Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Girls Camp

In last week's post I talked about some of my book club’s antics and how I was about to host a girls’ only camp out. When planning the camp out, I told the ladies that my husband said he would be willing to camp a couple of acres away from us, if they thought they would feel more comfortable knowing a man was nearby. The answer was a resounding NO! (But thanks anyway.)

Girls just wanna have fun, right? So no men allowed! (One of the 20-something sons of the group also volunteered to be The Man on Sight. He was vetoed too.)

So we were on our own. And we had fun.

Seven of eight.
Maybe we should have brought a selfie stick!
The first thing we did was unpack a shit-load of food and drink. Each of us brought enough for all of us. That’s one thing about this book club; we will never die of hunger or thirst. Embarrassment? Yes. Laughing? Maybe.

After we had everything organized, we mixed a walk-about-drink. Each of us with our favorite. Gin Bucket, Cape Cod, Captain and diet, beer, and wine.  When everyone had a drink and a bottle of water we headed for the woods.
Walk and talk!
The funny and cool thing to me was that, even though there were eight of us (and two were girls I invited- new to the group) everyone walked in two’s and three’s and just chatted away.  Every now and then we would stop to look at something, then the groups would re-organize in a different way and the talking would go on. I loved that my two friends were brought into the fold so easily.

Far left in orange shorts. Bags Tourney.

After a nice long walk we went back to the shed (cabin would be too fancy of a word for the building) and had lunch. Pulled pork, pasta salad and Papa’s Pretzels--YUM!
Next on our agenda (there really was NO agenda) was a round of Tournament Bags. Two games and the winners of each of those games played for the championship. Trash talk and cat calls were the prize.

We sat in the shade and talked about the book we’d read the past month, Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets. One of the ladies in our group actually wore orange shorts because the heroine in the story left her blaze orange behind, and it was a near fatal mistake for her.
Shake, shake, shake!

We made camp ice cream. Yep. Cream-based recipe in a sandwich bag inside a gallon bag filled with ice and salt.  We each had a baggie mixture to shake, shake, shake to Pitbull’s and the Ying Yang Twins’ song, Shake. For 10 minutes and frost bit fingers we shaked- um- shook. The ice cream was as good as it was fun to make. Topped with fresh strawberries, uumm, uumm.

Near our camping land is a cemetery. It’s an old, old cemetery. I’ve visited there before so I knew many of the stones dated back to the early 1800’s.  One of the girls said she’d like to visit it. So off we went. Eight jabbering, laughing women suddenly, without preplanning, whispered the whole time we were in the cemetery. We could see by the old markers that in some cases, several members of one family were wiped out in a very short time. We wondered if it was because of illnesses that we so easily treat now with antibiotics. Some of the markers were so worn or covered with dried moss that they were illegible.

As we headed back to our campsite, one of the girls said to me, “You know what? Don’t laugh at me, but I think those people buried there were smiling because we visited them.”

I won’t laugh at you. I can agree with you.

 “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” – Ecclesiastes 12:7

In my next post I will talk about camping after dark…
Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Club Antics

This month our book club read Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets. It’s the story of a female bow hunter who gets lost in a vast and snowy wilderness while tracking an elk that she hit (with an arrow, of course) while out hunting alone. 

We chose this book because we always like to "theme it up," and we wanted to have a camp out. Usually we choose the book and then the activities fall into place, but this time was just the opposite.We had to do some searching to find a novel about a woman in the wilderness just so that we could have a camp out.

When we meet to discuss the book each month, we have a potluck and a few libations- a celebration of reading, if you will. Typically we try to eat the same food as the characters (this is difficult when reading a book about WWII--- and we’ve read several). Like the time we ate Hershey Bars after reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and only potato based dishes after reading The Martian by Andy Weir. 

Sometimes, and yes I know this is nerdy, but sometimes, we dress like the characters.  After reading Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close- you guessed it- we all wore white dresses to a martini bar. One year we read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, a book about Frank Lloyd Wright’s female love interests, then took a field trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin to visit Wright’s personal home he called Taliesin.

