Meet Guest Author Mary J. Schiller

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Mary SchillerFirst of all I’d like to thank Chris for offering the opportunity to authors to introduce themselves. My name is M.J. Schiller and I write a combination of rock romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance. For my day job, I am a lunch lady, which is the perfect job for me. I get to work with kids, and take a nap before my own crew gets home. I have a nineteen-year-old daughter and seventeen-year-old triplets (boy, boy, girl). I’ve been blissfully married for over twenty-five years and have a secret passion for karaoke.

TrappedUnderIceI have been a writer since I could put a sentence together. I was a big reader as a child, so I think that children’s literature started me on my path. That, and my dad was a fantastic storyteller. He used to make up all kinds of stories for us when we were young. For instance, when…

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I’ve moved my little horse and pony show to a new location. I’d love it if you’d follow me! The new site has a lot more features that may be of interest to you. Check it out!


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It´s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (?)

It´s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (?).

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Levels of Cleanliness

Yes, Mary is posting another blog about cleaning.  If you’ve read any of my previous blogs or Facebook postings you already know that I am not fond of cleaning.  Perhaps you can relate.  Below are the levels of cleanliness I adhere, too.

Topmost, of course, is–

CODE RED–Mom’s Coming to Visit Clean.  When momma’s coming, we pull out ALL the stops.  That’s right, even dusting the ceiling fan blades and changing the sheets.

CODE BLACK–Christmas Party Clean.  Almost as intense as Mom’s Coming to Visit Clean, but only on the main level of the house.  Yeah, we also clean the top level, in case someone wanders up there, but not with a lot of eye to detail.  In other words, don’t do the white glove test, don’t expect a clean dresser, and for goodness sakes, DON’T open a closet without a hard hat on.

CODE BLUE–sort of mellow–also known as Lunch Lady Clean.  This is the level of clean required when the lunch ladies are coming over for a meal or for game night.  You put in some effort, but you don’t sweat it.  After all, I spend almost as much time with them as my family and they already know that I am a slob.  Why try to fool them?

CODE MAGENTA–Neighbor Clean.  Let’s face it, there are only so many times you can step out on the front porch and discreetly close the door behind you without them catching on.   They see into your messy garage everytime they come home from work.  They know you.  They can see right through your flimsy excuses.  It’s best to just admit to them that this is really what your house looks like 99% of the time and move on with it.

CODE OPAQUE-refered to by some as, The Kids Are Having Friends Over Clean.  This clean is set up mostly to discourage your kids from inviting friends over.  Come on, you know you could care less about what their friends think anyway.

CODE ORANGE–Halloween Clean, of course.  This is where you clean only what can be seen from the front door.  Drag your junk out of view and you’re set.

CODE LILAC–this is when you clean because the house is such a pit you can’t find anything you need and it’s driving you CRAZY!!!  It is particularly confusing to the kids who will keep asking you, “Who is coming over?”

“No one.”

Their little brows furrow deeper.  “Then why are we cleaning?”

You snap, “We don’t have to clean just because someone’s coming over.  Sometimes we do it just because it needs to be cleaned.”

“No, we don’t!”  they respond.

Flabbergasted you resort to the old standby–“Stuff a sock in it and wash those walls!”

So, there you have it, Mary’s codes for cleaning.  I hope that this has been enlightening.  Oh, and this stuff is top secret, so keep it under your hat.

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10)  Although I was the only one who couldn’t smell the reported funk in my refrigerator that my other family members smelled, apparently I am the only one capable of locating the offending item and throwing it out.  Go figure!

9)  Taco Sauce has a longer shelf-life than there are years in a turtle’s natural life span.

8)  Under the right conditions, hot dogs can turn from a solid state to a liquid state.

7)  If you clean out the refrigerator, and all five shelves were jammed full to start with, by the time you’re done, you’ll have only two semi-filled shelves which contain, exclusively, taco sauce.

6)  We are the proud owners of mustard that expired in the year 2010.

5)  If taco sauce can outlive most everything else in my fridge, and Ryan eats taco sauce on everything, then it is probably doing something evil to the lining of Ryan’s stomach.

4)  We buy WAY too much yogurt and salad dressing (and yet, I didn’t throw away one thing with chocolate in its list of ingredients.  Hmmm….)

3)  If the expiration date of an item has worn away, that is a bad sign.

