Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My blog is 100 posts old today.

Its here - 100 posts. I really did not anticipate reaching this goal. But I have encountered so many wonderful, kind, encouraging, inspiring, (go on and on here) people, and now I can see this being a long term committment.

I read your blogs. I read your comments. I compare myself positively and negatively against your work. Against your writing. I have found new challenges in this community. I have discovered new mediums. I have grown as an artist, as a writer, and as a person. I had no idea that I would add friends from all over the world through this medium. I appreciate the relationships I have gained. I appreciate those friends who know me in my real life also.

I am answering a calling I did not realize I had. And as I add to this journal, I find myself having a stronger calling for the next thing. I wonder, has this calling always been there, or am I just now really learning to focus and listen. I want to share my creativity with others, I want to give small nuggets of thought and of life lessons, I really want to explore this calling further. Thank you all for the encouragement you give me. Thank you for visiting.

This being the 100th post. I would love to have many comments to choose from. I would like to ask each reader to comment, or email me with 100th post as the email subject line. The subject, ENCOURAGEMENT. Tell me who is your biggest supporter, or who has secretly encouraged you, tell me which blogs you read and what encouragement you find, tell me how you encourage others. . Encourage me, encourage each other, encourage your self and do it here. You do not have to have a blog to participate, and the email version will work just fine.

The prize - a large box with 100 items in it. Stuff - a random assortment of it. You know like the grab bags you bought at a general store years ago. I have been building this box for several weeks. At 5:00 pm Eastern time on Friday September 29, I will print all the posts and emails, put them in a box and draw one name - then will mail you the box. FUN.

I hope to hear from many of you. Pass the word along to your friends.

Photo at the top. A wonderful embroidered tea towel from sallymb, and a copy of a drawing by my daughter Molly. (A copy of the drawing is one of the items in the box)

Please participate. I hope you have a beautiful day.

edited - leslie you are my winner. please email me with snail mail addy so i can send you a box of goodness. have a beautiful day.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Molly in action. Volleyball is an amazing sport. When we played it was 6 people lined up 3 and 3. No strategy, just hit the ball back across. Now there's a plan - plays to learn - stats to keep - positions. These girls are athletes and they are becoming a team.

Abby on third base and she is not afraid to steal home at the first opportunity. This child eats, sleeps, and breathes softball. Not once have I ever heard her complain about practice or being exhausted through the heat of all those summer games. She plays every position except pitcher and if she's on the bench she is the best cheerleader they have. A true team player.

I missed them this weekend. I was out of town and it was a nice working mini vacation, but I still was thrilled when Abby gave me a hug on arrival last night. (this is very rare) We are close to our girls. We are active in their lives. We are strict about education. We are insistent that they finish what they start. We require them to be respectful to each other and to anyone they come in contact with. (Most of the time they are respectful of each other.)

I am glad they play sports. It teaches discipline. It teaches sportmanship. It teaches that no matter how hard you try, sometimes the other team wins. It teaches that if you slack up, then your performance suffers. Sports teaches lessons than you can apply throughout your life. We are committed to their sports. (I have said we hope there are scholarships available but it won't save us any money because we are just paying for college one weekend at a time.)

I really just want to put it out there how important these girls are to us and how much I miss them when we are apart.

I was able to do a little quilting on the toile baby quilt this weekend. The basting is complete and seven of the 36 squares have been handquilted. I am enjoying this project and there will be more of these. I cannot figure out what I was afraid of.

I had a wonderful dinner with a friend on Saturday night. I really want that person to know - a bottle or two of wine is so much better when combined with laughter, good food, good company, and good conversation. Thanks for having dinner with me. I had a very enjoyable evening.

Now that the difficult part of September is over for me, I can progress on MaggieGrace goodies.

I want to give an update on my TO DO LIST (in no particular order)

1. 100th post giveawy (this is post 99 so tomorrows post is the big one)
2. Baby Maggie's quilt
3. Baby Charlie's gift
4. Brianna's baby gift
5. bird ATC for a swap
6. textile ATC for a swap
7. autumn splendor ATC for a swap
8. Christmas tree ornaments
9. My ATC indulgence project
10. the Christmas program at Church.
11. Bazaar crafts for our church bazaar (ideas here would be really nice)
12. pink/brown swap (there may be a crown involved) doesn't everyone need a crown??
13. the studio (ongoing)

Check in tomorrow for the 100th post update and contest.

Have a beautiful day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Daddy

My Daddy would be 65 today. I miss him. He was so full of life and energy. He loved being in a crowd. He told jokes. He made fun of me and my sister. He lived each day to its absolute fullest. He was a beautiful person. In 1980, he turned 39. (I was 15) We gave him an IZOD sweater. He made jokes about "shoving" 40. And then he added this phrase "if you guys don't kill me before I get there." This haunted me for years because tomorrow will be the 26th anniversary of his death.

I am still recovering from the whole story. I have celebrated his life here this month and it has been the most healing thing I have done. See I never really grieved fully.

The story ---

We took several first aid classes - he was a volunteer fireman - and we were very close. I don't panic in emergency situations, I tend to deal with the emergency get things under control and then fall apart. That has always been the case with me.

Dad and Mom had a fight the morning of the 23rd about a stray cat. That's her demon. Dad asked me to come with him that night. He, being the kind of person that he was, was going to work some part time stuff for a friend. They were putting a sprinkler system in a building and they were behind, so he was going to work that night and try to help them catch up. I had band practice and the boyfriend was going to pick me up and take me home, so I told him no. It wasn't ugly but I still have regrets about that.

