Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: Complications (page 1 of 3)

Saturday, in Numbers

Alarms accidentally turned off instead of snoozed: 1
Breakfast visits with my brother: 0
Cars in the ditch before I reached the interstate: 2

Sets of keys to Mom’s car found in pocket: 1
Miles from home when said keys discovered: 9
Thanks to grandfather for letting me drop them off with him instead of driving all the way back home: 1,000

Average speed on I-75 north to Dayton: 60mph
Feeling of silliness at driving past the Dayton airport in bad weather to go another 1.5 hours to another airport, scale of 1-10: 9.5
Average speed on I-70: 40mph
Cars in the ditch along Ohio interstates: 8

Semi trucks in the ditch along Indiana interstates: 9 (!)
Cars in the ditch along Indiana interstates: more than 15
Times I swore after sliding into a snow bank: 7
Relief at no injury to myself or the rental car, scale of 1-10: 12.7

Minutes for which my car joined the ditch-party: 45
Men deserving awards for pulling my car out faster than I had any right to expect: 3
Hesitation on providing huge tip for the tow guys, in seconds: 0

Hang-ups returning rental car: 0
Total travel time to airport, in hours: 5.25
Minutes to spare catching flight: 20

Years I can wait before having a similar day: 1,000,000



I went to the library yesterday to return a few books and browse to see if there were any more worth checking out.  I found four, scanned them at the checkout, and came home, aware that Matt needed the car for work.

I just checked my library account online, and it doesn’t register that I have anything checked out.

I must have forgotten to click “finish” on the computer yesterday.

Does this mean I’ve stolen books from the library?  Should I call them and let them know?  I’ve already read two and a half of the books–would it really hurt if I read the other one and a half and took them all back tomorrow?

This has never happened to me before.

I feel sheepish.


The Ohio Chronicles

I mentioned briefly at some point that I was headed to Ohio to visit family, and that is where I’ve been.  Aren’t you glad I’m not a liar?

The flight and everything surrounding it went well on Thursday, and we (my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew) spent Friday morning at the doctor’s and then the zoo, the latter of which was lots of fun for everyone.  Friday evening and most of Saturday, the lovely, brilliant theologian Marva Dawn was a guest speaker at a conference hosted by my brother’s church.  That was a great deal of fun as well as being educational and though-provoking, AND my high school English teacher was there, so I got to chat with her for a few minutes.

As if that weren’t enough excitement, on Saturday morning we were all woken by the beeps, clangs, and rumbles of heavy machinery–William is firmly in the phase of fascination with all kinds of trucks, and he stood transfixed for several hours as the men ripped out the old, ugly cement stairs in front of the house.  I say “stood,” but there was also a fair amount of dancing, wiggling, and jumping up and down in excitement.  I took pictures, but they really don’t compare.

Sunday morning and half the afternoon was church, as usual, and then I ran to the grocery store while the house turned into The Napping House, and I made a giant cookie for a dessert pizza that they took to a picnic in the evening.  I, on the other hand, drove up to my parents’ house and had dinner with my parents, grandfather, and aunt and uncle.

Returning to Saturday night, I babysat for William while Nathan and Johanna went out to dinner, and after a screaming bedtime routine, William went to sleep within minutes of my turning out the light.

And then I embarked on the Horrific Computer Transfer.  I didn’t know that’s what it would be when I started.  If I had, I might have made more demands.  You see, I helped my mother switch from Windows to Mac about a year and a half ago, and she’s never been entirely happy with it.  That’s okay–I’ve always acknowledged that there are some people for whom Windows works just fine, and my mom is one of them.

So, since I was planning on being in the area for a while, I offered to help her buy a new PC and switch her files back over while I’m here.

Because I like sticking forks in my eyeballs for fun.

Also, Matt and I get the old MacMini when I go home.  (Yay more computers!)

At any rate, after I put William to bed Saturday night I went about setting up both computers so that I could get down to the work of the switcheroo.  It went well for a while, and then I ran into trouble with transferring files, since I couldn’t get both machines online at the same time with any kind of ease.  So I found a blank cd, burned the files I needed to transfer, and loaded most of them on the new computer.  I knew the email files weren’t going to be very nice, so I saved them for last.

