My life

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Although I certainly didn’t just sit on my duff all summer long, for I took lots of trips and was able to take care of a lot of house clutter, the pace of life has certainly picked up in the last week alone.  School started.  I got the stomach flu (which I’m currently still “enjoying”).  My grandpa died.

Out of all those things, it’s the last one that has me reeling.  I can handle hectic weeks.  I can handle the stomach flu.  But I always dreaded the time I’d have to say goodbye to my sweet grandfather.  He was a good man who lived live with vigor.  He beat colon cancer but suffered through countless intestinal issues from the mid-90’s until he died.  Even through it all, he made sure to let those around him know how much he loved them, admired them, and he made sure to thank anyone who helped him.

Writing is definitely cathartic, and I sat down a day after my grandfather’s passing to write a tribute to him.  I wrote it for myself, but I shared it on Facebook so that those who knew my grandfather could enjoy it as well.  Now I’m sharing it with all of you.  Even though you didn’t know him, we can all learn from the gracious way he lived his life.

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When my grandpa was diagnosed with colon cancer in the mid 90’s, I always feared the day he would leave this earth because I knew I’d have trouble finding the words to accurately express the admiration I had for him. I have been fortunate not to have the cause for finding such words until much later, but now is the moment where I find myself digging through pictures on the computer and words and phrases in my mind trying to accurately craft a representation of the man named Harry M. who influenced so many with his generous spirit.

Five days ago, I stood beside a hospital bed and an oxygen machine that was alternately groaning and sighing.  The bed was angled toward an open door that led to a deck that had been enjoyed for only a couple days by my grandfather before he fell ill.  I thought for sure I was saying goodbye to my grandpa Harry.  His breath was labored; he moaned; he had the “death rattle” that all of us had heard about.  By the time I went home, I fully expected to get a call sometime during the night saying that he hadn’t made it.

By Saturday afternoon, my grandpa was coherent, eating, and had drunk a glass and a half of wine.  I never did see him after that Friday night vigil.  However, the last time I did see him, he opened his eyes long enough to recognize me and tell me he loved me.  I held his hand for a long time, fighting back tears as I fought with the denial that this was the end.  Although the end didn’t happen that night, that was the end for me, for I didn’t see him again.

After I learned of his passing, and as I went through the motions of attending my sons’ football practice and preparing for the first day of school the next day, I wanted to drive down the streets of my town and shout at the world about what a gentle, caring soul had just left the earth — and I wanted to implore everyone to care, dammit.

Harry was a beautiful soul.  He was the kind of person that people talk about and admire but can never truly aspire to be like.  He was quiet but caring; anal retentive but generous; resolute in his love for God but hesitant to judge the mortals who dwelled with him on this earth.  One of his last thoughts involved his desire for people of all races to get along.  He was sick and he was dying, but he still thought about his ideal world — the world he believed God intended.

During the many times Harry was hospitalized, he always made a point to remember the names of the doctors and nurses who cared for him, and this was still true in his final days.  He could hardly talk, but he’d whisper a “thank you” to whoever was leaving the room.  They’d never met a sweeter man, they said.  No matter how much pain he was in or how miserable he felt, he tried his best to make sure to thank those who had helped him.

If you knew him, you are one of the fortunate ones.  Those of us who knew him the best will remember several stories about him that are representative of his personality, like the time he set his cruise control to go around the mountains of Montana so that he could get the best possible gas mileage, making the rest of us sick to our stomachs as we rode on that very unexpected carnival ride; or how he would never let us kids cheat at any game because there were RULES and we would follow them; how he loved having everyone together and then proclaiming in the middle of it, “Isn’t this fun?”; how he would call family and strangers alike “friend”: “goodbye, friend” . . . “hello, friend,” . . . and you knew that he meant the term literally; how he loved to walk and exercise and keep track of exactly how long he walked and/or exercised (a pedometer was his best friend); how he used to sing in a big booming voice in church and all of us younger kids were embarrassed when people would turn around and look to see just who was belting out the hymn with such vigor; how he loved family pictures and would always have a big smile on his face for them; the bone-crushing hugs he would give his grandkids; the way Grandpa would ask everyone specific questions about life as if each person was the most important person in the room; how thankful Grandpa was for gifts that touched his heart. (He always made a point to thank me for the calendars I made him each Christmas, telling me how much he enjoyed looking at the pictures on them.)

