The Patron Saint of Housekeeping

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I’ve heard it said that god created the universe in six days, and on the seventh day, he rested.

I call bull. I’m pretty sure that on the seventh day, god had to do the housework.

Yesterday, on Sunday, I did my daily tarot reading (woo-woo alert) and it said, “Don’t just sit there! Get something done!”

I did 5 loads of laundry. Darks, whites, reds, delicates and sheets. God probably wouldn’t have had to wash darks, but he I’m sure he had countless loads of whites.

I also cleaned the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.

I wondered as I was cleaning, is there a patron saint of housecleaning? The Catholic church (of which I used to be a member) has a patron saint for everything. I expected her (of course it would be a woman) to be named St. Dustina, or St. Cobwebbia, but it’s St. Martha.

St. Martha, if you know your bible stories, was the one who did all the cooking and waiting upon when Jesus visited. She complained about her sis, Mary, not helping her because Mary was instead hanging on every word J. said.

Do I have that story right? Or did Mary complain about Martha bustling about when she should have been listening to J? This is why they kicked me out of Catholic Club; I can never keep the stories straight.

Anyway, J. said, “Cool it, gals. It’s all good.”

And then Martha became the patron saint of housekeeping and Mary became the patron saint of hanging on a man’s every word like he’s god or something.


M, M & J

M, M & J


Today my daily tarot reading (woo) said, “Don’t just sit there! Go vote!”

It’s a weird time for an election. They’re usually the first Tuesday in November. But apparently some things must be decided, and they can’t make decisions without me. Off to vote, I go.

Stay tuned…

No-Spend Month

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I way, WAY overspent in January, so February has to be as close to a no-spend month as possible.

I need to stay away from The Tasty Gates of Hell drive-through this month. I also need to quit cruising

My fridge, freezer and cupboards are full of food, so I think I can go most of the month without grocery shopping, too.







I’m a little worried about the low level of cheese in the house. I only have 2 partial blocks, and you know I love cheeses.



Oh, I guess there’s the sliced provolone for sandwiches.



And the shredded cheese for cooking.



Yup. I’m still worried.

I can distract myself from the upcoming Crisis of Cheeses by working on making some things beautiful.

I added another print to the bedroom grouping (Goodwill, $2.99) and hung a mirror on the opposite side of the bed (Amazon, $149.90).





I also spent an hour in the studio, unpacking and finding homes for some of the stuff from my storage locker. Progress was made, but I definitely need to keep at it. And I definitely need to find a bookcase to house the books I unpacked. Next month.





Stay tuned…

I Fought The Law

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Laws of PhysicI fought the law, and the law won.

The laws of physics, that is. Specifically, the one that says two solid objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

One of the lamps I’d brought to The Lamp Ladies (Lamp Mender) just needed a shade. After I ordered the shade, I brought the lamp back home and plugged it back in, in its current shadeless state.

The outlet was behind the couch, which wasn’t a big deal while unplugging it. I just reached down a little ways and gave the cord a yank.

It was, however, a big deal to plug it in again.

I knelt on the couch, and squeezed my arm behind it to reach the outlet. I got the lamp plugged in. Unfortunately, my arm was stuck.

I tried to stand up to get better leverage to pull my arm free. Bad move.

With my arm trapped up to the armpit, I couldn’t actually get my feet flat on the floor. As I was sliding off the couch, I was torquing my arm.

For a moment, I pictured my ignominious death. After several days of awkwardly hanging off the couch, my neighbor would notice my unchanged position and call for help. It would be too late.

At no point in time did I consider chewing my arm off.

Eventually, I was able to pull free with a great deal of effort, and not a little pain.

I’m now sporting a large purple bruise on the inside of my upper arm (the least solid part of my arm, and possibly my whole body, thank goddess).

You can’t fight City Hall, and you can’t break the laws of physics.

At least my injury didn’t prevent me from enjoying our first Women’s Adventure Club outing of 2018.

Me, No.2 Sis, and our friends “P”, and “D” (left to right), went to see the belly-dancing performance at The Mediterranean Cruise Cafe in Burnsville, Minnesota.



Of course, we had a lovely Greek dinner while we there, too.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I can see from this photo that I need to start paying more than $12 for a haircut. Sigh…




The Icebreaker

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It’s 9:30 on Sunday night, and I can no longer hear my next-door-neighbor’s television. He must have gone to bed early.

If he’s home and he’s awake, his TV is turned on and tuned into news. I can’t make out most of what the talking heads are blathering on about, but every so often I hear the word “Trump”.

It triggers my PTED. Post Traumatic Election Disorder.

I’m trying to practice my speech for Toastmasters. This is the first speech a member gives. It’s all about you, I mean me. It’s the “icebreaker” that lets the other Toastmaster members get to know you, I mean me.

