Thursday, December 6, 2012

It Was A Mistake

Recently I have become more acquainted with the words, “it was a mistake.”  That phrase struck me as curious when uttered by the seller of real estate I am under contract to purchase.  The seller has breached the contract and that was his phrase.  And I have to agree.

  • It was a mistake not to have a title search doneLexis_Search or to have purchased title insurance when he purchased the land.  A title search would have disclosed the oil and gas lease.
  • It was a mistake to lease/option the property without recording the lease.  There is a512px-Landlords_Game_board_based_on_1924_patent procedure and order with real estate.  Everything that affects or could affect chain of title and potential claims against it must be recorded with the County Recorder.
  • It was a mistake for the seller to sell land with a right of first refusal vested in someone else.

What has come of all of these “mistakes?”  I am racking up lots of attorney fees, spending a lot of time, losing interest on money that could be in a Antique_cash_registerbank, and facing the potential of having to bring a lawsuit to preserve my right to purchase the real estate, an idea I am loathe to entertain.  In addition my house is cluttered with furnishings that should be moved to that real estate instead of daily tripping me up.  How do I even celebrate Christmas when my Christmas things are under and behind piles of stuff?  A mistake is a something that can be erased, undone; that is not the case here. 

Last night I dreamed that I had won the approval ofAnimated_PNG_example_bouncing_beach_ball my teacher, but to show my courage and bravery I plunged into a frigid lake to rescue a floating beach ball even as the wind drove it past me and the current pulled me away from shore.  Sometimes I wonder if the property is worth all the time, trouble, and expense.   

Right now I’m telling myself that if it weren’t Gift_Houseme, someone else would have to take this on and suffer as I have.  My comfort is knowing that I am saving someone else all this trouble and expense and that’s my Christmas gift to that unknown person.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were second guessing an earlier decision that seemed so right?  Did you stick with your first instinct or back out?  How did it work out for you?



Search image By Tall Chris at Flikr.Panyd at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-2.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Game board By Lucius Kwok (Own work) [CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Gift house By Howard Dickins from Cardiff (Gift House) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Both Sides Now

I’m stealing this title from a Judy Collins song of the same name from the mid 1970’s.  Even if we try can we see both sides, or simply an illusion?  Let me illustrate.Angry_Penguin.svg

The other night I walked into a candy store argument.  I walked into an Anthony Thomas Candy Store to purchase the requisite Christmas gift for my mother-in-law.  (Now, don’t tell her; she already knows.)

Engaged at the counter were an irate customer and the store manage, the only employee present that evening.  After my husband and I stepped into the store, a few other shoppers walked in.  We all listened to the argument because it was loud and passionate, filled with emotion.  Here is how it went (in the interest of time I have condensed 10 or 15 minutes into 1).

Old woman customer (OWC): (loudly and passionately) I need the mailer for each box.  You always have the mailer.  I need the mailer that fits the box.

Anthony Thomas Manager (ATM):  (after she had wrapped and presented the five candy boxes) I’m sorry, but I don’t have any of those large mailers right now, but I can put the candy in a larger box and pack it well for you, so it won’t rattle or shake.

OWC:  I need the mailer that fits the box.  I come in here every year at this time and buy the same order.  You should know that.  I always get the mailers for free.  I don’t want all the candy in the large box; each one goes to a separate address.

ATM:  There is no extra charge for me to box this for you with extra packing in this large box, I simply don’t have any mailers to fit that large candy box right now.  I can put the smaller boxes in mailers for you and put the large box in it’s original container. 

OWC:  (much louder)  I come in here every year and get the mailer for free, why won’t you give it to me now?

ATM:  I could ship the box for you so you wouldn’t need a mailer, but it doesn’t ship from our store, it ships from the factory and costs $X. 

OWC:  (on the verge of tears) I don’t want to pay you to ship it, I want the mailer for free.

It finally ended with the ATM agreeing to keep the OWC’s candy purchase (which she refused to pay for unless she was provided the mailer) behind the counter and they would finish the transaction on the following day.

When we left the store I told my husband, “don’t let me get like that when I am old.”  I said that because I could see myself in that old woman who, when she couldn’t get things the way she wanted them, took her frustrations out on the sole employee.  She was pitiful and needy.  I feel that way sometimes when I’m tired and out of sorts and the menu picture doesn’t match what I’m given in a restaurant. I thought about the OWC and all her wasted effort.  She could have gone down the road to FedEx Office or the post office and gotten a box to fit her candy.  All that passion and effort to send candy to someone in Florida who probably won’t even care when or how they got it. 

The ATM handled the customer patiently, with grace and kindness, but she held her distress internally as any good manager would.  I watched her stress level rise in the face of that OWC who could not, would not be satisfied. 

Are we more like the OWC, only seeing our side of things, or are we more like the ATM, doing her best to keep the peace?  Or do we fall somewhere in the middle. 

If we are one of those two, can we see the viewpoint of the other?  Has something like this ever happened to you?  This Christmas season, please share the love of Christ with cashiers and store clerks and even angry old women and men.  “The Angry Penguin“], licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License by its creators [ Swantje Hess] and [ Jannis Pohlmann].

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Moment In Time

Even the shortest of walks from the driver’s seat of 1995-1999_Chevrolet_Cavalier_Sedanyour car to the gas pump can provide you with characters that may someday populate your novel.  On a recent gray morning, the Sam’s Club gas attendant walked over to my red Civic as I waited for the tank to fill. 

He stood behind the car. “Oh, I thought it was a Cavalier.” 

“No, it’s a Civic Why, do you have a Cavalier?”

“A foreign car.”  He shook his head.  “I have a 1999 Cavalier that’s been garaged every winter.  I thought yours was a Cavalier, too.”  He walked away still shaking his head.

I didn’t have the heart to call after him that my car was made in the U.S.A. also, maybe even in Ohio.   

What incidental encounters affect you?  How can you use them?



1999 Chevrolet Cavalier by IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, November 30, 2012

Does a Bigger Girth Give You More of Jesus?

