Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Illustration Friday: Tea

Couldn't resist sharing this little illo...mouse in tea cup. I've seen lots of great illustrations for this week's topic. If I have time, I will do another one. I love tea and coffee. I just finished a cup of pepperment tea...lovely stuff, esp. with toast, butter and honey. Now, that is what I call a refreshing snack for Winter.

Speaking of Winter, we actually got some snow last night. It's been very cold but no snow and well, though I don't like driving in snow storms or having to worry about ice, it's nice to have snow when you should be having snow! It was getting so I actually saw a neighbor starting his plot for a garden. But now we're back to having snow and cold. Feels good.

A fantastic book I must recommend for children is called The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline Ogburn and illustrated by Laurel Long. This is such a wonderful story about a young woman who must rescue the ice prince in what appears to be a reversed Sleeping beauty. The story has a similiar feeling to "Ever After" and the illustrations are incredible. If I could get a poster of some of these paintings for my girls rooms, I would. I'm going to have do some research on Laurel Long's work...exquiste.


I must say, tea and toast has a very good effect on me. I just feel so relaxed and happy. I'll be glad when it's this time next week and my nasal surgery will be over. I hope all will go well.

A few things I admired as I drove over to tutor some of my students and home again: A frozen pond and yellow reefs surrounded by fresh white snow, clear blue skies and bare patient trees waiting for Spring and a person bundled from head to toe in winter garb with puffs of cold air streaming from their mouth like smoke from a pipe.

It was one of those days where if you stood in the sun you felt warm but if you were in the shadows you felt cold and frozen. The wind was not as biting as it was a few days ago but today seemed to be drawing in some of the rays and circulating it to the cold earth.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Busy as a bee, part 2

This was one of those weekends where Jon had to work on Saturday, so I'm off by a day. I took care of the gals all day and didn't get very much painting done. Today was better...got to do some painting though I still felt rushed. Jon took the gals up to the in-laws and I got a few hours by myself, amazingly. Started listening to this book on tape, "Inkheart". Very intersting and well read. Of course, now I want to hear the whole thing but might not be able too because of busy kids. Still, I'll have to try and sneak it in somehow.

Weather wise,it's gotten really cold again. I'm nervous about my septum operation...but at least I'm getting lots of good advice and comfort from many. Thanks to all.

Right now, I'm at my in-laws...they're place is 65% warmer than ours...all this wind feels like it's whips right through the house. I'm looking foward to doing some home fixer upper stuff come Spring!

Come on, Spring!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My gals

My mom-in-law lit some candles for dinner and left them to burn after we had finished. They looked so lovely, I had to photograph them...

ATC trades! Lovely Valentines!

Sweet toddler group Lydia traded with:

The cards look 100% better in real life...sorry I photographed these at night...I know that's a no-no.

Flickr group for Valentine trade


Jon has to work today. . He's quit this job (giving his two weeks) but they are dragging it out of him...Plus, they aren't going to give him his vacation pay (he's supposed to get 72 hours of pay)only 14 hours of vacation pay. This is the worse company I've ever seen. They treat their employees like very improperly. They don't even offer sick days, ever.

So, we're glad to wash our hands of them and move on. I have lots to think about with my upcoming deviated septum surgery. I do not look forward to this. However, if it helps at least 50% of what I've been suffering with, I'll be happy. I dread the allergy season but I'll look forward to it if it does help even a little.

I'm going to be a judge for a Science Competition for junior high kids. This should be interesting. I vaguely remember a teacher of mine in high school reminiscing about her science project. So, I'm excited to see what the kids will be show and telling. I have a few good memories of my own...I think I did a study on my pet hamster (Baby Houdini)in HS. My science teacher then, Mrs. Flanders, had a pet rat (male) that she carried everywhere with her. She'd let it run on the floor when we'd watch a film and boy it kept everyone from dozing off...of course, I loved the little guy. I guess that's why it didn't seem so crazy to have pet rats. And now, I have four gals. : ) I probably should have named them after the Alcott’s but I didn't want to jinx one of them.


I finished We Alcotts and I was saddened to learn that Louisa May Alcott didn't live past 56 and died two days after her father died at 84, I believe. Her mother lived until her 70's and her sister May died after childbirth. Very unfortunate events in their family.

After reading about the Alcott’s, I'm now interested in reading Bronson Alcott's writings, Emerson, biography of Louisa May Alcott, etc. From what I've gathered the Alcotts and their group of friends were very much like a "hippie" movement. The Alcott’s were constantly trying to find their own paradise, commune, sense of balance and respect with nature. During this time, they constantly struggled and worked to give money to the family. In nearly all ways, the mother took on the role as provider and head of the family. Bronson Alcott was sincere in his thoughts and philosophies and there were many reasons why he wasn't allowed to make a living. One of which was the families opposition to slavery. Another reason was his controversial book Conversations With Children on the Gospel. This book did not go over well with a lot of the most progressive on the time in Boston. He was nearly tarred and feathered! The book Conversations with Children on the Gospel would be something akin to Chicken soup for the Soul of the 1800's. I guess they just weren't ready for this.

