Friday, June 30, 2006


Today summer at my house is kids home from school, days at the beach only minutes away, wandering the mall to kill some time.

Summer used to be afternoons sitting on top of a picnic table eating cold watermelon slices, it was stacks of Harlequin romances, baby oil, a lounge chair in the front yard and FM 100.

Summer was the pool at Shelby Forest, spending a day at Maywood, and picnics.

It was evenings sitting in my grandmother's swing watching fireflies, it was family stories, it was a scoop of Baskin Robbins ice cream on a sugar cone.

Summer was Johnny Carson, popcorn popped in an old iron skillet and home- made lemonade.

Summer was long days, the scent of honeysuckle, horse shows on Friday night.

Summer was long bike rides with my brother because there was nothing else to do. It was pizza made with biscuits for the crust, it was picking strawberries, it was eating fried okra fresh from the garden and blackberry cobbler made in a huge dishpan.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Should I Be Concerned

That my children are fascinated by the articles in mental_floss on how to shrink a human head? What about the section on swallowing a sword? Surviving the Witness Protection program? Interesting days around here. My kids are reading!

Avoiding the Work at Hand For

Handwork. Are there better ways to spend a day? Needle in hand, six hours of Lonesome Dove in the VCR? I think not. Of course the kitchen floor feels like Velcro(responds like it too, ick), the laundry is piled up everywhere, and we ordered in pizza for dinner. Here's a close up of my area of colossal error:
Is it really that obvious?

Seen Around the 'Hood:

This big guy was in search of water. It's amazing there's a deluge in the North East and we can't get a drop of rain down here for anything.
The boys took Mr. Turtle to a pond behind the neighborhood, an almost dried up pond and Turtle Dude was happy to see it. They said he made a bee line for the water.

Here's a shot of my sunflowers surrounding the watermelon patch in the back yard. Yep, not only am I the neighborhood crazy cat lady I am also the sunflower freak. These flowers have made me smile every time I see them. Of course the one above should be facing the house but I've discovered that sunflowers have a mind of their own and they'll face what ever direction they want to, not the direction I want them to face.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Weekend Report

First of all, thanks to everyone and I mean everyone for your comments on my HOHRH post. They are appreciated more than you can know. I hope to have an updated progress pic or two later today or first thing tomorrow. My Monday plans were thrown for a loop when I had unexpected company show up late Sunday night. My brother and his family stopped by on their way to RodentWorld. I hadn't seen them in three years. The picture below is of my niece and nephew watching a lot of fish jump in the water. It was feeding time in the Gulf. Here are my niece and nephew with DS#3. My niece and youngest son look so much alike it's scary. They could be twins. My youngest son looks like pictures of my brother at the same age.
Now early in the spring I planted some Mammoth Sunflower seeds, only one grew to mammoth size and here it is:

Here's a close up of the flower. Isn't it pretty?
Over the weekend we watched Syriana (Widescreen Edition) and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada the former was ok. The stories jumped around a little too much but the story was right off the front pages of the newspaper. The latter, what can I say? Tommy Lee Jones at his absolute best. It doesn't portray the border patrol in a very good light, nor small town law enforcement, but I don't necessarily believe it was pro-immigration either. It was just a good story. I don't like endings that leave me hanging and this one did but I enjoyed the movie so much that I can overlook that this once.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Letter From

The Houses of Hawk Run Hollow Home Owners Association:

Dear Ms. Melissa

We here at the HOHRHHOA (Houses of Hawk Run Hollow Home Owners Association) made a surprise inspection of your properties. What we found was distressing. At the time you purchased your license to develop one of our communities you led us to believe that you had the necessary qualifications to handle the surveying, the building, and the capabilities of following our neighborhood guidelines(i.e. being able to count).

The properties of greatest concern are lots #3, #4, #8 and the not as yet under construction, lot #7. Your initial survey of the property lines was off by several feet(stitches). The contractor overseeing lot #7 says he's discussed this discrepancy with the lot owners, and they are understanding of the situation, they even commented that maybe you had completed the surveying of this particular lot in the spring when, you were drunk the river that backs up to the neighborhood was higher, and possibly moved the survey flags without you being aware of this. This is why we must stress Ms. Melissa, that you constantly survey, not once but twice before pouring foundation.

Many other developers have purchased the rights to develop one of our planned communities and have done beautiful work.

Your request to start construction of our Village is under advisement and if you, with the finishing of this development, can show our Association that your "creative" alterations of the initial neighborhood plans do not in any way detract from the beauty that is the community of HOHRH, we will ignore, just this one time, your disregard of Association rules. You will in fact be allowed to start contruction on the Village, with your promise to respect property lines.

