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My Blog

August 2014

The Windy City of Chicago

Good morning to all.  Well another weekend has arrived.  A long weekend is here...September is just around the corner.  Well, a cleaning day for me.  I am planning on getting the projects finished today that I worked on yesterday.  I flip flopped from one project to the next and accomplished a great deal...now a clean up day and on to the next batch of paintings. 
I have sat here this morning and listened to the storms that fell this morning and to look out the window now...you would never have know that it rained if it were not for the wet pavements.  The sun is out and shining...I thought for sure it would be a horrible day based on the rain that fell only an hour ago.  The weather is certainly unpredictable here in the Chicago land area.  So I decided that the Windy City would be the topic for today's blog.  Everyone knows of Chicago as the Windy City...most think it is because it is actually very windy here and that is why it carries that stigma, but during a wonderful architectural tour of the Chicago River, I found out differently.  It was evidently due to a long winded politician's.  There are 3 other reasons that some claim Chicago is noted the Windy city...although to me, this seems the most plausible.  The tour along the river was quite educational and most entertaining.  To see the city from the boat was a very different perspective.  If one really sits there on top of the waters...you cannot help but wonder what it took to set down roots of a building right there along it's edge. 
I just happen to live right off the Chicago River and when I often try to imagine of how many people have traveled up and down this river.  It seems that the first recorder travelers were Joliet and Marquette in the year 1673, then Jean Baptiste Point due Sable who built a farm on the northern bank at the mouth of the river in the 1780s. When I think of the hundreds of years that exist prior to my existence...it is staggering.  To think of those pioneers who traveled and ventured along uncharted grounds makes me wonder how it all became what it is today.  I have to stop and consider that there were no bridges either.  It made me wonder about how this city became so big.  We know that it is because of these waterways that the city was developed...in fact, in the beginning...bordering the waterways was the most important thing that each state fought for.  In the very beginning of Illinois' existence...we did not have the same borders that exist now.  Our border was below the tip of Lake Michigan.  All was changed back in 1818 thanks to a man called Nathanial Pope.  While Illinois was populated in the south, very few residents lived north of Vandalia in 1818. But as the Illinois delegate to Congress, Pope was determined to put Illinois on the map, even if it meant rearranging the map. It was Pope  who argued that if Illinois was given more of the lake front, the trade in the state would be more connected with northern states by way of the lakes. Trade would flow through the north rather than along the rivers of the south. It would make the great lakes the center of commerce rather than the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
So, for all of us who enjoy the waters of Chicago, all of us who go down to the lakes each years, dock their boats in the harbor and travel along it's lakes and rivers...we need to give a nod to Mr. Pope.   So, while the weather is still beautiful and you have a chance to enjoy it...why not take an architectural tour of the Chicago River.  Learn about the buildings and how they got there.  Walk along the Pier that was supposed to have belonged to Wisconsin and is now one of the busiest places in the city of Chicago.  Enjoy the winds from the lake which help to make it a pleasurable stroll in the Windy City. 

Aloha in Hawaii

Good morning to everyone.  I must say that here in the Niles, Illinois area...damp and humid are my arch-enemy!  With Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis...this kind of weather has me sitting on the couch wondering whether I will get anything done today.  These diseases hurt from the inside out to the very outer nerve endings.  I am hurting today literally from head to toe.  But I will somehow figure out what to work on today. 
As for today's blog, I thought I would time travel back to when I was 19 and took a trip to Hawaii.  Boy those were the days.  Thin, healthy and ready for adventure. 
It was a well needed trip and my friend Rosemary and I got on a plane for the first time in our lives.  It was an adventure.  The first time I had taken a trip with out my mother.  Rosemary and I were friends from High School and decided to be adventurous.  We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Honolulu and the first thing I remember was donning my hot pink Bikini and lace coverup and hitting the beach.  This was going to be a real relaxing pleasure trip.  Well, imagine my surprise when my pleasure trip was interrupted by a case of sun poisoning!  I had tanned beautifully my entire life up until then.  It was awful.  It even hurt to sit down.  It wasn't like we had stayed out all day in the sun...but the sun affected me much differently there than id did here.  Still...at 19, things like that don't get in the way...we were both burned, but made the necessary clothing adjustments.  That night, we went out to dinner in the top of building that was surrounded by glass windows.  I wore a long black satin halter top gown with a plunging neckline and a slit up the front.  A light pink boa accompanied the outfit.  After dinner, we went out to a local bar with entertainment.  It was seeing the local side of this amazing wonderland. I met a nice gentleman there and it was too funny....he was from Evanston just near by my back home.  He asked if I would like to go watch the sun rise.  Rosie had met someone and told me to go and ahead and go.  So he and I drove up on this cliff and sat and waited for the sun to peek it's crown up from behind the waters.  When I look back now, what an amazingly romantic moment that was and it was with a total stranger.  If my granddaughter told me she did something like that...I would probably have the BIG one!  It is funny how we think differently when we are young.  Nothing in the world could harm us...or so we thought!  Fortunately for me...it was a just a lovely evening. 
There were many things to do and many things to see, one thing for sure was to go and see Don Ho...It was a great show.  He and his son were performing.  We even got to go backstage and get his autograph.  I asked to have my picture taken with him.  Right when the picture was taken, I got a kiss on the cheek from him....that made my day!  Tiny Bubbles awaited us that evening at another local hangout. 
I remember that it was a challenge to see which of us could locate the prettiest lei.  Well, my friend Rosie won...and I lost to more that the competition...it turned out that I was highly allergic to the lei.  Can you imagine??  It really affected my respiratory system and landed me in bed. A whole day wasted there with a fever! 
The biggest excitement was going to the luau.  We had met a few older women that were just so sweet.  We got to sit with them at the luau and had the night filled with great conversations and loads of laughter. 
Hawaii had been everything I had hoped it would be.  It had excitement, romance, and fun!  It also had a few knocks on my body, between the sun poisoning and the respiratory attack! ...but I was trying to get over a terrible breakup.  At that time of my life...I thought there was nothing left for me....imagine...19 years old and I thought the world was coming to it's end.  Well, thanks to that Trip...I learning that life goes on.  I would love to revisit that magical place...only this time, I won't be wearing a bikini and if I do go out in the sun...my best friend Rosemary will be replaced with sun screen.  Hawaii's signature word Aloha was just that for me...it said goodbye to one part of my life and hello to the next.    