Later that night, we were already in bed, but not really expecting him home yet. A car pulled into the driveway. It was Linda. The man Dad was helping had called her to come get us. They had been having problems with the welder all night and there had been an accident. You know its bad news when they come and get you. We drove the 45 minutes to the hospital where they took him and as we were coming in, I overheard the EMT say "if someone there had known CPR he would still be alive." Dad had been electrocuted by the equipment. You know what a 15 year old irrational mind did. I took it on myself that I had decided not to go with him and I knew CPR and if I had been there he would still be alive. Irrational thoughts - it was my fault.

Years of self destructive behavior, anorexia, too much drinking, I think I must have wanted to die too. Mother was immersed in her own process of mourning and really didn't notice how far out there I was.

It has taken me years to forgive. To forgive him for leaving us, to forgive an EMT who absent mindedly started my downhill spiral with a comment, to forgive my mom for not noticing, to forgive myself for all I was taking on as my fault. Rationally I know there was nothing I could have done. Its those d*&^ demons who haunted me for so long. Well now, I am slowly putting those demons to rest too. With a lot of hard work, some wonderful friends who have supported me, and a very special person who has held my hand and pushed me if I need it, who has picked me up over and over, who knows sometimes I really need to just laugh even if that is an inappropriate response at the time, I am healing. Funny, I didn't realise what a slow-learner I was.

I am sharing all this today, because I am out of town this weekend. Leaving right after work today. But for the very first time ever, I am not running away from it this year. I am ready to celebrate his life and although my girls will never know him, I can share the beauty of his person with them, instead of the ugliness I have about his death.

Happy birthday Daddy, I love you. I miss you.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

These ATC are headed to new homes

MaggieGrace goodies are on their way to new homes. I do hope the new owners will take good care of them. The ATC indulgence series has been a lot of fun for me. Also a huge challenge. This set Worship - Rejoice - Celebrate - is heading to a certain "timely" lady in NY. This was magazine clipping collage. And I am very happy with them - but I found the time spent searching for the images to be very tedious. That has been my least favorite thing to do so far. I keep magazines for the girls to use in school projects and I have used images for church craft projects. But sitting down with an idea of what I was looking for size, image and color turned out to be hours long. I could find an image but it was too big or too small or the wrong color. Any way - when they were finished - i was pleased. I am even more pleased with how they represent Christ and the rejoicing and celebrating of His beautiful grace. He has blessed me with this talent for creativity, He is giving me an opportunity to share it with others, and He has provided me a path for eternal living with Him. I am celebrating His love and salvation every day. I hope the new owner has reason to celebrate as well.

Next ones - off to Canada. Words - Reclaimed - Recycled - Reused and everything in this assembly is one of those words. These were the most fun for me. Combining these elements in a way that made it a set was the most difficult part. But working in the mixed media arena continues to draw me in.

What am I finding out about me in this process? Mixed media and embellished textile/fiber arts are what I am still drawn to. I am very comfortable with a needle and thread and the feel of fibers and fabrics is exhilarating to me. Mixed media is just plain fun for me. I love the digging through boxes of stuff and finding elements that work together. I love figuring out how to attach those elements (there have been many bought lessons here). This approach to art is just relaxed and enjoyable to me.

I am so enjoying this entire process. I am finished with 21 of the 150 ATC. Thanks to all the participants for their patience.

Keep looking - more to come. Tomorrow would be my dad's birthday, Saturday is the anniversary of his death. I will post the story tomorrow.

On the 100th post - coming really soon - I will be giving away a box of 100 goodies to one lucky commentor. Some of the box contents--- fabric - candles - embroidery floss - ribbon - etc.

I am having a wonderful day - the weather here is just about as perfect as you can get.

I am wishing you a beautiful day too.

Pruning and the Results You Get

We were at my in-laws on Saturday and picked grapes with them. The September afternoon sun was wonderful. The temp was still warm enough for shorts and a tshirt but without that dripping, heavy, energy sapping humidity. These first few days of autumn are my absolute favorite time of the year. I picked grapes and took pictures. Look at the colors and the light of the season is beautiful to me.

Having a vineyard to over look is gorgeous. It is also hard work. G-daddy works all summer picking off critters, watering if needed, keeping the grass cut and praying for the right rain at the right time. This time of the year is harvest and Grandmother makes jelly and jam and the most wonderful muscadine meat sauce. (a small piece of heaven on pork roast) G-daddy starts this years wine and sells tons of grape at his roadside stand. One of those stands that is quite often on the honor system. You get your stuff and leave the money under a basket. Later - after the harvest - he prunes.

Pruning to me is the hardest thing to do. I can cut off the dead stuff, but I have a hard time with cutting off what looks healthy. I know its necessary for the best growth and production, but I still have a hard time. Those of you who know me know that I think about those things more deeply than some and of course as I wandered through the vines, I could not help analyzing how pruning in my life could help with my growth as well. So here are some random thoughts about pruning and results I could gain from it.

1. Prune the clutter from my closet. Result - getting dressed every day in something that makes me feel good. You know - those outfits that are comfortable and appropriate for the wearing in your life - the ones you reach for time and time again as you push the others out of the way.

