Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hey! I Just Saw The Space Station!

John and I just saw the Space Station moving across the sky from WNW to SSE, at exactly 6:55 PM, at a 43ยบ angle from the earth, travel time 6 minutes. How do I know all of that? Thanks to a fellow ME sufferer who told me how to do it, I signed up for notifications, and you can too, at NASA . You can sign up for morning or evening, or both, and you will get an email when it is an opportune time weather wise. They will send it to you several hours ahead. We got an email telling us when it would crossover tonight and I took my ordinary binoculars out with us, just in case, and we could see the brightest row of lights going straight across! Here's a photo someone else took of it from the ground:

And although we could not see the body, we could see the lights!! Isn't that just cool?!?! There are no blinking lights so if you see those, you are following a plane. And just imagine how great it would be if you had a strong pair of binoculars! The Space Station was really moving, so be sure you've spotted it before putting them up to your eyes. I don't know if a telescope would work, because of the speed. 

So sign up - whatever country you are in! And if you have kids, they'll love it! You will get an email every time it's opportune unless you unsubscribe from the mailings.

I'm telling you, it was exciting!! :)

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

An Owl Overhead and Bright Lights

Just a few random things to share with my readers. Last evening, as I was lying on the bed, I heard an owl incredibly close and thought he must be in the trees outside in the front of the house. I went downstairs and made John mute his TV show (he was good natured about it, thankfully) and we both heard it clearly. I went back up to the 2nd floor and into the guest room in the dark, opened the dormer window, and peered carefully at the trees, hoping to see its silhouette in the leafless branches. Nothing. Then I heard it again and realized it was coming from above me. I went up to the only room in the 3rd floor - my studio - treading carefully in the dark and quietly opened that window which looked out in a different direction. For a little while I heard nothing and I figured I must have scared it off, because I could not see the silhouette in any of the trees in that area either. Then, suddenly, I saw the moonlight glancing off of his back and the upper part of his wings as he glided down from the rooftop to the trees on the far side of the yard. I thought that was just amazing! Judging from the 5 count of his hoots, it was a Great Horned Owl; a Barred Owl has a 9 count call.

Thursday night, my husband and I had an actual date - an extreme rarity for us because 1. it was in the evening and 2. we weren't going to a doctors appointment! John thought we could go see the Christmas light show at the Roper Mountain Science Center. We would just ride through it in the car, and I would not have to get out. Meanwhile during the day on Thursday, Tabitha was over and she told us about this house with a great light show of its own. She said the owner had decorated the entire front yard and house and then had all of the lights timed to Christmas music played by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 3 different songs, and his own little spot on the FM radio. So we thought we would see if we could make that too, if I was not too tired, and it was on our way back from the Light Show.

In Charleston, we had gone to the James island County Park each year where they had a fantastic and enormous Christmas light show. Every year it got better, and we remember when it started. Not only were there secular displays, there was also a Menorah, a Kwanzaa display and several Christmas displays of Christ's birth. There were also many very clever other things, displays related to Charleston, some of moss hanging from a tree of lights, a bridge going around the end of a lake, many which seemed to "move",  and much more. It took you an hour or more to go through it, and we often went around at least twice.So, we were looking forward to seeing another good show.

The old Cooper River Bridge in the background, with the new Ravenel Bridge in the front, at the James Island Festival of Lights

All right, friends from Greenville who read this, do not take this too personally, but we were so disappointed. The Roper Mountain show was lame. Yes, lame, I'm sorry. Very secular and repetitious, with only one, maybe two actually clever or artistic ones. What a let down! We were through it in 15 minutes! We drove back toward home, glad that it was a beautiful full moon out and that it was something to enjoy. We decided to go by this place our daughter mentioned, and oh my, was that fun! Here was this modest brick home, with a better planned light show than what we had just seen. We sat transfixed, listening to the music in the radio and watching the lights blinking in sync with the music- quite dramatically in places! I can't imagine being his neighbor, but it gave us a positive ending to our small date. Thanks Tabitha! :)

And if you ever have the chance to see the James Island Christmas Lights in Charleston, please go, you won't be disappointed! (Except perhaps by the traffic!) It's rated one of the Top Ten Light Shows in the US!! Here's a link to see a few of the lights, and you can google for more images - Lights . And it's still only $10 a carload!

