Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rainy Days

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It seems as if it's been a long time since I've had an all day thunderstorm at my home. So, I look outside today, and I see overcast skies, rain falling, and hear thunder rumbling. I really do love weather like this. I want to do things like bake bread or sugary treats, or watch a movie, or work on a hobby.

Somehow, these rainy days have come to be associated with relaxing. I haven't figured that out yet, but it must stem from my childhood. Good Times.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

voted most likely to succeed

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I think about how in high school I was voted "most likely to succeed." Now, nearly 10 years later, I think that's a pointless designation. And yet. I struggle with the idea that somehow, I'm not living up to... something. What is the definition of success? Money, an impressive-sounding job, fame? Somewhere in my mind, I must think that these are the definitions of success. When I graduated high school, I thought I would be an architect. When I graduated college, I had some ideas about where I might like to go with a career, but those things seemed to be less impoartant than a relationship with my now-husband. Now, I feel the need to make what I do sound impressive. Who am I trying to impress? It's not the people I live with on a daily basis, but people I haven't seen in years.

What I wish the most is that I could unload and dispose of all those ideas about what sucess is, and where I think other people think I should be in my life, and just accept the wonderful things that I do have. Is it a waste to have skills and abilities, and not use them in a way that gets me a pile of money or a title? I guess I think so, but really, given the chance, I don't think I would trade what I have for what I think other people might expect of me. However, something in me still wants to be more than a housewife.

What this reveals to me is the conflict between the expectations of the World, and the expectations of my God. I find comfort in the thought that God doesn't care if I'm an architect, historic preservationist, or gainfully employed. Am I serving Him? and I loving His children? I may fall short on those expectations, but these are the things that truely matter in life. Now, if I could just let go of the others that don't matter.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


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I don't get much into Halloween. This year, I happened to be visitng family, and I ended up going out with a pile of children and adult supervisors for trick or treating.

This is me in my "costume" next to my sis-in-law, who's costume is more readily understood.

Aren't I lovely? Had I ever contemplated going blonde, I now have evidence that it would be a poor choice. Unless I wore lots and lots of make up. Which I suppose just might lend more creedence to some of the suggestions of what exactly I was for halloween.

Monday, November 06, 2006


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Frequently, when I go on vacation with my husband, there is no photographic evidence that I actually was where ever we visted. There's proof of him being there, but not so much me.

So, I present to you a rare instance of photographic evidence that I have indeed been to the American side of Niagara Falls.

This was taken on the third day of travel to move a friend out to his new home in the northeast. It was wet, but it was still cool to see. And Loud. I'd go again.

I Also have proof my husband was there, but, Alas, I can offer no proof that we were there together, or even at the same time.

That's Canada in the background, and then the backs of Joses and Randy.

Pointless Pix

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So, As I'm going through nearly a thousand images that I've taken with my camera in the last year, I am beginning to wonder: What is the point of taking photos if I don't share them with anyone?

So, I'll be searching for a decent, secure, large, and free online place for me to share my photos with family and friends.
Or, I could just make sure that when I see people, I take a slideshow or something to play.

I do sometimes take pictures for the sake of art, but somethings I take just for fun. Maybe I should start putting up some of my art pictures, just so I'll start taking better pics!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Real Beauty

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I've thought quite a bit about how culture, and specifically media, impact our perception of what is beautiful in a person. As a person who has struggled with my own self-image, and has "discussions" with men about what their expectations of the appearance of women are or should be, I am always interested in exposing the reality of media distortion of beauty.

A year ago, I did a class at a youth camp about how the images we see in advertisments are "falsified" from the reality of what the person in the image looks like. When air brush retouching was the way it was done, most pictures in ads were, for the most part, as is. With the ease of computer technology, the standard is now for retouching images. And "retouching" is an understatement. In my class I pulled photos from the web - examples from the portfolios of leading ad photographers, how-to sites, and other places demonstrating how significant some of these changes can be.

I have used photoshop to create new images from others. It's enjoyable to be able to apply skills and see how much control we have over what others see. The downside, is that if people consistently see made-up images, their perception of "normal" becomes skewed.

I came across 2 videos from another blog I read. While the changes in some of the images are subtle, they certainly inform us about what we "should" look like.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Manly Art of Chainsaw

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My spouse recently aquired a chainsaw. A big one. He and our neighbors were out cutting wood for the winter, and I think he had way too much fun. They felled something like 15 trees in 5 hours, and had it all chopped up to managable size.

Of course, I was envious, because I couldn't use the new tool. Grrr. Its heavy enough that if I'd pick it up, I'd end up sawing off my leg when I drop it because of the weight and the power of the engine. That would be no good.

So, Jude gets to have all the fun, I got to take the pictures.

