Category Archives: How It Could Be

If you can’t reach me tomorrow…

The winning saw it here first.

The winning number…you saw it here first.

I have five lottery tickets. The hubby has five. We have high hopes that we are hours away from becoming $636 million winners. If the best happens, here’s fair warning: we will drop off the grid for several months.

We’ve talked about this scenario on numerous occasions, but for much smaller jackpots. If When we win, we don’t intend to claim our prize right away. We’d like to let the dust settle, give people time to forget about the huge jackpot with the mystery winner. (Yes, winner, singular. We aren’t trying to be selfish, we just like to think positive.) Instead of heading directly to the lottery office, the hubby will stop by work to drop off his badge. Then we’re getting the heck out of Dodge via one of two escape plans.

Plan A involves renting an RV and driving leisurely around the US looking for a place to settle down with our millions. Between house-hunting and sight-seeing stops, we’ll research charities, investment opportunities, and financial planners so we can protect our windfall and help it do the most good. Once we feel our ducks are in a row, we’ll change our phone number, return home, end the anonymity, and claim our prize.

Since much of the US is currently experiencing winter weather that is not conducive to safely piloting an RV, I suspect we will actually have to implement Plan B tomorrow. First thing in the morning, we’ll be on the phone with a Cunard representative, booking ourselves on the World Cruise aboard Queen Mary 2, departing from Southampton, England, on 10 January. That’ll give us three weeks to close up the house, adopt the remaining angels on the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree at the mall, and shop for a cruise-worthy wardrobe. After 29 ports-of-call, 18 countries, and 119 afternoon teas, we’ll be ready to come forward and announce our mega-millionness.

So, if you can’t reach me tomorrow, rest easy. I’m packing my bags and dreaming big dreams. The hubby and I will resurface in a few months with a plan, ready, willing, and eager to share the wealth. Until then…


Posted by on December 17, 2013 in How It Could Be


Pack your bags…slowly

101_5505So, the moving company has come to do our pack out survey–a man in a suit wandered through every room, taking copious notes about the household items we plan to ship back to the States, asking questions, and occasionally raising an eyebrow. (Wait, don’t all your clients pack out 150 antique glass bottles, 8 vintage Singers, and a dozen copper bedwarmers?)

When he was done with his tour, he consulted his notes and informed me it would take four days to pack everything because we “have a lot of smalls.” (Hey, are you trying to be funny? I’ve lived here long enough to know that smalls are underwear. Does it also mean “breakable junk”?)

I stopped myself (just barely) from blurting out, “The packers in Japan did it all in one day! Even the dodgy crew we had in the States managed in a day and a half.” Instead, I fetched my calendar to see which week we could devote to this job. Settling on 22-25 July, the surveyor politely informed me that the chaps would take care of it all, I didn’t need to do a thing, and that they’d see me on Monday at about half-nine. (Half-nine?! That’s 9:30. Oh, okay, now I see how this is going to play out…we’re packing out British-style.)

I’m not sure why I thought moving house would occur at a less leisurely pace than any other activity here in the UK. The daily schedule of the two courses I took last month caught me off guard (I’d heard rumors of a typical day’s timeline, but had yet to personally experience one in all its glory), but since they were nearly identical, I suspect I got a preview of exactly how our four moving days will unfold. Here’s how I predict the chaps will operate each day:

  • 09:30-11:00 ~ Warm-up, get oriented with the day’s agenda, organize materials, begin packing
  • 11:00-11:30 ~ Tea break
  • 11:30-13:00 ~ Packing, enquire about nearby dining options, make lunch plans
  • 13:00-14:00 ~ Lunch
  • 14:00-15:30 ~ Packing
  • 15:30-16:00 ~ Tea break
  • 16:00-17:30 ~ Wind down the day’s packing, discuss tomorrow’s plan of attack, secure the truck for departure

Note: I am a little unsure about the length of the tea break…will it be a full 30 minutes, or since they are working (as opposed to sitting in a class like I did), will it be closer to 15? Time will tell.

I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to deal with the British pace of moving day(s). I’m used to running fast and furious to keep an eye on the crew for a long 10-12 hours, then being done, finished, complete. Four days in the chaos of a half-packed house is going to drive me to distraction. Won’t they (and hubby) be surprised when I stay up late and just finish the job myself after the truck drives away the first night!


What can I do for you?

100_3545I know how to paint–I did our kitchen–but would rather
barter to find someone who can do the rest of the house.

If the world worked on a barter system, how would you fare? Would you have services to barter? Would you be successful, or would you struggle? (Monday’s prompt from The Daily Post.)

