Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eight isn't Enough

I finally got everyone together and to sit reasonably still for a moment. So ta-da! Finally, all eight in one picture. Of course, some aren't smiling, some aren't looking at the camera, and some wouldn't take off their hats, but they are all right here wishing us all a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paper Stories

Yesterday we had our annual Christmas craft nite. I've talked about our group before. We have been meeting once a month for over 30 years. Dinner, lots of laughter, and an easy craft. We have several very talented women in our small group, so there are always wonderful projects. At Christmas we don't craft but have a gift exchange. This is what I made. I love it and plan to make more. I am a book lover, hoarder, keeper, so it was very hard for me to tear a book apart. I bought this one especially to reconstruct. It was already missing a few pages, so that is my defense. This was a late nineteenth century (yummy thick and textured paper) novel called "The Old Mam'selle's Secret''.  And I have kept the cover for more projects.  More budget book projects coming right up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Sort of Holly Jolly Christmas

Decorating is going up in bits and pieces this year. Finn and Tess came over to help with the tree. As you can see, their idea is very definitely quantity over quality. We have lots of bare spots and lots of places very heavy with holiday. That says a lot about the way I feel, I suppose. This year there are just things I cannot do. I have to make substitutions. Some boxes I'm just not able to open.
We were gifted by an "angel" from Amanda the Panda. This is a local organization that has been active for 30 years helping families to get through the grieving process. They put together a box of little gifts for us to open each day until Christmas. An amaryllis plant, a cookbook, chocolates, just a variety of things to brighten our day and let us know that people are thinking of us. I am very impressed with them and plan to volunteer in some way  in the future. As I've said before, my life has changed forever, and this grief will be part of who I am now. I can still laugh, and enjoy life, and I am looking forward to the time when I don't dissolve into sobs several times a day, but I know this underlying sadness will never go away. And I really think that perhaps I can help other people who have to go through this.
Every post I try to start out positively, and really don't want this to be depressing, but holidays are very difficult. Thank you  for reading. Next time, a happy post. Really!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is almost Thanksgiving. My entire sense of perception has been off this year, so I am surprised that it is Turkey Time again. I have to say that this has never been my favorite holiday. Oh, I do love to eat---but I have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, or hosted one at my house. And I don't really like to decorate with turkeys, so Thanksgiving has just been part of a slow slide into Christmas. I've always had very definite rules that we didn't start to shop or decorate or listen to Christmas music until after this holiday is over. Usually we go to my oldest daughter's house in Kansas City, but since we will be working on Friday we will stay in town and have dinner with our son and family.
I like this card, which I found at Vintage Holiday Crafts. I am working very hard on being grateful for all the good things in our life. This is difficult, because this was the worst year ever.
We finally got the autopsy report back last week. My thirty year old son died from heart disease. He went to sleep one night and never woke up. Our family is still having a very difficult time. We never suspected and I'm sure he didn't know that his heart was bad either. I worry that it could have been prevented, but I have to believe that when it is time...............  I know it will get easier, but it will never be back to normal. And I will never be fine.
There have been things that have helped. Reading and writing on Facebook has actually been very helpful. I hardly even checked my account until recently. It helps to be in touch with his friends. And I have found a very good book. It was written by Brooke Noel and is called "I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye". I have been trying to read other things too, but my attention span isn't great lately.
I have started thinking about Christmas. Having the young children around will make things better. Finn and Tess will each decorate their own little tree at our house this year, so that will be fun.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bounteous Beauties

I am finally posting about the goodies I received in the Artsy Mama Sweet and Sinister Swap. I was lucky enough to have two partners and they were both wonderful and extremely talented ladies. Above is a picture which I borrowed from my partner Karen's blog, Recycled Rita . (I did take pictures, but wasn't able to post them.) Lots of goodies, including the great eek banner, which I hung across my window. A vintage purse, which I loooove, and two flower pins. This Halloween plate and spreader will be used tomorrow at my daughter-in-law's party.There is a decorated can filled with yummy chocolates. A sparkled cardboad chandelier, lots of ephemera, and more that I am sure that I forgot.  Thank you Karen.
And next, my partner Natalie of One Hungry Hippie sent me these treasures early, but my posting got delayed. Lots of great items, including this clutch bag decorated with feathers, a black and white Paris scarf, a milk glass goblet, an ostrich feather pen, a giant patchwork pumpkin, a coffee cozy. chocolates, and more. I feel very spoiled by both of these lovely ladies, and lucky to have two new friends. Happy Halloween everybody. I'm afraid it sort of slid by me this year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Journal for a Friend

