I started thinking about houses after reading What 50% of Women Would Choose Over a Big Engagement Ring. Choosing a simple ring and putting the rest of the money towards a down payment on a house is very wise, IMHO. A house is an asset that [usually] appreciates, and everyone in the family benefits from it. Nobody really benefits from a rock on your hand.
The older I get, the less I care about material things.
I am planning to simplfy my life radically in the next couple of years. I have many many books I've read and will never read again and have no sentimental attachment to, and they need to go. Ditto for clothes I will never wear again. Ditto for shoes.
I have a feeling that once I go through my entire house and ask myself these questions, there will be a lot less stuff to deal with: Will I need this in the next year? Is there any sentimental reason to keep this?
I am fascinated by the Tiny House movement. I think I could handle a tiny house if I lived alone, but not sure how it would work with 2 or more folks. If you want to see a fascinating number of these places check out tiny house listings. I so admire the ingenuity of people who build tiny houses. They have to make every inch of space work.
What appeals to us about tiny houses? I think it's simplicity. Less time spent in cleaning and maintenance. Fewer complicated repairs. The world has gotten way too complicated. Mortgages, taxes, regulations - are we better off now than we were 50 years ago? I don't know. Obviously the medical advances are great, but what about simple human interaction? I am so tired of seeing kids just bent over their phones or ipads, not interacting with each other. Michael is not really bad about it, but a lot of the kids are. I encourage him to get outside, and he does that happily.
Books have always been a great source of entertainment, education, and comfort to me. I hate the fact that the internet is tempting kids away from books, a lot of them.
Anyway, just some rambling thoughts.
When I was a kid we spent a lot of time at our own "tiny house" at the lake - no internet, no phone, no TV - and we had a great time. My dad always said those were the happiest times of his life. We were all together and we could relax...
I was an employment law paralegal for many years, and I know well that when an employer is accused of discrimination, there are always many ways to view the situation. Sometimes discrimination is clear and blatant, but usually it's very hard to figure out what really happened and why.
However, I firmly believe that nobody SHOULD be discriminated against for any superficial reason.
I was very disturbed to open Facebook this morning and see a link to an article about a new bill in the Georgia legislature that looks to open the door to discrimination based on "religious reasons."
From the article: "...at 4 p.m., Georgia's General Assembly will hold committee hearings on HB 1023 and SB 377, otherwise known as the "Preservation of Religious Freedom Act."
According to the Democratic Party of Georgia, the potential impact of both bills is far-reaching. Under the proposed laws, individuals and private organizations could claim an imposition on their religious freedoms to make decisions otherwise protected by current law. For instance, both of these bills would allow employers to discriminate against potential employees based on current protected legal statuses — like race, sex, age, pregnancy, sexual orientation, nationality and even religion under the guise of protecting the employer's religious freedom.
Much like bills proposed in Arizona and Kansas, these bills would grant business owners from serving LGBT people, as well as a host of other discriminations."
Now, I am not one to blindly believe one source on anything, so I researched this. I found the actual bill itself and read it. I can certainly see why Democrats oppose it.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jay Bookman has a great editorial about this bill, and it details the alarming consequences if it passes. He says:
"Georgia has no law that protects gay people from discrimination, and is extremely unlikely to be passing one anytime soon. It thus has no reason -- not even a bad reason -- to pursue HB 1023. The bill was filed and is being pushed solely because that's what all the cool conservative kids are doing, and because it sends a message of defiance to those who believe that gay Americans ought to be treated the same as everybody else."
I have always loved Georgia and I've always been proud to be a citizen of this great state, like so many generations of my family before me. However, if this insane bill passes I will seriously consider moving. I have neighbors, friends and relatives who are gay. They deserve exactly the same legal protections as everyone else, and to deny them that is simply WRONG.
I am also proud to be Episcopalian, because we have led the way in not discriminating against gay people - in fact, quite the opposite. There are churches here in Atlanta who have floats in the annual Gay Pride parade. We have a gay bishop.
You can sign a petition to tell folks in the Georgia House and Senate not to sign this horrible piece of legislation. I urge you to do so.
However, there is very little being said about this in the media here. We need to mobilize opposition to this bill! Let's get the word out.
OK, so I got on the phone with AT&T this afternoon - after seeing the AT&T service guy had been at our house and not fixed the internet connection - and I was nearly in tears. Fortunately, I got someone who was American and spoke clearly recognizable English.
I'm telling you, this no internet thing has been horrible. I could see emails and do things on my phone but I dislike that, a lot. I like my desktop computer.
So with no internet, I was forced to READ.
Play with Lola.
My kitchen has never been cleaner.
I have been keeping notes about the internet drought experience, and they are below.
