Repairs and Maintenance- -part of the ever-changing scene of widowed life.

Some weeks are theme-driven. This week’s theme is repairs and maintenance.


Counting Saturday as the first day of my new week, I took on the repair of a short story with a submission deadline on the following Tuesday. I met Saturday afternoon with my critique partner, aka the Line Editor from Hell. A lively discussion ensued. In a story stylistically inspired by Carl Sandberg’s Rootabaga Stories (if you’re not familiar with these, you can learn more here: ), I’d chosen to use lots of repetitions, also to capitalize some common nouns as proper nouns (Artful Local Photographer, Two Best Friends, etc.).


The Line Editor from Hell (I’ll call him Martin because that’s his name) thought the repetitions were effective but balked at the creative capitalizations. “It makes it seem as if you’re making fun of your own story,” he said, or words to that effect. Eventually, I decided he was right. And so, on to repairs, or, in writer-speak, revision.


I awoke Sunday morning (aka Easter) to a magical transformation. Overnight, the kitchen floor had become Lake Matley! Already a plumber had been engaged for the next day, to replace the inventive but non-functioning innards of the guest room toilet (a Rube Goldberg-reminiscent improvisation noted in this blog last week). In the meantime, I oh-so-sadly forfeited my usual Sunday morning occupation, cleaning the house; the more I thought about it, the less possible it seemed without the kitchen sink, central to cleaning activity. Instead, I worked in the yard (something I longed to do anyway) and repaired my spirits by eating half of a gigantic cinnamon roll for breakfast instead of making a smoothie which would have required washing the blender jar in the bathroom sink (yuck!).


Monday saw the resolution of both plumbing issues, also the submission of my story to the competition at Sixfold ( ). I rarely enter literary contests, but this one caught my attention because it provides at least six critiques for each story submitted, all for the low entry fee of $5. Each competing author is required to read six short stories (not their own) in each round and rate them from best to- -not. Each entry, depending on how far it rises in three rounds, will receive at least six and as many as 78 critiques! It’s like workshopping a short story for the price of a double skinny mocha. Major repair/revision score!


To relieve the physical strain of yard work and desk work (not to mention the stress-induced tension of being recently widowed) I had a massage on Wednesday. I’ve been having some nerve pain on my left side and hoped to get some of that unraveled. After telling the massage therapist about my recent change in status and everything it entails, she nodded wisely and said the body takes on what the mind can’t process. I woke up the next morning with no aching joints and considerably less nerve pain for the first time in months. Usually I would consider a massage to be maintenance, but this time, given the significant result, I’m counting it as a repair. (And yes, I’ve seen my doctor about the nerve pain- -coordination tests and labs revealed nothing but a slightly low-functioning thyroid.)



Later that day I took Doc Holliday, my beagle-dachshund 4-legged kid, to the vet for a claw trim. As a breed (or two) designed to dig holes in search of, for example, badgers, his claws are naturally long and fast-growing. They are also black, which makes it impossible to see where the quick is. In olden days, Bruce served as dog pedicurist while my function was official dog holder. Instead risking a solo attempt that could well result in a blood bath for poor Doc, I instead took him to his friends at Mill Creek Veterinary for pedicure maintenance.


Speaking of maintenance, yesterday I made appointments for my annual exam and mammogram. I’m only going to say this once: people, get those routine screenings done regularly! Fifteen years ago my routine mammogram turned up very early signs of breast cancer. Even now I enter radiology with a feeling of dread, but also with the assurance that I’m doing my best to stay healthy.


The Subaru is next on the maintenance list, due for an oil change. A little voice inside me (probably Bruce) said to check the mileage the last time the Subaru was serviced. Bingo! It’s just shy of the 3,000 mile mark.


Honestly, it can take all day keeping up with houses and stories and bodies and pets and vehicles, and that’s a good thing. I’ve always liked a full schedule and now it’s more important than ever to keep busy and engaged in life. In addition to repairs and maintenance, I’ll also add rehearsals. May 12, the date of my presentation for the Fort Walla Walla Museum Living History program, will be here before you know it:


One thing I’m taking off my “do” list: I’m changing the status on my CPA license from active to retired. I haven’t worked in any sort of accounting for twelve years, so there’s really no need to keep the license active. With this change in status, I can use the title “CPA-Retired” if I really want to, though it’s not likely to impress editors or literary agents. The main thing is, I will no longer be required to complete 120 credit hours of continuing education every 3 years. Because. . .


. . .who has the time?

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