Monday, December 31, 2012

Now, I'm not a prude, but...

Thanks to a new series of commercials that seem to be flooding all channels at all hours of the day, my boys think there is such a thing as a vibrating condom and love to freak me out by going around singing, "Trojan Man!!!" 

Now, fortunately, they are both of an appropriate age and have had the safe sex talks and all the embarrassing (for Mom and Dad) questions answered that go along with such talks, and aren't toddlers who will go around from grandparent to grandparent repeating what they've been hearing on t.v.  Still.  Enough is enough.  Really.  I'm sure everyone that needs a condom this New Year's Eve knows where to find one and I feel that these commercials could at least be aired later in the day, not repeatedly in the middle of it when kids of all ages are home on Christmas break.  Though, I guess since they hand them out at school, I am just an old prude for not wanting my family bombarded with scenes of an overanxious couple at the pharmacy counter seeking protection and pleasure aids.  But if I hear "Trojan Man!" one more time in the middle of a family movie, I may just write a letter.  Seriously, this time.  I know I always say that, but I've got a pen and I'm not afraid to use it.  Better yet, I may just blog on the subject. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's A No-go As A Deo.

Well this is embarrassing...admitting that I'm an idiot and I stink.  My brilliant adaptation of a natural homemade deodorant seems to be lacking the deodorizing qualities I was looking for in a...deodorant. 

I just came in from my ridge top hike and then did 20 minutes on our elliptical machine thingy.  I stink.  Fortunately, there is a lingering beeswax/lavender scent intermingled with the stink, but I stink.  It didn't work.  I guess leaving out a few key ingredients, like baking soda and arrowroot, was a dumb idea.  I'm going to melt down one of my jars of goo and stir in baking soda to see if that helps.  The other I am leaving as is which, as it turns out, made a fabulous body butter.  My rosacea face seems to be happy with it too.

Going to take a shower now and then I'll be applying the "commercial stuff".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Natural Homemade Deodorant, Foot Lotion, Lip Balm, Rosacea Treatment...

I found a recipe for homemade deodorant last night when I was dealing with a bit of insomnia and had nothing better to do.  I wish I could find a recipe for an insomnia cure, but anyway, this recipe sounded promising.  It was from Homesteading Self Sufficiency Survival's Facebook page.  I can get away with using Himalayan salt crystals and solei in the winter for deodorant, but as soon as the weather warms up I have to go for the toxic, commercial stuff. So I am always in search of a natural solution for antiperspirant/deodorant. 

The "commercial stuff" that I was buying for my family, which used to contain titanium but not aluminum, is now made with aluminum.  Since I have seen firsthand how Alzheimer's can affect the mind, when my sweet grandmother was afflicted with the disease, I do what I can to avoid anything that has been suspected to be implicated in causing the disease.  Aluminum has been named as a culprit, but has been played down in recent years as a cause.  I am not taking my chances that in 10 or 20 years it will be renamed as a cause, and use aluminum freely in the meantime.  I avoid cooking in aluminum pans as much as possible, and rarely use aluminum foil.  When I do, I try not to let it come in contact with food.  Rubbing aluminum containing deodorant on my arm pits every day is out of the question.

This afternoon I took what was left of a bottle of almond oil, a jar of coconut oil, and the last drops of three bottles of lavender oil and combined them with a few drops of tea tree oil and a good 30 drops of grapefruit seed extract and a bar of beeswax to make a balmy lotion, using the deodorant recipe I found last night and my own for lip balm as inspiration. 

It worked for the rest of the day as a deodorant.  I will hike with it tomorrow to see if it can stand the test of some real perspiring.  Pretty picture, I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Growing boys and young men aren't supposed to topically use lavender oil but if my homemade balm stands up to the back ridge hike for Mama, I may make a lavender-free version for them and see if we can get the "commercial stuff" out of the house for good.

Here is as close to the recipe as I can relate.  I eyeballed the whole thing and will try to duplicate it using this approximate recipe the next time, if it works out well. 

Homemade Beeswax and Natural Oil Deodorant

1/4 c. almond oil
10 drops lavender oil
1/2 c. unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil
Block of beeswax (1/4 c., maybe?)
30 drops grapefruit seed extract
3 drops tea tree oil

Combine almond oil, lavender oil, grapefruit seed extract, and tea tree oil.  Shake well.  Heat coconut oil and beeswax over very low heat, swirling until wax melts.  I took it off the heat, periodically, and let the warmth of the pan and coconut oil melt the wax slowly so I wouldn't overheat the coconut oil and kill any of the beneficial properties of it.  Add the oils and stir until combined.  Pour into jars or molds and allow to cool completely.
I had intended to include baking soda in my recipe, as the original deodorant recipe called for, but completely forgot.

I have been using grapefruit seed extract and water for the last few weeks on my face rather than soap, cleanser, or the sulphur ointment I had been using for the last year and a half for rosacea.  It works well, but I am still experimenting with other natural ingredients, refusing to submit to lifelong use of topical antibiotics to treat my skin condition.  I basically don't wash my face anymore, just use the diluted grapefruit seed extract.  It's a bad time of year to experiment, though, because my rosacea is so mild in the colder months.  It's the humid, hot, sunscreen season that is so bad.  But I guess maybe I will get a more accurate test with new products by trying them in the winter.  I researched beeswax ointments before putting my new balm on my face.  Sounds promising.  It could go either way, though, since each individual rosacea sufferer differs from the next.  My face may mellow out or go completely haywire.  We'll see, I guess.

I did try it out by rubbing it all over after my bath, however, and my skin, especially my hands and feet, are butter soft.  No post shaving stinging under my arms like solei produces, either.  Nice!

I think I would try it anyhere but on my hair.  I don't think a beeswax based product would make a good conditioner.  You never know, though.  I may end up trying that too!

Whoops!  Check out the results of my experiment.   It's a No-go As A Deo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Again, he makes me cry. And this time in PUBLIC!

Okay.  This just about did me in, and in a crowded coffee shop, no less.  It doesn't help that I've probably been more inexplicably weepy the last few days than I've been in my life, but Single Dad Laughing's follow up post to Anything Other Than Straight just emphasized what I was thinking about when I read his coming out post.  And Then I Heard It actually had me holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my tongue and wanting to fix everthing for someone I don't even know.  LOVE unconditionally.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Commando-like Courage!

I think of all the things that I'm afraid of, silly things in my little life that take courage, and the little "problems" that keep me awake at night, and then I read something like this and realize what true bravery is.  Single Dad Laughing's newest post, Anything Other Than Straight.  I've already seen his courage in the posts, I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay and 16 Ways I Blew My Marriage, but his latest took some serious gumption to write.  When reading it, I was reminded again that I have no problems, no reason to be up worrying at night, nothing to complain about, no reason to feel uncomfortable in my own skin when there are people struggling so hard just to be allowed to say who they are. 

I am fed up with the ridiculous notion that homosexuality is a choice.  I think that anyone who believes that has never had a conversation with someone who is gay.  As a straight an as arrow female who was always attracted to the opposite sex, I never understood homosexuality until I did open my mind and begin conversing on the subject, right from the source.  The act of homosexuality literally turns my stomach because I am not gay.  But that doesn't mean it isn't real!  Heterosexuality may seem just as revolting to a person of same-sex orientation.  I soon began to see it from another point of view when a homosexual co-worker told me that even though he had been in a relationship with his partner for 20 years, he still couldn't tell his parents because his father would have disowned him and his mother would have keeled right over from a massive heart attack, the shock would have been so great.  As a mother, this was one of the most heartbreaking things I had ever heard.  Of course I would want my children at any age to be able to come to me with anything.  Of course I would accept them for who they are no matter what.  How sad that some parents have conditions.

