What’s important. What’s not.

I’m really trying not to let this summer just slip by. It feels like it just got here, but already we’re seeing preparations for the Fourth of July. I would like to just stop and enjoy what’s here right now, thank you. As soon as the Fourth comes along, my mindset shifts to the idea that summer’s half over. Which is ridiculous because it truly has barely begun at that point. I need to have a talk with my mindset.

The weather has been a perfect balance of sun and warmth, and just the right amount of rain. I feel so fortunate to be getting just what we need, especially while recognizing that so many other places around the country are seeing extremes.

Summer gets me into my really happy place. I love dressing for warmer weather, and not having to wear a bulky jacket. I love taking a break in the middle of my workday to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise while walking around the pond and simultaneously feeling the sun soaking into my skin. I love wearing sunglasses and a soft breeze blowing my hair. And dinners taste better when cooked on the grill and eaten out on the deck under the shade of the canopy.

And having Kacey home for the summer is such a blessing. No offense to the menfolk of the household, but it’s nice to have another female around for a change. We can gab for hours about things the boys just don’t get. And she’s such a great storyteller. I feel like I know her coworkers and friends through the tales she tells, and there’s no shortage of humor in the way she describes her world.

Also, she’s an awesome gym buddy. My usual gym buddy, Erin and I only meet twice a week, so normally, it’s up to me to be self-motivating on the off-days. And sometimes, it can be too easy to allow myself to be a slacker. So I was pleasantly surprised when Kacey said she planned to get on the 5 am gym bandwagon while she’s home for the summer. And she’s held to it. Between the three of us, we’re expanding beyond cardio, and I’m tackling my fear of the machines and free-weights. And both my body and mind are thankful for it. I feel good!

2015-06-20Out in the bird house, the wrens have had their babies. We haven’t seen the little ones yet, but we can hear their tiny chorus of chirping as they beg to be fed. Mama and Daddy wren have been busy flying back and forth, making their way in and out of the house trying to keep their brood fed while Lucy keeps watch.

At work this week, there was a someone-dropped-the-ball situation. Nothing earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things, but it brewed into an ugly finger-pointing and it looked like I was going to take the fall for it. There was a meeting in which  I was surrounded by a group of people who were senior to me and after a few attempts to backtrack to what had actually transpired, one person kept tossing the blame back on me. I felt about this big and was certain everyone had reduced me to a moron in their minds. Since we couldn’t go back in time to rectify the situation (which, again, was a fairly minor hurdle,) the conversation ended with everyone choosing to believe what they believed. My boss left the meeting early, I guessed seeing the pointlessness of it all and having other important things to do.

I went back to my desk afterwards, wracking my brain in an attempt to call up the details of past events, and for the life of me, could not recall a situation where I should have done things differently. Believe me, I would have owned up to it if I’d honestly felt it was my fault. I have a good track record at work and would be willing to admit that I’d made a mistake if I’d thought I actually had. But based on my documentation, I really couldn’t confidently claim ownership of this one. I honestly think it was a matter of several parties just getting their wires crossed, and as so often happens, lack of proper communication.

While I was back at my desk, working and stewing over the situation, I received an email from my boss asking if I was interested in taking a walk around the pond. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna get chewed out.

But, no. As we headed outside toward the pond and walking path, my boss asked, Did you feel like you were getting thrown under the bus?

Oh, yeah. I said. Completely. I told her I’d be willing to take the blame if I honestly thought the mistake was mine, but I just couldn’t find a scrap of memory in my mind where I now thought I should have done something I didn’t.

Stop, she told me. I know you, and I know you’re making yourself crazy trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and thanked her. Why had I thought she would chew me out? She has never once dealt with anyone that way.

You know I trust you, right? She asked. I assured her that I’ve always felt trusted and supported by her.

Then stop killing yourself over this. This is not on you. It was [the blaming person] who failed to check facts with the rest of the team before finalizing the project. Considering the length of time this has been in the works, all the people involved and all of the moving parts, it was [the blaming person]’s responsibility to make sure this didn’t happen.

