Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy, Merry, Cozy Week-end

Merry Christmas to Y'all. Whatever you're doing, wherever you are, however you celebrate.

Our weatherman forecasts a "wintry mix" for tonight. It's 41 right now with a wind chill of 38. I like it! It's 65 inside, I'm bundled up in sweater/scarf/tall boots. Cozy. Candles burning. Me listening to Led Zepplin and Simon and Garfunkel.

A couple of neighbors stopped by with baked goods, I delivered a few myself. There's a neighborhood block party/open house later tonight. We'll stroll down for a hot drink.

Not a lot of decorating done around here, but hubby and I both had an artsy/crafty day yesterday. He's hiding something in the garage that he's been working on. He raided my Tim Holtz drawer of supplies, and made off with handfulls of stuff. Well, yes I said he could use whatever he wanted....I am afraid.

Today is my parents 69th wedding anniversary. Will call them in awhile. As a kid, we always opened our family gifts on Christmas Eve, then Mom and Dad went out dancing. Christmas morning we trekked 35 miles to Grandmas house, with all the Aunts and Uncles and many cousins. Forever, all the days of my childhood. Good memories.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Striving for Serenity

Settling for Simplicity. It's all I can do right now. Some holiday seasons I can "get with it", this is not one of those years. I've been struck by the normal holiday melancholy I seem to have become inflicted with, gradually over the years. I didn't used to have it. I once was one of those Martha Stewart clones, a tree in every room, lots of baking and entertaining. All the trimmings so to speak. Besides working full time, I drove myself crazy to get all this done. By the time Christmas day came, all I wanted to do was lay down under that tree and go to sleep! That was in my "perfection years" and those days are long gone, thankfully.

Well, I know good and well all families have strife and sadness, it's just part of living. This year has been a particularily hard one for both mine and hubbies. We're just kind of skating over Christmas this year. We've never been caught up in the "buy, buy, buy" part of the holidays, so it's been even easier to scale back. Staying OUT of the department stores has been such a relief. The few gifts we have bought have all been handmade, from various Arts&Crafts shows from around town, or by me. Fortunately, the people I know and love and give gifts to appreciate handmade.

So, yesterday afternoon, I sat in front of the window, in hubby's big leather chair, for a good long time. I drank tea, watched the neighbors cat chase the blowing leaves, read the entire Sunday paper, drank more tea. Then I addressed the last few cards while hubby cooked us bacon, turkey and swiss cheese paninis. Pretty darn good...It was applewood smoked, thick sliced bacon, and NOT even low sodium. After dinner we both called our families and even that was nice and relaxing. My Dad never wants to stay on the phone for more than a few minutes, but he was very talkative last night. After reading for awhile and doing a bit of yoga, I fell asleep and didn't wake up once during the night. Very unusual for me. So I felt rested and really had a better outlook this morning. It's dreary and misty outside and I have stayed in all morning, and think I will not go out the rest of the day. I have some candles burning and am listing to Pandora radio. Cozy, that's me

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Anniversary

That time again. Another year flew by. On this day, 38 years ago, the hubster and I were married. All odds were against us for a variety of reasons. Then, the church we were married in burned down. The next year our minister got a divorce. The list goes on, but the thing about getting older is you can't recall most of the things that threatend to "do you in". Here we are still side by side. Unbelievable, I can hardly say the words 38 years.... people look at us like we should be ancient in wheel chairs, at least all the younger people we know.

As has happened for at least half of those years, hubby is out of town on business. So we celebrate whenever we can, but rarely on the actual day. We went out to dinner a couple of nights ago, for a fine steak and a bit of wine. We shared this cute little pumpkin spice tid-bit for dessert. When we first saw it, we thought we should have ordered two, but it was so incredibly sweet, it was just the right amount.

I've had a blog malfunction. While poting from hotel in San Diego (my last post) I somehow managed to disable the comment feature. I don't know how or what I did, or how to fix it. So this is a test to see if it was just a fluke. So here goes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunny California Sunday

I'm blogging from San Diego. It's pretty nice here in the Marina. This is the view I've had to endure for the past few days. This photo was taken while sitting in bed with the balcony door open. Nice crisp mornings and evenings. Warm, nice days. Except for the day it rained like crazy all day, and we were like drowned rats because we were out in it. Sleeping with the door wide open each night. No bugs, and no allergies. It really does feel like paradise.

