Friday, April 29, 2011

Hodge Podge

Because the wind is blowing too hard to do yard work (really, I said that in my saddest tone so you would believe that I feel bad about it)... Because gas is near $4.00/gallon and I live in the boonies... Because I forgot to run a load of laundry yesterday so it's Pantsless Day at my house...For all these really good reasons, I'm here in the house with nothing major to blog about so here's a smattering of things you probably don't really care about:

The Great Bird Rescue - This is Dave rescuing a bird stuck in the downspout.  I don't know how he got in there, but he (the bird, not Dave) was sticking his head out of the top of the pipe and making a horrible racket struggling to get free.  I assumed he was stuck between the pipe and the house so I attempted to pry the pipe out a bit so he could squeeze back out.  No luck.  He was inside the spout where, evidently, there is a hole big enough for his head, but not his body.  So Dave disconnected the two sections of pipe, propped them apart with a stick and we waited for the bird to discover his escape route, which he eventually did.  And they all lived happily ever after.

More Things Bloom at Green Acres - I have no idea what these are but they are blooming abundantly around the base of the mailbox.  Very pretty!

This is Green Acres, at least part of it.  The landlord supplied a riding mower along with the house (Yahoo!) but I broke it the first time I used it - typical for me.  So I'm mowing all this (and there's more behind the house and to the right of this pic) with a push mower while we wait for parts.  

This is Molly, faithful friend and Frisbee fetcher.  "Come on, Mom.  Stop taking pictures and throw it already."

This is the view from the swing on my patio.  I love building a fire in the evening.

And finally, a confession....Yes, I was one of the nerds who got up at 3:30 A.M. to watch the Royal Wedding.  I may have dozed a time or two, but I don't think I missed anything important.  It was beautiful, it was romantic ... well, it was a fairy tale and I loved every minute of it.  There, I said it!  I'm a sentimental, soft-hearted, idealist who got a little weepy when Prince Charming married his Cinderella.  

And I loved the hats!  Women should wear more hats.  Except Victoria Beckham.  She looked like she was wearing a black wart on her forehead.   But the Queen was lovely!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week

It was the summer of 1983, Dave had just graduated from college and gotten his first job in the grain industry.  We were living in western Kansas and had our first house.  It was just a one bedroom, one bath rental, but it had a yard and a dining room and we felt all grown up.  We were on our way to the American Dream:  college (check), marriage (check), jobs (check), dog (check), new car (stupid move, but check), house (check), children...   That crash you heard was our perfect plan falling apart.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, is encouraging infertility survivors to share their stories.  I know what you're thinking... "Survivor?  Infertility is not a disease that can take your life, like cancer."  And you're right - infertility is not life-threatening, not in the physical sense - but it is a disease to be fought.   Infertility may not directly threaten lives, but it threatens marriages, it threatens self-worth, it threatens hopes and dreams.  That day in the summer of 1983, when we made the decision to begin our family, was the beginning of a battle that would last six years and eight months.  

At first we weren't terribly concerned, lots of couples don't conceive in the first year.  I had been on birth control pills.  Maybe they were just taking a while to clear my system.  But two years passed.  Medical exams divulged no reason I wasn't conceiving.   I felt the beginning of panic.  

More years passed with no babies and no concrete explanations.  A list of issues made conception unlikely, but not impossible.  My irregular cycles, one of the contributing factors, made every month a roller-coaster of counting days, taking my temperature, being "late", then being disappointed again.  Sex became a scheduled event.  I stopped attending baby showers or going to church on Mother's Day.  I hated meeting new people because it inevitably led to the question "Do you have a family?"  I always wanted to answer, "Yes, I have a husband, parents, siblings and tons of aunts, uncles and cousins."   When people questioned our childless state I pretended it was by choice.  There were always "helpful" comments.

  • If you just relax, you'll get pregnant.  
  • I can get pregnant just by passing my husband in the hallway.
  • You're so lucky not to be tied down with kids.
  • What do you do with all your free time since you don't have kids?
  • Try putting a pillow under your butt following sex.  That worked for my husband's third-cousin's best friend.
The list of uninformed and downright hurtful comments was endless.  Sitting in a bar one evening (since we had no family to go home to), Dave and I got into a conversation with  total strangers at the next table.  Predictably, the topic turned to children.  We listened in rising anger as this couple bemoaned every aspect of raising children.  The camel's back broke when one of them said "My cousin just paid $5,000 to adopt a baby.  Can you imagine someone PAYING to get a kid?"  My response, "We would pay double that in a heartbeat for the chance of having a child," was pretty much the end of the conversation.

