Friday, February 26, 2010

Seven Smiles

A pause today to remember some of the small thihgs or events that are sure to bring me a smile.

1. I'm stealing the idea of this blog today. Jane compiles lists of 7's about all kinds of topics. She is bright and a bit sassy. Her observations either produce an aha memory - for instance, the amusing difference between the ideals of raising children, I'll never use the TV as a babysitter, and the realism of, 5 pm kids crabby, dinner not started, house in an utter mess, Mom's temper is rising; whats the harm in SpongeBob Squarepants? (Been there, done that and rationalized that it was even healthy for the kids.) Or she links me to something I didn't know but find intensely interesting and, often, inspiring. She has an amazing mind and a good skill for writing. Try reading her and see if she makes you smile.

2. 6 grandchildren. All my grandkids are special. Just being in their presence is usually enough to make me smile. While they all share extreme smartness, great smiles, beauty or handsomeness and well-developed funny bones, they are as different in interests and temperament as possible. Luckily they seem to be drawing from the best of the gene pool.

3. Sunshine and fluffy clouds. I love blue skies with bits of random fluff. I was shocked when flying to discover that cumulus clouds are actually very bumpy and throw a plane around. But I love seeing them from the ground and imagining what their shapes are - ships, dogs, cars etc.

4. The music of Randy Newman. A piano player/composer who wrote "Short People." He is ironic and a little dark but I love him. For 30 years he has been with me through many moves and much work. He definitely makes me smile and often laugh out live. Of my many favorites I reccomend "Political Science."

5. A rare hamburger and skinny fries. Here in Georgetown The Wildfire Restaurant has my favorite hamburger. They cook it properly to order using the best ground beef. Unfortunately they make steak fries. They're good but not as great as MacDonalds. McD's has some of the best skinny fries in America.

6. Wildflowers. This year should be spectacular for the bluebonnets. There's been lots of rain. Thank you Lady Bird Johnson for encouraging Texas and all those other states to let the wildflowers grow along our interstate highways. Their beauty helps the trips go faster.

7. Creating. Working with fabrics in many colors and patterns makes me smile. The process from planning to completion gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Spying them on a little girl is a thrill. I get so much pleasure from Annarella Girl, it feels like it should be illegal.

So there are seven things that make me smile. How about you? What are the small inspirations in your life?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Warm Sunday. Jack and Hudson, 2 of my handsome grandsons, enjoy the short sleeve weather while riding scooters in my driveway. The temperatures are in the 70's. Got to love living where the sun shines like this in February!

Two days later!!!!

A snowy Tuesday with temps in the 30's - a rare occurence here. It won't last long. Thank goodness! Most of us who l;ive in central Texas don't want to see much of the white stuff. Every few years for a day or two is just enough to appreciate its beauty and not too much to have to invest in snow tires, winter boots, snow blowers etc.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Now for a Commercial Break

Here continues my love affair with the Olympic Games. Between the stellar performances and the interviews are some good commercials. I know, besides the Super Bowl, who watches TV ads any more? I do. And I'm enjoying many of the ones crafted especially for the Olympics.

Visa has a series that celebrates great moments of the past Games. Very inspiring to see again moments like the figure skating couple who crashed and came back to win silver. And the story of Dan Jantsen, the speed skater. What inner courage and determination compels these athletes to overcome physical and emotional trauma?

I've mentioned P&G ads before. They celebrate the Moms of the athletes. In almost all circumstances American athletes have incredible families who put in long hours transporting, caring for, and watching their kids practice and participate in countless meets. How did they do it - getting up at 4 to drive to the rink, sit through an hour or two of practice, delivering child to school, then working an 8 hour day only to reverse the process in the evening.? Grueling!

Coca Cola reminds us that with every sip we've taken over the years we've all supported the incredible men and women who represent USA. Makes me feel good! I remember when training was much more haphazard because athletes had to work to support themselves. Companies like Coke have spend millions to create a program that allows the US athletes to train in top notch facilities and live comfortably but frugally. Good job, corporate America.

