Category: Random Thoughts


One evening this week, I opened up my back door to let my dogs outside and I was hit with an incredibly wonderful aroma. Soft, sweet, and intoxicating, little white flowers bloomed by the hundreds on my jasmine vines. The amazing thing is there were no flowers on either of my vines earlier that afternoon. It’s like they all decided to pop open at once and surprise me!

The aroma was so enchanting, I decided to open all my windows in the back of the house. Jasmine wafted through the house all evening and its continued to linger in the air all week long. Aside from the springy smell, the vines themselves have double in size this year and now wrap around patio roof posts. After watching them struggle this winter, its so nice to see them thriving.

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Jasmine vine gone wild!

The sunflower is another interesting story. Our Monster Sunflower sprouted two more stems with buds and this one bloomed this week. The other one broke off due to an odd angle and the weight of the bud.  The main bloom was quite small (as expected), but weirdly enough it grew larger after all the petals fell off. That’s a story I’ll have to share once it stops growing!

Over on the plant rack, my seedlings are getting so big! While my vegetable starters are almost ready to go into the garden (probably this weekend), my flower tray holds the biggest surprise. I’ve never been very successful in growing any sort of flower except a wildflower mix in the yard, so it was really exciting to see several sprouts. In particular, four out five nasturtium seeds came up! This week, they graduated to a larger pot, along with another unidentified flower.

The garden rabbit took a break from sniffing the jasmine to help me celebrate graduation day . . .

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I hope these guys keep growing!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

It dawned on me earlier this year that I’ve officially been part of the workforce for more than twenty years. It all started when I was ten years old and wanted a Barbie Sweet Roses 3-Piece Wall Unit for my dollhouse. It cost $12.95 and with my allowance there was no way I could afford it. I ended up going to work with my mom, who was a master dog groomer. She paid me 25¢ for each dog I bathed. It was hard work, but worth it in the end.

I can’t begin to say how proud I was to go to Toys R’ Us with my hard-earned money and buy one awesome Barbie Sweet Roses 3-Piece Wall Unit. The funny thing is, I still have it.  Every time I even think about putting it the donation pile, I remember how hard I worked for it and I just dust it off and rearrange the “China” plates and cups inside of it. (Yes, I still have my dollhouse, too. My Grandpa built it).

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Not a single piece is missing! Intact since 1988.

Despite the money I earned, dog bathing just wasn’t for me. I got my first “real” job when I was fifteen (and a half). I spent my summers with my grandparents in small Northern Wisconsin town, so it was only natural that my first job would be in a tiny family owned business. For two summers, I worked at the Christmas House as a cashier and stocker in the midst of tourist season. I still consider it the most fun job I’ve ever had. It was literally Christmas every day! I set up Department 56 villages, decorated Christmas trees, hung up lights, and created beautiful displays of dishes and figurines. In the middle of all that fun, I learned about collectibles (what’s valuable, what’s not, and how to tell) and Christmas traditions from all around the world. Sadly, the Christmas House closed it’s doors last year.

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The Christmas House as I saw it last summer. So sad to see it closed.

My love of animals led to a job at Petsmart. I was a cashier and also did some floor work (cleaning up shelves). While I loved the animals, I hated the corporate atmosphere. I also hated having to wear a back brace every day (I sometimes had to lift enormous bags of dog food). The only take-away I got from this job was having a healthy respect for anyone who works in a big store. It’s not easy cleaning up after customers who don’t put things away or make huge messes down each aisle. To this day, if I change my mind about something I want to buy in a store, I put it back where I found it instead of on some random shelf.

After leaving Petsmart, I went back to working for a smaller company. It must’ve been my artistic side that drew me to the idea of working for a flower shop. My job was to unpack, clean, and display each day’s shipment of fresh flowers. Then, keep the floors and cooler clean, water the front showroom plants, and take orders over the phone. Being around so many beautiful flowers was wonderful, but the work was brutal. My hands paid the price with cracked skin and permanently green grooves. On the up side, I learned how to do a variety of floral arrangements ranging from corsages, funeral wreathes, and wedding bouquets, along with the standard vase and bowl arrangements. Not a bad skill set, indeed.

Desperately needing to fix my damaged hands, I started working for The Body Shop. This is the job where I learned how to sell, sell, sell. Every day I was responsible for meeting certain dollar quota. Talk about pressure!  I never thought of myself as a salesperson, but I dug deep and learned how sell every product in that store. That meant learning everything about perfume oils, lotions, body washes, and creams. I even learned how to do in-store make-overs to sell cosmetics. Make-up has never been my favorite thing, but it was a lot of fun to make people feel pretty. I would have stayed at The Body Shop longer, but the arrival of a new fragrance ignited a pretty severe allergic reaction. I couldn’t even touch the bottle, so I had to quit.

In the same mall, just around the corner was a locally owned store called the Hobby Bench. It sold everything from cross stitch patterns to radio controlled cars. Even before I applied for the job of cashier, the Hobby Bench was one of my favorite stores. I was hired instantly and stayed there for almost five years. Aside from learning a number of new crafts, this is the job where I learned how to handle crabby and attitudinal people. Within a year, management had me working returns. In a store that didn’t give cash refunds. And always on the day after Christmas. I took a verbal beating often and that caused me to develop some pretty tough skin along with some witty diplomatic strategies. I was studying to be a teacher at the time, so these skills ended up being an essential part of my education.