Return of the Artist

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Now that fall feels like it's in full swing, I can get back to my artful ways. I've been looking at the gray skies over the fields drying for harvest, and seeing watercolor paintings in my head. My dad, the master artist, was right. I haven't even done a watercolor since april or so.

It's interesting how cycles of activity seem to take up all the extra time in a given season. Summers have always been full of church activities - meetings, planning times, reunions, summer camps, de-briefing from summer camps, and planning of transition from summer camp to the first youth retreat of the school year.

Now that wave is over, and I feel as if I have some breathing room to do other things. I'm home this week, as I was last week. However, since this is the week After the first youth retreat of the school year, I feel as if I have all kinds of time on my hands. So, last evening, I hauled out my sewing machine to finish a project I started sometime earlier this year. It's not quite done, but I think by the weekend it will be.

I feel a bit like I'm returning to myself.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I got a Hummer!

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Or rather, I got about 200 of them. Give or take 50.

For the past 3 years, my spouse and I have put out hummingbird feeders on our porch(es). These noisy little birds eat at our feeders in droves. Jude speculates that there are more than 160 birds eating from our feeders. One of the feeders came with a formula for figuring the number of birds based on the number of ounces consumed in a 24 hour period. We go through something like a gallon every day and a half. That's a lot of birds.

These pictures don't even begin to describe the number of birds that are in constant motion around the feeders. One of the large feeders has 6 feeding areas. We get 8 birds at a time on it, all fighting, sharing, and sometimes standing on each other's back to get to the feeder.

Some of these birds are so intent on their food, that you can stand at a feeder and put your fingers over the perches, so they have to perch on your hand to eat. And they will. It's amazing to have these little birds buzz by and perch on your hand, just under your nose! One year, my 3 year old neice even sat out with the feeder (and grandpa) and had birds perch on her fingers. So cool.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Paint by Number

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We're painting room #2 today: The Living Room.
At the request of some of my avid readers ;) I've included some "before" pictures.

This room was a lovely shade of off-white Cream (such a change from the room that was pure white!) Almost the Entire rest of the house is also painted in this appealing color. The 2 bathrooms have slight variations.

I absolutely love the new color. Oddly enough, the room seems a little bigger than before; the ceiling seems higher. Typically dark feels small, as a few people have said our blue room feels smaller than it did before. This green room is refreshingly pleasant.

It's so nice to make new changes around the house. Might as well change everything in life all at one time!

The paint is still wet in these pictures, and we haven't painted the trim. That will take quite a bit longer than painting the room did, considering how much trim there is!

Aren't the french doors Sweet?!? Sadly, they're not very operable, and the screen doors we have for them are warped. But, that doesn't mean they won't be opened some time in the future. There's another set of french doors in the room across the hall. It's great!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A What?!

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A bat. In the toilet.

I know that weird things happen at my house. Once, I found a dead mouse in the toliet. My husband rescued me that time. This time, I was left to deal with the LIVE bat in the toliet by myself.

I made an ingenious use of old newspapers, fished out the bat, and put him out to dry on the back porch. We'll see what happens. I think he was pretty cold. And angry. He tried to bite my newspaper, while clicking at me.

Here he is. Best of luck, Bat. Hope the cats don't get you.

Friday, August 04, 2006

local oddities

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I found this ad in a local ads-only paper. Coming from a bunch of local people, the ads tend to have errors and funny wording.

I've heard of all kinds of new mixed breed specialty dogs, but this had me giggling so much I couldn't even explain to my spouse why I couldn't breathe. I shoved the paper under his nose and continued to giggle for quite a while.

I hope I don't have to explain why I thought it was sooooo funny. I was very tired that morning.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

cool tool

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Alright, since painting is on my mind.

Several months ago, when I was first contemplating the possiblitlies of repainting rooms in my home, I was searching for a chemical free, relatively lead-safe method of paint removal. I came across this cool tool called "the silent paint remover" or sometimes "speedheater." They're both manufactured by the same european company.

Generically, it could be called an infrared paint remover.

It's a sweet concept. Looking at the videos makes it look so easy! I want one!

Alas, using such a nifty device is not to be at this time: We're going for the quick and easy wet scrape what's peeling, and repaint. Some day, though, when we're look to do more than a quick fix, I'm going to rent or purchase one. One of these days...


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This past weekend, we decided to embark upon some re-decorating.
Our choosen room to begin with is..... this one!

It used to be a former roommate's room, and the walls and trim were all white.

Very white.

Now it is blue. Although the pictures don't do the actual color any justice, at least if gives a feel for the kind of change we've made.

Eventually, we figure that this will be our bedroom while we get around to painting the upper rooms. However, we must first tackle the living room and computer room.

Although the red, white, and blue theme might suggest that my spouse and I are a patriotic pair, the truth is, that's the carpet present. Maybe we'll change it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

long time

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The rush of campy-ness is over.
I can finally rest in the sweltering comfort of my own non-air conditioned home.
There's still a pile of stuff to be unpacked from camp, and it's been 2 weeks since we got home. So much for making headway in cleaning!

