© 2016 Cindy McDougall. Calmly created with Wix.com.

Empty Nesting 101

Two 60 year olds trying to take their first selfie on the back porch after driving home, leaving their youngest 7 hours away.

I am THAT Mom. Thank God my husband is not THAT Dad, for both my and our three sons' sake. But this Mom suddenly has a lot on her mind. Soon to be a 37 years married couple, I think we are on the older side of the newly empty nesters. Well, we feel old anyway. Driving home to Portland Sunday from leaving our youngest for his freshman experience at Boise State there was a lot to ponder. But mostly, we kept saying, "this is going to be so weird". What do I do when things seem tough? I journal. So, for what it's worth I'm putting it out there for anyone who may feel the same, needs to feel less crazy than THAT Mom, or just wants a little laugh from time to time. I'm hoping I can do a week, maybe 10 days? SO many other things I'm supposed to be working on, but when lightening strikes, and today Monday, Day 1, it absolutely did - well, you know...   

Day 1

Craving Connection

Shiny clean car. And yep, that's BSU at the front of the collection of acceptance stickers.

Suprisingly comforted by a filthy car and a Wagner opera overture

I slept in to my new world. I was supposed to bound out of bed this morning and revise the household's cash flow (fancy talk for Can I still pay those bills this week? After last week?) But it was so much easier to put that all off by convincing myself that ANYTHING else had to be done first. I thought about Daniel, and Daniel's room, and Daniel's car still here at home. His car that had needed a bath for the last 3 weeks...!  

It became so much easier to get out of bed with the revelation that his car HAD to be run through the car wash before anything else in the day could begin.

I have absolutely no idea how to work his car stereo thing. I know that this kid listens to all kinds of music, and I know that on occasion that includes classical, but I was not prepared for that this morning. By the time the drive through indicator said the car was deep into the spot free rinse I was well into the somber yet glorious unaccompanied choral of Randall Thompson's "Alleluia". No, no, not the kind of Alleluia vocals you would imagine befitting an "Alleluia!!" This was different. As the water was cascading down over the windshield my eyeballs finally decided to join in the chorus. Now the car is clean, I'm a mess.

I continued on to the grocery store. What had come on the classical station next was Wagner! And it was the Overture to his opera Tannhauser that you will instantly recognize when you hear it. Heavy on the brass' prolific uplifting melody as the strings accompany with yet more cascading waterfalls. It WAS that proverbial parting of the clouds after a torrential rain when the sunlight streams in and all is right yet again in the world. You have to listen clear to the end to absorb it all! It took a whole 15 minutes to compose myself just to go in and buy some half and half.

And finally, the soundtrack to my ride home was a romp! A glorious gallop, thank God, of Rossini's overture from the Turk in Italy. Everything is going to be just fine. Don't worry, be happy! Driving my son's car, the cleansing and catharsis was for us both I suppose."Did you get some half and half?" "Yes!" sniffle sniffle run over to my computer.

 

I'm frantically trying to find out who composer Randall Thompson is (the only unknown to me) and I found this: "Instead of the joyous piece expected of him, he produced something quiet and introspective.  Thompson wrote that "the Alleluia is a very sad piece. The music in my particular Alleluia cannot be made to sound joyous. It is a slow, sad piece and here it is comparable to the Book of Job where it is written, 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.' "      WHAT???!!!!!   No....wait..What??!!!!!!  

How does it happen that you sometimes find yourself in that situation where everything random hits and fits so perfectly together at the same time? How did these particular pieces, heard in Daniel's car, while experiencing Niagara Falls, the day after we left him for the beginning of his new adventure - HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN PRECISELY AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME? FOR WHERE I WAS AND WHAT I NEEDED?

If you really know the answer don't tell me. I'm going with this: Sometimes, the times when you think you are not in tune are the times you are MOST in tune. You drop your guard, you're unfocused and perhaps more open to what's happening around you than normal. Like when you take a shower and aren't thinking of anything specifically and you get that answer to that perplexing issue at hand (I will take a shower for this very reason). I've always thought there is a lot going on out there that we never notice and it actually adds meaning to our lives. I just forget that I think that.

