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Archive for the ‘random thoughts’ Category

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

Yah, I got  it – bad.

I so badly want to sit down with my netbook and write away.  I have the netbook.  I have the time.  I have the education.  I have experiences from life…

I just can’t think of anything to write about!

During the 20 years I taught elementary education, I spent a great deal of time and effort teaching my young students how to write.  We did daily journaling.  Much of the time the students wrote about whatever they wanted.  I had one first-grader who wrote exclusively about going bear hunting with his dad.  His entries were very descriptive on every aspect of bagging a bear.  During a Parent-Teacher conference, I learned that while his dad was a big hunter, the little wanna-be had as yet to experience hunting with his father.

In order to introduce other styles and topics of writing, teachers make use of  journaling prompts.  There are many ways to use writing prompts.  Resource books offer sentence prompts, picture prompts, and special writing stationary that helps stimulate the students’ imagination and writing.  Or, teachers  just tell them what to write about, like; “Why is there a polar bear swimming in your back yard pool?”

In my efforts to overcome my writers’ block I spent hours googling sites that might offer writing prompts.  I found dozens of such sites.  I read through dozens and dozens of prompts, advice, and strategies for good writing.

Many bloggers write about their families – especially their children.  I have children.  Four of them, with lots of tales.   But I can’t write about them.  They won’t let me.   Many blog sites feature food, but how often can one write about heating up frozen pizza?  Then there are sites that give advise on organization, frugality, spirituality, photography, and  craftology.  But I read those sites to learn something.  How could I write about something I’m not an expert on?  Would anyone be interested in my experiences at getting all tangled up in my attempts at knitting?

Maybe politics, current events, civil rights… all the ‘hot topics’…but it seems as though my brain is no longer wired for intellectual verbalization.  Too many years spent at the first grade level.

I just can’t think of anything to write about!   So, I publicly and officially admit it –

“Hi, my name is Terri, and I have Writer’s Block!” 

Is there a cure ?  Some kind of 12 step program?
Maybe tomorrow I will think about something to write.


10,000 Lakes – Give or Take

I moved to the land of 10,000 lakes, and happen to live near one of those lakes.  It’s right across the street from me.  I get to enjoy it from the windows and balcony of my apartment building.  Enjoying the view of the lake is probably all one can do.  It isn’t a very big lake.  It doesn’t have any beaches, or docks.  It’s not conducive to swimming, or boating.  In fact, it probably isn’t really a lake at all.  I think it’s a pond.  A really big pond.  Big enough for people who are looking to  own lake front property and build big houses.

All the really good lakes must have been taken, because now folks are down to buying  pond-front property.  The “pond front” subdivision is relatively new.  Half a dozen houses just built or still in the stages of being built snuggle up all around this pond.  They aren’t lake cottages, or modest homes like the rest of the neighborhood; no, these are monster size homes.  Three levels, vaulted ceilings, granite countertops, four-car garages, and elaborate decks.

Now, there really is nothing wrong with having lake front property, or having a big house.  I have relatives who live in this environment, and they enjoy it very much.  When I visit, I enjoy it too.   There is one difference though.  Their  houses are not bigger than the lakes.  They live near real lakes, big lakes, with beaches and boats, water skiing, swimming, and fishing.  If I were rich, I would definitely have a home on the shores of the ocean, or the Great Lakes or  maybe even a big lake.  In the meanwhile, I am content to life across the street from the water.

Taxes are cheaper.

Feeling Bummed

I’m feeling a bit bummed lately.
Maybe it’s the weather,
Maybe it’s a lack of exercise.
Could be the lack of sunshine.
Probably a Vitamin D deficiency –
You know how those endorphins and serotonins
get all out of whack sometimes?
I’m definitely out of whack.

I have no energy or desire to do anything,
So I just sit

Brain dead.
Writers’ block.
Nothing to say.

I haven’t been in a very good mood either.
Feeling non-social.

Don’t mess with me,
Just leave me alone, please.

Well, not all alone…
Funny, when you’re feeling like
this it’s when you really need to have
folks around.
Folks who “have your back”,

And will stand with you
No matter what.

Someone who can help you see
That there is beauty in the world.
Today is done,
And tomorrow is a gift of a brand new day.

Sometimes I feel like a little lost lamb.
I’m all alone,
Stuck in a bad place.
I need rescuing,
I need help.
I need someone who cares about me,
Who will seek me out
And lend a helping hand.
Someone who loves me and is willing to
Search for my lost soul.

It’s nice to know that He is always with me,
Even when I feel bad.
He won’t leave me in my despair.
He comes to me when I need Him most.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
You are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
You will not be burned…
For I am the LORD your God.
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:1-3

Nothing like a ray of SONshine to brighten a
bummed spirit.

