Friday, December 26, 2008

Help! Whatcom is Frozen and I can’t get out. Send the sun.

December 26th and it’s still snowing. Now some people can hardly wait to see those little white flakes begin to fall and dust the ground in a glistening white blanket. Me, I see frozen roads and days stuck in the house. I’ve been housebound for one week and it is taking its toll on me. My one excursion out was Christmas Eve to attend church services.

No rushing around at the mall before Christmas for last minute gifts or window shopping because I couldn’t get there. The after Christmas ads in the paper were pretty skimpy I think because why advertise if it’s snowing so much that people can’t get to the stores.

One of my favorite days of the year is the day after Christmas shopping but again I’m stuck in the house with the newspaper predicting rain to wash away the white stuff that continues to float steadily and softy to the ground as it builds up a thicker winter layer of white.

I’m ready for the grey gloomy skies of winter to go away and feel the warmth of the sun melting away the frozen landscape. I’d rather this white stuff be up on the top of Mt. Baker and I could look at it from a distance and think it looks there.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Kelly's stocking gift from Santa

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2 Corinthians 9:15

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas with the Harley Group

The annual Mt. Baker Chapter Christmas party was held at the Bellingham Country Club on Friday December 19th, 2008. Fifty-two members and guests attended and we all had a rockin’ good time.

The weather was freezing at around twenty-two degrees outside while we were toasty at seventy-four or so degrees inside. The Ladies were wearing satin, lace, cashmere, and silk in red, black, blue, green, purple, and silver, with sparkles, glitter, rhinestones, and bling from top to bottom. The guys wore tuxes, suits, sport coats, jeans, casual shirts, and that was okay because the Ladies wanted them to be comfortable and happy.

Everyone who wanted to participate brought a wrapped gift labeled for a man or a woman and then placed it where they were seated. Someone could come along and steal the gift and leave theirs and you could do the same. This went on through social hour and dinner before Miss Rita said stop and whatever you had in front of you, you got to open and keep. I had a $15.00 Starbucks gift card and Larry had Harley coaster. What fun and great gifts.

We had a Charlie Brown tree that members could attach money to and received a ticket for a drawing to win a $100.00 gift certificate for H-D Bellingham. “Mr. Lucky” Dave McNeill won the prize. The money collected will be given to the local food bank.

A couple of months ago, Mike G. brought a special bottle of Jack Daniels Bourbon to a chapter meeting to auction off with the proceeds going to our chapter scholarship fund. My hubby was the high bidder at $250 and then took it to the Christmas party, unopened, to share with the rest of the members—at $20 a shot with these proceeds also going to the scholarship fund. The bottle raised another $280 at the party. So Mike’s bottle will pay for over ½ the cost of one of our $1,000 scholarships.

Dave and Mark were inducted into the Bun Man Club for flipping hotdogs at a Ladies of Harley fundraiser to earn tip money for our charities. They each received a gift bag with…what else? Hotdog buns.

Dinner was a magnificent feast of prime rib and barbequed chicken with several different green salads, orzo salad, wild rice, grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, green beans and rolls; it not only looked great it tasted wonderful. Rita provided a wonderful array of desserts including a five layer chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake, Boston cream pie, apple pie, cookies, and more. At the end of the evening the dessert table looked deserted.

A few drinks to be merry, a filling dinner to make us content, and we were ready for the entertainment. Lorraine, Shelia, Rita, Angie, Patti, Cis, Lisa, Jeannie, and myself paraded across the dance floor in our shoes, twirling, dancing, and flirting with the judges as they checked out the “killer heels”. There was a lot riding on this contest, a gift certificate to the Chrysalis Inn & Spa for a pedicure. Those who had already paraded before the judges gave back rubs to the judges hoping to influence their vote. When it came down to the end it was a tie between Shelia and Lisa. They had one last chance to prance and dance for the judges and still it was a tie. Again, our big hearted guy Dave Mc stepped up and threw in a second gift certificate and both Lisa and Shelia are this year’s co-winners of the “killer heels” contest.

Jeannie gathered a basket full of wine, coffee, Harley mugs, chocolates, and too many more goodies to name that was raffled off to members who brought a $5.00 gift to donate to WomenCare Shelter or donated $5.00 cash. Of course most people donated more to get receive extra tickets for a chance at the basket. My own hubby Larry was the winner of this heavy basket and I am sure we will be enjoying the goodies for some time.

So after all the shoes, the gifts, the raffles, the special awards, all we had left to do was “get down”. It was party time and the music was rockin’. Some of the guys just don’t enjoy dancing unless their arms are twisted but the Ladies don’t mind. We’ll dance with each other or join in with another couple. Pretty soon we were one big happy group moving to the beat and working off the desserts.

It was an evening to remember and if you check the website, you will find pictures of the members smiling and enjoying themselves.

Next up, the Frosty Fingers ride on 01-01-2009. See you there.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Paul T

During the summer we were on a motorcycle trip to Republic Washington. One of the side trips we took had us crossing paths with a flock of wild turkeys crossing the road in front of us.

When I was little I remember visiting my aunt Juanita and Uncle Paul T’s farm in the late fall in Missouri, before Thanksgiving.

My aunt Juanita would gather black walnuts in the fall and sell them as a cash crop for income on their small farm. Besides running cattle on the farm, Paul T raised turkeys that were sold for Thanksgiving dinners.