She went on to tell me that she had left the meeting early because she was “so pissed” on my behalf that she couldn’t respond to [the blaming person] in any semblance of a professional manner. She said that [the blaming person] has a long-standing and well-known attitude of it’s business, not personal, which seems to allow her to act and speak in unthinkable ways and it’s getting old. My boss assured me that there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t see through [the blaming person]’s smokescreen. No one else there thought I should be taking the fall for this, and she informed me that the VP was livid on my behalf. And ultimately, it was [the blaming person] who was directed to rectify the situation.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my boss? Afterwards, it was tempting to hold a grudge against [the blaming person], but I was just so relieved to know that my boss had my back that I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And ultimately, I feel sorry for [the blaming person]. She has a brilliant mind, but she’s an island. It must be awfully lonely being her at times. And based on her approach with me after all was said and done, I can tell that she truly didn’t think she’d done anything hurtful. She was leaning on me for support in her efforts, asking my opinion, letting me know she values my capabilities, just like she typically does.

The longer I’m in the corporate world, the more I’m reminded, this is not who I am. It’s just what I do. I’m fortunate to be passionate about many aspects of it, but I can see that if it were one day gone from me… there’d be something else to take its place and I’d get by. So I’ll do it for as long as I’m allowed and as long as it serves my family’s needs.

And at any rate, I am just so happy it’s summer and it’s the weekend! Moving on!

Restoring my calm

Yesterday was beautiful. It was the perfect day to be off work. It’s been so long since I had a “mental health” break that I’d forgotten how good it feels to have a quiet, unscripted day stretching out ahead of me.

I never left the house or yard. I spent the morning taking care of a few inside chores while listening to music on the radio. By noon, I could feel the sun calling me to come outside. The sky was a deep, bright blue, free of clouds. The sun was brilliant, and the temperature was just right in the low eighties. There was a slight enough breeze to make it perfectly comfortable. I changed into shorts and a tank, grabbed a couple of books and found a nice patch of sunshine to soak up as I stretched out in the Adirondack chair.

After reading for an hour or so, I went inside to find some leftovers in the fridge and heated them up for lunch, which I promptly took back outside to the deck. While eating beneath the canopy, one of my wren friends kept me company. He perched on top of the feeder hanger and showed off his vocal talents.

Lucy was enjoying the gorgeous day every bit as much as I was. She wandered the perimeter of the yard, sniffing beneath the fences,and barking at passers-by. She ran from one end to the other and rolled in the thick, green grass. I spent some time weeding the vegetable gardens, trimming back the rhubarb that was going to seed, and transplanted some herbs which were overflowing the pots where I’d initially planted them. The garden will give the basil and cilantro much more room to stretch out.

As I took the day in stride, I realized just how much most of my days are spent planning, thinking, worrying, discussing, meeting deadlines and commitments, rushing from one thing to the next while always thinking ahead to yet another obligation. In stark contrast, I spent the day yesterday without planning, without conversation, and simply quieting my mind.

When Mark came in the door from work mid-afternoon, I was happy and energetic. I could see the pleasant surprise on his face. I think he’s gotten a bit used to seeing me come home from work looking and feeling frazzled.

As I sat at the top of the half-flight of stairs, he looked up at me from the foyer and asked, “How was your day?”

“It was lovely,” I said, smiling. “I would like to not work and just do this instead from now on if it’s okay with you.”

He brushed me off, saying, “You’d get bored.”

He was right. I love the challenge of my job. I like to work, to learn, to experience new experiences. I need to be around and talk with other people.But I definitely need to make sure that I periodically schedule more “nothing” days like yesterday. My spirit has been refreshed and it feels wonderful.

Rolling into Summer

I’m off work today. Weeks ago, I’d scheduled this as a vacation day because Mark and I were planning to go out of town for the weekend. Those plans fell through, but I kept the time off and I’m glad. I have nothing in particular in mind for this day, but it’s shaping up to be a beautiful one. We’ll see what it brings, and if that’s nothing more than getting a jump-start on the weekly chores so I’m free to enjoy Saturday and Sunday, I’ll take it.

Summer seems to be well on its way and I’m loving it! There has been a good balance of rain and sun lately. We’ve had several days with temperatures in the eighties and one day reached up into the nineties already! On weekdays, I’ll take a break from work to walk around the pond outside of the office. It’s good to get away from the computer screens and corporate environment to stretch my legs. The turtles have already returned to their sunning spot on a particular log. And this time of year, I’ll often notice the sweet scent of various plants and flowers blooming along the path. One day, a couple of guys dressed in business casual were traipsing around in the trees between the walking path and the water. They were both bent over, closely scrutinizing the ground. I asked what they were looking for. One held out his hand to show me the Morel mushrooms they’d discovered and were busy collecting.

