I don’t know why this took me so long to do.  Our main telephone list composed of approximately 20 typewritten pages was out of order.  Every time I had to look up a number I became aggravated.  And sometimes would have to go through the pages twice to find a number.

Today I decided to put it back in proper alphabetical order.  It only took me ten minutes.  Why did I wait so long?  I should have done this a long time ago.  Why do we tolerate our messes when all it takes sometimes is five or ten minute to straighten them up.  It is a mystery to me.

It is frigid outside:  the bank said seventeen degrees.  Spring can’t come fast enough.  About six weeks to go officially.  I am staying inside and enjoying our heated house.  I do not want parts of me to break off in this cold.  Or so it seems.  I am definitely putting on my gloves next time I go out.  It is just too cold today.  And February still has to come.  What a depressing thought.

China, our more exotic looking black and white cat, likes to climb up our shower curtains for fun.  We have to keep a close eye on him when he is in the bathroom or any where near.  He has pretty sharp claws.  We don’t want him to tear up our shower curtains again.

Another thing we have to watch for is our toilet rolls and paper towels.  The cats (we have seven) love ripping into them and shredding them.  We now keep the paper towels in the cabinets.  That took care of that.  We were going through a lot of them.

Put an empty box anywhere and the cats will find them and curl up in them.  And they love (as anyone who has ever had cats has found out) to rest on your window sills.  If you leave your window open, they will find it.

This is just a few peculiarities of our cats.  It is amazing our seven get along as well as they do.  Though every once in awhile there is a cat fight although they are always brief.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly all seven disappear when a stranger enters their midst.  Most of the time, though, you do not see them.  They all have their favorite hiding places especially when it is time to capture one for a vet visit.  Cats are always fun.

Someone must be feeding it.  I can’t imagine it can catch fish in the almost completely frozen pond.  Every time I visit my friend I can see there.  The fishing must be awfully good or maybe it is really a statue.

And I am just too far away to determine that.  Or someone is feeding it.  I just marvel that it is always in the same pond and almost in the same exact spot every time I have passed there.  I only go on that road every few months but it is always there.  And now it is the middle of winter.

I used to keep my potatoes in the garage but last time some critter helped themselves to a few potatoes, gnawing all around several.  My wife immediately threw these in the trash.  Fortunately he left a few alone.

I used to keep bird seed in the garage, too, but I had the same problem.  Some animal probably a mouse took a liking to it, scattering the shells of the sunflower seeds, creating a real mess on the floor.

My cobs of corn which I put out for the squirrels hoping they would eat less birdseed were not safe there either.  There would be neat even rows of corn kernels gone.  This creature was winning.

I decided to keep my potatoes in the closet in the house hoping no creature could get at them there.  I will see.  I was running out of hiding places.  I was fighting a battle with an invisible enemy.  And I was losing.

We said good-by to our Christmas tree last night.  It was an orphan tree we rescued:  an ice storm brought down a large branch from our large white pine and I sawed off part of it and brought the remainder in to use as a Christmas tree.

We first placed the trunk of it in a base and then we had to prop it up:  it sagged so we ran a rope from it to the ceiling and tied it down to the floor with the help of a basket moored to the floor by some weights.

My wife strung several hundred multicolored lights throughout it.  It looked absolutely beautiful lit up.  And we admired it several weeks.  It was one of the prettiest trees we ever had.

Tonight my wife stripped it of needles dropping them in a bucket.  She wanted to lay them in the flower bed.  We did not want to leave the bare tree naked and abandoned in our living room overnight so I brought it out and lay it outside for its final resting place.  It served us well.

“How great art thou?” is a question that does not help a writer.  Of course, you will always have doubts of your talent.  Those doubts really do not help and all they do is split your concentration.

You are asking the wrong question.  The right question is to be, “Am I getting better?”  Not am I matching up to someone else’s work, which is implied in the question, “How great art thou?”

Only one person can answer the question, “Am I getting better.”  That is yourself.  All you can do is improve as a writer.  And the benchmark is your own work.

As far as publishing your work, that decision whether your work is accepted for publication is not yours.  Yes, you have to put it out there but you can not become overly concerned with that.

It prevents you from writing as well as you can if that is in back of your mind when you are writing and editing your work whether it will be published.  Your job is to get it as good as you can.  That is it.

I believe everyone has talent but somehow you have to get beyond anyone’s expectations including your own and write as honestly as you can with the least amount of affectation and be whoever you are.

