Thursday, March 22, 2012

ReadUp:The Three R's

You know that kid in class who is always kissing up to the teacher, doing extra work, and basically making everyone else ill with their transparent sycophancy? Yeah? Well that is me, cuz today I am posting 3 R's. That's right it and weep! Three 'R' words for Mrs. Matlock's AlphabeThursday.
Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. Yes, I know.

I love to read. I haven't always. My mother is a big reader. My dad says the only book he ever read all the way through was Hot Rod, and that was a magazine. I dabbled as a kid. I wanted to love reading. It seemed the sophisticated, cultured thing to do. You know, "I'm a reader?" "Hmmm. Yes, Read any good books lately?" Pretty sure their was a pipe clenched between my teeth there. But the fact was, that I was a tree climbing, fence climbing, dirt clod throwing, wholly unsophisticated tom-boy. But I learned to love reading. The first novel that caught (and Kept) my attention as a kid was Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Such a great read. It was the first time that I really fell into a story and became part of it. The first turning point in my reading career. Through jr high and high school, I read mostly what was assigned. I enjoyed some, hated others. Sometime in my early twenties I decided to read a few kids books that I had missed out on, and I picked up LM Montgomery and Anne came into my life. That sweet, spunky read-headed imp set me on the path of reading. Thank you Lucy Maude and Anne.

I may have got a slow start in my love of reading, but I have always loved to wRite. I wrote little poems and stories for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I shared those sometimes, and my little sister set a very early poem to memory. I am pretty sure she is saving it to blackmail me with someday. I wrote a poem once for a college boyfriend. He read it silently and then looked at me and told me that I spelled "follow" wrong. Hmm. I wonder what ever happened to him? Oh yeah! I don't care!! The problem with writing and not reading is that it is impossible. You can't have one without the other. If you want to write. Read like there is no tomorrow. Don't just read books about writing (although some of those can be useful tools) but read good literature. I said Good literature. Join book clubs, discuss literature with friends and family. Hop on Goodreads. Get a library card! Let's get out there and read us some books so we can see and smell and hear the ins and outs of good writing. Notice what made it good. Dissect what made it work or what didn't. Read, then write.

I am not particularly good at mathematics in general, although I did kick some booty in high school geometry, but my arithmetic is better than this girl...
Let's not laugh at her. Let's not mock or sneer. But rather, gather our children around our knees this evening and explain to them the facts of life so that they don't wind up on YouTube someday.

Thank You Mrs. Matlock for being my favorite teacher. I think you are super duper and the best teacher out of all of the best teachers I have ever had. Some of the kids only put one R in their post, but I thought maybe you would like the three R's that I did. Me NatureGirl. With the three R's.

Monday, March 19, 2012

FessUp: Memoirs Of A One-Quarter Martian

This is exactly how I remember him
I was a little afraid of my grandfather. He died when I was 22 and pregnant with my first child. He was the first of my grandparents to go. I wanted to be sad and sorry. I felt like I should be sad. Everyone is sad when someone they love dies, but I just was aware of the information. I told my mother that I was sorry for her loss. She thanked me.

We called him Papa. My memories of him are fond, but there was something in his persona that said, "keep your distance." There was no lack of affection, no shortage of piggy-backed "horsey rides" or bounces on the knee. He was strong. Not what anyone would describe as tall, but wide, and strong. I thought he was handsome. He was. He looked like Johnny Cash.

From the time that my siblings and cousins and I each hit the age of 4 or 5, we all knew that Papa was born on Mars, and many a school-yard brawl was incited by our need to defend our grandfather's unusual heritage. I personally nearly lost a high-school boyfriend over it.  Ed, as he was called before he became a Papa, was purchased in the local hardware store in Colorado Springs, found hanging unceremoniously between the hammers and the nails. No mention was ever made of how he was transported to this planet. Once you pictured the little round, fat thing with a thick mop of curly black hair atop his head, dangling naked from a hook, placed who-knows where, how he got there was but a tiny fleeting thought. The only solid evidence of his foreign birth and lineage was his lack of a legal birth certificate. That was good enough for us. There was no question. We cousins were all one-quarter Martian. That is seriously cool information to a ten year old.

Earth's gravity had not nearly the effect on him as on us three-quaterers. So little even, that he was able to stand on his head at any given moment when called upon to perform by one of his grandchildren. Plus, he knew how to fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle so large that his feet did not touch the ground when he sat astride. Unfortunately, the three fingers he lost while building us a playhouse never grew back, despite our fervent belief that they would. Some things about earth life are just too hard to overcome.

For as long as I can remember, there was never a "Wait 'til your father gets home." threat uttered in my house. It was, "If you don't straighten up, when you turn 14 I am sending you to live with Papa!"  I remembered vividly the only time my grandfather had ever reprimanded me. I had made the mistake of sassing my mother in front of him, and enduring that look for any length of time would have been unbearable, so believe me when I say, that when he showed up at our house on my fourteenth birthday, I was not too big to hide under a bed and sob like a baby. I didn't really shape up until my late 30's, but my mother took pity on me and never made good on the threat. She probably should have.