Are you getting bored with my love of the Olympics? Another week to go!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hanging around the Workroom

Today is a planning day. Typically I cut out 4 or 5 outfits from a color way. Sew them. Then repeat with a different color palette. And so and so forth. By changing colors I keep fresh while building up stock.

The planning starts with the fabrics laid out on my work table. Usually there are 6-8 patterns, today I'm starting with 17. My main note is pink, and I have quite a few bits and pieces which are large enough for straps or bodices. I'm never sure what the outcome will be. I sit/stand back and let the materials speak to me. Sometimes this is a short process, but more often I dither, move fabrics in and out, add and subtract. So wish me luck.
Enjoy the photos of a few of the items which are hanging around in my workroom. The blue and green combo echoes the Olympic colors even though I started it before. Sometimes the synchronocity (I made up that word. Like it?) is eerie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Grace Has Nothing to Do with It

Are you familiar with the phrase, "growing old gracefully?" Well, I'm not. Growing old, yes! Gracefully, no. It's a long (well, it feels long anyway) slow decline that's been going on for a decade. That's right, until mid-fifties the boobs only sagged a bit, cheeks were plump and rosy, the brain still filled, and the psyche was optimistic. Then I began to fall apart.

The hearing is gone. (This leads to some pretty strange conversations with the hubs. He says the moon is bright. I hear the dog is white. I answer you are wrong, she has black spots. He hears let's sleep on cots tonight. Huh...?)

Balance has failed. Now I know why oldsters fall. Inside the mind you are still 27 with no aging concerns. Unless you catch a glimpse in a mirror or plate glass window of the white haired stranger you are, you are apt to do something stupid like climb on that rickety kitchen chair to change a light bulb. Oops...!

Skin sags. Pinch it and it stays folded for many minutes. Morning pilliow marks remain until afternoon. Don't cough, sneeze or laugh unless you know where the nearest toilet is. Hint, always wear dark pants. (If you have to ask, you're lucky. Wait a while longer and it will become evident.)

Supposedly we gain in wisdom through our various life experiences, but who remembers them. A precious few remain in our brains which we repeat ad nauseum. While the names of our children and grandchildren sometimes escape our memories. And don't get me started trying to relate what I ate yesterday!
Growing old is a dirty business. I've yet to find the grace in it. Last week I spied my hubs from the corner of my eye and thought it was my father-in-law. That shook me up. Although he was a fine man,I don't want to be married to him. My sister says she no longer sees Mother in her mirror but now sees our Nanoo. Oh no is that what I have to look forward to?
Take me away, Grace.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Pursuit of Excellence

I find the Olympic Games to be a source of inspiration. Sometimes its the event itself. For instance the incredible skating of the Chinese pairs last night. (Gold to Shen and Zhao; silver to Pang and Tong) As they pushed to the edge of their physical ability, they also showed great musicality. Wonderful, wonderful! Can you imagine moving across the slippery ice at such incredible speeds while jumping, spinning, lifting in time to the music? They made it look easy and natural. Although I was alone I had the urge to give them a standing ovation!!

Sometimes it is the back story that inspires. Who couldn't root for the Canadian ski freestyler, Bilodeau? His performance was outstanding but that he shared it with his handicapped brother, in fact gave him the credit for pushing him to put in the hard work necessary to compete as a world class athlete. Notice many of the competitors have a family who has supported them through endless practices and injuries. Don't you like the P&G commercials that honor the moms? (Only could be improved if it also mentioned the dads.)

And sometimes it's the words of the athletes that inspire. An interview with Apollo Ohno, speed skater, contained this thought from him. This is his 3rd Olympics. How does he keep the momentum and focus he needs to make the sacrifices of time and social life. He said (and I paraphrase) that every night he asks himself if he has done his best that day, put forth his maximum effort. If only we all lived our lives with that mantra. So I'm trying harder to put forth my best effort to live my best life every day. Thank you, Apollo Ohno!!

