Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Toilet Paper

     I was packing up my sewing supplies this last Sunday to go and sew with my friendship group. I carry my smaller sewing machine in the back of my car; "Have Sewing Machine: Will Travel." But I do not have a duplicate of every tool I use so I have to prepare for our "sew days" and pack what I think I will need, including the project(s) I will be working on. Sunday morning I was doing just that and uncovered a roll of toilet paper stuck in one of my shelves behind some fabric. It stopped me for a moment.
     When I was first asked to join this group of friends to sew, we met in a rec room where one of the members lived. We are officially called The Sew Nuts. Kinda corny, I know, but I didn't pick it and the guild is fraught with silly sounding friendship group names. I have always been pleased to be a part of this group, regardless of their, I mean our, name.
     The group goes back many years and people have come and gone, moved away... but the unofficial leader of the group was always a woman by the name of Donna Feagin. It was at her place we met and sewed and ate and talked, kind of like a mini retreat. Sometimes Donna wouldn't even sew; she would just cook for us. But it was a nice respite in the month to get away for 6 hours or so and sometimes we would book the rec hall for an entire weekend, locking our stuff away at night so we wouldn't have to pack up.
     The funny thing about this place was that one could never tell if there was going to be toilet paper in the bathroom. The room was used by several groups during the week and if the office put too much toilet paper out, people would just steal it. So, we all got used to packing a roll of toilet paper in our sewing bags. One just never knew... It got to be kind of a joke after a while, especially when we would find ourselves someplace else not needing it. But there they stayed: ever ready.
     Last November Donna passed away from pancreatic cancer. We no longer meet in Donna's rec room, but at another member's mobile home park meeting room. It's funny. It took most of us almost a year to take our roles of toilet paper out of our sewing bags.
     And there, this last Sunday, was the nicely wrapped roll, waiting to be packed; a silent homage to Donna. I thought of her and her easy smile and good natured personality. Sigh...I miss her.

Friday, January 25, 2013


     I went shopping this last weekend (not an unusual occurrence) and bought some things at our local pharmacy. After I checked out and paid for my 11 items I received a receipt. It was over 36" long. Really? Each items was in a separate category. There were coupons at the bottom of the receipt, 4 to be exact. There was an opportunity to call or go on their web site to complete a survey.
     I can understand the concept of receipts. You need them in case you want to return or exchange an item purchased. But I dare say the receipt has become the end all, do all for a lot of stores. By putting coupons on their receipt they don't have to do as much advertising. The problem I find is that unless it is a coupon for money off a total purchase, the coupons are not for things I usually use. Waste. Having everything itemized in its own category is unnecessary. I don't need to know I bought lipstick from the cosmetic aisle. Waste. Opportunity to complete a survey: (I realize they think this helps them market their goods) waste. Not only of my time but of the paper it's printed on. Far too many people know far too much about each of us already. Spend a day on your computer doing web searches or shopping and already dozens of companies know all your business.
     There is a local store called New Frontiers; a nice little grocery store that has an excellent supply of organic foods. They also have a wonderful deli, bakery and coffee bar. They are going against convention. Not only do they not give out plastic bags (actually, like Trader Joe's they have always had paper bags) they are cutting down the paper receipts by printing on both sides of the paper. Buy 11 items from that store and you get a receipt about 4" long, printed on both sides. No coupons. No request to complete a survey. Just the items you purchased in a space as small as they can get it. They are not trying to win anybody over. Their customer service and excellent products speak for themselves. I have never been in there when the deli is not busy, the little eating area full and there are lines at the registers. Not long lines, by the way, as they open up every register in the store; an example of their customer service.
      So, I ask you: who's got the better idea? I only go to the pharmacy for things I can't get anywhere else. There are never any employees on the sales floor. The lines to the one register at the pharmacy take you a half hour to get through. The receipts are a waste. It makes me wonder about the integrity of the company.
      I look forward to going to New Frontiers. I can tell how they stand on the environment and consideration of my time and budget. Forging new concepts in retail with an eye to the public interest. Thanks for the 4" receipt!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I found this quote the other day:
"A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil, but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small silly presents, every so often, just to save it from drying out completely."
                                                               Pam Brown

