Nostalgic

Every year, I buy myself a Christmas present that’s frivolous or nostalgic. This year, it was both.

I was in an office supply store, of all places, when I spotted a suitcase-style record player bearing the Victrola stamp. I hadn’t seen portable record players in years, not even in antique stores. This particular model (The Journey) boasted Bluetooth, headphone, and RCA options.

The manager said that the store was sold out – as were others whose inventory she checked. The floor model was a “dummy” with no working motor. Such a shame! I had Baby Brother’s hand-me-over record player, but it wasn’t working out for me. It had no built-in speakers, sounded tinny when I hooked it to the receiver, and was too wide to fit in the bookcase.

Long story short: I searched online for new-fangled Victrola players with the right features and good reviews. The best-priced was an American flag version, which made me even more nostalgic. One of my older cousins had a record player with a Spirit of ’76 sticker and other Bicentennial decorations.

As soon as it arrived, I sent it on a “shakedown cruise” with trumpets: a couple of albums by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, followed by The Jonah Jones Quartet’s Swingin’ ‘Round the World. My stars, it sounds good! Vinyl records may pop and crackle – especially the ones from the ’40s and ’50s! – but they have a full-bodied sound that I missed.**

** For readers wondering about my record collection, suffice to say that it’s mostly inherited from my paternal grandfather, plus garage-sale finds and “Do you want this?” from friends.

The Perils of Working from Home

C20EE642-1804-47FD-9790-6A30F674150CHow do I report a workplace accident?

That’s the remains of the 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup.

Given my klutziness, I’m surprised it lasted so long. It was one of my few new purchases when I moved into my second apartment (prior to that, M’e the Fashionista supplied a plethora of utensils and cookware). It survived tumbles into steel sinks and linoleum floors, but a stone countertop takes no prisoners.

Cleaning up the mess: wow! I swept, vacuumed, and ran wet paper napkins over various surfaces to pick up the fine, sharp particles. Somehow, none of the flying shards hit me, although they traveled even as far as the livingroom.

A less tangible hazard of Working from Home (WFH) has been Parkinson’s Law, the business adage that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. At the beginning of the shutdown, I ended every day – often in the wee hours of the morning – exhausted.

It wasn’t surprising in March, considering the sheer volume of mandates, updates, and queries that arrived in those early weeks. Continue reading

Memories like an Action Film

I tend to dislike social media because of their time-wasting, click-baiting aspects. However, they make it a lot easier to share information among widespread family (eight countries!). And sometimes they bring back good memories, like that of January 2014.

I recorded it thus:

I wish there was enough room to tell the Epic Story of My Dad. Here’s the highlight version. Last night I decided to finish grading papers and re-doing lesson plans, but my backpack was missing! Could I have left it at M&D’s? I called Dad; he arranged a drop-off point. Despite weather, Operation Students-Need-Exams was ON. A blizzard descended, my route was blocked, a new drop-off was arranged closer to where I was stuck in traffic (over an hour), a tanker exploded, a bladder nearly exploded, there was a pregnant woman… a rendevous… and coffee… and when I tried to thank him, all he said was “That’s what Dads are for.” Cut. Roll credits. (Dad was played by shaved-head Chuck Norris AND Jason Statham, sometimes simultaneously because Awesome.)

And yes, there really was an explosion following the rollover of a tanker carrying dangerous chemicals!

Toolset: Mending

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Old and new tools in the sewing box

I’ve written recently about how cheap clothes make it easier to toss them than to mend, but a globalized economy creates an environment in which even little things are outsourced.

The photo above illustrates the point. The American-made crocheting needle, which dates from the ’80s, was in my first “emergency” sewing kit.  I neither crochet nor knit, but it’s my “sweater-saver.” When a sweater is snagged, I poke the needle through from the back, twist the errant yarn around it, and draw it through to the reverse side.

The darning needles and thread-cutter came from my late maternal grandmother’s carefully-kept cache. The needles were imported because, as everyone knew, Sheffield Steel was high-quality. I can attest to their strength, since I’ve used them on denim and suede. (Note: If you look on the left side of the package, you can see Grandma paid a dime for the package. Quite an investment!) 

Continue reading

A Nostalgic Walk

Earlier this month, I returned to my hometown. Besides visiting my parents and a dear friend, I went walking along the roads that seemed so very long when I was a child.

Some things hadn’t changed, such as cattails and Queen Anne’s Lace growing in the ditches. The cloud banks were still as bright in the wide open sky. The redwinged blackbirds trilled harshly in the cedars.

 

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Cattails on the edge of a hayfield.

 

But more than one field was being taken over by young trees or sumac. The old small farmers aren’t being replaced, and there are far fewer heads of cattle or horses. There’s still beauty there, but all the familiar landmarks are falling to Time.

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The beginnings of a softwood forest invade a neglected field.

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As a little girl, I looked forward to watching the calves frolicking near this barn. They always looked so NEW because their white patches were so bright.

An inside job

I have written very little since my last check-in. I had guests, visited family, and started an intensive paper-taming project. How intensive? I had to “rest” the shredder until special-ordered lubricant arrived!

The weather inspired me to tackle this dreaded task. I started sorting files and editing content during record-breaking heat.  On rainy days, I hole-punched, created dividers, and labeled 3-ring binders. As I finish this project, flood watches are in effect. (Thankfully, I see no sign of locusts.)

The objective was to create a time-saving system for handling important paperwork like medical records and legal documents. However, the bulk of the files contain newspaper clippings, acceptance letters, and oh-so-many unpublished pages!

I wanted to rebury them as soon as I unearthed them – as I’ve done many times before – because they inspire strong emotions. Continue reading