Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life
By Billie Marrs

Paint, mesh fabric, gold leaf, old jewelry, craft wire, fish hook, found objects, upholstery tacks, silver tape, hand-made paper mosaic tiles, ribbon, fishing swivels, curtain chain, shrink plastic, liquid gold leaf all went onto the wooden fish to make her come to life.

Said the momma fishy to the nest of eggs
My cycle of life is at an end
You must remember where you were born
Breathe deeply of this fresh water stream
Then navigate carefully to the deep blue sea
Swim to the secret places of our ancestors
In time you too will return to complete the cycle

Five baby fishes, Jacks and Jennies
Leaped and jumped playing hide and seek
Down the streams and rivers
Singing the life song that their momma once sung

Swim fast, play hard, life is short, the cycle repeats

Altered Art: salmon project #1

Altered Art: salmon project #2

Altered Art: salmon project #3

Altered Art - salmon project #4

Altered Art: salmon project #5

Father's Day/Birthday

Larry and I celebrated Father’s Day and my birthday together with our son Michael, his mother, and friends Cis and Mike.  Larry never misses a chance to barbeque and enjoy a good steak.  

We usually go to Saturday evening church services but because we worked at an all day fundraiser we attended Sunday morning services.  Michael was waiting for us when we got home and he started helping prepare dinner.  Larry seasoned the steaks and Michael and I prepared a stir fry vegetable dish with a spicy sweet chili sauce.  We also fixed a spinach salad with cranberries, caramelized almonds, and feta cheese to go with the garlic bread and sautéed mushrooms.  Larry’s mom brought Alaskan king crab legs to add to the festive fare. We always fix more food than we can eat and no one goes hungry.

Larry’s mom brought a birthday cake and Michael and I prepared peaches, nectarines, and plums sautéed with a little Grand Marnier and topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  We sat around telling stories, some long and tall, others short and sweet.

Larry’s father’s day present will be a little late as I am having something specially made for him.  My birthday present was a new scanner to use with my artwork.  Cis and Mike brought a little bag with three boxes inside and each box held a gift card for some of my favorite places to shop.  Ross, TJMaxx, and Michaels craft store.  Cis reminded me that I now qualify for a 10% discount at Ross on Tuesdays and to take advantage of it.  Larry received a cigar and a book for father’s day.  Larry’s mom gave me a new bag that I can use to transport my art supplies.

Larry is a special kind of dad.  He not only fell in love with me, he loves my kids and would do anything for them.  My kids have benefited from having someone in their life that is honest, caring, and respectful of them.  I found my one true love and the perfect father for my kids.  

Hotdogs, get your hotdogs at the road kill cafe

Saturday June 17th was the 8th annual Harley-Davidson Bellingham bike show.  The shop provides hotdogs and drinks and lets the Ladies of Harley cook and hand them out for donations to benefit our GRADS charity.  Tips and donations have ranged from $500 to $700 dollars in past years.  

It was slightly overcast when I got out of bed at 7:00 AM with the sun trying to shine through.  I grabbed a jacket, flyers, tip-jar, and I was out the door.

The HOG group was leading a breakfast ride at 9:00 AM with a t-shirt fundraiser for our scholarship charity so the riders were already arriving to register and help set up.

Angie, Cis, Susan S., Jeannie, Susan A., and I finished getting our booth ready and taking a breather to relax before the crowds showed up and the real work began.  About 10:30 AM we started the hotdogs and by 11:00 AM we were in full swing.  The guys returned from the breakfast ride and Mike and Doug took over the cooking duties.  This year Mike and Doug initiated Ken into their private domain as male cooks.

Michele and Chris arrived back from the breakfast ride to help out and Shelia and Sherry also arrived.  During the day Bonnie and Rita also helped out.  As busy as we got there was always time to laugh and joke.  Cis took a break to sit with her hubby, Mike, and just about that time the ladies all got into the swing of the music and we had our own little line dance going on.  Rumor has it there is a picture of this but it has yet to surface.

I’m not sure we gave away more hotdogs than last year; I just think people were more generous.  You kind of feel like a carnival hawker, “Get your hotdogs and cold drinks here…” Or maybe a the concessionaire at a baseball or football game.  

Roger just happened to have the “road kill trophy” on his bike and we sat it up on the table, and the hotdog booth became the “road kill café.”  Were those beef hotdogs or were they mystery meat road kill?  It brought a laugh from those hearing us hawking a road kill hotdog or a mystery meat hotdog from the road kill café.

The guys also did their part during the day registering bikes, helping with a little security, and entering their bikes in the show.  Sky and Dave both own new trophies and Jeannie won her second 1st place award for her custom trike.

Thanks to Jeannie, Mike, and Rita for showing up with their food handlers license.  Thanks also to Harry, Rick, Larry, Mike, Dave, Joe, Jerry, and Bob for all their hard work.

