Pesos to Pennies Chapter 5: Morse Bluff

Before coming over to America, I lived in Manila, the Philippine capital city, for three years. It was a big change for me when I started living in Morse Bluff. The area code number (402-666-), one post office, one bar, no traffic lights; only stop lights, a few houses for 130 population. These are few things you would see in Morse Bluff. I loved living in that town. A small and a quiet town, but we made great friends to a few people even until now.

I liked the house we lived in. Not too small, not too big. My husband was renting a house that’s why we bought a house at the nearby town which is only two miles away. I had great memories in Morse Bluff even though I only lived there for one short year. I met my husband’s friends and relatives. In that town, I had my first snow, my first experience driving a car, etc.

Once in a while we still go there to visit a dear friend and we never fail to tell our daughters the story in that small white house that we used to live in…

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Gladys Starkey

Our first time to join the Farmer’s Market

Last Saturday morning the girls and I went to the Farmer’s Market as vendor. We brought a few copies of my book with me and some flyers for finding host families for exchange students. Although they open from 7 a.m. to noon but we didn’t get there until 8:30. Waking up the girls and getting them ready wasn’t easy. My husband suggested that we didn’t need to be there that early because there would be no buyers come that early. But as a first-time vendor at the this place, I’ve learned that we SHOULD be there before 7 a.m. We ate breakfast at home then I packed sandwiches, bottled water, almonds, and cookies for the girls to snack on. I also brought the girls’ sweaters because it was a little bit cold that morning. I used the chair and small table that our friend gave me and brought two lounge chairs for the girls to sit on.

My fellow vendors told me that there were few people showed up and they bought their vegetables, homemade pies, cookies, soap. The vendors next to me were selling religious books and homemade soap. It was cool to see other people’s products and talked with them about it.

Marie was, as her words, “the money-holder.” She was excited to take the money from the buyer. This is also a learning opportunity for her about money! So we missed an hour and a half of the selling activity but I’m still thankful that I sold a few copies! Two of my previous coworkers came and bought and the other three were from strangers who said they would read my book. There’s only a small fee ($5) to be there. The coordinator explained that the fee covers the payment for using the parking lot and they donate the leftover money to a couple organization in Fremont.

We left before 11 a.m. because it was getting hot and only very few people were coming. The girls asked if we could have some donuts and then go the Dollar General store to look for “something” since they have their own money. We ended up buying donuts and each girl found a Troll toy and a little tiny doll (I know this should really stop!). Then we went to Hy-Vee to use my coupon to buy a couple dozen of eggs and rolls of hamburger. Now our stock is good and grocery expenses by next week should be low.

Anyway, I’d love joining the Farmer’s Market but this will be on and off for us. It will depend on my schedule if my Saturday is busy or not like for example, this coming Saturday is the Nebraska Book Festival. Although I don’t have to leave home before noon and I could still do this but next weekend is also John C. Fremont Day. They said very few people come to the Farmer’s Market because most of them prefer going to the John C. Fremont Day because it’s a huge event. Next weekend our schedule is looking good and we might be there for the second time!

Happy Monday, my dear readers!

Gladys Starkey

A year later after I quit my custodial job

During our Philippine vacation last year. @ Calaguas Island. Vinzons, Camarines Norte

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope you had a great and safe July 4th! We stayed home yesterday and on Monday night we also had fireworks that our daughters enjoyed so well. We’re been very busy these past couple days and it won’t die down until Sunday. I’ll have a radio interview this morning about finding host families for my exchange students and they will also incorporate some stories about my book. Then we’ll do groceries afterwards. And tomorrow, I’ll have doctor’s appointment. On Saturday, we’re planning to go at The Farmer’s Market to sell my book and hopefully, find host families! Next Saturday is The Nebraska Book Festival in Lincoln where I’m a part of “Good Books Fast” program where seven of us—Nebraska local authors—will present our work to the audience, then a book signing will follow.

That’s my schedule looks like…for now.

Anyway, what I really want to blog is about reminiscing the decision I made last year. It was a big decision, yet not hard to make. A year ago, I quit my job as a school custodian. I had to call the superintendent to tell him I was quitting because I want to pursue my writing career. That was the time when I was rewriting Pesos to Pennies, my first book. I had to because my husband found another job (he was terminated from the school as a custodian two month prior). And taking our girls to daycare or paying a babysitter to watch them wasn’t a smart idea, money wise. I worked part-time with my other job as a local coordinator for exchange students and I spent the rest of my time with my family and rewriting my book.

It was an adjustment for me to stay home because I’ve never done this before since I lived here. I had 10 months break from work when I came over here because I couldn’t take any job for not having a working permit. After I worked as a receptionist in 2010, I didn’t stop working full-time (although I changed jobs!) until last year as a school custodian. Parting your ways from co-workers sometimes could be hard, but it wasn’t that hard in my case because I only worked there for one year. Part of it was part-time and the rest was full-time position.

Waking up in the morning and not hurrying (or dragging) myself to go to work was one of the good things of staying home. I had to plan something what we can do for the day or go somewhere anytime we want. Staying home for a year also gave me time to pursue my goal of publishing a book. I’m so happy that I made it happen.

Staying home has disadvantages too. I love being around my daughters but too often I found myself bored. To suffice that boredom, we do other things like visiting our neighbor, going to the park, riding bike, I go for walks, library visits, spending more time on my computer (writing or navigating), cooking, etc., and I found a part-time job as a sub-librarian.

Quitting my full-time job crippled our income. I learned that budgeting can be a beautiful skill to have. We can be creative too! I enjoyed the time I gained after quitting my job last year. I learned more about myself. It gave me time to focus what I really want to do with my life. One of the reasons why I’m so busy lately is because I keep checking school information about the possible American degree I want to pursue. In my book, I once wrote that I didn’t want to go back to school anymore, but a few weeks ago, like a lightning bolt, a new idea hit my head. I know I love writing and being an author is one of my ultimate goals in life. But I found out I want there’s another interest I’m wanting to pursue. If everything’s work out, I’ll go back to school to pursue a career in dietetics. I want to be a dietitian. Living a healthy life is a topic that’s been interest me these years. I want to guide and help people about healthy living. Maybe that’s the reason why—for some reason—I decided to think that my second book should be about health. I have a lot of ideas to share but gaining more knowledge about it will help me more. I’ve been calling schools to ask questions about the process. Even though all the information is on their websites, still, as a new student with foreign credentials, things can get a little complicated. Knowing how I would pay for my education is one thing and all the pre-requisites the university needs are another thing. “Do I need to take ACT or SAT or TOEFL to get accepted to your school?” was only one of the questions I asked from a college career advisor.

A year from I quit my janitorial job, I enjoyed my family more and I found out that I have another thing to pursue in life. Like a blowing wind, our decision can change at any moment. But for now, this is what I have. A new goal to reach and hopefully, my gut will guide me whatever decision I end up to.

I hope your day is filled with positive energy!


Gladys Starkey