I'm home "alone" for the first time ever... no more house mates, no spouse... Really it's not that much different from the times when I had housemates who officially lived here. Except there's no one else to entertain me with conversation or the random noise and views of videos.

I can self entertain.

Friday, June 23, 2006

blogging flurry

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And the blogging forecast for the next few days:
Flurries, followed by streches of nothing.

That's how I blog. Something, then nothing for days, even weeks on end. If I were ever trying to make money by having some kind of ad thing where people came and looked Every Day and clicked on ads because I wrote something clever, insightful, or newsworthy Every Day, I would not succeed. As you can see, none of the above happens on a consistent basis.

1 lie, revealed.

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I thought for the curious, I'd say what the lie was:

3) Some of my family tree is inbred as recently as 4 generations ago. To my knowledge, there is no truth in this.

The other 2 are, in fact, true:

1) One of the people who babysat me as a child was later in life convicted of assisting murder. He ended up in a cult. I remember him as a nice guy who made some cool miniatures.

2) I stole something from a friend as a child, and lied to her face about it. I felt horribly guilty, and a couple days later gave what I stole back and said I was sorry. I was in maybe 2nd grade. And really, I didn't sneak and steal, like taking it from her bag, or whatever. I just found it on the floor of the bus, but I knew later that she was looking for it. I lied when she saw it and said something about it, and I said, no, it's mine.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Young Adults"

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I'm coming to dislike the "young adult" category that my church uses. I'm starting to think it's baloney. I'm seeing that we're a bunch of whiners, self included. I participated with some "young adults" in a class at a family camp I recently attended. I enjoy the class in many ways, but I was frustrated by what I was observing (and even contributing!)

"Church is Boring. They expect us to do all the work. I don't get spiritually fed when I go to worship. They lump us all in one category, but I'm different."

Even though I chime in on this, and go, "YEAH!" I can't help but think "Get over it!"

I've a lot to say about it. And a lot of theories as to why this seems to be a big deal. I think the following:

1) this is nothing new. All young adults in all eras have faced a challenge in transitioning from being led to being leaders. Sometimes, it's been a quick transition, but not so much now.

2) We expect the church to do stuff for us, like they always did in youth group. They created the worships, provided classes, and set the mood so that we "felt" God. Now, we have to find that for ourselves, and we don't know how, and don't care to put in the effort.

3) God is not a priority. If He were, we would follow His teachings about gathering often with fellow believers (showing up for church/bible study/etc.)

4) Ourselves and our families take priority. That's why we sleep in, and say we don't have time as we run off and go to play group, hang out with friends doing non-god-oriented things, and spend time making money so we can buy ourselves all the stuff we want.

5) We think we can be "spiritual" without spending time communing with other believers, and without spending time in study, prayer, and preparing for God. "spiritual" consists of good feelings about God and a general belief that His is there, will do some of the things that we learned in Sunday school, but isn't particularly involved in our personal lives. We're wrong.

6) We think worship is about us.

7) We think everything religious is about us. It's not. It's about God. It's about serving others. It's about making disciples. It's not about feeling good about ourselves.

8) We are unwilling to accept the criticism and challenge that requires us to move beyond a faith grown from other's efforts to a faith built on our own effort.

9) Deep down, we still think we're kids, and that the adults are in charge.

10) We still see ourselves as the future of the church, when we are the present of the church. This means that we can put things off until we think we've arrived at a time when it's "our" church. Sorry, but it will never be "our" church unless we claim it and change it, or adapt to it now.

11) We are really good at talking the problem to death, and choosing to do nothing (because that requires more commitment than we're willing to give)

12) By separating ourselves into more and more specific age groups, we're doing a disservice to everyone - we can't learn from older folks, and we can't help them re-explore their faith. Our children don't participate in a way that empowers them to be comfortable and consciously minister to others of all ages. I would think that the issues that have faced us for the last 2000 years are more or less the same, and we all use the same scriptures as reference. Why separate by age?

Here in North America, we have a skewed perspective. I go to church, and I think, oh, I don't get anything out of this. I will A) quit going, cause it sucks B) keep going, even though it sucks cause I should (guilt, kids, etc) C) Go to a different church that fills my need. I heard last week a testimony of a young woman from Russia. She has been a member of my denomination for "only" 3 years. Relatively speaking, she probably doesn't know near as much about scripture and history and all the stuff we think is important when we're "raised" in the church. And Yet. She is going back to Russia, and she is starting a new church. WHAT?!? A new church? We don't do that here... We don't build what we're looking for.... We wait for someone else to do it for us! This means that no one will be spoon feeding her faith and God experience to her. It means she'll be offering that to others. This is almost completely oppositet of all the wrong ideas I expressed above. Can you imagine how much courage and faith it takes to step out and start a church where there is none? To start a church where persecution is real, and support comes from God alone? And here we are, without enough faith to even prepare for God on Sunday.

