Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Graduate

I introduce to you Joyce, high school graduate.

What a night! Filled with great happiness and a wild mix of emotions. And pride. So very proud of our girl.

It's hard to believe these 3 friends, Joycie, Kara & Allison, have gotten this grown up already.

After the Commencement was over, we celebrated at Bennigan's (thanks, Kathy & Bob!). We were so happy when Joyce could join us.

The graduating class of '07 was having the traditional "all-night party" & we thought Joycie was on her way there... but she had time to party with us for a while at Bennigan's. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful evening.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pay it forward

You know that TV commercial where someone sees someone else doing something nice & considerate, and helpful, for some stranger, and then they do a nice thing for a stranger, & someone sees them so they do a nice thing for someone... and so on...

I think it's for an insurance company, but I don't know for sure. But I really like that commerical. Wouldn't it be great if people would easily demonstrate common courtesy towards each other?...

Especially, of course, while driving. I'm the person that lets other cars "in"... but when I'm the one that needs "in" there is, unfortunately, more often than not, no one like me in the long line of cars. I especially appreciate it when I'm trying to exit a parking lot onto a busy road, and other cars will stop in line for a red light and totally block off the entrance by stopping their car directly in front of me. I recently sat through 3 long red lights with the nose of my car as far out as I dare poke it until one kind person finally let me into the lane of traffic.

I'd like to take those other people and force them to watch that TV commerical over and over and over and over and over and over...

I would also like to force that viewing on whoever it is here in the office where I work that keeps messing up my print jobs at the printer. Unfortunately, I have to print a lot of things at work (for a variety of reasons & I won't bore you with the details), and when I get to the printer, my print job has somehow ended up out of order. It comes off the printer with all pages together, but for some reason, I have to spend the time to reassemble it, and often search for pages, because some asshole(s) is/are behaving assholeishly.


What I find particularly ironic about this today is that I just had to spend about 45 minutes at work this morning going through the mandatory company "respect and responsibility" online training course.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Caught in the act

Damn turkeys.

Pottery Project No. 13

This is the last of my 3 box pots. I used red clay, and the red clay affects the colors of glazes... with white clay, the color is more true; red makes it darker. Because I wanted a vibrant cobalt blue, I decided (on my very own, without consulting an instructor) to paint this box pot with one coat of opaque white glaze then 2 or 3 coats (can't remember exactly how many now) of cobalt blue glaze. My thinking was that the white layer would help to make the cobalt blue more true to color.

That was a lesson learned. The white made the cobalt blue bubble, and the result was not pretty. Kathy, the owner of Space Studios, suggested putting another coat of the blue glaze onto the pot and trying again. She explained that it could improve it or it could make it worse, but since I didn't like the pot the way it was, I felt it was worth a try.

It turned out ok. There are still bubbles and other small imperfections, but the pot looks 100% better. It was very difficult to photograph... without a flash, it was very dark, and with a flash, the glossy finish simply reflected the flash. I finally stood far away from the pot and took a photo.

This was the tallest of the 3 box pots, and it held 4 boxes of large wooden matches. That's a lot of matches!

I made it especially to hold matches, to keep on the counter so the matches are always handy to light candles... and it's so much prettier than a cardboard box of matches. Even with the bubbles and snags.

Call this one my lucky No. 13.


I share with you 2 quotes I've heard lately that have stuck in my head.

The first is from a real person, a pottery instructor at Space Studios:

Setting: In the studio, at a point when both myself and another person, when pondering how to handle something, spoke aloud an almost identically phrased idea...

"Great minds run in the same gutter."

I had never heard that variation of the "great minds" theory, and I liked it so much I wrote it down then and there. Also, there's just something about the word, gutter, that I can't explain, but I like it. Gutter, gutter, gutter.

Next, a quote from a TV character, Paris Gellar:

Setting: In the apartment, getting off the phone from making a sale of a piece of furniture for which she just got more money than she bought it for years earlier...

"The key to haggling is you put your hands around their throat and just keep on squeezing."

