“Tarnishment”

There are different stages in life, we all know that. We are born, grow into adulthood, have families of our own, who grow and leave home. We then transition to our parents as they get older, are less able to do things as they used to. We went from the joy of bringing life into the world, to watching it leave. I don’t mean to sound morbid here, but as I am in the midst of helping my 93-year-old mother move into long-term care and apply for Medicaid, this is where my head is.

This process sucks, plain and simple. As we all live longer, there is now a stage after Retirement. Those years after work, spending time traveling, move to Florida and enjoy the sunshine (not my idea of the best retirement plan, but it is to many). But now there is another stage we have dubbed “Tarnishment”. This is when the body/mind deteriorates, and the fun of retirement is gone. Sadly, this pertains to so many people in my life that I care about.

The way things are set up is a double-edged sword. Security is tight, doing things like change direct deposits is complicated. I appreciate that, but then it does make it hard to get it done. Medicaid has a tight timeline, and meeting that can be difficult. We hired an attorney, but there is still so much we have to do. Then there is her home, this time she can’t sort, pack, or pitch as she sees fit. Which she was able to do so many times in her life. These decisions are now mine and making them is so very difficult. All I can say is be warned, educate yourself before you need to. And most important, be involved with your parents in their later years. This process would have been so much harder if we weren’t.

 

I Believe In You

I felt the need to write this morning. I felt the need to share.

Do me a favor, play this song. Read the words – let them sink in – ACT

“You Say” by Lauren Daigle

Many years ago, when I was a mere 15 years old, I made a friend. She and I had some things very much in common, but in other areas we were so very different. Our friendship continued to grow through ups and downs in both our lives. She became the mother of four beautiful boys. My house filled up with five of my own, four girls and one boy.

A cross-stitch I made at the birth of her twin boys, Brandon and Travis.

For me, the biggest moment we shared was when our Trina passed away. My dear friend was there for the memorial, she captured the special moment as the two balloons flew away, Trina joined by her cousin Kyle (who had passed just two weeks earlier). That was 1994 – fast forward to 2019 –

We haven’t spoken in years, but often thought of each other. Our Mother’s were friends and occasionally we got news through them. Our lives had gone two completely different directions. We moved on but were never forgotten.

Then one day, April 12, 2019 to be precise, I was sorting through a box and found some photos; my dear friend and her four boys. Christmas cards from years gone by; memories came flooding back. Where was she, why was she so in my mind?

I turned to Facebook. I knew she had remarried, so decided to search for her sons. Jackpot! The first one I searched had recently married, and there she was in one of the wedding pictures. I found her, we messaged back-and-forth, and reconnected. All the years melted away.

Two Peas in a Pod, sitting with the Wild Child.

In all those years we were happily settled in the back of each other’s minds, life moved on. With the culmination of the loss of her twin boys. Both serving this country, both gone. Travis Feb 24, 2017 and Brandon August 26, 2018.

She made a Facebook post today; the one-year anniversary of Brandon’s death. She included the song I linked above. She wrote beautifully, emotions raw, quoting this song that has become a prayer to her. Keeping her strong, moving forward, becoming an inspiration to so many others. Jaye Lene, today you are my Hero.

Be Kind, Be There, Believe

#HonorRemember

Times are a-changin’

If you follow this blog you will notice that I haven’t been posting much. I feel I am getting a little stale. The blog has been up since 2012, and I am in a different place now. So, I have decided to start a new blog. One that will be a little more focused, and maybe a little more professional. If I am capable of that LOL.

I will still occasionally post on this blog, but not as much as I used to. But please, check out my new one, . . . With a Camera

That being said, I entered a photo for the latest Middletown Art Center exhibition. I am pleased to say I got another ribbon with it 🙂

Click here for the original post all about the photograph

Wow! Where have I been?

Well that is a very good question, where have I been? I pulled up my blog this morning and couldn’t believe it. I haven’t made a post since December 12th!

