Saturday, December 7, 2013


I have learned about the fate of my neighbor (

I found him on Facebook and friended him, with a note saying who I was and why I was reaching out to him. His brother was managing his account and accepted the request. This allowed me to follow his posts as well as to almost get to know this man. Unfortunately, he passed away yesterday evening and while the details as to what his health history was, I know that it was a sudden and unexpected passing.

On a personal note, I'm very sad that I did not get to know this man because what I have learned about him from his page and from the postings of his friends is that he was a unique and artistic person and I feel that I probably would have had a lot in common with him and a lot to talk about. He was an artist who worked primarily in ceramic sculpture, which is an area that I am interested, in as well as an all around character. He was a member of the Craft Guild of Dallas. I am now interested in joining the Craft Guild and am investigating it along with taking classes there in their pottery studios.

This experience has also made me want to actually venture out of my hidey-hole and make the effort to meet the people around me....    

Friday, December 6, 2013


To be honest, I was not prepared for the winter storm that came through yesterday. I don't watch the news and anything that I learned about what was happening was thanks to other people's Facebook posts. Therefore, when I left work yesterday and found it already sleeting, I started wondering if perhaps I was a little screwed.

I got home without issue and went to check the mail, etc. I saw that I already had a faucet cover on the faucet on the front of the house (as it had never been taken off from last winter...yeah, yeah bad home owner) then went to check the faucet on the side of the house, where I realized that I did NOT have a cover. The one that I had there I had removed to wash out a dog bowl at one time and I have no idea what happened to it. I searched the house and garage in hopes that I had an extra one, but could not locate one.

About this time, I had a call from the vet saying that Leo's antibiotic was ready to pick up (yeah, he has a cough again so we are just automatically shoving ciprofloxin down his throat). I decided that while I was out I would swing by Walmart (most hated place in my world) and pick up a faucet cover. Sadly, Walmart did not have any covers and as the icy rain and sleet was starting to get worse, I decided that I didn't really want to drive to Lowes or Home Depot as they were in crazy traffic areas and I really just wanted to get home and off the roads.

Therefore, I decided that I would just make my own cover and keep my fingers crossed that it would do what it was supposed to do and when the ice clears up, I will venture out to find a proper cover. This is what I devised and how it has so far stood the winter blast:

Yes, that is two Target shopping bags and zebra striped duct tape. I also took some left over quilt batting and wrapped around the faucet first before covering that with the bags. I'll let you know if I end up with burst pipes because of my lack of planning......

The Right Thing?

Hopefully I did the right thing yesterday......

Let me start by saying that I am NO Gladys Kravitz. In fact, I could not tell you the names of any of my neighbors and would not be able to point them out in a line up.

Early Wednesday morning at about 2:30, Leo wakes me up barking, which he never does. He usually doesn't need to get up and go out in the middle of the night and when he does, he is good about ringing the bell by the door and somehow no matter how softly he rings that I can hear it and will zombie-like stumble from bed and let him out. So, when he is barking it definitely wakes me up and scares me a bit. I got up and let him out, but he continued to bark and it got through my addled, sleepy-hazed mind that the lighting outside was not right and I could here large trucks running. So, I pulled a Gladys and peaked out my windows to see what the heck was going on. Turns out there was a fire and an ambulance truck at my neighbor's house. They had arrived sans sirens, which makes me think that they are actually considerate of people and unless there is traffic that they need to warn of their approach that perhaps emergency vehicles don't just willy-nilly run their sirens...but I digress. I couldn't really see what was going on with the ambulance and, although I was curious, I didn't want to be THAT nosey of a neighbor and put on clothes and shoes and investigate. Instead, I cleaned off Leo's feet and we went back to bed.

I didn't think anything more about my neighbor until Thursday afternoon when a winter storm hit the area and ice started building up on anything that didn't move. I noticed that my neighbor had a couple of packages sitting on his front porch. They had been sitting there on Wednesday afternoon as well and were still there 24 hours later. So, I went over and took those packages and brought them into my house. One of them had already formed a layer of ice, so I scraped all of the ice off of it and now both packages are sitting in my living room. I left a note tucked into his door (I know it is a him because I did meet him one time out by the mailbox) and I think I found him on Facebook and left a message there for a complete stranger.

We shall see if I hear from him.....If I don't, what do I do with the packages? I don't know if he is in the hospital and for how long. Do I just wait until the weather clears up and then take the packages back over and leave them for him? Do I call the police in a couple of days and find out from them what I should do? I don't want to be arrested for mail theft. I don't want my neighbors to think that I go around taking things from people's porches. I would hope that somebody would do something similar for me if the need ever arose.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Quilt Challenge - Macro

The latest challenge for the group Art Quilts Around the World was the word "Macro" from which we were to create a small quilt. The member who put forth this challenge referenced "macro" as close up photography, which gave it a new meaning for me as I always thought of macro as a little mini-program that is written within a piece of software that is used to perform some function.

