How To Write a Book Book – Excerpt

I have been working on this book for about a year and have about six months of work left on it. The information I present is a compilation of years of reading, going to writing conferences and five years of college english classes. This is a small excerpt from my chapter on Plots.

Plot Devices

Plot devices offer continuity or zing to the story. It is the unexpected accelerant or cohesion of storyline that can change the character, setting, or motivation and create a change of emotion for the reader. These are a few examples of devices.

Backstory – Often this occurs in the beginning of the book, but can occur anywhere in the book to explain the why of the character or the setting.

Flash-forwards and flashbacks are part of this concept of creating a backstory of the character or event. This device includes the use of telling the end of the story at the beginning of the book. Many movie screenplays begin with a small scene from the climax  or near the end of the story. Then the backstory is unfolded by the narrator to tell how the character got to this point in the story.  Starting a story with the death of a character is tricky and should be developed carefully.

Plot Twists – This develops as a character or circumstance presented is not what is seems. The character(s) may exhibit one personality but may present an action that shows them to be opposite from what they appeared. A circumstance may change in the denouement of the story as a bad guy shows himself to be a hero. This creates an unexpected outcome for the reader.

Acts of God – Not my favorite way of changing the story, but effective in global event or catastrophic event stories. Miracle stories are the best example, where a character is saved through divine intervention.

The Prize – The object everyone is pursuing in the story creates the reason for action and adventure. The movement of each character is a direct pursuit of attaining this prize. The prize might be another person, a physical treasure, or a key to a mystery.

Red Herring – The object, person, or event that shows up and makes the reader go, —huh? It might take the attention off of the real killer, the real problem, or the more important point. It is a way for the writer to add a plot twist, or create suspicion, or distract the reader. In my opinion, writers use it sometimes lazily when their story is otherwise predictable.

Framing – I mention this technique later in ways to begin a story. It is not as often used throughout a novel. However, it is used often in movies. A movie called “The Panic Room” is a perfect example of a literal frame of all action occurring to characters limited by a room in the house. Another way to frame the plot is to limit characters by gender or social class expectations related to their location, culture, or era of time. These are also framing techniques used often in movies.

Switching voice – This includes changing the point of view. The story may begin in first person, then switch to third person narrative, or advance to switching from the first person point of view of several characters. Split narratives offer two parallel stories from two characters in first person or third person points of view. It is a more complicated device that can bog down the movement of the story if not used correctly.

The journey – This is a simple structure of the traveling to or for something. It can be romance, adventure, treasure, escape, or seeking self-improvement. Each character acts based on the motivation of a desired outcome in the journey.

Plot devices simply make the story move in a specific direction. It leads the reader down a certain path, sometimes misdirected, in order to end up at a predestined place later in the story. Plot devices, plot structures, and plotting characters, all work in synchronicity to create a pattern of writing that draws in a reader and keeps them entranced in the story until it’s end.

 

 

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Lucky Witness

I sat behind a married couple in church today who reminded me of how my parents looked together 30 years ago.  He was a balding man in his sixties, neat, dressed in a fitted suit and tie. He wore a gold signet ring on his right hand and wedding ring on the left. His wife, sitting respectfully close was also dressed in a detailed pants suit with jacket. Her hair cut neat, her perfume pleasant like a fresh cut flower. Small gold diamond earrings tucked in her ears, and a matching necklace, her finger spun a little too big gold wedding band set on her left hand. She checked her gold watch as the service began, and tucked it back under her sleeve. They both had silver glasses on with similar frame shapes as though they planned it that way.

Once in a while, the husband would lean over and whisper something in her ear and she would nod her head or cover her mouth in a gesture of “I can’t believe you just said that in church” sort of way. He would then smile and pat her knee. During the service, and during a prayer, her hand would simply join his perfectly, fingers laced gently as though they had practiced since childhood. There minimal movements were beautifully synchronized as though they were dancing. His arm slid behind her protectively and she leaned into him slightly.

While the chapel lighting was as dim as the grayness of the day, the warmth reflected from their years of shared history lit their space. No one else seemed to notice the knowing that passed between them in gestures instead of words. I alone was aware of the mastery of their language.

