Saturday, October 31, 2009

This is scary!

10-31-09 freaking out brain
A few years ago, I remember watching an Oprah Show which had a gal on it who had written a book bemoaning her aging neck. At the time I had thought how silly is that? There are more important things to worry about than your neck!

Easy for me to say, I was only 50 then and still looking OK.
Well, THIS birthday- age 54, sadly, things are NOT looking so favorable for MY neck!

The decline has started for sure!

However, I’m trying to focus on the truly important things in life:
I’m happier now than ever, have more healthy relationships than I did at a younger age, wonderful family and friends, I have meaningful work in cancer research, a passion for my art, and I’m married to a wonderful man. I’m active and basically pretty healthy.

LIFE IS GOOD in spite of this sagging neck line.

Friday, October 30, 2009

TGIF B-day

10-30-09 celebrating brain

It’s Friday and it’s my B-day…. How fun is that!?
I’ve been celebrating all week long; first a fun weekend, last week in KC with Greg (my best friend), and then lunch with Teresa and Chelsea in KC.

Wednesday, a few girlfriends in DM took me to dinner and they came with fun gifts. I took this picture only of THEM and said they reminded me of “ The Three Wise woMEN” baring gifts….. they are part of my “Wise Miss” group of females who have inspired me and their friendship makes my life richer, supported, and worth living.

Thursday night I attended a Mystery Theater Dinner at my church, Westminster, put on by two talented actor friends Dan & Carol. I took Vivian with me, who fills the role as my aunt and 2nd mother type. We had fun and I turned out to be the killer! Although I never did understand what motivated me. We all hated Mr. Nasty, I still think Goldie did it. This was my first Murder Mystery, so I'll understand more the next time around.

Tonight will be dinner out with Greg, and Trick or Treat night in Des Moines.
Saturday night is annual Hoot & Howl dress up night attending a spooky organ recital which includes silly Halloween skits put on by very talented people in Des Moines.

Actually my celebration continues on for another weekend as well. My friend Molly will come to town for an art show and we will also be gathering for lunch with other girlfriends next Saturday.

Love is all I need in my life to make it worth living another year older! I’m so blessed to have family and friends who love me unconditionally.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Born in the USA

10-29-09 still thinking Springsteen brain
Back in 2006 our cat Buster died, this was around the time the news was breaking about the tainted cat and dog food from China. The cat food we had been using, Science Diet, was on the list of effected food. It’s interesting to note that about 6 months earlier my Vet had stopped carrying that brand without explanation. So I sought it out at another store.

I can’t prove that Buster died due to bad food. He was 13 years old, a “senior cat”, and in hind-sight, had started to slow down over the last 6 months of his life. Our vet felt he had a lymphoma or leukemia type cancer. We didn’t pay for an autopsy.

I hear the news now about the tainted drywall from China that has been in many homes from 2004 to 2008, especially in Florida during the building boom. What a nightmare that must be for homeowners. Many people are reported to be sickened from living in these homes.

What’s a person to do? It is so hard to purchase anything today that doesn’t have “Made in China” label. I’ve been looking at this for several years. I’ve tried to attempt to buy things “Made is USA” and it seems almost impossible. I’m even willing to pay more money, but the items available seem slim.

This Christmas, again I’m going to attempt to find "Made in USA” items. One source is:

Another idea is just to give homemade items, like my artwork might be a good choice, but then I’m left wondering if my paints were “Made in China”….. is my artwork toxic?

On a positive note, I was happy to find some black metal frames, which I like to use, can be bought at Hobby Lobby and are "Made in USA".... but then again, who knows where the actual metal comes from.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun weekend: part III

10-28-09 shifting gears brain
I forgot to mention that Friday night in KC, Greg and I attended an art exhibit of Andy Warhol's which was at the Union Station. This was very cool. My weekend of fun in KC WAS to continue through Monday night. Greg had bought us tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert for my birthday.

Unfortunately, Monday night when we arrived at the Sprint Center about 45 minutes before show time, we found out that the show had recently been cancelled. Turns out Springsteen's cousin and road manager had died in his hotel room, occurring just a few hours before the show was to start.

