New Toy

I bought a new computer today. Needless to say, the afternoon and evening have been spent familiarizing myself with it. My husband bought a new tablet at the same time, so he’s been busy with his own new toy.

I remember life without computers. (Actually, I remember life without television, but that’s another post for another day.) My husband and I bought our first computer in 1989. It seemed like a bigger deal in those days. We pored over magazine reviews, asked questions of our friends and colleagues, shopped, shopped and shopped some more before we committed to a “24 months-same-as-cash” agreement on a Macintosh Classic. I think the cost was around $2000, a pretty good chunk of change for a young family.

Neither of us was particularly savvy about technology. I was paranoid that I would push a wrong button and break the computer. One afternoon, the house became very quiet. Any parent knows it’s time to check on the kids when it gets quiet. Imagine my panic when I found my then three-year-old in the spare bedroom, ejecting a diskette from the computer. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Of course, nothing was broken. My daughter had acted upon her natural curiosity. The computer was more foolproof than I had thought.

Here I am, several computers later. I decided to replace the laptop I’ve used for the past nine or ten years. This time around it seemed like less of a big deal. After asking a few knowledgeable people their opinions and checking a few websites for reviews, I took a quick shopping trip. By then, all I wanted to do was type on the keyboards of the laptops that had made their way to my “maybe” list. I type a lot. I wanted something comfortable.

The laptop I bought today cost about one-fourth what that Macintosh Classic cost in 1989, and will do much more. Heck, my smart phone will do more. The things a computer can do continue to amaze me.

Of course, I need to tear myself away from the novelty so I can transfer things and get the old laptop ready to donate to Computers for Kids; but I am enjoying my new toy. While I’m still a bit leery of new electronic devices, I’ve become more comfortable with messing around and trying new features. I may remember life without computers, but I don’t think I would want to do without.

new toy pix



Becoming Unstuck

I get stuck sometimes. I suspect it happens to everyone now and then. For me, getting stuck can mean writer’s block, a dull routine, what book to read next, an attitude… My most recent episode of “stuckness” has to do with a quilting project. Becoming unstuck is not easy.

Early in January I got the bug to make a new bedspread. After searching the internet for inspiration, I decided to use up some of my extensive fabric collection by making a jelly roll quilt. For those of you who do not quilt, a jelly roll quilt involves making a large piece of fabric by sewing 2 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric together. It’s a bit more involved than that, but not much. A jelly roll quilt is intended to be a quick and easy project.

I went to my fabric collection, and chose my palette of teal, purple, coral and gold. I did some quick math, cut about 100 strips, and set about to sew them together for the quilt top.

The quilt top grew and grew and grew. As it turns out, my math had overestimated the strips needed by a long shot. (Did I mention, math has never been my strong suit?) I created a much larger expanse of yardage than I needed for my project.

So I decided to get creative. Instead of a simple jelly roll quilt, I cut my created yardage into sections and added areas of white. At that point, I put everything onto the design wall to mull over what I would do to finish the quilt top.

Now what? I usually study the quilt pieces on the wall for a few days. This time the days became weeks which became months. I was stuck.

For me, the hardest part of becoming unstuck is getting started again. It’s as though I’m sitting in the car, key in hand, unable to get the key into the ignition. Over the past several weeks, I’ve attempted several such starts.

A few days ago, I finally ventured into the sewing room with a vision and a plan. I made a bit of progress, sewed a few seams…….and ran out of bobbin thread. That’s when I realized I had no extra spools of the color thread I was using.

Before I could become unstuck, I had to make a trip to the fabric store for thread. What!? Since when did thread cost $5 a spool? Apparently, it’s been a while since I’ve bought thread. Luckily for me, there was a two-for-one sale going on.

Armed with plenty of thread, I’ve been able to make a bit more progress. I’m now piecing the back of the quilt, and I’ve regained my momentum. I’m on my way to getting unstuck. I’ll get there. I just have to keep working at it.

photo unstuck

In Search of Fern

The other day I woke up crabby. It happens. Once dressed, I headed to the kitchen for some breakfast. The kitchen was not a sight for crabby eyes. A soup pan was soaking in the sink. A dish of old meat sat on the counter, having been taken out of the refrigerator to make room for last night’s soup. The counter had not been wiped down. You get the picture. Shoot. I would have to clean up before getting breakfast.

“Feerrrrrnnnn!” My mind screamed at the most logical culprit.

It’s funny. I had not thought of Fern in years. She has no last name, no face; I don’t know where she came from. She’s been in the family for generations. Fern is the imaginary maid who has served (or not) in the households of my mother and her sisters. I have inherited her.

Of course, Fern doesn’t actually do any house work; but she’s the closest thing to a maid I’ll ever have.

