Friday, December 31, 2004

Women I admire...

Sister Joan Chittister (http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/fwis/fw111804.htm) and Molly Ivins (http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=miv). These women (and there are other women and men)just make me feel better to be alive. I totally admire them and feel they are right on in their perspectives. I'm not even religious and yet, I feel, should I ever sit and have lunch with Sister Joan, I'd be right at home with her. The same goes for Molly Ivins.

It's good to hear the voice of reason and sanity in these times.

Illustration Friday and a Month of Softies!

I've been excited about this...keeps me balanced with all that is happening recently in the world and my own little bubble. So, here is my contribution for "Magic".


Titled, Firefly Magic


And while I'm at it here is my creation for A Month of Softies:



Clothes pin People!

I got this idea from the hang up part...plus, I remember really loving clothes pin people as a child.


Clothes Pin Man


br>
Clothes Pin Woman(looks like a 1920's Flapper)




Clothes Pin Boy




Clothes Pin Senior Ballerina (my favorite)




Isn't she cute?


I made the last Clothes Pin person and she was based on my niece's ballerina teacher. She was an older woman (probably late 60's) and looked so happy teaching the children (they were around 5 and 6). I remember she had fluffy hair and wore a darling pink leotard with a rose skirt. I've always loved how beautiful some older people look. If I should make it to that age someday, I hope I'll have the abilities, strength and beauty of our seniors.

I remember when I was a little girl I had a piano teacher who was the epitome of grace, beauty and kindness. Certainly, she was human and had faults...but not when she was teaching us the piano. Kind, patient and understanding...she brought the lessons out in an interesting and exciting way. Even when I wouldn't practice (and she could tell) she was patient and we went over the previous lessons together.

Her name was Luba (I'm pretty sure I'm spelling this wrong). In Bulgarian, it means love. And she had such lovely hands. The skin was thin and had a shine to them. She had arthritis but they were deft and well practiced at the piano. She wore beautiful coats with big pearl buttons with gold trim and her hair was white and cloud-like. I loved her very much and it was a sad day when we gave up our piano lessons.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I'm going to be ranting here

so let's get that out of the way fast. I shouldn't read the message boards from news stories; I really shouldn't. They make me angry and sad and frustrated. There are, I'm sure, some good people out there but even the best people succumb to name calling and venting their frustrations (to put it mildly). I don't know much but I do know a little and what I know is when your elected officials (even if there is questions about their being elected) give a few crumbs to aid people in need, it's quite disgusting. This is what I'm talking about:

Editorial: Are We Stingy? Yes


Published: December 30, 2004

"President Bush finally roused himself yesterday from his vacation in Crawford, Tex., to telephone his sympathy to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and to speak publicly about the devastation of Sunday's tsunami's in Asia. He also hurried to put as much distance as possible between himself and America's initial measly aid offer of $15 million, and he took issue with an earlier statement by the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who had called the overall aid efforts by rich Western nations "stingy." "The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill informed," the president said.

We beg to differ. Mr. Egeland was right on target. We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

Mr. Bush said yesterday that the $35 million we've now pledged "is only the beginning" of the United States' recovery effort. Let's hope that is true, and that this time, our actions will match our promises. "

This would have fit so well with the message board I was on the other day. There were a few people in favor of dear old Bush and defended him by bashing France. This person basically said that France was giving a measly amount of 125 k. This turned out to be untrue as I did a basic search on France and aid and it turns out they are giving something like 20 million (http://www.ttc.org/200412291555.ibtftsc16569.htm) . Remember France is a small country and this is quite a bit for them. What did the US promise? 15 million. This coming from a country that toots its horn for being the wealthiest around. Hmmm. Does this sound like a moral and Christian president? I don't know...let us remember the story of the Good Samaritan...

The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/bible/luke10.stm)


Now, what does this have to do with our current prez? Let's see...Bush claims to be a moral, Christian president. Hence, he believes in the principals of the bible. My question is, is Bush following the teachings of the bible in making his decisions to lead, protect and help? Further, if Bush were in the story of the Good Samaritan which person would he be? Obviously not the Samaritan. Saying you are going to do something and actually doing something are two entirely different things.

And yet, all said and done, most likely the promises will remain just that...promises. Wouldn't it be wiser to stop bombing Iraq, start establishing talks with the "insurgents", take our troops to Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc and do some ACTUAL peace keeping? Wouldn't this make more sense and make me believe this president might actually be a little "moral"? Wouldn't helping people in need create a sense of balance in the American people and the rest of the world?

I hope the answers are in the works and not in the words.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Words cannot describe...

what people are suffering in Asia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and really the world. I know most of us have donated and I know that will help a little.