Hubby and I came out a couple days early for the trade show, which started today. We played tourists, went to Coronado Island for one day, have ridden the trolley/train all over San Diego, found Anthropology store and visted there. Seaport Village is right next door to the hotel. We are also near the GasLight district, and there are a lot of interesting things to see there. I've walked miles, and it felt good. Have a few more adventures planned, between trade show duties and business dinners.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos have always been my favorite holidays to decorate for and take part in. This year it crept up on me so fast and we had so much going on that I really didn't do any decorating. Did I send any cards...Nope, not a one. I have almost every Halloween decoration Martha Stewart has put out over the years, plus boxes of vintage stuff. I used to love to decorate the house, inside and out, and we even dressed up to hand out treats. Just haven't been into it that much this year. But you know what...turn around and blink and it will be next year again. Another chance to start earlier, and be in a better frame of mind as well.

This spooky card is from my friend Pam in Ohio. The friend I met through the INTERNET some 10 years or so ago. The friend who hopped on a plane and came to Texas for Thanksgiving. I don't recall how many years ago that was for sure, but she has been out a couple of times since. She is coming again this year. I can't wait to see her. We have totally different lives, but a common interest in ART, music, and other creative endeavors. The thing about a friend like this, is we can see each other only every few years, but it's like no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off.

I did unpack a few Day of the Dead things, but never got around to setting them out. Here are a couple of my favorite sugar skulls. I did not even buy a new one this year. My favorite one will always be the Frida.
Poor Frida, last year she had an accident and a few of the flowers in her head dress broke off. Must repair them before she goes back in her case for the next year.

Frida's broken flowers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blue Skies Above and Fall Festivals

No matter how life is going, you can always look up and the sky is still there. Lately it has been such a brilliant blue. I love how the sky looks in the fall. The clouds are crisp, even if the air is not yet. In Texas it never feels to me like FALL...We go from hot hot hot to an ice storm, usually. It has been cool in the mornings, but not crisp like I prefer fall to be.

At least it's cool enough to start baking. I've made Pumpkin Scones last week, and these are Cranberry. Both were pretty tasty.

The world keeps turning. It has now been 10 days since Hubby's mother passed. It does not seem possible. Some days it seems like it has been longer, some days we speak of her and it seems like yesterday. Hubby is doing fine, it helps that he is in close touch by phone with his siblings, and knows he can talk whenever he feels like it. I had the weirdest feeling the other night, when it struck me that never again will I have to, or be able to, remind him to call his Mom. He used to get so busy that a few weeks would go by and I would always say "please call your Mom".

I had thought it might be too soon for us to go to the Dia de los Muertos Festival this past week-end. He said it was okay, and I think it may have been therapeutic. Too soon for a shrine for his Mom though. Probably next year.
I'm a bit disappointed in this years photos. For some reason the settings on my camera went a little wacky. I didn't get many of the parade at all, the streets were so crowded. I did get a few costumes and make-ups that I'll share. I totally loved the girl in the pink hair, because she was wearing a little golden antler on top!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Unsettled, Fragmented, Distracted

That's how I've been feeling, since our latest trip to Idaho and Oregon. Wanting to post, but not quite knowing what to say. Or, I guess, how to put into words what I'm feeling. We've been on this path for some time. Health issues that come from having aged parents. Each illness, each episode, threatens to take them from us, each time they bounce back. Until the next time. It's always like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In any family, when the diagnosis is cancer, it's a frightening feeling. You have no control over the outcome. You can do whatever is medically available, all the time praying that it will work. Knowing that it might not. That word changes everything. You must continue to live a normal life and take care of the every day things that need taking care of. But somewhere in a back corner of your brain, that shadow lurks, waiting to come to the forefront of all else.