It started quietly.
I was sitting in front of the TV after dinner last night, and I tried to play Words With Friends. I tried to spell out CIGAR [which is a good word because C and G are 3 points each] and I couldn’t drag the letters up to form the word. I kept trying. No dragging happened.
I tried to check Facebook messages. I got an ugly red bar saying INTERNET CONNECTION FAILED.
I couldn’t get email either.
Just then, my mother hollered from her room “My computer’s messed up!”
At 80 years old, Mother’s computer is her window to the outside world. This is really bad, I thought, feeling much more sorry for my mother than myself. I can always find something to do, from laundry to cooking to cleaning my room [perish the thought] but Mom’s arthritis limits her activities a lot. Unlike most seniors, she is not a big TV watcher. She reads newspapers online, Googles stuff, emails her 5,000 friends, and happily farms on her Facebook farm.
However, I have a 17 year old son, so I figured he could get the situation under control. He worked on my phone, and shrugged. “Can’t get it,” he said.
I was tired and not feeling well, so I headed up to bed. Michael came in my room and worked on the computer some more, but the internet connection was still down.
This morning, I popped awake at 5:30, ravenous for my messages. I checked my phone. I could see that I had emails, but they wouldn’t let me see the content. Aaaargh! I am job-hunting. That makes my email super important.
I called my friend Paul, my computer guru. I wouldn’t call most folks at 5:45 in the morning but I know Paul is an early riser and I figured he would be in the car, headed to his office in Alpharetta. After I described the problem he said “Call AT&T.” My internet comes from AT&T, formerly Bellsouth.
I got a very polite and perky lady in India, at 6:30 a.m. We talked for over an hour. It was very hard to understand her accent. Michael kept listening and stifling a giggle, because every minute or so we would heard the words “sorry” or “apologize.” My son checked all the connections, plugging and unplugging. We tried everything. I held on while she tried stuff from India, or Florida, or wherever. Finally, I had to let her go because I had to take him to school. She promised to call back at 9:30.
I raced Michael to school, came back and helped my mother get ready for the day, ate a couple of eggs, and came back upstairs to wait for my call.
At 9:36 I was going insane. I called AT&T back. I got another lady in India, who was much easier to understand, and not quite as apologetic. However, she could not help me. She finally said “I have scheduled a technician to come to your house but not to worry! He will work on the line outside and not bother you!”
“When will he fix the line?” I asked, hoping she would say “today.”
“The earliest he can get out there will be Monday the 24th,” she said.
“Um, I am a writer, and my work depends on my internet access. Are you sure that’s the soonest the line can get repaired?” I asked, trying not to panic.
“I am terribly sorry but Monday will be the earliest.”
“What time Monday?” I asked.
“Between 11 and 7.”
I sat in utter silence, feeling defeated and desperate.
“Why is the line messed up?” I asked.
“I am seeing it is due to the bad weather in Georgia recently,” she replied.
“I would be sure and call the billing department as soon as you get access back, and let them know the situation,” she added, trying to be helpful.
“Thanks, “ I replied, thinking um hell to the YES, I will be pursuing the billing department. My monthly AT&T bill is my biggest monthly expense.
I went to Kinko’s and got on one of their computers for about 20 minutes, and let my friends and family members know of this situation. I wracked up $8.99 in charges. Aaargh! Next time, the library.
So now it begins.
When I picture the internet, I see in my mind a huge cloud up in the sky, and millions of people at their computers and iPads and phones, all plugged into the network, or perhaps I should say the matrix. Our virtual community. A place where I can chat with my cousin in South Carolina every day, and not add to my phone bill. I can Google my third grade sweetheart and see if he has gotten fat, too. I can check online job listings and fire off resumes in a few minutes instead of the laborious process of faxing or snail mailing a resume, as we had to do in the old days.
The internet is my virtual world.
Is this a good or bad thing? I don’t know. Arguments could be made either way.
I am sitting here pondering what to do. I have a new book I can start. I can walk the dog, work on laundry, clean the kitchen, catch up on the bills, make a pie. All the crap I prefer to ignore so I can troll Facebook.
It’s Thursday, noon. I will report back later this afternoon and advise how the day has gone.
With any luck – and lately I haven’t had any – perhaps by the time the man fixes my internet connection on Monday I will have a much cleaner house, happier dog, and if I get really desperate, my house may even, perhaps, by cleaner.
Or I may be spending a lot of time at the library…
Now it’s almost 4:30.
My house is going to benefit from this internet-free existence.
I made Mother and me a bowl of chili for lunch – leftovers, but yummy. I have spent most of the afternoon watching TV and doing laundry. I also cleaned up the kitchen. I made a lemon pie, too – the one with condensed milk and lemon juice. Super easy pie.
