Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer Daze

Hi, Hello, Have you missed my bright, shining face? I've missed you.

Did I tell you I found letters from my Grandmother? Of course I had not lost them...but when I had boxes and boxes of un-labeled papers they were quite inaccessible. Anyway, I found them and read each of again. Those are keepers. I don't quite know how best to "keep" them. Do I make a book with them? Right now they are in their original envelopes. Reading these letters felt like getting them anew. Letters from Grandma! What a treat.    

The letters included fun memories of antics we got into at her house during the summers. I think I've mentioned that my sisters and I spent summer days at her house. Mornings usually consisted of scrapping new potatoes (outside) under the trees where a nice breeze could keep us cool. The potatoes were for lunch. Grandma sliced them really thin and seasoned them with salt, pepper and paprika and then fried them in the electric frying pan until they were just the right amount of crispy. 

Lunch also included things fresh from Grandpa's garden. Things like tomatoes.  Nothing better than a homegrown tomato on a tomato sandwich. Mayo on white bread and just a hint of salt and pepper on the tomato. That is what summer tastes like. 

Grandpa usually worked his garden in the morning before the summer heat became unbearable. And Grandma usually made a big lunch to feed him after he had worked so hard. They ate the big meal at lunch time. By the dinner time, they just wanted a small light bite. 

*Techno Disclaimer* I've seen a few Pinterest or FB posts that say something like, "I'm glad my childhood was before technology or social media....things were simpler, etc."  I want to be sure that my trips down memory lane don't imply that my childhood falls into that category. I have a very different opinion. 

Technology was part of my youth and I have no regrets about that. I had a small transistor radio that I listened to. Loved its portability and the fact that I was never far from my music. I had a Swinger Polaroid camera. LOVED IT. I also had a Kodak Instamatic and took tons of pictures on that. I had a tape recorder and loved to tape random soundbites that I could replay over and over. And the telephone! I had a telephone in my room. I had the phone numbers of my besties on my bulletin board and usually called one friend after another (under the pretense of getting help on homework). 

If there were cell phones I would have tried to have one. If I could talk my Dad into it, I imagine I would have used all of the minutes within a day or two. I would have loved to take pics with a smartphone and see them instantly! And be able to share instantly. How cool I would have thought that was. 

I think I enjoyed both the technology that was available in the '70s (and beyond) and summer days outside. I'm enjoying my adulthood with technology and social media and I STILL enjoy sitting outside on a breezy sunny day. That's the cool thing about having our technology...we can engage or disengage from it at any time. The added cool thing is that we can use technology to engage MORE with others. When I got on FB, I lived on the opposite coast from my sisters and cousins. FB helped me stay in touch. Now that I'm back on the east coast, I love to stay in touch with my WA friends via FB. Postcards and letters and even phone calls just don't have the same immediacy.

My take: If you want to enjoy a summer day by making home-made ice cream...use the hand crank machine (or an electric's up to you). Take pics (or don't). Post pics (or don't). Eat. (Definitely eat).  The ice cream will taste as sweet with a pic or without. Either way, home made ice cream is a treat. 

That's just my two cents. (That lion didn't invent the phrase. He just overuses it.)


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

You know I've been furiously de-cluttering and giving away things. I'm getting into the "Less is More" groove. One of the obstacles...nay...opportunities...was that I have a ridiculous number of books. I found several books in my "to be read" category. They were not in a single place. No, they were all over the house. One here, one there. 

I did my "organizing" during the weekend, so during the evenings on work nights I dedicated myself to reading the books I've been meaning to find time for. I'm sharing about the books that moved me. 

Let me say that I read one book that I was bored with and thought when does it get better. Turns didn't. I won't re-hash that one for you. (You're welcome.) I do want to mention that it was fiction and it had way too many characters that got to tell their point of view of the same events in alternating chapters. Note to author: some of your readers (me) can barely keep up with the narrative of her own family/husband...much less more than one or (at the very most) two narrators in a novel. 

Interestingly, the books that enthralled me were memoirs.

I read I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship on a vacation last Fall. LOVED IT. This one is staying in my possession...even with my self imposed policy to donate or share books I've already read. I just can't part with this one yet. As you can imagine from the title and cover, it's writers sharing stories of their complicated relationships with their dogs. Many are purely sweet and most are laugh out loud funny.

