Friday, June 30, 2017

Still Smiling by Lois Caswell, Bike in a Basket Part 2

Still Smiling

My last story was about Dad building his bike from a bushel basket full of parts and many more after that until now he is showing his Grandson how to fix bikes and take care of them. He has been concerned that Grandson was doing this just to please him, and maybe he really didn’t enjoy doing it. Grandson doesn’t say much, so it is sometimes hard to tell.

It is amazing in life how beautifully things happen, and I don’t believe it is ever just by accident, but first came Grandson’s sweet note in Dad’s birthday card about how he was enjoying doing stained glass and working on bicycles and how he hopes they can do a lot more of it.
Last Friday evening as we were sitting on the porch just after our dinner, my phone rang and it was Grandson. He said, “Grandma, my friend and I are almost at your house. Would it be OK if we stopped for some ice cream?” Of course, I said and asked if he knew the way. He said he did. I thought it a bit unusual that he would call rather than just drop in. Not surprised to hear he was nearby because those boys have been known to bike 25-30 miles a day, so we waited for them to come.

In just a few minutes they were on the front step. I asked if I could put a burger on the grill for them, but they said no, they just wanted ice cream because both were supposed to be home for dinner later.

Grandson’s friend said, “Can we see the bikes you have been working on?” Grandson proudly took his friend out to the garage and their “Bike Shop.” His friend was very impressed and they had to ride a couple of them. Grandson was all smiles, but nothing compared to the smile Grandpa was wearing.

They inhaled some left over Dairy Queen cake in the freezer, much better than plain old ice cream bars and were soon on their way.

As they left, Grandson said, “Grandpa, can I some over sometime next week to work on bikes?”

Needless to say, Grandpa agreed, and is still smiling. The best part, not questioning whether or not Grandson was doing it to please him.

I am sure they will share many more good times working on bikes. Just goes to show us that the most valuable things really don’t cost much of anything but lots of love and some time.

By Lois H. Caswell


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Organizing eMail is Like Cleaning the Fridge

Organizing eMail is Like Cleaning the Fridge

It recently occurred to me that cleaning out my unwieldy email inbox is like cleaning out the refrigerator. I manage to get hundreds of emails a week, and having taken a year long online class added dozens more messages for each lesson. It become necessary to do a more through cleaning beyond deleting a few now and then.

Organizing eMail is Like Cleaning the Fridge
The door is first. When I clean out the fridge, first the outdated bottles in the door are discarded. They are all lined up nicely and waiting for their turn to be used up, but having missed the opportunity they are in line for the chopping block, so to speak. I take that approach with sale and coupon emails that ended some time ago, and delete those first. There went the sales ending in February, March, April, and May — tossed much like I would toss expired mayonnaise. My nicely organized email folder labeled “coupons to use” had a few more even older messages —- select the group, and delete. Oh, well, sales, I missed you.

The bottom refrigerator drawer has things I rarely look at, so those are probably  old. The drawer decisions are somehow easier than shelf decisions. How long has that been there? I look at the end (bottom) of my email list to delete the oldest, except for the ones that were saved from previous cleanings because I might read them someday. Delete, delete, delete.  Wait, not that, I really might read it now.

smaller food containers make their way to the back of the refrigerator shelvesThe shelves! You know how those smaller food containers make their way to the back of the refrigerator shelves? If they have been there a long time, who even wants to look and possibly have to smell? Those are like my email folders. Why is it what I  am most likely to delete is nicely saved in folders? Because I don’t look in the folders as that would require clicking twice. That would take so much effort, you see.  I like to work quickly when I clean the fridge, too. I hate to admit it but sometimes those little containers that should be reused make their way to the trash.

Now for the produce drawers that are the most frequently used. Bits of lettuce and other unwanted stuff need to be removed, just like newsletters to which I am subscribed. Why do I have all these newsletters? Maybe it was a subscription in exchange for a free PDF, to get 10% off my first order, or perhaps it was from one of my rare contest entries. Another fairly easy decision, In the search box, I type in the name of the newsletters I never read, select all, delete. That reminds me of my good intention to use the Kale or Swiss chard I bought but somehow didn’t seem to have a recipe. What was I going to do with the Swiss chard?

About now I need to empty the trash. For the fridge, I might have to take out the trash twice.  Well, hubby does anyway. So back on my computer I go to trash, empty trash, and look at that . . . 524 mails are being deleted. Please wait. Oh, I remember past messages I have sent, find sent, and delete all those too. About 150 more are gone, gone, gone. Well, at least it isn’t as bad as the time I had 10,000 emails to go through because I wasn’t checking my all mail.

