Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just Thinking...

Not a whole lot else to do following knee surgery.  I love being at home, but not when I'm stuck and can't do a blooming thing except watch TV and ask for ice packs.

For those who don't know, I had surgery on my right knee on April 4 to repair some worn out parts.  Age has a way of doing that, doesn't it?  The good news is that I don't have to have a replacement - the orthopedist says I'm good for at least another 100,000 miles, so I'm taking his word for that.

When you've run out of books to read or the patience to read them, you start thinking about days gone by.  Nope, not the stupid things that I did to wreck the knee, although there was plenty of that.  Nope, I've been thinking about all of the family stories that I wish I'd had the good sense to write down while those telling them were still alive.  The family history.  Stories about my Granny Richardson and her mother.  Stories that my mother told me about the family.  Stories that my Mamaw James told me.  I wish I could remember more about my daddy's family - my Papaw Brickey and how in heck we're related to the Webbs - particularly Loretta's family.

Seems that there's music on both sides of my family - the Carters on my Granny's side and the Webbs on Daddy's side.  Not to mention the genetic love of music handed down from generations of Scots and Irish ancestors.  My youngest son has the gift of music; eldest has the gift of Blarney.

I remember many nights of Momma telling spooky stories, and Daddy chiming in with one or two of his own.  I wish they were still here to tell them to me.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tempus Fugit! Especially When You're Having Fun!

Has it really been since November that I've written anything???  It's not that I haven't been crafty - I have.  Really.  I just haven't posted a darned thing or taken photos of the process.

Bad me.

My foray into the world of greeting cards really turned into a dive off the deep end.  I decided that if I could make one, then I could make more.  Turns out my strength is in a technique called masking.  It's a process where you create a mask and then ink around it to create an effect or, as shown, a scene. The masks that I made for these cards were simply torn card stock.  By the time I had made 14 or so cards, they were a bit tattered.  I need to draw them out and cut them from acetate so they'll last a bit longer, so that's on the drawing board.  Sorry about the quality of the photos - they were quickies before mailing them out.

I did manage to complete a year long project using G45's gorgeous papers from A Place In Time.  Each month I made 2 scrapbook pages - one with the calendar for the month and a list of important dates, and then a page with a photo (or photos) that represented an event during the month.  It was the easiest commitment I ever made, surprisingly.  These are the last two pages, representing December.

To add a bit of stress to my already high level, I decided to overhaul what I like to call my studio.  It's still a work in progress but suffice it to say I've already hauled out about 50 pounds of pure garbage.  In a room that's 14' x 12', I still ended up working on my little Murphy desk in the closet with generally only a 12" x 12" clear space.  Photos to come after it's finished, but this is what prompted it.

This just proves that having a dedicated room and great organization tools doesn't work unless you commit to a. actually using your supplies, b. organizing, c. cleaning up the mess you make, and last but not least - not keeping every single scrap of paper and ephemera.  I had triplicate copies of every single concert program that Chris ever played.  Why?  I never used them in the first place.  Now there's just one copy and I'm going back through the scrapbooks, adding a "pocket" on the back of the pages, and slipping those little gems in there.  If you don't use it, then for heaven sakes lose it!

It's a new year.  I've decided to not be afraid to cut that piece of paper that there's only one piece of.  I'm not going to be afraid to experiment.  I'm not going to be afraid that people won't like my artwork because the only person I have to satisfy is myself.

And I'm going to finish cleaning up this mess!

Have fun and make something - life's too short to not be creative!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Missing Friends and Greeting Cards

Last night I made my first ever greeting card.  Last night was also Halloween.  (Yes, that has something to do with the post.)

One of my friends from PAO (who as it turns out is also a distant cousin) sent out a request for a card shower for her aunt.  I love handmade cards and cherish each and every one that I've ever received.  I admire the artistry and the talent that goes into their creation.  I've always said that I'm not a cardmaker, that my brain isn't wired that way, and used any one of a dozen other excuses to not try it, but recently I've been thinking - Why not?  What's the worst that could happen - some paper goes into the trash?  It's time to stop limiting myself by what I think I can and can't do and just....  do it.

So last night I did it and I'm sharing my first ever card with you.  Please be gentle.

