“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.” ~ Stephen King



“In the end, writing is like a prison, an island from which you will never be released but which is a kind of paradise: the solitude, the thoughts, the incredible joy of putting into words the essence of what you for the moment understand and with your whole heart want to believe.” ~ James Salter

Yosemite Valley Flower in the Snow by Laurie Withers, Sunnyvale, CA

I was thinking about what I wanted to write about today, and it occurred to me (while I was in the shower contemplating how very little hot water is available from our hot water heater) that before I jump into 2010 I should probably pause to reflect on my blog itself: As in, is the format readable? Does my header grab a reader’s attention in the 10 seconds or so in which it flashes on the screen in a blogroll?

You know, earth-shattering questions such as those. So I decided that I would try to look at my blog with a critic’s eyes, find its weaknesses and strengths, etcetera.

Need I really explain how fruitless an endeavor this was? Being my own worst critic, I began to rip apart my blog (in my mind of course). Why this font? What’s up with that positioning. Why such a long title? Realizing that I could not accomplish what I wanted to do alone, I decided that I would turn to you, dear reader. Hence, the following questions for which I would appreciate true answers. 

“Writing is the most personal form of prayer.” ~ Franz Kafka

Before I begin, let me step back and explain a few things of which you may not be aware:

Crocus Flowers in Snow by Oswald Skene

The title—Lola’s Curmudgeonly Musings About Life, Love, and Other Trifles—is long, but not really if you are at all familiar with my writing. Lola is my alternate ego, so to speak. She is the one who rants and raves about politics, ignorance in society, and unbelievable atrocities and events happening all over the globe. Curmudgeonly is perhaps the one best word to describe both Lola and myself. I do not suffer fools gladly. The last part of the title, musings etc., arose from the fact that I realized that my blog was going to be about a little bit of everything.

Since I began writing, I have found that Lola does not appear nearly as often as I thought that she would. Instead, Poietes, the moniker with which I dubbed myself years and years ago seems to be the name with which most people are familiar. Poietes is an ancient Greek word meaning poet or maker, maker of words. I have had POIETES on my license plate for almost 16 years, the only exception being currently as our vehicle is not actually ours, and I cannot get the plate that I would like. People recognize the moniker as being me, both in print and in person.

One other thing, my blogs are actually blongs, i.e., very long blogs. I know this. I acknowledge this. I realized many, many entries ago that I could not say what I wanted to say in 300 words, 500 words, or even 750 words. On average, my blogs are about 1300 words long, with quotes. As for the quotes, they did not make their appearance immediately, but they have since become a mainstay. As I have said, I have collected quotes for years. I have pages and pages (translated to Word files) just filled with quotes on different topics.

“Writing is nothing but a guided dream.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that background information out of the way, here are the questions that I would like to pose to you. I understand that most of you don’t have time for deep thoughts about someone else’s blog as your deep thoughts appear on your own blogs, but I really would like to know what you are thinking. That being said, who knows how much I will alter my blog as I am fickle (pun on name, yes), but your feedback is always appreciated.

  1. Should I change the title of my blog to something shorter and catchier? What about the word musings?
  2. Should I change Lola to Poietes?
  3. Do you have a suggestion as to how to combine Lola and Poietes (no, this isn’t a way to get all of my various personalities in check)?
  4. How about the format? Should I change to a different template?
  5. I’m asking about the format as I am considering buying the upgrade for the CSS so that I can personalize the format, change default fonts, colors, etc. Would you recommend doing that, or is my current format readable?
  6. What do you think of my use of quotes?
  7. Are there any topics that you think that I should tackle?
  8. Is there one particular subject that you would like for me to write about in a post?
  9. Should I make my tags more creative?
  10. How do you feel about my use of images?

Bonus question: What was your favorite post and why?

“The only time I know the truth is when it reveals itself at the point of my pen.” ~ Norman Mailer

Snow on Flowers

To be perfectly honest, though, how this blog looks may seem to be insignificant, but I have found from years of experience that the old maxim content dictates form is actually true.  Those of us who write blogs usually do so because we want to share our thoughts with other people. We want other people to read our words, and if we are fortunate, people make comments about what we have written, which lets us know that someone out there somewhere is reading us.

Yes, the content, the words, are the most important aspect. But if something about the format makes it hard to read the words, then something needs to be altered to remedy that problem. For example, white on black lettering is extremely hard to read. If you believe in color psychology, and I do, red backgrounds appear to be antagonistic. San serif fonts are supposed to be easy to read, but books are never published in san serif fonts. These are all considerations.

“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” ~ Stephen King

So keeping all of that in mind, what do you think about how my blog looks? But more importantly, what do you think about the blog’s content?

