Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Neighborhood Block Party

8-31-10 party brain
Saturday was our annual neighborhood block party in Des Moines. We were blessed with beautiful weather for this event.... just perfect!

We had a good turn out, about half the houses on our street attended this year. We had small kids, teenagers, and parents, and retirees "represent'n"

We even had our own entertainment with Steve on piano, and Maryln on banjo.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Museum of BAD Art

8-30-10 artistic brain
I don’t remember how or when I came across this website HERE, but thought it was weird-interesting and so I bookmarked it. There is actually a Museum of “Bad” Art. Since this is in the Boston area, I think I may have heard about it on NPR since I listen to www.wbur.org (Boston PR)often.

As you can see on their website, there is a “bad” painting of two dogs. This reminds me of an old watercolor painting I came across this summer in the basement as I was cleaning out old art supplies.

Back in the 1994 I bought myself a cheap watercolor set… and knowing nothing about watercolor, I set out to learn. My first subject was my cat Buster.

Well, it became obvious that I needed to take some art lessons, and in summer of 1997 I finally did sign up for my first art class. There I meet a wonderful teacher (Mary Muller) and she said I needed to start with some basic drawing classes. So I began with her class and have taken classes with her for over 10 years now.

I started in charcoal drawing, working my way into pastels, and dabbling a bit in acrylics… I have yet to be brave enough to try watercolors again. But someday I will, since I really do love a good watercolor painting.

I believe, and I bet you agree…. this picture of Buster, belongs in the Museum of Bad Art!

PS: If you are in the Des Moines area, Mary Muller is the best! I'm too busy to take classes lately... but I can highly recommend her work, either to buy or to take classes from. I LOVE her work, and I LOVE her as an inspiring person.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


8-28-10 bird brain
Here is a somewhat better photo of my visiting Goldfinch, eating sunflowers.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stopping to smell the roses

8-27-10 nature brain
I’m still just feeling tired and worn out this week. I so wanted to take a day to sleep, but been busy at work and thus getting out of bed at usual time.

Anyway, I’m not in the mood to write today, so here is some things I have spotted in my backyard over the last few weeks.

A Goldfinch (the Iowa state bird)… he likes my cone flowers in a vase on patio table. Pictures taken through the window.

A baby praying mattes: Look close, I believe he is eating a fly.

Morning Glory vine is out of control.... and hummingbird feeder with only a wasp eating! I hope to see a hummingbird one of these days. I just cleaned and refilled this week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The change has started

8-26-10 unhurried brain
A break in the hot humid weather AT LAST! Tuesday and Wednesday have been wonderful. 70 degree temps and even in the 50’s last night….. SUPERB sleeping weather. There is definitely a feel of fall in the air this week. The timing is perfect since school started this week, and we will be having our annual neighborhood block party on our street in DM this weekend.

With the cooler weather, comes the semi-annual “test”…. Wondering if, with the change of season, will I still be able to fit into my old clothes. In the spring, the challenge is to fit into shorts and swim suit. In the fall, the challenge is to see if my jeans still fit OK. After wearing dresses and shorts all summer long, it really feels weird to put on long pants.

I am pleased with myself, and am happy to report, my jeans which are now 5 years old… still fit just fine! It’s not always easy for a woman to keep her weight stable when you are in your 50’s…. but it is possible.

The return to school signals back to routine for many families, as the rush of sports and other school activities return…. But for me, autumn is when I find myself slowing down (running out of energy) and allowing my body to enter into the upcoming season of hibernation and rest.

Looking back this year, spring and summer was my time to accomplish and be productive, and I did make a lot of progress in many projects. Now, I will have to leave some things undone, as I now pull back a bit and use winter to recharge as I plan for future projects when that spring burst of energy returns.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A new kid in the house

8-25-10 hairball brain
Greg and I have been without a cat now for year and a half. Missy died in December 2008, and Buster died May 2006. I knew I didn’t want to rush getting a new cat, since my love was so intense for Buster and Missy, I couldn’t bare the thought of loving something new.

But we are cat people, and it was just a matter of time. Long story short…. This weekend we adopted a cat we had been visiting with for several months at a shelter. Her name is Clover and she is 6 years old, cute black and white cat.