2)  It is sometimes just safer to throw an item away than to open it up and make sure it is rotten.

And the number one thing I learned while cleaning out my refrigerator is— (can I get a drum roll, please?)

We need to clean the refrigerator out more often.

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Decluttering How-To’s~Dedicated to Angie Mier

I decluttered today, Ang’.  But this is how it’s done right. 

Step 1- Choose the most inconvenient time to attack your project.

I often start just as we’re sitting down to dinner, but choosing to begin your project minutes before guests arrive is an equally suitable solution.  Another option would be to tackle it after the hour of 11 p.m., or even when in the midst of another project (that’s my personal favorite).

Step 2- Release a string of cuss words aimed at the area in question.

For example, “I hate this @#$%& cabinet!”  or “I can’t find anything under this @#$%& sink!”

Step 3- Drag over a trashcan and start throwing things out indiscriminately. 

Don’t worry about whether it’s a family heirloom or a vital piece to some piece of equipment.  If it’s in your way, it needs to go.  Don’t even worry about hitting the trashcan, that’s a project for another day.

Step 4-  After you have thrown away a satisfactory amount of objects, start stuffing things back in random order.

There’s no real need to organize as it will just become disorganized through daily use anyway.

So, there you have it.  Four easy steps to decluttering.  Sigh.  Now don’t you feel better?  Glad I could be of help.

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Our story begins on a night some time ago when a woman named Kelly got a speeding ticket. Since the police officer in question was not a male, Kelly could not talk her way out of it, and decided to take driving school to keep it off of her record. Given the choice of spending four hours on a Saturday morning, way before the time she usually chooses to get up on a weekend, or attending class on a weeknight, Kelly chose the weeknight, not taking into account that Friday is also a weeknight.

Thus our heroine is stuck on a Friday night, from 6-10, in driving school, much to her dismay.

Meanwhile, across town, Kelly’s friend, coworker and fellow concert-goer, Mary, has arrived at a movie theater with her daughter, Maggie. Mary wisely, or so she thought, purchased a ticket for Maggie to see “Breaking Dawn” online to avoid the inevitable sellout. Mary whips out the credit card she used to purchase said ticket, as instructed by the website, telling the box office lad, “I purchased one ticket online for the 7:30 ‘Breaking Dawn’ show.” The box office lad, an agreeable young fellow, swipes Mary’s card. And swipes it again. And again. Mary is beginning to think that this is a bad sign. The young fellow calls to his superior, who also swipes it.

“Are you sure you purchased the ticket with this credit card?” (Mary is, in fact, sure, as she had to choose American Express from a drop down window and she specifically remembers doing so.) “Because we don’t take American Express.” This statement is followed up by more head scratching by theater personnel and steam building by Mary. “What website were you on?”

“Uhh…” Mary tries to control her sarcasm, “…YOUR website,” but doesn’t succeed.

“Do you have your confirmation number?”

“No.” Mary thinks, who really writes those down anyway, sure you act like you do, and, if you’re feeling particularly creative, you might even pretend that you are searching for a pen, but you don’t write the sucker down.   “The website said all I needed was the credit card I purchased the ticket with, THIS credit card.”

“But we don’t accept American Express.”

Mary sighs.  “So I’ve heard. However, I purchased it online with the American Express card.”

“Did you receive your confirmation number? Because if we had that, we could look it up.”

Mary, through gritted teeth, “I’ll call home.”

On calling home Mary again finds that she has to bite her tongue as she talks her family members through pulling up information on the computer.  Information that is noticeably lacking.  Impatient, Mary hangs up and again approaches the ticket window.  “They can’t find the confirmation number, so I’ll just purchase a ticket.”

With a proud smile the woman that Mary presumes is the manager states, “We saved tickets for you.”

How freaking considerate.

Mary again hands over the American Express, the card is swiped, and this time the card is handed back with a receipt and, presumably, a ticket for Maggie’s entry.  Mary walks away, but as she goes to hand the ticket to Maggie she realizes that there are TWO tickets.  Apparently the young lad, in the twenty minutes since their conversation first began, has forgotten that Mary only needed one ticket.  Fed up and unable to face the ticket booth attendant and go through another trial explaining the mix up, Mary decides to just see the gosh-darn movie.