What I believe this Tsunami is telling us is we need to stop fighting amongst each other and focus on helping each other. There is no reason to be in a war. My God! There is natural disaster to survive and help each other to survive.

I was really saddened to learn that if there had been the Mangroove trees (they were chopped down to create shrimp farms for cheap shrimp) the human cost would have been a lot less. Why are we so greedy? Why do we allow people to be greedy? Didn't the parents of the greedy people say, hey, you need to share your toys and not hog up everything? I mean, my parents did that with me and my 3 siblings. Some people would argue and say, "it's not that easy. There are complicated issues..." Yeah, right. It's about greed and it's about those that Have and those that Don't Have. In this case, those that have said, I don't want any Mangroove trees to get in the way of my cheap shrimp and to hell with those who tell me otherwise.

Am I being judgemental? Hell, yes. This is wrong. This is so wrong...and like it or not this is what environmental genicide looks like. This is why we need to be concerned about trees, water, pollution, melting ice caps, etc. I mean in Washinton DC the river is turning up male fish that have eggs!!! What in the world? Cancer is spreading to humans along the waters edge. Yes, I'm concerned and a whole lot of other people ought to be too. This is wrong.

As the
  • Lorax by Dr. Seuss would say, " Mister!...I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.And I´m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs...What´s that THING you´ve made out of my Truffula tuft?" In this case, they made shrimp farms.



  • Sunday, December 26, 2004

    Monday midnight snow

    It finally snowed...a few days late but it's snowing. It's funny how people think about snow and time and what is terrible and what isn't. I don't think being 2 hours late because of snow is so horrible. I don't. Now, having an 8.9 earthquake Tsunami...now that is horrible. I'm thinking of my sister-in-laws time home to Boston. They said they were driving 30 mph in heavy snow. That is scary but not horrible scary. I'm glad they are safe and sound. Still, it's not what Thailand and other Asian countries experienced. Terrible stuff.

    In other news, we had a fairly good Christmas. I became spoiled with the desire for more loot. It's not like I wanted to be like that...I just thought I'd get something from my husband...esp. from him. Something handmade and thoughtful. But he claimed my winter coat as his gift to me...I ordered it. I felt a tad cheated...and then throughly selfish. I made him get me a camera battery (it didn't work otherwise). I feel kind of small for complaining...because I did. I always do that to my self...get my expectations up and start imagining that I'm going to get some "big" gift or surprise. I think it started when I was about 5 years old. I remember that I saw this alphafa bundle in the garage. The only thing I could conclude was that my dad was getting me a horse. Oh, I started to get so excited...I picked out a name (Strawberry) and couldn't wait to see it. I imagined it was white and it was going to live in the garage. Then I found out the bundle of alphalfa was for my dad's pigeons. Boy was I dissappointed. I remember crying and feeling like I was betrayed and all because of my dreams of a white horse named Strawberry. I think my parents felt sorry for me and that is how I started getting rabbits and guinea pigs later on.

    Expectations. I've had a few dashed to pieces and others swept aside and still more that came true in the most wonderful way (such as the births of my daughters...there I expected to die or be horribly maimed in some way). So, I guess it balances...these expectations of good and bad.

    All in all, it was a good Christmas and I feel blessed and spoiled. Now, to spread this to people who need more than I.


    So, I'm writing this little bit to remember to share.


    Please remember our troops and donate to:
  • Red Cross


  • Doctors without Borders


  • Unites troops to loved ones


  • Any soldier...give essentials to our armed forces

    Peace, Hope and Love to all!
    Em

  • Friday, December 24, 2004

    My Illustration

    I decided to do this Illustration Friday stretching lesson. The topic is Home.



    Title: Home with the cats 12/2004

    I've never really done that much artwork with the computer, so I thought I'd do something simple (also, I only have Photoshop 4). I enjoyed trying out this medium. I usually work with Chinese Ink and various paints, so this was definitely a stretch.

    Also, the subject is a touchy one for me. I tried to go as idealistic as I could and simple. It's funny how when you get to thinking about a subject or in this case the idea of home, it begins to draw out all sorts of feelings, thoughts and memories. What is home? For me, it's a space you've created with bits and pieces of familiarity and function. It must have comfort and warmth. It must have a sense of welcome-ness about it. For me home is not just a place to live but a word which connotes a sense of peace and love. Home is a place you can dream and cry and laugh and curse and still come back to with open arms. It's safe and if you are lucky, it will have all the dishes washed up and the floor vacuumed once in a while.

    Monday, December 20, 2004

    Monday....brrrrr

    It's warming up... It's now 12 degrees Farenheit! Last night it was 1 degree. Not that I can tell the difference. It was freezing cold...the kind of cold where the grass starts to look white and ashy. The ground is so hard it's like walking on crunchy concrete. It's good thing we have to be padded; if you fell you'd fall painfully.

