Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another great read

I posted a story by Kerry Patterson of Crucial Conversations fame a month back or more. It was about Strawberries. Lots of you loved it. I even got a comment from the Crucial Conversation company that they were glad I liked the story. That kind of scared me. I guess they have to worry about copyright infringement. And since I gave them total credit and referred folks on their website, there was no issue with my copying it here. But it kind of gives a person pause to remember that everything one posts here is open for anyone who wants to read. A reminder to be truthful, courteous, kind and even a bit cautious.

Well...throwing caution to the wind...I copy over yet another short story from Mr. Patterson. This guy is an incredible writer. You really feel like you are reliving his stories as he tells them.

And another plug for the Crucial Conversations book. A few of you have said you have read/are reading it. I think many of us are drawn into it by or for "work", and then realize you get even more personal benefit from it. You can get a weekly newsletter from these folks by going to the VitalSmarts website.'s Mr. Patterson again, this time on "The Gray Fedora". I interrupt this story mid-stream...

"In 1954, if you happened to be eight years old, and I did, Roy Rogers sat smack dab in the center of your universe. He was this marvelous cowboy/actor who was always chasing down the bad guys and saving the schoolmarm in the most remarkable and innovative ways. So when the newspaper announced that there would be a Roy Rogers double feature showing on Saturday, I anxiously waited for the big event.
At that stage in my life, each day as I’d come home from school, I’d stop off at my grandpa’s place where I’d talk with him about Trigger, Bullet, Nelly Bell, and all of the other members of Roy Rogers’ entourage. Granddad had never seen the singing cowboy in action, but he always showed great interest in whatever caught my attention. He would patiently listen to me as I retold each tale of derring-do.
In truth, while it was Roy who had captured my eight-year-old interest, it was really granddad who had captured my heart. At five foot four with a fireplug shape, a cigar stub in the corner of his mouth, and an amazing wit, he cut a large swath in my world. He owned and operated the local grocery store and, as far as my friends and I were concerned, that made him a celebrity. In fact, since he was the guy who stood behind the candy counter, it made him a childhood God.
Like all septuagenarians at the time, whenever grandpa visited downtown he wore a wool suit and a gray fedora. Since it was now the 1950s, the felt hat put him in a distinct minority. Most men had dropped any form of head gear at the same time women had stopped wearing gloves (in the late 40s), but grandfather wouldn’t think of going outside without being covered. To him, you weren’t fit for public appearance if you weren’t in a suit and the suit had to have a matching hat. In grandpa’s case, it was the gray fedora.
The day of the double feature finally arrived and I stopped by grandpa’s store to let him know I’d be catching the bus that stopped in front of his establishment in order to go downtown and see Roy in action. He smiled broadly and explained that he too would be heading into the city to stock up on supplies. Maybe we’d run into each other. With the prospect of bumping into my grandfather in mind, I headed downtown.
Later that day I merrily walked from the movie theater to the bus stop a few blocks away. While sucking on a Tootsie Pop and still musing about Roy’s latest conquest, I was confronted by an image that stopped me in my tracks. The Tootsie Pop actually fell from my mouth as I stood agape. There, at the end of the block no more that twenty yards away, lay grandfather on the sidewalk. He appeared to be dead. His body lay askew while a withered hand clutched something bottle-shaped in a brown paper bag. What had happened? Did grandpa have a heart attack on the way to the wholesale house?
As I drew closer my fear turned to confusion and despair. Why was nobody helping him? It was a busy Saturday afternoon and lots of people were walking right past him without even glancing. One person even stepped over him and sneered. Had the world gone mad? Were there no real heroes in Bellingham? Roy Rogers routinely shot it out with bad guys in order to right a wrong; couldn’t somebody stop and check grandpa? How hard could that be?
When I finally fell to my knees next to grandfather and moved the gray fedora that was covering his face, I discovered that it wasn’t grandpa after all. It was a stranger—an old man who hadn’t shaved in days, smelled of wine, and who wasn’t dead, but instead was dead drunk.
Quickly I leaped to my feet. And then a warm wave of relief swept over me. It wasn’t grandpa and he wasn’t dead! It wasn’t grandpa! I stood there and cried tears of sheer joy until a kindly lady stopped and asked if I was lost. I mumbled that I was okay as I scuffled off to catch the bus.
As I rode the bus home I realized that I had equated a gray fedora with grandfather, so when I saw a man wearing grandpa’s hat of choice, I made a logical leap that had caused me a great deal of grief. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. And then my emotions darted in another direction as my wide-eyed innocence took over. The better me couldn’t be so readily consoled. Yes, this stranger wasn’t my grandfather, but surely he was somebody’s grandfather. Where were his grandkids? And the strangers who passed by—why hadn’t they done anything? I sobbed for the stranger all the way home.
When I finally arrived home, I burst through the front door and told my mom how I thought grandpa was dead and how it had turned out to be somebody else. She smiled knowingly and explained that the poor fellow I had stumbled upon was known as a “wino” who was probably sleeping it off.
“But where were his grandkids?” I asked. Where was the little boy who would fall to his knees and help him home? Mom didn’t have an answer.
I was forever changed that day. First, I opened the door into the harsh part of life that my parents had protected me from. Some people become indigents who die on the street. Worse still, we don’t always know what to do about it. But the second lesson I learned was far more important and returns me to the question of the philosophy underlying our training. It’s the philosophy of the fedora. I learned that if I put grandpa’s fedora on a stranger—instantly transforming him or her into a person I loved dearly—the stranger became someone worthy of my care and attention. Putting a face on the faceless masses, assigning a name to a crime or war victim, thinking of the people who cause you grief —thinking of them as real people with children of their own—well, this humanizing act has a dramatic impact on how you first think about and then treat them.
For example, if I put the fedora on the elderly man driving the car in front of me at fifteen miles an hour in a thirty-five-mile-an-hour zone, my impatience and disgust transform into sympathy.
If a person at work lets me down and I can’t believe how uncaring he or she is, I place him or her under the fedora and I won’t be so quick to pass judgment and become angry. “Maybe,” I think, “he or she had a good reason for missing the deadline. Go find out.” Instantly I transform into a far better problem-solver than when I don’t assume the best of others but instead angrily wade into the discussion with hostile, and often groundless, accusations.
So, if you want to know what philosophy most influenced my training theories, remember the power of the fedora. Take it in your hands, turn it over and peer into its crown. There, somewhere between the manufacturer’s label and the hat size, you’ll find one of the most useful philosophies ever discovered by an eight-year-old."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Return to normalcy?