Water Color My World

Good morning to everyone.  Well, another day that looks to be promising.  I had a full day of painting along with a trip to drop off some dinner for a friend who just had surgery.  Today promises to be just as full.  I teach an art class today and am preparing what needs to be taken.  It will be a watercolor class today.  Which brings me to todays blog. 
I remember as a child, my first introduction to watercolor paints.  My mother came home with the old fashioned paint tray with the dots of watercolor in it.  I had ONE brush...a concept that I cannot imagine today!  My next introductory to watercolor paints was actually in a book.  A coloring book that was designed with the paint already inside the book...all that was needed was to wet the paint brush...and in Jackie Gleason's delightful remark..."and away we go!".  It didn't  challenge me what so ever!  If you pushes the brush around too much...everything became the same color.  I was more of the blend and shade kind of girl. 
Well, as years went by, I gave the same old container of watercolors to my daughters and also my granddaughters. And spotted the same types of paintings. 
When I went to craft or art shows, I would see these amazing watercolor done by artists and would wonder how in the world they got those magnificent pieces out of the little box of colors.  I now have to laugh at myself.  I guess I never really stopped to look in the art department at the products other than what I used.  Well, as time went on, I eventually joined an painting chapter...still unaware of all that could be discovered in the rows of art supplies at my local store...not to mention an art store.  I had no idea that such a store even existed!  I cannot remember what rock I was living under!  You see, growing up..I loved art, but my mother thought that art was not something that you should pursue because it would never make you any money!  But loving art never was something that I was born with.  The paint runs through my veins.  It must be a mixture of Prussian Blue and
Rose Madder.   Now years after playing with my skinny tray of watercolors, I decided to take a water color class.  Imagine my surprise when the teacher pulled out tubes of the watercolor paint.   Now this was going to be a test for me.  I was finally introduced to the wonderfully challenging world of water color.  The teacher was truly talented and a spectacular teacher. I could not have ever imagined what could be accomplished in water colors.  I can remember like it was yesterday, his instructing me to pay attention to the trees outdoors...he informed me that trees grew in multiple directions...not just straight up.  REALLY?  And so my eyes turned to look and see for the first time...nature in it's true form, not the one envisioned in my head.  I have from that day forward, paid great attention to everything I see.   I carefully look at the shapes and the colors, the shadows and the highlights...all because of one man.  Thank you Mark Polomchak. 
Well, I learned the value of water in water color painting, the tricks and the secrets. I landed up LOVING the art of watercolor!   At the end of the classes, I had finished a few watercolor paintings that I was thrilled to frame and have hanging in my home.  I went on to doing more watercolors and on even further to using them in the technique of Batik.  A wonderful use of watercolors and wax. 
So, today, I pass on the secret behind that little, long box of watercolors...there is more than meets the eye there.  It is a small treasure box.  It is the beginning of magic.  All you need is a little imagination and some water and a brush.    

Finding My Name

Good morning everyone.  I hope that your week is going well.  I am preparing to more projects to paint as well as prepare to teach a paint class tomorrow. 
For today's blog, I was contemplating names.  I started to think about what my married name means...how difficult it is for most people to pronounce it.  I decided to just be like CHER....just a four letter word...DEBI...when I am introduced on stage or as a presenter.  It is too difficult to go over the pronunciation.  I know that in the English language it means Forest or Park.  It was more than likely a name given because originally the family lived in or near a forest.  I thought that to be of interest.  I searched around a bit and discovered names like Wagoner...were wagon makers, Sharpe were smart thinkers, and so on and so forth.  That got me very interested in my
Maiden name.  So off I went to search it out.  It didn't take very long to uncover the meaning behind the name...a brave man.  Hmm...interesting as that may be, what was even more interesting was what I uncovered about the name.  I am a famous motorcycle....aircraft and scouting organization.  My maiden name in Poland is a motorcycle equivalent to the Harley...go figure...and I have never been on one...LOL.  As I searched a little more...I found all sorts of things with my maiden name on it.  Key rings, cuff links, etc.  Talk about something personalized!  I no longer use my maiden name...but often thought about using it I lieu of my married name since it is much easier to pronounce.  I have done a lot of genealogy about my mothers side of the family but little about my fathers side since I didn't know much about him or his family.  Now that I have discovered the back ground of the name...it definitely warrants tracing it back.  I would love to find out more about how and why all these things were named what they are.  It would be interesting to see whether the family had any connection whatsoever to these items. It is interesting to learn about the background to names.  To trace back the origins and discover perhaps the secrets behind your family. I am sharing some photos of my famous name.  I would love to hear what your names reveal.  In the meantime...enjoy the search.  How fortunate are we these days that all we have to do is type in a question and in seconds we have many answers to chose from. 

Lava and it's Scrubbing Power

Good morning to everyone.  Well, it seems that an entire weekend blew past without my blogging.  If I don't get a jump start early with the blog..I just can't seem to get to it.  Friday I was able to take the red hat girls to the Shri Mandir Temple in Bartlett.  What an amazing place to visit.  I was in awe of the architecture.  All the carvings, both inside and out were breathtaking.  I spent the rest of the weekend painting and visiting with a friend who is recovering from her mastectomy.  What an amazing attitude she has! 
Now on to today's blog.  It is about soap.  I went down to the laundry room yesterday to wash some clothes and as I stood by the washer preparing the clothes to put inside, I paused with certain items that I scrubbed with some Lava soap.  I know that in today's world there are so many different stain removers and presoaks, but I rely on the old standby.  I can remember whey I was little girl and helped my grandmother do the laundry that we did the same thing....with the same soap.  I am grateful that it is still sold today. 
Lava soap was invented in  1893, a bar soap formulated with volcanic pumice particles for extra scrubbing power and was created in the USA in  St. Louis, Missouri. It's name, Lava was chosen as the name to remind consumers of the pumice it contains.
I remember it always being used by Grandma to scrub out the shirt collars and also for the bottoms of socks.  I find it useful in all stain situations.  It last much longer than those stain treatments and is much cheaper as well.  It has always been a staple in my household.  It amazes me when I stomp down to the basement to do laundry.  I do mine and the household items and my husband does his own.  When I approach the washing machine, I have to laugh.  He has all these pretreaters on a shelf, while mine is a small green bar of soap.  It is accompanied with a mason jar of soap made from Fels Naphtha soap.  Another old standby.  I guess in some matters, you can't teach an old dog new tricks...especially when they already use the oldest tricks in the book. Well, I suppose that I have come a ways though.  I do use a modern washing machine.  I must admit though, that I did start out using a wringer in my early days of marriage.  I still have my scrub boards from my grandmother and must admit...I no longer use it, but when I look at that board, I am reminded of those days from long ago...laundry days. I remember feeding the laundry into the rollers and praying that my fingers wouldn't get caught.  I remember the Lava soap and scrubbing the clothes up against that scrub board until the stains disappeared.  Well, the Lava is still here and works just as well as it did back then.   

Depression and it's Shadow

Good morning to everyone.  What a day it proposes to be, here in the Niles area.  Storms and then more storms.  And the temperatures are expected to be high as well...  Never a good mixture.  
Well, today's blog is about Depression.  There is so much talk going on about it since the untimely death of Robin Williams.  I lived with someone who had depression as well.  Many think that it is just a feeling of sadness and that the person should just shrug it off and get over it.  They don't understand the depth that it can take.  If you ever listened to the radio show The Shadow...you will be able to connect my thoughts here on this subject.  The Shadow's character lurked around it the dark with powers of being unseen by others...that is somewhat like depression. It is lurking around in a person's mind...totally unseen at times by others.  In the show...one of the catch phrases is "what evil lurks in the hearts of men" along with "only the Shadow knows for sure"  Depression is the shadow.  it lurks around in the mind...speaking in an unheard voice that only the affected person can hear.  It speaks volumes of a negative language convincing the person of their failures. For so many that have this disease...they are in constant search for someone or something to help them with their problems.  It seems that most persons with depression will turn to Drugs or Alcohol as a solution.  It doesn't change the problem...it only masks it...and then they take more and more until there is no end in site.   Depression has many friends, and they are called hopeless, lost, frightened, angry, confused, wandering and misunderstood.  It is often in search of courage and self esteem.  When you think about a shadow...think about what is needed to make it appear.  Why brightness or sun of course.  Oftentimes, a person with depression that had the hidden shadow appear to be bright and sunny on the outside.  The walk with a glint of laughter in their eyes and a smile on their face, while inside the shadows gains power.  Threatening it's victims every thought and action.  There is a struggle over what to do...and then suddenly...without any warning...the shadow overpowers it's victim.  It shows it's victim a fun house mirror of deception and hopes that the victim believes what the reflection shows.  It convinces it's victim that there is no longer hope and the only way out is through the death door.  It's victim is often less afraid of the unseen than it is of their surroundings and chooses to move through that door.  The Shadow wins. All that is left is the doom and gloom that has no sun to shine on it any longer. 
What can we do?  Only the shadow knows for sure!

