Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and a list ....

On this day where Americans take a moment to feast and enjoy the rigors of familial dynamics, I want to remember that while the turkey is delectable and the company entertaining, I have so much more to be thankful for!

* I am thankful for the provisions we have on a daily basis. When it seems we only have barely enough to get by I need to remember there are so many more who have nothing. I have been blessed with the measure of "just enough" and I will rejoice in that.

* I am thankful for my family: kids, husband, sisters, brothers, in laws, moms and dads... so many are left during the holidays feeling alone and lonely for their family or friends. I am generously equipped with both and find them a joy to be cherished.

* I am thankful that in this economy I am able to have a job, a means to feed my family and pay my bills. I will be thankful that the Lord stretches each penny to meet needs I didn't know I had. I am grateful that we can continue to live and work such an incredible life.

* I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. So many I know are struggling. To be blessed with the ability to move through my life with relative ease and comfort is something easily taken forgranted, but today I'm reminded that even that which rarely crosses my mind is a huge benefit. I am lucky to live in a culture and a country where health is generally promoted.

* I am thankful that I am able to write this post from the company of my husband. Although he's working today, I am grateful that we got to spend the day together. There are families that have Daddies in the middle East and far reaches in harms way. I am thankful for those that are called to serve and I will not dishonor their sacrifice by complaining about the lack of my own. If it weren't for them, I would not be free to be here today.

* Hardest for even myself to understand, I feel the need to be thankful today for the hard times. I need to bow my head and say thank you to my Lord for never coddling me. He hardens and hones me into a suitable sword by these momentary troubles he allows to touch my life. My God loves me enough to not leave me stagnant in my growth. He purifies and refines me in the fires of my life and it is those periods that remind me how much sweeter the good times are.

I hope that today found you in a thankful mood, counting your many blessings and sharing them with someone special. I love my life... I just need reminded every now and then exactly how good I have it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let it snow...

With the onset of cooler weather in our part of the country I have been reminded that nothing is as exciting to kids as a snow day from school. I remember begging God in the wee hours of the morning to please let there be enough snow on the ground for the Superintendent to call school. The disappointment was never so raw as when Mom would explain that the dude who made the decision was from Ohio and there would rarely ever be a day he deemed bad enough to call off school on account of snow.

There were, however, a few days I remember in my life where the snow did come and with a fervor not seen in many years since! How is it that when we recall our youth things always seem bigger and more dramatic? I distinctly remember so much snow! I remember stepping out the back door and being knee deep and sometimes hip deep in the white stuff. Never mind that I was distinctly shorter than most of my compatriots... Yeah, we will conveniently leave that part out. I just remember the days we got to spend alternating reading by the wood burning stove and donning our outdoor gear to trudge out into the white frigid day.

We built snow men, we had snowball fights, we dug into all that heavy wet stuff and made forts. It was so much fun to be a kid back in that day. We would come in when our clothes got so wet it became unbearable. We would undress in front of the wood burning stove and lay out our mittens, socks and coats to dry by the roar of the fire. Hours later, after cocoa and a snack and maybe some reading we would don our dry drier gear and head right back out to finish some project we had started earlier. It was pure heaven!

These days my kids long for snow days not so much for the outdoor activities and the playing in the white stuff. They yearn for a few more hours sleep and more time in front of the "boxes" - Computer, television, etc. I get it - Things have changed. But I still remember having such an incredible time out there in the back yard, or the front yard...Heck just being out in it!  There's still a part of me that laughs and dances an invisible jig when the snow starts to fly... "Snow Day!!!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Great Outdoors...

As a kid in the '70s we did a lot of things for fun. I remember my first bike with the large green banana seat, I remember those incredibly dangerous and painful glass balls on a string that you knocked together until your mother begged you to stop or you smashed your finger between them, I remember Gun Smoke, Starsky and Hutch and Chips on the television, I remember the smell of a brand new box of Crayola Crayons and I always coveted the biggest box with the built in sharpener in the back, I remember roller skates on city sidewalks. As I said previously, I had a pretty cool childhood.

One of the most vivid and wryly wonderful memories I have would also be of the family camping trips we took as youngsters. Living in town all my life (until I married the Man, that is), I simply loved the trips in the car... Wait. I always got carsick... ahem. (And still do to this day, mind you.) Ok, so the getting there was riddled with strife, hoping desperately that the winding road and too many potato chips wouldn't revolt against my young stomach and re-present itself at the most inopportune of times. However, I do remember the wonderfully liberating feeling of climbing out of the cramped back seat and running around our campsite with my sister, exploring to the furthest allowable reaches until Mom called us in for peanut butter sandwiches, or better yet C-rations that were picked up at the Salvation Army Store. I loved the campfires and the roasted marshmallows in the fresh mountain air. I don't have a whit of recollection of how it felt to sleep on the ground, if I ever got cold or sore... It was just great to be a kid in the '70s when camping out was all the rage!

