Friday, August 31, 2007

WIP: Blue Monkey [1]

I'm finally back to stitching! Man, have I missed it!

Though I really do want to get started on my daughter's wedding sampler, I do have a charity square that is due soon. And since it's got big blocks of single colors, it ought to stitch up fairly quickly.

A little sick gal named Sunny will be receiving a quilt with her favorite theme, monkeys. I found this odd blue monkey in a booklet called Nursery Animals by Martha Schmidt. All the animals in this booklet are in fun colors. (One of these days I'll stitch the blue giraffe for myself!)

I started the Blue Monkey this afternoon, and got this much done in just a couple hours. I'm trying a new-to-me technique that Mary, our fearless leader of the Yahoo! Cross-Stitching for Charity group, uses. If she has big blocks of a single color, she counts out and stitches the outline first. Then she can sit back and just fill in big blocks of color without having to count every line.

As you can see, I outlined the main part of the body. Now I'm filling in some of the darker blue small areas. Tomorrow, while catching up on some Tivo'd shows, I can fill in the big block of blue.

Day 427: Stormy Weather

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
A Thunderstorm Approaches

One thing I've loved ever since moving to north Idaho are the enormous thunderstorms that roll through in the late afternoons. When I lived in Lewiston, I'd go out to the point where the Snake and Clearwater Rivers converge and stand in the wind and rain, watching the water and sky, seeing the northern ridge light up as the lightening split the valley sky.

Now where I live, the storms are most spectacular over the Rathdrum Prairie. I caught this image as I drove north on Hwy 41 on my way to pick Jodie up from work. One of these days I'm going to get rear-ended if I don't pull off the two-lane highway far enough. But the scenery is just spectacular and I can't help but stop by the fields and soak in the beauty.

These clouds are rolling in from the west, over the hills and newly harvested fields. Those are irrigation pipes in the foreground; the Jacklin Seed truck container in the background is a familiar sight at this time of year.

Before long, the air will be clogged with the smoke as the fields are burned, making them fertile for next year's crops.

A traveler's tip: don't visit north Idaho during field burning season unless you bring along your own oxygen tank.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 426: Neighborhood Tragedy

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Here Lies the Dead

On my walk through the neighborhood last night, I ran across this eerie sight. An outline of a body.

And then another!

And a third! Scene of a triple murder?

Nah. I know this family. The teenage girl has a group of off-the-wall friends. They actually hang with Jodie sometimes. They like to be shocking and anti-societal (though really quite social, when you talk with them). They show it in their choice of clothes, hair color, body art. The usual. They often have no supervision and prowl the neighborhood like a pack, pretending to be intimidating. They like to hang out on the roof of the garage and make a lot of noise.

I guess one of them got hold of a pack of chalk. They must have had some fun tracing around each other, lying in the street ... then leaving these reminders to try and shock the neighbors.

Ah, north Idaho. Home of the gun-toting, yellow ribbon touting, social conservatives.

How in the world did *I* end up living here?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 425: The Happy Couple

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, The Newlyweds

My daughter Jeanne and her new husband Mathew are in the area for a week. Mathew's dad is doing poorly, and they wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with him.

But while Mathew was busy with family matters, I got to have my daughter at home for an overnight visit. We did the usual Mom and daughter stuff:
* weeded the iris hill and side yard
* fixed an electrical tool
* cuddled up in bed and visited (we've done that since she was a toddler)
* played beauty shop
* went out to the lingerie store to buy some necessities
* told old stories and relived memories
* and just for old time's sake, I got to play chauffeur for Jeanne and Jodie and drive them to the theater so they could have some one-on-one sister time

Mathew came by tonight and they opened one of their gifts from us (something Jeanne craved) -- a chocolate fountain. Now they can have a party in their home and dip strawberries to their heart's content.

I also showed Jeanne the wedding sampler I want to stitch for them. Jeanne approved the pattern and helped me pick out appropriate colors. Finally I'll get to stitching on another project! (Photos to follow soon). I've been away from my needlework for far too long.

As they were heading out the door, Mathew asked, "So, do I get to call you 'Mom' now?"
Wow. I was not expecting -- or ready for -- that question! I've never had a son before, and having him call me 'Mom' feels a little weird.
"Uh. How about 'Margaret-Mom' .... no ... "mMom"!
Mathew laughed at that one. "mMom. That pretty much fits! Matches your sense of humor."