Suffice to say that I am having problems.  There’s not a lot of documentation online about switching from Mac back to PC, and the vast majority of THAT is from OS 10.3 or earlier, which is just ridiculous since we’re on 10.6 now.  Mail files look like mboxes, but aren’t any more; the emlx-to-mbox converter I tried to use didn’t work; and before I even got to that point there were several hours in which I was moderately concerned that I might have lost all my mother’s emails entirely.  That is significant both because she does a lot with email and keeps a lot of things saved there, and also because it would have been an idiotic thing for me, of all people, to do.  I was going to try to convert using Thunderbird as a “translator” since it runs on both platforms, but I have been thwarted at every turn there, too.

I am beginning to seriously consider more drastic (and seriously annoying) actions.  Also, as a pre-emptive strike here, in this entry I have not even begun to give details either on the situation or on what I’ve tried to do (literally just about everything.  I’m more thorough than most people.), so general “have you tried this?” comments probably won’t be greeted with much grace at this point.  If you have extensive experience specifically with moving obstinate Mac Mail version 3.6 files into Windows Mail, feel free to send me a private email.  Otherwise, commiseration and rantings about how idiotic the technology world can be are most welcome from everyone.

That about sums up my visit so far: good times with family, lots of fun, and ongoing desires to scream at computers.

I’ll try to post some photos tomorrow.  In the meantime, look out for an Exciting Announcement!  (Don’t get too excited, though.)


Patience, please

For those of you actually reading this via my website rather than Facebook or a feed, you might notice that the blog is lacking in its usual visual charms.

This is because after several hours of wrestling with the back-end software update that runs the blog, I have emerged victorious but not unscathed.  In other words, I lost my pretty themes, but I’ll get them back soon.

Just not tonight.  Maybe not tomorrow either.

I promise you can handle it until then.


I promise.


The Amazing Exploding Blog Post!

Those of you who are Facebook and/or Twitter friends already know about our flaming oven, but I thought it was worth more than a couple of 160-character update.

Once upon a time (read: Friday evening) a we were at home after a busy day of doing our various busy things. In fact, we were only home for a little while, as Matt was shortly expected at a friend’s house for poker night and I was expecting friends (mostly wives of those at poker) to arrive for a girls’ night in. He planned to eat while playing poker; I fell back on a perennial staple, chickie pa’ pah (read: chicken pot pie). I pre-heated the baking pan for a nice crispy bottom crust, wrapped tin foil around the edge to prevent burned edges, and set my handy-dandy kitchen timer for the requisite baking time.

About five minutes before the timer was supposed to go off, as I was reading on the couch, I heard a faint “pop pop pop-pop” from the kitchen. It sounded a lot like microwave popcorn, but quieter. Maybe something *else* exploding in the microwave?

So I asked, “Matt, are you cooking something in the microwave?” My tone was rather skeptical because, as you may remember, Matt was expecting to eat later and he’d already had a snack.

“No, but you have something in the oven,” he said, as if I were a rather slow four-year-old who would forget that my supper was cooking even though my stomach was trying to eat itself at that point. (I love you, sweetie.) I extremely reluctantly marked my spot in the book, got out from under my cozy blanket on the couch, and went to check on my pot pie, just in case something very odd had happened and it was boiling over.

I feel it necessary to mention that never in all my years of cooking Marie Callender’s most excellent individual chicken pot pies has one of them bubbled over, much less gotten past my tin foil rim AND the baking sheet to make ploppy sizzles on the oven floor that will bake on and set the fire alarm off in a week or so. But I stopped reading and went to check on it Just In Case, secretly hoping the popping noise (which had been going steadily for several minutes since I’d noticed it) was the result of something silly Matt had done and forgotten about. Because I did not want my pot pie to be ruined. I was hungry.