Yes, I was disappointed, but I have much more fun activities scheduled this week in Des Moines as part of my B-day celebration. Tonight dinner with some girlfriends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fun weekend: part II

10-27-09 friendship brain
Sunday was a bit cloudy with light rain, so as Greg was spending time with other football fans in the afternoon watching their beloved Cleveland Browns play (i.e. lose again), I was invited over to Teresa’s house for lunch. Teresa is my college friend, and since I really didn’t have many friends in college, she holds a special role in my life.

Teresa made some delicious soup and we were blessed to have her daughter Chelsea join us. I say blessed, since many college age kids wouldn’t think of hanging out with the “old folks” for the afternoon, but Chelsea is atypical…. in a good way. Chelsea is my Goddaughter, so of course I’m terribly proud of the way she appears to be growing up to be a smart, level headed and creative young women. Not that I had anything to do with it, since I only get to see her once or twice a year. (And as you can see Chelsea is a cutie!)

I enjoyed hearing about her life and her perspective of things. Chelsea is an avid reader, and one of her dreams is to write a novel. I’m going to make sure she remembers this and I look forward to reading whatever story she has bouncing round her brain. Chelsea has a crazy enough family to provide her with a wide variety of characters to write about. Who knows, maybe I’m one of them too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun weekend: part I

10-26-09 relaxing brain

Saturday in KC was so nice. The trees here are at their peak color so Greg and I went for a long walk. In the evening, we went down to the Plaza to view the “Water Fire" event. I didn’t know anything about it, so didn’t have any expectations of what this might involve. This ended up being pretty cool.

It’s a bit of performance art in a way, and a bit of a light display. There were dozens of floating bonfires along the creek that runs along the south side of the Plaza. There was music; some was live, and some was recorded. There also was some fire jugglers, and of course food vendors.

We enjoyed a stroll along the walkway next to the creek, then headed back south to old downtown Overland Park where there is a sports bar that hosts the Iowa Hawkeye fan club of KC. Iowa was playing Michigan Stage and was hoping to continue their winning streak.

We arrived at the start of the 4th quarter, which ended up being the most important quarter of the game. The score tied at 6. There was excitement when the Hawks went ahead 9 to 6, then sadness when the score shifted to 9 to 13. The clock was running out and the pressure was on! WOW, I still can’t believe they scored a touchdown on the last seconds of play. The Hawks record is now 8 wins, 0 losses.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Turning over a new leaf

10-24-09 determined brain
I’m enjoying my clean closet this week AND I’m trying hard to turn over a new leaf by re-hanging my clothes each day.

Each time I take something off the hanger, I then place that hanger in a general area of empty hangers and when it’s time to place that clothing back, I now can easily find a hanger to use.

Sure I should have learned this from my mother years ago, and I’ve been told that I was a neat child up until puberty, then all hell broke loose I guess. I’ll just blame the hormones. Now since I’m in reverse-puberty, maybe I can re-train myself to again be neater.

Well, I know it’s a stretch…. But I’m really trying hard to make this a new habit.

More “leaf” turning in Iowa this week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Geez Louise Event

10-23-09 grateful brain
I enjoyed attending the benefit event for Geez Louise on Wednesday night where some of my artwork was part of a silent auction. Several friends went along: Kelley, Carolyn and Deb, which made the evening even more fun.

The event started off with hors d'oeuvres, drinks and a drum circle while everyone examined and started bidding on the items in the silent auction. I was amazed at the quantity and quality of the auction items and was happy to see there were many bids going on my piece of artwork.

One of the organizers of the event, Erin, pictured above with me, is a young gal I know through church. Erin is the daughter of Jan and Polk, two of my favorite church people. I'm also a huge fan of Erin's. It has been fun watching her grow from an awkward teenager into this posed, purposeful, hardworking, silly and fun women. If I had a daughter, I'd want her to be just like Erin! I feel blessed to have her in my life. She gives me hope for the next generation of women.

