Friday, December 19, 2014

The Joy of Fixing Things

I started off the week dealing with getting a leaky shower fixed. While the plumber was here I asked him if there was such a thing as a regulator that controlled the pressure of water coming into the house. Actually years ago, another plumber had told me there was a regulator and ours was broken, but I had my doubts if it was true. I’d been through a batch of plumbers all with different stories why we were having the problems we were having including one guy who blamed it on the kind of faucets we had and charge me $150 for that information but didn’t fix anything.

I do recall the problems seemed to end after the regulator was replaced, but I never was certain if it was a real thing or not. To my surprise, the plumber on Monday said indeed there was such a thing and I asked him if he would check ours.

I had been telling my family I thought there was something wrong with the water pressure, but they looked at me like I was nuts. Sure enough, it turned out the regulator was broken and the water coming it was something like double the pressure it was supposed to be. The plumber seemed surprised that I knew and asked me how I’d figured it out. It was all about the sound and the way the water came on when I turned on a faucet or flushed a toilet.

So, we have a new regulator and all is well.

When we got our first house, I took a class in home repairs at a place called Everywoman’s Village. The guy who taught it was a story onto himself. He really played up the macho thing and would ride his motorcycle up to the front door of the class room and park it there. He always straddled a chair when he spoke to the class and had a jacket with a lot of decals sewn on. One said something like “next to sex, I like my Harley best.” He claimed to be a psychologist who had determined what really made people crazy were the little things in life like a broken lamp. So, he decided to teach classes in home repairs so people would know how to fix things. He also seemed to have developed a following of women who I don’t think cared about learning how to fix anything.

I did learn how everything from a toilet to a lamp worked. We also each built something. My project was a medicine cabinet, but I don’t thing it ever actually got installed. I did later install a new water inlet to our toilet and put down new tile on the bathroom floor.

Over the years, I have fixed a lot of things and even when my attempts were unsuccessful when I called a professional I had an idea of what was going on. That class gave me th confidence to give things a shot, though I have to admit when it comes to anything electrical beyond dealing with light bulbs, I steer clear.

So when the heart rate monitor watch I wear to the gym died, I decided instead of taking it to a watch place to be fixed, I would try replacing the battery myself and see if that resuscitated it. The first challenge was finding the battery. I checked online and Target said they carried in the store, but when I went to the electronics department, the clerk couldn’t find it in their selection of batteries and told me they didn’t carry that battery anymore.

I hate to say it, but I didn’t believe him and kept going through the store with the feeling I was going to find the battery. And I did. My watch battery turned up in the hearing aid battery area.
Go figure.

I have a wonderful set of tools that includes tiny tiny screw drivers that were just the right size for removing the watch back. I popped in the battery and my watch came back to life. Of course, when my husband heard, he showed up with his dead watch. I am pleased to say it also working again.

I’m not sure if that teacher was right about what makes people crazy, but I do know that being able to fix things certainly makes me feel good.

The picture has nothing to do with fixing anything. I went to Disneyland on Sunday and the castle was so pretty I just wanted to share

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lithium Breathing: The Balancing Breath

This is the second of three blog posts that detail practices mentioned in A Killer Retreat.   This lovely breath practice helps balance energy.  Perfect for the holiday season.  Only three weeks until the official publication date!  Enjoy!

lithium breathing

This simple breath practice is great any time you need to balance your thoughts, energy, or emotions. Kate, the yoga teacher/sleuth in A Killer Retreat calls this practice Lithium Breathing, because like the medication for bipolar disorder, it balances energy whether it is manic or depressed.