So my first step was to go back and look at my calendar. What have I been up to? I think the bulk of it is just living. I have spent a lot of time with my kids, Hubby and I have been taking trips, I have been playing around with macro-photography, and just simply enjoying life and the people around me.

That being said, we have had some losses. The wild child works for a non-profit, and with a lot of volunteers. We lost one of the nicest gentleman you would ever want to know and a key volunteer. It hit me hard, but her even harder. Just recently her wonderful dog lost the fight with cancer, and the whole family felt that. I had a cousin pass away in Feb., but due to the weather the memorial was postponed until this past weekend. So, Hubby and I made the trip up to Buffalo to say goodbye and be with the family.

But let’s not dwell on the low side, on the high side I am enjoying the additional job responsibilities. I have been working on learning new forms of knitting. In fact the oldest, wild child and I went to a knitting retreat in February. We had a wonderful time. I haven’t been able to spend too much time in the craft room of late. I have a pile of projects waiting. The #1 is a bag for my oldest BFF. It went on the back burner because I just didn’t like the lining fabric. Hubby and I took a trip to Florida a few weeks ago and they have a wonderful fabric store there. I found the perfect fabric for the bag, but since I have been home it has just been so busy.

Now, as part of my wonderful working from home jobs, I have the option to have the tv on while I am working. The joys of Hulu, Netflix, and even YouTube give me the co-workers that can be missed. You know what I mean, chatting at the water-cooler was really a thing! So lately I was able to catch the first season of Britain’s Best Home Cooks (BBHC) This is going to sound corny, but I have to admit it is probably one of the best competition shows I have ever watched. The contestants all shared a house, which made for a very different dynamic to The Great British Bake Off (TGBBO). I totally enjoyed watching that, but all the contestants went home each week, so they didn’t have the ‘family’ feeling that BBHC did. I love Mary Berry, and she is so good at these types of shows. I loved her in TGBBO, so when I saw BBHC I was thrilled. There is no drama, bad blood, or undermining. The contestants genuinely seem to get along and care about each other. If they don’t, they are great actors, and I don’t want to know! I really have gotten to the point I just want to watch things that make me happy. This show certainly did; so give it a try!

Winding Up the Year 2018

Over the last few months I have been reevaluating what I do. The things I enjoy, make me feel fulfilled, and make me money (have to list that one, lol).

On November 16th my youngest, oldest and her other half went with me to the gallery opening of “The Diversity of Southwest Ohio Photo Show & Competition” at the Middletown Arts Center. I had entered one of the photographs I took at the Dayton Arcade. This is the first time I have ever entered something like this. So, it was a complete shock when I won First Place in my category, Architectural Landmarks.

I have very much loved my career in photography. But finding my specialty has been quite an adventure. I spend a lot of time photographing events, but I really don’t like dealing with clients in that way. I put time and creativity into each and every photograph I present. With these events, they so often just get filed away and few ever get to enjoy them. But seeing how people responded to my photograph in the gallery, and when I submitted it for the Taste of Greene County silent auction, that is fulfilling.

I love to travel with my camera and explore new things. The challenge there is finding a new way to photograph something that has been photographed many times before. But travel has its own difficulties. I also love to do things in my studio – grouping sentimental items. I did a wonderful one after my oldest’s wedding. I gathered items like the decorations, centerpieces, take-aways, napkins etc., all items that end up packed away, thrown away, or just lost to time. Now they have a lasting memory of all that. So I think I have found my specialty in capturing special memories.

Now to move on – I was offered a part-time position with one of my clients. In the past I have done graphic, publication, marketing materials for them. They recently had some staff changes and asked me if I would be interested in taking over the IT side, i.e. website, social media. Well the website was an easy one. The social media will need some education. Yes, I know Facebook, but Twitter is another whole kettle of fish. I have spent the last month navigating the ins and outs of this new position. I have been learning how to use Mailchimp (a program for sending out mass emails). Their website is through WordPress, which is the same program this blog is through. So even though I have familiarity, there are still things to learn and navigate through with a website vs a blog. They say the best way to stay young is to continue to learn. This job is definitely giving me that, and overall I am enjoying the journey.

