Archive for April, 2013

Opening the Cabin

April 29, 2013

Opening the Cabin

I went up in the middle of April to open my cabin. I called ahead to Greg Holley, the plumber who winterizes and UN-winterizes it. He has my key. I know how to un-winterize but I’m not strong enough to twist the water back on. I also called Aurora Salas to have her come on the first day and give it a thorough cleaning.


The dogs, Sparky and Louie, and I drove up the mountain. They love it up in Munds Park because I don’t have a doggie door so I take them for two long walks and a few short walks daily.

It was a bit frosty. The first morning it was twelve degrees when we went for a walk at six-thirty in the morning. Luckily there was no wind. I had on many layers so I wasn’t cold.


I had cranked up the heat in the living room before we headed out, so it was cozy when we returned. I drank many pots of Pu-er tea during the day while I worked on my short term job. I called parents to do interviews for Westat, a research company.  One day something like snow came down, but it was gaupel, that combination of hail and sleet. It melted.


All went well. Joe, the Railroad Man, called and we had dinner twice! That was more than I’d seen him in nine months. He jokes that his children call me the “made-up girlfriend.”

Walking the dogs I was able to see spring coming to the mountains:  the daffodils, tulips, and flowering trees.


On Friday night I went down to the Lone Pine to get some pizza in the bar. Before I went, I took the dogs for a pee break. I usually don’t lock my door, but I had a government computer with sensitive data, thanks to Westat. I had been warned about the dire consequences of the laptop being stolen. So I locked the door on my way out. I sat at the bar and talked with a young woman who was excited to have landed a job as a ranger at Slide Rock for the summer.

About 7:45 I headed back to the cabin. I felt around in my purse for the cabin keys. They weren’t there. The dogs were barking madly to let me know they wanted me inside and petting them. No problem, I had a hidden key. I had seen it the day I came up. I took out my phone and put it on the flashlight app. I searched but didn’t find the key. I guess one of the dogs might have knocked it between the slats of the deck. The dogs were making a horrendous racket. Good thing none of my neighbors were around.

I got back in my car and drove it around the block onto a cul de sac so the dogs would think I’d gone and stop barking. I couldn’t think with all their noise. That at least worked. What would happen if I couldn’t get in?  Poor puppies!

I wondered if I had Dave Kraemer’s phone number. He sold me my cabin. I thought I’d given him a key when I had some work done when I wasn’t there. I asked Siri, iphone gofer, to call him but there wasn’t an answer. I phoned my neighbor in Scottsdale, Donna, to see if she had another agent’s number from Pinewood Realty. While I was on the phone with her, Dave called back. He said he would be glad to go down to the office to see if they had my key, but he had had some wine and didn’t want to drive. I got his address and picked him up.

He wasn’t very optimistic about finding my key because I had called one time and told him where to find the hidden key last fall. He opened the office and looked in the box in his desk with the keys. Joy of joys!  It was there! But was it the right key? I’d replaced the door two years ago.

As we drove back to my cabin to open the door, he joked that when he sold a cabin, he came along with it. I’ll attest to that! The key opened the door. I took Dave back home to his lovely wife.

The puppies were apoplectically happy to see me. As soon as I sat down they jumped up and licked me. Now I never allow this, but I let them get one or two in before I reminded them that I knew where their tongues had been. All’s well that ends well.As we drove back to my cabin to open the door,

Battling the Bougainvillea

April 7, 2013

We had several hard frosts this winter in Scottsdale. I covered my plants in pots and they survived well. The perennials in my backyard came back with a vengeance with the mild weather of the past few week

IMG_0699IMG_0698The huge bougainvillea, which gives me with bright magenta blossoms almost year round, fared less well. It had many dead branches. There were green leaves on some new branches, so the plant wasn’t dead. It needed serious trimming.

I should admit here that I am not an arborist and hardly even a gardener. When a childhood friend was visiting a few years ago, I bought a serious long-handled clipper so she could trim the fichus tree, which has since died. I had misplaced the clippers, which gave me a good reason not to trim the bougainvillea when I should have, six weeks ago.

