Thursday, July 30, 2009

The 3Day Is Here!

As I write this, it's a mere five hours until the Third Annual 60-Mile 3Day Breast Cancer Walk steps off in Cleveland. In five short hours, more than a thousand walkers will be unloading their gear into trucks then gathering for the Opening Ceremonies before the sun rises. By this time, these ladies (and men!) have each walked hundreds of miles and raised thousands of dollars before they walk that first official mile. What awaits them is a journey that will never leave them. People they don't know will wait for them at cheering stations by the hundreds just to thank them. Whole neighborhoods will turn out to clap for them, block after block after block. And at the end of it all - three grueling days from now - they will be as emotionally charged as they are physically spent.
If you happen to be out on the west side of Cleveland this weekend and spy a sea of pink walkers, be sure to honk and wave. When your knees hurt and your hips hurt and you're sunburned and tired and achy and have another five more miles to walk, it's the little gestures of appreciation that go a long way.
To Brenda Traffis and her walking partner, Mea - hang tough, ladies. I know you feel an obligation to finish every last mile for those women whose names you've written on the tiny pink ribbons you're wearing. You humble us all with your sacrifice and dedication.
To Erin Johnson, Eileen Franey and Karen Hummel - 3Day crew volunteers - you have a lot of hard work ahead of you over the next three days, rescuing tired and injured walkers and making sure they're fed. The hours you've put in will be remembered by everyone you help.
To all the walkers and crew and volunteers who make up this extraordinary event: God bless you. You are heroes to my mom and everyone battling breast cancer.
You are heroes to us all.
But most of all, you are HOPE.
Now get some sleep - you're going to need it! See you on the route!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something Scrappy!

Mary at Scrappy Jo's posted this little project which was so much fun I just had to blog about it.
Last Friday was a little crazy at my house. Scrappy Jo's was holding another one of their online crops at 7PM. They are the BEST part of any Friday so I call 'em TGIF crops. Then at 9PM, My Sketch World was holding its first-ever 1 Hour Sketch Challenge, where Lucy posted six of her sketches and you had an hour to make as many cards from those sketches as you could. Ooooh, such fun!
No problem, I figured. I'd start out at Jo's then hop over to My Sketch World since I'd made up the sentiments Lucy posted early and had all my paper and supplies on standby.
That's when Charlie started limping.
Which woke up my napping mommy hormones and turned me into Dog Mom, complete with a snarl reflex which I'm afraid I used on Ken when he tried to tell me Charlie was fine. I actually think Charlie really will be fine now, but the upshot is that I got one item done at Jo's on Friday night and one card done at Lucy's. Thank heavens I was drinking Mike's.
This folder is the greatest idea - you can see Mary's Scrap N Go tutorial if you go here
Who knew an old manila file folder could turn into something so stinkin' cute??
Although I just now realized I folded mine backwards - my tab is on the front instead of on the back. And I cut my insert cards too short. Oh well. I'm sure YOU will follow Mary's easy instructions just fine.
I used papers from K&Co.'s Classic Charlotte stack, and then just doodled the heck out of them. You will note, however, that I somehow refrained from using my trusty white Signo pen which has been pouting ever since.
This is such a great idea that I'm already thinking about making a few of these up for Christmas. (Some of you should start practicing your surprised faces now.) Wouldn't these be a great way to share special family recipes with the kids? Or photos of a special event?
See? You're thinking of ideas, too, aren't you?
Here's what the inside of my folder looks like with my too-short inserts

Here's a close up of Matt's card - he is six in this picture. He's traded up and can actually fit into the cars he drives now.

And four year-old Ballerina Annie's card. She still likes the color purple although she no longer visits people in their homes to dance in front of their fireplaces.

And my nephew, Brian, when he was two. He's 25 now and wears pants nearly all the time.

