Under the Hood.

Last month, I took Ursula to the shop. She’d not been driving right for a while but like a person without health insurance (hey, even in this day and age, it happens), we postponed the mechanic’s diagnosis until I was afraid the visit would be more of an emergency than a check up.

Diagnosis, please.

Diagnosis, please.

I was wonderfully surprised, then, when the call came that Ursula could come home with nothing more than a fluid flush and new power steering fluid reservoir. Sure, it wasn’t the band-aid price I was hoping for, but it was still a lot cheaper than, say, a transmission overhaul.

I was impressed with how much better she ran in such short a time. What had I been afraid of? She didn’t look any different, but boy, howdy! does this baby drive better. A little time, a little investment, and my nearly ten-year-old car received that much desired mechanic’s statement, “You have an excellent car.”

It right there and then squashed my desire to purchase a Chevy Equinox (although I wouldn’t turn one down as a gift. Just sayin’.).

Does that ever happen to you? You think you need a replacement, when all you need is a check up? A little look under the hood, a little TLC to get things back on track? Yeah. So, we’re not gonna count how often that happens to me, okay? Let’s just say this once was the trigger for something else.

I’ve been pretty disorganized for a while now. Pretty afraid to get into the dirt; afraid I might not make it out alive. I’ve been pretty chaotic now and then. At home, with the editing, with the writing. My peeps are always telling me I have too much on my plate. Aaron’s always offering to get me a new plate. Go figure.

MoJo Chaos

MoJo Chaos

In the back of my mind, I knew how to get things straight, but couldn’t make the leap. Happily, it happened a few weeks ago. One thing led to another and instead of rabbit-holing into more chaos, I discovered the one puzzle piece I needed to fit the others around.

It all started with moving my treasured cedar chest into the living room, and moving the computer desk out. I’ve designated about forty square feet in my living room as my writing space. There’s my writing desk and chair, reading chair, rug, bookshelf. I’m set.

MoJo Writes

MoJo Writes

I was inspired. As soon as the living room and writing space were complete, I realized how easy it would be to finally conquer the room that shan’t be opened the room formerly known as Dot’s. It’s been closed off since she left in February. Until now, I’d not been able to bring myself to go in there and clean it out. Sure, she took care of most of it before she left. But I couldn’t go into that half-empty room and face the reality that my daughter moved out and I was alone.

I could, however, face the reality that I had an extra room in my house to fix up the way I wanted. And that’s what I clung to. I opened the door, surveyed the not-so-messy mess, and got to work. With Mom’s help, in just two days, the Narnia Spar Oom and the room now known as the Peacock Room are in order. One is my library. The other is my crafting/activity/game room. The changes are subtle, but empowering.

So naturally it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve been controlling more of my schedule instead of letting things flow. This has opened doors for me to take on new projects and clients, as well as continue the work I’m already doing. Writing. Editing. Social Media. I can do it all, and do more of it, now that I’m organized physically and mentally.

But then there’s this.

I’d been unhappy with the Blog for a while now. Frustrated. And for the better part of three weeks, it wasn’t working right. I couldn’t post. I thought about just giving up and going with a whole new blog. Is this a midlife crisis about to happen? All this let-go-and-move-on-to-something-new way of thinking? Let’s hope not.

With guidance from my webmaster, I decided to take a look under the hood. I spent all of last weekend streamlining pages and categories and fixing photos. That’s no joke. 834 posts. A crazy amount of tags and miscellaneous input. After several restless months and seriously thinking of a change, I like love LOVE Frankly, My Dear . . . and don’t want to leave it.

Remember this?

Baseball on Pitcher's Mound. Frankly My Dear, If You Build It, They Will Come.

Field of Dreams

When my webmaster revamped FMD a few years ago, the response was staggeringly favorable.

And my looking under the hood this weekend brought back that original excitement. I like what we’re doing here. All we needed was a little check up.

So look up at the top menu. You’ll see new Page tabs, and new categories. We’re moving forward, but that doesn’t mean we’re moving. Just like cleaning up Dot’s room, a few things moved to storage. You can search “archived” for all the older, unrelated posts. Everything else has been reviewed and retagged for easier finding. There are a few new sections, too.

Sure, it doesn’t look much different. A little spit and polish is all. But the work under the hood? That makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you’ll stick around for another five years. And more. After all, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Am I right?

Keep moving.

Keep moving.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

How Bedford Manor Got Its Name

When I purchased this house, there was no doubt I would name my small estate Bedford Manor. If I ever sell this plot and move, the new place will also be christened Bedford Manor. And probably every property I own after that.

Bedford Falls is the quaint hometown of George Bailey. Not sure what or whom I’m talking about? Only the greatest Christmas movie ever.

I adore the message in this movie: It’s not about the money. It’s about the people. And when you’re lower than the floor, you can do the Peter Panda Dance count on your people to be there for you, even after you’ve done your best to alienate them. It’s a Wonderful Life is about home.

Another reason I chose the title Bedford Manor is because of thirtysomething. That show back in the early 90s that everyone talked about. In my early 20s and away at college, there were two shows that my people and I watched without fail. Beverly Hills, 90210 and thirtysomething. Tuesdays and Thursdays were relegated to predictions while Wednesdays and Fridays brought great discussions about the inevitable bomb-dropping that occurred. I had a knack for predicting upcoming storylines. I wasn’t always right, but my peers and I certainly had fun dissecting the episodes before and after they aired.

thirtysomething was produced by Marshall Herskovitz’s company, Bedford Falls Productions. Who remembers the end-tag each week as we all sang “. . . and dance by the light of the moon . . .”?

Yup. Just another reason I wanted to live in a place called Bedford.

As you know from last week’s post, one of my favorite college courses was Mystery Writing 101. (It really was called that. Or maybe it was English 101 – Mystery Writing. I prefer the former.) That’s where I learned about novellas and hidden clues and solving crimes. And that’s where I picked up this book.

The aptly titled Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories (1988).

The aptly titled Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories (1988).

Which is still on my bookshelves. Only this week it’s being promoted to The Shelf — that special spot I keep available for my most favorite books and the ones I still use as reference. I call it The Shelf at Bedford Manor.

In mystery novels, elegant homes are often referred to as (this) Estate or (that) Manor. So when I started looking for a house to buy, it had to fit the title. Lo and behold, it does.

My home is cozy, clean, welcoming. A refuge from the desert (except that dratted sand lot of a yard!). An oasis to travelers far and near.

And while it’s not yet finished, I’m okay with that. Because Michael and Hope never finished their house no matter how often they went to work on the construction, decorating and all the other little and big things that go into turning a house into a home.

Bedford Manor means progress. It means togetherness. It means striving and thriving. It means I have a place to come home to. A place to work. A family waiting. And a world to explore.

I can be safe here, or daring. I can rest or run a mile.

Bedford Manor means open doors.

It means all the things that make me me.

Desk and chair set with old typewriter

My “new” workspace ~ a real desk!

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
My Housing Project: Back to the Beginning
I am Defined. And I am a Mystery.
You’re Gonna Make It After All.