Yes Bob Dylan, These Times They Are A’Changin

Though I believe in those words from Dylan, my ideas tonight are not quite as political or complex.  I’m not one to believe fully in global warming.  I do believe the earth changes and moves in cycles as it has for millions of years.  Do our habits assist with the change, I’m sure they do, but I wouldn’t blame it totally on humans.  I mean, cow’s gas (put nicely) contributes too right?  Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard to waste less and reuse more, but it’s not because of Gore encouraged me to, its because it’s the smart thing to do.  I realize my disbelieve in Al Gore’s Nobel prize winning film is bold because there are some people who fanatically still believe in it but regardless of the reason, the world is changing.  The atmosphere is changing, the way we live, communicate, work, play and function is changing around the world.

Today, on March 22, 2012 I laid on our hammock and it was 75 degrees.  It was after six o’clock, so the temperature had already dipped from today’s high.  The sun was still shining and I thought about how I couldn’t believe summer was already here.  But…it isn’t.  Summer is technically three months away.  Baseball hasn’t even seen its opening day but we are wearing shorts and preparing our garden at a time when in past years, the ground hadn’t even thawed out yet.

It’s not just the temperature.  It just feels like everything is changing so rapidly and with this, we grow more impatient still.  A slow website infuriates me.  Not long ago we’d need a phone book to find the phone number we needed.  Today, four seconds isn’t fast enough.  I can’t remember anyone’s birthday anymore either.  Google saves my arse by emailing me reminders and if that isn’t good enough, a notification pops up on my cell. My grandmother emails me “hello” and my husband’s grandmother sends me text messages about her health.  I realize this is more convenient, after all, who has time to sit on the phone with their family, right?  I hope you sense the sarcasm.

It’s a very convenient world, but it’s no less complicated and as time goes on, I’m torn about whether we’ll lose the human connection or not.  True, a text message is not as warm and fails to translate the lilt of a familiar voice, but maybe a quick message allows us to communicate more often.  I sometimes yearn for old fashion relationships and communication but I also have the ability to Skype with my Mom who is 3,000 miles away and see her regularly without paying for a plane ticket.  Remember when Spaceship Earth at Epcot was fantasy?  It wasn’t long ago that along the ride, the family of the future talked to each other over computers and saw each other on their phones.  It’s happened so fast.  I wonder where we are headed.

Old view on Spaceship Earth at Epcot, showing us the future of technology.

This post took a turn a bit from the weather, but as I lay in the hammock, before I drifted asleep, these are the things I thought about.  I awoke to the smell of fire and luckily it was my husband sitting close by in front of our chimenea, enjoying some peace and quiet on the back patio.  We sat together awhile and talked, and I suppose as long as we have good, solid moments where we still can connect to people face to face, we’ll all be alright.  And so, we’ll roll with the times, powered up and dressed for long summers.

 

(If you’re eager to get into the Spring/Summer 2012 mode, check out the post I wrote yesterday for Sprawling Roots.  I promise you’ll like it, whether you believe in global warming or not – http://sprawlingroots.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/time-to-prepare-your-green-garden/ )

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At Peace With Paper

This week has been anything but exciting.  My highlight (so far) came from the fact that I perused our little town newspaper and found an ad that all county residents can drop off all personal documents they need shredded, during a free recycling event Saturday.  This is very exciting.  Do you know what this means?  It means that I can avoid sitting in front of my cheap, hand-me-down shredder for a few hours, while I destroy receipts, bills and credit card applications, to the sound of a whiney and overworked motor.

It means no paper cuts.

It means no more piles of “I’ll get to that”.

It means silence – less frustration – and no overheating small appliances.

I try to be organized, but my ambitions and lack of time only take me so far.  I have a file box with hanging folders that are appropriately labeled and organized.  Instead, I usually end up with a three inch pile of paperwork that is crammed between the tops of the folders and the lid.  Eventually the lid doesn’t close; I drag the box somewhere and it spews all over.  Not today.  I spent the last couple hours weeding through the least eighteen months of paper we “might need to reference one day” and I’m so ready for Saturday.

