Thursday, June 30, 2005

Books, books, books

I've been doing a lot of reading in the past month or so, and I thought I'd list some of what I've read. My reading lately has been a lot like surfing the net: you read one thing, which leads you to something related, which leads you to something else that's a little related, and on and on.

It all started with this time-travel trilogy by R. Garcia y Robertson about a woman from the 21st century traveling back to the 15th century, in the middle of the Wars of the Roses. The first book is Knight Errant which I picked up on a desperate dash through B&N looking for airplane reading material. I ultimately read all three books (and there are apparently more coming) but I was disappointed in the story, most of the characterizations, and the author's writing style. However, when I went to the British Royal Family website and discovered that the male protagonist/romantic lead of the book ends up becoming king, it made me very interested to see how Garcia y Robertson would resolve that in the books. So far he hasn't.

So although it was a disappointing experience, I ended up getting a little taste for things royal, and I picked up a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a year or so. It's The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir and I got it at the Lost Colony gift shop in Roanoke. I hadn't read any of Weir's history books before, and I was amazed at what a riveting read this was. It read like fiction...and it helped that I wasn't completely up-to-date on my knowledge of events. I knew Edward VI would die young, and I knew Elizabeth would ultimately triumph and become queen, but the details of how it all played out are something I've forgotten in the 16 or 17 years since European History 101 in college. The action takes place about 100 years after the Wars of the Roses in Garcia y Robertson's books, and it's a different ruling family by now, the Tudors instead of the Plantagenets, but it was interesting to get in on the story down the road.

I went to the library the other day and found Weir's The Wars of the Roses, so I'm looking forward to cracking into that one and getting thoroughly lost, LOL.

Next, I hopped to a different royal family...the Romanovs of Russia in a piece of historical fiction called The Romanov Prophecy, by Steve Berry. Again, not the best-written thing I've ever read, but fun. The premise involves an American who stumbles across evidence that some of the royal family survived the massacre in 1918, and who ends up chasing across the globe looking for the heir to the throne. Kind of like North by Northwest but with Russians. And lots of interesting historical tidbits, although much of it was stuff I knew already. And it led me to finding a book called Five Empresses about five women who ruled Russia in the eighteenth century, starting with Catherine the Great. Again, it's a hop through time, this time backwards, but it's still a piece of the puzzle. And with my local library, you have to take what you can find...let's just say it leaves a lot to be desired.

After this, I picked up Berry's first novel, The Amber Room, about Nazi war loot, but it was a lot less deftly plotted and characterized. Still, worth a quick read if the war and art interest you, as they do me.

Finally, I went and picked up a book I've been wanting to read for several weeks, and could not find at the library: The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. I hear that this book is being hyped to death as a summer read, and I did find out about it through a well-placed feature story/review in USA Today, but I think it is worth the hype. The whole book is an homage to lovers of history, old books, and libraries. Oh, and vampires. The author overlaps three narrators, one in the 1930s, one in the 1950s, and one in the 1970s, as they each seek the story behind a book that has been bestowed upon them--a book with no words, just one woodcut picture at the center with a dragon holding a banner with the word "Drakulya." Some people have complained that the historical detail in the books is too dry, but I loved most of it--there was only one place where I felt bogged down. And the travel that takes place in the book--all over Eastern Europe, with descriptions of the towns, cities, and countrysides--I loved that as well.

Most of all, the book is about what a person will do for the people he or she loves, and the searching that each character does is really heart-wrenching. And I really appreciated the view of Eastern European history, which was not high on my list of topics to study in high school and college. Loved the book, loved it!

Next on my list is the aforementioned Wars of the Roses book, and then I think I might track down this one: Born to Rule, about the granddaughters of Queen Victoria. I'm still looking for some more good historical fiction, though, if anyone has any recommendations.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Baby sister

I am so glad I have a sister. Today was one of those days where I was just cranky and tired and I had an "upset hangover" where I was still feeling upset about something I'd gotten upset about last night and didn't get enough validation from my husband to satisfy me.

My sister and I had been playing phone tag all weekend, after she called me on Friday to say thanks for her birthday gift, so I called her up this afternoon at work and we had a nice long chat, with the sound of my niece and nephew playing outside in the background.

I am not a phone talker; I just don't gravitate toward the phone like most people do, and I think it's detrimental to my relationships. Especially with my sister, because I just don't think to call her as often as I should. And then once every three or four months, we'll have this good conversation, and I think, why don't I call her more often? Duh.

My sister Jenita is almost six years younger than I am, and she just celebrated her 29th birthday on Saturday. We have never had much in common...different interests, different lifestyles, and the age difference is combined with a personality difference, so for much of our growing up years, it was hard for us to relate to each other.

But the thing about a sibling, at least in my experience, is that somehow you always talk the same language, no matter how far apart you are. I hear my mother in my sister's voice, and I'm sure she hears that in my voice, too. And Jenita was just the person I needed to talk to about my upset hangover, because she could understand what I was saying and make the comforting noises back that moms and sisters and good female friends are so talented at making, and that husbands are so often lousy at, LOL. Most of the time when I'm upset, all I'm looking for is for someone to say, "Yes, I understand...that does really suck."

