Celebrating Treasures

Happy Independence Day, U.S. readers, and a hearty hello to everyone else!

So far today I’ve been in a parade, eaten barbecue and red, white and blue cake, and had a nap. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than that. The only thing missing is fireworks, and I’m counting on that for tonight.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re probably on the edge of your seats wondering what I’ve been up to lately. (And if you weren’t wondering, feel free to continue on with your day.)

Finding New Treasures

On one of my walks this week, I happened to find this jewel sitting abandoned on the curb.

churn

It’s an old churn, minus the paddle. I have no need for a churn, with or without a paddle, but I couldn’t just leave it sitting there, could I? So I lugged it the remaining half-mile trek home. Those things aren’t exactly light, but it wasn’t as bad as the time I found the nightstand/printer stand.

I’m not sure how I’m going to use this treasure. For now it’s enjoying its new home on my front porch, where I’m thinking it might make a nice hiding spot for a can of bug spray. Or maybe a planter. I don’t know.

Parting with Treasures

I forgot to tell y’all about a treasure-hunting coup from a few weeks ago. Back when I was pet-sitting last month, I spotted a cute little table at the curb of a neighbor’s house and when I went to pick it up, I saw that there was a baby swing next to it and it looked to be in perfect condition! So, of course, I picked it up along with the table.

I’ll show you the table after its makeover is complete, but here’s a picture of the baby swing:

baby swing

Turns out, it’s some kind of fancy pants Fisher Price Swing that retails from between $55-$75. And with a new set of batteries (cost: $2), it worked just fine. Since I didn’t need a baby swing, I listed it on Craigslist and it sold for $25! Woo-hoo! Cammy-the-Capitalist wins one!

Now, if I can just have the same luck with my other listings.

Long-Distance Treasures

local culture frozen yogurt starksville ms

On a day trip to Starkville, MS this week, I found a nice little fro-yo shop, Local Culture. I treated myself to a cup of peanut butter fro-yo, and I’m glad I did! The work assignment I was completing ran over by three hours, so I didn’t get to have dinner until almost 8:00. Considering I’d had lunch at 11:30 a.m. (Wendy’s, New Albany, MS, Apple-Pecan Chicken Salad), I would have been a raving lunatic had it not been for the fro-yo. This experience has moved fro-yo from the “almost healthy” category right up to “potentially life-saving” status. I can’t wait until the next emergency! :)

Local Treasures

And that brings us to today. To celebrate the 4th, my neighborhood had a picnic with catered bbq and potluck sides. I took my Award-Winning Fruit Salad (yes, I pandered), which I would swear I took a photo of, but I can’t find it now. I probably ate it. :)

Anyway, people seemed to like it just as much as before. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would have won, again, if there’d been a prize. I added coconut flakes to it this time, and that made it even better. For a canned fruit pudding salad, that is. LOL

paradeIn addition to our meal, we had a parade of sorts. No floats, no band, no twirlers. Just a bunch of neighbors, waving flags at passersby and having a good time. The kids loved it (they were suspicious at first when they found out no one was going to throw candy or beads to them), and that’s what mattered most. We’ll work on making it slightly grander next year, but not much. It was kind of fun just the way it was.

As I watched the people around me laughing and enjoying their meals, and the kids playing tirelessly on the playground, I felt almost overwhelmed with gratitude. How fortunate I am to live in such an awesome little community in a truly great nation. (Not that there’s anything wrong with any of the other nations.) :)

To cap off this wonderful day, I’m about to go search for a vantage point from which to observe fireworks. And then the celebrating is over. Back to business as usual tomorrow.

How’d you celebrate the holiday? Or Thursday, if you’re in one of the other truly great nations in the world. :)



Signs of Summer

Well, that was a short weekend, wasn’t it? Funny how that works out.

After a cooler than normal spring, Memphis is seeing its first glimpses of summer. We went from jacket weather on Friday to shorts and flip flops on Saturday. The hair on the nape of my neck is damp by noon and stays damp until…October. :) That’s the surest sign of summer that i know!

Other observed signs of summer:

honeysuckle

Honeysuckle! Along with roses and fresh-cut watermelon, I can’t think of another scent that so represents summertime. Whenever I see a honeysuckle vine, I’m instantly transported 30 40 the many years back to my childhood when we would pull the stems and dart out our tongues to taste the tiny drop of nectar. I should do that again to see if it still tastes as sweet. (I wonder if Sparkpeople has “honeysuckle nectar, single drop” in its database.)

lavender

Lavender is another sure sign of summer. This bed is in the neighborhood in which I’m pet-sitting, and I’m making it a point to route my walks so that I pass it every day. :)

wonder bread BLT

For me, another sign of summer is a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, for folks who might not have experienced the joy). On a work excursion last week, I stopped at a local diner (Blue & White Restaurant in Tunica, MS) for a long overdue lunch. Since it was 2:00, I wanted something “light” and went with a good old-fashioned BLT. It was even served on Wonder Bread! (Yes, I ate Wonder Bread for the first time in–heck, I can’t remember when I last ate it–and didn’t die!) Perfect lunch alongside a glass of unsweetened iced tea.