My parents had their own language of marriage learned from over 50 years together. A slight touch or signal look to one another. It developed from occupying the same space and trusting the safety of that space with one another. Knowing the other is there unconditionally and without a word spoken is a pure gift. I am the lucky witness.

“We are not the characters we want to be. We are the characters we are. ” Thomas Wolfe.

When I think about writing and what I studied in college, I often wonder why we didn’t study Thomas Wolfe. To study his work falls short of his life from what I have pieced from articles and books about him, but his work was unique.

While his work is long like Melville’s transcendental Moby Dick, Wolfe had a rhapsodic prose like no other. It amazes me that Wolfe, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Willa Cather all lived and worked on now famous prose in that era of the 1920s and 1930s. They were all very different writers in method and voice, but all wrote because they felt the need to do it. Their characters give readers a vision of tangible lives that might have been. Great characters create great characters, as Wolfe lived and proved.

Thomas Wolfe’s quote leads me to think about my writing. We are not the characters we want to be. I understand that statement in so many ways. I live through the characters I write in that they can do things I cannot, and say things I wish I could. I also give them situations to contend with that I wonder how I would handle. We are the characters we are. I interpret this two ways.  My first interpretation is that I am all the characters I create and they are me. I put some or all of my emotions, experiences, and desires into the character’s lives to make them real. I also give them a voice that matches my inner voices, including the darkest of whispers I dare not share. Sometimes the only way we can really change our deepest self is to grow through our characters when they are witnessed by the world, real or imaginary. When we are not the character we want to be we create on paper what we want to be.

The creation of character is a personal, lonely and sometimes torturous activity for some writers. When a writer has met that goal of a recognized creative presence by a publisher or any writing success, it gives life to the character and also to the author. The author feels the life lived above the page is an alternate reality to the life characters live on the page. The writer and what is written is woven together for that time of invention. This is why it is hard for an author to let go of their words and finish the work to move on to the next piece.

I have yet to finish every single word of any Thomas Wolfe novel. I end up skipping, losing site of the story within the poetics, and generally don’t want to finish because I enjoy the journey too much. Once in a while I read a sentence that I have to read several times to grasp the complete intent and it stops me from moving forward. Like the characters I write, sometimes I lose motivation–they lose motivation–because I don’t want the story to end.

I own a copy of “You Can’t Go Home Again” and feel it will ultimately leave me feeling a little sad when I finish it. Because of my reading about Wolfe, I know the summary of this story well. Parts of this story reflects a basic emotion in me. I miss my hometown and family terribly and am living far away. I know I cannot regain what was lost through time and even if I return, life there will not be the same. I carry a version of my original character in life with me but, ever changing, I will not be the same even if I return to the same place I once lived. This is my second interpretation to the quote, We are not the characters we want to be. We are the characters we are.

 

Thoughts While Riding in A Car

Thoughts While Riding in A Car

When I travel as a passenger and a book gets boring, the wheels in my mind roll wild with ideas. I began by thinking…I would rather fly than drive, so why don’t I start a private commercial airlines with a Go Fund Me Page… called  SHERRY AIR

And my mind starts to generate the whole plan…

ABOUT SherryAir:

My airline is used by people who are not wearing business suits, who have common sense, and just want to get there safely. Most of my adult customers are minimalists who can be ready quickly and travel light. Every plane has Economy plus fat-butt seating [no fancy first class] with seat belts made for real people sizes, and a middle bathroom as well as front and back. Average seats are made for people weighing 200 pounds. We have both front and back door loading onto the plane [back door loads larger people easily]. We have a one row seat in the back with a supersize seat for a person of girth [maximum of 600 pounds].

We don’t fly on Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, New Years Day, or Labor Day. You take off so why shouldn’t we?

No meals, drinks, or snacks are served.

You may and are encouraged to bring bottled water on board, but don’t let us catch you sneaking on with a juice box, red pop, or any sticky dumbass drink to spill on our plane! Your stupidity will be rewarded with public humiliation and a rag with cleaning product to clean up your mess appropriately because we are not your mother.

