Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and May God Bless Us Everyone!

I am sorry that I missed wishing some of my readers a Happy Hanukkah  In truth my Christmas Greetings are in the Nick of time (no pun originally intended).This year Christmas almost arrived before me. If I hadn't kept my expectations minimal, and had the help of my daughter, Hannah taking over the role of Ms. Santa Jr., it would have looked like the Grinch had come and gone instead!

Christmas is here now.  We have been to mass earlier this evening at beautiful St. Bridget's in West Rutland, Vermont. The packages are wrapped and under the tree.  I am not allowed in the living room now, as Ms. Santa Jr. has been at work already.  I am to be in bed and fast asleep, but I didn't want to go there without wishing you all a Merry Christmas and may God bless us everyone!

I have heard that if you don't believe in Christmas or Santa, you might receive underwear? True or Not? You will have to let me know....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Preparation Suggestions for Aspiring Santas

It is only 8 (now 6) days before Christmas and my holiday sales are over—well, almost, except for finishing an order of “two French hens and a…” cozy comforter for my sister started by my mother and I ten years ago. Truly if this is sung to the 12 days of Christmas it seems almost festive!  The comforter will not be done until after Christmas now as it seems that I forgot to double check her bed size. At the time we started it she had a queen-sized bed and she now has a king-sized bed instead.  Details! Fortunately the backing was designed to create a very wide border that was to come up and over the top, and will instead be part of the back and extra borders will be added to the front to make the comforter bigger.  This is not ideal, but what is these days, especially in the middle of the Christmas Season?

Creativity, I learned years ago is about getting in the middle of a project and then having to re-design it due to lack of material or fore-thought, or whatever other reason my brain computations didn't work right! Covering mistakes has often lead to my unusual designs!

I thought I learned a few years ago to “let go of the commercialism” and focus on the spiritual side of Christmas, putting Christ back into the season, besides which isn't simpler better? This remains my goal! I have found that this change of focus is easier said than done however. My children are now young adults and I have let them know that the Advent Elf that I created over thirty years ago has now retired.  No more balloons, candy and pre-Christmas stories to teach small children the meaning of Christmas as well as help them wait out the long days of Advent!  With our home-made Advent Calendar, The Elf would write rhymes in shaky left-handed writing that would delight and give clues as to where their advent package would be hidden.

I must caution new parents not to take on this tradition as these gifts ultimately became one more thing to remember in a season that is too busy already, and the number of small gifts needed grew exponentially with each child.  We could have saved enough to put at least one of our girls through college with what was spent on their twenty-four little meaningful gifts before Christmas.  As with raising any child, you don’t see the damage until it is done and the Advent Elf, like Santa lives in their hearts, never to be forgotten!!

This year, my eldest daughter, sensing a diminishing Christmas spirit in her too-quickly-aged and worn-out mother, alias Mrs. Claus, and the past few years, alias Mrs. Grinch instead, announced that she would take on the “fun” role of being Miss Santa for 2012.  This was an offer I couldn't refuse.  It would likely save me from tumbling down the slippery “over-the-hill” slope even faster and perhaps avert us going over our own personal fiscal cliff as well.

This daughter knew that I really meant what I said about sticking to a budget, and it seems that she had a wind-fall job that would afford a lavish Christmas for us all!  I became like a child and started creating a Christmas wish list!  Meanwhile I would indeed be spiritual and thank God for such a wonderful adult child!

For anyone with Alien Adult Children (AACs), these signs of assuming adult roles are so welcome, that it is easy to experience a temporary euphoria.  Be cautious however in giving up your role as parent, Advent Elf, Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy lest the following happen to you!!

Before I expound on this role-reversal experiment, I must first tell you that as a wife and mother, I have not been perfect!  It seems that my body wasn't cut out for the rigors of maintaining these roles and working too, and so much has been compromised when it comes to keeping a well-organized, clean house and disciplined children.  I am not sure what broke down, BUT I did find that through much experience I did perfect my ability to plan ahead by hours, days, weeks and even months and it isn't easy to train a replacement for Mrs. Claus, though I am noting that replacing Mrs. Grinch isn't so difficult!

I learned long ago that my suggestions, instructions and even commandments fell on deaf ears after my children turned two, and so I simply didn't make a list of suggestions as to how to create a successful Christmas.  My AAC’s constantly remind me that they aren't stupid and of course they already know what I am about to tell them.  I see now, however, that there are some details that should be imparted to those aspiring to be Santa.  Perhaps this list will help you, my readers, as well?

Christmas Preparation Suggestions for Aspiring Santas
1) Overseas packages need to be light-weight, inexpensive to ship ($46 to mail bargain-priced, but coffee table books is entirely too much!).  These gifts need to be purchased or made first and mailed a month before Christmas.
2) Christmas trees must be well-secured to car roof tops lest they blow off and get run over by a truck following close behind you, and down-sizing the tree at both ends!  Yes, this really happened, but was not allowed to be written into my yearly Christmas letter—and so I will merely blog about it instead! Taking the long way home and driving slowly versus speeding down the highway is definitely a suggestion to be heeded!  Decorating “middle of trees” might become a new trend if this suggestion is not followed but would eliminate the need for tree-top angels.
3) Dusting and washing “ordinary house decorations” and safely packing them away for the holiday season needs to be done before Christmas decorations are put out lest the house be doubly decorated—not at all attractive!
4) Tasteful decorating doesn't include displaying all the too-carefully-saved Christmas decorations given AACs by the Advent Elf, so that each child by age twenty will have enough decorations to decorate their own mansions.  Our tastefully decorated home is not, in the end, to resemble a Christmas Tree Shop!
5) No room shall include more than one tree, no matter how pretty they are, unless, of course, you are decorating your own mansion and not your parent's tiny home.
6) Aging parents (APs) need more room to turn around and function in their homes without clumsily knocking off decorations that are too close to their elbows.  You don’t want them to takes cruises every Christmas for the rest of their lives to avoid the holiday season, do you, or send you, their AACs off on a cruise so that they can enjoy a simple holiday season without you?
7) When AACs are buying gifts for their parents, it is important to consider what room is left in their house.  Consumables for those that hate to cook are always a safe bet.  Hide-a-keys are also invaluable and take but a small space attached to bumpers of their cars and outside of their houses, especially nice for the busy holiday season when forgetting seems to be on the rise among seniors and others with half a brain!
8) Decorating schedules cannot be squeezed into an evening already cluttered with other activities or after a long work day.  Decorating is, after all, a big job and this is why it needs to be simplified to include, but not surpass: wreaths on the doors, candles in windows, a tree, a crèche or two, and a few special music boxes if you own a collection.  Anything beyond this needs to be done the previous summer.
9) Nothing should be put up, that you, AAC Santas are not available to help take down and properly store for the next year.
10) As parents age they want the joy of family around them, the music of the season, to celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas Eve Mass with the family, and have a nice dinner on Christmas Day. More than that and all sanity might be lost, tensions increased and the spirit of peace fly right out of the season!

I am sure that I am forgetting other “suggestions” for aspiring Santas and will be eager to hear from my readers as to what they might add.