As a family, we have walked this road with my Father several times in the past 20 years. Three different episodes with cancer. Add to that a heart attack, hip replacement, many other broken bones as well. Most of those as a result of falling. He is tough as nails and has made it to 96 years of age. I'm not sure I can even count or recall all the things he has been through. He wears a button on his vest that reads "At my age, I've survived damn near everything".

My Mother was always pretty healthy, up until the past few years. She's had gallbladder problems, and a few other things that knocked her down, but she always got back up. About 18 months ago, she was diagnosed with macular degeneration. She has undergone many eye injections since then and the Dr. says it is halting it's progression somewhat. However we have seen a serious decline in her ability to manage. Two of the things that were her hobbies, reading and crochet, she can no longer do. That has taken a toll on her mental outlook. Plus she can no longer keep a close eye on my Dad in an attempt to prevent him from doing foolish things that cause him to fall down. She has begun to suffer from anxiety attacks. I'm sure I would do the same if I could not see.

I have felt so fortunate to have had my parents live this long. It's difficult to live so far from family, because when something happens you cannot get there quickly. Hub and I both have done our best to be there a couple of times a year just for visits, when nothing is wrong. The trips have become more frequent as more and more things have happened, and now we usually go because something has happened.

We visited in March. My Dad was in the rehab center again, after cracking a bone in his leg(the same one they did a hip replacement on exactly a year before. We spent some days there, then went to Portland to visit Hubs family. Everyone was fine, we had a great time. My Mother-in-law has been living with Emphysema for several years, but doing quite well. The only thing that had changed in recent years, was her lung function had decreased to the point she was on oxygen 100% of the time. Still, she was doing well. Around June she told us she had been on antibiotics for an infection, and that she had complained to her Drs. of severe back pain. They attributed it to the hauling around of the oxygen tanks, and gave her pain meds. She was afraid of getting hooked on them, so she tried to get by on as few as possible. Finally the pain got so unbearable that the Dr. decided to do a MRI...that led to a PET scan, and a diagnosis of cancer. Bone cancer. It had apparently spread quickly, in her ribs and her hip. She had just had a chest ex-ray 6 months earlier and everything there was fine. The diagnosis came the end of August and the prognosis was possibly 6 months to live. We flew back out to Boise the first week in September, I stayed there to spend time with my parents. While there, my Dad did something foolish and fell again. None of us can convince him to let us help him with ANYTHING! Hub went to Portland to spend time with his Mom for a week. They spent some time talking about and making arrangements for us to visit again at Christmas time. Because of her weakened lung condition, they decided against radiation for the pain. At any rate we came home Sept. 17th.. October 9th we received word that she had taken a turn for the worse. Hubby left the next day. She had experienced 4 days of being completely incoherent, agitated and quite out of it. She then had 2 days of being rational and awake and alert while he was there. Then she had another couple of days that were pretty bad. Hubby flew home last night, arriving in Austin at 1 a.m. When we awoke this morning we got a call from his sister Jeri, that Mom had passed peacefully in her sleep at 4:30 this morning. As sad as we all are, we are also thankful that it was a relatively short time after the diagnosis, and she did not spend an extended time suffering.
Janet Merle Day Dunbar was 78 years old.

Needless to say, we are feeling a range of emotions, and this is sinking in a little bit at a time. Everything was prepared for in advance as far as arrangements go.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A few more Chicago memories

It was fun to stay downtown, we walked almost everywhere. I get a kick out of when people say "it's within walking distance" know that varies, depending on who is doing the walking, right? Well, still, we walked almost everywhere.
Hotel we stayed in

I always notice the light fixtures, this one had giant steel brushlike bristles, was very interesting.

The view out the only window in our room. I like the graphic design of all the lines.

One tiny window. Very nice room though. #1210

These are all just from strolling about.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Six Days in Chicago

I wanted to stay in Chicago till the snows came. It was beautiful this time of year. The high temp the entire week was in the mid 80's. Weather Heaven for me. We worked most days, but had a bit of time for just exploring as well.

