Monday, June 27, 2011

Far, Far Away

When I was a kid, every afternoon on the public broadcast station there was a show geared to school-aged children called Zoom. It was an innovative program that showcased all the cast as kids my age doing experiments, reading stories, generally learning about all manner of things. At the very end of each episode there was always a call for the pen-pal program that Zoom sponsored. I watched and fretted and wondered what I would say and eventually, I sent in my name and address to be paired up with someone. I must admit, at the ripe age of nine, I was a bit cynical that I would end up with a pen-pal from Kansas, instead of some far off land as I had hoped.

I waited for what seemed like ages and I finally received my packet of information for a little girl in... (Insert drum roll here) Surrey, England! Her name was Mica and she was actually of East Indian decent. We exchanged letters and little gifts and we kept this up right until she headed out to "university". She was going to study medicine and informed me that our letters would probably stop there as she was anticipating crushing hours of study. I was sad, but I got it. Med school was way over my academic head and I could only imagine the hours she would be chained to her desk.

I still remember the incredible surge of excitement I would get when a letter would come in the mail with all those funny postmarks and interesting stamps of Queen 'Liz... I saved them well into my twenties. Come to think of it, they may be in a box underneath the house somewhere.

Blogging has brought back a lot of those wonderful memories for me. I can connect with people from all over the globe and I can learn about all manner of interesting cultures and traditions. It speaks to the excited kid in me. And just yesterday, I have to tell you, I did a very juvenile little "happy-dance" in my dining room as I brought in the box that was waiting so patiently in my oversized mail box from Saturday. (Yes, I actually left the box all alone in my mail box for TWO days before I retrieved it...Urg!) I have a blog-friend, not to be confused with boy-friend, who lives in Garrods Hill, England (I think that is how I am supposed to read the return post), and she sent me the winnings from her blogiversary contest she held earlier this month! It was the same excitement I felt as a little girl getting to open a package from so far away...

Ok, yes, I am a complete dork! The package contained the following:
Lovely little babushka-doll-paper wrapped around each gift and a willowy whisp of a girl card with a hand-written sentiment from my friend...

And inside the packages, viola!

As I sit here this morning, enjoying my coffee in my new mug, lovely union jack pennants draped invitingly around its perimeter, I wonder where Mica is. I wonder how she fared in the grueling throngs of med-school students and if she ever recalls the awkward over-enthusiastic pen-pal from Colorado that used to ask her all manner of inane questions.

I am so very thankful and awed by the people that I have met here in the blogiverse. You have made me feel welcome, unique, distinctly inept at times with your amazing photog skills and yet, always inspired to be more. It is with this swelling feeling of more that I leave you today. What might you do to make someone's day a little more?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I was wondering...

From The Brown's Zoo Tales

... why do things break or mis-function when Man leaves town? aka - I hate my dishwasher.
... what possible function do allergies serve? Seriously? I have heard of a little plumping up of your lips to beautify yourself, but I doubt seriously if swollen red eyes and raw red nose are attractive!
... do hydrangeas only bloom once? Mine have had blooms on one plant for a long time, the other is flat lazy I think! Hasn't bothered to do anything, like it is waiting on the other to finish to say, "Eh, I could've done better."
...when one yanks off the drawer front to ones kitchen drawer in a fit of rage at ones dishwasher, shouldn't one first find out where the nail gun is to repair it?
... why do I always see hummingbirds when the feeder has blown off the window and I have been too preoccupied to set it back up?
...what God was planning when he made babies so doggoned adorable? I simply love the littlest of them. I'm not a toddler-phile, not a child adore-er, I love babies, the ones that simply sit in your arms, unable to bite, claw at you, beg for things, or tell you how much you suck. Hmmm... my motives are showing.
...when will my lovely package from afar arrive? Probably when I need it most to cheer me up. Most likely when I am not home next week to receive it! Harumph... (Insert self pity party here)
...does anyone else love the feeling of anticipation like I do? I am anticipating the aforementioned package, a wonderful trip with girlies to LV, the completion of one writing/crafting studio and a trip alone with husband to Oklahoma... ok, well maybe I'm not anticipating the trip as much as the alone. (Insert industrial grade deodorant here along with enough water and Gatorade to drown a cow.) there a great, not just marginal but great, website out there that identifies bird that come to my feeder? I have some very interesting fellers that frequent just outside my kitchen window, but no knack for identifying them with any success.
...are hobbies classified as illness when one has so many of them? And when one wants to add more?
... does grass ever miraculously mow itself? Mine has decided to mimic the jungles of Borneo...
...does anyone else fear asking children to weed to find their garden picked clean in a fit of spite?
...why does Google change my pictures into blurry fuzzy crap until I repost them direct from Picasa? very aggravating and foolish. Makes me want to use another service... Hint, hint, Google Gods.

