Lisa’s Writing Vacation

AKA: How I managed to spend a whole week NOT writing

This was a hard week for me. As I’ve mentioned before, my half-brother Ray passed away last month. Last Thursday I drove to DFW and dropped my car off at Katherine’s and she drove me to the airport. I hopped on a flight to California in order to help out Ray’s widow, Susan, and kids getting reading for the memorial service. I’d brought my writing stuff with me, hoping to get to spend some of my free time writing, but there honestly wasn’t any minutes to spare.

I got to their house after a long day of driving and flying and with a negative time change, I was so very tired and it was only 8pm. I tried to stay up and talk with everyone, but it was no use – I was in bed by 9:30pm PST.

The next day I woke up at 4:45am, but managed to coax myself back to sleep until about 6:30am. I went to make coffee, but my nephew ran out and shooed me away, telling me that his dad always got up and said “Make the coffee, Joe,” and he was determined to keep on making the coffee, even without his dad around to remind him. Just like that, I could hear my brother in my little nephew’s voice and see him in his every movement. I had to shoo myself away before I cried all over the little guy.

We spent the rest of the day taking kids to and from school, organizing, then cleaning rooms of the house and the patio so it could be all ready for the memorial service the next day.

My biological maternal grandparents

The next day I was again awake at 4:45am, but this time I got up, made my own coffee, and spent some time taking photos of photos in my birthmom’s room (which was where I was staying). Her walls are absolutely covered in photos, many of which I’ve never seen before. I stood up on a stool and angled myself this way and that to get the best photos possible. Once the other’s were up, I started decorating the house with photos of my brother and his family, and then put out the tablecloths, and washed up all the dishes and platters I thought we might need. An hour before people were due to arrive, the first visitor showed up. He was the ex-husband of my brother’s housemate and since he was early, we put him to work carting drinks into the house, setting up the coolers, and re-installing the door to the garage that Joe had taken off a few weeks ago (and was unable to put back up alone).

After that, everyone else started arriving and over the course of the day I manned the buffet table, meeting many members of the housemate’s family and Susan’s family. There were even some little kids there. Everyone brought fruit. It was fruitopia. The day spun by so very quickly. We were unable to have the main part of the memorial service, due to some clerical errors that kept Susan from being able to get Ray’s death certificate (and therefore also his remains), so the little tree she was going to plant in his honor remained on her front porch. A few of us spoke about Ray, even his little son Jeff, and we all cried. It was nice to meet so many people that loved my brother and sister-in-law.

Because it was also the busiest day of the band year back home, I skipped out on the early evening’s visitor (who had come late due to his work schedule). I went back to my room and watched the livestream of my kids marching at UIL Contest and then looked for photos of them from the Rose Parade earlier in the day. I texted with them, congratulating them on their Sweepstakes win. And then I went back out and joined the conversation.

My kids at UIL Marching Contest.

The next morning I did not get up early. We all got up a little later and then moseyed over to church, which was part Southern Baptist-part rock band church-part surfer dude speak. Everyone there was really nice and no one bugged me about my mask. After church was lunch and after lunch my best friend from high school came and scooped me up and we ran off to Starbucks for a while. I was sad to leave her when our time was up, but I love how easily we slipped back into that friendship for a couple hours.

After that, Susan and I loaded up the kids and went to the beach. We didn’t stay long, just long enough for Joe and I to get thoroughly soaked from the waist down and for Jeff to lecture us on the improbability of us turning into merpeople and Susan to get creeped out by some weirdo. A couple hundred beach pictures in ten minutes, really. But it was good. I always feel better at the beach.

I am at Imperial Beach with my nephews.

Susan dropped us back at the house and stayed just long enough to say hi to the chair lady. Then she drove back out to pick up Angela. I made my “famous” chicken spaghetti and “Aunt Mandy’s” green beans for a late “fancy” dinner. I laughed at that. Chicken spaghetti is the easiest thing ever. I taught Joe my secret sauce, just in case they liked it. Oh boy, did they! Jeff said I took him to “Flavor Town” and “Delicious Land.” I’m so happy it was well-receieved.

We went to bed very late that night, in some part due to a conversation that needed to take place out of the earshot of the children. We had to wait for Joe to fall asleep. In the end, an agreement was reached about what would happen with the kids if something happened to Susan. It was a hard conversation, but necessary. I was really glad to be included.

The next morning we all got up at the crack of dawn so Susan could drop me off at the airport and then take the kids straight to school. I waited in the longest TSA line I’ve ever seen, but made it to my gate all right. The flight itself was mostly okay, but there was a medical emergency towards the end in first class, so we ended up spending quite a while at the gate waiting for that to get sorted out. Then Katherine picked me back up and we had a late lunch and then went to rest at her house for a while before I drove home. I was feeling so foggy and out of it, I was worried about driving home. I did end up making it home okay, but I had to stop for a while halfway home and walk around for a bit to get my brain back online. So I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm (I’d expected to be home by 5pm).

Katherine and I tried to make up for me not remembering to get a photo with Emily.

Tuesday I spent cleaning my entire house. Being away from home on a super busy weekend makes the mess so much worse. But I was also still feeling so groggy and weird that it was hard to get anything done. I started to worry that I was coming down with a cold or something. I attended my Spiritual Practices group, but I absorbed none of the conversation, alas.

Wednesday morning was my pill box refill day. I couldn’t find the pills I needed to fill the box. I finally realized that the reason I was so out of it was that I had picked up my medicine at the pharmacy before I left on the trip, but had forgotten to put that one in the box I took with me. So I’d skipped it for a couple days by accident. (And now I know just how essential it is to my health and well being.)

I taught a lesson at the Wednesday Whatchamacalit group that day and it went well. That is detailed in an earlier post. Later. I spent the rest of the day resting/spending time with my younger kids because I knew that the next day I had some more big cleaning to do.