There is a definite void in the world now — one that can never be filled by another person because the one who left the void was so unique and special.  I was one of the lucky ones who had a grandfather who seemed like he was a storybook invention: he was kind, considerate, loving, supportive, and optimistic.  Even in his last hours he proclaimed, “Today is going to be a good day . . .  a really good day.”   While August 20th will never seem like a “really good day” to those he left behind, I know it was probably a good day for Grandpa.  He was able to leave this earth surrounded by loved ones after he had the chance to say his goodbyes to those who loved him.  The rest of us will be lucky if we get the same chance.

Grandpa lived life deliberately and left a lasting impression on everyone he met.  Rest in peace, Grandpa Harry.

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A year ago I made the decision to “de-clutter” my house by selling some tablecloths that had been sitting in my basement for years.  They were a gift from my sister, who purchased them at auctions and estate sales, and many of them were in great condition.  The only problem was that few of the cloths actually fit my table, and several were not colors that complimented my kitchen. So they sat there and collected dust until I decided to allow someone else to enjoy them.  I kept a few of them that I really loved and put the rest up for sale on Etsy.

Within a week, the tablecloths sold, and I was shocked.  Wait a minute … people actually wanted tablecloths?  I knew that tablecloths were admired by people like me, but I never dreamed that I could actually make a little extra spending money by finding some good ones.  I’ve learned a lot in my tablecloth journey, and while I am far from knowing it all, I am definitely wiser than I was a year ago.

Before I listed my tablecloths, I did a little research. Although I can look back now and know that I didn’t ask nearly enough for the cloths that I first sold, I know that was part of the learning process.  Pretty soon I’d learn to spot a Wilendure or a Startex in a thrift shop and try not to squeal in delight.

The next learning journey involved stain removal.  Many of the cloths I ran across were stained and it pained me to have to point out these flaws when I was listing them, especially if the pattern was a popular one.  I started reading about how to successfully stain-treat cloth and get them looking like new.  I never dreamed, however, at what a laborious, time-consuming process that was.  It involves soaking, stain treating, brushing such treatment in with a toothbrush, soaking some more, inspecting the cloth inch by inch, and lastly waiting for a nice, sunny day to lay the cloth on the grass to dry.  Some cloths took up to five days!  But there was no greater sense of satisfaction to know that I took a cloth that could have been labeled a “cutter” and made it usable again.

Case in point: one of the cloths that I bought at a garage sale was so badly stained that I questioned whether it was worth the price.  It was a great retro-looking cloth with orange flowers and I knew that someone would love it. But could I save it?  I wish at this point that I had taken before and after pictures of the cloth, because it was a drastic change.  Having been stored in a smoker’s home, the cloth was covered with smoke stains and it took three days of soaking just to remove those.  What I thought was an yellowish cloth ended up being a white cloth.  Here it was after I rejuvenated it:

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It has such a neat 60’s vibe, doesn’t it?

The cloth sat in my basement for several months and received several “favorites” on Etsy before it finally sold yesterday, and I am excited that this cloth will have a new life and be appreciated by someone.

I know … I sound like I’m talking about sending my favorite child off, don’t I?  I am embarrassed to admit that I do get a wee bit attached to some of the cloths that have a great color scheme or pattern or are highly collectible but just don’t fit my table well.  I found this one in a thrift shop and it was really hard for me to let it go because I loved the color scheme so much:

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I called it my “orange juice” cloth because the colors reminded me of those old orange juice pitchers from days of old.  Vibrant turquoise, bright orange, and a great retro look.  I hope the new owner loves it as much I do.