You can say I’m lame and ask why I’m actually wasting even more time on this by writing about it, but it’s truly exciting to me.  Just a couple months ago, I dreamed of having myself an office and a workable and clean workspace.  I’m so close.  My walls still need to be painted and my books are in Rubbermaid tubs for the moment, but my desk is perfect, as I’m not pushed up against a wall and I’m not seeing scattered piles of paper to distract me from the calm demeanor this room is supposed to enable.  I feel at peace with paper.

Now, what to do with my hoards of greeting cards that I’ve saved…

Sometimes I wish I were heartless.  My house would be so much less cluttered and my basement would be empty to build our dream pub.  For another day, I’m feeling too accomplished to put that kind of weight on my shoulders tonight.

Photo courtesy of rangershredding.com.

10 Simple Goals. Drum Roll Please…

 

One of the many things that deserve more attention.

This is no simple list or is it a list of  New Year’s resolutions.  I could’ve slapped one of those together in no time, without really thinking about the end result.  I didn’t even plan on making goals because resolutions seem so silly.  In reality, I realized that I need to handle my life like I do my daily chores, on sticky notes.  Without making my list and seeing what has to be done laid out in front of me, it’ll never get done.

Well life, here are some things that I think will make me feel happier, healthier and less regret or embarrassment on a regular basis.  It may even do some good in other peoples’ lives too, and really, that’s one of the most important things.

Ten Simple Goals – In no specific order.

1.     Send a handwritten note once a week. To someone who deserves more than a text or a wall post. It can be simple, but will guarantee a smile on the recipient’s face. It’ll keep my Catholic School cursive on the straight and narrow and help the US Post Office stay in business, one little stamp at a time.

2.     Shop locally. A local farm for eggs or a local pharmacy – it’s like putting money back in your neighborhoods pocket and usually comes with more personal service.  Plus, I can meet all kinds of interesting people who are literally invested in their work and won’t treat me like a number on a corporate pie chart.

3.     Share knowledge. Be considerate enough to inform people about news or details that can potentially affect them. I don’t plan to post any billboards on the Interstate anytime soon, but I can be more generous with knowledge that can benefit the people I care about. Speaking of sharing, please note that #1 is about to get more expensive as a stamp increases to 45 cents on January 22, 2012. This list is working already.

4.     Exercise. AHAHA. Yes, this usually makes the top of everyone’s New Year’s goal sheet. It’s so typical, I’m really questioning why I put it on here at all, but it really is important. Maybe by not limiting myself to something I know I’ll never do, it may work? Run an hour a day? No, I’ll never do it, plus it’s bad on the knees. Walk? That sounds better, but maybe I’ll take more of those yoga classes I signed up for or dust off my Wii Fit board. To be perfectly honest, I’m scared of my Mii avatar criticizing me for how long it’s been since I logged on. Last year, when I gained 5 pounds, it mocked me and made my avatar chubby.  Listen Shannon Mii, you’re not encouraging, your mockery has turned me off, but I will give you another shot.

5.     Take better care of my dog. He really is my favorite little guy, but he doesn’t get all the care he deserves. He is incredibly spoiled emotionally, as every pug yearns for, but he deserves more. His breath is awful but he threw my back out the last time I tried to brush his teeth. His nails grow so fast that I can’t keep them short enough regularly. Trifecta…ready? I will walk him more, which helps #5 and #4 AND if we walk to the family owned dog groomer, maybe I can find some fancy option to sparkle up those little chompers, successfully satisfying #2.

6.     Wake up earlier.  Inevitably my morning begins with the following:  “Damn it!”, as my eyes shoot open and I look at the clock and realize I’ll be running for the door again.  Either I get up earlier or I prepare pretty much everything but my face the night before.  I’d say get more sleep, but really, then I’d have time issues getting everything else done.  Don’t be silly.

7.     Save energy? No, I do that.  Recycle?  Kind of OCD about that too.  Hmm.  What if I strive to finish projects?  I snicker as I write this because I need to come up with three more goals to finish this list and now I think I’ll tackle my little side projects too?  Well Blog, if you’re going to hold me to it, I have to.  I have that yarn that I started crocheting.  I keep buying picture frames for my 75% completed photo wall, so that’s a possibility.  The antiques still need some minor repairs and those hollowed out eggs my Grandmom gave me to make ornaments never saw the lights of Christmas.  I hear you inner voice.  What you’re saying is that I can focus on one at a time and get these accomplished? Interesting.