I remember going to the barn to get feed for the turkeys and then staying close to Paul T as we went into the turkey pens to fill the feeders. The big white turkeys were bigger than I was and because there were so many of them I kept really close to Paul T. The turkeys only wanted to be fed and were harmless but to a small girl they seemed scary.

When the turkeys were sold it seemed strange to wander out to the garden and look beyond to the pens that were now empty. I didn’t really understand until years later that those turkeys I helped feed were now being processed to become the main course on someone’s Thanksgiving dinner table.

Paul T would sometimes take me into Greenfield in his old truck when he had to take care of business and we would eat peanuts out of a big bag he kept in the truck. It was the first time I had eaten raw peanuts and they weren’t my favorite, but I liked going to town and riding in the truck with him.

Paul T is gone and my aunt Juanita has Alzheimer’s and lives near her children Shirley and Gary in Kansas City. Gary takes care of his mother’s farm and his own farm that once belonged to Paul T’s parents.

I remember one winter when we visited my aunt and uncle and I went with Paul T to feed the cattle. We drove a flatbed truck through the farm gates and the cattle began to follow behind the truck. Paul T cut the wire from the bales and we pushed the hay flakes off the truck to the hungry cattle. The cattle would bawl as they waited for the hay to be dropped off the truck. I was always bundled up in warm corduroy pants with a flannel lining and a cozy warm winter coat but the only important thing to me was that I was outside with the animals, helping.

Mary's gift - part 2

Mary's Christmas Gift

Thanksgiving in California

Last Monday, November 24th at 3:30 PM we were officially on vacation and headed to California for the Thanksgiving holiday. The bags were checked and we passed security and waited for the first of two planes that would take us off to sunny California. We touched down in Oakland at 10:03 PM, collected our bags, took the shuttle to pick up our rental car, and arrived at my mother’s by 11:45 PM. The chick was back in the nest.

Tuesday Larry and I slept in and took a leisurely stroll through the grocery store. Just the necessities. Ha ha! Buy one, get one, so why wouldn’t we? The cart grew fuller and we had aisles to go. I’m sure this won’t be the last trip grocery shopping trip we make.

Kelly called while we were shopping and she was on her way to Costco in Vegas. She wanted to know if we had bought a certain item for her for Christmas because if I hadn’t she was going to buy it for herself. I had to reveal that yes we bought the item and then she wanted to know the color. She called back several minutes later to say Costco was out of the item and I could have kept my secret after all. Of course she hates secrets and tries everything she can to figure out what we buy her each year. This was probably the sneakiest. Send her a package for Christmas or birthday and you can be sure she will open it early. No surprises and waiting for this child.

Jim and Heather came down for dinner and mom made spaghetti and meatballs with homemade peach cobbler. Mary came and made her special French bread spread.

It had been three months since I had seen my son and Heather laughed when I hugged him saying that I wasn’t going to let go. I told her when I got my mom-hug in I would let him breath. Jim is on duty Thanksgiving Day so we won’t be able to share dinner with us on Thursday. It’s not the day but the time you spend with loved ones that counts. Jim has worked every holiday since joining the force. He likes his shift, his partner, his days off, and loves his job. Miss Heather cooked him a Thanksgiving dinner before he went off to work and then spent and afternoon in the barn with her beloved horses. Shortly after Jim arrived at work he found out he had the day off but it was too late to make the journey down to my mom’s so he went off to the barn to relax and watch Heather work the horses.

Jim will come down again in a couple of weeks when my brother Jerry and my sister-in-law arrive in California from Arkansas for Christmas. Jim always brings his empty jelly jars when he comes to grandma’s house because he knows she will always send him home with a new supply of jelly, cobbler or pie. Heather doesn’t really eat sweets so he doesn’t have to share with her and he can savor the treats slowly and all to himself. I bet he had cobbler for breakfast the next morning, if he is anything like his mother and Uncle Jerry.

After everyone had left except Mary, I gave her an early Christmas present that I had made for her. A garland of paper baby doll dresses and one baby boy overall to represent each of her grandchildren.

Wednesday brought a much needed soft rain that fell all day long. Parts of California have already been declared droughts and unless there is a significant rainfall, and more importantly a wet snowfall, the whole state will be facing drought conditions in the coming months. Larry and I went to Mimi’s to pick up dinner and then Mary took me to a Thanksgiving evening concert given by Justin McRoberts. Justin is the son of Mary’s friend Cathy and he is a contemporary Christian singer, and is a spokesperson for Compassion, Justin will do his 7th annual concert next week to benefit my sister’s holiday program--Christmas for Everyone. CFE is expecting to feed over 4,000 people this year due to the economy.

One cup, two cups, we’re ready for the turkey. Mom made rolls and got the cornbread dressing ready and Larry prepared the turkey. Everything was baking and the smells from the kitchen were wonderful. This was wonderful for me because of my allergies I don’t always smell what is baking or cooking. Larry and I slipped out to go find a paper with all the black Friday ads that all of us would pour over later in the evening. Easier said than done. Sold out; Sold out. Finally a liquor store with one last copy. It was ours and we were on our way home.

The turkey had disappeared
And the pie had been served
Now it was down to business
The plotting and planning
The black Friday ads
Who had the best deals?
And what did we want
Because in reality
We didn’t need a thing
We narrowed it down
The final choices
Now it was time
Facing the facts
We’re older and smarter
And the stores open earlier
Not at 7 or 6
But 4 AM!
When would we get up?
To get to the store
Standing in line
Waiting for the doors to open
The deals weren’t looking so good
And the bed was winning out
The tryptophan set in
We could go a little later
How about 1 PM
That’s after the coffee
A hot shower
And breakfast
Maybe next year
We’ll get up at 2
Or just stay up and go

So with the big decision made to skip the morning sales, we sat down to play canasta till one o’clock in the morning. Much more sensible.

