Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

My oldest daughter is 40 years old, but I didn't get to share in the celebration of her birthday in October. She won't let me share anything about her life and I'm really confused about why she's shutting me out.

I remember staying out of touch with my own mother when I was younger. But, it was never for more than a a few weeks at a time. Back then, there was no internet and long-distance phone calls cost 10 cents a minute. For that reason, we wrote letters quite a bit.

I've sent my daughter e-mails that usually go unanswered. I don't have her phone number anymore. I'm not even sure she still lives at the same address. I sent a birthday gift to my 6-year-old granddaughter in August, and my daughter responded by e-mail that "it was perfect" and "you didn't have to." But, what does that mean? Exactly?

My daughter's oldest daughter, now 18, has been a part of my life for the better part of the past two years because my daughter's second husband was charged with a "lewd and lascivious act against a minor," (my granddaughter).  She lived with her father for a brief period following this event, but he had a tough time dealing with her.  So, she came to stay with me.

The legal case was resolved a long time ago. I thought, "Just let some time go by and we can find our way back to each other." But, that hasn't happened.

My daughter has two other children besides my 18-year-old granddaughter. The 6-year-old granddaughter I mentioned earlier, and my only grandson who is 8-years old. The photo, above, I lifted off of my daughter's facebook page (and we're NOT "friends"). The two children are visiting with their other grandmother in Nicaragua last July.  I look at it often and yearn to hug them and find out what kind of wonderful people they are growing into. I know I'm missing a lot because I'm not a part of their lives. But, what can I do? Should I just show up at her house where she used to live hoping she still lives there? Or, should I  mind my own business and be patient and wait for her to let me back into her life and the lives of her children?

I honestly don't know ...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Langley Family Reunion Photos

I made this back during the summer, then promptly forgot about it. I've been cleaning out my mailbox and stumbled on it again ... So, I'm posting it here so it won't be lost again!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summertime Memories

Vicki, over at Simply Hue asked in her August 4 blog post, "What are a few (or even just one) of your favorite Summertime Memories growing up?" Which inspired me to look at photos I've taken on summer vacations to the places where I grew up ... North Carolina and Virginia.

Vollis Simpson's been making whirly gigs a very long time. I remember one he made that sat next to his machine shop when I was about 12-years-old. My brother and I would hound our dad to drive by it! Little did I know it was the beginning of something. When I took my darling husband "home" to Lucama, NC, for a family reunion in 2007, I asked if it was still there and one of my cousins said, "Yes. And, a whole lot more!"  So, we found Vollis Shop Road and Wiggins Mill Road and, Oh! My! Goodness! What a feast for the senses! We spent a couple of hours visiting and I shot a couple hundred pictures, and, when Vollis himself arrived, we negotiated for one of his smaller whirly gigs to take home to remind me of my childhood.

I was born in Hopewell, VA, a little mill town located along the James River, and in the summertime, my dad would take me and my brother out along Highway 10 to this place to find relief from the heat. In 2009, I took my darling husband to Hopewell for the first time, and I couldn't stop babbling about this place, as it remains one of my favorite, summertime memories of my dad when I was a child. The shade of the trees, the stream fed by an artesian well, cool and clear ... these were the real treasures of childhood.  We'd share baloney sandwiches and just hang out together, oblivious to the rest of the world.  To my amazement, we found it is still a beautiful place (probably because it's hidden away) and seems untouched by time. Lucky me, huh?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Changing with the times ...

One thing is certain about life on the Internet: it changes at the speed of light. I've been tooling around cyberspace for about 15 years now, and whenever I think about it, I find myself stunned at the rate of change here. I don't think THIS was what they had in mind when I was studying calculus in college!

Today I decided to create a new blog header. I had some free time on my hands and started fooling around in Photoshop. While I liked my old header with the 'vintage' photos of me and pictures of cameras, I think my blog reflects the changes I'm experiencing in my life. Some changes go with the aging process. Some accompany the rapid changes in technology. I can post to my blog from my 'smart phone,' and that's a feature that wasn't available to me when I began this blog more than two years ago. But, those aren't the only reasons for changing it. A big part of it is staying "fresh."  Same ole, same ole gets old after a while, so I'm introducing something new.

