Tag Archives: Observations

Practice Makes Perfect

Have you ever taken music lessons?

Or received coaching for a sport?

What about learning to cook a favorite dish?

How to you become expert (or even moderately proficient) at any of the above?

Practice. Practice. Practice.  And then some more practice.

While natural talent and ability gives immeasurable assistance — the best in their field practice, practice, practice. It does not matter if they have a world-wide reputation for excellence. To keep that standard they practice.

On the River Bank

The water slides past in silence. Millions and billions of drops, collected into depressions and moved by gravity. The small units merge until they are measured not by pints or buckets or barrels, but by cubic feet per minute as they hurry on their way.

Downstream. Always seeking the lower elevation. They would go deep into the earth if a hole opened.

They don’t appear to rush as I stand high on the shore. And I let my thoughts drift. Where are they bound? Will they be diverted into the water system of a town or city? Or evaporate, defying gravity until they form a cloud? It’s pleasing to think of them having an adventure, passing new places, until they join the mighty waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean beyond.

Mighty Mississippi — The Father of Waters

Good in Green

We all have our favorite colors. And often they are the ones which look best on us. Perhaps they bring emphasis to eye color. Or compliment a skin tone. And once in a while — they’re just cheerful and fun.

But what if you like a color that does not flatter? Perhaps confine it to an accessory? Or use it around the home. Pick that red you love for an accent pillow. Or a few dishes. Or a piece of artwork.

I like green. And it is one of three or four colors which flatter. But it’s not popular. At least not in the bargain stores where I shop. So I have a few things. And then I fill the house with plants in the winter.

New addition this year. A gift from a relative. In a beautiful green skirt.

Miniature Memory

Midwestern farms, especially a few decades ago, needed to be for self-sufficient then our small town or city friends. One feature of this was that each farm (and in some instances homes in small towns or edges of larger ones) needed their own water and sanitation systems.

Our water supply was green. No, not the color. But in energy use. It was not the sort you would find in the small town — unless it was grandfathered into the regulations from a farm absorbed into the boundaries.

We had one of these:

There were differences. The one on our farm was forty feet tall and pulled the water up over 300 feet. Able to rotate and use wind blowing from any direction, it served us well. And if the wind didn’t blow for a day?

Good question. We directed the flow from the well into a cistern. We also had it fixed up so with a little practice a person could move the pipe and fill the stock tank. (Dairy cows are thirsty.) From the cistern the water moved with a combination of gravity and an electric pressure pump and tank in our basement into a dependable supply.

It was a small chore to turn the windmill either on or off or move the pipe. But we kept track of the time when filling the stock tank (and to a lesser extent the cistern). Water is precious and not to be wasted by making a large muddy puddle.


Look Twice

Be careful crossing the street. Look both ways. Twice.

Good advice from parents to children. Good habit for adults, and not limited to crossing streets.

One quick look is often not enough. What’s moving in the grass? Where’s the hamster? (or kitten, or puppy, or other pet) Is the mess cleaned up? The stain removed? Often a careful examination now will save time and effort in the future.

And sometimes people play tricks on others.

For example:

Taking a nap on these rocks would be comfy.

Reason: They’re pillows.

Eighty Years Ago

Eighty years ago, the world looked a little different. It also looked the same.

Young people married. My parents exchanged vows Sept 10, 1936.

Young  couples worked. Dad was a farmer. They rented a place. Later they bought another. Worked the land with horse power — the kind that ate hay and furnished fertilizer. Pumped water with wind power. Kept house without electricity.

Times changed. Inventions became available to less populated, rural areas. Children were born. Houses and farms were bought and sold. A job with the post office furnished the bulk of financial stability. Travel became more comfortable. And faster.

By the time the marriage ended (with the death of my father) it was sixty four years, ten months, and twenty three days later. They lived in a house in a small town with an oil furnace and air conditioning. An automobile and riding lawn mower occupied the garage.  The water well pump was electric and low maintenance.

Times changed. People stayed the same — living a life of honest work, kindness to neighbors, and tolerance to those unlike them.

On this day I feel we could do well to do the same – regardless of the number of “gadgets” or dollars in our bank account.

An Immigrant

Immigrants are not unusual in the United States. If you shake nearly any family tree you’ll find an immigrant or two fall out of one, two, or perhaps five or six generations past.

Many came from Europe by choice. They moved to improve their financial, religious, or educational opportunities. Some came from Africa against their will to labor for others. Asians were imported to work in agriculture and build railroads.

Not all immigrants survived. They became victims of disease, poverty, and accidents. A great many managed to carve a place for themselves and their children in this new land. A few accumulated fortunes and power.

They continue to arrive to this day — centuries after Jamestown, St. Augustine, and Plymouth.

And just a quick reminder. Not all immigrants are human. Consider this lovely import.


Mexican feather grass

Bird and Salad Combo

When dining out, one of the items I frequently order is a large salad. Often it will come with grilled or breaded chicken. The combo is delicious. And it has lots of the things dietitians and nutritionists approve of.

It’s good to try new things. New combinations in foods. Perhaps with the addition of one or two unfamiliar ingredients. (Careful. You might like it!)

You can also look at a familiar object or event from a new angle. Ever lay down to watch a dog walk past. (They may stop to investigate you. It might be boring looking at human feet and knees all day.) Or go high – stand on a chair or ladder, or climb up to look down on a lawn sprinkler?

Or you can just go silly — as with this photo of cranes and lettuce.


Art glass birds in water lettuce salad.

Rule vs. Advice

My practical introduction to the rule occurred as advice in my youth. Mother taught me to sew. Lots of steps involved in creating a wearable garment from a piece of cloth. Measuring was basic. You needed to measure to have the clothing fit. And to have the pattern piece cut on the straight grain of the fabric. (Or on the bias if the pattern called for it.)

Get it right. Double check. Pin in place. Only then did you pick up the scissors.

I later came to discover that this is a slight variation on the “carpenter’s rule”. Measure twice. Cut once.

As you can tell from my opening — it’s not limited to woodworking. I was pleased to see the rule in action as they began work on a new storm sewer.


Measure twice. Dig once.

Animal Trails

Do you walk the same path day after day? From the driveway to the door? From the door to the curbside mailbox? From the house to the barn?

It was the final one which we walked a lot. But we took enough variations that we never defined a clear, dirt path across the thick grass. Okay, in the winter we made a path and stayed on it. No sense in letting a good track through the snow go to waste. But that was temporary.

Our animals played “follow the leader.” A lot. They, with the aid of sharp hooves, did wear a narrow path across the pasture and up the lane into the barnyard. Many times I followed along, usually with the dog, bringing the cows up for milking. The only hazard — cow pies.

People who grew up with some wooded land became familiar with other animal paths. And city dwellers can get a hint with a visit to the zoo.


Cat Path Expert