With the idea of close-up photography, I had two thoughts run through my head, both of which centered around my sweet puppy Leo. At the time that the challenge was set, I was in the process of getting him tested to try and determine why he continues to have upper respiratory problems and one of the things that the vets recommended was that he had some issue with the cilia in his lungs. I did a Google search for photos of cilia and found a number that could have been translated into a quilt:

I opted against these because 1. I imagined having to get a feather boa involved and not sure that would really represent the direction that I want to take my art and 2. these photos are more of microscopic photography and didn't really fall into the meaning of macro photography.  

So, I opted to go with my second thought, which was to take a close up picture of my sweet Leo's nose and go from there. The only problem is getting him to sit still so that I can actually get a good picture of him because every time I pull out the camera he is nosing right into it and sniffing. I ended up taking this picture of him:

and zooming in to get the section of the nose that I wanted to focus on:

and ended up creating this quilt:

You will notice, perhaps, that the image is reversed on the quilt from the picture. That would be because I'm still trying to figure out how to make all of that work right, but I'm getting there. I really enjoyed doing this quilt and I have introduced myself to the joys of thread painting, or at least my version of thread painting. Every one of these challenges is making me a better artist as they force me to move well beyond the comfort of squares and triangles that I use in my normal bed quilting world. I still have a long way to go, but I'm loving every step of the journey.

And just for good measure, here is a shot of Leo watching over my studio while I work:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Nemisis - Cherry Jello

One of our family's traditional foods at Thanksgiving is Cherry Jello....well, Black Cherry Jello with black cherries mixed in. For years my Mom has made it, but I have had my hand at it once or twice. However, it hasn't always been a cherry walk in the park....and I'm not alone in my struggle with the jello.

The way we make the jello is we take two cans of dark, pitted cherries and two packets of dark, cherry jello. You make the jello the normal way, but substitute the cold water with the juice from the cans of cherries. You put the jello in the fridge for a couple of hours to set, but you don't want to let it set all the way because you want to pour the fruit into the jello while it is still in a semi-liquid state. If all goes well, it turns out beautiful and smooth with even amounts of cherries and the family loves it.

However, here are the things that have gone wrong: 
  • My mom misread the cans one year and put cherries with pits into the jello. She then had to dig them all out after it set and pit the cherries then mix them back into the jello....That would not have been a pretty jello year. (Of course, I ask you, who cans cherries WITH the pits?)
  • I made jello one year for Thanksgiving, but ended up with vertigo and unable to drive on the morning of Thanksgiving, so I ended up with a big bowl of jello and no turkey and the rest of the family had no jello.
  • Multiple times has the jello been forgotten in the fridge and fully set before the cherries were mixed in. Not pretty jello years, but still good flavored.

And then there was this year....

For some reason, I blanked out on the kind of cherries that I was supposed to get and when I looked back through my messages from my Mom she had a picture of a can of tart cherries, which she uses for cherry pies.

Well, I got confused and ended up buying tart cherries. Turns out she was showing me the manufacturing label rather than the type of cherries. So, I made the jello with the tart cherries. As I was pouring the cherries into the setting jello, I realized thought that the cherries didn't look quite right and realized my error.  I struggled with whether I should just let it be and go with the tart cherry jello.

However, after much internal wrangling, I decided that I would head back to Walmart on the eve of Thanksgiving and get the right kind of cherries and jello and start over. As much as I wanted to bring the wrong jello, and hopefully get out of ever having to provide a dish for Thanksgiving again in the future, I decided that it would be better for me to suck it up and make the jello. It is one of my dad's favorite dishes at the meal and I didn't want to disappoint him.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I know this is a really old picture but it makes me smile!!

Mom, you are the strongest, most amazing woman that I know. The past couple of months have just reiterated that to me and I am awed by you.

I love you more than you can know.

One question, though...are those spices on the rack behind you the same as what we pulled out of the drawer?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ever-giving Box

First, I cannot believe it has been over a month since I have blogged...Okay, that is a lie, I can believe it and I apologize but there just hasn't been the drive to blog about anything lately, and even my challenge that I gave myself doesn't seem to be working.