You can read in 2 Corinthians 4:8:  we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened (crushed, distressed); perplexed, yet not unto despair; (ASV)

Two of the dictionary definitions for pressed are “to act upon with steady applied weight or force,” and “to compress or squeeze, as to alter in weight or size.”

What happens to you when you’re pressed, compressed or squeezed, or acted upon with steady applied force?

I know what I do: I eat, altering in weight and size. 512px-Get_fat During my mom’s last sickness, death, and the clearing out of her house, I gained 20 lbs. and just the other day I heard someone say her daughter was my height.  She said it as I stood a couple of feet from her daughter looking over her daughter’s head.  So I must have gained some height, also.  How does that happen?

The Bible passage goes on to say that we always carry around Christ’s death in our bodies, so the life of Jesus may be revealed in those same bodies.

It sure doesn’t seem like my weight and size alteration from stress eating is what Paul meant when he wrote that passage.  Changing the size of the container does not allow more Jesus into my life.  But perhaps the long struggle I now face to regain a normal size for me is what will reveal the life of Jesus.  I sure hope there’s an upside to all of this.

What do you think?  How do our struggles reveal the life of Jesus in our bodies?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Books are a gift that keeps on giving because any book you give, gives to the one who reads it and their entire circle of friends. The first book I remember being given was

The Yearling
I remember this book well because it was the first hardback book I had ever received, it came from my favorite aunt, and I treasured it so much that it still holds a prime spot in one of my bookcases.  If you want to start a trend in the life of a child or friend, here are some books I recommend in no particular order.  The first two are novels for adults.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content): A Novel
This book involves 2 teenage cousins, 1 an artistic New Yorker, the other an artistic immigrant from Prague escaping the Nazis.  One wants to make a name for himself; one wants to free his family and especially his younger brother.  An amazing story with plenty of conflict to keep you reading. 

Bel Canto (P.S.)

Bel Canto is the story of a group of disparate people—a politician, a pianist, a priest, an opera singer, and others—taken hostage by a band of Guerillas in a South American country.  Beautifully written.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Beautifully written Bible Stories for children and adults.

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

This is more about trusting God than the hurts of life.  It provides hope and leads to prayer.

For older elementary school children, teenagers, and adults I recommend the following books by Gary D. Schmidt.

Okay for Now
The Wednesday Wars
William Bradford: Plymouth's Faithful Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progress
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Readers Circle (Laurel-Leaf))

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gas and Oil and Leases, Oh My!

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about gas and oil. . .or mineral leases.  A momentary thought flits through my brain when I fill my car, but 512px-Gusher_Okemah_OK_1922no thought at all when I use hot water or turn up the heat or even fire up my gas grill.

It wasn’t until the Title Company found an old (1960’s) oil and gas lease on the property I am purchasing that I became familiar with terms like casinghead gas,  discovered that Ohio has a database of wells and mines, and learned about Ohio’s laws protecting land owners like the Dormant Mineral Act of 1989.

I was further educated when I took time to actually read the oil and gas lease.  The oil company is given the store while the landowner may be doled out a candy bar now and again. 

I can see it now.  Her hands submerged in foamy warm dishwater she observes the unfolding scene through the steamy kitchen window.  Like a ship emerging from fog, a grand sky-blue car turns into the drive kicking dust and gravel into the dry winter air as it advances past the barn and comes to a stop  

Her hair droops from the steam as she wipes her hands on a towel and watches as the oil company rep, in a suit and tie but no coat, emerges from the car and, with a paper in one hand and a wad of cash in the other, strides to the door.  He knocks sharply.  She hurries to let him in from that cold January day and invites him to sit by the stove and warm himself.  He lays the paper and cash on the kitchen table and  asks her about the neat jars of fruit and vegetables along the wall.  That’s her winter ration, she says.  He asks for her husband and she tells him she’s a widow. 

He speaks to her of free heat and hot water and even free gas for her stove.  How much will a gas stove cost? He asks.  When she shakes her head he pulls hundred dollar bills from his pocket and waves them in the air.  You’ll be rich when the first gusher comes in.  You won’t need to worry about anything. 

He lays the contract on the table and pulls from his pocket a silver pen with his name black on it like the oil that will soon follow.  He lease0001carefully prints her name with widow noted below, and tells her to sign at the X.  Her hand shakes as she signs her name.  He pays her $8.75, a five, three ones, and three quarters and winks, then slips her a ten dollar bill.   It’s a signing bonus, he says, because she signed quickly, leaving him time to talk to her neighbors before the day is done. 

She puts the money in an empty canning jar by the stove and thinks of the new stove she was promised.  Soon. 

What happens next?  Nothing.  Nada.  No thing at all.  She’s just sold her mineral rights for $18.75, for a mess of pottage, for nothing.  Now, more than 40 years later, months and thousands of dollars will be needed to remove that useless lease.  I had planned to close on the property before Thanksgiving.  Now it looks like it might be late spring before I can close.

Have you ever done something without fully considering the consequences?  What was the result?  Were you able to fix the problem? 


Monday, November 19, 2012

What Can I Give Him? (Black Friday Considerations)


In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti (1872)

In the bleak mid-winter256MCB-icon12
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

What can we give this Christmas?  Give our hearts; give something from our heart.  Make something.  Bake something.  Cook something, Draw something. Paint something.  Write something. 

What will you give this Christmas?



Picture by Ricardo André Frantz (User:Tetraktys) (taken by Ricardo André Frantz) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Miracles and Holes: A Review


I recently finished reading two books.  Thankfully, they were both easy to read.  The first was one I had put off reading because I didn’t need another guilt trip.  The second I had put off reading because I didn’t need another guilt trip.  What do these two books have in common?  By their titles and premises I expected them to speak to my failure.  One is titled Miracles Are For Real.

  Miracles Are for Real: What Happens When Heaven Touches Earth

One is surtitled What Does God Expect of Us? 
The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World

Perhaps I’ve grown too old and cynical to believe that the world can change or that miracles can happen.   The Hole in the Gospel was written by the president of World Vision, an excellent non-profit that I donated to when I was young.  When I was in college and shortly thereafter, I sponsored a child in Brazil and learned enough Portuguese to correspond with her, but she never wrote back, so I soon gave up.  Maybe that has led to my cynicism.

