Monday, May 30, 2011

Lest We Forget...

Honoring those who have served, have fought, and have fallen so we can enjoy barbecues and parades on this, their Memorial Day...

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I am in such a place of contentment this morning.

The sun is out but we've had some light rain all morning leaving wisps of clouds spattered across a pale blue sky. The subdued sunlight is filtering through the blinds giving everything around me a soft glow. Taking advantage of the calm weather and myriad puddles, the songbirds are out, calling to each other and sharing gossip while splashing in their makeshift baths.

My son is still asleep, wrapped up in a handmade afghan. His hand is under his cheek, his fingers curled around his lips as if to keep his secrets from spilling in his sleep. I can hear each quiet exhalation of breath. His dreams are calm, complete relaxation on his sweet face.

My husband is upstairs in the office. Every once in a while, I can hear the clatter of his fingers across the computer's keyboard or the squeak of the office chair when he leans in closer to read what's on the screen. I know his earphones are on and that he's listening to music; I can hear whispered refrains and the quiet tapping of his foot on the floor as he follows the rhythm of the song.

Outside, the chimes of one of the churches are ringing off the hour. The birds quiet in response. A cricket chirps in the silence, its legs buzzing together. A blue jay scolds it, and silence is restored.

My heart and my soul are full.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Scary Enough...

I've said before on this blog that I am afraid of tornadoes. And last night reminded me of why...

The storm appeared on the radar, but it wasn't until the hail began slamming into everything that I realized how nasty it was. My son and I watched out the front window as pebbles of hail turned into baseballs of hail, each one slamming and bouncing off the sidewalk, the roof, the windows, the truck. The noise of it was amazing.

And just like that, the storm ended.

We went out to survey the damage. Hail everywhere. The neighbor girl brought over handfuls of hail that were 2-3 inches in diameter. The truck has a golf-ball sized dent on the hood and several smaller ones scattered about.

The neighbor said another line of storms was on the radar, this set including conditions for tornadoes. We went back into the house, and sure enough, the radar showed tons of red on the weather that matched the red screen posted by the emergency alert service.

I put the little guy to sleep just as the wind and rain picked up. The light through the blinds cast a green glow. And that's when my heart began to pound.

I looked at the front window. Lightning flashes every second. The thunder a constant and unending roar. Wind ripping the rain around in swirling torrents.

The phone rang.

My dad was calling from his basement. They had just been hit. Hard. Nearly every tree on the property uprooted or snapped in half. My mom was calming down from a near-frantic state. As the power had gone out and as the freight train sound engulfed them, she had screamed to my father, "I'm so scared!"

Knowing your parent is scared? It scares you. No matter how old you are.

My husband wasn't home, so I called him. Left a message for him to come home because I was scared.

By the time he arrived, which wasn't too long after I called, the storm had abated.

Today? Dents in my truck. Leaves coating the roads. Fog and mist on the mountains. Power outages in some areas. Destroyed trees and fences at my parents' house.

I still remember being told as a kid (and as the oldest sibling) that if we ever had a tornado while my parents were doing chores in the barn, it was my job to get my siblings to the safety of my aunt's basement.

That responsibility haunts me still.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So Many Ideas...

...and not enough time!

I am a girl with ideas. Many, many ideas. In fact, I have at least two notebooks with ideas jotted down hurriedly so as not to let them flit off into the stratosphere for someone else to snag and run with.

Time, however, eludes it often eludes those of us who have chosen jobs rather than devoting ourselves to our callings. Ideally, our job would be our calling, but that is not the case for myself nor for many others with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. 

My job pays the bills. My calling pays my soul.

I want to write. I have a notebook my sister gave me that is solely devoted to book ideas. I have several scrawled out in there, everything from children's books about tractor-driving cows to young adult fantasy novels to a murder mystery set in my current town. Some of these ideas are pretty good. At the very least, I would read them and I like to think that a couple other people who aren't my mom, my Aunt Loretta, or my friend Randa would read them too.

I want to photograph. And I do. Often. But most of my pictures are blurred images shot through the windshield of our speeding SUV. Don't get me wrong; sometimes that yields fabulous results:

Other times? Not so much:

And those times that the shots turn out like the one above? Argh! They irk me to no end! So, yes, I do want to photograph. But I want to do so on my terms.

And then I want to take those photographs and turn them into a photo book. That people buy. Not because they are my aforementioned "fans" but because they value my images and want to have them all collected together in a book that they may look at them often.

I also want to do more arts and crafts, so to speak. My sketchbook just shipped, so I'm going to try my hand at watercolor pencils. I have an idea for a mixed-media journal.

I also have ideas for some altered books. My Nancy Drew collection had better beware!

See? So many ideas.

So what am I waiting for? I'd better get to work!!

Fiction Project 2011: The End

Now...On to the next project!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part Six (I Think...)