I forgot what it was like to have a cat around the house. I little more work to clean, feed, and scoop the poop… but then there are the rewards. The purring, petting and playing… I could feel my blood pressure lower and felt more relaxed than I have been in a long time.

Clover will be our KC cat. We won’t make her travel back and forth. She seems to be settling in fairly well after a few days.

We thought we had lost her when we woke up the first morning… we couldn’t find her anywhere. Then we discovered her “safe spot”….. she still likes to go sit up high when we aren’t around. She is a "ceiling cat"... and I think we can accept that.

PS: I guess I am more than a "cat person"... I am a cat LOVER! I LOVE everything about cats... their face, the tail, the way they move, that purring.... just everything!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Little Pretties"

8-24-10 buying "Made in America" brain
Speaking of spending money yesterday.... I bought a lovely piece of jewelry for my friend Molly's Birthday.... I know... Molly doesn't REALLY need one more piece of jewelry.... but when I saw this one particular necklace, it was really screaming her name.... and it is Molly's big 5 - 0 birthday.... and Molly wears bright jewelry so well. I wanted to get her something special.

The creator of this jewelry is a Des Moines artist and I was happy to spend my money locally to help support her talent. Here is her (Cara Veeder) Etsy site "Little Pretties".

Pictured here is a similar, but shorter version of the necklace I gave to Molly, Cara did this custom order for me.... and she can create one just to suit your needs, if you are interested.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tax Cuts....

8-23-10 logical brain
A few weeks ago I was on a mini rant about the Bush Tax Cuts (here)…. Since then, I’ve been looking around my middle class neighborhoods (both in DM and KC) and thinking about this more…. How best to spur on the economy?

Well, my neighbors and I (none of us make over $200,000... most of us not even close to that) and we seem to be doing a better job of “employing Americans” than any wealthy investor might.

At my house we have been doing home repairs and got a new roof. Neighbor Sue got new living room furniture (leather couch had “Made in USA” tag), she also hired her hardwood floors to be redone. Ann and Roy also got a new roof, Tamara and Doyle got a new kitchen, neighbors in KC are having their house repainted. Neighbors Chris and Paul hired local landscaping company to install a water garden and new patio.

Our spending directly is employing small business people in our communities. That way they can feed their families without government help.

That’s why I say, give the tax cuts to the middle class and NOT to the wealthy 1 or 2% of the US population. After all, what REALLY have they done with their extra money since the tax cuts Bush gave to them? I didn’t see any large spurt in our economy back then. All I see is more money going back into the pockets of politicians and their campaigns.

The “trickle down” economic mind set just does not work. It only creates more poor people which in returns requires a bigger government to take care of them.

If people truly want smaller government, then give more money back to the middle class and make laws that favor the working middle class.

OK, that’s my rant for today!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food for thought, food for healing

8-20-10 hungry brain
Several of us Allison Avenue girlfriends were excited to get a new neighbor last year, or has it been two years now? Our new gal on the street is Debbie, and she has been the perfect addition: fun to hang with, great hostess and cook, interesting life…. Deb is like my alter-ego since she works in the food industry and has a job I might have had if I had gotten into that field after receiving my Masters Degree in food science and nutrition.

Through Debbie, I have met other “food/nutrition” people, many who got their degrees at Iowa State University. Her friend Jeanne, being laid off from a great job as a food editor for Better Homes and Garden magazines, has written a “healing” cook book which sounds like a fun read. Jeanne’s daughter also took part in the book. The book, "Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen” is a bit tongue in cheek, and along with recipes, it provides ideas on how to relax and laugh.

For those of you who love cook books... check this out!
Here is the Website: www.heartbrakrecoverykitchen.com
And their blog is HERE:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

House repairs

8-19-10 under repair brain

Since Greg has not been in Des Moines for most of August, these pictures are for him and show some of the house repair FUN which has been going on.

Monday was a roofing day.

Our back balcony over the back door, built in 2000, was starting to rot. Seems to be a bit of bad design and cheap materials. Although picture of roof when shingles taken off, do show this corner of the sunroom, may have been patched before and been troublesome.

