Wednesday, May 31, 2017

After Slicing and Dicing

First of all, thanks to those of you who've asked how I've been doing post surgery. And for notes, surprises and check-ins. You really boosted my spirits! All is well. And, you may recall, I set a few rather lofty goals before my surgery. I thought it would make me accountable. But I think they just made me crazy!  I realized I'd better adjust a few expectations!

So,  I looked at the shelves. And one thing I realized was that much of what they needed was tidying up. Things were crammed into corners and piles and I just needed a little order. (OK, I need more than order but having order will help me sort!) And here's another view. I realized if I was going to do anything, I'd need to start with the desk, just to get some workspace! I don't have a photo of the entire desk "before" because I was too embarrassed but here's what I started with...

....and here it is now.

And of course this helps answer one of the deep questions in life: How many pencil cups do you really need?

(We art types, of course, need plenty. The pencils. The regular writing pens. The colorful markers. The smelly pens in bright colors. The Sharpies. Pencils. And so it goes.) I also weeded out a lot of the stuff on the back shelves of the desk. I don't think I had a photo of this before and it definitely needs another go but as they say, "You should have seen it before!"

Then I started tackling shelves one at a time. I ended up tossing four good-sized bags (but not garbage bags -- lifting regulations!) of just stuff that no one would want and have one bag of art supplies to donate and other bits pulled out for friends along with some things for Goodwill. Here's the before:

I realized that I had to do a combo of neatening and putting things away in the right spot. Sometimes I do sort of dump in the most available spot and then it just builds up. Here's that area after. Books in order, things better sorted and arranged.

That cabinet was particularly bad but now much more n line. The reference and rip-out books are better ordered:

Brushes, mediums and tools are all together.

I still have this pile to tackle in front of the closet (and a bit of a neaten-up on the closet door). These are things that belong IN the closet and that will be another bag of stuff to pitch-or-donate and require more fortitude and energy than I've had!

I also have to sort the rat's nest under my desk. Ninety percent of this is paper and probably 80 percent of that will get donated or given away. I find that I am using less scrapbook paper when I make cards and more of my own handpainted papers and gelli prints. I still haven't been able to part with all the collage embellishments, either but since I'm doing less of that, it's on the list. (Note -- since I started that post, I've tackled the under-desk too! Looks much better but then when you look below, anything would be an improvement!)

Another view. That gap on the left is for my painting box which is elsewhere at the moment.

I also tackled the top of the filing cabinet -- a hold all. This is just tidier (and yes, some things pitched as well.)  Before and after:


Best of all, things are pretty well labeled, which should make both finding things and putting them away easier.

Now, I know there is more to do. In fact, Rick can't tell I've done anything, but I can! This was a first pass and a pretty productive one.  Mostly it is getting what I had in order and getting rid of a lot of things I knew I'd never use. But the next pass will be more ruthless (and given that it's coming up summer, will probably happen in the fall when I settle back at home.)

And in the back corner, the bulletin/inspiration board was weeded out a bit and the paper/computer/scanner better organized.

While I didn't scan one photo, I did manage to read three books and do some painting and will share that later. I did catch a couple of videos but my walking was inside (in circles from living room to hall, to kitchen to family room and back) due to the cold and rainy weather!

It's always nice to have something in the "to-do" pile!

All in all, a "good" confinement! Now onward!

Somewhat embarrassed today to be linking to Share Your Cup!

Sunday, May 28, 2017


My grandmother called it Decoration Day, when the graves were decorated with flowers or wreaths. But to me, the term "Memorial Day" really says it all. Remembering.

I didn't plan on searching for my Dad's war correspondence on Sunday. Coming across some old photos of my grandparents'  led me to a sort and toss mission. (I kept more than I tossed, at least for now.) Among the things I found was a letter written by my dad the night before he was shipped out during World War II to India where he would participate in the China/Burma/Indian theater.

He told my grandparents about his adventures in San Francisco on a 12-hour leave a few days before and about his activities in getting ready to leave. But much of the letter reminded them not to worry.

The words in the letter were calming but filled with uncertainty. "We still don't know where we're gong but know it's supposed to be tropical service," he writes.

But he appeared to find it of some comfort that they would keep together the team of guys who served together at Fort Custer.

He reminds his parents that they shouldn't believe everything they hear on the news. Propaganda is frequent and he tells of fellows whose boat was said to have sunk but it was just fine. "The old saying 'no news is good news' holds true in these times," he writes.

He reminds them that mail may take a long while to arrive and again, not to worry, saying it may take from six weeks to six months.

And there is great uncertainty. "We can only guess at our destinations.... for the present our destination is X." Destination X ended up being India.

The letters from India are chatty. He writes of spending time in the mountains over the holiday at what sounded like a lovely spot.

And in this lovely spot he also appeared to be rather smitten with a tea planter's daughter.

Might this photo be of the tea plantation he visited? Perhaps.

Other letters speak to the loneliness and difference in spending a Christmas away from home.

Another speaks to my grandmother's birthday and his apologies for not sending something.

During my dad's time in India, he took hundreds of photos (it runs in the family; you should have seen the boatload of pix my grandparents took!) They tell the story of a world completely different from any he'd ever seen before.

There were people of great poverty.

Sacred cows.

Snake charmers.