I’m not sure of the exact number of hotdogs passed out or the number of cold sodas and water we distributed but the Ladies of Harley set an all time record with tip money, $972.  The money will be used to purchase school supplies, emergency lunch food, art supplies, diapers, and some extras for Christmas bags for their babies.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


June 20th, 2006


All three of my children have graduated from high school and all three have graduated from community college.  My oldest son Jim has had to put the last year of his BA on hold after being hired as a policeman.  Michael will graduate with his BA from WWU in August.  Kelly is attending UNLV working on her BA. My kids had a loving supportive parent and step parent to talk with them, support them, guide them, and love them through any question, problem, or dilemma they may have had.

Tonight I felt privileged and honored to attend a graduation ceremony for the local Options and GRADS programs with my Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group officers and members-- better know as my friends and family.  GRADS is a program to help pregnant and teen parents complete their high school diploma.  Options is an alternative program serving kids who don’t fit in a traditional high school program.

Our chapter presents a one thousand dollar scholarship to a graduating senior in our county to help them continue their education.  We provide one of the largest private scholarships in the county.  The first requirement is that a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or legal guardian own a Harley.  We also look at grade point averages and a written essay about the student's relative who owns the Harley.

Tonight was our third annual presentation.  We arrived with eleven bikes, three up, and one cage.  Our chapter director, Mike Kennard, gave a short introduction about our group, and we received a standing ovation from the graduates and the audience.  Watching these kids who have overcome obstacles, hardships, tragedies, and pregnancies while still maintaining their goal to walk across the stage and graduate tonight was just amazing.  Some of these kids have been working one or two jobs and going to school.  Some are helping to support their parents and siblings.  Some are supporting themselves because their parents don’t want the responsibility and kicked them out.  Some of the students have gone through a pregnancy and birth of their baby while going to school.  No one said life is easy, but for some it seems it is just a little harder and for these students you cheer a little harder and louder when they accomplish what many high school students take for granted.

The parents, friends, relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends, school teachers, principal, superintendent, and Harley members cried, cheered, laughed, hooted, and whistled as they celebrated a major milestone in the lives of these successful students.  Having someone to believe in them, a safe place to learn, and encouraging words made all their hard work a dream come true.

When the students moved that tassel from one side to the other and threw those hats into the air, they laughed and hooted and whistled because they had done what some thought they couldn’t do.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Artist Challenge - make a difference

Recently I sold an altered book.  The buyer sent me a sweet note to let me know that my book would be going to what she termed a “girlie-girl” soldier in Iraq.  My buyer makes and buys cards, books, handmade items to send to soldiers serving our country.  We had several wonderful emails and I was amazed at the generosity she has for others.

I kept thinking about what an unselfish thing this person was doing to bring a smile to someone else.   I have two nephews who served in Iraq and my family sent cards and emails to let them know we cared.  How nice it would be to have a complete stranger send a card to say they care.

My challenge to other altered book artists, atc altered trading cards artist, or any artist, is to make and send one card to a soldier.  Go to the website:  and you can click on the list of soldiers to send a card to, you can search for a contact, or you can do a random search.  Can you image how special it would be to receive a handmade altered card and know that someone took the time to create something unique just for you.

Make sure your card will fit in a standard size envelope accepted by the post office, and attach a regular stamp, and make sure your return address is on the envelope.  Include your name and address with the card and if you choose, include your email address.  Write as if this is to a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  It is suggested that if you are not sending your letter to a specific soldier you address the inside card to ”Dear Soldier.”

Happy Anniversary

June 14th.  Eight years and counting.  When Larry and I married I made him promise me 50 happy years.  42 more to go and then we can renew our vows.

Some women think their husband, boyfriend, partner is romantic, others dream of a guy like mine.  Larry and I met through email.  Not a blind chance meeting, but arranged for us by my sister Mary and his sister-in-law Jeanne, both of whom lived near me in California.  

After two weeks Larry had yellow roses delivered to me.  I’m not a woman who had received flowers in my previous life, so this was a surprise, and since then yellow roses have held a special place in my heart.  The first year we were married, Larry brought me a dozen yellow roses and one red rose.  Every year he adds one more red rose to my bouquet.  The first year I also received one real rose dipped in gold and a dozen yellow porcelain roses.  Since then, Larry gives me a new gold rose every anniversary.

When Larry went to pick up my flowers the florist asked him about his order for only twenty roses.  Larry explained about the red and yellow roses and then she told him I know about you.  Seems he is famous for his romantic flower order each year.

Today was a quiet day because my guy was sick.  I had planned to take him to his favorite place to eat chicken wings--The Longhorn Saloon--but we will celebrate another day, cruising down Chuckanut Drive on our Harley toward lunch at the Longhorn.

