Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Over the river and through the woods,..."

They are coming, and we are going.

Some time will be spent in our cozy cabin with family, friends, and one large puppy.  12 people total.

That will require lots of food and it must all be hauled in.

The picking and gathering for all that has nearly concluded.

Monday I made the trek to Wal-mart to purchase the items on the miscellaneous list.  You know, like soap and toilet paper and a few other things we cannot get at the grocery store.

Tuesday I headed to the grocery store, and purchased all the dry goods.  I carefully packed them all into three large Rubbermaid storage boxes, good for travel.

Tuesday's catch
Today then I headed back to the grocery store, and gathered up all the refrigerated items, breads, and rolls.  Why didn't I just get everything at once?  Because I would have needed a train of three large grocery carts to do so.  I'm not that skilled of a "driver."

Wednesday's load
Are we done?  No.

We will swing by the store again and purchase a small truckload of water on the way out of town.  We always play it safe and carry in all our drinking water.

And finally, we will gas up the truck, because we earned 60 redeemable gas points due to buying all those groceries.  That's 60 cents per gallon savings at the gas pumps.  I'll take it.

And, just in time for the traveling, Mother Nature blanketed the area with the first snow of the season.  It looks beautiful, but I'm hoping the roads up into the mountains aren't too treacherous.

I will be leaving the blogosphere for about a week, in order to enjoy the holidays with my family.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Word Nerd

I'm in between errands and giving my poor sore feet a rest.  Although my ankle surgery happened five months ago, it is not uncommon for me to overdo it, and already today it feels like I may have done just that.

Today is the Mother of all Picking and Gathering events, as I shop for all the food and other items I will be needing when the flood of family comes in for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm not sure my car is large enough to haul it all in one trip.  Or my wallet.  I've just brought home the first load, and I still need about that much more in the next trip.

Yesterday I blogged about the wonderful smorgasbord of books I've been reading lately.  Of course, with all that reading I'm also coming across some awesome new words I've never seen or used before.

We can all stand to grow a few of our brain cells a little larger, so let me share some of these new words with you:

1.  potsy or potsie (yes, there are 2 possible spellings) - the game of hopscotch or the discarded heel used as a player's game marker.

When I was a young girl, we played hopscotch out on the sidewalks in front of our homes.  I do remember that my friends Laurie and Suzanne and I each had our own heel for these occasions.  Sometimes Janet came, but she didn't have her own potsie.

2.  boutade - a sudden outburst

I am sure the kids around here issued a loud boutade today when it was announced that school was closing early due to the snowstorm.

3.  bummel - to stroll or leisurely journey

Bummel on down to the grocery store and get me some mustard, please.

4.  fouta - large cloths that originally hail from Turkey and North Africa and can be used as towels, sarongs, table runners, picnic blankets, and shawls.

5.  cabinet - this is what Rhode Islanders call a milk shake.  Coffee is their most popular flavor.

I'll have the chocolate cabinet, of course.

6.  rhumba - a group of rattlesnakes.

My worst nightmare is being trapped within a rhumba.

7.  declasse -  "trailer trash" in French.

You get more declasse customers at a diner like 'Bubba's.'

8.  obganiate - to irritate someone by constantly repeating oneself.  (This came from the Weird Word of the Day app for iphone.)

9.  schlump - what women look like if they are, ahem, sagging and dragging.  

10.  flump - although it rhymes with schlump, is has nothing to do with that word.

It's flu season.  I would recommend avoiding flumps altogether by not high fiving or fist bumping.

11.  skookum - fairly good-sized.  I saw this word the first time ever in a blog written by Rick Doyle, see Rick and Paulette's RV Journal.  I believe he was repairing something and said it required a skookum screw. To the best of my researching abilities, it seems this is a term used primarily in the Pacific Northwest, and means fairly large or even monstrous.  Thank you Rick.

12.  snaughling - when you are laughing so much that you snort.  My mother tells an embarrassing story of doing this many, many years ago on one of her first dates.  My father verifies that this did indeed happen.  Milk out of the nose.  Yup.

