To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sewing again.

So, in my quest to clean out boxes and 'stuff' from my home for the 30 days of nothing (which, by the way, I failed miserably at on account of learning how to knit), I found a box packed away in the basement that was full of Barbie patterns and material. Some of the patterns were already cut out so I hauled the box into the clean (not so much) office and set up the sewing machine again. Based on the purple corduroy sort of buried in the photo I'm guessing these are from at least 20 years ago, maybe longer. I used the corduroy to make a 'lovely' pair of pants for my step-daughter when she was 5 - she's 31 now. Here's a small sampling of what I found.
I probably should be embarrassed about finding a project that's so old and never been completed, but dang, it's a great find! It's like going thrifting without spending any money.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The continuing duck stories?

I've written about these guys a few times already so I hope you aren't bored reading about them. They are a never-ending source of entertainment for our office, the other offices in the building, for our clients, and even visitors from nearby businesses. They're demanding and noisy and funny and charming and lovable - each with their own unique personality - seriously! And I won't even start on the various quacks they have.

We have a new girl who shows up at feeding time whom we've affectionately named Pocahontas. Bet you can't guess why.

This is how we do the daily feeing: Walk out the back door, clap your hands a few times and wait. The ducks come quacking and running (or swimming or flying) from all over. They have learned what clapping means. It turns into a feeding frenzy and you better be quick about giving out the food or they'll peck at your hands and your pants to make you notice them.

They used to be afraid of the camera. Not anymore. Now, I think they expect it to spit out food or something. These two certainly seemed to be expecting something.
Many of them can be hand fed and today, while I was passing out pieces of food I felt a duck pushing between my legs from the back. It was Dolores barging in for her 'preordained' portion. She's so funny now. She'll drive the other ducks back so she can get her food and sometimes, if she feels like it, she'll even let us pet her.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It just puts me in the mood.

It's happening all around me, subtle changes happening seemingly overnight. There's a different scent to the air, the garden is winding down, I swept colorful leaves off the front walk yesterday and the Asters are blooming in profusion. The temperature still manages to climb into the high 70's during the day, but it cools down very quickly in the evening so I get to wear my beloved sweaters. I'm not ready to light a fire, but all these changes put me in the mood for some fall decor and yummy baking.

I took another walk in the woods and found these little lovelies. Just a few snips of orange berries scrounged from the abundance I found and a bit of dried Queen Anne's Lace. No clue what the orange berries are, but they've found a happy home in my kitchen window.

This was a new recipe for me last year, Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were so tasty I made them a half-dozen times. This is the first time this year - I'm sure I'll make lots more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I have to enjoy the moment....

because it doesn't last long. The problem, which is not what I really call it, is that I have a variety of crafts that I'm always dabbling in but the sewing and scrapbooking are the messiest. I have to be diligent about cleaning up after each project or the pieces/parts take over my space. I swear they jump into the first available clean space and literally shout, "play with me, play with me!" I know, I know, there are pieces on the table, but that's exactly what I'm talking about. They jumped there after I cleaned up the space.

I swapped a spare bed for some shelves that I intend to paint and hang. That should help with the piles that accumulate on the floor, but I'm thinking I need something with doors and drawers to stop all those pieces from jumping into my clean spaces. It's not like they have bitty fingers or opposable thumbs to open doors.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How did they keep it a secret?

Paula told me a few weeks prior to my birthday that they had come up with the most amazing gift for me and she could hardly keep it a secret. What I want to know is how my grandkids could keep it a secret? Because they have the typical busy family life, they went in shifts to the ceramic store to work on my gift, each child taking a different turn over a period of days. I've seen them off and on over the last few weeks and none of them, not one, ever spilled the beans. How could they keep this a secret?

It's a platter...with our family motto. How cool is that? Everyone chose different colors and stamps and added hand drawings on the platter. I love it! It's the perfect gift. My family rocks!