    I still don't have a winter coat. I have my old "winter" coat from California. The kind that is warm when it's a California cold of 45 degrees. This coat is not doing the job here in Pennsylvania. The wind slices through and it feels like I'm wearing a lace dress or something. Terrible.

    Now my hands are starting to rebel. They gotten so chapped and scratchy I can hardly crochet with out getting the yarn stuck on my hands. I'll have to get some heavy duty cream.

    At this moment, my darling daughters are 1. blowing bubbles into their milk cup and 2. have banana oatmeal spread about her forehead bottle and hair. Such is the life of happy, healthy babies.

    Mr. Nelson is peeing on the floor more lately. I don't know how to change this. I understand it's so cold outside that I don't even want to open the door. Poor Mr. Nelson. Even if he pees on the floor/rug at least he licks up the oatmeal off the chairs/table and floor. He's pretty good, usually.

    My oldest daughter tells Mr. Nelson (when he tries to mooch off her tray) "I'm not your lunch!" And she's assertive too. I'm glad she's telling this dog to sit, no and "teel" as she says it (heel).

    I got up at 4:30am with Jon. We were looking for thermal underwear. I found it later in the washer. I ended up staying awak until 9am. Cleaned, straightened and tried to do all the little things I couldn't do with the girls around. I got the christmas lights on, finally. I was so angry because every string seemed to have half the lights not working. I found an extra string of lights and Jon's parents gave me 2 (but one only worked). Glad that is out of the way. Now, I need to decorate.


    Norrie eating breakfast



    Lydia finishing up



    Mr. Nelson looks innocent but that's my daughter's winter hat under his tummy


    It's too cold to snow. That is good and bad. I want it to snow...but then I don't want it to (ice is not far behind this).

    We got a fake tree. Wah! I wanted a real one but everyone is too sick to go to the Christmas tree farm and they don't sell trees at the Target over here. Sigh... I really wanted a real one. I did buy a small potted tree that we will plant. That does make me feel better. I wish I could swipe a few branches of my sis-in-laws Blue spruce. It's a giant tree (over 40 feet high, I'm guessing). Beautiful and I wish we had one. I can't believe how cold it is. 1 degree last night and it "warmed up" to 12 degrees. Insane. I took Mr. Nelson out for a bathroom break and the leash rubbed against my poor dry hands and made them bleed! This has never happened. I had to go in because I thought I'd faint.

    I hope everyone else is staying warm...as much as possible.

    Em in the cold East. How I feel: why did we move here? Book I'm reading: True Grit by Charles Portis

  • Charles Portis


  • Wish I had read this before I talked to the people with the school situation. It's a great and inspirational story. I thank Lyndad Barry for mentioning once on one of her listings on Ebay.
  • Lynda Barry!
    She's so cool!



  • Friday, December 17, 2004

    Feeling better...

    That's about how I feel. I'm feeling better and am starting to look at what I can do and not what I can't. This makes feel more impowered. It helps that family and friends are all on my side, 100%. This is actually a good reminder of how much I do have, not what I have lost.

    In other news, it's cold. Supposed to have 6-18 inches(!) of snow. My goodness. I threw a bunch of salt on the walk with a sand mix. Sand is better for our little cannine's paws. Mr. Nelson is doing good though he needs a bath. I gave him a bath with baby wash (all I had) a few weeks ago. I think I need to use doggy soap. Otherwise, he's doing good.

    The girls are getting over their colds and Jon has a cold now. The car broke down in the parking lot when Jon went to mail my letters/ebay packages. Of all things, it stopped in the entry way of the parking structure. The steering wheel just wouldn't budge. Thank all that is Good, he was in the parking structure and not some where dangerous. I'm very glad he's all right.

    I'm going to do more artwork once all this Holiday stuff is somewhat over. I'm glad we're having holidays but I wish they weren't so stressful. I miss my family in California, even if they are a bit hard to talk to. I just wish I could blink everyone over to my house and we could have hot apple cider and eat and laugh and have a good time. This is impossible with my dad. He could have so much happiness but refuses all that is offered. Sigh...

    In other news, we will probably get our tree tomorrow!!! I wish it was a big potted one, but it will most likely be cut. Ah, well. It should be great. I can hardly wait to see that beautiful tree (hopefully medium or small) on the coffee table in the front window. It will be beautiful and the smell! This is really the main reason I love getting real trees. The smell is so wonderful. I had artificle trees all my childhood and always vowed to have real ones someday. When I was in college I bought a little potted tree and carried it home on the bus. It must have been too warm for it died shortly after Christmas. I was always a sad about this. I hope any tree I get now will grow strong and be here for many years.

