Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shadow Puppetry

For those of you who are as fascinated by this art as I am ...

Go, Cal, Go.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

WIP: Single Rose 7

Rosey continues to take form.

This weekend I was able to stitch for a few more hours. The frame around the rose is taking shape nicely.

This sure is a lovely piece to work on. Not at all frustrating. Puts me in a Zen state.

I think it's odd how some pieces I stitch flow so simply and beautifully, and others just about send me to the nut house. This is one of the nice charts.

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.


I had such a nice long weekend with my husband. Too bad he has to go back to work tomorrow. When he's home, there's a calming vibe in the house.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

At My House; On My Mind

Outside my window...
The neighbor kids
flinging golden leaves at each other
running wild in the crisp air

I am wondering...
why I don't read blogs more often
so full of creativity
and inspiration

I am thankful for...
For this quiet day, reading,
sitting across the table from my husband
clickity clicking on our laptops

From the kitchen...
the refrigerator fan is whirring
tortillas wait on the counter
to be eaten for dinner

I am wearing...
comfy clothes, my fleece vest,
my favorite blue shirt
even though it's not Thursday (Jodie)

I am creating...
ideas for a tree trimming party
over Thanksgiving weekend
extended family fun

I am going...
nowhere today
except in my imagination
I'm traveling the world

I am reading...
my favorite blogs
Steve Martin's autobiography
Dale's expressions

I am hoping...
my eldest is peaceful today
building friendships with Club Med
spending time with her husband

I am hearing...
the cooling fan on Dale's  computer
the clickk of a mouse
the "ahhhhhh" after a swallow of cool water

Around the house...
a bit of a breeze
a blanket of leaves and pine needles

One of my favorite things...
my husband's smile
and the way he lights up
when I tickle his brain

A few plans for the rest of the week...
bring the paint in from the garage so it doesn't freeze
get a haircut
express gratitude

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Movie Review: The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn

It's not often I start out the day with a movie and a bowl of popcorn, but I made an exception today -- and I'm glad I did! The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn is worth watching.

This was truly a wonderful, heartwarming film. I don't recall how I heard about it (a preview from another movie? an excellent movie review? a mention from one of my movie-loving friends?). Somehow this title came to the top of my Netflix DVD list, and am I glad it did.

Here's the synopsis:
Small-town farmer Noah Dearborn (Sidney Poitier) lives an uncomplicated existence until shady developer Christian Nelson (George Newbern) tries to usurp his family's land. Nelson will do anything to take Noah's property, including hiring a shrink (Mary-Louise Parker) to have him declared insane. But Nelson doesn't anticipate Noah forming an unbreakable bond with the doctor, which proves stronger than anything the land baron can dish out.

Simple enough plot, yes. Big city company comes in to rural area to 'help' the people ramp up and earn more revenue. The potential building of a shopping center knocks the country folk off balance. Tension ensues.

It's the character development and performances that make this movie shine. But then, I'm usually drawn to movies and books that center on interesting characters that change and grow.

Sidney Poitier is exemplary, as always.
Mary-Louise Parker is beautiful and complex, in her usual style.
George Newbern has a fairly conventional two-dimensional role.
And Dianne Wiest is a well rounded and integral character, wonderfully cast.

This movie was released in 1999. I'm only a little over a decade in seeing it. A good showing for me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

WIP: Single Rose 5

I was able to put in some more hours on Single Rose. I find it humorous that my stitching seems so haphazard. I ordinarily 'grow' my stitching from the bottom left corner on up to the top. But with this piece, I seem to be jumping around by color much more than usual.

Today I realized that I made an error that I don't think I'll bother correcting. Many of the half cross stitches are to be stitched with four strands of thread. I missed that fine point. But since it that is more of a texture change than a 'makes the picture look weird' change, I will probably leave it as is.

I must admit that it was worth it to grid my fabric this time. It's saved me from many counting errors.

I am enjoying stitching this piece quite a bit. If I'm lucky, I'll get my work around my home done early this week and allow myself the pleasure of several more hours of stitching.

