• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

Collecting: A good hobby?

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 7.45.11 AM‘Surely, collecting is a good hobby.’ With those words I ended a column two weeks ago that was inspired by the current Collecting Cookeville exhibit at the Cookeville History Museum. Friends have told me their adult children don’t appreciate their collections. One daughter refused her mother’s offer of a few of her Hummel figurines. “Mom,” the daughter said, “you like those more that I do. You keep them.” This mother knows a time will come when her only child will donate her treasured collection to a non-profit organization or sell them to add dollars to her son’s college education fund.

I know no one else in my family is particularly fond of clowns. I really like my twenty or so clowns arranged in small groups, which sit among the books on our living room bookshelves. Clowns with notes on the bottom telling who gave them to me and when. A clown depicting an adult reading a book to a child. One holding brightly colored birthday balloons. A clay clown, with a broken foot, that Daughter made.

According to psychologists, we humans are unique in the way we collect items just for the satisfaction of seeking and owning. We’ve done it for thousands of years, since earliest man gave up nomadic life and settled in one place.

Somehow I feel compelled to defend the importance of collecting and I found a blog that gives 8 reasons why collecting things you love is good for your brain. Now who can argue with anything that is good for our brains?

Collecting builds observation skills and organizational skills. We collectors search for details to make choices and look for common characteristics. Collections call for sorting into categories and that can transfer into other tasks, i.e. presenting school assignments and work projects.

Collecting builds knowledge and may lead to a career. A bird collection could inspire the study of habitats, the many species, and the distinct differences among birds. It’s possible a child could become an ornithologist because her mother collected wooden bird carvings. And think about children who collect rocks and are budding geologists. Charles Darwin collected beetles when he was a child and developed a curiosity for all living things. We know him best for his theory of evolution through natural selection presented in 1859.

Collections inspire creativity. Artists often collect things that influence their work. And social connections are made through collections. At model train shows and swaps, people from all walks of life and all ages meet to exhibit and trade train cars. And there are worldwide clubs for philatelists, people who collect postage stamps.

I knew it. Collecting is a good hobby. But I know collections are often valued only by the owner. I don’t expect my children to ever want all my clowns on their bookshelves, but someday they may want one or two. Ones with their names and “Happy Birthday, Mom” on the bottom. Just as a keepsake of something that made me smile and was good for my brain.

####

Advertisements

Lost Again?

Ruth, Lou, and David fastened seatbelts and settled in my van one afternoon recently. I said, “While you’re at mine and Pop’s house, please tell me if you see my red glasses.”

“Your what?” said David, age 12.

“My glasses. The ones with red frames.”

“You lost them again, Gran?” asked 10-year-old Lou.

“Not lost. Misplaced.”

“The same ones that Elaine (these Grands’ youngest sister) found in the grass in your yard?” asked Ruth, age 8.

“Yes, and someone found them in the creek one time. Was that you, Ruth?” I said.

“Yes, I think I did! On the bottom,” said Ruth.

“Wait,” said David, “you lost them in the grass and the creek? Why don’t you just wear them all the time like Mom does?”

I explained that I need glasses only to see something close. Not to see at a distance. “Don’t you have other glasses?” asked David.

Yes, I have two pairs I bought at the Dollar Store. “So, can’t you just wear them?” I explained that my red-framed glasses are prescription and made with better glass and I can see best with them and I rattled on about how frustrating it is to misplace them.

My Grands didn’t say a word. It was a case of information overload and it wasn’t my Grands’ problem. I wanted responses. “So, will you please look around for my glasses? I really need them,” I said.

Ruth looked out the van window, seemingly lost in thought. “Gran, I have an idea.” She paused. “Think real hard. Where was the last place you remember having them?” Spoken with inflection of someone who has heard this question many times.

So, later that day after my Grands left, I backtracked my morning steps. Upstairs in the green room where I typed on my laptop computer. In the bathroom. On the kitchen desk. The kitchen table. In the dirty clothesbasket in the laundry room. I pulled out every stinking piece of dirty clothes because I was pretty sure I had pushed my glasses to the top of my head before I put dirty clothes in the washer and took clean ones out of the dryer.

