Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Memories Of Terrible Tuesday – 35 Years Later


Tomorrow, April 10th, 2014 will mark the 35th anniversary of an event that changed my life forever.

When as many as 38 confirmed tornadoes danced the Red River Valley.  More destruction from the same weather cell would spill into the next day, affecting parts of Arkansas and Missouri for a total of 59 tornadoes confirmed.

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979.  (Wiki commons)

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979. (Wiki commons)

They later called it Terrible Tuesday.  Many remember that a mile wide path was carved through Wichita Falls, TX, killing 42 people.  But another tornado also came up through the edge of my hometown of Lawton, OK a few hours before.  And we lost 3 people too.

I remember it being called an F4 or F5 long ago, but it seems that time has downgraded it in the records to an F3.

They say that particular tornado split into two, possibly three tornadoes after it hit town.

I believe it happened at my house.

I always get emotional when I remember that day.  I was 7 and a half, and I remember the day like last week’s trauma.  The jewel green look of the sky when we were at the Safeway grocery store on Ft. Sill Blvd.  The way the air tasted, tingly like a weak 9 volt battery playing in the back of your mouth.  The way everyone ignored the weather in Oklahoma and went about their business.

You gotta understand.  Tornadoes were no unusual thing.  However, usually they were small.  Maybe they take out a barn or something.  Maybe they never touch the ground.  Maybe we get a little excitement, but rarely was it that big of a deal.

People ignored tornado “warnings” all the time back then.

I remember standing at the back glass door, staring at the heavy rain when we got home.  Watching the hail come down and get louder and larger.

My mother worked for the American Red Cross at the time.  She helped train folks in disaster preparedness.  I’d watched every film our local chapter had to offer at the time.  We knew well that the safest place in the home was as close to the center as you could get and away from windows.  And we had regular drills at school, filing into the hallways, crouching on our knees with our heads face-down towards the floor and wall, our open textbooks held to cover our necks and heads.

On Monday night before, there was a PTA meeting at Will Rogers Elementary School – the school I attended and lived across the street from.  Mom and her director gave a presentation to our school and parents about tornadoes, what to look for, where to go, what to expect. The biggest thing I remembered from that meeting was the Red Cross director talking about hail and rain.  He held strings of white beads in front of a poster to represent hail as he described the pattern progression of a storm.

He said, “It’s not the rain and hail you need to be afraid of. It’s when it suddenly stops.

It’s because a tornado sucks everything up.

I stood at our back door, watching the rain and hail get harder and larger.  Suddenly it was like a switch had been flicked and there was a stunning moment of silence against the jewel green sky.  My mom hung up the phone and yelled “Kids, hit the hallway!”

The hallway in our antique home, a house old enough that it still had some of the gas pipes for lighting in the walls, was a tiny 4-5 foot circle that our bedrooms opened to before spilling into the living room.  I grabbed my cat Taffy and my little brother’s hand and we sat down low.  There was just enough room for us and mom.  She managed to flip the breaker before the first crash.

They say a tornado sounds like a freight train….

But I never heard it.

I heard my swing set crash through my bedroom window.  Nearly every window in the house broke.  The sound of glass and boards flying through our home filled my ears.  As did the sounds of my little 5 year old brother screaming as he writhed in my hand and tried to get away to run.

“Hang on to him!”

Of course he was scared.  I tightened my grip on my brother’s wrist, and suddenly my cat bolted from my arms.

And somewhere, in the middle of all the crashing noises, there was a sudden pounding on our front door, just maybe 20 feet away.  Mom got to the door to let my friend Francis in, along with her brother and sister, from across the street.  We didn’t get to play real often, and she was a little younger than me, but Francis was one of my best friends.  Her father was in the army and her mother was at work, so the kids were home alone that afternoon.

I heard Francis’ sister say over and over, “The table fell on me.  The table fell on me!”

One of them was barefoot (or was it two?).  And somehow, they made it through the storm and across the street to our house before their home collapsed like a pile of cards.

And then, as they huddled into the tiny circle of our hallway with us, it was over.  And somehow, our home filled with debris, none of us were hurt.

“There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Mom had grabbed our radio.  An announcer emphatically urged the public not to panic, that reports of a tornado were false.  “There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Dad had seen the tornado from downtown where he worked, just a few miles away.  He raced home.  Mom said he kicked in the only undamaged door left in the house.  My grandma lived a block away.  She saw a board come at her through her hallway and managed to get into the hall closet in time.  It would be three days before I saw my cat again, thankfully alive.

Stepping out into the world after that was surreal.  Destruction and chaos surrounded our still standing home.  We lived on a corner diagonally across the street from my school.  Surveying the damage, half the school gym was peeled away and gone.  On one side across from our corner, a neighbor’s house was missing its entire roof.  Francis’ house on the other side across from our corner was a pile of rubble.  And the house across from us next to hers had completely vanished.

People used to steal our apples all the time. I guess they won’t anymore.

Trees, rubble and power-lines were everywhere.  The neighbor’s old tall tree beside us just missed crashing through my parents’ bedroom.  Our old sycamore tree looked shaved on one side.  The apple tree didn’t survive.

Bits of someone else’s swing set were in our yard.  Unbroken dishes that didn’t belong to us had miraculously shown up inside our house.  Even food had been blown around. For decades our neighbor had a saltine cracker framed that was put through their ceiling.  I heard that it finally fell out one year when her husband was fixing the roof.

The day took on an even deeper experience as it was also Passover night for our family.  We weren’t Jewish, but our church at the time kept Passover services after sundown on April 10th that year.  I forget why it was a day earlier than other Passover services.  Some sort of argument about the right way to figure the date.

