21. July 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Domestic

As in – stuff happens. I’ve not been posting so much, as Blondie AKA the Daughter Unit and I are coming down the home stretch – maybe, hopefully, eventually – on a huge autobiographical project for a Watercress client. This client, to put it kindly, has had an interesting life, with lots of interesting friends, and is situated economically far up enough on the scale of things to be able to get exactly what he wants, and to pay the full freight for it. This is a project which … well, it took up about half a year, just getting to the point of writing up the contract, then lay fallow for another year, during which I about wrote it off entirely, and then in October of 2014, we had a signed contract and a check … and a possible deadline of April of this year, which we have blown pretty much past. The professional ghostwriter for this magnum opus has been working on it for more than six years, so I have no reason to feel especially burdened.

Almost the last bit we have to do is to carefully review the hard-copy printed version, and track down and ruthlessly slaughter any remaining misspellings, punctuation omissions, and spacing issues. Yes – I am training up Blondie/Daughter Unit in the detailed ways of the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and pinning her foot to the floor, metaphorically speaking, in learning the Ten Commandments of Watercress, better known as the Chicago Manual of Style. So – that’s been the main project this week, that and finishing off the last of the Armoire project. Yes, the armoire which we scavenged from the curb slightly ahead of the professional junker who had his eye on it, is all but done – all but the lower skirting on the right and left sides. The final item waiting the armoire’s final transformation into a media cabinet was that we needed to build the shelving unit to hold the TV, and a collection of DVD’s, which would fit into the armoire like a hand sliding into a well-fitting glove, and of course I am not well-paid sufficiently as a writer to be able to whistle one of those up from a bespoke cabinet-maker.

Off to Home Depot/Lowe’s, once the payment for another project was accomplished, armed with a set of measurements and an idea in mind for a set of shelves to fit a single row of DVD cases – with two smaller half-width sliding shelf units, which would shift from side to side, thus eliminating the need to stack them two-deep … which is a major pain, and makes it extremely difficult to locate certain movies, which I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that I have, but which I cannot locate under the current system. The nice and faintly harried young salesman at Home Depot obligingly cut the sheet of cabinet-grade plywood into the shapes needed for the main cabinet, but the smaller scraps had to wait upon the courtesy of our near neighbor, the amateur wood-worker, who has a whole garage full of tools, and a monumental half-finished chest made of native cedar planks that he is constructing as a wedding present for a nephew, which will be the woodworker’s marvel of the world once that he gets finished with it. (Yes, for every artistic masterpiece in the world, there is an artist … and another one who tells him that he is DONE!) Anyway, the neighborhood woodworker obligingly ripped the plywood scraps into a number of 5 ½” wide lengths, from which we constructed the two half-width moving segments. We assembled and stained them to match the armoire, discovering in the process that we absolutely suck at applying glue – as there are too many patches where the excess glue soaked in to make a really professional-appearing final product once the stain was applied. It fits quite neatly into the armoire – but on continuing consideration, we think that we will remove the rollers underneath, before we go any farther. They make it too tippy, too unstable, even with the shelf unit inserted.

The kitchen as it stands now - a black hole of clutter

The kitchen as it stands now – a black hole of clutter

But still … what we have is useful, and doesn’t look all that bad, considering. Which brings us up to the eventual kitchen renovation; since we had a fairly easy time building the shelf-unit, what with everything cut to exact size … how hard would it be, to hire the neighborhood Handy Guy (who helped us install the Marvelous Carved Front Door) to build the cabinet frames for base and wall shelf units? The kitchen is such an odd and small size, and our requirements – for instance, for the wall units to go all the way up to the ceiling – unlikely to be met by prefab cabinets. It was simple enough, making a plain box of a certain dimension from a sheet of cabinet-grade plywood. Looking around, it seems that door and drawer units in custom sizes, plus tambour door kits, plate racks, and pull-out pantry shelves are readily available for much less than the cost of a complete cabinet unit. We’d also have to do this in segments over time – wall cabinets, kitchen floor and base cabinets in two sections, countertop, tile backsplash and sink … and this way, when we were done, all of it would match. It would about double the storage space in the kitchen, once completed. So – that’s the plan; now to see what Handy Guy says.