I recognize that not all "young adults" fit into these generalizations of my opinion. Even though I can see that I'm whining about it, I also feel that I'm getting ready to be different. I see the problem, I'm changing, but I'm not all the way to doing anything about it yet.

I look forward to a day when the questions presented by a "young adult" gathering are less me-focused and about the structure of church, and more God focused. When we start asking question like "what did Jesus mean when he said...." and "What is Zion all about?"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

2 truths, 1 lie

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I recall a trip in college, where several of us were playing this game as we traveled from one desitnation to another via mass transit. The point of the game is to figure out which of the 3 statements is false. So, we're supposed to come up with 2 unlikely, but true statements, and one lie.

One of our professors overheard us playing this game, and asked about it. He then asked if he could play.
The 3 statements he made:
1) I have killed someone.
2) I been with a prostitute.
3) I spent a night in jail.

He played really well. None of us wanted to even try to guess. Any of those three seemed so unlike the professor we knew!

I've been thinking about some of the unlikely things that have occurred in my life. I came up with 2 truths and 1 lie for you to guess:

1) One of the people who babysat me as a child was later in life convicted of assisting murder.
2) I stole something from a friend as a child, and lied to her face about it.
3) Some of my family tree is inbred as recently as 4 generations ago.

What do you think is the lie?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

it's here

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Just so you know, because I'm so enthused - my painting has arrived. At least, the first one has. The second remains held captive by my father, the master artist.

If you need a refresher of the image, check out This post

Let me tell you, in person it is Sweet! (it was good in digital, but it's like ice cream - sugar free just doesn't taste as good as the real thing.)

Now I have to find a wall big enough to hang it...

rest easy

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Summer youth and family camps have been a part of my life since I was a baby. Some people tell me I attended my first camp with my family when I was only 6 months old. I think I've missed 2 years of summer camp in my whole life.

Now, I direct a summer camp for Sr. High youth. This is my fourth year directing, and up until about a week ago, it was proving to be my most stressful. It's been hard to admit, but I'm approaching burn out. I've felt attacked on nearly all sides - my counseling staff is not as plentiful as I would like, I feel like we're repeating the same activities (maybe I am, since I've been at this so long.) I feel like I'm fresh out of ideas, and energy. And then, at a moment when several counselors backed out, I went outside and said a short prayer. I turned "My" camp over to God. Occasionally, the worry tries to creep in, but I'm refusing it. God will provide, if I just leave the burden with Him. I haven't given up searching for the staff we need, or working on ideas, but a weight has been lifted. When I think back on the other camps I have directed, staffed, or been a camper at, I see that God has provided in those situations. Why would he stop now?

I find it ironic that as a director of a Christian camp, I steadfastly refused to let God work in me and with me. I forgot to consult the One who this camp is about. It's so easy to get caught up in the "doing" of something - the position, the authority, the recognition, the living martyrdom of camp directing. (Woe is me! I have no staff! I do ALLLLL the work! And you know why? Because *I* love God, and *someone* has to do this!)

Perhaps I feel ready to get out of directing. Maybe not. I do know, however, that quitting directing won't solve the problem that causes the stress of directing. If I keep trying to put on a good show for the kids, that's all it will be - they'll know it, I'll know it, and most importantly, God will know it. If I feel uninspired, it's because I refuse my source of inspiration. If I am tired, it's because I refuse to accept the rest and refuge found in Jesus Christ.

I can tell that this is a hard road to travel. I've spent so many years trying to be as self sufficient as possible that I give lip service to relying on God without having truly lived it in a consistent manner. It may take me years to learn to always seek God when I claim to be doing something for His glory. But I have hope, because of who Christ is.

"Rest easy, Have no fear
I love you perfectly, love drives out fear.
I'll take your burdens, you'll take My grace
Rest Easy, in My embrace."

Thanks, Audio A., for reminding me.

Friday, May 12, 2006


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I've recently been discovering some interesting things about my social personality.

When I am in a grocery store, or another large buy-your-stuff-cheap discount store, I hope that I don't see people that I know. Really, this only applies to people I know as acquaintances. I fear meeting old high school classmates when I grocery shop in my home town. I hope I don't run into people I know passingly through church. I find these situations very awkward. I'm not good at small talk, and I make the wrong facial expressions at inappropriate moments. Sometimes, if I see people I know, I will quickly turn to a different aisle, hoping that they won't have noticed me. I'd like to think that I can be anonymous when I shop, but sadly, no.

I don't have much of a problem talking with the strangers in the checkout line. It's not like I avoid all people. But, it's still weird.