Normally, children were not allowed at these solemn services.  But there would be no babysitter in our home that night.

We were late for the service, but I remember the deacons and other volunteers helping us in.  My brother went with my father and I with my mother for the foot washing ceremony.  I watched as a woman removed my mother’s shoes and washed away the mud and grass from her feet.  I watched as the symbolism impressed itself upon her.  Tears were in her eyes and suddenly everything felt raw to me.

More tornado sirens would go off that night. 

Some of our church members drove up from Texas for the service.  I heard that one of the families returned to Texas that night to find their home completely gone.  They thanked God they were at services instead.  Everyone murmured how we were all indeed “passed over.”

I remember sitting in a little diner that night, mom and dad talking, trying to figure out what to do.  We couldn’t go home to sleep and we didn’t really have the money to eat out or get a hotel, but there wasn’t any choice in the matter.  I remember hearing mom talk about how the mattresses would have to be replaced, that there’ve been cases of glass being embedded in mattresses by tornadoes.  The diner had those little juke boxes on the tables.  “Don’t Say Goodnight Tonight” was playing at a table nearby.  It was really popular back then, but to this day, that song feels like a haunting to me.

To my knowledge, our neighborhood and school district on the edge of town was the only part of town affected. I’ve often wondered how many people were saved thanks to mom and her director’s lecture at our school the night before.

A lot would change after that.

As the weeks would pass, our community would come together to help each other.  I remember the American Red Cross bringing relief bags with food and toiletries and the irony of it.  Grandpa came and helped my dad fix our roof.  The repairs seemed to go on forever.  And I remember how a year later, it still seemed like we’d never recover.

Our neighbor who lost his roof fixed up his house and moved away.  I can’t remember his name, but I remember that he had red hair and had been so kind.  I liked him and was angry that the tornado took him away from us.  The new neighbors never could compare.

Francis and her family also moved away and I never saw her again.  Never got an address; don’t even know her last name.  It felt like injustice and I’ve always wondered about her ever since.  I remember when the cranes came to clear away the rubble of her collapsed house.  I kept hoping she’d come back.  But it was like a curse had fallen on our neighborhood.  Her home’s lot remained empty for a long time.  And the empty lot left next to Francis’ home (where the whole house had disappeared) remained empty for the longest.

And for years, my brother and I cringed with every swirl of wind, every time the leaves blew into curls, every time a storm pounded our roof.  And for years it was hard on our parents too.  It took a long time to balance the trauma we all felt.  And the financial blow was no small thing.

I would later grow up and move on.  But every once in a while, there’s a look in the sky and a taste in the air that throws me back into the memories of a serious 7 year old child who would never forget.

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It was national root beer float day today…


It was national root beer float day today.

So of course homage had to be paid.

As John cleaned root beer from the kitchen floor, with me stuck in the living room with my leg elevated, a Travelocity commercial came on television.

And it dawned on me…

You could totally dub in the sound of a Swiffer Wet Jet mop for a screaming garden gnome.

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It’s All About The Overcoming… Ruminations


Maybe not #Crochet Ruminations, but ruminations nonetheless….

Everything about success in this life is about “the overcoming” of a variety of things. Overcoming is what growth is.

There are folks who seem to think that if everyone agreed, then all pain would cease to exist and everyone would be happy and successful. That somehow disagreement and a positive atmosphere cannot coexist in the same space.

However, I do not find this to be true.

Disagreement is essentially a growth opportunity to overcome something. Whether that is overcoming our own ignorance by learning new things from a dissenting point of view or overcoming the limitations of a single viewpoint by combining several points of view together into a successful bundle.  Whether it’s overcoming by standing our ground in the face of opposition, or simply overcoming the discomfort of being in disagreement itself.

Just because someone disagrees with me or I with them does not mean that harmony does not exist between us.  If anything, every opportunity to be shown another viewpoint is exactly that – an opportunity to grow.

Everything is destroyed and rebuilt every day.

Our points of view, our shedding skin cells, the food we eat.  We must take life, consume it, digest it and purge it.  Or we do not exist.  There is always some level of risk, discomfort and disagreement.

Everything in nature bears this cycle.  Every choice we make is a reformulation based on what we know and experience up to this point.  With every shift of our paradigm, so do we shift… somehow.

And the lesson?  That this moment is always about movement and evaluation.  We do not stop moving, choosing, shifting and evolving. We do not stop.

Everything is about the overcoming.

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She Will No Longer Be Ours….


The sun is shining today.  We haven’t seen sunlight the last few days and it’s been cold and dreary.  Exceptionally cold and dreary for us here in Central Texas at this time of year.

And it’s killing me that I haven’t been out doing shows.  This is the kind of weather when my crochet sells really well at the local shows.  We don’t have a lot of winter here.

One of my best outdoor shows ever occurred when a cold front moved in about mid-afternoon.  Until then, folks were milling around in shorts.  Then the cold wind came in and suddenly my booth was full of earlier admirers who now had a “reason” to buy, or at least an excuse.  They could now justify buying some yarny things.

It was awesome for me of course.  But I also noticed the sense of relief in people’s eyes as they bought what their heart smiled at.  For themselves.  People don’t generally buy for the holidays here until the first chill.  Which often isn’t until December.

But we actually had freezes the last two days! Freezes!  We don’t usually see those until like… February!

And now…

The sun is streaming through my kitchen window, as I sit here and type, my coffee steaming nearby.  I’m using Grandma Leona’s coffee mug today.  All the letters have long since washed off, but it still sports the little waving alligator from the blood bank she regularly volunteered for.  She was O-.

