Time Warp Tuesday: Fitness or pfffft-ness?

In a conversation with Jen on the Edge last week, I was regretting that I had not taken better care of myself over the past 15 years.  There were weather excuses (too hot, too humid, too icy) and there were extenuating circumstances (the surgery that was Much More than planned, sometimes referred to as the time the doctor nearly killed me). But mostly there were little excuses …”I don’t feel like it now”… and a lot of instances of emotionally-fueled eating.  And now? It’s a much harder battle than it ever was before. I am firmly ensconced in middle age territory. And that’s okay — middle age doesn’t scare me. But what I don’t want is to continue in a downward spiral of pfffft-ness. I don’t like getting tired walking up 3 flights of stairs. I want to walk and hike and bike.

I’ve got a long way to go if I ever intend to look like this again:

My neighbor took this picture from her porch as I prepared to haul 100-pounds worth of children on a bike ride along the local farmland. (Summer, 1997)

My neighbor took this picture from her porch as I prepared to haul 100-pounds worth of children (3 of ’em) on a bike ride along the local farmland. (Heidelberg/Wieblingen: Summer, 1997)


Time Warp Tuesday is brought to you by Jenn at Juggling Life. Visit here to see the other participants and their photos.

Sunday Musing, in bits and pieces

My latest lanyard ~ light purple with "old opal" Vintage Venetian seed beads

My latest lanyard ~ light purple with “old opal” Vintage Venetian seed beads

Lanyards are difficult to photograph. 

While lavender/light purple isn’t my favorite color, I put a lot of work into making this lanyard something I would be proud to wear or sell. (The idea, of course, is to sell it. The setting up of my Etsy shop is in progress!)


  • I feel like I’m trudging through sludge in my brain tonight. Cold medicine helps me manage symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and congestion, but it doesn’t help me to think straight. 
  • I managed to clear my throat enough this morning to sing with the choir. Despite 2 cups of coffee at home, I still forgot to put my reading glasses into my purse — luckily, one of the other altos is smart enough to carry 2 pair in her purse! Nothing like sharing “cheaters” among friends. 🙂  
  • In the next few days, I need to complete 4 beaded leashes (2 different orders) which are at various stages of design. I bead the same way I quilt: a lot of doing, a lot of undoing… beading, un-beading; sewing, un-sewing. Eventually, I have a product I am happy with and put on the finishing touches.
  • Whenever I start a creative project, it tends to lead me off on rabbit trails of other creative projects. Right now on my dining room table are some wine glass charms and the remains of a stamping project (and the plans for another). Ten feet away is the baby quilt I started at a “sew day” last Wednesday before I agreed with my MIL (on Friday morning) that it was unrealistic to finish it prior to the baby shower at 2pm on Saturday.
  • Tomorrow is the student/teacher/parent conference for my youngest son. If my brain is engaged, I will remember wear a lanyard as a conversation starter and pack along a few more lanyards just in case a teacher or staff member notices and asks about them. Of course, of greater importance is remembering that I have a 1:30 pm conference time!  I’d be lost without my Google Calendar and the subsequent reminders that are sent to my e-mail inbox and pop up on my screen.
  • I’ve been looking at slideshows of my photographs from Utah and Arizona last year and looking forward to spring break. The sunshine on cactus and rocks almost make me forget how cold it’s been lately.
  • Zuill Bailey played Bach’s Complete Suites for Unaccompanied Cello this afternoon here in town. Unfortunately, at $50 per ticket, I couldn’t afford to buy a pair of tickets in good conscience — especially since I wanted to take a friend instead of my husband. (I love him but he doesn’t love music as much as a few of my friends love music.)  If you don’t know about this musician, do yourself a favor and click here.

What thoughts are wandering through your mind?

Time Warp Tuesday: Berth Buddies

I admit, I wasn’t prepared for TWT this week. We had a busy weekend and I’m supposed to be cleaning my so-called craft room (it’s really the former patio, enclosed as an open extension of the  family-room-turned-dining-room). The craft room can’t be closed off visually, and I’m failing at hiding my mess behind plants — plus I should be using this space, not using it as a storage place.  Not that I have the entire room to myself: I share it with the keyboard (because who moves multiple times with a piano? Not us!), the computer desk, the pellet stove, and everyone who passes through to the deck.  As I said, I’m supposed to be cleaning up my craft room, but I’m obviously not cleaning, since I’m tapping away here on my keyboard.  (See how I brought that whole rabbit trail paragraph back around to the beginning?)


