Betsy Whitt

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

Page 2 of 40

Adventures in Parking

I got a parking ticket today.

It was tucked into the driver door of the 4Runner when I came out of the coffee shop, having spent a fruitful hour and a half sipping at a truly lovely iced cold-pressed-coffee with cream and sugar and all sorts of loveliness while I worked on organizing some of the genealogical research I’ve been perpetrating recently. But more on the genealogy later.

At any rate, I found the envelope containing my parking ticket (Anything that comes in a yellow envelope is never good, just like nothing written on a pink slip of paper is ever good) and I frowned, because I had checked thoroughly to be sure that my chosen parking spot was not included in any of the nearby signage indicating time limits for legal parking or handicapped requirements and suchlike.

So I pulled the little slip of paper from its ominous yellow envelope to see that I’d been cited for an expired license plate. Le sigh.

You see, the car’s registration is not, in fact, expired. It’s good all the way through December of this year. The trouble is that when we got the new stickers to put on the car, it was in the middle of a snowstorm, so we decided to wait until the entire world wasn’t covered in wet to try to stick something to our car. The stickers went INTO the car so that we would a) not forget to apply them and b) know where they were.

And now, four months later, the stickers are still not on the plates. Rather alarmingly, a cursory search of the car’s interior did not produce the stickers, although it did lead to the discovery that the little bottle of lotion we keep in the car has sprung a leak. I managed to hold it over the cup holders as it squirted orange-ginger goodness in distressing volume from its overheated (or over-pressurized? or simply faulty?) bottle. I also discovered that the napkins we usually keep in the center console have mysteriously disappeared, leaving me to try to mop up the lotion with a paper pastry bag that’s been in the passenger footwell for at least two months. It did not go well.

Giving up the Search for the Stickers, I returned my attention to the ticket. The municipality’s headquarters was located about two blocks from my parking spot (note to self: don’t park near a city building with expired tags, even if they’re not really expired) so I decided to go tell them that my vehicle is, in fact, legal to drive–or park!–and that I’d appreciate not having to pay the $50 ticket.

I tried to go in the wrong door to reach the Violations Bureau (Could they name it something that sounds worse? I don’t think so…), but it’s not my fault that they printed the office hours on the “Exit Only” door. And then my shoes kept setting off the metal detector from three feet away. This caused the lone security guard to wand me to be sure I wasn’t packing heat, even though I took my shoe off and waved it at the detector in proof that it was my shoes. But at least he was nice about it.

Upon reaching the appropriate window, I was informed that I would have to present a copy of my current registration to be photocopied and sent to Someone Or Other with my request that the ticket be discarded. Silly me had thought they would be able to pull up my DMV records on their little computers, but no. That would have made sense. So I trekked out past Mr. Security Guard, down two flights of stairs, two blocks back to my car, and wrestled the registration out of the glove box, which decided that its contents were suddenly so confidential that even I with my key could not be allowed access to the owners’ manuals and random pair of eyeglasses we found in the car about a year ago and have never gotten rid of.

Having vanquished the glove box, I reminded myself that it was a lovely day and I needed a bit of exercise, so I should not be disgruntled about the extra walking as I returned to the Violations Bureau.

Mr. Security Guard let me pass the second time without a wanding, which was lovely of him, and I presented my registration to be copied, took my duplicates of the petition to discard the ticket from the rather sour-faced Violations Bureau Lady (and wouldn’t you be sour-faced if you had to tell people you worked at the Violations Bureau?) and told Mr. Security Guard that with any luck I would NOT be seeing him again soon.

Now we just need to find the stickers, and probably I should clean the lotion out of the cup holders before tomorrow, or it will turn into a greasy mess that no one will ever want to deal with.

Not that I want to deal with it now, but there’s no sense in letting things escalate. On the other hand, it looks like it’s about to rain, and I don’t want to get wet. Probably the lotion clean-up can wait.