So, off we go. We will hike around the woods, but we won’t get lost. We will climb up into a deer stand, just to get a look around. We’ll make a campfire to sit by. We’ll gab until dark and watch the stars until our eyes get heavy, then we’ll get into our respective tents in our little tent city and sleep to the sound of cricket music.

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself,

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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I’m sure, like me, you’ve read numerous comments and watched enough news coverage to last a lifetime over the mass murders in Orlando, Florida this past weekend. I don’t want to add to that hype by giving an infected pus-bag shooter any more of my time. Any more of my emotions. Any more my anything.

What does this mean for us, the average citizen who’s maybe trying to raise a family or lead a productive life?  Well, for me, it means I’m going to work even harder to realize my goals. And I’m not going to let pus-bags stop me from living my life by second guessing where they’ll strike next. If I were to do that, then the enemy pus-bag wins.

I want to be the good I wish to see in the world. Based off all the video coverage I’ve seen from Orlando of all the people who helped or lined up to give blood, I think there are more people who agree with me than those who don’t. So many times a call to action comes from disaster, despair, and tragedy. We can all make a difference, if we try.
Let’s start small. Our first task is to open our minds to possibility that people who seem “different” from us are not depraved or dangerous because they, in fact do, look or act in a way we consider different. The color of someone’s skin, hair, and eyes has nothing to do with what’s in their hearts. What a person wears or how they look is not a sign of evil. Ideals, hopes and dreams are not wrong, either. Love cannot be wrong.

Lying, cheating, and stealing are wrong. Laziness and apathy is wrong. Murder is wrong. Cowards who murder for their own gain, or in the name of some other entity is an abomination.

Step into someone else’s shoes for a moment before you pass judgment on them. Look at yourself through their eyes. What do they see when they look at you? Will they see hostility? Indifference?  Or will they see common decency offered to one human being from another human being? Think about that. That’s the first step.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

Until next time,
 Be Good to Yourself and Others,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Live In The Moment

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The River Music Experience, or RME, hosts a summer concert series called Friday Live @ Five. We learned about this last summer and went every Friday night that we could. We’re doing it again this summer, too. It’s a free two hour live concert. The bands range in genre from rock to country to blues to indie. Last Friday night Tim and I and some friends and family met in downtown Davenport for the first concert of the summer. It was a beautiful warm-but-not-humid evening. People were dancing, listening to the band, singing along, having a libation, and chatting with each other. And you know what? I DID NOT SEE A CELL PHONE THE WHOLE TIME!  I realized this after the fact. Not one time did I see anyone texting or otherwise furiously punching with their thumbs on their phones. For two hours at least one hundred and fifty or so people were IN THE MOMENT.

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A couple of weeks ago we were in a Des Moines area restaurant. Two high school couples came in dress in prom finery.  The boys wore three piece suits and the girls had on sparkly dresses. As soon as they were seated, all four pulled out their cell phones and began tapping away. I wondered how any of them even got a date for the night. They must have arranged it through text messages, because they sure couldn’t talk to each other. I also wondered who they could possibly be texting. Who or what was more interesting than the people they were with? And why didn’t they go to the prom with those people?

One time, I was in my car and noticed two people walking side by side with their dogs. My line of vision started at the two dogs, worked its way up their leashes to the owners, who were both looking at their phones! I barked out a sarcastic laugh. (Pun intended.)

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Recently,I read an interview on line where a famous country artist discussed how audiences these days were a mass of arms holding up phones. He missed the days of seeing concert goers’ faces. Is it vanity that makes people record the events they go to? (Hey look what I did and you didn’t!) Are they going to forget the event if they don’t have a recording of it? Will they ever even look at the recording again, except to show others? How many weeks will go by before they delete the event from their phone?

We’ve all seen it. People not in the moment because of their phone. We’ve all probably done it at one time or another. Friends, allow me a moment to stand on my soap box and have a rant. Smart phones are great. I have one. I love having the ability to send messages through several different formats. I can’t imagine not having my camera with me at all times. I love that I can get to the internet from my phone, but we need to realize that it –the smart phone- is a tool. A tool. Developed to make a job or task easier. That’s what tools do.

