Friday, July 30, 2010


Jacob is here with me now. We have gotten the two little ones to bed and now we are looking for cars on line. He knows all there is to know and is educating me on what my next one should be. Luckily for him there was a car show in the parking lot at the mall in Spartanburg where I picked them up, and he got to look around. Ashley, John and I spotted some kids hula hooping there and the guy playing the music called them up. John stood back, but Ashley walked into the crowd and placed the hoop around her waist. She twirled it like a pro! She easily kept that hoop spinning around her gently swiveling midsection during the whole Bob Marley song, and ended up winning over the other kids! I was impressed. Maybe tomorrow we will try a collage. I need to put my new found knowledge to use.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Ten

Reasons I am glad to be back at work:

10. I can wait until I get home to check the TV news.
9. I can always find a cup of coffee, and I don't have to make it myself.
8. I get to learn new stuff.
7. Sometimes my opinion counts.
6. I can wear clothes I don't mind people seeing me in.
5. There is always somebody to talk to.
4. I don't have to fix my own lunch.
3. My dog is happy to see me when I get home.
2. I have other people's problems to focus on that are bigger than my own.
1. They pay me to do something I enjoy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

oots shoots

August begins next week, and it is the month I have been waiting for, not just because it is a big birthday month, but because it's the designated time when nine of my photos will hang together in a shop for people to see. I'm pretty excited. Choosing some pictures and getting them printed and framed has been a lot of fun. I have given each one a name that I hope will add a little more to their personalities, and I have also named my own little venture, "oots shoots," which may say something about me. Let me explain. My daddy was a photographer. He had a studio when I was a little girl, and chronicling the family over the years, took movies and still shots most of his life. Daddy had a few nicknames for me and he often called me "Ootsie" (sounds like Susy) or "Oots." I think he would like it that I am somewhat following in his footsteps, so it is a little tribute to him. I have placed stickers on the back of each picture with its own name, and underneath is "oots shoots" and the year the photo was taken. I think it ads a special touch.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Importance of One

One huge raindrop fell on my windshield today and then another, and within a few minutes I was driving through torrential sheets of heavenly water. All of our thirsty land desperately needed the downpour, but one drop alone may make a difference to a grasshopper. Billions of grains of sand make up a beautiful beach, but what happens if just one grain gets in our eye? Each day gives us 86,400 seconds that we usually take for granted, but how often has a single second changed the direction of our lives? Of all the words that are spoken to us, which few do we remember? In our world of almost seven billion people, whose loss would we most mourn? With what amount does a large bank account start? . . . . . The raindrops started me thinking about accumulation and the power of one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My neighbor has some pear trees, about three of the Asian variety and one Bartlett, and yesterday he gave me as much as his shirt could carry. This morning I patiently cooked some preserves, but before the peeling, coring and chopping, I made sure they had their photo shoot.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Collage Class Day 4

This last day we worked on our individual projects mostly, and it seemed that everyone was at a different pace and had a different style. Some finished and some didn't. Some had sentimental value and some were cute such as the big pop art cupcake one girl did. Being a novice, I whipped mine out yesterday without much fuss, and painted papers today that I will use when I collage at home. I hope Caroline will enjoy cutting and gluing when she comes next month. About these three pictures: The one with the fish was done by the girl at the table with me who is an art teacher. She planned and worked diligently on her project, and it showed. I posted a pic her blue background earlier, and now it is almost finished. The other one is mine. The detail is from the bottom where the grass is. That is where you will find the cats.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Collage Class Day 3

Last night I spread out my papers and opened the container of glue/gel and started cutting and pasting. I really needed to get in the groove and see how all the ingredients felt and acted in my hands and on the canvas. It ended up being so much fun I had to force myself to stop and get to bed at a decent hour! I think the only time I have collaged before was when I did it with my patients as a therapeutic activity, but now I see that it really can be a respectable art form. In class today, the students were cutting and pasting, designing and placing their layouts on their boards and canvases. Most were fairly simple, which is the thing to do for beginners, but still interesting and eye catching. Mine was OK, but tomorrow I am going to have to add some to it. The main thing is that the lessons have taken. My brain knows how to do this now, and I am pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Collage Class Day 2

Today we took some of the papers we painted and put monotypes on them. (I may not have stated that right.) Basically this meant that a design in a different color went on top of them. The photos show paper that was painted blue yesterday and then glued to a canvas for a background. The little work in progress collage with peace on it is a demonstration by our teacher. She is doing three the same but in different colors. She was showing how she cuts letters. What is cool is the different textures she got on the papers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Collage Class Day 1