So, not to get too sappy, but I've been reminded of that thing about our children never really belonging to us. Well, nope, not exactly. They do and they don't. They always occupy that space in our heart that is the sole property of a child. That spot that is theirs entirely and it belongs to us. Then there's "If you love something let it go and it will come back" (or something like that). Yep, of course he'll be back, but it won't be the same. His focus will be centered outward of this home, not inward. He is in fact beginning to do everything we hoped for and hopefully prepared him to do. My son has a new sun. I'm now a moon, orbiting around just hoping the tide turns my way now and again.    

Day 2

He must need something

New black BSU swag for alteration, and my favorite new "wake up and smell the roses and no more wet gym clothes" mug.

An excuse to send a care package

I had secretly purchased another BSU T-shirt in the bookstore for a stocking stuffer. But Christmas is so far away, and I'm SURE he needs more school spirit in his wardrobe NOW... Guess I better put together a care package!

 

A taller than average kid I always have to make these incredible shrinking shirts longer. But I have perfected the process. Buy a coordinating color in a used T-shirt (YAY Goodwill!) in this case for the black shirt, orange, and use that hem to extend the new one's. Just looks like he's wearing one shirt under the other.

 

And besides, If I include some of my Snickerdoodles in the box, how can he not call with excited thanks and appreciation!  

Day 3

3 Days, only 3 texts.....

Tootsie with Dad's bucket hat. Bought him one, then Daniel had to have one too. Don't think he's ever followed Dad's fashion advice... 

Pulling out the secret weapon

Driving back to Portland we decided we would TRY to not bombard Daniel, at first, with non-essential texts. Easier said than done. In two days we've gotten 3 texts - two about classes (re: the professors, and getting TWO! homework assignments in Calc from ONE class session) and one about the dining hall. Seems yesterday something was going on at lunch they didn't want to participate in, so it made SO much more sense to walk to Alberstons and spend your own money on food. The hysterical thing is, he wrote he just bought a lunchable. WHAT??!! This 6'5" still too bulky, ex-high school football player hasn't had a LUNCHABLE since 2nd grade. We were texting, but I'm old and old school and I didn't want to spend time squinting at my phone trying to type in how ridiculous it all sounded so I am left with wondering. Was he trying to stick to a budget? Did he think crackers, sticky meat, and a candy bar made a complete meal? Or, what I want to believe, he was suddenly nostalgic for an old bit of home.

So, three texts, no calls I'm pulling out the secret weapon. The only other time Daniel was away on an extended visit was the 10 day, 8th grade East Coast tour. But what I found is that if we sent a picture of poor Tootsie dressed up in costume of the day (a purple feather boa for the Broadway Wicked night, a lacy baby bonnet for Sturbridge village, and sunglasses with a bathing suit top for the water park) we would get a quick response!

The bucket hats being such a hit I thought I'd give it a go. Tootise was so sweet and cooperative, but I also think she's thinking, "Oh man, here we go again!"

We'll see if it works...

 

  

Day 4

Wrapping up loose ends

Even inside, that bucket hat can't seem to catch a break.

So happy with the contents of my new grocery cart, but do they HAVE to remind me that there are NO CHILDREN IN BASKET?!!

I always check the ads first (3 over 6' sons and a husband - habit) and this is front and center! Hahahaha! See Day 3...

GOT THE CALL! Son is happy, Dad got dinner, care package off - all's right with my world

So either he was beginning to miss us, our voices or Tootsie was the charm. WE FINALLY GOT THE CALL! Afternoon of Day 3, AND it wasn't just a quick, chit chat. He spoke to us, and Dad in particular, for 40 minutes. 

He is happy! Happy with his college choice, so happy with roommates (although it was like pulling teeth at first to get him to see the value in that BSU online roommate match kind of like online dating program thing), happy with classes and happy with professors (for the most part). Whew! Does a heart good to touch base doesn't it? I am sure there will be the ups and downs, probably many downs, but that is also part of the college experience: learning how to handle life and managing your expectations.