Last, but not least, I want to bless my eldest daughter who had the courage to take on being Santa of 2012.  It is a role that is second only to being God and only done well with small children who can “be programmed” to make their list for Santa to match what has already been purchased at bargain prices and even then some kids will have a great Christmas and some will be disappointed as fantasies often exceed realities.

Whatever happened to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sort of Christmas where a candy stick, a tiny gift and delicious mashed potatoes NOT made from instant flakes created a wonderful Christmas Day? Did such Christmases really exist, or were they merely a figment of the author’s imagination?

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Congratulations to Cheryl B., winner of this month's Common Thread Give-Away!

To my readers:  I will be back with you soon!  Between my last two shows of the season, a child moving  and some computer issues, my writing has been pushed right out...I will be back very soon! jane

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kim Gifford,December's Featured Common Thread Give- Away Artist

Kim Gifford is December's Featured Common Thread Give-A-Way Artist.  Just click on Pug's and Pics on the side of my blog to take you to her website, and leave a comment in the next couple of days to register for her special featured give away piece, Gone to the Dogs.

I met Kim some time ago at a craft sale over a cup of tea and right away she seemed to be a “kindred spirit”.  Our visit was too short and we soon parted with plans to see one another, but as we don’t live nearby, the next time I saw her was at a gallery show featuring her and other artists at Maria Wulf's Pig Barn Gallery.  She had told me of her work which she described as collage art using photographs combined with art of various mediums as well as textiles.  Knowing Kim I knew it had to be good and I was not disappointed!

Just as I had thought, each of her pieces drew me in just like seeing Van Gogh's work for the first time. I had to spend much time with each piece as they were to be experienced not just viewed.  I was especially taken with a piece entitled, You Know the Song. I sat down the day after this gallery show and wrote her a personal email telling her of my thoughts and feelings that related to this picture.

I wrote to Kim, “I didn’t tell you, but I have a “thing” for ballet.  I took ballet when I was a child and used to use the front porch, cement though it was, for my stage.  Perhaps that is why my ballerina years were short lived and not because of the concrete…but rather due to the decreased value to my parent’s home, as I had little dancing talent and my stage was in such public view?"

I went on to tell her that it was likely revenge against my parents for recognizing my lack of talent and cutting my dance education short, that I took ballet again in my twenties, and starred in a local production of the Nutcracker as one of "the backdrop guests" at Clara’s Christmas party. I forgot to tell her at the time that an old close family friend brought me a single rose to celebrate my debut, and joked about me not having a private dressing room as he told me that he thought I was "the prima ballerina star" and so he gave it to me in-person after my performance.

My parents, shortly thereafter gave me a lovely little hand painted shadow box, with a blue velvet lining in which to hang my toe shoes.  My mother had read me the story of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes when I was a child.  It was the story of young female bunny who found herself with 21 children instead of fulfilling her life-long dream of being an Easter bunny.  But when her children were old enough to take care of their home and all that needed to be done, she went to fulfill her dream of being one of the five Easter bunnies and was selected as she had shown great wisdom in raising her children well. I will not give away the entire story, for it is special and deserves to be read, except to say that her special gold shoes, worn during her important Easter delivery, were ceremoniously  hung up in her little home afterwards. My parents had no way of knowing that I would soon have ankle instability and have to hang up my shoes as well. For years, my pink satin toe shoes were framed and hung just as ceremoniously as The Country Bunny's little gold shoes.

I went on to share with Kim that I still do my ballet exercises in the pool at Castleton where the water helps me el-e-vay (my French is as limited as my ballet talent) and then told her that one of my favorite ballets is a Beatrix Potter ballet,done by a London ballet group featuring all of her characters dancing!  The costumes are as wonderful as the dances. Watching Jemima Puddleduck waddle and Jeremy Fisher sloshing through his house makes me come right off my sofa and dance again in my living room!  I have been known to play it's VHS tape for my child guests and invite them to dance with me.  I have never played it for adult guests and would quite deny knowing any part of it if I did, especially Jemima Puddleduck’s waddle! I knew I could share this with Kim as she would understand, being the creator of a ballerina pug, why not me, no matter my age and condition!

Only a few years ago, I found myself keeping my mother company in a nursing home.  This home had bars along the walls to help the teetery patients walk, but one resident simply stood holding onto it for a long while every day.  And in my mind, I imagined ballet music piped in along with some full length mirrors added to the walls and me joining her at the bar! ...So pugs doing ballet…why not?!  Bring them on!! I am glad that some one else has a great imagination!!

You can imagine my surprise when one day in the mail I found a large padded envelope with a matted print of You know the Song,  along with a Vermont Life Magazine featuring Kim’s work. I am going to have to clean out my basement to find my infamous toe shoes in their shadow box along with the picture of me in my first  recital dress to hang next to it. In my mind I will see its soft yellow fabric though the picture is in black and white and shades of gray!

This blog is not about my dancing career, but rather about my friend, Kim Gifford and her work that will transport you, as all fine artwork does, into the wonderful space between reality and the place in your heart where your innermost dreams reside.  Her work is delightful!  Don’t miss visiting her website, and seeing where her pictures take you!  Thank you Kim and good luck in winning the December Common Thread Give-Away!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm Thankful for my Modern-Day Functional Dysfunctional Family

Years ago when my oldest daughter was in grade school, her class did a unit on the American Indians and she came home with an assignment of coming up with Indian names for all of her family members.  This became fun for all of us.  These were our Indian names: Chief Run-Around, Mama Oh-so-Tired, Hannah Mess-Maker and Baby Cry a Lot.  Our family has since grown up, but we are still Chief Run-Around, Mama Oh-so-Tired, Hannah Mess-Maker and as our baby quit crying, she is now Baby Needs-A-Lot.  We are a modern day functional dysfunctional family and proudly still intact!

Chief Run-Around commutes far everyday to go to work (sometimes to fabric factories in China).  He is above average intelligence and works hard for a living.  His name comes from his chief role of running errands on his way home, providing for all our needs.  He also repairs broken things, from cars to computers, and goes the extra mile to lend a hand and provide safety for his two daughters, as well as hauling wares for his wife’s craft shows, as well as carrying loads upstairs and downstairs.

Chief Run-Around is able to quell crises, and offer practical advice and assurance, though this doesn't always soothe Mama Oh-so-Tired.  He is thoughtful and unselfish, though too busy to deal with emotional drama and sometimes “not in touch” as he is stretched too thin, except around his middle.  He avoids conflict and is pretty low maintenance.  He eats anything provided there is plenty of ketchup, cheese, hot sauce or cranberry sauce to generously garnish it, and loves charred food.  

Car talk is his mode of communication, as he is on the run most of the time.  Pillow talk is rare as his head isn't there long enough.  He is a rescuer to his wife, children and many a friend.

Mama Oh-so-Tired has creatively adapted to chronic illness (You didn't think she would be willing to show you a picture of her in her haggard state did you?!  This was the last picture of her taken in a well-rested state!).  Her fatigue is no longer thought to be  caused by the normal or not-so-normal stress of being a mother and working full time, though she gave up the latter (and the former?).