Here we have a couple of pictures of a journal I made for a friend's birthday this summer. I do love to put these books together, and am still thinking of having a class.
  I am busy right now putting our lives back together. Grieving is an exhausting process. And for now, going to work everyday and then being with family is about all that I can manage. I have ventured out once or twice for social occasions, but there are still too many tears.

I had two talented and understanding partners for the "Sweet and Sinister" swap and hope to get their lovely items posted tomorrow. Halloween is usually a favorite holiday. This year it isn't quite as much fun.


Sunday, October 03, 2010


As you may probably guess, we have looked through lots of photos in the past week. This is a few years old but one of my favorites. Meghan, Bridget, Jim, Rich, and Erin. Jim is the oldest and Rich the youngest. They have always been very close, and are holding each other up now. As much as my husband and I  grieve for the loss of our child, they are heartbroken at the emptiness they feel for a brother and friend.
I have hundreds of other pictures, but promise not to post them all. I want this to be a happy, crafty blog, where visitors come for art and inspiration, and funny stories. This past year I seem to have taken a major detour. Thank you for being here for me. Please come again.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heartfelt Thanks

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole doesn't he?"  Clarence Oddbody, ASC  (Angel, 2nd Class)
If a funeral could ever said to be perfect, this one was. The eulogy, the songs....everything reinforced how we thought of his "Wonderful Life".  More people than we ever imagined, have come to tell us how they loved Rich, and how important he was to them. His funeral was standing room only, and hundreds came to his wake/birthday party. And each of them had a story to tell. We are empty, yet comforted. Thank you all

Friday, September 24, 2010

                                                              Richard Moran 1979-2010
I will never dance at your wedding. I will never hold your future babies in my arms. I love you, my youngest child, and cannot beleive that you are gone from us. I remember before you were born, when strangers would come up to me and wonder aloud why I would have so many children. (In the 1970's big families really weren't considered to be politically correct.) I love all my children, but you were special, because you were the baby.
So many memories are going through my head tonite.  The story times and tea parties we would have when every one else was in school. Pokie and Benjie. The long talks. Watching wrestling (???) on tv. We thought you had a charmed life when you were little. Almost falling out of the car when the door unexpectedly opened. Riding your bicycle into a moving car. Riding the toboggan down the Killer Hills. Having the corner cupboard fall on top of you. And, oh yes, the little accident with the police car. I remember how you skipped school to go to the library and the coffee shop. Of course, you grew up, even though I keep seeing pictures of you in my head as a little boy. And we have always been proud of you and your brother and your sisters. I think you might enjoy hearing how we miss you. And you'd want to be around for the grand old Irish wake we are probably going to have.
So many terrible things have happened this year. And I have never cried. Not once. Not even a little. And now I cannot stop. On Monday it will be your thirtyfirst birthday. And we will say goodbye. May the wind be always at your back.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Back to the Real World