Then I imagined how it would feel if the majority of people were homosexual and if homosexuality was the "norm" and heterosexuals were expected to conform, to pray the straight away as homophobes expect homosexuals to "pray the gay away".  Could I force myself to be a homosexual to fit into society and keep my family happy if that were the norm?  No way.  How ridiculous is that?! Celibacy would be my life choice and I'm sure it would be a sad, miserable, fearful life to hide what I really felt.  I can't do that to anyone else, so even though I'm straight, I can't think less of someone who courageous enough to face criticism for living their true lives.  I don't think anyone should.  And I don't mean that I "love them anyway".  I'm sick to death of such statements, I mean that I really get it.  I can never relate, but I see it.  What I mean is that everyone should take another look and really see what your Bible says about it if that's the premise you are so adamant to stand on concerning homosexuality.

And anyone who wants to quote Leviticus to me (yes I've read 18:22 and studied the entire book) should read every verse to gain understanding, particularly chapters 18-20.  Along with famed "thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind" is the law that menstruating women should not be approached but separated from all of society because they are unclean, two different seeds should not be planted in the same field, any man with any blemishes such as "a flat nose", "blind", "broken handed", "a dwarf", "scabbed" were not to be allowed to make an offering to God, hair and beards were not to be trimmed, no marks or cuttings upon the body were to be made, no garment was to mingled of wool and linen, and if you planted a fruit tree you were not to even dare eat the fruit for three years. 

So...until people quit cutting their hair and shaving, stop square-foot gardening, wearing wool blend clothing and hanging earrings from holes in their ears, noses, lips, whatever, and women start "going to the river" every month because they are "unclean" I don't think they should say one word against homosexuality.  A beard trim is apparently as much an abomination to God as homosexuality.  It is what it is.  And for those who want to preach all day, the Bible states what it states.  You can't focus on one portion and ignore the rest.  Well I guess you can if you want to and there lies the problem.

So why these days in modern times do we trim beards and hair, square-foot garden, wear wool blends, put holes in our ears to dangle earrings from, when they were all marked as abominations in the Old Testament?  You could say that the old ways are no longer relevant.  You could say, if a Christian, as evangelicals preach every day, that when Christ sacrificed himself for mankind, the need to follow the old laws was eliminated.  So what of homosexuality?  I don't know.  I just refuse to believe that someone of a homosexual orientation is sinning by being who they were made to be by the same creator that made me, and I applaud the commando-like courage it takes for anyone to stand for what they believe and say "This is who I am!".

Single Dad Laughing had this married mom sniffling in her coffee this morning.  BRAVO!! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It's been a very fearful week for me, for one reason or another (and another), but I happened to have ordered this necklace around a week and a half ago from a friend who sells jewelry.

I spent my entire day in fear, but combatted it by devoting my time to designing a logo and website for my business, setting up Twitter and Facebook pages along with a separate email for the business, and setting up my Elance profile.  I was just about to click save on the Elance profile, with all kinds of thought attacks running through my head-- you aren't qualified, you don't have the education, you don't have the experience to put yourself out there, someone's going to hire you then you'll realize you can't do the job-- when my husband came in with a little box from the mailman. 

There it was, my little note to self, the necklace and charms I had ordered days and days ago.  I had chosen the charms "be" and "fearless" as a daily reminder, and the New Jade stone dangle because it is said to have "immense powers in mental healing".

How nice to be rewarded for all my hard work today, and at the exact moment I needed the encouragement.  I know what I can do, what I have done over the last year, and what I am doing now.  I just need to have the courage to cast my line in the direction of the circling fish and not be afraid that if I hook one, I won't be able to reel it in. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ghost Riders

Tonight I am thankful for Johnny Cash.  When I was growing up, my mother was often out socializing with friends.  We loved it when she was gone or having a party at our house, because it meant rides in my dad's little car, Herbie, to the corner store for ice cream sandwiches, a Three Musketeers bar, or root beer float making ingredients.  Sometimes it meant trips to play putt putt golf or to the go-kart track, but, most often, my dad would pull out his guitar to sing and play for us. 

I loved when he would sing Puff the Magic Dragon, and sang along with him about Little Jackie "Paper", thinking that was the boy's name.  I always felt like crying when Puff would "sadly slip into his cave".  On top of being my absolute favorite person in the world, my dad had a beautiful singing voice, and I loved those times.

Along with Puff, there was the story of Charlie stuck on the train.  He didn't have the required nickel, or maybe it was a dime, to get off the train, so his wife just handed him sandwiches when the train passed his stop.  My husband always asks when I tell him of  this song, why his wife didn't just hand him money to get off the train. I shush him, of course, before he can ruin one of my favorite childhood memories.  Some things just don't need fixing! 

There were other folk songs that my dad would sing, like Where Have All the Flowers Gone.  He loved Peter, Paul, & Mary and The Mamas and the Papas.  I'm sure he still does.  I wish I could remember all the songs he would sing.  He is a fabulous musician.  His father was a trumpet player, supported his family that way, in fact, and also played the piano very well, as well as the banjo, guitar, and mandolin.  As a result, Dad and his brothers and sisters became great singers and musicians.  Our family get togethers were usually centered around music.

And it's just occurred to me.  Could this be where my live music addiction began?  Why I stand mesmerized below the stage at concerts, fascinated by a guitarist's fingers rapidly plying the strings?  I still don't get it.  I've tried and tried, and though dad has always assured me by telling me that once my fingers develop calluses, guitar playing will be much easier, I never take the time to practise enough to develop them and learn to play, so have great respect for those who are disciplined enough to make incredible sounds come from a stringed instrument. 
Coyle Girreli of The Chevin.  10-24-12, The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
But, to return to the point of this ghostly post, I was lying here watching The Bridges of Madison County and trying to fall asleep while fighting an ear infection.  I had a crushed garlic water soaked cotton ball in my ear, which burned like the Dickens and was doing a very good job of keeping sleep at bay, and before I knew it, the movie had ended and a Johnny Cash special had come on.  Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favorite actors, so when he made Walk the Line, I learned all about the late singer and have developed a soft spot for Johnny and June and the love story surrounding them.  I am still more familiar with Joaquin's versions of Johnny's songs, however, so any time I have the opportunity hear Johnny sing his songs, I am in awe of how well that Joaquin boy really did imitating his voice and mannerisms.   

In tonight's television special, Johnny did Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, then...oh wow.  I forgot that was a Johnny Cash song, Ghost Riders In the Sky.  I immediately began hearing my dad's voice rather than Johnny's, because another of my favorites that Dad would sing to us was Ghost Riders In the Sky. He had a beautiful tenor voice for the yippee ay yays, but could also really hit those low notes, spot on.  Such a nice memory!

We're all camping together in a couple of weeks, those of us from my dad's side of the family, and we are planning on celebrating our Cherokee roots with a little family pow wow.  I'm sure Dad will be pulling out his harmonica and guitar.  If so, I can't imagine anything better than sitting next to the fire while he sings Ghost Riders.  So, while I am very thankful for my wonderful father, tonight I am counting Johnny Cash in my 30 Days of Thanks for bringing me such a comforting memory.  And now to get this dadgum cotton ball out of my ear so I can sleep.  "It burns, burns, burns..."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Skeletons in the closet.

We keep a skeleton in our closet.  Literally.  It was either last year when we studied medieval history or the previous year when we studied pirates that we bought a glow in the dark full-sized Halloween skeleton with light up green eyes.  Our lesson room, now changed to a breakfast room, contains a closet, probably added by a previous owner trying to use the small space as an extra bedroom.  It has a clothes rod in the top that I used to hang artwork from when the boys were small, and still use to hold charts and such.  The skeleton hangs from this rod.  It hasn't occurred to me how difficult  Mr. Skeleton is to work around.  I added several shelves and bins to the closet so that it holds all of our schoolwork and computer paper, charts, etc.  We found it hilarious to hang the skeleton in our closet when the rest of the room was decorated in a theme. Now he hangs there so obviously in the way but not an actual hindrance to our daily lives.  We just push him aside to do what we have to do every day, but wouldn't dream of taking him down, except for the few days around Halloween that he gets to proudly hang from our front stoop, behaving as a glow in the dark skeleton with green light up eyes was meant to behave.  He swings ominously in the wind, his lanky limbs flopping about, while crinkled leaves and even occasional snowflakes drift by.