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It's done. D-O-N-E!

Last weekend, I put the final stiches in my first "real" quilt. It's machine pieced, but hand quilted, and the binding is half machine, half hand. I'm pretty please with myself. I took it with me this past week when I was away from home. My quilt isn't very big - it's a "knee" quilt instead of a lap quilt. I think it's fabulous!

When the wind is not blowing, and the sun is shining, I'll take a better picture for you to see.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Don Gato

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Today, I was walking across the yard from my neighbor's house. They have a couple of annoying cats (Flat Cat and Pumpkin Head (aka Xerox)) that are always underfoot. For whatever reason, the Underfoot cats caused my brain to start my mouth singing a song I learned when I was in 4th or 5th grade. I always liked the song, and if I recall correctly, it was a class favorite that we all liked to sing whenever our music teacher let us.

I was distressed to find, however, that I could not recall all of the lyrics. Thank goodness for the internet! I found the lyrics, and for the edification of my readers, I am including a link to them.

Senor Don Gato

It's a funny song, and if you know the tune, it's pretty catchy, too. I might even sing it for you, if you ask.

Friday, April 28, 2006

friday song

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I'm probably going to mangle this song horribly, but here goes -

It's Friday, It's Friday,
It's Friday all day long!
It's Friday, it's Friday,
this is my Friday song!

(repeat song incessantly)

I heard this (or something like it) from a studiomate while in college. It always made me smile to hear it, so now, once in a while, I sing it for myself.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Spectator Sport

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I've known that people tend to stare when disaster strikes, but I hadn't realized it was such a spectator sport. As I was driving home today, I came across the scene of firefighters fighting a fire in a main street building. People pulled into all kinds of parking lots, walked from down the street to stand and stare as one young woman watched her worldly belongings go up in flames.

In the midst of all that staring, I saw a few people be true ministers to others. One gentleman walked down the street and purchased a flat of bottled water for the firefighters. One woman took time to offer the assistance of her church, and to just stand by, in case the young woman needed anything else that she could provide at that moment. She also took time to go get cold water for the firefighters and those struggling with such a devastating loss. As I watched this, I knew in my heart that this was Christ in action. It's difficult to stand by, seeing others reach out to strangers, knowing that I, too, should be offering some kind of help.

I approached one of the men who apparently knew the woman who's places was burning. I offered a card with my name and number on it, and said that my church offers help to people in need; if she needed anything now, or 6 months from now, give a call, and we'll see how we can help. While I feel that in some ways I should have been more proactive, for me, it was a big step to approach a stranger, and offer a card. Maybe, 6 months from now, that card will do someone some good.

At least I redeemed myself from simply being a spectator occupying sidewalk space!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Odd Ducks

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One of the motels we stayed in last week has a swimming pool. They've recently filled it, although the gate to enter is locked. The gate doesn't keep all swimmers out, however.

This duck was taking advantage of the nice swimming weather:

For whatever reason, the site of a duck in the middle of a chlorinated swimming pool seemed out of place.

It made me laugh.

Phone Virus

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I've recently read in the news about all this cell-phone-virus talk. They said that it was the next wave after email viruses. I've seen those go around enough that I believe there really are email viruses. I'd kind of written off the phone ones, thinking "who can get a virus from a phone?" I mean Really!?! Where is all the medical learning our civilization has garnered through the years?

Low, and Behold, it is true. You can get a virus from a cell-phone. Just last night, my dear husband was talking on the phone to a friend of ours. We were distressed to find that our friend had an unpleasant bout of intestinal upset, and was suffering through recovery, and possible redevelopment of said intestinal issues. My husband wished him well, and said goodbye. Roughly 4 hours later, my dear husband was viciously attacked by the same intestinal upset that our friend had experienced! I have suffered no symptoms, even though I have been in the same space as both my dear husband and our friend in the last few days. He must have gotten it over the phone.

Now I have to ban cell phones, since obviously they're unsanitary, and could cause a severe outbreak of something horrible, like bird flu, or whatever. I should make a web page about how cell phone viruses will be the death of our civilization, and write to my government officials about my concerns.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

the most wonderful time of the year

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Yesterday morning, I woke to see a fuzzy blur of fuschia-pink outside my window. It took me a few seconds to realize what I was seeing, something that I only have the privilege of seeing a few weeks a year - our redbud trees!

Spring really IS here! I makes me so happy to see spring colors, and feel the breeze from my open windows. I revel in all the things that bloom!

A firebush full of red-orange blossoms, the lilacs preparing to burst with their purples and whites.

Bluebells, grape hyacinths, the nearly fluorescent greens and yellow of new leaves. The images don't do justice to the vividness of the colors all around me.