And then there's got to be cake...and a little help with blowing out the candles.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family Motto

"Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story."

Megan's post on her blog today had me laughing so hard I had tears streaming. She is currently living and teaching in Taiwan (as is my son) and she tells a hilarious story to her students about a shark. Here it is.
I laughed so hard because my entire family is prone to embellishment of this same sort! In fact, my son phoned me a couple weeks ago and the conversation went like this:
Ring, ring.....(F.O.S. on the phone)
Me: Hi Honey!
Son: Hi mom. Listen, did my great great grandfather die of an Anaconda bite?
Me: (completely baffled with this question out of nowhere) Huh?
Son: Yeah, Sir S (who is 5) was just telling me that he misses his great great great grandfather and when I asked him why, he said it was because he died from an Anaconda bite. Did that really happen?
Me: Ohhhh, yes, he did. (I know the start of a good story when I hear it) He was living on the island of Bora Bora and one day he was walking through the jungle when an Anaconda reached out and bit him. Sad to say, he died.

Son: Uh huh....(turns to Sir S and says,) you were right. (Then he starts to laugh and tells me Sir S  just pumped his fist in the air in victory.)

Yeah, we do love an outrageous story. We just can't help ourselves from telling them either. I think it's genetic. You go, Megan!

It will crest tonight.

A week ago it started raining on Thursday and didn't stop until Sunday evening. Crazy! We live 1234 miles from the Gulf and the hurricanes still manage to dump on us. Still, I love the rain and it does make for some interesting walks along the river. JV and I went to investigate on Wednesday evening and we weren't disappointed. The river will be cresting tonight so I'm heading back down.

This is the path I always (usually) walk along the river. At one point I walked down the sidewalk into the water to take pictures and I'll be darned if a fish didn't swim by, on the sidewalk.

The stairs to nowhere?

A sign at the top of the boardwalk said, "Closed for the season. Come back next year to enjoy the water." Ha! Will the water still be there in the spring and what if I want to enjoy it now?

You could wonder why I love to walk along the river, but I'm hoping you're getting an idea in spite of the flooding. I love my city.

Take a look at the Sycamore Tree and tell me what's wrong with this picture? It's clever, but easily explained.

The dam is a popular place to fish and to watch the fisherman. Dim lighting made for great water shots. I love the reflection and how the water looks so calm and serene above the dam, but the water is boiling and churning as it goes over.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beads and Baubles

She's downstairs playing with these:

While he's upstairs playing with this:

The wooden beads are kept in a basket just inside my craft room and Miss M entertains herself quite often with them while I'm working on projects. She strings and stacks and sorts and piles and inspects while carrying on conversations with me about the different beads It's not about playing a game or doing anything organized, it's all about the beads.

As for the marble board, it was handmade by my grandfather when my mother was still a child. There were many evenings spent 'round my grandparents kitchen table while we played marbles. Grandma was always yellow, Grandpa was red and I always tried to be blue. Sir S doesn't play marbles - he just likes to cover the board. I need to teach him how to play. I wonder if he understands that the board was made by his great great grandfather? He likes knowing that sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Harvest Moon

I had a beautiful day yesterday. I talked to all of my loved ones and received so many happy birthday wishes from my friends. I couldn't have asked for a finer day. I thought dinner with my best friend was to be the end of my birthday gifts. Not so. When I left Charlie's at 10:13 last night I found this 'gift' waiting for me in the sky. Lovely!
A beautiful Harvest Moon. We watched for quite a few minutes marveling that the moon at times seemed to be in front of the clouds, which is impossible. I'm such a fan of the night sky that I felt as if this could have been put there just for me. Even better is that I was talking to F.O.S. on the drive home, and he and d-i-l were outside looking at the moon at the same time. How nice to be able to share it with them. Thank you, everyone, for a beautiful and touching birthday. It was everything I could have hoped for.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Look what I found....

when I walked into work this morning.