Just today I noticed that a cloth I just sold on Etsy was going for nearly three times what I listed it for on eBay.   It is just a reminder that I have a lot to learn as to what the most sought-after patterns and colors are and to do a little research before I list a tablecloth.  In the meantime I have found a great hobby and have learned a little more about vintage textiles.

And I feel like one heck of a powerful woman with a bucket of OxyClean and a tub of warm water, too.

Want to visit my Etsy store?  Click on the link along the left-hand side of this blog.

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IMG_5107Although I have been to all the western states and a handful of the eastern states, I know I haven’t seen all the beautiful places in the United States, or the world, for that matter.  Someday I’d love to see the Smoky Mountains and the rest of North Carolina.  I’d love to see New York City and Boston for the historical sights.  I’d like to see the Civil War Battlefields for the same reason.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do those things, but it’s on my travel bucket list.

Last week my sister and I packed up the car and headed out with the kids to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Growing up in South Dakota, I’ve been to the hills many, many times — for church camp five years in a row, for spring break trips, for random trips with friends and family, etc.   I’ve seen Mount Rushmore so many times that I could probably sculpt a mini version out of clay.  It wouldn’t be good or representative of the actual sculpture.  I never promised that.

When I was in my 20s I started going to Deadwood and became enthralled in the western history of that little town.  In the 80s, Deadwood was brought back from the dead by gambling.  The little town began to attract more and more tourists, which was good.  What wasn’t so good is that now the town is starting to lose its old west feel and is starting to take on an atmosphere of Vegas.  OK, maybe not to that extent, but I hate driving into town only to be greeted with a modern looking hotel.  Some of the older buildings have been razed and replaced with glitzy hotels or bars.  Little by little there is an artificial glaze starting to creep over Deadwood and it’s ruining it for me. I still love the town, but don’t want to spend a lot of time there as I had in the past.

As much as I love the Black Hills, being there makes me depressed about what it is becoming.  We stayed in a pretty touristy rental house in the Terry Peak region.  The house happened to be along the “main drag” of the rental houses and so there was a lot of traffic and a lot of noise.  I did not enjoy sitting on the deck listening to a loud party going on across the valley or hearing every word of the neighbors’ conversations as they hot tubbed.  I much prefer to experience the Black Hills in peace and quiet.  No neighbors.  No tourist traps.  That, however, is becoming harder to find as the years go by.

If you’re ever in the hills, make sure to reserve a couple of days to drive through Spearfish Canyon and through Custer State Park.  IMG_5153Depending on the day, the traffic can be heavy through both of those places, but I’d recommend going early in the morning to beat the other tourists out of bed.  Spearfish Canyon has a lot of stops you can make along the way — different waterfalls, historical sites, trails to hike, etc.  If you get there on a day like we had there — where it was mild weather and cloudless skies, you will probably stop to gawk at the awesome contrast between the blue skies, white rock formations, and green pines.  The colors are so vibrant that I was constantly trying to capture them with my camera.  However, without the help of Photoshop, the digital version is never equal to seeing it with your own two eyes.

Gold mining has always been a part of the hills since it’s been settled and today is no different.  Although the famous Homestake mine ceased operation some years ago, there’s a new one to take its place: the Wharf mine.  This thing is HUGE and is currently adjacent to the Terry Peak region.  There’s a little platform that visitors can go stand on to watch the operations, and my sister and I did take that opportunity.  It’s rather depressing, though.  There you have this open gaping pit that is a flurry of activity — then your eyes stray beyond the open pit to the miles of beautiful pines.  You can’t help thinking of what the same view used to look like without this eyesore of a mine.    Yes, I understand that the Wharf mine is providing millions of dollars in development funds to Lead and neighboring towns.  However, there’s no one who can argue with the fact that the thing is just plain ugly.