I th-think that one will l-likely st-stick. mMom it is!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 424: Bit o' Irony

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Now Open

You think?

I'd say wide open!

The story behind this neighborhood pub and grill is actually a bit sad. The building has gone through several similar businesses and owners. The most recent owners appeared to put a lot of time and effort into a remodel, then opened their doors to business.

Though I've never been inside, it seemed like this time the business was going to be a definite GO! The parking lot and side streets were always lined with cars. The tables near the windows were always full. And there was a great buzz about the food.

Apparently, they had a fire earlier this summer. So the plywood and fences went up for a while. Then the building was gutted.

There is a sign on the north side of the building that "We will return." That takes a lot of dedication. Maybe Dale and I will even find our way to one of their tables one of these fine evenings ... one day ... after we're done with Jenny Craig.

(By the way, we're both doing well, three weeks into the program!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 423: Over the Eastern Hills ...

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
Full Moon Rising

I headed up to Jodie's work to pick her up at sunset again today. I love this time of day. On the way home we even saw two deer jump a fence and melt into the woods. Then Jodie said, "Ooooooo Mom! Look!" and pointed out the window.

A full moon was rising over the hills to the east. Beautiful!

I just about drove off the road.

Instead, I pulled over to the Garwood Elementary School yard and popped out of the car. My camera was acting up, and I didn't have a tripod or other handy flat surface nearby, so most of my photos came out very fuzzy ... or the moon ended up with light tails. This was the least fuzzy of the shots.

It was the best show in town. We literally watched the moon rise up over the hills.

Jodie said it reminded her of a cartoon she saw in school once about people eating a moon made of cheese. She was right. The shadows of the basins were clear on the moon's surface tonight. Would be a great night to borrow my oldest daughter's telescope.

And sit in wonder and awe.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day 422: Summer Berries

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Raspberry

I think I'll make this an annual tradition: Take a close-up photo of a raspberry.

I especially like the way the sunlight is filtered through the leaves in this photo.

I love raspberries! Well, all except when the seeds get caught in my teeth.

But other than that, I love raspberries!

When my folks lived in Moscow, Idaho, they had some raspberry bushes in their backyard. I loved being able to go out the back door in the morning with a small bowl, pick some fresh berries, and have them on my cereal for breakfast. Mmmmmmmm.

When Dale and I were married, our wedding cake was a white cake with raspberry filling between the layers. Mmmmmmmm.

And given the choice between apple, lemon meringue or raspberry pie, I'll choose raspberry every time. Mmmmmmmm.

I love raspberries!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 421: Idaho Beauty

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
Sunset Over the Rathdrum Prairie

Seems like I'm spending an awful lot of time on the road between home and Silverwood these days. I am glad that Jodie has a job there, but all the driving time and waiting for her to check out each evening is starting to take a toll on me.

The other evening, I was driving north on Hwy 41 toward Rathdrum at sunset. The sun was shimmering just behind the hills. It was so darn lovely that I found a place to pull off the road near a hay field, and snapped this photo just as the top of the sun settled in for the night behind the tree-covered slopes.

Good music or an excellent audio book on the CD player, the aroma of freshly baled hay, and visions like this out the window make the driving and waiting almost worthwhile, doncha think?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Day 420: Beautiful Summer Evening

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Moonlight Walk

I didn't get around to taking my daily walk until after I picked my daughter up from work. I don't usually like to walk after dark, but the night is soft and lovely; the moon and air beckoned me outside.

I must admit, a night like this fills me with romantic notions. I walked along, singing Barry Manilow tunes (I'm sappy, what can I say), feeling the cool breeze on my bare arms, the sweat trickling down between my breasts, my eyes sucking in the moonbeams.

This photo ... difficult to make out, I know ... is taken from my driveway. The moon is peeking through the trees over my neighbor's roof.

Quick! I need a loved one to kiss!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day 419: Christmas Ornament Ort Port

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Christmas Ornament Ort Port

I was recently having a conversation with a collector friend of mine who sells unique items on eBay. He had been at some flea markets and swap meets recently and ran across some glass rolling pins.

I was familiar with them only because an online acquaintance of mine collects them and uses them as ort ports.

What is an ort port, you ask? Well, for stitchers, orts are the snippets of floss and fiber that are left over bits and pieces that remain in the needle after you stitch what needs stitching. If the pieces are too short, they get tossed.

Or ... saved.