He had a hearty laugh, a quick wit and always sang so many verses of "Happy Birthday" at every family party that we had to keep the ice cream in the freezer until he was done. We called him Papa and he was strong and handsome and looked like Johnny Cash. I was afraid of my grandfather, but I wish I had not been.

Friday, March 16, 2012

LinkUp: Lost Home

Thanks to Trifecta, I know exactly how hard it is to condense a thought into just 33 words. Hard, I tell you, very hard! But thanks for the challenge guys!

"A year since the divorce.  Living in a small apartment without Daddy.  Once called the “red apartments” disdainfully. Shabby outside, even shabbier inside. Nothing like the new two-story where they were a family."

Quote of the Day: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
--Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Queue UP!

Today boys and girls, the letter is Q. As in Question. Why sure, I can use that in a sentence. "Q is for Question." As in,  I have some. About blogging. You would think that after being at this for 4 years, that I would actually know what I am doing? Not even close.

I got kinda tired of looking at the old thing (meaning the blog), so I changed the template around recently. I used one of the prefabbed doodahs in the template designer under "dynamic views." Ooh La La. I liked the little slidey down thingy on the side that listed a bunch of past posts by title, and I liked the little tweet option at the bottom even though I have never once twittered or tweeted anything. But I found that format a bit hard to read for some reason. Maybe because I refuse to wear my reading glasses. I don't know. It also does not have the little "sign in" thingamajig at the top right like most of the templates do. That bugged me, because getting to my dashboard was a bit of a pain, and how else am I supposed to read all of you lovelies!? I am pretty sure that some fancy google reader business I hear about is how, but c'mon, we all know I am not changing at this point. Also I noticed in the dynamic views that I picked up a lot of traffic for some reason, but no comments. I tried leaving a comment myself and it was just quirky and wouldn't do it sometimes. Blech. I don't get tons of comments, but if someone tries and is not able to, well that is just unacceptable in my book! Am I doing something wrong?

Needless to say, I went back to "simple" which, I know, is probably where I should have stayed in the first place, but changed the background and colors so I can hold my attention span longer. So my questions are not very specific, but for any of you who are blog savvy what is the best template in your opinion? Do you go only by looks or do you care about features and function? I notice a lot of people with the comment protection on so that we have to enter the crazy words, and a lot of people without it. Do you find you get a great deal of comment spam without the protection on or not?

Mrs. Matlcok, I know this is a copout of a post, but I really did have some questions! Happy blogging everyone and thanks for stopping by to celebrate AlphabeThursday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GrowingUp: Clunk

You know how a song, or a smell or a sound can bring us instantly into another time and place? Not just remembering it, but really feeling it. Being there again? There are deep emotions tied to such little things. I recently read a little bit of a book that mentioned this. Specifically the slam of our childhood home's screen door. How that sound can take us back instantly to our childhood. The problem? I lived in about 12 different homes by the time I was 18, and not one of them had to my recollection, a screen door. My house now does. Two of them. And the sound of the closing of the back door is unmistakable. This narrative is about that sound, and thinking of the sound brought tears to my eyes and a tightness to my chest.

When the back screen door is released usually by tiny hands running from the kitchen to the backyard, there is first the noticeable squeak of metal on metal followed by the click of the lock striking the metal plate on the jamb, followed by the final "chunk" as the door handle jumps back into place and the door hits the frame. The only background noise is the quiet squealing hiss of the hydraulic hinges.

The sound is really the sound of my children growing up. Old enough now to freely let themselves in and out of the yard to play. A job that was once mine alone. It is the sound of the relationships they are forming with each other. Relationships that will carry them into adulthood and old age, long after I am gone. It is the sound of the contentment of a mother's heart; of soft summer days; of open windows and lilac breezes and the shrill, fantastic screams of children at play. It is the familiar clang of the chains of a swing and of sticky skin on a plastic slide, followed by the snap of static electricity as the child reaches the bottom, gravel flying in all directions. This is the sound of my screen door closing.

What does yours sound like?

Quote of the Day: "The essence of childhood of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic."--Bill Cosby

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simplicity Habit #5 Building Spiritual Habits

This may not, at first glance, seem like a simplicity habit, but it is. I promise. It may seem like adding more to-do's to our daily lives would make us even more busy. But the busyness of adding spirituality to our daily lives most certainly makes the rest of our busyness run more smoothly. So, Simplicity Habit #5 is to build some sort of spiritual habit into our daily routine.

I am about nothing if I am not about keeping things easy, and this is no different. Spiritual moments can make their way into our day as simply as signing up for an uplifting daily email or as involved as attending worship services, but looking after our spiritual needs everyday truly does buoy us and give us the strength to carry on with all of the many other things we are called upon to do and to deal with each day. This is by no means and exhaustive list, just some thoughts.