Later on the drive home, I thought something sweet might be nice, so I stopped for another summertime treat:

sonic menu board and ice cream cone

I wanted some awesome-looking molten turtle sundae concoction, but I figured the Wonder Bread was enough of a dance with danger for one day, so I ordered a nice, refreshing ice cream cone.

Another favorite summertime ritual: al fresco dining.

al fresco dining home style

I took advantage of my pet owners’ bbq grill (with permission, of course) and grilled up enough burgers and bbq chicken for the next few weeks. Last night I enjoyed chicken, salad, and oven-roasted corn on the patio, under the watchful eye of Jasmine and Dali.

One sign of summer I had hoped to show you didn’t happen.

all by myself empty bike path

On early evening weekends, the Greenline is normally over-crowded, but I had it all to myself for the most part late Saturday afternoon. It was a little humid, true, but there was a nice breeze in places. I quite enjoyed myself, but I’ll enjoy it more after a little more “seat time”. (Ow. Cyclists know what I mean, I’m sure. :) )

Those are the early signs of summer. We’ll have fresh tomatoes and melon and complaints about the heat in no time, but for now I’m just enjoying the change of seasons.

What are your favorite signs of summer? Have you seen them yet? (Equator-South, please convert to winter signs. :) )



Get Your Mind IN the Gutter

Happy Earth Day! (Unless you’re reading from somewhere else, in which case, Happy Monday!)

earth day 2013 image hands holding earth

art credit: v-collins

I’m almost too tired to do much celebrating today. The combination of our semi-annual neighborhood clean-up on Saturday and over three hours of lawn maintenance on Sunday have me feeling a bit pooped.

I live in a nice, middle-class suburb, where most people take care of their lawns. Unfortunately we have a “cut-through” street that connects two busier thoroughfares, and some of those people see no problem in tossing trash out their car windows. Most residents pick up the transient trash that lands in their yards or gutters, and other folks (that’d be me) pick up for those who can’t or just plain don’t pick up quickly. (We have a lot of senior-types who aren’t able. The others are just slobs.)

Besides being ugly, the problem with trash in the gutters is that the first gully-washer rain we get sends the trash straight to a storm drain, where it will either block the drain so that rain water backs up and causes flooding, or it will empty into the system and wind up in the Mississippi River. Here’s a little look at what happens when a metropolitan area of over a million people doesn’t keep its storm drains clear of trash (video only lasts a minute or so):

Pitiful. That’s the only word for it: pitiful.

I’m marginally pleased to report that on this past Saturday, we found only a few bottles and cans in the neighborhood proper–the adjacent wooded lane we’ve adopted was another story entirely–but we did have a pretty big problem plaguing our streets: oak catkins, or as I call it, oak poop. Catkins are the male oak flower, and once they’ve done their pollen-y thing, they drop from the tree where the spring winds toss them about to collect in huge piles in the street. And where does this go? Straight to the storm drain.

catkins piled in street and on storm drain

On the left you see the oak poop. On the right, you see one of the drains I cleared on Saturday. This one was especially tough, because small branches had washed onto the top of the drain openings and then silt had come in on top of it to create a complete blockage. Think: suburban beaver dam. After I’d cleared the loose layer on top, I ran (literally!) back home for my small shovel and cleared the muck and yuck from the drain so that it will, you know, drain. We’re supposed to have thunderstorms tomorrow. I may go out to watch “my” drain do it’s thing.

I really don’t understand why so many people don’t seem to care. Still, I’m committed to “enlightening” my neighbors and have assembled some tips for ensuring our community’s trash doesn’t make it to the local river:

Tips for Being Good Storm Drain Guards

  • When you see trash, pick it up.
  • Secure the lids on trash cans and recycle bins, especially during windy times.
  • Don’t blow lawn clippings or leaves into the street.
  • Take your pet droppings to your trash can. Dropping them down the storm drain is NOT the solution. (I don’t like carrying around dog poo either, especially in the summer, but I’ll do it joyfully in the quest for a healthier planet.)
  • Don’t use a storm drain for a dumping station for waste products. You might as well go ahead and drink it straight, because it’s going to end up in your water supply anyway.
  • Since I’ve actually seen someone dumping used motor oil into a drain, another good tip is to keep the phone number of the appropriate reporting agency handy. (In Memphis, you can even report it online!)

Feel free to “enlighten” your community as well! And until they see the light, why not check out your nearest storm drain to make sure it’s clear?!

Today, I’m focusing on a different set of gutters: the ones on my house. With three poop-dropping oak trees in my yard, my gutters runneth over. Oh well, lots more functional exercise today! This might be my third 1000+ calories-burned day in a row!

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

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