The most important part of the day is that we have each other.

Snookums I love you, forever and ever, body and soul.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

25 Candles

June 13th, 2006

Michael has been laughing at me for weeks.  The fact that he turned twenty-five today had me feeling a little tense.  Michael asked if I worried when Jim turned 25 and I said no.  Maybe because Michael was living in Oregon when he turned twenty-one and I couldn’t be there has made this birthday more important.  I know I will not always be able to be there for each of my children’s birthdays, but my heart will always be with them.  

I sent an e-card to Michael that he would find when he got to work in the morning and Larry and I took Michael and Rob out to dinner at Du Jour Bistro in Bellingham.  The restaurant is owned by Michael and Rob’s friends and our waiter was another friend.  It was a special evening of good food with those we love.  Just when we thought it was time to leave, we were tempted with dessert.  Michael being oh so good, orders a grapefruit sorbet, Larry decided to refrain, and Rob and I ordered the decadent chocolate pâté.  Funny thing was when the goodies arrived; Rob and I both took a bite of the sorbet while Michael and Larry had to taste the chocolate.  And to top off the evening Michael and Rob’s friend brought the lavender crème Brule to sample.  

Rob left wheat free, sugar free muffins in Michael’s car for him to find as a surprise when he left for work today.  Then Rob had lilies delivered to Michael at work.  

Michael is a vegetarian and also refrains from eating sugar, dairy products, and wheat products for the most part.  He does however have a few weaknesses and I took advantage.  Michael can look at a cake and with his will power say no.  The butter cream frosting is his downfall.  So like a good mom I went to Albertsons and bought a tub of butter cream frosting because it is his favorite.  I also bought graham crackers, strawberries, and whipped cream, three of his other weaknesses.  I couldn’t find the white Toblerone chocolates or I would have bought a half dozen of those also.  

Birthday presents.  We are waiting because Michael just qualified for a home loan and is searching for his first place.  He is thinking maybe mom and Larry will buy paint and make his new house a home with the colors he loves.

Michael, my baby
My son, my friend
25 years of
Keeping me on my toes
You asked why
I didn’t always have answers
I let you go to learn to fly
You soared above your dreams
I look at you in wonder
Trying to imagine
the next 25 years

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

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The Birthday Boy's Surprise

I planned for several weeks to surprise my son Jim in California with a birthday surprise.  I had mailed him two small gifts and told him not to open them until his birthday.  I knew this was safe and he would wait.  

I then went about trying to find a bakery that would deliver a birthday cake to the police station where he worked.  No bakery wanted to deliver anything smaller than a wedding cake and I thought he might not laugh if I had a wedding cake delivered to his job.  I tried Safeway on line but couldn’t get a cake ordered and was feeling really frustrated.  I then remembered Albertsons advertises for home delivery.  I logged on, set up an account, and placed my order, picked my time for delivery and felt pretty proud of myself.  One chocolate cake and one white cake would arrive between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM on his birthday, June 5th to the police department.

Panic set in when the email confirmation showed the cake would be delivered in my name and I knew the police department would say, “No one here by that name,” and refuse it.  I put a note in front of my computer to call that morning and let the desk clerk know what I was doing and what to expect.

June 5th.  Delivery day.  I called the police department; they thought it was cute that Officer Jim’s mom was having cakes delivered to him.  Of course they probably figured they would get to share in his good fortune.  All was right with my plan, or so I thought.  Michelle the desk clerk called to say Jim had a schedule change and I needed to call him.  She couldn’t tell me the details but said I really needed to talk to him.

Jim didn’t answer his phone so I called his brother Michael and thought if he won’t answer the phone for mom maybe he will answer for a sibling.  Jim called me before Michael could call him.  He had just received a phone call from a friend at work to tell him there were two birthday cakes waiting for him.  He knew this had to be a mom surprise so he called me.  Turns out he had the day off due to extra training during the week and told his fellow officers to go ahead and enjoy the cake and try to save him a piece.

We laughed about the mix-up.  He had a wonderful evening with his adopted family the Rowe’s with homemade birthday cake and was going to have birthday dinner with his friend Heather, and open his presents from Larry and me when he got home.

So it seemed everything turned out okay in the end.  Well almost.  Michelle called about an hour later and said the cakes were still sitting there and she wasn’t letting anyone touch them.  Seems whoever Jim talked to at work and told to eat the cakes had forgotten to tell Michelle and she was protecting the cakes.  I told her to put the cakes in the break room and let them eat cake and enjoy Jim’s birthday.  She thanked me and we both wished each other a good day.

So I got the biggest surprise on Jim’s birthday and maybe the best gift because now the officers probably all love Jim’s mom for sending cake.

Happy 28th birthday Jim.  We love you.

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