A quick glance through the oven window showed nothing amiss with the pot pit, but a bit of extra brightness down in the front corner of the oven. Maybe something else ran over and now caught fire?

I opened the oven door, and blinked several times.

Me: Um… Matt? The oven is on fire.

Matt (in the living room, unconcerned): That’s not good.

Me: No. The oven is on fire. The metal is flaming.

Matt scurried to my aid with satisfying speed, and by the time he got there I had turned off the oven and was staring in consternation at the heating element, which had actually broken. One end was black (and presumably cool, though we didn’t touch it) and the other end was glowing angry red and shooting off sparks at the end. And flaming, of course. Just a bit at the end, not the whole thing. Maybe a half-inch of the metal was actually flaming, and it wasn’t particularly a huge flame. Maybe an inch tall. But it was in our electric oven. In case you have never used an electric stove before, flames are really quite bad.

Anyway, the oven knob was now turned to “off”, which I expected to mean that the red-hot-ness and the yellow flaming-ness and the throwing off sparks-ness would dissipate. But they didn’t. There was more redness and a bit more flaming, though it did stop sparking as the white-hot area immediately inside the flame began to travel slowly away from the broken end and toward the power source. It was like a very slow magnesium burn.

It was also very alarming.

Matt tossed a cup of cold water on the heating element to cool it down.

Safety note: in retrospect this was a STUPID STUPID idea, but we really thought no power was running through it. Actually, we weren’t really thinking at all. As I mentioned, we were rather alarmed. I am very glad I was not there alone. Regardless, please don’t follow our example. The water did nothing anyway, except run down into all my cake pans in the bottom drawer and then onto the floor in a huge rusty puddle that I had to clean up later.

So the water (STUPID IDEA!) was ineffective, and the flame was still burning its way along the heating element and Matt realized this was all going to go south very fast and he started pulling the stove out from its little nook in the counter so I could reach back and unplug the whole thing.

Everything calmed down right away, and I called my Mommy to tell her we didn’t burn the down the building. Matt sent the landlord an email rather apologetically informing him that we need a new stove (which is supposed to be delivered sometime on Wednesday), and we proceeded with our evening as planned.

For those who are interested, my chicken pot pie was not fully cooked (evidence that perhaps there had been issues for some time before I noticed them) and when I put it in the toaster oven to finish cooking I was completely mistaken in my estimate of how much time it needed–and it ended up charred and mostly inedible anyway. I had ice cream, popcorn, and peanut m&ms for dinner.

Don’t judge me. My oven tried to blow up.

In other news, this week will effectively mark the end of my day job. It hasn’t been the job I signed on for since the middle of June or so, and it’s an entirely amicable parting–in fact, I suggested that it was time for them to stop employing me, given various circumstances. So we will have a test period of me being a Real Writer, complete with external accountability checkpoints because I am like a greased weasel if I try to keep myself on track. And if I, you know, finish things and send them out and sell them, I have permission not to get another day job in the foreseeable future. Woohoo!

Also, I am close to insanely jealous of Neil Gaiman’s library. Close.



It seems that every so often–sometimes longer, sometimes shorter–I find it necessary to step back and refocus. People who don’t know me very well laugh when I give them my standard self-description: tall, blonde, and easily distracted. “Easily distracted?” they say, “You read huge books in one sitting!” As if that’s the pinnacle of focus and attention. Seriously, people, I read books in one sitting (or as close as I can get) because if I don’t, I’ll get distracted, put it down and more than likely forget I ever intended to finish it. And because it’s a convenient way to be distracted from other things I’m supposed to be doing.

Sometimes I’m conscious of allowing distractions to edge their way in, and other times I look up and realize I have no idea how I got so far off track.

So I’m refocusing. Matt’s out of town again this week on a nice long wilderness backpacking trip courtesy of Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, so I’ve got plenty of time and space to clear out the mental cobwebs.

Family: Happily, one of the aspects of my life that hasn’t slipped much lately. Goal is to maintain and deepen time/interaction with family.