I think it would be AWESOME if the world worked on a barter system. Then I could finally create a resumé that really represents what I can do. I feel like I have a wide range of skills in a whole host of areas (and am adding to the list every day), so I think I’d be able to manage quite well in a bartering society. Here’s what I can offer:

  • teaching/tutoring (elementary math, science, and social studies; elementary through college level writing; ELL instruction for all ages)
  • custom picture framing
  • animal care
  • creating newsletters/flyers for your business
  • travel planning (Give me your travel dates, preferred mode of transport, and the type of activities you enjoy, and I’ll provide an entire itinerary)
  • assembling flat-pack furniture (can supply my own Allen wrenches)
  • handy(wo)man services (recaulk showers, minor plumbing repairs, install towel bars, hang pictures, program the DVR, etc.)
  • cooking (nothing gourmet, but I can follow a recipe)
  • house/office cleaning (I even do windows)
  • laundry (I can do minor repairs, such as stitching up a hem or sewing on a button, and will even iron under duress)
  • painting (interior–walls, ceilings, trim. I warn you, I am not fast, but I’m really type-A, so it’s quality work.)
  • tile floor installation (I learned to do this via Google, but I did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself.)
  • lawn care (mowing, weed-whacking, weed pulling–I will have a go at trimming the hedges, but do not guarantee results)
  • personal shopping
  • organizing (It’s much more interesting organizing other people’s stuff than my own)
  • spoon carving (*NEW*)

In return, I am seeking someone who can trade:

  • painting (Remember I said I’m not fast? I’ve got an entire house that needs painting.)
  • carpet cleaning
  • hardwood floor installation
  • mulch spreading
  • patio/deck design and construction
  • landscaping
  • tree removal
  • Thai foot massages
  • personal training

What do you think? Would you be willing/able to live in a barter-only society?  Know anyone who has studied Thai foot massage?




100_8641-001Question 31
If you knew there would be a nuclear war in one week, what would you do?

I’d like to ask a follow-up question, please. Is this going to be a targeted attack on a few cities, or an all-out global war? If the plan is just to annihilate a few pre-selected targets, I’d make sure I was as far away from them as possible then spend the week making preparations to shelter in place for the foreseeable future. However, if this is going to be a doomsday, wipe out all of mankind kind of war, then I would grab my husband and we’d spend the week visiting with friends and family, preferably in person, but by telephone or Skype as a last resort. Any loved ones we visited who wanted to join us for the rest of the journey would be welcome–the more the merrier as we try to keep our minds off impending disaster. During the final farewell tour, the car radio’d be turned up loud and the back seat would be a graveyard of empty take-out cartons and junk food wrappers–screw my current 1200-calorie diet plan, I’m stopping at every Chick-fil-A, Ruth’s Chris, Cracker Barrel, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, donut shop, and ice cream stand we pass (if I’m vaporized, no one will notice that I could no longer zip my pants). By the end of the week, I’d make sure we were in a place that we love (there are several that fit the bill, so we might end up picking one out of a hat) and my husband and I’d spend some quiet time on our own. As soon as there was confirmation that the war had begun and that it was as devastating as we’d been led to believe it would be, I’d hug and kiss everyone goodbye, swallow a bottle (or two) of sleeping pills, lay down beside my husband for a last snuggle, and pray that I had peacefully drifted off to a deep and endless sleep before the horrors of the nuclear holocaust reached our little corner of the world.

This has been the latest cheery and uplifting installment of Deep Thought Thursdays, brought to you by the provocative Gregory Stock, PhD, in The Book of Questions.




Mushrooms on toast @ Huffkins in Burford

You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

My favorite prompt this week comes from The Daily Post. I loved it because I’ve been on a 1200-calorie-per-day diet since January and have become totally obsessed with daydreams about food. I thought it’d be easy to pick five foods that I’d want from my captors, but as usual, I’ve overthought the whole thing, and now am not sure what foods to request. Am I locked up, or free to move about the island? Are the captors providing me with five ready-to-eat foods (i.e. prepared dishes) that I just dig right into? Or are they providing me with five raw materials to cook any way I choose? If I’m my own chef, am I exiled to an island with a fully equipped kitchen, or am I cooking in a salvaged tin can over a campfire that refuses to stay lit when it rains?

If I’m free to wander but only get five ingredients that I can then cook for myself, I want:
1. Chicken
2. Potatoes
3. Apples
4. Bread
5. Butter

I’m confident I could manage all of these ingredients in a full kitchen or over a fire, and that I could keep my taste buds engaged by foraging for other fruits and maybe some herbs on the island. I’m also not a bad fisherwoman, so I could add variety to my protein intake that way. (How am I gonna catch fish, you ask? Trust me, MacGyver’s got nothing on me. I’ll scavenge the beach for washed-up bits of net, pull the hem out of my pants and tie on a repurposed bobby pin for a hook, sharpen a tree branch to use as a spear… I’m nothing if not resourceful, and doubly so if I’m hungry.)

If my captors are offering me only five ready-to-eat foods in a jail cell, then I’m ordering:
1. Mushrooms on toast
2. Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes
3. Oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
4. Chef salad with ranch dressing, hold the hard-boiled eggs
5. Rib-eye steak, medium, smothered in sautéed mushrooms and onions

I think there’s enough variety here to maintain a healthy diet and rotate some different options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (assuming, of course, my captors believe in three square meals a day).