With no plans set for today’s post, I thought about skipping it, but that seemed like a slippery slope. And then KCINNOTX saved me by e-mailing me a couple of photos over the weekend!  (Thanks, BB!)  The pictures capture a memorable time in our lives; they also show how my brother and I, with nearly matching haircuts and only a year apart in age, could be mistaken for each other from across the street. (You’ll have to take my word for it, since I don’t have his permission to post a photo of him!)

Kare at age 15, on open water, and trying to not be seasick

Karen at age 15, on open water, and trying to not be seasick

In the summer of 1981, our high school youth group completed a year of earning and saving money which culminated in a 2-week-long mission trip to Southeast Alaska. The first week was spent on the MV Anna Jackman, nicknamed the Presbyterian Navy, a 65-foot-long marine vessel used for taking groups to remote villages where we put on musical entertainment and a gospel message. I honestly don’t know if anyone paid attention to the message, but I suspect they appreciated any entertainment they could get! Some of those logging camps were really remote, and this was in the days before WiFi, Internet, and Cable TV. We were the only entertainment available, and folks showed up to hear us sing and perform skits. We would disembark, stretch our legs, the locals would gather, and we would perform. Our time on land might include seeing something special about the place we were visiting (touring the logging camp, or visiting the town dump at sunset to watch the bears) but before long, we’d go back to the boat and head for the next village.

KCINNOTX took this picture of me journaling on the berth that she and I shared.

KCINNOTX took this picture of me journaling on the berth that she and I shared.  It was a really small space for 2 people.

There were 28 of us on board. KCINNOTX and I shared a berth below deck.

After a week of living on the boat, we spent a week working on projects at a small college in Sitka, Alaska (the first day of which most of us walked around like drunken sailors… or like people who had just spent a week walking on a rocking, rolling, moving boat).  

That was 32 years ago. Wow.
I’ve been thinking it would be really wonderful to go back to Alaska. My husband has never been there and neither have the kids. A trip up north needs to be placed firmly on the ol’ Life List!


Time Warp Tuesday is brought to you by Jenn at Juggling Life. Visit here to see the other participants and their photos.

My Town Monday: Put Another Log on the Fire…

DSCN8863Some days, a person might think Spring is here! On those days, a person can forget that just because there are 4 inches of green growth poking up from the winter-dormant bulbs, it doesn’t mean we won’t be getting any more snow.

If English isn’t your first language, I apologize for that double-negative sentence.
Please pardon me while I put another log on the fire and hum the country song with that title, and then I’ll get on with the rest of this stream-of-consciousness post. 

Yesterday, I drove to the grocery store at 5pm with the sun shining in my eyes and snowflakes falling on my windshield. It was a little bit odd, but hey — it’s March! Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I was on a mission to purchase Guinness and heavy cream in order to make a Chocolate Guinness Cake which was fabulous: dark chocolate and dark beer making a black batter (but only after the stout cooked with butter, a smell I describe as heavenly), blended with eggs and sour cream to create a rich, moist, dark cake with a touch of tang from the beer. The icing on top — made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and heavy whipping cream —  almost looked like the head on a glass of Guinness (it needed a touch of brown, I think… Guinness? coffee?) and was the perfect complement in flavors. While it was a kid-friendly cake (the alcohol is simmered on the stove before baking = doubly safe), I know my kids found it to be not sweet enough; they prefer Triple Chocolate Cake.

However, Chocolate Guinness Cake has nothing to do with the weather; I merely wanted to share the experience. (Click the link for recipe and photo.) You can thank KCINNOTX for leading me to the recipe. I’m definitely grateful!


This morning, the wind chimes have been busy but the sun was shining and I went for a walk after breakfast. Bundled up in a winter coat and gloves, I noted that the wind felt neither warm nor cold.

Spring is coming 015 Ponderosa Pine grove

It was peaceful to step into a small grove of pines where the wind was stilled, the soft ground was thickly padded with long pine needles. and the birdsong was clearly audible though I could see no birds when I looked up.