I look out the window at the bird feeder, hear her little chuckle and I feel blessed.

This is my favorite time of day in this room.

The sun is uninhibited.  My kitchen is alight with a warm glow.  It only happens during this morning window of about an hour, as the sun peeks between the oak and pecan branches just right and streams through the windows.  Even my cats know this time of day in this room.  They surround me.  The glow has always made me smile.  It even makes the dirty dishes look a tad romantic.

Dear son is feeling better but still home sick and restless today.  As he flips on some rock music to do his homework by, I am reminded that I have a lot to do.  But I want to hang onto this moment a bit longer.

Today is the last day I am owner of this house.

I wonder what mornings will be like in the new house?  I’ll have lots of time to find out.  But my time here is running out… like a slow drip, falling slower… or is it faster?  But nonetheless winding down to the last drop.

“Good to the last drop….”

Sixteen and a half years….  It’s a long time.  I glance around.  The height chart on the door frame long since erased so we could show the house.  All trace of little fingers gone.  Scribbles on the walls, long since cleaned and painted over.  We do get to lease back this home for another month until we close on the new place.

But tomorrow it is done.

She will no longer be ours.

But I suppose in a way she already isn’t.

Still…
I’ll hang on to her today…
Just a bit longer.

I don’t want this day to end too quickly, or to end without thought.


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Talents and Weaknesses – Crochet Ruminations


Something to keep in mind is that talents and weaknesses often go hand in hand. Sometimes if you look hard at a weakness, a talent (part of the solution) will show its face.

Not everything is completely as it seems. There are hidden gems and opportunities everywhere. We have but to look.

What about you? 

Meditation for the day:  What weaknesses do you see in yourself or in the world that can be turned upside down to find a strength or talent? 

Share your experience below!


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I Never Set Out To Sell Crochet – Crochet Ruminations


It wasn’t in the plan.  Really.  I crochet because I can’t help but do it.  It’s very meditative for me.  Like playing piano, or writing, it’s something that helps me stay that nice person most folks like. 

We neeeeeds it, gollum! 

And even when the whole family has been gifted out of their minds, I still crochet. It’s just one of many ways that I express my inner geekery. 

I say we all have a madness in Life and crochet is just one of mine.  Which stands out just a little in a climate that’s rarely cold.

There’s always a new idea in my head somewhere and I never tire of thinking on a different angle for this or that when it’s crochet.  I have about 40 different unfinished projects going at a time, so there’s always something I can work on.  If I’m feeling less than benevolent to a particular project (and some projects do end up in the “dog house” for awhile), I put it aside and switch to something else so I can come back with a fresh attitude another time.

When it comes to conversations, even then I can’t shut up about crochet.  I find myself drawing analogies to the artistic process involved with crochet design, or industry quirks, marketing tools or a myriad of other crochet related micro-conversations that I find myself tying to more common life scenarios.  And there I’ll be, with folks staring at me going – did you really just relate that to crochet?

Uh, yep. Yep I just did.

It’s more perfect than you think.  Like “Zen And The Art Of Crochet” and “What Crochet Taught Me About Popularity” kind of material.  That’s the way it is for me.  And I’ll argue there’s nothing wrong with it either.  Substitute “cooking” in place of crochet and most folks would hardly blink an eye.  We all have our ways to explore the inner workings of self, business, relationships and world.  There’s nothing wrong with mine.  Whatever gets your attention.

But selling crochet?  That started out because I’d crochet while waiting on my kids.  People started noticing what I was making and wanted one too.  Before I knew it, “I want one! I want one!” and I was in business.  The fact that anyone wants to pay money for my expertise is just awesome.  It helps pay for my madness!

How about you?  How did you get into crochet related business?  And if you’re not yet, what do you think might get you to or why would you not want to?


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When Dreams Are More – A Story About Gratitude – NaBloPoMo


It’s the month of November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  The month we supposedly deeply feel, express and show gratitude in all its forms.  And yet, right out of the gates, I have felt like complaining this first week.  I’ve read things that have gotten under my skin, been irritated with tasks I’ve been volunteered for (ahem, voluntold for), there are things I want to get done and haven’t been able to, and there’s my struggling to be and do everything, everywhere, all at once.  Plus there are very real and unfair things taking place at this time in my life.  Things I can’t control and just have to deal with or ignore.  If anyone has a right to complain just a little, it’s me.

And yet there are blessings too.  And there are times I think, when the only way to deal with things is to shift our state and be reminded of our blessings.

And so I often find inspiration comes in unusual forms in my life, if I’ll just but listen.

I am a dreamer.  It is part of who I am.  I have always dreamed dreams of significance.  As such, it is really interesting sometimes the things that come out as wonderful experiences and lessons that often only the dream world can provide.  I keep saying I’ll write a book about my dreams.  Maybe someday.

One night I had an opportunity to reflect within during my sleep.  There were all sorts of things dreaming through my head that night, but at one point, I suddenly became aware of a single state of being – Gratitude.

In my dream, all the people of my childhood began to flow before my eyes, like a river of stories.  But they weren’t the major figures that are easy to look back upon and remember.  The people I was reminded of were those who played small but important roles, whether I was aware of them as a child or not.  Some of them had faces and others, I did not know them, but I was shown stories of the roles they played that at some point made way into my life.