Admittedly though, I would continue to write this blog even if no one read it. This forum has become immensely important to me as a means in which to voice my personal truths, to share my thoughts, to expound on that which is important to me.

Snow-capped Tulips

And so it become a creative circle of writing and reading, reading and commenting, commenting and creating.

As 2009 closes, I send my thanks to those of you who have taken the time to visit, to comment, to support, to nudge, to engage. Years ago when blogging began I thought that it was one of the stupidest things I had ever heard of—putting your journal out there for anyone to read. Now I realize that blogging is so much more. Blogging has become a mainstream means of communicating about everything from recipes, to travels, to politics, to biographies, to history, to celebrity, to sports and on and on.

Thank you for sharing your lives and opinions with me. My world has been enriched through the words, images and music that you put out there for the world to see.

More later. Peace.

Loreena McKennitt, one of my favorites, performing “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which is based on the poem by the same name written by Christina Rossetti in 1872.



In The Bleak Midwinter (first stanza)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.


All quotes in today’s post found on Whiskey River.

“Nulla dies sine linea.” (Never a day without a line) ~ Horace

 Waterman Fairy Ad 

Vintage Advertisement for Waterman’s Fountain Pen


“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up on rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ~ Author Unknown

Not a whole lot going on at the homestead.

Corey went to an open house for MSC (Military Sealift Command) today, only to find out that they haven’t had any available deck positions for over a year. He said that the place was packed and that most of those in attendance had no experience at all. I know that it is quite discouraging for him to go to these things only to find out that there are no jobs. Besides, why are they having an open house if they don’t have any positions. Does this make sense?

watermans new leaf penWe haven’t heard anything else from the shipyard, and as I said, that process could take months. Vane Brothers hasn’t gotten back to him either, although the man with whom Corey has been in contact did say that he was passing Corey’s detailed work experience on to the General Manager. I don’t even know if that means anything any more. It used to be that when you heard something like that from an employer, it was a very good sign, but not these days in this economy.

I think that I’ve finally gotten things straightened out with my retirement account. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to take anything more out of my account, but I will probably have to continue to make withdrawals for the time being. With a 24 percent tax penalty each time, that’s a hefty loss right off the top for any withdrawal that I make, but we really don’t have any other choices left.

When I spoke to the representative with whom I have been in continuing contact, he told me that Denver had just been hit with a huge snowstorm, so the TIAA-CREF offices may be closing early. He didn’t seem very amused when I told him that it was 75 degrees here. Oh well. Glad that I don’t live in Denver. I’m not ready for snowstorms, not that we ever really get them in this area any more.

“You can’t write a personal column without going to some very deep place inside yourself, even if it’s only for four hours. It’s almost like psychotherapy, except you’re doing it on your own.” ~ Jennifer Allen, essayist 

Mark Twain pen adJust spending my time rereading some old books by Ann Rule. These aren’t as interesting as the ones that I read over the weekend, but they are better than nothing.

Other than that, I really don’t have a whole lot to say. I need to finish some paperwork for Virginia Social Services to see if I qualify for Medicaid. If I do, then some of my back balances with my doctors may be taken care of, which would be one load off my mind. With any luck, I may get some help with prescriptions as well, which would be really great since my prescription coverage is still screwed up, and we are having to pay full price for my prescriptions. As a result, I am not taking all of my meds, which I am sure is affecting the whole headache scenario.

It’s just a never-ending cycle.

Yesterday, Eamonn asked if he could borrow a few dollars. I had to laugh. I told him that I have precisely 12 cents to my name. I’m not sure what he is doing with the money that he is earning, but at least we don’t have to pay for his gas. He said something about waiting until next year to start school. I hope that it was just a passing comment, because I know from experience with Alexis that the longer he waits to begin, the greater are the chances that he won’t start at all. That would really be a shame.

Alexis kept saying that she would start one day, but that day has never come. All of her friends who went to college have already graduated and gotten jobs. I know that college isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a shame when someone is definitely smart enough to go to college, and they don’t, but it has to be her decision.

“Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.” ~ Stephen King

advertisement-for-a-fountain-pen-featuring-a-silhouette-of-a-woman-sitting-under-a-tree-writingAnyway, it’s a chilly fall day with no sunshine, one of those kinds of days that make staying inside a good option. I’m really hoping that we can do something about the heat this winter, but I’m not going to allow myself to get starry-eyed with belief in wild scenarios. Heat. Wild scenario. My, I’ve come a long way.