Baby Shoes

Well, good morning to everyone.  I hope this day is a good one for all.  The sun is shining and I am grateful that my friend came out of surgery yesterday and is doing well.  As I sit here this morning, I cannot help but reminisce about my eldest granddaughter. So today's blog is about her and her Baby shoes.   Today she begins a new chapter in her book of life.  She is on her way to college.  Where in the world has the time gone?  It was 18 years ago when this beautiful child came into our lives.  I held her hand on the day she was born and held it on many occasions since.  I will never forget the day that she decided to she was too old to hold my hand...I was devastated!  But they all grow up....if we are fortunate enough.  I thought about all those moments and hand holding.  It even came to me as I was thinking about the expression on their wedding day.  The father and mother give their daughters hand in marriage!  Well, that put a spin on it for me.  And then I went back to those days when she was small.  The days spent sitting in the rocking chair with her.  I sang more songs than probably anyone would have liked to have heard...I even made up a song just for her.  It was called "Sarah".  It was a catchy tune and many still remember it.  I won't ever forget it.  And that thought reminded me of another song that I used to sing to her.  It was called Baby Shoes.  My mother used to sing it to my daughters and I in turn sang it to my granddaughters.  It is a song that I thought perhaps my mother had made up as well, since I had never heard anyone else sing or even speak of it.  Then I decided to search as see whether there actually was such a song and Viola, thanks to the magic of cyber space..I found it.  Here are the lyrics.  
 Imagine the love
Of a child for his toys, The love of a bird For its mate, Imagine the love Of a miser for gold, Then imagine a love Twice as great. If you multiply each love A million times more, It won't be half the love That a mother has for: Baby shoes, baby shoes, Mother will never forget them, You have forgotten When your feet were bare, Mother remembers, She still has a pair Of baby shoes, baby shoes, To keep them, The world she'd refuse. If she had to choose, Her life she would lose, Before she'd part with her Baby's shoes. Baby shoes, baby shoes, Mother will never forget them, You have forgotten When your feet were bare, Mother remembers, She still has a pair Of baby shoes, baby shoes, To keep them, The world she'd refuse. If she had to choose, Her life she would lose, Before she'd part with her Baby's shoes. Alone in the attic She fondles those shoes, And wonders Where her boy has gone, And over his shoes She is saying a pray'r, That the good Lord Will keep him from harm. In her heart There is gladness, Tho' her eyes are wet, Because Mother remembers, Tho' you may forget: Baby shoes, baby shoes, Mother will never forget them, You have forgotten When your feet were bare, Mother remembers, She still has a pair Of baby shoes, baby shoes, To keep them, The world she'd refuse. If she had to choose, Her life she would lose, Before she'd part with her Baby's shoes. Baby shoes, baby shoes, Mother will never forget them, You have forgotten When your feet were bare, Mother remembers, She still has a pair Of baby shoes, baby shoes, To keep them, The world she'd refuse. If she had to choose, Her life she would lose, Before she'd part with her Baby's shoes.
Funny how that song resonates so much more with me today.  As I sit here and remember the song, I also remember one of the first things I received after my mother passed away.  It was my baby shoes that she had bronzed years and years ago.  They now sit on my nightstand.  MY baby shoes.  I think about how the time has flown by...I am turning 60 next month...my granddaughter is heading to college and I am still humming that song in my head while in my bare feet...remembering all those baby shoes and the life that filled them.   



Good morning to all.  I haven't had the opportunity to write for a couple of days.  Life sometimes just takes over.  Glad to have the chance this morning to get here to do this.  A lovely day at the moment outside, but rain in anticipated.  Hoping to get some work done today.  
Well, today's blog is about perception.  It isn't really something that I have given much thought of in the past....certainly not growing up...but since I really got into painting, I have discovered what the word perception means.  There are a lot of takes on this word.  With painting, it is a painters perceptions of how a painting should look.  Not only the concept, but also the visual.  Their are many forms of art that are viewed solely on perception.  Abstract is one of them.  Zentangle, a newer form of doodling art is another.  The shapes, the shadings, the colors can all give one's perception a run for their money.  Then there is the perception of the picture while a painter is in the middle of painting it.  I recently heard an artist by the name of Patti Rawlinson comment about when you are painting...and the object is flat on a surface...you don't have the same perception of it as you would if the painting is upright.  Your eye actually sees is differently.  That was a key clue for painters...thanks Patti.  
Well, you might think that this blog is just about painting, but it is not...last night I was sitting and watching television and a commercial came on.  As I glanced over,(I never JUST sit and watch TV...I am always working on something), and there was a brief clip of naval officers.  I thought wow...my perceptions have really changed.  When I was 18 or so, I would have thought those men were gorgeous hunks that I might pursue....now that I am ALMOST 60....my perception was..."oh...look at those young boys"  Funny how we see things differently through the same eyes. The only difference here is my perception.  
We perceive how a person is by the way they look as well.  I know that I recently saw a show that had a young man walk into a very fancy shop and was not dressed according to what you might call the store's standards.  He was approached and told that there would be nothing in the shop for him.  He was enlightened as to how much the clothing costs.  He was treated poorly.  All the time this was happening, he was being viewed on camera.  Once he left...they dressed up a very wealthy millionaire and had him walk inside and he too received the same treatment.  If the clerks knew who he really was..it might have been a different story...but their perception caused them to treat him badly.  
Often times, many might treat another one poorly, strictly because of their perceptions of that individual. Sometimes they are ignored.  For instance...the handicapped or mentally impaired are often ignored or treated differently because of their appearance.  Our perceptions change the way we react or don't react to them.  
I learned early on in life...that clothes DO NOT make a person.  The way their homes are kept DO NOT make a person.  The disabilities DO NOT make a person!  It is our perceptions that make that.  We perceive who someone is by their appearance and actions...yet, we do not know that back story.  It is like the old saying goes...."you can not read a book by its cover"  or "there are two sides to a book and what the story is in between is totally something different".  So today...take the challenge...look up, look out, look around. Try to image what is there or not there.  Look at something beautiful and then find it's UGLY and then find something UGLY in appearance and try to perceive it's beauty.  After all...there are 2 sides to everything! 