In fact, while we would gladly have given everything we had, several options were out of our reach financially.  Many of the medical procedures available today were not common twenty-five years ago and certainly weren't covered by insurance.  We made the decision to pursue adoption.  This was pre-internet, so finding options wasn't easy.  We sent letters to several agencies but the responses were not encouraging.  The number of perspective parents greatly outnumbered the newborns being placed for adoption.  In some cases, expectant mothers were treated like athletic recruits, with childless couples offering financial packages and perks to procure a signed contract.  We couldn't possibly compete.

For me, this was the low point.  We had now been fighting this battle for over five years. Lying on the bed, clutching a hope-crushing letter from an adoption agency, I realized it was over.  There was no chance I would be a mother.  If it hadn't happened physically by now, it wasn't going to.  Even my doctor didn't hold out hope any more.  And, based on the letter in my hand, adoption was a fantasy as well.  I cried - painful, wracking sobs - for our loss, for the end of our dream and, mostly, for my failure.  Women are created to bear children, to nurture them, but I couldn't do that.  I was a failure!

Through all the doctor visits, calendar watching, and monthly let-downs, Dave was with me.  He never criticized, he never gave up and he never let it come between us.  He held my hand when he knew I was fighting tears over someone's careless remark.  He did his portion of the medical testing.  He helped research adoption possibilities.  But, even when the tests showed that he also had factors that contributed to our infertility, I still felt it was my failure.  I had let him down.

Then we were blessed by three miracles.  First, we found the Nebraska Children's Home Society.   This fantastic group of people gave us hope again.  They didn't place children to the highest bidder.  They worked with us, educated us, and exposed us to options we hadn't considered.  We began adoption classes and for the first time in six years, I felt hope!  We met other couples sharing our experiences.  We met expectant girls who were facing their own pain.  We even met the Grandmother of a child who had been placed for adoption.  She would never know her first grandchild except through occasional pictures, but she supported the choice her child had made.  Our case worker came for our home visit and we were approved and placed on the waiting list.  Now began the nervous jump at every phone call.  What we didn't know was that miracle #2 was already on the way. 

I was pregnant.  The doctor had no explanation.  Somehow all the "contributing factors" had finally aligned perfectly and we were expecting.  Since I had long since stopped counting days, it took us a couple of months to catch on.  Mitchell was born in 1990, more than eight years after we got married, and over seven years since our quest for parenthood began.  He was followed, just eighteen months later, by miracle #3, Amanda.

Even twenty years later, I still cringe when I hear someone make an insensitive comment about a childless couple, or when a pastor preaches a thoughtless Mother's Day sermon.  I still tear up when I see women oohing and aaahing over a baby while one woman stands apart and feigns disinterest.  My heart still feels the stab just like it did all those years ago.  Infertility is part of our story and we will always have a special compassion for anyone experiencing it.  
If you are one of them, we offer you our love and support.  However infertility may be touching your life - personally, through your child, or through a friend - I am available to listen, console, answer questions and encourage.  You can contact me at  God bless you with your own miracle - in whatever form that may be. 

Find out more about the myths of infertility and how you can get (and give) support by visiting the RESOLVE website.  If you are considering adoption or placing a child for adoption, please visit the Nebraska Children's Home.  A financial contribution to either of these organizations would make a beautiful Mother's Day gift!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Needlework Tuesday

It's Tuesday, which means it's time to share the progress I've made on sewing projects this week.  Although I did get quite a bit done on the Christmas stocking, in a small picture it would look pretty much like last week's photo.  So, I decided to drag another work-in-progress out of the closet.  Maybe sharing it with you will get me motivated to finish it.  

Six years ago, I took a class to make a Bargello quilt.  We had a fun day cutting and piecing the entire quilt top in a day.  I'm not a professional quilter.  I'm barely a beginning quilter!  But I'm also cheap and didn't want to pay a more skilled craftsperson to quilt it for me, so I decided to do a simple machine-quilting pattern following the curves in the quilt.  I began on one of the light colored rows and stitched diagonally across each block, which hopefully you can see in the close-up shot below. 