Since it is dinner time and Mary has not eaten, assuming when she left the house that she was to be back from the theater in a matter of minutes, Mary purchases the “economical” gigantic popcorn and enormous soda, with the $1 box of candy.  Although she knows that she will be unable to finish the preceding, she buys into the smiling concession clerk’s assertion that Mary could, indeed, “take any leftovers home.”

Laden down with the gigantic popcorn, along with the enormous soda, box of Butterfingers, cell-phone, purse, and errantly received ticket, Mary proceeds into the theater trailing popcorn behind her like Hansel and Gretel.  She fumbles into the nearest available seat in the crowded theater.  As she settles into her seat she looks up to find her daughter, Maggie, glaring at her from two rows away.

“I get it.  Too close.”  Obligingly Mary juggles her belongings and moves to the back of the theater where she finds another seat, again leaving a telltale string of popcorn in her wake.  When previews of coming attraction starts sooner than expected, Mary checks her ticket.  7:00, “Breaking Dawn”, Theatre 14.  Hmmm, she thinks, I thought it began at 7:30.  Just before the movie starts, she texts Maggie, “Did u find ur friend?”   Not having received a response from Maggie, Mary is forced to turn her cell-phone off as the movie begins.

The movie sucks, containing both poor acting and laughable special effects, along with a transparent attempt to make more money by stretching the story into two parts by doing a lot of panning around the room to get everyone’s reaction to what’s going on while violins play a ten minute concerto.  The popcorn is slimy, the candy stale, and while the soda is okay, it does not make up for the former.

Half-frozen from the movie theater air-conditioning, Mary funnels out with the rest of the crowd when the torture/movie is over.  She scans the crowd, but doesn’t see Maggie.  Turning on her phone, Mary receives a message from her daughter. “They’re in the 7:30 show.”  So there was a 7:30 showing!  At this point Mary realizes that she has now purchased three tickets to the wrong show.  Along with the cost of the popcorn and such, this movie, which she had no intention of seeing in the first place,  has cost her a bloody fortune!

Mary, trembling as the Illinois wind whips around the theater parking lot, still hugging a mostly filled bag of popcorn to her chest, soda in hand, Butterfingers balanced precariously on top of the popcorn, trudges to her vehicle.  When she gets in her car, she glances at her phone again.  There’s a voicemail message.  She cranks the heat up and dials voicemail to pick up a message from Kelly.  She listens to the message, laughing out loud in her car until tears are running down her face, while people stream past, using their cell phones to alert the authorities to the presence of the crazy lady in the scratched up minivan.

Back at Heartland Community College, Kelly has entered the driving education classroom and pulled a chair out at a table next to a Mennonite woman, slapping her Coach purse down in front of her.  “What are you in for?” she queries.

Luckily the woman has a sense of humor and the two get along famously, which is especially funny if you know about Kelly’s unease with anything Amish, anything she deems close to Amish, or, basically, anything outside her realm of experience.  The teacher begins class with this statement:

“I want you to write, ‘Happiness is…” on a piece of paper and then fill in the blank.  You will then share your answer with your table members.”

Kelly sits stunned for a minute and then addresses the people at her table.   “I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t come here on a spiritual journey, I just got caught speeding, so I’m not answering that.”  The table concurs.  Minutes later Kelly is called upon to “volunteer’ to come up to the front.  “Come on!  You’re kidding me!” she says loudly.  You have to know Kelly to know that this doesn’t come out rude, just funny.  The instructor asks her to give an example of a way a driver can be courteous to other drivers.  Kelly’s answer?  “You can flash your lights to warn them that there is a cop up ahead.”  Shortly afterwards the instructor, understandably, calls for a break and Kelly steps outside to call Mary, the instructor no doubt also placing a phone call, a phone call home to commiserate with his wife and possibly debate his career choice.

Mary, having received Kelly’s message is now in Heartland’s parking lot leaving a message underneath Kelly’s car’s windshield wipers on a half of a paper plate that reads, “Happiness is…baba ganoush,” which is a word that they had been throwing around at work all day.

When Kelly sees the plate, she calls Mary and the two share their stories about their respective evenings, laughing until their sides ache while their kids look on, shaking their heads in disgust.

The moral of this story is, be careful when you purchase theater tickets online; make sure that you are not purchasing them for a theater in a different state.  And, for goodness sake, don’t speed.  In closing I’d like to advise you to eat more baba ganoush; we can all use more baba ganoush.  Thank you, and have a nice day.

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