Betsy Whitt

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

Category: Good Things (page 2 of 7)

My Stupid Brain Won’t Let Me Sleep Until I Type This

Sometimes, when I go to bed, my brain keeps trying to think of things I should take care of. Some nights, I just tell it to shut up, and it does, and I go to sleep, and if it’s important I’ll remember it in the morning.

Tonight is not one of those nights. I have been trying to tell my brain to shut up for quite some time, and it is not obeying my demands. I got up and wrote down things I need to take care of tomorrow, including taking a payment to the dentists’ office (quicker to drop it off than mail it) and exchanging the jeans I wore once before the seams started pulling in a rather unfortunate location (no, I did not get the wrong size; there seems to be a fluke in manufacture).

Not even my clever going-to-sleep trick is working. I would tell you about said clever trick, but that’s beside the point and rather confusing to explain at any rate.

The point is that I have decided that I have a goal for August.

I’m sorry, but that’s all I can tell you. I have a goal, and I will complete it before the month of August ends. It’s demanding. If it wasn’t, I could tell you more about it. But this way, I retain the element of surprise AND the possibility of evading the acknowledgement of a crushing defeat if I don’t quite reach it. Which won’t happen, but it doesn’t do to be unprepared.

There will be smaller goals associated with this large, demanding, quite-honestly-rather-frightening-and-makes-me-want-to-cower-in-a-hole-rather-than-think-about-it goal, and those I will very likely talk about and, (*gasp!*) even ask for some accountability on, but the end goal? The thing I will announce that I have accomplished by September First in the Year of Our Lord’s Grace 2010?

That will remain a secret.

And now, I bid you all good night.

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An Update That’s Not Actually Up To Date

I actually wrote this on June 14th. Well, as long as we assume that “this” means everything in this entry after this paragraph, which I am writing today (July 19). Which means that even though I am posting it now (more than a month later), I am still behind on keeping anyone at all up-to-date on what’s going on. I can say, however, that thus far my predictions about how the summer would continue have been pretty much spot-on. Last month’s news is better than no news!

It’s been an appallingly long time since I posted an entry here. In my defense, I did predict that busy-ness would overtake our life before I went dark a few months ago. (No, really, I did. Except now I can’t find the entry. Drat! I still maintain that I predicted it.) What I didn’t predict was how very busy I would be.

You see, stuff with Matt’s job sort of blew up a little bit, with the end result being more responsibility for him to shoulder in the middle of an already very busy semester. Thus, my job search was aborted before it even really began, and I have spent the last several months being the wifey-est wife you ever saw. I have even been doing the dishes. Sometimes. I have also been cooking and cleaning and chauffeuring and running errands. I did pretty much all the research for buying the car we added to our family, and then took care of all the ensuing complications that having a new-used car presents.

I planned our vacation (we stayed in Pagosa Springs, CO, and explored a big portion of the SW corner of the state) and did a lovely job of it, if I do say so myself. Four or five days after we got back, I flew out to the east coast to surprise my brother for his 30th birthday and had a nice time visiting with family at the North Carolina beach. And I got a tan. Sort of. As much of a tan as I ever get. Seriously, my freckles are closer together. I swear.

June 4th was our fifth wedding anniversary, and at some point we’re planning to go out to a nice dinner to celebrate. We’ve just been too busy so far. We did cook ourselves a nice dinner that night and had a movie date at home.

Otherwise, I’ve continued with the usual church activities, both worship team stuff and preaching stuff. I also went to a women’s conference with some of the ladies from Bible Study last weekend, which was well worth it. I’ll be chewing over some of the teaching for some time, which is a good thing. I’m also preaching this Sunday, which means sermon prep will take up some of my time this week.

Life isn’t going to get less busy any time soon, either: this weekend a good friend is coming to visit for a few days. I’ll be serving as camp nurse (i.e. I get the first aid kit) and cabin mom for one of the senior girls’ cabins at the church’s weeklong camp up in Wyoming for the week that bridges June and July. My cousin is getting married two weeks after that, and I’m looking forward to flying to Atlanta for the wedding. In August, one of Matt’s sets of parents will visit us for several days, then taking off on a driving trip for several weeks before they fly home, and my parents will be visiting a few weeks later, around Labor Day.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what’s happening, but I doubt it will be any less busy. Maybe one day I’ll actually have time to look for a day job, even if I won’t subsequently have a calm enough schedule to keep it. We’ll see.