I actually gave this speech last month, but we’re having an open house in a couple of weeks to attract new members, and I was asked to give the speech again. I’m not sure that listening to me talk about myself is conducive to signing up new folks, but, I’ll give it a go.

Here’s the speech:

My name is Laurel, and I’m an artist.

That’s a really hard thing for me to say.

I grew up as the sixth of nine children and I was easily lost in the crowd. I always loved to draw, and the praise I got for that made me feel noticed.

I brought home pictures from kindergarten and my mother would gush about how I was drawing fully-fleshed out people instead of stick figures. She would show off the pictures to the neighbor ladies saying, “Look what a wonderful artist my daughter is!”

In a big family like ours, there wasn’t a lot of money for extracurricular activities, but my mother made sure I had art lessons after school. I hiked up to the Motherhouse, a huge convent at the top of a Rochester hill, and got lessons from a nun whose name I cannot remember. It made me feel so special.

In junior high, I drew cartoons for the school paper, and made posters for school events. I designed programs and tickets for school dances. I made banners to hang in the church on special holidays.

In high school, my friends would ask me to draw portraits of their favorite movie stars. At class reunions even decades later, they let me know they still had them and cherished them. I was kind of an art star at my little parochial school.

I was so excited to be accepted at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design after graduating from high school. I moved from Rochester to Minneapolis and prepared to dazzle everyone with my brilliant talent.

Imagine my surprise when I found I was not the most talented student there. All the art stars from all the little high schools were there, and I was pretty average. Not the best, not the worst, just…average.

That was tough enough, but part of our education was critiquing other students’ work. We hadn’t learned the Toastmasters’ sandwich technique of offering constructive criticism sandwiched between statements of praise, so the critiques were often quite…humbling.

I dropped out of art school after one semester. A former high school classmate offered to buy one of my paintings for five dollars. The materials had cost me ten. Does that make me a professional artist?

The other paintings were given as gifts to various friends and relatives, and eventually found their way into closets around the state.

I continued to try to put my artwork out into the world, but it was never accepted into a juried show.

Although I still got lots of positive feedback from most of my loved ones, I remember a particularly awful date I had with my boyfriend. I had a painting of a Native American woman over my couch, and a drawing of a Native American man on another wall.

My boyfriend knew I had created those pictures and I was tired of his total silence on the matter. I asked him point-blank what he thought of the painting.

“The hands look kind of funny”, he said. Ouch. Honestly, they did look kind of funny, because hand are very hard to paint, and the model had left the studio before I’d finished the painting.

I asked him what he thought of the drawing, because I was especially proud of that. There was a long pause, and then he said, “I guess I’m not into Indians as much as you are”.

We broke up the next day. Unfortunately, I seemed to have broken up with art, too, and gave up drawing and painting for years.

Now that I’m retired, I’m getting back into creating artwork. This time, it’s just for me. It’s for my self-expression, and I don’t need to show it to anyone else. I don’t need anyone else’s approval or praise. If I like what I create, that’s all that matters.

I am Laurel, and I am an artist.

Stay tuned…

P.S. Here’s a few beautiful things I made this week:







My First Date

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Oh. My. Goddess. I have gained 15 pounds since I’ve returned to the USA from Costa Rica. I either have to go back on the keto diet, or I have to buy bigger pants.

But let’s not talk about that. (Classic avoidance.)

Let’s talk about my first date, ever. Because, why not?

I was 17 and I was selling movie tickets from a little glass booth that protruded out onto the sidewalk. A man paused as he was walking by.

theater cashier


I don’t remember his name, all these years later, but let’s call him Pete. He was probably in his twenties or thirties, and fancifully dressed in magenta velvet coat with white fur trim, and a jaunty fedora.

Pete asked me what time I got off work. I got off at ten p.m., and we agreed he’d meet me back at the movie theater at ten, and he’d take me out for coffee (so grown up!)

The doorman was the only other one still working at that hour, as he had to work past the end of the last screening and clean and lock the place up.

His name was Jim (I do remember that), and he was horrified that I was letting this guy pick me up so late.

Jim tried to talk me out of going, but I naively said, “Hey! It’s just coffee. Be cool, man.” (It was the seventies.)

Jim made me agree to come back to the theater before he closed up, so he could be sure I was okay.

Pete picked me up, and we went down into the subway to stay warm. There was no coffee.

That was when Pete gave me my first kiss. Awww.

I remember thinking, “What is all this fuss about kissing? This is doing nothing for me.” Very disappointing.

I kept looking at my watch over his shoulder to make sure I got back to the theater on time, so Jim didn’t have a cow. (It was the seventies.)