Speaking of that, I am trying to do well in managing my own expectations. I think of this new adventure for my youngest son and I am filled with excitement of his new growth potential, new experiences and continued development. And it just occurred to me that just because we are 45, 55 or 60 doesn't mean WE shouldn't expect the same... (yet another thing I forgot that I think).

So I continue on with this new chapter, wrestling with the before and after. Last night my husband finally looked and me and said, "Are we ever going to go to the grocery store again?" I hadn't felt like going there ever since we came home from Boise. And I LOVE to go grocery shopping. I guess he had finally reached his limit of lunches and dinners pulled from what was still around when we returned. I was perfectly happy eating canned re-fried beans on stale tortillas with a decades old freezer pop (what flavor was that kinda pinkish, but not really red color?) or some rice with sauteed zucchini. I think he lasted so long because there was still some Coronas in the fridge in the garage. So yes - I did go shopping, and like BSU facebook group parent Stacy Luthy mentions in a conversation string on Cheryl Correa's post, it is a huge change what DOESN'T go into your grocery cart. But I think it's going to be a good thing! Husband was happy, maybe not delighted, with grilled sausages, salad and yummy bruschetta. I ate mostly some of the raw dough from the Snickerdoodles that go into the care package. (And another freezer pop - green).  

 

Yep, got the hem of the T-shirt done thanks to an orange one found at Goodwill. Also found this great, could be BSU mascot felted coin purse. I'm thinking it can be transformed into something Bronco! Hmmm...what does he need?

.

Orange hem done. Please remember how much I care! package almost complete 

Day 5

Can you imagine?....

Do we even need to have this conversation?

Day 6

A sweet mess

5 year old cupcake creations

Sticky sticky everywhere...

A reasonable excuse to throw more dinner parties

How do you even do dishes for just two people?!! It is even worse than cooking. At least with over cooking you can save the left overs. But try to load that now gi-normous dishwasher lurking right there, front and center in your kitchen with its hungry, gaping mouth open for you to fill with dirty dishes from two people...impossible.

As I am politely cursing this new situation my husband gently offers, "paper plates?"...... In my mind: WHAT??!!!! In this house? Have you not noticed what went on here for over 30 years?... Sacrilege!!... I take a breath and offer what is my most reasonable answer to such a crazy suggestion, "Are you insane?".

 

You see, I have been collecting dishes for a very, very long time. I like to say that it is because I had always hoped I would have a big-ish family like the one I grew up in, but actually, in truth, I just really like dishes. I mean, I REALLY like dishes. It started in 8th grade with those Franciscan Rose luncheon plates at a garage sale, then the 10 Rosenthal china plates my Dad bought for me at auction for $10 (curse you Replacements, Ltd. but also, thank you sincerely). And then the green depression glass vase given to me by Gramma that suddenly needed the rest of her friends (and now it strikes me...who came up with the name "depression" glass? Yes, I know it was from the era, etc. etc. but I'm now thinking it also had to be a Mom who had only sons, one who one day realized "Wait...where are all these dishes going?"). And then the mid-century forest green Anchor Hocking glass find. Well, you get the idea. Truly, over 45 years of collecting has amassed a hoard I suppose.

 

So yes, I know I have a problem, but the problem being is that I didn't get a daughter. Taking a shower I get the answer. I call my first born and invite him and his lovely little family over for dinner Saturday night. In fact, I tell him that they need to eat over here quite a bit more often. My most intuitive son replies, "Oh Mom, I know you are missing Daniel, but..." I cut him off, "No, no...that's not it. I just need to run the dishwasher."  

  

Be careful what you wish for

Sure enough, yes you guessed right, the dishwasher was not the end of our conversation. Once he found out we were back in town there was talk about grandchildren and true to form, Grandma offered to watch the little ones. In fact, we ended up watching them that night. Last night. Friday night. End of Day 5.