I had so much fun making this project and it only took me a couple hours. It wouldn't have taken that long, but I was holding Charlie and then Sammy got jealous and I needed two hands so I just set DaBoys on the kitchen table with me. Don't roll your eyes - you'd have done the same thing. That's what makes us scrappers such a hearty bunch - we're problem solvers.
Just don't tell Ken, ok? He has no idea how dog hair ended up on his toast yesterday morning.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ginny Wilson

This is Ginny Wilson, Brenda's neighbor and friend.
I remember meeting Ginny in 2007 when Brenda and I were training for the 60 mile Breast Cancer 3Day walk. We only spoke for a few minutes but it was long enough to know I liked this lady. This lady had spark.
Ginny drove to downtown Cleveland for the closing ceremonies that year only to discover they'd been canceled due to rain. She showed up that evening at Brenda's house with a bouquet of flowers for her. It was Ginny's "thank you" to Brenda for walking.
Ginny had breast cancer.
And on July 12th, it took her life.
60 miles seems like a long walk, but it's not long enough.
The millions of dollars sunk into cancer research seem like a lot, but they're not enough.
The hundreds of pink bracelets, thousands of fundraisers and endless publicity is still not enough.
It won't ever be enough until we stop losing women like Ginny. Until women like my mom can stop battling recurring breast cancer. Until young women like my daughter can stop worrying about getting breast cancer. Someday - some sweet and holy day - I hope young women will hear about breast cancer and wonder what it was.
On that day we will have done enough.
Until then, there can be no rest.
Go here Educate yourself. Write a check. Give your time. I promise you it will make a difference.
Come back here every day to click on the breast cancer link. Two clicks and you've helped provide free mammograms for women who can't afford them.
Ginny was one of a kind. But there are hundreds of thousands of women battling breast cancer just like Ginny.
Be their hope.
Because we haven't yet done enough.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Key to Peace, Harmony, Enlightenment. . .

I find sleeping on sheets that have been hung outside to dry to be an indescribable pleasure. That first aromatic whiff of sunshine that greets my nostrils when I slip into bed is pure bliss. I daresay this old world would be a calmer less frantic place if everyone could snuggle into a clean, sundried pillowcase when they lay their heads down at night. Bright sunshine and fresh breezes are the Professor Higgins of the laundry world, transforming wet gnarly cotton into delicately-scented, heaven-imbued deeeeliciousness.
I come from a long line of clothes hanging women. One of my earliest memories is accompanying my mom and grandmother to the backyard to hang line after line of sheets, towels, aprons, shirts, dresses and tablecloths, taking care to hide the unmentionables on the inner lines. Every line was a model of economy and organization with like items hung together, overlapping each other just a bit to make the best use of clothespins. And none of these newfangled clippy clothespins for my grandmother, either. She used the straight clothespins that looked like two flat immovable legs and always left the corners of the bathtowels looking like they had ears.
For all of the cleavage, buttcheeks and prideful indiscretions that television and the internet offer up today, nothing compares to what you could learn from someone's laundry hung out on their line to dry. Every frayed hem, stained towel and patched tablecloth spoke volumes. Mrs. Thomas didn't like mending. Mr. Franklin with the tobacco-stained fingers dropped ashes on the doilies. Mr. Ellis was still out of work. My mom and grandma always tended to our lost buttons and torn lace, but they also delivered a casserole or two in their day as well.
Like the laundry itself, ironing also took an entire day. "Wash and wear" and "permanent press" were miracles not yet invented so everything from underwear to play clothes to pajamas had to be ironed. It was all sprinkled with water, rolled up in a towel and stored in the refrigerator before bed, to be resprinkled the next day with water from a Coke bottle fitted with a special red rubber stopper.
All of this came back to me like some vestigial memory when I had my own home and my own little family. For all my preoccupation with brightshinynew, I felt a surprising sense of pride to see lines of neatly arranged laundry hanging in my backyard. My children, however, eventually reached an age where they were aghast when I hung out rows of little Spiderman Underoos and My Pretty Pony Panties. Didn't I understand that THE NEIGHBORS WOULD SEE?? My explanation that THE NEIGHBORS wore underwear, too, was no comfort. It was all over, though, when I brought in a basket of satisfyingly white socks, all warm and sweet from the sun, and they found A BUG on one of them. As time went by and schedules became increasingly crazy, nearly everything ended up drying by strangulation in a small little dryer shoved into the corner of the dark basement with only a filmy dryer sheet for scent.
With the emphasis on energy conservation and simplicity in the past few years, though, you can now Google up instructions for hanging out laundry if you're challenged by the concept of using a clothespin. You can even buy "vintage clothespins" on eBay which would send my poor dead grandmother reeling for sure. And if the time and labor of hanging out laundry is too much, you can get fake - excuse me, I mean "faux" - fresh air scent by from "linen water" that comes in a bottle with French words on the label.
Me? I've got no kids offering up tiny little kid opinions about what's hanging out in my backyard anymore and am free to leave our belongings flapping around at will in front of God, the neighbors and their barking dogs. And while they might never admit it, I like to think my all- grown-up kids find a little bit of heaven when they're home to visit as they slip between the fresh air-dried sheets on their old beds.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