For goodness sakes,

I just looked at boingboing.net and what should I see but my old art teacher Ben Sakoguchi's work being shown. But what was more surprising is he appears alive and well! For some reason, I got the impression he had passed away. Now, I'm quite happy he hasn't. What a nice way to start the day. He even has a website!

Well, now I have to change my blog entry on his passing. That's actually a nice change to make. Kind of like what was lost but now is found...very nice.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Our trees are NOT for sale!

I just signed the petition against selling our National Forests to pay off debts caused by the president and his crew. I signed it in 15 seconds and so can you:

Do NOT sell our National Forests

I feel enabled and the voice of the people is a strong and powerful voice. Another interesting thing, a few days ago Bush wanted to sell our ports to an Arab company. I have a few problems with this and it has nothing to do with Arab people. My problem with THIS company is they would not have to follow the rules that other companies (including US companies) have to under go when they are on US soil/boundaries. They would not have to keep records of their transactions and apparently we were going to give this company, Dubai, an okay even though they have ties to terrorist transactions through their banking system! And we were going to okay them without looking into this further. Can anyone say, FEMA? This really threw me for a loop. But what really annoys me is that before this company came by, there was a British company in control of US ports. Boy, would our forefathers be turning in their graves if they knew that. Talk about hypocrisy. Why don't we have US ports under US companies? Why are we even outsourcing the very imports and exports of the US? Crazy.

But my point about the above is, about three days ago Bush said something like, Nothing will stop this transaction to go through (in regards to the Dubai company). Then, a few days later Bush recants and says, " I didn't know they had terrorist ties." Now, today we get this in the news, Port deal stalled Now, don't tell me it was just chance that this happened. People we have the power on our side. We are the power. Let's use it and make the changes to correct the wrongs we've let slide past us.

Anyway, this was on my mind...but I feel better now that I've written to my senators and hopefully we'll see some changes. Activism isn't as hard as we think it is. So, take 15 seconds and write your senator today.

Quote of the day:

No, Einstein didn't really write that. It's actually something I wrote. As you can read, I'm an optimist...at times a cynical optimist but mostly an optimist. I believe people can create just as much good as bad and that the good is what most people want.

link to Einstein chalkboard:

In these dark and troubling times, I like to draw encouragement from writers of old such as Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere.

I love this message. We need to find the good, to search it out and embrace it. This doesn't mean to ignore the bad...maybe it even means to change the bad into something good. Much like the cliché lemonade from lemons, this is how we should look at life.

An interesting thing about R. W. Emerson, he lived in the 1800's during the war between the states or the war of the rebellion or as we call it now the Civil War. And during this time, he lost his dear brother whom he said was not only a brother but his friend. Later, he lost his son. It's amazing how in such sadness Emerson could accept this parting with such insight. How can we find good in such a final thing like death or war? Perhaps, it is in the comfort of people, the realization that war should be avoided at all costs that we gain goodness. And perhaps, on a small scale, death can be seen as a release from pain.

Still, finding good is not pacifying true outrage and demands for justice. Finding goodness may be in punishing those which hurt so many. I hope this is what most people would want, justice.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The joy of a walk

I went for a walk in a fit of anger and excitment. I was upset because of events beyond my control but still always changeable. I was glad to be out on my own and free for a small amount of time of being mommy. Mr. Nelson and I started off small and then we walked up the big ol' hills of Altoona. I was puffing and red in face and I thought "Oh, my god, I have asthma".But it was only that my lungs weren't used to working a tad harder. Even Mr. Nelson felt the change. We walked and walked and found pine cones and started at the view. Gray and cold and the smell of peoples chimneys and dryers going off floated by. By the time I turned to go home, I had a headache but I felt strong and adventureous.

Slowly, slowly we decended and we came back to our little path to home. I felt calmer and everyone was taking a nap. We could talk as I painted and worked on my art supplies.

I felt for a moment the joy, perhaps, Henry Thoreau or the Alcotts may have had on going for a walk. Of course, they didn't have to watch out for cars...

Monday, February 20, 2006

SPT: Me and the gang...

So, here is my Self Portrait Tuesday image...well, I didn't take this picture actually. I directed, a bit. Had Jon take the pic...

Actually, I don't see why people think that being a bit messy is bad or being chubby is next to murder. I really think it's ridiculous and contrived. There are much better things to worry about then the size of your pants and the sprinkling of dust on the mantle.

Honestly, when I'm at my most frazzled is when I clean and at my most depressed when I worry about my size.

So, here you have a pic of me and my gals reading the "Funny Times" snuggled on the couch...just the bunch of us reading. Don't worry Jon got to read the Funny Times earlier.

Oh, and here is a pic of me after Jon gives my head a deep scalp massage... I look a bit like a crazed person but it's worth mattes in my hair.

Passage I like from "We Alcotts"

"Birthday celebrations were our way of expressing the joy we felt in the birth of our children and in the being able to have them with us as we made our way along the path of life."

This is one of the most beautiful descriptions of love for our children I've read. The path of life and being with our loved ones...very tender.


I should not have lit the fireplace two nights in a row. The smoke (even from those candle logs) bothers me. I feel a bit better today.

Sunday was interesting. Jon was the lay leader for the UU service. He did a great job. I played piano for the service. Was a bit nervous but did all right...especially since Jon chose the pieces the night before and I had to practice like mad to get them down...I even had a cramped hand after all was said and done. Ah, well.