The grade school principal who I rarely saw or was aware of, but who depended heavily upon my mother as PTA president, the parent volunteers who put together the carnival I bought my first jewelry at, the mother who part-time coached my basketball and volleyball team one year, the grandmother from church who rode the bus with my brother to make sure he got to basketball tournaments without mishap, the friends of my parents who were great about supporting their role as parents and sometimes took us kids to give them a break, the lady at the concession stand who always had a smile, the mothers who volunteered to cook in that hot cabin kitchen at summer camp whose faces I can’t even see, the teenagers who listened to my stories as a kid, the girl who taught me to make mud pies.  And there were so many more.  Such small and even tiny events in my life throughout my childhood and then on into my adulthood.

So many people who had indirect and yet important positive influence upon my life.  And it was time for every one of them to be told “Thank You.”  Thank you for who you were then and who you are now.  Thank you for the small roles you have played, even if you didn’t think it mattered or anyone noticed.  Thank you for doing things the best you could or stepping out to do a small thing that had a trickle down effect upon the Soul that I AM.  Thank you for taking the time to Smile and to Listen.  Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t know you.  Thank you for playing chase with a couple of bored kids stuck at an adult gathering. Thank you for loving my parents and believing that their job was important enough to support, even when you did not have children of your own.  Thank you for judging and encouraging me at the science fair. Thank you for sending my teacher that info on volunteer opportunities for young kids. Thank you for taking the time at the grocery store to tell me that a bag of apples can help you make a long drive better than gallons of coffee.  It’s saved me time and again!

Yes – those carnivals you slaved over meant something and positively affected us as kids.  Yes, taking the time to laugh at our jokes and look at our creations made a difference.  Yes, that piggyback ride at the church picnic made for a positive reference point in my sense of community. Yes, that handful of change you gave me at the store, when you didn’t even know me, touched my heart. Yes, that heart-felt talk you had at the city council meeting changed my life for the better, even if you weren’t sure what you were going to say or who would agree with you.

Your insecurities don’t matter.  What does matter is what you did in spite of them and I thank you.

Thank you for the sense of community you fostered and gave me as an internal foundation to return to time and time again.  You have been a great teacher to me, even if you don’t remember me and we pass unknowingly on the street today.

We have connected, you and I.  And I am so very grateful!

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What You Like About Me Is Owed To Grandma Dot (Advice That Changed Me) – Crochet Ruminations


As far as advice that changed me?

The first thing that comes to mind for me are words from my Grandmother when I was a child, after I showed her a crochet sculpted hockey puck I made.

You see, a thought occurred to me as I was learning to crochet: that I could do more than what everyone around me was doing. That I didn’t have to just make doilies and afghans. That I could use a hook and yarn to sculpt, kind of like clay. So I set about to prove my theory.

As silly as it might sound, showing Grandma and hearing her words was a pivotal and freeing moment I have never forgotten.

“Well look at that clever thing! See there’s nothing you can’t do and bring into reality when you set your mind to it. If you want it, and work for it, you can do it.”

That was all I needed.  I’ve never been the same since.

As an adult, I realize those words may seem clichéd, but that tiny young moment contained so much power for me. Something huge shifted inside of me. I have since heard stories from others who were criticized for not doing things “correctly,” even having their hands smacked with rulers when they messed up, and other stories!  And no wonder as a result they never really picked up the art of crochet. None of my family ever did something like that to me.  And Grandma Dot always took time and marveled at my ideas.  She made me believe.

You never know what it is that will make a difference for someone.  How about you?  What piece of advice changed your life?  Who was it in crochet that made a difference for you?

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What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations


The inconsistency of the shaft and work space issue is exactly what gripes me about many hooks being sold on the market today, and it’s present in wood hooks as well a metal. When I give lectures/demos about hooks, I talk about this. That widening of the shaft causes a lack of consistency in the stitch loops, which besides causing strain on your hand, also causes changes to your stitch appearance.

I don’t know why this is happening in hook-making today, but I suspect it has to do with the time involved in making the hooks and in the case of metal hooks, strength. (And perhaps lack of knowledge?) So many of the older hooks I find are just better made. The quality of the metal is better. My favorites metal hooks have hand-machined and cut heads. The shafts are strong and they will flex, not snap or permanently bend like modern hooks will.

And you know what it reminds me of? How good knives and swords are made.  Good knives and swords are strong and will flex with pressure, but not break. And especially in miniature crochet, we put a lot of torque on those hooks.

Perhaps part of all this points to the possibility that metalsmithing and true metallurgical knowledge is not what really goes into our metal tools anymore?  

What about you?  I’m intrigued to know.  What quirks do you notice about crochet tools that get under your skin? And what can we do about it?


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The New Frontier – Crochet Ruminations


Crochet Ruminations – The Start Of  A New Thing

There are times when I have a series of thoughts and mini-conversations running through my head.  And when those “attacks” come, I don’t always have time to explore them.  But I’ll go ahead and draft the musings up in preparation for a deeper blog post to savor later when better time and exploration can be dedicated to them.

And sometimes they do turn into much more and get published.  And sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they never evolve and really are just shorter capsules of ideas in the moment – tasty tidbits of ponderings and half-eaten conversations that honestly don’t have anything more to do, or become, right now.

In looking over my list of possible blog posts, I’ve realized that sometimes one of those posts is only supposed to be just a few “deep thoughts.” Just some occurrences of ideas to fling out there for consideration and/or discuss amongst peers, if anyone wants to engage.  And that’s just that.

So in that spirit, instead of saving a zillion drafts every time something crosses my brain (my list of drafts is getting too long to manage!), I’m launching a series on my blog simply tagged Crochet Ruminations.

With that intro, here’s the latest….

The New Frontier…

Technology has brought us to the beginning of a new frontier in the world and we’re the pioneers laying the groundwork for what is to come, for ourselves and for future generations. History is literally being made.