Then there is the craft side of everything. Yes, making things with your own hands is very fulfilling. My handbags are a real hit, and many have suggested I start to sell them. But here again, in order to make money you have to deal with clients. This is not my strong suit. As I get older, I find that the favorite pastime of my grandmother is so much more appealing, knitting. Over the last few years I have been learning more about it, and took on more challenges. I recently completed a lace knitted scarf, and I am now working on a technique of making two socks at a time. So overall, I am really hitting it on all sides to keep learning new things 🙂

 

Armistice Day – 100 Years Ago

November 11, 1918 – the armistice that ended the fighting of World War I (WWI). Ceasefire effective at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. 100 years ago . . .

This morning I read an account of how the “Unknown Warrior” came about in England. On November 11, 1920 a chosen unidentified soldier was taken to Westminster Abbey. The next year 1921, another was taken to the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

My grandfather, Mark Hedger (my Papa) fought in WWI. As a child I was told stories, many of which spurred my interest in genealogy and my family tree. Recently I discovered his military record. As often happens with family stories, I had a little trepidation as to what I would read. Happily enough, it was pretty on point.

When my Papa finished school, he won a scholarship to a Church of England seminary to become a minister. Unfortunately, because his father could not afford to help him pay for his supplies and clothing he could not go. Instead he trained as a leather-makers apprentice. In 1917 this became a useful skill as he entered the Army. At first with the cavalry, working on the saddles and bridles. When they stopped using the horses he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corp. where he worked on the planes, repairing the biplanes with piano wire.

My Papa died when I was very young, so I have few memories of him. But what I do have are of a quiet and gentle man. He ran a sweet shop, and wasn’t that a profession to constantly see a smile on a child’s face.

Last week I was spending a rainy fall afternoon sitting on the couch knitting and looking for something to watch. I ran across a YouTube video “Tell Them of Us: The Knitters.” The women in the video were sharing their experiences making period costumes for the production “Tell Them of Us”. They knitted some beautiful old patterns, and it had been such a wonderful experience for them. It peaked my interest in seeing the costumes in action. I found the production was a series on YouTube. To be honest at first I found it a little “local theater” like. But I was interested in the story, so continued to watch. I then realized that the style of acting was more to reality of the time and the story. These are the memories of a Lincolnshire family with two boys off to war.

“Tell Them of Us: The Knitters” –  Interviews of the women who produced the costumes
“Tell Them of Us” – Trailer of the show

Right now, there are parts 1-6 uploaded. They chose to wait for part 7 to air on November 11th, the 100th anniversary. They even asked viewers what we would like – to see part of the episode now, and the rest then, or all of it then. The consensus was exactly the way I felt, let’s wait. We know that William Crowder lives as it is his story, and there is even a video of his grandson talking about him.  I wanted to write about this in hopes that more people will watch the series and get a real look at what it was like then.

My mother was born in England in 1926. She lived through World War II, and I know a lot of her stories. We watch other’s stories being brought to life by film makers. But for some reason a lesson cannot be learned, as the fighting still continues . . .

(My mother in 1944)

Summer Ends Tomorrow

Well it looks like we are on a roll of monthly posts. There is good and bad there – on the good side it is because it has been busy around here, on the bad side we have had a yucky bug too. But we are now on the mend and gearing up for the fall.

The youngest and I are going to participate in the Worldwide Photowalk again this year. We are going to lead a walk too. So very much looking forward to that.

We haven’t done many photo rambles this summer. It has just been too hot to be any fun. In fact, we have spent most of the summer inside because of the heat. But we did make an exception and took our grandson to see Thomas the Train, and ride on him! His Dad, and two Aunts (wild child and youngest) went too. So, it was a fun day for all.