That writer is muy, muy good... I'm gonna miss that show. *sniff, sniff*

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tomayto, Tomahto

Since I have this page-a-day calendar for 2007 that each day lists a common saying and explains the origin of it, I’ve been paying more attention to sayings that people use. And those I use... For example, the other day was “moot point,” which I have always thought meant a meaningless point in a discussion or argument. Like when Sammy says he wants to go to the movies, and so-and-so’s mom can bring him home afterwards... so I explain how he would get home is a moot point, because there is no way for him to get to the movie theater. That is the correct usage of the phrase, but the primary definition isn’t that the adjective “moot” = meaningless, but rather that it is debatable, a thing up for discussion and debate. This is the type of thing I find very interesting.

Origins of sayings have always interested me. Have you ever heard someone use a saying and wondered to yourself, why do people say that? I do that all the time. Like, most everyone knows a “baker’s dozen” is 13 instead of 12 (and those who don't know that must be living in a cave somewhere). Go into any Big Apple Bagel store and they are likely to have a special price on a “baker’s dozen deal.” But why?... Because long ago, back in good old England, they passed a law... From my January 8th page, which I kept (yeah, I’m like that): The source of this term is a law passed by the English Parliament in 1266, which specified exactly how much a loaf of bread should weigh, and imposed a heavy penalty for short weight. To protect themselves, bakers would give their customers 13 loaves instead of 12, and in the 16th century this came to be called “a baker’s dozen.” Just think, people have been using the term “baker’s dozen” for about 500 years. Fascinating stuff.

Also fascinating to me is why did it take 200 or so years for the term “baker’s dozen” to become commonly used? Hmmm... Took them longer back then, but what became a common saying became one that truly stuck with the human race. Think “where's the beef?” Do you think anyone will be using that phrase 500 years from now? Nope. It petered out after a couple of years, even though there are probably a zillion t-shirts around still with that phrase on them. In fact, I just asked my 12-year-old if he knows what “where's the beef?” is from, and he doesn't... but he knows what a baker's dozen is.

The other day in a meeting at work, one guy said, “... just letting you know what’s coming up the pipe...” Then later a woman said, “... so that is in the pipeline, probably for later this summer...” The term, “pipeline” is used often in business meetings that I attend. But I’ve been hearing so much use of “up the pipe” or “down the pipe” lately, and I find it annoys my ears. I know the phrase as “coming down the pike.” It’s always been pike to me (and down, not up), and so that is what is correct to me. Maybe saying something is coming up the pipe is ok, but to me, that should pipeline. So once I hear someone say something is coming up the pipe, I totally miss whatever’s said next because I’m too busy saying to myself, “pike, jeez, the word you want is pike, and it’s coming down the pike!” Get it right, people.

And don’t even get me started on your vs. you’re...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Back in the saddle...

Joyce picked up her new mouth guard at the dentist’s office on Tuesday, participated in soccer practice on Wednesday, and played the entire game yesterday... mouth guard in place.

I was so very proud of her. To go through something like that and still be able to play as aggressively as she did... I know I could not have done that. Not even as a high school senior, when I thought I could handle anything.

She had so many saves, I lost count. She didn’t let one in at all during the 1st half.

She would run into the fray, no problem.

And that girl can kick a soccer ball.

Near the end of the game, though, I think she was starting to feel the pressure... Also, we were ahead something like 4 or 5 to zero, so the coach put in a lot of 2nd stringers... and our defense suffered. Suddenly there were 2 opponents at the goal and only Joyce... they scored then and again another time in a similar situation. Ended the game 7-2. That's a good win. We're tied for 1st now in our conference.

