Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stocking Pictures







This is Cassie. I took some pictures of my stocking and Jack's and Erica's and I'm posting them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I don't know what the problem is, but the picture won't upload. I'll try again later.

Christmas is on its way, we can't avoid it


My biggest project for this Christmas season has been to complete the cross stitched stocking for my little grandtwin, Erica. I am attaching a picture. Today I start on one for her daddy, and after Christmas I will begin the last of all of these stockings: Megan's. My goal has been to create a unique heirloom gift for each of my six grandchildren. I made stockings for my two children when they were tots, and my daughter still plays with hers each Christmas. She really does play with it! She puts it on her foot and is teaching her children to do the same.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

It is typical to expresss thankfulness for friends and family and good health. I am thankful that my open heart surgery was two years ago, and I am not still facing that. I am thankful that ordeal is over. I am thankful my brother has recovered from lung cancer. I am thankful that my son and his wife were able to travel to Italy this past week. I am thankful that I will be eating a Thanksgiving Feast with my daughter and her beautiful family in their new home. I'm eager to see the twins and Jack today. I'm also thankful that I am nearly finished stitching Erica's Christmas stocking. I hope she will treasure it.

I enjoy the Macy's parade on tv on this day every year. I miss some things from Thanksgivings past, but we have newer traditions; it is important to look at where we are and look ahead. That is the direction I am going.

This morning I am putting together green bean casserole for our Feast. Last night I baked an apple pie. I hope one day to be strong enough to host the Feast here. Now to start thinking about Christmas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FALL!

I love Fall, and this year is no exception. Leaves are flying in the wind, crowding together in soggy heaps in the gutters along the road, and filling lawns with their color. Especially wonderful are the broad leaf Maple leaves. These leaves are as large as dinner plates and a brilliant yellow. I have Oaks in my yard, and the leaves are a dull brown; not nearly as exciting as the Maple. I'd like to trade trees with the neighbor on the corner.

We have had tons of rain recently, so Lakewood is damp and the streets are wet. The road surfaces reflect lights most of the day with the overcast darkening the sky. Fall always feels like the start of things to me. I suppose that is from my years in school and my twenty-plus years of teaching, when school begins nearly in autumn. The air is brisk and the wind is moist with the promise of more rain. The rain adds to Christmas joy, too, when roads and puddles reflect Christmas lights everywhere.

This is the time of year to settle in and get cozy with a good book or dvd and some needlework. A splendid way to spend some time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dispel the Mist - A Review

This intriguing mystery has Deputy Tempe Crabtree wandering through a mist of half-truths and evasions as she investigates what may have been a murder. Peppered through the mystery are allusions to Native legends. As Tempe draws closer to the truth, she moves closer to her own cultural history and a greater understanding of the people from whom she is descended and whom she protects.

Tempe learns to trust her spirituality as a gift from her ancestors, and she is amazed to find the truth of one of the ancient legends. The story ends in a frightening encounter with the villain, who remains unknown to the bitter end, in a violent thunder and lightning storm and Tempe's protection by the ancient legend.

Marilyn Meredith did not disappoint in this enigmatic mystery; this reader enjoyed the glimpses of Native American culture.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Bogey Man - A Review

This readable, gently humorous cozy mystery by author Marja McGraw is highly entertaining. It appears to be part of a series of mysteries starring female P.I. Sandi Webster.

In this installment, Sandi finds herself haunted by Humphrey Bogart, fedora and all. The novel is peppered with Bogey-isms and sprinkled with slang of the Bogey era. It is a lot of fun and a trip down memory lane for any fan of Bogart, as well as those to whom the old movies are a joy to watch.

The style is breezy, the characters likable, and easy to care about. This reader found herself wishing she could spend real time with this cast, and intends to look for other books in the series. Highly recommend this intriguing mystery which takes the reader from a Halloween party with a grisly murder to a denouement that neatly ties up all the loose ends with a perfect bow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keeping Busy

I don't know how most retired people keep busy. I watch a lot of tv. While watching, I knit or cross stitch or work on my beading (I make rosaries). Today I signed papers for a new mortgage. It will roll together my first and second, and lower my monthly payments, so that is good. I wasn't watching tv while signing papers. The broker rep came here, saving me a trip to somewhere, and being directionally challenged, I am grateful for that.