Every plane seats a maximum of 50 people [E170] and only two rows on either side of the aisle of two seats each–No one is ever in the middle. Aisles are wider to fit the current robust size of all US citizens. Also, the back row of four are never sold and held for pilots or staff connecting to other flights, or used to isolate sick people, breastfeeding moms, people who need a time out, or flight attendants who don’t want to sit in the jumper seat in the back. All seats flying in the US cost exactly the same…$400 each.

You have to go onto the Sherry Air website to buy tickets instead of these fuck-you attitude-incidental charges-travel sites who charge different fees every hour/day/minute. On my site you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance without any fee and full reimbursement.  Costs increase only if our fuel costs increase significantly. Our flight staff are paid $15 per hour, and they are allowed to take cash tips from passengers for being entertaining and nice on each flight.

My flights would avoid LAX, Kennedy and other big international airports, flying to lesser used Regional airports.

We have three different types of flights. Adult flights, Pet People Flights and Kids and Family flights. Descriptions to follow.

 

FLIGHTS AND STAFF:

The basic flight rules are made clear when you book, by email follow-up, when you arrive, and again at the gate. Read the damn rules ahead of time.

All flights leave every 3 hours starting at 7 am (10am, 1 pm) and ending with the last flight at 4 pm because our employees have a life too. If you are late, we typically cannot accommodate you the same day, so buy an alarm clock, leave your house early enough to allow for traffic, flat tires, or your weak bladder. If we have an empty seat you get it, if you have a whole family of crazy people to fly and you missed it, good luck….they will be meeting you there later.

Your poor planning does not constitute an emergency on our part.

All staff have a name tag saying “Sherry”, even if they are men, that way you won’t forget their names. All staff wear cartoon character hospital scrub-like uniforms and tennis shoes because they want to be comfortable and have a sense of humor. Each Sherry is given Mom-sense training, self-defense class, and taught how to tolerate you with a smile.

Right before take-off, each Sherry will announce: “Sit down, shut up, and hold on. If you are too dumb to figure out the seat belt, hold up your hand. If we begin decent rapidly and before intended, or you find yourself upside down,  we are likely going to crash land and you will be instructed philosophically how you might handle that information for the next few minutes. An oxygen mask may drop with change in cabin pressure. Put it on, breath heavily and deeply like Darth Vader and hum the Star Wars theme music or the Jaws theme. When you stop humming the O2 flow stops. This prevents us from suffering through your screams while we deal with our own philosophical issues about death. If you do not know these music themes, please hold up your hand. Your seat and seat back pocket have floatation devices available even though we are flying over land and you won’t need it. Read your safety cards if you give a shit. By the time you figure out how to use this crap, our pilots will have heroically landed the plane.”

All Sherry’s will smile, jokingly but tastefully tease, and even appropriately hug you if you ask for it. [You are asked to sign a waiver prior to boarding so if you ask for a hug, there will not be a sexual harassment case filed because you are needy.]

All Sherry’s will be grandma-like in attitude, firm but kind, and will share honest and gut punching wisdom if you need some. Discussions over 3 minutes between passenger and any Sherry will be charged a counseling fee of $5 per minute payable directly to her. We take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. All flights have active on board cameras at every angle that record idiotic activity on the flight for us to laugh at later.

BAGS and BOARDING:

Each passenger is allowed one normal backpack-sized or smaller carry on–all other bags are checked at one bag only per person, and that bag must be under 40 pounds. No exceptions, and No baggage fees.

Any bag that is overweight, oversized, or just stupid-ridiculous wrapped in duct tape or Hello Kitty stickers holding it shut because it has no zipper or closure, will be shipped  in a box to your destination at your cost to arrive whenever –because you are an idiot. 

A smile or a knock knock joke is required with your ticket to pass entrance gate when loading the plane. This assures that you have the right attitude for boarding.

Boarding is simple, we load back to front, in seat number order so people in front don’t get hit in face and arms by the bag lady walking all the way to the back of the plane. No one is a certain “class” of people here, you are numbered or alphabetized, just like in elementary school. If you come up to the boarding gate before your row is called you won’t get on. People with disabilities get on in front row seats-last- and close to a bathroom so staff aren’t rushed and can really take time to help them after everyone else is seated.