I notice that chocolate is not on either of my lists, and wonder about that omission. I can go for long stretches without eating chocolate, unless I know it is not available, and then I crave it to the point of madness. For the sake of my sanity and for the safety of my captors, I wonder if I should replace one item from each list with a Hershey bar? So many doubts and questions for such a simple prompt…



100_1113Maybe the folks over at The Daily Post picked up on my somewhat obsessive thoughts on this very topic over the past week. Here’s their writing prompt for today:

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

I already told you about my ideal reading space in Wednesday’s Haven post, as it would be part of my chick cave (I still don’t know the correct name for the female equivalent of the man cave). But don’t be misled into thinking that room is the only place I would be happy reading. I would (and do) read in the bathtub, in bed, in the car, on the sofa, at the kitchen table, at my desk, on the patio, in the coffee shop, at the beach, on a bench in the park…there’s really no place that’s off-limits when I’m in the middle of a good book.

However, I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that my writing space really does need some thought. I’m currently writing in my office, at my regular desk, surrounded by the detritus of everyday life—there are some tax documents that need to be scanned, there’s a folder that contains half-baked ideas for next week’s English lessons, there’s a half-compiled grocery list—all plotting to divert my attention away from writing. I think I’d like a separate area within my current office devoted solely to writing.

So, Mr. Genie, here’s my plan.

The most important component in this space is my desk, so I’ll use the student desk my mother lovingly finished for me when I was in high school, the one that is now masquerading as dressing table in the spare room. It is smaller than my regular day-to-day desk, so I’d have less surface area on which to pile distractions. I’m thinking I’ll need a lamp, a coaster for my mug of tea, my laptop, and nothing else. In the top center drawer, you should put a notepad, a pencil, an eraser, a couple of pens, a highlighter, some Post-it flags, a pair of scissors, and a roll of Scotch tape. The top left drawer should be stocked with healthy snacks (dark chocolate counts, so make sure there’s lots of that) and a supply of paper napkins and wet wipes. The middle drawer is going to stay empty for now, but eventually I’ll use it to store back-up CDs of my work. The large bottom drawer that was originally meant for file folders will be my inspiration drawer—photos, snippets cut from magazines, little trinkets, anything that looks like it could spark a story can go in there so I can sift through it when the muse has left me. You can put a box of tissues and an old-fashioned, yet current, dictionary and thesaurus on the shelf to the right of the desk’s kneehole; I love the convenience of the online references, but it is too tempting to also check email or log into Facebook or Google something while the browser is open…

I’m not sure about the chair for this desk. If I decide to keep the original straight-backed chair that came with it, I will definitely need a new seat cushion. The desk is too small for a big cushy office chair, but a small padded chair with wheels and pneumatic height adjustment might be nice. Of course, a big bouncy stability ball might be even better—I could burn a few calories and tone my core trying to avoid rolling off in an unglorified heap.

Under the desk, I’d appreciate a small heated rug, or a tiny electric space heater. I have such a hard time concentrating when my feet are cold.

The walls in the room should be painted something other than standard off-white. The pale blue in my current office is kind of nice, but I also like the warm, subdued yellow of my husband’s office.  I’ll need to think about this and get back to you on the color scheme. I’d like the desk to face the corner, please, so I’m not tempted to stare out the window at the birds in the trees or the neighbors walking by instead of concentrating on the computer screen. Directly in front of me, please mount a shelf that will support a brightly painted pot with a healthy green philodendron dribbling several long, exploratory tendrils over the edge. Attach my Pecksniff horse brass to the bottom of the shelf, so he can glare disapprovingly at me through the leafy curtain of the philodendron when I slack off. (I didn’t know anything about this Charles Dickens character when I bought the brass, but just one look at his imperious gaze and I knew he’d be a stern taskmaster. How sad is it that I’m such people pleaser that an inanimate stare from a cast metal visage can keep me in line?) There’s got to be a corkboard just at the edge of my peripheral vision, so I can pin up meaningful quotes and colorful odds and ends for motivational purposes.

I’ll need my room to be fairly quiet. A ticking clock is nice (I find it soothing, rather than demanding) and I could probably write to the sound of waves or rain from a noise machine. Music is too distracting, though, so don’t leave a radio or iPod in easy reach of my writing desk; I get too wrapped up in deciphering the artists’ lyrics to pay any heed to my own words struggling to reach the page.

Looking back over this wish list, Mr. Genie, I see there really isn’t much you can do that I can’t do myself to create an ideal writing space. It seems I can repurpose items I am already familiar and comfortable with in the square footage I’ve already got. Your role was apparently to make me take the time to stop and think about how to make my surroundings more conducive to productive writing, so I guess your work here is done…off you go to grant the design wishes of the next aspiring writer. I’ve got furniture to rearrange!


Posted by on February 3, 2013 in How It Could Be, On Writing