In honor of Joan Rose

Good morning.  Another beautiful day here in the Niles Illinois area.  I  plan on a good work day...God willing!  Today marks the 5 year Anniversary of my mother's death.  A sad day as I sit and look at her Box on my fireplace.  It makes me happy and sad at the same time.  Sad to know how she got here and yet happy that she is with me and that I was able to paint her a final resting place.  So, if you pardon this personal tribute...today's blog is a tribute to her.  
My mother, a strong, independent, outspoken woman came from a modest upbringing.  She was blessed with wonderful parents and a nice home.  Was treated to private schools...both grammar and high schools.  She learned the art of crocheting and needlework.  She was a pretty girl nicknamed BABE.  More than likely because of her being the youngest in family.  They all seemed to have nick names back then...I am not even sure why...but they did.  
The one thing that I can say, to my chagrin, was that my mother was a hard worker..why chagrin?  Well, in a young girls eyes...that hard working kept her away from home a great deal of the time.   She married her dream and then that dream turned into a nightmare.  Her marriage was in ruins and she took me and went to live with her parents.  She went to work to support herself and me.  Looking back now...she must have been riddled in guilt.  She worked hard...very hard  to make sure I would be lacking nothing...except that what I really wanted was a mom who was home!  But now I am so grateful for all her sacrifices.  It is quite funny how we never realize what is behind the scenes growing up.  
If you remember Bea Arthur in Maude...that was my mom!  In fact...she even had the salt and pepper hair like her.  The only difference on that front was that my mom was short..about 5'4"....and a bit round in her older years.   
She won many awards...some I never even knew about.  It was after she was gone and I received some books of hers that I discovered notes of achievements and awards.  Many times, she worked 2 jobs at a time.  She never had an easy job either...she was always on her feet, running lifting carrying, and she always worked her way up the ladder, yet never minded doing the hard dirty work as well.  She thought highly of her co workers and those that worked for her.  As I look back, I must say...she was a workaholic.  Hmmm...wonder where I got that from?  
My mother was one determined woman.  She insisted on my not taking the domestic classes in school...I HAD no choices...I was to learn business!!  That was that.  It took many years for me to understand why.  She was making sure that I had something solid to fall back on should I need it.  At the time, I was not so happy...but am grateful today for the business sense that she gave me by those choices.  
She married a second time and moved more than 2,000 miles away.  She worked almost up to her dying day.  I wish I could say that the man she choose was a good one...but I cannot!  He was nothing more that a gigolo in my eyes.  He stayed home, while she worked.  Bought things for pleasure and she worked.  He possessed her.  Mentally and emotionally abused her. He controlled her every move.  It took a long time for me to realize that reasons for her actions.  He was the reason.  He was a hoarder.  He was a monster.  Another nightmare and she couldn't find a way to wake up.  Her closing her eyes in the end was the peaceful end to a hard life.  
In the end...It took 4 years and his death before I received her ashes.  He never even had the decency to have an urn for her.  She arrived in a plastic bag.  I later found out that he even went cremation shopping!   Imagine...after all those years of working....buying toys for him...she came in a baggie. But that is not where she ended up.  I painted her a memorial box and gave her a place of honor.  FINALLY!  She is home, safe, sound and peaceful.  I wish she would have felt like she could have told me what was going on...but pride kept her from it.  She never let on that she wasn't in control...she never allowed me to see the real woman that she was until those days after she was gone.  
Joan Rose was a dignified, hard working woman.  She was a loving daughter and mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  She was a woman who had heart and soul.  And she was a woman who was afraid....oh how I wish I could have removed that fear for her!  She had a fear of failure! 
Well, MOM...you didn't fail. You inspired, gave strength and gave hope.  You gave me a wonderful life & a future.  I am sorry that you couldn't be here and hear me when I perform, or see the paintings that I paint, but I know that you are here in spirit!  I just wanted to say..."I LOVE YOU MOM".   

The KEY Word

Good morning to everyone.  A beautiful day is upon me...oh how grateful I am for it.  I love the cooler days like this.  I see that many of the children are returning to school.  New school supplies, the smell of new crayons for the young ones.  Most importantly there is an education just waiting for them!  How privileged are they?
Well, today's blog is about the word KEY.  I know that as I sit here...I am amazed just thinking about the various ways that we use the word. And then I thought about when I was a child and the fact that many things came with a key...and not the things that anyone would think about today.  First off, let me put some ways this one word is used.  A Key-note speaker, the Key to success, the keys on a piano, the keys to an instrument, the house key, skeleton key, padlock key, car key,skate key,  computer key and typewriter key, and we can key into our problems.  
The definition to the word gives us nouns, verbs, and adjectives.   
I then remembered back to when I was young and many foods came with a key.  It was a way to open the can.  Coffee, Crisco, sardines, hams, sausages and many more came with this small key on the top of the can.  It had a hole in the end of it that you would insert a piece of the strip around the can into it and begin to wind the key around the product to remove the seal.  This was not as easy as one might think.  I can remember that there needed some type of precision in this procedure.  If you weren't careful, you would mess it up and then be in a bit of a quandary as to how to open the can.  So many years have past since i had thought about that.  I know that I have always had a can opener..or my grandma did...but I cannot remember why we didn't use it in lieu of the key that came with the product.  I can even remember using a pair of pliers from time to time when the key and I messed up. And boy...you really had to be careful because that metal was really sharp.  We would recycle them by carefully unwinding them and using them on our Christmas tree like tin icicles.   How very far we have come with our pop top pull tabs these days!  It is an interesting bit of information to know that the can opener was invented about 50 years after the can itself.  The usual suggestion for one buying something canned was to have a chisel and a hammer to open it.  Can you picture that?  That must have been a sight!   

How Will Others See Me in the Future

Good morning to everyone.  What a beautiful morning!  The temperatures are perfect...that is, in my estimation.  I have plenty of things planned for today.  I have many projects waiting for me and my paint brush.  I love the challenge of creating something new.  
As for today's blog, I have already written it once..but then my computer shut down at the tail end and of course...it had not yet been saved.  I hate when that happens and kick my self for not saving it half way through. After that happened...then it made me wonder whether that blog was not was I was supposed to write about so after some deliberation...I have chosen to take a different direction. I was watching a program about tracking your genealogical background.  It starred Valerie Bertonelli. The program was called Who Do You Think You Are?.  She amazed me with her enthusiasm and her sentimentality.  Her excitement was catching.  Her expressions were priceless.  Her appreciation for her ancestors touched my heart.  As I watched her excitement and her appreciation for the struggles that her ancestors met and conquered gave me great hope.  I often wonder whether anyone 200 years from now will look back at what I may have done and wonder whether they will find any of it of interest.  As Valerie was handed a book of a great grandfathers writings...it appeared as though she had been handed a piece of gold.  I was thrilled to see her raw emotions throughout this program.  Here is a woman who is famous in her own right and yet her passion to find her past was inspiring.  She wanted to know who were the people who made up who she was today.  Such an inspiring story.  To look at people in her ancestral lines and admire what they did and who they were.  To question the reasons behind it as well.  
As I look at the ancestors in my past, I too am in awe.  It doesn't matter who they were or what they have done in their lives...they all made a path to where I am today and who I am as well.  
I know that my great-grandmother was killed by a streetcar in Chicago which left her husband a widow and 4 children motherless.  My grandmother took over her mother's role as the mom at the age of 13.  I look at my granddaughter who is now 13 and couldn't imagine that type of responsibility being thrust upon her one morning.   Due to the nature of her death, I have the transcripts of the trial.  As I read through it..I can almost picture being in the room as the day unfolded.  They counted the change that was in her purse.  The location of where this tragic incident occurred.  Her clothing was described, piece by piece.  Even though I have never seen a picture of her...and of course had never met her..I felt saddened.  My grandmother rarely spoke of that day...except for Christmas time.  This was a time when she missed her the most.  Gram never spoke much of her father, nor did she ever go into much detail about what she had to do to compensate for being without a mom.  She was my idol.  I aspired to be like her on so many levels.  She was loving and compassionate.  She was constantly giving to everyone.  Her mother must have been a wonderful woman as well.  I so wished that I would have had the intense thirst for knowing that I do know.  I would have asked so many more questions.  What I am grateful for is that there are paper trails to lead me to the answers to my questions.  Thank goodness for sites like ancestry.com and others like that.  I love that in Europe a person can go straight to the books that search for the answers.  I  of course do not have the finances to go to all the places people like Valerie Bertonelli did....but the avenues I do have are a great step back into the time tunnel.  I look forward to traveling back in time a little further in the future and in the meantime...pray that those who are still to come will find something in my life that touches their hearts or inspires them.  