Today I got to the first of four classes on doing a collage. I have been sort of struggling with finding something arty to do, and I think this may be it. The class participants had received a list of supplies such as wide brushes, scissors, plastic cups and plates, paper towels, a stretched canvas or stiff board, and all fourteen of us women came in to the art museum with full bags, well prepared. Judy the instructor is so good at what she does, and one of her interesting, colorful canvases was on an easel in front of the studio to admire and inspire. She began by introducing the medium and then lovingly showed her "blue file," a folder of papers all painted in different shades of blue and with different textures, because she never knows what she will want for her next project. For the next hour or so, we painted sheets of paper recycled from printers with writing on one side and pages from magazines, with the paint, papers and glue provided by the museum. The papers will be dry tomorrow and will be the palette from which we choose colors for our collage, she explained. Many time she expressed her love of paper, and going back to my early childhood, I connected. By the time we get there tomorrow, we should each have a fairly good idea of what we want to do. I think I will try to keep it simple and base this first collage attempt on a photograph I took of my yellow cat sitting in tall grass. At least that is my plan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

At a gas station no less

Any takers?

Key Lime Effort

Last week the grocery store had bags of key limes, so I bought one thinking I would try to make a key lime pie, probably my favorite dessert. When I sampled the first lime last week and got only a drop or two of the precious liquid, I knew it would be a time consuming task. The limes started to get old waiting for me, but I did put the pie on my to do list today. I used all of the little limes and managed to get a half cup of juice, just enough for an eight inch pie. Anxious to get it on my blog, I cut a messy slice before it had time to cool, and it was delicious anyway. Worth all the squeezing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy to Oblige

Life was blissful at first when I was no longer bound by the chains of employment, but over the past month, especially since my plan to move has not worked out, I began to feel at loose ends, as if my life was grinding to a halt. Not that work is everything, but it is one thing, and I am ready to jump back in. Thankfully there is a small need for me, too. Yesterday I completed the process to re-enter the work force at my hospital. It involved spending time in Employee Health updating my info, having blood drawn for a chicken pox titer - a new CDC requirement - getting a TB test even though I will have to have another during my birthday month of August, and giving a urine drug screen. I was fitted for a respirator, had an eye test, and then I was sent to a business person where I turned in many signed papers including one to certify my citizenship and another to say what a great job the employment counselor I spoke with is doing. I will work PRN, a medical/nursing acronym from the Latin Pro Re Nata which means something like "as the need arises." I welcome it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Sweet Poem

When Ashley was here we went to the library, and she found a book of poetry to check out that expresses a child's view of life. Ashley's long gone, but the four weeks are not up, and I still have the charming book. All of the poems sound as if they could be written by children. If not, surely the writers found the child inside of them as their creative brains were at work. The Kingfisher Book of Family Poems is filled with jewels but none touched me any more than this one by Lindsay MacRae.


Will you take my picture?
Will you take my side?
Will you take the pain away
I've tried so hard to hide?

Will you watch me play in goal
In foul or freezing weather?
Could we spend all Christmases
And holidays together?

Will you pack a lunch for me?
Sometimes hold my hand?
Can we be just ordinary?
Do you understand?

When I throw a tantrum
Will you promise not to pack?
If I learn to love you
Will you try to love me back?

Will we see the funny side?
laugh when times get tough?
We will be a family
That will be enough.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A new bug for me

For the past few days my yard has been hosting some fascinating flying insects of Biblical proportions that zoom and zip around like tiny toy airplanes. Bug inquisitor that I am, I went out yesterday morning among maybe four or five of them and stood still. They tested me a bit and after deeming me trustworthy, I pulled my camera from my pocket and took a quick shot as one lit on a holly. A little later my neighbor called with dire warnings about the "yellow jackets" in his yard and to say he had called an exterminator. My panicked response went something like Hold on a minute buddy...I don't think they are yellow jackets and I have a photograph so let's see what they are first. I googled "huge flying insect" and within a few clicks, and thanks to my photo, I was able to correctly identify them as Cicada Killers. Aha! I suspected they were somehow linked with those cicadas that incise the thick summer night air with loud and unmusical orchestration. I gave my neighbor the info, but as he doesn't appreciate the bug world as much as I do, the exterminator was soon out with a long handled spray pumping pesticide along the outside of his house.