2. Prune the clutter in my house. Result - easier to clean areas. Less visual noise in the environment around me. I do love the feel of a clean house. Now if I could just get it all clean at one time.

3. Prune the overcommittment items in my life. We all have them - I often say that I suffer from over - yes syndrome. Result - some of my sanity back. And the time to do things that are really important to me and the ones I love.

4. Prune the negative feeling about my self. This takes hard work but long term it is so important for us all.

All of these are obvious "deadwood" things - things I recognize need to be pruned or weeded out. This last one is the most difficult.

5. Prune the negative people from my life. Those who short change me - those who cause me to short change myself - those people I try to please and never will - the people that it takes all I have to be around - etc. We have some "friends" and to all appearances this is a normal friendship, but they are the most negative "poor pitiful me" people I know. Everything goes wrong to them and nothing is ever their fault. They get angry if they find out we did anything without them or if we have any kind of friendship with anyone else. The husband's idea of funny jokes is always belitting to others. For the everyday world they are smart and funny and easy going, but the behind the scenes is ugly. Hubby has known them for years - he was friend with them first. I have fired them as friends. This was hard to do. It hurt me and them. But they have found replacements for us and I do wish them all well as they forge this new friendship and enjoy common ground with one another. I am eliminating many negatives from my life. Result - less stress internally and less strife externally. No searching for excuses - just open and honest communication - I am so much better for this.

Sorry this wound up being negative in its own way. My life is full to overflowing with blessings and people I love dearly. I want to share those blessings with others who really understand how special they are, so some hard pruning has and is taking place. Long term I want to share the bountiful fruits of the harvest with many. I want to look over the vineyard that is my life and it be a place of beauty not a tangled and knarled mess of a unkempt life.

Life's biggest influences are those tiny little things done well every day. I recognize that and I appreciate those. I appreciate each of you readers. I appreciate my loved ones. You know - I appreciate my life.

Have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The return home. The house in the background of this picture belonged to my husband's grandmother, Mama Norvan. This is first place I ever visited when we were first together, some 26 years ago. (A whole different lifetime it would seem.)

We were in the cemetary where his grandparents are buried and I snapped this of the monsters (my girls).

We then spent several hours visiting the lady here. Elaine has opened an antique store in the old house. The house was both a local grocery/gas store and residence - Mama Norvan and Papa were Standard Oil Distributors. When Papa died (before my time) , Mama Norvan continued running the store and the station. Elaine has asked for photo's of people to display in the house. There are so many memories on those walls.

I was prepared for that, looking at the photographs and retelling the stories. I was not prepared to wander from room to room - remembering. Remembering things like Molly standing over there with a pullup on her head, Mama Norvan standing by the sink washing out the loafbread sack so she could reuse it as storage, the way she put our gifts away still their box for someday later when she needed a nice coat, the chair she sat in, the tv tray - always with a red tea glass on it (I have that glass), decorating the tree outside at Christmas, and so many meals at the kitchen table.

Molly remembers her. Abby does not. She was only 2 when we lost Mama Norvan. She lived in this house until two weeks before she died over Labor Day weekend. I do have to say - Charles was her favorite grandchild because he always made time for her and as a result I was a favorite by marriage. I loved that lady so much. And she loved us. We visited every week and I stayed at the hospital at the end with her.

I know what she is buried in. She is buried in the dress she wore to my wedding. This fact and many other things were cause for discord in the family after her funeral. Why is that? Why are people so rude at funerals? She was a lady and hers was a life worth celebrating. Was my love for her and hers for us so strong that there was no room for others? Is that where the competition comes from or are there just those who never felt included and this was their demon to fight?

I know that I have room for love on so many fronts. I know that my love grows and expands to fill gaps for those I come in contact with. How do I make sure that those closest to me are sure that they are "good enough"? How do I make sure that my life is one worth celebrating at the end? How do I make sure the ones I love know that love is real and enduring and big enough to include them all? And will I ever know for sure if I was successful or is that something you find out only on the other side?


I am pondering these questions today.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

WIP FRIDAY - and catchup

The first tea towel came this week for a tea towel swap I am in. Blue and white with these wonderful Americana motifs. I cannot complete a french knot for anything, so I am in awe of those who can and there are bunches on this towel . My kitchen is white and the blue and white will be perfect. Thank you Ms. BattyBoredButterfly. I have finished the embroidery on my three towels and will wash, starch, and iron them this weekend for their trips to new homes. I can't wait for my others to get here too.

Another swap I am participating in was the scene in a matchbox. I chose to complete mine in a "snow" theme. The illustration is a reduced copy of a calendar page that I had. I copied and colored with oil crayons, the tree being pulled by the boy is raised with the tiniest popdots I have ever seen (aggravating to work with), then I painted glue around and used clear glitter to create the glistening "snow". The exterior is covered in a frosted paper and the snowflakes added are sequins and sew on trims. I do hope the new owner of this will be happy with it. I actually did this twice - I was not happy at all with the first one, it was all greys and you just could not see it as well.

Sorry for the shadowed photo. This is on the floor at work.

Now for my most exciting project. I have wanted to learn to quilt for years. I have done whole cloth quilting, but never any piecing. I was always afraid. Afraid that I would measure wrong or something would not align exactly right. I sew - so that was not the problem - really I do not know what the problem was.

A friend of mine is having a baby girl (yes - another girl) and her name is to be Maggie. I can show you this because mom is not a blog reader. I wanted her gift to be really special - something she might use and then keep for the next generation.