I dare say this is going to need a good deal of blocking when the stitching is done and before the framing begins!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

 Yeah, well, I don't know what I am either. 
A punkinhead, I suppose.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poet Love

Every time I see this poet, I fall in love again.

Here Sarah Kay performs at  The Nantucket Project speaking on the topic: "Rethink."

The images in her spoken poetry are vivid and evoke memories of my own past.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gravy for Your Health

This afternoon I got a hankering for some bacon, biscuits and gravy. I took out my favorite trusty cookbook: Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book (reproduction of the 1950 classic).
 I found the gravy listed with other sauces. In a section called "Gravy-Wise" was this important bullet point:
  • Remember gravy contains some of the precious vitamins and minerals from the meat. Bread and gravy is a nutritious dish we can profitably enjoy.
Valuable information!!

Betty Crocker's 
Picture Cookbook

The one I grew up with!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reading Today

I'm trying to get myself to sit down and read today. I love reading. I really don't know why it's been such a struggle for me to just sit down and enjoy it. I've been like this for months!

I'm actually reading this book on my Kindle ... but the software is in the process of updating on my device, so here I am, back on my laptop.

The book?

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
by Shane Claiborne

A friend and I have a "bookclub for two" and this is a title he recommended. I find the book quite a challenge. First, because it's written from the perspective of a Christian. I am just not sure where I fall on the Christian scale any more. I'm a cultural Christian. That is my background, was my strong belief system for most of my life, was the framework in which I took action, and those are the holidays I celebrate. But this modern Christian world is not something I recognize as being very Christ-like. A predominance of American Christians seem to have gotten faith and belief mixed up with ideology and politics. I can't be a part of that. So I wonder how this Christian-based book can be translated for a more secular audience that still is drawn to the idea of social outreach and equity.

Beyond that, this book is challenging for its message. What would it be like if we as a people actually LIVED the teachings of Jesus? What if we dwelled with the poor and disenfranchised? What if we cared for the sick, dying and homeless personally? What if we shared all our meals? What if we loved our enemies every time? What if we lived the Beatitudes?

Challenging indeed. In many ways, not very practical while raising a family and trying to provide health insurance. But challenging, nonetheless, to do what we can in our ordinary lives to be as servant to one another.

Perhaps it's taking me a long time to read this book because I can only take so much of this kind of challenge at a time. Then I have to stop. Think. Pray. Mull. And dive in again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

100 Kiva Loans!

Today marks the 100th time I've made a loan through Kiva. Today I loaned to Yana, a woman in the Ukraine who owns a needlework shop.

I absolutely love this organization that helps folks in the developed world give small loans to small business owners in the developing world. Kiva now even facilitates loans to the working poor in the United States.

Folks in need turn to Kiva when they cannot obtain loans from the usual banks and financial institutions.

Folks with means turn to Kiva to help others collectively in ways that they'd not be able to do individually. So even gals like me that have limited funds to give away can become micro-philanthropists! I give because giving feels good!

So, why Kiva? And how does it work?

Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
  1. You make a loan on Kiva. All Kiva loans are made possible by Field Partners, who vet, administer, and disburse each loan. The Field Partners are little community financial institutions located right in the region where the loan is needed.

  2.  Get Updated. Throughout the life of the loan, you will see progress updates from Kiva through your email, and if you come back to the site.

  3. Get paid back. As the borrower repays the loan, the money becomes available in your account. This is called your Kiva Credit.

  4. Repeat.You can now use your Kiva Credit to fund another loan, donate it to Kiva, or withdraw it to spend on something else.

I was able to make my very first Kiva loans because I was given a Kiva gift certificate for Christmas a couple years ago. Over the course of several months, the money I lent was paid back. I loaned again. I was given another gift certificate. I loaned some more. Gradually, I've added to my loan amount so that I am now able to make one loan per week without having to add any more money into the pot. I can loan and reloan and reloan.