How this new frontier works for crochet is being driven by the people actively in it. People like us, anyone who is willing to move to uncharted territory and figure it out.

The same is happening in other fields too. The internet is the “new land” to settle.  There’s no reason why anyone who has the will can’t figure it out and benefit.

The thing I find extremely important to register in our heads though, as Laurie points out (a.k.a. Fearless Leader from the Crochet Liberation Front), it takes working with others, not shouldering the responsibilities of the world alone, or shoving everyone else out of the way. That is not to invalidate the need for personal hard work and responsibility.  However, it is said that successful business people know at heart what school doesn’t teach us. That life is not a closed book test, that we don’t succeed by cutting others off, that the only way to succeed is to do it with the help of others.  And that often a sign of a successful person is one who continues to train and learn and someone who recognizes and values the expertise of others. 

We walk a fine balance of working hard on our own, but also benefiting from the help and insight from others.  Whether we hire them, or we accept help from a friend.   Trying to go it completely alone, making sure everyone knows we did it by ourselves and without help, does not work outside the classroom.  It is not a place of balance, nor a sign of success (and neither is the opposite).  In reality, no one expects you to perform alone in adulthood – only on standardized tests.  And those who believe they do not need advice, training or learning, who only boast on “did it myself” laurels, surely exhibit signs of impending implosion.

Coaching, master minds, discussions, hiring experts, studying, training, practicing, learning new tools and technologies, comparing notes with peers, understanding that old ways don’t always work today and that some old things never lose their effectiveness and sometimes what works for someone else is not right for you – all these things are important.  Settling the West was not born on the shoulders of one person.  In fact, to try to do such, was almost certain death.  People had to come together with their varying talents and work ethics to form the foundation for something great.

In thinking about this, what things do you see as it affects the crochet world that we should be mindful of?


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Nature’s Seasons Are Unique At Our Place….


Butterflies come about April/May for our flower bushes. That’s when the backyard is all a buzz and flutter.

Mid-July through September, that’s when you can count 100 dragonflies in my yard. I don’t know why they like my yard so much, because they don’t hover over the neighbors. I thought perhaps it had something to do with the weeds, but now we have real grass this year, so I dunno. I keep trying to photograph them, but they never turn out. Too small and fast.

Cardinals, all year round. I’ve enjoyed watching mom and dad bring at least two groups of fledglings this year to the bird feeder to feed.

Cicadas, they sing their songs about August on.

Geckos and lizards – our back yard is surrounded by an old rock wall, which the gecko kind all love. At night they come out and hunt moths on our house windows while entertaining our cats and sometimes frustrating the adults when the curtains get ruined. My kids used to watch them all the time when they were little.

Crickets. They come about twice a year here and the store fronts sometimes hint at something from Revelations. They don’t get into our place much due to the neighborhood cats.  Speaking of crickets, one just sailed around my ceiling fan. I thought he was a moth at first. My cats are so excited.

Bats are generally always around since we live close to the Round Rock colony. We have a larger lot that’s a bit bare after a storm took out a tree. The bats like to sweep in circles around our lawn space and then zoom to the bugs drawn to the street light across the way.

Spiders. I remember one year when it seemed a bumper crop had hatched all around Austin and the sky was full of silk balloon fluffs as if freshly blown from giant trees.

It was amazing.

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Zombie Squad On Your Side


We were out and about in AZ on our family vacation when I saw this car next to us in Phoenix.  I busted out laughing and just had to share a pic!  Too cool, too cool! (Click on the photo to see it larger and up close!)

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Unconditional Receiving…


This is more philosophical/spiritual in nature, something I am exploring personally and within my spiritual circles, but thought I would share it with you.  In part, because I think it’s something many of us in the creative fields can relate to, especially many of us who are women, mothers and other servants to greater causes than ourselves.

You see, around New Years this year I had an epiphany about receiving. I’ve always been a proactive advocate about the cycle of give and receive. It’s important to value things in life. Ourselves included. We often do not value when we do not give in exchange. And as artists, we often find ourselves having to learn much about this when we look at pricing ourselves and valuing ourselves and marketing/selling ourselves and the work of our hands.  So many women and so many artists feel guilt for charging for creation.  Or guilt over asking for more.  So understanding the divine nature of the cycle of give and receive is greatly beneficial in coming to a place of balance in this.

Is it logical?  Is it balance?  Is it even love to devalue oneself?  Because devaluing oneself is not being humble.  It is not an act of giving.  And it is not unconditional love either.  It is not the same energy by far.

These are subjects many of us are already exploring and more familiar with.  But earlier this year I came to realize there was something more. An augmentation of this understanding.

We know about unconditional love. We know about unconditional giving. But we rarely hear about unconditional receiving. It’s bad enough when we put up rules about when we will give and who we will give to.  Dictating a type of giving only where we deem it is “deserved.”  However, too much of the time, we put up rules about receiving, either blocking all together, or placing parameters and requirements on how we will allow ourselves to receive. We say we will allow ourselves to receive, but only this way, or with these conditions.

Sometimes it takes us becoming downright sick or injured before we allow ourselves to receive help of any kind. As if only then we have permission. We even do this with friendship.  And we avoid delegation.

Of course, in order for someone to have the benefits of giving, there must be a receiver, but when you look at unconditional receiving, as in – no conditions, just receive in gratitude – it takes on a whole new energy. No Conditions! No judgement! No comparing to what others have or don’t. No negative views on one-self, or others! Just purely receive! Unconditionally! I am blessed and whether expected or not, whether “deserving” or not, I will accept! And I will not turn down another’s gift of giving and deny them that experience either. And I do not have to work harder before I’m finally “deserving” of it either.