Bridesmaids and a MOMZILLA

Good morning to all.  What a nice cool day for August.  The sun is out and I think I may take advantage of the day and do some prep work outdoors. 
I now that it is about a week away for some children to start school.  I will soon be hearing the chatter of children waiting for the school bus.  How quickly the summer has come to an end. 
Today's blog is about shopping for bridesmaids dresses.  Now most brides to be would be smart and just go shopping with her maid of honor and decide on a dress, then the other girls would follow suit.  But that was not the way it was for me.  No...I had to go with all 7, plus the flower girls mother and both moms.  Let me tell you...that was truly one of the largest mistakes I have ever made in my life. 
If you thought pleases one was difficult...imagine have 11 of us in one room.  The girls themselves weren't too bad.  they choose a very becoming gown.  Back then, I thought that it might even be a gown that they could cut short and wear again...but the reality of it is...that never happened.  Now as for the flower girl.  I had this vision in my head of this very fluffy, sort of southern bell type gown for the flower girl.  My wedding, my dream...NOT!  The flower girls mother thought the dress was too expensive.  Okay...I can deal with that...I offer to pay for half of the dress...still not good enough.  She insists that she can sew a gown that is better and will be much cheaper.  That only came after the little girl had temper tantrums over wanting to wear a gown that had marabou feathers around it. Not exactly right for a September wedding....especially since none of the bridesmaid dresses had feathers.  Well, I have to tell you that on the night before the wedding, I got this dress that was not finished and spent the evening sewing the trim on.
Now, I bet you think...oh, that is not such a big deal...well, really in the scheme of things...it really wasn't  The worse part of the whole ordeal was when the time came for the mothers to choose their dresses.  Well, my mother finally found a gown she liked.  Very simple, straight cut with a matching jacket.  She really like the almond color, but didn't want to deter from the white gown I was wearing, so she opted for a soft blue to match with one of the colors in the bridal party.  It was a nice dress and my mom looked great in it.  Then came time for my future mother in law.  The saleswomen brought out one dress after another...to no avail.  She decided that there was nothing there that she liked.  Being the nice future daughter in law that I was...I offered to take her dress shopping on another day. 
When that day arrived and I picked her up and asked where she would like to go...her answer was that she wanted to return to Taffy's Bridal Salon.  The same place we were all at.  I couldn't imagine why she would want to return since there seemed to be nothing there that she liked the first time around...but who was I to argue. 
Now, once we arrived, the saleswomen began to bring in a bunch of dresses for her to try on.  Well, at one point the women waltzes in with the dress my mother chose.  I quickly told her to remove that one but my mother in law to be stopped her dead in her tracks and insisted on trying it on.  I kept repeating over and over again that the dress was already spoken for by my mother.  The saleswoman was of no help whatsoever!  My future mother in law kept telling me that my mother said it was alright if she got the same dress.  There is no way under heaven my mother would have approved such a ridiculous idea...and so...my future mother in law got the same dress...and in the same color.  What a nightmare.  I took her home and then went to my home to discuss this tragedy with my mother.  My mom was really set on the gown she chose since it really looked good on her...so we did the best we could...we changed the color and my mother wore the almond. 
Every time, my future mother in law asked about my mother and her accessories...without telling her that we changed the color...I always told her everything was being dyed to match the dress.  Imagine her surprise the day of the wedding.  
Today we have all these shows on television which show the Bridezillas...well this could have been called the momzilla.  In the end, all worked out well, the wedding came off without a hitch and in the end...did it really matter? 
The funniest thing about this story was that my mother in law had that dress earmarked to be buried in.  At one point, her home burned down and the bad that was covering the dress melted right over the dress.  Karma perhaps? 

Cameras and Their Frozen Moments

Good morning to everyone.  Well, a very morose day peers through my windows this morning.  The temperatures will be cool, yet the humidity is high.  This would be the temperature that would initiate my opening windows if it were not for my Fibrolyalgia.  the humidity will worsen the condition horribly.  It is bad enough with the change in the temperature and the rain. 
Well, today's blog is about the never ending changes in our world.  I was looking at a picture recently that was taken by my Grandmother.  When I was a child, my first introduction to the camera was an old BROWNIE.  No, not the kind you eat...the camera style or type was called a brownie.  It was a box with a latch at the front of it.  When the latch was undone, an accordion like piece fell forward and stopped where the attached side metal bars held it.  It basically formed an L.  This was always used outdoors, to the best of my recall.  Grandma would often take me to school and take all sorts of pictures with that camera.  When they were developed..they had these cute ruffle like edges all around the photo. 
As I grew older, along came another type of camera that had these flash bulbs that you could use with in when taking a picture indoors, it had a silver dome around where you would insert the bulb. There was also a 35mm camera.   Then later a camera with flash cubes that actually had 4 flashes that could be used and then you would replace the cube. 
As technology advanced...along came the Polaroid camera with the instant film that was spit out of the camera.  You would have to wait a couple of minutes and the film would develop right before your eyes.  First the Polaroid came only in black and white and then advanced in color.  There were many styles to choose from.  Advancing forward we came to the disposable cameras.  Yes...you could use and then toss after they were developed. These cameras are still available today.  And then we came into the digital world.  The digital cameras.  Instantly you could check your photo to make sure it was exactly what you want.  We all the advanced technology, there is even a camera on most phones and even on your computer and you can take a picture even when you are skyping someone. 
It is amazing the advances that have been made in just the 50 plus years that I can recall.  
What is the use of camera's?  Well, interestingly enough, they catalog life.  They are a memory booster, a frozen piece of time and place.  I often find flashes of memories held in some old black and whites.  I am able to look into that photo and see all the grays that were involved in it.  It can tell a story.  You can make up a story with one picture.  I teach storyboarding with students to learn how to develop a story to tell.  Interesting that someone so long ago thought up the idea to capture frame by frame life.  Interesting as well is the thought that we indeed FRAME our photographs. 
I take many photos both for pleasure and for business.  It is interesting as I have looked back on the quality of the development of those pictures.  I must say, there is not a lasting quality in the old Polaroid pictures...for the expense that it was...I am sorry to have used that camera.  The only recourse that I think I might have is to snap a digital of the photos and at least stop the deterioration. 
You might think that the home photos are the ones most at risk, but that is not true.  I had one of the best photography studios take my wedding pictures 40 years ago and to my dismay, they are fading horribly.  It is a good thing that there is advancement in photo repairs to salvage the problem.  
When we speak of technology, it is also a blessing to have programs to use if we scan a photo into the computer and can fix it all. 
Well, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words...and how right they are.  I fondly look over life, towns, vacations, birthdays, graduations and more.  I recall each and every blessing, each and every person who crossed my path.  I see the resemblances of family members...the ability to remind those present of those who have past.  I see the changes in the homes, the towns and cities.   
Amazing what a small little box can capture.  The moments of a lifetime.  FROZEN....all we need to do is a little melting in our minds from time to time!   

