Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hanging Out at the Caboose

Today was my first afternoon on my summer job at the tourist center in Iron Horse Park, just off Interstate 80.

The center is an old yellow caboose, still set up the way it was when it was in use on Union Pacific Railroad.

The wind was blowing pretty hard today and the caboose had the slightest swaying feel to it. The sway and the rhythmic clang of the flag-pole clip against the metal pole were hypnotic as the afternoon wore on and I had some difficulty staying awake for an hour or so.

The person who staffed the caboose this morning had 26 visitors but I only had nine all afternoon. I like it better when I have a steady stream of visitors stopping in. It's interesting to talk to the people who stop to check out the caboose. Sometimes the visitors are just curious about the caboose but I usually try to convince them they need to take some of our literature with them when they leave.

The one thing I tell all of them is they need to visit Cody Park. It's been called North Platte's best-kept secret. The charm of Cody Park in the summer is the old-fashoined feeling of family that fills the park each evening. There are the kiddie rides and the beautiful carousel and a wide variety of animals. I almost expect to hear strains of "In the Good Old Summertime."

Tonight the peacocks were strutting their stuff for the visitors. (Well, I actually think it's for the benefit of the peahens, but I won't tell the visitors.)

The main thing I tell visitors to the caboose is to stop at the concession stand at Cody Park. They make THE BEST soft ice cream I've ever tasted. I buy a baby-size cone, which probably holds a little more than half a cup of ice cream, and that's enough for me. Not that I couldn't eat more, but........

You meet an interesting mix of people when you are in a tourist center. Last summer one couple traveling by motorhome asked what interesting things there were to do around North Platte. I found them plenty of information. They said they both retired (and I suspect it was early retirement because neither one looked 60 years old), sold their home and all their belongings and bought the motorhome. They travel the United States year-round, spending anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in one spot, depending on the amount of what there is to see and do in that area. They had just come from spending two weeks in the Omaha area.

That's what I would like to do if I won the lottery - buy a motorhome, find one or two others who like to travel and just set out on an adventure. Just go wherever our whims take us, park the motorhome for a few days in an interesting spot and do some sightseeing. I always thought I could call myself a "minor" Charles Kuralt.

There are interesting stories everywhere in this country. Some of them are right under your nose. One of the interesting stories might even be you!

Since I almost never buy a lottery ticket, I don't suppose this is ever going to happen, but it's a nice dream for "some day."

If you are ever traveling down Interstate 80, take the exit at North Platte and come out to the caboose. I'll work three afternoons a week and I'll look forward to visiting with you. If I'm asleep, please wake me up!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Super-sized to Down-sized

From Supersized
to Downsized
by The FlyLady
We have been living a super-sized lifestyle for a very long time. We have homes with lots of closets, big garages and spacious basements. We even drive big cars that bring home more stuff.

To make room for more precious things, those SUVs have to haul the old unloved stuff to storage units. Our super-sized lifestyle needs a super-sized paycheck to fund our super-sized debt.

As the kids grow up and have lives of their own all their stuff you have saved is just waiting for them to come and get it. You think you are holding their stuff hostage so you can see them occasionally, but if the truth be known, they don't want it.

So now my question is: Why have we held on to things that have no value for our children? If we don't downsize our super-sized lifestyles, our children will be forced to do it for us after we are gone.

We can't leave them with that burden like our parents did to us. We can't use our parents' excuse of living through the Great Depression. We have the ability to let go of our clutter once and for all time.

I have a fun way to do this. We are going to pretend to move into a new house half the size of the one we are in now. Now don't panic! You are not all your stuff! In fact, all that stuff has been keeping you from having fun. You have spent years organizing it. Now it is time to release your clutter to new homes so that you can find yours.

When you think about moving, do not get overwhelmed. We have a systematic way of deciding what we can't live without.

Get out your Give Away, Put Away and Throw Away boxes. Set your timer and ask a few questions of the clutter. Pick up one item and make a decision.

  • Have I used you in the last year?
  • Do I have a place for you in my new home?
  • Do you make me smile?
  • Do you have any bad memories for me?
  • Do I have two of you?

Each week focus on a new room. Spend 15 minutes each day downsizing one little area. Don't look at the big picture. It has taken years to accumulate all your baggage. The process of moving only the things you love and use will make your current house feel like a brand-new home. Then when it comes time to retire to your cabin on the lake, you will be ready to load the truck. Packing will be a breeze!

For more help getting rid of your CHAOS, check out her website and join her free mentoring group at or her book, Sink Reflections published by Bantam and her New York Times Best Selling book, Body Clutter published by Fireside. Copyright 2010 Marla Cilley Used by permission in this publication.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Turtle hail?

Cell phone photo courtesy of John Lindenberger

Monday night's hailstorm in North Platte dropped some decorative ice sculptures, all thanks to Mother Nature.

Shawn Jacobs, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in North Platte, said it comes down to collisions.