As I was on my weekly poop detail today, I found the clippers lying against the wall. Now there was no excuse. I took up arms and attacked. Bougainvilleas have nasty thorns. After a few slashes to my hands, I dug in the storage room and found thick work gloves. This protected by hands, but not my forearms or legs.

I did battle for about an hour. The bush won a few skirmishes, but I was the victor.  But what to do with the dead branches? The next day was garbage pickup, so I dragged my can into the back patio. As I stuffed the thorny branches into the can, I realized the garbage men would have a hard time emptying the can and would probably get scratched. So I snapped the branches into small pieces so the garbage can could be easily emptied. I got about one third of the detritus in the can. I’ll have to do this at least two more times over the next few weeks.

Some of the dead bougainvillea branches


Some of the dead bougainvillea branches

Some of the dead bougainvillea branches

When I got into the shower, I noticed my war wounds. I thought about what would be a better outfit than my nightshirt, to do the job. I decided the thorns would go through any of my clothes and they would probably end up ripped. I was careful to clean my scratches and apply antiseptic ointment after I dried off.

I went outside to admire my work. I was sorely disappointed that the bush had no shape at all. Well, it’s a climber and it’ll have fun running wild.


Newly trimmed bush

Newly trimmed bush

Fear of Failure

April 1, 2013

Fear of Failure

I consider myself a confident person. I’m proud of my accomplishments in the areas of education, writing, storytelling, parenting, and friendship. So why then did I gain fifteen pounds as I readied my newest book for publication? For me, sweets are the ultimate comfort food.

I thought about it and then had a session with a counselor before I gained a hundred pounds. My identity in my third (or fourth?) career is writer. I spend full time at it during the summer and a good bit of time in the other seasons. The nonfiction books I’ve written, published by established firms, got good reviews but the royalties wouldn’t pay the mortgage for more than a month or two. I published my memoir, As One Door Closes, on XLibris, a print on demand firm, when my agent got laudatory letters from publishers but no contract. I didn’t promote the book and it only sold 483 copies. No reviews.

I’ve spent the last five years writing, revising, and trying to sell my novel, Reinvented Lives. I went to writers’ conferences, sent query letters, etc. I did get two New York agents to read the whole thing, and they liked it. But they didn’t LOVE it. These days there’s no hope for a contract for a first novel unless an agent or editor loves it.

I went to a conference of the Southwestern Society of Authors in Tucson last fall. An author told how she had published her nonfiction book on CreateSpace which is part of and did it electronically for Kindles. She sold five or so copies a month until she allowed it to be free for Mother’s Day Weekend, when 22,000 people downloaded it! After that she sold ten to twenty copies a month. Although this is a hundred to four hundred percent increase, I wasn’t that impressed at the time but my paradigm has shifted.

Do I write to make money or to communicate to readers? Every writer I know has a secret desire to be on the best seller list, but I’m more realistic than to plan on that. I don’t count on making money from my writing. Heck, I write this column for free! I began to be dazzled by prospect of 22,000 readers.

Hence I got my teacher and literary friends to copy edit the book. Nothing screams amateur like misspellings or typos in a published book. My childhood friend is a graphic artist and she designed the cover. This should all be great but I was eating Oreo, ice cream and dark chocolate like the world was ending. Why?

It was a crisis of confidence. What if I got 22,000 people to download the book and even ten percent of them read it. Would they like it or laugh at it?

front cover of the book

front cover of the book

I got the proof for the paperback last week from CreateSpace and the spacing is weird on some of the pages. Both the right and left sides have to be justified and it made some of the lines space very badly. So I have to figure out how to solve that problem. I’m going to give myself a deadline of a week. So you should be able to buy a paperback copy the novel Reinvented Lives by Annie Weissman on in about two or three weeks. The Kindle version will out six weeks later Let me know what you think at