Wow. My head is spinning this am. Maybe I need some more caffeine.

After six days in Albuquerue, one day at home, and then 4 days away from home with friends, I will admit to a wee bit of lack of work focus this am. ("Mom? What are all these people doing in the house?" joke...sorry if you don't get it)

I spent the long weekend with friends at Raspberry Ridge scrapbooking retreat center. And yes, I did meet these ladies on the internet (I did keep my purse close to me at all times! >grin<). I was supposed to go on this reatreat last year, but an emergency trip to Albuquerque for my husband meant I had to stay home. I'm glad I made it this year; even thought I didn't feel entirely up to par. (Allergies? Worn out? Sleeping in a strange bed? Who knows?)

As for the accomplishments of the weekend, I did about 20 family album pages and completed two mini-book projects and finished most of my CKU-Minneapolis album (yeah, I know that was a year and a half ago). I'm happy with that, considering I wasn't really jazzed up to be actually scrapping most of the weekend. (Don't ask, it was just weird). I also sorted the scary box of pictures. The ones that have been pulled out of photo albums and never put back. Eeek! Now they are in order so I can sit down in front of all the albums and stick them back in. That felt like a real accomplishment.

But as usual, what I mostly enjoyed this weekend was finding out more about other people's lives, joys, and challenges. I got to listen to Gnarls Barkly and Corrine Baily Rae (sorry about the mis-spellings there), hear stories from a woman who was dating, meet a tortise, talk with three ladies who just started Scraploft (an online store where everything is always 5 to 15% off the suggested retail price!), spend time with a women with heart issues and kids who live many hours away, meet a women who was pumping milk for her baby back home, watch two Cricuts, and enjoy the philosophical musings of a lady who was dead once. She considers every day a gift (wouldn't you?). I also got to go on two nice long walks. With good scenery and great conversations.

Doesn't listening to other peoples' stories really change your attitude on your story? Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. We all have our challenges and struggles. They are all different. We all have come from different places, we are all headed different places. I like getting together with a group of folks that I probably wouldn't feel like I had a lot in common with outside of scrapbooking. It's like a cultural exchange. Right here in Minnesota.

I was hoping the caffeine would be well into working its magic by now. It's not. And did I mention that the system at work is requesting I change my password. Only needs to be done once a year. And today is the day they want me to do it. I have three grace log-ins, so that gives me some time to think up something appropriate.

I'm still not feeling too hepped up about this work thing this morning. Solution? Just do it. Once I get started, I'll remember how much I really do like my job and how lucky I am to have a job I like. Many of the women there this weekend feel like I do about their jobs. Some do not. It happens...we get stuck in places between jobs we love. And in times between happiness and sense of purpose. But most of life is a good go at ordinary time. And that's good.