Tonight I walked past Mr. Skeleton where he was hanging when we were done with our away from home Halloween festivities.  It was an odd Halloween.  We didn't realize until this morning that we hadn't carved Jack O' Lanterns and that we hadn't had any Halloween candy in the house but for a package of candy corn/pumpkins a few weeks ago, which really isn't like us at all, we love Halloween candy and can't usually resist the urge to throw a package or two into the grocery cart every other food run this time of year.  It was also strange, yet wonderful, to have my husband home all day and to not have to wait until clock-out time at some corporate job for him to pull in from work before we could head out for Halloween fun.  But there hung Mr. Skeleton, free for a short time from the confines of his closet, oddly comforting in the moonlight as one of our newest holiday traditions .

I thought to myself as I walked up the porch steps, that, fortunately, he is the only skeleton in our closet.  By the time I entered the sun room, however, at least five other skeletons our families keep hidden entered my mind.  As I walked through the kitchen, snippets of conversations and old family stories and incidents flooded my thoughts, all before I reached the bedroom to put away my coat, and I had to giggle.  Then, as was inevitable, I was saddened by some of my history.  I often feel embarrassed for "baring all" in my blogs, but tonight I realized that some skeletons are meant to be left in the closet, constantly being pushed aside or to the back of our minds so we can just get through each day and do what we have to do.  We may pull them out on occasion when the subject of their existence comes up, letting them air in the wind for a bit, but we wouldn't dream of permanently pulling them out of the closet.  Their glowing eyes may even haunt us in the night, through periods of insomnia, but those skeletons have helped to make us who we are and so are allowed to stay hidden away.  At other times, we may wish to stop and study them in moments of introspection, but like Mr. Skeleton, the longer we look, the more unpleasant they may appear. 

The nice thing is that when they start to freak us out we can just shut the closet door and pretend they don't exist.  And unlike Mr. Skeleton who is purposefully exposed like clockwork, it may be years before others see the light of day.  Some skeletons I don't mind leaving hanging around to get dusty,  brittle, old and decrepit, but others have hung out in the open for so long that they needed to be shut away and left to time, and I realize never should have been on display in the first place.  But Mr. Skeleton?  He will be allowed to flutter around, giving passersby the shivers, at least until the end of the week when he will be moved back into the closet until next fall.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

26 days of thanks?

I try to join in the 30 days of thanks thingy that everyone does this time of year because it's really good to stop and think about what you are grateful for.  But I've missed a few days.  Honestly, though, since Hubby's heart attack, I do this every day, anyway.  I have so much and I'm very grateful.  Even the little things make me smile. 

I used to say when things went wrong, after whining about them (ugh), that, "At least none of us are sick.  We don't have kids with leukemia", things along those lines.  Our babies made it through pregnancy, delivery, and infancy without a hitch and other than their asthma that freaks me out when it gets bad, they have been healthy and strong, and are oh so smart!  Whiz kids, I've got here, if I do say so myself.  I'm so grateful for every second with them and I've loved them since I saw those silly, purple lines on a pregnancy test stick.

Hubby also freaks me out when he's not well, but still, even though his troubles have been ongoing and serious at times, because they scared me I appreciate him more and have felt even more thankful for him at those times.  We always mention his toes, now.  When we do, we are referring to the first e.r. the ambulance took him to the day of the heart attack, when he was lying on the gurney and the e.r. doc. was trying to fill me in on his situation before I'd even had a chance to get to my husband.  I saw the outline of his feet beneath the blue thermal blanket they had tucked around him and all I wanted was to at least get to those toes.  I inched my way over until I could reach them while the doctor talked, and would glance at my husband every now and then, still wanting to get to his face so I could kiss it.  One of the saddest things I've ever seen was his look of apology when our eyes would meet.  Kills me to think about.  He didn't have to speak to tell me at that moment that he was just plain sorry that we were there and that he'd caused us worry.  He wasn't scared or sad for himself, just for us.  An added bonus to just being grateful every time I see his sweet smile is that I don't fear the same silly things I used to, and I'm grateful for that, too. 

It's been a good year.  Life is unbelievably good.  I always felt that if things went well, we'd have to pay somehow, but I think we've paid our dues.  It's definitely getting easier to just enjoy life without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I'm also, in this election time, more aware of my freedoms and how thankful I am for them, especially as a woman, knowing women before me worked hard to make it so that I can vote.  And how ridiculous is it that 100 yrs. ago women weren't even allowed to vote?!  If I only had a Tardis...

And now I am thinking how grateful I am that we have running water and electricity and heat and a freezer full of frozen food, because in a few days we might not.  This storm, Sandy, is missing us but smacking into a cold front that's coming our way which may bring snow, and as I always say, a hedgehog can't fart in the woods around here without knocking the power out, so we may be in for a crazy ride.  I have a pantry full of emergency water, however, and Hubby just cracked me up when he came home from a trip to town with two packages of store-bought sliced bread, of which I am very grateful, knowing I won't have to make bread this week, and two jars of jelly and a can of peanut butter.  So, worse comes to worst, we can eat pb&j sandwiches for a while and cook frozen food on the outdoor grill.  I'm thankful that we have almost a full tank of propane if we need it.  Oh, and one more thing I'm thankful for is camping supplies already packed for our upcoming Florida trip.  It's not often I have new flashlights and tons of back-up batteries ready and waiting in the sun room.  They will come in handy if the power does go out.

Now I wonder what I will be thankful for in a few days when the blogging bug hits again.  I hope it will be that we had enough snow to play in but not so much that we were sent back to the Dark Ages.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not the rant I'd intended...

I'd intended to food blog this week about poor customer service and instead I find myself feeling cynical about so many other things.  I'm just frustrated when I look around me right now, and am thinking that for the sake of everyone I come in contact with, other than my sweet little family members, I'd better just go hang out in the woods and farmyard and not read Facebook or blog posts or hang out in crowded places for a few days.  People are bugging me, plain and simple. 

The main problem is that we have been visiting festivals and crowded places a lot lately and I am simply overwhelmed by it all.  I realized I was done and needed a respite last night at a concert, usually one of my favorite ways to unwind while just wearing myself right out with the intensity that goes along with such an event.  I saw very quickly that the only person I could relate to in the building was the shy lead singer of the Lemonheads who couldn't make eye contact with anyone but his band members.  I love going to concerts by myself and just silently being for a few hours and enjoying that world outside of my usual world for a bit, but it just wasn't happening last night.  In fact, by the time the headlining band, the Psychedelic Furs, who I was there to hear and had thoroughly enjoyed seeing live last year, came on and sang two of my favorite songs from my teen years, I was ready to go home.  Too much.  I was floored by my own desire to leave and became convinced that I'm getting old, old, old.  The muffled ears and joint pain I'm experiencing today serve to emphasize this fact. 

This afternoon, however, I think I'm realizing what the underlying irritant is. It goes along with my tendency to be judgemental of the human species in general, like the Grinch who stays up on Mt. Crumpet, rarely coming down to interact with the others of his species. (Oh wait...I don't know if they are the same species, but, yup!  That's exactly how I'm feeling right now.)  It's awful and pretty hilarious, actually. I am always working on just being a nicer person but can't ever seem to get there.  I know now that these traits are textbook HSP introvert qualities (not that HSPs, introverted or extroverted, are unkind people), but I still need to work on being less judgemental.  I tend to notice and want to correct injustices when I see them, so end up getting critical.  You should see what a tizzy these election debates have had me in!  DON'T get me started.

BUT...the situations that have me rolling my eyes stand out because I have been seeing examples of how well some people handle adversity as opposed to others who create their own problems and then whine all day to everyone about them. 

"Every piece of this is man's bullshit. They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!' " ~ Ruby Thewes, Cold Mountain

I couldn't have said it better.

I have one dear friend who became a single mom after her husband had an affair then left her and the kids when their second child was born.  Over the years that we have been friends I have watched her work hard to single-handedly grow those children in a loving home, while attending college at the same time.  She has just learned that she is well into a third pregnancy and in just a few months will have another child to parent on her own.  Is she whining?  Is she complaining?  Has she expressed one bit of fear or negativity toward her new life direction?  No.  This is BIG and I'm sure she's had moments of panic, but I am so impressed with her attitude.  It's inspiring!