I chose an Art Impressions stamp that I purchased several years ago that has four ...er, ...um, ...mature ladies sitting on a sofa laughing.  This stamp is appropriately part of the "Girlfriends" stamp series, which always depicts the four friends having fun and enjoying each other's company.

I purchased several of the "Girlfriends" stamps several years ago to make cards for a precious friend of ours who was undergoing treatment for stomach cancer.  The reason why I chose that particular set?  There were four of us - me, Bonnie, Linda and our beautiful Wendy, whose birthday was October 31.  The "girls" on the stamps represented us - always laughing, even through our tears, and always together.  We lost Wendy September 2, three years ago.  I never made those cards for her.

So - last night was Wendy's birthday, I wanted to make a card, and guess what I chose?  Laughter and good memories.

I used VersaFine ink, which is a pigment ink, quick drying, gives excellent detail and is my choice for stamping images that will be colored.  The paper was simply a piece cut from one of my watercolor pads, using the smoothest side for stamping.

I used an old set of Close to My Heart watercolor pencils to color the image, with a few accents added using EK Success colored pencils.

Glued the girls onto a green striped panel and added a sheer green ribbon, but it still needed something.  Stamped a cute saying on the front, and called it good.

Needed a little something on the inside, so stamped "Laugh" from a Dyan Reaveley collection, leaving lots of room to write my message.

And so I've finally made my first card!

I think Wendy would have loved it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Witching Hour

Time for a little bit of inky play.  Life has just been too serious lately.

I make no bones about loving witches.  I've read the Deborah Harkness All Souls trilogy several times, Debora Geary's Modern Witch series more times than I care to count, and now I'm making my way through Terry Pratchett's Discworld witch books.  I dress as a witch every Halloween, and my husband only carries one photo of me in his wallet, dressed as - you got it - a witch.  So what did I decide to do today?  Ink up some stamps and get ..... witchy.

I started with some manilla tags and Tim Holtz distress inks.  Great Halloween colors, and lots of fun to work with.  Background clutter was added with some TH stamps and then it was time to find a subject.  I recently ordered a lot of stamps from Unity that included the Phyllis Harris set A Tiny Witch.  

I also found some ancient rub-ons that cost me - gasp!- .49.  I'm the last of the big spenders sometimes.

The older my eyes get, the more I love these acrylic blocks by Stampabilities.  The lines help me keep things straight.

I forgot to stamp the witch first and then mask her before doing the background, so it resulted in a little extra work and some fussy cutting.  Nobody ever said that I do things the  easy way.  I stamped her on the background tag for placement, and on the other tag for coloring.

Added some ribbon and a bow, a couple of spider rub-ons, and a spider eyelet, and she's done.  I just need to give her a name.  Maybe Meladora?  Her friend is Esmeralda, also a Unity stamp.  I love that website, but maybe a little too much!

Hope your thoughts wander into fun places today!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Husbands, Hurricanes and (Southern) Hospitality

This isn't at all what I meant to blog about this morning.  This was going to be a post with crafty goodness, but sometimes life takes a darker turn.

Why are men so confounded stubborn?  My DH is currently in Chapel Hill in surgery to scrape parts of his foot that he damaged.  How?  The numbskull wore a pair of strappy sandals (not the same kind that ladies wear.  Puhlease.) without socks.  All of the skin was abraded from his second toe, the big toe is missing a half-dollar size piece, and the other three have huge blisters.  Unfortunately, the big lug has peripheral neuropathy and has little feeling in his feet, especially dangerous because he's diabetic.  The last mishap took 3 months to heal - with nightly bandaging and trips to the wound center every other day.  (I can now safely say that I can bandage almost anything.)  Now this.  We finally got him into our family doctor's office after calling daily for two days.  He decided that George's foot was burned, wrote it up as such, and sent him to the wound center with the admonition that he needed to tell them that it was a burn so Medicare wouldn't pitch a fuss.  All the time we're telling the doctor that it was abrasion/friction from the sandals.  All he had to do was look at the bleeping sandal on his other foot and he would have seen what we were saying, but doctors know best, they know that we're idiots and don't listen to common sense.  So Tiny (6'9" son) took him to the wound center, who promptly said that since his primary physician said it was a burn, then it must be a burn, and then told him he had to go to the emergency room in Chapel Hill and thence to the burn center.   Mind you this is on Friday, and his foot was damaged on Monday.  Well thank you for someone who would listen and use good judgement - the doctors in CH said yes, this is abrasion damage.  BUT, and this is part that just absolutely p--s me off, infection is setting in and they think they see some gangrene.  So he's in surgery this morning to repair damage that a. his bull headedness started and b. not being able to be seen by our primary until three days later exacerbated.  I really think that it's time for us to look for another doctor.  I do have to admit that I feel somewhat guilty for not making him call the podiatrist immediately instead of going along with his decision to call the primary.  Or taking him to the emergency room.  (Forget urgent care - that's a whole 'nother post.)

