At last, living the dream!

Yes, well. My new house doesn’t look exactly like this, but I’m sure that, in essence, it will feel the same! I’m so excited.

Yes, the darn bank appraisal finally came back the other day and the house passed with flying colors! The only negative thing the report pointed out was that the house “fronts to railroad tracks which is considered adverse due to traffic &/or noise”. [See post below somewhere, wherein I discovered the startling and quite sobering sound of the train barreling into my soon-to-be new living room during the home inspection. – Ed.] [Also, I should point out that it is an old coal train, with few cars, that passes by in under a minute. It’s not some long, drawn-out, train with a zillion cars that takes 20 minutes to pass. – Ed. again]

Yes, the house I’ve been laboring over, for over 2 months already, is finally going to be mine! It is a really old house (1901), in the tiniest town you can imagine (well, population around 1300, so you can probably imagine towns tinier than that, but still…).  I am going to be, pretty much, extremely far away from everything, however, I’m seriously up for the new adventure.

When I say “laboring over,” this is what I mean: I saw the house listed on Realtor.com and, even though it was in a town I had no real interest in, it was in my price range so I decided to investigate. The house had been on the market for nearly 500 days, and had been in & out of contract twice. My realtor said, “I don’t think you want to see that house; I took a client through it when it first went on the market and it was a disaster.”

Oh well, all right. Onward.

But I just kept coming back to it, and I asked my realtor, “Can’t we at least go see it? The photos online don’t look that bad.”

Realtor: “They aren’t going to post photos of the really bad things.”

Oh well, all right. But… “Can’t we at least go see it?”

Then, because it was the holiday season, it was like pulling teeth to get the seller’s realtor to respond and then to arrange for us to go in and see it. And, true, the outside grounds need a lot of work. Some siding & gutters needed fixing, the picket fence surrounding the backyard is rotting in huge sections, and an old tree had fallen on the roof of the shed/garage/barn-thing out back. But inside the house — wow. Big rooms. Sunny. All new plumbing, new wiring, 22 brand new windows with screens, a totally dry old basement for storage, new furnace, new water heater, new counter tops, new sinks & toilets, great closets with plenty of storage there, too; a big kitchen with lots of cupboards, and new carpeting throughout most of the house.

My guy-friend, who had come out to see the house with me, took me aside and said, “This is a sweet little house; you ought to buy it.” And I said, “I know. I’m planning on it.” And then it took 6 more weeks to finally get the A-Okay from the lender, but I did. And now I couldn’t be happier.

So, be on guard, gang; trust your gut. If you keep getting the feeling that something is better than everyone’s saying it is, follow up on your hunches because you could be right and everyone else might all be misinformed.

By the way, here are 2 photos of the shed/garage/barn-thing that appeared to be in horrible shape.

Front of shed
Side of shed

 

Everyone said it was going to have to be torn down. I took these photos to send to a wood-salvage company that was going to come out and tear it down. But as I got closer to the building (I can’t go inside because it’s locked up tight and the roof is severely damaged), I realized that it was a really COOL old building.  The windows were filthy but I could still see inside and it looked awesome in there.  Really well constructed. Built in 1910, it was obviously more of work space than a garage. And it probably did start out being a barn back in 1910.

My guy-friend went out to the house recently to check on the rotting fence and he texted me and said, “We should just fix the roof on that old garage.  It will be easy to do. It’s really cool inside there, and would make a really great work space/gardening shed.”

I immediately got very excited and halted the plans to deconstruct the old shed.

So now I am buying a really cool, completely updated, old house from 1901 that nobody wanted and keeping the old shed that everyone said had to be torn down. Of course, my guy-friend has a lot to do with this. If he hadn’t built his own house from scratch, out in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn’t feel quite so uplifted about the challenges connected to This Old House and living alone in that seriously remote old town…

All righty!! Well, have a great Saturday, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, gang.  We’re supposed to get more snow today. We’ll see.  Meanwhile, I leave you with this! Another Rudy Vallee ditty– this one from 1934 — that I’ve been playing nonstop in my car!

Gotta love those old melodies, folks. They really stick with you! Okay. Thanks for visiting! See ya!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lest we forget!

I know!