I ran into problems, though, when I got to one of the purple rows.  The light beige thread stood out too much against the dark fabric and was distracting.  So, I found thread in that deep plum color (high dollar thread from the quilting shop, not that Wal-Mart stuff).  Then I got a job.  The quilt lay on my sewing table for months, until the dust began to build up and I packed it away for safe-keeping.   When I pulled it out several years later, the perfect plum thread was gone. Just vanished!  After that, whenever I found time to sew, I would remember that I didn't have the proper thread and move on to something else.  Of course it didn't dawn on my to go thread shopping until the next time I wanted to sew.

The thread didn't turn up in the move, so it's time to write it off and go find more purple thread.  The actual quilting will only take a couple of afternoons.  The binding fabric is already cut in strips, so attaching that is one more afternoon's work.  An evening or two of hand stitching while watching American Idol and I'll finally have my Bargello quilt.  

Now if I just remember to get thread when I go to town...

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Visit her blog to see what other crafters are working on this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a blessed Easter!  

We had a great weekend with the kids and extended family, gathered at my mom's house.  Good to spend time with everyone and to see the kids all spiffied up.  

Hope you each had family/friends to share the day and some time to reflect on the amazing gift of our Savior.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peach Keeper

I adore all of Sarah Addison Allen's books!  Every time I read one, I struggle for words to describe her writing other than "magical" - bewitching? enchanting? charming? entrancing? - but no other word captures the essence of her stories like "magic".  
It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory. (synopsis from book jacket)
 The restoration project uncovers secrets buried, literally, since Willa's and Paxton's grandmothers were teens, when a traveling salesman named Tucker Devlin enchanted the entire town.  He reminded me of The Music Man, but instead of conning them into creating a band, he charmed all the women and convinced the men that a peach orchard was the answer to the towns unemployment and financial woes.  But he also had a dark side that turned friends against each other.

Willa and Paxton work together to uncover the truth of what happened all those years ago, but they learn some deeper lessons about true friendship and acceptance.  This story is part mystery, part romance and part fable.  And, as with all of Ms. Addison's books, just a touch of magic

Once again, I was amazed at the way this author can put simple words together to paint a picture and an emotion that is so much more than the sum of the parts.  Here are some of my favorite lines:

Being met by the sharp scent of chocolate mingling with the moist scent of brewing coffee had a dark, secretive feel to it, like Willa had finally found the perfect place to hide.  (p. 6)

He had abuse written all over him.  It had happened to him.  He had delivered it.  It was so much a part of his psyche that he couldn't look at another person and not imagine what they would look like with bruises.  (p. 103)

As she walked across the parking lot to her Jeep, she thought she saw a few silver party streamers float into the night sky.  But she blinked and they were gone. (p. 146)

Their futures were sparkles in the air, waiting to be caught like fireflies. (p. 144)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Needlework Tuesday

This week, I actually have measurable progress on my stitching.  If you read last week's Needlework Tuesday, you'll remember that I'm making Christmas stockings for my grandkids.  Here are the three I have finished for Hubby and two of our kids.  I also made one for Amy and her ex-husband, but they are in Albuquerque.

And here is the work-in-progress for Grandson #1.
As you can see, I got frustrated finishing the cross-stitch on the small items at the bottom.  With just a few stitches of each color, I was spending more time threading needles than stitching, so I moved back to the top to add in some of the backstitching.  It helps to see at least a little of what it will look like when complete.  Eventually, I'm going to have to finish those details, but for now at least I feel like I'm getting something done.

I need information from other crafters who have tried needle-punch embroidery.  I saw a demonstration on TV this morning and it looks interesting.  Anyone tried it and care to share their opinion?

Be sure to visit Heather at Books and Quilts to see what other crafters are working on this week.

Everything's Coming Up Roses

 Well, maybe not roses, but definitely some beautiful flowering shrubs and trees.  I have no idea what most of these are, but I'm certainly enjoying the explosion of color in the yard. 

One that I do recognize - and one of my favorite flowers - is lilac.  We have both the purple and white varieties.  If there is another name for the white, someone please let me know.  There is a bouquet of both shades on my kitchen table and the house is filled with their wonderful fragrance.  There are also crocus (or are they daffodils?) and a huge patch of what I believe to be hydrangeas - we'll know for sure when they bloom.  You're probably catching on by now that I'm not a florist or horticulturist.  There are several other plants coming up that I have no clue about, so we'll have continuing surprises all summer.  