This morning at church, my neighbor spoke eloquently about all the creation that God has made - the wonders of nature are truly things for which we should praise God!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

quilting pins

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There I was, merrily stiching away. I had pieced together the quilt top - my first. Although it's far from perfect, I'm pleased with my quick and dirty first attempt at creating a quilt. I had found and marked the center of the sides and the border pieces wih pins, just as the instructions had indicated. I had pinned together the top and the final border. I made my final pass of stiches. My quilt top is done! Triumph! Let the removal of pins begin! Let me take you back to the moment...

I start to take out the pins which held the last pieces together. They're cheerful pins, with flat, sunflower heads. The final pin, in the middle of the outside border seam. I pull. It doesn't budge. I look closer. Wait a minute... I don't see all the pin. Where's the...? Doh! Looking at the wrong side of the seam, between the two pieces that I've Oh so recently sewn together, is the missing half of the pin. Inconveniently, my work horse of a new machine cleanly stiched Straight Through the plastic head several times, leaving it firmly, and apparently permanently, attached to my quilt top. Not Cool.

Armed with my trusty seam ripper, I remove the offending stiches, retrieve the wayward pin, and cleanly repair the space in the seam. Looking at the quilt top, you can't even see where the pin had been.

Clearly, the kudos should not go to me for cleverness.

roller coaster

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Motivation is a roller coaster. I'm am not sure, however, which side of the hill describes what. There's the commonly accepted view that uphill is good, downhill is bad. With a roller coaster, uphill is all the hard work, and downhill is the fun and easy part! Assuming the latter, I'm on the downhill side. I've been struggling for the past long while to Do things that are productive, and make a difference in life. I've finally hit a spot where some things are coming together, strictly because I am choosing to move forward. It certainly makes things more fun when I finally get to work!

I've recently reintroduced myself to intentional daily prayer and scripture reading. I make a list of others I feel the need to lift up in prayer, and I pray over those people and situations. I pray about whatever else strikes me. It's good. It takes practice. I've never had a comfortable way to pursue scripture study, so I'm starting where I can. The Book is opened to a random spot, I read for a while. I would say that I haven't read more than 15 percent of the scriptures in my lifetime. The least I could do is get to know the words that my theology is built upon.

One of the topics that has been of interest to me is healing. I think it's absolutely fascinating how easily we (as in, the general Christian church) accept people being healed in scripture, and even when we hear 4th hand that someone was miraculously healed, and yet, we struggle with the idea that we, or someone we personally know could truly be healed immediately. I believe that healing can occur, and does occur. I want to find out more about it.

I think part of what gets in the way of modern healing is fear. What if we ask for something, and it doesn't happen? What does that say about God, our personal faith, the faith of others? Isn't it easier to not make the effort, than it is to be disappointed, or to question our faith? Regardless, I'm curious about the circumstances surrounding scriptural healing. I'm excited to find where exploring this topic will lead me.

It's a good thing I'm on a roller coaster. Something else pulls me up the hill, and I get to enjoy the rest of the ride.

Friday, March 31, 2006

watercolor: revisited

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I broke the watercolor barrier.

For the past several (!) weeks, I've had a quarter sheet of watercolor paper waiting to be painted upon. I've been home for a few weeks, and even had it on my schedule to paint everyday. Didn't happen. Except for today.

While I don't feel this is a well balanced painting, I enjoyed trying out things I hadn't done before, and it was a good refresher to employ some techniques I've been working on. This is very much a learning piece. I like the middle section with the brown at the edge of the rich yellow - there's some depth created in a way I haven't done before. I'll have to explore this more. Looking back at my collection of paintings thus far, I see that I continue to struggle with skies. I think in my head "blue" and have difficulty getting past that.

Now that the board is clear, I can pursue other paintings! I have a stack of paper waiting to be used. I suppose there's no time like the present to get done the things that I enjoy doing. I find it sad that even though I enjoy watercolor painting, I don't make it a high priority. It's a shame, really, because it is definitely worth while.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Things Found

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As I was going through my personal collection of stock images, I came across this cute kitty. He was a foster kitten at our house for a few weeks last summer. We (the housemates) decided it was in our best interest to give him away as rapidly as possible, because it just wasn't practical for us to keep a cat. The cat (whom some of us temporarily called "Yoda" or "little cat") went through quite a lot with us. He's in a good home now.

I think if I find one like him again, I'll keep him. When I see his picture, I still wish I had found a way to keep him.


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I feel like I got something done today. I moved a big pile of firewood from Way over There --> to Way over There <-- It was something like a pick-up truck load of wood. Now, I know that my housemates would suggest this is not such a big deal. They do it All the Time.

For me, it was a big deal. As with many things in my life, I was inclined to quit halfway through. I perservered. I've discovered that I'm a bit of a quiter. If there's something I don't want to do, regardless of whether I can do it, I'll just... Stop. Lots of half finished projects sit around the house beacuse I lost interest. It's a challenge to change a behavior that doesn't seem to offer much benefit.