I’m always either talking about my upcoming new house, or about cruising around the Hinterlands in my nifty Honda Fit, or about how much I love animals, even when the deer were munching merrily away  on all my various blossoming flowers all summer — it’s easy to forget that I’m actually A Writer!

Well, lest we forget, I’ll take a quick moment to remind you that I am one!! And yesterday, the prestigious Black List gave my Untitled Cleveland Drama TV pilot script (aka Cleveland’s Burning) a really positive review!! I was so thrilled.

It began, “There are some really engaging stories teed up for all the characters in the Robinson family that allow anyone watching to get invested in some aspect of the show. ”

And closed with, “This series has potential. The story itself provides an interesting way into the fight on civil rights and does a great job of bringing the audience in through the lens of the Robinson family. The members of the family are all set on their own journeys that are ripe with great character drama and conflict that could create a compelling series.”

So, off we go, gang!! It really just made my day.

On other fronts: the appraisal of the new house is happening Monday (!!) and after that, we CLOSE and the house becomes MINE! Then I will actually feel like I’m really moving & I can announce it to everybody. Explaining the new house to my cats will be at the top of my list of things to do. I know they will be really excited.

Some of my cats when they’re really excited!

Okay, gang. I’m going to go collapse on the couch for awhile and watch an old Sherlock Holmes movie on my iPad. Now that the weather’s warming up, I have a terrific sinus headache. Yay.

Thanks for visiting, though! Have a terrific Saturday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re choosing to celebrate in your corner of the world! See ya!

Can It GET More Exciting??!!

I don’t think so!!

Got my new washer & dryer for the new house today! The house is still not officially mine yet, so I had to put them in an outdoor self-storage unit. Well, when I say that “I” had to put them in an outdoor self-storage unit, what I actually mean is that I stood close by while my new friend and one of his sons did all the really heavy lifting as they unloaded the washer & dryer from the back of their pick-up truck, and I said things like, “Oh gosh! Be careful! Don’t hurt yourself!” etc., etc.

Plus it was sleeting out. [Sleet is  a noun that is “a form of precipitation of ice pellets, often mixed with rain or snow”, in case you were curious.] Sleet is probably THE very best weather for moving heavy appliances into outdoor self-storage units. So, in the event you want to move a bunch of heavy appliances around outdoors, grab your Farmer’s Almanac to pinpoint the days that will likely have THE very best weather for doing that. Check the months of January and February first; then check the month of March, because torrential downpours and thunderstorms make for a close second when it comes to great weather for moving stuff around outdoors.

I am seriously hoping that this upcoming move will be my last move for a really, really long time.

As an aside: After I drove home from the storage unit —  a half an hour away — I was pulling into the driveway of the house I’m currently renting and I realized: OMG! I was only 2 blocks from the new house and I forgot to go over and stare fondly at it!! I’d been so excited this morning that I was going to get to at least drive by the new house again and then I completely forgot to go do it.

The reason I forgot is because I was once again blown away by just how friendly the people are out there deep in the Hinterlands.  Not just my new friend and his son being willing to heave a bunch of heavy appliances around for me in god-awful weather, then giving me a big hug and a smile when they said goodbye, but also the owner of the storage facility was on his way out when I came into the office to pay for the month of storage that I’ll need.  In a hurry, he said, “Just write down your information on a piece of paper and I’ll mail you a bill you in February.”

None of this “show me all your identification,” and “I have to run a check with your bank first because we’ll need to do an automatic debit of your account,” and “you have to sign all these stacks of disclaimers plus purchase insurance, plus pay tax on all this, plus give us 10 days notice when you want to get your stuff out or there will be another fee,” etc. etc.

No, he’ll simply mail me a bill weeks from now. He was in a hurry because he also  drives a school bus and it was almost time for school to let out. I said, “Wow, you drive a school bus?” He said, “Yes. All my troubles are behind me now…”

“All my troubles are behind me now!”

It took me a minute to get the joke, but when I did, I started chuckling to myself as I walked back to my car.  And as I marveled at how friendly everyone was around there, I simply got in the little Honda Fit and headed for home in the falling snow, totally forgetting that I had wanted to gaze fondly at my new house!!