I was in awe of the Coleman stove and the funny smelling lantern that hissed and sputtered into life. There were sites with a creek in them, and while it was probably unnerving for my Mom, us kids always thought those sites were the best! Colorado creeks are never ever warm, so the water was not exactly inviting, but playing with little pieces of wood to float down the current kept us busy for hours. Until of course I had to go to the bathroom...

In that light I am suddenly reminded why it is I have never wanted to go camping in my adulthood. Yes, folks - I am an incompetent outdoors-woman who cannot manage to relieve herself outside without tinkling on her feet, shoes or no shoes. Sad but true. And to all of you helpful sort who think you can give me some advice, I remember as a child standing this way and that, uphill, downwind, etc., etc. Nothing ever seemed to stop the tragedy from happening. And from a gal who absolutely loves footwear, I cannot stand by and say I will ever camp again. My wonder filled childhood memories will have to do, as will camping at the Hyatt!

I think I need a shower now.... and a martini!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have started reading a book for research in my writing. It is called "A Secret Gift," and it is about the gift of one man to one hundred fifty inhabitants of Canton, Ohio during the Depression just days before Christmas in 1933. He gave them a mere $5, but in those times it was an amount that was the difference between eating for a week or nothing. As you can imagine, the content is incredible and moving and has invoked in me the memories of the sheltered bliss of my own childhood. I am definitely not intimating that my childhood was any where near as stress-filled or anguished as those who survived the greatest economic downfall of our time (so far). And for those who like to poke fun, no I am not that old either! It just has me thinking very fondly about the times I didn't have so much on my plate and things just seemed simpler. So I have decided to start a project.

Yes, you guessed it, I am about to inflict upon you a blog project in which I get all misty and gushy over things I remember in my youth - distant as it may be! I have quite a few it seems that flood into my memory just begging to be looked over again and relived, if only just a little.

I have spoken here many times of my Grandmother and her influence in my life. She was a survivor of that same Depression I am reading about. This book has brought many things to mind for me and much clarity about her that I had not had before. Most of which stems directly from the practice these folks all seem to have of not lamenting about their circumstances. It is incredible to me, in my observations of my generation and the Y-gen coming hot on my heels, that they so stoically weathered whatever fate seemed to fall flat in their laps. They didn't cry foul, they didn't slump in their boots, hand out in expectation, they didn't even ask much of the time for the basic necessities of life. They just accepted that times were tough, everyone was in the same boat and they got very resourceful about how to handle it.

Those that did survive the incredibly difficult life of the '30s and early '40s came out marred, but stronger for it. Not all of them found their way out of poverty, but those that did retained a vivid memory of what that time was like. They saved, they lived frugally within a set of means, and they rocked on! My grandmother was one of them. She never ever forgot what living through that was like. She remembered the hunger, the need and the humility and she lived with a healthy fear of returning to that state. She believed that bathing was more important than the latest fashion because it was the least you could do. I remember her saying, "There is no shame in being ragged, there is only shame in being dirty." She reveled in the luxuries of life like mayonnaise, white sugar and M&M candies. And she loved her house.

I spent many days with Gramma at her home. My mother was a single Mom in my early years and I was lucky enough to spend my days in the arms of my Grandmother while Mom supported two girls, working at the local grocery. I loved that house! It was cool in the summer, warm in the winter and some of my earliest memories are recalled sitting in her "front room," wrapped in my security blanket napping on the sofa with the plastic covered arms.

Grandma's house was the land of many treats. There were M&Ms in the ceramic "CREAM" jar, Oreo Cookies in the cookie jar, Oranges and Apples in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and often homemade popsicles in the freezer. Gramma was not the best of cooks, leaning on the theory that if it's brown it's cookin', if it's black, it's done! But I loved her chocolate chip cookies with the crispy edges and always just a little too much butter. Grandma was a huge patron of store bought ice cream and once made my youngest Uncle trod to the grocery to get more of the treat because he ate the last of it and I didn't have any. (I was not very popular with my teenage Uncle that day!)

I loved playing endlessly in the front room, blocks stacked here and there, Lincoln logs strewn about and many a baby doll lounging half dressed in attendance. Gramma always let me keep the television on and I watched endless reruns of "The Little Rascals," "The Brady Bunch," along with Looney Toones cartoons. She was patient with me and my sibling sister. We were rarely disciplined, but when we were it was crushing. Not because Gramma was harsh, on the contrary - We simply knew we had truly unraveled her last nerve!

Grandma's was where I first used a typewriter, read my first book, learned to love having my feet tickled and made my first mud pies. I loved it there. I miss her still and occasionally find myself longing to pick up the phone and tell her of my day. She never would have believed I own buffalo!

I remember the smell of wood polish, the sounds of the floorboards creaking and the dark upper hallway where I would set up my "office" to play secretary. The shocking Fire-alarm-like sound of the wall telephone would jolt me in my little chair and I would squeak out a yelp every time... It was Awesome! To this day, I love houses with the smooth white plasterboard walls and dark stained trim. It just brings it all back to me.

I had a wonderful childhood, sheltered from the stress and strife I notice my kids are growing up in. I didn't worry about the rent, or how much thing cost. I was coddled that way. It was a good time to be a kid in the 70's and I am very grateful for the time I spent with my Grandparents. Where my mother taught me how to be strong and resilient, my Grandparents taught me about frugal living and gentle spirits. I treasure both lessons deep in my soul.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Studio Update

Yes, folks. I have given up on my other blog editor and finally just paid for an app that might at least allow me to complete some posts I have had floating about in my head... Frustrating that I have had to wait this long!

I have been dying to get my studio up and running, but in the land of do-it-your-selfers there is just nothing to be done abut it. I am at the mercy of the schedules of others and it makes me a little nutty! Especially since I am so very close.... Have a look:

I have a door now. It opens and shuts and even locks! Pretty cool...

Studs... Hat channel and wooden

I have studs! Ones that hold up paneling and insulation eventually...

I refinished this fixture. It was one of those older brass fixtures generously donated by a friend of my project. Some Rustoleum spray paint and an afternoon commitment and I have a much mo modern fixture just waiting to be hung...

These are my red-neck window screens. Soo easy, once I finally figured it that silly staple gun thingy! Now I can open the windows without being dive bombed by the mud daubers...

And last but definitely to least, I have been "stubbed in." Sounds ominous, I know, but it just means that the studio itself is wired and ready to have power tied into it. This is the hardest thing to take above all... I have my little infrared heater bought and I have my coffee maker ready as well.... I just need some men folk with time to finish this bad boy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When I'm 64...

Ok... Last one, I promise! This will be the last birthday month post for a year or so. (And this one is two days delayed because of stupid app crashes!)

I think when you turn 40 there is a general tendency to take inventory. You begin to look at your life differently and with more clarity. The years of hormonally driven youth melt away and you are left to boil down what's left to the things that really matter. I have been caught doing that more and more. Hopefully, I am less driven by my emotions and more likely to quietly contemplate my response BEFORE I blurt it out.

The Beatles did a song, many moons ago, entitled, "When I'm 64..." It is more of a love song about will you still love me when I am old, wrinkly and need more care than is comfortable? While that is a valid question, I wanted to do a post on what I want at age 64... Because we all know, it is all about me!

* I want to dance! (Still...) I don't want to be a sedentary mass in a rocking chair somewhere, unless that chair is a rockin"! I want to be tapping my toes, spinning about wildly and generally making my kids cringe with fear that Mom's about to break a hip! I want to feel the enjoyment I get out of the sounds of life and youth, long after that youth has eluded me. I doubt I will feel any less youthful at 64 than I do today, but I do want to have my grandkids look at me and ask this old lady to dance!

* I'd like peeps not to know I am 64, truth be told. I want to be one of those ladies that you know HAS to be of a certain age, but you just can't seem to pin her down. I vowed once I turned 40 to quit aging. I am eternally celebrating my 40th... Hopefully, those who do know me well enough will keep my secrets. Medical miracles, tiny little injections and hair color are amazing tools I plan to use to the fullest!

* I want to keep up with the techies... I know this as part of my personality very well and I doubt it will be hard to do. There are just things that make me grin from ear to ear and technology is one of them. I simply hope that in my busy life I don't fall out of sync with the newest little gadget that keeps me young at mind!

* I want to savor my life. Right now, things seem to go by at breakneck speed and I am often caught just going through the motions. Obviously I want to get this started sooner than 64, but I do want to develop a habit of savoring my moments, no matter what they are. To some this may sound like "smell the roses," but I would beg to differ. I also want to savor (in a way) those things that are not always thought about as pleasant. Without the difficulties, the trials and yes, the pain, life gets very bland. If I didn't have hard times in my life, I would not be able to truly revel in the easy times. It takes having both to truly appreciate the other. I am not trying to be morose here, quite the opposite. I want to start looking at my life's challenges through a different set of lenses. I want to savor every day, because it is God given and I have a choice. I can be unhappy and unpleasant to be around, or I can choose to savor the moment for the growth it will create and move through it looking for the good that will come out of it.

* Along those same lines, I want to cherish those around me. So often I am guilty of taking my family, friends and co-workers for granted. I need to stop that! I want to truly convey the love and the enjoyment I get from each individual that graces my life with their presences. I want to go to my Lord knowing I left no "I love you" unsaid, no hug unbestowed, no hand left unheld. I want the people in my life to know that though we may not have always agreed, I loved them for who they were and appreciated their choice of me as an accompaniment. Fact is, peeps don't have to choose me, and when they do, I should cherish their friendship, love ... whatever they happen to give. It is the people in my life that make it worth living.

Thanks for putting up with my birthday month... I have always been a celebrator! I promise not to mention it for another 11 months... maybe.
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