Welcome to my brain. Kinda squishy in here, isn't it?

High water, low cars, and the importance of air intake placement.

Posted August 13, 2016 | Beloved Spouse, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

In one of my favorite Facebook groups, You know your grew up in Roanoke when…, a member recently posted a question:

“So where were you? How old were you? How did you feel when the water took over? ‪#‎FLOODOF85‬”

If you weren’t in Roanoke the first week of November in 1985, think of the recent flooding in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. It was like that. The Roanoke River – yes, the one I so often walk beside and take pictures of – reached its highest crest ever. They called it a “100-year flood.”

Lives, homes, and treasured memories were lost. Businesses suffered crippling setbacks, and hundreds of cars met their watery demise.

Watch the video on YouTube.

Everyone who was here then has a flood story – sort of like, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “What were you doing when you heard about the attack on 9/11?” Here’s mine.

The Water.

Salem High School

Flooded intersection.I was 25 and a special education teacher at Salem High School. The entrance road to the school is Spartan Drive, which intersects Main Street in Salem where it runs parallel to the Roanoke River. At one point the water at that intersection was three feet deep. We were trapped there until the water subsided – about two hours after the official end of the school day.

The Drowning.

While I was waiting to leave, I called my husband to find out how he was. He asked me to pick him up at his office as soon as I could get there safely.

He’d gone out at lunch and tried to drive through the water puddled at the intersection of Franklin Road and Wonju Street. At the lowest part of the intersection, his had car died. He and some coworkers pushed it out of the intersection, but it wasn’t going anywhere else without a tow truck.

The Rescue.

Once I was able to leave the high school, I headed toward his office across town on Franklin Road. This involved driving over the bridge on Apperson Drive at Riverjack. I don’t know a “riverjack” is, but when I got there it was a low, two-lane bridge with two feet of river water rushing across it.

1985 Toyota MR2

I decided that as long as the car ahead of me could make it, I could, too. My car was a Toyota MR2 with very low ground clearance. The “car” ahead of me was a quarter-ton pickup truck. Only in my 25 year old mind could that have been a valid comparison, but both the truck and my car made it through.

After several flood-induced detours, my car and I arrived at my husband’s office. The 20 minute drive had taken close to an hour.

The Importance of Good Engineering.

1985 Honda CRX

1985 Honda CRX

It wasn’t until we were on our way home that Buffy told me why his car had died. Apparently the air intake on his car was inconveniently located at the bottom of the engine. When he tried to drive through the intersection, it sucked water instead of air into the engine, which bent all the engine’s connecting rods. It was well and truly drowned.

I thought back to my drive across the flooded bridge. The water there had been higher and flowing crosswise faster than what had drowned his car, and the bottom of my car was at least as low as his. It hadn’t occurred to me to wonder where my MR2’s air intake was.

I was thankful for a lot of things that day, but I was especially grateful that the intake on my car was above flood level, and that Toyota’s design engineers understood the importance of air intake placement better than Honda’s did.

Category: Beloved Spouse, Welcome to My Life

Rain: What comes down must go somewhere.

Posted August 5, 2016 | Videos, Water, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Dead tree at sunset.

Dead tree at sunset.

Buffy and I took a walk on Monday evening. The water level in the Roanoke River was pretty lower then.

When we walked yesterday, it was…uh…quite a bit higher. And there were some pretty flora and fauna, too.

Click on a image to see a larger version in a new window.

Low water bridge

I won’t try to kayak under that.

The River

“Down a more lively river….

Summer flowers

August shower make pretty flowers.

Watch the video on YouTube »

Category: Videos, Water, Welcome to My Life

Let’s take a night walk.

Posted July 30, 2016 | Photos & Photo Galleries | Leave a Comment

Sunset from Wasena Park

Sunset from Wasena Park.

The weather yesterday, having finally changed to “summer” from “hell,” inspired me to take my ‘yak out for an afternoon paddle on Carvins Cove and a late evening walk around the neighborhood.

The paddling cleared my head. The walk presented me with some cool photo ops. And mosquitos. Lots of mosquitos.

In lieu of posting the selfie that I didn’t take of me trying to excavate a mosquito from my nose, here’s a tour of my neighborhood on a less-than-sweltering July evening.