Siding repair on west side of new addition in 2000. We think we had some defective siding, since this hardie board was to last 30 to 50 years.

Greg, Do you miss my "cute feet"?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My new water feature

8-18-10 water-logged brain
I have always loved the sound of water and often dreamed of someday having a lovely water feature in my yard or garden. Tuesday, I had a temporary one, due to steady, drizzly rain, and missing gutters from the back of the house, due to roofing and siding repair project.

The water starts here on the sunroom roof….

Onto the unfinished balcony repair job….

Into a trash can by the back door.

Any good “trailblazing women” needs to use her imagination to cope with the challenges of nature…. And “messes” left my good intentioned men!

I found the need to empty the trash can about every hour, since it was too heavy to move, if I let it get over half full.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weekend update

8-17-10 pathetic brain

Last week I wrote about feeling like a women “trailblazer”…. But by Sunday I was feeling tired, lonely and grumpy… not to mention whiny, but luckily, there was no one around to hear me whine.

While Greg was in Denver with a whole bunch of Mini Coopers....

Saturday, I did have some fun with a morning brunch with girlfriends, then some shopping with Molly, then in the evening... Molly and Ann at the Iowa State Fair… (Molly and I eating corn dogs)

But Sunday, I was totally worn out by all of last weeks activities... but after doing to bed at 8:00 PM and sleeping until 7:00 AM... I did start to feel better.

This should be my week to be in KC, but still here over-seeing the outside house repairs which are finally happening. Replacing some defective siding, and re-roofing the house to better prepare for ice and snow this winter….. Watch out now…. this winter will probably turn out mild…. But IF it takes getting a new roof to bring a mild winter, then it was money well spent.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Abide in Me"

8-16-10 accomplished brain

Sneak peek!
Glad to be in a creative period this month of August, and have the time to work on several art projects. Here is a sneak peek at the results I came up with for the Westminster Church Fall Art Show. I am fascinated by it all… It was an interesting process.

The topic given to us artists this year was- Images of God: Perception and Reality. That is pretty wide open and it will be very interesting to see how the different artists interpret this. I love the variety which usually happens during these church art shows.

I posted awhile back a blog of the starting point for me Here.

My ending point did turn out different than I expected, which is always a fun progress to see where the creative spirit will lead me.

Sometime this summer I heard a sermon by Andy Stanley dealing with John 15. This familiar scripture, at that point in time, took on new meaning for me, and really inspired me personally with my faith, and also inspired this piece of artwork.

Here is my draft write up of what I will submit for the Art Show brochure:

“Abide in me”
By Judy Sebern Beachy

(4 x 4 foot acrylic)
My perception of God and my daily reality, which is my relationship with Jesus, has been shaped by the Scripture John 15. Through faith experiences, I have found my daily connection with Jesus (the vine) can produce much fruit, not by me, but through me (the branch). I need not worry about the details of life, if I simply abide in, connect to, and be in intertwined in a relationship with Jesus each day.

Judy and her husband Greg are members of Westminster, and she dabbles in creating art as much as her busy life will allow. Judy is currently experimenting in paint pouring techniques, pixel art, as well as pastels.

It's too big to fit on any of my wall space here at home, but I think it will look great hanging in the church sanctuary wall.... or perhaps in a winery!?

PS: Happy 30th Anniversary to Jan and Hunt!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Trailblazer ?

8-13-10 surviving brain
I happened upon this book at just the right time in my life, and it changed me. I crossed paths with this book in April of 2007 when Greg and I were on vacation at the Grand Canyon and I bought it mostly because it contained information about the woman, Mary Jane Colter, who designed and built the look-out tower on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

I ended up painting a picture of this tower.... It was a very large painting (5ft x 4ft) done for the Westminster Fall Art Show in 2007.

The timing... Spring 2007 was just at the time Greg was going to take the temporary work assignment in Kansas City (permanent for now). The examples of the strong, brave women in that book and reading about what they accomplished, inspired me greatly. Most of these women had non-traditional life styles and this helped me decide that I, too, could take on the new challenge of living unconventionally... "split in two".