Hadn't seen them in well over two weeks it is remarkable the changes that have occurred. Grandson could already crawl, but now he is quick as a flash. Why a dusty, bits of dog hair collected in the corners because I haven't swept it up yet staircase is such a kid magnet floors me. Spent a fair amount of time sitting on the second step of the staircase yesterday creating the perfect roadblock. No fun crawling out of the toy zone anymore because Grandma just picks me up and turns me around. But, as I sat there, finally still after the two graduations, one Penske rental truck move (husband as co-pilot) for college graduate now in his first job, two trips to outpatient treatment for my mother, one quick flight and back to Boise for Daniel's orientation, and one son's wedding, all which took place over a mere 23 straight calendar days this summer (why do I suddenly hear Eric Carle's, The Very Hungry Caterpillar in my head? Oh, just read that last night) I find solace in my perch. I am watching said Grandson but also looking up at the 43 photographs -  pictures, portraits and candids of my immediate family - that line the wall of these 14 stairs (and this doesn't even count the 7 empty frames hung for place markers). I know, OK... Maybe dishes AND photographs.

Time flies. When did everyone grow up and out of these pictures? I can remember each and every moment. It's fast. Take time. Kids take flight. I've now decided to send Daniel as many texts as my heart needs to, even if it's just a picture, heart or smiley face! They say some pictures are worth a thousand words. I would tend to agree.

 

P.S. Two small children (actually an almost Toddler and a 5 year old) are terrific for making a bunch of dirty dishes. If said almost Toddler happens to be teething, and is consistently slimeing each and every toy touched all the better! Most old Fisher Price plastic cleans up great in a dishwasher... 

  

Day 7

Counter intelligence

Hat's off to you!

Well it's Sunday, Day 7. I made it! 

Sitting at the kitchen table, coffee in my now favorite BSU mug, I am feeling like the air has been let out of my balloon. There is something to be said for that initial jolt of adrenaline, or excitement maybe, that gets you to begin something you would never have expected. Or maybe I am feeling the reality of this new "no kids in the house" situation finally sinking in. 

Staring off into space my gaze lands on one of the kitchen counters. And low and behold, there it sits all by itself. Down at a level I can actually see the blue embroidered "BOISE STATE', and no silver curls beheath. The hat if OFF! What does this mean?! Has the missing of that third son coming around the corner and giving a bear to bear sized hug with the accompanying "Daaaad!" finally subsided? Has the wearing of the big blue canvas bucket finally worn thin? Does everything have to mean something?

All probably not. It's Sunday morning. Not much going on yet but coffee and the paper. And sure enough, after I'm finally dressed and ready to look at the world the hat is gone. It's outside on its happy perch, dutifully watering the plants. 

So, hat's off today to all you been there already done that empty nested! I'm just beginning to get the hang of this, and not ready to hang up the hat...

Day 8

Picture this: can't find my picture...

He DIDN'T call - he's going to be just fine!

Waited all day Saturday even though I had texted Daniel a little after noon. Waited all day Sunday (yesterday) and got a call at 4:00!! In a very polite, almost apologetic manner he was in a rush and simply needed some laundry advice. Sad that it was just that, yet happy he still needed me at some level, I told him how I would deal with the dorm dryers being twice as big as the washing machines...and then he said he was sorry he had to run, but would call later in the evening if that was OK. So sweet. But then again this is Daniel - my peach. The kid who graciously sacrificed final summer hours to help poor tech-challenged Mom out when NO ONE else in this family would to move  thousands of photos onto my computer from an AWFUL assortment of crappy, not-smart phones. Sure, the high school teachers were enamored of the first son, staggered by the second, and then entirely surprised that there was a third but I told them not to worry. This third son, whom the good lord had so graciously saved this older mother for last, was indeed the peach. 

They may not agree, but these three sons have very particular and individual family attributes. My oldest is the German. Middle is the Italian. And Daniel is the Scot. He is the MOST like his father: a gentle, kind, calm, warm-hearted and so loving human being. Their reactions and comments to things are so parallel and in the same vein of thought. The three of us at the dinner table, this last year especially, included times I felt like I had my husband sitting there with me in stereo... 

 

So anyway, sometimes I worry (oh how I indulge in worry) that Daniel will be easily hurt - you know - not thorny enough to take some of life's more ugly moments. I was reminded of this thought again when he semi-apologized for not being able to talk on the phone until later. And then later happened and a phone call did not. Hmmmm.....a first.