Below is a short video (not the greatest quality) which might give you a sampling of the opening action of the event. There were also nine women who spoke during the official program who shared their inspiring life's stories.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn blooming

10-22-09 perplexed brain
During the nice few days of weather this week, I’ve been walking around the neighborhood enjoying the beautiful autumn scenery with my new eyes. The colors seem more vivid to me and I am now able to see individual leaves at tree top level with my new 20/20 vision.

I was in my friend’s yard looking at her new dog fence when I spotted this iris in bloom. Isn’t this bizarre? My iris plants only bloom in the early summer.

I have no explanation for this; except it must be the strange energy coming from Sue’s house. Sue has an interesting, unpredictable, topsy-turvy life; which I don’t mean in a negative way…. But leave it to Sue to have something unusual growing in her yard.... well I suppose it could happen in my yard as well! ?

I think the lesson is BLOOM any opportunity you can!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dreaming large

10-21-09 daydream brain
Nineteen days, that’s how long we had to wait in October for a normal autumn day. Temperatures were finally in the 60’s and Monday was one of those perfect days you long for, sunny, mild and no wind.

Monday’s wonderful weather reminded of a day last autumn when my Missy cat was still healthy enough to be outside. She loved being outside and I remember some of the last pictures I have of her were taken on a day as lovely as Monday.

Missy is a black cat so it is difficult to get a good picture of her, since she ends up looking like a black blob. I remember that day trying to do my best to get a close up of her before she looked away. This picture turned out well and is one of my favorites.

The reason I bring this up is that I’m beginning to take small steps towards my dream of creating an art business and a web site. Missy over the years has been my silent but faithful sounding board. She would purr when I told her about my dreams and plans to start an art business as I get closer to retirement.

Over this last year the stars seem to be lining up and other influential people have urged me to begin to act rather than just to dream. This weekend I secured a domain name and I’m slowly starting to read and learn more about what I might want do with a web site.

I don’t plan to make big bucks from my art, but I have loftier plans to create positive energy for the world using my art.

Today some of my “new” art makes its debut at an event tonight in a silent auction for an organization called Geez Louise, which is a non-profit group working with women for growth, education and empowerment.

Stay tuned for the emerging news and progress…. i.e. the blossoming of my art dreams!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old pictures

10-20-09 reminiscing brain

Old pictures, just for the fun of it!

I was looking through a box of pictures the other day and spotted these. I believe these were from the first Halloween Greg and I had together, 1991, before we were married.

I do remember this was at a party at Kelley's brother-in-laws birthday in late October.

Oh those big glasses I wore when I wasn't wearing my contacts!

Molly was visiting us and came along. Here she is with Kelley. We were wearing "bat" accessories..... in case you were wondering.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One small step toward cleanliness

10-19-09 clean brain
I did it! I’m so proud of myself! This weekend I woke up Saturday morning and was in the mood to remove the summer clothes from my closet and switch out to my winter clothes.

That really didn’t take long and it was nice to have the hanging clothes organize, which in turn, motivated me to continue cleaning the rest of the walk-in closet.

Our walk-in closet was part of our master bathroom addition to our bedroom done in 2000–2001. Sad to say this has been only the 3rd time I’ve deeply cleaned the closet in 8 years, so yes, it was over due.

I took everything out and steam mopped the floor. Here is the dirt I was living with! PS: I love my new Shark Steam cleaner!

At the midway point of cleaning I typically get so discouraged, since things are more chaotic then when I started, but I persevered and completed the project.

My cleaning also inspired Greg, which really surprised me since he was watching the Hawkeyes play football. At half time he came up and started looking through his things. Much of this he doesn’t wear, since the majority of his clothes are now in the KC house.

Greg cleaned out old pants and shirts and he had a pile two feet high for our DAV donation this year.

So after this satisfying cleaning session Saturday day, we then “got to have fun” by having dinner out with our friends Ann and Roy, whom we had not seen since Easter!.

