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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Think Method

My memories of many Christmases and the gifts I received are a little murky, but something that shines brightly through the haze, was the bicycle I found next to the tree one Christmas morning.  It was a blue Schwinn with chrome accents and a sparkly silver banana seat.  How could anyone possibly forget such a machine?

Of course if you are six (almost seven) and receive a bike for Christmas, you insist on being outside learning to ride it even on a cold December day.  My mom spent the day in her nightgown and robe so she deferred to my dad to be the one to run alongside their child while becoming acquainted with the ways of a bike.

My dad was never known for his patience, but looking back at that episode, I realize he was more than patient with me as he spent a good portion of that winter day running back and forth along the gravel road in front of our house.  What?! A six year old was expected to learn to ride a bicycle on a gravel road? And not just a gravel road, but an ice-incrusted gravel road?  Yep!

One day of running beside me holding onto the bike seat wasn't enough. The next morning we did it again; up and down the road we went.  Finally, dad pried me off that silver seat and rolled the bike to the house.  My knees and elbows were bruised and bloodied from multiple falls, but I didn't want to give up.  He said we would try again when it warmed up.  He parked the bike next to the porch and went in the house.

Over the next few days while dad was at work, I practiced some more.  I didn't succeed in staying upright on the bike.  I did succeed in gathering a few more grazes and contusions.

On the first day back to school, I announced to my class that I had received a bike for Christmas and had learned to ride it.  I don't know what possessed me to tell such a tale and I spent the rest of the day in deep anxiety that I would have to prove my deceitful boast.  After school, my friend, Lynette Hepworth, came home with me, saw the bicycle and expected me to ride it.  With severe trepidation I  wheeled it to the road, climbed onto the sparkly seat and pushed myself off into the gravel.  I moved my feet onto the pedals and started pushing them around.  Suddenly, I was riding.  I wasn't tipping over.  I was really doing it.  I zipped down the road, turned around and came back to where Lynette was standing and skidded to halt spraying gravel behind me.  She didn't seem adequately impressed, but I was in awe at what I had just done.

I have heard people say some things are "like riding a bike", meaning once you learn how to do it, you never forget.  The thing that stuck with me over the years is Professor Harold Hill's 'Think Method' (from The Music Man) isn't unusual, in fact is downright believable!

What are your memories of learning to ride a bike?  Did you learn on a dirt or gravel road?  Have you ever employed the 'think' method to gain a new skill?  Have you ever been saved from a lie by happy accident?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reporting in...

I wanted to acknowledge and thank those who voted on the fireplace photos and report what I ended up doing with my 'place of fire' mantle.  Here is the empty space: 

 I used a combination of things from the photos, since there really was no clear consensus of voting (thank you anyway, voters!)  Okay, I know it doesn't look anywhere near as beautiful as any of the HGTV fireplaces, but I'm also sure this photo does not do justice to how sparkly it looks in real life.  I used the bottom branches from my tree to add some greenery at the front and then interspersed some gold painted pinecones and twigs. I used gold ornaments and the floral arrangement with touches of gold glitter.  It is good enough for me, it feels warm and festive, and it makes standing at the fireplace toasting my buns even more enjoyable.

On other fronts, I did finish finals on Wednesday and last night grades were posted on Canvas.  I ended up with 'A's in both classes.  I am pleased about that, but actually a little melancholy to see my US Institutions class come to an end.  I enjoyed the repartee of other class members and the great instructor who made learning about the Constitution and our American Government so interesting.   I will be taking nine credits next semester (three classes) and since one is on-line, I started on it today.  I know I need a break, but I'm not sure I can afford to take it.  Hopefully the other two campus classes will not be too time consuming during this next semester because I'm afraid this persuasive writing class is going to be INTENSE!

The annual cookie exchange and book club was last night.  I made gingerbread boys and trees for my contribution and had a wonderful evening eating cookies and talking books with ladies I enjoy so much!  

Cutting out dough
Better tasting than they look

I started Christmas shopping yesterday.  I finished Christmas shopping yesterday.  My kids are at the age where it is just easier (and better?) to give them cash.  I've tried doing some online shopping and I spent yesterday at the mall.  I have a few things to wrap and put in stockings, but it is just too hard when the married kids received more household things for their weddings than I own after nearly 30 years of marriage and the unmarried kids are so particular about what they like.  I would never in a million years attempt to buy them clothes, music or video games.  I guess DVDs are safer ground, but even that is kind of a gamble.

I could use some good ideas of gifts for grown children if you have any… I did consider massage coupons, but only because that is what I want for myself…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My By-Line

I can officially claim the title of 'columnist'.  I received my first copy of the Millard County Chronicle in the mail this morning with my name typed below the title, "Rambling Through Time" and above my story about the Spud Nut Shop and glass milk jugs.

Plans are in place for another column next week and the paper's owner, Shellie, has said to keep the stories coming.  I don't know how long she will indulge me and my scribbling of childhood memories, but while it lasts I will enjoy it!

I sent another collection of four stories today and have about a dozen more waiting to be written.  I thought that seemed pretty good when the thought came to me: "There are 52 weeks in a year, Georgia!"  "Can you remember than many things that will be worth writing about?"

Who knows. Maybe my column will be shut down long before my existing stories have been told.  Maybe Shellie will need that space for an ad or an interesting current event.  Perhaps there will be letters to the editor expressing boredom with the recollections of a kid who lived in Hinckley in the 60s and 70s.

Whatever happens is okay  with me, because no one can change the fact that for at least one week I was a columnist and was published in the December 7, 2011 edition of the Millard County Chronicle!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Molecular Makeup of Molasses

This morning as the sun rose over the bitter-cold, snow-dusted landscape of my yard, I thought of how subjective time is in relation to the season.  It seems to me that when the sun is warm, grass is green and I am outside planting and harvesting; time slips through my fingers like water.  But when there is no warmth in the winter sun, when the wind strips leaves from every tree branch, and ol' Mount Ben Lomond himself seems to shiver in the cold; time slows like the proverbial 'molasses running uphill in January'.

I spend a portion of each winter morning warming myself in front of the fireplace.  I feel like a bird on a spit as I rotate myself around trying to roast each section thoroughly.  The fireplace is a gathering place this time of year, yet in warmer months, we scoot a couple of chairs in front of it and you hardly notice it is there.  I've been thinking about decorating the fireplace for Christmas.  It deserves to be honored for the comfort it provides every chilly morning and evening.  I found some HGTV ideas for decorating fireplace mantels.  Please vote for your favorite and I'll attempt to replicate the one that is the most popular.  After all, warming that upward flowing molasses is a big job and should be recognized with some handsome holiday decor.

Fireplace #1

Fireplace #2

Fireplace #3

Fireplace #4

Fireplace #5
I really would appreciate your comments and suggestions about Christmas decorations and the fireplace.  Thanks!