As I thought about journaling I remembered a photo I wanted to find. Hunting in all the usual nooks and crannies on three old computers it finally occurred to me that maybe it was in that lot that Dan had moved just weeks ago. Searching I didn't find the picture but I found his folder for me...and I kid you not, it was titled: .....burnthisphoneinhell.

No call. No apology. Relax, Mom - kid is going to be find. 

Day 9

New creations in their infancy

Little bits, of this and that - and more dishes.

I really do need to get busy....

Why does it happen that when you finally get that creative spark to begin something new the universe decides to test you to see just how much you REALLY want to get started.... 

I had been working lazily at these cozy little infant PJ jackets for about three weeks. I think they'll be sweet - vintage embroidery, soft flannels, cute animals. Even took some to Boise to complete the hand work (my embroidered embellishments) when I might find myself with extra, voids of time on my hands - Hahahahahaha. Anyway, happy to get back in the groove as our show (see "SALES" tab) is truly right around the corner I spent most of the late afternoon and early evening in my sewing studio.

 

At about 7pm my lovely husband strode in and thought it might make sense to just go out for a quick bite of dinner (translated: Had you planned something for the evening meal or am I on my own?). With the 3 hungry bears at home all at once we rarely ate out. And hardly even with only 2... maybe ate out a bit more with only Daniel at home, so yes, this sounded like a great idea.

Quick trip out, and back in. No messy kitchen to worry about back upstairs to work. Little after 8pm the phone rings with oldest son wondering if they can stop by for a quick bite...??? "Sure!" When do you ever turn down seeing your grandkids - and if they are hungry!!?

In a nutshell, everyone is truly OK, nothing major or life threatening, but they were really hungry and coming from hours in the emergency room, a location which happens to be closer to my house than theirs. I have 20 minutes to prepare food for 4 hungry, tired people. I have not been grocery shopping much. We did not even cook dinner for ourselves tonight...how could we quickly feed this people?!

If you have eggs, milk, flour, strawberry jam...and russet potatoes, cheese and a big fat pork chop sitting in your fridge you decided not to cook that day, you can do this. Kids were happy with MY mother's recipe for "German pancakes" which is really just crepes laced with jam. Parents were delighted with sharing the pork chop and devouring the twice baked (microwaved) potatoes. Fresh fruit and some whipped cream from a still fresh canister surprised for dessert.

When they left, as quick as they arrived, I was surveying the damage. My husband looked at the mess, looked at me and said, "Well...good news is I bet that makes a full dishwasher load."

Day 10

"All the world's a stage." 

W. Shakespeare, As You Like It.

U of Utah, Pioneer Memorial Theater, Girls' dressing room, makeup and costume before opening of "Funny Girl". 

Someone's in the kitchen...it's not who you think.

Honeybun101...No one really ever asked, "Why that silly name?" when I added it to my creations years ago. It was about the same time I began my 'naughty and nice' aprons, so maybe people thought it had something to do with cooking, or being in the kitchen, or '101' being the usual first class of a series...but the genesis of the name is not from any of these.

Here's a secret: another lifetime ago (approximately 41 yrs and 60 lbs ago - a lifetime) I was pursuing, and completed, a Fine Arts degree in Ballet and musical theater. I can't remember how many auditions I had performed beginning with high school, through college admissions, productions, etc. and then community theater, but there is one, ONE that stands out as my ultimate favorite. I could nail it like nobody else, it was my trademark piece and if the show was appropriate for me to pull it out, polish it up and perform it I was going to get the part...Honey Bun, from the musical South Pacific, made famous by Mary Martin playing the part of Nellie Forbush as she sung it dressed up in a sailor's uniform... 

 

"A hundred and one pounds of fun, That's my little Honey Bun! Get a load of Honey Bun tonight! I'm speakin' of my Sweetie Pie, Only sixty inches high, Every inch is packed with dynamite!"

