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Monday, March 5, 2001

Some of my best work gets done at the oddest times. Sometimes working at home is the single biggest reason I ever get anything done at all. Sometimes instead of a morning coffee break, I take a shower break, either because I sleep later than I should, or because I start working too early.

This morning, before it was even warm enough in the house to take a shower and get dressed, I started tinkering with a spreadsheet that bugged me all weekend. I had a two dollar discrepancy in the cash reconciliation sheet, and I spent endless empty hours going over every figure that went into the making of that worksheet, over and over, trying to find the error that kept it all from balancing.

If I seemed a little harried this weekend, that was part of the reason. I was looking for transposition errors and typographical errors and something left out here or added in there, but that $2.00 kept taunting me. Every time I put it aside, I was hoping the answer would come to me in a sudden revelation. Those things happen, you know.

Early today, with a fresh eye, I tried again. It took an hour and a half (which meant I was still in night clothes until mid morning), but I found my mistake. I was hoping it was the bank's mistake, or anyone else's mistake, but it was mine.

And it was typical — I'd made a correction on the disbursement record when the October bank statement came, to account for some miscellaneous service charge that the bank didn't use to even bother charging people for, but now they do simply because they can. "Checks returned with statement," or something like that.

But I hadn't made the same two-dollar correction in all the other spreadsheets affected by the change. I have no excuse, because once I found it, it took about two minutes to fix all the sheets, and the cash reconciliation was suddenly in perfect balance. Oh, the extra work I make for myself by skipping steps.

Also this morning, I was awakened not by the sound of smooth jazz from KJZY-FM, but by the skraaking of a starling melee in the side yard. I pulled aside the kitchen curtain and saw one bird on top of another, scratching its rival with its feet while trying to pull something out of its beak. All this was happening while another starling looked on and skrikked like a wrestling commentator. When I banged on the window, all three birds flew off.

Unwilling to allow my bad luck with movies to continue, I avoided the Oprah Winfrey thing last night. I've been watching the previews all week, and while I'm sure Oprah wouldn't let something like this get on the air without an uplifting message of some sort, I wasn't prepared to go through all the torture of getting there. So I watched last week's Gilmore Girls on tape instead.

I might have watched the season opener of The Sopranos, if I'd remembered it was on. But I have eight channels of HBO, so I expect to have several chances a day to watch it before next Sunday. It'll be on nearly as often as The Facts of Life is on Nick at Night.

I finished a wonderful novel yesterday, a gift from a distant friend who reads this journal. She wanted to introduce me to the author, Clyde Edgerton, and since I'm on self-imposed year-long restriction from buying books (or CDs or DVDs), she was kind enough to send me a couple of his novels. For which, needless to say, I'm grateful.

Anyway, I've read one of them, Walking Across Egypt, and my friend is right. It's exactly the kind of book I like most, a warm story about real people in real situations. It's maybe the most unpretentious novel I can ever remember reading, and yet it's filled with such vivid detail and memorable characters that I can't wait to pass it on to everyone I know who reads.

And that's all I'm going to say about it today, because I feel I've been going on and on with my movie reviews lately and not really saying much. Besides, this isn't exactly a "high concept" novel that lends itself to capsule description. It's a thick slice of life, as full and rich as a piece of homemade apple pie.

It was windy in the North Bay yesterday. It was so windy that whole trees blew over. That's the only explanation I can think of for this:

mailbox with pillows

Yes, three small throw pillows somehow found themselves resting against the base of my mailbox. I looked around but couldn't find the rest of the décor. Next time I go out, I'll check for a sofa in the middle of the cow pasture.

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