She putts between needed naps, organizes and plans, breaking jobs into small steps to accomplish many things.  She is an introspective, and out-of-the-box-thinker, with little common sense often making the simple complex.  She journals and writes constantly whether or not she has anything useful to say and is the confronter of issues and is overly sensitive to self and sometimes others.  She is a nurse by trade, a counselor, mender and meddler (don’t they go together?) and for many a year had a phone attached to her head when she wasn't working or sleeping.  Now she has a computer key board attached to her fingers when not attached to a needle and thread.

She is also a special educator consultant, another official trade, who still evaluates and creates Individual Educational Plans (IEP's) with long and short term goals and objectives, now applied to running a family, the house and a craft business, while treating long term health issues.  She is a shadow leader of the pack who as replaced her megaphone with a long-reach, battery-operated cattle prod, though knows that positive rewards better modify behavior of not only the dog, but children and husband while naps reward her and the cat for their diligent efforts.

She is no Energizer Bunny and she wears a sign that reads, “Caution: Frequent Sudden Stops” for prayer time and connecting to her much needed power source—Bible reads and personal one-to-one chats with God, who she claims lives under her bed or her sewing chair or in her purse, as He belongs to her and is on her side!

While weak in the knees, she is strong-willed and strong-stomached, though recently has developed a bit of a “wilting violet side” that presents itself with an instant “sit down” to gain mental clarity.  She never was good at multi-tasking without pots boiling over or charring cookies in the oven.  Her doctor recently told her it’s too late to develop multi-tasking and to stick to the simple one-thing-at-a-time approach.  She keeps everything where it’s supposed to be, though she’s having more issues with remembering where it’s supposed to be.  She is much loved and when not, is tolerated.  She gives advice freely, though it is rarely heeded.

Hannah Mess-Maker (on the right) is the first fruit of the union of Chief Run-Around and Mama Oh-so-Tired.   She doesn't fall far from their tree, carrying a trunk load of their traits though the Chief and Mama rarely recognize their origins, as they don't appear to be anything like those of her parents.  Creativity and brilliance abounds but like her mother its practical application is sometimes lacking, creating messes everywhere that pile up until her zones resemble “a hoarder’s paradise” with layers upon layers of creativity buried under the need to function at top speed at too many jobs.  Multi-tasking is her specialty, leaving a chronic trail behind her.  Her mother’s behavior-mod-program never took root as Hannah Mess-Maker, smarter than her mother, created her own goals and objectives.  First on her list was to be her own person and avoid the bribes and secure her role at taking over and running the house.  The next was to get her sister, Baby Cry-a-Lot to shut up as well as silence Mama’s megaphone.

Despite Mama Oh-so-Tired’s endless attempts to confront the issues, Hannah Mess-Maker had a good life, but aimed to make it better by letting Mama’s organizational abilities keep her toys and books in order, as she had better things to do, like disrupting an otherwise "perfect and functional home"!  Like all first-borns, she made her parents go a little insane and thus move into their dysfunctional state. Yes, Hannah Mess-Maker’s parents didn't know what hit them and Chief Run-Around ran faster and Mama Oh-so-Tired got more tired, while their well-educated and accomplished daughter sought to remake the world.

Now Hannah Mess-Maker smiles as she looks back on her life, knowing that she accomplished her goals and more, she is uniquely Hannah, a responsible and creative adult, though her parents, and schools may never be the same.  Hannah Mess-Maker still makes messes in her parent’s garden, kitchen and house.  She is a gifted graphic artist and like her father works very hard, and is so busy that she continues to make Mama Oh-so-Tired more tired than ever!

Baby Cry-a-Lot is grown up now and so has become Baby Need-a-Lot.  She is still the baby of our family, but now fiercely independent and social.  She is a sensitive social worker-counselor-sort-of-person, living life to the edge and experiencing first-hand the trials that beset her generation.  She operates best under stress which seems to be ever present as she has her own time clock versus following the standard time of the rest of the world and continues to march to her own beat quite literally.  She observes what works and doesn't work in other’s lives, thinks hard and carefully chooses her own and different path.  She doesn't cry much anymore, and doesn't want to be hushed but has a loud, clear voice of her own!

 Living on the edge, she has had her share of accidents and is sensitive and loving to all and is close to the action—sometimes too much so for the comfort of Chief Run-Around, and he runs and runs, trying to scout out potential dangers and keep her safe.  No longer under the control of her bossy sister, she is out living life and is about to branch out from the Chief’s radar.  Likely this is needed for her own growth.

Mama Oh-so-Tired hasn't kept up so well with this baby and is frequently relieved to know that Baby has safely survived yet another close call, knowing that if she knew all that this child was about, her life would be shortened by years not minutes!! She is growing up despite the odds that she creates.

Competing with her sister’s success, she has created her own legacies and achievements of equal merit as her older sister’s.  Like so many of this generation, her path is not a straight line, but taking several abrupt angles as she puts aside some of her greater talents to simply earn a living and trying out new applications of her assets.  Graduating with honors as a highly talented studio artist whose work is rich in detail, now Baby Need-a-Lot is doing practical things with that same attention to detail.  Whether caring for children, assisting her sister in her graphic art work or doing menial sorts of jobs, she does her work with care and integrity.  She still marches to a different drummer and it is not the reward of money, but rather personal pride that makes her tick.

Baby Needs-a-Lot has taken time for personal relationships and has a serious beau and is a friend to many.  She is kind, and sensitive and deep, all attributes created by her own personal trials.  Her health issues seriously threatened and challenged her to have a normal life and she continues to push her limits.  She is complex and drawn to all that will help her grow personally.  We sometimes scratch our heads as her paths lead her in ways we wish she would avoid, but we will learn what she is already certain of: she is strong enough to be more than our Baby Need-a-Lot!

Of course, no dysfunctional family would be complete without their pets, and as selected by the peculiar tastes of unique individuals means that they in turn have their quirks as well!  Cassie, our coon-hound mix, like her master, Hannah Mess-Maker has a will of iron and the strength of body enough to challenge us all.  She is equally as loving and caring as her master and is so lovingly devoted to Chief Run-Around as to try to be one with him. The Chief’s need to be adored has been overly-saturated by this warm overbearing beast and he now appreciates being left alone in quiet and peace, though that is a rare moment indeed!

Zeldie, our beautiful tiger cat is truly befitting of the name given to her by the shelter from which she came.  She is our Princess Warrior, demanding of all the privileges befitting her self-appointed aristocracy, which if neglected brings out the warrior in her.  She is Mama-Oh-so-Tired’s mostly companion, affectionate when she wants to be and loyal to whoever caters to the princess in her.  She makes Mama Oh-so-Tired an honorary Lady-in-Waiting.

So there you have it, an intact, albeit, modern-day functional dysfunctional family, pieced together with many a jagged edge but notched to fit with the others.  Functional dysfunction, we have found, is created by irregular and abnormal people that fit together to counterbalance what the other doesn't have.  It mostly works, though we are still working at making it work better.  We have adapted to the conditions of our lives as best we can and with God’s help we will “continue to play the hand we are dealt”.  Life can be challenging, and is seldom ideal, but I am thankful for my functional dysfunctional family.....most of the time!