So here I sit, waiting for word as to whether he's OK, and scared that he won't come off so lucky this time.  I do love the knuckle brain, and want him back home so I can take care of him.

Although I was born in SW Virginia, I was raised in the South Carolina lowcountry and am hoping to move back there when I retire.  (Lord willing and the property values in this benighted county go back up.)  The recent hurricane and the torrential downpours afterwards have wrecked havoc on both Carolinas, but especially our Southern neighbors.  From the upstate region to the midlands (Columbia) to the lowcountry, they are hurting.  Georgetown County, and particularly the small town of Andrews (where I grew up), is under water.  Andrews has 16' of water in sections, roads are gone, houses are destroyed, lives are upside down.  Last night CBS toured part of the town in boats, and had to duck down in several places to go under electrical lines.  My heart is so heavy for all of the people affected by this, but especially in what I consider to be my home town.  But even in the midst of all of this destruction, there is an attitude of hope and a reliance on faith - not just faith that things will improve and they will rebuild, but faith that our Creator will see them through.  They share their faith, and they share their hope. They share what little they can salvage with each other, they help each other to escape the waters and get to safety, they share their shoulders and hands, and they share their hearts.  There are no cries for FEMA to get in there and do it for them - they're doing it themselves.  South Carolinians take care of themselves.  If you want to help, you're more than welcome, but just know - with or without you, they're going to take care of business and come out stronger for it on the other end.

Keep all of them in your prayers, knucklehead and South Carolina.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kids and Politics With a Sprinkling of Retirement Thoughts

Kids.  Love 'em but will be glad when they grow up.

Youngest will be 27 in December.  He's a talented musician, majored in music, composes, plays a variety of instruments including trumpet, piano, French horn and bagpipes, and does nothing with his degree other than play his keyboard.  There are at this time 4 (or is it 5?) trumpets, a clarinet, a guitar, a banjo, a piano and a Rhodes keyboard gathering dust in this house.  There is composition software on the computer that hasn't been updated in several years.  He works as a night clerk at a local hotel, plays video games, eats and sleeps, and comes out of his room long enough to take a shower.

Grandson graduated from high school in June.  He reads, plays video games, occasionally works out, and drives Miss Daisy to his appointments and the store.

What in heck are they doing with their lives and more importantly - when are they going to get a life, grow up, and leave????  I talk with them until I'm blue in the face.  One insists he's joining the Army, the other insists he's going to make a fortune in the stock market.  Both of them still live with us, don't date, and appear to have no life.  Neither of them wants to go back to school for an education that will allow them to support themselves.  If we had a basement, they'd be content to live down there.

Where did we fail them?

I think I'm going to move and leave no forwarding address.