For my cherished followers, I hope you'll like what I've done. And, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know if you do. Or, don't. I don't do this to please you, but I enjoy it when you notice what I've done.

Like everyone else out here in cyberspace, I'm looking to connect. How else can I leave my mark on the world?

Photo, above: University Drive & Stirling Road ... one of the last remaining cow pastures, some cattle herons and lots of traffic. I can remember when everything out here was agriculture. Now it's all residential development and shopping centers. "The times, they are a changing!"

Friday, June 25, 2010

My contest entry ...

              Me and Samantha, 1989

I love to write.
Sometimes I have to toil to get the words out. And, sometimes they just spill out of me. When they're spilling, I'm grateful that I took typing in high school!

Last week, I wrote a story and entered it into MORE Magazine's "One Amazing Thing" contest. I did submit a story last summer, which the MORE editors posted to the web site, and that was kind of neat. (It's here.) But, this contest ... well ... I really want to win.

I've posted it on Twitter and Facebook quite a bit in my attempts to get someone ... anyone ... to read it and vote for it. I e-mailed it to a bunch of my women friends and asked them to vote and some of them have voted. I think the "registering" part is what spooks people, though. They're afraid they're going to receive lots of e-mail or spam as a consequence of registering. They won't, and I tell 'em that. But, still, they don't vote.

So, here I am, five days from the close of the contest and I've moved up to No. 31 with 15 votes. In order to qualify I need to be in the Top 25. From those 25 entries, the editors of MORE will chose one winner and that lucky person will have a one-hour phone consultation with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of "One Amazing Thing," described by MORE's web site as a "breathtaking tale of survival."  The winning writer will then expand her story to 1600 words to be posted on MORE's web site and, maybe, Barnes & Noble's web site. That's it. No prize money. Just an opportunity.

The current top entries are about cancer survivors, a night at the Emmys, saving a life, raising a child ... things that are uplifting and wonderful. My story isn't quite so "warm and fuzzy."  It's brutal. It's honest. And, it took me 22 years to write.

Friends who have read the story have written messages or told me to my face that they are so glad to know how I turned out.  If I win, it would give others a chance to find out WHY that experience was, truly, 'one amazing thing 'for me.  It really did change the course of my life forever. And, I'm sure no one will be disappointed how it ends.

It may not be pretty, but it was amazing to live through.
Cross your fingers. And, if you haven't already, go read it and vote.
You'll never be sorry you did.
I promise.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creativity Run Amok: President's Day Project

I met "Alpaca Granny" through her blog and enjoyed reading about the daily challenges of a retired school teacher turned alpaca farmer. Eventually I was lead to her etsy shop, North Star Alpacas, where I couldn't resist making a purchase of 104 yards of hand dyed, hand spun Alpaca Merino Mohair yarn from Indy, the alpaca pictured below!
When the yarn arrived, I was in love with it. It came packaged in a glassine envelope with a lavender sachet tucked inside and a tag with Indy's photo on it and a complete product description. It wasn't a lot of thread, so whatever I was going to make with it would have to be inspired. I put it in my yarn basket and over the past year I have taken it out every now and again and felt the texture, inhaling the lavender, wishing for creative inspiration.

Then, President's Day 2010 arrived. I had the day off from work and bemoaned the continued chilly weather we've been experiencing here in sunny, south Florida. I do so love to work in the yard, but that wasn't an option this holiday. The weather report said it was going to be cold all week, with night time lows in the 40s. And, that, my dear reader, is "unseasonably cold" by Florida standards. And, it was this that inspired me to use the beautiful hand dyed, hand spun thread I'd purchased.  I was guessing when I started crocheting ... some might call it "designing." I had no pattern; just my knowledge of crochet to guide me. I used a size N hook, something I'd never done before! My! But, it's a big hook! By Tuesday morning, when I'd finished my coffee, I had a beautiful neck scarf to keep me warm for the rest of the week!