A sweet lady I know had cancer for a year.  A year.  I didn't hear a word about it until it was over, or very nearly so.  Did she complain to everyone she came in contact with?  Nope. No public displays of "woe is me", or "I don't understand why I'm being punished in this way".  No, those are the things I hear from people who are having trouble picking tile colors for their kitchen back splashes, and I am ashamed to admit that I am guilty of this type of petty whining myself.

Another friend has moved her family, with only a month's notice, if I recall, to an entirely different part of the country, from a house and property they owned to an apartment complex, and I am just seeing all the positive comments she makes about her new life and exploring their new area.  No whining, no complaining, she's just adjusting and making the most of the change.  For someone who experiences insecurity when even good changes occur, I am truly impressed with her attitude.

This week I read a heartbreaking story of a couple whose baby lived for only two weeks.  Are they cursing the heavens?  No. They are expressing gratitude for those two weeks.  Another family's married daughter who suffers from sickle cell disease went into a coma and is on a ventilator.  She has awaken, and her family shows gratitude for every toe wiggle, eye focus, and reaction to their voices and presence.  No complaining.

My boys are friends with two children whose mother, a single parent, died of cancer three years ago.  Are those kids in pain?  Certainly, they are, but they hold their heads high and carry on as normal teenagers.  That is daily inspiration for me.  Every single time I look at those kids and remember their mother and remember seeing her with them before she became ill, my eyes sting and I have to bite my tongue.  I feel sorry them, and I pity them.  As a mother I can't help but feel that way, but when I see how great they are I am so proud for her sake.  They didn't just adapt, they are good kids, hilarious, and the centers of their own circles of friends, not because of what has happened to them but because of who they choose to be and how they have decided to face what life has given them. 

And now would be the perfect time to list examples of the other sort, but that wouldn't be very nice, and I'm trying SO hard to just be nice.  But, seriously, some of the things people say and do make my head spin and my bp go up and my face flush and make me want to work hard to be a glass is half full person.  I don't want to be one of those others.

I can do it.  Some day I'll make it.  See?  Already, I'm thinking more positively from all the inspiration!  ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steampunk this and steampunk that. Steampunk dandy clothes and hat.

I've been trying to decide what to do with all the steampunk materials I've been collecting since we attended a steampunk con last winter. 

I hand-stitched this corset and just need boning and laces for it.  I'm thinking leather or black lace for the lacing, depending upon what I decide to make for the skirt.  For an inexpensive boning, I decided upon basket weaving reeds.  It will be worn over a white or black peasant blouse.  I'm thinking white blouse, brown skirt, leather laces, brown boots?  Opinions are welcome to anyone who reads this!  I have trouble making decisions.

I've been thinking that I have plenty of time to create outfits for all four of us, but for a person who can only sew straight lines but can't actually sew a straight line to save her life, if you catch my drift, I think I may have put this off for too long.  We only have a few months until the next con.  That's three outfits per person, four people.  I don't know about this...

For the last convention, I put no time into creating my outfits, but was amazed that I could pull two together for myself from what I already owned.  That was pretty cool because I was able to spend time helping my son get his elaborate aviator contraption and outfit put together.  I did have fun with some of his extra copper pipe, an old toy pistol the boys were more than willing to part with, and whatever decorative pieces I could find in my craft stashes to decorate a leather purse and cell phone case, and to make a pistol for my "steampunk homesteader" day 2 outfit.

Today, while checking my calendar, I realized that another convention is coming up at the end of November.  I thought, no problem.  We'll catch it on our way back north from our Thanksgiving trip to Florida.  The timing is perfect.  Then I remembered that we are camping for days and days for that Thanksgiving trip.  There is no way we can camp with top hats and velvet and leather and taffeta/damasky type clothing hanging in the back of our van.  When we camp I use the back of our van as a kitchen prep area.  So now I have to decide what to do.  It's also my older son's birthday that weekend and I have neglected to tell him about the convention.  When I do, I know that is exactly what he will want to do to celebrate and I'll be committed.  Ha!  "Committed."  Trying to get us ready for a week of camping and outfits for a steampunk con in three weeks may just get me committed!  Giggle.

The other day we went to the Biltmore Estate to celebrate my husband's birthday.  It was a special one, considering all of the health issues he's had over the last few years, and especially this last one.  I decided to don some of my "steampunk every day" clothes, feeling nostalgic and old-fashioned just thinking about Biltmore house.  I came around the corner in my "normal" clothes that looked just a wee bit Helena Bonham Carter, minus the top hat, peacock feathers, pig, etc., and there stands my son in full steampunk gear, top hat and all.  He looked fabulous!  We started cracking up when we saw each other and then began exclaiming over the baubles and doo-dads each of us had added to our outfits.

He bought this hat at the steampunk con.  It was made by one of the owners of Only Ducks.

The boy.

I made these earrings from pins.  It only took 3 finger stabs to urge me into yanking the straight pin backs off with a pair of pliers.  It's really hard to drive when your finger is bleeding all over the place, just FYI.  Duh!  Should've done that when I added the earring hooks!

One of my "steampunk every day" skirts.  I made this from one of Hubby's old polo shirts.  The collar became the rose.  The sleeves became the ruffle.  A piece of scrap lace finished it.  I cut the sleeves off and stitched up the openings, but I think that next time I will just turn them inside out and stitch up the arm hole so the skirt has pockets.  I like pockets.  I was a dingbat and only realized after I cut out the v-neck with the buttons and was stitching in a zipper that I could have left the buttons in as the closure and forgotten the zipper altogether.  Live and learn...

That boy of mine is so much fun!  I love that he can walk around dressed differently than everyone he sees and have the confidence to hold his head high proclaiming to the world, "I'm different and I know it and I love myself for it!" with his manner.  I am so proud of him!  Especially since others, at times, have attempted to convince him that nonconformity is to be frowned upon.  An attitude that would have sent me slinking into the corner reevaluating my outlook on life, my likes, dislikes, and general weirdness, had the opposite effect on him.  It's fabulous to see.  I am so grateful!

The only problem for me that day was, that even though my outfit was "steampunky" it wasn't over the top.  I can't do over the top, but I love my style of frills and crochet and lace.  It's me.  But when we walked together around Biltmore property, people stopped us, thinking we were part of a special group.  It was great for my son, he loves it, but I was happy to have a tall boy with a top hat to "hide" behind when he drew attention and comments  He looked great.  I took lots of photos of him and he just fits so well with that beautiful, old building.  And apparently, there is a group that meets in full steampunk attire to frequently tour the Biltmore.  Now that I can do.  A nonconformist in the midst of other nonconformists all dressed alike. lol  Yes, I can do that.  We look forward to steampunk Biltmore days with the group.  What fun!

And...because he is so comfortable in his own skin within his favorite clothing style, my boy won first prize at a costume contest at a fall festival this weekend when he chose to dress in the steampunk aviator costume he made himself, complete with jet pack and spinning propeller.  I NEVER could have stood on that stage.  He's an awesome kid!  The blade rotated at the steampunk convention with the help of a motor he installed.  He had it taken apart for improvements at the time of the contest, and had shortened the propeller on a smaller copper shaft, but the wind happened to blow right when the judges were deciding on a winner, and that propeller just spun away when he bent his head forward to let it go.  It was awesome!!  I knew he had it when the judges got excited and pointed to the spinning blades, so had my camera ready when the winners were being announced.

I rarely post my kids' pictures on my blogs but I'd guess that 100 people have already taken his photo in this outfit the two times he's worn it, so what can I do?  We had the hardest time at the convention just getting through the hotel lobby because so many people stopped him to take his picture and to ask to see the propeller rotate, and he even ended up on the convention's website.  The same thing happened at the festival. So here's my own photo of Aviator Boy.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go get stitchin'! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

These are a few of my NEW favorite things...

So here's a silly, silly little blog post related to my intention to be aware of the things that I enjoy and am grateful for. 