We are hopeful that, like us, you have a loving family or friends to enjoy this Thanksgiving with!  Have a good turkey day!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stay Tuned

Do stay tuned to our blog.  We are simply taking a short break as we have scheduled three shows on three consecutive weekends.  Last weekend we were at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, and we are at Grace Congregational Church tonight 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 9:30- 2:00 p.m. ( November 16 and 17th) and next week we will be at Poultney High School 10:00- 4:00 p.m. (Friday,November 23rd and Saturday, the 24th).  Do come and see us if you can!  We will be back to blogging and listing on Etsy very soon. I never stop writing or stitching!

Our sales season ends with two sales on December 8th and I will post the details of those later!  Meanwhile, Happy Turkey Day to you all!  jane

Monday, November 12, 2012

After the Storm

I had a strange reaction to the storm: Rage.  I thought perhaps it was just a black day in the midst of my very long treatment? I was angry about having yet another challenge to deal with and I was exhausted.  Truly prepping for what I felt like was “The-Second-Coming-Storm” was emotionally draining, but instead of feeling relief about it not hitting us, I felt angry.

I was angry and frustrated having to direct my limited energies to put everything in order and prepare for a possible disaster instead of sewing. Was I was feeling sorry for myself? Initially so, but my perspective quickly changed as I watched TV reports of the communities that were devastated by the storm. Clearly my own lost energy was nothing next to others grieving losses of homes or worse yet, loved ones and their inability to continue living as they remain without proper shelter, heat and electricity.

Hearing about people in NYC and NJ rummaging through trash in search of food and without potable drinking water, living in apartments and having to take many flights of stairs in the dark or worse yet trapped, as the disabled are unable to take the flights of stairs, no matter how dark. The lack of necessities for survival or spending hours at a time waiting to buy a few gallons of gas for back- up generators if they were lucky enough to still have shelter, made me feel a new frustration!!  I wanted to bring them my bottled water and take them my food!!  I would gladly share my provisions, and the heat of my home and how petty and spoiled of me to be mad about the inconveniences that this storm caused me!

I was horrified that those that had relatives or friends to stay with were choosing, instead, to stay behind and camp out in their damaged homes, afraid to leave; looters threatening to take all if their homes were left alone.  How low can people get to steal, much less steal from those already in crisis, with little left but a few treasured items of their former lives!!

I also heard about the two small boys that were washed away and drown, as someone would not open their door. The home owner apparently thought they were stupid to be out in the storm and perhaps felt too fearful and desperate regarding his carefully planned survival tactics, to be human enough to let them come in.  This was like one of those existential questions lived out in real life. Would “you” save another or not and potentially risk your own means of survival. How desperate do you have to get before you become so small to think only of saving your self?

What would I have done?  I am truly a control freak and in the midst of terror, would I have been different?  I can only hope so, but just being shut up with my adult alien children for a day and having them undo what I had just put in order, made me wonder.  I am sometimes not patient or tolerant, or the person that I would like to be.  I do seem to be a work in progress, but sometimes circumstances seem to push the “regress button" instead of the "maturity button" that is most needed at the time!

I am glad that with a new day, also comes new strength. I have greater appreciation for how lucky we are and yet with it comes the understanding, that to those that much is given, much is expected. I truly am past my prime and cannot be on the front line of this battle, but I can respond with a willing and generous heart and lifted prayers for those that are in true need right now. And if each of us does what we can, perhaps we can lift those that are in despair for truly "there but for the grace of God, go I" and perhaps you. All of my planning and control could not have saved me from such devastation had the water hit my home instead of theirs!

We will all find our own ways to relate to this crisis as there are lessons for each of us.  We all perhaps need to be reminded to be bigger, not smaller in facing the fears and needs that we all share.

I am reminded of the story told about Mother Teresa and her sisters passing out rice provisions for the poor. There was apparently always a woman who came for her provision, though mother’s sisters had heard that on her way home, she would stop and split her lot with another person who was unable to go and get for her self.  Mother’s helpers asked if they shouldn’t give her a double portion, and Mother in her wisdom answered, that her sharing was a bigger gift to her friend than if she was given an extra portion, as sharing from her own was a gift of her heart. The portion size was not as critical as the sharing of herself, for her gift was a gift of love and would nourish the spirit as well as the body.

However we respond to this crisis or reach out to help those around us in need, I think it is important to know that generosity is a gift of the the heart. This storm has washed away some of my veneer that covers my own vulnerability, and makes me realize that value comes from being connected to others and giving and sharing is what is most critical and this storm has not only brought much need but also much opportunity to give of ourselves in whatever way we feel best suited.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote Today!

I didn't use to be political and my family isn't pleased with my conversion of me being wrapped up in the world at large. Is it my response to my world shrunk with the confinement of a medical treatment or is it a phenomena of simply becoming the person that I was waiting to be, released from being too busy and not having time to attend to such interests before? Or perhaps it is part of my illness affecting my brain and causing a one-hundred-eighty degree turn in what was already a strange and different personality? These are merely rhetorical questions for which I seek no answers or replies, and dare not ask my family as I know they would too readily give me their honest thoughts!

I am not sure that becoming politically minded is helping me become a better person.  In fact it is likely making me judgmental, polarized and highly opinionated and less easy to live with? One has only to ask my husband or daughters for their thoughts.  That isn't changing me, however!  I feel very strongly about this election, so much so that I am not sure that I can stand to watch the election returns and feel the minute to minute pain or hope or perhaps be left hanging in limbo for days to come as they recount the votes.  Too-close-to-call polls have become very hard on me physically and emotionally, and sure enough today it will take all of me to go and cast my vote as perhaps the anticipation of this day as already "done me in", but I wouldn't miss voting for the world!!

Is it good to be so decided and so "narrow"?  It certainly doesn't make for peace in our house, as it is divided down the middle when it comes to political sides (and other sides as well?). I would like to think that my strong opinions are based on my "fine tuning and sharpening" of my values. There is no riding the fence about right and wrong any more, though black and white thinking, it is not! My "narrowed" path isn't the easiest to walk but my humor helps and I have joked about voting day being switched from today to tomorrow for my girls, but they know better and are equally determined to cast their votes to cancel my husband's and mine.

I am trying to entertain that my candidate won't win, and am trying to reconcile four years with a president I didn't choose.  It won't be the first time, and I am sure that my life will go on.  The process is still good, I think.  It has made me examine myself thoroughly as I flip between news stations, guaranteed to hear polar opposite "facts". How is it that reality changes that much?  Of course, it doesn't, only the focus and the attention paid to which facts and how you "spin" them, according to one's values. I wonder what ever happened to reporting all the facts and let us do our own spin?

I used to think that all this news watching was simply my choice of watching a more dramatic soap opera than the real soaps and that it makes my time pass faster as I persevere through what is sometimes mundane otherwise. Politics is stranger than any fictionalized program I could watch. The cast of characters really are more varied than could be imagined and if taken from start to finish, I rarely pick the candidate that becomes nominated.  It is likely a good thing, as before it is over, I see the character flaws of the one I initially chose.