From The Brown's Zoo Tales

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who is she?

From The Brown's Zoo Tales

I am high heels and cowboy boots. I am reality television and English historical novels. I am eyeliner and mascara with very little makeup. I am raucous laughter and solemn stares. I am fierce loyalty and new friendships. I am a Christian, a mother, a friend and a wife. I am red wine with soft cheese. I am an idealist and an analyst. I am rock and roll, country and hip-hop. I am a daughter and a sister. I am unswerving eye contact and long talks. I am a writer, an artist and a crafter. I am surf and turf and peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I am romantic comedies and intellectual thrillers. I am a reader and a romantic. I am a lover of sunshine and a snowman maker. I am Maroon Five, Jason Aldean and The Black Eyed Peas. I am a red head and all that entails. I am impromptu gatherings and intimate dinners. I am spice and sweetness together. I am Chinese food with my kids and sushi with my husband. I am tender and vulnerable. I am spring steel wrapped in softest cotton. I am a survivor. I am strongest when I am broken. I am a team player and a leader. I am hand made and brand name. I am my Mothers child and my Grandmothers "Sugar." I am gardening and computer games. I am cookouts and fine dining. I am polite, but not always kind. I am approachable and I am intimidating. Most of all, I am real, with real feelings, hurts, joys, expectations and desires. I am that woman.

(first experienced at Moments of Perfect Clarity)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hanging it out there ....

Remember back in the day? Back when we played outside all day until the street lights came on, when video games lived in the confines of an arcade we only got to frequent once in a blue moon, back when being a kid was safe and fun and carefree... Those days when our parents really did "close the door" when they were arguing about something? We were sheltered from adult interractions and we rarely got a glimpse into the big bad world because we simply weren't ready to handle it. There are so many things about my childhood I wish I could reinstate for my kids. But then I look around me and I realize the world has changed.... and I'm not sure it's for the better.

My kids are growing up in a world that has it's life all strung out and blowing in the wind for all to see. There's not a whole lot of restraint out there. Kids get into fights and post it on YouTube, MySpace is full of scantily clad folks making eyes at the camera, Facebook is a venue where arguments are had in a public forum, regardless of the nature of the dispute or the age of the participants. It's all out there with little discretion as if it is somehow a right to be an ass.

When did we suddenly decide that any of that was appropriate? When did we throw decorum and consideration to the four winds and tell ourselves the world needs to know every nasty, gorey little detail about who we are? Where did the poise and gentleness of spirit go when we were children?  Our grandmothers would be appalled.... I am appalled.

Make no mistake, I've done some truly boneheaded ignorant things and I've overshared online. It's just that recently I have taken a look around and decided I want certain things in my life. I want to read things that uplift and inspire me. I want to laugh and smile, marvel at  amazing photos and even cry with my blog-friends. I don't want to listen to nastiness about others, be it political or just juvenile. I get to choose what I put in and I choose not to put in anger. Call me "fake", call me "sappy".... I don't care. I don't want to get angry in my free time, I want to enjoy it. I dont want to squirm in my chair when I take a moment to check in with my friends. I understand and even giggle at the occasional rant, but an entire blog built on biting criticism and pathetic comparisons? No thank you....

Ever been somewhere and the folks you're with start to argue? That uncomfortable squirmy feeling is one I think most of us avoid like the plague. Most of us dont want to watch an argument play out in public or have the ugliness forced upon us in our free time. We don't want to know that much about people and frankly people don't want to know that much about me. I'm choosing to keep my irritation and my grumpiness under wraps, at least here on my blog. Oh, I will rant but I hope I can also rave because most of us are looking for soft place to land when we feel grumpy, irritated and uninspired.

My pictures will never be the beautiful works you find on other blogs, and yes they are out of focus alot of the time. I'm not a photographer... Never pretended to be and I'm not starting now. If that irritates you, my apologies. I don't  think anyone on my teensy reader list came here because of my pics.

My goal is to share my life and its often interesting quirks. I have an unusual existence out here in the boonies... I'm not here to throw anyone under the bus, to laud my over-educated self or to put any one else down for their opinions. Blogging can be an amazing, fun and inspiring experience and it takes a certain amount of bravery to enter this community.  Most of the peeps I've encountered are friendly, open and amazing and it's those that keep me going.