It may seem amazing that I stayed through all the verbal assaults, but it really wasn’t a hard choice to remain at my post. The Hobby Bench was where I met my soul mate. While I rang up customers in the front, he sold and fixed R/C cars and trucks in the back. Even the crappiest jobs feel like heaven when you’re best friend and love is working just a few feet away. It’s been fifteen years and we’re still together, even without the Hobby Bench, (about three years ago, “our” Hobby Bench closed down).

I continued to work at the Hobby Bench during my first two years of teaching. Then, one day I decided it was time to let it go. My focus had shifted from a job that just paid the bills, to a career that means so much to me. I’ve been teaching for the past thirteen years and it is every bit as rewarding and challenging as I thought it would be. Some days are difficult, but most of the time I’m thankful to have a job that brings me so much joy. There are million things I could complain about, (as the public education system is far from perfect), but this is the only job I’ve ever had where I have an immense amount of control over my day. I get to decide how to teach material and I can be creative in everything I do. However, the best thing of all is watching a kid learn. I love it when a student tells me “I hated history until now.” Yup, that’s a good day at work!

I will likely remain in the teaching profession until it’s time to retire. I honestly never thought I would last this long, but it turns out I’m tougher and more patient than most. If I’ve learned anything from this job, it’s that the key to staying in the classroom is the willingness to learn as if you’re still a student. No one knows everything, not even a teacher.

But, I do still know how to make one hell of a two dozen rose vase arrangement!

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c.b.w. 2014

About a month ago, I laced up my running shoes for the first time in almost a year. Between the overwhelming nature of my day job and the exhaustion that resulted, my daily workout became a thing of the past. Thanks to my slug status, I gained twenty pounds. Yikes.

The weight isn’t what bothered me (well, maybe a little), but rather the overall sense of feeling worn down and lazy. There’s something wrong when a little afternoon nap turns into three hours on the couch. I was fast becoming a couch potato with no motivation to get up and move.

This state of lethargy just wasn’t me. I’m not a sitter, I’m a runner! And not just a jogger on the sidewalk. I’m a trail runner that loves twists, turns, dirt, and rocks. I’m the person that runs uphill to get to a trail that skirts a small mountain. The climb stretches every muscle and kickstarts my pulse, but the view makes the “burn” worth it. I get to watch the sun set without a roof or lamppost in sight!

Tired of being “not me,” I got up and dug through the closet until I found my running shoes. I slipped them on and it felt like I had reunited with an old friend. To my great surprise, I ran a full mile that day and walked another two. Apparently, my muscles were happy to be back on the trail!

My running shoes.

In the first three weeks, I lost seven pounds and experienced a huge resurgence of energy. It’s amazing how just a little bit of exercise can make such big difference. What’s more, I really enjoy that hour of “quiet time.” It’s just me, the ground, and nothing else. No music, TV, internet, or any other plugged in distraction. While my body feels better, so does my mind.

This week, I hit a milestone of running 1.5 miles and walking 1.5 miles for a total of 3 miles. I’m well on my way to reaching my old standard of running 2.5 miles and walking for 1 mile.  With the help of my running shoes, I’ll be there in no time!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

A giant is lurking in our yard. What started as a random sunflower growing on the edge of the grass patch has grown into a stalk of almost nine feet! Not bad for a seed I didn’t plant in a place reserved for grass and jasmine vines. Somehow, one little sunflower seed landed in this spot and decided he like it there enough to sprout and grow and grow and grow and grow …

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Reaching above the roof! The garden rabbit is a teeny, tiny creature compared to the giant. Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

I’ve planted sunflowers in the garden box and along the fence, but none of them ever reached the height and size of what I now call my sunflower tree. When he first popped through the grass back in early February, I thought he’d grow to four or five feet (like most of the random sunflowers that sometimes show up in the yard), give a little burst of yellow, and fade away. Boy, was I wrong! This thing is huge and it’s been really fun to watch it get taller.

When it hit six feet, it started to fall over from its own weight, so I propped it against a lattice.  When it grew a couple more feet, I had to bring in a metal patio chair to hold the weight – he keeps leaning further and further over to reach the afternoon sun. A huge bud sits at the top of the stalk and it’s getting bigger every day. I am anxiously waiting for a big, bright yellow sunflower to bloom.

Of course, the garden rabbit is fascinated by the biggest sunflower he’s ever seen. The leaves alone are three times bigger than him!

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That’s a mighty big salad! Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

Don’t worry, he didn’t break this particular leaf. It got stuck in the patio chair when I was trying to find a safe place for the sunflower to rest.

The stem (or trunk!) is a good three inches around, which makes me wonder just how big the root system is on this monster! The rabbit better not get any ideas about nibbling.

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Now, that’s a sunflower stem! Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

From where the rabbit sits, this sunflower looks a lot like something that’s only possible with three magic beans. Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!

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Keep climbing! Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

 

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

 

 

 

I woke up one morning and found Grumpy Cat “playing” in my yarn basket …

My husband is a pretty funny guy. :-)

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

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