Well, I am back from my little road trip and every single moment was fantastic. Here we all are at Mary's lakefront home, standing on the deck with Lake Minnetonka in the background. Her house has 4 levels, all looking at the lake and dock in her backyard. It was beautiful! We stayed on the top floor, and it looked like a  lodge. There were four beds, all built in, and surrounded by bookshelves. Our whole trip was like a fairy tale. The cottage  that you see here was a little garden shop called Gray Gardens.We feasted on fresh fruits and croissants in the mornings, while we admired the view, and then shopped, shopped, shopped all day. And we all love the thrill of junking, so we hunted for bargains and admired each others treasures. Things like old books and rusted grandpa lunch boxes, vintage luggage, needlework, wooden boxes, jewelry, and anything made from paper makes my heart beat faster, but I like to look at it all. Our trip ended with  a visit to a few clothing stores, and, finally, Anthropologie and Ikea. By the time we stopped at Ikea, we were ready to start the drive back home. Saturday afternoon on Labor Day Weekend was just a little too busy! Our car couldn't hold any more packages, so it was just as well that we were ready to head south to Iowa.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is the book cover that I am in the process of creating for my journal in ArtsyMama's Sweet and Sinister blog and swap. It should be filled with goodies by Halloween. I am also taking an online class called Collage Coterie, so I am cheating a bit, and using this as my homework for both classes. I have to cheat a little, because I am already lessons behind. Everyone else in the class must be creating all day long. Projects abound in the Flickr group,
Well, I'm going to be gone for a few days. I'm leaving tomorrow for a road trip: of fun, junking, shopping, eating and boating around a lake. Four of us, on a girl's weekend to a lake home somewhere. Not even sure where I'm going or how to get there, but I am planning on having a wonderful time. See you all when I get back. I should have pictures.  Happy Labor Day Weekend. For once, I don't have to work, just play.

These Things I've Learned

1. Writing helps, but I don't want cute. Journaling the angry helpless moments is good. Scrapbooking this journey is something I can do without. The pink ribbon section in my scrapbook store stopped and stunned me. The last thing I want to see is a pink calendar counting off the days of radiation. 
2. And speaking of radiation, it is not like a very bad sunburn. It is like a very, very bad radiation burn.
3. Never start a new job that involves lots of lifting, and turning, and reaching, and bending, when you are enduring the effects of Rule No. 2. A new job during this time was probably a bad idea anyway, but I'm glad I wasn't afraid to try.
4. I'm not as confident as I used to be. I think that comes from the whole body betrayal thing.
5. Sometimes the most help comes when you least expect it. My immediate family and friends have been wonderful, but I knew thay would be, and I treasure them all the more for it. Other family members, not so much. And this was a sad surprise.  But people I hardly know, people I've met through the internet, strangers, yet friends, who have offered words of comfort, have been a tremendous support. The world is full of giving, caring people. And I am grateful. And I am going to take care to pass some of that along.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Here is the Gypsy that my friend created just for me. She is actually quite tame compared to the rest of Cindee's art dolls, but after all, she is a Victorian Gypsy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gypsy Vagabond Caravan

I know that I am late posting this birthday gift, but my camera has been doing baby duty the past several weeks. All the family cameras broke at once except mine, so I happily sacrificed it to the cause. Baby Cass changes every day, and his parents don't want to miss it.
And now, on to my very own GypsyWagon Birdhouse. I just love this. It was made especially for me by a dear friend who knows my quirkly obsession with all things Gypsy. The Gypsywoman on the front is wearing real earrings, and there are lots of bits and bobbles on it. Visit Cindee and see what a talented doll artist she is. Her work has appeared in several ArtDoll issues and other books and magazines. She also teaches at Joggles and at workshops all over the country. And yes, I do have a Gypsy doll that she made for me. I'll get a photo now that my camera is back, at least for a little while.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Belated Birthday

Yes, I recently celebrated another year, and as the card says "May many birthdays yet be mine to know, and countless blessings future years bestow." That is certainly my Wish. In the past two months I've certainly spent more time thinking about my future than ever before. I know that although I am very happy with my life, and have many blessings, there is more that I want to do, and see, and have, and be. I think that being faced with the possibility of one's demise probably has that effect on a person!!! And there are things that I want less of . I promise myself that this year and every year coming up is going to be the best year of the rest of my life. Hoping you will join me as we live our adventures.
Special thanks to The GraphicsFairy for this postcard.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life is Just a Bowl of Baby

Here he is--Cass Patrick. Brother of Finn and Tess, and the newest grandbaby in our family. I've been a little late getting this posted, with everything so crazy in my life right now, but he's a cutie and we sure are happy with him.