I have experienced miracles (or maybe not) although that word is so tainted in my mind that I would prefer to call them supernatural acts of God.  The authors of Miracles Are For Real give a more complete definition of a miracle: 

a phenomenon performed or prompted by God, which science cannot explain, at a special time when God is making his will or his love known to an individual or many individuals.

That is a comforting definition because it encompasses the whole of the book which is replete with stories of phenomena with no scientific explanation.  The book also emphasizes God’s love for those who experience these phenomena and the change in their lives when he acts.  The examples all evidence a loving God caring for his children.  My own miracle happened after I had cut my finger so severely that it throbbed in pain.  I was driving near Mansfield, Ohio on a job with waves of pain so severe that I pleaded with God, not to heal my finger, no I wouldn’t ask that much, but to take away my pain.  And just as suddenly as the slip of the knife slicing through my finger, the pain was gone.  No more throbbing.  Nothing but sweet relief.  The blood still seeped into the bandage but I felt nothing more than God’s love for me at that moment.

Miracles Are For Real is a well-balanced, simply written, easy to read book, that covers every aspect from what miracles look like, their timing and effect, to people who do miracles, to how to respond to frauds and skeptics, and what we should do when there is no miracle.  James Garlow, one of the authors, comes to the subject as a pastor and husband of a woman with late stage ovarian cancer, so this book is personal to him and I can appreciate that, although when my mother was dying, I felt that the timing was right and simply could not pray for her healing.  I did pray for her to die quickly and without pain and God had mercy on her. 

Miracles Are For Real cut through my cynicism and restored my faith that God will act today for his purposes and for our good.  Miracles Are For Real is a book for those who never expect a miracle, for those who would like to see a miracle, and for those who have experienced miracles.  I find it easy to believe that God does miracles in third world countries where people have more trust in the supernatural than in science as we do in the US.  This book helped me believe that God is still working in the US, because most of the miracle stories take place in the United States.

The Hole In the Gospel is a much different book.  It points out that if we all do our part, hunger, poor health and various other ills can be made right.  That’s a nice thought but I’m afraid that greed is the hallmark of our society, so that will never happen.  And now the cynic in me pops up again.  The author encourages the church to tithe, but I have heard that preached for years without result.  I have tithed for most of my life, but I can’t make others follow me as I follow Jesus, but perhaps statistics will help, 

According to the author, there would be extra money available to help the poor in the amount of (drum rol-l-l-l-l-l-l-l!) $168 billion dollars if every churchgoer tithed.  And it would take only $65 billion from that amount to eliminate extreme poverty for the world’s poorest billion people.  Wow.  There’s a statistic that makes a difference.  And there are more:  it would cost only $9 billion to give clean water to everyone, $13 billion for basic health and nutrition for everyone, and $6 billion for primary education for every child.  After all that there would still be $37 billion left over for whatever other needs arose, but only if all church goers tithe.  So why don’t you give your 10% and encourage others to do so also?  Do it, I say, and we won’t need inefficient, poorly run government programs.  Do it, and we won’t need to watch a burgeoning national debt.  Do it, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you directly contributed to someone else’s betterment.

These books are very different, but also similar.  Miracles Are For Real gives me courage to pray that God will work in impossible situations.  The Hole in the Gospel has shown me that the enormous ills of our world can be alleviated if only people gave their 10%.  I pray that God will move peoples’ hearts as he moved mine so long ago and that people would listen.  I believe that God still works both through and outside of known science because God works in the now for our good and for his will.  I know that money is not only for my good, but for the good of others and together we have the means to wipe out much of the planetary social ills.  Jesus said if we have the faith of a mustard seed, that faith could move a mountain.  And if we give the equivalent of that mustard seed (10%) the tide of our world can change.  It only takes a little bit of faith and a little bit of money to trust God for ourselves and others.

I don’t quite know how to say it better.  Any ideas?  How have you seen God work in your life or in the life of a friend?  Share some miracle stories and encourage us all!



Just a note:  Both books were freely given to me.  The Hole in the Gospel was provided by the author when he came to speak at our church.  Miracles are for Real was provided to me by the publisher, Bethany House, for purposes of review.  I was not required to write a favorable review.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marriage? Yes, Thank You.

This is another post in my series on giving thanks.  scan0004Today, I’m thankful for my marriage.

Before I write about my marriage, I must remark that I am also thankful for the marriages God saved me from.  I was engaged twice before I met my husband, mostly because I am loyal to a fault.  Thanks be to God who rescues us even from our faults!  I shudder to think of what might have happened after the wedding if I had married someone other than my husband:  who I might have become, and what I would have accomplished in life. 

My husband has given me respect and the freedom to explore my passions and needs.  Even though he doesn’t understand why I need them, he has given me funds and freedom to fill our home with art and books.  He has made space in our lives so that I can hike when I need solitude, or stay in the car when he goes into a busy store or restaurant, and he has limited the gatherings we host to maintain my energy level.  He has even entered into some of my projects, urging me on when I felt my energy flag, reminding me to take my time, pointing out the small achievable tasks when the big picture overwhelms me. 

Those two broken engagements were difficult times and I cry out to God to help suffering people.  Two people I know are wading through the mire of a broken engagement; two, a broken marriage.  I don’t have the answers for any of them.  I searched for answers when my engagements broke, but there weren’t any.  All I can do is pray for their hearts to heal and become whole.  I pray for them to lean on the Father who will not disappoint.  I pray for their courage to step forward to greet each day, to continue in life with the other absent.  I pray that they would seek and find the desires of their hearts.

A girl’s wedding is the dream and desire of her girlish heart.  I spent many hours dreaming and planning my perfect wedding in an outdoor bower framed by leafy branches.  I dreamed of the man I would marry and evaluated each potential suitor.  I don’t know that I planned any farther than that. 

But dreams are not the stuff of life.  Instead, of my branchy bower, I was married in a church under a canopy of daisies.   I wore a daisy in my hair.  Our wedding in some ways was a comedy (tragedy?) of errors.  I don’t need to go into detail about how my musician’s mother died and I enlisted two guests for music, or how I was rushing around beforehand setting up my own sound system.   I could go on, but you know what?  It didn’t matter.  All that matters came after.