Often, when I am stressing over this life of mine, I think of the stories of these women and I too want to be a "trailblazer" of sorts.... so I persevere....
for awhile longer.

PS: Friday the 13th today! Good, finally a lucky day for me!
Hummmm.... Now I am begining to think in the past I had posted a blog about this book last year... oh well, it is worth repeating.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Water logged

8-12-10 zombie brain

I do feel like a zombie this week.... feeling dazed... mostly due to lack of sleep this week.

This map does NOT include the rain we received Tuesday night. Good news, no rain Wednesday..... Tuesday night was worst north of Des Moines, around Ames and Fort Dodge. The TV news was reporting central Iowa area has had 10 to 15 inches of rain.

Please don't feel sorry for me being alone here.... there are so many people who are in worst flooding conditions than I. Even deaths reported from people swept off the road in their cars. Remember never drive through water on the road!

On a happier note:
Happy Birthday to my God son Ben!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Working it out!

8-11-10 meditation brain
I found some relief Tuesday afternoon, I went for an acupuncture treatment. I can’t believe what I put my 54 year old body through at times.

After all the rain Sunday night…. I was determined to improve the patio drainage situation. I hope I did OK, since I didn’t get to discuss this with Greg "the engineer"..... really, he is a civil engineer by degree.

Since the ground was soft mud, but heavy mud… I took the opportunity to dig a trench and fill it with river rock…. 500 lbs of river rock!

The nice guy, at the hardware store, loaded the 10 bags, 50 lbs each, into the Prius, but I had to move them to the garden area!

My whole body is stiff and sore… but I was surprised by my improved strength since I have been lifting some arm weights for a few months. I guess “use it or loose it” really applies.

Thanks for all of you who have offered help. I need to learn how to ask and accept help… but I was on an urgent mission to get this done Monday afternoon, and I missed several of your phone and email messages. I am glad I acted fast, since it did rain again Monday night …. 2.5 more inches… and as of midnight Tuesday... it is pouring down again... AND I'm up late Tuesday night, can't seem to sleep.

PS: I met with a sump pump guy and plan to proceed with this sometime down the road once I can discuss all the options with Greg. It may be several more months, since we will need to save up some money for this. We have been dipping into savings lately, a little too much for my comfort.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A test of faith?

8-10-10 numb brain, looking for the beauty

My “split in two” life is proving to be a challenge for me this year. I feel like I am being put through some type of endurance, strengthening exercises. I have always frowned when people say “what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger”…. Not words that give much comfort to me….. First it was the crazy snow and ice of winter….. now rain!

If I don’t post for a day or two this will explain why.

Me in my PJ's, soaked to the bone, about 3:00 AM, outside the back door... not a pretty sight. I’m physically exhausted.

Sunday night I went to bed at 10:15 PM even thought it was starting to storm. I did manage to sleep, although hearing much thunder which seems endless. Finally a real close clap of thunder got me out of bed about 1:00 AM for a bathroom visit.

I decided to check outside. There I saw rain waters approaching the back door.

I could hear water running in the basement drain. Walking to the basement I saw the usual trickles we get from time to time, had turned more into a river. Thank goodness the drain was working properly, thus there was no standing water, just streams towards the drain like I had not seen since 1993 floods.

I grabbed the squeegee and started pushing water. Once the rain let up a little I had to tend to outside. I tried pushing the water away from the back door, and I could see our French drain in the backyard was full and over flowing…. So I did some bailing of that water out into the grass, and tried pushing the water over down the drive way. I’ve seen Greg have to do this one time before, during our 17 years in this house.

So finally I got back to sleep about 5:00 AM, only to get up at 7:00 AM. There was nearly 5 inches in the rain gauge. I didn't get much work done Monday, and used some vacation time up, but luckily no urgent deadlines this week.

After this experience I have been asking myself (and God) if I can handle keeping up this house mostly by myself. I was feeling like it was time to turn the page and start a new chapter of my life by a full-time move to KC.

I’ve been praying about this non-stop since Sunday night…. All I get is the word “stay” forming in my mind each time I plead for a clear answer. Of course I don’t understand this. This doesn’t seem like the logic choice to me….. But with the experience of 54 years of living, I have learned that intuition and listening to your gut… listening for “the spirit”, has paid off when I have least expected it. Answers often become clear later on if I just stay connected to the God’s whisper in my ear. I guess you can call it faith…. And faith strengthening experiences will be a good thing in the long run.