When I got to the office, I was once again inspired to take photos, and when I saw them on the computer screen, I knew they belonged in my blog!  This beautiful scarf is excellent at keeping the back of my neck warm in the harsh winter wind. And, the knowledge of where the fur came from combined with knowing who dyed it and spun it into thread for me makes my creative spirit feel warm as well.
Now, it's nearing the end of the week and the meteorologists are saying we'll see temperatures in the 70s by Saturday.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my hand dyed, hand spun, hand crocheted scarf!  Ah! The joy of creativity! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Creativity Run Amok, Part 3: Valentines

I occasionally open the HP News & Notes email message I receive along with the numerous other artsy messages of interest that arrive in my mailbox every day. The words, "Make Your Own Valentine" in the subject line last week inspired me to read on.  After scouring through the do-it-yourself cards, I found a border I could use that allowed me to import my own photos and choose the color I liked, so ... I created a photo collage of my darling husband. This lovely man endures my constant picture taking of everything from the food we eat to the neighbor's dogs, with fashion doll shoots and nature adventures in-between, so I thought it apropo to share all the wonderful shots I've captured of him over the past few years. 

After printing it out, I typed tags and messages and printed them on vellum bristol, cut them out and glued them here and there. Liking what I'd done (and, I am very hard to please!), I headed to Target to find a suitable frame and some Valentine paper in which to wrap it.

I'm sort of impressed with myself. Now I wonder if dh will be impressed with his Valentine gift.  Do you think he'll see how loved he is? He surely is!

I'm out of time today, so I'll wrap it up tomorrow in this heart-felt tissue and make a Valentine card! What fun!!!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creativity Run Amok, Part 2

I picked up a copy of Where Women Create  last week, having become a big fan since it began publication, and looking at all those lovely work spaces inspired me to clean off my desk! My darling husband and I share this space and he thought I was coming down with something when he saw me filing and putting things in the trash. I was so impressed with my work, I took pictures. So, here you are ... (drum roll, please) ... where this woman creates!

I haven't seen the mouse pad since last summer!

I love dolls, but I only have one Riley Kish, so she and her little bears keep me company and guide me through my many creative endeavors.

Old pens, a tiny ceramic kewpie and a refrigerator magnet of the first nude male centerfold in Cosmopolitan fill a little dish I inherited from Viele House. (I wonder how old Burt is now?)

Things look so tidy and now I can see where some of my arts and crafts supplies are, which is simply lovely! I am keeping my New Year's resolution to nurture my creativity!

Do I have enough writing tools??

One of the "commissioners" at my job is a creative spirit, too, and last year she gave me this lovely gift of photos that spell out "IMAGINE." I hung it over the door so I can sit in my chair at my desk and "imagine" what I'll do next!  Thanks to Judy for such a great gift!

And, thanks to you, dear reader, for letting me share my home office space with you!  Now, I'm off to create something!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

That Betsey Johnson Dress ...
The photo above was taken in 1994 at a fundraising party for a little theatre company we were all involved with. It was also the "debut" of my new thrift shop dress from a little vintage clothing store next door to the theatre's office on 26th Street.  (I'm the one on the left.)  The dress tag said "Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson" and, at the time, I thought, "How cool. A 'designer' dress without the designer price!" I didn't have a lot of money, but I had (and still have) a passion for fashion!  I loved the dress because it a) looked good on me, b) felt good on and c) was machine washable. I wore it a lot. I wore it to weddings, funerals, at Christmas and for a lot of different social events. It was my favorite dress for quite a few years.

A few years ago, when middle age took over my body, the dress didn't fit the same and rather than embarrass myself, I hung it up and have debated so many times since then what I should do with it.  I told myself that someday I would once again control my body, but in all honesty, that's easier said than done when you reach this stage in life.  Those hormones that we ladies lose are incredibly helpful in helping us to keep our figures.  Without them ... well ... let's just say the dress continued to hang in my closet.

Last week, while waiting for the clothes dryer to finish, I was rifling through a box of photos from those days with the theatre.  When I found this photo (and a few others), I scanned it and put it up on my facebook page in a photo album I created there for the theatre.  The other two women in the picture commented, as did a young woman who is in my Jazzercise class.  She loved the dress, too!  And, so ...

I brought the dress (and its accessory necklace) to her at Jazzercise class and said, "Try it on!"