More about Christmas in my next blog!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Gift

I promised I would show what I gave to my sister on Christmas Day and so here it is:

Purple Prose
(click for details)

My sister loves purple, and I could not remember what else (and I didn't want to ask), so it's purple plus a few other colors. My husband really liked it and said that it had sort of a Asian relief map feel to it. I painted some rice paper with old Japanese writing on it, adhered those to the acrylic painted canvas. I collaged with other papers and postage stamps, and then used Golden bead gel, Golden crackle medium, origami netting, waxed cording, ceramic bead points from Italy, and Interference Violet paint to create the sheen effect. It's on a 12 x 12 wrapped canvas, and also includes oil pastels, Stabilo pencils, and a handful of violet micro beads. And she loved it! I'm so glad it turned out to her liking. This is the second mixed media piece I've done as a gift and therefore in specific colors. A lot of love goes into my paintings! 


Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Gift For Someone

Ahhhhhhh, what a nice feeling! In spite of the horrible migraines, and lack of sleep which have filled most of December for me, I was able to accomplish something special for someone! And it was something important to me to get done. I cannot show you the gift, but I can show you the process of getting it out into the mail.

The hardest part was finding a box just the right size. Rochester is asking if I'm sure this will fit this box.

He has to inspect it to make sure....

He approves! 
"OK Mom, what's next?"

The packing material is on the bottom, and the present is wrapped with purple shoelaces.
A card is tucked under them, and we can see who it is for....... then the rest of the packing material goes over it and the box is sealed.

Rochester does the final inspection and approves of the decorations. (If I were stronger, I would have decorated the box a bit more nicely, but no one will complain, I'm sure!!)

Now, Judy, since you know that this is for you, you will promise me now that you WILL NOT open the wrapped present till Christmas DAY!!! You may unpack the box, but the gift remains wrapped till CHRISTMAS DAY, not Christmas EVE, OKAY?? And I know you will not lie to me, so I am taking you at your word. :)

I will post the picture of the gift after Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas!!

Click on any picture to see details.
Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Art

Although it has been an up and down time, I have joyfully been able to spend some time in my studio, although never for long periods. Even so, I am working on some art pieces and have 2 to show you. The first is another of the postcards of which I had shown you a series of before, this is a new one from that series. And the second is a mixed media collage on canvas.

(click for details)
4 x 6 postcard, mixed media collage, including heart cut from old book page, acrylic paint, sequins, dried rose petals, gel medium, Stickles, silver pen and stencil.

Poppy Pods
(click for details)

This mixed media collage is on a 10 x 10 wrapped canvas. It includes a transfer image of poppy pods, collage of old book pages & tissue, hand drawn poppy pod, acrylic paint, oil pastels and Stabilo pencils. 

And I have one more I am still working on.

Hope you enjoy!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Stories - Guest Writer - POCKETBOOKS

Today's story was written by a friend and fellow sufferer of ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). She has had it much longer than I have and has worked through much of it with a sense of humor still intact. I hope you enjoy the story!

by Nita Dozier Thatcher

(62nd in the Tueday Story Series)

I want to share with you a story. A story about my Grandpa Dempsey's older sister, my great aunt Cora. The story starts from the memory of a five year old who didn't realize that her great aunt Cora might be a little strange.

Great aunt Cora loved calendars. So much so that she papered the walls of her living room in her tiny little house with pictures taken from calendars she had received from local businesses she had faithfully patronized over the course of years and years. To a five year old it was the most fascinating room imaginable. Over there in the corner were the mighty Swiss Alps, a bit yellowed, but recognizable. Behind the rocking chair, horses grazed in green pastures. By the potted fern lived dogs and kittens, and down at the bottom, over under the window was President Calvin Coolidge. Well! Every house should have a room just like it in order to keep it from being ordinary!

But that's not the story I want to tell.

Great aunt Cora also had collections. There was a pile of rocks in the fireplace from places she had visited. That was okay because the fireplace didn't work anymore because the chimney smoked like my great uncle Frank Crago who was destined to die of lung cancer before he ever reached 90. Or so great aunt Cora, aged 92, smugly explained and I guess she was right because the white paint on the mantle above the fireplace had a bit of a smokey gray look to it and so did great uncle Frank Crago.

But I digress, so back to great aunt Cora's collections. There were vases full of feathers, collected in the wild by great aunt Cora herself, from every bird native to the eastern part of the United States of America. Or so the cardboard plaque on the long shelf over the front windows holding the vases said. There was the row of little brass picture frames, all hinged in the middle, marching zig-zag across the mantle. Each frame proudly displaying locks of hair tied with ribbon. Every last one of great aunt Cora's eight children, twenty-nine grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren, to date, having been caught and shorn for posterity. Most puzzling of all, stacked from floor to ceiling in the corner, each one in it's own box, was every single puzzle great aunt Cora had ever put together in her whole life. Three very colorful stacks of them. Floor to ceiling. One on top the other. And they were never supposed to be taken down and put together again because some things were only meant to be done once. Well!