Yep, today is my birthday.....oh, happy day! I started celebrating yesterday with a cookout with my siblings, my nieces and nephews, and my son and his family. JV was helping me with a project last night and he wished me happy birthday. Now, I walk into work to find my desk completely decorated (thank you, Laura), I already received a birthday phone call on the way to work (thank you, Keith), I'm having dinner tonight with my best friend (thank you, Charlie), and we'll celebrate again this coming weekend when it's my kids, grandkids and me. I think I like this birthday week business. Wish I had known about this when I was a kid. *grins*

I hope your day is as wonderful as mine is starting out to be.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Welcome back my lovely season.

One of my favorite places to hike is the woods and creek by my house. I live in the middle of the city, but it never seems like it once I hit the path. All I do is walk out my driveway, turn right, walk to the end of the street and I am instantly transported to some other place. It's peaceful and quiet - sort of magical too if I'm quiet. Does anyone else wander along rivers and creeks and try to feel the people who walked the same paths ages ago? Who were these people? What were they doing? Did they find peace here as well?
It's only been a week or so since my last walk, but I'm pretty sure it didn't look like this the last time I was here. How does this happen so quickly?
Am I complaining? Not in the least. How could I when I'm confronted with such beauty. Fall is my favorite season. It's full of rich scents and colors and I feel so cozy each time I slip that first sweater of the season over my head. And my boots - I miss my hiking boots all summer long.
Welcome back my pretty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ack, I need a maid.

How odd that 30 days of nothing has somehow turned into 30 days of cleaning and purging for me. It's necessary, but not so fun. Look at the messes I have to clean up - and this is just the 'office'.

Messy, Messy Messy!

Seriously, I was just using the iron. It's not like it's been out for 3 weeks or anything wierd like that.

And then there's this lovely 'little' pile that needs to be sorted.

Ok, it's all very useful, but could someone please put it back the way it was before I started my sewing projects.....and finished them?

And how does one person manage to get so many shoes on the back landing? It's not like I'm a collector of I? Nah, it's only 8 pairs stacked here and I'm not telling how many are still in the closet. This landing is also on the list of things to have completed by the end of September.
And all this needs to be accomplished without buying any storage items? Hmmm, better head to the cellar to see what I might find tucked away that can be reused.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What new paths lie ahead?

Once upon a time, in what seems to be only a moment ago, I was the one doing the teaching and guiding. I did that to the best of my abilities and though I didn't set the best example all the time (understated) I managed to raise 3 extraordinary boys, now men. To this day I am amazed that the tables turned and I began to learn from them. Each, with their unique personalities, teaches me about life and myself constantly. In raising them I learned to be brave, to take risks, to push my boundaries and then to stand firm in what I believe is right. I learned to trust my instincts and to question status quo, to forge new paths. They say I taught the same to them. I don't know how.
I learned that they value and respect me as much as I value and respect them, but raising them also taught me to value and respect myself. I learned about responsibility and trust and honor. I learned about love, the boundless capacity to love.
Today I feel as if I'm on a precipice looking over a whole new world and what a beautiful world it is. I think I'll jump and see where I land. I think I'll leap and see where the wind takes me. I think my upcoming birthday is making me introspective. I think I like what I'm finding. Oh, happy day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Weekend

Wow! What an amazing weekend. From torrential rains (thanks Gustov) which completely cancelled our Thursday show for the first time in 29 years, to beautiful clouds and perfect weather for Friday and Saturday. I just finished up Celebration on the Grand and had the most marvelous time. Several new elements were added this year and I think they were a huge success. Here are just a couple of highlights.

It's a completely different view from 32 stories up. I was at the top watching people rappel down the side of the building. Oh, let me tell you, it takes your breath away to look down, but the city looks so beautiful from up here.

There she goes. It took about 15 minutes to get to the bottom. Would you have gone?

I have to laugh because Miss M wanted her face painted to look like a little pink pig. I do believe she got what she wanted.