Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mugs and Memories

When I open my cupboard to take out a mug for my morning coffee, this is what I see.
Every mug in the cupboard has some special connection to events in my life. When I use a mug for coffee, tea, or cocoa, I remember these things. Of course, I have my favorites--perhaps the color or decoration on the mug; perhaps the way it fits and feels in my hand; and perhaps the memories attached to a particular mug.
I don't remember when we got them, but these were the mugs Jerry used every morning for his coffee. When Megan was little and spent the night with us, she would have coffee-milk with Grandpa in the matching mug.

This was one of the gifts we were given by the Black Hawk Community Church when we moved back to Gillette. We loved that congregation and it was very hard to leave.

These mugs all come from trips to Yellowstone National Park. Using one of them takes my mind to Yellowstone.

This mug and Terry Redlin art print remind me of a trip to Watertown, SD, for a board meeting of the foundation I worked for. The mayor was one of the board members and gave us each these gifts. We visited the Terry Redlin art museum as part of our free time activities.

These mugs I received over a span of quite a few years of my working life. They came as gifts with flowers in them.

When Megan was very young, the Birdies gave me this mug and a matching Grandpa one for Jerry.
This mug is a memento of a visit to the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper. I enjoyed the art a great deal and then my attention was captured by a display of handmade pottery dishes in the museum gift shop. I treated myself to this mug with some birthday money I had not yet spent. It pleases my eye as well as my hand and drinking from it gives me pleasure.

Some of the mugs I keep for sentimental reasons are not used very often, but I like them as mementos.

These mugs were given to us at different Christmases by Jerry's sister Jean. The photo is rather faded, but is of the four Russell siblings.

This mug was from the 40th Anniversary of Platte Valley Bible College celebration. Jerry and I enjoyed the gathering and saw many old friends. Jerry's mom, Emma, was also there.

These character mugs, The Easter Bunny, a Mustached Gentleman, and Santa Claus, were painted by Jerry's mom during her ceramics period. They are over 50 years old, so I don't actually use them for anything other than decoration.

My sister Brownie painted this tin mug and gave it to me many years ago. I am very fond of it and keep it on my living room bookshelves. It also makes a handy holder for a fat candle.

My collection of mugs also includes soup mugs. I really like soup mugs and find them useful for other things besides just soup. These particular mugs are special to me because they used to live in my mother's cupboard. During the house clean out I rescued them after everyone else had chosen what they wanted from Mother's house. I use them and I think of Mother and her home, which was the family center for so many years.

I have other mugs that are put away. They were gifts that were given to Jerry, such as his Grandpa cup, his Denver Broncos cup, and the cup that has clever remarks about golfing written on it. I can't use them, and I can't give them away, so they sit in the small cupboard over the kitchen sink.

In general, I enjoy using objects that touch a memory. They make even the most commonplace, everyday things just a little special.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Undefeated by the Romans

A few months ago I posted a blog that mentioned I was reading The Romans for Dummies book (here). It has taken a long time, but I have finally finished it.

Sometimes I start a book that I think will be really interesting, but bog down partway through. I hate to be defeated by a book! So I often keep plugging on, trying to get it done. If desperate, I'll start skipping and scanning, just to get the gist of it without suffering through every word.

Occasionally, I'll find a book so boring that I decide it really has no worth for me and it is silly to spend any more time on it.

There have been a few times I have found a book so disgusting I have thrown it in the trash. I don't want to pass it on and pollute other minds!

But the Romans book seemed worthwhile to read. I've long been interested in the times of the Roman empire. There are a lot of fascinating characters, events, and accomplishments that took place under the Romans. Their influence on subsequent history is enormous.

So why did it take me so many months to finish this book?

I'm sorry to have to say it, but I was mostly just bored, bored, bored by it. But I wanted the information. So I read it a bit at a time over many weeks. The problem, it seems to me, is that the author tried to cover around 2,000 years of history in slightly less than 500 pages. Given that task, there wasn't space to spend developing the really interesting stories about people and events. Instead, you get bits and pieces in very condensed form. There are lots of names and dates I'm never going to remember. Neither will I really remember how the political structure of Rome was organized in different stages of the development from a village to an empire. And there were battles galore, but I'll only remember the general tenor of those times, rather than what general met what tribe in what battle in which country.

I come away from this book with a general overview of the entire span of the Roman Empire, from before it was an empire until its ultimate collapse. There were lots of villains and a few heroes, but only some of their names will stick with me.

Rather than being a fun and interesting read, this was more like a textbook (and why can't they be written in a lively and interesting manner?) that needed to be studied, with note-taking and exams to make the information stick.

I'm sorry I can't give a more positive review of the book. Someone else might come away from it with an entirely different view.

In the meantime, if you like history, I would highly recommend a slim volume by Will Cuppy titled The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. It is copyrighted 1950, but I recently found a used copy through Amazon to replace my old paperback that I have worn out. I have laughed so hard reading this book (many times over the years) that my eyes teared up and I could no longer see the page. Jerry used to look at me like I was nuts when I was reading Cuppy's take on various historical personages. His history is generally accurate, but his viewpoint and the way he tells it are hilarious.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Short, Sweet Visit

Today my sister Grace's daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughters came to town for a quick visit. My daughter Anne Marie and I went to Grace's to spend a little time with them.

Anne Marie came prepared with storybooks.
The little girls, Cordelia and Elise, have the best documented childhoods ever, due to their mother and grandmother both being bloggers. But I still took my own photos of them!

It was a short visit, as the girls (they'll always be girls to me) had to head home. They live a little over two hours away. A two-hour trip across Wyoming plains is a much greater distance than a two-hour trip in a heavily populated area.

Niece Tina entertained Elise with rides in the electric wheelchair.

Sue and Grace

Trying to get a photo of Elise was a challenge--a moving target.
While Elise socialized, Cordelia was mostly content to cuddle with Anne Marie--she was running a little fever and not feeling very well.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Petunias Are Tough

Most years I can count on my flowers staying beautiful until the end of October.

This year we had our first big snowstorm the last week of September. The flowers survived it. A week later we had an even bigger snowstorm, one that has been written about in several blogs--and it was definitely a newsworthy event.

The zinnias did not make it this time.

The weight of over fourteen inches of heavy, wet snow mashed the plants, damaging their beauty, but those tough petunias are still keeping on! With the colder nights we are now having that won't last much longer, but the durability of these plants that look so fragile amazes me.

In full summer bloom.
Last Friday
On Sunday, after the thaw was well underway, I took some photos of my deck "people" emerging from the snow.
The guardian angel--still on the job.
The little girl with the watering can--I think she can put it away for the winter!