Ten Tips to Save Your Time and Simplify Your Life

Prison_Break_season_1_dvdUnless you live in a cave – well, even if you do – chances are that now and then you need to call a service provider and ask him or her to come to your house (or cave) and fix something.  Or clean something.  Or kill something, like bugs.

But have you ever thought about how that service provider – as long as they’re there, fixing or cleaning or killing – could also free up some of your valuable time for important things, like binge watching Prison Break?

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Give your housekeeper a key. Then you won’t have to answer the door and miss your BFF’s latest tweet about what she had for lunch.
    watering houseplant
  1. After the landscaper finishes with the yard, tell him to come in and water the houseplants. He’s the plant person, not you.
  1. When the exterminator is done spraying for ants outside, he can kill that spider in your bathroom so you can take a shower.
  1. And speaking of showers, the guy who’s inspecting the hot water heater should turn the temperature up a notch, so your shower gets hotter sooner.
  1. Before the plumber leaves, ask him to clean that gunk out of your swimming pool swimming poolfilters. Unplugging things is his job, not yours.
  1. When the window washers are finished, they can clean all your mirrors. Glass is glass, right?
  1. The guy who’s there to fix the washing machine? He can throw a load in to wash before he leaves.
  1. Before the handyman comes over to check that leak in your roof, tell him to pick up a Big Mac and fries for you – it’s right on his way.
  1. Is the air conditioner guy finished with his inspection? He should hurry up because…nap_01
  1. It’s time to take a nap. Simplifying your life is exhausting.

Rant: Courtesy, Schmurtesy

There’s a rumor going around that July is Cell Phone Courtesy Month.

I’d say it’s more like Cell Phone Stupidity Month.

Just look at these examples, from this month alone:

on plane

“Courtesy?   Of course I’m courteous!  I called my husband to let him know my flight was taking off two hours late, and yes, I was loud, because those stupid flight attendants were in the aisle talking about that useless safety stuff, and besides, how else would hubby know my flight was late, it’s not like he can go on the Internet and find out, right?”


“Ashley, I can barely hear you.  The stupid dentist keeps interrupting me.”

crossing the street_01

“Ashley, I can barely hear you.  These stupid drivers keep honking at me.”


“So, like, our art teacher?  She, like, said we had to come to like, this museum place?  Or else we’d, like, flunk the class?”

couple at dinner on phones

Pokemon Go Gen 2…That is like, so last week.

eat and phone_06

“Who, me?  Eating?  No!  Why do you ask?”


“Who, me?  In the bathroom?  No!  Why do you ask?”

dog and phone

He’s your dog.  Do you know where else his mouth has been?

eat and phone_03

You’re talking into your hot dog!  You’re supposed to eat your hot dog and talk into the phone!

at the beach

“Beach?  What beach?”

selfie and shark_02

“Teeth?  What Teeth?”

And finally, not that anyone would ever do this…

Gas station

“Who, me?  On the phone?  No!  Why do you ask?”


Book Review: “The Book of Summer”

Publication Date:  May 2017

Review, short version:  Three skunks out of a possible four.

Long version:scary-doctor_06

Michelle Gable’s latest offering, The Book of Summer, involves three central characters:

Bess, 33, a soon-to-be-divorced Emergency Department doctor who, if you have to go to the ER, you do not want her walking into your cubicle;

Cissy, 65, Bess’ mother, who utilizes the mantle of eccentricity to excuse selfish behavior and an extremely foul mouth;

Ruby, Cissy’s mother, dead though very present, demonstrating repeatedly that if she were any shallower, she’d be a dry spot.

Cissy lives in a crumbling old family home, Cliff House, aptly named as it’s perched on ahouse falling_03 Nantucket bluff overlooking the Atlantic.  The house and the bluff are about to fall into the ocean, and Cissy is determined to save both. Bess is asked by her father to save Cissy.  Now, Bess lives in San Francisco, while her father lives not far from Cissy, but apparently he’s too busy making money to rescue his wife.