Mill Mountain Star

I can’t walk at night without taking a picture of the Star. It’s a law.

Riotous Clouds

Riotous clouds.



Jesus Saves

The famous “Jesus Saves” sign.

Category: Photos & Photo Galleries

Okay, maybe I won’t go kayaking today…

Posted July 27, 2016 | Kayaking, Videos | One Comment

No Kayaking Today

‘Yak at rest.

Summer thunderstorms aren’t conducive to kayaking – unless I want to wait until the water in the street gets deep enough 🙂

But at least ‘Yak and Zippy are getting baths!

A friend of mine suggested that this might be a good nap opportunity….zzzzZZZZZ

View the video on YouTube.

Category: Kayaking, Videos

What to use when your sink doesn’t have a sprayer.

Posted July 27, 2016 | Products Mentions & Reviews | Leave a Comment

Kitchen Sink with a Sprayer

Note the nice sink. Note the lack of sprayer.

The problem.

I love my duplex, and I have the best landlord in the natural world. But, like most landlords, he doesn’t like to install things that tend to break. In my case, that would include a built-in sink sprayer with a hose.

I can’t blame him for not installing one. In my experience, the hoses tend to get twisted or kinked, and the the sprayers often get clogged with lime buildup. Lime build-up is as common as tree pollen in my part of Virginia.

The thing is, I like to rinse my sink after I use it, and a plain old faucet just doesn’t do the job. For the first eight months I lived here, I rinsed the sink by pouring water into it from a dish pan, channeling the water from the faucet around the sink with my hands, and/or wiping it out with a wet dish rag. None of those techniques were very effective.

Low-grade annoyance like that wears on me.

Looking for a solution.

Siroflex Deluxe Amazing Acrobatic Sprayer

Finally I decided to see what I could find that might solve my problem. I searched on Amazon and found the Siroflex Deluxe Amazing Acrobatic Sprayer. It had a 4-1/2 star rating, helpful reviews, and the price was right – $11.40 with Prime shipping – so I ordered it.

It arrived in just a couple of days – as things I order from Amazon usually do. I was ready to install it, but I found that the aerator screwed to the faucet was screwed in tighter than I could unscrew with the tools I had on hand.

I asked my friendly ex to help. He easily unscrewed the aerator with a curved pipe wrench wrapped in thick electrical tape (to avoid scratching the aerator). Now I could install the sprayer!

The instructions are clear if you read them carefully. I don’t read instructions so much as scan them, so I put the washer included in the kit for inside-threaded faucets on top of the adapter and screwed them in together. It wouldn’t switch between spray and stream. Drat!

But my ex figured out that if I followed the directions and inserted the washer before screwing in the inside threaded faucet adapter, everything worked fine.

Siroflex Deluxe Amazing Acrobatic Sprayer

My newly installed sprayer. I love that it takes up no sink or counter space at all!

It swivels in two places, meaning that whether I’m using spray or stream I can reach all the corners of both sides of my kitchen sink. It switches between spray and stream by moving the black head up or down, which (if you install it according to the directions) you can do with one hand easily. It doesn’t leak at all, and I can’t randomly spray the wall if I get distracted. (It happens. What can I say?)

I now have both an aerated stream of water and a sprayer, and I can rotate the acrobatic nozzle (love that description!) around to rinse out the whole sink. Yay!

My ex said the sprayer was easier to use and worked better than the built-in hose sprayer he recently installed in his kitchen. He’s considering ordering one for his kitchen sink and just not using the sprayer he installed.

It’s a little difficult to video with one hand and spray with the other, but since the Siroflex head doesn’t require much effort to rotate or change modes, I made a video demonstrating my sink rinsing ritual:

Click here to view the video on YouTube

Problem solved!

Being able to rinse out the sink the way I want to eliminates that little bit of irritation I used to feel every time I rinsed out my sink the old way. Sometimes making a small change can make a big difference. This was one of those times.

I highly recommend the Siroflex Deluxe Amazing Acrobatic Sprayer for its quality construction, ease of installation, helpful instructions (if you read them!), and most of all because it works better than I could have hoped.