Now I'm off to see more of the Olympics while I sew. I wonder what will especially inspire me today. (Maybe there are one or two of you who wish that I would be inspired to improve ny spelling and punctuation. Sorry for all the mistakes.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Here Comes the Weekend!

Gonna keep it short and sweet this time. Two of my favorite events are coming. Tonight starts the Olympics. I love watching the drama of these events. I am in total awe of these athletes who train so hard and with such focus to be among the best in the world. I like hearing the back stories about their lives, their families, their homes. Thanks to Roone Arledge who realized that we couch potatoes would be fascinated with the up close and personal look at the winners and losers. (This was the start of reality TV, I think.) So for two weeks I get to see it all from the ice skating to ice hockey to curling. Cheers to all!!!

Valentine's Day. I hope everyone has someone to love, child, paent, grandparent or friend. I leave you with Allyson Smith's triptych "Two in the Space of One." Enjoy!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Flying Tomato

Yesterday we got a "new-to-us" car. I'm sooo excited. Over the many years since I've been driving, I've owned several cars that I LOVED and many that were good for transportation but without that passionate connection. Well, now I have another one I love.

My first love was a blue convertible GTO 1965. What a headturner! At the time I was teaching 4th grade. and that car made me a heroine to my boy students. Unfortunately such a hot car didn't go unnoticed by car thieves. One night a group of carousers stole it, robbed a store and ran it into a ravine. Totalled! Goodbye coolness.

Then there were a stream of sedate, personality-less types. Finally almost 20 years later I got a small white BMW. This zippy little car was great for intown driving and parking, but also powerful enough to handle many trips into the Alps. It was the most reliable, most comfortable, best fit for our lifestyle at the moment. I loved tooling around in it all over central Europe with my tape deck blaring. No drama to its end; it just became time to trade it in.

Not many years later when we landed in Atlanta, hub and I bought a van for me - Chrysler Town and Country. Heated seats!! Now those are one of life's unsung luxuries!! This car took me all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Finally to Texas. A great old workhorse. Lots of room to haul stuff but the comfort of a fine sedan. It was a sad day when we had to retire her.

Flash forward to yesterday. After a crash last week that took out hub's car. (Some one ran a red light. Good news, no personal injuries.) I now am the proud owner of a used, but shiny like new, Town and Country. Climbing into it was like putting on comfy slippers. My inner self sighed with that sprcial snuggle you experience wen you lay down in your own bed after a long absence. Ahhhh! It's in great shape, low mileage, so I hope it will be with me a long time.

The surprise is, it is orange. For years my least favorite color but living near Austin and UT I've become accustomed, almost fond of burnt orange. And as you can see it goes a bit beyond with more red in it. Reminds me of Shaun White's hair. For the unfamiliar, he is the Olympic snowboarder wno won a gold medal in 2006 and will be competing in this year's Olympics. His head of wild red hair has earned him the nickname of the "Flying Tomato." If he can embrace that moniker, so can my car. At least my new car will be easy to spot in the sea of silver and black in the HEB parking lot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

I'm still struggling with where I want to take this business. There is a part of me who says be content with what you have. Keep it small and uncomplicated. Make a dress here and there. Attend a craft show once in a while. Sell a couple of items on etsy each year. Accept that Annarella Girl is a hobby not a business.

No sooner do I decide that I'm going to be content with not treating this seriously, I find myself dreaming of AG as a business. My sub-concious just will not stay quiet. So what am I to do? I love the creative side of designing and sewing. I detest the business side. I don't want to keep accounting books. I don't want to make the money decisions alone. A clear cut understanding of finances is my weakness.

I've handled finances in the past, but I never seem to get better at it. And I certainly don't learn to like them better. To succeed in business you need to be able to integrate good money planning into your present and future goals. I'm past the point where I want to do all accounting input or crunch all the numbers. I need a good partner who enjoys the accounting side - not only to balance the books but to meld her/his financial vision with my creative vision. There is no 100% guarantee that a new business will not fail, but 100% surety that a business will fail without a vision based on money - income and outgo.