For One More Day

I wrote this in June of 2007 for my Hot Mamas team when we participated in Cleveland's inaugural 3Day 60 Mile Breast Cancer Walk. With the Cleveland Walk scheduled for July 31st, my BFF Brenda and all of this year's walkers are walking every day and putting in 14, 16, 18 miles a day on the weekends. This is for them.

As you sit on the edge of your bed at the crack of dawn, the weight of your obligations lands on you like a boulder.
Last week's clean clothes are still in a basket in your laundry room. Your house if full of dust bunnies, your garden is full of weeds and your car is full of protein bar wrappers and empty sports drink bottles. Your dog growls at you like you're a stranger.
Your boss can't wait until you inevitably give up this little whim so he can have back his dedicated employee who was never preoccupied and always wore high heels.
Your friends who are not in the 3Day are beginning to look at you differently. Girls night out happened last week without you.
Your husband doesn't understand why you're doing all of this. All he understands is that he wants you home - in body and mind.
Your children don't understand. All they know is they hate the color pink and want their mommy back.
And then there's your body. You can barely recover from walking one day to do it all over again the next. You go to bed achy and stiff. You wake up achy and stiff. Your suntan is an outline of a sports bra and shorts. It's a nice surprise when you don't have hat head. Your feet have blisters, calluses and corns in places you've never had them. You've lost another toenail.
You're weary.
You're exhausted.
You're miserable.
Why on earth are you putting yourself through this??
Like a warm sunbeam, you suddenly realize that you can make this all go away. You have the power to make your husband happy, be a mommy again, get that raise, go Martha Stewart on your house, have margaritas with the girls, sleep in and say goodbye to blisters forever.
You take a minute to think about it.
You can have a normal life again.
But then it dawns on you.
So what if the kids' underwear didn't get folded and put away? At least you washed it.
And you'll still be able to harvest a garden after the Walk - that's why God made zucchini.
Your boss - he'll never get it. But you do, and that damn job can just wait for another few weeks.
Your friends don't understand why you're doing this, but you do. If they were being very honest, they might even confess they're a little in awe of you. Well, next year they can just get off their pampered little tushies and make a commitment to something bigger than themselves for once in their lives.
Your husband may not understand why this is so urgent, but you do. You understand that by some wondrous quirk of genetics and fate he still has you around to be missed.
Your children don't understand what this is all for, but you do. You don't want them to have to think about mommies who go away because they're sick and then don't get to come home. In a few weeks, you'll be back and you will hug them like you'll never let go.
And then you realize something else. You could be sitting on the edge of your bed dreading yet another bout of chemo and wondering if you can make it all the way home this time before you throw up.
You could be trying not to cry as you look at your mastectomy incision for the first time.
You could be counting the minutes that seem like hours until the hospice nurse can give you another shot of morphine.
So maybe you won't quit today.
This will be all over in a few weeks. And if you're lucky, things won't ever be the same again.
Because you will have turned your blisters into dollars for research and medical breakthroughs and mammograms for the poor.
Because someday your children will rememeber all this and realize they really can change the world.
Because someone will look at the pink wristband you gave them and write another check.
Because a woman you don't even know trusts you to walk for her because she can't.
Because the friends you've made in training and friends you'll meet on the Walk will stay with you forever.
So maybe you'll face the challenge of fitting it all in and getting it all done for one more day.
Maybe you'll walk the six miles you'd planned once the kids are in bed tonight and not think about the dishes in the sink.
Maybe you'll ignore your feet and ignore your sunburn and ignore your sore hips.
Maybe you'll remember how fortunate you are to be able to get up off the edge of the bed and make a difference.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blingblog! Blingblog! Blingblog! Blingblog!