After that 2nd goal that got past her, Joyce had a very strong reaction and my heart stopped there for a second... I thought she was hurt, but she was ok, just extremely frustrated with herself. Prior to her injury, she had only let in 3 goals in 7 games, and those were against better skilled opponents than the team they played yesterday. After the game, she came walking across the field with a face like thunder. I didn’t say a word until we were in the car and well on our way down the road. She didn’t want to hear me say how proud I was of her, and she did want to hear me say what a great job she did. She didn’t want to hear me describe the comments I heard some of the parents make about how great she was doing, especially after what happened. Finally, though, because I can be way more stubborn than either one of my kids, she listened. I told her that the first game back after such an injury as she had, one that included so much blood and so many stitches, was bound to be the most difficult. After not playing or practicing at all for 2 weeks, she couldn’t expect to make a comeback as if she’d never been out.

The talk helped, but so did stopping at the corner store and getting a great big bunch of junk food and a big bottle of rootbeer to wash it all down...

She truly did do a great job, and I captured a couple of her many, many saves that game as short video clips... see the steal here and the smack here...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lilac OD

My folks bought their place when I was 5 years old, so they’ve lived there for 42 years. There used to be a house there before they bought the land, but all that remained were some stony cement footings. My dad & mom built their garage there where the footings were.

Near those footings were 2 large lilac bushes. And they've only gotten larger through the years...

These 2 bushes are the largest lilac bushes I’ve ever seen. They smell so good. When I was little, we used to play inside of the bushes. We had a path and little rooms. The opening is still there.

Through the years, all the grandkids have played in those bushes. When they’re blooming, and it’s a warm, sunny Spring day, being inside the lilac bushes is a wonderful place to be.

When I smell those lilacs, it triggers so many memories of my childhood and of when my kids & nieces & nephews were little. Some years, the blooms do better than others... just because of the weather. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and that’s likely shortened the blooming season.

While it lasts, though, it’s a beautiful thing.

What I’m seriously lovin’

My momma called me at work today and told me about a tool that my sister, Joie, had purchased for what everyone thought was way too much money. The tool is for brushing dogs and is “guaranteed to reduce shedding better than any brush, comb or rake.” Since Mom was swearing by it heartily, and since she had ordered a couple online & happened to now have an extra one, I swung by on my way home & picked one up.

Oh. My. Heck. I love this thing. I cannot believe how well it works. I didn’t spend that much time outside with Reilly, and I got a ton of hair off him.

And it was windy out, so that great big bunch of dog hair there is not nearly all that I brushed out of him. As for Reilly... he loved it...

He feels so soft and silky now.

Thanks, Momma!

Soccer Beautiful

Sandra Jean

Sandy came to Midland last weekend for a quick trip to help her daddy get ready for their whole family to arrive next weekend... the memorial for Sandy's Momma, Anne, will be on Sunday.

Sandy took some time out on Monday to meet Joycie & I for lunch.

Driving her cool rental SUV.

Though I so very much wish the reason for her visit was not what it was, it was wonderful to see her again. (Hi, Cutie-pie!!) And Sandy, Brian and Brandon fly in this Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Long lost...

Back in the summer of 1986, Kev and I were in our mid-20's and had been married for 3 years. It was our first summer living on our property. Back then, we were living in our pole barn. Saying pole barn makes it sound kinda awful, but it was really nice. The pole barn was 32' x 56', and we finished half of it off into living quarters. Walls were chipboard, but we had carpeting on the floors and everything we needed. We lived in that pole barn for 6 years, and loved almost every minute of it... not that we were not very happy when we could finally have our house built. We look back on those years in the pole barn with great fondness.

That summer, Kevin's younger half-brother, Jeff, came from Arizona for a visit. I think Jeff stayed with us something like 3 weeks. So long ago now, I can hardly remember. Jeff was 11 years old, but his visit was either during his birthday or close to it, and he turned 12. He wasn't used to country living, that was for sure. My memory is that he had a pretty good time. We had a couple of adjustments to go through... Kev and I were no more used to living with a young boy than he was used to living in the country. I remember once he took a long shower and left the curtain on the outside of the tub so the water just flowed out onto the carpeted floor... soaked the carpeting out from the tub about 4' and I was all summer trying to get that dry. The floor underneath was cement, so it didn't dry very well in that humid summer weather. I really chewed Jeff out, and poor Kevin was caught in the middle. He thought I was too mean about it, but he wasn't too happy with Jeff either. Funny how I remember that now. Kev was 25 years old, and I was 26. Now, Jeff is 32... older than we were when that happened. And he has a son who is 12... his age when he came here to stay with us for that visit.