Back to the firewood - there were some incentives to get the work done. It's a lovely day outside. Gorgeous! Excellent short sleeved shirt weather when I'm working hard enough to require some cooling. It was also a great way for me, a non-exerciser to get excercise while doing something useful.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

swirly brain

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This is one of those times when there are so many things to write about, and so little thought organzation.
sewing machines. watercolors. flowers, spring, green grass. cleaning house and clearing the drafting table for some real drafting. lives in crisis, families at peace. visitng with friends, learning things to help others, my little ponies on my desk.

I think the state of my computer desk really captures, in visual, the state of my brain. a little bit of clear space in the front to do some basic work. things to cut with, things to draw with. sticky notes, music makers, toys, software, fun books, junkmail, calling cards, instructtion manuals, candles. projects half done, others need to be started.

It seems funny that I should work so hard to compartmentalize the aspects of my life into tidy little stories. There are so many things that go on that impact my thinking. So, for this post, a snapshot of my swirly brain.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

know your weaknesses

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Eating while driving. Driving while eating. Whichever way it really is, I realized recently that if I am behind the wheel, it's a Bad Idea to be eating. Especially if I'm eating something crunchy, like chips.

Reason #1: my car is not a restaurant. It's not Safe to eat and drive, because of the distraction of the food.

Reason #2 (the more important reason): If I'm sitting there eating from a bag of chips in my lap, my mouth doesn't stop chewing! The driving part distracts me enough that I eat on autopilot. Not so healthy for anyone, to chow through a bag of chips.

I've found this is a weakness of mine. I go to the grocery store. I'm shopping, and hungry (mistake #1) I walk By the chip aisle, then turn around and walk Through the chip aisle (mistake #2). I purchase, and I leave, groceries in hand. Then, in some kind of eating frenzy, I open the bag, and proceed to munch the whole 15 minute drive home (and finally, #3). As if I'm somehow trying to conceal the evidence of my non-stop noshing. (If you eat the evidence, no one knows!)

Lest anyone be concerned that I put myself in danger of an accident or weight gain, this is not a regular occurrence. Typically I can withstand the temptation. Just not all the time!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Wannabe Quilter

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On my way back home from work this week, I dropped by a bookstore for my most recent book purchase - Quilter's Complete Guide. This particular title was suggested to me by several women at a quilting retreat I attended last fall. Quilting, you say? Some of you might be thinking, "Gee, I didn't know Carrie is a quilter." No worries, you are not confused. I do not quilt. I want to quilt, hence the book.
You might now be wondering, "What do you do at a quilting retreat, if you don't quilt?" Well, I did "whatever." (Conveniently, the name of the retreat was Quilting and Whatever.)

I'm a wannabe quilter. I've been interested in quilting since I was in high school, but I never pursued it further. Well, I take that back. Once, at a church thing, we got a quilt block set for us to piece together. I think I felt that one 9x9 block was pointless without several more, so I didn't mess with it much further.

I have one item that is quilt-ish - a T-shirt blanket, cut and pieced by myself, based on trusty internet instructions. I even put a *border* on it. Ooooo... I put a fleece back on it, tied it together with yarn in strategic locations, and Voila! A "Quilt"!

I've had sufficient time in the past few months to deeply consider if I'm going to pursue this quilting adventure. I got the book. This week, I'm getting the sewing machine. Maybe the week after that, I'll decide on a project.

I'll be attending another quilting retreat this spring with the same group of women. This time, I'll have my own sewing machine, and maybe even a project, so I can piece out with the rest of the ladies. I'm so excited!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Where have all the watercolors gone?

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My father asked me how my watercolors are going. I'm sad to say that they haven't been going for about a 2 weeks, now. I've got lots of excuses. The biggest one is that I'd been gone from home for 8 days. As for the other 6 days, well... I would like to pretend I was prepare for the youth retreat that Jude and I directed. I'm sure I did a variety of other things that were mostly pointless.

I don't know if I'll be home next week. Probably, I'll be out with the Man o' Many Towers, filling out paperwork as he views the Chicago skyline from atop the watertowers in Chicagoland. Maybe I should have him take a camera up for a picture to inspire a watercolor!

It's hard to get into the mode to paint when I haven't painted very recently. Every time I start, it seems like I cover the same ground. Now that I'm thinking about it, though, I'm seeing some paintings in my mind that I need to paint. Where's that paper....

Flying J

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They're building a Flying J truck stop in my town. From my house, I have a spectacular view of the 4 lane highway, and the site for the new truck stop. Let me express how much this excites me.

Now that I've expressed, let me tell you how much I'm looking forward to the bright lights of the parking lot illuminating my front yard, creating the sense of daytime when standing inside on an otherwise dark night.

O, progress. The concrete rolls on.