This is MY kind of Saturday......You accomplish some work and you also have some relaxing fun time with friends. Today, I’m in a better mood starting the week out!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Frosty endings

10-17-08 frozen brain
Frost came to Iowa this last weekend. There was even some snow in Des Moines. So far no weekend in October has been decent enough to do yard work. I can only hope for at least a warmer day soon to do some out door clean up. The leaves are still on the trees, so much more work to be done before winter.

The house vine has died and we harvested our "crop" of ONE gourd. It's a wonderful guitar gourd! The house sure looks bare now and I can see out of the bathroom window again.

I've never seen a gourd this long and this straight! This will make an interesting birdhouse next year.

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little depressed with the change of seasons. It feels like I haven't seen much of sun lately. It's that time of year when it's dark when I get out of bed and dark by dinner time. I hope some Indian Summer weather comes my way soon, maybe THIS weekend!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Unsung hero

10-16-09 respectful brain
My Dad is a national hero, but I believe my Mother is our family hero! Mom has always been our patient, loving caregiver.... and to me, she has always made it look easy.

Even now, when Greg and I visit my parents, it’s Mom, age 81, who cooks for us good basic food which I find more satisfying than any restaurant. I always assumed that Mom liked cooking and being in the kitchen, but a few years ago she told me that cooking never came natural for her. Growing up she preferred being outside on the farm with my Grandpa or spending time with her pony rather than being in the kitchen with her Mother.

I can’t even begin to list the things my Mom has taught me and all the experiences she gently made sure I at least try: piano lessons, tap dancing, 4-H where she taught me to sew, bake pies, and refinishing furniture to name a few.

Many of my friends no longer have their mothers in their lives, so I know that I am truly blessed to still have my Mom with me. My sister and I are excited for this December when Mom and Dad will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary!

Sixty years putting up my Father.... now that is a BIG accomplishment. I believe my sister and I should give my mom a medal.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Honoring WWII Veterans

10-15-09 reverent brain
Saturday, September 26th my father had the awesome opportunity to participate in one of the Honor Flights to DC.

If you don’t know the background of Honor Flights, click on the link and read some background information from the website.

Dad went on the Honor Flight Winnebago which flew from Mason City, Iowa with nearly 100 other WWII Vets from 29 northern Iowa communities, along with about 60 guardians who were younger Veterans, many from the Vietnam era.
Also in attendance were a few doctors and nurses to tend to any medical needs, along with 100's of wheel chairs on the National Mall.

My Dad, age 84, was actually one of the youngest Veterans, since he entered the Marines at age 17. The oldest in his group was 91.

A bus picked Dad up at the Charles City Court House about 4:45 AM along with 17 other WWII Vets from Floyd County. They were scheduled to meet in a hanger at the Mason City airport at 5:30AM.

After landing at Dulles International Airport in DC, buses took the Vets to the National Mall. Around 9:30AM the Winnebago Honor Flight Vets met up with 10 other Honor Flights programs from around the country in front of the new WWII Memorial.

Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole were in attendance and many photo ops occurred here as well at the various monuments. Dad was moved by the Korean War Memorial which reminded him of his reconnaissance days as an Amphibian Recon Marine in the Pacific Island, (Makin and Marshall Islands, and the Iwo Jima). Dad was on top of Mt. Suribachi when the flag was raised and the famous picture was taken. I have written about this before, link here.

A picture published in our local paper showed the Vets in front of the Marine Corp Memorial which depicts the Iwo Jima flag raising and Dad is front and center in his red Marine jacket and cap. Dad said this was a very emotional moment for him.

The Winnebago Honor Flight arrived back home about 10:30PM to a crowd waving flags.

Family and friends were invited to write letters to their special Vet which were then given as a surprise to the Vets on their return flight home. Dad said he had the most letters of anyone! Thanks to all who found out about this and wrote. Dad has all his pictures and letters already assembled in a photo album. I wish I could be as organized as my Dad!

During the war my Dad had perilous challenges and he saw and experienced horrendous things that war requires of young men…. really still boys. Dad served from age 17 to 20…. And I am amazed that Dad was able to lead a normal and fulfilling life after all this.

This is what I wrote my Dad in a card:

Dad, Growing up, you were a tough father at times, and I didn’t always understand you.