Happiness Rating


Disclaimer: I purchased this item myself. This review is unsolicited and is only my opinion based on my experience. I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy the same results.

Note If you purchase this product through one of the affiliate links above, I’ll make a small commission. You can purchase the Siroflex sprayer outside my affiliate link here.

Category: Products Mentions & Reviews

Missing children, happy memories.

Posted July 23, 2016 | Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

Janeson & Oz

Oz, the Great and Mighty.

No, this isn’t a post about children who’ve gone missing. It’s about my missing two kids who I got to know and enjoy last summer.

I had hung around with “Pampa” Dan Smith for several years before I got to meet the delightful grandchildren he refers to as his “Pampettes.” Last year I finally got to meet his granddaughter, Madeline, who I’d heard so much about, her younger brother Oscar, Dan’s son, Evan, and Evan’s wife, Kara.

I have lots of great memories of their visit.

I shared their “welcome home” lunch at the City Market, where I met Maddie and Oz for the first time.

Dan, Maddie, and I went hiking and then had lunch, where I got to introduce them to my favorite youngest niece, Ally.

Maddie and I leaving the loo.

Pre-hike pitstop at Roaring Run.

Maddie & Me at Wendy's

Fine dining at Wendy’s.

Then Madeline and I put on a fashion show for Dan at Goodwill.

Tricolor dress at Goodwill

Janeson, the Understudy.

Maddie the Model

Maddie, the Model.

Buffy, Dan, Maddie, and I went kayaking at Carvins Cove.

Buffy, Maddie & Me

Kayaking buddies.

I was invited to the family 4th of July picnic at Kara’s father’s house, where I got to play with the kids, take the Smith Family Portrait, and got a couple of pictures taken of me, too.

Evan, Dan, Oscar & Madeline Smith

The Smith Family Portrait.

Me & Oz

Only watermelon got Oscar to sit still long enough to get his picture taken.

Maddie & Me

Me & Maddie & hugs.

Overnight Sensations 2015

Definitely sensational.

I got to sit with Evan’s mom, Chris, to see Dan’s performance in “Overnight Sensations” at Mill Mountain Theatre. Natalie Faunce and Dan were so funny, I laughed out loud. So did Maddie.

My cattoos are well-protecting while I'm kayaking.

Dan took this picture on another kayak outing. He always referred to the two of them as my “damn cat tattoo.”

When Dan invited me and his family to his house for dinner, I played with the kids upstairs after we finished so the “grown-ups” could have some quiet time. Oz, who I hadn’t gotten to know as well, liked the “cattoos” on my arm, but he tended to hit them rather than pet them. I told him those were my kitties, and they liked to be petted gently.

When the crew was heading toward the door to leave, Oz ran back to the kitchen where I was washing dishes and ever-so-gently petted each cat and gave them each a kiss. My heart melted.

Dan & Maddie run through the sprinkler.

Makeshift summer shower.

One afternoon, Dan had Maddie and suggested they come over to the pool at my apartment complex. The pool’s hours were a bit unpredictable, so I checked that it was open when he called before I told him to come on down. By the time he and Maddie got to my apartment (four blocks away by car), the pool had closed.

After waiting a while, Maddie and I suggested that we go back up to Dan’s house and play in the sprinkler. We had fun, and I got a terrific photo of Dan and Maddie jumping through the sprinkler together. Dan made it the cover of the book he created for Maddie of her summer adventures.

Maddie's card

Click the card to see a larger version.

By then Oz, Kara, and Evan had left to go back to Spain. Dan and Kara’s mother were to take Maddie back at the end of August. I asked if he could arrange for me to say goodbye to her before they left.

The day came, and I hadn’t heard from Dan, so I make a card and emailed it to him to give to Maddie for me. And, to be honest, I cried. How on earth could I get attached to a little girl so fast?

Because Madeline Smith is one special young lady.

I treasure those memories, because this year it’s been different. I’ve gotten to see Maddie once, in passing and quite coincidentally.