Does such a person exist? I don't know. That is where the dream comes in. In my heart I'd love to grow my business. But I don't have the energy to do it by myself. I need a money person. Someone who can look at our strengths and weaknesses and share the decisions about the future and how to succeed. While I wait for such a person to drop into my life, I'll just keep it small and simple.

But I'll keep dreaming!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Screaming to be Heard

Have you noticed that there seems to be a lot of screaming on TV and radio? Talk radio is often YELL radio. Reality TV becomes SHOUT TV. And some of the commentators on the "news" shows are SCREAMING heads. What's all the noise about?

I was raised in a quiet household. Raised voices among adults was so foreign to me the first time I heard the parents of a friend yell in an arguement, I was convinced they were moving toward a divorce. My parents had their disagreements but rarely in front of us kids. I've worked hard all my life to emulate their calm, quiet approach to discussion, debate and discipline. Not always successfully and certainly not easily.

But throughout my life I've found the quiet approach works, and most often leads to the best results. When I was teaching 4th grade and the class was noisily out of control, I would get real quiet. If I raised my voice it just added to the cacophany without hetting the attention I needed. So I would be silent. First one student would notice. You know the kid who always kept an eye on the teacher to see how she was reacting. That student would bring the mute teacher to a friend's notice who would alert another who shared with another and so on and so forth. Next thing everyone would be quiet wondering what the teacher was up to. The class quickly realized that they were overstepping a boundary, and the quiet would bring them back. Not only did I save my vocal chords, but the children were learning how to bring themselves under control. As the school year continued my students engaged in lively classroom activities without yelling and screaming. They learned to listen to me and to each other. It was a lovely process to watch.

I wish all the screamers in our modern world would practice more silence. Don't assault the audience with your high decible rantings. Take some deep breaths and use your inside voices. From my experience the louder the words, the less meaning they have. Listening is a quiet art. I've yet to hear a good discussion which does not include good listening. Silence is a powerful tool when it is part of a balanced debate. Let's teach our children to tune out the babel of shouters, so they can hear words of wisdom.

Onto a few other things. In the beginning of most posts I'll start showing some of the latest clothes I'm working on.

I apologize for yesterday's poem. The written poem was not posted with the proper stanza or line breaks, an in poetry that makes all the difference since there is a lack of prose punctuation and capitalization. I don't know how to repair the problem.

Nikki is home catching up on her rest and food. Yeah!!!!

Have a good quiet day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Birthday Month

My February is filled with family birthdays. Just in the last week there were 3 important ones. First my husband celebrated his 65th. WOW! We met in high school, married after college and now have 6 grandchildren. Its a good life!

My two oldest grandchildren also celebrate birthdays within 2 days of each other but 2 years apart in age. At 12, Sophie, and 10, Ivy, they are spirited, intelligent and beautiful children, They are very different in mood and interests. Sophie is the soft, gentle people-pleaser - loves singing and dancing, writing and reading; Ivy is the energetic, curious loner - loves all critters, computers and games.. Both are so special and unique. I love being around them. I love watching them

Sophie is the tall one with all those luscious curls. And here we have Ivy eating apple pie, her favorite dessert!!

Indulge me while I share a poem I wrote when Sophie was a toddler and Ivy was about to be born. Although not great literature, I hope it expresses my wonderment and joy found in all my grandchildren.


I never believed in fairies but I wanted to

In the shadowed corner of a stone porch my whispering sister stole the secret of Santa, the Easter Bunny and all things magical from me.

Witnessed: miracle of my beautiful daughter from my body Witnessed: miracle of my beautiful granddaughter from her body

Now I have unabashed faith in fairies. Can there be any other explanation for these mysticall creatures who now visit my spirit's garden?

Winged wonders flitting through my life brightening my soul with each touch of their sparkly wands stunning with their magic dust fallout of splendor that fertilizes the love hidden in every rocky cleft, thorned bush and uncurled frond of my being

Happy Birthdays to all of you!!!!!