Career: Two aspects of this, the writing and the day job. As the day job looks much different now than it did 6 weeks ago, and looks more and more likely to disappear sooner rather than later, I can dedicate more time to the writing. In the current job market, I’m leaning toward investing myself in writing rather than wasting time and energy trying to find a nonexistent position. Regardless, I need to set short and long-term goals for my writing, and I need to find someone to crack the whip and make me stick to them once I set them.

Finance: We spend more money than we ought. We have a peculiar financial situation, and it often results in a rather lax view toward budgeting and savings. I’m taking steps to adjust our mentality on that, beginning with trying out the service.

Health and Wellbeing: I caught up on sleep last week, and it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve also gotten myself swimming semi-regularly at the apartment complex pool. I’m working on setting up a regular time to take Shiloh to the dog park, which gives us both exercise, and I’m really really (really) going to recommit to my WiiFit schedule.

Recreation: Much of this also falls under exercise, since much of our recreation is active, but I’m making sure I block out time for reading. We also got an XBOX 360 recently, and Fable 2 allows us to log into the same game together and kill bad guys. I’ve STILL got a big unfinished quilt that needs to be completed. And I do very much like meeting people for coffee.

Personal: I am learning about the care and keeping of cacti (turns out they do best in steady, diffused light, not direct sunlight, so Bob2 is back in the office) and I am contemplating installing a window-box-style herb garden on the porch railing, if I can be reasonably assured I won’t kill them all. My writing definitely counts in this category, too, for a variety of reasons.

Friendship: I generally operate with a bit more distance than some people in terms of friendships, so once I plug back into my “usual” sources of information and communication, there’s not much of a course correction that’s going to happen here. There are a few people, though, who I want to be better friends with, and I’ll be intentional about getting together with them.

Community: For all intents and purposes, the church congregation serves as our community. I’d love to get more connected in the neighborhood and the town eventually, but right now it’s just not possible. I’ll be keeping an eye out, though, and laying the foundation to move on that when the time is right. Meanwhile, maintaining relationships with people in the church, our small group, etc., are the standard.

Household: Goal is to do a general sweep of the house every night to tidy up – clean the kitchen, run the dishwasher if necessary, put the stuff that always lands on the dining room table away, corral the dog toys, find the remotes, etc. Once a week laundry and vacuum, and we’ll be cutting back drastically on eating out.

Spiritual: This one’s between me and God, but it’s definitely part of my consideration in refocusing and being deliberate about how I spend my time.


Just Keep Swimming. . . .

Maybe I should just rename my blog. Something like “One Million Reasons Betsy Doesn’t Blog Regularly”. That would be appropriate.

Since my last set of excuses, work stuff has gotten sorted out (which required quite a few hours of meetings to finally settle on, and will probably be completely reworked again this week), but it made this a rather stressful week. Add some . . . hmm. We’ll call it “excitement”. That’s a nice word that can encompass both good and stressful things . . . from Matt’s half of our world, meetings, a dinner with friends, two barbeques, and the usual church obligations, and I’ve felt a bit stretched this week.

This week looks much the same; dinner tomorrow night with folks who are becoming good friends, band rehearsal Tuesday, going-away shindig for friends on Wednesday, and preparation for a weekend retreat from Friday midday through Sunday. Plus my usual work stuff, a resolution to get my tush back in gear on the manuscript work, and putting together the kernels of ideas that will grow into the sermon I’m preaching in late August at church.

Bob2 was looking rather sickly after several weeks out on the porch railing, so we brought him back inside, since he seemed to thrive there. Fingers crossed that I haven’t killed another one.

Speaking of being busy, I should get ready for dinner tonight with our small group so when dessert comes out of the oven I’ll be ready to get in the car and head over.


If I Only Had A Brain

I haven’t posted in quite a while. That is in part because work has been a bit strange lately; in part because Matt was home for a very brief period last weekend and most of the time was spent getting him and his stuff ready to turn around and leave again; and in part because my mom flew in on Tuesday morning to keep me company (and keep me sane) through the last bit of Matt’s Huge Month of Being Away.