After is when you work out how to live with another person who is like you but not like you in so many ways.  After is when the compromises start,  preceded by arguments as two strong wills vie for first place.  After is when those wills make a choice, a daily, hourly sometimes a choice every second about what matters: getting our own way or loving our spouse.

I am thankful that for us, love won.  It won because we loved God and practiced submitting ourselves to Him before we submitted ourselves to each other.  It won because I learned to ask myself, “is it sin?” and if the answer was “no” I kept quiet.  It won because we learned to watch and imitate, however feebly, the good godliness that we saw in each other.  And today when I look at the man I love and married, I would not trade him for any other. 

So, here are the three true affirmations for which I give thanks today:

  1. God takes broken relationships and heals them.  I know.  God takes good relationships and makes them better.  I know that, too. 
  2. God cares about us even in our pain.  In our pain, he comes and gives us grace and new insight. 
  3. God provides. This is the hymn of thanksgiving that I remember from my youth.  (It was written in 1597 in Dutch, later translated to German, and from German to English in the 19th Century.)

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to His name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

Here are two different renditions:


Who are you thankful for today?  Take time to tell them!



Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful for Much?

Thanksgiving is far more than turkey.  It’s the time when early colonists of the US were able to take a breath and turn their hardship into celebration of God’s grace.  It’s the time when we can turn our focus from ourselves and our problems and even the512The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961 problems of our country and thank God for His provision.  What would happen if each day between now and Thanksgiving, we could find three things to thank God for?  What might happen if everyone did that?  Let’s give it a try.  I’ll be frequently posting my three things; give a shout out with yours and we’ll multiply the thanksgiving.

Three Things for Which I am Thankful Today

  1. Simplicity of following Jesus.  The Rule of Christ is simple.  We serve Christ when we act with love, joy, and peace.  Romans 14:17-18.  There are other rules:  The Rule of St. Benedict has 73 Chapters. The Rules of both St. Francis and St. Clare have 12 sections, the Rule of St. Ignatius has 14, while the Rule of St. Albert has 24.  The Rule of St. Augustine has 8.  The Rule of Jesus is simply to act in accord with the Holy Spirit in love, joy, and peace.  Freedom!
  2. Rain.  The tap, tap, tap of rain on the roof and the high-pitched rumble (rimble?) as it drains into the gutters.  I’d almost forgotten the sound and scent of rain.  Thank you, God, for the gentle rain watering the earth
  3. A return to normalcy.  I had a drug reaction.  I didn’t know it was a drug reaction.  When my birthday hit this fall I began itching.  First my upper arms, then my chest.  Little bumps and lumps sprang up on my arms, my chest, and over the months crept up to my neck and spread to my forearms.  It looked like an itchy sunburn on areas that rarely to never saw sun.  My husband suggested I stopped taking one drug and today the the rash has subsided on my forearms, the last place it hit me and there is no itch anywhere.  Thank you, God, for normal skin!

What can you say thanks for today?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vacation With an Unhappy Guest

Last year, we took a week-long working vacation with plans to sleep in and enjoy life around the cabin while working on needed projects.  Our previous vacationssam had resulted in sleepless nights at home because our alpha male cat, Sam, refused to let us sleep for several days after we returned.  Last year we invited Sam to stay with us so we could sleep well. 

Sam  would not call it an invitation.  He considered it an affront to his dignity and his calling to rule the home.  We were optimistic that time would change his attitude.  After all, he liked being with us and did not like us leaving, so he would be happy to be with us.  That is what we thought.  But Sam had other ideas.  He relentlessly voiced his opposition to the plan from the time we left to the time we arrived and after about 20 miles, to punctuate his message, he emitted a malodorous stench which filled the car and almost made us gag.  We were tempted to turn back, but determined to soldier on still clinging to the hope of restful sleep.  On that hot, humid summer’s day, we slid down the windows and popped open the sunroof.  The odor subsided but never left and every stoplight made it worse.  When we were about fifteen minutes from our destination, Sam managed to open the door of his hard plastic carrier with metal bars.  I reached back and blocked him into the back seat area. He crouched behind my seat and continued crying. 

We couldn’t wait to get him through the cabin door and finally enjoy some needed peace.  But peace was not for us.  Sam huddled next to the toilet and refused to move for food, water, anything.  By the end of the day, we decided to move him and carried him to our bed where he liked to be at home.  But he cared nothing for our intentions and he moved to the back of the bedroom closet.  We were worried about how me might exhibit his displeasure so we put the litter box and food in our bathroom, next to the closet entrance.

Sam is a fastidious cat.  During the night he dug and dug and dug in the litter, scraping and scratching, waking us.  We tried to coax him to bed, to sleep, but he would not comply.  By morning, we were exhausted but we hauled ourselves out of bed to start our day.  Now Sam was ready to sleep.  He spent the next few days in the back of the closet and the next few nights digging in the litter, keeping us awake.

We had come on vacation to sleep and Sam’s distress clearly was worse than coming home to a disappointed Sam after vacation.  Finally, we decided that the only help for us, other than cutting our vacation short, was  to keep Sam up all day so he would sleep at night.

Sam is not a normal young cat.  He does not play.  He watches.  So our time was spent observing Sam and waking him from his daytime naps.  When we successfully got him to open his eyes, we would lift him to his feet and make him walk.  We did all this in between painting and electrical work and all the other things we had scheduled to do.  One of us was stationed on Sam alert at all times.  We threw balls back and forth for his amusement (and to keep him awake) and wiggled a packing strap to keep him occupied.  And finally, by the end of the week, Sam almost slept through the night with only a couple of digging sessions.   We had planned to put him on a diet during vacation (Sam is one fat cat), but the Sam plan turned into “let’s do whatever it takes to keep him happy and awake.” 