This letter is just a warning, always, always count twice--even three or four times--before pouring foundation(stitching borders). We look forward to working with you again, and seeing your early progress on The Village.



Thursday, June 22, 2006

End of an Era*

This morning I got a phone call that broke my heart. My brother called to tell me that the City of Memphis has auctioned off the Zippin Pippin. You can read about it here, Historic Zippin Pippin sells for $2,500 - Memphis Business Journal: and here,
(this link just tells about the auction and if you scroll down you can
see a pic of the oldest operating wooden roller coaster in the USA).

A lot of my happiest childhood memories are centered around the Pippin. I remember standing in line for hours to ride it, it was always the first ride on the list when arriving at the Fair or later LibertyLand. It was always ridden more than once during a visit too. Sure the Revolution, or was it the Rebellion, would take you upside down but nothing could compare to the creaks and groans of the Pippin.

One Shriner's day at the fair grounds the Pippin broke down. They told riders they could walk, climb or crawl down but crawling was the easiest. I was on the Pippin at the time with my cousin Charlie. I think this happened in the late 70s. The Pippin still remained at the top of my all time favorite rides list. For those of you reading that don't know what Shriner's Day at the fair grounds is, well it's a day when the park is closed to everyone but the Shriners and their families. My Papaw was a Shriner so we went every year. (Yes for you DaVinci Coders, my Papaw, my dad and my uncle and all the greats before them were Masons.)

My memories of the Pippin were so great that when we finally took our kids to a real amusement park a few years ago, Six Flags New Orleans, the first ride I took my then 7 yr old, who hadn't been on anything other than a baby roller coaster, was the Mardi Gras, a huge wooden roller coaster. Poor kid I almost ruined amusement parks for him for the rest of his life. Fortunately after he got over his initial trauma he wanted to ride it again before we left.

A year or so ago my mother sold her house, the house I grew up in, to my brother, that left me with no "home" to go home to. Now there's no longer a Liberty Land and I never took my kids there, not once.

I hope whoever purchased the Pippin for that measly sum gives it a place of honor somewhere if only for the Elvis connection.

Horror Story

So regular readers of this blog know the sad saga of my Houses of Hawk Run Hollow. Well last night I found the stitch that threw the whole thing off. Holy crap! It's going to be a bigger mess than I anticipated. But after going to bed heartsick last night, I figured out that as long as the top border lines up and the border along the bottom and down each side, I'm not going to worry too much about what's in the middle. I think as long as every thing will fit in the outer square it'll be ok. We're back to the whole lemons and lemonade thing. No way am I starting this over. Absolutely not going to happen. Thanks again to everyone for your encouraging words. Boy have I needed them this week. Nice to know there are people who understand the agony of the miscount, nonstitchers I've whined about this to say, just start over. START OVER! Are they insane?

Recent Reads

A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger

This book was good, read like a novel. Took me two days to read it because life got in the way. I finished it not being sure who killed Bessie Goldberg and wondering if Albert DeSalvo wasn't really the Boston Strangler.

I'm currently trying to finish up Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell. Bushnell is no Jackie Collins but her books remind me a lot of Jackie Collins. You know the main characters are rich, connected to showbiz in one way or another and someone is going to sleep with someone they aren't supposed to be sleeping with. It's not bad and I will finish it hopefully today. My problem is that I'm not sure I "care" what happens to any of the characters. I'm one of those readers that reads to get lost in the story. I'm not lost in this story, I'm not seeing their world, I'm not feeling what they are feeling. When I put this book down, it's the equivilant of putting down a tabloid. I can take it or leave it. I've been leaving it more often than not.

Even though A Death in Belmont was nonfiction, it was written in a way that I cared about the people involved. Not a "just the facts" kind of tale, but one that told the very human side of all the people involved.

Bushnell's characters, hmmm, seem stiff to me if that makes sense. I'm not buying them. I don't think I want to even know them.

Summer Solstice

No pictures of sunrise or sunset and no outdoor shots yesterday at all because I forgot. We grilled out dinner last night, Hawaiian chicken and sirloin burgers(which were turned into swiss mushroom burgers, slurp). Also had some potato salad(I was homesick so tried to duplicate my mom's potato salad could have too if I hadn't forgot to buy celery seed-but it was better than any store bought potato salad), mashed potatoes(for those that think potato salad sucks) and broccoli rice casserole because the house just wasn't hot enough until I turned the oven on for an hour!

*not exactly sure why I originally titled this post End of an Error...other than I believe that selling the Zippin Pippin was a huge error by the powers that be in Memphis or it could have been lack of caffiene......