(How come line and word spacings are different drom what I do and then what is posted?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good News

Back in November, I mentioned that someone I loved had received good news but I wasn't allowed to talk about it yet. Well here goes two months later. Tyson Skross, painter and son extraordinaire, received a fellowship from the Efroymson Family Fund. Five artists from Indiand and Ohio were chosen. It is a big deal to be so recognized plus the money awarded allows for them to advance their careers.

This is a look at Tyson's expanded studio space that some of his funds financed. Looking good! With this space he is able to explore more of his castings like the one below.

His Dad and I are so proud of him. Glad that all that model building when he was growing up has paid off. He is so talented!!!

Follow this link to see more of his work.

Read more about the Efroymson Family Fund on Ty's blog.

And some more good news. Nikki is improving and has her sights on going home soon. She is spunky!!!

Everyone have a good weekend. I'll be at the Exchange this evening for First Friday with some of my new Annarella Girl clothes. Drop by and say hi!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pajama Day

As I type my title in I'm aware I forgot to put a headline on yesterday's post. Usually a title is the first thing I compose, but it was such an emotional tribute I couldn't think of one to begin and then I forgot to add it at the end. Truth is I still have difficulty with a fitting header, so I leave it titleless for another day.

It's another drizzly day here in central Texas. A good day to stay in pajamas - warm, soft, comfy pajamas. My choice is a tee shirt washed so many times it has become cuddly. Knit pants in varying lengths depending on the temperature. Not an extremely attractive look, but oh so comfortable.

Since I now working at home I could stay in pajamas all dat every day, but I resist that temptation. Mornings I work in pjs while I drink my 2 cups of coffee and eat my yoghurt. Then I clean up, change clothes, and do my household chores. Then back to the sewing room. Somehow just wearing slightly more constructed clothing that I wouldn't be horrified to be seen in makes me feel more businesslike. But today I might just stay in pajamas keeping a cold, rainy day at bay.
Hope you like the latest romper!!! Not a pj but just as comfy for the little ones. Plus the pinks and yellow bring sunshine into my workroom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A friend has a sick child - not a tummy ache kind of sickness - but cancer. Nikki's cancer is an inoperable brain tumor. Her ordeal started 3 years ago at age 13. She has handled her illness with an incandescent smile and optimism despite the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and the cancer. She was hospitalized last week when her body systems wanted to shut down, but like the trooper she is, Nikki is fighting back.

Her parents are in the worst nightmare imagineable. I can't begin to imagine how they are feeling or what they are thinking. No one should have to watch their child lie in ICU with machines attached. Cherie and Michael have handled this latest medical emergency with an unbelieveable grace as they have handled every up and down in the last 3 years. They have fought to get the best treament for Nikki. They have been gracious to all the wellwishers even when they are at their most tired. They have remained determined to live a life with more smiles than tears.

They have a multitude of friends who all feel the same. "If we knew how to take away some of their pain, we would. If we could take on Nikki's cancer, we would." But often it is a lonely battle for Cherie, Michael and Nikki. Know that we carry you in our hearts and minds; we are in awe of your courage and will; we look forward to seeing that great Nikki smile soon.

Get well, Nikki!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time to Get in Shape

Can you believe it's February already? Can spring or summer be far away? Yikes!! It must be time to get in shape. I know that resolution was made January 1st, so now it's just a matter of renewing it. This all comes on the heels of the Miss America Pageant of which I only saw the swimsuit competition. I guess they had to work to get those bodies. It also helps that they are so young. But I am nudged to renew my resolution to eat healthy and lose a little weight.

For those of you who have the 10-20-30 pounds to say goodbye to, there is some help on the market. Core 4. According to friends and family who are using it, it is an easy, organic product. Check out the web site to find out more or contact Pamela for information. pskross at

We owe it to ourselves to be healthy!! We need energy to live our best lives. See you all at the pool soon.