It’s a continued exploration, but something that really struck to my core when the phrase popped into my head. “Unconditional Receiving.”  That conditioned receiving is not really love. And I’m pretty darn sure, we are not supposed to judge too harshly the things that flow into our lives. If I were to meet Jesus, or the Dali Lama or another spiritual master, and offer them a gift, would they judge it?  Do we reject the gifts of children when offered?  So if I desire to be love, why would I do less for another, or to God?

I’m still exploring it and what it means for/in life, mine and others. Many times in my past, receiving was either forbidden, or it meant being owned in some way. And so blocking that was a way to comply with the rules, or to be free of bondage. It was also a way to avoid disappointment and judgment. And there was all that “deserving” stuff. Being open to receiving can make you feel vulnerable. Being honest about need can make you feel vulnerable. Even being honest about your feelings, or where you came from, can leave you open to judgment from others.

But I am not in need of those views or protections now. I haven’t been for a long time.  It’s an interesting exploration. I cannot claim to have absolute understanding of this, but I can say that the exploration of this is teaching me a lot.

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I Was A Goddess Today!


I was a working, accomplishing goddess today. Not crochet related, but I totally kicked ass.  Maybe it’s because it’s the first day of spring break and my day wasn’t broken up by school runs, I don’t know, but I’m ready for more days like today.  I had my running check list.  Back and forth, trading this hat for the next.  Ticking my items off one by one.  I took every call today on the second ring!  Many times I just can’t, but today I talked to customers and friends and still accomplished things on my list!  Even as things got added to my list, they got worked on!  I even mowed on the lawn, with an old-fashioned push mower today (the human-powered kind that used to belong to hubby’s grandma).  In high weeds.  (Long drought plus a sudden few days of rain in Central Texas means every mean and nasty local weed there is  springs up and tries to take over.)  And I still came in and was able to turn my head to analysis, inventory and calculations.  Take care of the workshop I’m planning, contact people, handle clients, send out newsletters, convert files, touch base with teachers and chat with friends.

On top of that, I heard from three other friends who fell into recent strokes of good fortune too! Friends sold their house in 6 hrs (say what? I want some of that!).  Another friend sold $400 in paintings over lunch today.  She’s so excited!  (Isn’t that awesome?) And another is launching a new business plan with astounding possibilities.  Another I talked to I just found out escaped a fire.  Thank goodness they are OK!  And I have new neighbors who at least for today, seem really nice.

My regular lawn mower is still broken, and I didn’t finish the lawn, but it was a good day. And I feel like awesome.  It totally rocked!

Now I want to bake chocolate chip cookies…………
I totally deserve it.

nom, nom….

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Your Smarts Can Make You Weak


This touches an arena that I feel rather passionately about.  The attitude of expertise that says “I’m the head authority on this and do not need to learn anything else.”  “No one like you could possibly teach me something about the world I’m already an expert in.”  This attitude in life does not operate from a place of strength. It makes you weak.

This is especially dumb in leadership roles.  And it pretty much rejects assistance altogether. If you’re an expert in parenting, why read books on the subject? If you’re an expert in marriage, why ever consider counseling or a “marriage building” event? If you’re an expert in education, why explore new ways to reach a struggling student or improve the educational experience for everyone? If you’re an expert in business, why consult a coach? Why do anything to push your current boundaries? Yada.  Feel like you never get any help?  Umm, maybe check yourself here.

I’ve seen it in religious as well as philosophical circles. It’s present in the educational system. Even witnessed it to my surprise in the field of mathematics. And it’s so prevalent in politics (what I call the new religion) today. The idea in general that my way is the right way. Or my way is the only way. There is nothing else outside of that. It’s like being in a cage and it can become a difficult barrier to break through.

This doesn’t just plague leadership roles. Ever know someone who is an expert in everything, even in fields they’ve never touched? I’m reminded of a conversation with someone once about selling the home they’d lived in for 25+ years. The owner voiced many concerns over the idea and work she wasn’t sure might need to be done or even the paperwork involved. “Have you talked to a real estate agent? They could really help you know what you need to do and talk to you about the market right now,” I said. “No,” she said, “I already know everything I need to know about my house and this neighborhood. There’s nothing worthwhile an agent could ever tell me.”    Seriously?

In my mind, this type of mentality is the very source of division and stagnation. There is wisdom and growth at the center of many approaches and views. Thank goodness for the experts in my life who can give me other viewpoints and ways of seeing things. I am not eternal enough to contain all the truth and insight of the universe.

I have expertise, experience and a perspective that is very useful in many ways. But it ain’t everything.  No one’s is.

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Sometimes Even Nellie Oleson Is Right


I’m known to coin phrases.  One of my favorites? “There’s always a Nellie Oleson.”  Anyone who grew up reading or watching Little House on the Prairie barks a knowing laugh.  And anyone else just stares blankly at me!  Both reactions are fun.  :D  And the statement rings so true.

Fact is, there is always that person somewhere in your life.  That one person who gets under your skin, who acts as a challenge to you.  Whether as a minor yet annoying inconvenience, or as someone whose very existence seems to defy yours.  Perhaps that one person you can’t help but think privately about, “Everything would be a lot nicer if they just would just go away.”

Nellie Oleson exists for you, in some form, in your life somewhere.  And every time you think she’s gone, resolved and moved on, another one pops up in her place.  Her character is able to be so easily understood because there is always someone who plays this part in each of our lives.  After all, Life is always about the overcoming.  Of some thing… even some one.

