Nolichucky West


What I Learned In July

All of a sudden it’s the middle of August.

This July I have been trying to tackle a new skill, stamping on metal. I have seen wonderful garden markers and serving pieces with simple words stamped on them I wanted to give it a try. I gathered together some little used or damaged silver pieces, purchased an alphabet set, then found a funny a hammer.

I found this alphabet stamp on Amazon. I also used a steel block to hammer on, masking tape, and some rags.

I examined the silver pieces time and again, trying to rationalize why I would hit such pretty little pieces with a hammer. I convinced myself that they were most likely to waste away in the back of a drawer somewhere. Out of my first four attempts only one was acceptable, but I will use all of the little words I made in one pot or another. I plan on practicing more, and setting my sights on discovering silver pieces when I am searching thrift stores.

My first attempt to stamp the word, “grow” was very crooked in spite of all my efforts to line up letters. So I put it in a flower pot next to a little bird house. I then accidently broke the little knife I was trying to bend, so I went ahead and added the word,”please” and put it in the pot too. The rest of the little knife is going to be saved for later.
My third attempt was the word “grow”. I was happy with the result and added it to a little jar of flowers on the table. While trying to make another spoon say “please” I confused the p and b! I fixed my mistake by stamping over the wrong letter as hard as I could and am going to use it flaws and all.

This is the first school year since I retired that I am not going back in some minor or advisory role. I’m very excited about the way I spend my days, but occasionally feel the tug on on my heart strings when I hear of teachers in need. I recently revisited Donor’s Choose, an online nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to classroom projects. A teacher is able to request materials for their classroom and Donors Choose makes the requests available to donors through their website. As a teacher I was able to obtain much needed books, furniture, and adaptive toys for my classroom.

Back in June I wrote about Gift of the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindberg especially when she wrote of simplicity, of filling your pockets with every beautiful shell you discover in the sand but then realizing you only really need three or four. I am discovering that same principle applies to fig beetles. As I child I looked forward to the fig beetles arrival, usually midsummer. They were beautiful, easy to catch, didn’t pinch, and made an unusual pet for an hour or two on a summer’s afternoon.

Here is one resting on a sweet potato leaf. They are attracted to the sweet ripening pomegranate fruit and are congregating around the blooms on the date palm.

When I became a teacher I would collect their little bodies after their short life span had expired to display on my science table along with magnifiers and books about insects. But this year there are literally hundreds and each venture into the garden requires dodging and ducking as the clumsy little fliers dart clumsily along. They won’t be here much longer so I’ll let them inhabit my garden in peace, but just three or four beautiful green bugs would have been fine.

Every December for the last decade or so I have promised myself that I would prepare for the busy holiday season sooner, like maybe July, especially since I love to give homemade projects as gifts. I actually managed to put a special note to remind myself in my calendar with room on it to start making lists. So far it has been a nice reminder, but thinking about the holidays is all I’ve really accomplished.

The little Santa Claus note was my reminder to start preparing for the busy holiday season.If you look closely you can see it’s still blank.


Becoming a better photographer continues to be one of my goals. I have been trying to learn more tips and tricks for taking pictures of things that are shiny. I did read it’s an interesting way to take a selfie, capturing your reflection in something reflective, I might try it. It also took a lot of attempts to finally get a good picture of a fig beetle even though there were hundreds in the yard.

I’m still practicing Spanish everyday with the lessons provided free by Duolingo, and trying to walk 10,000 steps daily. It’s time to get up and move now. Thanks for listening. Take care.

P.S. Here are some of the shiny things that are listed in my Etsy shop.







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