I love my sister.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Time travel in the garage

I took a little stroll down Todd's memory lane tonight. Sometime in the early 90's Todd's mom packed up a bunch of his childhood stuff. In 1995, when Todd's folks sold their house and bought a much, much smaller house, the boxes of Todd's things went to live in the room attached to my parents' garage, where they lived for ten years.

When we were home last Christmas, my mom ever so subtly hinted that it was time for the boxes to find a new home, as she was attempting to clear out some of the clutter from their lives. So home the boxes came, to sit in our garage for a few more months.

Todd emptied a few boxes several weeks ago, setting aside some things to keep and some things to try to sell on Ebay. But he wanted my help with the last couple of boxes.

Now, I am the last person you want helping you sort through sentimental stuff. I am fairly good at purging our belongings once or twice a year, but the sentimental stuff always triumphs over me. So tonight I took the camera to the garage with me, to get pictures of the things that will not stay with us, and also of the things that will go into spiffy new Sterilite boxes, seldom to see the light of day again. It's easier to let stuff go if you know you have a picture of it!

Here are just a few of the things we uncovered:

What boy's childhood would be complete without creepy-crawlies?

Notes, drawings, and high school senior year term paper, entitled "Comparing Grippers for Use in Multi-Purpose Robot Arms." Riveting, eh? (I was in the same class, my term paper was on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band." You can tell ours is a marriage of minds.)

Todd's baby plate, brush and comb, resting on his baby afghan. All together now: "Awwwwwww!"

A little homemade shirt that Todd's mom sewed for him. One more time: "Awwwww!" (You should see the print on this thing--large-headed Seventies kids doing wholesome Seventies activities. Very ummm...Seventies.) A vintage box of Legos: High school graduation cap and graduation party sign, complete with streamers: Ah yes, the Star Wars model that was never built. Don't worry, he completed plenty of others. Note the Star Wars jigsaw puzzle visible in the background.This was the stuff that made us a little sad. One is a birthday card from Todd's granddad, probably from just before he died...another is a card from Todd's other grandpa, from just before he passed away--the signature is so shaky. And a note to the family from Todd's great-grandma Fairbanks...speaking from 1979, about how lonely she is in the nursing home. Very sad. Todd's grandfathers would be so proud to see the man he is now, I just know it.

We'll end this on a happy's me with a little graduation doggy that Todd says I bought him for our high school graduation. I have no memory of that, and if I'd known him better then, I'd have known a stuffed animal was no way to win his heart. So we took a picture and Todd was finally able to throw it away, just like he probably wanted to do back in 1988!

Friday, June 24, 2005

The bumper sticker

We live in a condo complex, on the very last street in the development. Every day on my way home, I pass this white pickup truck parked on the corner, and every day it annoys me. On the rear bumper is a sticker that says "Marriage =" and then a little figure of a man and a woman with a plus sign between. One day I was walking past the owner's condo, and they had their second vehicle parked in their driveway, sporting the same sticker.

Every time I see it, I feel this flare of irritation. The "Bush/Cheney" sticker right above it probably does contribute to that feeling a little bit, but mostly it's the marriage sticker that does it.

So I’ve been trying to analyze why it irritates me. First of all, I'm curious why the owners of those vehicles picked that particular topic as the topic they want to share their opinion about with the world. Out of a hundred current topics, why gay marriage?

Well, first of all, I imagine that the truck owners believe homosexuality is a sin. That’s the foundation of the issue for most people who share their convictions.

I grew up in a fairly evangelical church, and I went to school at an extremely evangelical private school. And I honestly don't remember homosexuality being discussed. I vividly remember being told in Bible class that it was a sin to masturbate, but homosexuality...nah. Maybe it never crossed anyone's mind that a Christian kid would even have such thoughts and yearnings, I don't know.

As a result, I never had a strong opinion about homosexuality one way or another. Until I had a friend in my early adult years who was finally addressing the feelings he’d had all his life. His fear and self-hatred were incredibly painful. Accepting who he really was deep down came very hard for him. Watching him go through this process, it became clear to me that sin is a choice…and homosexuality is not a choice. I can’t accept that it’s a sin to be gay.

The next conclusion I see the truck owners making is that allowing gay people to marry somehow cheapens or demeans marriage as an institution. Or, from a Christian standpoint, if being gay is a sin, then a relationship based in sin can’t be part of the sacrament and covenant of marriage. But if love comes from God, as Christians also believe, then isn’t a love commitment holy?

When gay marriage was a hot topic on the news last fall, the stories would always feature footage of two men, or two women, finishing their vows and smiling and kissing each other. It never failed to make me teary-eyed. How often do you get to see two people of any sort experiencing a moment of pure joy? Especially on CNN? It always made me think of my own wedding and how happy I was at the end of that ceremony, and how happy I have been for 13 years with my husband. Seeing someone else—anyone else—make that commitment and experience that joy and hope…that could never diminish the legitimacy of my marriage. On the contrary, it actually reinforces my own memories of my vows and the way I try to live up to them. That, to me, is a beautiful thing.