I've had a hard time deciding which photos I wanted to share, without boring you to death, so I chose just a few and put the rest on Flickr. You can choose to go see them or not. A lot of them I didn't even crop or edit. Here's my Flickr link..
All my links seemed to have slipped to the bottom of my posts, and I don't know how to fix it. I need to call on my pal Janet to help me. But right now we are preparing for yet another trip out west for another family emergency, so I will have to let that wait till I get back.

Well, sorry for the sidetrack. Here a are a few photos. This was a trip where everything was perfect, and we haven't had one of those in awhile.
Day 1 Landing, driving to St.Charles and the Pheasant Run resort.

The view from our 12th floor room in "The Tower"

After lunch we explored the resort, then at 5 went to the golf course, of course...


ME driving the cart, enjoying the cool breeze blowing through my hair. This is something you would never find me doing in the Texas heat!

Day 2 Shedd Aquarium where part of Pondemonium was held. We watched the pond building for awhile, but had tickets to go into the Aquarium as soon as it opened. I wanted to stay there all day! But we had to go to some meetings over at Navy Pier, so we took a Taxi over there and were there most of the afternoon.
Just a few highlights. I loved the Jellyfish..more photos of those later.

One of the designs in the revolving front door.

We rode the water taxi back to Shedd Aquarium for the evenings events. Bar-B-Que, music, and speeches from the CEO, etc. On the back deck of the Aquarium looking out over the lake. Temps were in the 60's.
Me and Hub on the boat..

Navy Pier from the water taxi

The city from the deck of the Aquarium

Day 3, I had to work, so I stayed in the hotel and processed orders. Hub went to the Aquascapes headquarters for meetings most of the day. That evening we went to another B-B-Q and a tour of a huge landscape nursery. Lots of beautiful plants and ponds. I forgot to bring an extra memory card for my camera, so got only a handful of photos.

Day 4, Hub went to more meetings, I stayed in the hotel and did computer work all morning. Then after lunch, I went to a Scrapbook Expo that was going on there at the resort. HaHa. I only stayed a few hours, did a couple of make and takes, bought one pack of cool paper and left. Hub came back to the hotel and we went to yet another B-B-Que and a tour of the Aquascapes facility.

Day 5, a few more meetings in the morning, and then we were on our own. Thankfully, for me at least, no more B-B-Q. LOL We checked out of the resort and drove to downtown Chicago.
Next chapter, a day in the city.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Barbara has left the building!

Can't believe how long since I've posted here. I kept meaning/wanting to catch up. But since I last left you with promises of "How the Mockingbird story ended"...I needed to move along in sequence. So every day I put it off it went longer, and I couldn't just jump in from where I was at the present time. So weeks have gone by. Things have happened, just general life things, nothing drastic. After reading this post from Pam yesterday, I realized I am not the only one who finds themselves in this situation. So, here I am, jumping back in, working backwards to catch up. Meanwhile, on the other blog I've been working on the ICAD project from Daisy Yellow. But I will be back over here momentarily.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Do you remember back in the summer of 1998 when Peter Max licensed his Statue of Liberty painting to Arizona Iced Tea? I drank a lot of it, because I liked it, but mostly to get those graphics. I made a few cards using it as well. In my tall IKEA drawers where I store a lot of my rubber stamps, I have two drawers just for 4th of July stuff. Thought I still had a card sample with the label, but only found this one last label. If I recall he had 12 different paintings and I don't know if they used them all. Wish I still had some more of the labels. Actually, probably do, in a box in the garage somewhere, with bugs eating away at them. Eewwww!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Don't try THIS at Home!

Well, I just had a really disgusting happening! There will be no photos, you can just use your own imaginations to picture it. First to set the stage: I am having back problems the past couple of weeks, so can't sit for very long. But I still keep multi-tasking like I always do. Figure if I sit awhile, walk to another location, sit awhile there, etc. You get the picture. Been working all morning on ICAD cards, painting some journal pages, tidying the family room, searching for little metal brads, this and that. Realized I've only been drinking coffee and haven't had breakfast. So what do I do, get another cup of coffee and a bowl of gingersnaps and head to the computer where I've been blog hopping. Well, I don't know how y'all eat gingersnaps, but I like to "dunk em". I'm trying to grab a blog button and get signed up for another challenge, and gawking at traci bunkers site with my mouth open. Both in awe at her stuff, and to stuff a dunked soggy cookie in it. guessed it. I held on to it a few seconds too long, and whadyaknow... It drops right on my keyboard. On the way down it slides on the front of me..oh yes I am still wearing my sockmonkey p.j.s. So there is a big nasty clump on my monkeys, and on the keyboard. For one little gingersnap, it sure made a big mess to clean up. Most accidents do happen at home, and even moreso when multi-tasking! Now my back really hurts and I need to go lay down. And I may need to go buy a new keyboard.