Things are still pretty hectic. I am halfway (I hope) through my radiation treatments, and right now I am starting to feel them. I slept for ten and a half hours last nite! The job is definitely getting easier, and I really enjoy working at a pediatrics office. The financial issues that have been haunting my last couple of years are finally being resolved, and my blood pressure was on it's way back to normal at the last check.

Oh, in case you are wondering why he's in a bowl.... My husband has been in the restaurant business most of his life, and this is one of the big mixing bowls he used.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Few More Pictures

Not Exactly The Tour I Envisioned

Hi there,
Finally got my computer fixed, but now I can't seem to upload pictures. This is one corner of my basement workshop, alias studio. Hopefully more pictures will happen! I have a thing for cupboards and drawers. Unfortunately, I am not inspired to work unless everything is out where I can see it, so I do spend a lot of time looking through cupboards and drawers to see what I have forgotten. My studio space is one half of a long room. The other half has a small kitchenette area and the laundry. The only thing I would have changed was to have it all behind doors, so I could shut off projects in progress. My husband thought that this way would keep me from being so messy, ha ha.
My other two walls have a cupboard that we cut in half. It was originally about 15 feet long with about 120 drawers! It wouldn't fit into the space before, but after altering it and adding bookshelves to the cut ends, it is perfect! I also have a counter space for my sewing machine, and a large table in the middle of the room. And, yes, all the drawers are appropriately labeled!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Still here

Yes, I am still here, but my computer isn't! First my laptop died and then now I can't turn my other one on. So aggravating. Everything is plugged in, but the on switch is totally dead. I don't know what is going on. Any ideas or advice? So I try to use everybody else's, wherever I go. Right now, we are having a family barbeque, but I am stealing away for my electronic fix.
Things are going really well for me. I start six weeks of radiation next week, and then start my new job the week after that. I am never very good with timing!
As for the computer thing, family members are starting to make excuses to keep me away from theirs. I am really very careful, but everyone agrees that I have strange ways with electrical equipment. I have a long history. Who knows what radiation will do to me!!!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

And Now....For Something Completely Different!!

Here are just a few photos of the JUNK JOURNAL that I made after working at the Legislature this spring. I saved all the daily calendars, lots of ephemera, and put it all together. I love doing this. I am working on several using papers I've printed about all sorts of things that I don't need to keep but don't want to throw away. I've added envelopes, pockets, other origami bits, glued right over the scrap papers with scrapbook papers and wallpaper, etc. This helps me with my packrat tendencies--if I ever want to read these things again, I could! I'm always saving little pieces of information and flyers from everywhere I go, so this is a good way to use them
The book measures about 6" by 10". I folded the pages and put the folded side out. I also added lots of postcards, flyers and brochures. It was really a lot of fun to do. I'm going to use this as a class this summer at my house or at Adult Ed classes in the fall. I really want to start teaching classes again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Today's Health

Good news for me! The surgery is over. Everything tested well and that little bit of cancer is gone. Now I have lots of reading to do before I meet with radiologist because I want to know all the choices. Input is welcome. Life is good.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just A Little Update

Thanks to everyone who left a message or sent a personal email. It's amazing how they help! I am resolving to do better. I would love to get some regular readers again. I know, I know. Writing is the key, isn't it?
I'll be having a lumpectomy in the morning. Hopefully, that and radiation will be the extent of it, I hope. I have been reading and absorbing, and scaring myself all week. I have learned a lot, but I am still at the beginning.
WISH FOR TODAY: "Yesterday is gone but today can always get better--and tomorrow is full of promise" YES!!! Yes!!! YES!!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Rest Of My Life

Well, once again, it has certainly been a while for me, and as you may guess, some things have changed in my life. I've actually been very busy, finishing my delightful job at the Legislature, interviewing for a new career, and starting back at my seasonal museum job. Yes, indeedy, I was getting things in control. And then suddenly, I bumped right into the cancer whammy. So that's where I am right now, diagnosed and waiting for the next step. Talk about shock and awe. I still can't believe it. I am finding that writing is very helpful to me, so I may actually become a better blogger. As you can see, I am looking for that silver lining. This blog may take a crazy turn for a little while, but I am hoping that some of you will stay with me, as I learn from this journey I must take, and come out a better person for it.