    Things I've found in my dog's hair:
    1. spaghettio's on his nose and smeared onto his forehead
    2. a green lucky charm stuck to his hiney
    3.lo mein
    4. rice
    5. crumbs from something (cookies?)
    6. green beans

    Can you tell we have toddlers? Poor happy, chubby dog...

    I have tons of projects to do. I finished my bestfriends baby blanket. It is done in free style crocheting. It came out a little too free and looked like a skirt. After I ripped off one section and started panicking that I had ruined it, I salvaged it and it looked Okay. Still, I was sad because it didn't come out exactly like I imagained. I wanted it to look beautiful and perfect and it wasn't. Then my smarter half, Jon, came along and said this could be a lamb, it's so soft. And it kind of looks like a lamb too. Next thing, I'm adding eyes, nose, ears, tail and it looks so good! I'm so happy now. I thought it was awful but now it's saved and heck, I want one too! I hope my dear friend, Caroline, likes it too. I'll post it once I'm finished with the beauty.

    I'm starting to wish I had a nanny. I want to do everything but I can't. I'll just do what I can and try to control the inner voice from being too critical.

    Things I'm working on:
    1. Several mini-quilts
    2. 3 paintings
    3. Crocheting a few extra goodies
    4. My writing
    5. My book(s)
    6. Illustrations for various magazines I want to publish in
    7. Ebay, of course
    8.wood cut sculptures

    Things I've finished:
    1.A quilt
    2. Crocheted blanket
    3. 3 crocheted purses
    4. Magazine illustration (shall post this on my web site www.gottshall.com) Shall be published in February
    5. painted dining room floor
    6. mailed X-mas cards and got cute santa stamps for them
    7. Collecting material for eventually subbing again for various ages and updating my sub lesson plan notebook.

    Things I'm wishing for:
    1. Time
    2. I was finished with most of what I started and could move on to the next project
    3. My mom to visit me for the Holidays and however long.
    4. My sister to visit me, etc.
    5. A long winter coat that was so warm, I'd feel like I was in a sleeping bag.
    6. An uncrying baby.

    Gotta go!
    Peace








    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    Sad day on Monday...

    I felt like I should never have gotten out of bed on Monday. First, I was sick and second my voice was not much more than a croak. However, I was determined to be a good substitute and go to work if they gave me a ring. And the school system did. I subbed, then at 3:30pm I was told I was not substitute material. I have no real reason why I was fired. The things this person told me where things I could totally improve on. The person said I was not teacher material and that I should go back to school. This person watched me like a hawk, literally, and then attacked when they could (discrediting my work with the students, and making them feel unsure about what I was teaching). I felt like I was in some crazy world. I have never seen such unprofessionalism.

    I was called into the office and this person said every possible thing I did wrong. This is not constructive critism. This is critism with the intent of firing a person and not giving them a chance to even defend them selves. I did defend my self as best I could but I was in shock. This was my second time subbing. Do I feel sad? Yes. Do I feel this is wrong? Oh, yes.

    I plan on going back to school (I just thought I'd start it in the Fall of 2005). Now, I have to look into going sooner. The job description didn't even say that I had to have my credentials. Ridiculous. In CA, I took the CBEST and passed it. Here they don't have anything like that. Plus, they only pay $70 a day. From what I hear this is low. I'm going to try my hardest and learn from this experience. This person even wrote I wasn't dressed properly. I wore knitted pants and they described them as sweats! Now I know why this school has a bad rep.

    In other news, it's snowing, snowing, snowing. At first I was really bummed because of all the stuff that happened on Monday (and I still am). But I'm feeling better now that I've had a few of these delicious Italian cookies. I mean they are good and they were on sale(!) for $2.50 at Weis. Yummy!

    I think I have a crazy dog. He gets so hyper and then so tuckered out he's like a big stinky fur pillow. I love the crazy little nut. Also, he reminds me a bit of my dad...the fluffy white hair with a slight wave and curl. Very cute. I have to keep training this little guy because he will take advantage! Oh, yes.

    Sad, sad news


    "This undated photo released by the Australian Antarctic Division, two Adele penguin chicks are seen standing between their mother's legs in the Antarctic's Cape Royds. Tens of thousands of Antarctic penguin chicks face death by starvation in the next few weeks as a huge iceberg blocks access to ocean feeding grounds where 3,000 breeding pairs of Adele penguins on Antarctic's Cape Royds face a 180-kilometer (112-mile) round trip to bring food to their chicks. (AP Photo/Australian Antarctic Division, HO)"--AP Yahoo News

    This makes me sad that we aren't taking better care of our world. I'm sure it's partly from Global Warming this is happening. I know there is nothing I can do. I think I will do a painting of these little guys.