Now over the years, I’m glad to learn about your war experiences and this helps me to appreciate your tough side which helped you be a survivor, and helped you to succeed in life after the war was over.

Athlete, Marine, teacher, coach, councilman & city leader, husband, father, friend, church volunteer, good neighbor, philanthropist: In my eye’s your life has been full…. and full of meaning. I’m grateful for the positive example you have been and I’m grateful for all that you have done for the country, our family, and me. You are ONE of a kind!

I asked Dad if he could give me a summary quote for my blog, He said proudly, "I was awake 22 hours and didn’t pee my pants!"

Now those are BIG accomplishments for THIS 84 year old Marine!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time for "wine" ? Pour me a glass!

10-14-09 clueless brain
Where does all my time go?

Time seems to be slipping through my fingers this last month. Somehow I got behind and I’m not caught up yet.

I missed my God-daughters 20th birthday last week, my office is a mess, there is a pile of clean clothes down on the dryer but no room in my chaotic closet to hang anything.

Last night I worked on framing two paintings. One for a Christmas gift (thus I can’t show it here) and the other is a painting (below)which I’m donating for a silent auction next week for Geez Louise. That pretty much blew my whole evening.

Now off to “work” from 8:00 to 5:00 to earn my mortgage payment and keep my health benefits. When did I sign up for the rat-race life?…. I don’t remember?

OH DEAR, I'm whining today! Sorry.....some days are just like that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We should be proud

10-13-09 affirming brain
This blog (see link) whom I read, makes the case better than I did yesterday regarding Obama.

The Nobel Peace Prize in the past has been given for "effort", not for achievements. This brief history lesson was enlightening.

Thanks California Girl (who lives in New Hampshire) for posting this! AND if you don't like politics you can enjoy the autumn folliage pictures on her blog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Change HAS come

10-12-09 altered brain
Some people are looking for a miracle with bold signs of wonderment…… when sometimes all that is needed is some grace brought about by one small gesture, one small step.

Change comes in small baby steps, one choice at a time; just ask anyone who is trying to lose weight like my friend Kelley. Kelley has lost 12 lbs in 4-5 weeks on Weight Watchers. She has not met her final goal yet, but she is actively doing the hard work to change her body and life into a more healthy one, and I think she deserves some credit. The momentum she has created is taking her in the direction of successfully meeting her goal.

Likewise, the world has changed and is changing thanks to Obama. Too slow for some, too radical for others.

On Facebook last night there was a poll site where people can participate in the vote. The questions: Did Obama deserve to win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize?

Well, he wouldn’t have been my first choice, but then I’m not on the Nobel Committee, BUT in the Facebook poll I did vote YES!

Yes, because he has already changed the world's mind set towards us, the USA, and changed peoples outlook towards the future. If the only thing he gets done in the 4 years as President is to give some great speeches which inspire us (the world) with hope, inspire us to strive to be better people, and to change our attitudes about other people different than ourselves, then his effect on the world is HUGE!

My question is: Do you have an open and willing heart to follow the lead of President Obama and help make the world a better place for others as well as yourself?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wedded bliss

10-10-09 reminiscing brain
Today is a special day! It was 17 years ago that Greg and I had our wonderful wedding day. Boy we all were thinner back then and Greg had no grey hair!

My memories revolve around the love I felt from Greg as well as from family and friends who were there to share the day with us.

AND I remember that delicious tasting wedding cake... almond flavor!

This year our anniversary will be low-key. Greg and I are spending the weekend visiting my parents in northern Iowa along with my sister who is visiting. I don't need or want anything else. Love is all I need..... and I'm blessed to have tons of that in my life!

I will be toasting "the most wonderful man in the world".... and asking him to put up with me for at least another 17 years.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October BOO

10-9-09 goblin brain
Thursday night I got BOO’ed!
This has been a neighborhood tradition on our Des Moines street for a number of years. I usually enjoy starting the BOO’s around October 1st, but this year I was too busy and someone beat me to it, although I have been collecting items to put in a BOO Bag for several weeks now.