I have a ton of fabric. ( I'm a fabric junkie) So I used what I had, and came up with this wonderful red and antique white toile. The solid squares are not solid. They are white with a tiny tiny cream starburst printed on them. The edge framing is a check in the dark red and cream. I have enough of the red toile for that to be the backing. Fussy cutting the toile squares was the most challenging part. Not having all the "proper" quilting tools, I improvised and used a square cut from inkjet transparency paper cut to the size I wanted to use. I laid this on the fabric and centered the picture like I wanted. Then marked and cut them out. I cut all the white squares, then worked the design on my bed. Moving things around until I was happy.

This project took tons of walking - the squares were arranged on the bed, the sewing machine is on the computer table in the living room, and the iron was in the laundry room. This is even more evidence that I need the studio to progress. Of course, the walking did not hurt me.

Okay, confession time. When I finished the piecing, I jumped up and down, got the girls to look at it, and generally squealed - "look what I did." Now I am asking myself why did I keep waiting to do this. I can see much more of this in my future.

I will be hand quilting this. I am going out of town next weekend and this is the handwork I will be taking with me.

We have a busy weekend ahead. More work on the studio. Start cleaning the house - top to bottom. There is a refinancing appraisal involved here.

Remember - keep looking for the 100th post contest. The time is drawing very near.

I do hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I love old doors. I saw this image on flickr and had to save it for my inspiration archive. The faded and cracked paint - that lovely blue color - looks like an old store front to me.

My house has heavy old wooden doors. You know, the kind that you can hear open and close. The kind that let you know your loved one is home safely. There are rarely closed doors at our house. My family uses the entire house. Even slamming doors are few and far between. We respect the closed door as a call for privacy or separation, but none of those doors stay closed for long.

The new studio has a plain old barn door right now. Not really appropriate for keeping critters out. But I love that door too. How it screeches when it opens on those old and rusted hinges. The idea that for all these years it has protected the contents of the barn. So I have been in a quandry about how to deal with it. I need the light to come in. I need a more sealed environment for the studio. So - what to do. I am keeping that door and somehow we will build a vestibule type of environment with a glass storm door just inside. I have the ideas - it's up to someone else to figure the technical part of this out. Then I can leave the outer door open while I work.

As I look, read, listen, and absorb all of the stimuli everyday, I have become aware of the symbolism of doors. The doors of my heart can be closed and designed for protection or they can be open and expectant of relationship. I tend to close my mind about somethings and be more open to others. My creative doors tend to be open more often when I am focused on being inspired. I have had the doors of opportunity opened for me and refused to enter. I have entered those doors too. Even the exit doors in my life have either been crossed through or turned from. I have closed and locked a few dooras well. Fear of facing the demons on the other side, either real or imagined, have kept me from even approaching some doors.

Another angle to look at this is to try and recall doors you have opened for others. Do you let people in? Do you open the doors of opportunity for others? Is the approach to your doorstep welcoming and inviting or dark and glooming? Do people take you to be open minded or closed?Do you dismiss people permantly through the exit and then lock that door behind them? Do you walk out of their life and throw away the keys? Or do you have a door labeled forgiveness? Take a look at the doors in your life. I would love to know what doors you have in your mind and heart's inner rooms.

Creating this studio space for me is opening a door I have longed to open. Somehow it validates my creative spirit. It is giving me the feeling that my creative journey is not only worth continuing, but that it is important to continue. I want to welcome my creative friends into my space and allow them to feel inspired. I want to welcome others too and have them feel welcome and nurtured both in my home and studio. I want to be able to create things that have an heirloom feel or that speak to someone at a specific point in their life. I want to interpret the world around me in a visual way. But I want others to feel welcome, actually invited, into that process.

I am truly having a beautiful day. I wish you one too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

Why does blogger insist on just choosing for itself where to put pictures???? I am almost completely done with Swap-bot swaps for the moment. I have had some terrible experiences of not getting returns on my swaps of late, so I am going the private swap route for a while at least. I hope I can tie the text with the correct image here. The journal is for a "handmade item" swap. It is headed to New Mexico as you read this. I could not decide how much things were worth and this swap said to value your item(s) at approximately 10-15 dollars, so I kept adding. There is the altered journal covered with scrapbook paper, a cross stitched monogram, and tons of ribbon and string trim. Another craft apron (these are really quick and easy to make). And, if you look closely at the picture, you can see across the journal front a bracelet of glass beads. I received a journal with fabric strip tassels and I will be making some more of these to sell. While I made this bracelet, Molly will be duplicating this dainty string of beads for some of her work. I hope the new owner finds these useful and beautiful.

The competitor in my dad would be one of the traits I inherited. This is the drag car and I remember the weekend this was taken so well. Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA. I met people like Don Garlitts and Shirley "cha-cha" Muldowney. This was a national event and Dad brought home 1st in the B-stock class. This environment was so much fun for me. I am competitve myself. Hate to lose a card game. Hate for my sales figures to be lower than I expected. I even hate to be second on the track where we walk (for fun and excercise and I am the only competitve one in the group I walk with.) I tend to set personal goals and am disappointed if I don't meet them. I think competition is just in your blood. My girls have it and that's fun for me too.