Larry and I took a trip to McGuires Harley-Davidson in Walnut Creek. What I found and wanted didn’t come in my size so Larry got off easy without spending a cent. We looked at the bike inventory, a mustard yellow and black/gray metal flake that was totally unique and a show room stopper. A custom mica flake, red, orange paint job that seemed to change colors as we walked around it. Pretty bikes, but nothing that made us want to trade in the red vixen.

Turkey sandwiches and Mary and I were finally ready to shop. It was two o’clock and plenty of time left to find a bargain. Lots of deals at the mall but not enough to entice us to buy anything. Back to mom’s for dinner and we were off for part II. We wound up at Wal-Mart shopping for Christmas for Everyone and walked in and found coats, thirty-eight coats still on the rack. We grabbed the coats and I found a second cart. We scouted the spinner racks the go back carts and checked in with all the clerks. Mary called her friend Syd and he went to the Vallejo Wal-Mart and called back and said he had more coats and to come quickly. We dropped our load off and headed from Martinez to Vallejo. What a surprise when we walked in and saw Sid standing guard over seven shopping carts piled high with warm winter coats. Another phone call to Mary’s friend Sandy to bring a truck. All in all, Mary bought two hundred and three coats that she will give away Christmas day. Great, I said, now all you need is another 3,797 more gifts and you will be ready in three weeks. She dropped me back at mom’s at 2 AM Friday morning. Okay we did the black Friday shopping but at least we got to sleep-in first.

Saturday morning Larry and I took a drive through the Napa Valley wine country with the sun shinning down on the vineyards that were full of leaves in autumn colors of gold, red, and purples. The holiday crowds were non existent and it made the valley much more enjoyable. We stopped at the Freemark Abbey and the Silverado Brewing Company to have lunch. I had crab cakes with corn relish and spinach salad with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Larry had calamari and chicken brochette. We drove up highway 29, through St. Helena, Calistoga, down the Silverado Trail, up to Lake Berryessa, Mankas Corner, and back to my mom’s. Larry fixed a prime rib roast for dinner and mom had a blackberry cobbler for dessert. No turkey leftovers tonight. Two great chefs under one roof.

Larry and I attended church with mom at Bethel Baptist and we had lunch at the Buttercup Pantry. Larry cut the leftover prime rib into steaks and cooked for mom and Mary. I was content to eat my mom’s Chinese chopped noodle salad with garlic bread and enough room left for cobbler.

A week goes by way too fast and we left for the airport with a Tully fog closing in on the bay area. We gassed up the car and returned it then caught the next shuttle for the airport. All checked in I left Larry reading a book on his Kindle reader and I took a walk to see the art exhibits on display.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that you think you need to get done. And that is how the past week went. Sunday arrived and I was still behind and decided to get up early for me--eight o’clock--to get ready and run the last of my errands before we flew out for California for Thanksgiving.

Right on time, the suitcases were almost finished and I was off to take care of three short errands, or so I thought. My car battery was dead. AAA came to my rescue. I explained I was flying out in just a few hours and they arrived at my home with a half hour. It almost didn’t want to jump but at last it did.

Straight to the local Les Schwab Tire Center and they confirmed that my battery was beyond charging and they rushed to get a new battery in the car and get me on my way quickly.

In and out of both stores in under two hours and a quick stop to gas up the car. Back home to finish packing the bags, feed the cat, empty the dishwasher, put away the dishes, load the dishwasher, check my email, all with an hour to spare before Michael arrives to pick us up and take us to the airport.

Now it’s time to fly home to my mother’s for Thanksgiving in California. I am truly thankful that Larry and I will be spending time with my family for the holiday. I am taking the gifts for the December 26th annual stocking night, and a special gift I made for my sister.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

World Vision - HIV/AIDS

Tonight our small group attended the World Vision Experience Aids. The program is an interactive walk-through experience about the lives of four children from Africa living with the Aids crisis in Africa.

More than 11 million children have been orphaned by Aids. Larry and I walked through the life of Emmanuel. Emmanuel is a six year old boy who is cared for by his nine year old brother Fred. Both their parents are dead from Aids and now they must survive on their own.

I can’t even imagine how my own children could have survived on their own if something had happened to me when they were this young. I can’t imagine how terrified a child must feel to see both parents die from a disease that is slow and painful and then have to bury them.

Children tug at my heart when I see them hurting or in need. When we reached the prayer room it was lit with candles and you were asked to take a card with the picture of a child and their personal information and then carry it around as you looked at the pictures of mothers and children, some of whom have already died. When we progressed to the next room we were able to write a prayer for the child. The wall was filled notes from people who have been walking through the exhibit for several days.

Sadly it will take more than prayers to help the children of Africa who are facing a monumental crisis unlike any we may have ever seen. World leaders, health care providers, pharmacy companies, and ordinary people will need to change their views about talking about HIV/AIDS and come together to find ways to educate and inform themselves and others, if we are to stop the epidemic and find a cure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

The new study - 90% done

Meanwhile back at the ranch while I had to go to Vegas, our friend Bob came to our rescue to take over the painting task I left behind. He painted my cowboy dinning room several years ago in the same Ralph Lauren hunting coat red that he just put on the fireplace wall. He also started the rest of the walls and the trim work. No more dingy white, most of the brown wood will be gone, and the last of the blue in my house will be gone. Yes!!! A freshly painted, masculine, contemporary guy study is almost complete.

