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.

Adventures with Big Cuz

I must clarify something before I begin. I did something a bit out of the norm for me. Usually I see things through the lens of my Canon, and not necessarily experiencing it. So, this time I opted for my phone camera more often. You will see an assortment of photos in this post, some from both cameras.

A special two weeks was spent with my Big Cuz (BC). She flew out for a visit, and we filled it with such wonderful memories. She moved to the states when she was 20 (and I was 10) but has lived most of it on the west coast. We had a lot to show her, and she just loved all the green!

The first thing the oldest and I did was take her to breakfast at our favorite place, the Blueberry Café. We then had a family dinner night with all the kids, and Hubby’s parents too. They had just come back north from Florida for the summer.

The next trip was out to Yellow Springs, and one of the special shops there I knew BC would enjoy. Then it was off to Young’s Dairy for fun, fried cheese curds and ice-cream. BC had never had cheese curds until here, and it was such fun introducing her to them, and the local wildlife, lol.

The Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend the wild child and I drove BC out to New Jersey to visit other cousins there, SZ and BZ. On the way we stopped in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Incline Railway. If you look back at the wild child and my visit to Chattanooga last August, we checked out the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain. It was such fun we really wanted to see what Pittsburgh had to offer. Although not as long or high, it had its own charm. The car was authentic, and level, not on an incline with stairs like in Chattanooga. At the top we ate lunch at a restaurant with perfect food for the hot day, and a fantastic view!

 

Back on the road to New Jersey we arrived that evening. The next morning, we all headed into Philadelphia for the day. We walked around a bit and settled on seeing the National Constitution Center. We saw a performance in the round theater that literally brought us to tears. We walked to the City Tavern and had a wonderful meal. I just love the ambiance of the place, and of course the food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning cousin BZ brought home some yummy donuts. Yes, a bacon donut! Then SZ drove us to the American Treasure Tour in Oaks, PA. What and adventure that was. There was so much to see. You just have to experience it to understand. Player pianos, music boxes and calliopes, doll houses and miniature scenes, and walls lined with old vinyl record jackets. We were driven around a display of old cars, a giant Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, a castle made of popsicle sticks, the first car you could buy from the Sears catalog, and so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then went to our favorite market Wegmans for lunch and the English aisle. We ate tons and stocked up on English foods. BC was so excited to be able to get thing she hadn’t had it years.

We went back to NJ by way of a wonderful covered bridge. On a side note. BZ showed me how to take pictures with my phone using a word. What a wonderful way to get that shot I wouldn’t have otherwise. I stuck the phone out the window and said “capture”, and here we have it!

What was really funny was later I was taking a picture of BC, and another word you can use is ‘smile’. I said “smile” and through clenched teeth she said, “I am smiling”. Guess “capture” is a better word, lol.

The next morning, we headed into NYC by way of the train. As I walked out of Penn Station this is want I saw. Keep in mind I only took my phone with me. This was the first time in NYC without my Canon. It felt strange at first, but then I was really experiencing the city. It was fantastic!

The reason we went to NYC was to meet up with other cousins that were visiting their son who lives there with his family. BC hadn’t seen them since they were children together, and it had been about 13 years for me. We all had lunch and walked to the Magnolia Bakery for the best cheesecake in the world!

BZ, SZ and the wild child went to see the 9/11 memorial. We older ones went to have a good old English cup of tea, and chat. It was such fun catching up, and meeting cousins we hadn’t yet met.

Back on the train to NJ we munched on big pretzels bought at Penn Station, reflecting on a wonderful day. Early the next morning we headed home.

The next adventure was the oldest and I took BC to SunWatch Indian Village. She enjoys the Indian culture and has seen a lot in the southwest. She has taken me to see Tuzigoot, and Montezuma’s castle on visits to her.

During all of this I was sneaking away to work on graduation gifts for my twin nieces. I wanted to make them something special, so with the suggestions of the youngest I made them personalized messenger bags. We took BC to the graduation party, and she got to meet more of the family. Not only the girls and their parents, but Hubby’s Uncle and cousins came into town for the celebration.

Our last adventure for BC was to go to Cincinnati to see the Terracotta Army at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The oldest, her husband, and the youngest went with us. On the way home we stopped by Ikea to get Swedish meatballs for dinner. The next day we put BC on the plane back to Arizona. We are all so pooped, but what a wonderful time we had <3

Made With Love

Wow, I have been busy. Looking back at the last month or so there has just been such an assortment of things going on. The best part is that I have found myself spending much more time with each of my children, and that is always good.