Bow Making in the Good Old Days

Good morning to everyone.  Monday again.  Wow...the weekends just fly.  Well, I have already gone and returned home.  We helped a friend with a simple fix it job and now it is off to the work table to paint. I will post some pictures of a few of the items that I was able to get painted yesterday under the wonderful wizard of art sometime later today.
And today's blog is about making bows.  It brings back a childhood memory of mine for sure!  Christmas time especially.  I remember when I was young, my mother worked at Woolworths.  She was the manager in the food department and had many employees under her...along with many other friends and associates in the store.  At Christmas time, my mother all made sure there was a gift for everyone and I always played a big part in that tradition.  You see, even as a young girl, I was quite the crafter.  I learned to crochet at the age of 5.  I could stitch and embroider...wrap presents and make BOWS.  Now this may not seem like such a big deal to some, but when you made bows back when I first learned...it was quite the ordeal.  My mother would not have considered the stick on bows...nor the tie like a shoe lace bow...we had to make the big fluffy ones.  I can remember bolts and bolts of ribbons sitting in boxes in the living room and a large box next to it for the completed bows. 
When I grew up and married and of course got into groups and such...it was an amazement to me how many people didn't know how to make a bow.  Not even the simple kind. 
Well, I can remember that it depended on the size of bow needed..you would need a different size piece of cardboard of just your hand.  I began by winding the ribbon around the piece of cardboard and had to count it out so that each bow had the same amount of winds....and they had to be complete winds.  If they weren't complete...you would have an odd number of strands to pull out .  Next, I carefully removed the wound ribbon off of the cardboard and then carefully folded it in half...back then, it was just to see the placement...more or less.  Scissors were not that sharp to cut through all the layers (48) by then.  I would then make a sideways v cut on both sides of the center.  I had a thin strip of ribbon already cut and prepared to tie around the center where the cuts were.  It would get knotted and the ends were left long enough to draw under the ribbons on the present in the center to attach the bow.  The next job was to carefully pull out the loops turning each loop to the opposite side.  When both sides were done...all that was left was fluffing.
I must have made 100 or so bows for mom every year.  Seems like a lot of work and it was!  But it made the present so beautiful!  For many years as an adult I made bags of bows to place on the top of my children's Christmas presents...but I must say, they never really cared one way or the other...all they ever cared about was what was in the box itself. 
It was hard to give up that tradition.  Now with bows available everywhere and now with gift bags, there is really no reason for such an extravagance.  I remember when I was younger, how we saved the bows.  At showers there were such things as bow bags and paper plates with a whole cut in the center and a bridesmaid would take each bow and draw the ribbons through the hole, creating a bouquet for the bride to be to hold for picture sake. 
6 wrapping papers and a selection of bows.  I worked at Weibolt's Department Store,  and their wrapping department even had a ribbon winder.  That was an awesome machine.  It made bows tie split seconds. 
As I look back in time...it seems that those extra touches seemed to be just as important as the gift.  Today...everything is through the fast lanes.  I suppose bows are no longer a necessity and would be considered an extravagance.  To me...a bow almost had it's own language.  It spoke about how much extra care went into the gift. 
When I listen to old radio programs, you hear from time to time a routine where the characters are in a department store and they are asked about wrapping their purchase and inserting gift cards.  There are still a few choice stores that still offer that service....but they are few and far in between. 


Good morning to all.  Well, another Sunday has rolled around and for my area...well, it looks a bit gloomy.  Scattered shower threats hover the area.  Definitely will be a paint day.  I was able to get through quite a bit yesterday..and there is much more on the horizon for today.  One thing that is a must is to get to Michaels craft store to buy a hand support. 
Well, on to todays blog.  Today I would like to tackle the topic of Alcohol.
It is the intoxication that is indeed a dilemma for more than just the drinker.  It is a complete shame that this is such a large and vast problem and to top it off...it is legal! 
As I sit and look upon the devastation that comes from alcohol, it sickens me.  Not only to watch someone you care about drown themselves in their sorrows, but to also see the devastation that it causes their families.  From small children to grown adults...alcohol is the EBOLA in a bottle.  The killer...not only for the drinker but also for those around them. 
I looked closely at this issue and wondered why something that is so dangerous...yes DANGEROUS is legal and very quickly got my answer.  The government gains about 5.6 BILLION dollars in taxes on its sales.  That is some big chunk of change they are never going to stop.  The problem is that while the government is gaining money...the drinkers are losing it faster than they can make it.  One of the biggest problems with drinkers...alchoholics...is that they have major financial difficulties.  While the cost of a bottle of liquor doesn't seem like much for the one one bottle...it is the cumulative costs.  Often times the average costs of alcohol per month for one person can be between 300 to 500 dollars.  EASILY!!  That of course is if they are drinking at home.  Imagine! 
Now if that isn't pricey enough...when you look at the devastation that is happening to the rest of the family...It is immeasurable.  And the largest problem is that the drinker is not even aware of their behaviors and the effects that it has on the rest of the family. 
They are willing to risk danger to themselves at all costs...or the cost of a drink! 
The estimated annual deaths and  circumstances related to alcohol are as follows:
How can alcohol be blamed for 100,000 deaths each year?
  • 5% of all deaths from diseases of the circulatory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 15% of all deaths from diseases of the respiratory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all deaths from accidents caused by fire and flames are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all accidental drownings are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all suicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • 40% of all deaths due to accidental falls are attributed to alcohol.
  • 45% of all deaths in automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol.
  • 60% of all homicides are attributed to alcohol.
This is staggering to me.  And if you look at this..it does not cover what harmful effects that it has on the family and friends.
Parental alcoholism also affects the mental development of a normal kid in the house. A large number of these children suffer from low self-esteem, guilt, suicidal feelings, fearlessness, fear of abandonment and depression. In many cases, the child of an alcoholic may think that he/she is the main cause of this problem and may suffer from high levels of tension and stress. Young kids may suffer from night sweats, bed wetting and they often cry alone for long hours. Older kids of alcoholic parents may become introvert and extremely self-conscious. Kids may also face problems at school as the negative environment at home might prevent them from studying and taking interest in academic activities. These children may also suffer from hypertension as they cannot share their frustration with anyone. This is very unfortunate but instances of incest and battering are very common in places were parents are alcoholics. Alcoholics tend to verbally and physically abuse their spouses and kids which leaves them scarred for life. Children blame themselves for the wrongdoing of the parents and they also turn to drinking to escape the pain, guilt and shame.