They should not control our lives. They should not shield us from living. Living means talking to the people around you. Living means enjoying without having to record. Living means waiting. Living means the delay of gratification. Instant gratification is the enemy. Smart phones are instant gratification. Fight the urge.
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Thank you. I’m officially off my soap box now.

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself,


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Happy Anniversary To Me!

I started this here blog one year ago. That’s 52 weeks with 52 posts. I’ve posted each and every Wednesday.  I’ve learned some important ‘bloggy’ things in this year.

On the technical side of things I’ve learned that I need to be careful to make sure my font style and font size is consistent from post to post. Because I’m not the most fluent of computer users, I always write my blog on a Word document and then cut and paste it to my blog.  When I post, I find that the size and font changes over the two formats. Also, I take a ridiculous amount of time getting clip art and pictures into my post. Maybe I’m taking “the long way” when there really is an easy way or short cut to adding images, I don’t know. Having mastered neither words nor pictures, I’m sure to continue to make mistakes but bear with me, people, I’m trying! One thing I did figure out was that there is a specific field for the title of the post. It does not go in the body of the work. I figured this out on week 44. (See?...) I spent a good hour moving all the posts titles to the right spot.

Dates and topics of each blog post for this year.
On the writing side of things I’ve learned a lot too. I love being able to talk about my thoughts and ideas in this format. I’m not a huge conversationalist anyway, so this is a fun way for me to share. I love the challenge of thinking up a topic to write about each week, expanding on the topic and then pondering a life lesson.  As a teacher, mother, thinker and introvert, it is my natural tendency to look at a situation and either brood about it or find a learning point. I strive to do the latter more than the former. And although I love to write, I am a procrastinator. It seems like an oxymoron. Why procrastinate on an activity you love, right? IDK. I guess sometimes I feel I’m being pulled in so many ways that my writing takes a back burner and when I do have free time for myself I either A: do other things besides write, or B: am too tired to think about writing anything. Whatever it is, I would be better off just setting a time each day to write and stick to it.  Again, work in progress.

As a blogger, I’ve learned that to be successful, I need to get my posts ready early so that I have time to fix any mistakes before I post. I’ve also learned that if I’m posting every Wednesday (and I am), it needs to be done early in the day, not at random times or at 11:56 P.M., as I’ve sometimes done.  I’ve noticed on my statistics page that often-times on Wednesdays several of my loyal readers check for a new post before it’s there. This is an area that I vow to fix starting now.

Blogging gurus say that to have a good blog one must find his/her niche. They say good blogs are about one topic only. I’ve narrowed the topics I've written about to three main areas:
1.    Reading (books, song lyrics, author visits)
2.    Writing (novel, poems, contests I’ve entered, workshops, search for agent)
3.    Daily life occurrences (trees, chairs, making curtains, sisters, dogs, grandkids)

Reading and writing can go together as one topic area, I know. But if I were to get rid of my daily life stuff, I’m not sure I would have enough fodder to keep up a weekly post. Also, if I just wrote about my daily life I would be remiss to not include reading and writing because that’s a big part of me being me.

Statistics are important to a blogger, after all, that’s why we blog. This year I have had 1,035 views. That’s about 86 views a month or 20 views a week.  The blog entitled March Madness received the most views at 31, which is a bummer because I am not a sporty girl and won’t really be writing anything sports related.

So, on that note, I am looking at different ways to become a more successful blogger. I’m not interested in making money; I’m just interested in getting better at this. Here are some of my ideas:
1.    Change my blog name. Nadine’s Notions sounds old fashioned. I didn’t think of that when I chose it, I just liked the alliteration.
2.    Move to another blogging host sight, one that is easier for readers to respond to. Blogger makes you give up your first born and recite the alphabet backwards before you can post a response!
3.    Focus on just one topic…reading and writing?....daily life???
4.    Learn how to hashtag (#icantmakeitwork)
5.    Use facebook, twitter or tumblr to gain more coverage.

Thank you to all my loyal readers. I’m open to ideas to make this blog a fun, worth-your-time read. Next week will begin my second year of being a blogger. I think that’s worth celebrating!

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself.