Thursday, December 31, 2009

365 Days of Blogging

Julie and Julia made me smile. I like food movies. This one brushed up against the edges of the genre. I also really like Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Score. I do not like French cooking, however, and have no desire to follow in the footsteps of the author to prepare what to me would be a plethora of miserable meals. (I am primarily vegetarian, mind you, and somewhat butter-shy).

But, it got me to thinking. IF I were to blog daily for a whole long year (highly unlikely), WHAT would I blog about? It would obviously have to be something of interest to me since no one is reading what I put out into cyberspace (except Dave, bless his heart... one way to stay in touch with his wife while he is on the road). It would have to be something appealing and doable (more likely) that didn't take lots of time, materials and photo editing.

I am, btw, so incredibly proud of my uber talented brother in law who ACTUALLY has nearly completed an awesome set of 365 SHOTS A DAY. You would do well to take a peek (though no one will see this, sorry Pete) and read his witty repartee that accompanies amazing photographs. See them in the galleries at

Anyway. I like words a great deal, so that's what came to my mind regarding 365 Days of Blogging. A Word a Day kind of thing. I know it's been done before and Shutter Sisters has the clever One Word Project (also worth a peek). My word would be different. In fact, it would be a contemplative exercise as I've been pondering the concept. To write in the evenings reflecting on my days and choose a word that represents something that rose to the surface for me. In other words, my awareness tuned in to what God is doing in the world and around and through me. A sort of Lectio Divina, but rather than slowly reading The Word... it would be a Reading of the World with a Word. (can anyone help me with the Latin here?)

I might give it a try. No guarantees. No commitment. Just thoughts. It would increase my awareness of the One True God who is abundantly present and active, if I were to just slow down enough to perceive his quiet words and activity. That would be a good thing all around. He'd like it. I'd grow from it. OK, I'll give it try.

Pseudo New Year's Resolution for the whole wide world (aka know as "readership of one") to see. Abundant Blessings be yours in 2010.

Race Day

When you think of someone who is a "runner", I'm not the typical type. But, today, running a 5k at 35 degrees in the rain and having FUN must have made me "a runner". At least that's what my marathoning husband declared when I called him to tell him race results. (Normally he'd be there with me, but normal is elusive at the moment with his mom in her last hours...)

I've been training for this. My protesting knee has begun to be whipped into shape after the physical therapist gave me permission to tame it with squats and other horrible exercises. It has given up swelling all the time and therefore, I've been further encouraged at my running pursuits, tiny though they are. Don't all good things begin with small steps?

I usually look forward to going to the gym, but that's increased lately with this 5K goal in sight. Truly I think it's paid off since I was able to recover from the race within about 15 minutes. Sure, I felt like throwing up about mile 2.3, but resisted. (good for me). But that wasn't the end of me, so my 50 year old mind is happy that my 50 year old body decided to cooperate.

The last time I ran a 5K was in the dark... a night race lit by luminaries. Nice idea, but it was about 85 out and the humidity was so thick you could put OUT the luminaries with it. I was 25 pounds heavier and was ever so thankful to have made it to the finish line before they took down the clock. I did NOT feel like "a runner". Recovery time was such that I don't even think I wanted post race ice cream fellowship with all the teens who showed me up with their athletic feats and kept their laughter to themselves. I even wrote an entire essay on the event because it was so epic (and not particulary fun) for me.

Yea. Today was different, thank the Lord. I'm lighter, more fit, more ready and Dave has declared me to be "a runner". I will proudly wear that title for the rest of this year, in fact!

It's New Year's Eve.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


One week of family togetherness. After being absent in body, but present in spirit, our daughter has returned home for Christmas break following her first quarter in college. We keep reminding her that she won't have to travel that "first-quarter" way ever again. Meanwhile, I am reminded that there will not be a "first-time-home" ever again. That's good, because I am tired.

Bottled up within me have been many (too many) conversations needing to be had. Parenting from a distance with a hearing disability that keeps me shying away from the phone with my talkswaytoofast daughter has meant all this advice and all these conversations have been waiting in my mind and soul. They are slowly leaking out, thanks to the prayers of my friends that I might be attune to the right moments. But, meanwhile. The additional active parenting has worn me out.

Don't get me wrong... it is DELIGHTFUL to have her home! To have extra estrogen floating in the air from her and her ever present girlfriends is great. And, we've had family dinners regularly which have been well worth cooking for. Nothing satisfies me more than being around the table with people I love. For those occasions, I must be the one cooking however, for there is no place else to go to have dinners around the table with those I love unless I create the moment. Sigh. Middle age. (Would that someone else would gather us up and cook and light the candles... when we have someone creating that food and those spaces for us, we are too young to take delight in the fact that someone ELSE is in charge.) My daughter is having her friends join us pretty much every evening. This is good. They, too, get to experience the joy and love of a family dinner. We are on our best behavior since we know that these three weeks will pass quickly and well, it's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, so no squabbling allowed.

Dinner and shopping. Just say NO to shopping! We are going to get to the fabric store sooner rather than later, but happily NO malls. NO "Save Money. Live Better" visits. NO running to and fro to get the latest. Our shopping has been "hey mom, look at these shoes... skirts...tights" on line. Click. Ordered. I am all about saving time and hassles and letting the UPS runners take care of that. So far, so good. Plus, no retail therapy needed since I'm spending over 30 hours this week as a retail clerk anyway. Fortunately, working at the Outfitter's is different. It just is. And, it's actually fun trying on gloves for guys who are trying to get the right size for their significant other: "Hey, will you try this on for me, your hands look like they're about the right size?" And, "do you think she'll like this coat?" Me: "Oh, of course she will. What does she need a coat for anyway? Riding in the car, sitting at soccer games, running a 5K?" Etc... Etc... Etc... She'd BETTER LIKE IT.

Shopping and sharing cars. I've never done this before, really. But we've never had four drivers and three cars in our family. I've been left car-less a few times and there will be more to come. I am a homebody at heart, so it's a minor inconvenience. (Since it's only three weeks, of course!) Summer time will be a different story. And, today, TODAY with the snow storm slamming the east coast and black ice coating our streets and a teeny bit of snow, we had to put the 1997 mini van to sleep and buy another used car. Son is more excited that I've ever seen him, of course, since this will be the Honda Accord that HE will drive. Daughter gave the car a passing glance en route to go pick up BFF from the airport after a four month absence from one another.

:) I smile because this is what having a daughter and a son at home is like. Stark differences, that's for sure. But glad to be sitting around the dinner table together again if only for a few short weeks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cheer

After 25+ years of decking the halls, everything feels like it's coming together this year. The tree was up before my Creative Memories Open House. (never before) Which also means that my annual dusting is partially completed. Dust Bunnies be gone! The lights aren't up on the porch and they may not be given the fact that I value my fingers more than holiday lights at the moment (wind chill's a bit too low)...

Putting together some calendars for gifts (just forget I said that if you'll be getting one) I found some of last year's Christmas Cheer shots. Timely to share them on this first snowy day of the season. The House That Will Never Recover (or at least the electric bill that will never recover) was discovered in Alexandria, VA by my sleuthing brother in law who shamelessly loves Christmas lights. It was so over the top, all we could do was laugh, though I'm sure the neighbors were crying en route to the police station to get either a restraining order for the blow up Christmas characters, or a police person to direct traffic.

Enjoy the twinkle all around. These moments are for savoring.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


A narrow view of "before dusting"
I dare you to find my hidden bins during my Creative Memories Open House !

Two spots that shall remain undusted. Just don't look very closely, please.

My Facebook status report was actually a true confession this evening. "Setting up for my open house and decorating for Christmas means that I must engage in my Once A Year Dusting Project". But, there is a hazard associated with having to dust and it's not abundant sneezing. Rather, I have to move the stacks and piles in order to find the counter tops. This is in my office. The living room wasn't quite as bad!

All that to say. I really do not enjoy some aspects of Home Maintenance. I looked at the pile of clothes in the bathroom and declared the same last night. Fortunately I have a similar and supportive husband and have trained two teens accordingly (if they marry your kids, consider yourself warned...) You know the PILE... the one with the clothes you can wear again, but you don't really want to hang them up with the clean ones in your closet or fold them for the drawers. I'm open to other non-piling systems, I guess. But, mine seems to work. It's just not pretty.

And, today, while searching for the flat surfaces to dust, I encountered numerous PILES. This time of papers, important and otherwise and miscellany of all sorts. I tend to keep up with what I call Stack Attacks (if you put papers aside long enough, by the time you get back to them, most of them don't matter any more, a nice side benefit). But, there are always seem to be the Things Without A Home. Make another file? Throw them away? NO! Pile them all into a bin to HIDE while guests visit my Open House. If you're reading this and you come by on Saturday, just pretend you don't know the truth, OK?

My lack of desire to happily keep up with home maintenance fits perfectly well with my personality and desire to just be creative and hope some elves will show up to clean up. I'm OK with my style, actually. It doesn't stress me out and usually we don't stress each other out around home being cut from the same rather messy cloth.