We survived that week, completed most of our projects, and almost caught some good sleep by the end.  The ride back home was the same as the trip down, without the odor.  We arrived home and let Sam out of the carrier.  He walked out growling.  We tried to pet him and he growled some more.  And that was his story for the next couple of days.  He was very pleasant toward the dog and the other cats, but he growled at us.  He kindly allowed us to sleep through the night at home, so we were able to capture some of the sleep we missed during vacation. But we learned our lesson.  Sam is king and you do not remove a king from his kingdom without consequences.  Sam will never again be invited to vacation with us.  A few sleepless days at home is a small price to pay for a full week of sleep. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


We all have our favorite things.  Here are a few of mine and Elijah’s.  (He’s the 9th century BC prophet I’ve written about in my novel series).

My favorites:

Favorite Tree:  any tree.  I never met a tree I didn’t like. (Well maybe the box elder)

Favorite Mentor:  I have two, both dead dead:  Madeleine L’Engle and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Favorite River:  I don’t know.  It might be the Scioto that transects our state or the Ohio that flows into another contender: the Mississippi.

Favorite Desert:  Sonoran.  The only desert I haveSonoran_Desert_Scottsdale_AZ_50349 visited is the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

Favorite Mountains:  the tree-covered Appalacians and their foothills.

Here are Elijah’s favorites.  Even though he was well-travelled for his time, I have travelled farther and seen more without ever leaving the United States.


Favorite Tree:  Acacia

Favorite Mentor:  Moses

Jordan_river_2Favorite River:  Jordan

Favorite Desert:  Negev



Favorite Mountains:  Carmel, Moriah




Sonoran Desert picture by Wars 04:25, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Acacia Tree By Wuhugm (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Jordan River picture taken by David Shay, 29.3.06.

Mt. Carmel By jacob (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tangled Ashes, Tattered Lives

Tangled Ashes
I have written many reviews, but after I had read this novel and then put it down again, I had nothing to say. This author used her tools well: vocabulary, similes, metaphors, and sentence construction—everything that comprises a good novel. That should have been enough, and for the publisher it was. But, for me something essential was missing. For some reason, nothing made the novel memorable.

I grasped for a reason, any reason, or some way to begin writing. I could place the novel into a genre and draw on the classics; that usually works for me. Perhaps I could call it a tale of two cities, one in the United States, one in France. No, this novel really only had one location: a castle in a small French town.  

Perhaps I could call it a tale of two lovers. No, there was no sensual love, only attraction and friendship. Perhaps it was historical fiction. The portion of the novel that took place in Vichy France was the best, but unfortunately it was also the smallest part of the book. Maybe it’s the tale of a place: the castle where most of the action happens. No, the castle was merely the stage for the drama that ensued.

Who was the principal actor in this drama? The one who had most of the page time?  That would be Marshall, the architect hired to restore the castle. Or was it the one who was the most interesting: Marie the French girl working for the Nazis when the castle was used as a lebensborn, a birthing place for Aryan babies? Or maybe it was Jade the nanny for the castle owner’s children, or Therese the interior decorator, or even the one who was most damaged, Jojo the hermit who lived on the castle grounds. That’s the primary cast of characters and you can take your pick. They all have secrets which are eventually revealed. In fact, there were so many secrets that the novel became a competition to discover whose secret was most noteworthy. This novel failed to move me, perhaps because the protagonist himself was never moved and simply seemed an actor on his castle stage.

Unveiling: A Novel

Unveiling by Suzanne M. Wolfe is another novel centered on a restoration, this time of a Triptych, a painting in three parts, located in Italy. Both Unveiling and Tangled Ashes were penned by writers who deftly manipulated the English language. Never a misplaced metaphor or simile, I would call both these books well-written. However, Unveiling was a compelling story of a damaged protagonist with enough demons of her own to fill a novel.  The restoration of the painting mirrored the restoration of her life. 

Tangled Ashes’ Marshall also carried sufficient angst to fill a novel, but his movements were muddled by the other characters’ complex lives. Marshall rarely seemed to act on his own or out of his own desires. He was pushed into the job by his partner. He was prodded into resolving his alcohol problem by Jade. Jojo pressed him to rescue Therese from the fire. And when his job ended, Marshall left France unchanged, his life unresolved. And he didn’t seem to have a care or regret about leaving: no promises to write, or call, or visit in the future.

Maybe that’s my problem with this novel. Perhaps I simply didn’t care enough about Marshall. I should have cared because I glimpsed myself in Marshall. Marshall retreated from people and tried to maintain a distance and so have I. Marshall had trouble communicating with children; so do I. Marshall focused on the job at hand to the exclusion of all as, as I do.   But unlike me, Marshall seemed at one moment obsessed, at the next ambivalent toward his work, just as he was both obsessed and ambivalent toward Jade. Maybe it was his equivocation that kept me from caring about him. Even when Marshall participated in two rescues late in the story, I didn’t care. He was only acting the part scripted for him.  I didn’t like Jane Austen’s Emma. Jane Austen, herself, described Emma as the character no one would like but the author. Only Tangled Ashes’ author could care enough about Marshall to like or dislike him. It’s the author’s job to make me care about her protagonist and this author failed.

I was provided a free review copy of Tangled Ashes by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

The Best Way to Make Money in Any Economy

I have spent most of my life learning how to make money from my babysitting jobs as a youth, to my first 256USCurrency_Federal_Reservejob selling programs at the Ohio State Fair, through all my subsequent jobs:  deli sales, projectionist, waitress, poll-taker, traffic control booth operator, audio-visual aid, multi-media producer, attorney, sales support for a wholesale nursery, landscaper, computer consultant, and the list goes on.  I have also invested in savings accounts (yes, they are a real investment), certificates of deposit, stocks, and real estate.

So, what’s the best way to make money.  Short answer: work for it.  You can make more money over the long-term by working at any job than you can by investing in others’ work (stocks).  You can make more per week than you will receive from a savings account in a month.  How do I know this?  I looked.  $100,000 in a savings account gives you about $500/month at current rates.  Stocks that I invested in 5 years ago, I could only sell at a loss now and the dividends are piddling.  Mutual funds might be a little higher but not much. 

Work requires little monetary investment.  It does require great perseverance, but perseverance pays.

Now this investment advice may not be true for very wealthy people.  But for the rest of us, any job pays more dividends than any other type of investment.  Anyone disagree?

Monday, October 29, 2012

I Have Approved This Message

Do politicians really approve their messages?