Pete got my phone number, and walked me back to the theater.

Jim was relieved, and I was still confused about his concern.

The next day in high school, I told my girlfriends, who were much more worldly than I, about my date with Pete.

They said, “Oh, Pete the Pimp? I don’t think you should go out with him again.”

Oh, well, that’s probably a valid point.

When Pete called a couple of days later to ask me out, I told him I didn’t want to see him again. (I was much more blunt in my youth.)

Pete asked’ “Is it your parents? You can sneak out to meet me!”

I laughed, “No, my parents don’t care!” No wonder I’d been confused by Jim’s concern. I hadn’t experienced anyone being concerned about me before.

Pete went away without a fuss.

It would be another year or more before I was kissed again. The next time, I could understand the fuss a little better, thank goddess.

Stay tuned…



Resolutions, 2018

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I was looking back at my posts from December, 2016, and January, 2017 to refresh my memory on what my New Year’s resolutions were. It looks like I didn’t make any.

I guess I figured that living in Costa Rica, I just had to embrace the “Pura Vida” (“Good Life”). And did I, boy, did I ever.

Now, back here in Minnesota, the temperature has been hovering around 0F (-18C) for about a week. The extended forecast shows the same temps, plus snow, for the next 5 days, at least.

Back to the Scandinavian Lutheran work ethic. Pura Vida does not apply. Resolutions required.

Resolution 1: Grow my hair out.



Resolution 1: Grow my hair out. Nah, too easy. Not enough suffering.

Resolution 1: Learn to use my Canon camera.

Camera, Canon Rebel DSLR


A little embarrassing, as this was on my resolution list in 2015 and I didn’t do a thing about it. I’m taking a really big trip in the fall of 2018, so I really, really, really want to be able to take some nice pix.

If I fail at this resolution again, I should sell the camera and all its accoutrements.

Resolution 2: Start an on-line Tarot business.



I read Tarot for friends and family for free, and have read professionally in the past. I hope I can develop a professional platform, so I can create an income stream. My remaining in the USA depends on supplementing my savings with some sort of income.

True, a Scandinavian Lutheran voice in my head is telling me to get a j-o-b (can’t say the word out loud, or it might happen!), but since my background is really German Catholic, I’m going to ignore it.

Resolution 3: Create beauty every day.



I am an artist. I am an artist. I am an artist! (My #1 daily affirmation.)

I’m not going to make any resolutions about my health. It’s a one-day at-a-time, wrestle-with-the-dragon kind of thing. Resolutions are not powerful enough to deal with this monster.

Do you have any ideas about eating/exercise commitments that are stronger than resolutions? Gastric bypass surgery? Weight-loss camp? Gulag? Hard labor? Do share.

Stay tuned…





26 Minutes To Raise Your Self-Esteem

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I returned home from my Virginia vacation (more about that later) in my usual post-vacation slump.

My brain was tormenting me with, ” You over-packed. You didn’t walk enough. You spent too much money. You left your house a mess.” My brain can be so mean to me!

There was only one thing I could think of to raise my self-esteem.

Clean the kitchen.

I timed it. It took 26 minutes to take it from this:



To this:



I felt so good, I cooked a delicious pot roast, which we all know is Food-For-The-Soul. (Vegetarians and vegans, please disregard previous sentence).

Then I had to clean the kitchen all over again. Totally worth it.

I was so inspired that, while the roast was roasting, I cleaned the living room.



11 minutes later:



Note to self: buy lamp shade.

And the bedroom.



Hey, I would have thrown the clean laundry on the floor before going to bed.



27 minutes.





clean bedroom


And the bathroom.



5 minutes.



It’s really, really good that I cleaned up, since Old Al, the 80ish-year-old handyman at “The Village” (my apartment complex) came to unstop a drain for me. He brought Young Al, his 20ish-year-old assistant, with him.

I wasn’t sure why Young Al was there until I told Old Al that the previous tenant must have dumped grease down the drain, as the water that had backed up was quite greasy.

Old Al said, “What?” Young Al yelled, “THE WATER WAS GREASY.” Ah, Young Al was Old Al’s interpreter. Mystery solved.

So, all told, I spent 1 hour and 9 minutes cleaning my house. It took all day, because I’m a big believer in (long) breaks, but it was only 1 hour and 9 minutes of work.

It’s now time to do it all again, of course. Isn’t it funny how that works? I’ll do it today, before my amazingly high self-esteem crashes again.

Stay tuned…


Brain Study, 2017

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Dagnab it! I went in for an EEG for the brain study I’m involved in, and I forgot to take a selfie. I’ll have to post the one from 2012.

VA Brain Study, 2012.