But, woe to me if I don't get back to those hidden bins once I hide them. They are full of Treasures Who Have No Home.


For Thanksgiving I made these little place cards for everyone. For the first time ever I decided upon table seating according to body SIZE, not just social dynamics! The three boys-to-men were in the corner where the food was readily available, but getting up to help was not.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I started this post while everyone was listening to some comedians on the internet post dinner. It never got published, but I decided to continue with it one week late. Indicative of how life has been humming along since the Company came and left.

One thing I've been intentional about as a parent has been creating traditions. At least one POSITIVE thing I've created are traditions :) I'm certain I have been UNintentional about creating all kinds of things, but that will be for another post someday. (when my kids are 33!).
Thanksgiving was full of happy traditions! My mom comes from Indiana each year and my sister and her family come from NC. We spend the morning at a local running race for the homeless each year. Sometimes we absolutely freeze. Sometimes we are covered with snow. And, rarely, a day like last week shows up and we are blessed with sunshine and temps in the low 40s! Perfect. The race is getting bigger and bigger every year and we are getting faster and faster even as we get older and older. All of these are encouraging traditions I say! I am proud of myself for getting out there and running again. Even prouder of the rest of my family for ALL participating!

We had 13 around the table. Lots of family and lots of history since we have been planted here for so many years... and the only person I have that truly resembles a brother (having known him since Jr. high) was here with his family too. The feeling was pleasant and light and I was grateful. I am aware that the positive traditions surrounding our family Thanksgiving are a gift not all families share.
Running in the sunshine. Simple Thanksgiving meal served on my in law's 50 year old china. Pumpkin and pecan pie. A few words of Thanksgiving from everyone and a rousing chorus of the Doxology. Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Dreary November morning. Just the way Ohio Novembers should be: drippy and chilly. I'm happy to have a day at home except for the lingering headache. Tired of that, but I'll move past it to keep up the cleaning for company (ahh... November) and the birthday planning (November!) and the sorting (OK... always...).

Found a fun idea for Thanksgiving place cards here:

Love the combination of digital and paper creations. Now to budget in the time for the fun touches to welcome family and friends to the celebration next week. There will be plenty of things to add to "November"... but that's all for this morning.

Cozy up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Wordle: Weekend Retreat


A couple of simple pages from my summer vacation album. I am refreshed at retreats too!

We have these really great new CM calendars! I can't wait to finish one and get it printed. Christmas gifts galore. Especially for the people who have everything (most of us!)

Some people would not give this post such a title. To each his (her) own.

48 hours. 40 women. Hundreds of scrapbook pages. Wine and cheese. In room Jacuzzis. A variety of music, beer, diet soft drinks and laughter. No kids. No cooking. No cleaning. No clients, patients, files, calls, car pool or messes to clean up. For the 40 women who came to our annual Creative Memories Fall Girlfriends Getaway, this indeed IS REFRESHMENT!
We can be introverts and focus on our digital art or chat away while cropping paper and photos. We can stay up all night, or go to bed early. We can hide in our rooms and watch movies. We can eat what we like, pretty much when we like, or not eat at all. When the weather is smashingly beautiful, as was the case this weekend, we can run or walk in the sunshine in small town Ohio, or stay seated for two days. Refreshing choices all around!

I really love the chance to give women a time and place to getaway. We are so often the ones focused on everyone else's needs and schedules that we neglect ourselves. We may want to work on our photos or spend time with our friends "someday", but we are too quick to put off "someday" for far too long. Since that is so often the case, it makes me happy to include 40 women in a weekend JUST FOR THEM. Task oriented or not, they all made these 48 hours what they wanted and needed them to be.

Now home, I'm a little tired as I always have been over the past 10 years of hosting retreats. But, it's a satisfied tired. I'm grateful for the chance to mingle with friends and acquaintances over and over again for times of refreshment just like these.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


We said goodbye to our faithful and messy walnut trees today. Knowing this was their last season is one reason I took some photos of the walnut gathering the other day. (see the Walnuts post). These trees have stood tall in the back yard for the ten years we've lived here. Most importantly they provided solid anchors for the giant swing we installed with worn out climbing rope and some cables. We celebrated many happy swooshes into the air thanks to our old walnut trees. With the trees demise, memories must because a little more solidified with no visual reminder out back.

Saying goodbye to trees is always hard. If I had it my way, I'd never cut down any of them. But, in neighborhoods where trees, houses and people coexist, the later to generally outlast the former. Such is the case in our yard. Hurricane Ike reeked havoc in our yard when the winds came through and a huge, dangerous limb came crashing down off the front poplar knocking out neighborhood power for a matter for days. A scenario we didn't want to repeat, especially on top of the house!