As it is, the vet that we took Tillie to for her first seizure is getting pretty nasty about the amount owed. They’ve slapped on so many fees that we now owe over twice as much as we owed in the beginning. Try to imagine your highest vet’s bill—now double it. That’s what we’re talking about.

I would really like to start something with Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), a non-profit service that helps people to consolidate and pay off their bills, but we don’t have the extra monthly income to even start something like that. CCCS is not like a lot of debt-consolidation companies. They are recognized by the Better Business Bureau, and they charge a minimal monthly fee for their services. However, once you start the program, it is very important that you make the monthly payment that has been negotiated with your creditors on your behalf; otherwise, the process is all for naught. Right now, it is too premature to agree to any kind of payment plan with anyone.

I’ve been reading the news, and the number of people who are having to file for bankruptcy is increasing each month. That is really something that I just do not want to do. It seems like total surrender, and I don’t want to consider that as an option. I know that there are a lot of irresponsible people who file for bankruptcy as a way to wipe the slate clean, and then they begin to accumulate debt all over again. But there are just as many people out there who are filing for bankruptcy because they just don’t have any other way out.

It’s sad really. A recent report in USA Today cited that the number of bankruptcies is up 22 percent over last year. By the end of the year, estimates are that 1.45 million consumers will have to file, with job loss being listed as the primary reason for filing. For 2009, Virginia ranks 23rd overall for bankruptcies filed. Nevada, Tennessee, and Georgia rank first through third, in that order.

The economy continues to be scary, and the job situation continues to be depressing. Not just for us but for millions of people.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” ~ Joseph Heller 

Parker Duofold PenOther than those little tidbits, I don’t have much to say, which in itself is disheartening. I had really hoped to be back to my daily blogging by now, but there are some days in which I just have absolutely nothing to say. I sit down to write and just stare at the screen. Then I open a game like Mah Jong or Spider Solitaire and play that for a bit.

It’s underwhelming, at best. I mean, how long can I continue to write about my dogs, the economy, the money situation? I’m getting bored with what I write, so it’s only logical that people would find my posts boring to read. Hence, I don’t post.

I mean, I have been reading some really outlandish stuff on the political front, but even that isn’t motivating me to post. Maybe it’s just seasonal, or the continuing ache in my head, or the fact that it’s not even November, and I’m cold. But whatever it is, I hope that is passes soon, because I enjoy writing, just not when I continuously repeat myself.

I’ll finish with a very descriptive quote that I found; it’s by Stephen King, whose writing I don’t always like, but I do like an awful lot of what King has to say about the writing process:

There is indeed a half-wild beast that lives in the thickets of each writer’s imagination. It gorges on a half-cooked stew of suppositions, superstitions and half-finished stories. It’s drawn by the stink of the image-making stills writers paint in their heads. The place one calls one’s study or writing room is really no more than a clearing in the woods where one trains the beast (insofar as it can be trained) to come. One doesn’t call it; that doesn’t work. One just goes there and picks up the handiest writing implement (or turns it on) and then waits. It usually comes, drawn by the entrancing odor of hopeful ideas. Some days it only comes as far as the edge of the clearing, relieves itself and disappears again. Other days it darts across to the waiting writer, bites him and then turns tail. ~ From “The Writing Life” (October 2006)

Today is one of those “as far as the edge of the clearing” days. Video of Anna Nalick’s “Wreck of the Day” with images from “Law & Order Criminal Intent,” one of the best shows ever.

More later, with any luck. Peace.

Spring Cleaning in December

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Something

I’ll Take The Eight Maids-a-Milking, Alex

Eight Maids-a-Milking

I take back what I said about some of the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas the other day. If someone gave me eight maids-a-milking right now, I’d grab them in a heartbeat, take aways their milking pails, and quickly install them in my home to help with the purging of my living room and dining room of years of clutter and foreign objects.

This weekend, we finally decided to tackle the self-made art nouveau statue that had taken on a life of its own in the dining room, which led to a massive cleaning effort. We began in a two-foot circumference and started spreading outward. The motivation must have been catchy because soon my youngest son had moved into his bedroom and begun to dust and clean, really clean—egads! He filled, at last count, four garbage bags (I’m not sure of the contents). He finished his bedroom, and it looks really good.

We have yet to finish the big project that we are working on, so I am trying not to be too envious of him and to remind myself that he had much less square footage. I’m taking a break in my cleaning to write my blog, which at this point is turning out to be a less than literary post anyway. I think that my mind has turned to mush, that or the dust is beginning to absorb the little bit of grey matter that is still functioning.