"One hailstone is recycled up and down through the updraft of the storm, collecting moisture and collisions in the atmosphere with a bunch of little hailstones," Jacobs said.

He said super-cold water droplets freeze in the updraft as the hailstone is repeatedly pulled up and down and those droplets attach to the main hailstone. At this point, the hailstone is still held in the air by the updraft.

As the stone makes many trips up and down through the updraft, and the super-cold moisture collects on the single stone, it's possible to have very smooth hailstones, or maybe one that is shaped like a cauliflower. Or, in the case of the ones John photographed, you can imagine the shape as that of a turtle.

I think the one on the left looks a little like a swimming penguin.

What do you see in the photo?

Jacobs said eventually the hailstone, with all the little hailstones and the super-cold water droplets attached, becomes heavy enough with its load that it will overcome the updraft and drop to the ground.

Caution: Don't run outside to gather hailstones while the storm is in progress. No matter how interesting the shape of the hailstones, they hurt like everything if you get hit with one on its way to the ground.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Living a Colorful Life

One of the nice things about being retired (a nice way of saying unemployed) is that I can wear whatever I want around the house all day.

For instance, if I don't have clean socks in the drawer, all I have to do is find two socks that are somewhat similar in color. I'm not real choosy. Gray and gray-blue look about the same to me. If all I have available is a black sock with ribbing and one black plain sock, no sweat! They're both black, aren't they??

If I'm having lunch and drop a blob of food on my sweatshirt, no problem at all. Just turn that sweatshirt inside out and I'm good for the rest of the day! Why is that wrong? Go to the stores and you'll pay big bucks for sweatshirts MADE to look wrong-side out.

Today is a perfect example of the retired dress code. I am wearing a bright red long-sleeve knit shirt, fuschia sweat pants and grape purple socks. I make quite a colorful display. If any of the stoplights go out in town today, the city could just let me swing on the arm that holds the lights and I would certainly slow traffic if not stop it!

To be honest, my cats really don't care what color of clothing I wear. They just know that when I sit down in the recliner I have prepared a soft bed for them. Aren't cats color blind? That might explain their lack of fashion sense. I don't think there is an explanation for mine!

Learning to FLY

Learning to FLY
by The FlyLady, Marla Cilley

We have lived our whole lives being put down because we were unable to live up to someone else's standards. You know exactly what I mean!

As children we were continually fussed at for not being able to keep our rooms clean. When we went in there to start, we would be completely overwhelmed and no one understood what was the matter. Now as adults we still have to deal with those accusing tongues. You know the put downs you have received from family members - mother, husband, sisters-in-law, sisters, and even your children.

Most of these people are Born Organized (BO) and have no clue why you just can't clean your home. For them it comes naturally. For us, we need to be taught. We are not stupid, lazy or slobs. We just don't do things the way they do. Let's face it; it is hard for anyone in the family to live up to their standards.

Could that be why they are not much fun to be around? They are caught up in their perfectionism and don't know how to get off that destructive merry-go-round.

There is a fine line between BOs and SHEs (Sidetracked Home Executives). That line is perfectionism. BOs tend to go past that line into obsessive about cleaning. SHEs feel that if we don't have enough time to do it perfectly, then why even bother. We were taught if you can't do it right, then don't do it at all. We do as we are told.

Let's look at what happens when we are confronted with some of those unkind words coming from our loved ones' mouths. I really hate to use that term, because they are not loving when they judge us. Love is unconditional. Their love is only if we live up to their standards.

The nasty words can be in snide little remarks or in actions. It doesn't matter they all hurt just the same. As children we would get in tiffs with our friends and blurt out, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me!"

As adults, those kind of words do hurt. Here is how. Your mother comes over and you really know in your heart she is going to look down her nose or say, "Why can't you just keep the house clean?"

It is the same when your husband gets mad because he can't find any clean socks. You jump up with that surge of adrenalin and get started doing something - anything - to look busy. You are running around and you can't seem to accomplish anything but spinning.

We have lived off this adrenalin since we were children. Let's call it "fast food." Yes, it gives us the spurt of energy for a while, but we can't sustain it for very long. Then we crash and burn.

Our anger has been turned inward on ourselves. So with each nasty unkind word, we let a little more of our spirit die, even if those unkind words are only in our heads.

I want to teach you how to take a different Flight Plan for your life. You don't have to eat their "fast food" anymore. Don't listen to those voices in your head and make assumptions about what people are thinking.

I want you to FLY (Finally Loving Yourself) and it is not going to happen in a few short weeks. Follow a simple morning and before bed routine - declutter just 15 minutes a day and get dressed to shoes and fix your hair and face every morning first thing. Before long you will not care what they have to say, because you know in your heart that you have the Flight Plan that will get you out of the CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).

You have been starving for just a few crumbs of acceptance from your loved ones. The only way you are going to be fed is if you feed yourself with the love and attention you deserve. You can do this! BabySteps will help you find the substantial nourishing food you need to sustain your Flight.

