It’s Puzzling

I have somewhat of an addictive personality. It’s puzzling the things to which I become overly attached. I generally have a decent amount of self-discipline. I don’t allow myself to start reading fiction during the school year. Once I get involved in a book, I can’t put it down. I lose too much sleep staying up late reading and go to work too drowsy. So I save reading fiction for school breaks.

puzzle piecesI generally save jigsaw puzzles for school vacations also. I have a puzzle of Father Christmas, given to me by my dear sister (thank you, Linda) in 1994. I’ve put it together every Christmas since then. Each year I finish it a little quicker than the year before. Each year I think that I won’t put it together. But the addictive gene in me won’t let me not do it.

Recently, I realized that I had become a little addicted to the recliner in the family room. I was spending entirely too much time in it – usually with my iPad. Entire evenings would go by and I would barely move from it. Especially since the school year has begun again, I would come home from work and PLOP! My friend the recliner would wrap me up and I would become sedentary.

I decided that it was time to pull out a jigsaw puzzle and move around a little. You think that puzzling is just sitting at a different place. You would be wrong. While putting together this beach scene, I am constantly moving around that table, standing most of the time, and putting some visual problem solving skills to work. I’ve even become fairly good at walking away once the sun goes down, and resuming the puzzle the next day. new puzzle

Maybe I could practice this new disciplined approach to some of the other things that have an especially strong pull on me:

  • pasta
  • chocolate cake
  • wine on Friday nights
  • shoes
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • wine on Saturday nights
  • chocolate

I must go. The sun will soon be down and the puzzle is calling me – and it’s a long way from done!

some done

Feeling a Little Old

When school starts on Monday, I will begin my 18th year with Gwinnett County Public Schools. So – I’m feeling a little old. If you are trying to guess my age by adding 18 years to, let’s say, 22 – when most people graduate university (The University of Manitoba, in my case), you would be making a grave underestimate. I spent several years teaching in Canada before we moved to the United States, and several more at home with little ones before I re-entered my career in Georgia for the 1998-1999 school year.

Seeing the students at the Open House at one of my high schools today reminded me, once again, that I’m no spring chicken! Many of the students that I will see this year have never known a world without cell phones, without personal computers or online banking, without Playstation or X-Box, without instant messaging or Facebook; and were not even born on that terrible 11th of September when the towers came down. They’ve lived their entire lives in a world with electronic “social media”.

Just to prove that I’ve been around through a lot of changes, I can tell you that for all the times that a post has appeared on Facebook with the caption, “Share if you remember this,” there has been one time that the pictured item was unfamiliar to me. Not remembering that thing did more to make me feel younger than new hair color, a great facial and Spanx combined.

As a means of examples:

I remember when we were limited to three channels on television: CBC, CTV and an ABC affiliate out of North Dakota. I remember watching American Bandstand on Saturday Iandian headmornings and The Chiller Thriller on Saturday nights, just before midnight when alltelevision signed off. If you wanted to stay up and watch a little longer, you would stare at the Indian Chief’s head. You were better off going outside and watching the stars. Much more entertaining. When we complained that there was nothing on TV, we were serious.

I remember the telephone at the farm. It was a rectangular wooden box with a crank on the right hand side, a receiver on the left hand side and and two bells with a hammer between them on the front. That telephone was on the wall in the kitchen, and was connected by an actual physical wire to the rest of the world. Well, most closely attached to a couple of neighbors with whom we shared the line. That was called a party line. Before you made a call, you would have to politely say, “Busy?” before you could  crank the handle (that’s how we dialed), so as to not interrupt Ruth, one of our neighbors, who

Something like this

Something like this

loved to talk on the phone. We didn’t have any kind of privacy on the phone. Even after we moved into town and graduated up to TWO phones in the house (rotary dial on a private line), our conversations with our friends took place while wired into the wall. One had to be very judicious about what they said since everyone in the house could hear.

bank bookWhen I had my first savings account at a local bank, I actually had to go to the bank, with my little bit of money in my hands, turn it and a little dark covered book over to the bank teller who would record the deposit in my booklet with a pencil! Funds simply did not and could not travel through air and space way back then.