We were a bit behind as Jon has gotten a new job! We're very happy and he had to plan some negotiating as well as the service...so we were all a bit stressed. But I tell ya, the old adage is true: Take it one day at a time. This was a great way to deal with unwanted stress. Another way of dealing with stress is by planning to have a full half hour of stress/worries at such and such a time and be done with it. This helps me too. When doing the stress out half hour think of the most extreme worry and for some reason this always makes me feel better and less stressed.

Besides all this, I got a great bunch of loot from freecycle! I got a bunch of yarn, and some great dishes. I'm very happy with them. Also, there were a few vintage books with patterns! Yes! There are a few pieces of things started too...I think one is crocheted...very lovely. And the nice woman that gave me the goodies even met us half way from Altoona from Blairsville. That saved us time.

I did all that with a migraine...tried the nasal flushing, it helped with the nausea but still don't feel 100%. I hope this endoscope surgery helps. I don't know what I'm going to do come Spring if it doesn't. Meditate/pray for me. sigh...

I feel so good for Jon. I'm glad he's going to working some place he likes and hopefully, he'll get the wages he deserves. I'm thrilled that he finally has a good job that is unionized as well. Let's just say his previous job didn't even have sick days...

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Ebay link!

Help support the Arts!

Thanks, J! Forgot my Ebay link!

Getting colder...and the Alcotts

Starting to feel a chill...a semi-blizzard kind of wind. More than a chill, I guess. I'm annoyed that I didn't know today was a library day...for the kids to play, etc. I need to check the homeschool website more often. The girls would have liked hanging out with the kids and playing with the puzzles. I guess we'll keep our eyes opened for the next event.

All this cold weather has me achy...I must be totally arthritic. How annoying. The changes from balmy warm to snow driven wind, is odd and very un-February like.

On another note, there are all these juried shows coming up and I want to enter a few paintings. It's going to be a tad costly as the two (possibly three) abstracts I want to enter are a bit large. However, you first have to submit your work, then see if you get accepted. I'd like to enter all the categories but I will just enter the 2-dimensional category. Less stressful.

There is also a poetry contest (locally) coming up and I'd like to try my hand at that. It's a dollar per entry. Don't know if there is a prize but it might be fun to at least get to read in front of a crowd. I'm debating whether to submit my political poems or go more in the nature direction. Actually, that could be political too. Hmmm...things to think about.

Then there are a few side projects (art-wise) I'm trying to finish...a portrait for some friends, two pieces for a children's mag, and one for my sister (a painting of a horse for my niece). I feel a bit behind when I think of this list but it's getting better actually.

Plus, I have two bags of stuffed animals waiting, waiting for faces and features. I'd like to get those down and on-line for purchase.

I have been faithfully putting up my eBay paintings...and have a new batch ready to go for Saturday or Sunday night. Lots of work but it's something I love to do. Even with distractions and small elbow room.

Jon has a cold and feels tired. Got it from me but he seems to be managing. He's on the couch reading "Funny Times". Lydia is up from a nap and is having a snack with a lollipop. Norrie still asleep...a calm family life we're having.

It's been really windy and Mr. Nelson was having panic attacks and barking fits from all the noise. Also, I didn't realize that Norrie was afraid of the wind and she thought the wind was a monster until she overheard me tell Mr. Nelson it was only the wind. This made her feel better and she started saying, "It's only the wind". Sometimes it's funny to hear her articulate words so clearly. I love seeing progress in her speech.

I've been reading about the Alcott’s, or more importantly about Abba Alcott or "Marmee". It's very interesting to read a mother's/wife's point of view in the 1800's. It's amazing how similar aspects of their life are even in this day and age. Certainly, there appears to be a sense of simplicity in their lives but they were just as concerned about money, daily living, having time and using it well. What I like so much about the Alcotts is they didn't prescribe to this notion that one has to be some sort of religious follower. They saw God in the people around them and themselves. Very humble attitude but not with a sense of martyrdom.

As I was reading, Abba comes across as practical and worries about having basic needs met, especially for her children. Her husband, Bronson Alcott, believes that God will provide. Though Abba doubts this, they always seem to get by.

It's heart wrenching to read about their friends (and soon the Alcotts) loss of children and family. Things like lockjaw and scarlet fever that wouldn't kill someone today with treatment, were a death sentence back then. Amazing how much safer we are 260 years later. But so very sad to read about how people suffered from these things back then. Certainly, there are many problems today and around the world. But at least, we have some aid/programs to catch most people (maybe only some programs now, since the "Administration" is now trying to cut off aid for the poor, elderly, sick and public education (so much for no child left behind...more like "kick the child in the back and behind")).

The Alcotts were of a small group opposed to slavery. So much so, that they lost work for it and their anti-slavery friends were banned from publishing houses. Amazing. They stood up for what they believed in and raged against the dying of the light. That's another aspect I was moved by...this rage and insight of knowing they were on the side of justice and the true meaning of Godliness. Amazing and not really that simple in thought and action, actually. I wish there was more of this today...