At home lately, we’ll often enjoy dinner out on the deck under the canopy, or just relax there in the evening while watching the sky for storms rolling in.

Storms Coming

2015-04-25Our deck is becoming somewhat of a wildlife sanctuary lately. Remember the chickadees that had taken up residence in the bird house not long ago? Remember how we were saddened to see that some other creature had destroyed the nest, smashed the eggs, and chased the chickadees away? Remember how Mark suspected the sparrows? Well, there’s a new bird family in there now. Wrens. They seem pretty relaxed with the frequent human and canine presence in their neighborhood. And in the mornings, they sing beautifully (and loudly!) For weeks, every time I’d hear them, I’d think, “So pretty!” Until one day I found myself thinking, “Enough already!” Still, the wrens are pretty cute, even though I was mildly disturbed to learn that it was likely they who evicted the chickadees. (Sorry for blaming you, sparrows!)

Birds aren’t the only creatures getting comfortable on our deck. Lucy spends a great deal of time snapping at and chasing flies and various other winged insects. And one day, I almost stepped on what I first thought was a little wood chip. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a tree frog. He wasn’t the least bit bothered by me putting my phone up close to his face to snap a photo.

Tree FrogUnder the deck, the rain has been good for the hostas. They’re getting out of hand early this year!

Hostas

In packing news, we continue to sort through my parents’ accumulation of fifty plus years together, in preparation for their move to the town house they’re purchasing. We’re getting better at throwing and donating things, but plenty of stuff is still finding its way to my house, at least temporarily. Kacey is now the proud owner of a GPS, and Jake, a small cooler to keep his pop and water cold while he’s out on a job site.

Earlier this week, we came across the bowling balls. My parents, of course wanted to know if I, the family bowler, would want them. I didn’t. I have two of my own bowling balls and the main one is weighted so I can throw a hook. These were your standard spare balls for throwing a straight shot. And although Mom’s is a pretty, swirly, green one, it’s not heavy enough for me. Dad’s is too heavy.

Dads bowling ball

The bowling bags were water damaged, so they’re getting thrown away. Mom’s bowling shoes are long gone and Dad’s are curled up and dried with age, so they can be thrown away too. But I wasn’t sure what to do with the balls. I’m sure I could just drop them off at the Goodwill, but was hoping I could put them to better use. I asked at the bowling alley when I was there on Wednesday, but was told they wouldn’t take them.

In a last-ditch effort to figure out the best thing to do with old bowling balls, I stumbled across a Pinterest page. Now I know what to do with the balls!

Mom and Dad’s new place has a few small garden areas. Maybe they’ll get their bowling balls back as a housewarming gift. :-)

Opting not to be defeated

I woke up this morning and sensed the sun slipping through the bedroom window beneath the shade. I hadn’t pulled it all the way down last night. The air outside was comfortable and I wanted to sleep with the breeze drifting in.

I peeked at the clock. Five-thirty. Nope. I closed my eyes again and drifted off before I heard Lucy trot into the room and felt her drop her chin on the bed next to my face. She offered a short, pleading whine, and when I refused to open my eyes and acknowledge her, she leapt up and over me and then back down from Mark’s side of the bed, all in one continuous motion. She’s such a stinker. She wants what she wants, when she wants it.

I opened one eye to look at the clock again. Six-thirty. I decided I was agreeable to taking the spoiled, little princess out for a morning walk.

The past week at work was full of challenges, both of the good and not-so-much variety. A particular colleague continues to combat my sense of balance. While most of our small team has a good sense of give and take and support for one another, she seems to feel the need to not only position herself above everyone else, but to undermine the rest of us. I often wish I had the nerve to remind her that we are all truly peers! No one is above another.

She and I are currently working on two separate but related projects. In an informal meeting she had on Thursday with some of the IT staff, one of them suggested they call me in to collaborate. This would have shed some light on the work I was doing. She had a conniption fit, to the point she felt the need to tell me about it afterwards and attempt to justify her behavior. As she described it, she angrily asked if they were altering the purpose of the meeting and if so, she would drop out so that they could collaborate with me instead. She told everyone present that I was overwhelmed with my job duties at the present time and that they would be imposing on me by calling me into their discussion. Apparently, she made everyone so uncomfortable with her words and tone that they avoided her for the rest of the day. She’s well-known for her air of condescension, but there are times when it becomes downright unprofessional. This was clearly one of those times. She didn’t need to tell me what had happened. I wish she hadn’t. But it was obvious that she felt the need to describe the events in a way that might convince me she was somehow protecting me, in case someone else might get to me first with an uglier description of the events.