When Michael came home, I made him a turkey sandwich.
I have no idea what anyone on Facebook is doing, and I don’t care.
Well, OK, that’s not entirely true. I care a little bit. Mostly I miss hanging out [in the cyber way] with all my Facebook buddies like Mike, Linda, JT, Pat, etc. Many of them are related to me, too, either by blood or marriage. I miss them. I know that sounds weird.
This whole experience sounds like a Sci-Fi story, but in reverse. I should go out to California and offer internet-free weekends, including animal therapy and music. [walking Lola, and listening to me sing in the shower]
I just took a terrific shower. It’s 70 degrees here today so I didn’t freeze. (This time last week we were thawing out from an ice storm.) Today, I spent more time than usual. I exfoliated. I smell good lemony. My hair is squeaky clean, and I moisturized. Heck, I even looked under the sink and found some lovely Caswell and Massey scented soap I had forgotten about. Win win, all around.
Tonight I have my first rehearsal for the Atlanta Women’s Chorus. I am excited about this. I have long wanted to get back into singing. The chorus is awesome. I went to a performance they gave a couple of weeks ago. It was a little weird, not hearing low men’s voices in the blend, but they sounded lovely. My voice has lowered a lot in recent years. I can sing tenor.
The rehearsal was fun. I hadn’t read through music in a long time. The other Alto 2’s are strong singers, so as long as I could hear them, I was fine. The frustrating thing is that Dr. Arasi put audio files of all the parts on the intranet for the chorus and yet I cannot access it. Why not? No internet! Aaaargh
Michael fixed my phone so I can check stuff on it using the AT&T network. That’s good, but unsatisfying. It’s like eating a protein bar instead of a real meal.
Michael and I went to Kroger for groceries and when we came back, we passed an AT&T van. We walked in the house and Mother said the AT&T guy had been at the door but she didn’t want to answer it. She doesn’t usually answer the door when she’s home alone.
So I went out to walk Lola in the yard and when I came back in I saw a hanging thing on the door saying they had fixed the problem at the street but they couldn’t get in the house.
I am now on the phone with AT&T customer support. At least the woman on the phone is American and speaks good English. When I called her I had to work hard not to cry.
Michael is downstairs trying to get Mother’s new TV hooked up. Her old TV in her room died. The “new” one is a Goodwill purchase. I have a feeling he is going to have to call DirectTV before it will work, but I feel bad for her in there with no computer and no TV.
I HAVE INTERNET!!! Praise God!
Now I just have to get the WiFi thing fixed, and that will take a visit from my friend Paul. Gotta get Granny back online.
Happy to see this shot this morning. Michael is in Indiana, and today my friend Jim took him skiing to a place called Paoli Peaks.
Mike is genuinely smiling there - I know his fake smile and that's not it. He was obviously having fun. Yay!
I was a nervous wreck all yesterday afternoon, until I heard he had gotten to Indiana, and Jim had found him in the airport.
Lola is totally puzzled. She didn't sleep in Michael's room last night. I moved her bed and her water bowl into my room. She stayed in her bed until about 4:30, then got in bed with me. I was too groggy to argue about it. As long as she stays on her side, and doesn't hog the covers, we are OK.
She had her second training class today. She is learning how to walk nicely on the leash. That alone was an entire class. Our afternoon walk took a loooooong time because every time she pulled, I stopped. Took 15 minutes just to walk from here to the corner!
I had my Book Group this afternoon, and when I came home, Lola had pilfered a package of 6 small boxes of yogurt-covered raisins, and eaten the entire thing. I had one box this morning. She ate the other 5. Just out of curiosity, I gave her a lettuce leaf last night, and she ate it.
The only thing we've found that she won't eat? Dill pickles.
I'm very glad Michael seems to be having fun on his trip, but man it is too quiet around here without our boy...
Yesterday was so weird because Michael was out of school, and it was just cold and rainy. No big "weather event" - but the authorities are all in a dither over the Ice Storm that we are now seeing.
This was the view outside Michael's window a few minutes ago, the street in front of my house:
we have a little "faux balcony" that you can't walk on -
Michael slept until noon yesterday and then we ran to the hardware store, picked up some burgers for lunch, and came home. The hardware store was a bustling place. We got the last wicks for oil lamps they had in the store.
We came home and made brownies. That was Michael's idea.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning to the sound of ice crackling outside my window. The local news is all over North Georgia, up where they are getting more of a "weather event" but by and large it seems like everyone is staying home today.
I have a cousin who works at a hospital and he posted on Facebook and said he had to go in to work. Praying he makes it OK.