During the summer months, I had my grandson a lot; he is fun and kept me busy. I find myself missing him like crazy. I'm so glad he is enjoying kindergarten. My prayer for him is/was that school would be a joy. I pray that for all my little grands. I understand from my son that his youngest may not be making the happiest adjustment to kindergarten. I think he is probably smarter than his teacher -- all those little guys have brains outta sight, and are amazing. I expect the local grands to be just as intelligent.

My daughter tells me that the twins may be Norwegian. Now, we think their grandfather is French, I am Serbian, and we aren't sure about their dad's side of the family, but I am guessing Irish. So of course the girls would be Norwegian. They are calling their brother Jack, "Yak." That could be middle European, also, so who knows? Their mother sounded like she was from New Jersey when she was their age. "New Joisey" she would say. Well, it's fun to guess ethnic backgrounds, based on a few random clues.

I haven't seen the local grands recently, so who knows for sure?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thirteen Diamonds - Review

I just finished this intriguing mystery by writer, Alan Cook. Alan has created an engaging protagonist in Lillian, a 70-something senior living in a retirement community. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, Lillian the sleuth, with the author's help, gradually peels back the layers of the mystery of Gerald's death.

Gerald died holding a bridge hand of thirteen diamonds - an almost impossible hand. This reviewer does not play bridge, and is not a skilled in logic. The protagonist is a bridge player and a retired college professor who is accustomed to solving logic puzzles, two of which Cook includes in the mystery. Even reading the solutions left this reviewer mystified.

Overall, this was a fun read, culminating in a near-death adventure for Lillian. Cook writes with an easy, compelling style that engages the reader quickly. Chapters are short and lend themselves to short, quick reading opportunities for busy people.

I strongly recommend this book to any mystery reader. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

i Read It

It's a little after the fact, but I just read the President's speech to our children. I think it is the most inocuous thing I have read in years. It is what EVERY parent should be saying to his or her children.

As far as I can tell, I have not turned into a Socialist, but time will tell. I am a Democrat, so I am probably very liberal. But it all comes out in the wash, doesn't it?

I can thank my son (Out of the Binjo Ditch) for helping me look at politics with a less than a prejudiced eye.

Reviewing

I'm happy to report that I received two books in the mail yesterday to read and review. In fact, I think I will post the reviews here before I send them on.

I enjoy that my opinion on these books will be heard. The Bogey Man seems to be a story that revolves around Humphrey Bogart. Thirteen Diamonds has to do with the game of Bridge. I wonder if someone more familiar with Bridge should be reviewing it? Nevertheless, I will do my very best with it, and review it in terms of someone who knows nothing of the game. That may help determine its mass appeal. Both are mysteries.

Thirteen Diamonds is written from the point of view of a mathematics professor who understands probability (I don't). I'm interested in how I will do with it.

Meanwhile, off to Writer's Roundtable tonight with the first three pages of my children's book in hand. We read our pieces and hope for constructive criticism from the group. In the past, even when I have asked for specific feedback, I have not received it. I went to the group's last meeting, and I am hopeful that the makeup of the group has changed to a more serious and thoughtful group of people who will be able to provide useful critiques. They are nice people, and don't like to hurt anyone's feelings.

Personally, I am self-absorbed enough that I find it hard to focus on what others are reading. So I have to plead guilty to being not always a good group member.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Getting Rejected

There is a saying among writers: "If you're not getting rejected, you're not writing." Steven King reportedly had over 2,000 rejections before someone accepted one of his submissions.

I am proud to say that I am now waiting to hear on two articles I have submitted. One to Catholic Digest, and one to American School Counselor Magazine.

I'll let you know what happens.

Grandsons begin kindergarten

One began last week (School begins early in Texas), and one began today. Jack told his mom this morning, "It's ok to cry, but not to have a nervous breakdown!" I saw him at dinnertime and he greeted me with a shouted, "I'm in Kindergarten!!" I'm glad he is so excited about school. My little Texan may be less enthralled with the education system, but he is so brilliant, he already has left it way behind. I have grandmothered some highly intelligent grandchildren. I'm sure they get it from me. Well...pretty sure, anyway.

It kills me that these wonderful kids have to go to school already. There they will meet little jerks and assholes who will steal their innocence. All six of my grands have wonderful parents, and I am sure that fine parenting will overcome anything those other little kids can come up with.

How Dare He??

It seems a man in Stone Mountain, GA, shopping in a Wal-Mart, became frustrated with a crying child and slapped her several times to shut her up, after telling her mother that he would shut her up if mother did not.