In the days to come I hope to keep my fanny under wraps and not overshare.... so if you don't hear from me, you know what happened! And when u get a chance stop in at these blogs: Inner Rambling of a Mi-life Mama, Chez Spud, Soul Aperture . They are amazing, inspiring, quirky and fun.... and MUCH better photogs than I will ever be!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

My Dad was not always my dad. He is my Dad because he chose me, not because he helped create me and for that I look back and am eternally grateful. I can distinguish between the words "father" and "dad" for that very reason. Almost anyone can be a father and create life, but it takes time, patience, pain and love to be a dad.

Dads take you camping, whether you think it is cool or not. Dads hold onto the back of your bicycle until they know you have it and then dads trust enough to let it go. Dads hold you when your world is crashing down around you as you move out of your first love's apartment. Dads fix you a drink when they can see that life has taken you by the scruff and shook you until you can hardly stand anymore. Dads give you the best of themselves and inspire you to give the best of yourself back.

My Dad is like that. He joined our family when I was nine and has stuck with me through some harrowing times of willful, nasty, hasty youth. He never walked away, he didn't stop taking my calls, my Dad loved me no matter how unlovable I was. I was not an easy child and he was either fully aware of how to deal with me or he was blissfully ignorant of what he was getting into. It really doesn't matter which, I came to respect him for the quiet way he dealt with my shenanigans.

Dad is where I learned to be handy and "crafty". Dad reinforced all the frugal beginnings of my grandmother's teachings and taught me how to make what I had on hand into what I wanted. I never had to go far for an example of how to create from what we had lying around. I remember entire dining room tables (large ones) made out of strips of 1 x 1 oak scrap that dad glued together to make boards large enough to form the table tops and the same scraps glued together into posts to turn on a lathe for the legs. I got a bed out of that stuff too and it was beautiful! It was a turned four poster bed that you could see through the turnings... I wish I still had it, but I was incredibly hard on those delicate posts and the bed was scrapped when I left home.

Dad has made all sorts of other things as well. He has laid miles of hard wood floors, but never the plain old one color type - No! He plans intricate designs and inlays that simply take my breath away. He has fashioned wind sculptures and hand carved claw foot furniture. He is an avid gardener and a constant tinkerer. He is an electrical engineer (at least I think he is) and he can mechanic if he has to.

At Christmas time Dad is known as Sparky, after the Chevy Chase character in National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation. He decorates the parental home in millions of tiny white twinkle lights and hooks up his computer to generate professional style shows to Christmas carols. I let my friends and family know every year he gets the show set up and they drive by to listen to his creative works. He starts setting up the lights and replacing strands around Halloween and usually has the show ready to debut about the second week in December. I love that about him.

Dad is also a musician. He plays professionally a few times a month and I have always known him with a guitar in his hands. I tried once to learn, but the tenderness of my soft fingers and the fact that I had to keep my nails trimmed squashed that desire rather quickly. Dad wasn't disappointed and he didn't try to keep me going in it, he simply laughed. It didn't matter to him where I found my passion, just as long as I was happy.

On a day like today, I want my Dad to know that he matters. In all things, I am a part of a man that chose to love me for me, despite my bad attitude and my poor choices. I love my Dad in a way that is filled with respect, admiration, loyalty and quiet confidence.

Dad, you taught me to love when it wasn't easy, to laugh at my own silliness, to cry with others without offering up unsolicited advice and to accept life's trials as a challenge to succeed no matter the odds. I hope that you enjoy this day basking in the knowledge that you are cherished and loved as only a Dad can be. Thank you for always loving me back.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Passion

Like Spud, of Chez Spud fame, I too have many things I love to do... I think about the things I have taken on in the past 16 years of marriage and I am astounded at the many skills I have started, if not perfected.

I know a little about horses and livestock in general, thanks to marrying a horse trainer. I live on a ranch and that comes with lots of little knowledge tid bits, like how to stop an automatic waterer from flooding, where to turn off the power at many different locations, how to approach a horse that has busted out of its stall or pen so that you don't end up chasing it down the road, how to unstop a toilet, how to determine what is a serious illness/injury and what is not, and when to call in the professionals.

I am an extremely frugal and innovative personality, so in light of my innate cheapness I have learned to make my own afghans, do my own website design, apply my own acrylic nails, and shop for a months worth of groceries. There are things that I have done that I have learned, pay someone! Like a good pedicure (reaching down to my toes for that long is very uncomfortable), professional ad design and anything electrical.