Second, I had the nicest thing happen to me last night, hence the blog. I have been having a rough couple of weeks between work project that is going to cause me to go gray first and then have all of my hair fall out and then there have been some family things going on that have not necessarily been a positive distraction from the work stuff. Anyway, last night I had my meeting with my Wellspring group. My co-facilitator knew that I had been having a bit of a tough time so she said she had something for me:

It is called an Ever-giving Box:

And she filled it with things that she thought we make me happy:

And, I have to say that all these will make me happy. It was a wonderful thought and something that I will definitely give forward.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Couple of Baby Quilts

While I have not been doing nearly as much quilting as I would like to, I have managed to complete a couple of baby quilts:

This is a different take on the "eduquilt" that I like to make, which has lots of pictures to help teach the baby. This one only has a handful of pictures...yeah, I was feeling a little lazy. It is also smaller than the normal ones that I make.

This is one that I made specifically for the parents as they said they were doing the baby's room in gray and navy. I couldn't bring myself to do navy fabrics, but the gray seemed to work nicely. It is backed in flannel, which will hopefully be soft against baby's skin. This was also a pretty quick pattern to do, and may become a 'go to' for quilts in the future...especially if I ever get around to actually making some inventory and setting up shop on Etsy....

Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Less Traveled

This month for Art Quilts Around the World (AQAW), we were challenged with coming up with a quilt that represented "The Road Less Traveled". Here is what I came up with:

When we were first given the challenge topic, I immediately knew that I wanted to do a Mariner's Compass and I was originally going to add some song lyrics that reflect traveling on a road (e.g., Long and Winding Road, On the Road Again, Highway to Hell, etc.). However, I attended a retreat at my church to kickoff a nine month small group that I am facilitating that discusses our spiritual journey. As part of that, we discussed a Rumi poem:
Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
It does not matter
Ours is not a caravan of despair
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times
Come, yet again, come. 
After reading and discussing this poem, I decided that I wanted to include those words on my quilt.

I really enjoyed this topic. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and for the most part, I think I achieved it. It is far from perfect, but I'm happy with the outcome. I was challenged to find a simple Mariner's Compass that would fit on the size that we work with, and as you can see, I didn't quite make it, however, I'm okay with that as I like the look of how two of the points are chopped off allowing for the idea that it goes beyond the page (I tried to back the compass and thought of having two points extend beyond the actual quilt, but it didn't turn out the way that I imagined, and I ended up removing the backing and going with this). I also hadn't intended to go with a black and white and sepia quilt, but when I started pulling fabrics, this is just what I saw...sort of like an ancient map. Getting the actual compass onto the backing...well that was a challenge. I ended up using my go to material (Wonder Under), but it wasn't as neat as I wanted it to be especially when working with all the added seams on the back of the compass. I'm also not overly thrilled with my wording on the quilt. I used the alphabet that comes with my machine and while I really like the idea, the execution isn't to my liking....for one thing, I didn't put in lines first on which to follow and therefore the text isn't spaced well and it went all wonky. Lastly, I don't like to bind quilts, primarily because I'm lazy and which is why I have a number of quilts sitting in my studio sitting there finished except for the binding. But, I really don't like binding quilts this size because I worry that it can overwhelm the quilt, however, for some reason I felt strongly that this one required a binding, a stopping point, and I'm happy with the final look.

All in all, I'm very happy with how this one turned out. I learned quite a bit about myself in working with this one, so yay me!! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Leo Update

Because I know that you ALL care about and are worried about what is going on with my baby, Leo.

We went to a new vet yesterday; a specialist on internal medicine rather then a general practitioner in veterinary care. He reviewed all of Leo's medical records and films and took a look at my baby along with getting some oral history from me. He feels the issues are of two different paths (or possibly a combination of both of these):

First, he is immune deficient, which we already sort of assumed. However, he said that this is harder to get a confirmed diagnosis in animals because of there are any number of antigens that could be causing the issues. There is a blood test that can be done that could show a possible smoking gun, so we went ahead and did do that test.

Second, he may have Uncoordinated Cilia Function (although he called it some long technical name). When looking at the symptoms, this sounds pretty likely and even though this is something that normally shows itself in purebred dogs, one of the breeds that is listed is Staffordshire Bull Terriers, which I think Leo probably has a lot of in him. The symptoms are:

  • Moist, productive cough that may be elicited by exercise (check)
  • Bilateral nasal discharge with mucous and pus (check, I mean he is nicknamed Boogers McSnotty)
  • Rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and pale tissues may be observed (he often has rapid breathing and shortness of breath, which always is disconcerting)
  • Chronic sneezing and coughing - may produce copious amounts of mucous and pus. Despite dramatic response to antibiotics, patients may have continuous nasal discharge and will relapse after treatment is stopped. (check, check, check...we have gone through SOOO many antibiotics)
So, our next steps are that the vet is ordering material from the University of Pennsylvania where a specific test is performed to identify whether we are dealing with the cilia issue. Once the test kit arrives, we will schedule surgery for my baby. The vet is going to have to put him under anesthesia, do a lung and nasal biopsy along with a lung wash to identify if there are specific ickies in his lungs that we can point particular antibiotics at.