It’s easy to habitually ignore whatever she has to say.  That nasty ‘ol Nellie Oleson!  She’s always such a pain!   But the fact is, sometimes, as conniving as she can be, as cruel and awful as she can sound – sometimes your Nellie is right.

Nellie has no vested interest in you.  Hurt as it may, and as frustrating as it can be to think she’s won and maybe gotten to you, Nellie has a way of pointing out the truth of the matter, in all it’s rawness.  It doesn’t matter that she’s your wrongful tormentor, nor for how many times.  When she’s right, she’s right.  Telling you what your friends didn’t want to say.  Sporting her evil little smirk.  Pointing out what you didn’t want to see.  That this time, and boy do you know it, you’re the one who is wrong.  Pointing out that flaw you want to forget, making known your weaknesses, revealing who you really are.

You don’t just hate her.  You hate how she makes you feel.  Because deep down it sucks to see yourself without the ignorant bliss or the rose-colored glasses your friends and loved ones are all too happy to loan you.  You’re not always rosy.  You’re not always nice.  You’re not always right.  You don’t always make great decisions.  Sometimes, those pants do make you look fat and sometimes you’re dead wrong.  Sometimes even an emperor needs a loud mouth kid to tell him he’s a fool without any clothes on.   Someone’s gotta do the job.  If your friends won’t, the Nellie in your life will.  The fact is, Nellie has an unabashed way of testing you and holding up the mirror so you can really see yourself.  Think you’re a good person?  Think you’re really something?  Think you’re better than Nellie?  Are ya really?  Even now?  Even under pressure?

Alison Arngrim

Maybe there’s a lesson in all that, a role she needs to play, a purpose to fulfill.  After all, how can we change and overcome what we cannot see?  She may not be soft and cuddly, but Nelly won’t try to protect us from ourselves.

Perhaps even you’ve been a Nellie yourself.  And maybe she’s not as bad as you think.  ;)


Fun fact: Alison Arngrim, the actress behind the TV personality of  Nellie Oleson released a 5 star book last year called: “Confessions Of A Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson And Learned To Love To Be Hated.”

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Mommy Can’t Right Now, She’s Texting


I was struck by a scene in my neighborhood earlier today.  There was a toddler sitting in a wagon by the side of the road, wiggling his butt, obviously wanting the wagon to go.  And his mom (or babysitter?) was leaning on a telephone pole nearby, with her phone in her hand.  Texting, surfing, I don’t know, but she was not talking. And she had completely checked out.

It’s always seemed odd to me when parents disconnect from their children for long hours talking on the phone.  We do all need breaks.  And that’s not what I’m talking about.  Before texting became a reality, there were plenty of people who could not disconnect from their cell phones.  And before cell phones, they could not disconnect from their home phones.  And there was a time before that when it might have been the back yard fence I guess.  Now they can do it more openly and quietly by text.

I don’t know for sure what I think of it.  On the one hand, I value good tools.  And my phone, along with its texting capabilities, is a good tool.  That said, I know when I had computer work to do at home when the kids were little, it was hard for them to understand why I couldn’t play sometimes.  After all, to their little eyes, I was just sitting there staring at a brightly lit box.  Sure, I showed them things and introduced them to a computer at an early age to help both of them with development, learn how to edit school projects, etc..  And later school came to require it.  But still, until they understood and valued the use of a computer at all, they did not get it.  At least a TV made noise and pictures.  They could understand someone staring at it.  They stared at TV too.  But often a computer is a bunch of words, while mommy seemed to stare off into space. I had to work from home to make it work out to be at home with my kids.  I would set them next to me with things to do while I worked, and I planned lots of activities together, but I couldn’t always just stop when they wanted.

There’s a Zen belief about being fully present in whatever you set your hand to do.  I can’t help but ponder these things when I see people staring at their phones while a child goes unnoticed nearby.  I’m not sure what I expect, especially as someone who values her tools, and as someone who probably doesn’t really know what was going on.  But certainly I expected something different.

It’s a different kind of world our kids are growing up in.  I know my grandparents saw that when I was a kid.  I see it for my own kids.  There’s always a trickle-down.  Generations of latch-key kids led to generations of fairly self-sufficient adults.  I wonder what the trickle down is here?

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Apparently It Is Easy To Make Butter When A Ninja Is Involved – A Thanksgiving Mishap


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Lightly sweetened butter, that was supposed to be whipped cream.  I poured off the liquid already.

Everyone knows that whipped cream is a requirement for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

It’s pumpkin pie season!  My favorite.  I didn’t have ready made whipped cream, so I whipped out the carton of heavy whipping cream I keep on reserve for chocolate ganache and whipped up a batch. LOL. See how punny I am?

I love this time of year.  Pulling out old family recipes, taking time not to be stressed about the world and just be thankful in this sacred space.  It’s a special day of magic really.  The kind that only love and gratitude can create.  I like this day.

ANYway… When the need arises, I usually whip up little batches of whipped cream with one of my small food processors. (Only the real stuff for me.)  It’s a great way to cheat at all sorts of things, like whipped cream and cream gravy. I have cooked from scratch all my life, but I have never really been able to master a rue. How do I get around that?  Blend some flour, spices and milk in a blender and you’ve got instant cream gravy or stew thickener. Corn starch too. I love me my food processors!