I learn about myself in this process and learn more about others as well. Candidates too good to be true; lofty promises unkempt; corruption at the core; or, perhaps, like jobs I have had, just a person with an unmatched skill set for a poorly defined and open-ended job, impossible for anyone to adequately bite off, chew and digest, much less perform, though I still hope that someone larger than life will meet the challenges and sometimes they do just that and more!

It is also hard to watch the projected dreams of the nation placed on an individual that may, in fact, be a totally different person than what he/she is perceived to be. Or perhaps we are merely picking the scapegoat that we heap our unrealistic expectations on and then send them off to the desert carrying all our sins to be crucified by the public.  It is truly a thankless job, and likely not worth all the acclaim and glory or even the life-long benefits.  How many of us would really want early entombment and museums and libraries containing our eye glasses and toothbrushes, and diaries exposed to the public forevermore?

So as we trundle off to the polls today to cast our vote or abstain, we are deciding directly or indirectly  the future set of values and hopes for our nation.  It is a fork in the road and we are collectively choosing the direction that will be taken, hopefully for the good of all, though sometimes I fear, sadly not.

We will soon get feedback as to which candidate we have pinned our dreams on (not unlike Pin the Tail on the Donkey party game?). Then we will wait and see whether or not our expectations match theirs and they do what they promised.

There is much hope for another George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln, but I think the times are different as are the problems facing this country and the best we can hope for is that the future president's skill set will measure up to the issues that need to be dealt with in the generation to come.  Our vote is truly an act of faith in the integrity of the person we choose. However wanting our government might be or the candidates that we select to run, I value this process and don't miss my opportunity to be part of it.

Don't Forget register for these earrings to be given away!!  Simply go to Spinning Glass Studio link, and leave your comment!  Good luck!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Correction on the Common Thread Drawing Date

Dear Readers,
I apologize for my error.  The Common Thread give away drawing dates are wrong.  It starts the first Monday of every month and so do please revisit Nancy's site this coming Monday to leave another comment  in order to register for her free give away!  I apologize for my error, but do want you all to be eligible to win a sample of her beautiful jewelry!!  Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience to you, though I can't think of a nicer site to visit and I am certain that she will love to hear from you again!  Thank you! jane

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nancy Bariluk-Smith, November's Featured Artist

This month’s featured artist is Nancy Bariluk-Smith and her  I got to better know Nancy over a cup of tea at a small, informal gathering of women artists at the end of a show this last year. The event turned into a lovely communal sharing of the joys and frustrations we have as artists of different mediums. Nancy impressed me then and now.  Her humor combined with insightful comments made me want to learn from her extensive and varied experience as an artist and person.  I have learned even more about her through her website.

She is open, sensitive, introspective, philosophical and delightful.  It is clear that she is a seasoned artist of different mediums.  Despite her preference for doing lampwork glass beads and jewelry, art is an expression of her total person.  Her beadwork is unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, and imaginative sculptured art.  Whether worn as focal pendants or complimentary bracelets and earrings, they will catch the eye of the most discerning.  Each is an artistic masterpiece.
Her former talents as a textile artist have not been left behind in her jewelry.  Using hand dyed ribbons, waxed linens, threads and cords, she combines whatever compliments her exquisite beads. I am struck with her free-flowing color pallets, and limitless imagination.  They indeed reflect what Nancy is about, a beautiful artist that reflects the beauty surrounding her.

Don’t miss checking out her website.  She has some wonderfully fun and creative offers, like her Earring- of- the- Month-Club, and by simply leaving a comment on her website November 1st, 2nd or 3rd you are registering to win The Great Common Thread Give-Away for the month of November, a sample of her jewelry! Treat yourself to a visit to her website by simply clicking on the link to her Spinning Glass Studio and hope you win this month’s free give-away and better get to know Nancy and her work! 

Ready or Not It's Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts and Prayers

My thoughts and prayers goes out to all of those whose lives have been altered by Hurricane Sandy and the Monster Storm of 2012! Our preparation seemed to be unnecessary here, and yet I couldn't help but think that perhaps the weather predictions that struck fear in us were useful to get many to prepare for the worst and evacuate as needed or perhaps the fatalities would have been greater! I do not minimize the largeness of the disasters of this storm!

In the tough times in my life, I have found God's grace sufficient for all my needs, and pray that that will be the case for each and every person facing what seems to be insurmountable problems at this time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflections of Myself

Unlike Jon Katz, my blog will be about getting caught up in the hype of the Frankenmonster Sandy Storm that is revving up to hit us in Vermont. I have a TV in almost every room, thanks to my electronic minded husband and so I plug in many times every day and succumb to news hype on a regular basis! Storms generate real fear ever since marrying my husband. I have already spoken of his Irish luck. Lightening has struck him three times and our house has gotten hit by a tornado! I now expect the worse, pray for the best, and am relieved and thank the Lord when anything passes us by!

I have already sent my husband off to get water and batteries, and I have pulled out the emergency basket left over from Irene. With dreaded anticipation I await the expected attack and I have already resurrected memories of seeing Irene's damage in Vermont. Roads, buildings, homes, covered bridges and even mountains washed away in flood waters while my husband was in China on business reassuring me from afar that such storms don't happen here in Vermont!

I am not lulled into complacency by his false reassurance that he is "home" for this storm and that with his trusty cell phone he is connected to the storm's path and will provide for my safety! He is already denying that it will be as catastrophic as they are predicting, and so I am the "sole martyr" in my family, frantically preparing for the worst. I am filling all plastic containers with water and putting them into my freezer to fill the empty spaces, and am throwing all flashlights in the emergency basket. I will bake bread, and cupcakes, after all food is comfort and needs to be available for feasting while disaster hits and I have learned my catechism well; even Christ had a last supper!!

I will do my laundry and vacuum, and attempt to use every electrical appliance if I am do do without electricity for almost two weeks! I lost my power years ago and have learned well how to do without it, BUT doing without electricity is another story! I do like running water, and heat and other such conveniences. No, I was not the one that added an electric hair dryer to the emergency basket found on the shelf in our dark basement, found by flashlight in the middle of a storm one night, but I would add my electric sewing machine, and my 18 baskets of wool if I had thought that we would have to evacuate!!

I have an old treadle machine but it is buried or I would have an emergency sewing center set up and ready for such times as instead of tranquilizers for storms, I do plan sewing projects to divert my attention from howling winds. I am going to clear paths to get to all my projects without killing myself in the dark, though I didn't see that on any disaster planning lists!

I am counting on my husband and daughter to do the fall clean up in the yard, an effort procrastinated, waiting for white snow to cover everything. No, serious storm winds would likely propel flower pots and garden tools through our windows and being the control freak that I am, I need to calm this storm as best as I can!! For Irene, I insisted on tying the lawn furniture and our BBQ to our deck, perhaps hoping that if we floated away, my ark would have everything we needed!