So, what have I been up to? Not as much as I wish. I’ve taken Shiloh to the dog park regularly, spent time with some good friends, and am currently reading Jim Butcher’s FURIES OF CALDERON, which I like very much thus far.

My boss hasn’t been doing all that well lately. . . for a while it was just general fatigue, but recently that translated into a couple of falls when he was at home, and he is currently in the hospital for a little while as a result of that. I haven’t spoken with him directly, but the latest news I got was that the doctors are confident that he will recover fully, though he won’t be leaving his home for a week or possibly more. On the one hand, it’s nice to not have to work while Mom is visiting; on the other, I sincerely wish that condition were not a result of Vernon’s injuring himself.

So that’s what’s happening with me. Shiloh’s still cute; Bob2 is still alive out on the porch, as best I can tell. And Matt comes home tomorrow afternoon! Woohoo! I get my husband back!

Time to go and finish reading the book. It’s “due” back to the generous soul who lent it to me on Sunday. (He knows that without a deadline, things tend to languish on my To-Read Shelf. Smart boy.)


Laptop Concession

The Apple Store guy called this morning, and I’ve officially decided not to ream them out about the problem because, as some of you know, I talk a great game when I’m annoyed about something but when it really comes down to it I’m far too laid-back to get really upset about much of anything. I mean, really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s okay for me to be without my laptop for a week. It’s better than being without food for a week or being in a car crash or any number of other things I would care about a great deal more. This is the problem with having a well-balanced perspective of the world and realizing your life is pretty darn good, even with its annoyances: you never quite get worked up enough to twist someone’s arm, even when they might deserve it.

Anyway, they’ll call me when it’s ready and I assume Matt will pick it up while I’m in Nashville. They’ll have to wait for the fan to come in, and all in all it’s just so much easier to leave it with them that I’m not going to worry about it.

I’ll be plenty entertained in the meanwhile.

I need to be intentional about packing my luggage tonight; I did put together a packing list yesterday (as opposed to opening my standard list, which is on my laptop, of course) and most of the laundry is done, so things are in fair shape.

It seems like I had something else to say, and it must have been at least moderately interesting, but I haven’t a clue what it is now.

Ah, well. Have a nice week while I’m gone.


Laptop Woes and Fabric Balm

You might remember my description of the alarming noise my MacBook was making last week, and how they said they fixed it but, in fact, did NOT.

Well, I caved and turned it back in to the repair folks, on the off chance that they can fix the whole thing by 8:45pm tomorrow, because otherwise I will have to refrain from using it in the airport or on the plane or any other place where people might be disturbed by the sound of a turbine engine preparing for takeoff. It is possible for me to survive for an entire week without the internet; it is even possible for me to survive without my laptop (though admittedly harder). But it is not preferable, given the state of my various projects and the fact that I assume I’ll be doing a fair amount of research online about the various nearby things to do in Nashville. Or maybe I’ll just take the AlphaSmart and let Mom be all retro with her printed tour books and maps on folding paper that are kept in the car. We shall see.

At any rate, I was rather thoroughly annoyed at the Mac repair schedule and myself (for not caving earlier, when it would have been less of a problem to get things fixed before I leave) and generally disgruntled at the whole situation, but fortune is on my side once again, because one of the things I’ll be doing in Nashville is making a quilt, which means I got to buy fabric. One forgets, when it’s been this long between buying project fabric, how very nice it is to go into a quilting shop and have all these beautiful, lovely choices, and be able to think of zillions of ways to put them all together into something fantastic. Some people, when they’re upset, go clothes shopping. Me? Books and fabric. Yes sirree. That’s all I need.

And this evening is now devoted to laundry; first, the new fabric I bought, and then the regular laundry so Matt doesn’t end up walking around in dirty clothes by the end of next week. I’ll also be ironing the new fabric, which means the dog will be in a state of anxious near-panic for the entire evening. She is NOT a fan of the ironing board, but we do not know why. So it goes.

If I get my laptop back tomorrow, I’ll blog from Nashville. If not, I’ll catch you all in a week.

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