KnickKnacks of Life

A little of this and a little of that about my life as a wife, mother, freelance journalist and collector.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

By Lura Roti

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We probably all remember being asked this question as elementary students.

The question matures a bit as high school graduation nears. “What are your plans after high school?” But the premise is the same. And we either know the answer or we don’t.

The answer, if it comes to fruition, does shape our lives. Our career has the potential to determine so much about what our life will become because often our career determines our income and impacts our overall happiness. Our career often determines who we associate with and how we spend most of our time.

What we do, does impact who we are.

Of course, most of us don’t think of all the outcomes when we try to answer this question as youth. I know I sure didn’t. But I’m happy I did choose the career path I did.

Journalism. I decided to become a journalist in middle school. There had been a few other career interests prior to eighth grade. Initially I wanted to become a nurse or a teacher. But then I fainted after an injury and realized nursing was not the career for me.

Playing teacher consumed my free time. I’m not sure what or who changed my mind to journalism. But I do remember the moment I decided I would become an agriculture journalist.

I won a regional FFA speaking contest as a high school freshman and the local newspaper asked to do a story about me. FFA is an agriculture leadership organization. As part of the interview, the reporter asked me what I wanted to do, and after I told him, he said, “you know, there is an agriculture journalism degree.”

From that moment on, I knew I would go to South Dakota State University and major in agriculture journalism.

It was among the best decisions I have ever made. (The other one is marrying my husband…also a decision that has life-long impacts.)

To this day, when I set foot on the campus of SDSU, I get this feeling that I can only describe as one of belonging. The four and a half years I was a Jackrabbit were truly some of the best years of my life.

Up till then, I had survived socially. In college I thrived.

I enjoyed the engagement with professors. I loved the friendships I made. I valued my personal freedom. I even thought the 10-by-14 cinder block dorm room I shared in Hansen Hall was pretty darn cool.

The degree I received along with the network I developed at SDSU continues to have a positive impact my career. In fact, I returned to SDSU nearly 20 years after my bachelors to complete my Master of Mass Communication degree.

Today, as a seasoned journalist, when I reflect on how I answered one of life’s big questions: What do you want to be when you grow up? I am grateful for the choice I made because I do love the work I do, the people I get to work with, the individuals I work for and the life my career enables me to live. I’m equally grateful I chose SDSU as my launch point.

An Above Ground Pool Marks Passage of Time

By Lura Roti

Above ground pools – is there anything more disruptive to landscape and overall backyard beauty? Which is a kind way to say, “I think they are ugly!”

In response to the initial question: Maybe trampolines?

Soon we will have both.

Of course, the reason is our middle-school-age daughter, Parker. Too old for childcare during the summer months and too young for a summer job, once her household chores are done, each summer day she has a few hours to fill before I’m finished with work and her afternoon activities begin.

Because I work from home, she has the benefit of not being home alone. However, I am working much of the day, so she said life can get “boring.”

Now, I am not opposed to boredom. In fact, I’ve heard that it’s a beneficial state of mind many miss out on in today’s tech-savvy world. An article on Mayo Clinic’s website says: “A little boredom for children and adults can be a good thing. It can simulate creativity and problem-solving, while giving the brain time to recharge.”

I do believe a little boredom can go a long way though. And I do want her summer memories to be fun. During previous summers I would schedule for her friends to come over to play.

As a 12-year-old she is in charge of this now – and it seems like when they come over, they are on their phones a bit too much. Parker has screentime limits, but I don’t feel like I can impose these on others. So, on an early June day of about 90 degrees, when she asked if we would consider getting an above ground pool, I thought, “why not?”

Now that she is nearly 5-feet-tall and can swim, and her friends can swim, a pool deep enough to swim in, but shallow enough that they can always touch bottom does not seem like a dangerous risk. And above ground pools are not that expensive.

Frankly, the only reason I was hesitant is the way they look. Flower gardening and landscaping are my summer hobbies. Working in my gardens gives me endless satisfaction and provide me with the daily brain re-boot I need. So, the idea of a 12-foot diameter blue blob interrupting the peaceful oasis of my backyard is not one I love.