No eating on the plane. –Don’t be bringing stinky food on my plane. You can eat at your house, in your car, or anywhere else. No one wants to sit next to your smelly mess. The gate keeper will not let you board with any food. No dang snack tupperware of Cheerios to spill on the floors either unless it’s a Kids and family flight.

Sherry staff will be meeting you at the boarding platform and if you smell bad or are dressed like a half-naked hooker, you will not be boarding the plane. Soap and sweatpants will be provided with directions to the airport restroom and a nonsense fee to cover our cost and inconvenience.

You may not use your cell phone from the moment you enter the loading door onto the plane so just turn it off, because it is frankly annoying to others and if you didn’t realize that, I am telling you now that they all hate you. No one wants to hear all your personal or work drama, so do it while you are waiting to board or off the plane like considerate people do.  Thank you.

Pet People Flights  Pets include dogs or cats only. No reptiles or non-domestic exotic critters will be allowed. All pets under 35 pounds would be allowed in a small sized crate bolted on the floor next to owner seat–Dog seating is purchased at $150 each and only one pet per crate unless they are smaller than a squirrel. Spaces for cats will be limited because we are dog people, and tolerate as few cats as possible. Other carry-on animal crating must be checked as baggage and animal is put into the bolted crated/area already assigned on plane. Owner seats are $400 each and there are only 30 people maximum seats per plane. One person and pet per row. Flights take off at 7a-10a-1p and 4 p daily.

Owners showing signs of rabies or insanity may be asked to fly inside a Plexi-gated area with their pet.

Large pets that are claimed to be a service dog must have a certification from a physician and a veterinarian of such designation and have appropriate pet vest, tags, and behave as service dog is expected. Dogs that run around and bark uncontrolled are not service dogs, and we are not idiots so don’t try us. Even a therapy dog must have basic obedience ability. If a dog does not respond to basic obedience commands at the loading gate by our Sherry Gatekeeper, the dog will be denied any special consideration as a service dog and the owner will be ejected via our spring loaded platform for stupidity. Your dog will then be reassigned to an intelligent owner. Dogs wearing diapers, leaking any substance, wearing a muzzle, acting aggressive, or obviously ill, will not board the plane.

Pet People Plane is carpeted with artificial turf, with a drainable subfloor and air filtration system. The plane is hosed out daily with disinfectant steam spray. Dog owners must remove #2 with poop bags provided, use a poo-pouri spray provided, and dispose of the bag in the poop-shoot slots located throughout the plane, then return to their seat and dog into enclosed area. Extreme Pet flights are available monthly to transport dogs will non-communicable illnesses, Veterinarians and their staff, and shelter dogs needing transport to new homes. These flights will hold until every seat/crate is sold for a planned future departure.

Adult flights are booked  for 16 and over and no children under driver’s license age. This is so no one on adult flight has to deal with arguments, sticky fingered stupidity, and screaming infants and parents who don’t know how to–or don’t care to –deal with their own spawn. You know who you are.

Kids and Family flights leave at 10 am and 1 pm only because typically parents can’t get their crap together and fight morning traffic to arrive for the 7 am flight. We hope by the 1 pm flight,  nap time will ensue for our flight staff. If your stupid stroller weighs 5 times what your kid does, don’t bring it!!! It has to weigh less than 20 pounds or it’s not being loaded on the plane…simple as that. UPS that shit to your destination or rent a cadillac stroller when you get where you are going.

In the event you must take your herd of ankle-biters along on a trip, our Kids flights will tolerate them and offer a few amenities. We include potty chair in family bathroom in back, and a complimentary snack kit and parent helper including:  Samples of adult ibuprofen and children’s Benadryl, napkins, poo-pouri spray, and poison control center number. Extra amenities like diapers, wipes, duct tape, and shiny things…etc…are available for purchase from your Flight Governess.  All passengers, except those in diapers, will be asked to go potty before take off to prevent unnecessary accidents during flights. A diaper change station is available in the bathroom. Adult noise controlled bathrooms are available in front of plane with high door locks. Photo sensors will not allow doors to close if a child enters. Adults only…we mean it! Mom has to be able to escape somewhere to cuss or poop alone. Governess’s are available for 15 minute childcare incriments at a minimal fee payable by Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Thank you.