In between all that chaos and traveling, I’ve hardly done any writing at all. I’m also behind on several projects that I expected to have made progress on by now. It’s frustrating and a bit discouraging, but thus far I haven’t given up. With any luck, I’ll be able to establish a better schedule that will allow me to get all the housewifey things done AND take care of my own projects without killing myself. Hope springs eternal.

I think it’s about time for me to stop babbling for now. I’ll see what I can do about posting more often. Life is still very busy, but not as insane as it has been for the last few months.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up with some funny stories about my time at the DMV. Which is where I’m sitting as I type this. Unfortunately there isn’t a wifi network here, which means I’ll have to remember to post this when I get home, but we’ll hope it doesn’t take long to finish up here.

Once again, hope springs eternal….

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Flattered, But Baffled

I have a confession to make. I check this blog’s stats almost as often as a published author checks their Amazon ranking. I like numbers, I like seeing trends, and I really like bar graphs that make everything super-easy to see. And the last few days? I have had some record-breaking individual visitor stats–and I really don’t know why.

Are new Dyson vacuum cleaners and massive amount of popcorn so interesting? I really don’t know! But I’m flattered, and I hope I can keep doing whatever it is that’s drawing people in. Because, you know, it’s all about the blog stats. They are like internet popularity crack.

In random news, I’m preaching again this Sunday (Palm Sunday! It’s late on Thursday night and I haven’t actually written anything yet! Panic!) and I got my last two packages today!

This translates more or less to me squeeing with glee over all my new kitchen gadgets, and it also means that everyone who ordered things from my recent Pampered Chef party will be getting those things delivered soon–most likely on Sunday, since I actually think I’ll see everyone by then. Hmmmmm.

Tomorrow? Writing a sermon, lot of laundry, washing the new kitchen gadgets (and the kitchen they now belong to), and maybe a few other semi-top-secret things. Which mostly means I’m too lazy to go into details here, not that anything all that exciting is happening.

Also? I have been thoroughly enjoying Assassin’s Creed 2, and I sincerely hope to kill more people tomorrow. And loot more treasure chests. Really, people are begging to be robbed when they put chests full of money out in the garden or on their completely unguarded balconies. But hey, it works for me!

With any luck, I will still be sane by Sunday afternoon–which would be good, since Matt and I get to tell our life stories at small group that night.

Time for bed! Sweet dreams, all.

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On The Benefits of Ordering Things

I didn’t particularly think about it a few days ago when I posted last, but last week I managed to spend money ordering several things.

You might ask, “What did you order, Betsy? Clothes?”

To which I would laugh and laugh and laugh, because I learned a long time ago that mail-ordered clothing rarely fits me well. I have rather freakishly long limbs, you see, at least compared to my other relevant dimensions, so it’s rather hit-and-miss… with more misses than hits.

So, if not clothes, then what? Okay, so it’s not much of a mystery to those of you who follow my twitter feed or are my facebook friends. Work with me, people!

At any rate, what does someone like me order online and then follow the tracking info incessantly??

1) A vacuum cleaner! Huzzah! Yes, I am excited about a household cleaning device. It has SUCTION, oh yes it does. It pulled dirt from our “clean” carpet–a lot of dirt. And it empties about a hundred times easier than our old one. Matt was walking around in his bare feet after I did the living room today and he said the floor actually felt cleaner under his toes. And he’s right! I’m not even making it up! It’s also accented with super-electric blue, which nobody can be sad about.

Yes indeed, we have a Dyson DC17 “Asthma and Allergy” model, which is apparently just the same as the “Animal” model except you get different attachments in the package and it costs $50 less. No, we didn’t pay the extra $150 for the roller-ball model. Yeah, I’m a little sad, too, but there are better places to spend that money. But really. You should come to my house and put in some time on this vacuum. It’s wonderful.

