It’s Alarming

Last year I indulged in a new alarm clock. An atomic clock, which means I never have to set it again. The numbers are enormous, making it easy to read without my glasses. It not only shows me the time, but also the temperature and humidity of the room, the day, the date, and the moon phase. It also has a USB port for charging my phone. How could this be a bad thing?

The moon phases are always off a little. I should have realized this before I purchased the clock. The clock runs on a man-made calendar, while the moon phases itself on a (shocking!) lunar calendar. This is not a deal-breaker.

My phone started acting up whenever I plugged it into the clock to charge. Every day at 1:08am, 2:08am, 3:08am, 4:08am, 5:08am, 6:08am, 7:08am my phone vibrates twice. I am a light sleeper. This seriously impacted my sleep.  I checked every alarm, alert, etc. on my phone. I asked my co-workers, most of whom are much more tech savvy than I when it comes to smart phones. Nothing.

After months of frustration I finally figured out why my phone was vibrating at eight past the hour every hour. For some bizarre reason, the clock face goes completely black on the hour in the AM. It comes back on eight minutes later, which causes a power surge in my phone, making it vibrate. That mystery solved.

Now if only I could figure out what’s going on with the eight-minute blackout.


MJ’s Musing: Book Bingo-Aye! Scotland!

I think the Book Bingo square I filled in first was AYE! SCOTLAND! I do love me a good Scottish historical romance. Julie Garwood, IMHO, is the best (The BrideThe Wedding), but I’ve already read those (dozens of times), so I couldn’t cheat and use them again. My friend and critique partner Gayle Callen has written Scottish historical romances, which I also love. Again: been there, can’t repeat for bingo.

There was one I hadn’t read on my Kindle. I could kill two birds with one stone: clear a title off my reader and fill in a square. The McKinnon’s Bride was just the title.

It wasn’t a bad book, but having read the best the subgenre has to offer leaves me particular in my expectations. Because I have read scores of Scottish historicals, I am jaded. I am thrilled when I find something fresh. I did not find anything new in this story.

MJ’S Musing: Cat in the Car

I like to drive, but I also don’t mind being a passenger–if I can have a window seat. Being short, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the middle of the back seat. As a cranky old lady, I now reserve the right to a window seat.

I love to observe. Sometimes I see the craziest things. Recently, my besties and I were on the interstate, heading home from a wonderfully productive long writing weekend, when I saw a car with California plates.  But that’s not what caught my eye. The cat did. She was sprawled on the dashboard of the car in all  her gray and white glory. She seemed to be basking in the sun. She was not a small cat. I was surprised the driver could see around kitty kitty.

As is the way on the interstate, we passed the car, the car passed us, and so it went for miles. Sometimes the cat was on the lap of the passenger, who was reclined all the way back in his seat. Other times, the cat was draped around the driver’s neck like a fur stole. A couple of times, the cat used the rear window ledge as her napping spot.

Of course the California Cat Car occupants and I smiled and waved to each other as we tootled down the highway.

What struck me was how comfortable the cat seemed in the car. A dog, yes. But I’ve never met a cat who took a car ride calmly. Maybe there is something to a laid-back California lifestyle.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Ain’t She Sweet

Of all the Susan Elizabeth Phillips books I owe, Ain’t She Sweet is my least favorite. I don’t think the lack of Chicago Stars has anything to do with my feelings. My top three favorite SEP books are not in the Chicago Stars series (Kiss an Angel, First Lady, What I Did for Love). Granted, I’ve read the book only twice: once when I bought it and a second time when a friend said she enjoyed reading it.

When I lend my SEP library to co-workers, I do not say which ones are my favorites and which ones I don’t like.  Everyone’s taste is different. But every person to whom I’ve lent Ain’t She Sweet didn’t like it.

I think part of my issue is I didn’t laugh when I read it. Maybe small town high school angst bites too close to home.

This concludes my opinions of SEP novels. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

MJ’s Musings: The Watkins Man

If you’ve ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you may recall the heroine’s father believed Windex cured everything.

My father believes in this:

Cold season meant Watkins salve was rubbed on our chests instead of the ubiquitous Vicks Vapo-Rub. When I was injured in a snow mobile accident, Dad had me massage my swollen knee with the salve. Mom smears it on her face when she has sinus headaches. Dad uses it to cure boils, erase zits, and heavens only knows what else. It is the family cure-all.

When I was a child, there was a “Watkins Man” who came around with a suitcase full of products (another favorite was horse liniment). In our small town, the Watkins Man was actually a family. The Schuyler family. I remember them well. There was old Mrs. Schuyler with her frizzy gray hair, Harry Schuyler–I never knew if he was a husband or son–with his round wire-framed eyeglasses (this was in the era of horn rimmed spectacles, so I was fascinated by his “old-fashioned” look) and Norma, Mrs. Schuyler’s adult daughter, who walked with a limp.  Once a year or so, the Schuylers would pay us a visit and Dad would restock his salve.

I don’t remember what happened to the Schuylers. We attended the same church, but weren’t “friendly” with them, not like either of the town barbers, the bank president, or the owners of the hardware store.  All I know is that my father hoarded his last tin of Watkins salve.  He didn’t know what to do. The Watkins Man no longer made house calls.

Years later, I was wandering around the state fair when I discovered someone selling Watkins products. I immediately purchase two tins of menthol camphor ointment: one for Dad and one for me. I still have mine, and I periodically use it for all sorts of things. I am my father’s daughter.

By the time Dad was scraping-the -tin-with-a-fingernail low again, the world of on-line shopping had come into being. He complained he was almost out of salve, so I hopped onto the Internet and my favorite on-line retailer. Lo and behold, there’s my Dad’s panacea. The tin has been updated to a more retro look, but the contents remain the same. And Dad is happy because he has his salve delivered right to his door, just like the old days.