I have a few new obsessions that I find I need in my daily life.  These are things that were foreign to me a couple of years ago or yet undiscovered or splurged upon.  I have decided to gab about them here, (A) so that I don't get so busy that I forget about them or forget to use them or how much I adore them, (B) so that maybe anyone who stumbles across this blog will find them useful and enjoyable, as well. 

1.  Fels-Naptha ~ the first time I smelled it I was so taken back in time by the fragrance that I began asking family members if my grandma had used it, as far as they knew.  Nope.  Apparently she always used Tide, but the scent is still so pleasant and comforting to me that if the aroma in my laundry room is fading I go shake up my jug of homemade detergent so it can act as an air freshener.  And I'm not even going to go into how well this stuff cleans, deodorizes, and stain removes!

2.  Soft towels ~ I have never, ever splurged on expensive towels.  My grandmother and godmother gave me an enormous, high-quality set when I was a teenager to put away in my hope chest for the time when I would leave home.  Those towels must have lasted a decade.  But ever since they finally bit the dust I have bought the cheapest, rough, junk towels from discount stores, not realizing what a difference a slightly higher quality towel would make.  All of us in this family are sensitive to textures.  You'd think I would have figured this one out, but no.  It only took 20 yrs. before I stepped up my towel purchase and bought some really, fluffy extra big cotton ones.  YUM!  And #3 on this list, the new love of my life, makes drying off after a hot shower or bath extra luxuriant.

3.  Method Fabric Softener ~ So we went from years of the cheap, earth unfriendly detergent and el cheapo fabric sheets to just Borax and baking soda, or just Borax or just baking soda and no fabric softener, on to the popular Fels-Naptha or Ivory or castile soap/Borax/Arm & Hammer Washing Soda recipe for homemade laundry detergent you see everywhere with no fabric softener.  Then I discovered Method.  Oh my!  I can have soft, smelly clothes again without hurting the planet.  AND those soft, fluffy towels are like giant marshmallow puffs with the addition of fabric softener.  Heavenly.

4.  Lavender oil ~  I am always singing the praises of lavender oil so why would I stop now?  I use it all the time, everywhere.  Nothing calms and relaxes me like this scent.

5.  Gavin Rossdale ~ Okay, this is silly, but this voice does for me what lavender oil does and I'm truly addicted.

6.  Bon Ami ~ I have always loved Comet.  My FAVORITE cleaner ever!  Toxic.  No way around it.  Bon Ami is missing the chlorine bleach smell I love (I know that's weird, but it just smells so clean!) but works so great at scrubbing tile grout and baked on pan messes and bathtubs and sinks and even cooking stains and odors from my hands such as beet juice or shellfish and onions.  And it's made in my area of the country, so every time I buy a can I'm buying local.

7.  Pillowcases ~ I change my pillowcase almost every day because I have rosacea.  And fresh, fresh ones, preferably sprinkled with lavender oil (a handy tip from a friend), are just so comfy. 

8.  Boots ~ I have four pairs of boots and that's all I wear when the whether turns cold.  Two pairs of hiking boots, one brown, one black, two pairs of knee highs, one brown, one black.  I love them and I don't like cold toes.  And, oh yay, it's boot season again!  You can keep flip-flop season. 

9.  Crookshanks ~ Our new kitten.  So I used to be a cat person and then decided I was a dog person.  Then we adopted a kitten last summer.  He and I don't really like each other much.  He's an ornery, grumpy, old-beyond-his-years kind of kitty cat, named Puss 'N Boots.  I didn't realize how much I loved him until I accidentally left a window open and he was gone all night.  That was awful and he and I have been buddies ever since.  But still, we pretty much steer clear of each other but for a daily rub down.  A few weeks ago, however, we adopted a second kitten.  We had looked all summer for a 6-toed Hemingway cat after seeing Ernest's home in Key West and all of the adorable polydactyl descendants that live on the property and passed on many cats in our search "the one".  When we saw a car in a parking lot with a free kitten sign and saw one lone, tiny little mouse of a kitten sitting in the open hatch back, we had to stop.  We all decided within seconds that he was "the one" and took him right home.  I LOVE THIS CAT!  I can't believe how much I love this cat.  He's halfway grown now and only gets cuter.  He is the sweetest, most loving cat I've ever seen.  He just plops in my arms and goes to sleep, whether I'm standing, sitting, or trying to fold clothes.  He's just the best and I am so grateful for this silly, little kitty. 

Just look at that cute, little guy!  He's just like a little toasted marshmallow!
10.  Power naps ~  I have always been envious of people who can take naps.  I couldn't.  I barely sleep at night, my brain works so hard at things, so naps have been out of the question.  But lately...not only am I sleeping through the night most nights but I am exhausted around 3 in the afternoon and can lie down, crash, and wake up 8 to 10 minutes later and go on with my day.  I don't know what's gotten into me (Old age, maybe?), but I am loving being able to sleep.

11. Calgon ~  I have a friend who always jokes, "Calgon take me away" when she's stressed.  I remember that line from the old commercials and that blue powder that would turn your bathwater the color of the Caribbean, but I didn't know the stuff was still around.  For Mother's Day my boys gave me a big plastic container of floral scented Calgon.  I only use natural shampoos, conditioners, soaps, eco-friendly detergents and even toilet paper, but since May I have been soaking in whatever possibly toxic ingredients make up Calgon.  So it's become my guilty pleasure.  I'll kick it one of these days, but in the meantime I'm not content unless the arms I fold under my head at night smell like English Garden.

12.  Waking up next to Hubby ~ there is nothing like spending all day, every day with the love of my life.  He's been working from home for about two months now and it's been like a dream.  Some days we don't get much work done and spend the day out gallivanting and other days we work so hard sitting side by side that at the end of the day we realize we actually missed each other's company and hadn't shared a single conversation, but it's okay, because we are together. 

13.  Chai/yoga ~ as close to simultaneous as possible.  Sigh...

14.  Mead ~ It takes us two weeks to get through a bottle, but I have found that it pairs wonderfully with fall.

15.  Horace Kephart ~  He is one of my favorite historical figures and I love learning about his life and explorations.  He loved the Smoky Mountains, and by seeing them through his eyes my love for their misty peaks grows.

16. Himalayan Salt lamps and amber light ~  I've blogged a couple of times about how much I love the glow from these lamps and how warm a room full of them feels.  We are up to four lamps and three votives, now, thanks to a half price sale.  Woo hoo!  We have also added an amber shaded floor lamp and amber crackled glass candelabrum, which goes very well with a burgundy shaded table lamp that is also set up in the living room and gives off that subtle hue when lit.  All I can say is, ahhhh...  

17.  Bookshelves ~ Books in the closet, books in the attic, books in the basement, books on shelves, end tables, they're everywhere but never seem to have a home.  I am not a fan of particle board, but since Hubby started working from home we have bought three small, black, particle board bookcases, the ones you put together in 7 minutes, and they have been a godsend.  Finally, our books can be on display for easy access.  And it's amazing what a case of books can do to cozy up a room.  Should have done this a LONG time ago.

18.  Frasier ~ This show makes me laugh and laugh and laugh!  I turn it on while I'm cooking because the t.v. is a half wall away from the kitchen and, even though I can't always see what's going on, I laugh and laugh.  Last year I watched the entire series this way on Netflix and I don't even usually watch television, other than educational shows. 

19.  Lost ~  Now this was a surprise addiction.  I still don't know how it happened.  I missed the whole Lost hype on prime time when I was cooking in restaurants in the evenings and never even watched any television series much, probably since Seinfeld and Frasier ended, and even then I missed the last few seasons of them because I was busy with newborns and then toddlers and small children.  But my boys had seen Lost on Netflix and begged until we agreed to watch the first episode.  That was all it took.   We watched the entire season as a family within a few months, minus a few inappropriate episodes in the midst of season 4, and are now suffering major Hurley, Sawyer, Kate, and Jack withdrawal.  I get aggravated with myself for being so shallow that I let a stupid t.v. show affect me.  But it was FUN and I'm tempted to do it all over again.  But all the surprises would be ruined.