I wouldn't mind celebrating New Year's Eve like this again...

Now, snow means shoveling and worrying about the road
conditions and shoveling....Guess I'd better start recreating some
happy snow memories with my little guy!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part Five

I think I still cling to that dream...

I think some of my fondest memories of growing up are my
Christmas memories. My parents always found the way to
make sure that Christmas was never disappointing...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part Four

Yup. That's exactly how it went down...

That really is how you call cows. I assume "Ka-Boss" is short
for "Come, Bossy", Bossy being the common name given
to cows, of course. ..

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part Three

My allergies would kill me, but I wouldn't mind building hay forts again!

Though I'm still a cat lover, I think I liked them better when
there were no litter boxes to clean out!

Another thing I wouldn't mind doing again:
playing in a creek while looking for fossils...

It may be a memory I've shared before, but I just love the story
of my Mom and the man-eating snake! ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part Two

A continuation of my Fiction Project for 2011...

Never heard of Canton, PA? Hmmm...

My playground...

Yes, those are the official rules.

The barn looks the same....not the rest of the farm...

Have you been watching the little stick figure theater going on?
Look! That's my parents over there on the left. Aw...they just fell in love!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fiction Project 2011: Part One

Note to self: Don't do big projects during the school year.

It's done. And it's mailed in. I just complete the Art House Co-Op's Fiction Project for 2011. It's kind of a cross between a sketchbook and a writer's notebook. The overall idea is that at least 51%, though, must be words.

The theme I chose was "Happy Thoughts." I've been mulling over and working on a book of memoirs of life on the farm, so I viewed this as something of a rough draft.

It was definitely slow-going. And it didn't match the grand vision I originally had.

But you know what? That's okay. I'm proud of that little book, and I'm proud of its simplicity. Because that what my memories are: simple. I think it all came together quite well. And the friends and family members who have read it have done so with tears in their eyes at certain parts. And that tells me that I can feel successful...

Front Cover

Title Page

Copyright and Dedication


Monday, May 16, 2011

Creative Sisters: Ralphie's Mom Needs a Break!

Melinda Dillon as Ralphie's Mom in A Christmas Story

Poor Ralphie's mom. Remember the movie, A Christmas Story? How can you not? It's on 24 hours straight starting every Christmas Eve.

Anyway, Ralphie's mom never got to sit down. Never got to rest. She was constantly doing one of the million mommy-mandatory things that crop up. There's one scene where Ralphie admits, via voice over, that she never ate a hot meal because she was always getting someone something: more cabbage, a drink of milk, whatever.

I know how she feels sometimes. As a wife, mother, and teacher, I get pulled in all directions except for the direction that leads back to myself. And I was raised (born?) a giver, so it's in my personality to give of myself.

But there are times when I begin to wonder if I gave too many pieces away.

That brings me to a dear friend of mine. She's even more a Ralphie's mom than I am! I know of only two other people with a spirit as generous as hers...neither of whom are myself.

Anyway, I watch her day after day and I can see it. That wistful face. That phrase that forms but stops before she allows it to escape. I recognize what is going on because I see it in myself.

We are looking for some of our pieces.

I have been able to gather some of mine. I have made sure that I have enough to get me through each week. But my friend? She has more on her plate than I do, and with that giving spirit?

She needs a dust pan. Industrial strength. And a flashlight. Those pieces are scattered all over the place!

I decided, over the weekend, that I want to do a daily sketchbook over the summer. And I decided that I didn't want to do it all alone.

So I made her my "Creative Sister." We're getting notebooks and discovering new paths of creativity for ourselves. My friend admitted that she feels that there is a watercolor artist living within her. Well, girl, it's time to bring her out to play!!

Now, I have to do some shopping. Find some perfect sketchbooks for us! And then?

We create!!!!

I'm so excited! I'm excited to start a new project. I'm excited to have a friend to join me on this little excursion. And I'm excited to give a dear person a venue to express herself for herself.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Doing Right...Even When It Feels Wrong

Most of my castles are in the air. I'm the first to admit that. And I'm the first to admit that I'm rather scattered when it comes to building those foundations.

One of my castles recently provided me with a rope ladder to the top. A way to skip the foundation, to build the foundation after the fact.

I was ready. I climbed up the first couple of rungs. I got my bearings and my balance.

And then?

I climbed off. I looked at the climb, knowing that I could make it. But what I saw while hanging onto that rung made me step back to the ground.

Climbing that rope ladder all the way up to my castle wasn't the right decision. Once I climbed it, there was no way to come back down without just jumping and hitting the ground hard. Once I climbed it, there was no way to protect anyone left on the ground. And when the time came to jump, my fall would have been broken by someone else.

So I stepped off the ladder. It hurt. It hurt to watch the ladder quickly pulled back up to the castle.

It was the right thing. I know it was the right thing and I was told it was the right thing.

But it hurts.