As a friend of mine with Cancer says..."Don't live each day like it's your last. Live each day like it's the first of many days." Yep. Life is not about the big's about the ordinary stuff. Normalcy

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Desert Blooms

Here's my favorite flower pictures from our trip to Albuquerque

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back from Albuquerque

We were in Albuquerque. Charlie's brother and parents live there. Charlie's brother moved there first. His parents then retired there. It is usually very dry and dirt colored in Albuquerque. Not this time. It rained every day and the desert was beautiful green (and dirt colored too...can't wash that away). We hiked in the open space in the Sandia wilderness east of the city. It was wonderful!

Here we are with Charlie's brother's family (those who could make it)

Here's Charlie and the girls with Charlie's parents and his Sister. His sister flew in from California to join us.

We rode the Tram to the top of Sandia Peak. How many times have I been to Albuquerque? At least 10. And I had never done it. I HIGHLY recommend this if you ever get to Albuquerque.

And here's what 5 days of swimming 3x per day, being at 4500 ft. altitude, hiking, tramming and visiting does to little girls. Awwwww.

Enough for now. I have to get these babies printed to I can scrap this event while at Raspberry Ridge this weekend.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

School Haircuts

Here's the "before" picture from Kid's Hair.

Here's the "after"

Pay special attention to this new 'do. I've never seen this little girl before...her hair hasn't been this short since it was growing through this length as a baby.

I wasn't ready for it. She mentioned last night that she wanted short hair. This was as short as I let the lady do it. I don't miss the fights over brushing and washing already...I know I will miss the long flowing hair for awhile. Here's a recent one of Amelia with her long hair. (And the name tag she made for over her bed while we were playing with my Sizzix one night. That is a fav pasttime of the girls)

(I even have the braid they cut off. I will store it with the one from my hair that was cut off when I was about the same age. I suppose that's weird, but that's the way it is!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

BasicGrey is in the house!

Minda...avert your eyes!

I think the MME Bohemia line was my favorite of the summer...BUT...I still LOVE this new BasicGrey. Someone who can do pastels without making them sickening sweet.

Unfortunately, this will have to sit for a week until I get back from vacation. I will be all over this at Raspberry Ridge!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Getting ready...

I have done a scrapbook page of Amelia's writing and favorites before each school year. I had Margaret write hers today. Here she is working very hard at writing her name. On the little lines of the Hello Kitty! notebook paper. I also recorded her asnwers to the questions of her best friend, what she wants to be when she grows up, favorite color (purple), favorite song (Pony in "My Little Pony" songs). Did you remember she had a purple My Little Pony Backpack? At least she's consistant.

We have a lot of things to get ready for around here. A family trip to Albuquerque, a trip for me to Raspberry Ridge, Charlie's job gears up soon (he works with college students) and of course, the school year for Margaret and Amelia.

We still need to decide on what (if any) we are going to put them "in". Since I am the troop leader, Amelia will for sure be in Brownies. Therefore, Margaret will do Daisy Scouts. Then there is the plethora of choices. Piano, Soccer, Dance, Gymnastics, etc, etc, etc. We only did Brownies last year. We are going to do a bit more this year, but not everything the girls want. Choices, choices, choices. And you have to choose and sign up now, or everything good is filled up.

A last bit of madness before ordinary time...

Friday, August 11, 2006

100th post!!! School Shopping

Wow! This is my 100th post! Be sure to post your congratulation (I need occasional feedback :-))

I got some pictures back from having taken the girls school shopping.
This picture shows the location of said shopping

Here's some shots from the dressing rooms..

And here's the loot once we got home (before the fashion show started :-))

Have a groovy day!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Either it's a cold or....

it's allegra season again!
Unfortunately I think it's the second. Oh well, I don't have allergies as bad as a couple of my friends. I know some folks really suffer, and I believe Ragweed season is just beginning Wah! I will swallow my pill and move on.

Have a great day! Keep the kleenex close at hand!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Little things I liked about today

I had an emotionally rough day. A co-worker and his family were in a serious car accident. We had a prayer meeting at work to pray for his recovery. It was emotionally draining. My soul is too sensitive, and I really let this stuff touch my mind and my heart in ways that are not healthy or productive. I needed to remind myself of some little, nice things when I came home. See my post on Ordinary Time from a few days ago. That applies here..

Amelia's sketches of one of the cars from Cars. Nicely done!