This study is about people with thought disorders (like schizophrenia) and their families. It’s trying to see how the brain processes thoughts.

My brain. As the technician was wiring my head full of electrodes, my brain screamed, “BRING ME CANDY!” Which was weird, because I don’t even care for candy that much.

But it made me think of the top 3 attributes I look for in a romantic partner.

  1. He needs to make me laugh.
  2. He needs to laugh at my jokes.
  3. He needs to feed me.

I watched a documentary on polygamy once, and an interviewer asked an African chieftain how he keeps his five wives satisfied.

The chieftain said, “I have to feed them. If I didn’t feed them, they’d wander off.”

I know that’s not what the interviewer was getting at, but it resonated with me. Feed me, or I’ll wander off.

Most guys that I dated were pretty good about feeding me, I’ll give them that.

But that sense of humor thing never gelled. Either they made me laugh, or I made them laugh, but it was never both.

And on some dates, neither of us found the other amusing. Those dates did not lead to further contact. I like to cut my losses; nip it in the bud; run, Forrest, run.

Now I have to condense my dating philosophy into a single line so I can answer my great-aunts, second-cousins, and strangers-on-the-bus when they ask me why I’ve never married.

So this is how my thought processes run. Bring me candy, to relationship non-negotiables, to polygamy, to explaining my life choices to strangers-on-the-bus.

Try explaining that to brain studiers, will ya?

Stay tuned…

Whiling The Morning Away

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Although this blog is ostensibly about cleaning and improving my home, in reality it’s sometimes a productive-feeling way to procrastinate.

Like now, for instance. I should be taking a walk instead of writing. But walking is so…physical. I’m more of a cerebral person. I like to think about walking, instead of actually doing it.

Sometimes I get really ambitious and think about running. Which is extra-hilarious, because I’m physically unable to run since my knee surgery.

I was crossing the street recently when I saw a car coming. I furiously pumped my arms and pushed my leg muscles as hard as I could, and my pace didn’t increase by a jot. At least the driver knew I was trying.

Blink, blink (change of subject).

I had a kitten dream last night. I dreamed I was surrounded by kittens of all colors, in fantastic patterns. And by all colors, I mean blue and pink and purple. And by all patterns, I mean perfect spots and stripes and harlequin diamonds.

I’m pretty sure I should stop watching mixed-media art tutorials right before bed.

While still in Costa Rica, I had a vision of the cat I’d have here in the USA. It was a gray male (I usually get females) and his name was Smudge. I figured I didn’t need to look for him because he would find me.

I was in my living room at “The Village” when I saw an adolescent gray cat come up to my porch and sniff around. I’ve not seen any cats near my apartment before or since. Unfortunately, No.2 Sis was visiting, and she tackled me before I could open the door.

Of course, there are pros and cons to having a cat.


Kitty kisses.


Someone to greet you when you come home.


Cat boxes.

Allergic sisters.

Someone to arrange care for when you leave home.



It’s been over a year, so I hope Bella kitty is well-adjusted to her new home. I checked on the rescue web-site, just to be sure she hasn’t been put up for adoption again. She hasn’t, so I’ll still wait for Smudge to show up.

No hurry.

Stay tuned…

Pickle Butts And Shut Up

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I made pickle wraps for No.8 Sis’ birthday party today. I schmeared a  slice of ham with soft cream cheese, and then rolled it around a big dill pickle. I repeated that about 6-8 times.

I sliced the wrapped pickles into 1/4 inch slices and served them as appetizers.



I know these aren’t very pretty, but they taste so good! And the bonus is that the two ends of the wrapped pickles, the pickle butts, were totally unpresentable, so I got to eat them all. Breakfast of champions.

Many years ago, I was visiting Mom in Elizabeth Fairchild. I think that’s what her one-bedroom apartment in St. Paul was called, anyway.

A bunch of other relatives were there, too, including No.1 Sis and her son, Dude. Dude had had enough of family time and wanted directions to get home to Rochester.

No.1 Sis was trying to give Dude directions, but Mom kept interrupting with an alternate route. Keep in mind, Mom had quit driving by then, and was probably trying to direct Dude via some twisty-turning bus route.

Eventually, No.1 lost her temper and shouted at Mom, “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!”

That put a little damper on our Mother’s Day celebration.

A couple of unnamed sisters (1 and 8) were in the habit of telling me to shut up, too. Not nice.

With the encouragement of my therapist, Dr. Ima Shrink, I told them they couldn’t tell me to shut up anymore. Now they follow the letter of the law, if not the spirit.

When we played cards last weekend, I didn’t hear “shut up” once. I was shushed a time or two, asked if I was STILL talking once, and had to endure many eye-rolls while I was talking. So today’s party should fun. I’m just saying.

Stay tuned…