But, along with the beautiful blooms, you know, just stuck in among the zinnias, is this thing:  Audrey II???   

The pod is at the top of a three foot woody stalk.  The leaves bear a striking resemblance to a certain illegal plant, but the stalk and blooms are different.   My best guess is that it's some sort of thistle that shouldn't be in the flower bed, but it has obviously been there for several years, so I'm going to let it bloom before I decide for sure.  Anyone have a clue?  If I'm about to get busted, someone give me a warning.
 I was walkin' in the wholesale flower district that day and I passed by this place where this old Chinese man, he sometimes sells me weird and exotic cuttings, cause he knows, you see, that strange plants are my hobby. He didn't have anything unusal there that day, so I was just about to, you know, walk on by, when suddenly and without warning there was a total eclipse of the sun.  It got very dark and there was this strange sound like something from another world.  And when the light came back this weird plant was just sitting there, just, you konw, stuck in among the zinnias.  I coulda sworn it hadn't been there before, but the old Chinese man sold it to me anyways, for a dollar ninety-five. - Little Shop of Horrors

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” - Roger Caras (Wildlife photographer, writer and television host)

We lost a member of our family this morning.  Josie joined us almost ten years ago as the runt of a litter of pups.  Her mother didn't want to nurse, so we got her early and raised her, for the first few weeks, on cottage cheese.  I could hold her in the palm of my hand.  Half Husky and half mutt, the Husky genes eventually kicked in and she outgrew her mama and her siblings.  She had the bi-eyed trait common to Huskies - one eye was brown and one an eerie blue.  It made for a disconcerting, Kujo-ish look that kept a lot of people at bay.  I think she actually enjoyed that reaction.
Josie and Grandson #1
Josie wasn't a particularly affectionate dog.  She would stoically allow us all the occasional pet or even a quick snuggle, but most of her devotion was reserved for Dave.  For him she would even hoist her 80 lbs. onto his lap to watch Jeopardy.  In spite of her dislike for being petted, we saw through her cool demeanor.  She loved to play wrestling games with Dave and Mitch.  Amanda and I were wise enough to concede before the match began.  She couldn't hide her excitement when Amanda or Mitch came home from college.  She slept on Mitch's bed every night for years, sometimes squeezing him onto a corner so she could have more space.  When he left for college, she checked his bed every night for weeks, but wouldn't sleep on it without him.  

What she lacked in ardor, she made up for in protectiveness.  With the exception of an occasional, and well-earned, warning growl and nip, she never harmed a person, but she didn't allow other creatures near her house.  She killed rats, possums, and (sorry) stray cats.  She didn't even like birds being in her yard and could actually catch them.  (If you ever saw the scene from Eight Below where one of the sled dogs catches a bird in the air and you thought it was facked?  Believe it!  I saw Josie do it several times.) She even challenged a skunk once.  The skunk came out alive and Jo came out smelly, but that skunk never returned to her yard!  Even those of us she spurned - or deliberately disobeyed - knew Josie would stand between us and danger.

Recently, we noticed a steady decline in Josie's weight, appetite and energy.  A visit to the vet diagnosed her as diabetic and in congestive heart failure.  The combination meant little hope of recovery and a life of pain in the mean time, so we made the choice to end her suffering.  Our hearts are broken today and the yard seems empty, but life's better for having had ten years with her.

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
 - Will Rogers

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reality TV: Disappointments and Confusion

I'm crushed!  How could Paul McDonald get voted off American Idol?  He's unique, he's original, he's adorable, and what a fashion icon!

The seven remaining contestants are all talented singers - can't argue that.  But there are a couple who have shown no originality or performance ability - every song sounds exactly like the original (karaoke) and exactly like last week's song.  

Scotty is a sweet kid and he's guaranteed a country music deal when his Idol run is over - but it's time for it to be over.  I'm all for staying true to who you are and I like country music, but he turns every category - including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week -  into country.  Time to "step it up", as the judges say, and show some versatility.  And please, work out another move besides the shoulder dip/Elvis lip smirk.