Okay! On that super happy note, I leave you with this super happy 2 minute video! It’s my all time favorite poet, the late Frank O’Hara, reading one of my favorite poems: “Having a Coke with You” (text). Listen and enjoy, gang! And thanks for visiting.

See ya!

 

 

A wee bit o’ snow!

Yes, the snow keeps coming! After most of the snow melted by Sunday night, we got about 6 more inches of it yesterday.

It is incredibly white out there right now, but also incredibly COLD, so I didn’t venture farther than my front door to get this photo for you!

Pine tree in the front yard, as seen from the front door, wherein the whole top half of this really tall tree is lopped off…

I’ve been doing basically nothing. Binge-watching Bleak House, Prime Suspect: Tennison, and episodes of Frasier from the 6th and 7th seasons.

I made a pot of potato-vegetable soup this morning and baked a batch of brownies because that was basically all I had left in the kitchen and I didn’t want to go to the grocery store.  Although I’m sort of thinking I might have to bite that bullet and get the little Honda Fit started up…

However. The snow is really lovely to look at, and I did have to go out driving around a bit in it over the weekend — in fact, on Sunday morning, at the bend of Cherry Valley Road (yes, I live somewhere where they actually have a road named “Cherry Valley”!), looking up a huge snow-covered hill, I saw an amazing buck in the snow!

No, not this one. This is merely a reasonable facsimile!

He was breathtaking. Partly because he was still alive. Most people out here in the Hinterlands are hunters and, come hunting season, like to kill just about anything that God created and then cook it… (That part of living in the Hinterlands is extremely hard for me to contend with, since I am an animal-loving vegetarian.)

No, I haven’t moved into the new house yet, which is even farther out into the Hinterlands than where I’m living right now. I know the snow is really bad out there.  And the river is frozen solid for miles and threatening to flood later this week.  (I will live far enough away from the river that it won’t pose a risk for my new house, but some of my new friends around here might have to deal with the flood). I’m not eager to move in the middle of this snowy winter. It is all causing me a bit of anxiety, but soon enough, the move will be behind me and Spring will be right around the corner! (Anyway, that’s what I keep telling the cats.)

On that happy note, I’ve gotta get some web work done here for Sandra Caldwell. Then go watch another incredible episode of Bleak House and perhaps eat another brownie!! We shall see. I hope you’re having a great snow day today, wherever you are on this planet!! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

 

Is it a comedy or just bad writing?

One thing about living in the Hinterlands: Even while I do have an AMC megaplex within walking distance of my rental house, it only shows really big budget movies, or absolutely anything animated for kids.

Because of the craziness of the holidays, along with the continued snow and below-zero temperatures around here, I haven’t been able to get into the nearest city and see any of the movies I really wanted to see: Lady Bird, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and The Man Who Invented Christmas, to name the top 3.

Well, thanks to that #NationalScreenwritersDay this past Friday, I was able to download a ton of amazing screenplays for free.  Of course, reading a screenplay doesn’t necessarily mean you get a true idea of how the movie wound up telling the story, but it still gives you some great visuals and at least you do get to read the basic plot.

I have been so eager to see 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri since back in November, when a producer out in L.A. first raved about it in an email. I watched the trailer and thought, Hmmm, this is really, really violent, but Frances McDormand is in it and I trust her choices and her judgement… So I still wanted to see it. I literally had no clue whatsoever that this movie was a comedy.

I began reading the script before it won the Golden Globe over the weekend and I thought the script was just horrible. Really, just a downward-spiraling potpourri of hate, violence, and awfulness. I was dumbfounded. I thought to myself, the only way this endless collection of horrific cliches would work is if this were a comedy….

Of course, once I found out that it was, indeed, a black comedy, it became brilliant. Funny how that works, right? (But it’s also peculiar how a comedy might not necessarily read like one on the page, isn’t it? How you really do need good direction and great acting to help your vision come to life.)

I’m in the middle of reading Lady Bird right now, which, in my opinion, is just terrific writing. So visual. So charming. It just leaps off the page. Next in line are Mudbound and The Disaster Artist. And I still have dozens of scripts left.