For now, I get to help the world economy grow $25 at a time. But should my own circumstances change, I can always withdraw the Kiva Credit as it is repaid to my account and use it for my own needs.

This is a world-class organization ... people helping people ... heart to heart.

Kiva. Loans that Change Lives.
Let it change yours!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WIP: Rosey

The Single Rose is back on the workbench! And I'm back to stitching.

Here's what she looks like this morning.

Circumstances around the house should allow me to have lots of stitching time this week.

I hope to post several updates and, who knows, a finish by Friday?

No promises.
Except to myself:
"Margaret, I promise. You get to stitch and blog this week!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not Posting?

LIFE has gotten in the way of blogging.
I'm an empty nester now ... 
two daughters flew the coop this summer.
My husband and I get to be "just a couple" 
for the first time in our lives.
We're going through a time of transition, 
refocusing our energies.
But I'll be back. I promise.
I like blogging too much to stay away for very long.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Moose on the Loose

For the last few weeks, a humongous and hungry moose has been wandering our neighborhood.
My next door neighbor, Mike, caught him on video and shared with me. I captured these two photos from Mike's video.
He's peeking over our neighbor's 5 foot tall fence. Mike said that when he was done eating, he just hopped the fence like it was no big deal.

What a rack! Incredible, huh?!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Corner of Beauty & Hope

Today was one of the BEST days my daughter Jodie and I ever spent together! And it was no one big event that made it grand. It was moment after moment of small tasks that we muddled through side-by-side, laughing and talking and noodling things out.

From a two mile walk to plucking eyebrows. From a breakfast of vanilla protein shakes infused with fresh hand-picked raspberries to a lunch of fish sticks and turkey burgers at Carl's Jr. to a dinner at home of fresh honeydew melon and bread bowls filled with chili and cheese.  From taping a window frame to prepare it for painting to purchasing clothing online. From researching wheel barrow prices to getting an astounding, on-the-spot 40% discount on the purchase of a $150 sewing table.

If there is one highlight of the day, it was building our first flower garden together.

You see, our home is currently one of the homeliest on the block. Our grass is dead, the front yard full of moss. We're in the process of revamping the yard, but it's been a slow, slow process.

At the moment, you can see painted lines where we intend to install curbing and sprinklers.

There are 15 holes in the yard where pine trees used to stand, the stumps ground out just yesterday.

The roof and rain gutters are covered in pine needles that need to be swept away with the yellow jacket nests.

But as of this evening, there is one spot of calm and color that you see as you approach our front door.

Jodie and I tilled the soil, pulled out as many tulip, hyacinth, crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs as we could find. (We're sure there are still many hiding that will surprise us next spring). We headed over to Lowes to check out those wheel barrows, but drove away with a car full of purple flowers and bark mulch. Then still side-by-side, we built a garden, including some ivy that I'd been babying in my kitchen window all winter.

Now as we approach our front door, we have a spot of color and hope for what the rest of the yard might finally become. Our garden toad is contemplating the drastic change. I think he's smiling.

I know we are!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


These puffs of color caught my eye on my daily walk. The blue reminds me of buttons, the pink reminds me of bows.
Buttons n Bows

So vibrant in the morning sun.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

At the DMV

In Idaho, when a teen turns 18 years old, they make a trip to the DMV to turn in their first driver's license and get a new one that shows they are an adult. That's what Jodie and I did this morning. It wasn't even a horribly long wait. Besides, Jodie and I always find ways to amuse each other when we're stuck in a line.