Haven't we all been frustrated at times with crying children? They are annoying on airplanes, and it really bothers me in stores, because I do believe crying children at Target or Wal-Mart probably need to be home napping, not Slapped ! One way to insure a child will continue to cry and/or whine is to punish physically. Children sometimes cry. It is the nature of children.

And it is the nature of many parents to ignore the child's needs and continue shopping to meet their own personal (sometimes selfish) needs. As for planes...no one on the plane wants the child to stop crying more than the parent does. Granted all passengers are an enslaved audience to a crying child, but it does no help to become angry and frustrated. Since I learned to adopt an attitude of, "babies cry; it's their nature" I have been able to remain much more peaceful about crying children.

In stores it is the parents with whom I become annoyed. Come on folks. Make sure the kids are fed and rested before you drag them through Target, and avoid the toy area. Get with the program and be real parents.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray!

After many long months of putting off what needs to be done around here, because of the pain in my hip, a sweet friend - one of my daughter's schoolmates - is helping by cleaning up my house. I am so very grateful for her help today. At last I will be able to enjoy my home again.

This young woman is a hard worker with a gift for clearing out and cleaning up. As I realised I needed help, she was the person I knew I would ask. I don't mind paying for the help, and I hope I am paying her fairly.

I am delighted that she is here with her very beautiful daughter making the place look livable again. And now I will be ready for my covenent group to meet here in a couple of weeks. All I have to do is keep up with it.

On a stranger note, I found myself recently volunteering to teach the youth Sunday School class at church. I like my church and the many nice people who have become friends over the years. I needed that church when I first found it, and it needed me. This summer I visited another church several times; but it didn't need me as much. I like it, too, and it will be where I go whenever something happens where I am.

So my big plan is to engage the kids in a large project. I hope to get permission to paint a mural in one of the Sunday School Classrooms. I hope the kids will give input on this, and help come up with a design. It is an ambitious project, and needs permission from the trustees. I think it could be just the thing to juice up our youth program. Now I need to research murals and learn more about creating one. Anyone have any advice?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good News, Bad News

After more than eight months of constant pain in my hip, today I saw the specialist who pronounced my hips as being in excellent condition. The culprit, it seems, is the "badly arthritic back." I guess I should be glad this debilitating pain is not in my back. As it is, it keeps me off my feet.

The doctor, in a fit of something (!) found it necessary to point out that I am overweight. He must think I don't have a mirror and have never seen a doctor before. This is after the hour and a half beyond my appointment time that I was kept waiting. I finally lost it and went to the receptionist and told her, "This is outrageous!" I can't believe he thinks a "sorry" can excuse such an inexcusable situation. Everybody knew I was upset about the excessive wait. This sucks.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Girls

Our twins are two years old today, a;nd as much a miracle today as the day they were born. Beautiful and smart and sassy and funny -- they are the quintessential two-year-olds. Erica seems like she is the more studious (if a two year old can be called studious!) of the two, while Megan is funny with a quick sense of humor for a child so young. I cannot imagine life without both of these charming little girls.

They are a constant blessing and joy. Conversation with these little girls seems to consist of announcements. "Yaya!" "Ack!" (Jack), "Daddy!" "Bunny!" The identify everyone in their world and associate me with every dark colored van they see, according to mom. It makes me feel so special...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I guess by the time a woman reaches my age and is still single, either she is way too picky or all the reasonably good ones are gone.

I do get lonely, and often wish I had someone in my life. A person I had been seeing I am seeing no longer. He had no interest in what makes me tick: that would be my writing or my art, or my fabulous grandchildren.

The man who is right for me will be interested in me. He will want to get to know me better through my writing and my artwork, he will want to meet my grands. He will want to be in my life.

I already had my time with him, and am sorry that it didn't last. We were together about 3 and a half years, and that was some time ago. I often think about my first divorce and I have regrets. It is too bad he was too stubborn to tell me he was wrong. I know there was a moment there that he wanted to get back together.

So, I regret missed opportunities. And I regret all those damn toads I have kissed along the way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wannabe Writer Is Inspired

This was my big, expensive, extravagance. I decided at the last minute to attend the PNWA Writer's Conference, and due to the immobilising heat, I elected to stay at the Hilton. Too expensive, and way too much walking for my poor hip... And a last minute decision to attend the conference included the opportunity to pay extra to attend.

Wow. I'm not sure it was worth what I paid. I am sure, however, that I came away from the conference knowing more than when I arrived, and I have a story pitch I am working on. A short novel geared toward preadolescents, dealing with young boys whose dads are at war.