Politics have been a huge topic of conversation around here since the candidates starting coming out of the woodwork.  It seems that for once conservatives have too many choices with too many good men campaigning.  I love Dr. Ben Carson - he speaks softly but what he has to say is powerful.  Unfortunately he's overshadowed by the mouth - Donald Trump.  If you compare what they're both saying, you'll find there's a lot of common ground there.  It's just that Trump talks louder.  Carson is taking a lot of heat because of his remarks about Muslims and their beliefs not being consistent with our Constitution.  He's right.  He's just not "politically correct."  Thank God for his honesty.  He does seem to have more common sense than Trump on the illegal aliens controversy.  However, everything that Trump is saying is what middle America is saying but has no national platform to say it on.  I worry that he doesn't truly believe his own words, and is just a. saying what his researchers have farmed from social media and b. is only trying to win votes.  Yes, I do think that a businessman could do a lot to promote American industry and therefore Trump could be a good choice.  I just worry about his ability to be tactful with his foreign policy.  Then you look at Ted Cruz.  Man oh man is he good.  I'd love to see him get the nod for the nomination.  He's been in politics long enough to know the ins and outs of the political system, but I'm afraid "the mouth" is overshadowing him.  Carly Fiorina?  She lost my respect because of her attacks on Carson and some of her liberal beliefs.  And now John Boehner is finally stepping down.  I hope he takes his tears and Mitch McConnell with him and they both fade into the sunset.  Liberalism and soft pedaling have got this country nowhere.  We're in a mess and there needs to be some hard changes made.  As for Carson and Trump rising so quickly without any political background?  Remember what I said in my first post - our Founding Fathers who were so brilliant and created a mode of government that has served us well for over 200 years were not politicians.  They were simply men who loved freedom and had the strength of vision to create our system of government.

I have less than one year until I retire.  I love my job, I believe in the goals of our Agency and my program.  But I tell you, it's draining me and I'm tired.  Politics play such a huge role in where we are and what we're faced with, and I'm becoming cynical.  I find that I no longer have any tolerance for stupidity or the slowly turning wheels of government that affect us daily.  I fear that it's killing my Director's spirit, and she's too good a person for that to happen.  We do good daily, but it's getting harder and harder on those of us who care.  It's time for me to leave, but I will be leaving with a lot of wonderful memories and some regret.  I've had the best mentors - people who really were invested in our work - and they are responsible for making me the person that I am today, for making me care.   I will leave knowing that I did my best, that I supported those who had the best interests of the Agency in their hearts and their work, and that I did a good job.  That's all anyone can ask for.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind today.  Who knows what I'll be thinking about tomorrow?  Maybe pink clouds and kittens?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Am I Really a Blogger or Just a Blowhard?

So, I've decided to blog.  Now what do I say?  It seems that every time I post a comment on someone else's blog, it turns into a lengthy post that really should be on my own blog.  So here goes nothing.

First - this is going to be a blog about whatever is on my mind at the time.  It could be art or music related, it could be about Outlander or any of the other books that I love, maybe a sprinkling of technological gripes, or sometimes just a chat about my grandchildren, whom I love with all my heart.

Second - I have strong political beliefs, and I'm sure that they'll find a way onto here.  If you agree with me, fine.  If you don't, please keep it civil.  I love to hear other people's thoughts about what our country and our world are going through and how it could be changed.  Remember - our Founding Fathers were not politicians and neither are we.  I sometimes feel like we're powerless to change things, but we have to try.

Third - I am a Christian.  That doesn't necessarily mean that I'm what is today termed "religious."  It just means that I believe in a higher authority and I believe in the Trinity.  I hate what's happening in the world today in the name of religion.  God did not invent religion - man did.

Fourth - I love my family, whether they're on two legs or four.  When I lose one of my beloved fur-family, it hits me as hard as if I had just lost a human member.  Am I crazy to feel that way?  In some people's eyes, yes.  Tough.  Don't like it?  Too bad.  Keep it to yourself.

Fifth - As evidenced above, I can be abrasive.  I never said that I'm not opinionated.

Sixth - My friends are a part of my family.  I have many people that I consider to be family members that I've never met "in person."  I'm a member of a great group of artists who call Paper Artists Online (www.paperartistsonline.com) home.  They are a large part of my extended family and I laugh and cry with them.  We share our art and our hearts there, and if you're interested, please check out the website and send a request to join.  

Which brings me to - I am an artist, not a very good one, but I have fun with it, and a wanna-be musician.  I've tried for 50+ years to learn to play the piano, but my meager talent seems to lie in singing.  I write poetry, bad poetry.  Which explains why nobody has ever read it.  I am also a photographer.  Some say I'm pretty good at it.

I love to laugh, and sometimes the laughter turns into tears.

If you've made it this far, welcome to my blog.