Happy Fall, Y’all: Camping hacks, racing to the penant, and doily do-overs

Low-Tech Camping Hacks

Nothing good has ever come of Tracy going camping.

Even when I was a kid, my body couldn’t handle smoke from the fire, consuming large quantities of generic grape sodas, sleeping on hard ground, allergic reactions to spring and fall, and an intense loathing of sweltering summers in Arkansas.

But, hey.

Autumn is upon us and the Arkansas mountain ranges will be resplendent with blazing colors soon.

Perfect for sleeping under the stars, roasting s’mores, waking up to someone else frying bacon and eggs over an open fire, and sipping coffee on a chilly morning.

If you’ve got a hankering for a hike but can’t afford new gear, here’s a handy resource that will:

  • Show you how a large liquid detergent dispenser can be converted to a nifty hand-washing station
  • Help you make a homemade mosquito repellent
  • Give you a tip for starting a campfire with a cardboard egg carton and some charcoal
  • Teach you how to make a homemade calamine lotion

Why This Major League Hurler with No Guts has Intestinal Fortitude in Spades

If you’re a baseball fan, you’re gonna mutter, “Wow!” under your breath when I tell you what left-handed reliever Jake Diekman did on the mound this week to secure a crucial game for his team.

If you or someone you love battle ulcerative colitis, your eyes may leak a little when I tell you Diekman’s story.

Early this year, Diekman’s lifelong struggle with the disease brought about the necessity for a radical medical intervention – the removal of his entire colon.

Here’s how a guy with no guts has intestinal fortitude in spades.

Here’s more about – and from – Jake on CBS Sports.com.

This is a YouTube video from a spring training interview.

That he returned to the mound this season in the majors – that he returned to the mound at all – is shocking, isn’t it?

Sure enough, Diekman saw his first major league action of the season September 1.

This past week, the Texas Rangers called on the reliever in a big, big situation, trying to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

Diekman was brought into the game in the bottom of the 8th inning against the Los Angeles Angels to clean up a bit of a mess.

With a runner on and the tying run at the plate, there’s no room for error.

Two pitches into his appearance, the southpaw induced a double play to get out of the inning.

That was easy.

So he’s sent back out in the bottom of the 9th to secure the win.

Diekman walked the leadoff batter on five pitches. Each of the next three batters swung at first pitches that resulted in outs.

That’s right.

Ten pitches.

Five outs.

After the game, Diekman’s comments focused on successfully fulfilling the assignment his team needed him to accomplish.

Off the field, Diekman works another area of responsibility. The Gut it Out Foundation connects patients and caregivers who are part of the irritable bowel disease community.

Here’s some real talk from Jake about the inspiration behind Gut it Out.

This young man gutted it out between the lines, and his willingness to be vulnerable and open about his health struggles inspires hope for many more people battling irritable bowl syndrome diseases.

Thank you, Jake, for your example. I have family members who deal with this invisible disease that impacts almost every facet of their lives, and you offer all of us inspiration and hope.

Cracking the Code on Doily Decision Paralysis

A year and a half ago, I sold the Craftsman bungalow I’d called home for 20 years.

There was a lot of stuff to sort through.

Decisions had to be made about what we kept, what needed to be sold, and what could be useful to someone else – and the best way to get the items to them.

Looking back, I recognize that sentiment became my greatest obstacle in making these essential decisions.

Doilies were among the items that bogged me down.

Here’s the conversation I had with myself:

Rational Tracy: “I never use these. I put these in a drawer when I moved in this house two decades ago.”

Sentimental Tracy: “But they’ve been in the family my whole life. Keep them.”

Rational Tracy:



I wish I’d seen this post featuring 15 ideas for rebooting handmade lace doodads so that they actually have a purpose beyond tugging at our emotions.




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