Kids Flights plane floor has artificial turf with a drain away subfloor, and like our pet plane, is steam sanitized. Flight staff are trained in CPR, child-care, and have family counselor training. Note: If you cannot handle your kids, we offer see-through plexi-caged areas that pop up from the floor [integrated with air holes,] 3 feet wide and 5 feet long, with 3 foot high walls and a small outside locking door. This is offered with a signed waiver and an extra seat fee and only used while in the air and not upon take off or landing. After all, we are all about safety and sanity.

Fancy pants pretenders and materialistic people who can’t laugh at life better stay off my planes. Those type people won’t be happy when my staff teases them, and my staff of Sherry’s who realists will tell them [after counting to 3 or giving them a cup of Cherrios] to “suck it up buttercup”, because dissatisfaction is caused mostly by your own piss poor attitude. Specific fliers who act out inappropriately during their trip will be banned from flying again.

Personal thoughts…

The problems with flight booking and mistreatment of passengers will likely continue because the big airlines have the market cornered. Until another airline finds a way into the market and makes flying less stressful, we are screwed.

Even though I agree with disgust resulting from the latest Airline treatment of  passengers shown on social media, I have reason to believe some of the problems continuing to be posted lately are also caused by misbehaving or stupid passengers.

I fly a lot and have seen a lot of stupid passenger behavior…especially those who obviously think the world exists to revolve around them and who have crappy attitudes before they get on board.

In reality, our culture has become so damn spoiled by instant satisfaction attitudes that some passengers on planes think they have a right to treat staff with less than common decency and are entitled to act badly because they paid to fly. While most passengers are mildly frustrated but act appropriately accepting of it, there is that one jerk or jerkette that adds to your flight misery.

Who’s ready to fly with Sherry Air?

This is how my brain works when riding in a car for 12 hours. 

 

 

Crystal City…Could It Happen Again?

I am reading The Train to Crystal City, a book by Jan Jarboe Russell.  I have been amazed at this little discussed historical place in Crystal City, Texas. In no history class have I ever heard of how many U.S. naturalized citizens were herded up and sent off to this internment camp in the 1940s because they were originally from Japan, Germany, or Italy.

I have included copies of these U.S. Gov’t Relocation films released to explain the plan behind the internment camps. However, in reading more interviews, and reports in newspapers regarding the stories of families, there were many injustices by our government officials against American born children of detainees. 

The highlighted text above will take you to the original article from which I pasted the below films.

 

While one of the films shows aspects of the camp that reflect a spa-like quality, the vast majority of the detainees interviewed do not have happy memories of the camp life in Crystal City, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.

In Russell’s book, the Germans in camp were more divided than the Japanese and had more internal conflicts because there was a Nazi faction in the camp and German Americans who were loyal to the U.S. This caused a great deal of problems for German American families within the camp. The Japanese were larger in number and had come from a country exampling more government organization. Therefore, they created a strong committee with officers who met with camp officials and bargained for  better treatment and housing for their people. The German detainees also had representatives, but more agitators created difficulty in finding compromises with camp administration.

According to Russell’s investigation into the camp, the families transferred to this camp to be reunited with their husbands had to sign an application for repatriation, which resulted in them giving the U.S. the right to trade them in prisoner exchange to the warring government for release of American prisoners of war. This volunteer act did not necessarily mean the families were guilty of treason against the United States, but it relinquished their freedoms in order to be reunited with fathers, and to be guaranteed to be given food and water, and very basic necessities. For some of these women and children, who had lost their homes and all their savings (frozen or taken by the government), they really had no choice but to take this action or starve. The fathers of these families had already been robbed of their freedoms, their right to answer to their charges, and most were never told what evidence against them caused their incarceration.

The writ of habeas corpus did not apply in any of these detainees cases because the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Executive Order 9066, signed by FDR, made any immigrants from countries at war with the United States potentially dangerous and under suspicion. There were at least 10 camps holding over 125,000 detainees from 1942 to 1948. (This is an estimated number. Some of my research stated from 25,000 to as many as 250,000. The most common number in most reports, articles, and documents referred to the 100,000 number in relation to the Japanese and German detainees combined.) Many detainees were released at the end of the war as undocumented immigrants, but many more had been repatriated during the war to decrease numbers at the camps.   Some of the detainees were held much longer (according to government documents stating the camp continued and did not close until 1948), and I have not been able to determine who they were or why.