Speaking of my girls, Molly has a teammate who has this image of me that is too funny. This young lady seems to think I am the June Cleaver type of mom. That I could be comfortable carrying a tray of cookies and wearing a cute little apron. While I do love aprons and am so excited to see the comeback they are making, the image was too funny for Molly to process, she burst into a fit of the uncontrollable giggles when Brooke said that. I think I am going to carry an apron with me, and when the timing is right, show up at a game with the plate of cookies too. I love having a relationship with them that can include laughter and fun. Other kids we are associated with are not as fortunate, and both of ours recognize how truly blessed we are.

I learned something about my Dad this weekend and this is almost bizarre. My girls use the phrase when we are traveling through long unpopulated areas. The saying - "miles and miles of nothing but miles." The first time Molly used it, it felt familiar, but it was not a phrase that I use. In our travels this weekend, we talked a lot about things. MyUncle said the same phrase about the rural road and it occured to me to ask. He said he got the phrase from my Dad. I had forgotten it entirely. I love it when the memories come flooding back. My sister and I always chewed gum when we sat behind him in the car. He would say "give you a quarter for that piece of gum" because he hated the noise chewing gum made. We would get out and ride on Sunday afternoons and he would see a road we didn't know and just turn and follow it. I have seen several really cool places just from this practice. I continue that as we travel. I do hope my girls remember these things as fondly as I do.

I had a comment on an earlier post asking if this is only recorded here in my blog. That answer is no. For years I kept journals for me, as a healing and discovery mechanism. I have burned so many of them because of the "junk" there. But now, as I am becoming more true to myself, I realize that my girls and future generations need a legacy, so I am writing letters to my girls. I have a box for each and I am including the original letter and a copy in an alternating pattern for each one of them. I want this to be in my handwriting. I am including stories, advice, encouragement, rituals, and traditions. There are pictures and artwork for a visual representation of things. Again, I hope they value this as they grow up.

Finally an art piece for a swap. This is called layers of my heart. It was created for a swap bot swap, "show me your heart" and was inspired by a line in my journals. The inspiring line - I am becoming more sure of every thing as I peel back the layers of my heart. It is created from a prepared canvas board, paint, plain and printed tissue paper, gel medium, punched out hearts, and metallic pens. I do have to say, I can see improvement in my collage skills and interpration with this project. As you study it, you find more and more to see. I created it and I even found myself going back to it to study it even more. I have made a deliberate effort to create this year and that effort has paid off in my confidence level and my desire to create more.

There is a quote in a book I have read that I am applying to my work. "Make a deliberate effort to capture your thoughts." As I do that, I have even more ideas to process.

Having set the challenge for September, I am cleaning and tossing and giving away. Look for a special post soon. As I approach my 100th post, I am putting 100 items in a box for someone. Random items, mostly craft supplies and it will be going to a new home. There will be a type of contest for this. The rules still to be determined.

I am also continuing the use what I have to some degree. I have purchased a few things for crafting. Scrapbook brads, a piece of thrifted fabric for a swap - total 2.50. And my favorite purchase - a gallon of buttons from a junk place - literally the kind of place you take your life in your hands as you dig through - black and white buttons - 1.00. Total for the month = 3.50 us dollars. My check book is so happy.

I hope everyone of you has a beautiful day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My weekend fell apart

I had all these plans for my weekend. Plans to work on the studio. Plans for creative time. The girls had sleepover company coming, so I had meal plans in place. (Thanks to Mr. Charles for picking up the slack and allowing the sleepover to continue.)

And all of that changed with a phone call. Friday afternoon at work. My mom called and said "I just talked to Michael and Daddy died." Now I had a moment where I could not put the name Michael nor the word Daddy with my Mother's voice. See - we did not know this man.

My mother came from a broken family. Her Dad left when she was 2. He was never anything more than a child support check after that point. I don't know why. I don't have the entire story. Doesn't matter to me except for how it relates to the downhill spiral of the weekend. We did not know him and that's all I know. But my Mom wanted (needed??) me to go with her to the funeral home for the visitation and funeral this weekend. So I did. And this simple act of supporting her became the beginning of the most bizarre weekend I have ever had.

Michael (1/2 brother) and his wife were wonderful to us. He is trying to heal the rift caused by all of this. I am so grateful for that. His children Kristin and Michelle were very open and friendly. I do look forward to getting to know his family. I do hope that this group will effect some semblance of a family.

Still, standing in a funeral line with 1/2 siblings, step siblings, cousins, etc who absolutely knew nothing about each other was just plain weird. Then sitting and listening to a pastor tell stories about him was even weirder. It was immediately noticed that my hands look like his. In telling the stories, we discovered similarities in our personality and in habits. That was strange to me. I guess some of those things are part of your genetic structure.

All of that was interesting, until my mother started processing all that she felt deprived of. Then, without going into detail here, the nightmare began. It ended with me desperately wanting OUT of the situation AND being very ugly to my mother, to get her attention to what she was doing. I have since apologized, but I wish I had not mishandled my end of the situation.

Very difficult weekend. Which ended in such a bad way. (and I forgot my needle, so I could not even escape into something creative. Packed the embroidery project and the floss, but without the needle - its a wasted effort.)

So MaggieGrace goodies are postponed for a day.

I hope your weekend was better than mine.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Things I remember

The picture is off flickr from sometime in the past.

Dad was 39 when he was killed. So this will be one of those random posts about nothing and everything.