Several times afterwards, she stopped by to say, “I hope you’re not mad at me for not wanting to bring you into the meeting.”

I was mad. Not so much because she blocked me from a meeting that would have helped me do my work. I was already doing well enough on my own… but there’s a lot to do and anything that makes things easier is always appreciated. No, I was upset because she seems to think it’s acceptable to act as a human roadblock. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, I shrugged it off and insisted my project was sailing along just fine and I was more than capable of obtaining any information I needed to get my work done. It was true. I did exactly that before Friday was over with initial testing of the project showing almost perfect results. But the fallout of her behavior is that several people later initiated communications with me with the words, “I know you’re swamped, but …”

“Swamped.” That was the exact word she’d told me she used when she lost her cool in her meeting. So I knew there had been a ripple effect from her outburst that caused others to approach me cautiously. That’s what frustrated me so much. I like to work. I welcome new experiences and opportunities. Her behavior could have caused others to pass me by when they would have otherwise invited me in. Probably not. People know me well enough not to let this one thing steer them away from me if I’m really needed. But it was apparent she’d created at least a temporary sense of hesitation.

As Lucy and I walked this morning, I was able to unwind from the stress of the week. The sun was brilliant at that time of the day. The sky was striped with alternating stretches of clear blue and white, puffy clouds. Cottonwood drifted down from the trees, dusting the ground with a blanket of white.

Lucy raced and stopped, pulled and sniffed. She’s not a well-trained dog, to put it mildly. I’ve tried, but she’s got such enthusiasm for the people we encounter along our route. I hold her back, never knowing who might be a dog lover and who might not. But if she could talk, I can imagine what she’d say to those she meets. Hi! Hello! Let me lick your knees! Don’t you want to pet me? 

Everything is an adventure to Lucy. She makes me see things I otherwise might miss. She wanted to chase a black squirrel, and a huge rabbit that disappeared underneath a white picket fence almost before Lucy caught sight of her. She made me laugh and relax. Along the way, as my dog sniffed every scent she encountered, I admired the artwork of spring. Lawns and trees and open spaces along the way seemed to be orchestrated in perfect harmony. Colors seem so brilliant this time of year, the greens so deep, the whites so clean, the yellows and pinks and reds so bursting with brilliance. Even some of those things we usually consider to be weeds were boasting pretty flowers. As we strolled past the farm, I contemplated the huge, old trees that had been allowed to stretch upwards and outwards, unmanicured for years,  their trunks and branches spreading high, and wide. Climbing trees. If I’d have been younger and without a dog, I might have climbed up inside of the branches and relaxed among the leaves for a while.

2015-06-04

The walk allowed me to take a step back from the situation at work. This colleague who continues to frustrate me is not a person of integrity. I’ve known this for years. She’s either openly ugly, or obviously phony with her fake smiles and insincere compliments. I don’t know why I allow her to continue causing me turmoil inside. If I’m not her target, it’s certainly someone else. And quite honestly, it’s so obvious that everything she says and does comes from a place of insecurity. She outright told me that in her meeting, the person who suggested they call me in, said he considered me the most knowledgeable or experienced in the area they were discussing. This set her off, I’m sure, but ironically, it was she who helped ensure I became just that! Whenever work in this area comes up and she doesn’t want to do it, she pawns it off on me, flavoring her requests with words such as, “I thought you’d be the best person to work on this. You’ve already done so much work in this arena and have the most expertise.”

Apparently she uses that particular compliment to get me to do work she doesn’t want to do. It’s not okay when someone else says it and means it.

During my walk, I realized that as difficult as my colleague continues to be, she helps me better myself. She makes me dig deep, to really think about who I am, who I want to be, and what I’m really capable of. She displays the kind of behaviors I make note to always avoid, and she challenges me to develop my own strengths. And then I did something I never thought I’d do. I prayed for her. I thanked God for putting her in my path and acknowledged there’s a reason she and I are in each other’s worlds. I felt sorry for her and asked God to help her, and I softened a little bit inside for her. Maybe there’s a chance we can both rise above this kind of thing. I won’t get my hopes too high, but at least I know that I can take the high road, even if she never does.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford

One Good Thing – The Sheriff

Considering my recent gripiness – I thought it might do me good to acknowledge some of the good stuff now and then. Even if it’s just one thing. So here’s today’s one thing.