Okay, that is where we currently stand. If my baby had been left to his own devices out in the wild, he probably would not have survived. I love my little Boogers and am at the point where I just want to figure out what the issue is so that we can at least have a path of, if not curing it, at least provide him continued relief.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Has it really been two weeks since I last blogged?!? Wow, time sorta slipped away from me and sadly, I'm not expecting it to get much better in the coming months, so just bare with me.

Work has been crazy busy with my project finally taking off in full force. My deadline hasn't changed any, just the start date got pushed and pushed and pushed, so now we are having to make up a lot of lost time. I'm spending a ton of time staring at the computer building workflows in the system, so when I get a break about the last thing I want to do is write...that's the excuse I'm sticking with.

However, I guess I should give a little insight into what has been going on.

Leo - He managed to pick up a new cough while at daycare a couple of weeks ago and while he was on antibiotics, which concerns the vet that he has become resistant to the antibiotics. With this in mind, we are going in to see a diagnostic veterinarian on Monday to have some more extensive tests performed and hopefully get a plan of long-term treatment in place for him. However, because of this new development, I will not be purchasing a new car as of yet since my down-payment dollars are now going to tracheal washes and lung scopes.

Quilting - I managed to finish up a baby quilt for a friend of mine at work, which I will take into him next week. I have plans for my next small art quilt, which according to my challenge is due at the end of this month....and all I have are plans for it. Luckily, it is a small quilt and I think I should be able to whip that out over the next couple of weekends.

Other - I have signed up to facilitate a bi-weekly study group at my church, which I'm looking forward to. I went through the same group last year and found it to be very interesting and insightful, which is why I am participating again this year. There is a lot of reading involved, but I figure since I've done it before, it will be more of a refresher for me. Luckily, I'm not actually teaching the class, but basically just guiding the participants through the discussions.

So, like I said, some areas in my world are going a little crazy, others are quiet, but sitting and writing isn't really top on my list...even if I did give myself a challenge to follow. I'll try and keep things updated, when I would be really great if I could figure out how to just think my blog posts and then they would magically appear and not actually require me to sit and put fingers to keyboard....

Friday, August 23, 2013

If Challenge (8/23)

Question: If you had to be the reporter to have broken one news event during your lifetime, what would you like it to have been?

Answer: That's easy...First Man on the Moon.

While I was barely alive for this, so obviously do not remember actually watching the moon landing. However, when I was a kid I briefly wanted to be an astronaut so when I first saw the challenge topic I immediately thought of the moon landing and then when searching for a picture to use I did a search and came across Walter Cronkite's reporting of the moon landing and where he removes his glasses because he is tearing up...I started crying as well. Wow! Good job America!!

If Challenge (8/22)

Question: If you could master one type of cuisine, which one would you choose?

Answer: There are sooooo many wonderful cuisines out there and I'm probably taking a bit of a cop out by selecting this cuisine, but I have to say it is one of my favorite and there are so many different styles and regions and tastes and so much so much....and the best is having all fresh ingredients and they aren't necessarily expensive ingredients. My mouth is watering just thinking about the different flavors. There are salads and main dishes and desserts and so many different options. What am I talking about? Italian, of course!!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

If Challenge (8/20)

Question: If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

Answer: My immediate thought was that I wanted to be a high-flying trapeze artist like my friend Abigail Munn co-creator of Circus Bella, which is a small, classic circus troupe that performs in the San Francisco Bay area, among other worldwide locations.
But sadly, I would more than likely end up just being a clown.
Or even just be a carny...

Friday, August 16, 2013

If Challenge (8/16)

Question: If you could enact one law in your country that does not currently exist, what would it be?

Answer: My first thought was to come up with a law that if you drive slow in the fast lane that an alien ship would descend from the skies and blast you out of my driving path, but I think that would be something really hard to enact, and how would we pay for the alien ship and what if I'm the person driving in the fast lane, while going fast but not fast enough for somebody else, would I then get blasted?

I then decided that I would enact a law that could possibly actually have some impact on our country. I would put term limits on Senators, Representatives, and Governors. Part of the reason that the country doesn't change is because we keep electing the same people into office because we are familiar with their name when we go into the voting booth and maybe they haven't done anything uber-controversial so their opponents don't really have much to bring up when time comes to re-elect them. If we don't allow the President to reside in office for longer than 2 terms, I think the same rule should hold for ALL elected offices.