1. We spent time every summer camping at the lake, in the mountains, or on the beach. Sometimes we would set up and mom and dad would go to work from the campground.

2. Dad's sister lived in Miami. It was not uncommon for him to call home on Friday afternoon and tell us to pack some stuff - we were going to miami. 14 hour drive. just to visit and fish then come home on Sunday. I still love doing spontaneous things. I love surprises too.

3. In the only fight I remember having with him, I called him a son-of-a b*&^. That haunted me for years.

4. He helped a lady who had run out of gas when she was only sixteen. Years later, I helped the same lady when she ran out of gas. I telling me her story, we discovered the connection.

5. I wish I could hear him laugh. Just once more. I have a hard time remembering the sound of his voice. My best friend has recordings of his family. I hope he realizes how special that fact is.

6. He called the drag race car "popscicle" - I have no idea why.

7. People used to joke about the hearse having to stop on the way to the cemetary and let him talk to somebody.

8. He took his truck to be painted a taupe color and his friend painted the truck pink. Not just pink - the color was called Rose Metallic.

9. He planted marijuana (1 plant) in the city flower bed, just to prove to the Chief of Police that he didn't have a clue what it looked like. (He was right.)

10. He called classic rock and roll "jungle music" and got out of the car in the middle of the road and danced just to embarass me and my sister. (It worked)

11. He threatened to shoot the first boy who came to the house and hang him by the road as an example to the others. (Does every good southern dad make this threat?)

12. His mom died when he was 2. His dad died when he was in high school.

13. His nickname was "Rosie" I very rarely heard him called anything else.

14. We had guns in our house. I learned to respect what they were. I learned how to shoot. I never thought about shooting people. (I think the key here is respect.)

15. He taught me to water ski. He taught me to drive the boat. Together we taught many more kids to ski.

16. He was a volunteer fireman.

17. He could read the local terrain and know exactly where a fire was and how to get there.

18. He was familiar with the process for bailing someone out of jail. Some of his friends were hell raisers. Not bad people - just had bad judgement.

19. He did not get mad when I wrecked the truck in Mr Ed's pasture. I took the end off the chicken house. Best friend Jim was there. It was his dad's chicken house. (Did I mention that Jim's dad was the chief of police?)

20. He tried not to laugh when we (Jim and I) disabled the float switch on the town water tank, in freezing temps, to create a frozen waterfall. His only question was "Teresa, do you know anything about the icicle in the back yard?" (Did I mention who Jim's dad was?)

21. He did make me work for the money to fix the chicken house. I had to pick up dead chickens in the chicken houses for the summer.

22. I was allowed to drive fast in a controlled situation. Street drag racing was a forbidden activity. Somehow this was okay, because driving a 145mph on the drag strip was a lot more fun than 75 mph on the street.

23. We would float down the river on inner tubes and my mom would tie her tube to the one with the ice chest because she knew he would not leave the beer.

24. The funniest story we have about him involved a head of rotten cabbage.

25. The second funniest story involves a chicken, freezing weather, a raccoon and a fish pond.

26. We never owned a new car.

27. He never drank alcohol before 10am.

28. He watched tv with eyes closed and the sound of snoring ringing in our ears.

29. He always read the funny pages of the Sunday paper first.

30. Sing - absolutely not. Except for some song about the old grey mule named Simon Sweat and the hole in the bottom of the sea.

31. He thought it was funny when me and my sis fought over which side to sit on in the car. (We fought because I knew what side the dairy barn was on and we always played count the cows.)

32. There is 1/2 of a dollar bill still in his wallet. The other 1/2 is in the wallet of his best friend. Some brotherhood pact about never being completely broke.

33. He taught me to hunt and fish and stand my ground when needed.

34. He also taught me to be generous, and fair, and kind, and respectful.

35. I wanted the K.I.S.S. solo albums for Christmas one year. He said no, but then he took the time to listen and discover no horrible messages in the lyrics. And "santa" brought them to me.

36. We always cut a live tree for Christmas. We would hike all over his sister's farm and cut one. (Usually the very first one we looked at, but only after looking at 900 more.)

37. He and my mom had a fight about a stray cat on the day he died.

38. He made sure that we were able to handle emergencies. He taught me to act in that case, deal with the situation, and then, if I felt like it, fall apart after it was all over. I still am that way about accidents and emergencies.

39. There is no doubt that he loved us and we loved him.

Have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More About my Daddy

This is the picture from yesterday without the darkening and other manipulations. This frame hangs on the wall in my living room.

My dad as a young man. These were taken before I was born.

When I was born, he embraced being a Dad. I am the oldest and I had the luxury of undivided attention until my sister came along. I was born in the early am hours and Dad worked the evening and early am hours. 2nd shift at the time. When he would come home at night, he would get me up and we would play, then sleep in the next morning. I still function that way. I find my greatest energy time is around midnight to 2 am. And, as long as I squeeze in enough rest through the week, these hours are my most creative.

On Saturday mornings, we would leave mom to sleep in and as soon as I was able to sit on a stool, we would have breakfast at Royston Drive Inn. Buddy and Barbara Gordon owned the place and Mr Buddy would fix me two grill cheeses - one at a time. Dad would visit with the regulars and "tell lies" about the week. (Royston Drive Inn is still there - new owners now - but still a warm and friendly small town grill environment.) Then we would ride and visit friends or run errands. My main memory of that time would cause heart failure today. I would stand on the front seat and lean against dad's shoulder as he drove.