The drapes are now hung. A new indoor sunshade needs to be ordered. I bought a red ceramic lamp with a deep tan lampshade and the brown leather parsons chair just arrived along with the new Herman Miller desk chair. I might even make slipcovers for the parsons chair to change the look of the room once in a while. That is the girl part of the room, fabric, but heavily disguised as masculine by the colors I’ll pick out. Pillows, tables, art hanging on the walls, Harley, ducks, fish, and Larry almost forgot his “UT” University of Texas treasurers. Too late to paint the fireplace wall “longhorn orange” but we will find a place for his singing longhorn mascot doll.

Fireplace – done
TV – done
Speakers – done
Surround sound system – done
New massage recliner chair – done
New paint – done
Baseboard molding – done
Fireplace molding –looking for alternatives
New desk – ideas only
Carpet – done
Drapes – done
Art – ready to hang
desk chair - done
Area rug - done

Cost: priceless on the planning and decorating a special retreat for Larry.

The real cost: only the credit card company knows for sure.

Come Jingle with Us

The Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group is again participating in “Team HOG” for the local Arthritis Foundation Walk/Run.

Sure it’s cold, and sometimes wet and cold but Team HOG always shows up and we have a great time laughing and talking during our two mile walk. Then we head off to a local restaurant to have breakfast and lots of hot coffee.

Yes we have bells on our shoes and black leather coats or vests to proclaim who we are. In a see of red, white, and green, we do make a statement with our black leather and raise money for a good cause.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mommy I need you!

My daughter Kelly called on a Monday night several weeks ago…mommy I need you! I am lucky to have the means, the time, and a supportive husband that said go. The only thing my daughter needed to know is that I love her and I’m going to her.

The worst part of being a mother is when your children hurt and you can’t kiss their pain away. I’d give anything to protect them but sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do but hold them and say I love you.

Saturday evening when I landed in Las Vegas it was 830 and sunny and the mood was somber. It’s only been a little over a year since my daughter battled the first stages of cervical cancer and had surgery. I only worry about her health and future.

This is another life bump in the road but feels like a boulder when you run into it. Then when you move it, what remains is a pothole and another set of complications. She worries about me and I cry for her. Someday there will only be tears of joy and only good thoughts.

On Sunday Kelly had to go to work and I went to Central Christian Church at the Summerlin campus. It’s a lot like Cornwall Church, except on the campus site the video of the service is broadcast. It is nice to have a church so close to where my daughter lives and not miss attending church when I am out of town.

Kelly took her roommates car to work since she was out of town and I took Kelly’s car. After church a chai tea, chicken Caesar salad, and a diet Pepsi and I was ready to wander around until time for dinner. I headed back to the house and visited with Kelly’s roommates children. I walked in the door and they all came running…grandma.
I headed off to Kim and Tony’s house for dinner. Kim is Kelly’s boss and she invited me over to a home cooked meal of spaghetti and meatballs since Kelly was working until 9:00 PM.

Monday…hugs, kisses, reassurance, cuddling, but not complete. Kelly will have to return for surgery. Life on hold! Nicki brought her special recipe chocolate chip cookies to share after we got back to Kim’s house. This girl needs her own bakery to showcase her baking skills and talents. Naps for everyone! Kelly requested chicken enchilada casserole for dinner so I cooked for Kim and Tony. A simple salad and a Boston cream pie for dessert.

At the end of the day it is nice to know my daughter has friends who care about her, take care of her, and watch out for her, when I am hours away from her. I won’t be able to come back for the second round of doctor appointments and surgery so her friends will be her support system, and I know they will take really good care of her.

Tuesday I took Kelly shopping to get her out of the house. Just to wander around, get something cold to drink, and meet up with her roommate Kelly.

Wednesday morning was a lazy day cuddling on the sofa watching desperate housewives, season four. We drove to Costco and indulged in pizza, polish dogs, and Caesar salads for lunch then bought a roast beef to fix for dinner (we weren’t very hungry at dinner time), and coffee because you can almost never have enough coffee.

Well I was busy getting dinner ready and peeled the potatoes and put the skins down the garbage disposal which I do at home but theirs was a little cranky and clogged up. I had the phone book out to call a plumber and the girls took the drain apart, cleared the clog and put everything back together again. Amazing how self sufficient they are. I didn’t know how to fix it. The kids went off to a Halloween party and Kelly and I spent our last night cuddled on the sofa watching TV.

Thursday morning the alarm went off and I had only allowed a half an hour to get ready. More than enough time and Kelly drives like a pro on the Vegas streets so she got me to the airport right on time. Check in, okay. Security screening, not so good. The guy in front of me used three bins for his stuff but the TSA agent told me I could only have one bin. I wore the same jeans home that I flew down in but I beeped and that meant I had have a wand circle my body (no magical fairy to grant wishes here) and then patted down. I waited, and waited, and waited some more and then after asking twice in fifteen minutes finally a woman who was too busy hand screening men’s backpacks (there were more than enough men to do this job) came to screen me. Meanwhile I’m watching my bin with my purse and my ticket, and notice my coat has been put into someone else’s bin. I asked the TSA agent and he didn’t seem to care. Finally they put my coat on top of my single bin that was now piled high and unattended.