You are who you are.  And when you can demonstrate that people will want to read what you have written.

Certain things about my wife drive me nuts.  For a start, we have old computers hidden in all corners of the house.  Some of the operating systems even run on DOS (before Windows came out).  She can’t bear to part with them.  We even have software for these “dinosaurs”.

Some of the computers crashed but she still entertained the idea of salvaging the hard drives on them and the 1000’s of graphics she had stored on them.  I can not understand any of this.  These things are driving me crazy.

I am still flabbergasted we actually straightened up one room, started from scratch, put a new rug in it and furnished it.  It is our office and incidentally our favorite room in the house.  I become happy when I go in it.

In that room, though, is a pile of old catalogs–years old that she collected and stacked between the two clothes closets.  She could not possibly order any thing from these catalogs.  They are too old.

I even ordered current catalogs from the ones she especially liked but it made no difference she would not discard the old ones.

I guess she is a pack rat.  All this is driving me a little bonkers.  But I chose to ignore my frustration.  There are too many things I love about my wife.  And I am sure there are things I do that drive her nuts too.

I spend an inordinate amount of time straightening up my house.  It seems I mess it up, then I reach a point I can no longer tolerate my own disorder so I have to do something about it and then this cycle repeats itself.  And over and over.

I remember the few times my family went on vacation without me (I raised a boy and girl) things actually did not move.  They stayed in the same spot.

But I have to live with my own messes.  So does my wife.  I try to logically place items I put away.  Currently we are running out of space for books.  And we still buy more.  And I have run out of space for newly recorded cassettes.

We have empty cassette racks but we have to agree where to place them.  And that has not occurred yet.  It would take me another lifetime to play all the cassettes I have not heard.  Don’t ask me where we got them that is another story.

All this drives me crazy (and my wife).  Sometimes parts of my house actually looks neat and organized.  Until next time.

The love we share of music is only by serendipity.  My wife and I both intensely love music.  We grew up listening to the same artists and groups.  She is also a musician, which I am not.  The only area she knows better than me is R&B, which I never went out of my way to listen to.

She is the recipient of my DJing every day.  And to me there is no greater joy than to share a beautiful piece of music, especially something she never heard.  Both of our tastes in music are eclectic:  we listen to a broad range of music.

I was responsible for her falling in love again with Peter, Paul & Mary.  She listened to the ninety minutes I put together of them on cassette repeatedly.

I have put together dozens of anthologies on cassette culled from my extensive music collection.  I must do a good job.  The cuts usually blend pretty well and she can’t tell always tell when they have come from different albums.

I have always gone deeply in particular groups and individual performers I have loved.  I sometimes surprise her with the material I have recorded of performers she knew well.

I turned her on to British folk rock–a world she had no idea of–Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.  And performers from England like Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and John Tams for starters.

She was the third woman I turned on to Richard Thompson.  The second one divorced me.  The first one was a friend.  And we have gone to several of his concerts.  She has fallen in love with his songwriting and guitar playing.  We never get tired of him.

To be able to share my deep love of music with my wife is a gift.  And I never forget that.  It is a real treat.  When I am home, the stereo usually is on although I have to admit when I go out, silence reigns.  I never take that love we share for granted.  It is a real gift.

Sometimes I have awful timing and you think I would have learned after eight years but I haven’t.  We got in a heated argument about finances.  I should have known better.

We get up at different times and I am still learning to leave her alone right after she gets up and let her wake up.  After all, I had the time:  she didn’t.  I have gotten better about this but I am a slow learner.

It was bad timing to engage in an argument right after she got up.  Maybe next time I will hold my tongue and at least wait until she had done her devotionals and had sufficient time to enter her day.  My timing was terrible.

Insisting your relationship be fifty fifty creates problems.  First of all the give and take in a relationship is seldom equal.  Consider it like a pendulum:  sometime one gives more and sometimes it is the other.

And sometimes it is just one sided.  Often due to bad health.  The commitment you made said for better or worse or in sickness or health.

Of course when the giving is always one sided problems arise.  I am convinced that God created woman just to teach man how to love.  There is always a flow back and forth.

When you insist it be tit for tat it is not love.  Each person gives what they can.  And sometimes we do not appreciate one another.  That is when most problems come about.  And then one brings out the score sheet.

Relationships are always in a state of flux.  Insisting it be fifty fifty all the time does not recognize this reality and creates major problems–resentment by one party being one.