The final thought I attribute to the truck owners is that gay marriage not only diminishes the institution of marriage, but is also a threat to society at large. It goes against the natural order of things, they might say. This, to me, is the most disturbing argument. I am a fairly conservative person, and I don’t like change. I don’t like the idea of our society losing its way. But of all the things that I think could bring us down, gay marriage isn’t one of them. War, poverty, casual theft, deception at all levels of government and finance, dishonesty, child abuse, bad parenting—yes. Gay marriage, no.

When people invoke the “endangered society” argument, the very first thing that springs to my mind is the uproar that took place years ago (and still takes place here and there, let’s be honest) at the idea of a black person and a white person getting married. People, plenty of them Christians, had lots of good reasons why that should never happen, why it was sinful and went against the proper order. Now we look back and see how wrong that was. I believe that our society should still be striving for all its citizens to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So the bumper sticker bothers me. It feels ugly to me, like it would if a neighbor had a racist bumper sticker or an anti-feminist bumper sticker. It’s an ugly thing to have to look at every day. And again, I just keep wondering what is it that has made this particular issue so important to the truck owners. If I spot them outside someday, maybe I’ll ask them. Or better yet, maybe they’ll move.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
Todd got some excellent photos Sunday night of our mama bird feeding her babies. We checked the birdhouse Tuesday night, and the babies had all flown away. I think they're still hanging around in our holly bush and eating from the birdfeeder.


I've been feeling grateful the past couple of days...I had to go in for a D&C ("dusting and cleaning" as my dr. calls it--har har, Doc) on Monday morning and I was a little bit nervous about it. It's been ten years since I've had surgery of any kind, and I wasn't at all sure what to expect. Since I had to take three days off work for the surgery and the recuperation, I was concerned that I would be feeling not-so-great for a while.

But the surgery was just like taking a nice little nap! I came home and slept for a few hours and then got up and tidied the kitchen, did a little laundry...feeling quite good. Yesterday I went shopping in Williamsburg and cleaned my scraproom. Haven't had a pain pill since right after the surgery, and I'm not bleeding like they warned me I would.

Today I got up early and felt awfully tired so I took a snooze on the couch, remembering that I am supposed to be taking it easy, after all, and this is my last day at home to do that! Maybe I overdid it a little bit yesterday.

Anyway, I am just really happy that I am feeling so good! Now, if the surgery will just help with my problems, then life will be spiffy.

In other news, I am trying to scrap, but it's like pulling teeth, LOL. Now THAT'S painful! My inspiration done dried up--for now, anyway.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Albums, albums, albums

I think I'm a tiny bit OCD about my scrapbook albums. I have fourteen 8.5x11 albums stuffed in 3-ring binders that I bought early on in my scrapping life. None of them match. And they're all extra-large, so the page slide around in them.

Tonight I went to Target and bought five new 3-ring binders, very plain, three red and two pale green, and transferred five albums over. I think they're looking okay on the shelf.However, now I have to go up to Williamsburg tomorrow and try to find nine more, since our local Target didn't have enough.

What I really need to do with these albums is to continue the process I started three years ago of consolidating layouts, editing out photos, and re-doing layouts so that there are fewer layouts, more concisely arranged. I did way too many five, six, seven page layouts early on, because I thought I needed to include every mediocre picture.

But I just don't want to muck around with re-doing stuff right now, because...I also have five 12x12 albums that need some attention. I had a small stack of layouts that were published, sent back to me, and then just sat in a pile, so today I replaced them all in their respective albums, and I have a few albums that are just too, too, too full. I try to do one album per year in my 12x12s, and 2002 is ready to pop. I guess we did a lot of interesting stuff that year, LOL. 2003 isn't much better, and 2004 isn't done yet but promises to be pretty full as well.

Added to that--I'm not totally happy with the albums I'm using for the 12x12s. The books themselves are great, but the covers are all different colors and patterns and I hate the way they look on the shelf. They're too expensive to replace, but I'm just not sure how to extend the 2002 book and what kind of book to order for 2004.

Ugh, I'm boring myself with this. And I suspect I am obsessing over albums because I don't feel like doing any scrapping even though I'm really getting far behind. I made a list of everything I wanted to work on the other day and got myself all twitterpated. I've never been one for goal-setting in my scrapbooking...I've never really kept track of how many pages I do or how many I need to do, but it might be a good idea to do that...put my head down and power through (Arrested Development quote).

Only a manaical scrapper would understand why I do this to myself. I mean, this is a hobby, for crying out loud. Being an insane perfectionist is not helping matters, either. I just need to think positive!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day, here are a few random things I learned from my dad:

--Family is important, and you can learn about yourself when you know their stories.
--History is living and breathing all around us if we just tune into it.
--Fresh-grown produce tastes better than store-bought.
--Taking care of the people you love should be your number-one priority.

And a few random things I've learned from my father-in-law:

--Work is what you do to pay for your hobbies.
--Don't take life too seriously.
--Simply enjoy the people you love.