Today, we had fun watching folks with their frozen smiles while waiting for the official to take their driver's license photo and making up stories about the folks in the waiting room.
  • There was the old guy who was sitting there nervously, wondering if he would even have a driver's license reissued. 
  • There was the middle-aged British woman who just became a US citizen and was getting her first American license. 
  • There was the Hispanic family whose son was having his license renewed for the first time, mother and sister nervously waiting. 
  • There was the hefty impatient woman who hoisted herself up and waddled to the door, muttering and scowling. But then, she's one of those folks who didn't believe her father when he told her, "If you keep putting your face in a frown, it'll freeze that way." Because it did! Goodness, she was unpleasant.
  • And then, there were these three friends ...
Waiting on Line at the DMV

Seriously, folks. Do any of us need to be exposed to this in a public building?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Post Graduate

This is my favorite photo from Jodie's high school graduation last month:
Shadows of Graduations Past

After the ceremony, the graduates processed to one area of the school to hug and say goodbye while the parents, relatives and friends meandered out a different door to wait for their student to find them. The sun was setting as we stood along the west wall of the school talking, waiting, laughing, crying.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Duh ..!

My daughters and I had lunch at Panda Express.
This was tucked into my fortune cookie:
I doubted an admirer could think any other way!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Cross is Borne

In March 2009, our family took an exploratory trip to Bellingham, WA to see if we might like to land there when Dale retires. After a good look around, we decided it's not quite right for us. We did like the countryside, though. As the sun was setting one evening, we passed this crumbling barn. I loved the pattern the light made as the sun broke through the window.
The Old Rugged Cross

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sand in the Feathers

On that same warm evening in June 2009, the seagulls stopped to rest, preen and people-watch here on the edge of the North Idaho College campus where Lake Coeur d'Alene spills into the Spokane River.
 Posin' and Preenin'

Friday, July 8, 2011

NIC Beach

Just as the sun started to set on a warm day in June 2009, I took a break on the beach at North Idaho College. This is the spot where Lake Coeur d'Alene spills into the Spokane River. It's a favorite gathering place for both humans and geese.
Goose at Riverbank


Monday, July 4, 2011

Splash o' Color

Last summer, the family reunion was held at the home of Dale's Uncle Bob. Beautiful country setting. Aunt Sally has quite a green thumb. I just loved this burst of color.
Aunt Sally's Flowers

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Dad Story

The Heart of My Father
for Dad on his 90th birthday

Over and again
Tone Codispoti, age 77
you asked your cardiologist 
          for a pig heart.
You were only half kidding.

At 77 years old
it was a habit to read
articles of cutting edge 
in Diabetes Forecast
and watch the evening news
when Peter Jennings 
          and Dr. Tim Johnson
introduced stories
of medical breakthroughs.

It turns out we humans
          are brothers to pigs
where our hearts are concerned.
Already common,
leaky human valves are replaced
          with pig parts.
God knows, your valve leaked profusely,
backing up into your chest.
With hope and wonder
you told stories of experiments
where entire human hearts were
being replaced with those
of our piggy friends.

Your heart had seen too much.
Too much sorrow at the loss
of both sister and father
when you were fourteen.

Too much ache and wonder on Tinian
when war brought the atomic bomb
onto the tarmac
and you sneaked aboard a plane
to get a peek.

So much pride
as each of your eleven children were born.
Then rent for the two babies
who didn’t survive.
How could your heart take it,
carrying your bloody blue son away
wrapped in a sheet,
leaving your wife grieving in bed,
alone after the miscarriage?

Your heart swelled
in pride, watching
the first of your offspring
accept his USC bachelor’s degree.
Then be ripped
as that same man lay stiff,
a gurney bearing the weight
of a body thrown from a Jeep,
smashed by a drunk driver.
Anguish bled from your lips
in the cry,
“My son! My son!”

This same heart grew healthier
driving alone
from southern California to Moscow, Idaho.
You quit smoking
cold turkey
on that journey to a fresh chapter in your life.

Your heart floated with laughter
as you raised, in turn,
each infant grandchild high
over your head,
then slowly lowered
them close to your grin,
only to raise and lower and grin again.
It guffawed
as your eighth granddaughter
sat in your lap,
slapping your bald head
with palms and kisses
in a way your own brood
never dared touch you.
Your pulse echoed
your chortle
as grandchild #16 chirped,
“Grandpa, I have a question…”

The vision of building a new business
swelled your heart
with possibility.
Years later, that business sold,
attempting a transition into retirement,
that faulty valve gushed
as “My Emily,” succumbed
to a failed kidney.