Be that as it may, that's not the story I want to share with you about my great aunt Cora.

No, the story I want to share has to do with the little room off the kitchen, right next to the back porch, the little room which contained another one of her collections. I was all of eight by the time my snooping self had explored the other oddities of great aunt Cora's house and I discovered the little room. I had pondered by then that just possibly my great aunt Cora might be slightly different from most older ladies of my acquaintance so the discovery was nothing unusual and little did I know it would, many years later, cause me to pause and contemplate my own life.

There was the usual stuff in the little room. The broom and dustpan, the sack of potatoes starting to get their eyes growing, the old wash tub, the sofa sized photograph in the gold frame, leaning up against the wall, of the huge pig that her late husband had won the blue ribbon with at the 1946 county fair for having birthed a litter of 33 piglets, the largest piglet production to date in Jackson County Ohio! The very same pig picture that great aunt Cora liked to have sitting in the corner of her dining room once a year to show to relatives at Thanksgiving as we sat to eat the traditional ham.

No, what caught my eye were all the big pocketbooks hanging by their straps from nails pounded into the walls of this little room. Row after row of pocketbooks. All shapes, all sizes, all colors, one hung right next to the other, right up and down all four walls.

My eight year old mouth hanging open in awe and wonder, having just discovered the supreme importance of accessorizing one's wardrobe, I dragged my great aunt Cora to the little room amazed that she was so au courant in fashionable good taste. Expecting to be regaled with stories of which pocketbook went with which outfit and pair of shoes, I waited to be fashionably educated.

Only to discover that great aunt Cora's pocketbooks were nothing more than a filing system. A filing system! I had failed to see a number pinned to each pocketbook. 1927, 1933, 1921, etc. It seemed each and every year, at the first of the new year, from the day she first married and set up her very own household, great aunt Cora went to the store and bought herself a brand new pocketbook.

Then, instead of accessorizing her wardrobe with that new purse, like any ordinary lady, she began tucking into it all of the cards she received, all of the articles she'd clipped from the Jackson County Newspaper about events she'd attended, ribbons she herself had won at the county fair, invitations to parties she had attended, napkins kept from weddings, all of the letters she got from friends, birth announcements of babies she had welcomed into the world, obituaries from the funerals of friends she'd said farewell to, Christmas letters from her piano students, pictures from trips she'd taken, every bit of it went into that new pocketbook. Stuffed full to bursting. Some so full their clasps hung open and things poked out.

Then at the end of the year, she pinned the current yearly date on that pocketbook, drove a new nail right into the wall of that little room and hung up that pocketbook! Never to be opened again, except to occasionally take out a few memories and cry and laugh over them.

Well! That's when I had my first inkling that my very own great aunt Cora might be a bit eccentric and strange, but just maybe something of a genius as well.

Sometimes, still to this day, I think of great aunt Cora and her filing system that organized her memories of a full and complete life. I think about her little room off her kitchen near the back porch and I think about what my own little room might look like with pocketbooks hanging on the walls, all neatly dated with dates starting from my own wedding in 1968 and going right up to 2012.

And I realize something. The first few years my pocketbooks would be overly stuffed to bursting with memories, clasps gaping open with stuff hanging right out the sides. The next several years, the pocketbooks would be bulging a bit at the seams. Then would come quite a few years where my pocketbooks would be a bit under-stuffed. Then the rest of my precious pocketbooks, right up to this year 2012, would be very nearly empty.

This is what a long history of ME/CFS does to one's life.

Although the pocketbooks I continue to hang on my wall may not be as full as they once were, every year I live I will still have a brand new pocketbook to mark my time. A pocketbook into which, in spite of everything, I can place memories. Fewer memories, perhaps, simpler memories, maybe, but they will be golden ones because I now know how precious and rare they may be.

Maybe that golden memory will be of my husband cooking his first Thanksgiving turkey and peeking in the oven every few minutes to make sure it's okay. Maybe it will be a golden memory in the form of a picture of my first great-grandchild. Maybe it will be a golden memory of the new friend I meet when it's time to ask for a Home Health Aide. Maybe it will be a golden memory of how my family and friends, each in their own unique way, support me when I need someone who understands.

And each and every year I will celebrate with a joyous heart the hanging of my brand new pocketbook!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!