Then there's Stephano.  He's proven over and over that he has a great voice and he can stand there and belt out a song.  But I can't name you a single song that he's done because they all end up sounding identical and they have become a blur in my memory.  I just don't understand why people don't listen to me and we would all be voting for Jacob!
And while I'm railing about "reality" tv (don't get me started on my opinion of that genre.  Idol is a game show, not reality, and Real Housewives..., etc. is teen-girl drama on Botox), let's discuss The Next Food Network Star.  I've pretty much given up watching the cooking competition shows because I got worn out on the back-stabbing and nastiness.  (Didn't their mothers tell them "If you can't say something nice....shut up"?)  But I did watch several seasons of The Next Food Network Star and I've noticed a disturbing trend.  Several of the non-winners now have their own shoes on Food Network or it's new sister-station, The Cooking Channel.  Does anyone else feel slightly deceived by this?  The idea was that one person would win the prize of their own show.  So why are Tom Pizzica, Adam Gertler, and Kelsey Nixon (and possibly others I haven't noticed) hosting shows?

Yes, I know that many, if not most, top-ten contestants on Idol end up with some sort of recording deal.  But Idol doesn't advertise anything exclusive for the winner other than the title of American Idol.  The glut of Next...contestants with shows makes me wonder if the whole series wasn't a set-up to discover new talent to be used in the launch of the new Cooking channel.  If so, then I'm twice as annoyed.  It's not that I think these people don't deserve to be on TV or don't have something worthwhile to share, just change the title of the show to reflect what's really happening.  Maybe Food Network Talent Search?  Everybody and Their Dog Gets a Cooking Show?  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. - Buddha

Although I doubt that Buddha was referring to book blurbs when he said this, it fits.  When Water for Elephants hit the bestsellers lists in 2007, it was promoted with the following synopsis:
Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. He introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus's animal trainer); and to Rosie, the seemingly untrainable elephant Jacob cares for. Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells of love in a world in which love's a luxury few can afford.
I got as far as "circus", "depression", "parentless and penniless" and I was turned off.  If I bothered to read any further, I would also have shied away from a story about "freaks, grifters and misfits".  And if by some remote chance the book wasn't already back on the shelf, "luminous sense of time and place" would have broken the camel's back.  Does anyone, including the guy who wrote it, really know what that means?  I usually interpret such descriptions as "I can't think of anything positive to say about this story, but I'll assume the average reader is too stupid to understand my big words."  Needless to say, I didn't read it.

However, when we moved and I checked out my new library, they were advertising an upcoming book discussion on Water for Elephants.  I picked up a copy simply as a way of getting involved and meeting people, but the paperback copy I checked out had an updated blurb...

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
... hmmmm, this didn't sound as bad as I remembered.  Even the new cover was more appealing.  

I was hooked from page one.  I even told Dave, after about the first 20 pages, "I can't believe I like this book."   I got the feel of a depression-era circus train - fear, desperation, secrecy, squalor - without having to wallow in it.  It's the backdrop to the real story - the relationships Jacob builds with various members of the circus, and even with the animals. 

Jacobs story is told in two time periods.  Present day, he is ninety-something and living in a nursing home.  These scenes were my favorites.  His insights into aging are both comical and sad, and his memories of those early days are almost like seeing things from a second person's perspective because time has given him a broader view than the young Jacob who is telling the main story.  The condescending attitudes of the nursing home staff are much too authentic, but give an accurate view of the disrespect with which we treat our elderly.

The ending contains a twist, and if you think you have it all figured out, there's a second surprise that I found extremely satisfying.  I love to finish a book with the feeling that everything has "come 'round right" (To quote an old hymn.  Bonus points if you can name the hymn.)

American Idol

It's my second favorite time of year - American Idol season.  And this season is the best yet.  First off, I'm nuts over Steven Tyler, even when he says things like "E to the Z and a zippity doo dah dee."  Huh?  It's worth watching for nothing more than the moments when he breaks into song.  What a voice!

But the best thing about this season is no Simon!!  The original show in England, for which he was a judge, was called Pop Idol and Simon was determined that the American version be the same.  Only pop music was allowed.  He put down anyone who tried to sing anything else.  This season, I'm enjoying the judges allowing each contestant to be what they want to be - even when it's heavy metal.  

My favorites are Paul McDonald - how can you resist that smile and his crazy dancing?  Not to mention the Rod Stewart voice...

...and Jacob Lusk.  Love his rich, soulful tone and I admire his willingness to take a moral stand on national tv and not worry about the consequences.  