We had a local event, “Taste of Greene County”, which was held at the WSU Nutter Center. I am a member of the local chamber and offered one of my prints from the Dayton Arcade for the silent auction. The wild child and I decided to go to the event, enjoy the food, and see how the auction went. It was such a neat experience. We were a little voyeuristic, in that we sat at a table across the room and watched people walking by the piece.

As people walked by it was so interesting to see the reactions. Some just walked by, but others would stop and really take it in. Quite a few bid, and there was a scramble at the end. At the announcement of the final countdown a woman ran over and bid, then just at the last minute a man jumped in and wrote a bid down. He and his wife were so excited to have won. We saw he had on a T-shirt for a local volunteer rehab group. So we knew they had a real appreciation of the piece. What was really neat was that just the day before I was at a Red Cross event, and they had partnered with the very same group!

Another perfect example of kid-time would be a few weeks ago my son mentioned to me he was getting our grandson a toddler bed. He needed a fitted sheet and comforter for it and knew I would want to make them. If you remember we did his room in hot air balloons. We wanted to stay in the same theme but change it up a bit. So, we took him shopping and let him pick out what he wanted. He went with airplanes. I got to work trying to figure out what to make. The fitted sheet was easy, but I am not a quilter. I have a lot of respect for people who quilt, especially by hand. But even by machine it is quite a project.

I got onto YouTube and found one done in strips. You cut up the fabric in strips of different widths, sew them together, layer with a filling, I used fleece, and a backing. Then you “stitch in the ditch.” In other words, you sew down the seams. It was quite an adventure for me, but I made something I am proud of, and I know will keep him nice and warm.

Working on the quilt did make me realize something. I don’t get the see my grandson a lot. His parents are busy, life is busy, and so we enjoy every time we do get to spend together. The thing is that as a child I only had one grandparent as the rest had already passed away. I didn’t get to see my Nana much, but I had a wonderful relationship with her. I know I was blessed to have her so long, as she lived to be 96. But I also know now why I have so many thinks knitted by her.

When I was pregnant with the wild child Nana asked me what I needed her to knit. I took this photo to show her I had so much already. But now I realize that when she was knitting things for her great-grandchildren, it was her way of spending time with them. I understand this now. With all the things I have been making for my grandson, every minute I am thinking about him. It is how all the love is instilled in the item, and they really do feel it. It is so very special that we still have all these wonderful things to pass down. Now future generations can feel Nana’s love too. <3

Preserving the Old & Honoring the Past

Yes, believe it or not I am posting another blog! I just couldn’t wait to share my weekend with you all. For a very long time I have wanted to photograph an old building in Dayton, The Dayton Arcade. This place was originally built in 1902-1904. It is a grouping of five buildings around a rotunda with a glass dome roof. It housed restaurants and bars, businesses like hairdressers and printers, offices, and apartments as well. The place has been closed for going on 30 years but is in the process of being restored, and brought back to life.

I wanted to document the history of the building before they started working on it. I wasn’t able to do that, but I did manage to get in this weekend. My good friend I have gone on some fun architectural photo shoots with in the past, found a way to get us in. I am so grateful for her persistence. I must admit, I am pretty proud of what I was able to capture.

The Rotunda

My personal favorite

I hope to be able to go back and record the restoration as it progresses. The plans they have for the Arcade are wonderful. You can read more about it here www.arcadedayton.com/

New Toy!

Yes, believe it or not I am making two posts in one day!

I have a new toy – a ProMaster LED 160 light. I have had the thought for quite some time – Using a constant light instead, or with, a flash. I was watching a webcast on KelbyOne with Rick Sammon. He was in Venice photographing people dressed up for Carnival. People were in fancy costumes, and white face masks. In order to brighten them up he was using the ProMaster light. What a difference it made. So I quickly went online and found one. I have been having a blast. My youngest brought me home some flowers a few days earlier. They were getting a little wilted, but still good enough to play with. These alien looking ones were kinda neat. I had to ask around to find out they are Safflowers.

We will be able to use the light next time we are in Arizona. It will light up the cactus in the dark so much better. It is so interesting how such a little thing can make such a difference in what you can do.