I'm really writing it. That is a lot more exciting than one may realize. It is exciting for me to be making the transition from wannabe-writer to writer.

The conference was good for me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It always feels good to get home

I may not always appreciate my home, but when I've been away, there's no place like it. Just home this evening from Texas where I visited my son and his beautiful wife and their three little Texans. It was a hectic week, and things I hoped to do with the kids were left undone.

I just wasn't feeling as good this time, and the meds I'm taking for the sciatica put me to sleep routinely during the day. Nevertheless, I think I could have done more. Now I am deciding that bedtime is the better part of valor for the rest of the evening.

Everyone down Houston way is healthy and apparently happy, even the Apple who gets pretty mad at his Dad sometimes.

The dog just about did backflips when I got home. She must have been terribly lonely, poor baby. Maybe next time I should kennel her. I'll have to think about that. She did help me finish my supper, and she is a good girl overall.

Ok, you talked me into it. I'm going to bed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Identical Twins

They don't get much more identical than Erica and Megan who share the same DNA. Poor Erica has spent two nights in the hospital with viral pneumonia. She came off the oxygen this morning, so we know she is improving, and we hope she will be heading home today. Originally they said she needed to be off oxygen 24 hours before she could go home, but maybe not, since she went off it so early. Erica is the twin in the blue jumper. They are wonderfully happy little girls.

Grandbabies

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pictures? What Pictures?

I've recently had two comments suggesting I post pictures. There are a lot of pictures on this blog. There would be more if someone would tell me where my digital camera is. Right now, any pictures are limited to items I can scan. I'll work on this dilemma.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quilting

Building a quilt is a lot of work. I started my first quilt two years ago with the help of a talented co-worker. Since then, although I had good intentions to finish the quilt, I lost the pieces I had completed. They must be in the house; I suspect they are packed away with the Christmas things, but it will be another day before I pull those bins out and take a look.

Meanwhile, I began my second quilt. This one I have a realistic hope of finishing. I am giving myself permission to be imperfect. I didn't plan ahead very well, so I find myself in the position of having to piece together more squares than I anticipated. This means I am using material/fabric that was not used in the first 2/3 of the quilt. I hope I can make it work. My goal is a random, casual, patchwork piece. So far I'm at 100% on the random, and leaning toward the same with the patchwork. I've built the quilt around plain muslin, unbleached. Tonight my friend told me it looked "vintage." I take that as a compliment. I think she means the subdued choice of colors. These latest patches or squares, will add a more colorful contrast to the earlier squares. I guess that's ok. Maybe once I finish one, I will be encouraged to try another.

Already I am looking at the piecing I am doing, and imagining placemats in the same pattern and colors. That might be fun to attempt later on.

But the whole thing is work! And with this pinched nerve in my back, standing over the cutting table or the ironing board is painful. It's also somewhat difficult to use the pressure foot on the sewing machine. There will be a picture of the finished product when that grand day arrives. I did learn something from an obnoxious woman on a quilting show last weekend. She demonstrated layering the quilt top, the batting, and the backing, and how to sew it all together; then how to turn it right side out. I can do that. I wonder how long before I get to that point? Must finish piecing the quilt top first.

Note to self: 1) buy batting. 2) choose and buy backing fabric and a border for the top.

It's always something more.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Jack asked me, "Yaya, can I ask you a personal question?" I kind of knew what was coming, because his mom had shared a similar conversation with me. "Sure Jack. Ask me a personal question. "What do you do if your pants are on fire?" Well, my pants are slightly personal, of course, so I asked him what I should do. "Stop! Drop! and Roll!" he told me. I love this little guy and his funny sense of humor.

Mom told me he wanted her to play baseball tonight. He told her to keep her elbos up and her knees bent, then threw the ball behind her and told her she was not a good batter. Apparently the ball later landed on the roof. Jack, being a gentleman, didn't want mom to go up after it; no, he was more than willing to climb the ladder and retrieve the ball himself.

On another note, the physical therapy is really beginning to make a difference with the sciatica. Tomorrow will be a truer test. I was limber after my session today, so it makes sense that I felt better. I am feeling less pain, and seem to be able to do more and to have more stamina. I hope soon I will be able to get back to my Curves workouts. I miss them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Haiku Wednesday

With apologies to the Grammar Police, I offer the following in celebration of Binjo Ditch's "Haiku Wednesday":

Darn sciatica
Who needs it? Dang, it sure hurts bad!
PT helps so slow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lonely

I wonder why the seagulls cry?
They come inland when there are storms,
and I hear their lonely calls.
Do they call for a mate,
a friend, a comrade in a crisis?