I found an old album, and I scanned in some of the photos. This is one of Kevin and Jeff, and I think I took these pictures toward the end of his visit.

Not very good quality, but I had only a cheap camera back then. It did have a timer setting, though... so here is one of the 3 of us with me talking during the photo...

Sammy asked what was wrong with my hair. Um... it was wet. Thanks, Sam. Anyway, we look pretty happy, huh.

And this is the best photo from celebrating Jeff's birthday.

I also remember that we got 2 kittens from my sister, Janet, during Jeff's visit. What kid wouldn't be thrilled with 2 kittens?

This is a photo of Jeff and my niece, Sara, holding the kittens while sitting on bales of hay.

We stored the hay in the garage portion of the pole barn that year because we didn't have the horse barn built yet. I had 2 horses back then. That was why I got the kittens, to keep the mice out of the pole barn. Jeff named the yellow & white kitten Sabertooth, which we shortened to Sabie. I named the gray one Elffie. Elffie died from an accident when she was about 6 or 7 years old, but Sabie lived until just a few years ago. She was a seriously old cat, especially for an outside cat. And she was wonderful to the end. I often thought of Jeff when I was with Sabie, and I explained to friends more than a few times that her real name was Sabertooth...

So... what brings on all these old memories? Well, first I have to explain something.

To start, Kevin and Jeff’s mother is a difficult person. By difficult, I mean difficult to get along with, difficult to communicate with, difficult to know, difficult to have a relationship with... she’s very, very difficult. Or at least when we knew her she was.

The difficulties with her were compounded by the fact that she lived so far away, in Arizona. Long-distance relationships are always more difficult.

In late October of 1994, I was very pregnant with Sammy. He was born Nov. 4th, and he arrived past his due date... so I was very pregnant. One day, while Kev was outside (I think he was raking leaves or using the riding mower to pick them up), and the phone rang. It was Kevin’s mother, and she was very upset. She wanted to speak with Kevin, but he was not near the house right then. I told her as soon as he made another pass near the house, I would get his attention and have him call her right back.

Kev called her back, and she was indeed upset. She was very angry. Jeff, who was by this time 20 years old, had arrived on her doorstep with his ex-girlfriend and their newborn baby. We knew nothing about Jeff’s pending parenthood, and neither did she. I believe she said to Kevin things like ‘he has ruined his life’ and ‘he’s too young’ and ‘what was he thinking’ and so on. I could only hear Kevin’s side of the conversation. I remember him kind of saying ‘whoa’ while kinda of laughing, and then he asked ‘was it a girl or a boy?’ From what I remember of Kev telling me, his response only made her a great deal more angry. I believe she asked Kevin why did that matter, and Kev said he wanted to know if he had a niece or a nephew. She didn’t know because she had kicked Jeff, the mom and the baby out of her house before she discovered. It was not a phone conversation that ended well. I think there were a couple more conversations in the days that followed, and definitely one when Kevin called her to tell her of Sammy’s arrival. His memory of those conversations is that his mother was not very communicative, and answered with mostly one-syllable replies.

And that was pretty much the last of his contact with her. Christmas that year came and went, and she has never acknowledged her grandson, Sammy. She also discarded her granddaughter, Joyce, as well as her son. How a mother could have a son as fine as Kevin and decide to discard him is something I can never understand. I don’t think she ever really liked me, and I used to think she wouldn’t like any woman Kev chose because they would never be good enough for her son. I was ok with that. And it wasn’t like she lived next door, anyway. She could have treated me like crap forever, and I would have taken it. But the way she's treated my husband and our children is... well, words escape me. I'm stuck on 'unforgivable' and can think of no other description for her behavior. Unforgivable and never are strong words, and it's troubling to me to use them. But it is what it is.