The screener arrived and left my stuff unsecured and moved me farther away from where I could keep an eye on it. Don’t forget to wand my ears a second time because I might be hiding something in them. No I won’t take off my jewelry. If you can’t secure my purse why would I trust you with my wedding ring and bracelets? This is why I always show up at the airport two hours early.

Home to Larry, Ally the cat, and Deuce the dog.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A night to remember

My grandmother Maggie Miami Dye Melton saw more in her lifetime than any other generation will probably ever see. She was born in 1890 and traveled by wagon train from Tennessee to Missouri. She saw women win the right to vote and rode in a horseless carriage. She watched a spaceship lift off and an American walk on the moon. Electricity, radio, television, the Grand Ole Opry…

When my grandmother died in 1993 at the age of 103 she had experienced more in her lifetime than I thought I could ever imagine. That was until tonight when my vote for president was counted along with millions of other votes, and the United States of America elected Barack Obama as our next president.

I would hope that the healing would begin now, tonight, and that both sides of the political process will come together to heal our nation from the economic and social heartbreak that has injured so many families.

In Obama’s speech acknowledging his election win he spoke three words over and over again, “yes we can.” Together we can. We must if our nation is to remain the greatest nation in the world.

Monday, November 03, 2008

10 Predictions, Regardless of Who Wins the Election

A friend from Kansas sent me this and I thought with everyone putting so much attention on the elections that sometimes we just need to step back and realize what is really important.

1. The Bible will still have the answers.

2. Prayer will still work.

3. The Holy Spirit will still move.

4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.

5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.

6. There will still be singing of praise to God.

7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

8. There will still be room at the Cross.

9. God will still love you.

10. God will still save the lost who come to Him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Presidential Paper Dolls - how they rate

Dover Publications has a really fun item on their website:

You can purchase paper dolls of your favorite presidential candidate, Obama or McCain.
Dover also has the sales results of the presidential paper dolls, sort of like the election polls.

Just another way to look at the election and have some artistic fun at the same time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mary - Red Cross Award

I live in Washington State and I am unable to attend the 2008 Contra Costa County Act of Kindness & Philanthropy Hero award ceremony honoring my sister, Mary Perez. I am very proud of her and the work she does to help others.

In the beginning it was hard to understand and accept that Mary was not spending all day with our family on Christmas--helping to prepare the meal, opening gifts, and just spending time with our family.

As we all became aware of the huge needs of others who have no one else to celebrate with on Christmas day, we each in our own way understood why Mary took on this project. No other group or organization was offering help to all of these people within our community and she found ways to help out. Two of my children helped with Christmas for Everyone and Mary’s other program that she ran for ten years--Teens Who Care.

I don’t think most people realize the scope of what Mary and her dedicated team of friends and volunteers actually do. It isn’t just fixing a meal for someone who is hungry or giving them a gift. There are weeks of preparation that go into the planning, and weeks of work to get the facility ready. Much time is spent asking businesses and individuals to donate money, food, and goods so that the team can feed 3,000 people and give them all a gift, good used clothing for everyone who needs it. Volunteer carolers sing for those enjoying a full Christmas dinner, others offer free haircuts, Christmas photos, and even a band to entertain those who wait their turn outside. Helpers are also delivering meals to those who are house-bound and picking up and bringing those who cannot drive to CFE.

At the end of the day when everyone has been served, then and only then does Mary go to our mother’s home where she is sometimes too tired to eat dinner or open her own gifts. And the next day she begins the clean up process that sometimes takes another week. No, she is still not done because she then plans a party for her volunteers to say thank you to them for their hard work.

I can’t be with her on her special day, but she is in my heart and I am very proud of her.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The remodel

We have lived in our home for a little over nine years. I have removed rolls and rolls of wallpaper from the walls. Painted over every shade of blue you can think of, in nearly every room of the house. At least the blue carpet isn’t as noticeable as it once was and it too will be replaced in time. The only two rooms left to be painted are my studio and Larry’s study. My studio is paint and a wallpaper border on one wall that I can live with for now and a small piece of floral wallpaper behind the sewing table.

Larry’s study is another matter. There was, and I repeat was, wallpaper on all the upper walls, separated by a chair rail molding and a wallpaper border with more chair railing and then what we assumed (you know what they say about assumptions) was oak paneling, but really is plywood paneling.

I didn’t feel well enough to work in the garden a couple of weeks ago but felt like I should be doing something. I took off a corner of the wallpaper and then another and another from the fireplace wall. Off came the first of the chair railing and then I started ripping the wallpaper border off. Then Larry came home from work. He looked a little shocked that all my talking about remodeling the study had actually begun. Later that night I removed the paneling and baseboard molding after we discussed the design for the room. Clean, contemporary, sleek.

The fireplace has been repaired several times and while there was a way to make it work, although cumbersome to me, we were now going to replace it with a new efficient Valor freestyle fireplace. Our friend Dave installs fireplaces for a living and he volunteered to install our new purchase. Good thing Dave also learned carpentry skills from his grandfather because he built us a new surround for the fireplace that he said is design as you build. I can appreciate his carpenter skills and flexibility because my father was a master carpenter and I watched him do this sort of thing all the time.

The fireplace is in and working and Larry has settled on a company to install the new flat screen TV that will be mounted above the fireplace and a new surround sound system in the ceiling. The sheetrock for the fireplace wall will have to wait until after the new wiring for the TV and equipment has been run through the walls.