Margaret's picture of the "Mild Thing" at Valleyfair. See her with her hands up in the air? She is a ride-monster (loves 'em)

I found this storage box when I was at Office Max/Depot (I always get them mixed up) to look for a calendar. I had seen these at CJ's to hold Sizzlets and wanted one. I've had my eye out for them and found them today. With 4 drawers instead of two. And I have 4 Sizzlet alphas. Perfect!

New "Bohemia" paper from My Mind's Eye. I didn't know they had small transparency pieces. These are awesome embellishments to go with these papers.

Still feeling deeply touched by my co-worker's situation. Pray for Will and his family if you would, please.

How cute is this!

For some reason while kicking around on the web between meetings, I ran across Heidi Swapp's blog. And...she had a baby yesterday! She's not one of the gals I usually stalk (although I do have my picture with her :-)) I came across this blog entry. You gotta open it. It's pictures of her daughter's bedroom. The five year old that they had to move to make room for baby. This is the most beautiful, girlish room I've ever seen.

My girls' room needs painting..I was considering doing it Labor Day weekend as a kind of "back to school" treat. I'm wondering if I could pull off the harlequin pattern. It's just so darn cute. I mean, I did perfect Serendipity stripes in my scraproom...I think I could handle the harlequin thing.

The problem...Blue or Purple? I have one Blue Princess and one Purple. I may have to find two compatible blues and purples and mix it up. Hmmm. An idea is forming...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Scrapped! (and more)

I went to the premier of the movie Scrapped! on Saturday evening.

Since the majority of my blog readers also were there (or at least knew about it), I won't go into too much depth, but here's the main summary. The writer/filmmaker chronicled his journey into the scrapbooking world, and along they way answered some questions like: "What is memory?", and "Why pictures and stories?". He showed some sections about a crop that he went to, and some stuff around that. One of the better parts of the movie was when he went to 6 different people and talked to them about "Why" they scrapbook. These are the titles given to these six sections:

It's Magic
Lest we Forget
It's Art

"Lest We Forget" was easily the most powerful section of the film, but that's not what I want to focus on. You see, hearing these people talk (yes, not only women were interviewed), got me thinking about why I scrapbook. I think "Lest We Forget", Therapy, and Art are high on my list. Notice that none of these people answered..."so my kids will know that I care about them." I bring up this bit of a non-sequitar because of an ad that slapped me in the face last night when I was looking through my CK mag and Simple Scrapbooks. Here it is...

See the title? "Nothing shows you care like a scrapbook" I really had a visceral reaction to that ad line. I could quickly think of about 100 things ahead of a completed scrapbook that would show my children that I care about them. I may scrapbook mostly about my kids, and they enjoy looking at their pages, but more often than not, I am removing myself from them to actually do the scrapbooking. Hence, it is not quality time with the kids. I know I'm preserving stories and pictures for them, but I could do it in a lot of ways that did not require so much of my time and money ( a blog). The main reason I scrap...well, it's mostly about ME.

Now, I'm not going for the guilt trip here in the opposite direction. A happy mama is a good mama. I deserve some time away from my kids.

But I am not going to buy into the crap (implied in that ad) that a caring mom will make scrapbooks for her kids. Moms have enough expectations piled on them. Making perfect scrapbooks for the kids so they feel cared for is just a bit much, don't you think?

OK...end of rant. That ad title really just bugs me the more I think about it. (I know...just let it go...)

Ordinary Time

Yesterday was the Feast Day of the Transfiguration. My church going friends should remember that story...where Jesus goes up on a hill with three disciples and he is "transfigured" in front of them. Moses and Elijah appear with him. The disciples aren't sure how to react. Then everything goes back to normal.

Our preist, of course, delivered a sermon on the topic. However, the sermon was not about the Transfiguration itself, but rather about the ordinary time that proceded it. In the Anglican Church year, the time from Pentecost Sunday until Advent is actually formally called "Ordinary Time". Six months of the year we steep ourselves in the story of Jesus from the foretelling of his coming to his birth and life and death and resurrection, the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Then the other six months of the year are "ordinary".

For some reason his message really resonated with me. Life is good right now, but it is mostly ordinary. Summer ordinary. In a few week, school year ordinary comes along. A different kind of ordinary, but still a daily and weekly pulse of getting up, getting out, doing the work we've been called to do, coming home, gathering together again (doing some more work!), and being refreshed with sleep. Some might call it boredom or monotany. I think calling it ordinary is much better. Because it's not boring or monotanous. It's life. And it's good.

Peaks come. Valleys come. Hopefully in proportion to each other. Peaks are great. Valleys stink. Ordinary time is good. And good is...well...good.

Here's to ordinary time and all the things that go with it.