Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shopping for Ideas

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Mem...
 The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee. The first self service grocery store, opened 1916. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         So far I've never lacked for ideas for this blog and I doubt if I ever would.   As long as I live, new ideas will keep coming and now matter how much I write about my past I can't imagine ever running out of memories to write about.   Even the memories I've already written about could be approached from a number of different angles.    Ideas are not only everywhere, but they are infinite.

          Why am I writing about this topic at this time?   I'm just thinking.  I'm pondering some of the things I might write about in blog posts to come.    And since I'm on the topic, then let me ask you some questions about things that might get you to remembering your past.   Maybe these will be some ideas you can use as well.

  • What stores and other businesses can you remember from your youth that are no longer around?
  • What was your favorite store to visit when you  were a kid?
  • Do you have many eating out experiences that you remember from childhood?
  • What things did you typically spend money on when you had it?
  • Did you go grocery shopping with your parents?    Were you a help or more of a hindrance?
  • Are there any products that you no longer see in stores that you miss?
  • Did you have a hobby when you were younger and what types of purchases did you make to sustain your hobby?
  • Was there a neighborhood business that was considered a hang-out for you and your peers?
  • How has shopping changed in our age as compared to your youth?
          I don't expect you to answer all of these questions in the comment section here, though you are certainly welcomed to if you like.   Maybe one question resonates with you that you would like to discuss.  Or maybe you'd like to use one or more of these topics on your own blog.   If you do then please be sure to send me the link so I can read your responses.

         I'll probably be hitting on a few of these ideas in weeks to come.   Memoir can be anything that you remember.    Sometimes memoir evolves from things you don't remember.  That's when the research kicks in.    What's the point of remembering the past?    Maybe you can answer that one too.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tennessee Stomping Grounds

English: Olympus 4.0 Megapixel 3x zoom Digital...
English: Olympus 4.0 Megapixel 3x zoom Digital Camera. Taken in 2002 in Cocke County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Thomas Wolfe is famously attributed to the saying "You can't go home again" which was taken from a posthumous novel of that name.   Most often the saying is more in reference to the fact that you can't recapture the place and circumstances of your memories.  We can fondly remember, but usually we are disappointed and disillusioned when we visit home hoping to find things like they once were.

        The fact is that things change--people, places, and all that our memories embrace.  Those things might be there in one manner of speaking, but rarely can we completely recapture the old feelings or experience the same sensations like they once were way back when.

        It's been 23 years since that last time I lived in East Tennessee and that was for only a few years having spent a previous 13 years on the road with a traveling show.   When I left my parents' home in 1975 for a life of travel it was not so much a severing ties as it was a beginning of new chapters in my life.  It's a decision that I'm glad I made, but my leaving created a gulf in the familiar relationships I had enjoyed during the years previous to that departure.

        As time passed, my old friends established newer relationships with people I did not know.  Some of those friends went on to get married and start families. Others moved away like I did while a few passed from this life.  Over time even the face and spirit of my home town changed as more people from other places moved into the area, old landmarks disappeared, and newer places were built in their places.  Highways were improved and bypasses were built.   The small town that I had once known took on a greater urban feel.   Where once I could be out and about and almost have a guarantee of running into someone I knew, now I might be out all day all about town and never see an old familiar face.

         Change is to be expected over time and probably a place would not be economically healthy if that change didn't occur.  Geographically my old Tennessee stomping grounds still exists on the map, but for someone who grew up there it is barely recognizable in many ways.

         Friends grow older and gain new responsibilities with careers, lives, and families.   I don't feel quite as comfortable just dropping in on many of them for fear of intruding or interfering with their busy schedules.  There are still a handful with whom I maintain fairly regular contact, but rarely do I actually see them.  The old Tennessee stomping grounds holds a fond place in my memories.  However, these days when I visit East Tennessee in some ways I almost feel like just another one of the many tourists who pass through there each year.

        I would imagine that if I still lived there I might feel a lot different about the old homeland.  But I don't live there anymore.  And I don't know if I ever will again.  Not that I wouldn't want to.  It's just that things change and sometimes going back home can never recapture the memories of what once was.

        Are there places from your past that you've gone back to and they just felt different to you?   Do you currently live in a place where you grew up or that you came back to after an extended time away?   How do you feel about the Thomas Wolfe observation that "you can't go home again"?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Journey Ends

English: Volkswagon bug RV
English: Volkswagon bug RV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Time for a breather.   Kick back and catch up to all that's piled up while I've been roaming the roads of America.   It's been a great time that I somewhat sadly leave behind me yet exhale a sigh of relief that I am home again.   That is, the home where all my stuff is.   The place where I pay my house payment and receive the rest of my bills.   My heart may not totally be here in the place where I live, and my mind is divided as to where I would really like my "home" to be.