I once watched an episode of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" where this HUGE-chested lady was going shopping for shoes to wear with her wedding dress. She came bouncing out of a store, declaring proudly to the camera that whenever you have trouble finding accessories, just go to the "stripper store." I switched channels, but can only assume she found shoes with enough bling to hold their own considering those boobs (which probably had their own zip code).
I think of this when I've got a layout that just needs a little something. Or - more often - when I'm joyfully admiring The Best Layout I'll Ever Create and do something stupid like drop an inkpad on it. At those times, bling becomes the rodeo clown of the scrapbooking world - a useful tool that says Ignore that glaring puddle of Stickles! Look at me!
And even when things go right, most every LO or card has room for a bit o' bling.
So if bling=good, free bling = GREAT, right?
Then click over here and get yourself entered to win some blingy goodness. I just LOVE giveaways where I don't have to leap tall buildings, whistle Dixie or do LO's.
Or buy stripper shoes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

George's Cyber Progeny

When I was little we had a goldfish named George. George lived in a glass bowl that sat on top of our RCA television. He had blue stones in his bowl and green plastic fronds that were supposed to look like seaweed. Actually, we had many goldfish named George. When one George would start to float instead of swim, we would have a little family ceremony in the bathroom to commit Floater George to his last swim. Then we’d go to the Kresge’s store to buy a new George. When our grandpa died, my sister lifted up the toilet seat and said “Good morning, grandpa!” Seemed logical.

Last week, I found that Google had a fish app and put it on my homepage. I selected ten fish which at the price of “free” was a real bargain. Then I played around with the color settings: neon orange fish in lime green water (made my eyes hurt), pale yellow fish in white water (calming in a toilet-like way), each fish a different color of the rainbow (like watching Sesame Street) even black fish in black water (the little white outlined fish were fun to watch but started to look demonic after awhile). I finally settled on goldfish-colored fish in Tea House Lite-blue water. Uninspired, but very George.

So now I have little fishies lazily swimming around in their cyberbowl on my homepage. They are surprisingly easy to train, unlike my girlhood goldfish. All I have to do is put my cursor in their bowl and they all crowd around it like attention-starved puppies in a pet store. If I drag my cursor gently around their bowl, they follow obediently along. But if I hop my cursor over to the CNN headlines, they all crowd around my cursor’s exit spot. I imagine their little goldfish voices sounding like Mr. Bill in the old Saturday Night Live skits – “Noooooo! Don’t gooooooooo!” Then I put my cursor back in their bowl (“Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyy”!) and click on it a few times. Little black dots of “food” appear wherever I click, initiating a feeding frenzy.

These little guys are becoming addictive. (I say “guys” because all my pets - cyber or otherwise - are male. I’ll leave the why up to the shrinks of the world.) I boot up in the morning and go right to Google to look at them. I idly click over to Google while I’m on the phone, just to see what they’re up to. I haven’t gone so far as to give them names or talk to them yet, but I fear that may not be far off.

“I’ve got to remember to feed the fish!” popped into my head this morning during a meeting with the thought "You idiot!" right on its heels. But the damage was already done. I lingered after the meeting, making inane small talk with everyone. I checked the fax machine, checked in with the receptionist, strolled to the ladies room and back, picked up voicemail and made a few phone calls from the conference room all in an attempt to stay away from those darn fish, calmly swimming back and forth back and forth, just biding their time on my desktop.

Back at my desk, clicking away furiously on my mouse, I wondered if I was overfeeding them then "You idiot!" was right there again.

I know the difference between George and Googlefish. I know the difference between IRL and IMC (in my computer)(I just made that up. Like it?). I don't waste my time on reality shows on TV because they have nothing to do with the reality in which 99% of the world operates, me included.

