Friday, December 2, 2016

In the Heat of It

It is really true that you take stuff for granted until it’s gone. As Thanksgiving was drawing to a close, the heat stopped working on half of our house. And the half that was now heatless included the kitchen, the room where my computer is, the room with all my yarn, another bedroom, the dining room and half the living room.

While it’s true that since I’m in Southern California I didn’t have to worry about really freezing to death, it still felt plenty cold on that side of the house. I took to wearing a jacket and a scarf when I wanted to work on my computer. The angle of the sun is so low at this time of year and it out for such a short time that it didn’t heat things up much during the day.

Friday morning, I discovered that the heating and air conditioning people I use took Black Friday off. It began to look like a long cold weekend complete with rain and a cold blast coming down from Alaska.

Lucky for me, Costco had a Dyson heater (it also cools) on sale. I brought it home and set it up in a place that sent heat to several rooms. It didn’t make them really warm, but it did take the icy edge off.

The repair man came on Monday afternoon. Vision of being toasty any minute danced in my head. Well, that is until he told me the igniter on the heater was broken (basically an electronic pilot light) and he didn’t have the part and it would have to be ordered. He wasn’t too optimistic about when the part would arrive either.

In the whole scheme of things waiting a few more days wasn’t the end of the world. Though I admit to not spending much time on my computer and I was pretty bundled up over my morning coffee. But then I got the call that he’d be coming on Thursday with the part.

Thursday visions of heat began to dance in my head again as I waited for his arrival. I was giving a window of time from noon to four. The hours went by and the afternoon began to fade and he hadn’t shown. Already I was preparing for another night of chill, figuring he’d gotten stuck on a call and wasn’t going to get here. At a little before four the company called to explain the technician was on a call in Westwood, which isn’t that far in distance, but time wise this close to rush hour was a long trip. I wondered if he would really come to my place next or would it get to be so late that I’d get another call saying he’d have to come in the morning.

I began to turn on lights and evening had definitely arrived. And then a ring of the doorbell. He was standing outside with his ladder at the ready. He showed me the new igniter which looked pretty small and not complicated considering the price. Then he went to install it. I smelled the heat before I felt it wrap me in its wonderful warmth. I let out a big ah, thinking of not having to wear layers of sweaters and vests while I watched TV. We discussed filters, I paid him and he left.

The heat was waiting for me when I came into the room with my computer. So nice to sit down and not shiver. Yes, sad but true it takes being without something to truly appreciate it. But never again. Heat now has a permanent place my daily gratitude list.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

History can be murder!

Please welcome Barb Schlichting to Killer Hobbies today.  Barb is an avid history buff who collects pictures of... Well I'll let her tell you.
I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1970.  My dad had also graduated from Roosevelt.  My grade school was Julia Ward Howe, and she wrote, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.  She also was an abolitionist and a suffragist.  My junior high school, was Maria Sanford.  She was an educator.  I’m not sure if these historical icons played a part in my interest in American history, but I sure grew to love it.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was so elegant and soft spoken.  Her voice was like a whisper and she’d always outshine her husband even though, I liked him.  Every First Lady since Mrs. Kennedy, I’ve been interested in.

I could never imagine what it’d be like to live in the White House.  I loved it when Barbara Bush went sliding with her grandchildren, which me hope that my grandkids would love me just as much.  Laura Bush was so serene and a librarian, to boot!  I already loved books.  I grew up on Nancy Drew and Maude Hart Lovelace.

My love and interest in the First Ladies just kept growing.  Mrs. Obama was a great ambassador for good nutrition.  As an educator, I see firsthand how the lunch programs have become healthier because of her efforts. 

Suddenly, I decided that I wanted a signed picture of each of the living First Ladies.  Unfortunately, I missed Betty Ford, and I loved her.  She danced upon the presidential desk.  Can you beat that!  I contacted each of the libraries and foundations until my request was answered.  That includes a signed picture from, Mrs. Carter, Reagan, both Bush’s, Clinton, and Mrs. Obama.  From Mrs. Obama, I also received a letter which was printed on White House stationary.  Barbara Bush signed her name in the calligraphy script and attached a note.  Every First Lady deserves our respect for what they’ve contributed to our country and culture.

In my spare time when I’m not writing, I read a great deal, walk outside a mile every day, quilt and knit or crochet.  We live in the woods on the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, so I can watch all the large and small animals of the forest plus observe the many birds. 
You can find Barb's newest First Lady Mystery, If Words Could Kill, at


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cold or Not?

Happy last day of November, everyone.

As you probably know, I live in Los Angeles.  My home is in the area known as the Hollywood Hills.

I grew up in the east and was therefore acclimated to cold weather, and even snow though I never really learned to drive in it.  I've also been in L.A. during genuine cold spells years ago, when there were actually a few snow flurries.

Now, though, things tend to be more moderate.  This week, the lows are actually getting down into the 40s at night, but the highs are in the 60s and 70s.  And I can't tell you how many people are complaining about how cold it is, even in the late morning and early afternoon!  It's all relative, I suppose.

Me?  Well, I can get a little chilly, especially at bedtime.  I do put on socks often this time of year, since if my feet are warm the rest of me tends to be warm enough, too.  And I do put on a sweater sometimes when walking our Mystie just before sundown.  But during the day, while watching a lot of people with jackets and hoodies and sweaters, I'll generally wear something with long sleeves and feel fine.

I can understand what those of you reading this who actually live in cold climates must be thinking.  But no, I'm probably not going to come visit you for a reminder of what cold is really like.

For now, I'm sitting in my office writing.  My fingers are a little cold despite the furnace being on.  Our thermostat says it's about 69 degrees.  Our house is well insulated so it tends to hold onto the chill or heat inside without drawing in what it's really like inside, at least not at first.  I think I can write just as well in winter as in other times of the year--so I'd better get back to it now!  I'm still working on my first K-9 Ranch Harlequin Romantic Suspense book... but its deadline is approaching.

Stay comfortable--and enjoy your first week in December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sacred Souvenir?

We stepped very promptly from Thanksgiving to Advent, which means four Sundays until Christmas (including the one just past), though Christmas itself is on the following Sunday, which gives us an entire last week to finish shopping and putting up the tree and decorating the outside of the house or apartment.  Our church held an Advent Wreath Making party after the ten o’clock service this past Sunday, aimed, probably, mostly at children.  You may have seen one, the evergreen wreath sits flat on a table rather than hanging on a wall or door, and has four candles poking upward, three purple and one pink.  The first Sunday you light a purple one, the second you light another purple one and then, surprisingly, you light the pink one on the third Sunday, and the last purple one on the last Sunday.  Growing up Catholic, we were not allowed to put up the tree or surround a window with lights until Christmas Eve. 

Anyway, between July 1966 and July 1968 I was in London.  And some time in that period a friend and I visited Ely Cathedral – we were both fascinated by these ancient historic buildings.  Ely dates to the 600s, but the present building was begun in 1083.  It’s enormous and very beautiful. They were in the process of repairing the Lady Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and had broken out the carved-stone windows.  The pieces lay in a disordered heap on the ground, and I picked up a piece.  I ended up bringing it home to Milwaukee, and then kept it on my many moves thereafter.  At first I kept it because it’s part of a sacred place and I couldn’t think how to dispose of it, but it became one of my favorite souvenirs of my time in England.  A few years ago, I decided to make an unusual Advent “wreath” of it.  See photo below.