Sounds familiar to the current President’s attempt to ban specific cultural or religious groups of immigrants, doesn’t it? I do believe history is trying to repeat itself in our country today.  Thank God for some of the elected officials and citizens who are trying to uphold the freedoms that represent the best ideals of our country. I pray that this kind of sweeping denial of human rights and cultural separation does not occur on this scale again, but only time will tell.

I encourage anyone who has ancestors who are immigrants (umm, everyone) to read this book, read other books, investigate this piece of our history, and stay informed of the actions of our leaders against our citizens. What is your immigrant history? Would your family have been at risk in 1942 of internment? Think about it!

[Please note that I am not a historian, and some of these facts may be controversial or contradicted by other reports not viewed by this writer. This piece is intended only to spark an interest for those who have not considered their past familial immigrant status.]

Cleaning House

I began really cleaning my house after quitting a full time job that kept me away from home except to fix supper and sleep. I enjoy cleaning, so I decided to help others clean their homes. I have a few families now that I clean for regularly and I share some of my techniques with them. So, here are a few tips I have developed about cleaning from my good mom sense and 52 years of experience.

  • Declutter First – It is a waste of time to start cleaning when your house is so cluttered that you have to constantly move things to dust or vacuum around. You have to clear the area of shoes, junk, stacked collections, etc…If it is not furniture, move it until the cleaning is done. If it has collected dust on it, do you really need to keep it anyway? You be the judge. Remove all rugs or anything that hinders you from putting a mop on the floor later. Now is a good time to wash those or hang them outside!
  • Top to Bottom – Literally and physically start at the top floor of the house and move down. Also start with dusting fans, ceiling fixtures and vents above head height. If dusted, it will fall and create more mess below…so it only makes sense to do this before anything else. Hint: Cover beds with old sheets while cleaning fans over the bed so dust bunnies don’t dirty up your clean comforter!
  • Room by Room or Task by Task – There are two ways to approach cleaning. You can go room by room (closing doors to prevent dust from traveling) and do the top to bottom method, or you can go through the whole house doing one task. With a small house, I tend to follow the task–as in dusting the whole house top to bottom first (furniture dusting, dusting knick-knacks, and table tops), and then vacuuming. Either way to proceed is an effective method. Bigger homes require much more time, so room by room allows a split of cleaning into several days if needed.
  • Save deep cleaning for last and one at at time – This will include: windows, baseboards, fireplaces, inside of appliances, stove hoods, under or behind heavy furniture, refrigerator vent covers (usually in front at bottom), under/behind washer & dryer, door jams and doors/knobs, shower door tracks, patio door tracks, walls, backsplashes in kitchens, cabinets, and ventilation grates and returns. These are items I add one at a time to my regular cleaning every week so it eventually gets done.
  • Carpet cleaning – Always vacuum first, then remove stains with pretreatment. Dry carpet foam works good on small stains. For bigger or pet stains, consider a wet shampooer or professional cleaning. Remember when you remove a stain and do not remove all the cleaning product, the residue can attract dirt from your shoes and show a more prominent stain than before. Therefore, keep the use of cleaners to a minimum and dry well. Also vacuum again after a cleaning to remove any extra soil raised in carpet nap by the foams. Vacuuming should be done before and after mopping well traveled surfaces. Hint: Never walk on a damp carpet…it must be completely dry before you walk across. Use fans on it and if you have to walk there, put down an old plastic table cloth or painters drop cloth to protect the carpet.
  • Mop Last – When I clean my house, I often mop right before bed or after others in the house are asleep. This way the floor is not tread on while wet and will dry before morning. I mop tile floors with a environmentally safe cleaner, and cut it with water. I don’t drench the floor, but use a good wet mop and scrub liberally. The secret to a non-sticky floor is to change the water often. You can’t make a floor clean by using dirty water, right? I use a floor shine on the kitchen and hallways about once a month, again applied to a dry clean floor with adequate time to dry.
  • Wood floors – Murphy’s Oil Soap (also great for cleaning wood cabinets), thinned with clean water as per label directions is my go to cleaner for all wood in my home. It smells great and is easy on the finish. If you want a shiny finish, there are environmentally safe orange brand oils, but know that you will have to clean this floor more often because the shine film actually attracts and absorbs more dirt than a mute clean oil soap finish.
  • Other comments: If you have hardwood floors, spend the money on them to have them professionally waxed and buffed. They will do well with simple cleaning for up to 6 years after that. Revitalize old hard wood floors with this treatment every 5-8 years unless you have that bowling alley slick polyurethane coating on the floor. This will need regular mopping and buffing with a rentable light soft buffer every few years, but in the long run will last a long time with minimal care.
  • Use the right products: Use stainless steel cleaners for stainless appliances, use products suggested for certain types of tile or flooring if you want the floors to last longer and not be a sticky mess. Use cleaner needed for marbles and stone or concrete countertops and you will avoid having them replaced or repaired later. Spending a little more money on correct cleaners now may save you a fortune later.