If saved, they need a place to be stored. Thus, an ort port: any container that a stitcher keeps handy to place the little bits and pieces of thread. My daughter Julie made me a nice big ort port as a gift.

And why save these bits and pieces of string? I've used them as texture in handmade paper (see image to the right).

Other folks use them as in the photo above, as filling for clear glass Christmas ornaments. I've filled this ornament loosely, but some stitchers mark the year on the ornament, and then cram all the orts from the year into a single ball.

Or, as my online acquaintance does, you can fill pretty glass rolling pins with the orts. (I just couldn't find an image of one of those).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jeanne's Wedding Bouquet

My oldest daughter, Jeanne, is getting married to her long-time beau Mathew Strobeck on Monday. Dale, Julie, Jodie and I are flying to Las Vegas to witness the big event.

It's a fairly low-key wedding, but Jeanne did ask her sisters to be her bridesmaids and she asked me to make her bouquet.

I put the finishing touches on her bouquet this afternoon. Sure hope he likes it!

It will be several more days before I post more of my photos. I have been collecting them, but just haven't had the time or energy to post. I hope that after all the weddings and travel are through (we went to a wedding in Seattle last weekend) and school gets under way that I'll feel like adding more to my blog.

I also hope to get back to stitching. Man, have I missed that!

My Creative Journey is not over ... but it sure feels like it's been on vacation for far too long.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Day 418: Tree Scuz

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Peeling Bark

This bark intrigued me. Layers and layers, all seeming to come undone, yet sticking to the trunk and limbs of this young tree.

Somehow, it seems like there's a metaphor here.

Like my eldest daughter: a young woman, strong and vibrant and just ready to take off in her life ... but hampered by past traumas and spurred on my fresh growth.

On the surface, it looks like she's come undone. Underneath, she has the strength to survive.

Hold on, Hon, hold on!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 417: Spattergroit

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Deep Throat

Can you spell s-p-a-t-t-e-r-g-r-o-i-t?

Spattergroit: a very contagious condition which gives you smelly angry purple blisters that resemble freckles.

All Hale Harry Potter Fans!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Day 416: Thistle

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Fuzzymonster

Yes, yes. I know. This is a thistle.

Jodie and I were on a walk together when I took this photo. She helped hold the stalk still while I snapped the shutter. But she asked that if I use this photo on my blog, would I please call it "fuzzymonster."

This one's for you, Jodie!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Day 415: A Breath of Hope

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Jenny Craig

A big thing happened for my husband and me yesterday. We went into Spokane Valley and signed up with the Jenny Craig program.

Neither of us has ever been on a commercial weight management program before. We don't tend to be "joiners" ... especially my husband. And we've both always been sceptical of magic formulas that can get us to eat correctly and lose the weight. We both have made efforts in the past to do it on our own, with varying degrees of success.

But the time came within our marriage and our life that put us both in the same place at the same time, realizing that the extra weight is really getting in the way. We want to have better management of our diabetes. And we are ready.

This was so completely atypical for me ... to decide to put my trust in a program, sign up, and spend money on myself for this type of self improvement. I doubt I would have done it on my own. But with my husband ready and at my side, we just called, made an appointment, jumped in, and decided to try it together — all within the space of two hours.

Today was the first day on the meal plan. So far, so good.

I'm one of those "let me understand the big picture and get it in my head before I start" kind of girls. We had no time for that ... Dale decided we'd just do it. So I'm back to trying to take baby steps, and just follow along a meal at a time. I'll understand the overall concept as I work though it. Anyone who knows me well will know how unusual this attitude is for me.

What? Be spontaneous? Well ..... OK ... let's give it a go.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Day 414: My Husband

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Dale Glow

Dale and I had an excellent day together today ... just doin' the normal everyday stuff married people do, side by side.

It showed on his face. See? He pointed it out to me!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Day 413: California Portrait 5

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
California Portrait 5

Do these flowers look familiar? They were so pretty that we decided to take some photos in front of them in the late afternoon sun.

This is one of my favorites.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day 412: California Portrait 4

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, California Portrait 4

This is one of my favorite photos from the weekend. I just love the sparkle in my eye, my smile, my dimple, the way my glasses are sitting on my nose.

This is how I view myself.

With the addition of this post, I'm now all caught up with posting a photo-a-day. Hooray!

Day 411: California Portrait 3

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
California Portrait 3

I wanted to capture a whole series of body parts. Though we got a few nice shots, I was hoping for more. So I just may play with my camera some more on my own and try for some more self-portrait body part shots.