8.     Share more of my time.  You may ask, “Well Shannon, if you have all these time consuming goals, how can you possibly have any time left?”  The answer is easy; I have no idea.  But I will find it.  There is family I always want to spend more time with, friends I promised I’d see, you know, once the holidays are over, and before long, months have passed.  To be honest, I have become accustomed to being by myself so often, that I’m selfish with my space and my alone time.  It is self-centered and I’m lucky to have people who want to spend time with me.

9.     Learn to converse.  I’m so awkward.  My mouth doesn’t move as fast as my mind or vice versa.  Either way, I walk away from random banter and deep conversations feeling like a moron.  “I can’t believe I just said that”.  There is a book I bought about how to hold conversation and I am going to read it.  Maybe that can be a “project” I can work on.  It’s really a skill that doesn’t get very much credit.  I think I’m fairly interesting but my conversations truly lack anything stimulating, causing me to get flustered and tongue-tied.  Whenever I end up referencing the temperature, I think of another good Oscar Wilde quote; “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Eek.

10.     Define my character.  I will always be myself, but how do I want to be portrayed?  It can consist of many superficial things; how I dress, a signature perfume and include my general demeanor, my handshake and verbage choices.  This is for starters.  I can live up to who I know I am, by keeping promises and not overcommitting myself to things that are unlikely to be possible.  That said, this list of 10 things will take major commitment, but it’s not impossible and worth the time to the people I care about and for the betterment of being a good, honest and healthy individual.

Telegrams -stop- The lost communication?

Electric telegraphy is form of communication which began consistent and worldwide innovation in the 1830’s.  If you have ever watched an old movie, it was the classic way to send word of a scene changing moment.  Telegrams brought tragic news of a loved one to a family or portrayed a swoony leading man providing the details for a dinner date to his leading woman.

The word “telegraphic” actually means “short” or “terse”.  It was initially an unemotional way to send the facts, in a quick and direct nature that initially utilized morse code for practical purposes.  Innovators and scientists throughout the world can be credited for creating this early form of communication.   So many developments in such a short period of time were born of this invention, starting from beekers with coils and chemicals to ultimately creating the earliest form of fax machines.  Though we use telegraphy today, through higher technological avenues such as e-mail or text messaging, the first telegraphy outlet was quite slower and delayed any sort of immediate response.

Though the traditional paper telegram business has gone by the wayside, there are now websites that allow you to join in on the old-fashioned fun.  Just as there is something special about receiving an unelectronic birthday card in the mail, it can be exciting to experience something like a telegram, which was such a common and relevant piece of communication for well over a hundred years.

Check out http://telegramstop.com/which allows you to recreate the traditional telegram.  Having used them myself, I was quite impressed with their effort to make it look quite authentic. For those of you who are just simply too high tech, they also have an iPhone app.  Though they did raise their price in the last few weeks, for $6.45 it’ll make you want to pack your steam trunk and hop a train into the past.

Sample courtesy of Telegramstop.com

 

How much is a first class stamp these days?

44 cents.  I googled it.

Loving books, the feel of paper and the romance of writing has always brought out a stationery junkie in me.  I have so many boxes of blank cards.  Some are funny, some are just beautiful and some are plain as to match the mood of anything I want to say.  I rarely use them anymore.  I even have a card box with an array of little tabs, so a very organized individual can keep track of holidays or meaningful reasons one should send a card.  I had great ambition to do that.  I have about 30 cards shoved in one little folder.

Last night I sat down and wrote out a couple of cards to people who deserved them.  I’ve had a sticky note on my phone for weeks as a form of encouragement to do actually do this.  You know, it didn’t take that long and felt good to do.  Sometimes I get embarrassed because I have the intention to drop a note to someone special, then so much time passes that I somehow feel even more embarrassed that I’ve waited so long.  I inevitably do nothing.  And guess what?  More than embarrassed, I get disappointed that I don’t follow through with more good intentions.  This random acts of kindness stuff sometimes makes me anxious, but I’d like to think I have or will make up for it.  It’s the thought that counts still, right?

Who doesn’t like getting mail?  Real mail that is, not credit card applications.

Do you think kids still learn to write in cursive?  Do you think elementary school kids will write at all when they grow up?