The Daily Coyote is a book I was reading and misplaced...mid read. {I'm telling you...organized I'm not.} I knew I would find it and during my "cleanse" I did. The first thing that struck me about this book is the breathtaking photography. Shreve Stockton has an eye for amazing images. Of course, the coyote is a pup during the early portion of the cuteness does abound. But, the landscape really stands out, both visually and as an important part of the story. Stockton fearlessly lives her dreams, including riding a Vespa cross country before "landing" in a small Wyoming town for this chapter of her life. I enjoyed the vicarious experience.  One of the things I appreciated is that Stockton tells her story without sentimentalizing it. She never loses sight of the fact that the coyote she cares for is, at his core, a wild animal.

Let's Take the Long Way Home is beautiful and soulful capturing a precious and deep friendship that is so rare. Both women have a strong connection with her own dog before they "really" meet each other. Their friendship grows as a result of the outings that they each take with their dogs.

Their friendship deepens as they each push to further their sculling skills. There is something about sharing in this physically demanding sport that enhances their friendship.

It's a rare memoir that explores the deep bonds that women have in their friendships.

I don't want to give too much away here. The book is equal parts "woman and her dog"; "woman excelling in a strenuous sport" both individually and together; "woman and her best friend".  It's powerful.
Weekends with Daisy may be the best "My Dog Changed my Life" stories I've read.  BONUS: The dog does NOT die! Sharon Luttrell is mourning before she meets Daisy. She's mourning the loss of her German Shepherd, her long time companion. She's mourning the change in her relationship with her children as they pull away in adolescence. Joy and purpose are fleeting for her. 

Luttrell enters a service dog training program. The program is primarily focused on prison inmates being paired with dogs that they train during the week. Weekend trainers/puppy raisers provide additional real world exposure for the dog. The weekend trainer must make sure that the dog learns to stay focused no matter where they are or what is happening. Things like going to the grocery store, or to a restaurant or the doctor. Absolutely every errand or trip that is made includes the service dog trainee. 

It's not all cuteness and rainbows. This type of training doesn't come naturally for Luttrell. It's work. Daisy's primary trainer (and inmate) becomes a mentor for Luttrell adding to the depth and richness of the experience.

After writing about these I want to read them again. I think I read them too fast. I want to re-read and savor. Unfortunately for me....these books are already in transit to their new homes.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I've Been Busy...

Clearly I haven't been writing on this blog. And what fun thing have I been so busy doing? I've been unpacking. Yep, been in this house four years and we still had a few boxes that weren't unpacked. I decided to go through the boxes with the idea of giving away anything that wasn't sentimental. --I mean, if I haven't missed the item in over four years...I can probably live without it.

My BR Closet
I also decided that I needed to clear out my closet (s) so that things are reasonably accessible and I can find things easily. I started this project one weekend when Jordan was out of town, focusing on the bedroom dresser and closet. There were so many things crammed in both places that it was stressful to look at. I was able to give away quite a few items that I either don't or can't wear. I figured it makes more sense for someone else to use them rather than leaving them in the closet to "wait for me". Yes, someday I may be able to fit into some of those cute dresses...which is why I've been hanging on to them. But I realize that, when that day comes, my style may have changed. Why not let someone else enjoy the clothes now.

I've been reading articles about the value of reducing your stuff. 
I was inspired but either too busy or too tired or too something to actually act on this plan. Funny thing though, I found once I got started I couldn't stop. I started in my bedroom and moved to my "Red Room".

My Red Room is basically my space...for crafts and books and things. I'm incredibly lucky to have space big enough that I can claim a room just for my stuff. I've shared glimpses of this room before. But I was strategic in my photos...pretty much showing you only the space that wasn't cluttered.

Well, this weekend I attacked that room. I went through every box in the room and cleaned out the closet of even more things I don't wear or use.
My "Red Room" Closet
The result is a room that can be my zen place. I've actually spent lots of time in that room even before I got it organized. I've always loved the space. It's quiet and peaceful. Now that there are no longer books and projects all over the room it is a lot more inviting to me. 

Granted, the room is pretty sparse...but I'd rather have this than clutter.