Thanks, Dad and John! Love you both!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Our bird haven

Our bird haven
Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
We have baby birds living in the birdhouse--the second family this spring. Todd bought me the birdbath for our anniversary in May, and then he stuck our old birdfeeder out there for a total bird pampering experience. Too bad birds creep me out. Our crepe myrtle is finally starting to leaf out after we chopped it back in April, and we have shade once again.

Mint and coleus

Mint and coleus
Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
My pretty spearmint plant is doing so much better this year. I don't know if the change of locale helped, or the constant picking, or what. This is the mint that always grew around the well at my grandma's house, and we would pick a huge bowlful and make iced tea. Another evocative childhood smell and taste.


Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
I've never planted marigolds before, though they were always a staple in my dad's flowerbeds when I was a kid. The smell evokes childhood in a big way. I was going for the impression that they are spilling out of the big crock, but I think I should have planted them a little more densely.

Superheroes never get old

We went to see Batman Begins tonight with two other couples. On the way out of the theater, my DH mentioned seeing the first Batman movie in the theater and how we saw it over and over that summer...well, each of the four people we were out with tonight was in grade school when Batman came out. GRADE SCHOOL. Todd and I were in college. COLLEGE. If that don't make you feel old, nothing will. I spent the rest of the evening feeling like we were a mom and dad out with their kids. Ugh.

The movie was okay. Not terrible, but not great, either. I had only skimmed one review, so I was going in with no real preconceived ideas. (My favorite way to see a movie, incidentally.) I was pleasantly surprised to see Michael Caine playing Alfred--I adore Michael Caine, and he was very good. Christian Bale was also good as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I'd love to know the rationale for casting an unknown actor in that part, since the last three guys to play the role have all been big-name stars.

This movie was also far different from the four bombastic blockbuster-type movies that preceded it. Quieter, more character-driven, less cartoony. While I think the first (Michael Keaton) Batman movie was very much of its time, so this latest movie also seemed very much of its time. A definite Spiderman influence, with the hero searching for his role and dealing with the limitations of that role that life has forced upon him.

I love superheroes. I grew up watching "Justice League of America" with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Aquaman, and of course the Wonder Twins. And my siblings and cousins and I played superheroes for years and years. I love the first Superman movie, the first Batman movie, and both Spiderman movies. And I am SO excited about this Fantastic Four movie that's coming out in a few days--I was addicted to Fantastic Four comic books in the sixth grade.

There's a few things I like about superhero characters: they come from comic books, which have always fascinated me. (I wish I had had the money to indulge myself with comic books the way I wanted to when I was a kid. ) Most of the characters are rooted in the era from 1940-1960, which is a time that looms large in my imagination--I feel nostalgia for that era even though I didn't live through it. And then there's just the wonder of being a superhero--who doesn't imagine what it would be like to have superhuman powers? Totally cool, that's what it would be like.

And then of course, there's the very best thing of all about superheroes--they stay young and re-invent themselves every decade or so. I'm gonna have to start thinking like a superhero to get over the trauma of this evening, and figure out how to make myself feel young again.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Book Talk

Today I'm using this meme I read in Mimi's blog, because it's a topic near and dear to my heart.

1. Total Number of Books I've Owned:

This is not something I could even ballpark--it's gotta be in excess of 5,000, but numbers become hard for me to grasp once they get that large. Let's just say this: bookshelves have always been my most crucial piece of furniture, bookstores are my very favorite places on earth, and I have been cursed by moving men in four states because of my excessive number of very heavy boxes of books.

2. Last Book I Bought:

I bought several books for a flight three weeks ago: Errant Knight by R. Garcia y Robertson, and two humor collections by Laurie Notaro. I think those were the last, but I buy books like I buy bread and milk, so I may be forgetting something.

3. Last Book I Read:

The last book I read was White Rose, which is the third in the series begun with Errant Knight. They're time travel fantasy books with a terrific premise--third-millennium Hollywood producer ends up in the middle of the War of the Roses--but the plot development, characterization and narrative left a lot to be desired.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

A. the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The detail and the history of these books is just amazing, but it's the way the characters live their lives that has always inspired me.
B. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is a book with its roots deep in my psyche, because I spent the first five years of my life living near Hannibal, and the Mississippi River loomed very large in my life and imagination. Plus, it's America in book form.
C. Lake Wobegon Days. Another American classic. This was a book I always turned to when my real world seemed too harsh and I needed to go to a place that was friendlier. Between the ages of 16 and 24, I must have read LWD 100 times. For a long time I wrote just like Garrison Keillor!
D. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. This is the book that taught me that detail is what brings writing to life. It's a little gem.
E. The King James Bible. I grew up to the cadences of the KJV in church and in school, and it shaped my love of words and language.

5. People I Will Infect With This Meme:

Bev, will you give this one a shot? I am so curious to hear your answers!

Being known

I had the beginnings of a deep thought at work today while I was packaging die cuts. (Packaging die cuts is quite conducive to deep thought...very Zen.) My friend Donna asked me the other day why people blog:

“Why are these so hot? Like, what's in us to be so into both writing them and reading them?? Is it our strong, innate desire to be known? Are we less known in our culture today?? Do you feel more ‘known’ yourself when you peer into someone else’s thought life?”