20.  Adobe Illustrator and 2D graphics tile sets ~ At the beginning of the year I learned to create and manipulate graphics using for my husband's mobile app development.  I loved it, but for an uneducated someone who likes to sketch with pencils and dabble in watercolors, it was difficult to learn and downright nerve wracking to learn in a hurry, as I needed to do.  The end result was passable, but with the program we were using, not the quality we were looking for.  He ended up using my work for rough drafts to show his customers and hiring someone to do the final versions which were amazing.  We knew we were missing something.  Now we have Adobe and it's like a dream to use, but I have also found tile sets that you can purchase, ready-made, to create scenes and high quality graphics.  Copy and paste!  I am still drawing away with that old cursor and prefer to do my own work, but for things like city scenes, vehicles, etc. the tile sets are going really help in the near future.  

21.  Chocolate ~ Oh wait.  That's not new.  The obsession continues.

22.  Ernest Hemingway ~ He makes me sad and he makes me happy.  I love how he was who he was and you could take it or leave it, all gruff and rough on the outside but inside, obsessively creative and passionate about life.  He loved life.  So ironic. 

23.  Think Geek ~  I've been a fan of this site for a long time so this is also a long-running obsession for a dork like me, but definitely worth mentioning.

24.  Old buildings ~ Another ongoing obsession that just seems to grow.


25.  Wine labels ~ Why are they so beautiful?  I've been taking pictures of them and then coming home and sketching them, feverishly.  My handwriting is hideous but I love caligraphy and sketching and painting lettering, go figure.

26.  Steampunk anything~  That is all.

Oh wait.  One more.  Long Hair.  I cut all of mine off in July and have been obsessed ever since with getting it back.  B Vitamins and Mill Creek Biotene H-24 shampoo, conditioner, and Silk Protein Styling Gel and good ol' Tate's Miracle Conditioner, which I use for everything.  It's working.  Phew!  What was I thinking??!  I could hardly get it into a pony tail.  Grr...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Waking with a smile.

So before I even opened my eyes this morning I felt excited and relieved about something and had to ask myself why.  Oh yeah!  Like a kid on Christmas morning, I remembered.  Hubby finally got the results of his echocardiogram yesterday and was told that his heart valve looks fine.  The technician who performed the test on his heart when he had been experiencing a period of chest tightness had seen and heard back flow into his left ventricle and claimed that everything was enlarged.  A cardiologist confirmed it in his notes, but we have been waiting weeks and weeks for him to send the test results and his notes to my husband's group of doctors.  It took forever!  Pins and needles, needles and pins.  Anytime something great happened we were able to get excited for a minute but the shadow of that cloud hanging over heads would only seem to grow, refusing to go away. 

I have always felt that when anything good happens we have to pay for it somehow.  And it never fails.  Always, it seems, we have to pay.  So I was afraid that though our lives were going so well and we were so happy, in a week or two or seven I would find out how we were going to have to suffer for it.  It's a sick mentality, I know, and I do spend a lot more time these days being thankful than I used to, but there it is.  And I know life is short and anything can happen at anytime and that bad things happen to good people with no explanation.  I know that.  But it's a lot different to just be aware of that fact than it is to look at one of your favorite people all day, every day, checking their breathing while they sleep, rolling over first thing in the morning to see if they are okay, watching them take an arsenal of medications twice daily that you've been told keep them out of danger, all while wondering what is going on inside that body of theirs.  You've been told something is wrong and you don't look at that person the same and nothing feels right no matter how "happy" you are.  Then you feel guilty for not "counting your blessings" 24/7 because there is that dang black cloud haunting you.

Well, the sun came out this morning with a soft fall breeze accompanying it and, wouldn't you know, I didn't see that cloud all day!

Blood tests for Hubby this week and a repeat ECHO in December and then we can put this year behind us.  It was a great year, despite the worry, but I really am looking forward to seeing the results of all the positive changes we've gone through (which includes my aunt kicking the heck out of cancer's butt, and health and peace in the lives of friends who have also been through a lot) and leaving the rest behind.  

Now if I can just have the president I'm rooting for end up in office...;)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Avoiding the rant to bask in the glow.

What a crazy month we've had!  I say crazy, but the biggest change has been the most calming mellowing, peaceful one we could have asked for.  A dream come true and the last on the list of life goals my husband and I established years ago, probably the first year that we were married.  I keep saying that no one is supposed to get everything they've ever wanted, but we officially have. I sit here on a daily basis absolutely in AWE and I almost can't stop smiling.

Here was the list:
A.  Live on an island.  We ended up living on Oahu for 4 yrs. through no choice of our own.  Funny how many times life has given us what we've asked for w/o us even trying.

B.  2 children within 2 yrs. apart in age.  They are actually 2 yrs. 4 mos.

C.  Live in Washington state.  We hit that one, too.  Another four years of our life together.

D.  Settle in the  Southern Appalachian mountains on a little farm.  Here we are!!!  Though we are avidly working to settle permanently on a larger one with NO NEIGHBORS.  You have to take the good with the bad and this beautiful, fabulous little farm happened to be across the street from a whole lot of bad!  And again, this was our choice, but even when we were willing to move to places like D.C. or Chicago when my husband ended his military enlistment, this was the only area he was able to find a job following 9-11 and the job freeze that followed.  Love it when our wants and not just our needs are considered in the big plan that has been set before us.

E.  Homeschool our children.  CHECK!

F. Work from home. YES.  DONE.  OFFICIAL!!!

My husband worked for a tax software company and was determined after his heart attack earlier this year that he would be out of that place before tax development season began for this next year.  It was close.  He was miserable.  He was coming home red-faced and stressed like last tax year, when he had the heart attack at his desk at work.  He kept telling me he was going to have another one if he stayed, he was certain.  I was sure, too, if only because he was so certain and was going to have a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Then the chest tightness started.  Not a cold, not bronchitis, no other symptoms.  His dr. kept an eye on him but after weeks, ordered an echocardiogram.  The technician saw obvious problems during the test that could lead, worst case scenario, to lifelong problems and heart surgery. 

We sat down together and decided that if there was more wrong with his heart we would hate to look back in a few months and see that he had wasted precious time at his current job; a job which kept his blood pressure elevated which was the whole cause of his heart attack in the first place.  We decided that no matter how scary taking the leap and working from home would be, it was nothing compared to the angst we felt on a daily basis knowing he needed a life change and had to leave his high-stress job.  On top of that, many of his teammates had left the company over the summer for the same reasons which left the job of several people on the heads of the three remaining. 

He did it.  He gave notice and finished his last two weeks. 

His chest tightness continued after he left the job and we are still waiting for more tests and a final diagnosis on his condition.  I do my best not to think about it, which includes avoiding blogging.  I have been so angry that he is not fully recovered and furious with one of his health care providers for sitting on this problem and failing to pass his test results on to his primary care provider so we can get answers.  It's terrifying to know that he may be in danger because someone is sitting around slacking on their job.  So avoiding the rant and basking in the wonderfulnesses (it's a word if I say it's a word) of our new life has been #1 on the list. 

We have also started school in the last month.  My boys are loving studying world history.  Our German is improving.  Math is going to go much better with their math genius daddy home, for me anyway.  I'm washing my hands of math teaching for as long as I can get away with it.

I have also started a new graphics business in the last few weeks and have finished the graphics for two mobile app games and am working on a third.  My husband is developing them.  I am almost to the point where I have the confidence to bid on my own graphics contracts.  I love it.  I get to sit and create, create, create.  Ahhhh...

But the most important thing is that just when we were wondering if we could make it with my husband working from home on the contracts he had already won, he received two long-term contracts of full-time work.  Kind of reminds me of the two times we said, "Yes.  We are ready to start trying to have children." only to find that we were already a few weeks pregnant. 

It all reminds me that you must set goals and work hard to accomplish them, but there is still that guiding light that gives you what you need when you need it and sometimes what you want most in life.  Sigh...I don't have anything to rant about, really.  Just lots of things to be thankful for. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gotta get that glow!