Of course, if I'm going to tackle politics, then I'm going to include a whole bunch of riders in my law that addresses the lobbyists and the donations by corporations and wealthy individuals. I'd like to make this country of the people and by the people and I mean ALL the people not just the ones with deep pockets.

Enough soapbox?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

If Challenge (8/15)

Question: If you were invited to join one current musical group, which group would you want to be a member of, and what instrument would you play?

Answer: Simple...Blue Oyster Cult...
And the instrument I would play....Cowbell!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Thanks for being the best dad! You challenge me and celebrate with me and go on adventures with me and can sit and be quiet and read with me. You instruct and guide and help me up when I make mistakes and fall down. I carry you with me where ever I go.

I love you and look forward to many more adventures and quiet moments together.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If Challenge (8/13)

Question: If you had to spend one year alone in the wilderness, where would you go?

Answer: This is very apropos as I am currently reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
In this book she takes off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Mexico to Washington across the tops of the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges. She carries everything she needs on her back and just hikes and camps and then comes to little outposts where she has mailed a fresh supply of food. She is doing this hike to 'find' herself. I find it to be really fascinating and sometimes wonder if it is something that I could do. I've also wondered what it would be like to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail. Both trails are well over 2,000 miles (2,663 and 2,200 respectively), and since I am very much not a hiker or camper, I doubt if I would ever do it. Besides, with my luck, I'd get confused and lost (I mean I do that whenever I step outside of a hotel room and turn the wrong direction) that I would end up like the guy (Christopher McCandless) from the book Into the Wild.

But whether I could do it or not isn't really the question. Therefore, I really think taking a year off and hiking along both of these trails would be fun. I mean, each would take probably 6 months for me to complete and the question doesn't say if it has to be a consecutive 12 months, does it? It would have to be somewhere that I could have touch points with civilization as I do not think I could completely live off the land and kill for my survival, but rather, if I could carry food on my back and know that I would be able to refuel periodically (and hopefully stay in a cabin or motel and maybe get a shower once in a while) then I might be up for it.
Is this now on my bucket list? Maybe....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Nature Box - YUM!

I recently signed up to receive a monthly shipment from Nature Box of tasty, healthy, natural foods.
So far I have received the following selections:
  • Peanut Butter Nom Noms
  • BBQ Kettle Kernels
  • South Pacific Plantains (Plantain chips with sea salt)
  • Tuscan Summer Mix (Italian-spiced seed, nut and dried fruit mix)
  • Mango Almond Bites (Mango and crispy rice squares)
  • Guacamole Bites
  • Tart & Tangy Fruit Bites
  • Cherry Crumble Granola
  • Cherry Ganache Granola
  • Salsa Spiced Nut Mix
While I have enjoyed all of them, some have been better than others. I could do without the Guacamole Bites, although they would be good actually dipped in guacamole.

The interesting thing, though, is that if I eat junk food (chips, candy, etc.) I will sit and inhale the entire bag of whatever the item is. However, with these "healthy" snacks, I find that I can eat one or two bites and am satiated and don't feel the need to inhale them all at once. I say this is a good thing.

If Challenge (8/12)

Question: If you had to lose one of your five senses, which would you give up?

Answer: Once again, this is a toughy. I've actually talked about this before with my family on some car ride long ago. My first thought was to give up hearing, but now I am rethinking that. I love to listen to music and books on tape and streaming podcasts and all sorts of things, so I think it would be really hard to give up hearing. Of course I also love the sound of silence, but I think constant silence with just the voices in my head would drive me insane. Plus, I'm not certain I would be able to learn sign language at this age.

I KNOW I couldn't give up vision because I read too much and there is the quilting and use of color that requires sight.

That leaves the sense of smell, taste, and touch. Well touch is out because there are so many things that I do that rely on my sense of touch, like feeling for pins when quilting or petting Leo.

We are now down to two...smell and taste, which are intimately entwined. The sense of smell plays a huge part in being able to add to the flavor of so many things. But, if I had to give up one of my senses, I really think it would be either taste or smell. I mean, if I don't really enjoy the flavor of food any longer, would there be the desire to eat as much?

(By the way, I did a search for a picture of a tongue to include in the post to accentuate my choice, but they were really gross and sadly, there are now some tongue images that are burned into my retina that I just not not see now...sigh...maybe giving up my vision wouldn't be so bad after that....)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

If Challenge (8/8)

Question: If you were instantly able to play one musical instrument perfectly that you never have played before what would it be?