There’s this guy at the gym. Your first impression is that he’s kind of annoying. My gym buddy, Erin and I have been seeing him for years, as long as we’ve been meeting there at 5:00 am to use the treadmills.

The 5:00 am crowd isn’t much of a crowd, which is why we like going at that hour of the day. There’s no question we’ll find a couple of open treadmills. And it’s relatively quiet. Obviously, those who make a habit of frequenting the gym before sunrise are morning people.

The guy? He’s a little too much of a morning person. When Erin and I do our cardio, we’re stationed in the upper level of the gym, where we can look down below and see those who are doing weight training. The guy can usually be found down there. From our position, we can see – and hear him as he moves among the free weights and machines. He’s got a circle of acquaintances with whom he interacts. We can often hear him yelling at one or more of them. I guess he sees himself as a sort of motivator.

He’s always yelling to one person or another to do more reps or add more weight. His target will usually toss him an embarrassed smile and just keep doing what they’re doing.

“He acts like he owns the joint,” we’ve said to one another on more than one occasion, usually accompanied by a rolling of the eyes.

I call him “The Sheriff.” I call him that because I heard him refer to himself that way one day. There’s a woman at the gym who, quite honestly, you can’t tell she’s a woman from behind. She’s got muscles everywhere! The guy yelled something to her one day and she yelled right back, “Shut up!”

I thought maybe she was going to beat him up. He’s built like an inverted triangle, but he’s pretty short. My money was on her.

“Hey,” he said, shooting her a friendly glare. “I’m the sheriff around here.” They parted ways peacefully.

I just sighed and rolled my eyes. Show-offs.

Not long ago, after years of doing only cardio, Erin said to me, “What would you think of doing just a half hour of cardio next time and then going down below and figuring out some of those weight machines?”

“Yeah!” I said. We were due for a change in routine. So lately, on Tuesdays after we’re done with cardio, we go downstairs and work on arms. On Thursdays, we work our legs.

Yesterday I arrived at the gym a few minutes ahead of Erin. Usually she’s there first. Our role reversal didn’t escape the Sheriff’s attention. As I started my treadmill, I saw Erin climbing the stairs and then I heard a familiar voice from the free weight area directly below. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him loud and clear.

“You’re late!”

I caught a glimpse of her embarrassed smile and saw her nod in his direction.

“You’d better get up there! She’s already bookin’ it up there and you’re late,” he said, referring to me. I was hardly bookin’ it. More like just warming up.

We laughed when Erin stepped onto the treadmill next to me. Now we were getting yelled at too! When we went down below, he gave her a few more jabs and when he walked away, I said to her, “I don’t want to like him. But he’s kind of growing on me.” Erin agreed.

This morning being Wednesday, I was on my own at the gym. Erin takes turns with her hubby for the early shift. One has to stay home with their little boys in the early morning when the other goes to work out. On Wednesdays, Erin’s hubby is at the gym.

So I was just starting my run on the treadmill on the far end of the upper level when I noticed someone standing below. I slowly looked down and there stood the Sheriff, elbows against his sides, arms outward and palms up. He didn’t have to speak a word. I could see the big question mark on his face.

Still running, I pulled the earbuds from my ears and called down, “She’s Tuesday/Thursday!”

He pulled his earbuds out and said, “What? Didn’t you give her the spiel?”

I’m not sure what the spiel is, but I assume he meant some kind of lecture about being more dedicated. Being as I was calling down to him from the upper level, I opted not to explain to him that Erin just finished a 100 Day (in a row) workout challenge and is actually still going. It just doesn’t all happen at the gym. She’s the one who should be giving me the spiel.

I shrugged at him and he said, “Tell her there are no breaks in fitness!”

I gave him a thumbs-up and he disappeared below into the free weights area as I went back to my music and running. Periodically I’d notice him walk out to one of the machines and then back again. When I could see him, I noticed I was motivated to run harder. Didn’t want the Sheriff yelling at me for not working hard enough. I had to laugh at myself. Clearly there is something to his methods.

When I’d finished my run and had just reached the bottom of the stairs on my way out, the Sheriff was also finishing his workout and heading toward the locker room. He caught my eye and wagged his finger at me casually in a gesture of goodbye. I tossed him a smile and wished him a good day.