Sometimes, a person just needs to stick her nose into the cracks in the bark of a Ponderosa Pine and smell the scent of butterscotch.

Ponderosa Pine tree bark (close-up)

Ponderosa Pine tree bark (close-up)

Spring is coming 005

The first little flowers are in bloom here in the park.

Look closely or you might miss them!

Look closely or you might miss them!

Spring is coming 021 Willow in pond

This old willow drinks deeply to fortify itself for a summer of use as a fort and playground for children.  I am told that many years ago the pond remained year ’round; as I know from the previous two summers, the ground will be dry by the end of July.

Boulders and berms help to keep motor vehicles out of the park.

Boulders and natural berms of rock help to keep motor vehicles out of the park.

By the time I reached home again, the battery was exhausted in my trusty old camera and the wind was most definitely cold. Now as I type these final sentences, flurries of snowflakes and bursts of soft hail are blurring my view out the back window, mixing with falling pine needles freed by the wind.

Spring is coming 026 March snow flurries

Spring is indeed coming, but it arrives in a “two steps forward, one step back” manner.

Friday Five: Present, Past, Future

My mailman has been a busy guy lately, delivering these goodies:

Earrings by Cassi

Earrings by Cassi

Have you been to Cassi’s Etsy shop or her beading blog? She has a regular blog, too.

I’ve been reading Teepe’s weblog for about 5 years now. What a surprise to get a package in the mail from her this week!

A surprise from Trudie in Sweden: birch root woven pin and a reindeer hide bracelet with woven pewter thread and a button made from an antler!

A surprise from Sweden: birch root woven pin and a reindeer hide bracelet with woven pewter thread and a button made from an antler!

Blogging friends are wonderful. ♥
I really hope to meet both of these fabulous friends in person someday.

Lanyard with pink foil-lined heart, pink Swarovski crystals, clear Vintage Venetian glass seed beads, pink glass Czech beads and  pink fiber optic beads.

Lanyard with pink foil-lined heart, pink Swarovski crystals, clear Vintage Venetian glass seed beads, pink glass Czech beads and pink fiber optic beads.

I made a couple more lanyards this week as well. I am really thrilled with how well the pink heart lanyard turned out!

Turquoise-coloured Lanyard made with Vintage Venetian seed beads, Millefiori beads, and "fire-polished" Czech beads

Turquoise-coloured Lanyard made with Vintage Venetian seed beads, Millefiori beads, and “fire-polished” Czech beads

I love choosing beads to purchase and then making something beautiful out of my stash. 

After the kids’ spring break, I’m planning on getting an Etsy shop up and running. No idea how to actually do this, but it seems like the proper plan to execute.  It will make my husband happier when I go to buy more beads, and it will help keep my mailman in a job. Right?

And then there’s this…

Hot Dog Budget vs. Ivy League Brains

Hot Dog Budget vs. Ivy League Brains

The 17yo high school junior has been getting letters from colleges for nearly 3 years. (He has a habit of scoring in the 99th percentile on the PSAT.)  The envelope above contained a letter from the admissions office, inviting H-J to apply to their university. Yes, he is scary-smart!

a gift, a desire, and a request

With retirement comes the ubiquitous fixed income, leaving little for fancy extras or large luxuries. The dream of 20 acres backing up to a thousand-acre nature preserve has faded into the background. Don’t cry for me — in retrospect, I would have spent many lonely, depressed hours there so far from other people.  I’m fairly certain I live in a place of privilege, with the public library and grocery story just one mile away (great for when I can walk again!) and a 12-acre natural park directly behind my house.

With the passing of my mother and the settling of her estate, I am blessed to have a small sum which I can spend on one of those “fancy extras.” My choice? An upgrade from my Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR camera with a regular/zoom lens and a macro lens.

I have no illusions of greatness when it comes to my photography skills. I’ve been to museums and I’ve got cable internet; I’ve seen great photography.
But I enjoy photography and often work hard at getting a good shot. I know a little about composition and lighting. I took 2 semesters of photography in high school where I played with lenses, developed film, printed pictures, and tackled assignments.  I really enjoyed playing with night photography, those streaks of light caused by long exposure to moving cards and capturing colored lights reflected on wet, rainy streets.