Friends--what would we do without them? Our friend Rick built his own home and cut trees from his property to build furniture for the house. Rick offered to find a piece of wood that we could use for the mantel. We went Tuesday evening to pick out a piece that he will plane and cut to size. He has his own branding iron and we asked him to brand the new mantel since he is making it for us.

Wallpaper. Back to the wallpaper. I have one wall completely free and clear of wallpaper. All the top chair railing is gone from all the walls. Most of the wallpaper border is gone; all except what the previous owner glued on when he couldn’t make it stick with normal wallpaper backing. Under the wallpaper were more blue walls. What a surprise! Well it was a surprise when the wallpaper came off one wall and we found grass green paint underneath the blue. I can’t even imagine the Moroccan style orange vinyl tile design that we found under the green/blue carpet matching up to the horrible green wall that must have met up to the other horrible orange and yellow 70’s vinyl I know is under the carpet they put in the kitchen. Yes, carpet in the kitchen! What could be worse than carpet in the kitchen? Beige carpet in a kitchen is a nightmare to keep clean. But again that is another project for another day.

I must finish removing the wallpaper and primer the wood trim that abuts the walls and the ceiling in the study. The upper part of the wall and ceiling will all be a creamy white and I must get the ceiling painted before the speakers are installed, so I only need to do touch up paint around them.

The two tone beige carpet can’t be installed until the painting is finished and I have pushed the installers back two weeks. I can’t paint the fireplace wall until the wiring is done and the sheetrock goes up. Then I’ll paint it the same red that I have in the dinning room, Ralph Lauren “Hunting Coat Red”. The paneling on the lower walls will be a dark tan paint and all the trim in the room will be white. I will probably hire Bob, a friend of ours to paint the small bay window bump-out all white.

The green window blinds have been removed and I need to finish removing the shelf over the window I installed when we moved in to hold some of our Harley knick knacks. I will order a sunscreen shade for the window and have red cut velvet drapes, quilted dark tan drapes, and cream linen drapes to dress the windows and just need to find the drapery rod to hang them.

Furniture! What do we want? What will fit? The desk belonged to Larry’s dad and we are going to try and have a friend of Larry’s trim it down and remodel it into a smaller “L” shaped desk and then get a new desk chair. The loveseat we have will stay and the side chair is going to the dining room. Larry’s beloved “Ekornes Stressless” chair has seen better days and last night he went out and test drove a Human Touch HT-136 Robotic Massage Chair and then I ordered it in red and it should arrive in about two weeks.

Today we picked out a new sofa for the room in a heavy duty fabric that looks like leather and it might come before Christmas if we are lucky. The sofa arriving before New Year's Day would be good because we will have between twenty and thirty people over for lunch after a Harley ride that day. Places to sit would be good. Before this remodel began there wasn’t room for a new sofa because that wall is filled currently with stereo equipment, cabinets, speakers, and a very large TV that will all disappear in the next week or so. The study is going from seating four currently to eight comfortably after the remodel, with room for three or four more when we bring in extra chairs.

Lamps, tables, shelves, area rugs, so much more and my mind is swimming. We pretty much live in this room of the house so making it comfy and cozy is a good thing. When we can put the art which consist of paintings of ducks and hunting, Harley prints and collectibles, hand carved fish, neon signs, all back on the wall; it will become Larry’s retreat again. His guy room--just updated with a few new things and all his favorite old things.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Twinchies for a Cause

October is breast cancer awareness month and The Blue Horse Gallery has a yearly event to showcase art and artist called “Reaching for the Light.”

This year my submission is a 24 x 18 inch black canvas with fifty-one mixed media twinchies attached. Twinchies are two inch squares and any medium can be used to construct them, paper, fabric, shrink plastic, ribbon, photos, just use your imagination.

The slide show on the right side of the blog shows each of the fifty-one twinchies in detail. The last twinchie attached has a small poem:

Friends are gifts
Treasured and cherished
Sharing wisdom and truth
An ear to listen
A shoulder to lean on
We laugh, we cry
The good, the bad
We care, we share
We found each other
Dancing to a different beat
Confidants and co-conspirators
Words cannot describe
What friends really are

The artist statement with my art piece is actually another poem I wrote for this piece, followed by a scripture that reminds me of my sister Sharron’s favorite necklace that she wore, a mustard seed representing her faith in Jesus Christ.

The uneven stitches
The wiggly lines
It’s the evidence of scars
The hurt
From those left behind
Squares with a story
Small mosaics of our lives
Holding out hope
With dreams of the future
Faith that together
We can find a cure

Billie jo marrs

Matthew 17:20
…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible to you

Breast Cancer Awareness

A technician gave me the following poem when I had my very first mammogram years ago. It made me laugh and took my mind off the procedure.

For years and years they told me,
Be careful of your breasts.
Don't ever squeeze or bruise them.
And give them monthly tests.

So I heeded all their warnings,
And protected them by law.
Guarded them very carefully,
And I always wore my bra.

After 30 years of astute care,
My gyno, Dr. Pruitt,
Said I should get a Mammogram
"O.K," I said, "let's do it."

"Stand up here real close" she said,
(She got my boob in line),
"And tell me when it hurts," she said,
"Ah yes! Right there, that's fine."

She stepped upon a pedal,
I could not believe my eyes!
A plastic plate came slamming down,
My hooter's in a vise!