Playing a game required two or more people to sit down at a table, or spread a board and game pieces out on the floor. Most often there would be a pair of dice and a sheet of rules to follow. I think I was a teenager when the first electronic game was sold. The teens that I meet this year would think that Simon was lame.

What progress we have made! Sort of. I’m glad that my parents were able to supervise who and when I communicated with others. I’m grateful that I was required to temper what I would say because they could hear. It wasn’t so bad that we had to wait until all 12 or 24 frames on photo film were sent away to be developed before we could reminisce over a special event. We could be judicious about who saw our “pics”, see what we were doing and with whom. We only had to remember the sound of two ring tones: the telephone in the hall and the doorbell. Staying in touch with friends took effort. Privacy was easy and expected.

I’m not so sure that all the techno-stuff is healthy for our youth. I’m thankful to be able to use it. I’m also thankful that I’m an adult and have an understanding of technology’s place in my life. I’m also certain that many of the young people that I will meet this year have a much, much different relationship with their families and friends than I did. Because of their phones.

I’m glad that I’m feeling a little old because I had the chance to spend my youth interacting face to face.




Aberdeen, North Carolina

For those of you who have read The Charm, you know that Rhonda is my fellow road warrior. During the time of my intermission, Rhonda and I have taken three road trips. Last July, on the last weekend before my return to work, she and I travelled to Aberdeen, North Carolina, to see our dear friend Kim. We returned to Aberdeen in April, along with one of Kim’s dearest friends, Nikki, to surprise Kim on her birthday.

Dubsmash Trio

Dubsmash Trio

I am proud to say that on our first trip, Rhonda and I got lost only once, and that delay only cost us a few minutes. What took us the longest time was navigating through a traffic circle just a few miles from our destination. The problem was not that we had never been in a traffic circle before, I had. I just had never been so confused, confounded and amused by one before.

The first problem was that Kim’s directions said to exit the circle at the third road and our navigation device said to exit on Midland Road. While I counted the possible exits, Rhonda read the directional signs. Our two methods did not coincide and we missed both the third exit and Midland Road. That did not present a major problem since we were on a traffic circle, after all, and simply ventured round the circle again. However, since we were on a circle, we rounded back to the same place, and once again missed both the third exit and Midland Road. Our second miss was mostly on account of my becoming somewhat whopper-jawed and had lost Rhonda and Kimsight of our original entrance point, thereby making it difficult to discern which of those dog-gone roads was the third! On our next time around, we were still in the center lane when we passed by Midland Road, and by the fourth roundabout, both Rhonda and I were totally discombobulated and were not even sure that we were in North Carolina. By that time, we were laughing to the point of tears, which made navigation even more daunting. As our hilarity and vertigo set firmly in, we were somehow able to ease into the right hand lane, make one more loop and finally take our exit onto Midland Road.

We convinced ourselves at the time that the people in the other cars, both those queuing up to enter the circle, and those playing merry-go-round with us, didn’t notice that we were taking more than our fair share of turns in the center circle. Thinking back on it now, they may have been wondering what on earth we were doing.

The remainder of our weekend was in a dizzying lineup of activity. We quenched our hunger and thirst, and dove deeply into Smule and Dubsmash. We tried out hairstyles at Kim’s shop: The Cottage of Hope, where Kim serves clients being treated for breast cancer. We shopped and went sight seeing, and talked and talked and talked and talked. It was a wonderful weekend. It was a perfect way to top off my summer vacation. It was too soon over, and Rhonda and I donned our new road warrior tank tops and set off for home.

Road Warriors

Road Warriors

We twirled around the traffic circle only twice on our departure. Just because.