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away." ~ George Eliott

Monday, February 15, 2010

And the Winner Is

Using my trusty gypsy cards, I picked Marie as the winner. Her blog is called Art from the Heart. I hope she likes the Vagabond Bag. I'll post photos of the goodies inside in a few days, so I don't spoil the surprise!!

Today's Wish:
This time, like all times, is a very good one if we know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The countdown to the day of fabulous prizes is almost over. Here in VictorianGypsyLand, the drawing will be held tomorrow evening. You can still enter until 8 pm Central time on Monday, February 15. Then I will draw and let you know.
Lisa ended up with over 1,000 generous gifters. I didn't get to visit nearly that many blogs, but I have been trying. There are so many wonderful writers and artists, I am overwhelmed.

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day. I sort of skipped it. One good thing about my life right now....there is so much room for improvement.
And so, on to the bottle of Wishes:
Your only treasures are those you carry within your heart. Demophilus
Well, now, that's a pretty good one for February 14! I'm spending a lot of energy lately trying not to focus on material things. Paring down my treasures and concentrating on what is really meaningful to me, so this one made a lot of sense. Even though I love material things. Sigh.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One World One Heart

It's that time of year again. Lisa's creative blog giveaway is here for the fourth time and I've been a part of it for all four years. Read all about it here and get involved if you can. It's a lot of fun, and I always find so many great new blogs. Just leave a comment on this post and you will be entered. Drawing for the winner will be held on February 15.

This year, Lisa is having a magic carpet ride. Just the thing for us VictorianGypsies. I'll be giving away one of my Gypsy Vagabond Bags. And it will be filled with gypsy treasures. Not sure what, because it's a surprise. Be sure to visit. You'll find all sorts of new blog friends and be glad that you did.

Inspiration and Whimsy

I need a little inspiration when it comes to pictures. I never seem to have the ones I want for the things I want to write about. I've spent a lot of time this week looking for the perfect photo. It's a picture of the group of Senate pages taken the last time I worked at the Capitol--in 1967! And would you believe it, they are still wearing the same style of blazers, and wearing the same nametags. Sometimes my life seems to be a cycle of deja vu! I love my new job, and am so sorry it is only temporary. My only problem is the wardrobe deficiency. But I am working on creative accessorizing. As for the picture, I knew exactly where it was before the big move, nearly four years ago. If I find it, I will post it, just for the amusement factor.
Wish for Today: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Employment Adventure

Here's a picture of our Iowa Capitol building. It was started in 1871 and finished in 1886 and is a beautiful building. Beginning tomorrow, I'll be spending a lot of time there for the next three months. I'm going to be working at the switchboard for the 2010 Legislative session. Behind the scenes, yes, but I think I will really enjoy it. (Because of budget cuts, I will only be employed at Living History Farms for six months a year from now on. That would be lovely if I were independently wealthy or a lottery winner, but no such luck.)
Since I've spent most of my recent years living in the past, a suitable wardrobe is a bit of a problem. I'm really not used to dressing for business, wearing make-up, and leaving the house, oh, so very early in the mornings. It will be good for me, I'm sure.

Friday, January 01, 2010

And Ringing In The New

Happy New Year! Resolutions, anyone? As for me, I have been making the same ones every year forever. (Lose weight...Clear out clutter....Exercise...) This year I am going to concentrate on feeling grateful. My last year was all about a sense of lack, of having less and doing less and being less. So in 2010 I am going to see, and do, and feel the abundance that is my life.

For years I have been making "Wishes", little messages in bottles. They are a mixture of quotes and sayings and things that I just make up. My plan is to pull a Wish out of the WishBottle whenever I write here and just see what it says.
So here is my Wish for January 1:
"An Everyday Wish:
Take the time to play today."
And I did. We spent some time with Finn and Tess while their parents went to a movie. Who better to play with than two and four year olds with new Christmas toys?