As I read through the letters I was reminded of the stories of so many young men who ventured off in service to their country for any number of wars. An obituary in this week's news highlighted the life of a man in our community who fought in the European theatre and whom we had interviewed for our World War II special years ago. My high school boyfriend went to Vietnam, joining the Air Force after high school.

One day you're at the prom; then you're in a strange land. Your girlfriend is at college, experiencing new things, new people, just as you are. Yet you are world's apart, literally and figuratively.

I often wonder about that, knowing now what we know about Vietnam and feeling a good deal of guilt for not recognizing the conditions and the horror of that time and place. I can only hope he has forgiven me for simply not understanding.

These days I read stories, listen to the news and hear about the grim battles being fought all over the world. I know the young men and women who are doing these things are like my dad or like Ron was -- men and women who left families, girlfriends and boyfriends, the comforts of home, the security of knowing that in general their lives were safe -- for new places, new experience and often, dreadful things.

So, when I think of Memorial Day, I do think of those like my dad who have died, of those who are no longer here, whether they died in battle or years after. I think of my mom and aunt and friends whom I remember with a full heart and much love.

But, as I do on Veterans Day, I also think of those who went to war, who served and still live on. Some sharing stories that have been locked in their minds for many years. Stories that will perhaps teach us and remind us that war may well be fought for good causes, even necessary ones. But not all endings are happy. Our best gift to them may indeed be to remember.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Day in Detroit

It was a gloomy day but we had no gloom in our hearts or our step as we headed to Detroit for a day of fun, music and a visit with the Baby Grand! Our primary destination was to be the Detroit Symphony but Rick, Kate and I left early to prowl around the revitalizing city of Detroit.

Since our plans for a picnic or extensive outside walking were somewhat curtailed by the weather, we decided we'd visit the area of Indian Village. This is a neighborhood of architecturally significant homes built during the arts and crafts period of the early 20th century.

The area held special significance for Rick. His great grandmother, Catherine Armstrong Acklin, was from this area and her sister, Aunt Josie Hibbard, also lived there after her marriage. We didn't know the address but wanted to check it out and see what it might have been like.

We had a bit of an idea. Photos from Rick's cousin Mary's album gave an idea of what the inside of one of these homes might have looked like during the period.

Back in the day, the Armstrong's neighbors included automobile legends Edsel Ford and Henry Leland, who founded Lincoln and Cadillac.

The homes were large, some behind gates, others with carriage houses.

Most of the homes were in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement, Tudor or what I would call traditional American.

Please, if there are any architecture mavens here, please add your two cents to the comments!

There was one fairly looking modern home I liked, though you couldn't see much of it from the street.

 But most were open to the street with lovely lawns looking lush in the soft rain.

We'd missed the garden tour (The Hibbard home had been on the garden tour -- if only we'd known!) but it was clear that everyone had their yards neatly done for their guests, hedges clipped. It was clear that when the garden tour took place a week or two before, that the trees had been in full flower and one can only imagine how lovely it was.

A group of intrepid cyclists were out for the day as well. You couldn't pick a nicer neighborhood to cycle through.

Yet one block over, it was clear that this was Detroit, less revitalized, less preserved. The homes were more rundown, vacant lots overgrown.


From Indian Village we headed to Belle Isle. Belle Isle is an Island in the Detroit River between Detroit and Canada that is 982  acres. It's the home of the yacht club, Coast Guard, a Great Lakes museum, a golf course, aquarium, nature zoo (with displays of lizards, turtles, snakes and more!), loads of picnic areas and much more.

We stopped at the nature zoo.  As you might expect, I was captivated by the birds!

And the displays. See that little egg in the back row? My gallstone was that size! (Considering that the gallbladder is about the size of a lemon or a deck of cards, it's no wonder I was in the ER!)

After heading back to park by Orchestra Hall, we took the new Queue streetcar to the heart of downtown Detroit where we enjoyed a terrific lunch at a restaurant called the Broderick Grille.

It was a happy accident to discover it but the salads were delicious and huge and Rick was loving his chicken pesto sandwich and parmesan fries.

A good waiter like Bobby, who kept our glasses filled made us happy diners!

We walked back to Orchestra Hall, afraid we might miss the Queue. (It's new and the schedule needs a little work!) As we did we passed by my favorite Fox Theatre...

...and Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers.

I noted some great architectural details along the way -- Kate pointed out these fabulous church doors.

Concert time! A couple photos from the lobby of Orchestra Hall. I loved this art installation...

...this interesting piece...

...and the view of the lobby from the upper lobby. (OK, truth be told, I had to hang my camera out over the ledge because looking down from here kicked my vertigo into such high gear I was tingling all over!

The concert included a magnificent rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy) and a pretty weird adaptation of Bob Dylan songs sung by a soprano to music by John Corgliano. You could barely hear her over the orchestra and the music was -- well, let's just say they should have stuck to Dylan's tunes. Fortunately, the 9th made up for it! Time for dinner!

And dinner was at Kevin and Molly's where we got to see our Baby Grand!

I probably don't have to tell you how happy this little guy makes us.

What's really lovely is seeing his parents interact with him. The next day was Molly's first day back at work and she was excited and I think both were a little anxious about the little guy's first experience in day care. (He did well!)

And then it was off to home.  And by then, I think we were all ready for bed.

A wonderful day.

Happy to share this week with Monday Social and Share Your Cup when links become available!

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