Another aspect I like about this book, is seeing Abba's "spirit of trying" and working. What I mean by trying is a lot of the time, people will not even attempt to do "X" because of whatever reason. Fear, mostly but letting distractions overwhelm us, etc. She doesn't allow distractions and fear of the unknown to wear her down. And she does what she does standing next to her husband and his ideals.

Another quality I like about Abba is her strength and view that their home can be beautiful. She makes their home charming even with their meager possessions and patched curtains. Also, Abba doesn't make herself into this martyred figure from her poverty. Rather, she thinks how much nicer things would be if her husband (women weren't really allowed to work back then...or very minimally paid jobs...kind of like today, still) had a decent income.

The Alcotts keep trying to create schools and tutor people but all in vain as the schools fail for one reason or another (death, criticism, etc). But even more so is the passage of time and when she see the creases in Bronson's face that weren't there a few years ago and the turn from dark hair, fading to white.

Well, I haven't even finished the book and it's brought me to tears a few times. It's such an interesting account of Louisa May Alcott's parents and their struggle.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Snow yesterday, gone today...

It's freakish, man! Freakish! The snow is already melted and it feels like early Spring...or warmer! This is not right. Not in the least. Certainly, I feel glad it's -5 degrees F, but still! There should be two feet of snow outside, frozen solid. I may not have lived in Pennsylvania long (actually, it will be my 3rd year officially here come the end of March) but I know, I KNOW that snow is supposed be all over the place. This just makes me very worried...I'll try not to be, but there's honey suckle growing in my driveway! In FEBRUARY! It's green and the plants are starting to look like buds are going to pop out...

Still, my mom-in-law has said she's seen this years ago...so, this is comforting...Perhaps just a simple weather pattern change. I hope so. Still, it would be nice not to have so much pollution. I mean, really. When you think about it, why would ANYONE want to have dirty air, water, food, etc. Nobody would. That is why we need to have cleaner, much cleaner energy and ways. On a personal scale, I think it's a responsibility of people to use as little as possible. I know it's very hard and I've failed countless times but I keep trying.

On a larger scale, companies need to reduce their need for things like electricity/oil. I've read articles where companies switched to cleaner energy (like wind, sun (depending on area) and actually saved money!

I've also read that stores which have incorporated natural light had better turn out for customers, as well. People are inventive and imaginative. We can do it and we can do it better. Yeah, I'm a bunch of slogans today...

Seriously, there is this attempt by certain big business/people to say we only need one product and there is nothing else we can use. We'll fail, etc. as a country (USA). BS. This country was founded on new concepts and creativity. We can and are doing that right now and if the government decided to back this creativity and insight there would be A LOT more options.

I remember in 7th grade I had a teacher. She actually had us study advertisements and the way people use words to manipulate products, etc. This was eye opening for me and gave me the start of critical thinking. In such a capitalist society as ours, we need to be especially aware of these tactics that try to separate people from their hard earned money. If we are aware of these common tricks (using emotion, visually pleasing, fear)we can avoid being manipulated as individuals and groups. Teaching and realizing how these aspects is half the battle. It really is. If we question and look for the reasons, we save our self time, protect ourselves from harm and save money. If we don't research a project or just believe any old person, we are like Pinocchio and can get tricked into giving away our very soul.

On another note, I was glad to hear that the state of PA is actually giving tax exemptions to people for getting specific types of windows (which reduce heat loss) for their homes. I wish they'd do various things like this through out the US.

Well, the day moves on and I still have a load of house work to do before I start piano lessons, etc. Lots to do...I've got a stack of eBay paintings to mail out, and I have two projects I need to finish that are due next week. Is it really February 16th? Hmmm, I guess it is. How time flies...

Got to run...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Shopping at the store

Originally uploaded by emily999.
Guess what we found int isle 5!?! Norrie dolls! Someone fell asleep in the cart...

Shopping at the store

Originally uploaded by emily999.
Guess what we found int isle 5!?! Norrie dolls! Someone fell asleep in the cart...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Illustration Friday: Simply

A simple black and white illustration of a ferret:

Haven't had much time for fun stuff...so, I'm recycling a previous illustration...Ferrets are cute, aren't they?


Valentines day is tomorrow! Wow! I can hardly believe it.

This year my eldest and I participated in a Valentines exchange. We've gotten half of our goodies. Lydia was thrilled with her ATC cards...Norrie felt a bit left out and we had to open one of her cards from grandma. The day before, auntie gave them Valentine Hello Kitty mushroom houses with a kitty doll. Very cute. Plus, we got chocolate. Jon actually remembered and got me a bouquet of flowers in a reusable coffee cup and a beautiful card. And last week they got a treasure trove from my mom...my girls are spoiled. Oh, I wouldn't want it any other way, honestly. ; )

I have a cold but it's actually a very nice day other wise...it would be better if I didn't have a runny nose. My art student came by and I was thrilled to know she actually likes to carve lino's to make prints. I feel so happy when I've expanded someone's horizon, I really am.