Answer: Part of me would love to be able to play the piano without any issues, but I've had piano lessons in the past so that is ruled out. I have also played both the flute and the bassoon and a mean air guitar and drums, so all of those are ruled out.

I then started thinking about some of the music that I love and what instruments are prominent (and a little quirky) in that music. I opted to research Bluegrass music because it is an interesting, unique, and beautiful musical genre. I would probably want to be able to play the fiddle first, because I could cross over into classical music and call it a violin, if need be:
Then, once I knew how to play the fiddle, I could move onto the mandolin:
The banjo:

And then to REALLY step out of the box, the hurdy-gurdy:
Of course, I might decide that I need to channel my inner Lara and learn to play the balalaika:
And if I still have time and strength, I think it would be amazing to play the bagpipes (although that would probably drive the poor dog insane):

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

If Challenge (8/7)

Question: If you could be sculpted by any artist in history, who would you choose?

Answer: My original thought was that I would want to be sculpted by Michelangelo or Botticelli or Rodin or one of the other classic sculptors of the past as I knew they would make me beautiful and tragic and cold in marble, like this beautiful sculpture by Rafael:

But, then I reconsidered and started thinking about some of the more modern artists. Maybe an action sculpture by Remington done in bronze...oh wait, I'm not really much of the western-theme type. There are really SOOO many different sculptors out there that it is hard to decide on a single one. Instead, I think I would rather put my sculpture into the hands of a realistic artist who would find the truth in me, however, unbecoming it might be. I think being done by the likes of Duane Hanson.

Funny story....the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth had a Duane Hanson exhibit in 1994 that I went to with my parents. Throughout the exhibit are all of these life size, realistic sculptures. At the end of the exhibit, mom and I were in the gift shop (because we cannot go to a museum without stopping in the shop) and dad went to wait by the window. As mom and I finished up, we were looking for dad and completely missed him because he seemed to just blend in with the other sculptures that were around. Okay, maybe it isn't funny to the rest of you, but mom and I get a good laugh out of it.

There is another amazing sculpture that I think would be great to sit for as well, Ron Mueck:

And then there is Madam Tussauds...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

If Challenge (8/6)

Question: If you could inherit a comfortable home in any city in the world that you could use but not sell, where would you want it to be?

Answer: This is a tough one. I first thought that I would go for San Francisco because I really do love that city. But then I thought, of all the cities in the world...there is so much variety and choice and options. Maybe I'd like to have a house in Paris or London and then I'd be right there at the jumping off points to see visit all of Europe. Maybe Rome or Florence with easy access to amazing Italian food and great architecture and culture. But, if I went to one of the wonderful European cities, I would only have the house provided for me...I would still have to figure out job and make friends (and we all know how bad I am at that) and I would see incrementally less of my family and friends (although they would have a reason to visit and place to stay). But, I don't know if I could really live as an ex-pat. Therefore, I think I should stay in the US. Maybe, a house in Hawaii...then I'd have access to beaches and a completely laid back lifestyle...but I'd miss out on some things that just wouldn't be available on an island, plus, I don't know if I could really deal with having sunny weather all the time. Therefore, I think I would have to circle back to my first option, which would be San Francisco. If I could have afforded to have a house there, I'm not certain if I would have moved away in the first place.

Monday, August 5, 2013

If Challenge (8/5)

Many, many moons ago, I purchased a book called The Big Book of If...

In this book, there are pages and pages of "If" questions that are to be used to spark conversation.  Since I have been incredibly inconsistent with my blogging, I decided that I needed to go to my big book and just start pulling questions out of there to respond to. Therefore, I'm going to attempt, whenever I have nothing else to blog about, to respond to a question from this book.

Question: If you could permanently alter one thing about your physical appearance, what would you change?

Answer: Okay, maybe this is a soft pitch for my first one, but this is a really easy one....I would make my body smaller, permanently. I struggle constantly with losing weight and it just keeps on creeping up. If I could permanently get rid of the jiggle and jelly from around the waist, and the double chin, and the bat-wing arms, and the lumpy legs, and Oh My Goodness...the cancles....I would be really happy. And I know that I could do at least some of it if I just really, REALLY made myself work at it...but I am weak, but I keep picking myself up and trying again.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Art Quilt Challenge - Opposites Attract

I was a little challenged with this theme as I wasn't really certain what I wanted to do. As I look through the pictures that I downloaded to use as inspiration, I see a lot of Yin/Yang in various colors. I have black and white hands holding. I have images of good and evil struggling. My first plan was to do a fire and ice Yin/Yang.