My skin was stretched and mangled,
From underneath my chin.
My poor boob was being squashed,
To Swedish Pancake thin.

Excruciating pain I felt,
Within it's vise-like grip.
A prisoner in this vicious thing,
My poor defenseless tit!

"Take a deep breath" she said to me,
Who does she think she's kidding?!?
My chest is mashed in her machine,
And woozy I am getting.

"There, that's good," I heard her say,
(The room was slowly swaying.)
"Now, let's have a go at the other one."
Have mercy, I was praying.

It squeezed me from both up and down,
It squeezed me from both sides.
I'll bet SHE'S never had this done,
To HER tender little hide.

Next time that they make me do this,
I will request a blindfold.
I have no wish to see again,
My knockers getting steam rolled.

If I had no problem when I came in,
I surely have one now.
If there had been a cyst in there,
It would have gone "ker-pow!"

This machine was created by a man,
Of this, I have no doubt.
I'd like to stick his balls in there,
And see how THEY come out!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pamela's art

I’ve met a wonderful and talented artist named Pamela. She makes the most amazing custom credit card wallet. They are made from polymer clay with a metallic sheen, polymer clay buttons for a clasp, and beautiful papers folded to form the credit card sleeves. Pamela is selling her wallets on Etsy:

We are both meeting part of a new group of artist who have varied artistic backgrounds from knitting, polymer clay, fantasy figures, fused glass, beads, paper arts, and mixed media. It’s a fun way to see what other artists are creating and share information.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Praise God

My nephew Dave has been in Iraq for the last fifteen months. Everyone in our family has been praying for his safe return and Saturday our prayers were answered. I give all my thanks and praise to God for watching over Dave and bringing him safely home to his family and friends.

Our family will continue to pray for those who are still in a war zone and those who are training to go, which includes Dave’s son TJ who left on Tuesday for basic training before his dad arrived home.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oyster Run 2008

The 27th Oyster Run in Anacortes ( was Sunday September 28th. This is the largest motorcycle run in the northwest and there were thousands of motorcycles lining each side of the main street of Anacortes and a double row down the middle with room to ride a single bike each direction between the motorcycles. The weather was warm and sunny so even more motorcycles and people than usual turned out for this event.

Some people arrive on Friday and party for the weekend while most of the bikers arrive on Sunday, clogging up the freeways, and every major side road for miles in every direction. Parking is just about non existent for bikers and cages alike. You can drive around the block and around in circles trying to find a parking space.

The Mt. Baker Chapter HOG group volunteered to work the information booth at the Oyster Run. Larry and I had the 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM shift and we drove down in the big red truck which meant parking was going to be doubly hard for us, or so we thought. We found a spot big enough for the truck and it was only three blocks away from the information booth. Lucky! That is all it was, just plain luck.

When you work at the information booth, everyone comes to you, your friends, the lost, those looking for the ATM machine, questions like where are the oysters, and our favorite answer to the number one question was “one block down and to the right”. So what was the question? Where can I get an Oyster Run t-shirt or pin!

Now, it usually takes us about an hour to get to Anacortes but Sunday afternoon it took us 3 ½ hours to return home. Forty minutes just to go from downtown Anacortes to highway 20 to head out of town. It was bumper to bumper, cage to bike, bike to bike and no where to go. Bikes were overheating and pulling over to the side of the road and riders with cell phones in hand to call for help--although I’m not sure how anyone could reach them for hours with the traffic jammed up with people trying to get home. Traffic thinned out a little and moved slowly and steady until we were almost to Burlington when it came to a dead stop again. We took a side road no one seemed to care about and wound our way to the freeway and thought we had it made. Not so fast as saw the red taillights and make a quick decision to get off the freeway and head around Lake Samish. Even with this detour we still did not arrive home until 7:00 PM after leaving Anacortes at 3:30 PM.

At the Oyster Run, we had time to wander up and down the street, check out the bikes, order barbeque sandwiches and turkey legs, saw lots of our friends, and enjoyed being part of the Run. But, I think we may volunteer for an earlier shift next year--less traffic coming and going!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here am I

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Gleaners

When we first moved into our home over nine years ago, I would sit at the computer in the sunroom, which is now the dining room, looking out into the backyard and enjoying the flowers; but most of all, the wildlife that would parade through the yard looking for a bite to eat.

There were wire fences around some of the gardens when we moved in to keep the bunnies out. I found it quite amusing that the bunnies knew every low spot that was hidden by plants and would crawl under and hop from plant to plant nibbling away. I didn’t care if we shared the garden because I found so much joy watching them. After about a year, I took the fence out to make it easier for the bunnies to get into the garden. But I guess half the fun was out-foxing the fence and the bunnies didn’t seem to care about my garden once the fence came down. They do, however, show up and play the most delightful leap frog sort of mating game in the back yard. They will face each other, nose to nose, with only inches between them, when one will leap over the other bunny and the other one will flip around--and again they will be facing each other. They continue to play like this until they disappear into the shrubs.

We had quite a few fruit trees in the back yard when we moved in. I had the pears removed because I couldn’t eat all the pears they produced or give them away. So it was just me, the yellow jackets, and wasps enjoying the fruit, and since I was always afraid of accidently stepping on the fruit and being stung when I was in the garden, the pear trees came out. The plum trees just quit producing so they came out next. Then the apple tree that only had about 2 apples a year and was very tiny, crooked, and almost falling over if it were not propped up, can’t mow around apple tree, was removed. We have what we were told was a peach tree, but I think it was mislabeled because it has never had a peach on it but it is pretty so it can stay. And so it went that out of the twelve little fruit trees in the part of the garden that was planted like little soldiers, all lined up and ready to march, only an apple tree, some just pretty trees, and a couple of cherry trees remain. Maybe next year I will get my Rainier cherry for the garden.