I had just been reading about cicada killers and watching a youtube video of a one carrying a large stunned cicada to its burrow when Gary called for me to come witness the exact same thing in his yard. Even he and the bug guy and found the murder scene fascinating.

The exterminator did probably knock off a few useful spiders, but from the looks of Gary's yard today, he did little but annoy the intended targets. I can see from a distance that they are still zooming around. For the most part, I believe that nature rights itself, and that there is a reason we are having these two inch specialty wasps this year. For years I have watched the seasons of birds and insects, and no species seems to stay around too long.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rest in peace, my friend.

It is a sad day around the house. My precious kitty Daphne has died.

I decided to take her to the vet Friday because she seemed to be having problems with her mouth. Maybe she was losing a tooth in her old age, I thought. But when the vet opened her mouth, we both saw a big red bulge on her lower gums. A tumor, he diagnosed, and it didn't look good. I was to bring her in first thing Monday so he could sedate her and get a closer look. Then he would know what to do. My phone was to be nearby. I got the call around eleven. The tumor was inoperable, he said, because it had roots and was growing into her jawbone. At fourteen and a half years old, the best thing would be to "put her down" now while she was under anesthesia. He had forewarned me of this potential outcome, and I tearfully agreed.

She has been a big part of my at home life, and I am missing her, but the neighbors will miss her, too. They described Daphne as being sociable, unusual in her friendliness and sweetness, and I add that she was as thoughtful and kind as a cat can be. Nora and Sandy gave knowing looks to each other, and I think they are aware she isn't coming back. Expressive little Tillman is missing his buddy.

Our beloved pets, the cats and dogs we take care of and who in turn take care of us, sometimes seem so human. It is hard to lose our best (furry) friends.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nature's Designs

The star shaped stigma comes out when the flower gets old. I think this will ensure more balloon flowers for next year.
The vibrant colors and design on this tiny leafhopper are not perceptible to the human eye.
The outer cell layer and veins of this big yellowing leaf look like something straight from google maps.
Looks like hand stitching or embroidery on a morning glory leaf.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Ade is the answer to some crossword clues such as summer cooler or fruity quaff, and I been quaffing a lot lately. But no canned, bottled, or powdered products for me. I like the real thing. There’s nothing like a refreshing, frosty glass of lemonade or limeade during these dog days of summer to cool us off.

For my afternoon mini indulgence. I just squeeze some juice from a lemon or lime into the glass or pitcher, add some agave nectar usually – my new find which I heartily recommend – or some sugar to taste, stir in some water and ice - and yum. I made orangeade for the kids when they were here last week from some wonderfully juicy oranges, and they seemed to like it.

It is one of summer's pleasures.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Take Care of Those Elbows

On the evening I got back from a long drive from Disney World, I began to feel a sensation of swelling in my left elbow as if it were filling with fluid. It turned into a hot ball of sqush for about a day and then mostly went away until the next week. Now it seems as if it is here to stay. I figure it is olecranon bursitis, the probable result of repeatedly and inadvertently banging it against my car door and arm rest on the drive back, which I didn't realize I was doing until I drove after the busitis appeared. I also used my elbows (as much as possible) to open doors in public restrooms and there were many trips during the five day stay. The bursitis is not painful but is more of a nuisance, and I am trying to protect it from further injury so it will heal. My elbow let me know I was abusing it. We look at other ways of abusing our bodies like bad diets and not exercising, but elbows are important, too. Matter of fact, all of our body parts are. I'm not complaining, just aware.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Gospel According to Toy Story

Lucky me…I got to see Toy Story 3 twice so far. I was smitten when the first one came out fifteen years ago, and this newest one is also wonderful. It’s not just an action packed Pixar marvel for kids; it’s also for grandmothers. This week when I saw it for the second time, I saw some Biblical principles at work. Buzz and Woody are fast friends and often have to keep the other grounded as in “You’re just a toy!” (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend”). Woody helps Lotso and gives him a second chance (“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”) They just have to look at the bottoms of their shoes and see their owner’s name written there to remind themselves who they belong to. Who do we belong to? Faith, forgiveness, redemption are embedded in the plot, too. In movies, we like happy endings, to see good triumph over evil and for love to conquer all, and why not. That is what the Bible is about.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day

Happy Birthday to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Friday, July 2, 2010


An interesting find in the yard today. I feel sure this is the shed exoskeleton of a cicada.