Monday, June 29, 2009

What a weekend!

Whew! We're back to what qualifies as "normalcy" for us after a weekend of non-stop action. We arrived in Chicago Friday evening and on Saturday attended a HUGE family (and friends) gathering for nephew Steve who has now passed a milestone -- he has become a Journeyman Electrician. Great party! Thanks, Jen, for all your hard work.

On Sunday we attended an art show in Bartlett, Illinois. It was a smallish show with about 50 artists, sponsors and food vendors. We came upon a table with jewelry that I immediately recognized as Wendy Witchner's signature style. She has been creating with sheet metals, wire and buttons for many years and her work has been published several times. We chatted for a very long while; she is wonderfully friendly and sharing and will teach her techniques at the drop of a hat. A most generous and creative woman! Please stop by her website and look at her fabulous work and read her interesting story. Look for her next at the Hinsdale (IL) July 4th Arts & Crafts Show. Here's one of my favorites from Wendy's bracelet collection:

Tucked into the MOUNTAIN of email we had this morning was a quick note from my friend Sankofa. He is another veteran of the art show circuit and one of my favorite exhibitors to hang out with at the shows. Here's a quick interview with Sankofa from You Tube; it's not the best quality but you might find it interesting. BTW, the customer he talks about who collects his OOAK shirts is very real and can often be found shopping with Sankofa at Miami area shows -- her name is Stephanie and she's great fun to be around as well.

Here's Sankofa's website address:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My long-awaited summer visit . . .

. . . from special friends, Blake and Taylor is finally here! So far the week has been unseasonably hot, in the 90s actually, so we've opted to skip the zoo this time. We spent an enjoyable day at the Aquaplex -- this photo is of the outdoor play area. The entire "floor" is some kind of squishy material, great to walk on. What you can't see is the large indoor area with its therapy pool, lap pool, regular pool, the kid's area with the big waterslide and other play equipment and the "lazy river," an oval cool-water pool with large tubes available for those who care to float. Our next outing was a cruise aboard The Spirit of Peoria, a large paddle-wheel vessel docked here on the Illinois River. Tickets are in hand and we can't wait to board!

Of course we want to sit on the upper deck so we don't miss anything.

The ship has an enclosed dining room for dinner cruises with live entertainment. There is also a snack bar with outdoor seating.

We were fascinated by the action of the wheel; once again we're reminded of the power of water.

Now let's get back home into that air conditioning!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What to do . . .

. . . when it's one hundred degrees in the shade: It wasn't quite that hot yesterday, thankfully. My friends Blake and Taylor, who are visiting from the Indianapolis area, accompanied me on a few errands and then to our fitness center's "aquaplex." That was yesterday, however, and today's a whole other matter. The 100 degree matter.

After a quick walk with our furry friend we decided going to the zoo was out of the question and we've been here just chilling all day, eating grapes, playing video games, watching TV. Sure hope we have more to report later in the week!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Steamy Steamboat Weekend!

This weekend was the local Steamboat Festival held at the riverfront. The occasion also marked the 36th running of The Steamboat Classic. Living in the heart of the downtown area as we do, we were able to watch all the estimated 4,000 runners (and a few walkers) pass.

Heather and I visited the farmer's market along the river after the race where we picked up some REAL tomatoes, honey, yummy pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins and the best cheesy garlic bread I've ever tasted.

It was a weekend of just hanging out and enjoying time together, good food, a couple games of gin with Uncle Jim and maybe just a little jewelry making.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mind your Ps . . .

. . . and Queue! Netflix, that is. If you don't subscribe to Netflix, there's probably no point in your continuing to read this post, you just won't understand. The rest of you know that Netflix asks subscribers to rate the movies they've rented. Netflix also deems itself qualified to recommend additional movies for your enjoyment. Although I'm the queue manager in this house, I try to throw in something from the "action/adventure" category every now and then to please the spousal unit. Most recently our daily mail brought us "Kill Switch," a 2008 movie written by, and starring, Steven Segal. Here's part of a review of this film that I discovered today on the Internet Movie Database, better known as

"Where do I start on how bad this movie is? Segal has always been proud to show off his fighting skills in each movie he has appeared in however this movie features a stunt double in every fighting scene – even the hand to hand scenes! You'll see a fight scene about to start, the real Segal, the camera then cuts to the back of the Segal double, his hair looks nothing like the real Segal!!! Segal will pull a mean face the camera cuts to the stunt double who then throws a punch, back to the real Segal, pull another funny face….stunt double throws a kick – this is how every fight scene is cut! Oh and in case you missed anything each hit is shown again TWICE from a different angle. We see a guy get kicked out of window & the shot of him coming out the window is shown to us SIX times!"

