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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ravishing Witches and Bats with Orange Wings (or are they fairies?)

Most of the Autumn images here are from my friend Judy's house! She's good!
I love spending time with my wonderful group of dynamic woman friends! On Wednesday, we decided to have an early Halloween celebration at Judy's.

Apart from bringing our own pumpkins, no "rules" -- costumes optional! But Jan entranced with her sophisticated witch!
Rhonda looked festive in a candy-corn tie-dye shirt!

Meanwhile, Holly dished out spicy cider! No witches brew here -- it was pure heaven!

Chris had her first time at the group wearing a suitable batty necklace, thoughtfully loaned by her five-year-old, Sophie!

Dinner was delicious -- a potluck, with Judy dishing up (appropriately) pot roast!

There were two tables -- this with Beth, Jan, Kate and Chris. Both were lovely!

In between conversations, we had to admire the beautiful decorations! Judy knows how to do it right!

Then Judy brought out her bat wings -- bright orange, which of course I had to try on!
And so did Jane, the Joyworker...

And Holly...

And Jan...

And Judy! (Department of redundancy photos!)

Then the group shot!

It was off to carving pumpkins!

And the finished pieces? Voila!
Tonight Rick and I will don costumes and go to a party after dishing out sweets to the trick-or-treaters.

I hope your Halloween is divinely spooky! Boo!

Goblin Alert!

It's almost here!
Is your pumpkin carved?

Ready for the goblins?

Goblin alert!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Write on Wednesday: The Novel Within

Today's Autumn Image brings us closer to Halloween! Meow!

In today’s Write on Wednesday post, our muse Becca tells about NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month, an internet-based writing venture whose participants pledge to write 50,000 words (1 175-page novel) between November 1 and midnight, November 30.
Interestingly enough, NaNoWriMo is about output – quantity, not quality. Becca says the kamikaze approach forces one to lower your expectations, take risks, write on the fly and give yourself permission to make mistakes. By forgoing “endless tweaking” and editing, you are creating.

Becca has done two of these, and you can find more about it at her post. Today she asks the WOW group if we’ve done this, what the experience was like and if we haven’t done it, do we think we could. “Do you have a novel residing in you somewhere, waiting to get out?”

The easy part of this answer is “No, I haven’t done it, so I don’t have an experience to share.”

The harder part is “Do you have a novel residing in you somewhere, waiting to get out?”

Since plotting (or rather, getting out of them) is my weak point, I can say I have a novel in me – in my brain, I’ve started two!

They both have intricate plots, because I like mysteries. So darned intricate, that without doing a ton of research (oh, that pesky research!), I sure don’t know how to solve them! And frankly, if I could that easily, I’m not sure it would be a very good book!

So, I don’t think I’ll be doing the novel-in-a-month challenge this year. Or probably not next.
But I do love the idea of the freedom of it all. Permission to make mistakes is not a bad thing to grant oneself!

So, maybe I’ll do something risky today – and who knows? When I screw up, I won’t be so hard on myself. (Well, actually, I’ve already done that today, and now excuse me, but I have to go wriggle out of a bit of a mess!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Returning to the World!

Today's post is filled with Autumn Images, all taken at Michigan State University's horticultural and children's gardens.

Thanks for all of you who have sent good wishes and still visited the Marmelade Gypsy while I've been at home and sick -- not able to easily post and even less easily able to visit your blogs.

I have lots of catching up to do with my regular pals, along with the writers, the Halloween Party folk and the Pink Saturdays!

I'm back at work -- sort of. I got here about 1, after a doc appointment and a walk through MSU's gardens.

"Why the gardens when you're sick and it's raining?," you might ask -- and rightly so.

I guess, because I needed to.

All bundled up in the warm coat of many colors I bought in Canada, I walked through the drizzle with my camera, catching the last of autumn before forecasted snow comes. I hope it will pass me by and that my walk was premature. Still, no chances. I'm not taking chances.

Don't put off till tomorrow -- we all say that, don't we. And, often make those calculated risks of what can be put off until tomorrow, just assuming tomorrow is a normal day.

I thought of that when I walked into my office and saw papers I meant to take to the in-house mail before I was sick last Tuesday, sitting in the same stacks as before. (I think they put a quarantine sign around my office. Even the janitors didn't come in.)

But I've thought of it before, too. I've been thinking about it for the past almost-24 hours.

Last night Rick came over with my dinner (he has been so good to bring me dinner every night). And after I finished eating, he said, "Turn off the tv." Made sense to me -- he's not that fond of TV, and it's all the same these days.

Then he said he had something to tell me -- and told me that his cousin, the vibrant, feisty, energetic and outrageously creative thirtysomething Andrea, had died unexpectedly that weekend.

We are filled with sorrow for Andi and her family. For all of us, really, for it's a huge loss. More than I want to write about right now, for my heart is aching for them all, and for me, too. And writing about this -- no, believing this -- is so very hard.

One day, you're alive. Ready to face the world. And, even if you're not really "ready," you are darned grateful that you can.

And so, as I walked under the raining sky, it felt as though the world was crying with me. I had to see this garden, at one time so very much alive. Now, drying up, withering, ready to rest.
And I couldn't help but think of Andi, so colorful and vibrant, like the flowers I saw in the gardens several times this summer. Alive and beautiful. That color, the joy now still.

The colors of brown and rust and tan were occasionally punctuated by a colorful tree or the purple astors. But those were fewer and farther between. It was a place of quite, beautiful in its own way, but in a lost, lonely beauty. One of sorrow.