PS: Happy Birthday, Jean Ann.... my best friend from high school.... your card is in the mail :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Heart Art

8-9-10 creative brain
Another art-like project I have finally finished this last week, has been in-the-works since last winter. This project, like the pig paper mache painting, is a project that is great for kids of all ages.

My friend, Julia, and her mother Amy, were visiting from Ohio at the end of December and since Julia and I love crafting together, I made up this heart painting project.

I cut heart shapes out of form core and the challenge was to create some colorful hearts for each season, along with a few miscellaneous ones. My goal was to get 12 hearts. Since the hearts had wet paint when they left, they were not allowed to take any home with them. I had something else in mind.

A month after, in January was Julia’s birthday, so from the painted hearts which I photographed I had a calendar made for her as a reminder throughout the year of her visit. I used “MyPublisher.com”.

A few of the hearts I attached a magnet to the back and these have become small gifts I have mailed to her through out the year, like for Valentines Day.

Now I have a few hearts left which last week due to spontaneous creativity, I have turned into a flower door hanging.

This last gift of hearts will be delivered to Julia and Amy in September when we make a quick visit on our way to visit Greg’s family in Ohio. Greg and I will also be attending a Cleveland Browns pre-season game. Oh no, I’ll be a football widow again come September.

PS: This door hanging is all made of form core.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Still more Left than Right

8-7-10 weekend brain
My friend Ann thinks I have been talking “conservative” lately. I think she might be wondering if she is rubbing off on me.

Maybe a little..... but probably not much. I am all for the Bush tax cuts to expire. It only benefited the wealthy and only effected 7% of “small business”, many which seemed to be Law Firms. (reported on NPR)

To prove myself, I just have to read the Des Moines Register’s “Two Cent Worth” column where people can phone in brief “editorials” anonymously…. Friday there were several I agreed with.

“The largest corporations, the wealthy and the highest income earner are holding the rest of America hostage for more tax cuts. How pathetic”. Signed- some guy

The New Pledge of Allegiance: I pledge allegiance to the cash of the CFO. And to the corporation from which it came, One Congress brought and paid for, with perks and profits for them all. Signed- One the losing End

So see Ann, I might lead a conservative life, but I still think Reagan and Bush made a mess of things. Although I do NOW see that it is the whole Congress and the whole system that is corrupt and pathetic.

I wonder what we can do about it?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another August color

8-6-10 perplexed brain
Oh no... this can't be a good sign... can it?

This week, on an early morning walk, before the heat index reached 100, I came upon this colored leaf down at the end of my street.

This came from one of the prettiest and earliest turning maple trees in the neighborhood. Looking up, I saw one branch that already had some colored leaves on it.

I'm not sure if I am happy or sad. After this hot and humid spell we have had, some nice fall weather does sound good. But my memories of last winter have me resisting any thoughts of autumn!

PS: Notice the green grass. This year we have had enough rain to keep the grass very green and in need of weekly mowing. In the past, by August the grass has gone dormant, and is brown.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August Blues, and other colors

8-5-10 absence makes the heart grow fonder brain
August already seems like a long month to me. I’m missing Greg and feel a bit blue! We were able to spend quite a bit of time together in July, and unfortunately our August schedules aren't jiving as well. What can I do to relieve my loneliness except to spend more time with my other "love" and passion…. Art!

This past week I been finishing up three art projects that have been in-the-making. One was finishing up some pixel/mosaic art canvases for my neighbor friend Sue.

The colors were to match up with her throw rug in her living room. After the prospects of hanging on 3 different walls in her home, we decided to hang all four pieces together in a grouping above the love seat.

Sue and her teenage daughter, Paige, just returned from a two week trip to Europe. It sounded like a trip of a lifetime. I helped take care of their cats and bunny while they were gone and I was rewarded with Belgium Chocolates (cat shaped), among a few other goodies from France and Paris.

Mmmmmmmmm.... chocolate good!