Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas Decorations


The tradition of setting up Christmas decorations isn’t a mere chore. It’s more than making things pretty. Manger scenes and such can remind us of our Savior Jesus Christ, but that’s not the focus of this post.
For me, decorating brings memories of loved ones some of whom have moved on from this life. Other  items bring warm memories of times past. I’ll mention just a few in this post:



This angel, for example—I was helping clear out the apartment of an angel on earth who had moved into eternity. I met her when I first moved here and was new at church. She brought me under her wing and took me to women activities outside Sunday meetings, encouraged me and my husband to attend adult activities and sat by me in the women’s meeting. After I was settled, she moved on to the next new person and then the next, and the next. I could go on about her service to others, but this post isn’t about her. When I was helping the family clear out, I admired this Christmas angel, and her older sister told me I could have it. I balked at first because it looked expensive, but she explained her siblings all wanted it, and that it would save hard feelings if she gave it to me.



Another special memory comes when I take out this manger scene, my older children painted it when they were little. Although not perfect, it’s a treasure. I planned on expanding it yearly, and that worked the second year, but the store where I purchased the pieces, went out of business by the third year, and I never found pieces the same size. But that’s okay, it’s a snapshot of that time in our lives.

On the other hand, sometimes we need to let go of small treasures. Two years ago, I let go of the decorations our children made in elementary school. They were falling apart. My children had been trying to convince me to do that for a few years, and they were right. It was time to move on. The decorations had fulfilled their purpose, and no longer added to the beauty Christmas tree. I didn’t even remember who made which ones, anyway.



We’re letting go of another item this year—the string of blue outdoor lights. They are part of our Christmas tradition; however, they’re so old my older brothers hung them on a tree in front of my childhood home. Any electrician or fire fighter would have a fit if they saw them. Did I mention my youngest child is in her 30s?

Setting up Christmas decorations can bring out poignant memories of the past. It’s more than fun work and making things pretty. It’s a time to reflect on what’s important in life. What we need to cherish, and what we need to let go of.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

National Novel Writing Month


“Are you doing NaNo this year? This was a popular question in my writing circle throughout October, the unofficial prep time for NaNoWriMo. My answer is no. It’s great for those who find the pressure of writing 50,000 words in one-month exhilarating.

I can see its value. I had a scene I couldn’t get right, so I wrote 2,000 words in one sitting. It pressed my muse/imagination to the limit, but I finally had what I thought was a bad idea written out. A bad idea was better than a blank page, right? Naturally it took a lot of tweaking to smooth out the wrinkles, but the basic idea turned out to fix my problem.
One of the big difficulties in just pressing through for me is that I find it nearly impossible not to rewrite. That’s one of the rules of the game. No going back and editing. Press forward ever forward. Remind yourself you can fix it later. They have a great support system in place, but it doesn’t work for me. I edit my texts, messages, and everything else I write. When my children were in school, even excuses to the teacher when they were sick. It just isn’t in my DNA.
For those of you reading my blog who are in the middle of it, keep going, you can do this. I’ll cheer you on, just don’t expect me to join you. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween in Years Gone By

“What was Halloween like when you were a little girl in the 1950’s?” My grandchildren may ask. Many of the traditions were the same as today, but several have changed, some a lot.

When I was growing up, many of our neighbors made homemade treats like popcorn balls and cookies which we ate without fear. There wasn’t such a thing as mini candy bars. However, not everyone gave out the big ones. Taffy, small Tootsie Rolls, and sticks of gum were popular. I remember peanut butter flavored taffy with a bit of dried out peanut butter inside was at the bottom of my desirable list. Do they still make that stuff? They did when my children trick or treated. I traded that away 2, 3, or more to one, so did my children.

I used paper grocery bags to put my candy in. Greedy children sometimes used a pillow case. I went with friends in their neighborhoods. We only had one old lady about a block away year around. The rest of the neighborhood had summer cabins or empty lots except one couple that came up for summers only.
My mom made me fantastic costumes, most of which had another purpose. My Alice in Wonderland dress was suitable for school without the apron, of course. Then there was the year I had panda pajamas, but I didn’t wear the hat with ears to bed. My children scrounged whatever they could find in our costume bag. Trick or Treating is still the same when children go house to house. No such thing as Trunk or Treat back then.
Tricks were still done on occasion like soaping windows or other mischief, nothing damaging. Some of the older boys in our small mountain village found an outhouse to put in the middle of the main cross roads every year. I’m sure my brothers took part in that tradition when they were teens. The one that was 5 years older complained about how hard it was to find abandoned outhouses.

Halloween is a fun holiday that brings fond memories as long as things don’t get out of hand.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Does Grammar Matter?


Grammar rules are changing, always have. But how far is too far? I was taught never to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” I just did that. Today it’s acceptable. However, we need to know the rules so we know how and when to break them. Here are a few of my pet peeves:

I’ve heard young authors say that commas just get in the way, so they don’t use them at all. Is that really wise? Unless he/she only wants to self-publish, they won’t get anywhere with a traditional publisher. It also leads to confusing sentences. The baby has a bottle rubber ducky rattle and shoes. Is that a “bottle rubber ducky rattle and shoes,” a “bottle, rubber ducky rattle, and shoes” or a “bottle, rubber ducky, rattle and shoes?” All three conjure up different items. The only item the reader knows for sure is the shoes.

When I’m reading in past tense and come across words like: ago, tomorrow, yesterday, and such, it pulls me out of the story. Those terms convey speaking in present tense. I use: before or earlier, the next day, the day before, and such. Dialogue is different. The author is quoting what was said.

