processing plant.

But today, they are heifers.

And it is good to be a heifer.

The Word Economist

Nov. 15 - It is almost an hour before Minnesota's First Lady is going to call ME to chat briefly about her newest acquisition - a butterhead carved in her likeness. A man I interviewed just called to go over the story I wrote about him. We tweaked a couple of things and as usual, I was thankful for the clarification. There are many areas of his field that are not second nature to me, and that can be painfully obvious in my writing. His feedback enabled me to make the story better, which is fantastic, but even better, he paid me what I deem a high compliment. He told me he liked my "prose" and that I was a word economist. I am a firm believer that the newspaper is no place for wordiness and highfalutin terminology. I was once informed that the average reading level of newspaper consumers was eighth grade. While I don't know that this is still accurate today, it was a "fact" that made me take pause. Big, beautiful words and colorful language has its place in literature and in magazines, but in newspapers I believe it only serves to alienate. This is not to say I don't like to paint a picture for my readers. I do. But too much paint on a canvas can ruin a lovely picture.

Monday, November 12, 2007

She's done it again!

Trish the Amazing has refreshed my blog layout, which is good, because even I was growing tired of looking at the saccharine sweet pinkness everywhere - althought I still loved the graphic. Trish is the multi-talented, superhuman, pretzel person. Men adore her and women want to be her. All bow down to Trish.

Did I mention Trish is the most witty person I know?