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I Did Intend To Keep Updating…

One could surmise, from the silence following my previous post, that I dipped my toes back in and then ran away to hide. That is only partially true. It turns out that life is really busy, and still not very balanced, and I’m still feeling a bit odd about writing in full sentences instead of 140-character blips.

I ran over a lady with my bicycle last week. That’s always a great way to start a paragraph. I suppose in the interest of accuracy I should say that I ran inTO a lady with my bike, as no part of my bike actually squashed any of her body parts. However, we both ended up on the pavement with various scrapes and bruises, and she was definitely on the bottom of the pile. It’s one of those situations where any number of things could have gone better, including me calling out my presence earlier, but despite that I feel very strongly that when one maneuvers into faster-moving traffic of any kind one ought to look to be sure one is not about to be run over first. This applies to a person stepping out to cross a road, a car changing lanes, or a person walking along a paved multi-use path which has a speed limit and people on bikes, horses, roller blades, and regular old feet all using it at the same time. But apparently not everyone sees the value in this. And they get run into with bikes. Let that be a lesson to you.

And now I don’t know what to talk about next. Odd, how the ability to create a segue between written segments deteriorates when one does not practice it, but my ability to spell and punctuate doesn’t seem to have suffered much. I feel like I should just develop typing Tourette’s and randomly shout out updatey things:

I killed two cacti this year!
All three of our printers are broken!
I’ve been scrapbooking!
My stove and microwave are so advanced they probably combine to make a spaceship!
Yay spring is on its way!
I quit my chauffeuring job!
We get our milk delivered to our house!

Yeah, that’s pretty much all I’ve got for now. Fingers crossed that the next update comes less than seven weeks from now!

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Dipping My Toe In

It’s been so long since I wrote anything of substance–not just here on the blog, but almost anywhere. Yeah, I’ve written a couple of good emails here and there, but my letter writing has fallen into a black pit of nothingness, and even my private journaling has been spotty at best. It feels very strange to string words into sentences in order to send out to the world at large again. I feel a bit out of my depth.

To tell the truth, I’ve been feeling a bit out of my depth about a lot of things lately. The last 12-15 months have been consumed by The House: buying it, moving into it, painting over the ugly, renovating the bits that were falling apart. It ate my life. When I wasn’t at work driving, I was at home painting or running electrical or laying tile or mudding drywall.

I’ve hardly read anything in the past year. At least the few books I did make my way through were worthwhile ones, but with so little writing going in, it’s not too surprising that there hasn’t been writing coming out. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten a lot done–it hasn’t been a bad year. It’s just been a skewed one.

Now that we’ve reached a major resting point with the house work, I find myself staring at the prospect of having quite a lot of time on my hands that hasn’t been available. There are many things I want to do–many things I’ve had to stop doing and want to return to doing. There are several new things I’d like to do.

It’s hard to know where to start. How do I get back on track after such a long and thorough derailment? Which track should I even be on?

I’ve been so focused in one direction for so long that I’m not sure how to balance my time lately. I’m so used to being unbalanced that anything else seems foreign.

So I’m back. We’ll see where things go.

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Tonight’s view from “my office”

downtown Denver

Hey look! I figured out how to reset my blog password! Now I can blog again!

Woohoo!

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Another Update! It’s Crazy!

What a week! You’d think a bunch of my time was taken up driving rich people around the city this week or something. Wait. It was. Yeah money! It’s nice to like my job, honestly. I hope it works out for me for some time to come. Just sayin’.

On the other hand, the whole job thing puts a rather large wrinkle in my lovely normal way of organizing my week. As in, nothing is the same and I don’t have the time I used to and I got spoiled and now I have to do everything in less time and I’m going out of town this weekend so the week is even shorter and OH MY GOODNESS I’M GOING TO EXPLODE.

Okay, I think I’m better.

Mostly.