        This vacation that my wife and I embarked on was 47 days away from our house.  That's by my wife's count of the days.  I wasn't counting, but her number sounds correct.  It seemed longer in a way and yet it all seemed to fly.   It's good to be back in our own home, but it was nice being gone.  

         The saying goes "All good things must come to an end" and so it goes with a vacation.  Some family members and friends have suggested that when my wife retires we should sell our house, buy an RV, and just travel all the time.  I'm not sure about the RV part.  Sure, having the portability of possessions might be nice and it could be very handy to just pull over sometimes to sleep in my own bed and use my own bathroom.  There is much to be said for having a "house on wheels".  I'm just not sure about driving a big ol' thing around.

         In my younger days I had plenty of experience living out of a van and staying in motels all the time.  I got used to that lifestyle and quite enjoyed it.   It's a good idea to have an address--a base of operations so to speak.  I always used my parents address back then.  Now that's not a viable option.   I guess I'll keep a home somewhere.  Maybe not as big of a house as we have now unless someone is living in it when we're off galavanting.

          It's all something for us to consider in the years to come.   We've still got time to decide, but my wife and I need to start thinking more seriously about the years to come.  I hope there are years--many more of them.

          This previous journey has ended, but the life journey continues.   With each ending comes a new beginning.   It's a circle of life just like in The Lion King.  We've got places to go and people to see before they and we are gone.   The kids are getting settled into their own cycles of life and the grandchildren are coming and growing.   We don't want to miss out on those grandchildren who now live across the country from us.

         I guess we'll figure it out.   One journey has ended and others wait ahead of us.

         Are you living a life in retirement yet?   What are your plans for the future?    If you were living a life of travel how would you want to do it?

Saturday, August 2, 2014


        Whenever I hear the city name "Houston" I usually think of that old song hit done by Dean Martin back in 1965.  It was a catchy tune that got extensive play on the radio.  I was a fan of Dino's TV show and his movies and tended to like just about anything he came out with on record.

         Another thing that comes to mind about Houston is NASA and the space program.  Like most Americans I was transfixed by the space launches.  The reports came from the Houston Space Center.   Who hasn't heard the line from the film Apollo 13 "Houston we have a problem"?

          But then in 1976 I actually went to Houston.  I hated it.  It was hot and humid and I was miserable during my visit.   Each subsequent visit was much the same.  I never saw much in the way of the sights as I was working or just passing through, but that icky, sticky climate stuck with me.  If you'd have mentioned Houston back then the heat and humidity is all I would have thought about.   Houston was never a place I looked forward to visiting.

         However that's where I am now as I write this.  One of my daughters lives here with her husband and their new baby.  Houston is one of my destination spots now.  That doesn't change the miserable weather in the summer, but it's a place where we now have to go.

         We often hear the cliche about dry heat and I do think it's true.   I'm no fan of the 100+ temperatures in places like Phoenix and if I'm in a heat zone like that I tend to keep indoors as much as I can with the air conditioning on high.   Add humidity though and that's about as much misery as I can stand.  I'll take a dry heat any day.

         In a few days we head back to Los Angeles and what is typically outstanding weather.  After over 6 weeks away from home I'm ready to go back.   It's been a wonderful vacation with some of the best July weather I've ever experienced.   I can't complain about this vacation much at all except now we're in Houston.

         I'm going to stay inside most of the time I guess.  I hope my daughter and her family move closer to the rest of our girls.  It wouldn't bother me at all if I didn't have to come to Houston anymore.

         What do you think of Houston?    Does hot weather with high humidity bother you?   Where is your favorite weather?   Least favorite?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kids and Grandkids

English: Tony Caris with extended family, Roma...
 Tony Caris with extended family, Roma, 1937 Three generations of the Caris family are standing on the front steps to the house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     When I was a young kid, up to about eight years old, I had frequent contact with my grandparents, especially on my maternal side.  My family didn't live in the same town as my grandparents did, so visiting them or having them visit us was not usually a spur of the moment occurrence.  At various times we lived anywhere from two hundred to less than a hundred miles from them.   Weekend visits were fairly common.  I got to enjoy getting to know my grandparents and extended family fairly well during those first few years.  Still, these were visits and not part of my everyday life.

       Then we moved across the country and didn't see them for the next five years.  When my family later moved to Northern Indiana and then East Tennessee, we were still a bit too far for much more than one or two visits per year.  I was fortunate to have had at least some extended contact with my grandparents, but it was nothing like those who live nearby to theirs.

