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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Write on Wednesday: Coming Alive

This week's Write on Wednesday asks:

How about you? How do you cultivate creativity in your life? Have you found the things that make you come alive? Are you doing them? Shouldn’t you be?

Boy, does that hit home! This week I've been away -- lazing on the beach, frolicking in the waves -- big, ocean waves! Now, I'm sitting on top of a mile-high mountain. Sea level to mile-high in a short time! TIme to sit on the beach, read books, clear my brain.

I realized as I saw the prompt for this post, that this kind of relaxation is not typical in my life. Is it in anyone's? Do we all run from task to task. Go to work, work incessantly and leave. Pick up the kitchen, mow the lawn, do the laundry, get the groceries... sometimes it's difficult to cultivate creativity when you're on a treadmill of sorts.

(In fact, it would almost be easier on the literal treadmill -- at least you are walking without having to worry about traffic, lights, or what you'll be doing when you get to your destination!)

Yet, I do find myself trying to cultivate creativity whenever I can. I'm sure Rick thinks I'm crazy. Even when it's just the two of us, I like to set the table nicely, perhaps pull together pretty flowers. Sure, sometimes it's to be romantic, but more often than not, it's for the pleasure of creating something lovely and different.

I'm always looking at things. Can I use this thing in a project? Tweak this idea so it works for me? My brain doesn't seem to stop, even when my body does. I "think" phrases. I can't seem to stop looking around me for inspiration.

What DOES make me come alive? Warmth, happy things, The Marmelade Gypsy, of course! Color, color and more color! Laughter. Texture. Beauty. The ocean. And, I'm discovering, the mountains. My lake. Being home. Doing art. My family and friends.

Those things make me come alive. Incorporating them into my work is sometimes a challenge. But I try. On blog, through photography, through art projects, by making things to share.

Check out Write on Wednesday for more great thoughts on this topic, or share your own!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Off Blog, On the Beach!

I am off-blog and on the beach!

I'll be back in early August and will try to check blogs (no guarantees) but probably not posting for a bit!

I'll miss you all!

Write on Wednesday: The Three P's

Today’s Write on Wednesday prompt is this:

So, how about you? What do the three P’s of writing…practice, pleasure, profit…mean in your writing life?

Practice, pleasure, profit? What DO they mean?

I’m paid to write. But it is promotional and PR writing. Fun, fine, I get to work with words. I’m grateful for the job I have and that I get to write. Without that income, I’d be sad indeed! Profit matters.

But it’s also routine. The practice, I think, comes in doing some thing new. Yes, I “practice” being concise (I have to – I tend to write long and I’m a far better editor than writer!).

The blog is new. Only seven months. I practice a lot more than I used to, writing things other than work! Do I carefully craft most posts? Not really.

I write off the cuff. I go back and check for spelling and such, or if I’m being excessively redundant. But basically, I write. I glance. I add photos. I hit “publish.”

Definitely not agonizing, is it?

But I guess that’s where the pleasure comes in.

Becca’s post on Write on Wednesday hit home – I used to do a lot of freelancing and attempted-freelancing (and I wanted to do something where I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope for a rejection notice – WHY?) After writing at work all day, doing it on the off-hours just wore me down, even though it was more or less my own thing.

But my blog. That’s where the pleasure is these days. I see my work – now! I get to write about what moves me, share what matters, when I want (or have time). I make new friends writing in this way, friends I may never see face-to-face, but whose correspondents, comments and lives matter to me nonetheless.

My writing has become an enriching element in my life in far more ways than merely arranging words.

Some posts (like Write on Wednesday) I think about more than others, I admit. But mostly these days, I write for fun.

Speaking of which, it’s time to go have fun away from the computer! Later!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Good Time was Had by All! (Pie recipe included!)

On Sunday night, Rick said to me, "What I'd really like for my birthday is after my bike ride (there was no question as to whether or not he would participate in the weekly 50-mile-ish bike ride!), my bike buddies could come over for a burger!" (And, of course, have me and the kids there!)

Marshall the troops!

As the guest list grew from about 8 to up to 16, more pasta salad was needed -- Kevin came through!


Greg prepped the burgers!


The riders returned -- burgers on the grill!


Don't forget the chips!


We had birthday pie and cupcakes -- the cupcakes got the candles!


Rick managed to have some wind left in him, even after the ride!


The group shot (most of them!) -- unfortunately, something was amiss with the camera and this was the best of three. (Possibly shooting in the dark?!)


The presents and pix with us, after the crowd left.



And a good time was had by all!

Rick's Birthday Blueberry Pie
(or the way-easy pie, but don't expect it to hold its shape!)

In graham cracker crust put 5 c. blueberries.

Mix: 1 c. sour cream (lowfat is fine)
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 (or so) tsp. lemon juice and zest

Stir and pour over berries.

