We spent the night in Atkinson at the "state" campgrounds that are run by the city. Not a ton of amenities, but there was clean water, a pit toilet, and a nice patch to pitch our tent. Better yet, it only cost us $7. The next day, we ventured on to South Dakota . . .
Visiting Omaha was a great mix for me. I lived there for almost a decade in my childhood, and it was fun to revisit and see some old spots. Two of my college friends live there, so I also got to catch up with them!
These are buddies from college . . . and two of my students from TAing general biology! I was an undergrad TA, which means I helped the professor during lab and graded lab assignments. I promise my friendship with them never got in the way of grading. Plus, it was great to have younger friends at school because then I had somewhere to sleep when I visited.
They took us to a fabulous brewery in the Old Market. Great food and good beer for Matt.
I think these are a stout and an IPA . . .
After, we went to the giant slides. The slides were not frictionless, unfortunately. They were also faster when I was a kid.
Other highlights include Con Agra park (company that makes Healthy Choice and other freezer foods) and the Missouri riverfront, but the pictures are of little interest to one who hasn't been there. We also drove by my old house, which was strange. I couldn't even bring myself to take pictures. The people who moved in changed our unique little house into a much more cookie-cutter place. I will note that the house and street are much smaller than I remember them being. Interesting how that works.
I'm sad we couldn't have a longer visit to Omaha. We only spent 3 or 4 hours there. Perhaps next time!
I am not sure why, but my most recent post didn't show up in google reader. So for those of you who read me here, feel free to check out Country Living, my most recent post. I think something went wrong with my post scheduler. I'll keep checking back, as I have a number of posts scheduled over the next week or so. I'm working on getting our whole trip out west up and blogged before we leave to head back to Minnesota.
When I was born, I lived in a small country parsonage next to a rural church in western Iowa. A graveyard was our backyard. I only lived there until I was 3, so I don't have a lot of strong memories other than visiting while we lived in Omaha.
On our trip out west, we realized that our route would take us right past this little church. I pulled off the highway and took a trip down memory lane.
The view from the backyard:
A side view of our little parsonage and the adorable red truck the current minister drives:
I burst into tears when I saw this gravestone. Irene and her sisters fixed my baby blanket, and she was a lovely woman.
My mom likes to recount the story of my brother and Sarah. One day, my mom couldn't find my brother. She finally discovered him way back in a corner of the cemetery. When she asked what he was doing, he said he had been talking with Sarah. "Sarah who?" my mom asked. We lived quite a distance from our neighbors, and any Sarahs we knew were not old enough to be there without their parents and a car. He kept insisting there was a Sarah. My mom parted the brambles and brush and saw this:
It's now kept up much better, and you can clearly see Sarah.
I'm glad that I was able to visit a small portion of my childhood. More tomorrow on our afternoon in Omaha.
Two months ago, Matt and I spent a good weekend with his parents exploring in our area. We took them to Nerstrand State Park, which is fairly close to where we live. It was great to visit there again. This was the site of our first camping trip together.
It was an awesome spring day full of beauty. Lots of great flowers and some special little friends too.
One of my favorite plants was there: the maidenhair fern!
The waterfalls actually had water in them, as opposed to the tiny trickle when we were last here. (note: these are some up-close pictures of the falls)
We also had some quality time with Matt's parents. I know he loved having them there to harass him.
Perhaps, last night, I should have just shared this article with you. It encapsulates my own feelings about the decluttering process. In fact, I am leaning toward thinking that decluttering is no longer the right word for me. Maybe a better way to put this is "finding myself amongst it all." Too long? Probably so.
Some Favorite Excerpts: "I called it Operation Hobo: a quest to pare down my possessions to a scant 75 cubic feet of cargo, give or take the passenger seat.
I spent a year on it. I didn’t just downsize; I peeled myself like an onion, shedding previously unarticulated misconceptions about how much I needed to own to be happy."
"The joy of Operation Hobo caught me off-guard, I think. The most ordinary tea mug has a precious heft in your hands when you’ve chosen it so deliberately, when you’ve eyed a cluttered box of them on the floor of your kitchen, picked it up, and thought, this."
My car is substantially smaller than hers. And I don't want to make the goal of fitting into a car just to make a goal; that is rather arbitrary. Instead, I'm doing a lot of hard thinking of just where I do want to fit. Certainly, I want to fit well in my living space (although, to be fair, our apartment is quite large for just two folks). I think the best goal, currently, is to want to fit well in my own life.
As always, I have so much to share and not enough time to do it. Not enough mindspace either. I am working on being more in the present moment, more mindful, and more here. I've written many times on this blog about wanting to declutter, to purge the excess that occupies so much of my time. I feel like I continually struggle with wanting to keep things but also wanting to not be burdened by possessions. I know the things I want to focus on in life: my photography, my relationships, and the outdoors. Reading good books and enjoying good music. Other things are proving to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Once again, I am in southern Washington staying with my parents. Like I've done on every visit since they moved, I am looking through boxes of things from my old room. I emptied two boxes this past week through a combination of goodwill and the recycling/garbage. I even found it okay to let go of old photographs.
I have gotten to the point where letting go of things is not simple. It is no longer a matter of what I do and don't use; it is now a matter of what I realistically will and will not use. There are only so many hours and so many days. Do I save old report cards? Or maybe just one or two? What about old lab notebooks, homework assignments, or poetry (I wrote a LOT of bad poetry)? There's a part of me that wants to save things for posterity. But posterity can be a lot of boxes, and that limits my freedom to move, to explore, and to experience the new. I am thinking, more and more, that it really is okay to just let it go. Recycling most of my old poetry, and just keeping a few pieces I enjoy, is okay. I am not any less of a person, nor did I do or experience any less, for not having proof of every single thing I have done.
I read recently, somewhere on Get Rich Slowly that your priorities are not whatever you deem them to be. They are what you actually do. In my head, writing and photography are priorities. My blog is a priority. But in practice, as you all know full well, this blog has not been a recent priority. I don't like that. But I know I have so many distractions.
What this all boils down to, for me, is the struggle to open up and become fully myself. To let go of all the other potential paths is difficult. But too many options and branches are also stifling.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -Anais Nin
Right now, I am reaching out for the strength to know what is blossoming and what in my life acts as the bud scale. The bud scale may protect the new growth, but it can also hinder growth if I do not let it fall off.