    I may even write a poem about this. This might make me feel better.

    I hate to close on such a sad note. Besides all that is happening to me, I know it will pass and that I will learn from these experiences. I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." So very true. I shall not wallow in self pity. I will rise up and brush the slushy snow from my shoes and be better for it.

    Did I mention I have a best friend and lover in my husband? I am so very blessed...he makes me see the buds of future leaves on what appears to be barren branches. I hope I can be a little like him.





    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    Sundays...

    It's one of those days. I'm sick, the kids smell poopy, the dog is acting totally hyper and is now outside in the cold on the line, and I feel yucky. I took dayquil at 3 in the morning and it's starting to wear off. We were going to go to the tree farm and get our tree, ride the sleigh across the wintry landscape (horse pulled!) and pick the perfect tree. I don't feel guilty about getting a cut tree anymore as I have also got a potted mini-tree and this will be planting in our yard come the spring! We're also going to go big on Arbor Day and plant up to 5 trees (blue spruce, oak, walnut, and a couple of fruit trees). I'm very excited about this. In fact, if it was to me, I'd prefer to get trees for my Christmas presents. They are so wonderful. I'm always saddened to see trees cut down. Some people close to my family cut down their trees. Why? Because there were just too many leaves. WHAT THE HELL?!? What are trees without leaves? Did they put new replacement trees like evergreens? No. They are terrible. Absolutely. The sad thing is they have 2 kids around my kids age but they are bible thumping scared people who only associate with those in their church and close, close family. Plus, their windows are all covered up and they never open them. Odd people.

    Don't get me wrong. I think religious people are fine and dandy when they are truly spirtual, hold true to the idea that you pray privately, don't hurt people and do good work. That's really what I apply to most people...I try to do that to my self too. It's when people try to inforce their views on others that I hold issue. For example, some people find it wrong to smoke. I don't smoke. But I wouldn't hold up signs of people with cancereous lungs and go up to an adult and say "This is you in 5 years!" I think it's their choice. Am I happy with it? No. But they are free to make the choice about their bodies. Just like tattoing, drinking, wearing makeup, dying your hair, eating cheese burgers or veggie burgers, picking your nose in public, wearing or not wearing underwear, etc. We are all different and have the right to be different.

    That's it for now. peace.

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    Subbing

    At last I was called in at 6:15am to substitutes at an elementary school. My prime focus is junior high, but I'll take anything right now. It was really nice, however, to work with kids that are just starting out and haven't been burned out by the school years.

    I worked with kindergartners! I don't know, but I think they are super fun, make me laugh and want to cry and just feel good. They are spontaneous with their hugs and tears. I learned that I am very human too. I'm not immune from life's failures and certainly not perfect. I left my class at the computer lab (I misunderstood the kind elementary teacher when she said "Your late for lunch" like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. She offered to help me...turn off the computers but I thought she meant she was going to take the kids down to lunch. Yikes! ). Oh, it was intense and embarassing to say the least.

    Then there were the random tears flowing at not getting a red jello, being separated from their best buddies, getting tired, wanting their momma, someone pulling their hair, etc. It was high emotion. Then there were the smiles, the hugs the "I love yous", and the manipulation for the candy basket. I don't really like that part but I think it's all right to give them some sweets. I certainly do that with my kids and puppy (who is chewing on my shoes. Fortunately, my foot is not in it).

    I liked the kids, I admit. Would they like to see me again tomorrow? Will I be called in tomorrow? I don't know. The principal is a nice guy, quiet and soft spoken. I can understand that. But it's all a matter of how the snow flake falls.

    Speaking of which, thank the stars it's not snowing! I'm really happy it's only wet and rainy. The rain is hard at times and it sounds pregnant with hail. I'm happy I'm inside and it's quiet (except for Mr. Nelson, who just went through his crazies). The smell of a burnt out fire swirls past my senses and the road sounds wet as the cars drive. It's a nice quiet moment. I missed my girls but not in a break my heart kind of way. More like a I know they are mostly safe and I am glad. Although, I am sad to know that my trusted in-laws are not as trusted to be thought. They drove down to their house (mind you it was 2 blocks away) with only 1 child in car seat. They weren't going to tell me. Can you believe this? I haven't ever done this with my kids. I would not do this. I'm shocked and quite angry about their lack of concern. They are more concerned with being clean then safety. This bloggles my mind. My dad-in-law even casualy said "and you'll never now which one was in the car seat." I replied "That's very Sofie's Choice of you." I want to tell them this too "You know if the girls get hurt in your car and there's blood, you're going to have to get your upholstry cleaned professionally." Yes, that's very sarcastic but they need to realize you don't play around with children like that. I don't know why they are so flippant about their grandchildren. They keep talking about how it was in the 60's but my god, it's the year 2004! All it takes it one wrong move.