There was no other audition that made be feel as confident, happy, powerful and alive as Honey Bun...and it was a blast to perform, and usually unexpected. When contemplating the universe for a "name" for my creations I came back to this: What, when talking about it, hearing the name, saying the name, typing the name, reading the name, sharing the name, would help me to feel so optimistic that I could take on the world?... Honey Bun could... 

Mary Martin made it famous, but in 2005 Reba McEntire performed it (with a hilarious appearance from Alec Baldwin) in South Pacific in Concert, Carnegie Hall. If you want a fun romp to start your day, plug in "Reba sings Honey Bun" on YouTube. She begins about a minute in. Delightful.

..."I'm caught and I don't wanna run, 'cause I'm havin' so much fun with Honey Bun!"

Writing about change today. Guess it was inevitable...

Day 11

Looking forward for a change

Dollar store jellyfish made with Grand Daughter this summer

Kitchen window, winter 2017.

I am going to put this as delicately as I currently possibly can....change sucks. Truly.

I am missing Daniel. Stuck in my rut a bit with how things used to be. Catching myself walking in house circles wondering why I came into a room - happens more around 4 in the afternoon than in the morning. I think it's because that's the time he would normally come home from school, unless it was football season. Ahhhhh! and Ugggh..

 

This new time freedom is both liberating and debilitating. Thinking a TON about change I remember back to our last pediatrician appointment in San Diego before we moved back to Portland when I told the doctor how worried I was (there it is again) about uprooting these children from the only home they had ever known (only 2 boys, ages 3 and 1).... how fortunate I was to grow up going to the same elementary, Jr. High and High School my entire life, parents living in our family home (Mom still) my entire life... Oh, etc. etc. etc.....and most WONDERFUL Dr. Selzer looks up at me in sheer amazement - and not "positively amazed" amazement mind you.......and says,

"Cindy, one of the very best gifts we can give our children is the ability to change."

 

What????!!!....Now I am the one looking up in amazement. Oh my God...in a FLASH the insanity of my whole life makes sense. What a brilliant man. To this very day I thank him for such wise counsel on our very last visit.  

I grew up in a lovely loving environment that (in my mind) tried its very hardest to protect me from change. Sameness was stable and consistent and reliable. It is such a wonderful gift in itself to be able to count on growing up in such a manner and I'm not saying I would change it, but perhaps make a few tweaks. At least I have tried to for my own kids.

Change is the only constant. 3 sons have grown up being encouraged to roll with the punches on the way to finding the silver lining. They have become resilient and SO much more elastic and springy in their approach to life than their Momma. So proud of them! And, once again, I forgot that I think this. So to remember, I think today I'll make a lovely bracelet out of some of that ruffled elastic I have (went on grand daughter's toddler bloomers once) and every time I find myself wandering in circles I'll snap myself back. Pretty prehistoric in method perhaps, but I feel like I'm starting at the beginning again.

Wishing you all great beginnings no matter how far in you are! And here's two of my current favorites:  

"Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change."

--Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."

--Rumi

Sock it to me, baby!

Day 12

Fruit basket upset!

And these are just the pretty ones....

Continuing on! 

I have been working in my studio (it's really a gargantuan sewing room, made to nurture but entirely disheveled in nature) sewing, and striving for some true focus but my mind continually drifts back to the topic of change. A sea of change, I keep thinking about it, kinda feel it, but haven't really embraced it.

Goodness knows these three sons have experienced it full on most recently: High school graduation and the start of college, college graduation and the start of a career, baby number 2 and marriage (he's a musician, doesn't do things in a traditional sequence perhaps but can still produce a harmonious result. Like, let's play these 8 bars of glorious music, then repeat them, but suddenly surprise you and change it up with a wonderful second ending!) 

 

Anyway, I continued the conversation taking place in my head for a real dialogue with my lovely husband at the dinner table, insensitively forgetting that he would LOVE some change from his get up, make coffee, walk across the front room, go to work, get coffee, work, get coffee, work, get interrupted by wife, try to get back to work, swear, bathroom break and repeat, (there are actually more bathroom breaks than I listed, lots of coffee...) AND he agreed with all my usual "change is hard, change is so hard, I don't like change, etc."....but he also encouraged that I did have an opportunity to really do something I might have wanted to do for a long time, something I had put off because of kid duties, something that could bring me joy, fulfillment, even perhaps a feeling of accomplishment.