However, one evening I was standing outside with the dog as he did his final checking of the house and yard for bedtime. While he is performing his duties, I try to find the moon and acknowledge its beauty in the sky. This evening, the moon was just a tiny sliver and I stood there and watched it. It suddenly dawned on me that the moon would not be visible if it were not for the sun as the light of the moon is just the reflection from the sun and the reason it was a sliver on this evening was because the Earth was casting her shadow. And that is when I decided that I wanted to show these two bodies.

Here is my Opposites Attract quilt:
I wanted something that would express both the warmth and glow of the sun as well as the dark of the night...but that is a lot to try and express in a small quilt. I used the remains of some strip sets that I put together for a previous quilt for the warm tones and added some blues. I then attempted to do a bargello for the background. The part that I am happiest with is my actual quilting. I'm not a very good machine quilter, yet. I have a tendency to get really nervous when I'm quilting and get stuck not knowing what I want to do or where to go next. Therefore, with this quilt, I drew my pattern out on paper and pinned it to the quilt and then just traced the pattern with the needle. It still isn't perfect, but I'm happy with it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary!!

Two years ago on Saturday, my friend Jennifer pinged me and asked if I was interested in a dog. I said maybe and she invited me over to see what had shown up in her yard. Mind you, I had no real intention of getting a dog at this time because I was about to take a couple of trips out of town and had no idea what to do with a dog. However, this is what I saw:

I was immediately in love and two days later (two years ago today), I brought this crazy little being home for the first time:

I worked a place for him to stay while I took my trips and then figured out how to make him a permanent part of my world....and permanent is definitely the case. He makes me happy every day when I come home from work. He meets me at the door and no matter how he if feeling he is jumping up and down trying to get my attention so that I'll give him hugs. He and I fight for the same seat on the couch and if I'm there first, he just curls up on top of me. Every morning we have a little Zen moment where we sit on the bed facing one another and put our foreheads together and just breathe. I cannot imagine my life without him now and it breaks my heart every time he is sick (he has pneumonia again, by the way). And I just have to think that I have given him as much as he has given to me.

I love you, sweetest of all sweet boys...Leo.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Interesting Read

I admit that I am probably way too old to be reading Young Adult literature, but I can't help it. The most recent book that I've read of this genre is Divergent by Veronica Roth.

This is the first in a trilogy of a dystopian world where teens are forced to make decisions about their life paths and how fractured their current society is. Here is what is written on Amazon's website:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue -- Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is -- she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are -- and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves....or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series -- dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.  
I'll try not to give anything away, but the plot is basically that Tris, the protagonist, chooses to leave her family to join a different faction and danger and intrigue ensue. From what I gather, Chicago experienced some sort of civil war and in an effort to save humanity or something, the people divided up into five different factions based on their personalities. They then have colors that they wear and an area of town where they live and rituals and traditions that they honor....and as I'm typing this it is sounding more and more like gangs, but whatever. So the five factions are, as mentioned above:

Candor - Who are always honest and unable to tell lies, but they are also really good at reading somebody else's tells when they are lying. Candor always wear black and white.
Abnegation - Who are selfless and always give of themselves for others. They never put themselves first. They do not have mirrors, do not ask questions for idle curiosity, do not show affection, are not loud or imposing. They wear only dull, grey clothes.
Dauntless - This is the faction of warriors. They are "brave" and adrenaline junkies and spend their time confronting their fears and beating one another up to see who is the best. They wear black clothes and bedazzle themselves with piercings and tattoos.
Amity - These are the peaceful ones. They work in the fields and provide the food for all the factions. They are calm and enjoy the outdoors. They are allowed to be self-indulgent and practice the arts, sing, laugh, and tend the fields. They wear reds and yellows...happy, sunny colors. They also don't want to ruffle feathers and will not takes sides.
Erudite - These are the intellectuals. They favor knowledge over all else. Their colors are blue and white.

Personally, I think I would probably choose to go with Amity...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Exercise Alternatives

I don't like to work least at the moment. I know that deep down there is an athlete somewhere in me, but I keep drowning out her cries for liberation with ice cream. I have, however, decided that I need to do something and want to make it fun for myself as well. Therefor, I have purchased an exercise hoop and attempt to keep it spinning.

I read awhile back about a new exercise craze called hoop-notics, which utilizes weighted hula hoops to help strengthen the core muscles. For me, I'm working a lot of  the "bend over and pick the hoop off the floor" muscles....but I swear that I'm going to keep at until I can actually keep the hoop moving for more than 3 seconds.

