Monday, January 25, 2010

Journal in a Jar- January 25, 2010

What are your favorite activities and hobbies?

I enjoy reading a lot. My favorite thing to do is take a nice, long bath and read a book. I usually read a paperback or a book I've read many times so that if I accidentally dropped it in the bathtub, it wouldn't be the end of the world!

I also enjoy taking weekend trips. If I had the money and the time, I would visit somewhere different every weekend. I wouldn't even need to know where I was going--just hop in the car and drive! I like to visit kitschy little towns with history, shopping, or a combination of the 2. New Glarus and Cambridge are some of my favorite destinations on weekend trips.

I'm hoping to be able to travel more in general, to further places than I've been in the past. I've never been out of North America, so anywhere outside of the continent would be the furthest I've ever been.

(Above photo: Ryan enjoys a bottle of water with a New Glarus cow.)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Journal in a Jar- January 13, 2010

Describe your favorite uncle

This is a very difficult question. I'm not sure that I have a favorite uncle! They're all unique and different, and I like talking to them all for different reasons.

Since I can't really choose a favorite, I can talk about the uncle who gave me a job. My uncle Russell owns a produce market in my home town of Winneconne, WI. He raises many different vegetables and also strawberries when they're in season; however, he's best known for his famous "Allen's Allenville Sweetcorn." Most people probably don't think that one type of corn is better than another, but they obviously have never tried Russell's corn!

I worked the produce stand from probably around 1995 to 2000. I know this because when I get my social security statement every year, I have income reported from the time I was 12! I worked at the stand wearing a fanny-pack full of money, sitting on the edge of the truck bed full of corn. Rain or shine, there was always a constant stream of people stopping to buy corn or whatever we were selling.

For a while Sherry worked with me at the stand. We decided that we would split our wages in half and work together; at least it wouldn't be boring that way! We sat and listened to Cd's in the Discman, read books, just talked, or sometimes threw stray strawberries out in the road to see them get hit by cars. We didn't make much money splitting the money, but we had a good time.

My uncle also runs a successful greenhouse during the warmer months; my mom works there during the spring planting flower arrangements and selling plants. She also sells produce at the Allenville stand when it's in season.

(The above photo is not Russell's stand, but it looks pretty similar to what we sold.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Journal in a Jar- January 12, 2010

Favorite Flower(s)

Honestly my favorite flowers are any that are given to me! I love receiving flowers. I know that most men are of the opinion that flowers are worthless because "they just die anyway", but I am one of those traditional women that loves to get flowers. They don't have to be expensive and they don't have to be fancy; I'd be happy with any $5.00 bouquet that can be purchased at the grocery store (although Ryan insists that he would never, under any circumstance, buy me flowers from the grocery store.)

I like all types of flowers. I really like unique roses that are different colors. Ryan has given me really cool roses before that are white with pink on the edges; those were beautiful. I also really like lilies of any variety, especially exotic-looking varieties like tiger lilies.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Journal in a Jar- January 8, 2010

What instrument do you play or wish you could play? Why?

When it comes to instruments, I am a jack of all trades but master of nothing. Here is a list of the instruments I have played and how long I've played them:

  • Piano-1990-1998 (lessons)
  • Flute-1994
  • Percussion-1995-2000 (this includes drums, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, timpany, triples, quads, and awesome instruments like cowbell and slide whistle)
  • Guitar-1999-2000 (tinkering with it more than anything)
  • Bass Guitar-2000-2002 (played in the band Mediocre at Best)
I think that's about it. Piano is the instrument I have played longest, though I am by no means skilled. I do believe that having a strong foundation in piano theory is what allowed me to pick up on other instruments so easily.

By far I am best at playing the mallet instruments like xylophone and marimba. My marimba quartet was, if I'm not much mistaken, the first Winneconne Middle School group to ever get a first place award at the State Solo & Ensemble Competition. In general, middle school students from Winneconne were not allowed to select songs of the difficulty required to go to the state level; however, our quartet must have shown enough promise that an exception was made.

(Above: me and Ryan in 2000 at his graduation, me in my band uniform)

The next year (my freshman year) our quartet again received a first place at the state level, as did the percussion ensemble I partcipated in. My sophomore year was the year everything blew up. Our percussion ensemble received a starred first at the district level, meaning we were selected to perform at the state competition. Our band director did very little (if anything) to help us prepare for district competition. In fact, he only practiced with our group once, perhaps twice at the most. We battled through it as an ensemble and pulled the piece together regardless of his absence. When the scores were posted, a "concerned" parent overheard one of we percussionists stating that the teacher would "probably take all the credit for it anyway."