Now, I dare you to use one of these words today in a sentence.  

You, too, can be a word nerd like me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Never Enough Books

My dream Christmas tree
Now that the seasons are rapidly changing and winter is making things more uncomfortable, I find myself burrowing in a bit more than usual.  Evenings find me fairly content to sit near the fire with a good book or other engaging reading material.  And, there's oh so many good trips to research and plan.

Over the recent years, I've noticed some changes in my reading habits when comparing them to the previous fifty years.

For one, I have shaken off the self-induced pressure to read all the way to the end of books that I am not enjoying.  Perhaps the book just didn't turn out to be what I thought it would be.  Now I stop reading, recycle it to other readers, and feel happy that I've offered the enjoyment of reading that book to someone more suited for its subject or story.

And secondly, I'm reading a "smorgasbord" now, rather than only sticking with one until it's done.  I never thought I'd enjoy doing that, but for me, it's like even more goodness going on all at the same time.  Almost like having five desserts on a plate, instead of just one.

Finally, I've adopted the habit of always having some sort of reading material in my purse, whether I'm just running errands or even going to the theater.  In fact, I'd probably think more of bringing a book than even a bottle of water.

Right now I'm reading a good mix of stuff.

As usual, there's always the monthly magazines, and now also a lot of the pre-Christmas shopping catalogs:

There's a light suspense/drama in the mix.  Entertaining, yet predictable.  At this point I haven't yet figured out whodunnit, but I will.

A bit more challenging of a read is the book I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.  This one will take me a while to plod through.  In this very thought provoking book, the author defends his Christian faith without relying on Bible verses.  Instead, he uses logic, scientific evidence, and historical fact.  Hmmmmm.

Another book currently on my smorgasbord is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of the books in C. S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series.  I'll be attending a theatrical production of this story in mid-December, and since it's an allegory and I'm taking my 7-year-old twin granddaughters along, I figure I should understand the story before we go.

And finally, for the grandkiddos, I've recently purchased another one of Target's latest seasonal releases.  Every year they sell a new handful of books at a price of $5 each, with all the proceeds going to a literacy project.  They are the kind of books that young readers enjoy revisiting and reading every year at the holidays.

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you may recall that I read a lot, and that I get excited when finding new words.  Tomorrow I'll share some of those fascinating new (for me) words I've come across.

What's on your reading pile?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reading Cars

This past Friday, what should have been a routine two hour drive home from daughter Lindsay's home turned into a four hour trip.  When all the traffic lanes came to a complete stop and stayed that way, no crawling or inching along, I read the writing on the wall and stopped drinking my extra large sized cup of coffee.

Good thing I did.

That happened after one hour of driving, at the typical halfway point from home.  I sat for the next hour, trying to amuse myself by watching the other annoyed and impatient drivers and the old couple in the beat up Chevy truck in my rear view mirror.  At one point I saw him pass a roll of toilet paper over to his wife, who immediately became very busy with something thankfully down below my field of vision.

I watched as nearby drivers got out of their cars and began hiking toward whatever was the problem up ahead.  Eventually they all returned to their cars, none the wiser.

My radio on, I listened to every Christmas song and carol ever written, and every ugly mutation of them, too.  I've decided that nobody should modify those traditional tunes we grew up with and have loved for decades.  There should be no country-fications, no opera-tizing, no jazzing up, and certainly no changing of the standard rhythmns.  All of that messes with my OCD tendencies, and I do not like it.  However, you can do anything you want with "Feliz Navidad," including eliminating it entirely.

I listened to the conclusion of my audio book, "The Slight Edge," by Jeff Olson.  It was a self-improvement lecture, and if I learned anything, it's that I need a complete and total overhaul.  I'll start that tomorrow.

I found myself obsessing about bathrooms, and toilets, and travel potties, and that little potty thingie my parents hauled around in the back of the old family station wagon 55 years ago for me and my two brothers.  I wondered how many more hours I'd have to "hold it."  I wondered if that old guy behind me would share his toilet paper.