When discussing my new exercise plan with my sister, she told me what she was doing and I have adopted that as well. She read in magazine that you don't have to go to a gym or have a bunch of equipment to work you muscles. Instead, you associate the muscle work with something that you do regularly. What she has started doing is squats every time she goes to the bathroom and some triceps and biceps curls when she is brushing her teeth.

I started doing this yesterday as well (in fact I stopped at Target and picked up a 5 lb weight just to leave on the bathroom counter). It is all still early, but if I can make it a habit, then I think I will be able to keep it up. We'll see how it goes with me doing squats in the bathroom stall here at the office today, but I have high hopes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cooking for Leo

As many of you know, I have a dog who has chronic health issues. I've recently decided that I wanted to try and get him off of being on antibiotics constantly and am looking for a more holistic approach of caring for him...or at least feeding him. I started with some dog food that I found that is ground, raw chicken meat, bones, innards, etc. with no grains or other fillers. It is then made into kibble shape and frozen. I was giving Leo this, and he loved it...sadly, one bag would last about 6 days and cost, well more than I pay for my own food.

I then decided that I would move away from the frozen kibble and acquired kibble from the same makers, but it is freeze-dried and comes in a regular bag with no special care instructions (the frozen had to stay frozen until ready to serve). However, I still want to give my baby something more than just kibble, so I am cooking for him as well. My first foray into cooking for him was chicken thighs cooked with potatoes and green peas and chicken stock. He was very happy with this, but it may have been a little rich for him. This week I boiled some chicken breasts, that I then chopped up, and cooked some brown rice in the same water that I boiled the chicken. I mixed it all up and added some shredded carrots:

He gets 2/3 cup of this each meal and it is supplemented with some kibble. I also will throw in some cherry tomatoes, or blueberries, or a couple of apple slices....I am thinking I need to start heating a scoop of this up for myself as well, because, in general it is pretty healthy....unfortunately, I didn't cook it with any seasoning and it tastes like sadness.

It does make me happy to see how happy he is when I put his food down for him. He practically dances for dinner these days.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Travels with ABBA

This morning I was getting ready in my hotel room and decided that I must be having a repeat of Monday...

I cut my knee while shaving...not a big deal and if that had been the only thing, but no, it was not. I get dressed, do my makeup, and dry my hair. I'm looking pretty fly for a white guy. I reach for the hairspray just to hold the do in place. I squirt here, I squirt there, I fluff and mold. And, then I stop and look at the would be a bottle of Febreze:
I then grab the bottle of Dove Hairspray, that was sitting right next to the Febreze,

 and attempt to correct the problem, to no avail. My hair was now soggy and limp and a strange greasy sheen to it (although it did smell fresh).

I quickly took off my shirt, grabbed a towel and shampoo and did a quick washing and drying of the hair, again. In the process, a managed to get water in my eye, thereby completely ruining one side of my makeup, which also had to be redone. Needless to say, it was a long day before the day even started.

(And in case you are wondering, I have moved the bottle of Febreze out of the bathroom so that I will not have a repeat of this issue tomorrow.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Puppy Acupressure

As you know, I have a dog that I love very much. When you look at him, you will see that he has GREAT ears:

And, I admit, I love petting and rubbing his ears. I was doing this recently and recalled a scene from the movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs where the Janeane Garofalo character was explaining over the phone to the Ben Chaplin character how to calm down his recently acquired dog who was wearing roller skates. She said to slowly and consistently rub his ears from base to tip as these were acupressure points. I then did a search on dog acupressure and found many videos on how to do this, including this one, which speaks specifically to the ear region:

Sadly, though, it got me thinking about those dog breeds that typically will have their ears clipped because that is the "standard" of beauty (Dobermans, American Bull Terriers, Great Danes, etc.) and can only wonder about what they are losing out on if one of the calming pressure points have been removed. Makes me want to go rub my baby's ears just to make up for it.

What A Site!!

A couple of weeks ago as my sister and I were driving down to La Grange, I look out of the window and I see these fields of sunflowers.

Not My Photo

I had never really noticed these fields before. Typically, when driving through Texas, you would see corn or wheat or soybeans or cotton or some other grain that my Dad could name from a glance, but I would have no idea what it is. But, there were fields upon fields of sunflowers.

Then, last night as I was driving to meet Sara for our recurring pedicure and dinner catch up discussion, I look over and see more fields of sunflowers and cars pulled over with people getting out and taking their picture with them as the Texas sun was setting (and yes, Texas has a completely different sun than the rest of the with it). Seeing all of those sunflowers opened and blooming and faces up to the sky made me so very happy and I got to thinking about what joy simple flowers can bring to me...especially the unpretentious sunflower.

Not My Photo
I think if I ever get married, I wand to carry sunflowers in my bouquet.