The next week, the teacher pulled our whole percussion section into his office and screamed at us for about 10 minutes. His face turned bright red, and he admonished us with insults like "you're not as good as you think you are", "you don't even deserve to go to state," "your performance wasn't worth of you going to state", "there is nothing special about you", "you're not the most talented group I've ever had", etc. He told us he would not be permitting our ensemble to perform at the state level. He then screamed that none of us were to refute his accusations, and ordered us from the room.

Anyone who knows me realizes that my musical skill is one of the few things I have ever felt pride in, so having someone tell me (as well as many of my best friends) that we were talentless was a true slap in the face. The only way I felt fit to retaliate was to quit band, along with several other members. The teacher was left with a weakened percussion section, and had to pull band members off of other instruments in a sad attempt to rebuild what he had lost.

That teacher retired several years after I graduated, and never once apologized to me or anyone else in the percussion ensemble. The sad thing is, before all this happened I favored him above many other teachers. Me and my friend Sherry would sometimes do yard work for him, or even just stop by for a chat. I never spoke a single word to him again after I quit band. I hope he realizes that he didn't just "teach a few kids a lesson" by barring us from state competition; he took away the pride we felt for being self-sufficient and capable of our own success. I hope he still thinks about it sometimes.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Journal in a Jar- January 7, 2010

What does the mail mean to you? Are you a good letter writer? Who do you or have you corresponded with?

I'm a fantastic letter writer! Back in middle school I had over 100 pen pals all over the world. I still have boxes of all their letters that I've saved. I used to do "friendship books", where you'd basically hand-write a little blurb about yourself and then pass it on to another pen pal. You could meet tons of new people through the mail by writing to people listed in friendship books (FB's.)

I still write to Lia from Australia, and keep in touch with a few others like Bre and Maureen via Facebook. Having pen pals was a great way to meet new people and learn about other cultures before the internet came along and really made it easy to do that.

I also wrote to a girl named Rebecca Sealfon, who was quite different and unique- she lived in the Bronx, was homeschooled, and didn't have a TV. She was such an anomaly to me! I mentioned many years later to my husband, after we'd been married a few years, that I used to write to this girl. His response was "THE Rebecca Sealfon?!?" As it seems, she was a very famous pop culture icon around the time I used to write to her as she had won the National Spelling Bee. Her win was a TV smash because of her unusual method of spelling the words spoken quietly into her cupped hands before she spoke them aloud. It looked quite bizarre, and made her the talk of many TV shows and the news. To this day there are still internet groups devoted to her and her "strange" behavior.

Rebecca and I are once again in contact via the internet, though she uses an alias on public sites so as not to draw attention to herself. I see now why she liked writing to me so much- I wrote to her because I liked her, and not because I just wanted to get a piece of her fame like most. How could I? I didn't even know she was famous.

Journal in a Jar- January 6, 2010

Tell about some of the notable people in your hometown.

This depends if you're asking about my hometown or where I currently live! I grew up in Winneconne, WI. I can't say that many famous people have grown up here, but a few politicians and business people got their start in Winneconne. We've also had a few professional athletes and TV personalities, but that's about it.

My current city is Sun Prairie, WI. Most notable here is the birthplace of Georgia O'Keefe. We've also had a few politicians like the Hebl's. I'm sure there are other people too but I'm not too familiar with the history of Sun Prairie.

(Above, a view of Winneconne, WI across the bridge on the Wolf River.)

Journal in a Jar- January 5, 2010

Do you have a favorite author? Who? Why? Tell about favorite books as a child, youth, adult.

My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I first began to enjoy his work when I was in high school- the apathy was very familiar to me at the time. It was a very sad day when the world lost him.

As a child my favorite books were the Boxcar Children series. I also enjoyed the Ramona Quimby books quite a bit.

(to the right, you will see an image from the Boxcar Children.)

It begins: Journal in a Jar 2010

For Christmas I got a really unique gift from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It's called "Journal in a Jar." This is a gift that they hand-made consisting of a canning jar full of questions on slips of paper, and a notebook. The idea behind this is that every day you draw out a slip of paper and answer it in your journal; by the end of the year you'll have a full journal!

I tried this for a few days and realized that I am painfully slow at writing by hand. The internet age has made it so that I can literally type faster than I can think, and writing by hand is a dreadful undertaking. In order to do the questions in the jar-journal justice, I've decided to move my "journal" over into the realm of my blog.

Entries from January 5-7 have been transcribed from the handwritten versions in my journal. From that point on, all entries will be typed up directly onto my blog.

If you're interested in purchasing a Journal in a Jar for someone, make sure you contact my mother-in-law at and she'll hook you up. :)