With such excitement to start out, what else could I possibly have ordered? What can stand up to the Dyson DC-17???

This Christmas one of the gifts I gave Matt was a multi-pack of gourmet popcorns. Three different varieties. One of them in particular was so good that we realized we’d be perfectly happy eating it all the time instead of the popcorn we get from the grocery store–and having looked it up on their website, we realized it wasn’t really more expensive than said generic kernels. We waffled a bit about the very real possibility that we are becoming popcorn snobs, but then we caved to the snobbery and decided to order.

Then life exploded and we forgot. Until last week. When we were out of popcorn. Well, out of good popcorn. So I hopped online to order more of our favorite variety. Matt, upon learning that the company had a number of types of popcorn that we hadn’t tried yet, asked me to see if there was a variety pack of some kind to try a few more. And since we already knew that we loved the one type, I also ordered the biggest container they offer of it–after all, if we’re mail ordering, I’d rather do it less often.

It wasn’t until I’d all but placed the order (deciding shipping options) that I realized that ordering 31 pounds of popcorn kernels might have been a bit much, but I wasn’t about to back down then!

So, along with the vacuum cleaner, our popcorn arrived today. What does 31 pounds of popcorn look like, you ask? Like this!

And just in case you’re shaky on how much that is, here’s a standard paperback (and one you all should read, fwiw) to give you perspective. Also, the lid of the 15lb. tub is open because that is a stinking LOT of popcorn.

So that’s what came on the UPS truck today. Later this week I’ll get three boxes from FedEx full of kitchen gadgets and gizmos for me and my friends. Maybe you’ll get to see pictures of those, too!

So there you have it. This week in the Whitt house: packages galore.

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How My Dog Got Me A Paid Job For A Day

Once upon a time, there was a young couple who lived in Colorado. They adopted a puppy, and named her Shiloh, and the couple and their puppy often played in a big undeveloped field next to their apartment complex. There Shiloh discovered one of the Great Joys of Doggy Life: chasing geese. Actually, first she discovered the joys of eating goose poo, and her humans had to put a stop to that, but THEN Shiloh discovered the geese, and infinite satisfaction of making a whole flock of them take flight.

Alas, in time, the family moved away from the apartment and the big field full of geese to chase. Shiloh was sad about this lack in her life, but there were other good things going for the new apartment, like being able to see out the windows, so it pretty much evened out. And, on special occasions, Shiloh got to visit places where there were geese to chase. It was a good life.

(Okay, the third person narration is beginning to take its toll, so TA-DAA! We switch!)

A few weeks ago, I brought Shiloh to the seminary campus when I picked up Matt from class. With only one car, we often drop off and pick up, and sometimes it’s really easy to load Shiloh into the car and give her a bit of time to explore a less-familiar place, interact with a variety of people, go running to greet Matt when he comes out of the building, and sometimes, when there aren’t lots of people outside, I can let her off the leash to chase the geese while we wait for class to end.

I generally wait until there aren’t many people around for two reasons:

First, Shiloh can be very, very friendly and excited when she’s meeting new people–when she’s off the leash, this usually involves a very fast incoming approach. This often causes some concern because people aren’t sure whether she’ll jump on them (she won’t) and, regardless, she’s a pretty good-sized dog. People who aren’t comfortable around dogs are usually pretty freaked out by 60 pounds of canine barreling gleefully in their direction. Until we get that under a bit more control, I’m generally very aware of her exuberant tendencies.

Second, technically speaking the campus isn’t really geared toward dogs. There’s an outdoor patio where people sometimes bring smaller dogs on sunny days, but none of the buildings allow non-service animals and none of the on-campus housing allows pets. This is entirely understandable–many people who have dogs overestimate their dog’s good behavior (and lack of mess-making), or assume others will welcome an animal simply because the owner welcomes it. (See above for my awareness that not all people like dogs or are comfortable around them.) Granted, there’s absolutely nothing that even slightly indicates that dogs aren’t allowed on campus–many people love to see Shiloh and many students come play with her for a while, mentioning that they miss their own family dogs–but I still feel just a little bit like I should be extra-well-behaved when I bring Shiloh, especially when any of the seminary higher-ups are around.

