Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Plans

I just read Kelsey's last four blog posts, which went up one-after-the-other on Saturday and Sunday. When I finished reading them, I found myself breathing faster and my heart beating harder, out of sympathy for her amazingly crazy schedule this spring.

If I close my eyes and think way, way back, I do remember the days when our kids were in school, and the frenetic schedule that came with being a mom. I especially remember going six-ways-to-Sunday during the period when we had not only our two sons at home, but also two Japanese exchange students, Takashi and Fumi. Talk about a crazy (but wonderful) time of our lives. That was before there were mobile phones, with the at-your-fingertip convenience of a calendar and contacts. I finally gave up carrying a purse, all together, during those days and opted for a large, leather, ring-bound Franklin Planner. I put plastic zip pockets in it to carry pens, keys, my driver's license, credit card, a comb, checkbook, colored pens and a dollar or two.  I added an address book section, so I'd always have my contacts with me. I color coded everyone's calendar events (that's what the colored pens were for), and actually ran out of space to write on the extra-busy days.  I called my planner "my brain" and knew I'd be in BIG trouble if I ever lost it.

But now I'm retired. My kids are grown and don't live with us. They are responsible for their own schedules. Dan and I live a quiet life. Occasionally we have as many as TWO events on the same day, and at the close of a day like that, one of us is likely to mention what a "busy" day it was.

This summer, though, holds the promise of some busier times. Robert will be coming to visit us for a few days in June, and when he's here, we TRULY are busy. I'm in planning mode, right now, so that Robert will have fun and won't be bored during his stay.

We're also making some changes in our house this summer:

What has been our guest room, with a queen-sized bed, will be turned into the grandkids' room. We'll move their bunk beds in there, In the room where the bunk beds are now, we'll be putting a queen sized cabinet bed. It's sort of like a murphy bed, but is a stand-alone (not attached to the wall) cabinet, out of which a bed unfolds. When the bed is not in use (95% of the time), this will provide a space for me to have a table for my painting and other crafts.

Then, in the living room, we will be changing out the TV and TV-stand (Dan REALLY wants - and deserves! - a bigger screen), and possibly getting some more comfortable furniture in there, as well. What's in our living room now looks fine to the eye, but it's not all that comfy. I don't even like to sit in there to watch TV in the evenings.

And then, I have an adventure lined up for the summer. You'll need to know the back-story for this one: A year or so ago, I was contacted by a lady in Nebraska, named Wanda. Wanda is working with a committee in Minatare, NE, that is writing a book about the founders and early settlers of Minatare. Because my great-great-grandfather, Wellington Clark (mentioned in this earlier post), who homesteaded there, was quite instrumental in founding the town, she was asking for my help in filling out his story. Wellington Clark was married twice. I am the direct descendant of him and his first wife. But, as it turns out, his second wife, Lillie Wynkoop, was the sister of Wanda's grandfather's second wife! Ha! We can't quite call ourselves "cousins," but at least we do have some sort of convoluted connection there! Wanda and I have corresponded off and on over the past few months. I've learned a little about her and know that she lost her husband six years ago and that she's considerably older than I.

So (back to the story of the upcoming adventure), early this month I received a nice, hand-written letter from Wanda in the mail. (Wow! something besides junk mail and bills in my mailbox!) In it she said, "I want to invite you to come to western Nebraska and be my guest. Together we can explore the land of your ancestors." She has even offered to take me up into South Dakota, while I'm there, to see Mt. Rushmore! What a gracious, hospitable lady she must be. And, I have decided, with Dan's blessing and encouragement, to go, in July. I'll be driving. It's a thousand miles each way, and maybe longer, if I decide to take a little detour into Kansas, on the way back, to see where my maternal grandfather and his family lived and are buried. Doing this on my own is truly an adventure . . . hopefully a happy adventure.

So, though there's no need to buy a new Franklin Planner, my summer is shaping up to be a bit busier than usual.





Saturday, May 21, 2016

I'm Just a Sucker for a New Camera!

I've had the itch, for some time, to have a small, compact camera that still has the settings and features I need. I get tired of toting a big, heavy camera and lenses all the time. I will, of course, keep my Nikon DSLR for "special" purposes.

Most of the compact cameras don't have a view finder -- just a screen on the back to frame the shots. A view finder was high on my list of "must haves," and I finally settled on the Sony Cyber-Shot HX80.

My new camera arrived yesterday, so after dinner I took a drive out toward the farming community of Rosebud, to give it a trial run. We've had a lot of thunder storms this spring, which have dumped great quantities of rain, so everything is really green now. As summer weather arrives, the greens will be toned down with a lot of brown.

Here are a few of the test shots I took. I think this little camera is going to be just the ticket, at least for now!