I debated whether to leave the car running or turn off the motor.  I figured sure as shootin,' as soon as I turned it off, traffic would start moving.  So I left it run.  Another hour.  I should've turned it off.

Should I get out of the car, open the trunk, and excavate my book?  Nah, folks will get angry if I'm lolligagging out and around when things do start moving again.  I should've.  I probably had enough time to finish it, and then I could've stopped again at my local TinyFreeLibrary and traded it for another book.

I cleaned my fingernails, pushed back the cuticles, and removed every hangnail.  I played "drums" with my fingers on the steering wheel.  I sang along with the few Christmas songs I still recognized.  Hopefully nobody was looking, or listening.

I am one of those people who gets bored easily, so it's a good thing that traffic started to crawl after an hour of all that sitting.

One lane would move a tad, then stop.  Then my lane would move several feet, then stop.  It alternated this way for the next entire hour.  During this hour I somewhat amused myself reading not only the license plates, but especially the weird bumper stickers and other stupid stuff people put onto their vehicles.

This driver makes it clear who and what she is:

How about this next one?  I'm not up to date on current pop culture - perhaps this is a music group?  If not, it's just puzzling.

Could this guy be an airline employee or pilot?

I had plenty of time to read this "bumper sticker" while stopped in traffic:

I'll behave myself and not comment on that bit of literature.

This vehicle adornment was more of the redneck variety:

And finally, probably my favorite of the day:

Finally both lanes of cars began to roll, and I was eventually able to see what had caused the blockage.  It appeared to have been some sort of a spill that covered both lanes.  By the time I passed by it, the highway crew had treated it and mopped it over into just one lane, enabling traffic to pass around it.

One hundred miles, four hours.  Not great.

However, I was certainly glad to arrive home, safe and sound.

Oh, and the bathroom looked quite lovely.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There Must Be A Princess Around Here Somewhere

Although I have seen my grandchildren from the North recently, I was missing the ones from the South that I haven't seen for a long time.  Funny thing how the car just headed South yesterday and took me along.  Those grandkiddos - that there's some powerful stuff.

I had a delightful two hour ride, listening to a self-improvement audio tape called "The Slight Edge" by Jeff Olson.  Can't say I'm any better than I was, but at least it left me with some challenging things to ponder.  Way more than I would have now if I'd been listening to the regular junk and advertisements on the radio.

Anyway, I arrived to an empty house, but it sure looked like there must be a princess living here somewhere.  Grandson Jarrod (15) and granddaughter Ellie (2) were both off at school, but the evidence was solid.

There's a princess living here.

All the way from the princess scepter.....

to the little throne in the living room.

It wasn't long until Jarrod and his sister-who-thinks-she's-a-princess arrived home.  

Jarrod reports that he is doing well in his first year of high school, and received all A's and one B (in health, huh?) on his first report card.  In spite of being enrolled in several advanced placement classes, he still says school is often boring.  

Ellie is, well, adorable as usual.  

Today I'll be attending her preschool Thanksgiving feast with her.  She woke me up bright and early just to show me her outfit for the gala event.  

This girl loves to dress up, and her stylist always gets it right.  Today she is adorned with a turkey and all the trimmings.

I'd drive a hundred miles any day, just to hear that cute little voice calling "Hammaw!" again to wake me up, like she did this morning.

And now I'm off.  

I've got a feast to attend with Her Royal Little Highness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unearthing Some Ancient Letters

Yesterday, while sorting through the drawers of the nightstand next to my bed, I came across a packet of old letters way in the back corner of the bottom drawer.

These letters were written by me and sent home to my family throughout my years away at college.  My mother saved them all and returned them to me years later.  At the time I laughed and apparently stuffed them in the drawer to examine when I had more time.

I went to college in 1974 and graduated in 1978.  Next year will be my 40th class reunion.