Despite having to view the mining operations, the hills have always been and will always be one of my favorite places on this earth.   Most people remember or know the Hills as the place where Mount Rushmore is.  I am here to say that seeing Mt. Rushmore is important and interesting, but after seeing it one or two times, the magic of the place is gone.  (Trust me … I’ve seen Mt. Rushmore about a dozen times.)  If you’ve never been to the hills before, go see Mt. Rushmore (and maybe the Crazy Horse memorial as well), spend some hours in Deadwood, and then spend the rest of your time soaking up the awesome scenery.   The hills are good for the soul; I truly believe that.

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School ended nearly a month ago and I am finally getting around to some of the things I’d been putting off, like cleaning my house.  Or breathing.  Showering, too.  Ha ha!  Just kidding.  Well, not about the house.  It’s like an episode of Hoarders some days.

Now that June is nearly over, I have to start turning my brain back on, and that’s always kind of a letdown.  I always reserve June as my “stop thinking and just relax” month.  Trust me — it’s needed after the end of the school year, which is always brutal.  I know teachers sound like whiners when we say this, but until you’ve been there and done that, then you have no idea.

The first vacation I took this year was to Nebraska.  If you’ve read this blog before, then you’re probably thinking that you remember reading something about a Nebraska vacation before.  If that’s the case, then you’d be right.  I did take a Nebraska vacation last year with my honey.  This year we decided to do it again just to make sure we covered the entire state.

Last year we traveled extensively along Highways 20 and 30, marveling at the intensely heavy train traffic, and also venturing off the main roads to explore some rural roads that seemed to stretch into infinity.  Here’s one of my pics from last year:

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While some people’s idea of vacations might be lounging on a Florida beach or living the night life in Vegas, my vacations tend to head the opposite direction.  I like take a break from crowds of people.  I like seeing rural life.  I love driving through small towns and taking pictures of the old signage that they still have.  My honey is the same way, so we enjoy the simple things like driving through Nebraska.

This year we took a different path, driving 1800 miles in all.  I used a program called Trip Tracker to chart our journey.  The program drops pins every so many miles and you can put specific tags on the map as well.  It’s hard to read the specific towns we went through unless the map is zoomed in, but this gives you a general idea:

Day one:  Sioux Falls to Valentine, Nebraska.

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Day two:  Valentine to Scottsbluff.  As you can see, we did not take the direct route.  Lots of stops and driving through small towns along the way ….

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Day 3:  Scottsbluff to Chadron

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Day 4:  Chadron to Grand Island

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Day 5:  Grand Island to Fremont, home of the Uncle Sam’s antique store that I absolutely LOVE.  Lots of great ’50s antiques and cracked ice tables and chairs!

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The next day we drove from Fremont back to South Dakota.

I picked up these great trays from Uncle Sam’s this year:

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I wrote about this store last year after driving through Fremont.  If you are a fan of the 50s and all things retro (especially retro tables and chairs), then make sure you visit this store!  The basement is full of retro goodies:

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There’s a little something for everyone, I do believe.

Anyway … the trip to Nebraska was so much fun and so relaxing.  I loved seeing the beautiful Nebraska countryside and driving through so many remote small towns that were clinging to life after many decades of decline.  While it was sad to see, it was inspiring to see the efforts that some towns were making to keep themselves relevant.

Although many of the pictures I took this year revolved around old school buildings and the Sand Hills, I managed to shoot some other interesting sights as well:

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I absolutely love it when I can see stretches of the old highway alongside the new one.  There’s just something haunting about seeing the asphalt get overtaken with weeds and crumbling as it sits abandoned.

(I’m weird.  I know.)

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This water is called the Dismal River, but here it provides a beautiful scene as it winds itself around the valley near Thedford.

 

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I had never seen Chimney Rock before, and it was a neat experience to view this landmark that so many pioneers had viewed along the Oregon Trail.  There’s a little cemetery near the viewing spot that provides a gentle reminder that to strike out on the trail was a risk, and some didn’t make it to their destinations.