Further trauma arrived at Halloween.
The first of your heart attacks
sent you to a Spokane emergency room for a day.
I stayed by your side, massaging Lubriderm
into your cracked and calloused feet,
speaking heart-to-heart
of the pain you inflicted
in my childhood. We offered
each other apology, forgiveness
and redemption.

Three months later it flooded over the coffin
of your eldest son
as you stood alone in grief
sighing, “Oh, Pablo.”
My brother fought a long battle with cancer.
Hard as it was to see him
lying silent, face shrunken and sallow,
torso swollen with the deadly mass,
dressed in Dodger blue,
you accepted the end of his pain.

You never did get that pig heart.
The doc said
your body couldn’t take it.
Your days of experimenting with life
were over.

A week after your boy’s funeral,
your heart gave out completely.
You landed in the same hospital
where three floors away,
five of your children entered the world.

Now it was our turn to visit
to pace
to watch
to wait
to hope
to fear
to speed to when the call came:
Emergency Bypass Surgery.

You never quite awakened
from that anesthetic,
though you did hiccup for hours,
your fingers working to squeeze mine
as I sat vigil.

After you died,
I peeked under your gown
to see staples in your chest,
so insensitive to your desire
for a renewed heart
ready to reconcile with my siblings.
I placed my hand on your sternum
in silent prayer,
then kissed your cooling forehead
in farewell,
my own heart doubled
over, punched in the gut.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lemon and Lilac

A year ago today, I visited Falls Park to see the annual torrent that happens during spring runoff. Not only were the falls beautiful, but the roses at the park entrance were in full bloom.
Watercolor Rose

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Phlowers and Fotos and Digital Distortion

I installed a new quick-n-dirty photo editing program today ... then started playing.
In the Spotlight

I can have some simple fun with this!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Approach

Clouds Over Hawaii

In September 2009, I flew to Hawaii to help my sister through a difficult time. This is what I saw from the air as I approached my destination.
[ click photo for a larger view ]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Country Club AM

I have a new goal: Thursday as Photo Day

I got a new digital SLR camera that I want to learn to use. Plus, I have a bunch of old photos that need some massaging so that I can share them with others. So I plan to use Thursdays to do a bit of learning and editing.
 October Morning

 Today I worked with some photos I took in October, 2008

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pause a While

Sometimes you just have to slow down
and look at what you really want.
Let the waves of time wash over you.
~ Maureen Reynolds, Cooking My Life

Wave Wash

In Sept '09, my sister's long-time companion died. I went to Hawaii to help her through that horrible week as she buried him. It was my first and only trip to Hawaii. We went to a beach where she and her guy used to hang out. I took this photo there as she stared into the waves.
[ click on photo for larger image ]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Through the Gloom

There's a bright side to even the darkest clouds.

It's simply a matter of finding a new perspective.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Out of Sight; On my Mind

Last February, all these little hidy holes were exposed.
At the River's Edge

Now, due to the spring runoff, the river is flowing high. This tangle of root and rock is completely submerged.

[ click on the photo for a closer look! ]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunday Morning: Vignettes at the Falls

I marvel, sitting on the rocks overlooking the power of Post Falls crashing through the wide-open floodgates and into the narrow canyon of the Spokane River. The wind hurls the branches of new growth at my elbow, then calms again. A parade of locals have made this pilgrimage to witness the annual phenomenon of Spring Runoff. Weathermen say Lake Coeur d’Alene, upriver, is only six inches from flood stage.

Post Falls - Spring Runoff 2011

A small child, wrapped in his mom’s protection, cries. There’s fear in his voice at the power unleashed before him. He sits on her hip, clinging to the fabric at her shoulder.

A middle aged woman wraps her left arm around her aging mother’s waist, steadying her against the impending vertigo.