 

I am gazing off into space at this point. I think of ALL the things that I want to do and struggle again with how to begin. Small steps are the bane of these small feet. I look over and see the sock bin, overflowing as usual, collecting more dust and fly away dog hair in the corner....Ah HA!!

 

I am the chief cook, bottle-washer and launder-er in this house by both desire and design BUT I did draw the line at pairing up the multitudinous pairs of socks that come with a home full of 4 men - hence the sock bin. In its now 11 years of existence you can imagine the accumulation of one offs. The sock bandit had a good run

 

I am suddenly inspired. Today I have killed off the sock bin. Feeling fearless I have thrown out every "single" sock and banished the empty bin to the garage. Change. Joy, fulfillment and accomplishment! Small steps. 

Winston inspires a Sinatra soundtrack

Days 13, 14, 15

Sinatra sings the Blues

OK...his name is really Winston, but gosh doesn't he look like Ol' Blue Eyes here?

The Best is Yet to Come: Our art group is busy with final preparations for the upcoming September 29 and 30th show. Oldest son is busy with granddaughter who is about to fly out of the nest to begin kindergarten, while grandson is about to take off with his first steps. Middle is back from a business trip and came for dinner with his most better and delightful half, puppy too. And youngest just phoned in with live streaming so we could see his sweet man face so animated when he spoke of first college home football game coming next weekend. As my tally goes, pretty good weekend with much to look forward to!

My Way: 28 days. That's what I've got left to finish (begin?) my inventory for the Lake Oswego Crafts and Art League (LOCAL 14) art show and sale. When this fact was brought up at dinner with middle, lovely girlfriend said, "that's not much time is it?"...Middle just looked at her and said, "Oh, this is the reoccurring theme...she'll be fine."  Good to have the confidence of others. 

 

Somethin' Stupid: In preparation for fall and getting the outside put in order for the change of season (at least that's what I said. Didn't really mention anything about the Christmas lighting that had already begun twinkling in my head...) I asked lovely husband to work on an outdoor electrical box that had stopped working when you flip the indoor light switch. We fiddled and tested and tweaked...nothing...so he replaced the electrical box. Still no juice. Called the electrician who had originally put them in when we renovated the house (he could NOT believe I still had his number - but again - I am THAT Mom, wife, person...) and he came all the way over from about 45 minutes out. Great to see him and he was excited to see the house, as the last time he was out it was still down to the studs.  Anyway, he fiddled and tested, no tweak, and then VOILA!! There was light! Seems you need to have the power ON when you hit the reset button. Hitting the reset button when there is no juice doesn't do a thing...

Yes, summer is over. I can hardly believe it. Graduations and parties and wedding and off to college are becoming fainter memories yet still immediately present in my heart. Suddenly I feel like a hot air balloon with a faulty burner system. After racing around... stopping for a moment... it can be daunting to get back up.  

I've got to hit my own reset button - better make sure the juice is on!

Today is our 37th wedding anniversary!! 

Sept 13, 2018

Something's hot in the kitchen!

Ooh Baby Baby!!

Ba Ba Ba Baby!

Sew!

 

I've been missing these pages and missing from these pages lately - but with good reason.

Trying to spend some time to get ready for our annual Art Show and Sale (51 years this!) I have been sewing and sewing. Pillows, aprons, and cute toddler stuff are finally starting to appear. If you live near Portland you really must go. Check it out on my "Sales" page here - or quick reminder it is September 29 and 30 at the Left Bank Annex (East side) in Portland.  

AND, most importantly, it is also our 37th wedding anniversary today! BEST decision I ever made in my entire life. Kind, honest, funny, caring, intelligent, strong and loyal, this lovely husband is the rock of my existence. Our three sons have had the greatest role model to follow, ever. 