And another great thing...I just used left over chicken and have made a delicious soup! Finally! I can't tell you how many times I've tried to make impromptu soup and it comes out way too thick, over flavored and so peppery I had to throw it out. But I was very conservative with the Mrs. Dash this time and a slightly more liberal with the salt. Then I used hominy (two cans, a can of green beans, a cut up onion and frozen veggie mix). I let that cook a bit and it is wonderful! I added a few chunks of cheddar in my bowl...yummy! And if you've got lime add a squeeze of this for zest. I think, by the way, lime is my favorite additive for foods.

I feel good as well because I've finally added on to the rat cage and they have a rat mansion. I also got to go out to eat with Jon, just the two of us on Sunday. Very nice, relaxing time even if the table beside us had some rather uptight people complaining that young people drink too much and listen to god awful music. I'm sure they had a good time complaining...

I need to go and photograph/download all the goodies to share. Though I kind of hate it when people do that too much...makes me jealous! ; ) Sorry everyone!

And a lovely quote for the Day:

Love is the ultimate state, where compassion prevails and kindness rules.
~found on a Yogi Tea bag tab

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ah, the weekend...

So glad it's here and we can muddle around and not have any definite plans. Saturday is already into night but there is still Sunday.

A snow storm is brewing but it's not too bad, really. Of course we are safe and warm inside. Everyone is just feeling good from a mostly fun day. I've been a bit irritable from a minor cold. But not to bad otherwise.

I got to do more painting yesterday. So, I feel good. I also got to go to Ollie's where they have a lot of interesting books at discount prices. I got a bunch of animal books and some for the girls. It was a nice relaxing trip...even with cold snow blowing like crazy outside.

Then we stopped at auntie's house and hung out for awhile. Her cat lost so much weight I couldn't believe it. But it's not from lack of an appetite...the cat is so pickie about eating it's healthy food it only eats the treats. So, I convinced my sis-in-law to give the kitty gravy with her allergy food. Poor Misty.

When we drove up to visit, Jon and I saw a ring tailed hawk emerge from the bushes. Very dramatic. We were getting quite a bit of hawk action (and had to clean up any left overs...feathers/fur) so I had to stop feeding the birds so frequently. It got to be such a frequent sighting I named the hawk Bernie. But I couldn't take it after awhile and only feed the seed eating birds every now and then.

I remember once there was this family of sparrows in the bush and this magpie type birds appeared to be feeding the baby sparrow. Much to my horror, Jon informed me they were killing the baby sparrow and eating it. The screams still haunt me...absolutely horrible. I wish I could have intervened but what would have happened? I don't know but it still sickens me. Why are some birds so cruel? I know it's not cruelity but survival still...I never did like those animal shows where the baby chicks would get eaten. I guess it's the whole "it's still alive" when being eaten thing. I guess I would not be tough enough to live on a farm. Oh, well...
Anyway, let's move on...

In other news, I've found that "shwheat" litter makes good bedding for my rats. They seem to really like it (or just having their cage cleaned finally). Poor gals...I ran out of bedding and when I ran down to the market they only had litter. But I was glad to find that the wheat stuff is recommended.

It's nice to have happy critters~

Well, I'll leave with an image of one of my abstract paintings...

This one hangs over the piano...I'm planning on doing about 10 more of these and making a portfolio to send to some galleries as well as a licensing company.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My freezing family...

Originally uploaded by emily999.
Actually, it's a pitiful amount of snow...supposed to get the wrath of Winters touch this weekend. We shall see.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

me, freezing...

me, freezing...
Originally uploaded by emily999.
My big frozen noggin'...dang, it's cold. For some reason, no matter where I am (inside or out) if I get cold my fingers and feet start getting cold and numb first. Very annoying.


Originally uploaded by emily999.
I don't know why these appeal to me so much visually. They are the dreaded Poke weed berries but they just look so pretty with the frozen lilac bush. We try to get rid of them all the time but they aren't hearty berries for no reason. Apparently, they are eaten by birds as a last resource to starving. They cause really bad stomach cramps and diarrhea in humans. Once, the berry of the Poke weed was used as dye by Ancient peoples.

Busy as a bee

That's me...I'm so glad it's nearly Friday. This week has been a bit better than last week. And last week was better than the week before that. Let's just say, Jon was on a rotating shift and got the 11pm to 7am junk. I think I'm still recovering.

Ah, well. Another week has gone by and now the weather feels like Winter, finally. Do I thank the stars for the break in January weather or fret about Global warming (which I'm pretty sure was why everything was so warm...poor Europe got a blasted with unusual freezing tempts. I'm afraid to see what the summer is going to bring). But I won't worry about it too much...just keep my chin up and vote the incumbents out. ; )

In other news, I got a lovely surprise from Sister Celtic...

Very cool! We loved this surprise...I'm really surprised at how nicely the magnets came out! Thank you so much, SC!

It's really nice to get surprise packages. I still need to photograph the goodies my mom got me...Actually, I think I'll do that right now.

Now, isn't that a lovely site in all this cold and white stuff. Thank you mom! The packages were actually cradled with chocolate but look rather deflated now! Ah, chocolate...plus, there were strawberry white chocolate kisses! Wow! Are those good!

The pic above and below are goodies I got from my mom for Christmas. The first is an awesome yarn dispenser! And the one below is of a very cool knitting needle holder. Love it.