At any rate, a few weeks ago I had Shiloh on campus. It was chilly, early evening, but the sun hadn’t set yet so in the light it was warmer. I know the Seminary grounds staff has been complaining about the geese, which are a significant problem. They don’t really migrate any more around here, so these geese have been in the campus area for several years, at least. The deterrents that the seminary uses don’t really work any more, but using new ones will require quite a bit of money invested, and that’s not really an option in this economic climate. Anyway, there weren’t many people around, but there were some geese, so I let Shiloh off the leash and told her to go get them.

With great joy, she sprinted toward the geese, making sure they all took off and were going to stay airborne, and then came back to me, immensely pleased with herself. I spotted another cluster of geese around the corner of a building, so we went and chased them off, too, then returned to the main courtyard area.

Who should be coming across the quad than the Head of Building and Grounds! I waved, since we know each other from the time I was employed there, and he headed toward me.

“Is that your dog?”

“Yep, she is.” Please, don’t be mad at me for letting her run around off-leash.

“I’d like to buy her.” He laughs, so I know he’s not really serious. “What I wouldn’t give for a couple of dogs on campus, trained to run those geese off. But we can’t, because of liability, long-term.”

I volunteered that Shiloh will be glad to help whenever she’s on campus, and Tom made it clear that we’re welcome any time. Yay!

Fast forward to Tuesday. Matt and I were flying back from New York, and when I turned on my phone after our last flight I had a voicemail waiting–it was Tom, asking me to give him a call.

Turns out the school is hosting a big dinner the night before the inauguration ceremony for the new president (who started back in July), and they want the campus to be as clean as possible. Shiloh and I have been contracted to arrive on campus at 9am and stay until a little after 5pm, and keep the geese out of the main areas of campus so the sidewalks will stay clean for the fancy visitors.

I think this is hilarious, but I’m glad to be able to help. Tom asked me to set an amount I’d like to be paid and he’ll get it approved. I have no idea what to ask for. If it’s a warm day, I intend to sit and read or write outside for most of the day, with occasional circuits to be sure the geese don’t get any crazy ideas into their heads about sneaking back. If it’s cold, it’ll be quite a bit more tedious.

But, for a while at least, Shiloh will be the Official Goose Chaser of Denver Seminary.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

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2010 Resolutions

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been brewing up some resolutions for the new year.  Concrete goals for myself that will direct my progress and stretch me–sometimes in entirely new directions, and sometimes in ways I haven’t been stretching lately, and that I miss.

So here’s my list, with some notes:

  1. Write and revise a whole novel. I have the ideas sorted out in my head, but I really need to speed up my production process. This will take the most dedicated time of all my resolutions, but I’m confident that I can do it.
  2. Research dog training options and complete Shiloh’s Canine Good Citizen certification. Elements of the test are listed and explained on the AKC website. Also included in this will be attention to Shiloh’s sometimes-excessive warning barks at noises outside (especially knocks on the door).
  3. Finish five quilting projects. These can be projects I’ve already started which have been sitting unfinished in the closet.  There are at least two of those, and I have a solid idea for a third quilt to gift someone special this year.  A corollary to this is the goal of not buying new fabric for these projects, but using materials already in my stash.
  4. Read 50 fiction books already on our shelves that I haven’t read before. Because there are a lot of books that I’ve picked up from various sources and never read, and I’d like to remedy that.  Also, reading books we already own saves money, whether it’s book-buying money or gas money getting to the library.
  5. Exercise for one hour every week. This seems like a pitifully little amount of exercise, but I’m keeping in mind that 1) I will be traveling a lot this year, and should still be able to maintain this goal despite that (even though exercise usually flies out the window when I travel), and 2) my everyday life is pretty active, and this refers to dedicated exercise time, not incidentals like pushing around the vacuum.
  6. Query five agents every week until a contract of representation is signed. This is pretty self-explanatory to me.  I don’t stop querying at requests for partials or fulls, an offer of representation (or many!), or anything else except a signed contract.