The adrenalin you have been living on only leaves you wanting. Scarlett said in Gone With The Wind, (I have paraphrased it), "As God is my witness, they aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's all over, I'm never going to be hungry again."

I want for you what I have; PEACE. When you get a small taste of peace, you will never like adrenalin "fast food" again. No more crash and burn from your self-loathing. You will be FLYing!Are you ready to FLY?

For more help getting rid of your CHAOS, check out her website and join her free mentoring group at or her book, Sink Reflections published by Bantam and her New York Times Best Selling book, Body Clutter published by Fireside. Copyright 2010 Marla Cilley Used by permission.

Monday, May 3, 2010

First United Methodist Church, North Platte

First Baptist Church, North Platte

What is Home to Me?

What is Home to Me?

by The FlyLady, Marla Cilley

We have been traveling for two weeks. We had a pleasant drive across this beautiful country of ours.

It was so much fun to surprise Eric Dodge for his CD release party. The name of his new CD is "Home To Me!" I think this is so important to all of us.

What is home to you? Just before we left on our trip, Robert came home from playing chess with a pitiful look on his face. He had seen this sad, abandoned dog living in a pile of trash. He had tried to coax the dog to get into the car with him. He asked if I would go back with him the next day. We had plenty of daylight left so away we went to rescue this poor skin-and-bones pup. We took with us some dog food, a harness and a leash.

The poor dog was starving, yet he would not get into the truck. Robert got down on the ground with him and he was not scared. I joined in the acceptance game and he let me pick him up. He hardly weighed 20 pounds. Every rib was showing. He was as skinny as Shadow was when we found her. When we got home our other dogs went nuts. All three of them got out the front door and started sniffing around. Then all at once they took off. The only dog on a leash was the new rescue dog.

We put the rescued dog in our two-acre fenced-in back yard. He was terrified of the back stairs. Our dogs have gotten out before and are usually home by morning. Shadow showed up but the other two were wild mountain dogs following every scent they smelled.

By the time we were ready to leave on for Utah on Saturday, our other dogs were still not home. Michele along with Nikki and Demos were going to look after our critters. They found that we had a new dog in the family. We joked that Michele was going to quit if we got another critter.

Michele fell in love with our new addition. He looked just like her dachshund, Oscar, in the face. After the first night on our back deck, we woke up to find a pile of assorted things the dog had gathered up. He had built himself a home! God has a weird sense of humor; either he had sent us a dog who was a hoarder, one that was environmentally conscious or one that was going to teach me a lesson by showing me my outdoor hotspots!

While we were gone, Michele discovered his name. He grabbed her Harley Davidson purse and took off with it. He has the need to have fabric and leather around him. Maybe he is just an interior decorator at heart. So from this, she named him Harley. It is like having a two year old in the house. Clyde Brooks said the dog was about eighteen months old.

After a week, our two runaways had not returned home. I put in a call into the animal shelter. Later that morning, Michele got a call from someone who had rescued our runaways.

The sad part is Gypsy, who always followed her nose and the creek, was hurt. Several wonderful people had tried to save her. Ginger would not leave her side. Kelly Toms and her father had to stop traffic on a Hwy 276, which is a long way from our home. Nita Hunt from Pure Pets and her daughter Ella took Gypsy to the Western Carolina Regional Emergency Animal Hospital in Flat Rock. Our precious Gypsy died on the way but I am told that she was being loved the whole time by these teenage girls, Ella and Kelly.

We now think her heart just gave out from her wild adventure since she was not bleeding. Michele went to retrieve Ginger from Annie Probisch at Tail Waggers in Penrose. Ginger is now home teaching Harley a few manners, like don't chase the cats, no jumping on the furniture and don't take the birds' food.

I would like to thank all the good Samaritans who tried to help Gypsy and Ginger: Kelly Toms and her father, Nita and Ella Hunt, Annie Probisch, Artie Wilson and Chuck Byrd from the Transylvania County Animal Shelter, Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital and our Vet Clyde Brooks.

I am thankful there are good people in the world who will go out of their way to help a happy living thing!

What I have discovered is that home is the place you come back to after you have gone on an adventure. "Home to Me" is about being surrounded by the unconditional love of your pets.

Home is also the place you make for yourself. You take what you have been given and turn it into a home. Despite the fact that Harley likes to pile things up and follow his nose all over the place, I believe he has found his home, too. The more secure he feels knowing where his next meal is coming from and that he is loved, the less he will need to gather up things. Now if I could just teach him to focus instead of getting sidetracked following his nose from one thing to another. This is a lesson we all could learn. There is no place like home!

For more help getting rid of your CHAOS, check out her website and join her free mentoring group at or her book, Sink Reflections published by Bantam and her New York Times Best Selling book, Body Clutter published by Fireside. Copyright 2010 Marla Cilley Used by permission in this publication.