 

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I’m not sure who decided to actually pave Whitman Road, which runs north out of Whitman, but it’s an oddity in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.  This is a one-lane road that stretches on for what seems like eternity.  If you travel it, you will be rewarded with the views of desolate, sparsely populated, yet beautiful country.  The road is rough so I wouldn’t recommend taking your little Ford Focus down this road.  A vehicle with AWD or 4WD would be a good idea.

 

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This sign, found in Scottsbluff, made my day.  What a great sign!  So much color and it just conveys happiness.

 

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I originally thought this old theater was still in operation … until I realized that the “movie posters” were actually ads for the chiropractor who now operates a business there.

 

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As always, I was able to capture some great signs that are still holding onto life along the highways of America.  Long live neon and arrows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yep, I’m aware that I haven’t written for two months.  That little nagging voice in the back of my head wouldn’t let me forget it.  As much as I would love to be disciplined enough to be a daily (or at least multi-week) blogger, I had to accept long ago that it just wasn’t going to happen.  Something had to give, y’know?  And the truth is, I’m not that interesting.  I run out of things to talk about.  I don’t have time to scour the internet for interesting things, even the things I love to talk about.  During the school year, the majority of my time is spent on school and kids and all the chaos that goes along with school and kids.  When I’m not dealing with the chaos of school and kids, I’m enjoying a leisurely bath. Like I said, something had to give, and I wasn’t going to give up my baths.  After all … blogging while in the bath might prove to be a bit, ah, dangerous.

My part of Iowa is currently under a Winter Storm Warning.  The Weather Channel has named this one Saturn.  Their storm-naming trend has me chuckling in a way; having lived in the Midwest all my life, I know that winter storms are anything but an oddity in these parts.  They happen pretty regularly, whether it involves snow, ice, or a mixture.  The Weather Channel has already come up with some awesome names this year — Thor, Gandolph, etc. — but I know that eventually they’re going to run out of cool names and they’ll be relegated to normal names like Bob and Frank and Sharon.  In fact, giving winter storms these comic book-like names suggests that their appearance is an oddity; a supernatural event that deserves a grand name.  In reality, it’s snow.  We get it all the time here in the Midwest.  The last three Christmases have involved blizzards.  Snow is about as odd as seeing a cornfield as I drive down the highway.

But hey — Winter Storm Saturn is here and I’m sure it will run circles around the other storms (punny, I know).   Having just enjoyed a snow day last week, I think I’ll take another.  Keep ’em coming until spring break, and then I’ll burst into tears because I realize that we’ll be going to school until July.

Not much happening in the Retro Find department, I hate to say.  My youngest son and I stopped by the local antique store a couple weeks ago.  I brought him in there last year but got the feeling that he was not very impressed.  This year, I tried again, and I think I’ve made a little convert out of my 8-year old.  He eagerly went into the store with me and started puttering around, picking up this and that and asking me questions about the items he found.  I quickly discovered the value of having a short 8-year old in the store with me; whatever I could not see of the stacks of stuff piled under the tables, my son was sure to see something cool.  He found three little framed pictures with frames made in Italy; the pictures are nondescript but the frames were charming.  He found two matching ones and then pulled out another one with a different frame pattern, but the three went together so well that we bought them all.  He found a hotel bell that he begged me to have, and wanting to encourage his treasure hunt, I obliged, knowing that I would be sentencing myself to weeks and months of hearing DING! repeated constantly.  However, I drew the line at the “dogs playing poker” tapestry.  He thought it was cool, and I …. did not.  I did find a neat little wall-hanging lamp that has a total Art Deco metal edging on it.  I bought it thinking that I could hang it over my bed as a reading lamp — forgetting, of course, that my bed has a WINDOW above it.  So the lamp got stashed on a shelf until I can find a suitable place for it.

Needless to say, I think I’ve converted my youngest son into an antique hunter.  My oldest son, however, still rolls his eyes and says, “Mom, why do you have to fill our house with 50’s stuff?  Why can’t we have NICE stuff?”