On the bright side, my dad (the master artist) has completed a painting that is a fictionalization of my front yard. Or at least, it will be as soon as the Flying J brightens my doorstep. I can look forward to having this painting remind me of what was. Actually, I'm pretty enthusiastic about eventually placing this piece in my home. It's monster huge. It will fill a (small) wall.

I haven't had the opportunity to see this piece in person. I'm told the colors knock your socks off in real life. The digital image just doesn't convey reality of the image.

welcome home

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There are times when I sit and stare. I feel that way right now. This morning, I woke up in Joliet, IL. I went to work with the guy who does the Real work. I just filled out the paperwork. (although it's not drafting lettering, I practice my good handwriting - thanks college!) I sat (in the truck) and read some paperwork for a church meeting I went to tonight. I was in Cedar Rapids, IA for the meeting at 4:30, and started from home after 9. And, here I sit at home.
It certainly seems like it's been a long day. I suppose some are longer than others.
Welcome home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Forward, Email!

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In my many years on the internet, I have received a multitude of email forwards. I now know that I have no friends, that I'll get a horrible disease and die, that I'm a cruel person for not helping contribute money to a sick kid, that I am standing in the way of microsoft taking over the world by not testing their email tracking system, that I am not preventing lots of unsuspecting women from being attacked and molested, and that, most significantly, I am a bad girl who does not love God, Jesus, or anything else holy and sacred.

However, when I came across this flash video, I was reassured that none of the above things are true. Except for the first sentence.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

give us our daily bread

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Baking Bread. What kind of images or feelings does the thought, sight, smell of baking bread bring to you? Warmth, comfort, family... I remember my mother baking whole wheat bread whe I was a child. I loved it when she made the special loaf of cinnamon swirl bread. The Best!

I've always loved the smell of baking. I enjoyed baking long before I realized cooking could be enjoyable (Thanks, Mel). And now, continuing the tradition, my mom is teaching me how to make bread the old fashioned way - from scratch, with a KitchenAid mixer. There's a little bit of a twist, though - most people learn tradition standing side by side with their mentor, under their careful guideance. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I am doing some long-distance learning. I call, she tries her best to describe, and sometimes, I'll send pictures or samples of my results. I will admit, this is not the fastest way of learning to bake bread, but it works. Today was yet another refinement of the process, results picture above.

I think about the part in the Lord's Prayer - the "give us our daily bread" line - it's so easy to take for granted the food that we eat. It comes to us so easily. Getting bread now takes a 30 minute trip to the grocery store, not the 4-5 hour process that baking bread can be. Am I taking God for granted in my daily life? He's told us that He'll provide for our need, and yet, I hardly notice the daily bounty that He has blessed me with. I struggle to keep God at the forefront of my mind when my days are full of routine thigns - doing laundry, surfing the web, and all the other things that happen. And yet. There he is, offering me so much. Every day of my life, God offers me special cinnamon swirl, The Best.

nuclear landscape

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I thought I'd go ahead and post my first watercolor painting.
This painting is actually mixed media - I used watercolor and ink.
I choose "nuclear landscape" for the post heading because a family member observing my work said, "It looks like there was a nuclear explosion in the background." Critics.

Friday, February 24, 2006

gotta start somewhere

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

paint by number

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A blank Page. I've recently been facing lots of blank pages in my life - this blog, the final filler pages in books, layouts waiting to be finalized and put together. And most noticeable has been the watercolor paper. Waiting - for water. And color.

It's been a challenge to step out into the world of painting. For more than half my life, I thought I was a) not creative and b) certainly no artist. Lo, and Behold, I am c) all of the above. How I fell into a college major that by necessity involved c) all of the above still remains somewhat of a mystery to me.

More than a year ago, my father gave me watercolors, brushes, and a watercolor pad as birthday gifts. I brought out the paper, put out my colors and tried to paint... Something. It looked like a bad paint by number. I was unimpressed with the results, and put the paints away for another day. My birthday rolled around, yet again. I asked my dad if he would teach me to paint with the tools he gave me so long ago. I went to his house. We got out the paint palette. I opened it up, and found moldy bits of paint. I was disgusted, on a variety of levels. I could see how dedicated I had not been to painting by the quantity and assortment of fuzziness in the palette. It seems though, that mold isn't the end of the world. You just wash it off. It was pretty funny, though. My dad, the master artist, had a good laugh.

He challenged me to take a risk. "Go buy lots of paper," he said. He suggested that if I have a lot of paper on hand, I won't be so afraid about wasting paper. The nature of painting, is that not all are masterpieces. It'll take lots of practice before I'm comfortable with the tools, before I find my personal style.

Today, I received a pile of paper, courtesy our friendly FedEx driver. I broke out the paper, taped it on the board. I looked at the white space, the blankness, waiting to be filled.

I walked away.
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