A better camera would let me take better pictures of my cat. Of course, that is really a side benefit, as Cleopatra rarely allows photographs.

A better camera would let me take better pictures of my cat. Of course, that is really a side benefit, as Cleopatra rarely allows photographs.

Yep, all done now and hiding from her fans

Yep, all done now and hiding from her fans

So. I’ve got about $400 to spend (okay, with tax and shipping, maybe up to $500). Yes, I know that’s not much money for a DSLR (or a camera that does everything I want), but it’s what I’ve got to spend. There are children to help put through college.

I need your help choosing my next camera! I want to get a camera that will allow me greater freedom and ability to get the shots I want to capture:

  • ability to choose the subject on which I want to focus (point-and-shoot has trouble with this)
  • ability to get good shots in low lighting without flash
  • close-ups! The macro on my p-and-s is a joke. I want to take quality macros.
  • zoom! I want to be able to be far enough from a subject to be unobtrusive and yet still get a good shot.

I do realize that I may or may not be able to get those last 2 bullet points covered in a single package. While I’d rather not have to change lenses, if there isn’t a decently priced camera out there with those capabilities, I’m willing to get over the idea of a single camera and purchase a camera with 2 interchangeable lenses. A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Simple is better than complicated. I want to buy this new camera soon (like, last week) and taking a lot of extra time to learn how to use it really isn’t on my wish list.
  • I shake sometimes. I have what is technically known as a benign familial essential tremor and this can impact my ability to get a decent shot, so whatever camera I end up purchasing should be pretty stable. Too heavy and I will have trouble holding it for very long without shaking… too light and I will have trouble holding it still, too. (Welcome to my life.)

That’s it in a nutshell …er, blog post. 😉

Can you help with specific advice?


Back before the turn of the century, when my kids started public school in El Paso, they would describe friends by their names and actions.  You know, Mom! Frankie, the kid I play with at recess.  (As if I was there at recess to watch and know who was who!) I would be confused as to which child was being discussed, so I would ask for more details and the response might be, “He wears red shoes” or “He likes dinosaurs.”  It never even occurred to them to bring up color.

I admit that skin color was the last thing I would ask, because I didn’t want their first inclination to be to categorize anyone by skin color unless that was the natural thing for a child to do. (Maybe it was my own little experiment? I don’t know.) At any rate, if I couldn’t figure out which friend was being discussed, I usually had to ask, “What does he look like?” (I wasn’t there at recess!) and then it was light brown or medium brown or dark brown, or even “tannish-beige” (which is how my kids described their own skin. They “knew their colors” before going to school and they were sure that they were definitely NOT “white”, nor did that new friend have “black” skin. It was just a shade of brown or beige, really no different than anyone else. Even at the age of 6 or 7, my boys must have noticed that everyone in our family had a slightly different shade of beige or tan. The baby was the palest, because he couldn’t go outside and run in the sunshine. Daddy didn’t have much of a tan because he had to work in an office all day. Perhaps my kids thought that some of the other kids got to play outside more often and that was why they had darker skin?  Besides, in Sunday school they sang that “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world — red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight — Jesus loves the little children of the world!”  They didn’t know any kids that looked like a primary color but they understood love.

My four boys, summer 2000. Note the very dark tan hand around the baby's middle.

One of my favorite pictures of my four boys, summer 2000. Note the tan hand around the baby’s middle.

I suspect that this thought process of theirs is what the younger generations now see: many colors, all different, and just that: a color. The kaleidoscope of color is a beautiful thing — a beautiful thing that isn’t what defines the person.

Admittedly, I am coming from a life where I was not discriminated against nor were cruel things said to me because of my skin tone. And yet, I still don’t like checking that box on school forms, the one that makes me choose my race. I’d rather give my heritage (German, Scotish, and a mixture of many others) than call myself “white” — especially since what really matters is what a person is like on the inside: heart, mind, and soul.

This post was inspired by another blogger’s post, found via Hilary’s “Post of the Week.”


I’m a little early this week, but this is my submission for Time Warp Tuesday, which is the brainchild of Jenn at Juggling Life. Please visit her on Tuesday to see the other participants and their photos.