Here's one of the best from the weekend. My daughter Jodie loves my hands. So we made sure we attempted some hand shots. This is the hand of a mom, needleworker, blogger, photographer, wife.

I love the way my veins pop out, my pinky sticks out from my ring finger, and my knuckles are rough ... when I'm nervous, I chew on my knuckles. Methinks the wear shows through the years. My hands are uniquely my own.

Day 410: California Portrait 2

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, California Portrait 2

Another thing about a good friends? They can have the right words of comfort and humor to bring you from tears to something more peaceful in short order.

So I may still be looking red-nosed and shaggy-eyebrowed from all the tears and eye-rubbing, but the light is back in my eyes.

Day 409: California Portrait 1

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, California Portrait 1

One of the main reasons I went to on this trip was to have my friend John take some photographs of me. I had a certain look in mind, and brought along examples of the kinds of images I wanted him to capture of me. I wanted my friend to take these photos because I appreciate his aesthetic eye as much as I appreciate that he knows me well enough to capture the real me — and I trust him.

What John encouraged in me, though, was to allow him to capture all sides of me ... not just the happy put-together Margaret. But if I really wanted a series of portraits of myself approaching age 50, he challenged me to have photos taken in the midst of some more trying moments, too.

Another important reason I went on this trip was to confront a person who'd had an improper relationship with me over 30 years ago that left some really deep wounds. It was a difficult but important meeting. I give credit to the other person for having the guts to show up and talk to me, even through it was a very edgy conversation.

Thankfully, many of my questions were answered. I was given an apology along with some explanations. I got a clearer view of what had been going through this man's mind when he pursued me all those years ago. I left the meeting emotionally drained, but able to put that segment of my life in a compartment of my brain where it sits much more comfortably than it has for the last 30+ years.

I'm feeling brave to admit (however vaguely) what happened so long ago now, and to share this image of my anguish. I can own where I've been so that I can become even stronger. And I don't find it a sign of weakness to exhibit this pain and dishevelment.

Day 408: Vision of Hope

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Double Rainbow

The further east we drove from the airport toward Idaho, the stormier it became. Just as we approached downtown Spokane by freeway (Division Street is Spokane's main north/south corridor), a double rainbow appeared in the sky.

This was an amazing sight. It's not uncommon to see one end of a rainbow here. But rarely do I see the full rainbow's arc. This was one of those rare evenings. The full arc of the bright rainbow could be traced through the cloud cover from north to south over the freeway. Most of a shadow rainbow's arc could be traced just beyond the bright arc.

A very excellent Welcome Home!

Day 407: Landing at Home

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Sunset Over Spokane Tower

As I flew into Spokane from Seattle, a storm had just passed through the west side of town. I caught this image of the airport tower just before touchdown.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day 406: Back on the Plane

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Contemplation

As I waited for the plane to depart, I thought over the weekend's events ...


Day 405: Home of the Big Boy

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Bob's Big Boy

Another food stop. Are you seeing a pattern here?

When I was growing up in southern California, there was a chain of coffee shops all over called Bob's Big Boy. In front of each was this statue of Bob. And every kid I know climbed on him and had a photo taken with him. It was just the thing to do!

I've learned that most Bob's Big Boys have now closed. But this one classic Bob's is still open not far from where I was staying. This is where John and I had our final lunch before I flew back to Idaho. So we just had to get a classic Bob shot ... or two.

I like this one where my kiss just about knocks ol' Bob over. Good, doncha think? And so true to life. My kisses do have that effect on all the big boys I know!

Day 404: The Magic Castle

I added a new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, The Magic Castle

Here's the first of the photos from my trip taken of me rather than by me.

On Sunday evening, I was given the great pleasure of dinner and two shows at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. This is a private club, home of The Academy of Magical Arts. My friend, John, is a magician and has been a member of this exclusive club since he was a teenager. Members are accepted only after performing a short magic act before a committee and being considered worthy candidates.

This is a grand historic building ... full of posters and photographs of famous magicians. You must know the secret password before being allowed into the inner sanctum. There are several floors with museum-like displays, a restaurant (by reservation only), and several small theaters.

After a scrumptious dinner, we saw two excellent magic shows and wondered throughout the castle to view the displays.

One of my favorite aspects of this place? There is a strict dress code and NO cell phones, cameras or other electronic devices allowed inside! What a peaceful way to spend an evening with great company and superb food and entertainment. This was a real treat.