The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


O New Year's Tree, O New Year's Tree...

Christmas came. Christmas went. The New Year approacheth. And I'm just now getting over Thanksgiving.

I didn't exactly miss Christmas, but I definitely wasn't "prepared" to fully participate in the holiday festivities. From the day after Thanksgiving until around December 20, I got lost. Lost in a family emergency, a two week battle with something akin to the flu, work-related issues and disappointments, and general lethargy.

I generally don't get caught up in that "Are you ready for Christmas?" mentality. I see Christmas not as something to get ready for, but as something to celebrate. But I like a cozy, decorated house and baked goods and those lovely things. So some amount of preparation and work is involved.

I barely bought presents for my loved ones this year. (The whole subject of gift-giving mania is another topic I could rant about. Sometimes it just feels like we might as well all swap money and be done with it. It shouldn't be that way.)

But the real kicker is that we didn't even put up a tree this year. I love Christmas trees. A big, live, piney tree in the middle of my living room. I'm a big believer and proponent of live trees. I have friends that say "Our apartment is too small for a tree." To them I say: Bah! Nonsense! There is always room for a tree. Move a table; put a chair in bedroom. There is always room for a tree.

But James worked a billion hours in the wretched world of retail, and we never made it to the tree place. Plus, we have this crazy cat named Cheska. She just won't stop getting into things. (As I write this she is trying to eat a Santa figurine that I never even took out of the box.) We feared for her life if she had access to a tree. So it all seemed like too much of a hassle and we didn't get one.

But then I felt sad about not getting a tree, so my brother (home from Arizona) and I went to the parking lot next to Ollie's discount store on December 23 to see what was left. We ended up stuffing this giant tree into the backseat of our dad's Cadillac and laughing hysterically. It's one of my best memories of this holiday season. There was no tree lot attendant, so we decided that the leftover trees were free for the taking. Several other people stopped by and wondered if it would be okay just to take a tree. They said that nobody was working there earlier in the day when they'd stopped the first time. So we decided, "I'll take one if you take one." David and I talked about pretending that he was the lot attendant and making some extra cash, but that just seemed wrong.

The plan was to string the tree with lights and put it out on my deck. At least we could see it through the double doors. Christmas Eve came and went. Christmas Day came and went. Boxing Day came and went. I figured we'd put it up on the 27th anyway, so we could use it as a New Year's party accessory. But then James got cold feet about mixing electricity and water and worried that the outdoor outlets aren't ground-fault-interrupted-protected or whatever they need to be not to short out.

We toyed with the idea of putting the tree inside, but here it is December 29, and the free, giant tree sits in my garage, denied its Christmas glory. It died in vain.

Maybe I'll throw caution to the wind and put it up tomorrow. After all, this is my house. I can have a January tree if I want. I'll just have to invest in some bitter apple spray and scat mats to save Cheska from herself. (Side note: When you search for "Christmas trees" on, the results include scat mats. Apparently I am not alone in my Christmas cat dilemma.


add to kirtsy | 1:37 AM | 0 comments


The Zen of 30

I turned 30 two days ago. I meant to write about it on the big day, but I was too busy celebrating and trying not to fall apart.

A big door shut in my face that day. It had nothing to do with turning 30. Basically (and vaguely), I thought I was going down one path professionally, but found out that I had to detour at the last minute. This has happened at least four times in the past six months. Each time I face the disappointment, people like my brother tell me, "Don't be discouraged. This just means that something better will come along." I was not feeling quite so fateful about it. Shit happens.

But now I need to find something to keep me sane and hopeful. So I am surprisingly Zen about this latest letdown. I do believe in the Higher Power, and I do believe that He cares for me. I'm not convinced that everything that happens in this world is exactly what He desires. After all, this is a fallen world. But I do believe that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him.

So I've decided to step back, see the bigger picture, and try to find the next step. Maybe I've been going about this all wrong. Perhaps I need to broaden my scope. I'm not quite sure what that means yet, but thinking it makes me feel better. I will find Plan B. I'll wait on the Lord, but I'll be proactive in doing so.

There's a somewhat smarmy saying that goes: "When God shuts a door, he opens a window." It's a nice sentiment, but sentiment gets on my nerves sometimes. I've watched several doors and windows open and close in rapid succession lately. Am I bitter? I was.

Now, I think I'm just interested to find out what's behind Door Number One.

["Bob, tell her what she's won..."]
["It's a brand new car!"]


add to kirtsy | 11:54 PM | 3 comments


Tea is Good for your Ovaries

According to an MSN article, a new report indicates that drinking tea helps to prevent ovarian cancer. And apparently quantity does matter. "Researchers found that women who drank two or more cups of tea had a 46 per cent lower risk of ovarian cancer. Women who drank less tea (one cup a day) had a 24 per cent lower risk of ovarian cancer."

I've loved tea since I was a little girl. My babysitter, an older woman named Valli, made me little cups of Lipton with plenty of milk to go along with my finger sandwiches of ham, cheese, mustard, and sweet pickles on wheat bread. Lovely.

I've moved beyond Lipton now, but I do still love a good ham sandwich.


add to kirtsy | 3:33 PM | 0 comments


Back in the business of blogging

I have not been active in this little chunk of the blogosphere. But I saw an old friend's new blog today and well, it was really good. And I thought, maybe I should check out that blog o' mine again. (Should I tell you my friend's blog address? It's a really nice blog. With lots of nice photos. It really puts this fledging blog to shame...)

(Okay, I give in. Check her out at

It's snowing blankets here in good old southwestern PA. I visited my brother in Tucson, AZ around Thanksgiving. It's generally very warm and sunny there. And flat. Apart from the mountains that ring the city, of course. Here, it is generally grey and hilly. And the weather is all over the map. Literally. Summers can feel like the Deep South, and winters take a page straight out of New England. I don't necessarily like the extremes, but I do like the variety. I don't think I could live in the desert. All those creepy Saguaro cacti staring me down.

Old England, on the other hand, is quite temperate. The weather, like the people, stays on a rather even keel in Britain. I lived there for a year about seven years ago. I find myself telling a lot of "when I was in England" stories and then worrying that I sound pompous and snobbish. I don't mean to. It's just that living in a foreign country was one of the best experiences of my life. And I tend to talk about my best (and some of my worst) experiences. I like to tell stories. People tell me that I tell good stories -- which is good, since I'm a writer. (I'm also considering taking up the art of professional oral storytelling.) But telling a lot of stories, and having a flair for the theatrical, well -- it worries me. I never know if I'm hogging the spotlight, looking desperate to be the life of the party. When do I stop being entertaining and start annoying the tears out of my audience --um, I mean my friends/coworkers/etc.? Sometimes I ask people, but would anyone really tell me the truth?

This blog is all over the place -- like the weather.

And now it's time to say goodnight. My wonderful husband has just come in from out the cold and I haven't seen him since this morning.

add to kirtsy | 10:06 PM | 0 comments