And lastly, I'm forcing some forsythia, lilac and I think it's mock orange in some water...a reminder of Spring to come.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Simplistic but true...Quote of the Day:

"Imagine if we just stopped producing weapons to kill each other and stopped wars...how much money we would save and how many diseases we could find cures with that money..."
Jon G.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wearing your beliefs on your sleeve...

I've thought about this for awhile now...do you show people what you believe or think on a blog? Or do you just hide what you think and feel? This has been on my mind a lot lately.

I started to think about that Ellen Degeneres movie, the one were she falls in love with this guy who appears to be perfection itself. He confesses that he never feels like he can relax and always has to put on a front. She tells him to be himself, let go and the next thing you know he's totally over the top psycho. Funny stuff ensues and before you know it, he reveals an obsessive manic personality.

I sometimes feel like that. Not that I'm obsessive or manic but that I feel like I just want to "reveal" whatever it is about myself and not worry if it makes people happy or makes me have more/less art contacts. But a part of me is like, whoa, there girl...rein yourself in you don't want to step on anyone's toes or get yours mashed by someone else. And I don't. I don't want to get in a fix because I said something or what not. I'd rather be polite.

However, there is a part of me that would like to just smash one or two things out there. Just to have the wit and argumentative ability to really pull out a zinger or two, but I don't.
There's a line I love in the movie "Lemony Snickett's A series of Unfortunate Events" that goes something like this...And the crowd went just at Count Olaf's level and paid back everything he had done to the children and more. I often think of taking the morally high ground, but sometimes, sometimes...

That being said, I feel I'm pretty open about how I feel and think. I really don't hide very much and I don't really want to expose my inner dark spots because they are just like everyone else's...and kind of boring to say the least.

So, I don't have a mutated twin attached to my lower spine, I don't have a mental illness that makes me have x-ray vision and I'm pretty much liberal and have bouts of doubt and belief about God or no God and I'm shy but very friendly and I'm on the chubby side and very tall (though I don't think being 6' or, as some would say, 5'12, is that tall).

What am I trying to say? I guess I'm glad I've "revealed" all that I have in my little blog here and I don't feel like it's bad to do that. In fact, I think that's what makes reading someone's blog interesting. If I just had a bunch of colors or piles of sticks, people might get a bit bored. Though, come to think of it, piles of sticks can be very interesting...hmm, might have to do that come the summer...get piles of sticks and photograph them. Maybe when we go hiking...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm not much of a Football person but


Wages and America

Recently, I was at a UU sermon and it was just before Martin Luther King's Day. It was an excellent sermon by Lisa Purcell. She talked about how Martin Luther King wanted equality of rights for all people. Dr. King was not only about Civil rights, however, but about all rights. And one of the biggest rights, which effects a huge amount of people, is the right to fair wages.

Since the early 1970's (30+ years) the minimum wage has not gone up in America to even match inflation costs. The currently the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $5.15 an hour. FIVE DOLLERS and FIFTEEN CENTS. If you worked full time (40 hours) this would equal $210 a week, $840 a month, 10,008 a year (before taxes!). Who could possibly live this way? In fact, many people live this way, day to day with little or no government help and very little or no voice at all in the political realm.

Recently, a few politicians got together and tried to raise minimum wage but this was shot down by the current majority in Congress. They wanted to raise the minimum wage to something like $7 an hour. This is not much of a raise and would still be minimum compared to a living wage.

By the way, have you ever thought about what a living wage is? A living wage is one in which you are able to pay your bills, have extra for emergencies, etc. A living wage is one where you do not live pay check to pay check and need assistance.

Ms. Purcell stated that if we had linked the minimum wage with inflation it would be $9.16 This is four dollars more than what people earn at minimum wage.

Some of you might be wondering or thinking well, what the heck does that have to do with me? Why should I care? Well, you should care because if you ever need to start your life over again, you could be there working at 5.15 an hour (or slightly more if you lived in California…but still at minimum). Or you could be an elderly person with little resources and need to pick up an extra work to make ends meet. This is important because many people are suffering financially for no real reason.

Last year, tax breaks were given to the top richest Americans. These are people earning a million a year and more. Did the tax breaks benefit the poorest? No. In fact, we've learned that programs for the poor, the disabled, and more are going to be cut.
As a side note, Bush was reported to have said he looked forward to signing the bill that would cut aid to Medicaid, Medicare and student loan subsidies. Of course, cutting the funding to a trillion dollar war might save the most money, but who am I to say anything?

Again, what does this have to do with you? Well, if you want people to have a safety net and don't want people to starve, reduce treatable illnesses, want children and their parents to have warm homes and food, want the elderly to be taken care of then you know this bill IS wrong. And this, more importantly, does not have to be.

How do we can we do anything, you ask. Well, there is a lot we can do. First, is to realize we have more power than we realize. Voting is one of the most powerful tools we can use. Never let anyone make you give up your vote. Generations before knew this and marched, fought and cried to vote. We still have that power but unless we use it we give it away.
Secondly, be aware of distractions. People will try to sway you to misuse your vote. This could be someone that never talked to you before or someone that you trust and see as much as once a week. I’ve noticed that the loudest speakers usually have nothing to say and usually will say things that hurt people rather than heal or unite.
Thirdly, remember what is most important to you. Are you on a fixed income? Are you living from pay check to pay check? Remember this and see which person talks about this issue. There will be people out there that try and muddle things up with controversial issues and most likely issues that take away rights from people. Why would you want people to lose rights? Yours could be next.