Living Nostalgicly

Our new apartment is in a nice secluded, woodsy setting.  We are also located about a mile away from a well used railroad track.  Several times a day, if we listen, we can hear the whistle blow and the clackity clack of the train rumbling down the tracks.  It’s a nice sound . . . from a mile away.

My daughter and her family live a bit closer to the tracks.  Last summer we drove from our home in Wisconsin for a family vacation with two of our daughters and their families.  Knowing the house would be full of babies, Hubby and I decided it would make things easier if we set up our camping tent in the back yard.  So we pitched our tent among the trees.  Wow, camping in Northern Minnesota on Memorial Day weekend.  How cool is that?!

The first night sleeping in the tent brought back fond memories of past camping trips.  Back in Washington State.  Just as we were falling asleep, we were jarred awake by the ground shaking under our air mattress.  EARTHQUAKE!!  (Hubby is a Seattle native).  A few seconds later we heard the whistle blow, and then the rush of the train.  It went on and on and on.  Maybe camping near a railroad track isn’t so nice.

Sound is one of the senses that brings back memories.  The sound of the train brings back a special memory for me.  My maternal grandparents owned a little country grocery store in a little village consisting of  their store, the post office, a church, and a grain mill.  The post office sat between my grandparents store, and the railroad line.  A very well used railroad line.  Needless to say, at regular times during the day, things really rocked and rolled at Grandpa’s grocery store.

As young children, my sister and I had many opportunities to sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Their ‘house’ was a large apartment above their grocery store.  We would sleep in the spare bedroom located near the back of the building.  On the side facing the tracks.  Sleeping in the spare room was an exciting and scary adventure for a couple of little girls.  It was a room seldom used, so it was full of mystery.  It had a dresser and a comfy old bed.  Boxes of Grandma’s yarn  stacked up in a corner, and the stairs to the attic added to the mystery.  But the greatest excitement of sleeping in the back room was hearing and feeling the train as it made its scheduled run past Grandpa’s store.

Every time I hear the train go by our apartment, I’m transported back in time to the big old bed  in the spare room above Grandma and Grandpa’s store.

The WHY’s That Go Bump in the Night

I have a three-year-old granddaughter named Lydia.  Like all granddaughters the world over, mine is extremely bright, cute, and totally amazing.  And like all three-year-olds, Lydia is extremely inquisitive.  In other words, she is in the “WHY” stage of life.

“Nana, why is your neck all wrinkly?”

“Because I’m getting old.”

“But why?”

I’d like the answer to that one also.

Generally little ones tend to outgrow that WHY stage as they mature.  I wonder why?  As we grow, do we not care about things as much…or have we already learned all the answers?  I have to say though, no matter how far one travels from the WHY stages of a three-year-old, occasionally questions pop up, and we wonder – “WHY?”

For example, the other night I was in the  bathroom when I noticed a new roll of toilet paper sitting on the vanity counter.  I then noticed that the toilet paper spindle was empty.  Okay, here comes the big question:

WHY can’t other people change the rolls of toilet paper?”

I did a little research into the topic of toilet paper – just looking for some insight.  Did you know that toilet paper was first used by the Emperor of China in 1391?  His sheets of TP were two feet X three feet.  Obviously, not on a roll.  I wonder if a servant had to bring in a sheet each time the Emperor visited the ‘throne’?

Joseph Gayetty first sold factory-made loose sheets of toilet paper in 1857.  (A bit smaller than the Emperors’ no doubt).

Zeth Wheeler patented rolled and perforated toilet paper in 1871.

In 1935, Northern Tissue advertised “splinter free” toilet paper.  (A real improvement in product quality!)

Looking back through history, the invention and production of toilet paper shows creativeness and intelligence.  It also shows a major involvement of the male species.  So, if they were clever enough to make a roll of toilet paper. . .

WHY can’t they change a roll of toilet paper?

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Do you remember the old Polish tale called, “It Could Always be Worse”?  You may have read it in grade school. A farmer lives in a house with his wife and children and the grandparents. It is so noisy and crowded that he thinks he will go crazy. The rabbi advises the farmer to bring his animals into his home, one by one.  First chickens, then goats, then sheep, and finally the old milk cow and plow horse. The situation goes from bad to worse. It is so very crowded, and so very noisy.  Everyone in the family is going crazy!  Finally, the Rabbi suggests that the farmer take all the animals out of the house. When he does so, the farmer’s family finds the home  roomy and very peaceful.

As a young reader, I enjoyed the story very much.  It has stuck with me all these years.  I suspect that I have experienced the moral of that story more than once in my life.  Today in fact, I was reminded once again, “It could always be worse”; and that it’s all a matter of perspective.