I recognize that James Durbin is probably the greatest talent on the stage and could give Adam Lambert a run for his money; and that Casey Abrams is an incredible musician, which I respect, so they run a close 3rd and 4th.  Who are your favorites?  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Needlework Tuesday

Marie, at Daisy's Book Journal, introduced me to Needlework Tuesday - a group of bloggers who love to sew and craft.  The group was started by Heather at Books and Quilts.  As a long-time crafter, I have decided to join the club in hopes that it will encourage me to make progress on some projects that have been in the works for years (how embarrassing), and maybe even get some ideas for new projects.  When I went to work at the library in 2005, my quilting and cross-stitching came to an abrupt halt.  I haven't taken a single stitch on a quilt since then and have made minor progress on cross-stitch.  So this is my fresh start!

One Christmas some time in the mid 60's, my mother made a slew of red flannel stockings trimmed with white rick-rack and the recipient's name in red felt across a white cuff.  She filled them with dime-store toys and presented them to all of the nieces and nephew's on Dad's side of the family, plus my sisters and I - a total of 16.  I still have mine and treasure it, so when I had kids I wanted to make them each a stocking they could keep.  I have now made a total of 5 - one for each kid, one for Dave and one for our ex-son-in-law.  (Can I ask for it back and change the name for the next guy?)  

Then came the grandkids.  I began stitching as soon as I found out the first one was on the way.  That beautiful little girl, Tayli, died two weeks before her due date and the unfinished stocking went in the closet.  Later, Amy asked me to finish it as a keepsake for her, but I just couldn't bring myself to work on it, so I have purchased a new pattern with cherubic angels to stitch in Tayli's honor - but it's still in the package.  Then came the two little boys.  I have been working on Grandson #1's since he was born and it's still not done.  He's 6!  Grandson #2's sits in the package, patiently waiting it's turn.  With my recent unemployment and increased free time, my plan is to get back to stitching!

I'll post some pictures as soon as I find the cord to connect the camera to the computer.  I know I packed it.  If you're a crafter, please share your ideas, and don't forget to stop by Books and Quilts to see what the rest of the group is up to. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Read-A-Thon Wrap Up

My Read-A-Thon ended up being more of a Read-A-Dash...short and quick.  I'm blaming moving for the air-headed disorganization that almost made me miss the whole thing.  With no prep time there were many interruptions and, worst of all, few snacks.  After my first read-a-thon, I realized that I'm not in college any more and all-nighters just aren't happening, so I usually only shoot for twelve hours.  My total this time was closer to four, plus some time spent checking out mini-challenges other participant's blogs.

On the up side, I elected to read to benefit the Leukemia Research Foundation.  My original pledge was five cents per page.  I completed a measly 200 pages, for a total of $10.  I have decided to go ahead and make the full $25 donation which was my goal.  If you would like to add your donation, you can give on-line, by phone or by regular mail. All the information is available at

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Read-A-Thon: Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? - Dropped Dead Stitch by Maggie Sefton, but it's not holding my attention, so may dig further into the stack.

2. How many books have you read so far? - completed 2 that were already partially read, and began a third.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? - I don't really know what I'll be reading yet.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? - Can you believe, I totally forgot the read-a-thon until yesterday?  So, no time for special arrangements.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? - FREQUENT interruptions.  Caring for my poor injured puppy, helping hubby with a plumbing project (ick!), laundry...

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? - The incredible creativity of the mini-challenge hosts.  

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? - Advance planning:  A trip to the library to stock up, fewer interruptions, more food.

9. Are you getting tired yet? I live in a time zone that started reading at 6:00 a.m.  Since I actually overslept and didn't start till 7:30 a.m., I'm doing pretty good now.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? - not yet


Another book finished!  I completed the third story of a Nero Wolfe trilogy begun last week (before I got sidetracked with Water for Elephants).  That's another 64 pages which brings my Reading for Charity total to $6.60.

Grandson Trey and Molly
My dog, Molly, was injured in a freak stick-fetching accident yesterday.  While trying to run with a stick longer than her body, one end stuck in the ground, the stick snapped and the broken end gouged her stomach.  It's nothing serious, but she's stiff and sore today so I have been taking frequent breaks to coddle her and stuff her so full of treats she can't move.  And that's my excuse for not making more reading progress.  When all else fails, blame it on the dog.  

Next on the reading list is a cozy mystery, Dropped Dead Stitch by Maggie Sefton.