I was alone, and yet I didn't feel alone, but accompanied by all the others who have left too soon.

I know the garden will be beautiful again. But Andi -- her beauty must now be in our hearts.

Crossing the bridge.

Sometimes, it just doesn't feel like it's time to cross the bridge.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Going Crazy

I am going to bite the bullet and spend the next half-hour trying to upload an Autumn Image.

Yippee! It worked! This is from Uncle John's Cider Mill, St. Johns, Michigan.

This bug is making me crazy -- I really don't want anyone around me because I'm contagious, but I'm also frustrated that in all this "lovely free time" I don't have the energy to whip out the art supplies.

I did finish some things for a swap and some scarves -- straggling in the ends. I'll post those when I'm back. And I finished one very funny book ("What Would Barbra Do?" -- a most comic look at movie musicals and highly recommended for anyone who enjoys them. She can psychoanalyze Sound of Music better than anyone, I think!

Now I'm reading "A Careful Use of Compliments" (Alexander McCall Smith's newest Isobel Dalhousie novel. I hesitate to call them mysteries, though there is usually something mysterious in each one.

No cooking. Even I don't want to eat my germs.

Thanks for hanging in and please check in -- the good news is that my chest xray was OK, so it's not pneumonia, but after five days of a fever, still coughing and etc., I'm actually ready to go back to work. (Alert the media.)

I'll check in on you as soon as I can. If there aren't a lot of photos, I may be able to do it from home!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sidelined

Gypsy's mom is out with the flu. I've been off work since Tuesday (and away from high-speed!) and so I haven't been able to visit blogs (which is driving me nuts, not only because I'm so behind, but because that's about the only thing I have the energy to do).

So, hopefully, I'll be able to add new posts soon (it takes about 30 minutes to upload one photo on this computer!) and get to visit all of you soon.

Stay healthy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Write on Wednesday: Writing Every Day

Today's Autumn Image is from Uncle John's cider mill in St. Johns, MI. Boo!

In this week’s Write on Wednesday, Becca asks:

So, how about you? Do you make time to write everyday? Don’t you think everybody should?

This is an interesting thought, because it really makes me look back at myself and the past near-year of blogging.

Yes, I’m inclined to write every day, just because of work. But, as I’ve mentioned before, much of that is editing other work and adding transitions. Or, writing press releases – all very formula.

But since I’ve been writing The Marmelade Gypsy, I’ve found that I am writing my own stuff – almost every day.

When I started the blog, I didn’t know what it would “be.” An online journal? An art journal? A way to keep in touch with people? A spot to share ideas, recipes, photographs?

It has been all of those things. But by and large, they don’t write themselves. I have to “think” about it. What do I want to say and how do I want to say it? Is it fanciful, like Gyppy’s Halloween house? Is it pretty straight and to the point? Am I talking about something deep, that requires more words or explanation?

Sometimes, I don’t even know when I start what’s going to come out of my fingers – and sometimes I’ve thought about it, perhaps too much.

But I’m writing. Regularly. And it feels good. Very good.

Do I think everybody should? Well, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but doing something everyday – and writing is pretty universal, as Becca points out in her prompt post – is certainly something we can all do. (I know many of my art friends are doing art everyday; it’s the same concept.)

Maybe that writing is in a blog; maybe in a journal. Maybe it’s more detailed – the future novel or non-fiction tome. Maybe letters. But something.

Try it. A day, a week, a month. Just try it. I will, too.

A Good Time was Had by All!

Today’s Autumn Image is flowers at Rick’s cousin Stephanie’s wedding this past weekend in Toledo.

Rick has a big family and a fun one, so we were excited – and it did not disappoint!

We got there early – Rick had grown up in Toledo, and we went to the house where he lived as a little boy…


And his grade school.
We also checked out the cemetery where his great grandparents were buried.

I love cemeteries and it was a gorgeous day so of course I had to shoot stone angels (because that is what I do!)

We also drove by 355 Shrewsbury in Holland (which used to be on Rick’s paper route). The address has become famous recently as that of Joe the Plumber (unlicensed and as most know by now, no great fan of paying his taxes).

After dinner, we enjoyed a game of spoons with Rick’s brother Jeff and his family (they came from St. Louis). For once I won!

We all were staying at a Residence Inn, which was terrific, because we had huge family breakfasts, where we enjoyed looking at photos and catching up. After, some of us went to the mall, while most of the guys golfed.

Wedding time! It was fun to see us all dressed up!

It was a lovely and traditional ceremony.

Steph and Brian were such a beautiful couple!

It was a gorgeous day and the sun made the stained glass windows look glorious.

Minnie assisted with passing out rose petals…

Which we all hurled at Brian and Stephanie as they left!

The reception was fabulous – and the wedding couple was beautiful!

Lots of dancing…

Stephanie’s parents, Rick’s Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob (who are closer to our age than Steph is!) were great hosts.

Bob even took a turn on the drums with the terrific band!

Rick and Greg had a moment or two of joking around – it’s not often Rick towers over 6’4” Greg!

We were glad Greg didn't catch the garter! (I don't know what happened to these two photos -- Boo, blogger! Maybe they'll be back later!

Wedding favors were wine made by The Black Prince...

...aka Bob!


The following morning, after breakfast, some of us went to Bob and Carol’s. Steph and Brian opened wedding gifts including a family recipe book that her cousin Sarah compiled. It was amazing!

This photo seemed to disappear, too...

Then the drive back home. It was surprisingly quick – but maybe that’s because there were so many fun things to recall!

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