In the past, I would make the excuse that because the city pools are so close we don’t need a pool of our own. But last summer, she and her friends got so grossed out by hair and abandoned Bandaids that they didn’t want to swim (I think the lifeguard shortages are impacting pool upkeep).

So, after hours of hunting for a pool small enough to fit in its designated space, but deep enough to actually swim in, I clicked the “add to cart” button.

As we wait for the pool to arrive, Parker and I have been busy leveling the ground. Working with Parker to get ready for her pool has been a joy. Gone are the days of whining whenever I ask for her help…which is helpful in and of itself.

Fortunately, the area reserved for the pool was previously where her swings were, and the ground is covered with a layer of mulch. It is also helpful that the location is beside her abandoned sandbox (only our Golden Retriever Tulip plays in there now). This allows us to easily incorporate sand where necessary, making for a relatively easy task.

Leveling the ground for this pool is also a task that marks the passage of time. It replaces the swings she is too big for and uses sand from a box she hasn’t played in for years.

One more reminder that our little girl is growing up.

I know soon she will be old enough for summer jobs. Old enough to drive. Old enough that she will no longer want to invite her friends over to swim in an above ground pool. When that time comes, I’m sure I will be sad to say goodbye to the ugly blue blob.

A Tribute to Our Lilac

By Lura Roti

Our lilac is nearly ready to burst into full bloom and I could not be more happy. You see, last summer she was attacked by a powdery mildew and lost all her leaves. She looked lifeless.

We reached out to one of my favorite SDSU professors, a renowned tree expert. He happened to be in Sioux Falls for a meeting and stopped by to take a look. He reassured us that come spring she would be alright. Sure enough, our lilac looks pretty good for the fact she is more than 100 years old.

We love this lilac. Located at the edge of our back patio, she is more of a tree than a bush standing nearly 20-feet tall. Her profile provides a beautiful canopy that makes this outdoor space private, cozy and special.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the winter weather was or the spring weather is, she always blooms during my birthday week. One of my favorite gifts.

As I reflected on my relief over her return to health, I am struck by the impact a plant someone long ago planted can have on my family’s life.

So many memories were made beside her beautiful branches or under her protective canopy – which our now pre-teen daughter dubbed the “bunny festival,” because when she was quite small, it was a favorite hangout for neighborhood rabbits. As a preschooler, she would play under the lilac canopy, setting up tea parties or swinging on her stronger branches.

Today, Parker enjoys hammocking under her canopy with a good book. And our golden retriever, Tulip, doesn’t allow rabbits to frolic about. She patrols the backyard wildlife from our dining room window and the minute she sees rabbits, she begs to be let out.

Fortunate for the rabbits, our privacy fence allows for a quick exit to neighbors’ yards who do not have dogs.

Our lilac also provides a shady habitat for several plants that do not love direct sunlight. Several years ago, I began creating a shade garden there. I purchased astilbe, but the rest of the plants in my shade garden were gifts.

My friend Liz gave me Solomon’s seals and wild ginger. A neighbor gave me some bleeding hearts. And my friend and fellow agriculture journalist, Connie gave me another springtime favorite – lilies of the valley.

Under our lilac the lilies of the valley thrive and multiply. I appreciate plants like these lilies that crowd out persistent weeds. Come to think of it, I rarely see weeds of any sort under the lilac.

It’s an early spring morning and as I write this column, birdsong streams in through my open office window. Birds. Another reason I love this lilac. She is a favorite hangout for a variety of birds that visit our feeders throughout the day.

In a few days I will celebrate my 44th year. And I am taking a few days during my birthday week to spring clean and recharge. It’s been a busier than typical winter/spring. My brain was beginning to feel like our lilac looked last spring.

Experience has taught me that if I take time to take care of me, and give my brain a rest, I emerge a more creative writer, a more fun wife, mom and friend – and overall, I’m happier.

As I look forward to these days off with anticipation, I’ve been putting together a list of projects and activities to fill my deadline and meeting-free days. Topping my Wishlist: laying in a hammock, under our blossom-laden lilac with a good book. I’m so grateful she is healthy, happy and here for us to enjoy.

« Older posts

© 2024 LRfreelance

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