 

To celebrate we are going out to dinner! Hooray!! No "are we having dinner?...should we eat something now?...is there any peanut butter left?...do you just want pancakes?..." dinner time discussions tonight!  Checking out a new restaurant in the Pearl district to punctuate these 37 years and now newly "Empty Nesting" - which has been going well by the way! (probably because I have so much to do before the show). At the moment, there is a pile of rinsed dishes in the sink, a pile of clothes that need washing in the hamper, and enough peanut butter and pancake mix to last 3 more days....

Sew, off to get ready for a romantic night with candle light. Oh, did I mention we also invited middle and his lovely girlfriend along, whom we adore? OK, maybe still trying to get the hang of this thing!

 

Cheers! 

My own Inspiration Station

Sept 23, 2018

More aprons for this weekends Art Show & Sale

What IS it that can flip the switch from total, bleak, I don't know what to make nothing-dom... to complete, frantic, I will never get all these ideas that are popping into my head out and done in time??? How is it that you can go for weeks, maybe months at a stretch with not ONE pressing creative thought and suddenly, 3 weeks before the Art Show you suddenly hit "inspiration"!?!  I don't know if it's my over indulgence in the Swedish Fish run on my studio, having mushrooms in the salad again (Dan's at school) or the mounting pressure of an upcoming BIG birthday.. .....but there is suddenly a wealth of ideas. 

 

I CAN tell you of the impact from two of the most incredible people, artists, designing women I have ever known that inspire me to no end. Go out and find these women and their creativity on line and you will be blown away. These are my words, unsophisticated as they are, to describe these two mega-artists:  

Tracy Porter exudes the ultimate design inspiration. Everything she touches blooms into her signature look. To me, her work is joyful, free spirited, and outrageously drenched in colorful layer upon layer of deliciousness. Following her for over two decades her work, but more to the point, her words have encouraged my creativity and given me the courage to get going! Following her in any of her social media you can't help but feel that her exuberant hints of motivation are meant directly for you. If you need someone to convince you to DO what you dream, she's your gal.

 

Closer to home my wonderful friend Ann Munson has more talent in her little fingernail than yes, all the tea in China. How fortunate I was 11 years ago when I met Ann in her great greenhouse studio during the Portland Open Studios tour. I signed up for two of her mosaic classes on the spot and received so much more than just instruction. Camaraderie laced with hilariously sweet and snarky observations was the encouragement I needed to bring my stitching OUT into the world. She is that artist who can do anything. I mean ANYTHING and she has done EVERYTHING...and on top of that, everything to great success. Lately she has been asked over and over to create her great works of art for public spaces that include, among others, hospitals, pediatric centers, cancer centers and our PDX airport. In 2014 she won Portland's Art in the Pearl Best of Show.  Now, mix in gardening, home design and decor, animal husbandry, some delightful grand children stories and you begin to get the picture. It's like she's akin to my favorite ice cream shop, Salt and Straw, with their OUTRAGEOUS combinations of ingredients and flavors you never thought someone would be so brilliant to put together, that ends up making a treat so sublime. When you're with Ann you begin to think in creative ways you never imagined. Like there aren't any wrong ideas, the way to find the answer is to go for it, and you can indeed tackle anything. That is a friendship with Ann. 

Days ago a new Tracy Porter story had just come across my facebook page (gorgeous) and I had just been out to Ann's (inspiring) to help a bit with the upcoming Local 14 Art Show and Sale floor plan. I was in a can-do mood. I stopped at the grocery to pick up some more peanut butter (we were out, might need it for breakfast - or dinner) and the mid 20's cashier girl seemed a bit off. Being THAT Mom I asked her if she had fun plans for the evening. This opened up a big story about her wondering if she should go back to school.....wants to, but not really motivated... knows she should and it's paid for, but not really motivated, (and I'm buying... just... peanut butter...)...she's really close to finishing, but not really motivated.... So I bent over and squinted to see the name on her name tag and I said, "Kayla, be brave and make a decision. You can't move in any direction if you are standing still. And by the way I vote for you finishing school." She looked up with surprise and a big smile and said "Thank you! I really needed to hear that!". 

 

And that's where I'm at. Be the inspiration, or get some inspiration, or both, but GET GOING!! "Time's a wasting!" my Dad would say. And see you this weekend at the show!