As you can see in the photo, she looks stunning in it! And, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see the dress go on!  It's a marvelous garment with that flattering sweetheart neckline and a full skirt that is forgiving --- it's perfect for all sorts of occasions and great for travel!  I'm thrilled that it's found a good home and I found I was inspired to do a little research about the designer ...

Back in 1970, Betsey Johnson was working for a place called Paraphernalia and she left her job there because the store was expanding and she didn't want to lose control over the design process. From what I could find in my Internet search, she designed for Alley Cat, a junior sportswear company, from 1970 until 1976.  She had full creative control at Alley Cat, designing everything from the textiles used in her designs to the accompanying shoes. Alley Cat clothing was always priced under $100, making it within reach of the junior market and, in retrospect, I think this may have been a key marketing ingredient for her future success. She was creating clothes for baby boomers, a huge demographic that was only just beginning to make its presence felt in the world of commerce.  

She also worked with Butterick patterns to produce a line of eight Betsey Johnson for Alley Cat patterns, making her designs affordable to small town girls like me. Back in the 1970s, I became familiar with her clothes because of her patterns.  I still have an apron pattern of hers in my sewing box along with some great Vogue patterns from that era!

While I've found a new home for my vintage Betsey Johnson dress, she's still very much a part of my fashion passion.  I have a couple of her handbags, several bracelets and necklaces and a beautiful skirt I found on sale at the Betsey Johnson store in Aventura.  I would love it if she would create patterns again. Especially for my generation. Her clothes flatter nearly every body type (including us more "mature" figures) and because she was a dancer, she brings all the fun of dance costumes to everyday clothes.

Special thanks to Jean for loving my dress! Wear it in good health!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Un-decorating ...
I love the entire process of decorating for Christmas. Getting all the ornaments out of their boxes and putting them on the tree is as much fun as seeing the tree when I come home. This year I decided to use some of my Barbie ornaments and, sure enough, they were delightful to behold once the tree was done. The photo below is of my current favorite ... "Lighter Than Air Barbie," one of the ballet dolls inspired by Degas' art. She's made of porcelain and is truly as fragile as she appears. But, she's so very pretty ...

Below is this year's tree from the perspective of the floor. I also love my nutcracker on the coffee table, so I had to be sure he was included in the picture. Oh! How I love Christmas twinkle lights! I think we should have twinkle lights all year round, don't you?

Then, there's my little ceramic village on the fireplace mantle. Now, these cheesy little ceramic houses cost one dollar each at the local Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy and I've bought some every year for three Christmases now. Needless to say, I have more of them than will fit on my mantle, but, Hey! Who cares? I crammed as many of them on there as I could and enjoyed arranging and rearranging them for about three days.

I've decided that in order to continue cultivating my creative spirit I will have to leave them on the mantle until this Arctic Express we've been experiencing is gone. When the temperature is 75 degrees for three consecutive days, then I'll pack them up! So, there!

I guess it'll soon be time to drag out the St. Valentine's decorations, huh?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Creativity run amok!

I was browsing blogs on Monday, January 4, hoping I might find some way to cultivate my New Year's resolution to be more creative and I stumbled on a blog that showed a calendar similar to the one I've started in the photo here. I was so inspired by it, yet I forgot to bookmark the blog. So! An apology is in order, but I don't know who to send it to! Whoever that artist is: THANKS A MILLION ZILLION! I'm really digging the daily 5 minutes to work on my calendar. It's definitely helping to cultivate my creativity!!

And, as if that weren't enough! With all this cold weather and sitting by the fireplace with its burning embers each evening, I've been crocheting granny squares from this wonderful Lion Brand Homespun ( yarn I picked up on clearance last year! I have enough for an afghan, so an afghan I'll make! I haven't crocheted an afghan in years! Oh! What fun it is to sit by the fire and crochet! The meteorologists are saying we're going to get yet another blast of Arctic air tomorrow, so, at this rate, I'll have it done in no time! Or, at least by spring!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creativity Twenty Ten

Creativity. What a concept!
It took a fair amount of contemplation, but I've decided that my New Year's Resolution is to cultivate my own creativity and to write about it here, on my blog, which I don't think anyone reads. That said, I can write whatever I want, post whatever pictures I choose and just have a good ole' time with my creative spirit!
Wish me luck!