I do plan to finish the Mockingbird saga by the week-end, as everyone has been asking for an update.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Birdie Update

Before we left to go to Dallas a few days ago, Hubby peeked into the nest and one of the three eggs was missing. Don't know if a predator got it or what happened. There seemed no evidence of a broken egg, and the nest didn't seem messed up. I don't know if birds move their eggs from one nest to another. Anyhow, the missing one was the one I had thought looked a little deformed. I have no idea. When we got home last night the two eggs were still there. It has been 15 days since she layed those two, so I think we should be hearing "cheep cheep" any moment now. We decided not to try and wheel the entire vine away from the door. I guess we will be taking our chances with getting pecked on the head. I do hope we will get a peek at the babies and maybe get a photo of them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Captured: By Mother Nature

There's a bird by my window. Soon there will be more. I've been trying to figure out how to tell this story in as few words and pictures as possible. For about a week before Memorial Day week-end, I'd been noticing a little more bird noise when I'd leave the house or come back in. We have a large pot with a trellis and vines in it right by the front door. A lot of mornings, one or both of us will sit out there and have our first cup of coffee. There had been a mockingbird hovering around the vine, and I'd seen him fly off with a twig in his mouth several times. I had told Hub that somewhere he was building a nest. Well, it took me about a week to realize he was not taking materials from there, but delivering them TO there. When I turned the pot, I discovered a NEST, right at the back of the trellis. So, Hub and I had this discussion about "should we move the nest, get rid of it, etc." We've been through this nest above door thing before. One year we couldn't even go out our back door the entire summer without getting attacked, because there were baby birds up above the porch light.

I got online and started doing research about birds and nests, etc. I've loved watching the birds for years, but really hadn't read a lot about their habits. So anyhow, it seems in most species, Papa bird builds several nests and Mama chooses the one that meets with her approval. For some reasons, she chose this one. Does not seem like a wise choice, since it is only about 6 feet off the ground, but what do I know. So I thought about it for a day or two..maybe she could just choose another nest. Then around Memorial Day, Hub comes in and says, OOPS...too late. There was an egg in the nest. The next day there were two, then there were three. The 3rd one looks a bit deformed, I told Hub that it's probably from "stress" on Mama.

So now we have a family in a high traffic area that will soon be attacking us or anyone who comes to the front door. The UPS guy and the FEDEX gal have already gotten a talking to by Mama Bird, and the eggs haven't hatched. She gets interrupted a lot, flys off to watch from a nearby tree, then comes right back.

I watched through the window and the screen for several days, but decided I wanted a better view, so I removed the screen, washed the window and now I have taken most of the photos from inside the house. I had to fix a small area so she wouldn't see my reflection or the camera. Hubby and I check out the peep-hole every night before we go to bed, and every morning. Can't sit on the front porch for now, but enjoying watching thru the window. We can go in and out through the garage and she stays put but sometimes the car door slamming will scare her off.

I'm wondering if we should wheel the entire pot down to the end of the porch. She'd have more privacy and maybe the comings and goings wouldn't scare her off so much. I'd love to see the baby birds and watch while they fly, but I don't want to get pecked on the head in order to do it.

For now, here is the story in photos. They are clickable to enlarge.

Vine by the front door.

Bird with building materials

Through the window screen

Bird at fountain

First notice of nest.

Mama just before she flew.

Sitting on the eggs.

Beautiful eggs. Notice the piece of blue string along the side of nest?

Screeching at the gardener.