No, unlike Jon Katz, I will turn on the TVs all over the house, as I vacuum everywhere today, and will heed the warnings and prepare for The Second Coming and I will post my last fall blog in case this monster storm drives us right into winter, making it, too soon, unseasonable. Coincidentally, it was titled A Reflection of Myself and fits right in with an updated reflection of yet another side of myself...and so I will simply continue the theme of this right into the next. I think that is what Garrison Keillor does when he tells stories? I had planned on keeping part of myself a mystery to my readers, but not now. I will be transparent and show all of myself in one blog!? Well, almost all of myself! I am thick and have many sides actually!

So, onto yet another reflection of my self, as seen during our annual fall foliage ride that my husband and I took right before Columbus Day Weekend, which is the peak time for leaf peeping in Vermont. Usually we are late season fall leaf peepers, finding time only after most of the leaves are already on the ground. No matter where the leaves are, we still enjoy our annual foliage fall ride in Vermont! Stopping for hot cider donuts and fresh apple cider and bringing home some fallen leaves to wax and display, we don't miss this annual event to enjoy Vermont's scenery every fall!

This year we got out to sight see the day after a craft show. We were too tired to stop to photograph much and we were just grateful to be seeing the beautiful leaves while they were still on the trees! Suddenly we passed a strange looking field of giant sunflowers. We couldn't believe our eyes and turned the car around taking time and energy that only moment earlier we didn't have to get pictures of this macabre scene. Clearly the state of what were once beautiful giant sun flowers, gone by seemed to resonate with us! This was truly our sort of foliage.

Though I have issues with turning my ankles on un-level ground, I jumped out of the car and waded into the rutted field to catch close up pictures. I related with these poor flowers that were clearly past their prime. I half expected them to be like the flowers in Disney's rendition of Alice in Wonderland and to raise their heads and suddenly complain about their ailments and conditions. Clearly all stooped over, they were suffering, like mysel, from some sort of rheumatism. Some even had their faces planted on the ground. Yes, I thought of them as reflections of myself, as I felt just like they looked!!

As I post these personal photos, and write about them, I am reminded of a homily by one of my favorite priests. He was a bargain shopper like myself and brought "home" a note-worthy bargain: an old weather-worn statue of the Blessed Mother. It had been outside in another church's garden for a few decades and was now pock marked and worn. Our priest had an artist in the church paint her for our church garden, but before putting her there, he placed her in the front of the church and gave a whole homily on her, focusing on the real life of Mary. "For all that Jesus' mother had gone through," he said, "this statue likely bears a closer resemblance to the real Mary for no matter how pure and radiant her life, she likely did show a bit of wear and tear after all she had weathered", he proclaimed.

It truly made me appreciate my life and appearance with a new perspective. No longer slim, or beautiful on the outside, yet my faith, resolve and perseverance is stronger than ever! Aren't many of us like these once beautiful sun flowers, perhaps a bit worn and droopy faced, faded and anything but radiant and glowing, but still standing, however bent, giving our gifts and stretching ourselves to weather yet another storm? I believe like these flowers, we can take new pride in our stretch marks and extra fluff, wrinkles and white hairs. Age comes to us all and we are not supposed to look like we are twenty forever, especially after surviving catastrophes and disasters and other such storms in our lives!

We can relax from all of the peer pressures of our youth. Growing deeper roots and gaining character that helps us to weather whatever storms come our way, even monster ones, with faith, confidence, humor, love, patience, and forgiveness?.....Well, OK, I still have some things to work on!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Easy Recipe

Of course most domestic-sorts-of-blogs recommend new recipes to their readers.  Don’t we all struggle with doing the same ‘ol boring recipes, especially those that are easy to fix?  Well, I am going to recommend one today that I’ll bet you never imagined.  I know I hadn’t until the day it was first discovered!

Before telling you about it, I just have to give credit to my daughter, Sarah Kate for she is the one that created this new treat!  She is now almost 25 years old, and rarely cooks and to all of those that don’t cook much, this might be the dish for you.  Again, it takes little preparation and truly, even the most clumsy will find it easy to prepare.

My daughter is much like myself.  She seems to have an inner clock that has gone awry and it is constantly set for about fifteen to thirty minutes behind standard time making her race around every morning and scrambling to get out the door to get to work almost on time. She is also a creature of habit and her breakfast meals rarely vary. She fixes herself a travel cup of Earl Grey tea with lots of honey and a bit of milk, a cinnamon-raisin English muffin with lots of butter that she wraps for her lunch and to eat on the way to work, she fixes herself peanut butter toast with honey, and to keep the honey from dripping, she carefully swirls the honey into the peanut butter with tiny circular motions.  These details are critical in preparation of this recipe that I am going to share with you.

Before I get to the recipe, I must tell you that in my youth, our extended family reunions with twenty-one cousins (though rarely all gathered at the same time) were always eating festivals. As we had to make our own fun, simple conversation and inexpensive games were the bill-of-fare, and made up games were the best, as they were most affordable.  We were a creative bunch when we would get together and contests became games that would serve all sorts of purposes.  The winners were rarely awarded a prize, except for laud and appreciation and record in our memories of being labeled a winner by a large and unseemly crowd.

I truly think my mother and her sisters created “Make the Most Creative Sandwich Contest Game” so as to not be bothered at lunch time with having to think up what to serve, much less please this crowd. Out would come bread, butter, pickles, lunch meats, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce and most importantly peanut butter.  Other condiments and relished treats were included as well, canned pork and beans, honey, maple syrup, grape jelly, mayonnaise, mustard, catsup, celery, radishes and of course chips of various sorts. Basically emptying out the refrigerator of left overs was also part of the game and the only hard fast rule was that after creating the most creative sandwich, you had to eat it.  This may seem like a digression, but really isn’t for my new recipe would have surely won for the most original sandwich of the day…so original, but likely coupled with a disclaimer NOT to try this at home!

Our favorite sandwich combinations  that actually became family favorites were peanut butter and pickles (all sorts of pickles will work for this from dill to bread and butter, though the latter added sweetness like jelly with a nice crunch as well). Open face peanut butter toast with maple syrup was another treat! Peanut butter and potato chip was still another favorite.  Peanut butter was also tried with mayonnaise, and also with mustard, though those pleased only a few.

My mother’s specialties always included a lot of butter, I think it made whatever she ate slide down a little easier.  So along came bread and butter with sliced radishes or cucumbers or peanut butter with butter, never one of my favorites, but judging by the heart attacks in the family were not just favorites of my mother's!

There were of course the plain catsup and bread or mayonnaise and bread sandwiches. Traditional open face pork and bean sandwiches had to be eaten with a fork and plenty of beans (my mother, of course, added a rich layer of butter first). To this day I like jelly with my ham or turkey lunch meat sandwiches, and of course from that grew the post Thanksgiving sandwich of turkey, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce sandwich, though my cousin, Mary Margaret had little spirit of adventure and would stick with a fail-safe peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and skip the Thanksgiving dinner altogether. Yes, although quite and creative in every other way, her cuisine choices were limited as a child, and she stuck with her PPJ sandwich as an alternative to most meals. I believe that since she has grown up she now eats a traditional turkey dinner with her family, though a fact check should be done to eliminate false rumors.