Someday, I hope he realizes that those things mean the same thing.  🙂

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This coming weekend is my 20th class reunion.  At the moment I am torn whether I am going to make an appearance because my boys have football games that weekend as well, and the reunion and the games are not even in the same state.  Attending for at least one event can be done, but it would make the weekend rather chaotic; this is why I’m on the fence.

I was lucky enough to have a smallish class to graduate in with 56 kids.  Most of us got along on a consistent basis and we appreciated each other uniqueness.  No, that’s not to say that every day was sweetness and light, for we had our moments of high school bickering and immaturity, but doesn’t every class?  Overall, I have good memories of my school and my class.  And yes, I realize that not everyone has the same experience.

Milestones such as reunions tend to give us pause as we reflect back on the past several years.  I try to reclaim my 18-year old train of thought and wonder if I had any idea that I’d end up where I am today.  The answer is an emphatic NO.  It’s not a bad “no” — just an emphatic one.

When I graduated from high school in 1992, I had planned on attending college for journalism.  I really wanted to be a photojournalist, but could not get any guidance as to how to make that happen.  No one seemed to know how one became a photojournalist, so I figured that plain ol’ journalism was the place to start.  By the end of my first semester, I had changed my major to education, so there went that goal.

I knew that i wanted to be married and have kids.  Now, twenty years later and licking the wounds from my divorce, I knew that this was not part of what I had envisioned.

However, I have always been a firm believer in the idea that things happen for a reason.  We are the product of our choices and our circumstances.  Could I have made different choices?  Yes.  Would I be just as happy?  Well, how will I ever know?  At some point we have to make peace with the decisions we have made and keep our eye on the ultimate goal for our life.

There’s a comfort in being able to gather with people who have known you since you were a poofy-haired, acne-ridden teenager.  I know that if I go to my reunion, my thoughts about the past will not be unique ones.  Life has been a bumpy road for many others as well.

Twenty years can do a lot to shape a person, and I can only hope that the “me” that exists today is a better one than I had envisioned in 1992.  I may not have traveled the paths that I imagined I would, and I may not have the “story” I thought I’d be telling by now, but I have two wonderful children and a host of memories and experiences that have made me the person I am today.

I think my 18-year old mind would approve.

 

 

 

 

 

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Now that my boys are old enough to start enjoying sports, I have “won” the privilege of driving to towns an hour or so away to watch the boys play football for a league team.  Yesterday was their first game, and I had a great time watching them play rather clumsy football and enjoy the experience of playing on a real football field for the first time.

I’ve read stories about helicopter parents who just refuse to let Johnny make any mistakes out on the football field, but it was rather shocking and saddening to see it in person, and I know the examples I saw were mild ones.

Third and fourth graders played the first game, and there was one dad who decided that the refs were just WAY out of line, so he yelled his opinion out to them.  Luckily one of the coaches politely reminded him that parents were not allowed to harass the refs, but I was still amazed that this parent took this game SO SERIOUSLY. These are 3rd and 4th grades, for pete’s sake!  Adults are supposed to be the role models, not the ones doing embarrassing behavior.

Later on a mom did the ultimate helicopter thing when she went over the fence, across the track, and pulled her kid aside to COACH HIM in the middle of the game.  When the real coach saw this kid not with the others and not paying attention to the game, he told him to get back over there, but the mom actually followed him, continuing to bend down, point at the field, and give her pointers as the kid walked back to the sidelines.  Seriously, people?  Perhaps next year you’d like to devote your nights and Saturdays to coaching little kids’ football.  Until then, let the real coaches do their job.

Although I’m glad that parents are not allowed to voice their opinions to the referees, I heard a lot of the chatter while I was standing along the fence with the other parents.  So many times I wanted to remind them that this was supposed to be a friendly game of football for kids who are enjoying the game.  There will be mistakes.  In fact, there SHOULD be mistakes.  How else will they learn?