Top with:
(I fudge the quantities on this:)

1/2 - 3/4 c. oatmeal
2 T. brown sugar (Heaped and packed -- no mean feat)
1 T. flour (I heap it)
2-3 T. melted butter

Mix and pour over top.

Back 40 minutes at 375. (Put baking sheet under)

More likely to hold shape when refrigerated, but good either way!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Birthday and Weekend Wrap!

Today is Rick’s birthday! (It's time to contemplate aging...)

We’ll celebrate this evening cooking out after his 50-mile (or so) bike ride with some of his bike buddies and the kids! I guarantee the food will taste better than his toes!

Happy Birthday!

Belated birthday greetings to my friend Nancy in Colorado. Nancy lived next door to me as a child and her family moved to Montana when I was five and she was four.

Amazingly, we have remained good friends over the years! (This was due, in no small part, to our mothers – I remember getting scrawled postcards from Disneyland from a Nancy who didn’t even know how to write when I was about six; I think her mom helped with that!)

Nancy would often give me books for my birthday as a child -- now we share knitting projects and other fun things! (I wonder if she can still shinny up a tree...!) Happy Birthday "Oldest" Friend!!!

Nancy’s birthday was July 4. The gift is going out in the mail as soon as I find the right box!

And, belated greetings to Bonnie, who was the best thing to enter our family ever! (Here she is with Cousin David and their son, Joe.)

She married my cousin David and is a great mom to Heather and Joe and a terrific cook to boot! Bonnie was July 6. I’m delivering her gift en route to vacation!

This past weekend I enjoyed good times with Rick and the kids but also going to my pal Jane Rosemont’s preview of her upcoming sale. Jane is a terrific photographer and she was getting rid of supplies she won’t be using. (This is SO how I get in trouble!)

I got this gi-normous bag of paper – I mean TONS of glorious papers. Scrapbook 12x12s, beautiful art papers (some quite expensive), lots of pretties of every type, along with some very cool ribbon/fibers.
I loved this sheer ribbon with Asian-style print.

I bought six of the tin shrines. Some frames. A little guy for pencils or whatever. The birds nests were free, and so were tons of already-cleaned sardine tins, ready for “shrining.”

And the button box was wonderful. Lots of buttons, charms, rescued earrings (fittings removed, thank you very much!).

Now I need to sort them!

After that I headed to Trader Joe’s with Kate where I saw glorious flowers!

I settled on buying the sunflowers!

I love weekends!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 19

If you've been to this blog regularly, you may have heard me mention Stimpy. Well, July 19 -- Saturday, marks the third anniversary since Stimpy crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and went to the Heavyside Layer.


So, I need to post a bit about my angel boy.

Stimpy entered my life as a cat belonging to the drug dealer living down the street (according to his next door neighbor). One thing was for sure -- he didn't care for Stimpy well (Stimpy maintained a healthy fear of brooms and feet for most of his life). Still, this cat would walk down the block and when he saw a passerby, roll on his back, waiting to be pet.

He managed to determine which car in the parking area was mine, and always slept on top of it. No one else's.

Well, of course I started feeding him. (He was skinny.) And when it was rainy, let him into my no-cats-allowed apartment.

I put a cat-house on the porch so he'd be warm in the winter.

And, when he tangled with another critter and had a bad wound on his tail, took him to the vet, where they managed to shave it so he looked like a cat-poodle. Then I put meds on it till he healed. (I have no idea what the neighbor thought.)

Some relationships are just ordained!


When the neighbor moved, he was going to abandon Stimpy and I asked if I could have him. I'm sure he was relieved when I took Stimpy off his hands. (I never knew his original name; I just liked big, dumb, red Stimpy on "Ren and Stimpy."

Well, quickly, he became my boy --

The cross dressing boy.


The Christmas cat.


The pillow where I buried my head when my eyes were filled with tears and my heart heavy, first with a break-up, then with the loss of my dad.

And, Stimpy was directly responsible for my meeting Rick, because if I'd not been evicted from my apartment for an illegal cat, I'd never have gone to his duplex, looking for a new place to live.

Stimpy loved the lake and sprawling out on the chaise on the porch. He even loved riding in the car.


I would often take him on walks on his leash, after he lost his outdoor privileges in an unpleasant experience after devouring a cardinal. (After that, he was grounded.)
When I was up north with Stimpy and Gypsy (he was a grand mentor to his little orange buddy as well!), he started having some seizure-like attacks. We raced home and took him to MSU's vet clinic (wonderful people). But after two days of Herculean efforts, we had to say goodbye.

I miss him every day. My sweet angel boy. The cat who taught this person who said "I'll never have a cat, I'm a dog person and I don't have a pet lifestyle" to love his velvety fur, sweet purr beautiful green eyes and gentle disposition.

This is Stimpy's last phot -- two weeks or so before we said goodbye. Do you ever really say goodbye? I don't think I do.

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Award!