At suppertime, I shared my dilemma with Husband and how David thought I should wear another pair and Ruth’s insightful question. Husband smiled. That smile that meant ‘We’ve been here before.’ “Where have you looked?” he asked. I explained and named every piece of dirty clothes I touched.

After supper, Husband nonchalantly walked from the laundry room and laid my red glasses on the kitchen counter. “What?” I said, “I looked in there! Went through all our stinky clothes. Looked on the floor.”

“Did you look in the trash can?” he asked.

My Grands will laugh when I tell them about Pop’s discovery. And, someday I’m going to write a story from my glasses’s point of view. They’ll scream, “Don’t put me on top of your head. I don’t like falling in grass and creeks and trash cans!”

####

Do I Have to?

If parents had a nickel for every time one of our children have said, “Do I have to?” we would be rich. Or at least, have put enough aside to begin retirement.

Parents say, “Eat your green beans.” “Brush your teeth.” “It’s time to go to bed.” “We’ll get up early tomorrow.” Can you hear a chorus of children responding, “Do I have to?” Those four words must be embedded at birth. We teach children to say please and thank you and may I and I’m sorry. Yet, every child, I’ve ever known, from my own to the hundreds that where my students to my Grands have said, “Do I have to?” With the same exact whiny inflection.

And we have identical answers. “Yes, you have to.” After we’ve worn out those words, we switch to nodding our heads and raising our eyebrows. And then comes the stare. The cold still stare that screams, “Yes and now!”

But it’s not just children who seemingly rebel about doing something. So many times we adults utter those same words. I have to go to the grocery store.   (Oh, for a nickel every time I’ve said this!) I have to do laundry. I have to pay bills. I have to get my car serviced. I have to pick up the Grands after their dance classes. I have to. I have to. I have to.

I’m guilty. When I’ve said what I plan to do, I’ve used the word have. But now I’m trying out something different. I read a Guidepost devotional that suggested replacing have with get. “Change one word and you change your attitude,” the Guidepost writer suggested and she elaborated. “Instead of saying ‘I have to do the laundry,’ try ‘I get to do the laundry because I have clothes.’ ”

So I’m trying. Replace have with get.

I get to go to the grocery story because I can choose what I eat.

I get to pay bills because my house has electricity and cable service and I have the money to pay.

I get to have my car serviced because I own a car.

I get to pick up the Grands from classes because I have grandchildren and I want to be with them.

I shared this idea with Husband. He grinned and nodded, and then surprised me the next day when he held our checkbook and his car keys in hand and said, “I get to go to the bank and then to the post office to mail a package.” I laughed and admitted that I wasn’t sure he’d heard me the day before.

Saying that I’m allowed, that I’m not obliged to do something, does make a difference in attitude. I like changing the negative have to the positive get.

Now I wonder if my young Grands will accept this change. I’m going to suggest they say get, instead of have, and I predict their answers in unison. “Do I have to?” But they, too, may surprise me.

####

Rainy Days

Rain gets a bad rap. How many times have you heard complaints about a rainy day? I do love sunshine, but I also love rainy days. And even better a thunderstorm, not a damaging storm, just rolling thunder and gentle rain.

As I write this, the morning sky is gray and water puddles stand in the driveway. Thunder woke me at 5:45 a.m. and then I heard the rain. I opened the shutters and raised a window and sat close as I drank my first cup of coffee. A perfect way to begin the day. I wouldn’t like rain every day, I’m not in favor of moving to Oregon where rain falls 164 days yearly, but I surely like a good rainy day.

And I’m not the only one. Three-year-old Jess said, “Yay, rain puddles. Stomp!” Have you ever seen a little kid walk around a puddle? Jess stops at a puddle’s edge and jumps right in the middle with both feet or stomps with one foot, then the other.

Elaine, age 6, likes rainy days to play in mud and be messy. She slathers her body with mud. Elaine doesn’t need spa treatments to reap the benefits of mud baths. Mud baths are advertised to soften skin, detox the body, improve circulation, and relieve stress. If these claims are true, my Grand should be calm and healthy.