Buffy isn’t usually interested in the theatre, but I told him about Overnight Sensations, and he said it sounded like fun. After we had settled in our seats, I saw Kara and Maddie walk across the auditorium a few rows down. I could see that Maddie had grown up a lot since the last time I’d seen her. I got Kara’s attention. Maddie saw us, ran up to our seats, and gave us each hugs to me. We chatted briefly, and then she went to sit with her family.

Thanks for the {{{ hugs }}}, Maddie. Please give one to Oscar for me, too.

Category: Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life

And then some other stuff happened: My 2016 six-month adventure report.

Posted July 11, 2016 | Clouds & Sunsets, Hiking, Holidays, Kayaking, Mountain, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Skies, Videos, Water, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Unlike the goals I set for 2016 and the mid-year review I did of them, this year has been far from boring. Some highlights:

I recovered from the alien extraction.

RecoveringI recovered quickly from my alien grapefruit/sea scallop removal surgery. To the best of my knowledge, I’m not gestating anymore extraterrestrial beings, crustaceans, or citrus fruit.

I proved I could cook.

Janeson cookingimage I cooked meals for people – real meals with real food eaten at the dining room table with plates and silverware.

Having proved that I can cook, I then discovered the joy of ordering food online for delivery and takeout.

I highly recommend Domino’s lava cakes and Chipotle take-out.

My penthouse hosted an overnight guest and pre-op slumber party.

Cooking can be dangerous - Jeri

Yes, Jeri survived.

I’ve used my second bedroom as a guest room – with an actual guest – more than once. I also got to serve as surrogate family, pre-op staging area, and post-op caregiver. (Not that Jeri actually let me do much for her.) But she is the only houseguest (or houseghost, if you prefer) who has never gotten on my nerves.

I, on the other hand, have found out that I still talk in my sleep. Happily, I didn’t say anything Jeri would admit to being able to understand.

My helping her out wasn’t just out of the goodness of my heart. It also gave me the opportunity to take…

The Best Pre-op Panorama Shot Ever.

Jeri: Pre-op Panorama

I flipped out.

Bouncing FlipI got up the nerve to get on the bungee trampoline at Valley View and bounced and flipped – forward and backward, multiple times.

Not too shabby for a 56 year old with bunions, huh?

I’ll do it again one day when my photographer has fresh batteries for his good camera.

I returned to the the great outdoors.

I’ve spent lots of time outside: hiking, kayaking, and walking on the Greenway.

Buffy sneaks a shot of me when I'm not looking Underwater Low Water Bridge Zippy & 'Yak Storm Damage

And it can quit being so humid now. Just sayin’…..

I rediscovered video!

I rediscovered the video camera feature on my iPhone and have added some new videos here, on my Facebook page, and on my YouTube channel.

My subjects include cute cats, the soothing sounds of water and wind chimes, flood footage, and videos of some events in and around Roanoke.

I became a local art aficionado.

River photo for painting

My photo, from the bridge over the Roanoke River between Wiley Drive and River’s Edge.

Painting in Place

Here’s Terry Lyon’s impressionist rendering of my photo. It’s the focal point of my living room.

I asked Terry Lyon – who I knew from Facebook – if he would do a painting of my favorite evening walk sunset photo, taken with my iPhone. I’ve never commissioned a painting before in my life, but this one told me what it wanted and who it wanted to do it, and I couldn’t be happier.

TK Sharpley, who is also a wonderful photographer, was selling off some of her paintings to pay for her new camera. There was one that loved for all the world like Carvins Cove, so I adopted it.

Then I bought a painting done on a vintage 1900 bench top from a young artist at the “Pop-up” Art Market. The Art Market is at the City Market Building every second and fourth Sunday.

I started going back to my roots, #1.

First, I joined ancestry.com, and with the help on my sole male cousin, discovered that my maternal lineage traces (as far as we’ve gotten so far) to:

Katrina Groenendaal:
Birth 1590 • Groningen, Netherlands
Death 1667 • Groningen, Netherlands

How cool is that? I had no idea I had Dutch ancestors.

I started going back to my roots, #2.

First, with the help of my hair stylist extraordinaire, Jennifer Hare, I got a new haircut and am allowing my natural hair color to emerge. Some would call it “salt and pepper.” I prefer to call it “possum,” because the first time Jennifer cut it, the pile of hair on the floor looked like a giant mutant possum. Really.