This morning my husband was trying to get our dog, softball 2011 032Franny, to stand up so he could apply some healing salve.  She hates it.  I am the persuader.  I barked at her to stand and stay and then added, “I am Diana, your master, and I approve this message.”  Kinder and gentler doesn’t cut it when the dog is a stubborn mix of Chow and something else. 

But what about us, the voters?  Do politicians expect us to perform like stubborn dogs.  What if the candidate started his commercial or speech by respecting his opponent?  What if he said:  “I have studied the career of X and find him to be a man of integrity and wisdom.  However, I disagree with his platform and think I can do a better job under the present condition.  This is how I would change things:   .  .  .

Now that's a commercial I would pay attention to.  That’s one that would make me stand up and consider voting for a candidate.  Hello out there, politicians.  Anyone listening? 


Monday, October 22, 2012

On Writing: Castle to Home to Musical Notation

I read writing books; they flow through my consciousness dropping flotsam and jetsam.  Here is the substance of one pile from this week’s accumulation.

Novels are castles with many doors.  Any door will lead256Le_Chateau_(5969305362) us inside.  Once inside, we make a home for our readers, a home where the reader is comfortable enough to throw off her coat and snuggle into the overstuffed chair by the fireplace.  In the heat of the flames she pushes off a shoe, letting it plop onto the braided rug; then loosens the laces on the other one.  Twisting and turning, squiggling and squirming, she positions herself sideways in the chair, her back resting against one arm, her legs over the other.  The flames bathe her in orange light as she relaxes and waits for the other shoe to drop. 

No, the visitor is not the novel, but her experience is.  Harmonic frequencies in music cause a reaction, a sympathetic vibration in anything tuned to that frequency.  Our reader vibrates to the tune of our writing when we provide sufficient detail to bring her into a harmonic frequency. 

And that’s it for today’s mixed metaphors on writing. 


Castle picture By besopha (Le Chateau  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vacation Home Investing—Part 4 Renovation Continues

The final secret of renovation. Unplanned construction will ruin your budget. What the inspector didn’t inspect rose up to bite me. One rainy spring morning, I drove onto the driveway, opened the gate, and discovered sinkholes in the gravel drive.  The drive goes over a creek and there were now deep sink holes down to the creek below.  Huge, dark, and deep sink holes.  Sink holes wide enough for a person to drop through into the black void below.  What could I do?  Panic set in.  I examined the holes. If I was careful, maybe I could drive the car across and miss DSCN0031the holes. I put my foot next to one. It held. I looked down and my mind envisioned a black hole sucking in anything that touched its edge. But I could see the creek next to the drive and knew it was only about 6 feet down. This was not a celestial vortex, merely a sink hole.

I contemplated backing my car and making a run for it. I’ve seen high speed chases in the movies where the  car jumps over a large obstacle in the road. Surely with sufficient momentum I could jump the holes. Then  reality surfaced.  I thought about what was even more likely to happen to me. Insufficient momentum would256Car_on_jump_Top_Gear_mini_winter_olympics leave my car stuck 67 miles from home. I could just see the wrecker pulling my car out with broken tie rod ends or some other major problem. And even if I did somehow make it across the creek, would I be trapped on the other side? Would my car get stuck on the way out when I was tired with night approaching? And what would my husband say? I was afraid he would say that the whole thing had been a mistake. So I left my car at the end of the drive and, in multiple trips, carried my paint cans, lamps, and tools  on foot up to the cabin for my day’s work.

When I left that day, I stopped at Shelley’s Nursery, a local nursery and landscape business and asked if they could repair the culvert damage. They could and would but they couldn’t get to it until mid summer when the creek would be down to a manageable level.  The estimate was for more than any single item or job I had planned but there was was nothing else I could do. I put my bathroom contractor on hold, put large deliveries on hold, and I tore things apart and ripped out carpet and painted and installed a security system and took care of all of the small things I could while I waited for summer and the dry season. I carried lamps and tables up the hill and carried trash back down. At least I had one working toilet and one working sink in two different bathrooms in addition to a refrigerator and microwave.

It was late July before the culvert was repaired and September before my contractor could get in and finish. I finally told my husband about the culvert the first time he saw the place in November. “How much did it cost?” he asked. “You don’t want to know,” I said. And he said nothing in response so I knew he really did not want to know.  That was the standard for all our renovation conversations. I would tell him about some problem and he would ask, “how much did it cost?” I would say, “you don’t want to know.” And there it would end.

Again, in September I experienced  “first picked bad contractor” rule all over again. My personal warning is that when I start “helping” the contractor by telling him things he ought to already know, I have picked a bad one. I have one other indicator. When the contractor tells me he doesn’t like what he’s doing, I know there is a problem. This one told me he did not like working indoors as he connected the pipes under the bathroom sink.

If I had more sense, I would have fired that contractor right away.  But somehow compassion (if that’s what it was) won out and I let him continue even after I discovered that he couldn’t figure out how to attach a drain pipe, didn’t know that bathroom electrical circuits aren’t rated for enough amps to run power tools, couldn’t correctly identify hot and cold water lines, didn’t know how to control drywall dust, failed to answer phone calls, and then failed to return one day, never to be seen again or heard from again.

I learned.  I learned that the best way to remove drywall dust is a rented carpet cleaner and plain water.  I learned not to use that contractor again.  I learned to find a different contractor by referral.  I learned and learned and learned.

My second contractor was competent albeit a little forgetful. But’s that’s OK because he laid the floor properly, fixed my electrical problems, and told me he wouldn’t do something I asked because it was unsafe and would lead to long-term problems. He was clean, competent and told me more than I needed to know. This is a contactor I can trust. And because he lives in the neighborhood, he tells me things about the area that I would not have learned otherwise. I expect to be able to provide him with many projects over the years to come.

Did you think I was finished with renovations when the floors were in and everything worked? I don’t think renovations ever cease! The word renovation means renew. So from the basics to make the cabin habitable to those less basic things which make it comfortable, they all bring newness to it. I try to make it better than new. One year the floors, this year the deck, range and dishwasher, another year the roof, and who knows what might be in store for the future!  (Well, I have had so much interest in renting my vacation house, I’m trying to buy another one, but who knew lake property would be so expensive!  Any investors out there?)