Cissy arrives at the Nantucket airport to pick up Bess – on a bike.  This is our introduction to Cissy, and our first inkling that Cissy is several dimes short of a dollar.  Their neighbor, a guy named Chappy, arrives on scene and offers them a ride, and here is our first inkling that the author, Gable, is also missing some currency.  On page 10, during the drive, Cissy “keeps emitting small burps, as if she might be sick.”

What?  Why?

Cissy isn’t physically sick, there’s no further mention of this, so how did the “small burps” book of summerfurther advance the story?

Currency isn’t the only attribute Gable is missing; though a native Californian, she’s egregiously lacking in knowledge of the vernacular of San Francisco, twice referring to Beth’s home as “back in the Bay” (pages 151 and 184).  As a longtime resident I can assure you that no one – not even the most ignorant tourist – ever refers to San Francisco as “the Bay.”  It’s called “The City.”  You might even call it “Frisco.”  But “the Bay”?

Eye roll.

Gable also lacks a basic knowledge of motor vehicles, referring to Chappy’s transportation mode as a “wood-paneled truck” on page eight, then as a “car” on page 10, then it’s back to “truck” on page 11.

Did an editor have a crack at this book before its publication?

Not to suggest Gable is lacking in her command of vocabulary, particularly active verbs.  Instead of simply writing “Bess said,” Gable hits us with a barrage of them:

“Ha!” Bess yaps. (Page 49)

“What the hell?” she squawks.  (Page 53)

“What happened after that?” Bess sputters.  (Page 61)

“I know what you’re thinking!” she chirps.  (Page 62)

“Gimme a break!” Bess chirps.  (Again)  (Page 181)

Silhouette_ALPHABET“It’s not like that with Evan,” Bess prattles on.  (Page 182)

We get a bit of a break from Bess and her active verbs, and then:

“Whaaaat?” Bess grumble-moans.  (Page 378)

“Coming,” Bess gripes.  (Page 378)

“Hold on, let me get my shoes,” she mumbles.  (Page 380)

Does Bess ever just speak?

And speaking of active verbs, on page 338 we encounter Bess “jumping up and down, literally hopping mad.”  Remember that Bess is a supposedly mature graduate of medical school, responsible for life-and-death decisions in an Emergency Room.  Scary thought, isn’t it?

Gable handles a number of topical issues – the environment, gays in the military, and aging, the latter particularly badly.  It turns out that Cissy, whom you’ll remember is 65, is having an affair with her contemporary, Chappy.  According to Bess (page 309), “Indeed they are both too old for this shit.”  In case we missed Bess’ attitude, on page 324 ageismshe reminds us, “This is about Cissy and Chappy and their AARP love affair.”

Ageism, anyone?

When Bess reveals to Cissy that she is pregnant and considered an abortion, Cissy’s negative reaction surprises Bess, since Cissy is “a registered Democrat, politically obligated to be okay with this sortstereotypes of thing.”

Stereotyping, anyone?

And not just stereotyping; Gable is equally adept at clichés.  One is Bess’ marriage, because of course while Bess is a saint, her soon-to-be ex is unkind, stupid, vicious, verbally abusive, patronizes prostitutes, and probably kicks small animals.  All of this came as a great surprise to Bess.

aidan_07More clichés:  Shortly after Bess arrives at Cliff House, she encounters her high school flame, Evan, who is kind, smart, handsome, hunky, loves small animals and is a volunteer coach for kids’ sports.  The sparks are rekindled – there’s a new approach – Beth engages in a rebound relationship – another new approach – and Evan declares he was, is, and always will be in love with Bess.

Clearly an aberration for Evan, who otherwise actually is smart.house falling_04

The book winds down with Cissy in Chappy’s arms, dancing; Beth in love with Evan, mostly; and Cliff House in the Atlantic, completely.

The End.

Sigh of relief, anyone?