The good ending to the saying goodbye: Our dentist friend, Kevin, is an amazing woodworker. He's going to take the wood and get it to the saw mill and use it for furniture. We're hoping he'll come through on the promise (was it a "promise"?) "I'll make you guys something!" Oh YES! Would we ever LOVE to have something made from our friends the walnut trees.

When summer roles around we'll especially miss the walnut trees, but there will be a little more sunshine in our yard. Maybe enough to grow some real grass.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The week was more than a little busy. Projects all just-in-time-delivery. No time for general maintenance except for keeping the kitchen in good enough shape so as not to breed disease.

My studio-office however, was another story. When redesigning a room for home entry, the architects talk about a "DROP ZONE". You know, the place where you unload everything just after you grabbed several items with your teeth in order to free up a hand to turn the door knob into the house (not always successfully). Architects assume one flat surface and/or some hooks for a DROP ZONE. Me? This week I had an entire ROOM that performed the task quite well, thank you very much.

After my psuedo rant about the testosterone spilling out all over the house in my other post, I figured it was time for the truth to come out, though I DID mention my messy office already! Artists + Projects = Mess. Just the way it is for me. Here you are... a sneak peek at last night's DROP ZONE.

Actually, in process pictures for the cross country runners for the banquet. I hope they liked them.

Three memorial services in three weeks, cross country banquet and photo gifts for over 40 kids and two coaches. The school auction (see "STITCHES" for a glimpse of the quilt!) It went for $250. I think the kids will be proud! A craft fair to pack up for, set up and do. My BFF arriving back in town after being gone for over two weeks with the loss of her dad. Ordering supplies and getting letters our for next week's Creative Memories Retreat. Not to mention time at the gym for some PT stuff and general life maintenance.

My list of excuses for this large, lovely room becoming such a disaster in the aftermath of my busy-ness. Whew! And, what am I doing this evening? Instead of moving stuff and putting it all away, I'm writing about how messy this room is (and am not feeling particularly badly about it at all!)

Feel free to come visit! I'll find a chair someplace.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The morning after three talented man boys hung out.
It could be a lot worse I think...

Keeping them fed is just NOT an easy task.

Home office.
Budding "muscian"

Watch out for these. Vibram Five Fingers.
Only guys can eat donuts and run within the same hour.

Band Practice Snack Selection. What happens when teen boys go to the store all alone.

This is one thing I did not anticipate as my only daughter went off to college: so much MALE. I've been caught off guard after living with another just like me for 19 years. I am now only surrounded by my tall husband, my tall man/child son, his friends, the guy remodeling our bathrooms, the guys in car pool, etc… And, just when my daughter goes off to college, my best friend has been out of the loop for over 2 weeks attending to family needs. What's a girl to do? !

Now, don't get me wrong… I happen to like men, but they are well… different. At my house, at least.

They eats lots and lots (and lots) of cereal. Mr. Southbeach has told me that cereal is crossed off of my list so I don't join them.

They sweat. That translates to lots and lots of athletic style laundry. (see former post "Walnuts" regarding the recent decrease in the laundry department, however). I do work out, but I don't' sweat, I glisten.

Running shoes stink. Especially Vibram Five Fingers. And since a lot of running happens around here, there is a lot of potential for olfactory distress!

At my house there is a general sense of "Oh, I didn't see that laying there on the floor (or substitute table, bathroom, sink, pretty-much-anywhere)" Even the notes that I post right at eye level at the front door get missed. Yea, this is mostly for the man/child. I know. Hubby hates stuff laying around and I'm the queen of messy counter tops in my office. (Another post, another time…)

Milk stays in only one spot in the fridge. Why? If it wasn't there, male types wouldn't be able to find it. You know, we have a really, really, really big fridge with like three shelves! Don't even think about sending them off to find mayonnaise or leftovers.

They like the idea of leftovers. Not the reality.

We have, well, sorta kinda different tastes in music too. Especially, man/ child and me. Our car pool route is short enough for me to be a generous mom and let him play assorted CDs and radio stations. Loud. It is one of the only times in my life when having a hearing disability comes in handy. (Must remember that in moments of frustration, Andi)

I know lots of moms who have spent their days with heaps of boys… and I know they often love it and prefer it to a pack of girls. It's still new to me, I guess. Growing up with a sister, lots of Girl Scout friends, roommates, etc…

Today I noticed the testosterone. Tomorrow I'll buy more cereal and milk and move the leftovers to the top shelf, put them on a plate with a little garnish and microwave oven instructions. And call the USDA and have them amend the food groups to include Macaroni and Cheese.