  • Meditate
  • Read Scripture
  • Join a scripture study group
  • Attend worship services 
  • Pray
  • Sing uplifting songs
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Serve someone
  • Volunteer
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Unplug and enjoy some quiet communion
  • Take a nature walk
  • Read religious or spiritually enlightening literature
  • Record your personal testimony of beliefs
  • Pray again

I think you get the idea. Making spiritual habits a regular part of our lives helps keep us in a place of peace and allows us to surrender ourselves and our stresses to a higher power. Exercising our faith in God and allowing him to restore us on a daily basis can truly simplify our lives in a very meaningful way; every day, celebrating our spiritual selves and seeking God more.

Quote of the Day: "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves."--Dalai Lama

Monday, March 12, 2012

SpeakUp: Getting The Daylights Knocked Out Of You

I have yet to meet anyone who thinks it is a good idea. No one. Really. So then I ask, why? Why do we continue, year after year, to subject ourselves to this torture?

The dreadful and abundantly appendaged, yet somehow lovable, Count Rugen laid it out for us, "As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that's all this is except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest."

Ok, as usual, perhaps I am riding the threshold of hyperbole, but Daylight Savings does suck an entire HOUR of our lives away, although it sometimes feels like a year! And I know that I have discussed ok, fine, ranted about this before, but until something is done about it kids, I will continue. I think if we can just ban together and let our voices be heard, we can overcome this semi-anual scourging of all that is good and decent in the world. We shall overcome! 

Seriously, I woke up Saturday to a room filled with glorious sunshine and NatureGirl rose happy and carefree. Today? Dark. Black. It fouls me up. Messes bad with my clearly delicate circadian rhythm. (circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes of living entities on Earth, including plantsanimalsfungi and cyanobacteria. I have no idea what cyanobacteria are and I do not think I am a fungus, so it must be my natural animal instincts kicking in.)

I think I was supposed to be born before the advent of electric light (either that or my wolf parents gave me up to be raised by humans).  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the convenience, but I have found that I seem to operate better when my routine and schedule are dictated by natural forces rather than artificial. My mother used to tell me that I was a kid who hated schedules, but I think I just prefer the forces of nature over the forces of you know...moms and teachers and bosses. I like to rise with the sun and set with the sun.  I admit that poses a challenge here in South East Idaho when, during the winter, the sun sets at 4:30 in the afternoon and we do not see it again until 8 the next morning.  But I am willing to sleep for 15 hours if that's what it takes!  

It just seems like we as humans often try to control nature instead of allowing our lives to ebb and flow naturally around nature.  We ship food thousands of miles so we can eat it out of season.  We change the clock twice a year so that the hours of Sunlight better fit into our schedules.  We keep electric lights on well into what should be sleeping hours so that we can be "more productive" only to find that we are stressed out, worn out and out of balance. I say enough is enough! Stop the madness! Who's with me? And Who's Daylights are we trying to save anyway!? Thanks for listening.

Quote of the Day: "I rant, therefore I am."-- Dennis Miller

Monday, March 5, 2012

Da Doo Re Run Run Yet Again

I was a looking through the stats today and lo and behold found something that I did not expect. I was wondering about the post with the most hits. Turns out it is one of my favorites, but only because I got to use such a funny word. And plus also, I love making up stupid titles, and this was a greaty. So without further ado (which you know I am so fond of) NatureGirl proudly presents and encore presentation of Pardon My Flosculation! (Seriously, spell check doesn't even recognize it.)

I really like words.  Seriously, I use them all the time!  Reading, writing, quotidian colloquy. But I have recently heard some disturbing news.  I mean, I guess deep down inside I always knew, but until my worst fears were confirmed by an outside source, I held out hope that it wasn't true. There are words on the brink of expiration. The threshold of existence. Near their demise.  Falling, quickly and abruptly, into obsolescence!  Words that once served a purpose and held their places proudly and alphabetically in lexicons across the world, are now being tossed aside like relics of a bygone generation.  Deemed antiquated, outdated, useless and ineffective they are being removed from dictionaries to make room for new words like woot, edamame and subprime.  I get it. Really, I do.  I understand the necessity of it.  I mean, the only reason language exists is to serve the community that uses it.  It allows us to freely exchange thoughts, feelings and ideas.  If a word no longer performs this function, it will drop out of our vernacular naturally.  It just seems so harsh, you know, to take them out of the dictionary after all they have done for us.  Toiling away year after year until suddenly, when they are no longer needed, being torn from the very pages where they waited so faithfully for some amateur philologist to find them.  And, as usual, I digress a bit. The point is that someone even more passionate about words than I, has taken up the cause. Launched a formal protest even, and issued a call to action!  For those of us so inclined, we can adopt one of these vanishing words and try to resuscitate it.  How fun is that!?  So, please help Savethewords.I narrowed my choices to thural, coquinate, fallaciloquence, flosculation and ictuate, finally choosing to assimilate flosculation into my vocabulary. As part of my pledge to do so, I publicly take the oath of adoption: "I hereby promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible, to the best of my ability." down!

Quote of the Day: "Language artfully used can make you happy to be alive."--Ben Yagoda author   (from If You Catch An Adjective, Kill It)