Closer to the house we have a very old cherry tree that the previous owners cared for less than they did the pine trees, because they continued to butcher one side of this cherry tree so the pine could grow. The pines rotted and had to be removed after one fell and we have been trying to take care of the cherry tree to preserve it ever since. It is old and I think if must have been part of the original farm that our house sits on now. It produces a great crop about every other year and we have to fight the crows, the blue jays, the robins, and every other bird in our neck of the woods to have a small bowl to enjoy. Because the tree was never pruned or cared for, most of the cherries now are on the upper braches beyond reach and we can only watch and listen as the feathered gleaners strip it bare.

We have another tree that I think was part of the original orchard that is a late harvest apple tree. The apples are good but it produces more than we can eat. Every year we have a deer that brings her fawn, or fawns in most years, to our backyard in the fall to teach them where to find the best produce. We can watch mama deer from the house standing on her back legs to search for the right apple and then take a bite. If it is not to her liking then she drops it and chooses another one. When she finds just the right apple, she shares it with the baby or babies. This morning when I went to the kitchen to fix a cup of chai tea there was the doe with what I thought were twins. After watching for several minutes and trying to get a picture, I realized that what I thought was the second fawn was actually another smaller doe and she also had a little fawn with her. The two mothers worked out their differences about where they would each stand under the tree, with the larger doe occasionally chasing the other doe a little farther away, reducing the other doe to only picking up apples already on the ground. The two little fawns played together, dancing in and out of the bushes and shrubs, tasting a leaf on various plants, and then going back to their game of tag, unaware that their mothers were dividing up the apple tree turf by who was the biggest, strongest, and wisest.

These are the gleaners in my backyard. I know there are coyotes in the farm fields behind our house but I don’t like to think about their hunting and gleaning. There are geese that swim in the pond behind our neighbor’s home and the ducks in the pond down the road all adding to the rural natural life that is only a heartbeat away from the city limits. The opossums, raccoons, and the occasional skunk all looking for a meal, a little something left over.

It is also at this time of year that we will call the human gleaners to come and strip the apple tree of the apples left by our deer and share the bounty with our fellow citizens who don’t have enough to eat or need help supplanting their groceries. The workers come with ladders and boxes and within a few hours last year they took away several hundred pounds of apples to be shared at food banks throughout the county. The simple act of making a phone call and sharing what otherwise would go to waste, is just one easy way to make a difference in the lives of those just trying to live day to day.

Leviticus 23:22
'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'

Friday, September 12, 2008

Paper baby dresses and pinafores

This set of paper baby dresses with pinafores is the third example for a future art class for GRADS.

I have used coordinating papers that are doubled sided for the peek-a-boo hem at the bottom. The pinafores are attached at the shoulders and a pink ribbon is woven through the dresses so that they can be hung on a wall.

The little dresses are named: princess, buttons and bows, and sweet pea. The colors are soft greens, pinks, and white. I’ve embossed, used buttons, glitter, and a sheer fabric lace to decorate the pinafores.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My sister Mary

My sister Mary has organized and run two non profits--Teens Who Care and Christmas For Everyone--in Contra Costa County California.

Teens Who Care painted homes of elderly, needy, or disabled homeowners who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of upkeep on their homes. Teens from throughout the county volunteered to work during a two week period where they painted a house about every three days including the prep work. It was a whirlwind of activity, lots of laughter, new friendships were formed, and two of my children had the privilege of working on this project. This project lasted for ten years and impacted many families.

Christmas for Everyone ( will be celebrating their twenty-third year serving families, children, and the elderly on Christmas day. CFE provides a complete home-cooked Christmas dinner for everyone who shows up--and last year, there were 2700 people. There were Christmas carolers, a photographer to take free pictures, a gymnasium filled with good, clean clothing that is free for those that are in need, a band plays outside the gym and everyone who attends gets a Christmas gift, and sometimes, two. No one goes home empty-handed or hungry.

Yesterday Mary was contacted and told that she had been selected to receive the American Red Cross Hero Award for Contra Costa County. I’m so very proud of her and what she does to make a difference in her community.


Congratulations! Recently, Aiko Lee nominated you for an American Red Cross Hero Award. Your story truly inspired our nominating committee. On behalf of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, we are pleased to announce that you are the honored recipient of the Act of Kindness & Philanthropy Hero award, which will be presented to you at the Contra Costa Heroes Breakfast. The recognition event will be held on Friday, October 17th in Walnut Creek. We will honor several local individuals, including you, whose actions exemplify the spirit of heroism through courage, dedication and character.

Congratulations again. We look forward to meeting you in person on October 17th.

Mark Brygmann, Event Co-Chair
Aiko Lee, Heroes Nomination Chair

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Paper Dress

This is the second paper dress sample for an art class that I will teach at the GRADS teen parent program.

The template folds forming a box that can hold a secret message or a special treasure between the front and back of the dress that are held together with a piece of ribbon.

There are layers of decorative papers, tissue, paints, embossed designs, and cut outs forming the front of the dress. The back of the dress is torn pieces of paper glued down to form a ruffled train.
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