My husband and I love Himalayan salt lamps.  The first time we saw them, however, we both thought they were a little strange and wondered what mystical power they were purported to give by those who believe in such things.  The white ones reminded me of Planet Krypton, which I vividly remembered seeing in Christopher Reeves' Superman in the theater as a child.  I wondered what they were supposed to be used for, other than to sit in the corner of a darkened room looking mystical, earthy, and just plain decorative.

But when we saw an entire store of them in different shapes and forms, though the air in the store was as fresh and clean as that surrounding an effervescent cascade deep in the forest, supposedly as a result of having so many of the lamps lit, we decided that we would like to have oodles of them in our own home giving off that glorious peachy glow.  So beautiful!  Like watching a motionless fire.  A blaze that doesn't flicker.  And I wonder who, as I stare at them, first put a flame to a chunk of Himalayan salt and gazed upon that first glow.  I'm sure it was some very cold nomad, thousands and thousands of years ago, who lit a fire near a wall of coral-hued salt and said, "Oooooo..."

My husband and I imagine having a library with dark wood bookshelves and puffy chairs and rugs with salt lamps illuminating every corner. 

In the meantime, to appease our cave dwelling instincts, we have invested in a few of the lamps.  Three are votive holders that were a steal because we purchased them from a gemstone dealer who had them on display as part of his rock show. 

One is electrically lit and must weigh over ten pounds.  Look at those colors!

It is claimed that salt lamps charge the air with postive energy and purify it.  I don't know anything about such things.  I keep air purifiers on all the time in our house, anyway, because my boys had asthma when they were younger, so I wouldn't know the difference.  But those stores, the ones with two thousand salt rocks heated and glowing, are invigorating.  I don't know if it's the salt lamps that  do it or Febreeze.  Probably industrial strength air purifiers working away out of sight.  I don't know and I don't care.  It's all about the glow, for me.

I do know that on humid days our large lamp, that is lit with a bulb, literally drips with moisture and has to be blotted dry.  

The color that these chunks of minerals give off when lit is warm and easy on the eyes.  I am very sensitive to "atmosphere" and this is the feel (look) I want from a room full of salt lamps.  Just look at this room!  Not ours, but we hope to add more to illuminate the cozy spaces or our home.  My poor grandkids.  I can hear them now, telling their friends about how crazy their hippie grandma is...who really isn't.  Okay, maybe a little, but I still think incense stinks and it makes my nose itch.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Head first.

Yes, that is German for Dummies.  I am German, but I'm also a dummy.  Maybe this will help.  ;)

I love teaching my children and giving myself to them in that way.  I would have missed so much if they had gone to school all of these years and don't know how we could have had the relationship we have now if I'd packed them off every morning.  Not that students who learn outside of the home do not have a bond with their parents, but there has just been so much more time in the day for silliness and memory making because I teach them at home.  I also love watching as they understand or learn something new, rather than just seeing report cards and graded papers coming in the door. 

Though sometimes, when I'm trying to wash floors or get a bit of quiet time, I think how wonderful it would be to have everyone but myself out of the house for 30 minutes on a week day and wonder what stay at home moms who put their kids on a bus every morning do with their day.  I can't imagine what it would be like to not have to worry about someone walking on wet floors or being allowed to finish an entire cup of coffee while it's still hot during daylight hours.  But I know when they are grown and there is no one around to ask five times if the floors are dry, because, of course, no one needs to go in a room util the floors are wet, I will be mopping them with my tears.  So putter away, my little fellas, and Mommy can get a new cup of coffee when the first one gets cold. 

Teaching reading was tricky for the first little guy, but because my second little guy sat listening while putting puzzles together or playing with Play-doh all those preschool years of his that I was teaching his brother, he learned on his own.  That was it.  Done.  He just knew how to read and it was like a gift from him to me, rather than something that I could give to him.  He loved books that showed many pictures with the word printed over each, so once he learned letter sounds he just took off.  So I would say, that after teaching them for all these years, that once you get over teaching them to read, the rest is a breeze, but I only did half that job so can't even take the credit or feign any hardship on my part in that area. 

Algebra.  Now that's another story.  They get it, fortunately, but I still want to cry.  So that has been the hardest thing for me to teach.  I'm so glad they inherited their father's skills in that area and that he can teach them where my abilities fall short. 

Both seemed to learn at the same ages and grade level, right around the end of fifth grade, that if they focused on one task at a time, their work would be done and they would be free, free, FREE.  It's just like making your bed or taking your dirty laundry basket to the laundry room to sort.  "We may not like to do it, but once it's done we don't have to worry about it anymore."  I wonder how many times they have heard that come out of my mouth.  I'm sure they could tell you, too many times! Trying to make lessons as fun as possible really helps, and that has been my favorite job over the years.

But here we are into August and, though we have no idea where the summer went, all three of us are getting excited about the new school year.  It will be bigger than ever because my oldest is starting high school, but it may be my last year home schooling them both.  The older boy is toying with the idea of attending one of his three options in schools that exist in our area.  So, in that respect, this could be our most important year for silliness and memory making, which means I have my work cut out for me in structuring everything to keep us organized.  I'm ready.

We purchase the last of our supplies over the weekend, even enough earth-friendly products to make a humongous batch of laundry detergent to last well into the year, and now I just have the 2+ weeks of lesson planning, chore and schedule chart making that it typically takes me, and a master bath to renovate.  That last item is a long story worthy of its own post.  I'm just too tired from planning for it to even type about it right now. 

So today I am diving in head first while my boys sleep in and then goof off, maximizing their remaining summer days.  And I think we'd better finally make it to the pool before they drain it for the year so we can literally dive in.  Yup.  Good idea.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I never should have called it a "diary"...

There was a cooking blog and then there was supposed to be a blog about everything else, such as writing and gardening, homeschooling and parenting.  I think I went wrong when I called it "Diary of..." because I ended up using it as a form of cheap therapy and, at times, an actual diary that I let anyone and everyone see for some crazy reason.  Look, I'm still doing it!  ;)

It may have worked, I'll never know for sure, but I do know that resentment and cynicism seem like old friends that I've learned I'm better off without.  Kind of like some real life friends.  You know, the ones who leave you feeling icky, like you need a shower.

I'm sure my attitude change mainly stems from some of the things that have happened in my life since I started blogging.  Perspective is acquired.  When big things happen you sure laugh at the little things that used to scare you.  And you learn to ditch the things you don't need and only hold you back, and you hang on to the things that really matter. 

We recently made the decision to move away and sell our little farm.  I panicked at first, still do sometimes, but then, when I was having a real moment of weakness and was wishing for some way to protect my heart when the time came for the move, I literally looked up (I was in a dept. store) and saw a trio of plaques that read, "Imagine Peace, Cherish Yesterday, Dream Today."  That was it for me.  All it took to let go and go with the flow.  I purchased said wall hanging collection, and promised myself that the signs would stay in their packaging and would only be removed and hung in the house I was sure would be the one we were destined to have. 

We spent every waking moment over the last month trying to make this move.  And, I might add, we've done everything "right" so that all of the pieces should have fallen into place.  Instead, we have had something happen every single day for six days in a row to chisel away at our list of reasons for leaving.  Big things.  Amazing things we never could have seen coming.  Miraculous things that just fly at us out of the blue!  Now I don't know what to think, where the heck I'll end up hanging my little signs from heaven.

I am a firm believer that you make your dreams come true, but also that you can try as hard as you can to make something happen, but if it's not supposed to happen, it won't.  I think people are supposed to get up and actively use their inherent and acquired skills to improve their lives.  Sitting and wishing never got anyone anywhere, but timing is everything.

I used to say that life was a funnel.  When you were on the right path you would be forced down the sides of the funnel into the neck and you just had to trust the funnelling.  But lately I've decided that it feels more like a Rube Goldberg contraption being built by some nerdy kid in his basement.  No disrespect intended to the higher power who greases the funnel for us on occasion, but I think there are lots of funnels and gadgets on the paths that each of us are destined to follow and timing is EVERYTHING or the whole thingy comes to a stop, usually when we do something stupid and don't listen to our intuition.