That’s it.  Those are the things I am resolved to accomplish this year.  I intend to print them out and hang them in some conspicuous place so that I cannot forget them or ignore them.  I think it will be a good year.

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… And it’s Done!

Given the month I’ve had, I was pretty darn sure that I wasn’t going to make this deadline, and I’m not sure I can accurately convey how bummed out that got me.  I’ve worked with this story, loved it, hated it, coaxed it along, finished it, pulled it apart, and put it back together again for almost three years now.  Everything in me has screamed that it was taking too much time, but I’m so excited because I think the extra time has been good in the end.  It’s worth the wait, I pinky swear.

The manuscript is finished.  For reals this time.

And now I get to look at the list of agents I started compiling the first time I finished it, revise it, update it, put together a totally rawkin’ query letter (I shall have to see whether I have one or two hiding in my archives somewhere that I can tweak, because I could swear I put one together for this story before), and begin convincing people of how awesome this novel is.

Happy Monday!

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Manuscript Progress and Antidepressant Adventures

Ten days since my last entry isn’t so bad, really.  Not when it’s been caused alternately by furious manuscriptural progress (yeah, I made that word up, and I quite like it, thanks for noticing) and some pharmaceutical adventures, the latter of which I was rather slow to catch onto.

First of all, I’m more than halfway through this manuscript revision, which is significant because close to the first 1/3 was new material that had to be connected and smoothed into the existing text, and now that I’ve passed that juncture I anticipate veritably flying through the remaining work.  In other words, I am optimistic.  But then, I am rarely pessimistic, so we should take my optimism with a shaker’s worth of salt.

As to the pharmaceutical adventures, it’s a rather long, roundabout story, but the short version is that our new medical insurance policy very much prefers not to cover my customary antidepressant (hereafter Drug B), so I switched to another variety that has the same active ingredient (Drug C).  I was assured that very few people have trouble with this change as the two drugs are very similar, and I am so far from being picky about brand or method as long as the darn stuff WORKS that I readily filled the prescription.  Unfortunately, I am part of the “very few people” who do not adjust seamlessly to the new (to me) drug.

For about the last week and a half I have had seriously strange dreams–abnormal ones, for me.  Not scary dreams, just uber weird.  Pretty much every night, three or four a night.  I know this because I wake up between all of them and have trouble getting back to sleep, which leads to a tired Betsy.  I’ve been taking naps most mornings, and have only proceeded from napping to writing (rather than reading or watching “A-Team” episodes on Netflix) about every other day.  Finally, sometime in the nighttime hours no one should ever witness between Thursday and Friday, it dawned on me that there is only one other time something like this has happened to me–and it was almost two years ago, with the very first antidepressant I tried.  This reaction isn’t as severe as the first one, but then I was on Drug A for a month and a half, and Drug C for only two weeks.  Less time to develop strangeness.

At any rate, I called the doctor folks on Friday morning and after numerous call-backs for them to verify lots of angles, I am now gradually shifting to Drug D. If it works, great.  If not, I know that the doctor can jump through some hoops and get Drug B (my antidepressant of choice) approved coverage with the insurance, if it’s the only thing that works for me.  I’m not sure how many others I’ll have to try before they can conclude that I actually do need Drug B.

All in all, I’m not all that upset at present.  I’d much rather not have to jump through hoops (either personally or via my doctor) to get what I need to be healthy.  On the other hand, if they make me try several more medicines before we find one that works, I can see the next two or three or four months basically going down the drain, practically speaking.  As it is, barring severe immediate issues, I have to stay on Drug D until Christmas, more or less, before they’ll consider trying me on something else.  I have not yet run through even all the antidepressants that most people would recognize on hearing because of various advertisements, much less any lesser-known ones.

But I am trying to remain optimistic, because getting pessimistic about depression tends to be a rapid downward spiral and we can certainly do without any of that.

All that to say, another week (probably) of funky dreams before I’ve totally phased out Drug C, and then we’ll see how well Drug D works through my winter depressive slump.

And now back to my regularly scheduled manuscript edits.

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I’m on iTunes!