Being inside, I have been working on more bags and getting new ideas for designs. The oldest and I went to a store that sells stones and researched them. Now I can wrap a special stone for the person getting the bag. Making it more personalized.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Added magnetic snaps to the side of the bag and the neoprene sleeve – no more swinging!

Now for the bag for my sister-in-law. It was a fun time trying to figure out a way to give her a pretty bag, but also allow for her to carry her water bottle, with ice in it. I finally came up with the idea to use neoprene. I have a neoprene bottle sleeve attached to my camera bag. The problem is it swings when you walk. I went to JoAnn Fabric to find neoprene, but they don’t carry it. I couldn’t find any locally, so I went online. Fabric outlets sell a minimum of a yard and neoprene is sold in 80” width, so a yard was pretty expensive. I needed a small piece to play with and see if it would even work. On Etsy a seller makes things out of neoprene i.e. headbands, jewelry and she sells scraps, a 10”x20” piece, for $10. I made a test sleeve using foam stabilizer, and then made the one out of neoprene. It worked!

I am now working on a bag for the oldest. I made a test bag for me first though. I kinda like this idea of making test bags for myself first 🙂

Where Did July GO?

What have I been up to the whole month of July?

Well July is a busy month around here for numerous reasons. We have our annual excursion to Dairy Queen on the 4th of July, and then the oldest and her husband are off to the beach for a week. We have all the birthdays, Hubby’s sister, brother, Hubby and our grandson (Hubby and grandson are on the same day!), and Hubby and my 23rd wedding anniversary too. We also had the Red Cross Volunteer Picnic, a few other birthdays, family gatherings, and that doesn’t even touch the regular life things. But for me, I spent quite a bit of time in the craft-room too.

Big Cuz’s big sister had a birthday, and I wanted to make her a special bag. One that would be perfect for her needs. Soft, no zippers to fiddle with, or sharp edges, and an extra-long adjustable strap to be able to fit perfectly.

It did take some time and thought. But isn’t that what it is all about? If it were easy everyone would do it, lol.

I decided I wanted to make a bag for my sister-in-law (Hubby’s brother’s wife). She is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. Also the mother of my twin nieces I made the messenger bags for.

I started to think about what I wanted to do for her. I realized I wanted it to be custom for her, so I needed to involve her. She was over for our grandson’s birthday, so I took her into the craft-room and picked her brain. I then went shopping for just the right fabric. I found one with all the perfect colors, and a nice complimentary lining fabric. I was showing it to the Wild Child one day and she pointed out that it had a design that some might find controversial (I won’t go into that here today, but I hadn’t even noticed). The point being that most would say, don’t pay attention to others with stupid agendas. But when you are making something for someone you care about, you don’t ever want them to be put in the position of defending something someone lovingly made them. This, of course, put me off the fabric choice totally.

I decided I needed to clear my head and do something totally different for her. So I moved onto the bag I already had everything for. Believe it or not, one for me.

I have been watching all sorts of classes, tutorials, and trainings. Now I am at the point where I can design my own bags. I am actually quite proud of how it turned out. Lots of pockets made to fit my needs, even room for my water-bottle, and a pocket to use as needed, like when going to the store and I need to take fabric samples, or the shopping list/coupon carrier.

Needless to say, I am on another path of adventure. Should I start making custom handbags? Matching a special wrapped stone to the person the bag is for? (See previous post)
Hmm, it does open a new window. . .

I Can Sew

As is quite apparent by past posts I have made, I can sew. In all my life I never thought of sewing as something people consider a special skill. That is what I was told recently, I have such a “special skill”. How I can make something out of nothing? People will actually take a garment to a tailor just to have a hook and eye sewn in. Or if they do attempt it themselves, it is a major accomplishment. Now I am in no way belittling that person, because there is a big reason for it. Sewing has become a craft of the past. My children learned because I did it. But if you were not that lucky, how do you pass it on? Now they aren’t all good at it, some totally suck. But if any of them had to sew on a hook and eye, they could. Or they would ask their mom, lol. The point being, these skills that have survived through the years have for a reason. But if we don’t pass it on, then what?