Getting BOO’ed means you receive a bag of Halloween goodies at your front door with a signed placed on your door letting everyone know you have been BOO’ed.

This year I received the best looking BOO bag that I have ever seen!

The BOO tradition then calls for you to BOO another person in the neighborhood and it is fun to watch the BOO’s slowly show up on everyone’s door during the month of October, as it spreads from house to house.

BOO goodies received and given can be anything which might be enjoyed by the particular person you are preparing the bag for. Candy is OK, plus other Halloween stuff. Whoever BOO'ed me this year, did a nice job of picking silly but functional things out!

I like a BOO bag that doesn't have too much candy in it so I'm not tempted to get high on sugar! This BOO bag had only one small bag of cookies.... which I already ate in a matter of minutes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More vines on my mind!

10-8-09 fall harvest brain
I'm in KC part of this week and I found a vine at the KC house! In the backyard behind the shed, a small vine was growing along the back fence line.

To my surprise I spotted a lovely small pumpkin hanging on the other side of the fence in deep growth of bushes and weeds.

The house to our back in now for sale and the lawn is neglected, so I figured I’d reach for the pumpkin.

Finally, I should be satisfied to have a pumpkin instead of just a gourd! I'm ready for Halloween now!

Molly and I found these black birds at a shop in Prairie Village. I bought one and she bought several to decorate her house!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mini Cooper water fun

10-7-09 silly brain

No words are needed here! There is sound in the video, so have your speaker adjusted.

PS: Happy Birthday to my sister! See you in a few days!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Small car, BIG fun

10-6-09 motoring brain
This past Saturday was the Iowa 7th Annual Fall Mini Cooper Drive. This was a record breaking year! We had 21 Mini's for most of the trip, and this was the first year the weather was NOT the greatest.... but we still had fun.

We started out meeting up at a coffee shop in Grinnell, and next visited the Carol's Pumpkin Patch just south of Grinnell, which would have been great fun, but there was a light sprinkle for most of the morning.

Onto Marshalltown for lunch, Nevada for ice cream, then over near Boone at the Ledges State Park. This was the best part of the trip, since the rain had stopped. Everyone in Iowa needs to make at least one trip to this park, it's very beautiful, and so different from the flat corn fields of Iowa.

I hiked to the top of "Crows Nest" on top of one of the ledges and got this picture of our group.

After we enjoyed some nature, we ended our drive with a wonderful dinner in Perry, Iowa at the historic Hotel Pattee!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Full moon

10-5-09 moon brain
Another busy weekend followed by another exhausted Monday morning. (I'll blog about this later in the week.) I should have gone to bed early last night, but no..... Greg was in bed sleeping & snoring and I was down in the basement playing with my paints. I had packed a box of paints with me for this 4 day trip in KC.

I was painting at a frantic pace (three projects at once) and nothing was turning out like a had envisioned. It must of been the full moon's effect on me and the full moon's pull on the liquidity paints I was using.

When I came back this morning I found the paint was drying in an interesting way. I won't make a judgment about it until I see it laid out in a frame.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Creative mood

10-3-08 active right brain
I'm in the creative groove and happily enjoyed some creative evenings this week. Inspired now by the developing fall colors.

I painted this week while I watched PBS National Parks series by Ken Burns.... This inspired me too!

Here is my first attempt at leaves using my experimental technique. I never know what the paint is going to do.... and I find that fun and exciting!

Friday, October 2, 2009

de' VINE surprise

10-2-09 amused brain
When I returned to Des Moines after my last trip, only 4 days, I had to take a good look at my pumpkin vine and note its growth.

It's getting very close to the house top now, but the BIG surprise for me was to note that THIS was NOT a pumpkin vine after all, but a gourd vine.

I was amused by finding this small gourd growing close to the ground. Then upon further inspection I was surprised to find a large gourd hanging! It has a very long straight neck and in total is about 16 inches long.

I'm now glad I didn't remove the vine prematurely. The vine will get to live a bit longer since it's producing something worthwhile for a fun art project. Look close and see if you can stop this gourd.