I love the new found joy of gardening, even if it is just flowers as yet. I hope to try my hand at a veggie garden, one of these years, but I have to admit I have found a lot of excuses so far to not. I get very excited when I see my flowers poking up in the spring/summer and I am very lucky to have planted things that are continuous in their blooming stages. I did it quite by accident! I have a beautiful staggered garden that is blooming one after the other with nothing just sitting around being lax. I would call that a passion... At least one of them. It has to be, or else I wouldn't weed the darned thing and it would all go feral again.

I am a paper crafter... Love working with the papers and different embellishments. I enjoy in particular making cards to hold written sentiments to send to friends of mine. I cannot explain the amount of exhilaration I get from making a card or plaque or invitation designed specifically for someone. I makes my heart sing! To have someone tell me that they have kept one of my cards because it was simply too wonderful to throw out is heady and encouraging stuff. I think the best is when I got to see one of my cards still on my sister's desk from her birthday. She was amazed that I made the flowers that adorned it. Knowing it sits there and reminds her of how special she is to me... That is incredible! I treasure that.

I think blogging is definitely a passion as well. I have two very different blogs and I enjoy each for the very different things that they are. I love words. To sit and write is just the most amazing thing. It is cathartic, energizing, exciting, and for me, releases an incredible amount of endorphins. I am so complete when I can write. I believe that almost anyone who starts and maintains a blog is a writer and is a person passionate about words. I am no different.

If I had to boil down the one thing I would answer if someone asked "what is your passion," I would have to say communication. All of the things that I love to do, be it blogging, gardening, crocheting, paper craft - I love to share about the stuff I find interesting. I love to see a new technique in paper crafting and learn how to perfect that to bring others joy. I love to read new books to develop my writing style and find new phraseology and different word pairings. I am passionate about learning how to communicate with others whether it takes the form of gifting a card, writing down my life on the ranch, sharing what God is teaching me about myself or sitting on the porch in the evening hours with a cocktail and a friend to share the garden with. I want the people closest to me to understand how much they mean to me and I enjoy immensely the different ways I have learned to communicate that love.

I am a communicator, passionate to find the best way to tell you that I enjoy you, hope you are well and I thrive on bringing a smile to your face. If you matter to me, I will make sure that you know it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Out on a limb...

That's where I have been... Living out there in the big bad analog world. I have been having a blast, actually, and realize that I am an extremely spoiled individual!

I have traveled to my sister's in Louisiana to visit her family. It was a lovely and relaxing trip full of lots of nothing. By that I mean that there was no rush, rush to our days, no schedule to keep and no one to offend should we run late or not show. It was filled with days by the pool, late afternoon walks and two lovely bike rides that convinced me to update my wheels at home. I absolutely adored my niece, who never did let me hold or touch her much. She did, however, find much companionship in the boy, aka "the baby magnate." We made one solitary trip to the Audubon Zoo in the city and the rest of our visitors came to us. Bliss! I am already scheming to find a way to go back. Thus the "high wire" picture reference!

Construction has started on my studio. I am still in shock on this and am very overwhelmed by the lovely way the Man smiles when I whine about how much it costs or how I am so unsure that we can afford it. He simply pats me and says, "It's fine, dear. Enjoy it!" I have drawn up formal plans so that I am sure that builder and I are on the same page. I even did an interior plan complete with scaled moveable furniture so that I can tell if what I have will fit... So far, so good. Now I am really in a pickle, because I want it NOW! Especially since I am writing this from the confines of the coffee shop. I cannot wait until I can simply sneak out to the studio and have it only take two minutes to get there... See? Spoiled!

I have been busily planting and re-planting since I returned home from Louisiana. The tulips have bloomed and are just now starting to wilt, thanks to the brisk Colorado nights. My roses are putting out buds, I have a new sand cherry and some hydrangeas to put in, and I have almost recovered my English violas that the Man tried to kill off while I was gone. I don't know how he managed to kill the one flower I chose that has a reputation here for becoming a nuisance, it is so prolific! Daily watering is imperative here... Something lost on him, apparently. (Actually, the wind did his efforts of watering in... but still!)

To top it off, I won, I won, I won!!!! Spud of Chez Spud has been so gracious and organized as to hold a contest, and I won! My package is a bevy of amazing English things and I am on fire to get my paws on that package! The anglophile in me felt a little "chuffed" at having been chosen by the random number generator. It must have known how much I wanted that spiffy mug and those cards! I don't drink much tea, so I hope that the mug will not be too offended at carrying about my morning coffee. Maybe I will take it to the glorious studio, once it is complete... I have a "coffee area" all drawn into my space.
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