“Mom won’t make us go outside to play,” said Lou, age 10. This Grand is happiest holding a book in her hands. “We get to watch TV more on rainy days,” said, Ruth. But when outside, both these girls are right beside their younger siblings stomping puddles and playing in mud.

My Grands take me back. As a kid, I patted dozens of mud pies and meatballs. I liked the feel of sloppy wet dirt squishing through my fingers. But one of the few times I remember Mom really being angry with me was a rainy day. I was about eight when she let me use her red umbrella to walk in the rain for fun. I played in our front yard, running barefoot through standing water, and then decided the umbrella would make a good boat. Mom wasn’t happy that her good umbrella was upside down, soaking wet, and the underneath side plastered with wet leaves. Leaves that stained.

I admit I’ve chanted, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” When I taught a class of 28 sixth-grade students, I hated rainy days that prevented outside recess and walking around the school building after lunch in the cafeteria to take the long way back to our classroom. And when Daughter and Son-in-law’s wedding reception was planned for our backyard, I cussed the four days of non-stop rain.

I planned to write a happy, enjoy-the-rain ending for this column. But I can’t. I went grocery shopping at 4:15 p.m. and walked in drizzling rain and darkness hit and my hair frizzed and I was cold and damp. No wonder rain gets a bad rap.

####

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxim for Life

WHERE WE ARE

I chose the title of this column when my aunt said to me, “It’s okay. It’s where we are in life.” That was 2009.

One of my first columns told about a phone conversation with Aunt Doris, who was 83 at the time and has since passed away. When I asked what she and Uncle Hugh had done during that week, she said they’d attended two funerals. One for a close friend. I was upset that they had lost a good friend and their week was spent at the funeral home and church.

Aunt Doris said, “It’s okay. It’s where we are in life.”   With those words, she assured me that she had accepted her life stage. Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh were familiar with the rituals of death. Each morning and at noontime, they listened to the radio for the local news and obituaries, and Aunt Doris called her church or a friend if she needed more information about a death.

By that afternoon, she had fried apple pies or a homemade chocolate pie ready to take to the family of the deceased. She and Uncle Hugh attended visitation or the funeral and sometimes both. They gave their time and hearts to comfort those who were mourning.

In a 2009 column, I wrote that I’d adopted Aunt Doris’s words as a maxim for life. No matter what my age or situation, it’s where I was and being okay was my goal. And now, that Husband and I are losing friends to death and many of our conversations are about sickness, I preach Aunt Doris’s words to myself.

Recent deaths hit hard. Our next-door neighbor of 34 years and another friend with whom we’ve celebrated good times since 1977. Some friends care for invalid parents. Others suffer debilitating illnesses. Friends endure chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Wheelchairs and walkers are common in homes. I’m not accepting any of this easily.

It’s comforting to remember the past. Sleeping twice for two hours during the night and hoping for a nap when a baby naps. Giving baby showers and wedding parties. Sewing Halloween costumes and Easter dresses. Chauffeuring children to sports practices, piano lessons, church choir. Monitoring homework.

Travelling long distances to watch Daughter play volleyball and Son play basketball. Welcoming twelve teen-age girls to Friday night slumber parties. Cooking hamburgers for Son and his friends. Hosting a 50th wedding anniversary dinner for parents.

Celebrating engagements and weddings. Cuddling newborn grandchildren. Comforting a Grand during his first overnight stay, his first time to sleep away from home and his parents. And now, setting the family table for six adults and eight Grands for Christmas morning breakfast.

Aunt Doris was right. It’s where we are in life that determines what we do. And she showed me that accepting a life stage and its activities, its blessings, and its trials make life okay.

I don’t have to like losing friends and sickness. Just accept. I’ll keep talking to myself.

####

Life in 2017

Husband needed the schedule, I thought. I hit the word FORWARD at the top of an email, entered Husband’s email address, and clicked SEND. Then I walked downstairs from an upstairs room in our house where I work on my computer to where Husband sat in front of his laptop. “I forwarded an email to you,” I said.

“What’s it about?” Husband asked.