This is my last installment.  You can see the finished result on my Woods Hollow Cabin’s website.





Red car picture By Colrowe (Own work) [<a href="">CC-BY-SA-3.0</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vacation Home Investing—Part 3 Renovations Begin

I purchased a FNMA foreclosure which needed some work, but I had a plan. Everyone tells you to leave an extra 10-20% for contingencies, but I decided I would just over-estimate my expenses and that would cover contingencies. I’ll let you in on the first two of three secrets:  you ABSOLUTELY need to allocate for contingencies because they will happen and the first contractor is always the worst.  (Note:  all pictures of my cabin are “before pictures.)

You already know I research everything.  Even with all my research, the first contractor I choose is invariably the least competent one. It doesn’t matter how many or how good the references are, or how long they have256Charpentier_médiéval been in business, or how great their website is.  For me, the first is the worst.  Suffice it to say that I started out by hiring a probably wonderful builder, but a bad building inspector. I knew it when he showed up with no ladder or tools and was not dressed to crawl into the crawl space. He told me a least one thing I didn’t know, so I counted it as a successful experience at the time. I wasn’t worried because I was already in contract, so no matter what the inspector found, I would move forward.

My husband was worried about my security and  friends of ours near Laurelville had been visited by gateburglars until they installed a gate, so my first step was to install a farm gate at the road. I found the gate at a local store and they gave me the name of someone who could install it, but that person never returned my calls (contractor #1). I found another contractor and he successfully installed it. 

A gate needs a lock and my search for the toughest lockc0bc661f-9f70-4ba6-b088-7e14d86320c7 led me to one with a strange sounding name.  New York Fahgettaboudit.  This is a lock used to secure motorcycles and bicycles in New York City, so it would be fine for my country gate.  It uses a type of lock technology that makes it virtually impossible to pick or fabricate a duplicate key.  These locks are known as rotating disk locks and when the key is inserted and turned, disks, like tumblers in a safe lock, rotate to the desired position.

With the gate in place and locked, it was time to start working on the inside.  Everything had been painted009 horrible colors (pink, bright blue) and all other surfaces were pink wallboard patterned with tiny flowers.  The kitchen countertop was white and stained.  I primered everything and painted the walls in forest shades and painted the counter in wheat. (Note: this was a paint-and-dash situation—counter paint smells horrid). 

Now, I don’t normally purchase paint like others do.  I purchase mis-tints at greatly reduced prices ($5 to $10), then mix them to get my desired shade, not always with the best results.  I painted the two largest rooms twice, just to get the correct color—one that was pleasant to look at.  And when I ran out of my special mix in the middle of painting a room, I discovered how hard it is to match my mixes.  When I mix paints, I mix glosses and flats and semi-glosses and different paint brands.  When you have paint matched at the store, they ask you what brand it is.  Different brands have different characteristics.  I created a challenge for the paint department with my custom mixes.  It took them several tries and they never did get the exact color, but it was close enough.  I am not a good painter and it took about a year to finish the last bit of wall.   

After I’d paint a room I would start ripping out the005 carpet.  This is smart because you can use the carpet as a drop cloth.  Unfortunately for the floors, ripping out carpet was quicker than painting on the first two rooms, so I decided to rip first and paint later.  Unfortunate because when we painted, we spilled an entire tray of primer on the bare subfloor in the main room which I had wanted to stain.  (I say we, because I had acquired a younger, stronger, helper.)  Oh, well, Plan B. 

Who installs carpet and then builds walls over it? In one room, that is how the carpet was secured:  with staples and tack strips and held down by the wall.    The carpets were cheap and ugly and I had no intention of using carpet anywhere.  I used a linoleum cutter to rip the carpet and pad to manageable sizes, lengths that would fit in my Honda Civic.  How did we get it out from underneath the walls?  Brute force.   You can still see the shoe prints where we braced against the wall to pull it out.  After the tugging and pulling, I used a pry bar to pull up the nails, staples, and tack strips, and a scissors to trim the yarn that held onto the wall base.  It took weeks of work days to remove all the carpet.  For a number of months, I worked with rolled up carpet in a queue, waiting to be driven home and trashed, because I could fit only one or two rolls at a time in my car.

My gate installation contractor was ready to start on the bathrooms.  He would be replacing subfloor, 013installing a shower, and replacing two vanities.  I  had hoped to use a prefabricated shower from Lowes, but the salesman pointed out to me that it would not fit through the doorway.  So I bought shower walls and base and fixtures, a refrigerator, and  bathroom vanities and sinks, all of which Lowes delivered for my contractor’s use. 

Stay tuned for the next installment where I discuss my second secret and how I worked around the disaster that lay ahead.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vacation Home Investing: Part 2 The Purchase


The first step to owning a vacation home starts with research.  Research to see what’s available.  Research223px-Ohio_counties_map to find more or less desirable areas.  Decide what you can spend and where you will spend it.  Research, research, research.  I love research; it lets me learn new things and explore ideas and alternatives. I spent about 3 years doing research for this cabin, research that ultimately led me to refine my search.  I researched the state of Ohio using aerial maps and driving here and there, and ultimately restricted my search to areas in southern Ohio because there are many more public lands to enjoy.

I looked for something small, within 1 hour 30 minutes to Columbus, priced at $50,000 or less (we did not want to incur debt), hilly wooded acreage, close to a lake for swimming, easy access to major highways, proximity to grocery and other amenities of a city, and close to hiking trails and lakes. I looked in Hocking, Athens, Vinton, Fairfield, Ross, Pike, and Highland counties. I frequently searched online at Trulia, Zillow, FNMA, HUD, and others. I checked out sheriff’s sale lists and individual local realtor sites and auction sites like Williams & Williams, Bid4Assets, and

My husband and I physically viewed some properties ranging from a too small cabin on too little land too far away to a half-underground cabin with a huge commercial light mounted next to the front door, bars on the doors and windows, and lots of mold inside.  We saw land that was too far away and too expensive and land that was in a good location but with poor roads, neighbors, and utilities. My dream continually returned me to the website of a one-room streamside cabin where I imagined myself writing and reading and lounging by the side of the stream, but that cabin was overpriced, far away, with no utilities.  I finally listened to my practical side and turned away from that one. 