Tourists read the plaques, learn a smidgeon of our history, then point at the power station and gears, explaining the mechanics to the kids. They take photos of each other with the green torrent at their backs, and then mosey on to the next landmark.

Families, fresh from church, gawk. The starched dress grows limp, the child-size tie now askew, the woman’s heels, far too high and narrow, slip between the planks on the wooden boardwalk. They huddle together at the railing, awash in God’s wonder, then shield their eyes as clouds uncover the mid-day sun.

The mist billows from the tumbling onslaught. A northern breeze pushes it against the south canyon wall. Moss and lichen cling to the slick rock, six shades of green.


All that mars this landscape are the young folk squinting into their cell phone screens, voices billowing to push past the falls’ roar. A tall skinny man with droopy worn jeans drifts by, acrid cigarette smoke wafting into the late Spring breeze.

A small coiffed cockapoo cowers against the fence on the far side of the boardwalk, her leash a barrier to passersby as her owner gapes in awe, leaning on the railing that overlooks the drop-off.

A 50-something grandfather turns and gazes at me, his back to the railing, unconsciously toying with his granddaughter’s Barbie. His eyes ask, “What are you up to?” I smile, eyes and pen returning to my notebook.

A child climbs the rock next to me and exclaims to his mom, “It make me thirsty!” Then he jumps off the rock and skitters down the boardwalk to get a closer look and feel the spray on his face. He opens his mouth wide and sticks his tongue out, trying to taste the river the way he tried to taste snowflakes just two months ago.

A young mother pushes a stroller up the small incline, concurrently attempting to corral her four-year-old son. She is more terrified of the water’s rush than he, but is putting up a brave front so he can experience this spectacle first-hand.

I marvel. An inordinate number of pants with striped side seams stroll past me. One is accompanied by the soft rhythm of an aluminum cane. Another swathed around the hips with white polka dots splattered on black ribbing. That’s a lot of look!

Feel the Power

Small birds circle and dance overhead, some in pairs. Their wings beat ferociously through the air currents the falls generate, then spread wide to soar over the calm river above the floodgates.

A 20-something girl climbs the ramp with her young husband. Her abdomen is swollen with child beneath the broad horizontal stripes that circle her waist. It won’t be long, I suspect, until her floodgates open, bringing forth her first-born. A whisper of a smile creeps across my face as I watch her waddle down the path to the duck pond.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: When You Reach Me

A short review today ...

I looked forward to reading this book, as I collect Newbery Award winners. One of my daughters gave this to me as a gift, knowing my love for children's literature.

I was ... dissappointed.

It's very likely I would have enjoyed it more if I had recently read Madeleine L'Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time. But it's been eons since I read that classic, so I missed a lot of the references in this book.

My two main objections?

I suppose I just got too creeped out by the notes Miranda was receiving ... notes from the future. This, of course, is likely what lots of kids like about the book ... the creepiness that comes with imagining time travel. To me, it was like having a stranger invade my space and steal from me. I'm super-sensitive to that scenario.

I also thought that the characters could have been drawn more distinctly. I was left with an image in my mind of only two of the minor characters, none of the main characters. That's pretty unusual for me.

I do recommend going over to Amazon.com and reading their Exclusive Q&A with the author, Rebecca Stead. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the book more, if I'd taken that step.

But I think it's a shame that I couldn't just enjoy this book on its own merits, picking it up blind and delving between the covers.

On a five star rating, I give it three stars.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

WIP: Single Rose 3

I had a nice block of time to stitch today, so worked on my Single Rose some more. The bottom 2/5 of this piece is just about done. For comparison, to the right is what the last update looked like:

And here's my latest progress:
I was hoping to get all the backstitch done in this section. I have just one more branch in the bottom left corner to finish outlining.

I've been enjoying the stitching on this piece quite a bit. I haven't used a blended needle very often, and this piece has a number of blended colors. Such nice subtlety!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Through the Rain

Road to California
This photo was taken last March when Jodie and I were on a road trip during her Spring Break.