         With my own children it was a bit different.  They all had frequent visits with my parents as well as their mother's parents.  There were times when we actually stayed with my parents for extended periods or lived near to them.  Cheaper phone rates allowed my kids to have regular contact with the grandparents even when we were on the road or living at a distance.   My children were even closer to their grandparents than I was with mine.

         Now my children are across the country from me and I only get to see my grandchildren maybe twice a year if I'm lucky.   We have the technological advantage of easy phone contact and visual computer chat.  It's not the same as spending time with them and being able to hold them and hug them.  Maybe eventually I'll be able to live closer to all of them.  I hope so.

         Currently I'm in New Jersey with my girls and their girls.  The time has been going quickly.   I'm thankful that we've been able to have the time we have had.   These are special times that I hope one day will come more often.

          If your children are grown, do you see them often?   What about grandchildren--if you have any, are you able to spend much time with them?   Did you enjoy a relationship with your own grandparents?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Yard Sale Memories


Not the most professional signage, but it was a beautiful morning.

         Today I'm driving over to Nashville to visit my brother.  He's been diagnosed as a schizophrenic unable to live outside of a care facility so he's been living in an institutionalized setting for over thirty years.   It's been a few years since I've seen him.  I would always visit him when he was staying in Knoxville, but since they closed the state mental hospital there he's been moving around to various group homes.  He's been in a care center in Nashville for the past couple of years or so.

         I've been wanting to visit my brother for some time, but I've just not been able to make it over there in the short visits I make to Tennessee.  This year with my wife visiting in Houston and flying up to meet me, it was more economical to fly from there to Nashville and it afforded me an ideal opportunity to visit my brother.  Too bad that he is so inconveniently located for me, but that's the way it is and not much I can do to change that.
Maybe a sale in the basement is not the best for drawing customers, but it was cool inside on a hot July Saturday.

        In my previous post I mentioned how I was organizing a yard sale at my mother's house in order to clear out some of the accumulation of unneeded things.   The sale was a bust.   We had about 12 visits with a total sales of $11.50.    It was basically an experiment for me and a clean-up mission.  I think I took a pretty effective marketing approach with listings on various internet sites, but there was not much signage.  This lack of signs might not have mattered too much since there didn't seem to be much traffic in the neighborhood.  And we seemed to have a lot of competition in the area.   One visitor said he had 23 sales to go to that day and mine was number 14.   Looking at the yard sale location maps on a couple of web sites confirmed that there were indeed a ton of sales going on that day.
A pool table served to display some of the goods.  What a jumble!

        There were other factors which I realized would probably keep visitors down and my fears were confirmed by the outcome of the sale that day.   No worry though.   My brother's family and my sisters are planning a much larger sale in the fall and I helped get part of the merchandise organised for them.  They'll have a bigger draw since they will be adding tools, furniture, and baby items to the inventory.   Those things always seem to attract more potential customers.
There was some pretty weird and obsolete stuff in our sale.

        I've never been one to hold big yard sales or shop at them for that matter.   I've probably visited not more than 8 yard sales in my life and bought very little except for one time in Richmond, Virginia when I was buying furniture to put into a decrepit apartment my girlfriend at the time and I were moving into.  I'm the kind of person who generally prefers to buy everything new.  Yard sales and thrift shops are typically not my thing.

Had a lot of books on sale.  I think I'll be taking some of them back home to read.
       As far as my own yard sales I guess I've only done about four of them.   I've never had too much to sell at them so consequently I didn't make much.   But it was a good way to get rid of stuff that I didn't need and pick up a few bucks in the process.  My most fun sales were two that I had when my daughters were still living at home and they helped me with them.

        Yard sales?   I could certainly stand to do another one at my own home.  So much stuff to get rid of and I hate to give it all away or throw it out.   That's probably what I'll end up doing, but it's kind of fun to think about having a yard sale.   It's usually less fun to actually do one.

          Have you ever done a yard sale?    Do you ever shop at yard sales?   How do you prefer to get rid of the stuff you no longer need?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Big Yard Sale Today!

Yard Sale Northern California May 2005. This i...
Yard Sale Northern California May 2005. This image is in the public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          My sisters and I have been talking about having a yard sale while I'm in Tennessee.  It's something they had planned for back in May, but one thing and the next came about and the sale never happened.  They have most of the inventory assembled and waiting to be put out. There is a good bit of stuff.

         Bottom line is that I've been crazy busy getting things ready for this yard sale today (July 12th).  Consequently I've not prepared a real post for today.   While I've been on vacation blogging has taken a back seat to family activities and other things.

          Hopefully next week I'll have a report on the yard sale and some memories about yard sales in general.  See you then!