I was taught all foreign words are italicized, even the ones we use every day. (Okay I’ll admit we underlined them in the days before computers, but the same rule applies.) Words like via, and others I can’t think of right now.

Then there are the words that have similar meanings that are not interchangeable. The one I hear the most often is the misuse of “less.” It’s often used when it should be “fewer.” Less cannot be counted, fewer can. Examples: less money—fewer dollars, fewer calories—less fattening, I could go on, but hopefully I have made my point. If it can be counted, it should be fewer—if not, it should be less.

Grammar changes, and always will, but let’s not come off as less educated than we are.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Potato Chip Rock

Re-starting my blog once more:

I had a grand adventure a couple of weeks ago with my son that I’ll start with. Next week my post will focus on writing.

Have you ever heard of Potato Chip Rock? Didn’t think so unless you live near Poway, CA. One more bucket list item checked off. I hadn’t even heard of it until I moved away from that city. The hike is a 2 mile trek up Mt. Woodson.




My son Brian was my guide. It’s the toughest 4 mile hike I’ve ever gone on. 

We hiked through beautiful terrain.

I made myself notice the beauty every few minutes when I stopped and gasped for breath.

We climbed 1,300 feet in elevation in the 2 miles up.

Potato Chip Rock deserves its name, and I wish I could have had my picture taken on top, but I couldn’t climb up the crack in the rock necessary to reach it.

I waited my turn in line, but when I needed to raise my knee to about waist height especially in that small space, my back said, “Don’t do it.” I didn’t. Still worth the hike.


The descent was easier, but by then my body was telling me “enough!” Brian made sure I drank enough water all along the way, and gave me a granola bar for calories before starting down.

I was surprised I didn’t have sore muscles the next day. My calves were burning on the way up, and the top of my thighs on the way down.

Was I disappointed that I couldn’t go to the top of Potato Chip Rock? Yes! But not devastated. At my age I’m thankful I could take the journey with my son. 

One on one time with any of my children is always special. 

It’s an adventure I’ll always remember.

I can do hard things, but I still have to be smart, and know when to let it go.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Giving Thanks

Today’s the day we remember to be thankful. It’s common to go around the table and mention what we’re thankful for. It’s usually the big things, Mom & Dad, healing, food, modern conveniences, health, a child’s teddy bear, home, and so forth.

This post will point out different ways to find gratitude. For one week, notice everyone and everything that helps, encourages, or lifts your spirits in any way: The clerk in the store that smiles at you, the spouse that says “good morning,” the Face Book post that makes you smile, birds singing in the trees, trees, the sun shining, the Face Book post that inspires you, the clouds that bring needed rain or snow, and on and on. See how many you can find in one day. It doesn’t matter if it gets silly, nobody will know except you.

Living a life filled with gratitude will make us happier. Look for that silver lining in the cloud hanging over you. Even if you have lost a loved one, ponder the joys they brought into your life. Find someone else with trials, and lift their spirits. Lift the person you think least needs it. Chances are they also have a heavy load to carry.

Joy and happiness are born of Gratitude. Gordon T. Watts

Thursday, October 12, 2017

In-Laws

I don’t get telling in-law jokes. My late mother-in-law was a dear woman. We never had a cross word. My late father-in-law was always cordial if distant. Perhaps it was a cultural thing. My sister-in-law, as in my husband’s sister, has always been cordial. She was still a teenager when Dan & I got married. She didn’t say much, but I always felt welcome in their home. We don’t see her very often, but we have a good experience when we do.
            My mom as a mother-in-law? I can’t speak for my husband, except to tell one experience we had early in our marriage. We were selected to as one of the couples to play The Newly Wed Game at a church function. My husband was asked, “Who the weirdest person you two know.” I don’t know how long he took to ponder, but his answer was my mother. When it came my turn to answer the same question, the whole group inhaled, and didn’t exhale until I gave the same answer. There was no other answer. Years after her death, we’d both still give the same answer. Love her very much, but she had some very strange ideas. No room to discuss those here.
            Moving on, my sister had the audacity to marry my elementary school principal. (She’s 18 years older than I am and is still living, however, Don passed a few years ago.) Thankfully I didn’t get sent to the principal’s office except for not completing class work and having emotional trauma. He was fun to be around. One problem I had was trying to remember to call him Mr. Venne at school, but to call him Don at home.
            My late sister-in-law, Lois, played a big role in my life. She was pregnant with their second baby, and their first was 1 year old when the man Mom was going to marry eloped with someone else a week before the wedding. The house we’d been living in was rented to someone else. We’d been living on welfare, and that was cut off. If it hadn’t been for she and my brother Mom & I would have been homeless. They took us into their small home where we lived for 9 months while I was in the 8th grade. Mom took in ironing while looking for a job. She found employment babysitting and cleaning house for a family with 3 boys. Lois was a steady hand during a difficult time of my life. One thing she taught me that I still remember is, “Buy clothes that are tight enough to show that you’re a lady, but lose enough to prove you are.” I could do a whole post on her. She was always there for me when the chips were down.

            What can I say about my other sister-in-law Vinnie? First thing I remember where she helped me: Soon after she married my brother, she told him that at 18-years-old, I was too old to be swung around like a little girl. She’s only 1 ½ years older than I am. I could also do post on the help she’s given me. Not as much in my late teen years because they didn’t live close to us like my other siblings. We lived in the same town for several years after I was married, and she was always there for me, supporting me when I felt inadequate as a young mother. She married my brother when she was only 16-years-old, so she had more experience. Yes, they’re still married.