Photo to come. Now you have something to look forward to. 😉

Buffy and I developed a(nother) new relationship category.

Night walk with BuffyYep, we did it again. First with LAMP (Living Apart Married People), and now with DMX (Dating My eX).

Yes, we are an exclusive couple. Yes, we’re still divorced. No, we still don’t live together.

We are each other’s “one.”

I discovered the Wasena neighborhood mascot.

Gargoyle with Pink FlamingoWhile taking my walks I’ve gotten to know the neighborhood and some of my neighbors. I came upon this masterpiece of sculpture on the porch of a house on the street behind me and instantly decided that this is the Wasena neighborhood mascot: A gargoyle eating a pink flamingo.

You gotta love a place with a mascot like that.

So that’s 2016 through June 30th. Check back in January to see what I got myself into between July 1st and New Year’s Eve.

Category: Clouds & Sunsets, Hiking, Holidays, Kayaking, Mountain, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Skies, Videos, Water, Welcome to My Life

The most boring mid-year goal check-in ever.

Posted July 8, 2016 | ADD-ADHD, Buffy Significant Other, Lessons I've Learned, OCD, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | One Comment



On January 1, 2016, I came up with “The most boring annual goals list ever,” and it’s (a little past) time for my mid-year review. I apologize, but boring goals beget boring reviews. * sigh *

The OCD part of me wrote that list. It was detailed and specific. My my ADD brain is the one that “guides” me through my days, so I forgot my goals almost as soon as I posted them. If I’ve made progress on any of these, all credit goes to my unconscious mind – the holding pen where all the things I decide to do and then forget about go.

Okay, here goes….

1. Make better use of my allotted 24 hours a day.

  • On average, I’m going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. I get moving more quickly than I used to most days. Progress is being made.
  • I’m more aware of my tendency to get caught up in the unimportant. I’ve been able to stop myself – and sometimes even prevent myself – from spending time doing things that don’t need to be done.
  • I’ve learned to plan by starting with the time of my next scheduled activity and working backwards from there to decide what I have time to do.
  • I’ve finally decided that the idea of my living according to a set schedule and regularly setting daily goals is a pipedream. I work most effectively when I do whatever task fits into my brainspace at any given time.

2. Reduce my OCD behaviors.

I don’t waste as much time as I used to on useless planning, but I still have to comb the carpet if it’s shaded funny before I can sit down to work. Go figure.

3. Manage my ADD better.

Not a lot of luck with this one, especially if there’s a lot on my plate with work or relationships. But I get done what I need to get done. That’s good enough for now.

Back stabbing4. Improve my emotional management skills.

Well, I’ve certainly had a need to do that this year. I feel like I’ve gotten on and off an emotional roller coaster about 50 times since January 1st. But I’ve been applying what I’ve learned in #5 below, and those strategies help me deal more effectively with my emotional chatterbox.

5. Take good care of myself.

I’ve been journaling more, talking with friends who let me rant and then give me good advice, getting outside and exercising more regularly. Yay, me!

6. Plan more activities to look forward to.

I started out the year with one set of people to do things with, lost some (related to the roller coaster I mentioned in #4), and gained some who are altogether better for me. Buffy and I are finding more new and different adventures to go on. I’m looking forward to having even more activities to look forward to 🙂

7. Identify and manage my clients’ and prospective clients’ expectation so I can meet them more effectively.

At this point, what i need to manage is making sure I get a deposit before I do work for someone. I can’t buy much with a client’s promise that I’ll be paid.

8. Manage my business processes more effectively.

I still don’t have a system for this, but I have made significant progress on rebuilding my business website (meaning I have parts of it done, but it’s not ready to go live yet).

When it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the... Oh look! A kitty!

Graphic by Kimberley Koz.

9. Make myself accountable for following through on my goals.

Giant fail, since my goals seem to change moment-by-moment. I love my GAG (Goal Accountability Group), though. The insights, inspiration, and humor I get from my friends there are invaluable.

10. When given a choice between finding humor in a situation and maintaining social acceptability, always opt for humor. Unless someone’s dead or something.