I hope it's okay that I snagged that content; the movie wasn't worthy of my having to write all that myself. However, it was kind of amusing to watch a red-faced, bloated Steven Segal strut his stuff as a cocky Memphis cop with an accent that's trying so hard to be southern and a voice like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather." One question: why does a "top cop" like Jacob King empty his weapon without ever hitting anyone? Maybe he's on the sauce. Sure looks like he's been on the BBQ sauce!

Last week I decided to take a more critical look at my queue to see if could eliminate any more of these stinkers. After all, I've amassed a collection of over 200 movies that at some point I actually thought we'd watch. If you try to work with your Netflix queue at all, let me know if I'm the only one who thinks a snail moves faster. Anyway, I spent a big block of time rechecking the selections, deleting, and finally reordering. When the page refreshed I was surprised to see that the changes had not "taken." Went through and did it again and the page refresh satisfied me that all was well.

Lo and behold (yes, some people still say that), yesterday's mail brought "I'm Not There." And guess what? I thought it had been deleted. I'm Not Watching It. The movie appears to have a stellar cast including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Kris Kristofferson and Richie Havens, which is undoubtedly why I picked it in the first place. Or perhaps someone was smoking funny stuff near me. Whatever. I've snagged some part of "I'm Not There" from You Tube. It could be a trailer, a scene or the whole thing for all I know because . . . I can't watch it! I can't even get three minutes into this thing. Let me know if you can watch the entire video and I'll have a prize for you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie . . .

. . . cocaine. I've become increasingly aware that I have a bad habit that has to stop. It's not good for my skin, my bones, my nutrition. I'm thankful I've never been a smoker because I don't think I have what it would take to quit. Today I'm about on my last nerve. Woke up with a migraine, took medicine and slept till ten. This afternoon the headache has been coming back.

Then there are the hallucinations. Without glasses I just thought I saw a racoon across the street; it turned out to be a rather healthy squirrel. I know I'm in the throws of withdrawal -- I can feel the violent urges welling up in me. If I see one person walking down the street in front of our house drinking a cold Cherry Coke (that's HIGH OCTANE, not the wimpy diet stuff), I swear I will beat him or her over the head to grab it. To feel the cold liquid sliding down my throat, that would be heavenly just now.

I've been off the Demon Coke for many days now, at least since Thursday. And I just don't think I'm gonna make it. For one thing, Heather will be visiting this coming weekend and you know what a slippery slope it is to spend time with another user. Even the spousal unit is behaving like the tiny devil on my shoulder, telling me he doesn't know why I'm putting myself through this. "What's wrong with that one small indulgence?" he says.

I'm heading out now for my first pottery class. Gotta wonder if I'm going to be able to summon the strength to pay attention for two hours. I might have to leave early and make a quick trip to Walmart. Yes, I'm weak. And maybe those evil Coca-Cola people never really stopped putting the "good stuff" in their beverages. Whatever. By this time tomorrow I expect I'll be riding high on the bubbly brown horse.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes, Virginia . . .

. . . there really is a black hole. I've been reading lately about quantum physics. Trying to read is more truthful; to be honest, much of what I've read so far is just way too out there for my tiny little brain to comprehend. Take this quote for example:

"No one knows just how the sudden popping from the imaginal possible to the real takes place. There is nothing in quantum physics itself that predicts this occurrence. Yet, this sudden 'pop of reality' is the basis of Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Also called the 'principle of indeterminism,' the uncertainty principle reflects the inability to predict the future based on the past or based on the present. Known as the cornerstone of quantum physics, is provides an understanding of why the world appears to be made of events that cannot be connected in terms of cause and effect."

Is it just me or does this sound like some far out double talk? ". . . the inability to predict the future based on the past or based on the present." Did this statement require a gathering of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century to come up with? Far as I know this is and has always been true for all of us other than maybe the weather man and the carnival fortune teller. But, I digress.

Somewhere along the way comes the mention of "parallel universe(s)." I wonder if that's what psychic Sylvia Browne was talking about when she said heaven is only about three feet off the ground we currently walk on, we just can't see it.