Alcoholics can also be very abusive towards their spouses and dealing with them is not everyone's cup of tea. Their spouse may suffer from feelings of hatred, frustration and mental exhaustion. The spouse may try to find peace and comfort outside which often leads to an extramarital affair. Very often the non alcoholic spouse has to do the duties of both the parents which makes the situation even worse. The household can also face a lot of financial difficulties as alcoholics tend to spend more and more money on alcoholic beverages.
For anyone who loves the alchoholic...or the so called "social drinker"  it is devastating.  They are forced to observe a life crumbling before them. 
I had never realized that there are 4 stages to alcoholism...the same as cancer.  Funny how if you are diagnosed with cancer..the word alone is enough to get you to sit up and take notice...but the word alcoholism doesn't seem to sink in.  The stages are awful with a tragic ending...the same as with cancer.  Now...cancer has it's treatments...and so does Alcoholism...but will the drinker take the treatment?  Some do and move on to a better life.  Others will lose everything...their family, friends, job, money, homes and most of all their lives. 
This saddens me to no end.  They leave a legacy though.  Troubled family members, grieving friends and sometimes injured, crippled or dead victims. 
As much as I can go on and on here...my reason for this is for those who might know that this is happening in your life.  If you have someone you love...whether they see it as a problem or not, whether they choose to get help or not...YOU, the person standing by, left watching the devastation...YOU need help as well and there are places to go to get help.  Perhaps you didn't know...were unaware...are afraid.  If you are there...please look up Al-Anon...or Al-Ateen.  There are chat rooms even on line that you can use to help talk about what YOU are going through and how to get YOU through this Intoxicating  NIGHTMARE! Just know that if you are watching this disease affect someone you love...that only THEY can help themselves.  YOU have to take care of YOU!! 
I often wonder...if I offered someone a bottle of poison...would they drink it??  Well...I guess the answer is yes...because it happens every second!  Ever wonder why a bartender will ask the question to a patron..."What's your POISON?"

Snowball Ice Cream Treat

Good morning to all.  I hope the start of your weekend is looking good.  I am hoping to go to an event today at the Historical Museum.  An old fashioned ice cream social.  The rest of the day will be work, work and then more work. 
Today's blog is about a childhood memory.  I cannot deny that when I go grocery shopping...even till this day...I look for this product in the freezer section.  What is it?  They are an ice cream snowball.  I remember as a child that at Christmas time, my mother would buy these wonderful treats for me.  It wasn't just an ice cream...it was a treat that stirred the imagination...at least it did for me.  I suppose there has always been a bit of the dramatics in me.  Well, anyway, these ice cream delights were shaped like a snowball.  They were rolled in coconut...which I LOVE!  They were decorated at the top with some green holly and berries that had been iced on.  Later on, they replaced that icing with a piece of plastic holly and berries.  Then the best thing of all...there was a red candle that was included that you inserted in the middle just like a birthday cake.  Now, I must say, I absolutely loved the ice cream...but it was the candle that made that treat so extra special.  Who would think that a little red waxy stick would do something so big.  For me...that candle made each time I got to eat one a celebration.  I can remember like it was yesterday, inserting that candle and mom lighting it up.  I would have her turn the lights down low and just glare at this dessert that was before me.  I didn't sing...well, maybe my heart did...but there was some sort of magic in that treat! 
They were around from just after Thanksgiving until New Years.  I remember loving that time of the year just because of snowballs. 
I thought a lot about how wonderful of a feeling that was.  I am sure that we all enjoy ice cream...I most certainly do..but an ice cream that seemed to celebrate something left a lot for the imagination. 
I searched as I had children for those treats with no luck whatsoever.  When the granddaughters came...I searched again.  I asked others that I knew about whether they remembered those treats.  I never found anyone else who remembered them...then finally I decided one day to do a search for them on the internet....God Bless this electronic.  Anyway, I discovered that they were mad by a company called Foremost Dairy Foods.  They were around only during the 50's and 60's. It is a forgotten or maybe perhaps unknown treat....but not in my heart!  In my heart they were a piece of the holiday magic. 
I thought a lot about this and will all of today's advancements in the kitchen..perhaps I will make some and bring back a little bit of that old time magic for the holidays this year.  I may have to keep a shelf open in my freezer because I don't think just a few will do.    

Well...BULLY for YOU??

Good morning to everyone.  TGIF...another weekend is on the horizon. The weather here in the Niles area is great.  A high of 78 degrees....doesn't get any better than that!  A full day ahead of me.   Plenty to work on and hopefully the stamina to do it. 
Today's blog is about bullies.  I have always connected bullies with children.  I do bullying programs in schools...but most recently, I have come to the realization of adult bullying.  You would think that by this stage of life, adults would not feel the need to be a bully...but most of the time I think it is all about POWER and CONTROL! 
I have come across a number of women in particular who have that need to be the POWER!  They want to CONTROL each and every little detail of another person's life and anything else that they can get their hands on. I have learned that this particular mode of control usually stems from not being in control of something important in their lives and ultimately...they NEED to control something and land up controlling everything around them.  How is this bullying?  Well, they want control over others.  They become demanding and insisting.  They also use the act of belittling another person to show prowess over them. 
Men are no better in this area.  If you are a bully...it doesn't matter what your gender might be.  Bullying comes in many shapes, forms and ages.  Some people are physical bullies while other are mental and emotional bullies.
There have been studies that  have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying.actions as hostile, The bully has concerns with preserving their self image , and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions
It amazes me the types of categories that bullying now falls under.  There are cyberbullying, disability, military, gay, work place, legal, parental, prison, school, sexual, institutional,  academia, medical, technological, nursing, teaching and many other areas. 
In the United States only some states have laws against bullying.  It should be in all states. 
What does bullying do to the victim? Depression, low self esteem, suicide, death. 
Many victims search for a way out...now that can come from leaving the place in which the bullying takes place....but it doesn't solve the problem, because the bully will move on to their next victim.  So the first thing to do is to recognize a bully, and then the next step is to tell someone...anyone!  Make others aware of what is happening.  Don't let the bully win!

Here are some examples of bullying...physical (pushing, punching, shoving, pinching, flicking, kicking, intimidation, etc), verbal (name calling, hurtful words, taunting, etc), social (exclusion from the lunch table/parties/teams/group/friendships, rumor mongering with the intended or unintended result of someone being left out, etc).Don't think that this is exclusive to chidren...it is in the adult world as well.  If this seems like it is somewhere in your life...the first step is to recognize it!
Bullies don't disappear when we close our eyes.  It is only when we open them and illuminate it to others so that they recognize it as well.
Read a story or two about a bullying situation....see if it fits the bully. 
Remember Chicken Little and the falling sky...gossip can hurt!  How about Anansi and the Moss covered rock, or perhaps Melinda Alice.  I hope this opens the door to recognizing what a huge problem this has become.  Get help or help someone who is the victim...it might just be you or someone close to you!