So I’ve waited and debated a bit about putting up a public link to this, but I’m going ahead with it.  A few Sundays ago I preached at one of our church’s weekly services, and as it is standard policy, I was recorded and added to the podcast feed the church maintains on iTunes.

So if you go to the iTunes store and search South Suburban Christian Church, two options come up–stick with South Suburban Christian Church, not the other option, Salt, and scroll down the podcasts to 2009-10-18 Levi’s House.  I’m listed in the description as the speaker, so you can be sure it’s me.  It should be free to download and you can listen to it any time.

Forgive the incessant “ahs” between phrases in the first couple minutes. It gets better once I get rolling, I promise.  It’s about 25 minutes long, beginning to end.

For those who either don’t have access to iTunes or don’t have any use for downloading, there’s a recording on the church’s website, as well.  Click here to listen.

And I think that’s about all for now. There’s a lot to do between now and Thursday at about noon, when I intend to kidnap Matt and whisk him away for a few days.

Ta ta for now!

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A Resolution

I have decided to stop apologizing.  So hah!  Take that, guilt!  For those who wish I would update a bit more often, I’ve added a widget to display my twitter feed in the right-hand column at the bottom of this page, so you can keep up with goings-on even when I’m not finding much time for blogging.

The last few weeks have been busy ones.  I’ve been writing, Matt’s been super-busy with work and classes, and we currently have almost two feet of snow, and it’s supposed to keep coming down for another 12 hours or so.  I do like snow, but this is really early for winter to hit like this.  I have a feeling we’re going to have a whopper of a winter.  Also, we need to get new tires on the truck.  I thought that could wait for another month or maybe two, but with this much snow we can’t put it off much longer.

As I browsed through a bookstore earlier this week I came across a copy of Elaine St. James’s Simplify Your Life on super-sale, and since I usually do better when I have a checklist of sorts, after I paged through it a bit I brought it home.  (I did pay for it first. I’m not always a book thief.)  I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been updated since it was written in 1994, so there are some pretty great time/lifestyle gap things, but the concepts are all very solid and easily modified to apply to life 15 years later.  And the first thing is to clear out the clutter.

You see, we have a LOT of stuff.  We’ve acquired it in the usual ways: purchased back in the day when we had extra money, gifted by well-meaning friends and family members, swapped with friends, salvaged from other people’s trash, and generally accumulated so slowly we never realized how it was piling up.  We even clean out every time we move, which has been once a year lately, and we STILL have tons of stuff we never use and probably never will.

So, following the first two suggestions in The Book, we have been cleaning out the house during the last two days as drifts of snow piled up outside.  So far, we have almost two 18x18x18-inch boxes of stuff to donate and at least two 30-gallon trash bags to throw out.  That’s from the office (and closet), our bedroom (and closet) and two bathrooms.  We haven’t touched the main living area, the kitchen, or the garage.  It feels really good to get rid of stuff that’s just been sitting there, being moved from apartment to apartment.  It’s amazing–there’s room in the closets for things that have been “living” on the floor, getting kicked out of the way all the time.  Crazy!

Also, we bought some cheap plastic drawers for my quilting fabric, which means now it’s not all piled in big boxes, so I can actually get to what I need without taking over the whole office.  There are drawers for my projects-in-process and all sorts of loveliness.  See?

Fabric Stash!

So today warrants hot chocolate and cozy writing time, at least until Matt gets back from his youth ministry symposium.  Then I suspect there will be snowshoeing.  I’ll try to get video of Shiloh–she LOVES the snow and has tons of fun.

Oh, and I am signed on as a Official Participant for NaNoWriMo 2009, but honestly I haven’t figured out how serious I am about that.  I suppose I should decide, since it starts in two and a half days.

Also, my good friend Venessa Giunta has asked a good question over at her blog:  Do you [as a writer] tell people what you do?

Finally, for those who use Amazon Wish Lists and/or those who wish they could get their hands on a Kindle without paying for it, don’t miss the Kindle Love Sweepstakes.  You can enter through Saturday for the Kindle, and then it moves on to another kind of prize next week.

That’s all for now!  Time for hot chocolate!

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