Truth be told, I’ve been through a lot of them. I love frozen fruit smoothies too. Been making them since I got out of college and could buy my first machine. However, I like the all fruit kind and I don’t water them down with ice. Which is actually harder on the machines. Ice shatters easily.  Frozen fruit does not.  Those drink wands? I burnt out three of them. Along with several small food choppers and blenders. Then there was the small Cuisinart I brutalized until it finally had plastic bits cracking off it from the sheer vibrational impact of frozen fruit blending in a machine that was never designed for what I was putting it through. But my frozen goodie product was yum!

Later I finally got a Magic Bullet. OMG! I loved it! Still have it too. (If you don’t want yours, I’ll take it!)  However, you can only make a small bit at a time.  And my kids love smoothies too.

So then came the opportunity to own a Ninja. Sam’s Club had one left on clearance for half price. It’s one of the smaller models, but I took one look and grabbed it. Hell yeah. Strawberry/Spinach smoothie tonight!

It’s a little finicky, but my Ninja works well. The larger model might be less finicky.  Mine’s really designed to make the smoothies that you water down with ice. And if you do, you will have no trouble with it. However, as you already know, I don’t like adding ice. Probably doesn’t help that I don’t have an ice maker. But I did figure out that if I toss in the strawberries and other frozen fruit in alone, before adding spinach or anything else, it will powder them nicely and then I can easily add my yogurt and greens. But not until then. (It helps to use sliced frozen strawberries too, btw.) Once you have that figured out, it works like a dream blending up a whole pitcher of smoothie at a time. :D

So back to whipped cream. A small food processor will help you whip up the good stuff in no time without pulling out your blender and all the clean up. (I’m all for practical and the least amount of work.)  Add your cream, a tad bit of honey for sweetener and blend until it looks right. Voila. Whipped cream.

Along come Ninja. This is the first time I’ve used it for whipped cream. In about 20-30 seconds I had whipped cream. Upon tasting, though, hubby didn’t feel it was sweet enough. So I added more honey and blended away. About another thirty seconds later, I had chunks in my cream and by another 30, it was butter. It wasn’t until I opened it up that I realized what was going on.

Stupid Ninja, I wanted whipped cream for my pie and now I don’t have any at all.  So now I have instead a delicate sweetened cream butter I’ll have to decide how I want to use. Grandma Leona would have been jealous.

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Look What I Found! Vintage Finds!


I lucked into some vintage finds at a thrift store today. I’m pretty pleased with them! How much did I pay? Now that’s my little secret!

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Vintage finds from today!

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I love the bee earrings! They will definitely become hat pins. The fake pearls are hand-knotted and over all look great, though two of the beads are flaking. Also found a sweet little silver chain.

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A cute little locket in the shape of an envelope.

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Came with a stamp inside!

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Recognition of this guy can definitely date you! It's Ronald McDonald's friend Hamburglar! Playing hockey! This mug is from the McDonald's Sports Series from 1977. This is going to be my new coffee mug!

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This pretty dish needs washing, but will look beautiful full of peppermints and ribbon candy! My Grandma Dot used to keep a dish of ribbon candy every year during the holidays. I haven't had ribbon candy in years!

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This awesome Steven Harris tie totally got my funny bone! I love the outdated computer equipment pictured all over it! I'm not sure what I want to do with this just yet, but I definitely wanted to give it a home! There were some beautiful silk Hawaiian ties there as well, but I decided not to get them too.

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Life Has Taught Me That All Too Often You’re Better Off On Your Own


People let you down.  Teams, bosses and employees let you down.  Friends make promises they don’t keep.  Family members have insane expectations.  Colleagues take advantage of you and your work.  Leaders pretend to be people they aren’t.  Managers abuse their power.  Religious people prove to be hypocrites.  Atheists and politicians too.  Armchair warriors who can’t help but to give out a cyber punch/ jab/ pinch.  Like an abuser, justify it with “They deserved it.”  The people with those handicapped tags that aren’t really disabled and who cut you off in a parking lot so they can swoop quickly into that front row parking space before you pass it.  I’ve been cut off in parking lots by more people with temporary handicap tags lately than ever.  Wtf?

People who pretend to be experts at something they are not.  Receivers with no sense of gratitude or conscience.  And the guilty who take their guilt out on others when they fail.

And it generally boils down to a selfishness at heart.  A general disregard for a fellow human being.  The one right next to you, not the stranger from another culture you’re trying to impress.

It’s kind of like how family all too often treat each other worse than they would a stranger.  Biting the hands that feed and nurture them. Devolving into a vicious cycle of dysfunctional relationship and communication to rule the rest.  And now days, a couple of conversations online makes you familiar enough to take a punch, familiar enough to receive judgement and be devoid of rights to safety. Familiar enough to be disliked or hated, never having met face to face. And based solely on a paragraph or two.  I feel like a bit of my soul bruises every time I hear someone talk about how they hate someone else.

Have people disappointed me lately?  You bet.  People with enough life and professional experience to know better.  People who’ve received enough kindness too.  People who should know the value of a team, of a cause, of a single person or an act of selflessness.  How a betrayal of trust ruins it for all.  And how gratitude always wins.

Has it been everyone?  No. Not by a long shot.  But enough repeats to get to me.  I know better than most how tough life can be, so as patient and laid back as I can be, it takes a while to build up.  I wrote the emotionally charged title on purpose.  Because I know it speaks to the feelings of a lot of people lately.

This Thanksgiving, of all times, let’s think about this.  And not just football.  Take accounting, of ourselves, of the relationships we allow in our lives, of the examples we allow our children to see.  Recognize reality for what it is.  Take responsibility for ourselves, because others are not as invested.  Demonstrate patience and tenderness with others, because we know what pain is.  And savor the gems in our lives, rarer today than ever.

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