Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to all . . .

. . . and to all a Good Night!

No matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus -- or some other holiday I haven't heard of that occurs this time of year -- we wish you all safe travel, peace and joy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh the weather outside is . . .

. . . beautiful! We had an ice storm late Thursday night. A danger and inconvenience to many, but not to me. I had to get out and walk through the wonderland. It was magical! So many branches down around the neighborhood -- thankfully there was no damage to the house or our cars.

Yes, I'm one of those wacky people who likes storms and otherwise threatening weather.

My heart is filled with joy at times like these to know that no matter the progress of technology or the conquests of humankind, there is no controlling the weather. The universe is operating at its finest!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's a balmy 40-ish day . . .

. . . here in Illinois and my fur-bearing muse and I just returned from a walk around the block. This is the rear view of our 2-year rental home, it's the one with the teal door. The house on the right was exactly like ours on the outside except for paint colors and our back stairs have been replaced. The house on the left is an original, to-die-for Craftsman complete with diamond paned windows and all the original interior woodwork. All three homes (and MANY more) belong to Fulvio Zerla, land baron. We really like the empty lot next to us and have plans for some spring landscaping. The photo below shows the proximity of our house to the beautiful church on the next block. If you saw my recent "crow attack" video you would have heard the church's bells chiming in with the crow noise. Behind our house is a parking lot reserved for hospital employees.
Next is a view of the church from the corner. BTW, if you click on the photo above you may be able to see the wonderful job the corner homeowner has done covering just about every opening with chain link fence. That's the only building in the strip that doesn't belong to Mr. Z.

Below is the view above the roof across the street where you can see the cranes erected on Jim's jobsite at the hospital. If he was a crow he could be home in seconds instead of the approximate three minutes it takes to drive. He hasn't taken the walk yet.

Here's our place from the front, matching teal door.

Come on in!

Okay, we've closed the front door. Now that you're inside, have a look around. Blog readers will have to wait for another day for more photos of the interior.
Door glass is my glass paint creation.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jewelry Challenge - Project 3

Yes, still bringing up the rear on Deryn Mentock's jewelry challenge. And this one earns me the Big Duh! award. Now everyone can know what a proponent I am of NOT planning! I chose to use an oval of etched nickel, drilled my holes, bent my little shelf and made my dangles. But guess what? MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE COORDINATED MY DRILL BIT TO THE SIZE OF MY WIRE? Yep. Slipped the first dangle through the hole and proceeded to pound away on the copper wire. Picked the piece up to check out the effect and voila! The dangle fell right through the hole.

Since I really liked the oval piece I decided not to scrap the whole project but rather to "improvise, adapt and overcome" as Clint Eastwood would say. Thus, the spirals did the trick, keeping the dangles from plunging through the too-large holes.

My philosophy is to live, whenever possible, without regret; I'm chalking this one up to a learning experience.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"For you have the poor always with you . . ."

. . but when do you know you are one of them? My title today is part of the bible verse from Matthew 26:11. I think about this often these days. You'd have to be living under a rock to escape the realization that we're in some kind of economic recession. Some days I even wonder whether it will end before we see a modern version of this:

The photo is from 1928. Interesting, exactly 80 years ago. Maybe it's a cycle. Doesn't really matter, though, does it?

I have to start by saying that never in my life have I considered myself to be "affluent." There were difficult times as a single parent but no time in which I needed to resort to welfare or charity beyond my own family. And I've been very spoiled for a number of years now. My husband started the spoiling and I quickly learned to participate in it myself. And let's face it, the meaning of "poor" is so very relative.

Lately I've been obsessing about, of all things, my toenails. I had my last pedicure before we moved to Illinois at the beginning of October. Of course it's the french pedi so it's not all that evident to the casual observer that I'm beginning to grow talons. Costs a little more but it's SO worth it! I've been avoiding getting a pedicure because, frankly, I just don't want to spend the money. I know, I know, it's only $30 or so. But we've been having to "tighten the belt" following four months of unemployment earlier this year. And the transfer to Illinois for two years has required us to rent -- for everyone knows one can't sell a house in Florida right now without a loss. So here we are with rent on top of the FL mortgage and double the utilitie bills. The FL house still has to be heated or cooled, right? The irrigation system still has to run in order to maintain the landscaping. And since we're not there we have the additional expenses of pool and landscape maintenance, things we used to take care of for ourselves. Boo hoo. I hear 'ya.

Today I was at the grocery store filling up the cart with the normal food items, the deli sliced ham, the Dove chocolates, the Christian Brothers brandy and eggnog combo. It was in the bread aisle that I encountered two women, seemingly strangers, talking about the high price of bread, of all things. As I passed them one said to the other "Oh, well, I guess we'll have to wait on that." Imagine going to the grocery store and one of the items on your list, bread, has to wait because it is too expensive. I wanted to buy the bread for her and perhaps I should have offered but at the time I thought she would be embarassed.

It's something to think about for most of us, I'm sure. Yeah, I know you believe you deserve that daily beverage from Starbuck's. There are/were 262 working days in 2008 for those of you who have to make a living (just kidding). Let's say you didn't go for the $14, 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel. Still, are you really sure you deserved that daily Venti Mocha for, maybe, $5? Or do you more deserve the $1,300 and change you would have still had at the end of the year? Yes, of course I realize you cut back to going out to dinner only once a week and you just get the quick car wash instead of the full detailing. As I said, "poor" is all relative.

All of this thinking about the economy and our personal expenses has led me to a lightbulb moment. When did I forget how to use a nail clipper? When did I become unable to paint my own toes? What a revelation!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let it snow!

After an impromptu pumpkin carving party in October, family members assigned me the task of planning a craft project for the Thanksgiving visit. Coincidentally (not really, as I like to believe the universe provides) I received my current issue of Craft, Paper, Scissors magazine a few weeks ago and on seeing the cover photo I knew I had a project.

After the pie and eggnog settled we all gathered back around the table to make our glass bottle snow people. Various containers had been gathered by Joy and I from thrift shops and other supplies purchased at various stores. We had "snowflakes," glitter, stickers and rub-ons, air-drying clay, beads, bulbs, bells and wire and so on.

You would have thought we were brainstorming on how to achieve world peace judging by the serious expressions!

It's really cool how an activity like this can span age and gender differences!

Oh, and I did I mention that we had BEADS, BEADS and more BEADS?

And what midwestern man has never made a snowperson?

It was a fitting way to close a FABULOUS family holiday. And what a super way to demonstrate that we all have a spark of creativity in us just waiting to get out!

Here's our finished snow person community:

Thanks so much to artist Sue Pelletier and the editors of Cloth, Paper, Scissors for the inspiration!