When the zombie’s come . . . ok so that is a little farfetched. But think about it, we have bad storms and power outages. A few years back just here in our area people lost power for up to two weeks, for us it was 10 days. Think about it that way. We knew the power would come back on soon, but what if it didn’t?

So here is my challenge to you – do you have a skill you can pass on? Then do it! Take a moment, take some time, and pass it on.

My most recent sewing project – a bag for my Big Cuz!

I also taught myself how to wrap a stone.

Making a Difference

There is something I want to share. I need to give a little background to get there, but honestly it is worth it.

I know I have mentioned our “Village” in the past. It is comprised of all the wonderful people who become part of our lives in a very special way; part of the village. We have a group of boys (now referred to as the guys) who became part of the village through the wild child. She went to high school with them, and one-by-one brought them home. We adopted them all, and they call us Mama and Papa to this day. One of them came by last night with his new girlfriend. We gave our stamp of approval, which was a very easy thing to do. For his birthday she arranged for his best friend (also one of the boys) to fly in from Oregon to surprise him. I think she is a keeper. During the conversation we reminisced about shared experiences over the years. I pulled up some pictures and we swapped stories. One thing he said was that the best meals he has ever had were eaten here. It reminded me of another conversation with one of the guys.

Pizza Night – a house full of hungry people and loads of homemade pizza!

One of the wild child’s guys had a dream of being a chef. He would often come over early to watch Hubby and I cook and ask questions. For his birthday one year I gave him an abbreviated version of our cookbook. I selected recipes which I had hoped would help him grow. According to the wild child he attempted to ‘tweak’ my macaroni and cheese recipe. The rest of the guys smiled and said it was good. She told him the truth. Then she explained that first you follow the recipe and get it right. Then you can tweak it to make it yours. It is nice to know your child listens 😊

A few weeks later she invited him over to help him make the macaroni and cheese the ‘right’ way. While sitting on the couch in my office I could hear them talking. She was so good at instructing him, and he was eager to learn. As they were cleaning up he thanked her for allowing him to experience cooking in a gourmet kitchen. Yes, he called our kitchen “gourmet!” Later that evening I walked into my kitchen and looked around. Humm, ok, I see his point. I hadn’t really thought about it, but Hubby and I have managed to collect quite the assortment of appliances and gadgets. We have spent a lot of time reading and watching shows like Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” and pay attention to having multi-taskers and not things with just one use. Which brings me to what I said at the beginning of this post.

On November 12, 2012 I made a post “Guts and Glory”. Hubby treated me to tickets to see Anthony Bourdain. Friday he took his own life. Not quite four years ago Robin Williams did the same (In Memory, Aug 14, 2014). Two such different people, both ending their own lives. Both leaving this world a lesser place without them.

On a personal note these two men added so much to my life. Also, in very different ways. Robin was joy, laughter, and what talent he had. We could easily express the loss. Anthony, well he was such a very different man. He was thought provoking, he made you ask questions, look for answers, and not just settle. I grew through having his words in my life. I didn’t always agree with him, but he made me think.

I look around my kitchen, at how much both Hubby and I have learned and grown. So much through the influence of people like Anthony Bourdain. We both love to cook. For me it is the entertainment, for Hubby it is giving people he cares about something wonderful to eat. Bourdain made me want to learn more, experience more, eat different foods, and explore different cultures. His words helped me have the courage to go to Iceland with just the youngest, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Poutine made with Hubby’s smoked meat. So yummy!

When the wild child texted me about Anthony Bourdain’s death she expressed the need to do something. Oddly enough I was in the process of editing a brochure for a Suicide Support Group. When I told her what I was doing, her response was, “There you go, making a difference.”

Sitting here I am reflecting on the lives of these two men. Then on my own life. They both made a difference in my life. In turn inspiring me to make a difference. They are gone, but their inspiration to me and others is something that will continue on. It was a very convoluted road to get to my point, but I hope it was worth it.