Monday, January 21, 2013

Birthdays and such

     Haven't post for a while. So much happens at the beginning of every year. I attend a quilting retreat in Buellton, CA on the first weekend in January. Three days of eating and quilting and talking and giving opinions on work and fabrics and eating and talking and quilting and shopping, and eating and quilting and talking...you get the picture, with 17 other women, and sometimes men, who enjoy the art of quilting as much as I do. My husband gives me this trip every years as a early birthday present (my birthday is Jan. 16th) but what even makes it nicer is that he pays for our daughter and daughter-in-law to go along, if their schedules permit. We go down Thursday night so that we can be ready at 8:00 on Friday morning, when the retreat center opens, to unload all our tools of the art: sewing machines, projects, extra supplies, projects, extension cords, power strips, projects (yes, I know, I mentioned projects quite a few times; most people bring several depending on the whim of the moment.) Then we sew etc... all day Friday, all day Saturday and until 3:00 or so on Sunday afternoon. A good time is had by all and what is nice is you get a chance to get a ton of stuff done, unless you gab and visit and snack and shop, which we all do. But it turns out to be a productive, rejuvenating 3 days in spite of all that.
     Monday after retreat came school. Our spring semester usually starts with a Professional Development day and this year we got an additional day as a teacher work day, which was nice, before the kids came back on Wednesday. I have 2 classes of World Literature (10th grade) and one class of Introduction to Literature (9th grade). I have not taught World Literature in a couple of years so it was nice to have the extra day to prep at least the first week of work. Once we get started in any grade level, it more or less takes on a path of its own and I just have to keep up. I have made my life easier by doing some things in EVERY grade I teach, like grammar lessons and journals, so I have a stock of them already. But my computer went down, this time it got stuck in a perpetual loop installing and uninstalling a service pack, so until I got that back on Friday my days seemed chaotic and stressful. I have a perfectly good laptop that Doug hooked up to the Internet and I eventually succumbed to taking roll and looking at the school e-mail on that. But I like routine and when my routine is messed up I feel out of joint and irritable. I like things to be as I like them and going without a computer for two weeks when I have grade books etc... to set up is just disturbing. I am a tad OCD in that way, sorry.
     On the 10th we celebrated Paul's birthday. Well, actually we did it on the weekend and stuck our two birthdays together. We had a great Chinese dinner. He turned 35 and I turned 57. I spent some of the weekend getting ready for my first guild meeting as President. A lot of little things to think about and get ready. We are preparing for a quilt show in April and that is keeping everybody busy. The rest of the month is filled with school during the day, doctor appts. in the afternoons (why do they all come at the same time?) and the push to get a project done for a special challenge some of the members of the guild are doing.
     So, here I am today, finally getting to blog. Since I have restarted this process I feel guilty if I wait too long between blogs. Not that I have a huge audience that is waiting on my every word. I just feel like the structure of writing on a regular basis is valuable, especially since I love to write and I get frustrated when I can't. I looked back at some of the things I talked about incorporating into my life at the first of the year. Just to report, I am laughing more with my students and I am trying to compliment someone every day. So far so good on two!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

     I couldn't let the day go by without making a Happy New Year comment. I have not been  blogging very much since my classes ended. Oh, well. It is what it is.
     New Year's always brings to mind resolutions. I gave up creating resolutions for myself quite a long time ago. The last two I made were when the kids were in jr. high and high school. One of those years I gave up wearing makeup. It was costly and time consuming and I was going through some health issues that didn't allow me the effort to sit and do makeup every morning. I found it quite nice not to have to think about buying the makeup, changing shades with the seasons, changing looks with the trends and generally hiding myself behind the artificial look of it all. There have been twice since then when I have actively sought out makeup, but never in the context of wearing it for very long. For both my children's weddings I opted for some simple mascara and blush. I thought it would look nice in the pictures. I don't think anyone can even tell I have it on, so I really think it was probably a waste of time. It was, yet again, one of those "it makes me feel better at the time" ideas. I believe it was the year after I gave up makeup that I decided to further simplify my life by not wearing a watch. There were clocks all over the place and I really felt I was being a prisoners to the little black hands on my wrist. I have always been a clock watcher, even in grade school. So, gone was the watch. I really haven't missed it and a funny thing has developed in my brain. I find I can just about guess what time of the day or night it is just by the light in the sky or thinking back to the last time I checked the time and following my movements. I'm not often right-on with the time but for most things it is near enough.
     So, I was reading a magazine today and I came upon an article about changing your life in the new year. Hmmmmmm... There were a couple of items that sounded interesting, such as: doing one nice thing for one person everyday, even if they didn't realize you were doing it, volunteering in your community, pledging to donate every day, week or month to something worthwhile. All of these would make great resolutions and if you were able to follow through with the one you chose, would probably change your life in some small way.
     I was thinking last night about what type of resolutions I would make, if I was so inspired to return to the custom. Here are some I came up with:
     * Laugh with my students every day.
     * Hand out Tootsie Roll Pops once a month to my students for no reason.
     * Work on my writing more often.
     * Give someone a compliment every day.
     * Think about cancer. Be grateful.
     * Write more letters. Actual letters with stamps and everything.
     * Pay for some one's Starbucks order behind me once in a while.
Most of these are open ended. And most of them are totally doable, especially laughing with my students and giving someone a compliment every day. Those should be easy. The rest I really want to work on, but I won't call them a resolution because I think every life is a life in progress and sometimes making a resolution to do one thing or another absolutely doesn't allow for veering off the path, and a sidestep may just get you where you want to be.
Happy New Year!