Hubby and I have worked together toward our upcoming move to Minnesota.   Being employed as a store clerk, it naturally became my duty to hoard all the boxes and bring them home.  I threw them all into the garage to await future use.  Hubby started filling those boxes.  First we began packing and stacking in the back bedroom.  No problem, it’s relatively out-of-the-way, and the stuff packed were non-essentials.  But how quickly things can change!

Hubby started bringing up all the empty boxes from the garage and tossing them in a big pile in the apartment.  Then he would start packing out of that pile.  Now here we have a difference of opinion on how to pack.  I think one should start in one area, say the bathroom, find appropriate boxes, then pack ALL the bathroom stuff together.  Hubby starts with a box, then begins roaming the apartment for things to fill that box.  And by ‘fill’, I mean literally fill every nook and cranny.  I would come home from work to find half a dozen partially packed boxes scattered around the living room.  I wanted to tape them shut and move them out.  Hubby insisted he needed to finish filling them.  (after all, everything has to fit into a 16-foot moving truck!)  We must pack tight.

Ok, I can understand that.  It’s LIVING with that concept that is bothering me.  Everywhere I turn, there are boxes in my way.  Objects and furniture are being dismantled, stacked, and waiting for packing.  I feel like a deer following a single lane path through the forest!  Have I mentioned that I am claustrophobic?

Like in the old Polish tale, my house is becoming very crowded and uncomfortable to live in.  But I try to keep looking ahead to the outcome,  when we have unpacked and put away everything into our new apartment.  Our new place will feel spectacularly spacial – I just know it!


Treasures Lost and Found

Alright!  Here is my idea of a fun afternoon.  An uncharted trove of hidden treasures, just waiting for me to go poking around and putting my creative imagination to work.  Yes, I do love Thrift Stores!   I love browsing through them.  And I do love the treasures I find and bring home.

There are several factors that make thrift store shopping enjoyable.  First of all, the prices.  You can’t beat finding a ‘new’ winter pea coat in mint condition, and in your own size, for just a few dollars.  I like to collect various things – coffee mugs, teddy bears, crockery/pottery – and I would find this to be an impossible hobby to support if I were buying new at full price.  What a thrill to find a 50 cent coffee mug featuring your home state!  The thrift store allows me to indulge in some fun purchases without upending the monthly budget.

Besides the price tags, variety is another reason I like shopping thrift stores.  Somewhere out there, designers have decided that XYZ will be the style for this season.  And since XYZ is ‘in style this season’, that is all you will find in the stores.  But what if you are an odd duck like me, and you don’t like XYZ?  You’re out of luck, Sweetheart!  However,  you can trot on over to the neighborhood thrift store and find all kinds of styles ranging from last season on back to the Roaring 20s.  Still like dressing from the 80’s?  You’ll find your wish on the racks of the thrift store!

Household items are another treasure to find hidden in the thrift stores.  From silverware to furniture, there’s a bit of everything.  Sometimes as I browse the kitchen ware, I wonder why I put so much effort and money into buying my set of good china (which isn’t really all that ‘good’), when there are so many sets of beautiful patterned china from times past.  Beautiful, unique, and cheap!  Glassware is another bountiful treasure to be found.  Punch bowls, vases, glasses, baking dishes, crystal candlesticks, and more.

One day, several months past, I was browsing in a thrift store and found the aisle with blankets and quilts and afghans.  Now I am into crocheting myself, so I was interested in looking at the various afghans.  So many beautiful colors, intricate stitches and designs.  All for just a few dollars.  Then it hit me like a 2-ton weight.  I spend a lot of time working on my crochet projects, I spend a lot of money on yarn, and most of my work is made with a lot of love for someone special.  I imagine it was the same for the creators of the quilts and afghans I saw in the store.  How sad it seemed, all the time, talent, and emotion invested into one of these afghans, a one time gift for someone special, and now it hangs here in a thrift store on sale for a pittance.

This revelation caused me to look at many of the other items for sale in the thrift store – that was Grandma’s favorite good china there on the shelf.  The punch bowl was a wedding gift from Great Uncle Oliver.  Mom blew the monthly grocery budget to buy that leather jacket for her child.  That ornate crystal thingy was a commemorative gift in appreciation for 40 years of loyal service.

And now they all are here at the thrift store.  The house had been cleaned out.  Old, outgrown, unwanted, and not needed items were all packed up and sent to the thrift store.  What about all the things I was buying?  Someday would they all be old, outgrown, and unwanted?  Would my children be packing up all my treasures and shipping them off to Goodwill?  Probably.   I tend to clean house myself and drop off loads at the thrift store.   How easily we discard things.

I still enjoy shopping at thrift stores.  I am always on the look out for a good bargain or a special treasure.  I have a different attitude though about buying at the thrift store.  I feel a sense of responsibility to seek out and rescue that once special treasure, and let it be loved again by someone new.