It is now 2013, and looking at this pile of letters I find it ironic that my college mailbox number was C2013.  Perhaps this is the year I was meant to reopen these letters.

It is even a weird feeling for me to look at my handwriting there, and see my maiden name written by myself when I will still unmarried.

So much has happened in my life since then.

Approximately once each week I would laboriously write a long letter to my family, keeping them updated on all my news (including test scores) from the campus.  After reading my letter, my mother would make notes on it of things she wanted to remember to tell me the next time we talked.

Mom's notes for our next phone conversation.
Throughout that week I would be saving my pocket change, for every Wednesday night at 7:00 I'd make my weekly phone call home, and she'd catch me up on happenings back there.  The telephones in our dorm rooms were only for campus calls.  For long distance calls, I went to a coin phone elsewhere on campus.

At the other end, my mother would write her weekly letter to me each Friday afternoon, while sitting under the hair dryer at her weekly hair appointment.  I looked forward to receiving this mail from home either Saturday or Monday of each week.

When I started college in the Fall of 1974, stamps were 10 cents.  Here are a few of the ones on my letters then:

Sorting through the letters, I noticed that the price of a stamp jumped a hefty 3 cents to 13 cents in January of 1976.

During my sophomore year, I took an extended trip to Europe.  Here are some stamps on a postcard I sent home from Italy:

Looking at these old letters really takes me back to a simpler time.  Who could've imagined then that in just forty years everyone would have phones in their purses and pockets enabling them to talk to and even see and hear their loved ones?

Maybe a future post of mine will have to talk about the fancy schmancy calculator I took to college.  

Oh, and the typewriter, too.  Now that was a beaut.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Couple of Firsts For Me

Sample craigslist page
I do not claim to be the most technologically savvy person on earth, and so, the other day when I was able to establish my own Craigslist account, publish ads for a few items for sale, and then actually make a sale, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I've been on a quest for the last six months or so to sort through my house and get things in order.  For me, it is all relative to retirement.  When that time comes, I want my household items and all our important homeowning papers to be sorted, organized, and everything put in its place.

I don't want to have drawers overflowing with stuff we don't need, and closets full of things I don't even recall are in there.

So I'm sorting.  I know of one professional organizer (you know - the kind that gets paid to help people clean up and organize their junk) who suggests you sort your stuff into three piles:

1.  Keep
2.  Get rid of
3.  Think about

I'm amending that to the following:

1.  Keep
2.  Donate
3.  Get rid of (throw it away)
4.  Sell on Craigslist

And I'm being ruthless.  Some of my dresser drawers in my bedroom are now completely empty, and I feel very satisfied about that.  I suspect some people need my stuff more than I do.

So yes, I've set up my craigslist account.

I've advertised a few items.  See those shoes and the red Vera Bradley purse?  Those are my spiffy ads.

I even learned how to upgrade my ad by importing additional views of the item for sale.

Additional views of the one pair of shoes
Then yesterday, I made my first sale.  Yee-ha!  The purse is sold, and the money is now in my "Vacation Funds" envelope.  

Oh there are places to go and things to see.  And they cost money, so I gotta sell stuff.

In other news, I finally finished the longest book I've ever read, Sacajawea.  At 1408 pages long, it was sometimes a laborious read.

I had a goal in finishing it, though.

I wanted to use the Tiny Free Library at the church around the corner, and get a close up look at how these little book lending boxes work.

Two Tiny Free Libraries at this location
I examined the contents of both little libraries before I made my selection.  The rule is "take a book, leave a book."  

I found all sorts of books in those two places - kids' and adults' books in a variety of genres.  I ended up leaving my Sacajawea book in the left box where I found a book of interest to me.

I also noticed that the book I took was stamped in the front cover with the church's address.  Perhaps somebody is tracking what comes and goes, as these little libraries have only recently been installed there.

So in the last few days I learned two new things, how to use a Tiny Free Library and how to advertise and sell via Craigslist.

Look out Ebay, here I come!