Anyway, I’ve come to think about a few things that are important to me. Responsibility. People need to be responsible. They need to be held accountable for their actions and what those actions have caused. Actually, we all know this. If you’re driving along and hit someone’s car you are held accountable. You take responsibility and pay through insurance or pocket to fix the other person’s car.

Another aspect of responsibility is taxes. We all pay taxes. Either they come out of our paychecks automatically or from purchasing. However, taxes have become such a dirty word to some. Taxes, used wisely, are meant to improve the lives of the people in which those people have given up part of their wages/income/purchase. Used correctly, you will see neighborhoods with good streets, proper lighting of the streets, programs that educate (public schools, libraries, access to the internet in libraries) and help make lives stable and most importantly benefit everyone's sense of commonality and safety.

What does this have to do with minimum wage? Minimum wage is a manmade thing. It was created by man, set at a certain price by man and can be changed by man. Wages need to be fought for and changed. We can change how laws are used to service the rich and ignore the poor.

In the past, CEO's earned 10 times the highest paid worker. Now, CEO's earn 1000 times the lowest paid worker. Does this have to be? No. Again, CEO's are part of a manmade corporation and can be changed by man by creating laws in every state which would limit a CEO to 10 times the lowest paid worker wages. We have the power to create laws which benefit and aid the majority of people instead of favoring the 1% (ultra-rich) that just received a huge tax break.

Just as the Taft Hartley act was established to keep businesses from allowing their workers to form unions (such as Walmart, Target, etc), these things can be changed to better people, give them power and a voice, and improve their lives.

All these things I've mentioned have come to carry huge weight just by mentioning their names: Taxes, unions, minimum wage, and implied communism. But what does that tell you? There certainly is a campaign to break up the few groups left to the working man.

People say unions don't work. They are full of corruption, etc. And yes, there are some that definitely follow this. There are some that should be hauled out and revamped. However, there are some that are doing very well such as Teachers union (that are fighting to have health insurance covered by the govt. instead of the teachers pockets), a few nurses unions (that are fighting to keep their pensions and other rights) and others that are fighting to keep their jobs in America. Tell me, is this wrong? Why aren't we saying lets fight with them? Let's vote for people who care about things like being paid in a fair manner. Vote for the people who have not forgotten the quiet voices of the working poor. For their voices are the ones we should be listening to not the blowhards who mean to distract by ANY means.

This all comes down to pros and cons. If you are one that sits on a fence and wonders, if you are one that says politics, I hate it, don't bother me, I won't vote. Weigh the pros and cons. Who will benefit from your inaction? What will YOU lose? I'd rather have a quiet voice than no voice. I will vote. I would rather vote for fair wages and people's rights. I would rather we have more rights then take rights/freedoms away. But we can't sit on fences and be inert. We must vote wisely and not be swayed by crowds or warmongers.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some say politics are not good. Nobody likes politics. However, they effect us in such deep ways to ignore them is the sure sign you will be moved by politics without any choice of your own. And that is the most frightening thing of all. It would be like ignoring a sore on your body. It might go away without cleaning or antibiotics or it might fester and swell. It might even lead to gangrene and an amputation. In fact, it most likely would. Do not ignore the darkness out of fear. Do not let it go without treatment.

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

A few hundred years ago, many people were not allowed to vote in the US. Some only recently were allowed. In the 1920's women won the right to vote. Another fact, before women could vote, they had to fight to have property rights, employment and educational opportunities, divorce and child custody laws, and increased social freedoms. These things were not granted naturally and had much opposition from both men and some women. But the majority of women and some men kept fighting and did earn these rights for women. We must remember them and how we do have such strength in our hands with just a single vote.

All these things had to be earned and we have to keep them safe for ourselves, our children and for our brothers and sisters. An excellent quote from Dr. King says exactly what it is we need to remember.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did anyone else notice?

About a week ago Yahoo, of yahoo.com, has some new listings under their groups section. Low and behold they had "Stitch and Bitch" as a new knitting forum group. I was like, hey, that's cool! And checked it out and thoughts of expanding the Altoona Stitch and Bitch ran through my head. Then the next day, I checked back and now it's called "Nifty Knitters". I'm all what in the world? What happened?

I know that with my association with a charity group, I've had to change the name to Stitch and Knit (well, in theory anyway. We still call it Stitch in Bitch at church and on the campus). I think it's so amazing how words can be used to either liberate or control people and lots of other verbs.

I wonder why Yahoo decided to pull it. Was it too "radical"? Was it copy right infringement? What? I feel a letter to yahoo coming on. My guess is I'll get a form letter. And if anything, they will say they were afraid of legal allegations. Nifty Knitters...does not have the ring of Stitch and Bitch, my dears. Nor does it have the strength of the mighty Stitch and Bitch. Ah, well...

On a lighter note, I just found out about this place called "Slinky Town". Kid zone, ball pit, stuff for kidz and older kidz apparently. Anyway, the dad that told us said this, " Kids are $4 and parents are free." That cracked us up.