I told her I didn’t know, but it made me start to think about why I finally decided blogging would be worthwhile for me to do. Specifically, why do I want to be known? Even more specifically—do I want to be known?

I have always been a reserved person, even as a child. Being honest with people is hard for me, showing my flaws and faults is hard for me, making myself vulnerable is very hard for me. I have always felt lonely because I never feel like people know me, and yet I am the one who is unwilling to really let people know me. It takes a long time for me to let down the barriers, and in most of my relationships, the barriers never come down completely. Worse yet, on occasions when I do push down a few stones from the wall, I almost always deeply regret it. Or I am made to regret it.

So I’ve been a little frustrated with my blogging so far—I feel like I need to be more personal and deep so that whoever reads my blog will know me better, and yet--! There are people who know me in “real life” who may end up reading this blog! How can I be real and personal in front of them?

It was that thought that really brought me up short. I can write about personal things for the relative strangers who might stumble across it, but the thought of a friend or family member actually reading what I truly feel—that appalls me. Um, yeah. Anybody have a pickax? Because I’ve got a bonafide Red Communist-type Berlin Wall around my true self, and I don’t think that’s helping me anymore in my life. If it ever did. Which it probably didn’t.

Our friends Brian and Sonja got married last spring in a very old and beautiful Episcopal church in Smithfield. During the ceremony, the priest read from 1 Corinthians 13, certainly no big surprise there. I’ve heard that chapter a thousand times in my life, and not just at weddings. But the priest had a translation that I’d never heard before. The verse was, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Except instead of the word “know,” this particular translation used the word “understand.”

“…then shall I understand, even as I am fully understood.”

Well. It was one of those moments that just slaps you between the eyes. That little word change made all the difference. God understands me. Sure, he knows me, he’s known me before I was ever conceived, as the psalm says, that’s old news to me, but—he understands me. And he doesn’t just understand me—he fully understands me.

This seems to me to be really what we crave in life. It’s easy to know stuff. I know all kinds of stuff, from WW II history to useless movie trivia to the birthdays of everyone in my family. And I know a lot of people. I’ve encountered lots of people, and I know them, to one degree or another.

But understanding? That’s on a whole other level. The TV news channels are full of people who know stuff…but how often do you see anyone who actually understands anything? Understanding runs deeper. It’s knowing what’s underlying, what the undercurrents are, what’s underground. It’s seeing the underpinnings and what’s way down underneath. See that common word? If God understands me, if he fully understands me, then he sees everything I’ve got down under. And if the verse is true, then he gets it and he accepts it. All of it.

So maybe some of us out here are blogging to be known, and maybe some of us are blogging to be understood. Or to understand ourselves. Or maybe it’s a mixture of all of those things. I don’t know who will read this after I hit post. And I think I’m okay with that. It’s a tiny step towards knocking down a piece of wall and allowing myself to be known. And maybe even understood.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Worker bee

Super long day at work today, I was on my feet almost the whole 8 hours. We kept having these mini-rushes of customers, I was bagging, pricing and hanging die cuts, and then I ended up rearranging half the store. Which is sort of fun. It dawned on me this morning that we still have Easter stuff up on our front display, and spring papers in the rack next to I grabbed some summery stuff from around the store and some of our new summer-themed die cuts.

Die cuts...that sounds extremely passé to a seasoned scrapper, but they are our stand-by. They're custom-made by the owner, mostly titles, but a few other odds and ends, too, and they are almost singlehandedly keeping us in business. I'm sure there are some advanced scrappers in Virginia, but I have only met a handful. Most of our customers are just starting out, and they loooove the die cuts. We feature titles for all the main tourist attractions here, of which there are many, and also a large military section with titles/frames for all the bases here, of which there are also many.

I had to explain scrapbooking from the ground up to a customer again today..."This is an album. It's post-bound, which means there are metal posts that hold the pages in. These are page protectors, they're like pockets. You put your photos on cardstock, which is heavyweight plain paper, or patterned paper, which is lighter weight...." Yada yada yada. I totally don't mind explaining--that's my job--but it is always hard for me to shift my mind that far back. I have spent so many years happily immersed and chatting away with dozens--hundreds! of like-minded's odd to think of someone who's never given my world a thought until now. I mean, how did they manage to struggle through life before? LOL. It's fun to see that glimmer of excitement grow in their eyes as you explain. Too bad they don't realize the damage that's about to be done to their credit cards.

The heat finally, finally broke tonight...tomorrow's high is supposed to be in the mid-80's. Sounds heavenly. Time for bed and my cool bedroom--we have a separate a/c unit in our bedroom in addition to the central air, courtesy of the previous owner who was a tech guy for the county and who had his computer center in what is now our bedroom. The past few nights I have been loving that extra a/c, even if Todd won't let me turn it to "deep freeze" setting like I want.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I waved Lisa and Evelyn off this morning bright and early. Evelyn was in a bit of a mood, so I'm hoping the journey went really well and that she slept for a lot of it!