How to Make a $400 Pot Roast

Abpot roastout every six months I get the urge to cook.  Usually I ignore it, but this time my craving for homemade pot roast was too strong.

That craving coincided with a rare Friday I’d taken off from work.  I dusted off my cookbook, checked the recipe, made a grocery list and headed to the store.

The street in and out of my subdivision, Douglas Drive, was one I’d traveled hundreds of times going to and from work.  The speed limit was 45mph, and I’m very conscientious about not exceeding the speed limit.  From day one of driving I’d never gotten a ticket, and was proud of that.

There’s a school on Douglas that I’d never paid much attention to – why would I?  Besides, today I was focused on how good that pot roast was going to smell in a few hours, and taste for dinner that evening.

It was around 8:15am and there were a couple of cars ahead of me and one next to me, all of us doing the speed limit.  There was also a car behind me, which suddenly transformed from an innocuous sedan into a monster with blue and red lights flashing, siren screaming, and a terrible voice saying, “Turn right at the next street and pull over.”

It was the police.  And they were talking to me.

Heart pounding, I turned, parked, shut off my engine and stuck a smile on my face.  I had no idea why I’d been pulled over.  My license plate tags weren’t expired.  Did I have a burned-out taillight?  What could it be?

police looking down_01The police car parked behind me, and I watched in my side-view mirror as the officer approached.  Stocky, thick neck, buzz haircut, pristine uniform, all business.  “Ma’am,” he said, “do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No, sir,” I said.

“You were speeding.”

Speeding, I thought.  Me?  I’m always the one in the right lane, going the speed limit.  Buses pass me.  School buses pass me.  Bicycles pass me.  Speeding?  No way!Deer

I didn’t say this, of course.  I didn’t say anything.  Picture deer in the headlights, but with its mouth dropped open in shock.  Like mine.

The officer continued, “Did you see the sign back there with the flashing yellow lights?  It says the speed limit along here is ‘25mph when children are present.’  Kids are in school today.  I clocked you at 45.  I’m giving you a citation for 20 miles over the speed limit.”

He collected my driver license, registration, proof of insurance and walked back to his car.

I said I’d driven this street hundreds of times and that was my problem:  I went to work before school started, and came home after school was out.  No school, no kids, and no flashing lights to think about during the week, or on the weekend.  But this was Friday and school was in session and I was in deep trouble.

How deep?

For the ticket:  $332, according to the “Courtesy Notice” mailed from the San Diego Superior Court.  (This event happened several years ago, so rest assured these amounts have increased since then.)

The notice went on to advise that if I was eligible to attend traffic school and if I chose to attend and if I successfully completed it, then the violation would be dismissed and no points added to my DMV record.  There would, of course, be an additional fee of $52 for processing the traffic school paperwork.

New total:  $384.Money toilet_01

Cost of online traffic school:  $20.99.

Cost of the trip to make pot roast:  $404.99.

After the officer concluded our get-together and drove away, I sat in my car and stewed.  Then I went from stewing – to steaming.  First, why me?  At least three other cars were going 45, so why did he choose me?

Second, this “when children are present” stuff.  What does that sign mean?  If there are no kids25 mph_02 in sight because they’re all in class, are they still “present”?  If the kids are on the playground but the playground is fenced in, are they still “present”?

Now my steaming evolved into something bordering on self-righteousness.  When I got home from the grocery store – yes, I went ahead with my pot roast plans – I called the police.  They advised that whenever school is in session – any time kids are in, going to or coming from school – the speed limit is 25mph.  Period.

So now I’m painfully aware of where the school is.  When I drive by Monday through Friday between 7:30am and 4:30pm, I slow down to 25mph.

People behind me are not happy.  Expressions of displeasure range from fist shaking to extending the middle finger to illegally passing me.  So far no one has followed me home to share their road rage, but I continue to be vigilant.angry man shaking fist

What’s my takeaway?  Any school with a “25mph when children are present” sign means what it says.

And the next time I feel the urge to cook – I’ll ignore it.