So I ramble.  As if typing this all down in my "diary" will help me see what turns, drops, twists, and loop de loops are up ahead.

But, oh yeah.  This is supposed to be my writing, gardening, homeschooling, parenting journal. So... A.  I've been writing like crazy this week on my favorite unfinished novel that no one will probably ever see.  B.  The cucumbers are getting wiped out by Mexican Bean Beetles again, but the zukes and yeller squashes are doing well with Neem Oil; Mexican Bean Beetles still don't touch the beans, go figure.  C.  Science and math curriculum is planned and purchased for the year, but I'm still working on procuring language arts, history, German, spelling and vocabulary, and writing curriculum.  And, holy crap, I've got a high schooler this year!  D.  My kids are awesome!

Small Town Hoe'r, signing off...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I've been impressed by so many people and things recently that it seems as if every single day I find a small dose of inspiration from one place or another.  I'm using this song as my inspiration today.  I am on the other side of so much, personally.  Feels great!  Now I just need to put my head down and keep bulldozing forward for myself and with my little family.  I still need just a wee bit more gumption, but it's in there somewhere.  I'm gonna find it and grab it! 

Bush ~ The Mirror of the Signs

Thursday, June 14, 2012

20/40 and A Roaring Fire in Our Bellies

My birthday and our wedding anniversary fall on the same day.  This year was a biggy all around.  I turned 40 on our 20th anniversary.  We celebrated like crazy with the most amazing, relaxing, invigorating vacation ever.  I always say that four hours in the Florida Keys is better than four years in Hawaii, and though we loved the years we lived on Oahu it was nothing like island hopping along the chain of keys at the bottom end of my home state. 
Our little fishing spot at the west end of Seven Mile Bridge.  There were colorful patches of live coral right at the shore. 
The whole trip went off without a hitch.  My biggest fear was overtiring my husband as he was only eight weeks into his recovery from the heart attack and had been suffering from strange bouts of lethargy and low blood pressure the week before we were to leave, but he did beautifully well on the trip, stomped all over Old Town Key West in the blazing heat with the boys and me.  He still took it easy, opted to stay on the sailboat with our younger son while I went in the water snorkeling with our older boy.  He preferred lounging in a deck chair over swimming off the hotel's beach and drank plenty of fluids long before he needed them.  I can honestly say that I have never seen him more happy or relaxed and I know it was the same for the boys and myself. 
It was the first time while packing, that I didn't have qualms about heading out of the hills.  I usually get nervous, cranky, and short-tempered when we are getting ready to leave, not just because of all I need to get done and the worry of forgetting something important, but out of fear that something major will go wrong, such as a car accident or mid-night hold-up at a deserted convenience store we happen to stop by for gas.  I worry and worry and worry, usually, so much so that when the time has come to get in the van I know I'd rather stay home.  Then, when the mountains turn into foothills and the foothills level out, I get the tiniest feelings of panic. 
I have a friend who tried to explain to me once that our mountains are full of rubies and that rubies are the crystals that make us feel grounded and that is why I feel lost as soon as we drive down out of the Appalachians.  I love the idea, but I know that it's more than that.  I'm just insecure and would love to stay hermitized here in our little town.  I never realize this, however, until I am down out of the mountains and switched over to the "other me."  I really am an introverted home body if I allow myself to be, but forget that I can also thrive in a different setting, thanks to my upbringing in the city.  And if there is an adventure on the horizon?  Just try to stop me.
This time, however, I couldn't wait to shake the convalescent feeling our home had adopted since the heart attack and all the fear and tension that had filled it.  I was antsy and hyper and urging, with butterflies in my stomach and an excitement I haven't felt in years, for everyone to hurry up and get out the door.  It was so great and I even kept saying, "Isn't this cray?!  I'm not cranky or anything!"  Fun.  And it did not stop.  I drove us almost to the Florida border before I realized how tired I was after a night of little sleep, a day of last minute trip preparation, and a state to state drive till dawn.  Hubby took over for me the last little stretch when we hit dense fog and I realized my reaction time was diminishing after miles and miles of interstate reconstruction. 
Two fabulous nights with Dad and his sweet wife and then we headed south.  It's such an abrupt change, reaching The Keys after travelling through northern, central, and south Florida.  Crossing that bridge and landing on the other side on Key Largo is more like taking a plane flight to me.  Island hopping to our first night's hotel stop was bliss, even with frequent stops in search of quality, affordable swim fins.  Our boys had outgrown theirs.

Sombrero Beach, Marathon, FL

Now I'm not a beach person, and neither is my husband.  Even though I'm a Florida girl and grew up 30 minutes from Cocoa Beach and spent plenty of time on the coast, my idea of fun has never been to sit in the sand and bake.  That's not only because I am vanilla hued with chocolate sprinkles, a "flavor" combination that turns strawberry within a matter of minutes without adequate protection from the sun, but I would be bored out of my mind sitting and roasting on a beach.  So, for me, The Keys are the best sunny, warm place to travel to because there is so much to look at and do.

For this reason, I was very concerned that we had decided to spend the majority of our vacation parked on our butts in one location on Key West.  We aren't shoppers and modern Key West, from what I could recall, was made for shoppers.  And as I said, we aren't beach ploppers, though the reason we chose a hotel with a small beach was so that my husband could slow down and finish healing that body of his or at least give his mind a rest from the hectic lifestyle he leads on a daily basis, and we aren't bar hoppers, either.  You could plan a Key West trip solely around bar hopping, I'm sure, if you are into that.  But we found ourselves on so many adventures in Key West that we realized as we were packing to leave the island the day we were to head back north, that we could have used at least another two days to fit in all we wanted to do.
I was a Hemingway fan before the trip but after seeing his favorite hangout, home, kitties, and writing studio I'm a hopeless addict.
It was so strange to walk everywhere we needed to go.  In five days we only used our vehicle once.  Hm.  It's time for breakfast.  I know.  We'll walk to the bakery down the road for coffee and croissants.  Lunchtime.  Picnic with the sandwich ingredients in the mini fridge again or is everyone in the mood for a Hard Rock Cafe cheeseburger?  Museums, marina, aquarium, Key lime pie...walk, walk, walk.  So great! 
Duval Street from Ripley's Believe It or Not
Fort Zachary Taylor
Atocha silver at the Mel Fisher museum.

Another two days on the island may also have mentally prepared us for the switch back to normal life.  I can't get over what a shock it was and how lost we all felt.  I've had great vacations before but I've always, always looked forward through the exhaustion to getting home to my own bed.  Apparently we are forever changed from this trip and will never be the same again. 
I felt the two me's warring the whole time we were back home, and for the first time the mountain girl wasn't putting up much of a fight.  Florida Girl took over and took hold.  Amazing that there was a period of time when I used to say I hated Florida and went kicking and screaming to visit my aging grandmother when I had the chance to head south.  Well as it turns out, a discovery I made a few years ago, I dislike East Orlando, not Florida in general.  It's disgusting and no longer looks and feels like my home.  But the rest of the state, major cities not included, is just the same as I remember.  I really enjoy zig-zagging and criss-crossing on one adventure after another in my Florida.  What I find by avoiding the major cities is the old Florida I love. It's all still there if you look for it.
Micanopy, FL
Since coming home, we have a fire in our bellies to keep Hubby as relaxed as he was during the trip.  That will never be possible because life is not a vacation.  It's for real.  But his blood pressure has been high again since starting back at work, something that cannot ever happen, especially not at this point, with a stent growing into the walls of his affected artery.  He just can't do it.  I don't know what's coming, but I know that we will do whatever it takes to keep him well and that all four of us are open to whatever that may mean.  In the meantime we are continuing to think BIG and are working on our goals for this family and trusting that we won't do anything stupid.  I'm also distracting myself by turning our patio into "Key West" for Hubby and looking online for an adoptable six-toed "Hemingway Cat" after playing with the descendants of his original Gypsy cat at the Hemingway House.  Don't get me started on those little fluff balls.  I don't know how they can be so much cuter than non-mutated cats just by having one more toe, but boy are they ever!