By popular vote (And by “popular vote” I mean one person bothered to respond. Thanks, Mom.) I am posting photos of the progress on the master bathroom project, highlighting the rather wonderful sink/vanity unit we installed.

In case you missed it, or needed a reminder, here’s what it looked like before:
Master Vanity

And after taking out one wall and putting another in, and doing a lot of drywall work and painting, here’s what it looks like now:
New vanity

If you click the photos it should take you to my flickr photostream and a set of photos where I will be adding more pictures of the changes to the house as time goes by.

In other news, some of you may remember my post last year about buying an enormous amount of popcorn. I’m happy to announce that although we have not finished absolutely all of the 31 pounds of popcorn I ordered (though I’d say we’re within 5 pounds of it), we’ve polished off the 15-pound bucket of our favorite flavor and identified one or two other varieties that we’re planning to have around 3 pounds at a time.

In just over a year.

Yeah.

So if you’re looking for good popcorn, I recommend Fireworks Popcorn, especially their High Mountain Midnight variety. Go! Buy it now!

I really need to take the time to talk about my job. There are so many wonderful things about it. Like my Men In Black suit (sadly, sans flashy-thing). And my mafia car that could fit at least three bodies in the trunk, and feels like I’m driving four Laz-Y-Boy recliners around town. And my FBI security clearance to deliver people to the airport. Because it’s awesome.

This weekend I’ll be up in the mountains outside Colorado Springs on a women’s retreat. I think it will be lovely, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to relax and unwind my soul a bit.

Finally, I just have to say one thing about American Idol tonight: WHAT?!?! Pia went home?!?! WHAT! Not that she won’t have a really solid career taking off at this point anyway, but seriously. Unexpected. I was flabbergasted.

Gasted.

By.

Flabbers.

It was quite unpleasant, if you must know.

More later. Maybe I’ll introduce you to Mr. Prickles! That sounds like a great idea.

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Um… Happy New Year!

Holy cow! It’s been almost 5 months since I posted an entry here!

In my defense (I always have a defense) I have been really really busy. Really! First there was the cross-country driving, which included visits to both my family and Matt’s family for Thanksgiving and also for pilfering various items from their houses–some of which we had left behind to be collected later and some of which were donated to the cause of furnishing our new house. We drove back with a big U-Haul trailer which, thankfully, did NOT try to kill us in Kansas like the last one did. In fact, this trailer behaved so well compared to the last one we pulled on the same route that any lingering doubts or guilt I might have carried about taking U-Haul’s money five years ago to repair our truck after their trailer tried to kill us have been laid to rest. Their trailer had a problem. A big problem. And it damaged our car and threatened our safety. And I do not regret taking their money to pay for the necessary repairs. So there.

So we returned with our bellies full of turkey and our car and trailer full of boxes and furniture, and promptly unloaded those latter items into our apartment’s garage, because we had not yet closed on the house. In fact, while we were gone another complication came up to delay things for *another* couple of weeks. In the beginning of December we threw common sense to the wind and cleaned up the leaves in the back yard even though we had no claim to the house yet, because we didn’t want them to be matted down over the grass by incoming snow in case we *did* close. At the most, it would be a few hours of free labor given to a good cause. We raked up 41 big bags of leaves and piled them on the back patio, just in time for a big snowfall to justify our actions. We also cleaned out as many roof gutters as we could reach with our apartment-sized ladder–most were entirely full, and some had plants almost two feet tall growing in them.

Luckily for us, we DID close on the house just after Matt’s finals week in December. We signed all the paperwork on Friday the 17th, I painted and cleaned like a crazy person all weekend, and we moved the bulk of our belongings in on Monday the 20th. In true Whitt fashion, we unpacked and decorated for Christmas in record time, and were entirely out of the old apartment before the end of the year.

After our housewarming party in mid-January, we started in on remodeling the master bathroom. That project is still in process, but it’s closer than ever to being finished. Right now, all we need are trim (baseboards, etc.), tile in the shower stall, and a shower door. The tiling is holding things up at present, because it takes a big chunk of time at once, and we haven’t had a whole lot of that.