After breakfast, I took up the mop and a bucket of water to face the kitchen floor. “Where the heck is Fern?” I wondered. “She must be hiding somewhere, eating chocolate and reading the latest romance novel.”

I sigh and think fondly of Fern. I dip the mop into the water and begin my task.


…about Time

It’s been a difficult winter. Snow kept us housebound for a few weeks. A few other things happened that I won’t complain about here; it’s been one thing after another. Needless to say, I have spent the past two and a half months spinning my wheels and not accomplishing much. As the weather warms and spring nears, I am finally beginning to get busy and do some spring cleaning and work on other projects. I need to make up for lost time. Daylight Savings Time just robbed me of one more hour.

Since the switch to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, I have spent the week convincing myself that it’s “really only ___ o’clock” even though the clock shows one hour later. I’ll adjust in a couple of weeks. This fall when we switch back to Standard Time, I’ll follow the opposite line of thinking.

Daylight Savings Time is something of an odd concept. I understand the desire to shift  daylight from the beginning of the day to the end; but why keep going back and forth? It doesn’t make much sense to me that we willingly throw everyone and everything off schedule twice a year, risking higher numbers of heart attacks and traffic accidents, just to have our daylight in the right place. Why don’t we just decide once and for all, and leave the time alone?

We live in a world in which people disagree on so much. We disagree on religion, how to govern, how to distribute wealth, how to insure the populace, how to educate our children, climate change and other science. Heck, we can’t even agree on who should use which bathroom.

Common wisdom tells us to look for what unifies us instead of dwelling on what divides us.

Time just may be the one thing we all agree on. After allowing for geography and time zones, nearly every member of the human race knows what time it is.

It’s five o’clock somewhere.

big ben 5 o'clock


Just Thinkin’ About Calendars

Shopping for a new calendar has become something of an annual ritual for me. I spend hours paging through the many options, searching for the perfect one. I am often tempted to buy several, but finally settle on those with the right size spaces and the best pictures.

When I was teaching, that meant a weekly planner for my home desk, a monthly version for the bathroom wall, a small one for my purse, and a lesson planner for my school desk. Since retiring, I have simplified my life. I now keep two monthly calendars, one in the bathroom and one on the desk. My system seems to work, for now at least.

As I hang my brand new 2017 calendar adorned with cute puppies, I look at the fresh pages with anticipation. No commitments, no mistakes, no bad days; only possibilities.

Of course, a few commitments have already been made. 2017 will see a couple of weddings, Monday bowling, Saturday  morning coffee with friends, and Wednesday afternoons at the elementary school reading with second graders.

What will I write on the rest of the squares? There is something inviting, perhaps even exciting, about those blank spaces. I hope to write something positive in each; and while I’ve lived long enough to know there will be some days when I wish for do-overs, I will strive for the positive.

I wish you 365 fresh new calendar spaces on which to write your positives for 2017.

Happy New Year.


Just Thinkin’ about Cinderella

The little girls in my extended family (ages almost two and almost 3) are getting princess dress-up outfits for Christmas this year. Before heading to the sewing room, I hesitated. Would I be contributing to the perpetuation of a myth that needs to go away?

Far too many little girls grow up believing in the myth that the handsome prince
will one day whisk them away to a happily ever after where he will provide for and protect her. Continue reading “Just Thinkin’ about Cinderella”

Just Thinkin’ About Getting Started

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”                                                                                                          Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist philosopher, 600-531 B.C

For the past few weeks I have felt shock, sadness and despair as I’ve watched and listened to news of the world around me. This time of year the news always seems darker than usual; but this year, for many reasons, it’s downright sad and scary.

The other evening as I listened to yet another discouraging news report, I felt utterly helpless. What can I, a retired school teacher, do to help fix what’s wrong? At that moment, I heard a small, quiet voice. “Write, Donna. Start the blog. Just do it.”

The next day I opened the next book from the ever-growing stack of books I plan to read. The title? If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. As the title suggests, the author takes an in-depth, thoughtful look at Matthew 14:25-33, in which Jesus walks on water and commands Peter to get out of the boat and come to Him. It’s a story about taking a step of faith.

With the turning of each page, the voice I had heard the evening before became louder and more insistent. “Start the blog, Donna. Do it now.”

It became clear to me that now is the time to begin the blog I had been considering for quite some time. Now. No more procrastinating. I need to get out of the boat and take a step of faith.

So here I am, at the beginning of a new adventure. While I don’t pretend to believe you will agree with everything I say, I hope a few words here and there will resonate with you. Perhaps you will be moved to read a book or two; to think about new ideas; to try something new; to start an important conversation in your community. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll be encouraged to get out of the boat and set off on your own adventure.

See you along the journey!