It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gravel Roads

One night last week I was half way listening to the local evening news and thought I heard something about building gravel roads in several counties in South Texas.  What?  I thought.  That can't be right.  Why on earth in this modern day would we return to gravel roads?  So I checked on the internet for the news article.  Yes, I did hear right; in several counties TXDOT wants to convert the asphalt roads into gravel roads.  Sounds backwards, but the reason is that they are the counties that are having heavy truck traffic traveling to and from rural oil and gas drilling sites and the asphalt roads can't support the traffic.  TXDOT plans to convert about 83 miles in the next few months, provided they get approval from county commissioners.

As I read the article I had a flash back in time, to the time when roads in the country were not paved, they were gravel.   Now, I've driven down a few gravel/caliche roads in Texas (and was admonished to stay in the ruts by the man in the passenger seat).  But when I think of gravel roads I see the ones of my childhood;  rural roads with tiny red gravel that are flanked by banks of that red Mississippi dirt that I love so much.

Visits to either set of grandparents were always accompanied by drives in the country.  Sometimes we went to see relatives, sometimes it was a visit to a cemetery (we do that kind of thing in the South) or to just drive by the "old home place".  But a lot of the time when we visited my paternal grandparents we were also going out to do some target shooting.  Yes, we used real guns and live ammo and the children were allowed to shoot the little .22 pistol with adult supervision.

There were usually too many of us to all fit in one car, so we would load into two cars for our drive.  For some reason neither set of grandparents ever had an air-conditioned car.  So that meant two cars with windows rolled down, or at least part of the way down, driving down a dusty gravel road.  The first car had to drive slowly or it would kick up too much dust.  The second car had to travel a good distance behind to avoid a car full of dust; however, it always seemed that the second car had to roll up the windows and still endure travelling through the dust cloud of the lead car.  I think that it was usually quietly worked out to put my mother in the first car to keep from having to listen to her fussing about the dust!

Those were good times, just out for a drive, a visit, or a little gun shooting.  I always enjoyed the sound of the tires on the gravel and the fresh, country wind blowing in my face as we travelled down the country roads.  The memories of those times are priceless to me now.  Although I honestly prefer driving on a paved road with the air-conditioning blowing I think the next time I'm in Mississippi I will roll down the windows while driving down a little country road and pretend that it is gravel.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 passing

Where does time go, we ask.  It is already pushing close to the end of July.  I realized this when a few nights ago the local sportscaster on the station I watch was reporting, live, from the Cowboys training camp.  Yikes,  just a few more weeks and it is time for pre-season!

The temperature on this thermometer doesn't look too bad.  It is showing 90 degrees, but it is in the shade on the back of my house.  The actual air temperature at that time was hovering between 99 and 100 with a heat index of 102.  It is July after all.  But there is good news:  there is already a tropical storm off the coast of Africa.  I'm checking the National Hurricane Center every 4 hours for updates, just in case it decides to hold together and enter the Gulf of Mexico.

I remember when my children were small that every summer when school was out I would count the weeks until school started, always thinking that we would have so much time to enjoy summer activities.  But the weeks would fly by so fast, June, July and then back to school.  The summers never seemed long enough.  I always hated having to work in the summer and send the kids to the YMCA camp at their school, but looking back I know that they probably had much more fun at the camp than they would have had if I had been able to stay home.  Still, the summers were too short then and they still are, so it seems to me.

My goal for July was to completely re-organize my sewing room, not to mention to clean it up.  My plan is to be able to actually go in there and sew.  I started off good, even before July started.  I sorted through fabric, patterns, quilt kits, finished and unfinished projects.  I bought plastic storage containers, took magazines to the library's exchange box, threw away plastic bags (why was I saving those?  I have no idea), stacked up things to read, and actually vacuumed the room.  I also pulled out boxes and boxes of paper pictures and albums that need to be worked on.  Got all the knitting yarns together and organized some Christmas projects.  Good progress I thought. 

But then just before the July 4th holiday I got a sore throat, then I started running fever and feeling lousy.  When I lost my voice completely I decided that it was in my best interest to see a doctor.  Diagnosis:  upper respiratory infection.  Armed with a small arsenal of pharmaceutical items I took on the infection.  I stayed home sick from work for two days, but kept dragging my self around in a medicated stupor.  The meds did kick in and I started to improve somewhat, but I was still in somewhat of a daze a week later and still no voice.  I also discovered what I had suspected, that I can not take any med that has the letter "D" after it.  That threw me for a loop.  No work on the sewing room project.

Then I passed several July days working as a ring steward at two dog shows.  The first was three days at a local show.  Then last week I headed to Houston to a very large show, working another three days there.  I had a great time and wouldn't have missed it for the world, voice or no voice.  Still, no work on the sewing room project.

And what else have I done this month to pass the time?  I finished one class and started another one all in the same week.  Check those classes off, I'm almost done.  But no more work on the sewing room project and still not much voice.  July is almost over.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer rain

After several days of 100 degree afternoons and watching my yard slowly burn up, the rain has come to town!  I can't think of any greater blessing than a summer rain, just when we need it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thinking creatively

After my last post on the creative play of the neighborhood children and the comment on the post (thanks S.!) I've found myself thinking about the concept of developing creativity.  In the early times of writing this blog I did a post on Creativity.  I re-read that post and I have to say that three years later I still agree with myself.  Creativity is within each of us, and we each need to have some way for creativity to flow through us.

I had never thought about the fact that most children's toys do not teach creativity.  Oh yes, many are labeled as educational because they teach ABCs or numbers or shapes.  But all the child does is push a button or some action.  They really don't coach a child to think outside the box.  Our schools don't emphasize thinking creatively, either.  They really can't as they are "teaching the test" and/ or faced with budget restraints that prevent extra activities. But what about at home?  Where's that pile of junk to build a playhouse and old clothes for dressing up?

Both of my grandson's love to play Legos; the four year old is just getting into them, but the nine year old is a serious aficionado.  He has boxes and boxes of sets as well as a huge bin of Legos given to him years ago as a hand-me-down.  While he does follow instructions included with the sets, he will occasionally strike out on his own and copy something from the Lego magazine he receives.  I remember spending hours building with Tinkertoys and other friends having Lincoln Logs. I also remember spending several hot summer afternoons with my great aunt on her side porch, cutting out pictures from the Sears Roebuck (or was it Montgomery Ward?) catalog to past inside a box that was my "playhouse".  Proof right there that children like being able to think creatively.

In taking college courses, I've heard instructors bemoaning their day students who are younger.  Some of the comments are: 

1) they have no common knowledge,
2) they can't think,
3) they don't want to make decisions when working on group projects because they've always had someone tell them what to do,
4) they argue about having to do assignments/they don't do assignments

What a sad comment on the more recent products of our school system.  The whole problem is that they can't think and don't want to think.  They have no creative thought process.  What will they be like when they get into the work force?  Or will they get there?  I think I need to go think about that for a while.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Here's proof

I submit this photo as proof, once again, that children do NOT need expensive toys to entertain themselves.  This was the view from my front door this afternoon.  This fort, made of beach towels, umbrellas, chairs and scrap wood, entertained the neighborhood kids for quite some time.

Ah, to be a child on a hot summer afternoon with creativity for your playmate!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy July 4th!

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home
God bless America, My home sweet home
God Bless America was composed by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised in 1938; Kate Smith is usually associated with this song as it was her signature song.  There are any number of her recordings, but I wanted to share this one.  Please enjoy and this 4th remember to be very thankful for our freedom and our great nation, under God!