“Where and when talks will be given at the Chattanooga aquarium when we go this week. I made notes to take with us.” Holding a post-it-note in my hand, I laughed at myself. How silly to forward an email when Husband was only thirty steps away and I could have told him the information I wanted to share or just shown him the note I held.

Sending this email reminded me of a list I read that began with these words: you know you are living in 2017 when. It included you send an e-mail to the person whose desk is right next to you. I read that, shook my head, and thought surely not. But surely, I did the same.

As I reread the list recently, I wondered if someone had been watching me.

You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach a family of three. I have at least two phone numbers, home and mobile, for everyone and work numbers for some. Remember when the only number was a home phone?

You drive into your driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help carry in the groceries. Even worse, I called as I left the grocery store in hopes that Husband would be standing on the front steps waiting for me.

Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn’t even own for the first 20 or 30 years of your life, is cause for panic and you go home to get it. Guilty. I drove a mile away from home, thought of something I meant to tell Husband, reached in my purse to send a text, and when my cell phone wasn’t there, I drove home. I got my phone, forget to tell Husband whatever was important, and drove back across town.

You enter your checking account PIN number on the microwave. That Personal Identification Number that I worked hard to memorize. I didn’t enter it on the microwave, but I did once use it as the last four digits of my Social Security number.

I could add a few things to the list.

You hit fast-forward on the television remote control to avoid watching commercials while watching a live program.

You push OPEN on your car fob to unlock the door at your house.

You hand a credit card to the librarian to check out a book at the public library, and your library card is not even the same color as your credit card.

Living in 2017. Technology. Emails. Cell phones. Remote controls. Credit cards. PIN.

Makes me wonder what life twenty years later will be like.

####

 

Band-Aids for Adults

“There should be adult Band-Aids with pictures of things we like,” I told Husband as I covered a bloody spot on the top of his head.

“Yeah,” Husband said, “I’d get some with a picture of B. B. King.”

“I’d choose butterflies or trees,” I said.

Husband’s baldhead attracts tree limbs, the tailgate of my van, and so many other things that scrap his head. My skin isn’t as tough as it was so I often reach for a bandage for my arms. We have an assortment of adhesive bandages: sheer, waterproof, cloth, plastic. And choices for the Grands: Sesame Street and Animal Kingdom. (Sometimes I wear a monkey or tiger and my young Grands think it’s cool.) But we don’t have any adult design bandages.

Think of the possibilities. Seasonal: Christmas, snowflakes, Valentine hearts, Easter eggs, 4th or July, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Hobbies: golf clubs, deck of cards, blooming flowers, knitting needles. Wear your profession: dollar bills for bankers, books for librarians, computers for programmers. Show support for a sports team: purple and gold for TTU, orange for UT.

How about Band-Aids with initials? I’d like a red capital S in Old English script. There are names available on everything from placemats to key rings, why not on bandages?

Thinking of these ideas made me wonder who invented adhesive bandages and when were the ones with designs for kids made. Mom put plain flesh colored strips on me; I put Big Bird on my children.

Earle Dickson, who was a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson, invented the Band-Aid in 1921 for his wife because she often cut her fingers while preparing food. The small piece of gauze she held in place with adhesive tape to cover a cut fell off easily. So Dickson attached gauze to the center of a piece of tape and covered it with crinoline to keep it sterile. When his boss saw the invention, the company began producing Band-Aids for the public and Dickson was promoted to vice-president.

Sales were slow until the 1950s. Then Johnson & Johnson donated Band-Aids to Boy Scout troops and overseas military personnel as publicity stunts and in 1951 the first decorative bandages with Mickey Mouse were manufactured to appeal to children.

The structural design has changed little in almost 100 years and adhesive bandages are now available in sizes from thumbnail to big patches. A child can choose a character from kids’ movies and television shows. But what about designs for adults?

I haven’t found any at the corner market, but there are some interesting bandages online. Husband might like bright red lips or a green pickle-shaped bandage on the top of his head. I’d choose safari designs as bracelets. And for a night walk, we can both wear neon orange.

These choices are a long way from Husband’s request. However, custom designs are available, a minimum of 5000 for $1300. Maybe I’ll glue a picture of B. B. on a Band-Aid and Husband will have an original personalize bandage.

####