Thursday I went over to the David House and helped him get it cleaned up because my dad was coming to visit. David was supposed to have finished moving rooms before my dad came to town and he had not finished. Plus there was resetting the room he’d moved out of and resetting the closet of the room that stored the stuff that used to be in that room and putting stuff from the room he was moving to into that closet. If it sounds circuitous, it really was.

After that was the recycling. I don’t think anyone has taken the recycling out of the house since January. I filled my entire Jeep up from top to bottom and back to front. It was only about 2/3 of the total recycling. I had other errands to run, though, so I did that and never got back to check on the David House.

This morning I got up and realized that I’d never gotten around to doing the critiques for the Pineywoods Critique Group, which was just as well because I hadn’t sent anything in over the last weekend, either. So the spouse and I went and got haircuts, which we have literally never done at the same time before. Then we ran a couple errands and ate lunch. One of the errands was picking up all the boxes of history for the ETWG Historian position before the current Historian moved and took them with her.

This was the last thing on my To Do list for the day besides feeding and chaperoning the band. It’s also the first real writing I’ve done all week. I’m not sure I’ll have time during the weekend to write, unless I am very careful with my time. We have the game tonight, my dad in town, an afternoon church party tomorrow, dinner at my dad’s and games, then church Sunday morning, and an ETYO concert Sunday afternoon. I may not get anything sent in to the critique group this weekend either. Chapter Nine of CQ needs re-drafting. Maybe I’ll send them some more poetry.


Getting back on The FlyLady bandwagon and getting my house/life/sanity under control. Spring Break was fabulous, but the cleanup is going to take a while. Have had a nice last few days at home. It is so good to finally be at home and get things done that need doing. I’ve updated my household notebook and finally put some of my lists in sleeves so I can use the dry erase marker on them. I love technology, but somehow my brain does not equate checking something off a digital list with crossing something out on a paper list. My brain wants paper.  What can I say?

Also had a fantastic time having coffee with a sweet, uplifting friend of mine.  Have I mentioned how much I love having coffee with people?  And that I will continue to call it “coffee” til the end of time regardless of whether or not actual coffee is involved?  Oh yes I will. BTW, I need more people to coffee with.  I am available during the day and will even make time for coffee with dessert in the evenings for all you working gals because I still love you even though you’ve gone off and left me during the day (boo hoo. sniff-sniff.)

Don’t Just Talk About It, Days 6, 7, 16, & 17

Day 6 I was supposed to clean under the bed.


Cleaning under the bed was mostly easy.  I took all the junk out & put it in the holding basket, then put it all away.

Stuff I found under my bed.

Dusted under the bed, then slid the already tidy drawers back in.

Yet more stuff that lives under my bed.


Here’s where the cleaning bit gets messy. Day 7 was cleaning the shelving units at the end of my bedroom.


The problem with the shelves is that they are where all the extra stuff is stored: books & movies that have been borrowed but not yet returned (I borrow from a friend that I only see once every 3 or 4 months so it’s a big pile), videos & DVDs from other areas that have been taken out but not put back (mostly because they no longer have a home due to changes in living room furniture), paper goods that need to be filed but can’t because of sleeping David (the file cabinets live in his closet), all our old yearbooks because they can’t live in the moist garage anymore, etc.


So the dilemma is that there’s no longer storage for videos in the living room and my under the bed space is totally filled up.  I started going through there and clearing out movies I was pretty sure we’d never watch again or would be easily available through Netflix. I only managed to get rid of about 6 items. Then I moved on to the drawer of them in David’s room (the old TV stand is in there and used as Lego Building Territory, but we’d never cleared out the drawer and had meant to) and got rid of most of those.   I also dug through the one drawer in the media cabinet that has DVDs and sorted through those and got also got rid of all our cassette tapes, as we haven’t had a cassette player in years (edited to add: some tapes that had sentimental attachments stayed, such as mix tapes made by us or friends).

I still had too many movies to fit into the tiny drawers in the media cabinet.  So I pulled the old media shelves back in from the garage, rearranged a bit of furniture again to accommodate them, and put them back into place.  The rest of the videos and DVDs fit there nicely…with lots of room to spare.  I started thinking about that extra room and how what I thought I needed for the sheet music was shelves.  I ended up pulling out all the music, organizing it by instrument (piano, clarinet, flute, recorder, violin, small percussion), then by book series & level, composer, or genre, depending on the book.  Put all those on the bottom shelf and they fit perfectly.

The newly organized music shelf. Series on left, compilations in middle, by composer next, then theory, books of popular or contemporary music, then the hymnal for clarinets followed by music for clarinets, flutes, recorders,  violins, & percussion.

So in the end I worked on days 6, 7, 16, & 17.  I still have some more work for day 16 – I’m going through and ripping CDs to mp3 that I never listen to because they can’t go on the iPhone as they currently stand – involving moving quite a few CDs into a “Discard if not used in 6 months” box.  But that I’ll leave for later in the month.


I’d hoped to get the rest of the shelves in my room cleared out, but the kids are coming home from their Nana & Pa’s house earlier this morning than I’d expected, so this is as far as I got, which is still so much better than it had been.

Today’s plan

I know you all love to hear about my plans: today I have to clean, clean, clean because we’re having two different but simultaneous playdates with Caleb and Amy here this afternoon. I want to have the kids room, the living room, the foyer, and the kitchen done by the time I have to leave for my dentists appointment a little after noon. I hope my dentists appointment doesn’t take too long. She said an hour, I hope it is an hour. I only have an hour and fifteen minutes to work with, so I’m going early and going to hope that they’re running a bit early.

*updated to add: yes, it did only take an hour. 🙂