    Baby sitters, paying for one, sounds better and better. I know they are free, but I wouldn't mind paying for one if they didn't treat my children like bags of clothes. I don't get it. I even want to get my dog a seat belt for the car!

    I was quite dismayed by this and it has dampened my upbeat feeling from the rest of the day. I'm going to have to stress the importance of children car seats or I don't know what. I'll research all the worst news I can find and give it to grandma and hopefully, grandpa will come around. As my dad is fond of saying (and I really hate this expression but it seems to fit) "Foolishnes".

    Monday, December 06, 2004

    Dog baths...

    I know, I know I keep writing about my new dog, Mr. Nelson. What can I say? He's really exciting since he's only 8 months old and very hyper (one of the traits of the Bichon).

    Today, I gave him a bath. Actually, I gave everyone a bath and then I gave Mr. Nelson a bath too. I had to use baby wash (that's all I had). He was starting to smell. It's not the end of the world if he smells but it helps to have a not so brown look to his white fur.

    He's a lot skinnier than I thought he was going to be. I suspected he'd be trim, but I didn't realize he was that skinny underneath. He looks so puppy-ish with the muscular upper body typical of pups that like to jump on you. I'd say for a first dog, I could have done a lot worse. He's pretty patient too. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst bath ever) this was probably a 2. He didn't like the hair dryer and started to snap at it...all I saw was a blurr of little white teeth in his dark mouth. I'm still not used to dogs, I think. All I've ever had was cats and smaller animals. So, this is really different. I think Mr. Nelson is finally tired out. He likes to follow me everywhere (he's not allowed in the studio and the basement...too much dirt he could track around the house and I don't want him to go crazy in the studio until I fix it up).

    Peanut butter. It is true that dogs love this stuff. As do toddlers, apparently. I took Mr. Nelson out for 10 minutes and came back to find my 2.5 year old Lydia smearing peanut butter on the storm windows. She had decided to paint the rug too and the cupboards. Mr. Nelson tried to help but it was just too much. It's been one of those days.

    Weather-wise, it's awful. Cold, stingy rain is falling (sometimes turning to ice droplets) and making the steps unsafe not to mention uncomfortable to just be out. I still have to go to the post office and mail my packages. I hate that. I wonder if my dad-in-law is available to help out...:-)

    Went to my parents-in-laws Christmas Choir. It was nice...though the first half was way religious...over kill if you ask me. People will just get burned out...and the reason most people go to a Christmas choir is for Christmas music...not someones religious music. Some might argue they are the same, but not in my opinion. You don't hear "Away in the Manger" or "Silent Night" any other time of the year...unless you've got a quirky church. Otherwise, it's all around the holidays you here this stuff. I love Christmas music too. I get all emotional and happy and for a few moments I can imagine what that rebel Jesus was about. It's unfortunate that a lot of religions take out Jesus' preaching on the Mount and anti-consumerist ways. There are some churches that are more open to this interpretation but they are rare endangered species.

    I was talking to a friend and I made the comment that we should give to charities instead of gifts. We could do that next year and only give the kids a few things and to charities for ourselves. She was totally opposed to this! I was truly surprised. She's what you'd call a good Catholic but she wants her gifts. Later on, she said she wouldn't mind not getting a gift but she had to give people something. I think she felt guilty. It's odd because I didn't mean to make her feel bad and I really thought/think it's a good idea.

    I guess I feel this way because of what happened with my parents. They've had the worse luck/trouble recently with the court system in LA and have lost their home and several pieces of property. Besides this, the person who did this to them destroyed so much of their belongings. Everything from family photos, my moms hand made quilts she made, my father's work tools, my brothers things, beds, clothing etc. At the same time as this was happening my father is going through blindness (he has glaucoma)and mental stress. They tried to get a lawyer to no avail. And my mom is depressed about everything. I've even tried to help in my own way with letters but nothing has happened for the better. They were on the streets for a month at one point.

    Now, the good news. They have gotten a little apartment and can start to make a new life (my dad is still trying to fight what happened...my mom is sorting what she can salvage from the tons of trash bags they put her stuff in). But it's hard. All my childhood memories of stuff, family chairs and items, destroyed, lost and stolen. I'm sad and angry about what has happened. But then I started to think about this. It's just stuff. Sure, it was totally wrong to happen and probably could have been prevented. But it's stuff. My parents are alive, my brothers are fine. They have been totally screwed mentally but they are still here. I think about people in Iraq and I feel so awful about their situation. And I realize what my parents have gone through could be so much worse and thank all that is good, it isn't. Do I count my blessings? I assure you that I do, everyday. I'm blessed with health, a sound mind, a healthy and happy family of my own and so much more. I might be in debt, but I have so much. It's really amazing how much I have. How much so many have. And if anyone is reading my writings, how much you have dear reader.