Right before I went on vacation, I received a blogging award from Iris at Herzblatt. Her blog is delightful, often featuring her beautiful handwork! I’m also impressed that she is so amazingly bi-lingual; most of the text and many commenting are writing in German, but she always translates!

Iris picked seven blogs to highlight, including The Marmelade Gypsy, which really thrilled me!

And then yesterday, Jill (Jill’s Junk to Jewels) presented me with the same! Jill includes her beautiful art and assemblage work, along with her terrific bargain finds with moments from her life on her blog. Wow – I felt doubly blessed and so pleased to think that two blogs I visit often thought of me for this award.

My role is to “pass it on,” and encourage you to do the same. I must pick seven blogs to share this award with. That’s really hard – it’s like trying to choose between your children or pick a best friend from many! (Actually, I should probably pick 14, since I got this twice!) but maybe I’ll split the difference!)

So, I’m selecting some blogs that are relatively new on the scene or that did not already receive this award from others.

Here goes – if you “accept this award,” you may post the accompanying graphic. You need to link back to me in your post and then “pass it on” to seven other bloggers, leaving them a message on their blog! Pretty simple.

Maude and Mozart (Laura) features many of Laura’s varied interests– lately it has been old movies, beautiful art and good books. Laura likes Tab, too!

Doors are Everywhere (Beth M) finds this artist’s beautiful poetry, depicting her everyday life. Beth is an eloquent writer whose work is genuinely thought-provoking. (Her art is fun, too!)

Bird Tweets (Robin) Stop by the beautiful world of Avalon where Robin Bird and Zippy live amidst glorious flowers. (Robin cooks, too! And is a splendid photographer with a wildly imaginative humor!)

Bookstack (Becca) is for all you book lovers! Becca is truly – as her screen name says – a “Ravenous Reader” (and a darned good writer, too!) and is also the Write on Wednesday coordinator! Visit Becca for good book reviews and thoughtful “conversation” about reading and writing.

Sugar Bear Designs (Karla N.) is a colorful portal to a world of color – collage art, jewelry, and a love of things vintage! (I really love her photo of Grace Kelly on the sidebar!)

Winter Ramblings (Judy) focuses largely on children with special needs and related issues – but Judy will often surprise you with some stunning photography and issue-related discussion that is provocative and thoughtful. (She currently has photos and postings from a writer's retreat featured.)

Karen’s Muse and Musings (Karen O.) features beautiful art with new art almost everyday. Sometimes, she’ll also document her process behind the creation and at other times, simply feature her work. It doesn’t matter. It’s lovely.

Gathering Dust (Beth L.) will take you on a journey into buttons, collage art, auctions, antiquing and knitting and leave you smiling and wanting more!

Artsy 2 (Shelley) includes Shelley’s beautiful art work and photography, along with poems, quotes, video and recipes! I always get a bit of inspiration from Shelley!

Nature Girl (Anna) takes you to a world of gorgeous photography, particularly of her garden. Anna almost always has a picture perfect quote that relates to nature.

Actually, it’s terribly difficult for me not to include the entire blog list over at the right. I hope you stop by and visit them all! And often!

Thanks, Iris and Jill! Your award means a lot!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wooly Bully!

About a year ago, I bought some divine yarn called “Shepherd’s Wool.” The colors were beautiful – bright jewel tones, beautiful colors of nature. And the texture was so soft, that as the yarn went through my fingers and piled up on my lap as a cohesive piece, I felt as though I was working with a cloud.

When I noticed the label said “Stonehedge” and was from East Jordan, Michigan, I wondered – could this be the Stonehedge Petting Farm sign I’d seen on road trips in the north, only 25 miles from my cottage?

It was, indeed, and became my first northern field trip of the summer.
Cruising down the lonesome highway. Yes, it may be summer, but with gas at $4.25, it was pretty lonesome!

I turned in to see a gravel driveway with a barn and paddock at the far end, a small building at the left and two others on the right.

My first stop, of course, was the yarn shop, a very tiny little spot with the glorious wool hanging along the wall! This is just a sampling. I ended up with more skeins than I needed, along with some small balls of fleece for needle felting.


Then Debbie, the owner, took me on a tour of the fiber mill and the area where the dying and skein-making was done.

First, cleaning the fleece – after it’s washed it goes through a machine that picks it apart (no burrs here!) and it ends up as the fleecy roving.


Then it is dyed.



and then put on machines that spin it.

Another machine turns the individual “ply” into whatever-ply the yarn is!
(I was thrilled they were working with my favorite green!)



And eventually, pulled together and labeled!

After that, I enjoyed a look at the farm part, but the sheep were in another pasture, so I missed them. I did, however, see Thunder the horse!

What a treat that was! My thanks to Debbie and her crew!

Then it was into East Jordan for a few antiquing moments -- I didn't buy (prices were high) but it was fun to look!

After that, a stop at Circle Herb Farm, where everything was all a-bloom.




As I left, I thought, “how lucky am I?” Pretty lucky!

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