Moving on, I tackled the living room closet, which is every bit as scary as you might imagine. I found at least one plastic storage tub’s worth of books to put in storage and another box of books for giveaway. I worked my way from the front door towards the dining room, and Corey started to pack everything on top of the buffet in preparation of moving that gargantuan piece of furniture to my mother’s garage (our perpetual storage place) for Alexis, and believe it or not, we agreed on a plan to set up the new dining room set that has been in boxes in the storage shed for at least a year. How do you spell h-a-l-l-e-l-u-j=a=h? We might actually be able to sit down as a family for a meal on a weeknight. I haven’t experienced such a thing in years . . .

We discovered several DVD’s and video games (discovered as in unearthed), found some missing tools. I came upon some kind of volt regulator thingy that Corey claims he had been looking for and why didn’t I tell him that it was in the closet and he had looked in the closet several times and never found it there and if I knew it was there why didn’t I tell him it was there . . . hell, I didn’t even know what the damned thing was.

Now that You Have it, What Do You Do With It?


We’ve managed to put together a nice pile of stuff to donate, and another small pile of electronics and games that we may be able to take to the pawn shop and make a small profit on because every bit helps. I like to donate my old books that I know that I won’t read again and that have already been through the exchange system between my mother-in-law and myself or whoever else wants to borrow or trade. I don’t think that books should ever be thrown out unless they have dry rot or meal worms or they have that old moldy smell. Books should be recycled whenever possible. I would donate these books to someplace that wouldn’t sell them if I knew of such a place, perhaps a women’s shelter. Maybe I’ll look into that. That would be better than a thrift store.

One year we had a huge yard sale, and I had saved up all of my old books, thinking that they would sell quickly. I only sold two books, both by Stephen King from my much earlier Stephen King phase, and I gave away a few more. We ended up packing up several boxes of books and taking them to the thrift store and donating them. I really wish that people would read more. Ah me. We made a total of $22 on the yard sale, and I have concluded that yard sales are much more trouble than they are ever worth.

But I digress . . . After two days, the cleaning is down to the nitty gritty. I still need to pack my china, which I am saving for tomorrow morning when I am fresh. I think that if I tried to do it tonight being this bodily tired and emotionally weary, there is too great of a risk of breakage (mine and the china’s), and we’re talking the good china here, the stuff I really like. Corey has one more pile of miscellaneous junk to go through and shred, and then we are done. After we move out the buffet and set up the furniture, then the fun really begins: Christmas tree and decorations!

Haul Out the Holly . . . and the spackle and the paint

Well, I’m running late this year, but definitely earlier than last year, and the best part is that once the decorations come down in January, I’ll have a decluttered dining room. Granted, it still won’t be painted, and the new floor won’t be down, but hey, we’ll be one step closer. I think that getting over this major hump of decluttering will help both Corey and me to get over some kind of mental block that we’ve had as far as the house is concerned. Do you know how when you let something go, and then it starts to bother you, it begins to loom over everything? It starts to grow and grow, becoming insurmountable, so you put if off longer because it seems undoable, and the longer you put it off, the more it seems impossible to do. A classic Catch 22 situation—that’s what our living room/dining room clutter had become.

I’m hoping that now that we have almost conquered it, and once we decorate for the holidays, it will become a work-in-progress once more, the one that just needs to be primed and painted, the one that just needs to have the rest of the old carpeting pulled up, the one that needs to have the new molding installed, the one that needs the new flooring installed. Not that much really, huh? I won’t even mention the bedroom furniture that is still in the boxes in the living room along with the paint that we had mixed back in the spring to paint the master bedroom and how that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe we can do that for Mother’s Day 2009?

I really have learned how to lower my expectations. It makes it so much easier that way. It’s also more rewarding once something finally does get done, such a sense of achievement! Whoo hoo! Look at me! I cleaned my dining room.

So, my anticipated timeline is that by Tuesday, we’ll have the tree up, and by the end of the week, I should have my shopping done and the presents wrapped. Oh, and somewhere in there, I’ll do my Christmas cards, and keep my daily blogs written. All righty then. We’ll check back in a few days and see how far I’ve gotten on that delusion, shall we?xmas-tree-ornament

A little update, my daughter came by, and she and my eldest son rummaged through the total of six bags that Brett ended up amassing. Together they scavanged two Game Boys and a couple of games, some Sharpies, a mini etch-a-sketch, a hat, pajama pants, a baseball cap, and lord knows what else. (I would have snatched up the Sharpies first if I had seen them. He wasn’t actually throwing them out; his sister actually just pointed to them and said, “you don’t need those, do you?”)

So I’m calling it a night. I actually slept last night, and I kind of liked it. I’m going to try to repeat it again tonight. I’m hoping that it’s habit forming. More later. Peace.