I remember the physical feeling of leaning on his shoulder. Of how safe I felt with him taking care of me. I also remember feeling like I was the most special child in the world. We talked and talked, and as I grew, the conversations continued. No subject was taboo. These memories are the most real to me. He always made time to spend with me. If there were things he had to do, he allowed me to be there, so we could share time together. He was open and honest with me. These times were special, but also the core of my learning from him.

He was never my best friend. He was always my Father, my Daddy. I watch parents today as they try to be friends of their children. A friend has no accountability for how you turn out. A friend can leave you to deal with things. A friend has no vested interest in decisions you make. It is not the responsiblity of a friend to raise you, teach you respect, teach you responsibility, give you a moral base. My Dad chose the right path. He chose to Father me. He took that responsibility very seriously. I respected him, I revered him, I loved him. He took the time to share generosity with me, he took the time to discipline me, he allowed me to absorb his way of loving people without lecturing me. He allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them. Not once did he ever try to make a consequence go awaybut he walked beside me through many challenges. He was a parent who loved his children. I love him so much for that. To this day, I make decisions based on input from him. I still remember how crushing it was for him to say "I'm dissappointed". There were times that we didn't agree, but I always heard his input.

Thank you Daddy for choosing to parent me. I do believe we would be friends today. I would always still look at you as the authority though.

As a parent myself, I struggle sometimes with wanting to be a friend for my girls. Then I think about the right path for being their mom. I'm supposed to love them. I'm supposed to respect them. I'm supposed to teach them. I am not supposed to be their best friend. That would be unfair to both of them. AND that would be unfair to me. Maybe someday, they will understand, and then we can be friends.

Have a beautiful day.

The Indulgence Series

Fly - Soar - Glide ::: Fabric remnants, raw edge applique, blending filament stitching, fabric stamping. All hand sewn.

Hope - Strength - Courage ::: Felt, Alphabet beads, Sequins, A wonderful rayon multicolor thread, Hand sewn.

Travel - Explore - Experience :::: Paper collage. Wonderful antique map print paper. Various paint chips, Scrapbook stickers and brads, sizzix punch letters. Mixed media collage.

Rest - Relax - Renew ::: cross stitch with hand dyed floss. All my own design.

This is the result of a focused weekend of ATC crafting. The backing has now been glued and these are drying today. I can't believe it took this long to decide how to do these. This project is designed to explore new mediums for me on a small scale. The handstitching on the FLY,SOAR, GLIDE and HOPE, STRENGTH, COURAGE sets was tedious for me. I can see that being an activity for sitting at ball games etc. There is no pattern, so its flexible and I can pick it up and then leave it as needed.

The cross stitch design was very enjoyable. I have an idea for a project that can be adapted and expanded to fit a personal project. I will be exploring more of the designing process in the future. I have cross stitched for years, but only recently started forming my own designs and I will continue to expand my knowledge in that area.

The paper collage was just plain fun. I will be doing a lot of this. I have done mixed media art a lot, but I tend to be very structured in my approach. Symmetry, clean lines, matching colors, structured, planned art is what I lean towards. This set has torn edges, a natural layout, colors I would not normally use, and I enjoyed this. It was an incredibly freeing process. The map print had enough of the visual detail I really like but then tearing and working within that process allowed it to be looser and fun.

I do hope the owners of these find them enjoyable. They will be off to new homes this week.

I plan to attack at least two more sets this weekend. Thank you all for your patience as I explore my art processes.

Have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I worked hard to make this picture reflect how I felt at the time. If you look carefully you can see my dad's face.

Sometimes this is how my memory works. I can remember some things easily. Others I wonder if I really remember or if its just stories that others have told me. Every once in a while, something triggers the most powerful memories. These are usually obscure, random, and wonderful occurances.

My dad was a mechanic. Could fix anything. He taught auto mechanics at the tech school near our home. He didn't mind sharing what he knew. He didn't mind helping others. There were always cars at our house being worked on.

We also raced. He would have loved to see what NASCAR has become. We raced small dirt oval tracks. We also drag raced. I think that's where my competitive nature and love of speed come from. He would not let me drive until I could drive a manual transmission vehicle. I also had to be able to change a tire and other things required for maintaining a car. I thank him for that. I am passing that onto my daughters.

I wasn't aware of how much of that had been suppressed until one night at a restaurant. A group of us was eating in Commerce, Georgia the weekend of he drag races. A young man came in and was seated behind us. I never saw the man, but I was crying immediately. Why? He smelled of the racetrack. The smell of grease and burnt rubber. The smell of my dad doing the things he loved. At that moment I could remember clearly Daddy doing those things he loved. I could see him. I could remember him sharing those things with me and my sister. I could remember him. Random - powerful - real. I now realize how powerful my sense of smell is. Those emotions poured out of me. All triggered by a smell.

My dad gave me life skills. Not by lecturing me. He gave me life skills by showing me. He was open to my being involved in what he was doing. Conversation was easy between us most of the time. He was always telling people how proud he was of us. He allowed me to see life as it really was. Good - bad - and ugly. He tried to protect us from the ugly, but it came anyway. And it took him from us. Took him from me.