It all sounds pretty goofy, but here's where I get sucked in. Visitors who've seen both my Illinois and Florida studios would have to say that the Illinois workspace is neater and much more organized. Possibly that's because I left more than half my "stuff" in the one in Florida. Regardless, I've had this ongoing problem from the first day I started working here in Illinois:

I drop things and they disappear, often never to be seen again.

Black hole? Parallel universe? Earlier this afternoon I removed five domed copper disks, ranging in size from 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inch from my tumbler. I rinsed them and bundled them in an old diaper, my rag of choice. Carried them to my work table and proceeded to dry them off and place them under the heat of the lamp to dry thoroughly. At first I thought I was missing one disk but it turned out to be stuck to the underside of another. I separated them but one dropped to the floor. I heard it bounce off a plastic bead box but thought no more about it. I continued to wipe the rest of the disks and then turned my attention to the floor to retrieve the one I dropped.

It was gone. I looked everywhere. Twice. Moved things, opened cabinets, picked up the foot control for my flexshaft and the waste basket. Looked IN the wastebasket. Under the furniture. Across the room. It was nowhere to be found. A shiny, copper disk around an inch in diameter could not be seen anywhere.

As I usually do in these situations, I sought the assistance of my spousal unit. Being a manly man, he is never far from his tools and so came equipped with a giant flashlight. He began to search. Everywhere I'd already searched and then some. Three times. He looked throughout the entire room and, to his credit, found my favorite pair of reading glasses that I didn't realize I was missing.

No copper disk, however. Is the house haunted and a spirit snapped up the bright, shiny thing to keep as a souvenir? Is there really a black hole in my studio as I've been claiming for months? Or did the disk bounce into a parallel universe? Perhaps heaven? Apparently this is not my time to know. Maybe if I continue to read I'll get a clue as to where to find it. If not, here's the book I'm moving on to next:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do. It. Now.

I love this little guy. He reminds me of my favorite holiday and as you can guess, it's not Christmas. He's been sitting in front of the toaster since October. Not the 31st, but the 1st, the day we moved into our little rental house here in central Illinois. I packed him up along with the few kitchen items I allowed myself to bring from the house in Florida.

Although he's in that same spot 24/7, I realize as I'm writing this that I really don't "see" him everyday, he's just there. Just there waiting with a fresh tealight for someone to come along and give him some attention. I stopped and looked at him this morning and said "Why not?"

This happened as I was on my way to make a cup of tea. This is a rarity as I usually only slosh some juice or soy milk in a glass and down it with a breakfast bar. But this morning I thought, "Tea. Why not?" And in my favorite tea cup that is used to living in the dining room in Florida along with the rest of the tea cups I'm 'saving.' Saving for when?

More candles. In the daytime. No one here but me and the P. Why not? Had some fresh blueberries in the fridge. Can't remember the last time I bought them for myself. The spousal unit doesn't care for them. Buy them just for me? Hell yeah. Why not? Cook steel cut oats just for me? Okay!
What is in the back of your mind waiting for the time to be right? When will that be? Why not now?

Friday, June 5, 2009

There's a New Angel today.

For some time now you've seen the photo of adorable little Andy at the upper right column here on my blog. Andy, grandson of my friend Rosemary and her husband Glenn, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I asked that prayers and positive healing energy be sent Andy's way. I asked everyone to "Expect a miracle."

Precious little Andy passed away peacefully yesterday, June 4th. His tiny body gave up the struggle and he is now at peace. Of course this occupied my thoughts long into the night. Some time before I fell asleep I remembered the adage "All prayers are answered. Sometimes the answer is 'No.'" Is this what happened?

In an instant I received my answer. We expected a miracle and, guess what? We got it. Little Andy was a miracle. Never mind that his life was way too brief; the joy and inspiration he provided, the hearts he touched, was the miracle.

Just as the perfection of a snowflake, a rose or a gorgeous sunset fade away much too quickly, the time to enjoy Andy's beauty was fleeting. The wonderful thing about our minds, though, is that we can recall these memories at any time and although the snow, flowers, sunset and Andy are gone from our sight, they are new and more beautiful than ever in our mind's eye. Andy's smile is his legacy.

I wish for the grief being felt by all who loved this little boy to be transformed to comfort, peace, and above all, an ongoing and joyous celebration of the gift of Andy's life.

Please continue to send prayers and positive energy, not only to Andy's family, but to all the little ones suffering from SMA. Please take the time to sign this petition.