My oldest daughter liked a plain ham sandwich without the bread, but never in my day did anyone come up with the combination that my daughter, Sarah Kate came up with—ever!!  Though her’s likely breaks the cardinal rule that one must truly eat it, for after its creation, it was merely left for discovery by others.

Here it is, revealed at last, a first to be sure.  But not before I tell you the secret behind the creation….a nagging mother!  You see, if rushed to get out the door and stacking your napkin-wrapped, English muffin lunch on top of your travel mug with honey-d tea, and then on top of that you place a napkin with your peanut butter toast with nicely swirled honey on top, and juggling your purse on your opposite shoulder while one-handedly opening the door, a nagging mother's admonition of “don’t you dare drop that” could jinx even the most capable juggler and you too might be lucky to make it as far as the car before you do just that, and there in the driveway is the final ingredient, driveway rocks…. There you have it, nicely cured in the hot sunshine for a day before discovering what even the birds will not eat…Peanut Butter Toast with Swirled Honey and Driveway Rocks (PBTSHDR).

No wonder we have an ant problem!!

This will likely be a meal that will sit heavy and might be a bit binding too, unless your driveway is covered with a fine gravel, in which case the fiber content will likely have the opposite effect. This recipe is designed for those that have to dine so quickly that  they need to swallow their meal whole, washed down with some nice hot soothing sweetened tea.  Chewing is actually contraindicated unless you relish dental work! My mother would have definitely added a thick layer of butter to help it slide down more easily!!

Another favorite of Sarah Kate’s seems to be a variation on this same theme, but if dropped while going out the door it will simply be a Peanut Butter Toast and Swirled Honey with Dirt and Dog Hair (PBTSHDDH).  Having to stop to clean the rug is really a drag however and definitely adds clean up time after, and causes tardiness for sure unless you plan for this extra time factor!

I cannot write this silly blog without adding a bit of warning that my oldest daughter, Hannah  revealed just recently that hating any sandwich made with bread, but especially peanut butter and honey, she once stuck this sandwich on the side of her babysitter’s house. She had been sent outside in her back yard to eat her lunch and was resolved to leave it for the birds.  Some sandwiches can have that effect, though likely if she had tried that at my house corporal punishment would likely have ensued! Now I know why she wasn’t the babysitter’s favorite child and is still working hard to compete with her sister for this honor and after Sarah Kate’s PBTSHDDH on the rug by the door, Hannah might be sliding, quite literally, into first place…and I wonder who they got their competitive spirit from?

So there you have it…what do you serve, when you have run out of ideas and want someone to take over in the arena of preparing meals? Perhaps Peanut Butter and Honey-d Toast with Driveway Rocks might be just the thing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Picture This

When I wrote about cleaning my refrigerator, I had a thought that turned out to be quite prophetic and so now I am writing to warn my readers to be careful about their thoughts, for they can be powerful indeed! I wrote "that if I procrastinated long enough, perhaps my gourmet-blackened-oven would just be carried out of the house" instead of cleaning it…Well, it almost happened, but just in the reverse, and today I am going to blog about it, so my readers may profit from my experience. Unlike my children, I know that you, my friends, will want to learn from me and NOT go through this yourselves!

Apparently I have decided that being the owner of Little House Home Arts should entail a certain domestic image, and so I have embarked on a house-cleaning frenzy. Documenting my refrigerator's disgusting condition and writing of my oven’s gourmet-blackened-bottom, was like a cleansing confession. With great resolve, I decided to tackle the job of cleaning my oven next and even had my husband purchase a can of Easy Off, knowing it would be anything but easy!

Too many quilts to sew as well as too many diets have caused me to avoid cooking which has led to my kids cooking instead.  Rule of thumb at my house, “if you make a mess, clean it yourself or better yet, call in mom or dad to clean it”—anything and everything, except the oven (and refrigerator).  Perhaps we have just acquired a taste for smoked foods, just like my husband has acquired a taste for burnt foods prior to my kids taking over the cooking! (I did not take pictures, and so this is when I ask you to picture the bottom of my oven-- all black.)

Mind you, I never raised my children to NOT clean up after themselves.  That is simply the curse that follows the declarations of someone so brassy as to tell everyone that “my kids would never__________”.  You fill in the blank.  My mouth was so hinged that I said it all, BEFORE having kids of my own, and I am now paying for it, though my kids aren’t kids anymore, but “alien adult children”, developmentally arrested when it comes to cleaning at home, though one is temporarily a professional house-cleaner. I do have pictures of my adult alien children, but just in case someone in our small town reads my blog, I had best NOT post their pictures, so again picture them big and above-average-intelligence (you can tell by the look in their eyes) and  one dressed to kill, with a mop in her hand! Yes, my youngest dresses up when she cleans others houses!)

But I digress—back to the oven.  After so many years of not cleaning it, I quite forgot that it is a self-cleaning oven and The Brycer reminded me when I proudly showed him my clean refrigerator and commented that the oven was next, and boasted of having my can of Easy Off ready to go.  “You can use that if you want, but I would simply push the self-clean button and open all the windows to keep the house well-ventilated.”

His helper added when viewing the bottom of my oven that looked like the bottom of a BBQ pit, “It might smell like the house is burning down, but just let it run its cycle and you will have a clean oven”! Then The Brycer smiled and said that if I did it while everyone was gone, I could brag about how hard I worked to clean it when they came home. (Picture The Brycer holding my can of Easy Off and pointing to my oven's self-clean button. Here again, I am protecting the real identity of The Brycer.)

It sounded perfect to me, a clean oven, a nap and bragging rights later!  This would indeed be my style of cleaning!  I wondered if there was a button that would work to clean my house?  Maybe if I got a big red Staple’s Easy Button, and push it when The Brycer comes, I could feel that sense of magical control over my house.  There are some things that The Brycer doesn't clean and I was sad to think that there were no self-cleaning closets, basements, or garages.  I especially needed that feature now in my craft storage room to make room for my new wools!  I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities, especially since I did, once upon a time, see a special built house that had whole walls of storage shelves and closets behind the antique looking paneled walls. Special bins were also included for collectors like me!  Dream on Jane girl! (Picture a big red Staple's Easy Button. I will request one for Christmas--do they still make them or am I, per usual, seeking the obscure and obsolete again?)

Still, there was something to be mistrusted.  A self-cleaning oven is simply too good to be true and how many times did I learn about things or people too good to be true?  Well, add my self-cleaning oven to the list.  Oh, it all worked well enough and my oven is now clean all right, but my push-a-button-clean-job became no secret or cause for bragging! The oven door wouldn't open long after it cooled down, and my husband had to trip the circuit breaker which only made my oven flash “lock” on its screen.  I also cannot set it to bake or broil and it doesn't heat, but it is nice and clean!! ( Picture this: my husband with smoke coming out of his ears as it wasn't safe to take his picture at this moment besides which it might have been all the proof that was needed to have him committed, but then how would he go to work?)