    That's why I think it's good to tithe your self. I don't have a religion and I don't care to really have one. But I do believe giving back (no matter how small or big)is one of the better parts of religions and of the Bible.

    Anyway, just my thoughts about this time of year and the potential to do good.


    Now, I'm off to do some artwork...I hope!

    Sunday, December 05, 2004

    Sundays

    I think I like Sundays best of all. We're not church going people (yet) so we have the whole day to do what we like. I went for a walk with Mr. Nelson and we said hi to various neighbors. It was a nice time.

    Art wise, I finally got to go into my studio and do some work. Of course, I find out I've run out of paper and I was just at the store. I don't like shopping during December. It's an awful maddness out there. That's one of the reasons I like making my gifts. I don't have to get stressed by buying stuff I either don't really like or people don't really need, and stuff I can't really afford. If I could I would make everyones gift and that would be it. But I can't do everything (like sew up sweat pants or something of that nature) so I have to get a few things.

    I'm so happy about a couple of small aspects in my life. I know this is weird but I'm happy I got my hubbies and father-in-laws present for 75% off! I couldn't believe it. This was a big surprise. I'm not telling what I got them until later. hehehe It's something fun and something they remembered from their youths.

    The other happy feeing is that we resolved a big problem. We almost lost our dog, Mr. Nelson, when he sneaked out of the slightly ajar porch door. It was intense. He started running in these circles and the circles got bigger and bigger. Then he was almost on the street and I was screaming "he's going to get hit! He's going to get hit by a car!" Finally, Jon grabbed him and brought him in. Thank the stars. I was really freaking about this and angry that Jon left the door open. Well, Jon trotted over to the hardware store and got a door spring. Tada! no accidently leaving open the door! I'm happy now.

    I'm also happy that I've got the paintings under control and I was in my studio (even if it is a mess...and boy is it). I love my studio but I rarely get to work in it because I'm painting the walls and I can't have toddlers in there and a puppy. Maybe I should just paint it really fast and be done with it.

    I wish I wasn't so messy. Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution. Not to be so messy and have so much stuff. I could do with a little cleaning out. Nothing dramatic, just give away some stuff and clear up some space. A good place to give away things is www.freecycle.com

    My goal is to have one corner of my studio be my little alter type place. I'm not religious and it wouldn't be to any god or anthing like that. Just a place to focus...meditate. I'd probably just have some flowers and a candle or two.

    Jon and I also semi-fixed our fireplace. Smoke kept pouring out of the mouth of the fireplace (and we did open the flue). So we made a covering to reduce the size of the mouth and it works about 85%. I have to put the logs at the far end of the fireplace or the smoke will come out. The covering is made of aluminum and I did a simple two doves and a heart pattern on it. It looks pretty cute and is practical.

    I realize now, I should get my hair done more often then every 1.5 years or more. I feel like I have a mass of hair...that would be nice looking if the ends weren't a brunt look. I just hate going to the salon. I wish I could do it my self, but I can't (I've tried...it's not a good thing). I don't really have a style and I'm nervous about doing something too far out.Maybe I will anyway. It's just hair and it will grow back and I've dyed it purple once. What was my point? Oh, yes. When walking a dog and your hair is in a messy bun, people seem to stare at you more...at least that's what I felt like. I should have worn my puffy fleece hat. I look like a giant mushroom, but oh well. That's the nice thing about winter. Hiding in warm comfy clothes. I love that. People that want to show off their bodies Good for you! But for me, I want to hide in layers and if I could I'd walk around in a blanket all day. Okay. That sounds weird. I'd like to do that on the coldest days, actually. Not on hot humid days.

    It's sad that people have to live up to these perfect standards of beauty. Even beautiful people have to keep it up and worry about their beauty fadding. But it always does. That's the process of being human. And, that is why it's so important to develop ones mind and humor. I've watched these extreme makeovers shows and some people do need help (that are born with physical deformaties). But others don't need anything. They are fine looking people. They worry about a little weight, a hooked nose, a big chin (I have that) and all these other things that are really not bad at all. What these people need to do is stop focusing on themselves and volunteer every weekend at a homeless shelter, make friends in a different group than you would be in, and don't watch TV for a couple of months (or never). I have stuff that's not accepted socially on me, but for goodness sakes, that's not what I am about. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I think some people get lost in their own little obsessions and need to change something like their attitude. If it's something medically needed then we should opt for doctors intervention. But just to make your self into a "new" person? That sounds very twilight zone-ish (we all need to be the same, look the same, etc)to me.