When I got home, I texted Erin and let her know that the Sheriff had questioned her whereabouts. We joked back and forth about how she’s going to hear about it tomorrow. But I think we both realized, we’re both in his inner circle now. And we’re okay with that.

A matter of attitude

I just love my daughter. I have no idea how I got so lucky to have a kid like her.

I’ve been feeling out of sorts for a couple of weeks, at least. I don’t know why, but I just haven’t been able to shake the funk. And it’s just stupid stuff that’s been keeping me there. Feeling overwhelmed at work. Something Mark said that didn’t sit right with me. Too many days with clouds instead of sun, maybe. Who knows what else.

Last night after work, Kacey and I rounded up some leftover Margarita chicken and corn salsa from the previous night and made ourselves a couple of tasty southwestern dinner salads. We were sitting at the table eating, just the two of us. Mark was working and Jake was gone somewhere with his pals. So it was just us girls. I was trying to come up with something interesting to say so we could have a nice dinner conversation, but I couldn’t find my way out of the black cloud in my head. Usually we find all kinds of things to talk and laugh about, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was still stewing over a project I’d been tasked with at work. It was way beyond my job description, but more so, I had no experience or frame of reference with which to successfully complete it. I had a feeling that the person who passed it off to me was just looking for someone to do the less desirable portion of the bigger project. Still, I’d managed to figure out how to pull it together somehow. I should have been happy. Or at least proud. But I wasn’t.

I finally just admitted, “I’m so crabby I can hardly stand myself lately.”

“You just need to decide not to be,” Kacey said. As if it was simple as that.

Except, I know it’s as simple as that. Over the past year, I’ve come to realize more than ever before that feeling positive and thankful is largely a matter of choosing to be. I’ve just had a little trouble putting it into practice lately.

“I know,” I said to her. “You’re right.” I was kind of embarrassed that my 22 year-old has this figured out so well at her young age. She really does. She lives it everyday and I think that’s why she makes me laugh so easily. God, I was nothing like that when I was her age. I was distrusting, moody, didn’t think that highly of myself, and had already spent too many years worrying about what other people thought of me. It took me longer than I care to admit to quit obsessing about every situation and person in my life. And there she was, giving me life advice.

“It really is just a choice, Mom,” she said. “You can choose to be happy just as easily as you can choose to be miserable. It’s the same amount of effort. Just a matter of deciding how you’d rather feel.”

I slept on her words and it must have had an effect on me. The big picture was more clear today than it’s been in weeks and nothing seemed like such a big deal. I accomplished things, felt grateful for my coworkers, had a great conversation with a close coworker during our lunch break, and I laughed several times. And at some point, it occurred to me that I was having a really good day. Maybe because I’d chosen to…

Junk Drawer Mementos

2015-05-26Even though I keep saying I won’t take one more thing home with me, I keep coming home with things. Useless things. Things for which I have no plans.

As we sift through all of my parents’ belongings, they decide what will go to the new town house, which items will be donated and which things can be thrown away.

Mom and Dad were debating over the old Hamilton Beach kitchen mixer. They didn’t think they needed it anymore. They each looked to me. Before they could even ask, I informed them that I have no space for it, nor any need. I have a nice Kitchen-Aide myself. But I couldn’t bear to see Mom’s mixer go. I kind of whined when they mentioned donating it. Mom has had it as long as I can remember. We used to watch with excitement as she mixed up the batter for our birthday cakes. In the end, she agreed to hang on to it!

We sorted through a junk drawer and threw away about half the contents. There were two brand new boxes of pencils. No one had any idea why these were ever needed or were kept around so long. The drawing pencils? Might have been for me in high school when I took a drawing class. That was freshman year, though, and I seem to remember a different style of pencil. I can’t imagine my parents hung onto something like this since my high school days. Then again, I can.

The other box contained all yellow paper pencils. Again, no one had a clue as to why. For some reason, I was fascinated with the packaging of these. The box seemed old-fashioned. And I seem to have thing for old-fashioned lately. Mom said to throw both boxes away. I felt compelled to rescue them. I don’t know why. They don’t even have any memories attached to them and I’m now the proud owner of two boxes of pencils I’m unlikely to use.

Maybe they’ll get along well with the growing collection of old kitchen utensils I’m also unlikely to use.