This practice is perfect for any time of day, and the beauty about breath work is that you can do it anywhere—at home, on the bus, even in the middle of a meeting at work—and no one will think you've gone crazy.  ;-)

Lithium Breathing
  1. Come to a comfortable sitting or lying position.
  2. Notice how you feel before beginning to practice.  Don’t worry if you don’t feel as you think you “should.” Just notice whatever comes to mind and be grateful for the awareness.
  3. Gradually, over 6 breaths, lengthen both your inhale and exhale, noticing the natural pause at the end of each.
  4. Maintain the breath in step 3 for at least 6 breath cycles.  Then, break the inhale portion of your breath into two equal parts, with a natural pause both between parts and at the end of the inhale.
  5. Maintain the breath in step 4 for at least 6 breath cycles.  Then, break both the inhale and exhale portions of your breath into two equal parts, with the same natural pauses in the middle and at the end.
  6. Maintain the breath in step 5  for at least 12 breath cycles.  Do not strain the breath.  If you start to feel strain, decrease the lengths of the breath segments, and then continue with that new length for the rest of the practice.
  7. Once you finish 12 or more complete breaths at step 6,  release the pauses completely and breathe for several breaths.  Then gradually allow the breath to come back to a normal rhythm.
  8. Notice any changes you feel after this practice, without trying to judge them as “good” or bad.
Give it a try and let me know how it works.


Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at book sellers everywhere

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Orders and Deliveries and Online Enjoyment

Packages!  Over the past week or so we've had things delivered, including several major items needed for the comfort of some of our family members who will be visiting over the holidays.  Most of the stuff was ordered online both by us and by other family members. 

We've also had some car issues and received a few ordered items that my handy husband and younger son are using to fix those issues.

Those items were pretty much all ordered online.  Yes, we keep getting snail mail gift catalogs and I thumb through them in case there's something I hadn't heard of or looked up online that I can't live without, or I can't live without ordering for someone else.   

We do, in fact, have something I want to order for our dogs that happened to appear in a snail mail catalog.  Once upon a time, I'd have mailed the order form in with a check and waited for the things to get here.  Now?  My first thought is I'd better make sure they have a website so I can order the same things online.  It's faster and easier. 

I admit to having shopped locally and physically wrapped and taken the packages to my local post office this year for snail mailing as well as in prior years.  But I do less of that now. 

I'm quite a non-techie person, but when I learn something and it becomes ingrained in my mind, that's what I always turn to.  I've written on a computer for most of my life, fortunately, but I also know the program I use isn't the most current.  At least I can still use it for now.  I additionally rely on the Internet for things I know it can do for me, like provide writing research information and social media contacts and--yes--blogging!  And ordering things, if I need to, and signing up for writing organizations and conferences, and more. 

I've become even more aware of this lately as I've been helping a good friend who's even less Internet and computer savvy than I am.  I print out forms for her since she doesn't sign up for things online, and I think about when stuff I did relied a lot more on snail mail. 

So what if I'm far from being the computer savviest person there is?  At least I know what I do and learn more as I need to.   

And, yes, I'll look forward to my next deliveries of stuff I've ordered online. 

By the way, I received input about how the editorial process will go for my first Barkery and Biscuits Mystery BITE THE BISCUIT, which will be a May 2015 release.  I'm currently writing my next Harlequin Nocturne about my covert military unit of shapeshifters, called CANADIAN WOLF.  But I'll look forward to working on BITE THE BISCUIT, too.  I received a printed galley of it at Bouchercon, and it does need some editing.  Yes, even a grammar and proofreading nut like me can make mistakes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Those Cough Drop Brothers

Although we’ve sold
Six million others
We still can’t sell
Those cough drop brothers
Burma Shave

Have you seen the Smith Brothers cough drop commercial?  A descendent of one of the originals appears – and he’s wearing a big, thick beard very much in the style of his famous ancestor!  I guess beards are really back.

I liked their licorice cough drops so much when I was a kid, I almost looked forward to getting a cold.

I have almost nothing to report this week.  I have a vague idea how I’m going to start Ebenezer’s Christmas Yarn, but that’s all.  The author of the screenplay of Murder At the War, aka Knight Fall, is coming by on Thursday and we’re going over it together.  I’ve already written some notes on it – he’s got a deft touch with the story, and I have very few suggestions for changes.

The weather yesterday was weird.  We broke a high temperature at four in the morning for the date – fifty-two degrees – but by nightfall the wind was howling and the light rain was turning to sleet.  This morning there’s some snow on the ground and it’s barely twenty degrees.  Roller coaster weather!