I often despaired.  When I did find well-priced land with utilities and buildings, they were useless buildings that would need to be removed (a Quonset hut and a leaky, tiny distressed and damaged mobile home complete with a wheel base).  We visited one cabin where the toilet drained through a hole in the floor and then into an open hole in the ground and the “spring” was a muddy hole dug next to a creek.  I watched a couple of online auctions and wondered at people who paid top dollar for properties needing extensive structural repair.  

I had included raw land in my search and considered the idea of building later because land is more affordable ($1,000 –$3,000 an acre).  But building new is almost always more expensive than purchasing previously built.  So, I found myself narrowing my search once again, now to include only properties that already had a building. 

In addition to the house, water and septic are vitally important.  Water wells are hit and miss in hilly areas. Even though there is sufficient rain, much of the rainfall runs off the hills into streams and rivers and very little soaks into the ground. Unlike the 30-foot well at my Columbus house where the ground is flat and permeable, wells in hilly areas are at least 100 feet deep or deeper and frequently yield poor water quality and weak flow.  The hilly terrain also causes a problem for septic systems.  The soil in these areas tends to be impermeable clay and rock,  so it may be difficult to get a septic system approved. I wanted someone else to have already dealt with the septic and water for anything I purchased.  

I finally found what I was looking for or close to it. And while I couldn’t find everything on my list, I did find wooded hilly acreage, a building the right size, in my price range, with septic and water,  close to the Buckeye Trail, across from state forest land, close to a major highway and city amenities.  This was a Fannie Mae financed house which gave me some comfort because FNMA has standards for houses which it finances.  (Note: most FNMA and other government foreclosures do not have much land with them.  In fact, I have been looking recently and have found most of them to be less than one acre.)

I did not know how greatly Fannie Mae’s foreclosure process differed from other foreclosures and differed from purchasing from any other seller, but I soon learned.  FNMA requires all houses to go to bid and these bids must be submitted to FNMA by FNMA approved realtors.  You cannot submit a bid to FNMA unless you show the realtor proof of your ability to pay the amount bid, such as bank statements or a pre-approved loan.  These are blind bids; you do know know how much the other potential buyers are bidding.  I decided to bid full price.  The realtor suggested I could go lower, but did tell me there were other parties bidding.  A full price offer was a reasonable amount to pay, so I submitted the bid and expected a response within 24 hours as is normal in other transactions.

I discovered that FNMA looks at each bid submitted each day or over a period of days and chooses the one that will give FNMA the greater net proceeds.  In most real estate purchase transactions the purchaser makes an offer that is a contract.  Not with FNMA.  It was several days before I received word that FNMA had accepted my bid, but I did not receive FNMA’s contract until much later.  Before I even saw it I had the realtor fax it to my attorney for his quick review.  Most residential real estate purchase contracts are a page or two.  My attorney called me after receiving the contract and that’s when I found out FNMA’s contract contained thirteen pages.   My attorney was pressed for time, so he addressed his concerns with me, and I addressed mine with him as I drove to Chillicothe to give the realtor my deposit and submit the contract. 

I felt almost sure about this purchase, but it was a sufficiently large expenditure to drain our savings, my husband was not completely happy about it, and I wanted to be as absolutely sure as I could that this was a right thing to do.  FNMA, being a large government agency, does not negotiate changes to their contract.  You can find that information online.  They never make changes or accept changes made by buyers.  Nevertheless, parts of the contract made me uncomfortable so I made changes before I submitted the contract to FNMA. 

I wanted to do what God wanted me to do with this transaction, but I do not believe putting God in a situation where it seems like I am forcing him to act.  After all, who can control God?  It is presumptive to even think about trying to force his hand.  But this one time, I asked God to let FNMA do what they always do and not accept my changes if He wanted me to back off from the cabin.  I told Him that if FNMA rejected the contract, I would not move forward and that would be the end of it.  Final.  Finito.  And that should have been the end of it because government agencies loathe change.  And it wasn’t like mine was the only bid; I found out later that the next closest bid was only $100 less than mine.

It took days for a response from FNMA.  Days when I wrestled with what the loss of a dream would mean.  Days when I felt alternately calm then sad at the loss I was sure to experience.   And yet it felt good.  It felt right.  I have often jumped into situations which may not have been the best choice.  I have friends who believe that some of my decisions have been totally wrong.  I have trouble deciding who to listen to.  Voices from good and wise friends can give opposing advice.  Even God doesn’t usually tell me what is right.  There are clear principals and guidelines found in the Bible, but they may not cover every situation.  Sometimes the Spirit nudges me in a certain direction.  But usually I make a decision with no clear guidance, only a desperate prayer that what I am doing is right. 

How do you decide who to marry?  I tease my husband by telling him that I married the “bad boy.”  Sure, you have your list and you have your feelings, but what if the person who matches your list and shares your feelings says no?  How do you decide what car to buy?  You have a list and you have a price, but what if the car that matches your list and price turns out to be a lemon?  How about your house?  Which is most important:  location, style, fixtures, price?  And when you finally do choose, is it really the right one?

This brings up the subject of cognitive dissonance.  It’s a psychological based marketing term but what it means is that when you make a decision to acquire something costly and actually do spend (money, time, effort) to possess it, you then have feelings of doubt that you did the right thing.  We all have those feelings when we make a large purchase and auto companies, electronics companies and other high-ticket manufacturers do not spend their advertising dollars merely to sell us their product.  No!  Watch a commercial for the brand you own.  Does it make you feel better about purchasing it?  Of course it does.  The advertisers market to you before the sale and diminish cognitive dissonance after the sale, so we will feel good about the product we have purchased.  Think about that the next time you see a television or YouTube commercial or see an ad on the web or in a publication.  We also try to diminish our own cognitive dissonance by extolling the virtues of our purchase. 

Enough of this digression.  I’m sure you are wondering what happened to the FNMA contract and my  changes. 

I’ll tell you in the next installment.