Ah, I must say I love being a UU. Not only is it open minded and you meet great, postive people but we all get a chance to speak and lead the service. I don't know if I'll ever lead (maybe read a poem, or something like that) but Jon is up next! He's working on a sermon and I know he'll do well.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Some yarn

Originally uploaded by emily999.
from Stitch and Bitch. Just keep knitting, just keep knitting or crocheting...

This is my ultimate favorite kitty

Originally uploaded by emily999.
right now. I almost didn't list this on eBay. That's how much I like it. Will I be able to make another just for me? I hope so. Either way, I'll have to make up some cards on my cafepress...this one came out so darn cute!

Green bunny

Originally uploaded by emily999.
Why a green bunny? Because I can, that's why.

Oh, I like that green bunny even more now!

New eBay listings!

Cute cats and more!

Lots of new ACEO's on ebay. More to come. Plus, I found my camera...it was in the knitting basket, like I thought, but hidden in a bag. Sigh. What a relief. Plus, I cleaned the rat cage and they're happy as can be.

We had a wet and rainy day today. Went to Burger King for lunch the first time out with all four of us...not great but not horrible either. Then we went to Target and found some neat things as well as some basic stuff the house needed (dish soap).

A few days ago I got a bunch of roses...very pretty. I ot them just because I felt like it. I think they were called a spray of roses. They smell so good and are opening in such a lovely way! I'm surprised at how nice they are compared to the long stem stuff. I prefer this kind much more...and if I can find some, I will plant them in the Spring.

I tried to upload some pics using blogger but it is having problems. Very annoying. I'll try again. I did and it didn't work and now flickr is taking a million years. ARGH!


In other news, there is an odd stinky odor coming from the book shelf. This could be a bad sign of a dead mouse. Or old food. But it smells like dead animal. We did have a mouse siteing but it was about 4 months ago. So, who knows. I will have to tear out the book shelf and clean there now. Darn it.

Well, flickr just went through...maybe blogger will work now. Nope...ugh. Well, I'll just have to post tomorrow.

I have to photograph all the things my mom has made me since Christmas. I got such great stuff! Plus, I just got a box of Valentines goodies (thanks, mom!) and the girls ate everything already. Even MY candy.

Well, I uploaded some ACEO's on Flickr...I'll share them now.

Night all!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Busy week...phew!

Well, the week is coming to an end...Friday is here and things are calming down. Jon came back from an interview (feeling good about that), I'm wrapping up the entries for the Loretto Art show (I'm coordinating the homeschool entries) and I entered a submission to Syrcultural Workers (great shop with lots of inspirational messages). I hope my submission at least gets a card made of it, if not the cover of the calendar. I doubt I'd make the cover as I felt like I just rushed this out (I actually did it in two days...as I didn't realize the deadline was February 1st...not March like I thought). So, I was a bit frustrated with that. However, I'm glad to see they accept submissions all year long...I will be doing that.
Here is an excerpt:

The puppet show we're working on (my homeschool group) is going well. We're getting closer to getting it finished and putting on a performance, hopefully near the end of February. Exciting!

I feel congested and clogged with my ears right now but on the whole all right. I think I'm a bit tired as we had the Stitch and Bitch meeting last night. I brought the girls/Jon and they had fun. We were supposed to go see Doug Elliot and his performance and story of "Groundhogology". But we didn't know it was at the chapel not in the theater arts building. Jon went there with the girls and ended up crashing the Jubleirer's reception. They got lots of food and stuff and saw lots of stuffed shirts wearing expensive Italian suits. At the buffet, Norrie apparently grabbed 10 cookies but Jon put eight back. Kind of funny...

So, we missed the Groundhogology event but we had a good time nonetheless. I was so tired I couldn't believe I was even able to knit...actually, I didn't. I crocheted. The other knitters were amazed at my fingers of dexterity as I spun a hat before their eyes. lol~

We have about 5 scarves and 6-7 hats ready to donate to Family Services of Altoona. I hope they are still accepting donations as I need to organize my dining room/studio/art class/business office. It's very multi-fuctional, to say the least (and the least is it's a mess most of the time).

This week was a bit hectic and now I feel a bit relieved. I was amazed that I sold so many ACEO's on eBay. I have a new batch that I'm going to be listing. So, I'm excited about that. And I'm getting a huge stack ready to be mailed off.

Today the girls and I went to a local thrift store and got some great deals. I found lots of linen, sweaters for the girls and to take apart and make lots of little goodies and a few play items (a pair of black heels and blue hand bag).

The girls had fun and got lots of compliments as the place was run by a bunch of lovely older women. All in all a very nice day.

A new discovery was made: Mr. Nelson likes to be held in a baby sling.

Lydia was impressed...

One last thing, the girls were watching TV right now, and "Last of the Summer Wine" was on. A British show and the kids were watching like it was a cartoon...I think they're ready for naps!


Here are two great links. One is about "Store wars" and eating organic.


and the other is a Charlie Chaplin like performance by a Japanese comic:

cool performance art

The above link was sent to me by Sister Celtic! Thank you!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Found hearts

My creation
Originally uploaded by emily999.
Playing around with flickr...hearts for February.


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