So Kev, who was never really super close with Jeff anyway... I think once Jeff became a teenager, maybe he had better things to do than talk with a brother he probably felt that he barely knew any more. And Kev was super busy with a young daughter, a new son, and working a shitload of overtime and rotten shift work. Those were some rough years for us... anyway...

Once Kevin decided not to pursue lines of communication with his mother any longer, after leaving a number of messages on her answering machine over several weeks with no returned phone call, it seemed that his relationship with his brother, Jeff, barely existing at the time, also was snuffed out. That was all 12 years ago.

Kevin has a sister, Lisa, who is a couple of years younger than him, and he talks with Lisa on rare occasions. I believe for a while, Lisa had a strained relationship with her mother, but apparently healed that bridge a long time ago and they get along now. Lisa, though, won’t talk with Kevin about their mother. Strange, huh.

So the other evening, I called Kev’s aunt to get some addresses from her for our mailing of Joyce’s graduation announcements... and she told me about this web site that Jeff has, and how he is a super talented artist. So we checked it out, and Aunt M. was right! His paintings are amazing. You can read about his art, and Dektown, here.

Seeing that photo of the man who Jeff is now, a person who we don’t know at all, was really strange for Kev and I. To us, he’s stuck in our heads as that sweet, gangly boy from the summer of 1986.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Prom night

Joycie’s last high school prom was yesterday evening. So many “last” things going on this year! She looked so beautiful in her fancy attire, like a Grecian princess.

Thankfully, the injury to her face was hardly noticeable... if you didn't know it had happened, I don't think you would have noticed it.

Her prom date was a good friend of hers, Tom, and he looked very handsome in his fancy duds.

As tradition dictates, we all met up at the local formal gardens for photos. The kids all were in high spirits, and all were looking gorgeous. I took over 200 photos, and thank goodness for digital photography. I took quite a few candid shots, which was fun. Here are Joycie and Allison admiring each other’s fake fingernails.

And the girls all tip-toeing through the tulips...

Joycie and Allison hamming it up for the camera.

All the beautiful girls together in a beautiful setting.

And a shot of the 4 of us, with Joycie looking extra fancy next to her blue-jeaned family.

Joyce went to an after-prom-party and then stayed overnight at Kara’s, along with Allison and Amanda. She just got home as I was typing this post, and she sure looks tired! She said she had a great time. I can’t wait to hear all the details...

Pottery Projects 10, 11 & 12

This is the 2nd finished of my 3 box pots. On this one, I painted a Queen Anne’s Lace design using a small-tipped bottle filled with glaze, and then I put on one coat of a glaze called “Danish Milk Glass.” It shows the terra cotta color of the clay with a milky coating at edges, and I really like that glaze. The glaze I used on the design spread out a little more than I expected, but I still like it. I would like to try that technique again, but maybe with a smaller tip on the bottle so less glaze is applied.

This next project is a big piece. It’s a candle holder I made out of large extruded coils of clay, with smaller coils for the center. After I had the coils ready, I shaped them how I wanted and stacked them on top of each other while I did that because I wanted all 3 pieces as much the same as I could. Once those were dry enough, I set the pieces up, and used a smaller coil of clay to hold them all together. That part was very difficult, and I must have rearranged them several times. Then I had to do some more shaping and moving, nudges here and there. Cutting out the holes for the candles was pretty difficult also. When I was nearly done with it, before setting it aside to dry, Kevin and Sammy came to the studio and brought lunch to me (on a Saturday when I decided to do 2 3-hour sessions back to back). I showed them the piece. They both asked the question that almost every person has asked when they see it – what goes on top? or, are you planning something for the top?... One person even told me it looked like a table base. Then Kevin asked if I was going to put a seagull on it. Funny how one little comment can have such an affect... because ever since he said that, I find I don’t really care for the piece.

The glazing turned out just how I imagined, and I really like the colors. I also like the feel of the glaze. The large coils feel almost like bone. My inspiration was initially antlers, but once I got going, I felt it was more a metal or industrial influence, more man-made than nature. So it’s funny that the end result is, to me, a bit of both.