Well, This is Awkward

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve taken a break. Quite a long break, it seems. The last time that I posted on my blog was exactly one year ago today. As time goes by, it passes more and more quickly. Last July, I had intended to post once weekly. According to my calendar, the next post should have occurred during my first week back to work after last summer’s vacation. I suppose I was a little weary coming home from work that week. So I put it off until the next.

Tucker urging me to write a post.

Tucker urging me to write a post.

That next week, I suppose I thought I might just take a two-week break, and so another delay. Followed by another, then another. Once several weeks had gone by, writing on my blog shifted from the front of my mind toward the back. That’s not to say that I completely forgot. Not at all. Each time that I sat at my desk in my office, I felt a creepy nervousness . . . I should be writing. I was in an extended intermission.

After a month or two, thinking about posting prompted the same feeling as picking up the phone to call a friend too long neglected. Awkward. Nonetheless, making that awkward call is a necessity, and generally results in something positive. Right, Stephanie??

Tucker - waiting for me to start writing.

Tucker – waiting for me to start writing.

I guess about a year ago, I felt like I had run out of things to say. Sort of. There were many times that I felt strongly about some topic and thought, “That would make a great blog post.” The problem was always the topic. I had things to say about politics, the state of education, parenting, or religion. Those topics, however, have never been the purpose of this blog. Would I be sharing too much if I commented on such topics? Would I invite people to invade the privacy of my mind?

I make a new pledge to write every week. I do have things to tell. I hope I can tickle something in those who read. I don’t want to have another awkwardly blog intermission.

What do you want to hear?

Stay tuned.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Ian!

Tucker - having given up.

Tucker – having given up.

There’s an App for That

How did I live my life before heated seats, cell phones, computers, and most importantly computer applications. There’s an app for nearly anything that I need to do. My day moves along from one app to another, especially these days that I’ve been on vacation.



I get up in the morning, and check out all sorts of communications on my ipad, computer and cell phone. I have two personal email accounts – and I check those both first. Then I move on to see what people have been doing on Facebook. I must admit, that I really only glance at Facebook, since there’s just too much there: too much politics, too much “Today I cleaned my kitchen”, too much of too much! From there, I see what my friends have to say on Twitter – which is generally a little more inspiring. From there, I check out the photos – many of them pretty spectacular – on Instagram.

After catching up on both the important and trivial that’s going on, I do my daily brain exercises. I’ve tried lots of apps, but what I’m interested in are FREE apps that are quick and limited. I can complete a puzzle or game in a few minutes, and the app doesn’t allow me to complete more than one game daily (or I would be on it forever!) I like 7 Little Words and Red Herring (thanks for the tip, Ian!). Some days, I’ll put together a puzzle on Jigsaw Bug, but it doesn’t limit my play, so I try to avoid it.

I could spend the rest of my day reading from iBooks or Kindle. That would be the end of that, but I am trying to read the entire Bible – and I’m using Bible Study for that. It assigns me a short passage every day.

I organize myself with Google Calendar where I keep appointments and special dates, and – my to do list. I’ve organized my ENTIRE closet with Stylebook – and I can plan and track what I wear, so that I can thin down all that stuff in my closet!! I LOVE that app!!

I really am not a great big fan of cleaning – and so I found this wonderful little app that gives me as many or as few chores to do every day. If I keep up with it, the house remains adequately clean! It’s called UfYH and there is a disclaimer upfront that the language is not for the faint of heart. Enough said.

If I’m at work, then I need my combination of Psych Tools and Cube to keep track of everything that is going on.

Come time for dinner planning, I pull up RecipeBook, where I store all my favorite choices for dinner.

An evening isn’t complete wiithout a little entertainment. Generally, one of the boys have something on  that makes me giggle.

When I go to bed, I don’t set an app alarm. I continue with my old fashioned clock radio. My evil enemy. But if I wanted to – I’m sure there’s an app for that, too.