There still messages sitting there. It occurs to me my refrigerator has a much better spam filter than my computer as I get no insurance or annuity offers when I look inside. I don’t need McAfee or Norton protection for the fridge. So now I block the creepy emails from Nigerian princes and foreign banks. No, we might not finish a leftover I didn’t even realize was in the fridge, but at least it isn’t trying to sell me anything. How do those strange foods get in there, anyway? If I don’t even remember it or perhaps want to remember it, out it goes, out, out, out.

Organizing eMail is Like Cleaning the Fridge
I have discovered food that is still good and I remember some recipes I wanted to make and still can as it is within the freshness dates. I surprise myself as I have a plan for dinner! I thought I had to go to the store. This reminds me of messages I might actually want to read: the fun ones, the new ones, the ones from friends, the ones I really want to read, the ones from writing group! Do I apply the KonMari decluttering goddess cleaning method. If I print it and hold it in my hand and it gives me joy do I keep the message?

What will I learn from my email cleaning? Unsubscribe, do not sign up, delete immediately if I am going to do so eventually. Do not let it stack up, focus on the email I want to read, and maybe clean out Gmail more often. About once  a week like the refrigerator? And try not to delete emails so fast the good ones somehow disappear which does happen despite my best intentions.  Does Gmail have a mind of its own?

Some people have a different approach. Gmail will delete messages in trash after 30 days. But unwanted messages do have to be moved to trash. 

OK, that was ONE of my several email accounts . . .  next! 

At least I have only one refrigerator.

You know what would make cleaning more fun? A maid. Are there any maid services that also handle email?

Carolyn Wilhelm

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Bike in a Basket, a story by Lois Caswell

The Bike in a Basket
By Lois Caswell
The Bike in a Basket, a story by Lois Caswell

This story was written by Lois for her grandchildren. She and her husband lived in England where they were stationed on a SAC base that housed lots of big airplanes that carried bombs.  

It all started when we lived in England and Dad needed a ride to work. We lived quite a ways from the base, and without transportation it was a long walk.  We had no money to buy a car, or a bike for that matter.

One day he came home with a huge bushel basket full of what looked like junk.  “Oh, no, it’s not junk," he said, "It’s my new bike." He purchased from a friend of a friend for five shillings or about $.75 at that time.

“Yea, right I thought and just where are you going to make that pile of junk into a bike,” I thought.  Our home at that time was two small rooms, one was kitchen, dining and living room, and the other was our bedroom.  But, alas, he was determined, and faithfully night after night went to work on his new treasure.  Before very long it had become the biggest bike I had ever seen.

The Bike in a Basket, a story by Lois CaswellThis was not just your ordinary bike. It had 28 inch tires on it.  I never could ride it because I couldn’t get on it as it was too tall.  After much work, sanding and finally the blue paint (Air Force blue and white of course) he begin riding it faithfully to work every day.  He had a huge hill to climb.  Not sure how far he peddled up, but boy coming home must have been something else.

The Bike in a Basket, a story by Lois CaswellThat was just the beginning of a long series of bikes in my life.  He found another old one he fixed up for me, and I’ll never forget the first time we went out to ride. I was so proud of myself and thought I was doing great, but when I tried to stop . . . I just kept going and ran right into him.  He forgot to tell me English bikes had only hand brakes. 

Then there was the tandem bike. It was blue too, but we sure had a lot of fun with it.  We both used to ride together a lot. In England, they were very common, here not so much.  

When you kids were small, Dad built a sidecar for his big bike, and he put all three of you and Buffy the yellow lab in the side care and away you went with me following on my bike. I’ll never forget one Sunday afternoon when we were out biking. A little yellow VW bug ran right in the ditch cause they were so busy watching you and the side car full of kids and Buffy.  It was so funny.

Since then, you all outgrew the sidecar, and I imagine it was pretty well worn out by then. He has fixed and repaired many too many bikes to remember.  He has built a three wheel tandem bike, and various others. It isn’t unusual for him to collect two or three and make one really nice one.

A couple of years ago, he completely restored “big blue” as we have always called the big English bike. It looks like a shiny new penny, and yes, he can still ride it!

Now that he has retired, he has a new hobby.  He is teaching our grandson, Clayton how to use some of the tools he gave him for Christmas, and to fix and keep his bike in good repair, and now to purchase old bikes from garage sales, teach Clayton how to fix them and then, Clayton will sell them to earn some extra money.  A good hobby and maybe even a business to help him through college, who knows. 

So at least once a week, the two of them go to work in the “Bike Shop” and when they have had enough, make a trip to the freezer for Grandma’s ice cream dessert, and proceed to the couch to watch Hawaii Five O.  A fun night for both.

Who would have thought that old basket full of “junk” could be the start of something so special.

By Lois H. Caswell


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