As a teacher, I watch these games and hope that the parents show as much enthusiasm about their kid’s academic progress as they do about their football skills.

Wishful thinking, I’m sure.

 

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Fall is my favorite season, for various reasons.  There’s the excitement and bustle of returning to school, the beginning of football season, the changing of the leaves, and the return of milder weather.  (After a scorching summer like the one we’ve had here in Iowa, I am ready for mild temperatures!)  Normally I’d say that I’m excited to pick apples in my parents’ apple orchard in South Dakota, but I’m pretty sure the drought is going to guarantee zero apples for picking.  Oh well.  Maybe next year.

As I sit in front of my laptop and gaze out at the smattering of earlybird leaves that are beginning to fall (again, thank a lot, drought!), I notice a small Coleman tent sitting unobtrusively under a huge maple tree.

The tent.

Its color is faded on that one side facing the sun, and that’s because that tent has been there since June. I put it up as a favor to my two boys, ages 10 and 8. They have always enjoyed “camping” in the backyard every now and then and they’d always beg me to put it up.

This year, however, I thought it would be neat if we left the tent up all summer.

Why not?  It’s not a brand new tent, nor was it a very expensive one.  It has a rainfly to protect it, it’s a snap to set up, and I am not so attached to the grass in my yard that I’m going to cry if I have a little square patch of grass that dies.  That’s the nice thing about grass — it can regrow.

I remember the thrill of having a tent to crawl into — my own personal space where I could hide out from the world and pretend that I was on my own in the middle of the woods.  My house is not the palatial palace that I’d like it to be; therefore, I wanted a place for my boys to be able to call their own.

They wasted no time in making their own, either.  I slapped an eggcrate mattress down so they didn’t have to lie on the hard ground, and they chose the blankets and pillows that they’d keep out there.  Oodles of books, toys, booklights, and DVDs followed, and I gave them free use of a portable DVD player that was just sitting in my closet, collecting dust.  It was a modernized version of “roughing it,” of course, but my boys were more excited about having their own space.  They spent the first two weeks in there nearly every night aside from the nights that they stayed at their dad’s house.  Bedtime became something to look forward to, for a change.  They’d go into the tent about 8:30 and spend a couple hours reading books, giggling, playing with flashlights, or watching DVDs.  They’d usually konk out about 10:30, and I wouldn’t hassle them to get to bed, because it was summer and I knew they’d tire eventually.

When the sun hit the tent in the morning, they’d straggle in, a little groggy from lack of sleep but excited to do it all over again that night.  When friends came over, they’d show of their “house,” reminding kids to make sure their feet were clean before entering the tent, since they would be walking on their beds.  They took responsibility for the contents of the tent and cared about keeping it nice.  Perhaps in a way it made them understand why sometimes Mom gets so persnickety about the way her house looks.

Soon the earlybird falling leaves will become a steady rain as the maple tree sheds its summer coat, and the tent will have to be cleaned out, cleaned up, and put away until next summer.

And in June, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting out that tent and putting it back up for yet another summer of memories.  In twenty years, I hope my sons remember these summers, and I hope the memories make them smile.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I chose to take a bit of a photography-related trip through the backroads of Nebraska.  I love traveling by car and getting off the interstate.  I don’t want to stop at Walmart  — I want to stop at the local variety store.  I don’t want to stay in Holiday Inn — I want to stay at the mom & pop motel down the road that doesn’t have a pool  and hasn’t redecorated in a couple decades but still has clean and comfortable rooms.  Even if the room is horribly outdated, like the Pioneer Motel in Minden, Nebraska, was, I would still want to stay there.  Case in point: Read the rest of this entry »

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I am totally stoked for this December’s release of The Great Gatsby.  Baz Luhrmann’s creative mind has always intrigued me, and I fell in love with his circus-like sets and preposterous characters in both Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet.  The man’s got a gift, so I was both pleasantly surprised and a little nervous when I heard that he was undertaking the making of this classic novel. Read the rest of this entry »

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