Friday, July 17, 2009

Do I Detect Man-Sweat in the Neighborhood????

Princes Charming ThisGuyFromOutEast and ThisGuyFromOverWest rolled in just about time for lunch. "Anything we can help with?" they asked. My keen eyes detected rippling muscles and brute strength beneath the sleeves of their summer t-shirts.


Actually, you could move a couple of things from the garage to the upstairs. Like that dresser over there. It's pretty heavy though......

After moving furniture we all sat outside and had sandwiches, some beverages and lovely conversation during which they mentioned when they offered to help they sorrrrrrta had in mind something along the lines of chopping vegetables.....maybe husking the sweet corn. The whole dresser-thing??? Well. That was a bit of a surprise.

Y'know what? They dove right in and took care of business. That big dresser was up my stairs and in my bedroom before I'd fried up the bacon or sliced the tomatoes. I love that about guys from out of town. They ended up cleaning my whole garage.

Thanks boys. Big smooches to the top of both your precious heads. Youz the bestest.

And more of the same to my best girl who kept us smiling and laughing as we enjoyed the summer afternoon. A thousand hugs to my little one. Good to have you home.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

I had horrible shoes when I was a kid. This was before rows and rows of try-'em-on-yourself styles at WalMart and Payless. We shopped at proper shoe stores and my feet were short and wide. Like Flintstone feet sorta. I remember a shoe guy dropping that torturous Victorian metal measuring deal with the slide in-thing for foot width near my toes and laughing to my mom, "This kids foot is shaped like a loaf of bread."

Thanks for making a 3rd-grade kid feel special, Bubba.

All this as background to let you know why I love looking at shoes. Other peoples shoes. Not mine. My head it still back in that old shoe store, intimidated and self-conscious. I buy functional shoes in sensible colors and styles that I wear until they fall apart. But I LOVE looking at the fun shoes OTHER people choose.

My Tuesday night class is a parade of foot fashion.

Are those too cute????

And how about these???
Yup, the ladies in my class have some fun, fun shoes.

When I see them walk into class in the shoe-choice-o-the-week, it always makes me think of one of my favorite all-time songs and videos. You know how everyone has at least one movie they would watch over and over and over and never tire of it? This video comes from one of mine. Love Kevin Bacon. Loved the movie. My first car was a VW bug just like his.
And oh how I loved to dance before my knees turned to Cap'n Crunch.


Hail Yes, it Hailed

You gotta see this.
The wind came up around midnight.
The rain started.
And then it hailed.

From my second floor bedroom I could hear the chunks of ice hitting the shingles and knew they had to be big. It didn't last long, but for a short while it sounded like God was dumping out the ice cube trays of heaven.

Next morning I checked out the pots on my patio to see how my flowers and plants had weathered the storm. Everyone seemed to be fine but I found evidence of the the night's drama in one pot.

Take a look.

One of the pots took a direct hit from a hailstone and left a crater as evidence.
That was a pretty big chunk of ice. And I should mention I left my car parked outside that night instead of tucking it in the garage.

Yeah, there are three dents. Not enough to clear my deductible but the biggest one is right in the middle of the hood so I can enjoy looking at it until the wheels fall off my car.

Gotta love Mother Nature, that girl has one wicked sense of humor.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I was driving home from work this afternoon after leaving the building a few minutes early. As I walked down the sidewalk to my car, I felt something on the top of my head. Like something dropped out of the tree branches overhead. A leaf maybe??? I swept the top of my head with my hand and continued to my car.

It was warm outside, I had my windows rolled down like always. I'm cruising down the road, singing with the radio when something sort of itched on the back of my neck. I reached back there....and felt a HUGE bug sitting just below my hairline. A big ol' crusty June-bug kinda bug, if my sense of feel is right. Could be wrong. I screamed and went into serious survival mode.

Yeah, he was biting me. Or nibbling or something.
And helllllll yeah I screamed LOUD and I swerved the car with my right hand as I grabbed the bug with my left hand and flung it out the window.

I never really SAW it.
I felt it. (Yuck!!!)
And I heard it. (ZZZzzz. YUCK!!!!!)
Out of the corner of my eye it was dark and ominously huge.
Fanged, possibly. Can't be sure.
I'm certain.

I hate bugs.
No picture to prove it but I can feel a little welt on my neck. I'm sure it's there.
They say June bugs don't bite. THEY have never had a June bug on their neck.
Dang thing bit me.

And that's just about as much adventure as I care to enjoy today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sand in my Hair

One of my favorite weekends of the summer: just a couple of plane hops to Stone Harbor, a bit of a drive down the Atlantic City Expressway and we're tucking ourselves into seaside saltbox bedrooms. I go to sleep listening to the ocean roar beyond the sand dunes that rise just a handful of yards from my open window. In the morning I walk the beach as seagulls breakfast out of the morning tide and leave open shells for me to collect and carry back to Iowa. I'll cement the little hinged memories into my patio birdbath and remember the mornings I gloried in the simple luxury of an outdoor shower. There is something so decadently delicious about shampooing your hair in the morning sunshine.

It's a working weekend, most of which is spent talking to customers at Trendz Gallery in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Once I shower the sand from my feet after my morning walk it's all about Sticks until well after dark, but you won't hear any complaining from me. Saturday as I sat in the outdoor garden where we meet with customers all weekend I looked around and sighed and laughed to my co-worker and friend Amy, who traveled with me to the show, "sucks to be us..."

I took pictures of everything I could see from my spot on the bench under the blue Atlantic skies.

This is where holly spends it's summers, I guess. Before it packs up and heads to Iowa in the form of Christmas wreaths.