  1. Fred A. Meurer

    Dear Ms. Hayes:

    After letting the books lie idle for a couple of years, I am in the middle of re-reading your Adelsverin Trilogy. I’m on Page 170 of “The Sowing.” It’s almost like reading them for the first time. Your storytelling, to put it mildly, is masterful.

    I was born in Fredericksburg in 1937 and, with my five sisters, was raised there, first living on Orange Street and then on East Travis Street. Our next-door neighbors on Travis were, coincidentally, the Henry Becker family — no son Carl, however. My father, Henry Meurer, was manager of the Goodyear Service Store; my Opa Joe Molberg worked for The Fredericksburg Standard and was editor of the German language Die Wochenblatt, a sister publication of The Standard . Opa Joe was also a two-term mayor of Fredericksburg and welcomed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz home after World War II in a rousing civic celebration. I went from the first through the twelfth grade at St. Mary’s School. Then it was off to Texas A&M College, a degree in journalism, an ROTC commission in the Air Force and a 20-year career as an information/public affairs officer. From 1975-77, I was editor of AIRMAN Magazine.

    My question is, where were you at the time? I know you were in the Air Force at some point, but when and in what career field? How did we, my predecessors and successors too, miss you as a potential AIRMAN staff member? MSgt Bud Newcomb and TSgt. Tom Dwyer were staff writers during my tenure, along with a couple of captains. MSgt. Eddie McCrossan and then TSgt. Herman Kokojan where chiefs of photography. I do wonder if you were in the Information/Public Affairs career field, where you were stationed, and how you developed your writing prowess, And how did we miss you at AIRMAN?

    I now live in the Denver suburbs and am also retired from Gulf Oil/Chevron. Two of my surviving sisters live in Fredericksburg and two in New Braunfels. One of the latter, Emily Banks, met you at a book-signing in
    San Antonio and put me onto your books. I have also read two of your follow-on novels.

    It would be my distinct pleasure to hear from you.

    Fred Meurer
    July 23, 2015

    • Hi, Fred! I am so pleased that you love the books – especially as a long-time Fredericksburgian! The family names of the made-up characters in the Trilogy came about in two ways, although I did check them against the Verein ship-lists and the 1850 Census for Gillespie County: Steinmetz just popped into my head, but Becker was the surname of one of the crewmen on my Uncle Jim’s WWII B-17 crew, and Richter was the surname of a crazy broadcaster that I worked with on my last overseas, at AFKN-Youngsan – a kind of small inside personal reference there. I didn’t realize until later that there was the Becker Vineyards – and oh, would I like to be able to tie into that!

      Yes, I was a military broadcast tech – from 1977-1997, but I was overseas for practically all of that, save a year in a PA office at Mather AFB, and two brief hitches in Combat Camera – basically I was on-call voice talent, stock librarian and studio manager for those. The writing I did was — I guess — not spectacular enough for anyone from AIRMAN to take note of. Pity – I would have liked working more in PA, as broadcasting was all overseas, remote-assignment, or both … and our b’cast management cadre were almost universally insane. But I didn’t have a hang-up about the written word at all, which was to my advantage – hey, whattya want: thirty second spot, two minute news story, pages of instruction, a news release, EPR – I’m game! Just show me to the typewriter, give me five minutes, or half an hour!

      I really broke into writing seriously when I started blogging, for one of the original milblogs in 2002. A bored AF tech with a bent for the internet had started a blog about … well, military matters, got bored with it all, and recruited active-duty and retirees to be contributors. I was about four years out of the military game by then, but my daughter was in the Marines, and deployed to Kuwait/Iraq, so I started posting about … well, stuff. Whatever interested me. And readers liked it — they really liked it! (insert Sally Field fan-girly squeal here) Three essays a week, at least 500 words. I got bugged about writing a book, so I did. And then another one — a historical novel — that one was so much fun that I cast around for materiel for a follow-on. That second novel turned into the Trilogy – it was such a fantastic and unknown story.

      So, no – I wasn’t hiding from y’all – I was just overseas a lot.