We completely enjoyed Evelyn, though. She warmed up to us fairly well...I think I was expecting her to just come to us and let us hold her and take her hand the way our other nieces and nephews do, but she has spent far, far less time with us, so she was a little wary. But she did talk our ears off. I like talking to toddlers so much. In fact, I like toddlers. Those years from two to four, kids are poised so perfectly between innocence and consciousness. Yes, they are completely unreasonable and cry at the drop of a hat, but I love their turns of phrase and their little voices and the way they are constantly trying to piece the world together.

A sampling of Evelyn:
"Where ya goin'?"
"Whatcha doin'?"
"Whose road this is?"
"Whose somebody's beach this is?"
"We going to my house?"
"We going to Aunt Janelle's house?"
"Too sunny, Ma!"
"That water tastes bad." (salty ocean water)
"Hide, Uncle Todd!"
"Do 'gain!"
"Do 'gain!"
"Do 'gain!"


Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
Monday at the beach...Evelyn was just not sure about the waves, but once she got wet, she relaxed and started running through the shallows shouting "I not scared anymore! I not scared anymore!" Todd took this one--I love how he captured the splash.

Ev's first ice cream sandwich

Ev's first ice cream sandwich
Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
I like taking indoor photos without a flash, even if they do end up a little blurry. Evelyn was quite delighted with the concept of an ice cream sandwich. Who wouldn't be, really?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A few moments of quiet...

...Todd's sister and our little niece Evelyn are visiting us for a few days, so my computer time has been minimal. Plus, I've worked the past three days, including this afternoon, when I stared out at the sunshine and waited for customers that never arrived. What a waste of a perfectly good day! I came home at 5 and everyone was gone, so I snuck up to my computer for a few minutes. Tonight we're having grilled marinated flank steak for dinner, accompanied by pasta salad and tomato salad. I can't wait for them to come back from wherever they went.

Hark, I hear the door opening and a little voice...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Natalie and Marissa

Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
Natalie looks quite happy to be a big sister. Marissa doesn't know how lucky she is!

Nice stuff

Things are going fairly well in the creating second day off this week and I am finishing stuff (layout below), submitting stuff, and even coming up with some new stuff (cards, cards, cards). Tomorrow will be all about getting ready for company this weekend (grocery store, cleaning, toddler-proofing), so this is my scrapping day.

I had a nice little surprise yesterday when Shawna from Memory Makers called and requested a layout that I completely forgot existed, let alone that I had submitted it to them at some point in time. It will be in the November issue; it's about a chair that we picked up at an auction and had reupholstered. I persist in calling it my $35 chair, though the reupholstering was substantially more than that! Anyway, I'm really pleased about that call, it's renewed my hopes a little.

I'm just so happy about that new baby, I've been smiling all day. Our cousin Marissa will be so thrilled to know the baby shares her name! I can't wait to get some more pictures of the little cutie.


Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
My sis sent me these photos at least a year ago, but I only stumbled across the perfect paper for them a few days ago at the store. Something about those little umbrellas and boots just makes me happy. I applied Doodlebug stitch rub-ons around the edge--they may be too subtle to be seen here. (Too subtle to be seen--my trademark, LOL.) Letter stickers are MAMBI, so old they could be considered antiques. I sprayed the tags with Stylish Dyelights from Scrapping With Style, and I was really pleased with how they came out. This layout is just for me, nice, fun, simple.

It's a girl!

My brother and his wife had a baby girl this morning, Marissa Kathryn! A total surprise, to me, anyway--I wasn't expecting this for a couple more weeks. I am so, so, delighted to be an auntie again and have a new kid in my life to love.

In the past 5 years, Todd and I have been the lucky recipients of one nephew and six nieces. (Our other nephew Tanner was born way back in the 90's.) It's been a veritable shower of babies for a long time, and I think Marissa will be the last one from any of our siblings, which makes me a little sad. But watching them all grow up is a delight in itself, as they develop their personalities and interests...bittersweet to be sure, but also a joy.

So welcome to the world, Marissa Kathryn--you have so many people who will love you and cherish you. May you have a long and joyful life!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The voice in my head said something really cruel to me last night as I was surfing through the What’s New? section at GoneScrappin.

“Janelle,” it said, “Take your hand off the mouse. Your credit card is melting. Your scraproom walls are bulging. You are trying to substitute buying for creating. Quit it now and wheel that chair over to your scrap table.”

Dang, that voice is so mean. Okay, so I keep seeing papers and ribbons and embellies that would look great on all the cards and layouts in my head. And I keep buying those papers and ribbons and embellies. That doesn’t mean I’m not creating!

Well, okay, actually it does. It’s such a sneaky form of avoidance, too, because it IS related. I mean, you’re stocking up, right?--you’re getting more creative fodder for yourself, via nice big Priority boxes and pretty bags from the LSS. How can that be wrong? Especially when you’re in a field that requires the newest and hottest all the time, and the newest and hottest keeps changing in the blink of an eye.

Scrapbooking and paper crafts are tricky professional fields to navigate, particularly if you want to think of yourself as an artist, as opposed to a designer. Because I believe that art and consumption are pretty incompatible. Yet scrapbooking is about consumption. It’s about the scrapbookers buying stuff, more stuff, newer stuff, all the time…and for designers, it’s about selling them that new stuff with the projects you create. Don’t kid yourself, that really is what it’s all about.

So anyway, here I am buying product to use for projects, thinking that I am giving myself more to work with, more to catch the eye of an editor…and I have a sneaking suspicion that what I am really doing is stifling myself creatively. At least at the point I’m at right now, where it’s borderline obsessive.

Hmm, that felt epiphanic. Maybe I should pull out some Sark books and meditate on this creativity thing a little more.

Big Giant Heads

Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
Here we are at the beach, not that you can tell from this arm's-length camera-phone shot. But trust me, there's water and sand all around us!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Weekend doings

Todd and I went to the beach on Saturday, our first trip this year. I can’t believe it took us so long, but we have been having busy weekends ever since the weather got warm. We always go to Sandbridge, which is south of Virginia Beach—a nice family-type of beach that still feels close to nature, without all the hotels and shops that Virginia Beach features.

A couple was getting married on the beach right by the pier when we got there, with a small group of family and friends around them. The wedding party was dressed traditionally, but everyone else was casual. The bridesmaids wore sundresses in periwinkle blue with floaty layered skirts, and the groomsmen had shirts in that same blue, with light tan suits. The bride had a traditional white gown. I stood in the surf and watched from a distance. The longer I’m married, the more I love weddings. Taking those vows is such a momentous and timeless thing. So hopeful, so full of faith.

We also watched Finding Neverland over the weekend--nobody warned me it was going to be a weeper. I hate weepers! Actually, I thought it was excellent, even if I did bawl through the last 30 minutes. Big emotional movies are not my favorite thing, and the ending felt a little manipulative and drawn-out, but I liked the idea of holding onto your childish fancies and your sense of wonder even when you are confronted by the harsh realities of life. I thought the movie juxtaposed those two extremes really well: the beauty of our fantasies against the cruelties that life can throw at you. And the only thing sexier than Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp with a Scottish accent. Kate Winslet was gorgeous and wonderful as always, too.

I've been given the unexpected bonus of two days off this week, so I am going to really try to crank out the cards for Paper Crafts. I have a lot of good ideas sketched out, now I need to strap myself into my chair and make the ideas reality. Maybe I can scrap some, too...that would be such a good thing to do!

I strolled into work today and was immediately confronted by a bunch of new Making Memories foam stamps. Had to buy some, even though I have no place to put them. Gemiel Matthews was in the store today and asked me how I store mine--I told her if she comes up with a great idea to rush over and let me know! I think I'd use my foam stamps more often if I wasn't trying to cram them all back in those little boxes every time.

While I'm name-dropping, I waited on two HOFers at the store Sunday and didn't even know it: Lisa Storms and Traci Turchin. That's what I get for not keeping up with these important things the way I used to. So girls, if you're out sorry I didn't fawn over you, because you deserve at least a little pampering and fawning!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Golden Sun

Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
My niece Gianna at the beach--this page will go opposite her brother's below in my album. I used Heidi Swapp rub-ons on this one and now I'm all paranoid that they'll flake off. LOL.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A few of my favorite things

Originally uploaded by JScrappy.
Steph from Two Peas posted this challenge in her blog: to take a picture of your favorite thing in your scraproom. I have a few favorite things in this shot: my vintage cups that hold q-tips and cotton balls, the card I made with a picture of my nephew, my niece and nephew's handprints, my altered clipboard, and two of the magazine covers I've had projects on. This is the least messy corner of my scraproom. :p


Okay, day three of rain and I'm starting to get grumpy. Actually, I have been feeling that old depressive cycle start up again. It's so funny, when I'm at the top of the cycle I feel so good, being depressed feels like a thing of the past that will never happen again. Then the descent starts and it's, "Oh yeah...this again." The one good thing about it is that I can see now how the cycle works and that the bad feelings will go. All part of my efforts to avoid defining myself by my depression, to see that I am not my feelings, and the things my brain tells me are not always true.

Last night I was feeling sad because I think my days as a published scrapper are over. For a couple of reasons: the magazine calls for submissions have dried up to almost nothing, particularly from the Primedia mags (CK and SS) which incidentally are the only ones that pay reasonably. I checked out Scrap-Submit for the first time in a couple of months last night and there was almost NOTHING, even less than there was the last time I submitted to several calls. (With no luck, incidentally.)

Also, I think my style has remained more-or-less the same, while the scrapping industry's style has moved far, far beyond me. I have a simple mind that thinks of simple things...not a desirable look anymore. I am generally satisfied with my talent--until I see what other people can dream up in their amazingly fertile minds. LOL.

I keep making this decision to get over myself and scrap for my own enjoyment...the problem is that I don't really enjoy it too much anymore. Feels like a chore. Yet I feel like I can't take a break or I will get even further behind and also not be able to keep up with trends lest I decide to jump back in and submit again down the road. Ridiculous!

Ah well, there are far worse problems to have. This is the time to be nice to myself, and take myself in hand to get through the low part of the mood cycle, however long it might last. It's like preparing yourself for a journey and packing the provisions you will need--in this case, a sense of humor and perspective, patience, and kindness/gentleness towards myself.

Now. Let's get this day over with. LOL.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A case of the drizzles

I came in the front door looking like a drowned rat this afternoon--why did I put a mirror in the hallway? It wasn't pretty.

I had my typical "day off" dilemma this morning: "It's my day off! Time to get something done around here!" versus "It's my day off! Time to go do something fun!" I dithered around in my scraproom pushing papers back and forth, and then at 10 decided to give up and do some shopping.

I headed up to Williamsburg via the Colonial Parkway, which is a lovely little tourist road that runs along the York River and then heads into the woods and on up past Colonial Williamburg, on to Jamestown. It's a dismally cold and rainy day here, and the trees were a million shades of lush green, with wet black trunks. Driving that road is one of my favorite things about living here.

I stopped in at Stampin' Memories, which I swore I would never go back to last fall, after one too many trips during which I needed a bathroom and had to walk halfway down the plaza to T.J. Maxx because the store doesn't let customers use their bathroom. But while cleaning out a purse, I noticed I had an almost-full punch card, so I thought it would be worth running up there to finish it off. Besides, I needed some inspiration for the magazine calls that are pending this month.

I didn't do too badly: a couple sheets of new Scenic Route paper, a silver leafing pen (because I ADORE my gold leafing pens--they're from Krylon and they're fantastic), a Hero Arts "dead flower" stamp, some little odds and ends. I can't believe I can be sitting in my scraproom one moment, literally feeling the weight of all my scrap/stamp crap pressing in on me...and then the next minute, be off buying more of said crap. One of my charming little idiosyncracies.

On the way home, I drove through Yorktown in order to check out some of the new shops by the river. Yorktown has spent several months and a pile of money spiffing up its riverfront area, spurred on by some of the flooding and damage that took place during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and it's all looking pretty charming. There never was much by the river: a small beach, a few restaurants, a motel...but now the beach has been enlarged, a pier/marina has been added, and a cute little brick parking garage with cute little brick shops and a visitor center along the water, in the shadow of the Coleman Bridge across the York River. The new shops are perfectly proportioned for the tiny waterfront area, and nothing competes with the massive bridge, which dominates the scene, as well it should.

I'm excited about the shops because my one spot for buying clever little gifts closed up shop a month or two ago, and I was badly in need of some new sources of fun little luxuries for gifting others as well as myself. I bought the neatest tote bag for my sister's birthday--it's vinyl orange gingham with teal trim, and it converts from a tote bag into a small handbag with the help of a bottom piece and some snaps on the bottom edge. I mean, this thing is CUTE. I guess they featured this line of bags in Country Home last month.

I bought myself some lip gloss...I think the last time I bought lip gloss was in 1986, so I was due. I spent a hell of a lot more this time around than I probably did in 1986, but then, thankfully I have more money now, which isn't hard since I was a broke teen in 1986. This is some nice gloss, vanilla cupcake-flavored, which should make me irresistable to my better half. That's the plan, anyway.

And the bridge was opened while I was down there, to let a ship through from the Cheatham Naval Annex upriver...I stood in the rain and drenched myself to get some pictures, because it's a really cool home, opened the camera, and--no memory card. These are the moments in life that will eventually drive me crazy, I just know it. Todd thinks he can retrieve the photos somehow, but I am dubious.

So the "day off dilemma" was solved in favor of Fun rather than Work, my shoes and purse are soaked, and I have new toys to try to find a place for. A successful day in my book, and I'm grateful for the luxury of it!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My nephew Angelo during a recent trip to visit us. Posted by Hello

Sing a song of June

I hate it when people have birthdays at the very beginning of the month, because by the time I realize the month has changed, it's way late to send a card. Case in point, my aunt Molly who will be celebrating a milestone birthday tomorrow. The card goes out today because June snuck up on me. As did May, April, March...this whole year is speeding by in record time.

My aunt Molly is one of those gifted people who knows how to make a house a home. When I was 6 or 7 years old, she and my uncle John bought an old brick schoolhouse in the countryside and spent the next 20 years or so remodeling it and making it into a house. But it was always a home, even when there wasn't much money at first to fix all the things that needed to be fixed. There was always room for my siblings and I to have tea parties with our cousins, and books to curl up with and read; there were always photos and knickknacks and treasures appealingly arranged. I have always felt welcome at Molly's house.

And she, along with all of my aunts, always made me feel treasured and valued, too. Molly has such a soft heart for kids and their needs and wants. I love seeing her with my niece Kylie--they have a little song about a squirrel that is their special song to sing together, complete with hand motions. Molly is one of the people who taught me how to be an aunt and how to cherish the little people my siblings have blessed me with.

One of those little people is due to arrive this month, too--another fact that snuck up on me with the month of June. My brother's second child will be making an appearance this month. The other night I dreamed they had a boy (which I am secretly rooting for) and named it Towando Brian Raymond...and a couple other names I can't remember. I was appalled and arguing with them--Towando? Towando? They always keep their baby names a secret until the baby comes, so I guess I was worried deep down that they've chosen something awful for this baby. LOL.

So here's to calendar is full of events and deadlines already and the month has barely begun. And I'm starting off the month sending a belated birthday card...this doesn't bode well, does it?