I hope these basic tips will save you time and make your cleaning more efficient. Happy Cleaning!

 

Sustainable wax cloth?

Sustainable wax cloth?

I have always been an avid recycler. My dad started me on it when he collected cans. We lived beside a main highway outside of Columbus, Indiana. The old state road was a dumping place for everyone’s thrown out cans. Dad would go out there and pick up bags full, crush the cans, and take them to recycling for cash. It wasn’t much cash then at pennies per pound, but he did it anyway. My parents were not hippies, but they were from the depression era before WWII when you had to reuse and collect things for the war effort. This attitude had the advantage of using things up or repurposing everything possible. Early recyclers, they taught me well.

I have three bins in my yard. One for organic trash, one for cans, plastics, and other food box recyclables, and one regular trash can. The basic recyclable can ends up filling up (over 33 gallons) in three weeks while the regular trash can weekly never has more than 2 kitchen bags in it, and those are not full bags. I tried to compost once, and it was a real mess and drew bugs that killed my plants, so I stopped doing that.

Along with recycling, I often read about sustained reusables and how to stretch the dollar and save the planet. I tend to use products made in America, no BPA, recycled plastics, or buy products packed in glass or recyclable materials. I buy eggs in cardboard containers instead of styrofoam, and am picky about reading labels for the recycle symbols. I am careful to consider eating out and if the place offers styrofoam take out containers or cardboard. All in all, I feel like I do my best to be a good earth citizen.  However, I don’t believe in overdoing for the sake of something better to do.

I read about these beeswax covers a lady makes to cover or wrap her food because saran wrap has toxins in it that leaks into the water in landfills. Now, I don’t use much saran wrap as I put my leftovers into reusable containers with lids and rarely wrap things in plastic. Except, I use ziplock freezer bags because I have not found anything better to keep freezer burn off of meat. I do reuse bags if I can by washing them and hanging them to dry in the sun. I use parchment paper or wax paper on the meat before putting them in the zip bags to prevent the raw meat from touching the inside of the bag. But I don’t make my own beeswax material to wrap food! That is going to far.

I pondered this at first, thinking, “oh, that is a neat idea.” Then I read the directions and thought, “I don’t have time for this shit”.  It is all fine and good but really, I don’t have the patience to sprinkle and iron, sprinkle and iron, to get the right consistency of wax melted on the cotton cloth I have cut with pinking shears to look pretty.  I also don’t iron my sheets or dress clothes. Ironing is another waste of time and why I buy wrinkle free things.

Put down the iron lady, because aluminum foil is recyclable! My mom would use it to cover food and then after use, she would wash it in the sink, fold it up and put it in the recycle can bag with dads collection. People often forget about aluminum foil unless they are grilling out. It is a handy item to have for a lot of reasons, but most of all because you can recycle it. According to research, it takes less than 60 days to return recycled aluminum back into a usable item, which is much less time than any other recyclable. I found out from my research that most cars contain recycled aluminum. You don’t even have to crush it or wash it anymore because of the process used to clean it, remove paints from it, and crush it into blocks at the recycling centers.

So, while I support anyone trying to do their part in sustainable earth-friendly products, I won’t be creating beeswax cloth to show my dedication anytime soon.

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