It’s actually really cool to just live out here in the middle of nowhere, no distractions, the snow still sprinkled about, and read a whole pile of screenplays. Oh, I actually watched (streamed) The Big Sick on Amazon last night. I’d been wanting to see that for months. I adored it. It was the perfect blend of comedy and emotional tension. They did a great job with it.  (Oh, and back before Christmas, I streamed Marjorie Prime and I really loved that. I found the pacing so hypnotic. I was just riveted.)

Since I am going on and on about movies, it occurs to me that I never mentioned having seen the current remake of Murder on the Orient Express. I only wrote that I had plans to go see it. Well, I saw it. As always, I loved Johnny Depp, but he’s in it for about 5 minutes (literally). The rest of it, I could have done without. Why they remade it after a number of great versions of it already exist, is —yes! — a mystery!

Okay, I’m gonna get on with real life around here today. Still so much paperwork-type stuff to do regarding the new house. Then some of my own writing to do. Thanks for visiting, gang! I leave you with this wonderfully atmospheric tune that I’ve been playing a lot lately. it seems to go well with gently falling snow…

All righty! See ya!

(PS: After listening to the above song a bazillion times, I got curious about watching the movie of the same name that came out earlier this year, written by Allan Loeb. I really liked it! Very messy and romantic. Had a real “New York in the 1990s” feel.)

Re-Charge, Re-Group, Release! Rejoice! 2018

I’m so excited because, for the past few days, I’ve been BETA testing an online course for learning Galilean Aramaic.  (This is an ancient Galilean dialect, and is an all but extinct language, but it is the dialect that Jesus spoke. If you’re interested in learning it, and being a BETA tester, you can sign up at The Aramaic New Testament website.)

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that before I was inundated with re-writes of both The Tea Cozy Murder Club script, and the Cleveland’s Burning script, I was re-learning Biblical Hebrew and was beginning to learn Ancient Greek.  Even though the script-writing projects haven’t died down, the fact that I finally seem to have a permanent dwelling place on my horizon again, made me think I should get back to Biblical Hebrew, at the very least.

In the middle of that, though, I got a month’s free membership to a really cool online French course, and even though I’ve been doing really well in that course, especially after not having read or written a word of French in 5 years, I don’t really think I’m likely to go back to France and I don’t see any reason to keep studying French, after having studied it for about 40 years…

Well,  I’ve taken to the Galilean Aramaic like a fish out of water! I really have.  I just love it. At age 57 ( my age right now), I see things in terms of being the last chapter of life.  I don’t want to spend/waste anymore time on anything French, or on re-learning Biblical Hebrew, and I don’t really have a burning desire to learn Ancient Greek at this point (my desire always lay in wanting to read the Septuagint in Greek, which I’m thinking is not really likely to happen!).  But it became crystal clear to me that in whatever time I have left (of course, I’m hoping for another 40 years), I would really like to concentrate on learning Galilean Aramaic!

It’s a really exciting feeling. Even while I know that the best laid schemes o’ Mice & Men…  regardless: to know the house & the town I want to live out my life in, the projects I want to get written before I die, the books I still want to read, the histories I want to study, and now the language I hope to master. It just feels so invigorating. So joyful.  An emotional clarity that feels so focused.

It’s no longer about “what should I do next for my career?” or “what should I study next in order to move my career to the next level?” or “where is the best place to live in order to make the career networking more efficient?” All that stuff — it’s done. I did what I needed to do; studied everything imaginable until the cows came home (they eat a lot but it’s great having them home, haha); I networked all over the world and met so many incredibly creative and talented people. However, now I’m just going to do what I enjoy doing and simply live my life.

Well, after the move, I will. Eck!

By the way, if you’re a screenwriter or want to be, ScreenwritingU and Stage 32 are sponsoring National Screenwriters Day. If you join in promoting it, you can download 100 award-winning and award-nominated screenplays for FREEEEE. So check it out.

BTW, #NationalScreenwritersDay is January 5th, which is also the Eve of  Epiphany.  Tradition has it, if you don’t get your Christmas decorations down by tomorrow evening, you have to leave them up until Candlemas, which is February 2nd (!!), or it’s bad luck. So get on it, gang! Nothing worse than seeing all those Christmas decorations hanging around until February…

All right! Have a great day, folks! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis