Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Porch is cleaned off, ceramic jack o'lanterns are in place, pumpkins and pretty chrysanthemums are bought, glowsticks are ready to glow, pumpkin bowl is filled with yucky Smarties so I won't be tempted to indulge, wind is rustling the leaves, and it's a crisp and chilly...80 degrees. Oh well, you can't have everything!

If I get motivated in what remains of the afternoon, I might make a
Halloween banner. This site is awesome...she also has a little doll you can play Halloween dress-up with: 13 Nights of Halloween. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ouchie mouthie.

I had a root canal under sedation on Friday morning, and my mouth feels pretty raw on that side still. It's been a weekend of Vicodin haze and macaroni-and-cheese. I can't wait to leap back into real life tomorrow morning, do some shopping, enjoy life without dread.

Did you ever have something looming and looming and looming and the sense of dread just kept getting bigger and heavier until you could hardly stand it anymore? That's how this root canal was. The tooth has been a problem for three months, and the root canal has been scheduled for a month. I have a tremendous dentist phobia and a terrible gag reflex, so we had to track down a dentist who would provide sedation. But I was still so worried about it, because it was "conscious sedation" (sounds like an oxymoron, that) and no one could assure me that I wouldn't end up waking up and gagging/panicking in the midst of it all and not only forfeit the mega-bucks for the procedure but end up losing the tooth as well.

Friday morning I felt like a condemned criminal awaiting the chair, but the lovely, lovely drugs took right over and the whole thing went really well. SUCH a relief! Halcion is my hero. And everyone at the dentist's office treated me so nicely. What a load off my mind. At least until the next tooth problem.

While I've been preoccupied with my dentist phobia, Todd has been preoccupied with a job change. He submitted his resignation a week ago, and he'll start at his new job a week from tomorrow. It was a long process, and a hard decision, but we're really hoping the change will end up being the right thing. He needs work that will use his skills to the fullest and give him a challenge and some new things to learn, and I think this job will do that for him. It's so hard to make a break and leave the comfort zone, though.

I scrapped a page for the first time in about three months this evening. I hate it! I can't figure out where the enjoyment went, but it's just gone. I feel like I have to try, though...when Gianna was here in June, I pulled out a scrapbook and we looked at it, and there was a very simple page with her as a baby/toddler, and lots of details I wrote about what she was like and all the things I loved about her then. This was right before we left Ohio, and I knew I wouldn't get to see her every week, and it was so sad for me.

I just felt so grateful to have that documentation of her at that moment in time, and now I have all these other kids in my life, and the time with them is so limited and fleeting...I know I have to get things down so I'll remember them. So that was why I did a page on Evelyn tonight. But it was hard and I didn't enjoy it. Ugh.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Sunday was my thirty-sixth birthday. I had a low-key but fun weekend...Saturday we went to the Poquoson Seafood Festival, which is just a town fair with craft vendors and games for the kids and lots of fair food. We met up with a couple of friends and walked through the whole thing together. Then our friends left and Todd and I re-visited the craft booths just to make sure there was nothing we'd missed. There wasn't--most of the crafts were less than inspiring. Todd bought me a garden gnome, and that was all we bought, except for crabcake sandwiches, fries with vinegar, a funnel cake, and hot cider for the long walk back to the car.

It was a perfect day to be outside for hours and hours, just strolling around--cool but not cold. When it got dark, all the vendor tents in the trees were lit up and it all looked so cozy. Just a very relaxing good time.

Sunday it was still cool, but rainy, and we went to see
Flags of Our Fathers (good but sappy ending) with another pair of friends. After we got out of that movie, Todd and I decided to live on the edge and drive to the other theater in town to see Marie Antoinette (not good, but great eye candy). Then we had dinner at Red Robin. It was a super weekend, and we had a great time being together.

I copied this list from another blog...here's who I am at 36:

I AM: A wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a history lover, a reader, a thinker, a crafter.
I WANT: To do a lot more traveling, and to be able to see my family more.
I MISS: Ohio and my family.
I FEAR: Todd dying and leaving me alone. Having health problems. Global warming.
I HEAR: The hum of the fan in our bedroom and the hum of my computer. And the tapping of my keyboard.
I WONDER: If we'll ever be able to travel through time.
I REGRET: Not finishing college. Friendships that have ended or never got started.
I DANCE: Badly. I'm Mennonite.
I SING: A lot. Singing is my never-fail mood-picker-upper.
I CRY: At the drop of a hat. Everything makes me teary-eyed--I hate that!
I WRITE: Well. And not as much as I feel like I should.
I CONFUSE: Left and right. Just in my head...I know which is left and which is right, but when I have to say "Turn left," for some reason it always comes out as "Turn right." And vice versa.
I NEED: Less needless anxiety. More positive thinking.
I SHOULD: Get back in touch with my creativity. Get a paying job.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: Open with people.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: Scrapbooks, cards, paper crafts.
I AM NOT: Extroverted, good at reasoning or debate, a follower, or patient with stupidity, hypocrisy, and cruelty.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lovin' fall.

Late last night I was sitting at the computer with the window cracked, and I could hear owls hooting to each other up and down the ravine in our back yard. I've never heard them before! They went on for a few hours, and it was so pretty and unexpected and perfectly Octoberish, to hear owls hooting.

Since I was right at the computer, I checked and there are four owl species native to Virginia. Based on what their call sounded like, I'm thinking they were great horned owls, or bubo virginianus.

[How amazing is this wonderful Internet, that I can sit at my desk and find files of owl calls to compare with the ones outside my window?]

Just as I'm not a dog lover but I like Scotties, so I'm not especially a bird lover, but I'm fascinated by owls. They look so supercilious. Sort of British.

I found more Halloweeny fun stuff today: pumpkin carving templates at AllRecipes. I think we may carve us up a couple jack o'lanterns for fun this year. Not having kids, we often miss out on some of the more kidlike holiday fun, but it doesn't have to be that way, does it?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I've been cruising various sewing and crafts sites for a couple months now, and at some point I found this site and this pattern for an adorable stuffed Scottie dog.

I'm not particularly a dog lover, but I like Scotties, I think because they seem so "Forties" and also because I used to have these little black and white Scottie magnets that I would play with in church.

So I printed off the pattern ages ago and then it just sat. Because I've never sewed a stuffed animal before, and I've never sewed anything three-dimensional before. But I would keep looking at the pattern sitting next to my computer and thinking about it.

Then three weeks ago I was at the Disabled American Veterans thrift store with my MIL and I found this super-soft light blue wool sweater. I took a wool appliqué class with my friend Sheila moths and months ago, and I remembered vaguely that the teacher said you could felt wool sweaters by washing them in hot water. And this stuffed Scottie was sewn out of felt so that it didn't have to be sewed inside out on a machine, and then turned around and stuffed.

So I bought the sweater, brought it home, blasted it through a hot water wash, and lo and behold, it shrank down into this gorgeous soft thick felt! It's an amazing transformation.

So then the felt sat around for another week or so. And then I cut out the pattern and cut out the pieces, and those sat around for another couple weeks.

Finally yesterday I decided to bite the bullet--I was hesitant because I just wasn't sure how to do it, but the only way to learn is to do it, right?

So here's my little blue Scottie:

He doesn't have an eyeball yet because I don't have a bead or button in the right size, but otherwise he's done. I certainly learned a lot of what NOT to do while sewing him, but it was fun.

I have a heather gray Scottish wool sweater that I felted sitting here, too, and I think I might make a gray Scottie so they can be friends.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Halloween anticipation.

Here's an awesome little time-waster of a site: carve your own virtual jack o' lantern!

I love Halloween. I ordered 100 glow-stick bracelets last night, in the hopes that I can avoid buying a ton of candy that will end up in my mouth rather than the trick-or-treaters' bags. I hear there are some little Halloween Play-doh packages out now, too, and I might try to track some down in case we have a ton of kids or I want to offer a choice.

I know it's all about the candy, but I would have been thrilled with a glow-stick bracelet as a kid so I'm hoping the little ones will be, too.

One of my favorite things about Halloween is all the classic horror movies that they show on Turner Classic Movies. This year they seem to be planning a Vincent Price marathon on the evening of the 31st, with some generic scaries playing all day long.

One blissful Halloween 6 or 7 years ago, American Movie Classics had a terrific four-day Monsterfest, with all the oldies (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman) as well as some great sci-fi monster movies and a few spoofs like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. It was fantastic!

Then the next year AMC changed formats to all commercials, all the time, and the definition of "classics" became "any cheap 1970s-80s crap we can scrape up from our library." Not that I'm still bitter or anything. But oh, that was the best Monsterfest ever that year. Sigh.

I checked AMC's schedule this year, and while they are playing a few of the oldies (stacked full of commercials) they're mingled with stuff like Halloween, The Exorcist and Child's Play. No, thanks. See, I like scary movies from the era before they became truly scary!

He got a birdie.

Todd was playing golf Monday afternoon when a friendly pigeon started following his group from hole to hole. It started diving at a couple of the guys, like it wanted to land on them.

After a few more holes, Todd decided to see if it would land on his arm. It did.

Then it walked up to stand on his head.

And it stayed there all the way back from the golf course out to the parking lot.

Stayed there while he put his bag in the car.

Stayed there as he slowly sat down in the car.

I think he was seriously going to try to bring it home with him, but then had second thoughts about the accident a panicked bird in his car might cause. Also, his bird-averse wife might have had a thing or to to say about his new pet pigeon.

But at least he got a picture with his golf buddy.

Oh, and his golf game dramatically improved about the time the bird showed up. Coincidence? You decide.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


The thrifting gods have smiled on me lately. I got re-bit by the thrifting bug after a really long hiatus...I think what caused it was reading other people's blogs and seeing the cool stuff they were finding at thrift stores and yard sales.

Two weeks ago, Todd's mom and I did some heavy-duty thrifting and I came across this gorgeous jug. It was more antique price than thrift price, but I love it. Made in Cambridge, Ohio, about an hour away from where I went to college.

I also found these lovely little unmarked cups--four of them. They go with nothing I own, but the flowers are so charming!

I also got a handful of books and a soft 100% wool sweater in baby blue for felting. When I get my little project done, I'll show what I made with it.

Thursday I went to my two closest local thrift stores and found a Pfaltzgraff dish, a footed fauxMcCoy dish, and a very heavy china tumbler. Also more books, two more wool sweaters to felt, and some pink gingham pedal pushers that I plan to chop into bits and make something out of.

Today Todd and I did a little garage saling around lunchtime and I hit the motherlode--an old house owned by a woman with a passion for old junk.

Five big wooden spools, an English china pitcher, and a tiny Japanese plate, and six English china saucers. Here's a close-up of the tiny plate, and then the saucers:

I also got a cool carved, painted piece of molding. It looks pretty old, but the woman had no idea where it was from--she had picked it up at a yard sale herself. Here it is below, between two more finds--two lighthouse paintings we found at one of the consignment stores we stopped at in the afternoon.

The lighthouse paintings will go in our downstairs lighthouse-themed bathroom.

I also ended up with a handful of Barbie books for my Barbie-crazy nieces Ev and Anna, and a child's prayer board book for me, and some other books. Books attach themselves to me and beg to come home with me--that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I also found a 1980's era book of iron-on embroidery transfers.

In true 80's style, they've glammed up the embroidery with paint washes and glitter and all manner of horrible things--I don't know if the emboidery on the model's sweatshirt is really visible, but trust me, it's dreadful.

But the transfers themselves are pretty straightforward and very cute...there's a castle picture that would make a great pillow for one or more of my princess nieces.

I think that's most everything. I'm pretty happy with my haul!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Slipper weather.

Today marks a momentous moment--the day the slippers come out of the back of the closet and take up their cold-weather role as my feet's best friend.

Todd and I are slipper addicts. My addiction is less pathetic because I am addicted only to slippers, whereas Todd is addicted to gloves, slippers, coats, and hats. He strokes fleece jackets in stores with a longing look in his eye, and I have to step in and remind him that he has several already. I've had to perform glove interventions for the poor guy. He's a cold little dude.

My only cold body part is my feet, and today I was pattering around the house in my socks and for the first time in six months, the socks just didn't feel like quite enough.

Into the closet I dove for my navy blue Acorns.

I bought a pair of Acorn fleece moccasin slippers for Todd many moons ago...I think when we were still living in Idaho, where the cold floors were definitely colder. He wore them out, and so several years ago, I bought him a new pair, and bought myself a pair while I was at it, to replace my red fleece Eddie Bauer slippers that were in tatters.

The new pairs don't seem to have lasted as long as that first original pair did, but they've done a fine job anyway. We both like the moccasin style, so our feet are cradled in fleecy comfort and warmth.

Back when we were still livng in Columbus, we'd stop by Todd's sister's house, which is beautiful but cavernous and hard to heat, and we'd both have our trusty slippers under our arms. Our nephew Angelo was a toddler then, and on the rare occasion that one of us would show up without our slippers, he'd point to the front door where we kicked off our shoes and say, "Slipper? Slipper?" It's important to look cool for the kiddies.

Last winter I shoved my foot into my slippers and felt the lining tear under my toes. I was planning to try to eke another winter out of them, but after checking out the Acorn site while linking it just now, I'm thinking I may be in need of a spiffy new pair...they have some WAY nicer patterns now!

In another week or two, the flipflops will journey back to their cold-weather storage and then the transition to fall will be complete.

House changes.

I was making the turn into our neighborhood this week when it struck me that it was a really similar day to the day (bright, sunny, autumnal) I came into the neighborhood for the first time with our realtors and saw what would become our house. In fact, it's been almost a year, which is unbelievable.

So I thought I'd show what we've done to the outside of our house, which may or may not look like much once I have the pictures set up. Here's how the house looked the first time I saw it in November:

The first thing we did, in March, was add shrubs across the front. These were freebies from a friend, hence the irregular sizes.

In April, we added a low stone wall to demarcate the front flowerbed. What we've had to do is build landscaping basically from scratch, as the previous owners (the "plant-haters," as they're known) had ripped out all the trees, shrubs and plants for reasons known only to themselves. We also filled the bed with a couple truckloads of composted soil.

In May and June, I slowly added some herbs and perennials to the flowerbeds. This has been the most trying part for me, because I have no idea what I'm doing, or what will do well and what won't. Bright annuals seem like the obvious choice to fill the beds, but as the front of the house is the only section that gets any substantial amount of sun, I decided to make the bed my herb garden, supplemented with perennials, and then filled in with annuals.

Being timid about spending vast sums of money, I didn't fill in the beds nearly as much as I should/could have, but I'm just writing off 2006 as a learning year. Hopefully, in these pictures I took yesterday, you can see how the beds have filled in a little. Most of the plants struggled through July and August, and didn't really start to thrive until the weather cooled off in September.

Since the only gardening I've done is in pots, planning gardens and beds for a bare canvas this size is fairly daunting to me, especially since plants are such a money gamble. I'm afraid I take it personally when they turn up their toes and die on me!

Next spring I'm hoping my German neighbor with the super-green thumb will repeat her offer of plants from her garden...I was just not ready to start planting when she was thinning out her gardens in March.

Once the weather cools, I'm going to throw in some bulbs and pray the squirrels don't feast on them...and I may splurge on a few flowering shrubs to plant along the treeline in back.

My plans for next year are to keep adding plants to the front, until I have a really full jumble of all different sorts of things. English garden-style is what I'm going for. And then I'll take on the backyard, which is an even more daunting task!

The next major cosmetic change to the front needs to be updated paint on the shutters, door, and garage door--all of which are looking mighty faded from 20 years of southern sunshine. I'm thinking navy blue would look crisp; right now it's all an 80's style country blue which is not only faded but seriously out-of-date. Painting the garage door will be a stopgap until we're ready to replace it with a nice new door--sorely needed.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

In search of a nimble brain...and a tender heart.

Okay, so I need to get batteries for the spare digital camera, because this is my umpteenth post with no accompanying photos. Not that I have anything to take pictures of, but blog entries are always so much more fun with pictures.

It's raining. Hard. Again. I really don't mind a bit, but these huge storms have been amazingly frequent this fall. And I always end up out in them, through my own idiocy!

I went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon and picked up State of Denial by Bob Woodward...I really want to hunker down and make it through this book, but I have gotten dumber in the years since college and have a harder time focusing. I don't think I'm as smart as I think I am. I'm always picking up these history books that look super interesting, and I make it through the first third, if that, and then Dummy Brain kicks in and I just can't focus anymore and remember all those people and all those policies.

I am thinking about my brain as I all-too-rapidly approach yet another damned birthday, and wonder how to keep it nimble and alert. I already have chronic hereditary depression and anxiety killing off brain cell function at a rapid pace...how to hang on to the capacity I still have???

My ideas for brain cell growth include: learning how to play a guitar and read music, learning how to knit and/or crochet, and learning how to machine sew. Learning the rudiments of a foreign language could also fit onto that list somehow. Italian, maybe. Oh, and learning how to bake bread, yeast-style.

And I could also pull down that stack of history books and give myself a crash 20th-century history refresher course. The 20th-century is my century...that's the one I sort of specialized in while taking classes for my history degree. Insofar as it was possible to specialize at a school with a three-professor history department. A couple of the books on my stack, in case anyone was wondering (you know you were):

The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman, and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany

The Cold War: A History
War in a Time of Peace: Bush Clinton, and the Generals
Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1525-1828
A Peace to End All Peace: the Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

See, now I would look like an awfully smart cookie if I could declare that I had read ANY of those books through to the end.

My mother-in-law commented to me once that for a peace-loving Mennonite, I was awfully interested in war. And it's true. Twentieth-century war, anyway...don't ask me anything about the Napoleonic Wars. War changes the countries that fight it. Those changes shape the way we live today, the things we worry about and the things we carry around in our national subconscious. It's endlessly fascinating to me.

Now if I could just get through a book.

Oh, one last thing...I have been so burdened this week by what happened to those Amish girls on Monday. I have always had a soft spot for little Amish girls...they are so beautiful in their dresses and aprons and caps and braids. They seem like girls from another era, so innocent and untouched. My mother and my grandmothers were Mennonite, not Amish, but they grew up in dresses and braids, too...as did I, although growing up in the modern-day Mennonite Church I was able to wear pants and cut my hair when I wanted to.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I always saw people I loved sort of reflected in the faces of Amish girls.

To think of the horror that fell upon them on Monday just is almost too much to wrap my mind around. To think of the humble and brave way they met their deaths breaks my heart wide open. I am not a news junkie...I don't care to wallow in other people's grief, I've mentioned that here before. Sometimes that borders, for me, on cynicism and sort of a disconnectedness from the tragedy du jour. But this one really got to me.

Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Service, two organizations that do so much good in the world, are both creating a fund to provide support for the families and the community...if you have a few spare dollars to contribute, please do. You can donate online here, or mail a check marked "Amish School Recovery Fund" to MCC, 21 S. 12th St., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501. Thanks.