In between visits with customers I dropped crumbs of a blueberry muffin on the ground for little birds and they entertained me by taking their morning bath in this fabulous piece that sits in the shade of the garden.

A metal sculpture combining a contemporary design and process with a vintage sentiment.

I love garden art.

Inside the gallery a new friend and sales rep for Heather Moore's line of beautiful, handcrafted gold and silver charm jewelry was helping shore visitors choose and design one-of-a-kind pieces. Fabulous jewelry. Just gorgeous. Fun to spend the weekend with you, Gabriella. Keep in touch!!

Ok, a little weird. I'd have to agree.

But aren't they fun?!!!

I love the contrast of these smooth stone eggs against the random ribbons of glass another artist wove into sweet little dishes. The eggs are tiny, like quail.

Not to forget my best girls. Sticks Hallelujah Ladies.
At Stone Harbor, they're mermaids with fabulous hair and the requisite sea shells placed....just cover their assets.

What is great art?
Ponder that a bit. There is no "right" answer.
It's different for all of us.

For me, it's something that makes me smile.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I Love a Truck Stop

I do! I love truckstops.
Haven't wandered one yet that I couldn't find some sweet, trashy little Hello-From-Ogalalla souvenir kinda thing that I've just got to take home and keep forever and ever.

Mid-Nebraska we hit a roadside BP fill-er-up and there it was: the perfect Independence Day commemorative. Sparkly and snazzy, a red, white and blue burst of fireworks on a long enough chain that it hung juuuuuuuuuuust right, all cozy and everything.

God Bless America, is this a great country or what.
Bernie thinks so. I could tell by the look in his eyes. Teri and I fell in love with BP Bernie when he nodded approval over our necklace purchases from behind the Waco counter. A nice lady coming out of the women's restroom was kind enough to snap a picture. As they say............the rest is history.

Isn't that a face and a smile you could just give a big ol' kiss?

We LOVE you Bernie!!!! See you next trip!!!!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Best Judy

I met my friend Judy years ago when I spent time in Denver studying. Feeling just a bit displaced and slightly lost in the wake of my recent divorce, she adopted me like she's done with countless other wayward souls over the years. She's been like a mom to me ever since. Our relationship has been mostly via email exchanges flying back and forth between the our keyboards over the years because of the distance between our homes.

The few in-person visits we've enjoyed are memorable treats. She has enlightened me and taught me through her experiences and wisdom. She's an incredible person. Gatherings in her little home --- which I've described here before --- can best be described as "holding court": Judy, usually in pink, center-stage, regaling the likes of me and her other friends, with tales of her life. She makes us laugh until we hurt.

Judy is a woman of great faith. I've learned so much through her eyes and gentle suggestions. A few years back Judy told me she was driving in the mountains, something she just loved to do. She had a destination in mind but no real time schedule. At some point as she drove along enjoying the morning she explained to me she felt like she was supposed to pull off the road. She did so, parking the car on a side road and looked around at the beautiful scenery. In that moment, a beautiful, bright rainbow appeared she described it....just surrounded her with the most incredible colors and sense of peace she had ever, ever experienced. She sat there for the longest time, enveloped in the moment and feeling like she was experiencing the arms of God wrapped around her. Rainbows became a special symbol to Judy.

It wasn't too many months after that moment in the mountains, Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It was in her lungs and her bones and oh my goodness, I'm not sure where else, it was just everywhere. "Termites" she called them, not tumors. She defied the doctors insistence she'd be dead and buried within a couple months time. "If it's all the same to you," she said "I'm not ready to leave yet."

No, she certainly was not. It's more than 2 years later.

I emailed Judy in June to tell her my best friend Teri and I were coming to spend the 4th of July with her. A frenzy of emails flew back and forth, I'm sure she fussed over her apartment a bit. She told me she was making a grocery list so we could shop for her once we arrived. Last Thursday Teri and I threw our bags in the car and headed West toward Denver.

Life truly is what happens while we're making all our grand plans. As we covered the miles across Nebraska toward the Rocky mountains, Judy's little body reached the point she'd had just about enough. By the time we arrived in Colorado her family had tucked her into the comforting arms of hospice where she is now free of pain, surrounded by her family and waiting for the moment she finally goes home.

We didn't see Judy this weekend.
We decided it would be best to let her family have their final moments with her and we will remember her the way we saw her last: smiling, laughing, fussing over our coffee cups with refills, covering our knees with deliciously soft chenille throws for the chill in the winter air and whispering a gentle warning.....Debbie, don't tip back in that chair, it's' old and it's cracked............just as I did exactly that and landed flat on my back in the middle of her living room. Everyone felt like royalty at Judy's house. How befitting she'll soon be wearing a crown in heaven.

The coolest thing happened on the way home from Denver. Rain fell as we drove out of town. We were talking about the weekend. Talking about Judy and our memories of her. Beyond Denver, wide spaces opened up, green and lush against a dark, stormy sky. As the wipers swiped across the windshield of my car, a rainbow appeared. It was intense, bright and beautiful. Incredibly so. It was like we were driving toward the most brilliant, colorful arch of light you could imagine.

And then...........

.....the arm of the rainbow stretched down out of the sky.......

....over the road.....

...........until it touched the hood of the car. Literally. As we drove, the filmy golds and pinks and greens glistened off the hood of our car in the rain. Just as Judy experienced perfect peace all those long months ago, we felt it now, reminded of the grace with which she has walked through this long and difficult battle with her termites.

An amazing rainbow, the perfect ribbon wrapped around what has been the most beautiful gift of a friendship with an amazing woman. We love you, Judy.