Found this video yesterday and it keeps on making me laugh so I want to share it:
Sitting here looking outside, waiting for the nasty weather to begin - so glad my son is in his room asleep, not at school, nor running around.
Michael and I went to Publix yesterday. I posted this on Facebook: Michael Thompson and I braved the crowds and went to Publix on Shallowford. There were no buggies!! OMG Never seen that before. As I walked in, a tall man RAN past me and grabbed a loaf of bread off the bakery aisle. For no good reason, I grabbed a loaf, fear and trepidation building in me: could it be there is NO MORE BREAD?!? Oh, the humanity. We got to the bread aisle. There were many loaves of bread!! There was wine in the wine aisle! Cookies in the cookie aisle! I am ready for the coming apocalypse...
Somebody saked me what a "buggie" is - not a southern person. Down here, we call a shopping cart a "buggy." I never heard "shopping cart" until I was a teenager.
When we got to Publix, I told Michael [who was driving] not to turn into a parking spot because I thought there was broken glass on the ground. Turns out, it was rock salt. Felt silly when I walked in the door and saw all the salt strewn around the entrance.
The cashier who checked us out said they had been doing nonstop business since opening at 8 yesterday morning.
I hope and pray we don't lose power, and Michael doesn't go running around on the ice and fall and hurt himself. Other than that, I am simply resigned to the idea of being inside for the next couple of days.
I started a Facebook group for those of us who are descendants of James Lewis Henderson and Martha Beall Henderson. If you are a descendant and want to join, shoot me an email. I am having fun reading everyone's stories and seeing photos. This, to me, is a terrific use of Facebook, creating a community of far-flung family members. It's certainly easier than trying to get everyone together at a reunion.
Sometimes I marvel at how weird and changeable our weather is here. Yesterday was a beautiful day, with highs in the upper 50's. Didn't need more than a light jacket. Michael got out and played tennis in shorts.
Today the high will be 50.
Wednesday, we are supposed to get hit with an ice storm.
Today, I will go to the grocery store and hope I can find a few necessities, like Oreos. Can't ride out a storm without Oreos.
Atlanta is famous for ice storms. Mother can spend 30 minutes telling ice storm stories. I totaled a car once in an ice storm, about 12 years ago. That's my only story and it's dull. Upside is I didn't like that car and I wasn't sorry to see it go...
So life was a whirlwind yesterday. As Ferris Bueller says "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it."
I am still battling a stomach virus of some kind, and not feeling great. Strangely enough, the "remedy" that has helped me the most has been to drink a glass of tap water with a teaspoon of baking soda stirred in. Old home remedy, but it works.
This is Lola, watching us eat dinner last night. Our family room [built in 1968] is "sunken" - a step down from the kitchen and foyer and back hallway. She likes to rest her head on the family room floor and look up at us pitifully. Nevertheless, she didn't get any pizza...
I was taking Michael to school this morning and stupidly left a lb. of bacon on the counter. When I got back, I discovered Lola had eaten the ENTIRE lb. of bacon!! Yesterday she ate half a loaf of bread. She cruises the kitchen countertops on her hind legs and nothing is safe.
Tomorrow morning at 10:45 we will be at Petsmart, and she will start a training class to learn to behave herself. That is going to be interesting...
Another 504 Meeting for Michael yesterday but I felt rotten all day [the virus this week has been horrible] and I couldn't attend. In case you don't know about 504 plans, here is a great explanation by the excellent Wrightslaw website:
"Section 504 was enacted to "level the playing field" - to eliminate impediments to full participation by persons with disabilities. In legal terms, the statute was intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination against persons with disabilities, persons who are believed to have disabilities, or family members of persons with disabilities."
Because of Michael's missing hand, he is entitled to accommodations; for example, extra time on writing assignments.
He doesn't like having the 504, but it has helped him in a lot of ways. For example, today for one of his classes he was required to wear dress clothes. He wore khakis, a dress shirt, a blue blazer and a tie.
Well, except for the pants and blazer, the whole outfit took much longer to manage. I had to help him with the shirt buttons and the tie. Putting on a belt takes him a bit lnoger, too. He couldn't dress out for PE. So I sent the PE teacher an email explaining that he needs to be excused from dressing out today under his 504 plan.
The sad thing is that a lot of parents have no idea what a 504 plan is, or how to get one. Some school systems will refuse to implement one unless there is an attorney involved. I should've had one for my daughter because she has a learning disability but I didn't know it and the school didn't tell me about it. That was before I met Kristyne Seidenberg. She does education law, in addition to wills and estates and litigation. She got Mike's 504 plan implemented and it's working, this year. Last year the school never did anything about it.