It will probably end up on eBay or something, though... *sigh*

The last piece is a pot I made for Joycie. It is a coil pot, where I smoothed out the coils. I really enjoyed making this pot. When I was starting it, Kathy, the owner of Space Studios, was working on a large coil pot, and I had just seen her finish another. I watched her while she worked on them, and tried some of the techniques she used. For example, after I had worked on smoothing the coils out, I took a flat wood spatula and “spanked” the pot... not only was that kinda fun, but it really had a nice effect.

On the glazing of Joycie’s pot, I used a bottle with a small tip filled with glaze to paint on the design. (This piece was the first time I tried that glazing technique; I did my Queen Anne’s Lace box pot after this one.) Then I painted on different glazes for the flowers and leaves, finishing up with painting on a couple of coats of clear.

I wanted the “background” on the pot to be the terra cotta, and I wanted the flowers and leaves to show some of the clay also... seeing the brush strokes was exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t wait to see this pot finished... I went and did what you really should not do... I got attached to it before it was through its final firing. When I got to Space Studios yesterday morning, Kathy and Peg (another instructor) were at the front desk with this pot sitting there. I was so excited. I had planned to give this to Joycie for a graduation gift, but I couldn’t wait... I gave it to her yesterday afternoon, and she really likes it.

My inspiration for the pot was a vase that Joycie and I had seen at a local furniture store. I found the artist on the ’net and was really impressed with her work, the designs and use of colors. Though, the pieces looked very commercial, like what you could find at a Target or maybe a high-end department store. Very smooth and perfect and high gloss. The designs for the plants that I used on Joycie's pot are definitely inspired by hers, which I did because that’s what Joycie really liked. Also one of the flowers looks like a guitar to me, so I definitely wanted to use that design for Joycie’s pot.

I started a really large piece yesterday morning during my session... and I ended up taking a session and a half, staying there for 4.5 hours. I was really sore yesterday evening... sometimes working with that clay can use muscles I must not be using too often... I extruded a lot of clay into coils that are a little more than ½ inch in diameter... 3 bags of clay of coils! One bag of clay is 12.5 pounds. I then used the slab roller, and slabbed out 1 bag of clay. Fifty pounds of clay so far on this one piece...

I’m making a pedestal to put in my herb garden, to put a pot on top of it. I want to put a scented geranium in the pot, because they cannot winter over here where I live, so I will bring the pot inside once it gets close to frost this Fall. I haven’t completely decided on the end design for my pedestal, but I got a lot done toward the base yesterday.

Have I mentioned how addictive this pottery work at Space Studios is???!!! I love it.


This is the pot Sammy made in art class at school. He gave it to me for Mother’s Day. He got it on Friday, and couldn’t wait until Sunday to give it to me! It’s called a rolly-poly ball, and when you shake it, it rattles. There are little balls of clay sealed up inside the pot.

I named him “Sixty” because Sammy made him for me in 6th grade. I love shaking Sixty and hearing him rattle. I just love it!

Like sands through the hourglass...

The other evening I was taking photos of birds at the feeder (I know! how unusual!), when a little drama played out in front of me. Once again, involving the old, married cardinal couple. Since my camera was at the ready (I know! how unusual!), I share it with you now...

So the gals are just eating and chatting, chatting and eating... nice evening for it...

Hey, is she eavesdropping on us again? How rude...

That’s ok, I don’t think she talks bird. So anyway...
[Then the cardinal gal’s old man shows up.]
What the heck do you think you’re doing? We’re talkin’ here... Beat it, buster!

Harrumph! (that was the male)

So the male moves to the other side of the feeder, and takes his anger out on his friend, the male grosbeak, who flies off...
Whatever, dude, it’s your wife, not mine... good luck...

Hey, honey, I’m sorry, c’mon now...

No answer from the wife. She asks her friend, is he still there?

Male gives up and flies off. Another female joins the gals group at the feeder...
I thought they’d never leave!