What is to become of my beautiful clean stove?  As yet there is no resolution to my story except to say that I have the perfect excuse for not cooking dinner now and unless my kids feel like cooking with sticks over a campfire in the back yard, no more pizzas baked on the racks that drip and re-blacken my oven! I’ll be making “quilt sandwiches” to be served with mini tomatoes or other fruit, with cakes and ice cream sundaes for dessert and all made with felted wool, stuffed with crushed walnut shell and a sampler on my kitchen wall that reads “Careful what you think, like silent wishes, they might come true”.  I could, however be onto the best weight loss diet ever--felted wool whatever with crushed walnut shell stuffing--easy, no bake, calorie free, stitch-only, recipes!

But the rest of the story has already been lived out.  Picture this: a Sears repair man, complete with white paper booties over his shoes so he didn't track in my house and leaving me with his repair bill for $75 for diagnosing the problem and another estimated bill for $404. Yep, the automatic door motor that keeps the door shut during self-cleaning burned up, and the repair man jury rigged it so I can cook with it, but it will never be a self-cleaning oven again....and there you have it, self-cleaning ovens ARE too good to be true, at least for me!!

Apparently the self-clean was a one-time feature and for only $404, it can be fixed to clean again, at least once?  Now it does seem that the next time it gets it gourmet-blackened-bottom, that can of Easy Off might be just the thing? And does anyone know where I can get paper booties to go over shoes in all sizes.  They would be perfect to keep my house clean for longer than a day AFTER I push the red button and The Brycer cleans my floors! (Picture my family: The Brycer (yes, he is adopted and now part of my family), my husband, me, my alien adult girls, the dog and the cat all in white paper booties.  Perhaps they could have a polish in them to make my floors shine?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Computer Crash = Cleaning the Refrigerator

Every morning I go to my computer and check my e-mails.  It's my way of procrastinating.  I am not a morning person.  It is my substitute for a cup of coffee. Excepting chocolate, I don't do caffeine.  My computer is my stimulant.

But yesterday morning my computer didn't start right, and instead gave me a bizarre message in some sort of code.  The only readable part had to do with being unable to boot.  I called my daughter, Hannah, my computer guru.  I wanted to call my husband as well, for this was serious, but he has been too distracted at work and others have noticed.  We have had several weeks now of one crisis after another. Fortunately they are not health crises, just financial ones, but they too can take their toll, stretching us too far!  My husband always said that if it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all and it seems as though we had hit another streak of bad luck, except for the Labor Day Sale.

Hannah, my daughter directed me to shut off my computer and restart it.  I did as she said.  My machine made a whirring noise like it was going to start and then simply clicked itself off, and the screen blacked out.   Both Hannah and I concurred this was not a good thing.  "Try it again," she said and I tried it, not once, but three more times.  Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over, getting the same results.  I was no doubt, certifiable!

Hannah said, "I'll be home early today and will check it then".  My response was in keeping with my mental state--I panicked.  I had spent my week writing and imagined it all gone.  I freaked and whined into the phone, and then I tried to console myself and muttered something about having lots else to do.

My habit of procrastination means many things don't get done. I made myself a piece of toast and sat down to collect myself and made a short do-list from my master do-list.  I am a list maker in the extreme.  My short list, however was very short: sew a flower pot pincushion and clean out the refrigerator.

My mood was dark.  I was still freaked out about my computer.  It was brand new and my data had just been transferred over a week before, but still, I feared, days of work down the drain, along with my mood.

I couldn't help it....I called my husband, "Don't be distracted!" I commanded him, "but my computer just appears to have crashed!" I then added, "And don't panic!"  I felt better already.  Its an old trick I learned years ago.  When my broad shoulders cave in under pressure, call on him to share the burden. I had made a perfect choice in picking Tom as my life's partner. Except for his luck, he is my savior on earth and it is a big job! "It ain't me babe, it ain't me you're looking for..."  isn't Tom's song!

His response was predictable. As always, he'd do what he could to take his Saturday to work on rescuing my new data, and check into what was ailing my new computer!  With this burden safely resting on Tom's shoulders, I could now get on with my day with no more procrastinating. What's next? Still bummed, I was anything but creative and so at last it was the day to clean out the refrigerator...

"Think how good it will feel to have this job done," I reasoned, trying to psych myself up to begin the task.  I've learned that beginning any dreaded task is truly the secret.  Once I am committed, its as good as done. Cleaning the refrigerator has been on my list for years it seems.  I already felt too tired and thought of taking a nap....but it wasn't nap time! But a nap, I decided would be my reward and with that reward in mind, I jumped right in, clearing the counter tops, and pulling everything out of the refrigerator. I had given up waiting for the food to be eaten down first.  No, this was a serious job with lots left-overs that were now green and gross!

As I cleaned, I thought about all the jobs in the house that needed doing as The Brycer only does a monthly surface cleaning.  I wondered if prior to computers, people had clean houses?  What came to me is my mother and how she had tasks for all of us, and specific days for various tasks, just like the tea-towel, iron-on embroidery designs with the days of the week and their tasks to match: Monday, washing; Tuesday, ironing; Wednesday; dusting and vacuuming; Thursday, baking and so on until Sunday, church and rest. I don't remember not having to clear the table and help with dishes on any day except when we had popcorn and apples or popcorn or ice-cream sodas for dinner. I remembered my "Cinderella childhood" and remembered that resting didn't happen often enough, even on Sundays (good thing my mother is no longer around to consult on the accuracy of that statement)!

Yep, all sorts of bizarre thoughts like that crossed my mind, but then I remembered a TV interview I watched with my husband about an author who recently published a new book about procrastination being a good habit.  We were suddenly all ears. "Sometimes", the author said, "procrastinating leads to getting other jobs done and is good"...  "and some jobs just go away and don't need to be done if you wait long enough". I thought about the stove and wondered if I waited a bit longer perhaps its gourmet-blackened-bottom could be hauled out with the stove?  Then the author added that some jobs are more creatively done if the task is allowed to simmer in your head for a long while first?

Is there a more creative way to clean the refrigerator? I then  grabbed my camera...perhaps documentation of the before and after  of this task would keep me fully engaged, so strong was my temptation to step away from the task at hand.  Perhaps my pictures would qualify us for expert cleaners to come and clean our disgusting messes as on one of those reality programs, where they feature those that are challenged in the house-keeping department? We will, no doubt live a healthier life when I finished and the germs were eradicated?

I thought about all the tasks that I put off as I procrastinate on my computer.  I was missing it for sure and decided that I would order the new book on procrastination when it is up and running again. It had a lot of good things to say, and while I don't remember the author's name or even the title of the book, no matter with a computer.  Research is my hobby, and having a computer has made me a lot smarter, though any practical application of my knowledge is rarely used for I put off using it for a time and then forget.

After finishing the refrigerator and the gross things all disposed of and the food back in the refrigerator, I went over and pressed my computer's on button, and there it was, working again!  A total menu awaited me.  Clearly this new computer was smarter than the last and had read my mind and knew that by shutting down for a while, I would have to clean the refrigerator!