I think the most damaging thing I did after he died, and still do today, is to wonder if things would have been different had he still been here. He's not here. My life has played out exactly as it was supposed to. At times I accept that. At other times I try to play the senario without his death in it. I need to really focus on today and get away from the "what if" way of thinking. My life and my girls need me fully present - not second guessing what might have been. I need to give them more of those memories that someday will come flooding back as a random - powerful experience. I miss him.

Damn - he's still teaching me today.

Do you have experiences triggered like this? Is there a smell that causes an emotional reaction for you? Please share.

I hope you have a beautiful day.

A small gift for a friend

Mary Ann was a swap partner in the past. I am amazed at how, even across miles, you seem to strike a common note with people. I now consider her a friend.

She is incredibly optimistic. I love that she is willing to look at the bright side of things. I love that she supports indie artists. I love that she is a fab indie artist herself. Evreything she has sent me has been well thought out and incredibly well made. (The english teacher in her will critique me using the same word over and over in a paragraph) She has a birthday this Thursday. And me and my girls are sending her a small package. I am not even going to do this as a teaser. The bookmark is my creation and to showcase a new indie artist, the earrings are a Molly creation.

She is making earrings and boho style necklaces. I am so excited for her. I will be buying her a ton of stuff for Christmas to encourage this endeavor. She is also planning a beading space in the new studio that will work for her.

As she has things ready, I will be posting them. Pricing to come as well.

Happy birthday Mary Ann.

Isn't She Lovely

Sorry about multiple posts. Seems blogger can only handle a little information at a time today.

The cross stitch part is finished. She really is pretty. I sat down Saturday night and finished her. I was determined. The next step is to figure out the lining and actually make the stocking.

Sweet Abby - you will have more than a cheap imitation stocking this year. Now I am the only one with the imitation.

Have a beautiful day.

Back to work - to rest

What a weekend. The studio cleanout is in full swing. I guess this qualifies for the September challenge. We hauled off 2 truckloads of junk. Put thousands of wire nuts, screws and nails into consolidated containers. Decided how to seal this building against the black snake who is determined to live there too. Dirty, grungy, nasty work. Spider webs. Dust. Wasp nests. Old chemicals. Junk. Trash. Sweat.

That was Saturday.

Yesterday was his day. He organized. Cleaned tools. Put parts away in their proper location. I was summoned when he needed help lifting. I was inside most of the day. Staying out of the way. Out of the way of cussing. Out of the way of his asking "what am I doing?"

So the studio is slowly becoming a reality. Yes it was hard and dirty work and and right now it's his stuff. Next is construction stuff. Then the part I hate most - PAINT. Then the move of my stuff. That will be his turn to keep a low profile while I sort through and organize.

A very productive weekend.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September - the mullygrubs

I am just a bit melancholy today. Nothing's wrong, but the month of September does this to me. My Dad's birthday is this month and the anniversary of his death is this month, and I found the lump in my breast in September 10 years ago. The result of all those things is that a heaviness settles on me every year at this time. Weird I know, but alas tis true.

In an effort to deal with these emotions this year, I am going to pay tribute to my Dad this month, here. I apologize in advance if this is too emotional. It is not a pity party in any way - I am not normally a pity party person. Just sometimes seeing the words allows the perspective to be different. I hope you all will bear with me as I do this. Not to worry, there will be plenty of MaggieGrace creativity too.

Check out the pictures. I whooped and giggled when I opened the package of ATC from Audrey's Vintage Children w/Party Hats swap. I love them all. I am not sure how I am going to display these, but they are wonderful and will be out in full view in my studio. The amazing thing to me is how different the interpretations are for the challenge.

I also got a little sweet surprise from MaryAnn yesterday. The tea was wonderful, but not nearly as wonderful as the gesture. She is the sweetest soul. Very supportive of Indie Artists and a fabulous Indie Artist herself. Thank you, thank you.

The other photo is of some of my work - headed out in the surprize packages to Alicia and Carolyn who won a comment contest several posts ago. I had so much fun making the little button cards. The dolphins are a dollar store find and I just thought they were fun. The flower arrangement card is made from buttons off my grandmother's dresses and tops. I am now on the lookout for more of these vintage or vintage style buttons to make more of these. Ladies feel free to dismantle these arrangements if you can find a use for the buttons.

The embellished letters are the ultimate in fun finds. I got these from a lady who makes custom photo mats. She will cut words or letters out of the matboard and you have the photo behind the letter opening. I bought a gallon baggie of these leftover matboard cutouts - mixed letters - for less than a dollar. Embellished with AnnaGriffin papers and other stuff. Fun - fun - fun.

The tiny little granny squares are about 2"x2" - a pain in the *%$ to crochet but too cute not to share. If you ladies find a use for these, please email me a photo. I made them while waiting for my girls at various places.

All photos are taken against a thrifted piece of silk drapery fabric.

Tribute note to about my Dad. He was my biggest supporter in anything I tried to accomplish. If I failed, he was there to help pick up the pieces. If fear or previous failure was keeping me from trying again or trying something new, he was the one who encouraged me to let go and get on with it. I say that as if I am the only one who received this gift. My sister will say the same thing. Many others who came in contact with him would voice a similar story. He was an encourager. He was a teacher. He loved life. If he had been given the choice, he would have fought to stay here with us. I wish my girls had known him. He would have been one of their biggest supporters too.

Day 32 of using what I have. I am calling the August challenge a success. Now onto the clean it up, give it away, toss it out plan for September.

Plans for the weekend include much work on the studio space. And a focus on the ATC indulgence project.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.