Oh, Google, you’ve gotten me hooked. Hooked on nothing more than bits of code. I'm caught hook, line and sinker! I'm channelling William Shatner as Captain Kirk now. . . Must . . resist. . . messages. . . from . . . googlefish. . . .must. . . not. . . .overfeed. . . .

Hmmm. . . time for a tinfoil office hat, I wonder???

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Art Deco Fix at a Cleveland Gem

Ken and I spent yesterday at Lakeview Cemetery. Dating from 1865, Lakeview is the final resting place for many notables including John D. Rockefeller and Elliot Ness. President Garfield's memorial is here and so is Wade Chapel whose interior was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. In the spring, Daffodil Hill boasts blossoms from 100,000 daffodil bulbs dating back to the '40's. There's also a beautiful lake, the largest dam east of the Mississipi (at least when it was built in 1978) and miles of gently rolling hills guarded by towering old growth trees. It's blissfully serene here given it's location, and a destination for sightseers, people relaxing. reading books, having picnics or just cruising on their bicycles.
I love old cemeteries - the ones with mausoleums and headstones that are as much art as memorial. I'm obsessed with anything Art Deco, and most big old cemeteries are teeming with Erte-inspired stonework painstakingly handcrafted by artisans long gone from this earth. Their work is as much a monument to their craft as it is to the person it memorializes.
I took over 100 photos yesterday, and could probably do individual scrapbooks on stained glass windows, nature shots, architectural interests and historical curiosities. These are a few of my favorite pics of the stonework and the metalwork on mausoleum doors. As I was looking through these last night, though, I suddenly understood why I'm drawn to Bohemia papers!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence is a funny thing. It fosters freedoms that we are free to forget - and often do.
I'm not talking about the freedom to live the way we want or the freedom to express our opinions. I'm thinking today of quieter freedoms.
The freedom to care for the unpopular, the downtrodden, the maligned.
The freedom to hear small voices and reach out a hand.
The freedom to remind the rest of the world about the forgotten.
Sometimes, walking around in these freedoms is unwieldy and inconvenient. Sometimes it can be dangerous. But always, it is important.
If you are part of a family with military service in its history, you can be especially proud on this day. If you have a loved one serving in the military now, you and your family make special sacrifices most of us cannot understand. The soldiers among us - old or young, active or now civilian, stateside or overseas - are too often among the suffering, the lost, the downtrodden. Sometimes they are the quiet and needy.
To these people, we say thank you today, although those two well-worn words are pitifully insufficient.
Independence is a funny thing. It fosters freedoms that we are free to forget - but not today.
God bless all of you who have gifted us with freedom and independence.
God Bless America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Such Scrappy Jo Goodness!

Did you notice?? Huh? Did you??
I finally figured out how to get the Scrappy Jo blinkie on my blog!
(I love saying "blinkie" and "blog." Blinkieblog. Blinkieblog. Blinkieblog. OK. I'll stop now. Is it possible to be a teensy bit OCD with words??? Have to check that out.)
Anyhoo, Jo was so happy that I finally managed this wondrous feat, that she decided to celebrate with a BIG SALE in her store! OK, I lied about Jo doing a sale just for my blinkie-ness. But Jo IS having a BIG SALE.
Paper for 20 cents a sheet!
Beautiful Copic marker sets ON SALE!
Kaiser Craft Bling ON SALE!
Basic Grey Bling It ON SALE
Thickers SALE ON!
Bazzill cardstock ON SALE!
Tim Holtz distressed inks ON SALE!
Stickles ON SALE!
And don't forget Jo's Scrappy Kits - just the thing to give your scrappy mojo a boost. Heck, at these prices you can buy 'em all!
Oh my. Have to stop for a minute or I'm going to hyperventilate.
Some of this stuff isn't going to be in stock forever, so take my new blinkie for a test run NOW! Stock up on some Scrappy Jo goodness and save yourself a ton of cash to boot. Go ahead. It's right over there. Move your little mousey to the right. You know you want to. That's it. . . just a little futher. . . now click!
Ahhh. . . you just got yourself a little bit of Scrappy Jo heaven!