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    Flurries today

    Saw flurries today. Boy, it was cold but I had to make it to the market with the girls and our dog, Mr. Nelson. I felt so Laura of Little House-ish. But fortunately, by the time we got the market (5 minutes away) the sun came out and it was a bit warmer (35 degrees!). Mr. Nelson behaved really well...though I notice we are now sporting muddy paw prints on our car seats. Sigh.

    I've never had a dog. Just let me make this clear. Never. I've always wanted one and now I am in love with dogs. I've always been good with animals...really good. I've raised a crow, roosters, pigeons, all sorts of birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits (this was in my early years from 6 to about 11...so their care wasn't the best...I've always felt bad about this), and of course my cats. Actually, I've only had cats since 1990. I had to sneak them in. My dad was very anti-cat and dogs. He heard some jibberish about them being deadly (something to do with the fleas) and banned them from the house. Otherwise, I had a variety of pets, just not the typical kind. So, I feel complete in my having my first dog. And let me say, I love him. He's crazy and annoying at times (Bichons do a crazy house run for about 4 minutes and then they're fine the rest of the day) but I can relate. I didn't think this was possible, but I do. I esp. like the fact that he likes to eat anything...another similarity. He's such a good dog...usually. And so like a toddler...already he's torn up 2 books (of all things, Animal farm...similar to our house only in the title). I'm going to attempt putting up his picture here Hope this works. If not, I'll try again.

    I wish I could take him into the stores, like I did at the petstore. But you can't do this in the market which is a shame, really. But the car was warm (I'd be reluctant to do it in warm weather...have heard too many stories. However, my husbands uncle will leave his dog in the car with the air conditioner going...he and his wife will check on the dog to make sure he's not over heating. They're really sweet).

    As for art work, I've been trying to catch up with all the excitement of a new dog. It was a bit crazy settling in at first...and he still jumps up on the girls especially the little one, Norrie. She has a few scratches on her face and I fear she's going to develop a complex. I'm going to have to swat Mr. Nelson with a newspaper. I don't want to, but I guess I'll have to.

    I've got to go and mail paintings out that were won on Ebay. I'm glad I can make people happy with my work. It's a neat feeling being able to do this.

    I'm working on so many projects; it's becoming a bit obsurd. But you know, it's better then being idle and watching television. I've gone down to 2 hours or less a week. This is incredible to me. Sometimes I don't watch TV for a month. The only time is for the kids with PBS. And now that the VCR broke we don't get to watch any videos. Our all time favorite is My neighbor Totoro. It is the best movie for little kids. However, after the 12th viewing I was starting to get a little overwhelmed. I usually cry when little Mei gets lost and it just breaks my heart when Seitsuki finds Mei and calls out her name and little Mei cries and then the cat bus jumps down and there is her sister! Oh, good story. I wish I could even attempt to write like this. Certainly, it's not all true to life, but oh, the realism mixed with fantasy is so perfect! Hayao Miyazaki is a wonderful story teller and artist. I would recommend him to anyone and all ages. http://www.totoro.org/faq.shtml Princess Monoke, however is a bit more grown up, not for little ones.

    Now that Christmas is on it's way, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed even more. I wish I didn't have to decorate the house and in fact, I think I will go on the simple side this year. Not too much decorating. I wish I could do Ikea type Christmas but even that seems overwhelminghttp://www.ikea-usa.com/

    The one thing that is really annoying about living in a small town is the newspaper. I guess it's depressing that the newspaper of Altoona is so small. I wish it was more like the Washington Post. I know this is terrible, but I like the ads (I got an Ikea magazine in the W.P.) and comics. W.P. has such good comics, even better than the LA Times which removed half of the good comics and put in junk stuff. I'm going to make it my Sunday tradition and aim for a W.P. paper. I don't have to have a coffee (for obvious reasons).

    Did I mention, I went crazy on coffee last Sunday? I was cleaning a mile a minute, yelling at everyone, jittery and couldn't concentrate. Not a good thing. I shall only take decaf from now on. If I get a regular, it will have to be an emergency. I think I'm naturally a little high strung person, I might not show it but I think about things too much, perhaps. Does this make me odd or special? I think it makes me thoughtful...usually.

    Well, my feet are freezing. It's about 33 degress and the furnace is set at 59 or 60. Will I turn it up or dare to wear my slippers around my puppy? I'll try to wear the slippers. Mr. Nelson will attack them even with my feet inside. He bites! Hard! On my ankles, no less! Ouch. This is the thorn of Mr. Nelson's personality. It will pass. Right?


    Sociable

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