The next project will be the half-bath and laundry room downstairs. And the garage doors (only one currently works). And the retaining wall in the back yard. And pulling out the enormo-bush out front. And the dead bushes. And… well, I’ll be sure to keep the photos coming.

Shiloh does, in fact, love her new house and back yard. She’s not too sure about all the service people who’ve come over to work on things and make sure our systems are up to par.

It’s probably worth mentioning that now that we have extra room even after designating a guest room and an office for me, we’re renting our spare room to a college student. His name is Kevin, and I’ll probably mention him from time to time. So now you know who this random Kevin person is.

In other news, I bit the bullet and got a new job. I’m driving for a car service here in Denver, mostly Town Cars with the occasional SUV, van, or stretch limo thrown in. It’s a good job, and I like it thus far. Flexible, good people, decent money. Can’t complain. So if you’re coming to Denver and you need a driver, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll give you the company’s contact info.

Matt is on schedule to graduate this May, barring a sudden descent into insanity as a result of his crazy schedule this semester to get everything done. So May will be busy, as we host several family members for his graduation ceremony, then throw a party, then head out for a week of vacation with some of those family members.

I don’t remember all the other things that have happened in the last five months, but I’m sure things will come to mind as I return to regular updatery.

So? How are things with you? What have I missed? What should I post photos of first? Talk to me, people!

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House Update

I had hoped to be able to squee and cheer and otherwise be ridiculously happy when I updated on the house situation but alas, it is not to be.

We’ve run into some complications on the seller’s side as we move toward closing, which is drawing out the process rather longer than we had hoped. In the moments when I’m sympathetic, I remember that these poor people have tanked financially, gotten a divorce, declared bankruptcy, and keep having people back out of buying their house over the last two years. In the moments when I’m not so sympathetic, I steam a bit at the ears and wonder why the heck their bank won’t just take our money and take a load of trouble off everyone’s plate.

So we don’t have the house yet, but we’re not backing out of the deal either. Not for a while, anyway. Even if they did indicate that we might have been able to close by last weekend. And then couldn’t follow through. Sigh. I should stop talking, because the impatience is only going to get worse the more I type.

Since I didn’t figure I had enough to worry and plan about, Shiloh and I are leaving in a few days to drive across the country in search of adventure. Actually, we’ll be driving to my parents’ house, where I will help my mother clean out the garage loft, which is as close as they get to an attic. And by “we” I mean I will be driving and Shiloh will be riding in the back, looking adorable for passing cars. Also by “we” I mean that my mom took pity on my overwhelmed stressed-out-ness last week and found a cheap plane ticket to come out and drive back with me, so at least I have company and another driver. Last time Matt and I drove, it was 22 hours in the car including rest stops. I’m totally okay with not having to do that on my own, no matter how many days I was going to take to do it.

So unless we get word today that everything got cleared up and we can close on the house Tuesday or Wednesday (my estimate of the likelihood there is about 2%), my task for the next few days will be to pack for all the varied aspects of the trip (no I’m not telling everything, you Nosy Nancy), making sure things are set here when I leave, and not forgetting anything. Hah.

Wish me luck. Pretty sure I’ll need it.

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Random Thought

I was listening to the radio while driving today, and “Bye Bye” by JoDee Messina (sp?) came on–it’s one of those songs I love to sing along to, which makes it rather remarkable that I’ve never noticed that the line is “Got my left foot down on my accelerator…”

Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never, ever stepped on the accelerator with my left foot. The clutch pedal? Yes. Accelerator? That’s my right foot, thanks.

Maybe she’s in Britain? Singing American country songs? The world may never know.

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Super Sekrit Project Revealed!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are my facebook friends have most likely already seen this news, but we have finally reached a watershed point, and the Super Sekrit Project can be de-sekrit-ized.