That I do, with alarming regularity. The problem, of course, is that not everyone feels the same way. Maybe I need to reconsider this one when I can’t avoid those “other sorts” of people.

I have got to come up with some more interesting goals….

Category: ADD-ADHD, Buffy Significant Other, Lessons I've Learned, OCD, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life

Bouncy waves on the Cove.

Posted June 14, 2016 | Buffy Significant Other, Kayaking, Mountain, Photos & Photo Galleries, Skies, Videos, Water | 3 Comments

Buffy and I went kayaking both last Saturday and Sunday. We hope to be able to move our arms by midweek. Sunday, especially, the wind and waves made it harder to move in the direction we wanted to move, so more muscle power was required. Probably not a good day for a beginner, but great fun for us: beautiful and fun, exhilarating and tiring.

Waves and wave sounds, for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Click here to view the video on YouTube

And, of course, photos.

I tried to get some different angles this time. And although I don’t like taking pictures of people I don’t know and posting them without permission, I decided to live on the wild side and take a couple with people in them. What a concept!

Click on the thumbnail to see the entire photo.

IMG_1425-edited IMG_1428-edited IMG_1430-edited IMG_1441-edited IMG_1449-editedIMG_1916-edited Help getting into the kayak kayakers-enjoying-the-choppy-water

Category: Buffy Significant Other, Kayaking, Mountain, Photos & Photo Galleries, Skies, Videos, Water

A handy tip for writers: Don’t offend your readers.

Posted June 8, 2016 | Writing | Leave a Comment

Asian EfficiencyYesterday I read the a guest post on the Asian Efficiency blog titled “Why Successful People Plan Their Lives 90 Days at a Time”.

I’ve learned a lot about productivity and time and life management from the folks at Asian Efficiency. Usually their blog posts are spot on. However, this guest post by Taylor Pearson, who writes about “business philosophies and mindsets that yield disproportionately large results” put me off.

Perhaps disproportionally.

The importance of your post’s  introduction.

Hmmph.Pearson’s post is an example of how important introductory remarks are, and how inappropriate or extreme examples can weaken the impact of the post’s content. The main points in the post are good, but they aren’t what I remembered after I read it.

What stuck in my mind after – my “take-away” – was irritation.

How to (unnecessarily) offend your readers:

Demean something personal and important to them.

“When you live in a city, you want to live in the middle of the action downtown, or way out in the country where it’s calm and relaxing. But you don’t want to get caught in suburban purgatory.”

I don’t know about you, but that remember seems guaranteed to raise the hackles of those of us who live in the suburbs and enjoy the “middle ground” between the hustle and bustle of the city and the quiet (and questionable Internet access) of a true country residence.

Use extreme examples.

“Physical items you own, like clothes and bags, are a middle-way-is-the-worst-way phenomenon as well. You typically either want really nice stuff you’ll keep for years or really cheap stuff you won’t mind throwing away.”

It’s appropriate to buy things that are of the quality you need them to be. I hardly think that Chanel and Walmart are the only choices. Often “middle-of-the-road” choices are perfectly reasonable based on one’s expectations and price ranges. Apparently the author hasn’t discovered Target, which offers many “good enough” quality items at reasonable prices.

What’s the point?

These examples were unnecessary, had the potential to offend a significant portion of its readership, and added nothing to the post. I’m not sure why they were in there, but if they hadn’t been I’d be writing about the content of the post, not the effect of a badly written introduction.

A handy tip for writers:

Edit your work.Remember that emotions are stronger than logic. If you offend your readers, they’ll remember that – not the information you are trying to convey.

Edit your work. Read your post from your target audience’s point of view. And for pete’s sake:

Don’t offend your readers before they get to the important stuff.

Category: Writing

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  • Why am I here?

    Janeson Keeley June 13, 2016. Photo by Jeri Layne.

    You'd think that with all the time I spend working on the computer, I'd pick another way to spend my time. Alas, that is not the case. I've noticed - in my advancing age - that my brain is getting full. Since I don't want to take the chance of forgetting anything interesting (if only to myself), I thought it might be nice to have a place to offload the stories and minutiae that are filling it up so I can make room for more stuff.

    Since you've found your way here, I hope that you find something that's interesting to you, too.

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