Family, Humor, Real Life, Writing

Boy, do I feel dumb!

Just after dawn this morning, I woke to a buzzing sound. I listened for a few seconds before deciding it must be my husband grinding coffee. Then I turned to look at his side of the bed and saw him lying there with a puzzled look. “What is that sound?” he asked.

I got out of bed, and soon realized the sound was coming from the bathroom. I stepped in and listened. “It’s coming from the light fixture, I think.” We have a four-bulb fixture above the medicine cabinet. I turned the light off and back on. The sound persisted.

My husband investigated and came to the same conclusion. He set up the step stool and tapped on the light. He loosened, then tightened the bulbs. He switched the light off and on. “Go turn the breaker off. Is the one for this bathroom marked?”

The breaker box is outside, so while I was putting on my robe and shoes, he climbed down and put on his shoes. “I’d better go with you,” he said. To which I logically replied, “Then why should I go?” A few seconds later, the bathroom light went out—along with the clock radio and cable box. The buzzing continued. I relayed the bad news.

“Get me a screwdriver,” said my husband. He proceeded to remove the light fixture. The fixture, added to this home before we moved here, was attached to the ceiling instead of the wall above the cabinet, so it’s awkward to work with. Dear husband is not a handyman, and if I hadn’t been standing there, I’m sure he would have addressed the situation with a few choice words.

Alas! The fixture’s removal provided no further clue to the source of the buzzing. We debated the possible causes. Was there something in the attic space directly wired to the main electrical line? Ah-ha, turn off the main breaker!

You know what I’m going to say, right?

So … was it possible the men who put the insulation in two years ago, dropped something that just now set off an alarm … or turned on? Not likely, but “We’ll have to climb up and take a look,” DH said. Understand that our access to the attic is in my craft closet. It takes effort, and time, to remove all the cabinets, shelves, and hanging bags of things to be able to get a ladder in there.

When I opened the door to begin the unloading, my husband cried, “The alarm system!” The wiring box for the old alarm system in this house is also in that closet. He pulled up a chair and leaned in far enough to open it and snip all the wires he could see. “Go see if the buzzing stopped,” he said.

No such luck!

In desperation, he called our Utah son, who was an electrician in the Air Force, and I decided to turn to Google. I entered “buzzing sound in wall” and after reading through a dozen or so hits, I found one where a woman talked about a similar situation—also in their bathroom. Their cause? An electric razor in the shower.

“Could it be your trimmer in the medicine cabinet?” I asked hopefully. Now off the phone, DH headed toward the bathroom with me close behind. He opened the cabinet and pulled out his obviously silent trimmer. “Shoot,” I said. He started moving things around in the cabinet, then on top of it. When he touched the ceramic cup, the sound changed. Eureka!

Did you know a cheap electric toothbrush can turn itself on?

Movies, Musings, Writing

The stuff I blog when I tire of relevancy

Yesterday, I watched Ponyo, an animated Japanese children’s movie. It reminded me of another movie, Spirited Away, and a quick check at Netflix told me they were both directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003. The animation in these movies is gorgeous, though some of the imagery disturbs me, as do the stories.

Fujimoto @2008, 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT

In the one I saw yesterday, I’m not sure I ever understood what the father of Ponyo was. Though he lives and breathes underwater, he looks human, with bizarre hair,  but he’s horrified that his daughter—born a fish—wants to become human. In the English-language version, Liam Neeson is the voice of this character, and though I’m a Neeson fan, his voice coming out of this character’s mouth only added to the weirdness.

Although both these movies mesmerized me, they seem so different from American animated children’s movies, I’m surprised our children like them. Then again, I don’t see a lot of children’s movies anymore, so maybe they’ve changed. Or maybe I should be comparing them to our folk tales of old. These two Japanese movies did remind me of the fairy tales I read as a child. The ones that frightened me.

Did I worry there might be real witches with candy houses and ovens built for children? You bet. Did it cross my mind that my father might do something like indenture me to spin straw into gold for the rest of my life? In a word, yes. Think of all the tales that feature a wicked step-mother. I did … every time my parents argued. As an adult I understand those tales reflected the harshness of the times in which they originated, but as a child that aspect flew over my head. A part of me believed these things might be possible.

Gran Mamare @2008, 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT

This image from Ponyo particularly spooked me. Every time I stand at ocean’s edge, I fear I am seconds away from seeing something huge—and alive—rising out of it. So, even though she was beautiful, the image of Ponyo’s mother gave me pause.

Sometimes imagination is a curse.

Tell me, did any children’s stories worry or scare you? Or were you precocious enough to go deeper, analyzing the symbolism and allegory?

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Advice, Craft, Fiction, Goals, Publish, Tips, Writing

Writing vs. Crafting

A couple days ago, Ann Lynn asked for my opinion on the difference between writing a story and crafting a story. It’s like this: just because I know how to use wood glue and C-clamps to repair a dresser drawer, doesn’t mean I can design and build a solid cherry armoire. In the same way, almost anyone can write a story, but to write a good story, you have to learn the elements of successful storytelling and how to mold your idea around them.

woodtools Like most of you, I started writing stories when I was a child, and as I grew older I wrote better stories, but now, I want to learn how to write good stories. Maybe I don’t have the talent to write publishable short stories. Learning how to use carpentry tools doesn’t guarantee me the mastery to turn out a beautiful piece of furniture. Maybe a footstool is the best I can do. So be it, but I have to find out.

I read many novels, but few short stories, so one step toward my goal will be to read more stories. Also, I read a lot about novel writing, but not so much specifically about story writing, so concurrent with the previous step, I’ll be studying the structuring of a short story, the craft work. Then I will write. Then I will submit what I’ve written. Will my stories be published? Stay tuned to find out.

Would you like to add your own thoughts about writing vs. crafting?

Photo credit: Scott Adams
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Polls, Writing

Okay, everybody VOTE!

And I do mean EVERYBODY!

Some of you are regular visitors to my blog, and I’ve probably visited your blog, so I may already know a little about what you write. Doesn’t matter. I still want you to make your choice official and VOTE. Some of you may be visiting for the first time. Great. Please VOTE. And some of you come to this blog repeatedly, but never leave a comment. Well, today you can remain anonymous, but please VOTE.

If you are a writer, please VOTE in my poll.

If you’re not a writer, please VOTE in my poll. See question #5? That’s for you!

If you write in a form not listed, please VOTE by typing your answer in the “other” box.

If you hate having to choose just one, or want to explain your vote, or just want to say, “Hey!” Please leave a comment.

UPDATE: If you vote Other, please leave a comment to say what you write.