Sometimes I feel like the seagull's call sounds,
alone and searching.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Coffee

My morning coffee
is a moment in time.
The forward momentum of my being
suspended, hanging in space
when the aroma is born.
Sharp, pungent, scent wafts on
invisible currents of air
caressing my senses
My nostrils quiver
my eyes close
as I inhale
and my tongue reaches
tentatively,
eagerly,
anticipating and savoring
that first sip.
Hot and milky
liquid held in my mouth,
swallowed slowly...
I want to immerse myself inthe experience;
to hear and taste, touch and smell and
be
the pleasure of the cup.

Sherry 2001

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More creativity


I took a class last Sunday down at The Bead Factory in Tacoma. It was called "The Art of the Rosary." I am new to beading, and do not want or need another hobby that will cause me to collect more stuff. However, I enjoy praying the rosary as meditation and to feel spiritually connected to what is so much larger than a mere human, so I thought I would enjoy learning to make one. I did make one, using small pink beads shaped somewhat like shells. Since then I made another rosary, using oval glass turquoise-colored beads. Or maybe they are peacock blue. I'm not sure. I'm improving on my loops, but still am not confident. If you could see how often I am putting pieces back together, you would understand. I think I have a photo of the first one to show you.

Pictures of my book



It turned out to be really fun!

Cassie invited me to go with her yesterday to a bookmaking class. No, this was not a class on how to place bets. This class was how to make a small book, suitable for a journal. I had a wonderful time after everyone finished "helping" me. I asked Cassie if I looked like such a complete dolt that everyone had to do everything for me, but she said I just looked confused. The instructor would tell us what to do next, then tell us 4 more ways we could do it, or her assistant would tell us how she does it...yes, I WAS confused! The book ended up being a trifold, with several pages. We used calendar pages, the big, pretty oens, as design for the covers. Once the book was constructed, I had more fun adding the bling. Last night I printed out a copy of one of my favorite poems: Big Wind, by Theodore Roethke. It is the story of a greenhouse weathering a storm as a ship weathers a gale at sea. Since the poem refers to roses a couple of times, it seemed ideal to include in my book. I'll post pictures. So I cut apart the stanzas and pasted them into the pages of my book. It would make a nice gift if I knew anyone who enjoys poetry as much as I do.

I'm proud of my finished product, and totally enjoyed the creative opportunity. Thank you, Cassie!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Unremarkable Life

Many people work hard all their lives just to stay "even." They live unremarkable lives. They are not heroes or public figures or sports stars. They go about the business of daily living, doing their best to follow the rules and to be good people. They are kind to others in trouble, send money to help out when communities are in flood or drought conditions. They are basically honest people, but may not always return the extra change. They do what they are told, hold doctors in high esteem, and do not tell teachers or police officers, "I pay your salary!"

I think I fit in this category. So do my neighbors on each side of my house. We are what Regan called "The Silent Majority." We trust the political figures who make decisions that affect us. When our taxes go up, we accept it. When the prices of groceries and gasoline go up, we accept it, and only complain to the others who also are "us." Most of us will never achieve Andy Warhol's prediction of "Fifteen minutes of fame." We simply are who we are. We live out the legacy left to us by the unremarkable people who were our parents and grandparents.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pensive

I have been single for about 10 years; sometimes I get lonely.
'Haiku
Face flushing, blood rushing
In my imagination
Wait, hope it will come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

"A fresh wind is blowing" across America. This is the first time Ihave chosen to watch the inauguration of a new president. Watching this spectacle (and many have worked hard to make it into a spectacle) gives me the feeling of a warm breeze blowing in on a day of spring thaw: a promise of warmer days to come, a promise for a future that will provide.

The last couple of years of Bush's presidency have felt discouraging to me. I was so disheartened by the path our country seemed to be taking that I leapt outside my comfort zone and voted Libertarian in this presidential election. Obama makes me feel better. Already he is doing things, making changes, that make me feel encouraged for the future that our children will inherit. I have hope, at a time of great personal change, as I look to retirement. I'm not sure I want to be retired, but I want to have quality time with my grandchildren, and that is more important than a lackluster career. I wish I could believe I had done something that mattered.

In retirement I shall write, paint, draw, and pursue the spirit within me. I have hope.