Fanny May Chcolates and Christmas Memories

Good morning to everyone.  Summer just seems to be whipping by.  I am not sure why August seems to be different for me...but somehow, through the years...the month of August sounds and smells different than every other month.  It is as though I can feel, hear and smell Autumn approaching. 
Well, as I pondered over what today's blog should be...I couldn't help but jump over to thoughts of Christmas.  I know that most are not thinking about Christmas at this point, but Christmas is with me all year long.  Today, for some reason, the thoughts of Fannie May Chocolates came to mind.  You might at this point be wondering how that connects to Christmas...Right?  Well, you see, when I was a young girl, my mother was divorced from my father.  We lived with my grandparents in Chicago.  My mother worked and my grandparents raised me.  As a child, we never really have any concept of life behind the scenes.  I myself as a child of the 50's never understood the difficulties of a woman working in a man's world...having to bring home the money and pay the bills.  My mother didn't receive any child support...so basically, she was on her own.  Now, of course it was a fortunate thing that her parents were there to raise me. 
I think that as I grew older, I had a better look at the sacrifices she had made.  She worked very hard and tried to give me all the wonderful things she thought a child should have.  And at Christmas time...it was certainly true.  Although there were plenty of gifts all beautifully wrapped under the tree....the one thing that mom brought home...wasn't really a gift...more of a treat, but as I look back...it was a special Gift.  Each Christmas, mom would walk into the door with this white shiny candy box from Fannie May's  Inside the box was my favorite White Chocolate Almond Bark Candy.  What a treat!  It was that one thing that she seemed to buy for Christmas.  Oh how I loved that chocolate.  I knew it was only for the holiday...so I savored every morsel.  I never bit into it, because chewing it meant it would be gone too quickly.  I would slowly place a piece of that divine chocolate into my mouth and just slowly savor it until its last fragment was melted.  There was nothing in the world that tasted that good! I never realized then that Fanny May was a Chicago based store and it's first shop was opened in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle St.  During WWII, many other candy shops had to compromise their products...but not Fanny May...they had to close some of their doors, but they refused to lower the standard of their product.  By 1934...Fanny May had opened up 48 shops in the Midwest.  Some of their most known creations were the Pixie, the Trinidad and the Eggnog cream.  Years have gone by....a great deal of changing of hands... In April 2006, Fannie May was sold for $85 million plus an earn out to publicly traded Internet retailer 1-800-Flowers.com. Alpine Confections again tapped investment banker Paragon Capital Partners for this transaction. The chocolates and candy continue to be manufactured in Green, Ohio,, under Fannie May Confections Brands Inc, while their corporate headquarters remains in Chicago. 
Now that I have grown up...I occasionally pass the Fannie May store and it reminds me of those days.  When I was young...I had never realized the costs of that box of candy and how that was a financial treat!  That was not an ordinary candy...it costs a whole lot more than a bag of candy from the grocery store...but mom made a sacrifice somewhere and made sure that I had that box of heavenly delights each year!  I can no longer eat the nuts due to a health issue...and I really shouldn't have the chocolate as well....I am diabetic, but I think this year for Christmas, I may buy a box and send to my granddaughters.  I may sneak a piece out just for me...and in a way, remember mom and her "SWEET" Christmas gesture of love and sacrifice. 

The Fear of Failure

Good morning to all.  A beautiful day in front of me today.  The sun is shining and the birds are chirping.  I need to keep reminding myself to be grateful for the gifts I am given each day.  Life has many twists and turns that sometimes in the face of adversity...I need to remind myself of that.  When I feel like I am drowning...I need to remember that I love the water...and that I know how to swim. 
Today's blog is about Fear.  I have sat here all morning and contemplated that word.  It is something that it seems has more attachments than one can imagine.  There are so many fears in the world.  There are many phobia's affixed to it.  Fear of bugs, tight spaces, heights, etc, etc. etc.  But the fears that I face are more than likely fears that we all face.  
I fear making the wrong decisions, I fear growing old, I fear losing those I love, I fear being alone, I fear failure.   
Failure is the biggest one.  What constitutes failure?  What determines that one has failed. I think that the answers to that question lie in your own self.  One of the things that I hear over and over again in life is that you must face your fears.  Well, I can face many...I can face dangers, I can face troubles, I can face a lot...sometimes...it is my failures that are the hardest to face.  And when I really stop and look at them...I wonder whether others see that as a failure?  But failure can often times be pounded into us as children...and even as adults. 
I remember that when I decided at the age of 30 to go back to school...I told my mother what I was doing.  She don't me not to tell anyone about it because what if I wasn't able to handle it.  What if I couldn't finish it?    Turned out that I wasn't able to finish it...I had to stop and help with family issues that took presidence...BUT...while I was there...I made straight A's and made Phi Beta Kappa.  I carried a full load and was raising 2 daughters and keeping house at the same time.  I failed to finish...but I felt that I did my best...so was it a failure? I raised children...one daughter choose to go her own way....was I a failure as a parent?  
I have just received news that makes me feel as though I have not passed mustard and now question whether I have failed.  The more I think about that...the more depressed I got.  Then I thought....I tried!  I didn't have the fear of TRYING!  Another person's perception of what passes mustard may not be someone else's idea of passing mustard...so maybe I need to find that someone else's opinion...or change from mustard to ketchup...LOL.  If you knew me personally...that is so an inside joke.  I am definitely a Ketchup Queen.  So maybe it is the way I dress my food..or in this case...my situation.  I am not giving up! I am just going to change my direction.
Fear needs to take a vacation...permanently!  I thought about people who have looked at failures and continued on to become great successes.  The Wright brothers didn't give up.  Alexander Graham Bell didn't give up.  Woman who fought for their rights didn't give up.  When they fell...they got back up and brushed them selves off and went on again.  Well, get me my horse.....cause I am galloping forward and plan on still kicking up a lot of dust.  Determination...Don't FAIL me now! 

Slipping and a Sliding!

Good morning to everyone.  It has been a week since I have had the chance to sit down and blog.  I hope that you have all missed me as much as I have missed you!  Today is quite dreary outside.  A visit with a sick friend is on the schedule and lots of work to do. 
I was quite thrilled this past week with a box of some new paint products for multi media which came from Deco Art.  I was excited to put together something with a coupe of the products and look forward to some designing.  I am awaiting another package and will really be able to forge ahead. 
Well, today's blog is about Slip and Slides.  I have recently seen so many new modern takes on that old water slide from when I was a child.  Today, they even have them down streets in cities.  You can ride along on boogie boards even.  When I saw that...I thought, "what a great idea"!  I wish we would have had something like that when we were young with the old fashioned first slip and slides.  You just thrust yourself down on that watery plastic and slide.  Oh the fun we had with that piece of plastic.  When I look at that today...I still want to slide along one, but can't imagine not only how I would get down and then up...but what bones that action might break! 
As time has marched along on me, it marched right over my body!  It didn't help that Father time decided to sprinkle a few debilitating diseases while he was marching.  He happened to sprinkle this Fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis all over me!  All I can say is....what happened to the never aging sand? 
I watch shows and see on magazine now that the slip and slides are as popular as they were when they first came out in 1961.  It was made by a company called Wham O....Well...that right there should tell you something.  It amazed me to read the dangers affixed to using the product and that they were directed to teenagers and adults...what amazed me even more were the injuries....paraplegic, quadriplegic along with bone fractures and neck injuries!   Well, that certainly makes sense when I look at it today!  But were there really adults who would try that?  I guess there is a child in every one of us.  As much as my heart would love to slide through a summer's day....my head (thank God) stops me.  I walk over to the garden hose and spray myself down.  I have enough problems slipping and skidding walking across the kitchen floor going from one end to the other after I have washed it! 
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