Drumroll!
…….

We are buying a house!

Woohoo!

Those paying attention to the duration of the Super Sekrit Project thus far have probably noticed that this has encompassed a fair amount of time and energy in the last few months. We found quite a few homes with listings that looked promising enough for us to see them in person; we debated back and forth between several; we took a very deep breath and offered on a short sale property (this does not refer to the length of time it takes; it’s a type of pre-foreclosure, which complicates things); we waited several weeks for the seller’s bank to get some things together so they could decide whether to accept our offer or not; we looked at more houses before we decided to extend the deadline for our offer; we waited for some more wrangling between the sellers and their bank (remember how I said the short sale status complicated things?); and then we scheduled a home inspection to do everything we could to ensure that the property is in the condition we expected, that we most likely won’t run into something like a cracked foundation or leaky roof in the near future. Any one of those steps encompassed many ways the deal could break apart, so we have refrained from talking about it much in any public format.

Of course, as with anything, nothing is set in stone until after the closing–we haven’t set a date for that yet, but we’re prepared to move quickly and hoping everything will come together so that we can take possession early enough to do some cleaning and catch up on general maintenance before it comes time for us to move. The house has been vacant for almost two years, so there’s plenty to clean, lots of leaves to clear out of the yard, etc. Just to add a bit of an obstacle, we’ll be taking a road trip out east to spend Thanksgiving with our families, so we’ll be working around all of that.

In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten quotes for various home-owning-related things like carpet cleaning, repainting siding, and servicing the HVAC system; I’ve researched costs for home improvement projects like remodeling bathrooms and pulling out juniper bushes; and I’ve combed craigslist for moving boxes, since we’ve finally reached a stage at which packing up items we don’t need everyday actually makes sense.

It’s a crazy kind of thing, buying a house. It takes up all your mental energy, and a fair amount of the physical energy as well. I have a ridiculous number of bookmarks, and it’s hard not to tumble things over and over in my mind, trying to find the perfect solution to any number of challenges.

As a result of everything that’s going on, I have officially decided to NOT participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I will, of course, write as much as I can amid all the other activity, and I remain committed to my goal of querying actively this month. (I did finish my query letter. Huzzah!) And then there’s the packing and the cleaning and the finalizing a home purchase and the driving across the country and back. I think all that should keep me plenty busy without adding the pressure of 50k more words, and the guilt of being behind on my word count all month, as I know I would be.

Since I know everyone really reads the blog for news on Shiloh, you will be disappointed to hear that she remains completely baffled in the face of my house-related excitement. I try to tell her she’s getting a yard–with a fence!–but she just tilts her head to one side and looks at me rather blankly. No response. No enthusiasm. It’s really very disappointing, but I suspect she’ll catch on quickly after she sees the place.

So that’s the Super Sekrit Project, no longer a secret. See? I told you it wasn’t a book deal, a baby, or another dog. But it’s cool!

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Quick Update

At the moment, the gym situation has tanked. I haven’t been in over a week, and thanks to a very close look at finances earlier this week I’m reevaluating our extra cash situation which would allow for a gym membership cost. As in, there very well might not be extra cash, resulting in no gym membership money. This is not entirely certain yet, but it seems likely. I am reluctant to tell my gym buddy about the potentially impending decision, as then I will not be her gym buddy. Fortunately, I have good reason to believe that we will still be general buddies otherwise.

I have, however, been working on my query letter. I intend to finalize it and start querying on the novel during November, while I write my NaNovel and travel across the country and back with the dog in our SUV. Whee!

Pretty much everything else that’s been occupying my time and energy is related to the much-vaunted Super Sekrit Project, but I have good news!

It is not that I can reveal the nature of the Super Sekrit Project to the general public.

Boooo.

However, I CAN promise that an announcement revealing the Sekrit is not far away!

YAY!!!

It is still not a baby, a book deal, or another dog.

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