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Call Me Crazy

So, let's begin this post with the information that I've been stitching for 30+ years. I've been collecting Teresa Wentzler charts since the 80s. I think that's when I purchased Unicorn and Rapunzel. I never attempted to stitch them because, well, truthfully I'm not sure why. I think these were the first charts I ever "collected". I dreamed of stitching the projects but never felt one bit of guilt for owning the charts and just looking at them. Recently I've "felt the fear and done it anyway" by starting Fantasy Triptyche and Tradewinds simultaneously. I'm in the process of kitting up Mermaid, Tropical Dream, Castles by the Sea and The Fortunate Traveler. Yesterday a huge wrench was thrown into my stitching plans when DS#3 saw a picture of a finished The Castle on the TWBB. He yelled, "Mom can you stitch that for me? Will you stitch that for me?" What's a mom supposed to say? I said, "Sure. But don't count on it being finished before you graduate from high school." He's 10. I'm also planning on stitching Celestial Dragon for the oldest son. I'm starting to think that maybe I should have planned better and got over the TW fear, oh, 10 yrs ago.

Passed the Test

Yesterday I had my friend who's also a cross stitcher(not obsessive like me, just someone who cross stitches) check out my HOHRH. I asked her to show me my mistake. She looks at it for long time and says she can't see it. I point her in the direction of the mistake, she still doesn't see it, then show her the mistake, she says, "Oh you must be sick?" I said, "Not any more. If I had to point it out to you maybe it's not as horrible as I think it is." She's pretty observant. I expected her to see it immediately. So now I'm feeling pretty good about the piece again and plan to work on it today. I had intended to finish House #3 by the end of May, that didn't happen, so now I'd really love to have it finished by the end of June. I feel a need to wrap up HOHRH as quickly as possible so I can start The Village of Hawk Run Hollow, not to mention the million other projects I want to start.

I think I'm going to devote some of July to Mirabilia's The Lady of the Flag . I started this piece right after it was released which is rare for me. At the very least I'll work on her July 4th. I have so many projects that are started that I really need to get a grasp on reality and start some kind of realistic rotation. There are quite a few that could easily be finished in a reasonable amount of time if I just pulled them out and worked on them. I don't like stitching on a schedule but so many stitchers use a rotation and get so many things completed. The TW Monday is working out well for me because I don't devote the whole day to either project, but I do put in a length or two of floss and that's progress. Minimal progress but progress just the same.

Speaking of Mirabilia, do I need to list all the designs by her I want to kit up and stitch? YIKES! The list goes on and on.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Don't Feed the Stitcher

This morning in an email from my stitching loop someone commented that we "feed" each other. That thought has stayed with me this morning as I was wandering through stitching friends' online photo albums. While browsing these albums, kind of a virtual show and tell, my stitching soul was fed. That is a good and a bad thing. The good, they inspire me to stitch, stitch more than I already do, they also introduce me to projects that I may not have paid too much attention to just seeing a photo of the chart online, but seeing a stitched version of the project, well that just sends me over the edge. I start writing things down, I have to add this to the list, I have to add that to list. You get the picture. The bad, I start feeling like a loser when it comes to my lack of progress on projects. I see how much these stitchers get done and it freaks me out.

Yes, I realize that in this day and age there are other things that should freak me out other than the fact that I stitch as slow as molasses in winter. My logo should be a turtle with a frog on it's back(or maybe with the frog in it's mouth). Slow stitching and about as much frogging as stitching is accomplished over here at the Ranch.

You see, lately I've been thinking about my kids and how they see me. My oldest boys don't really remember me working, well they remember the BBQ Pit, but they don't remember my years as a lab tech. So they see me as a stitcher. Their mom stitches. My husband describes me to people as a stitcher. They look as confused as you might imagine. So what they see is a mom who stitches for hours and hours everyday whenever the opportunity arises and not getting a lot accomplished. Yes, there's finished stitching on my walls, I have plenty of finished projects laying around that haven't been framed or finished into something like a quilt or pillow yet, but for the most part they see me stitching on an endless array of projects that never quite make it to the framer's.

Strangely enough the thought of being defined as a stitcher isn't a bad thing. I would prefer to be defined as a prolific stitcher. That's not going to happen. I'm slow, it's a slow process and I've learned to live with it, sorta. It's only when I go wanderin', looking to be inspired, my to do list gets longer, my many WIP start laying a guilt trip on me, and all the circuits in my brain start fizzlin' and fryin' because there's just so much I want to do and accomplish and stitch and I'm focusing on the 800lb gorilla in the room which is Houses of Hawk Run Hollow. I want to chase him around and beat him over the head with a bunch of bananas to get him out of my space. I want to leave HOHRH as it is, flaws and all, but I don't want people to look at it and say, "Uh, Missy, you've been stitching, what 30yrs, and you still can't count? Doesn't it bother you to leave this glaring mistake in the project? An heirloom, well it could have been an heirloom but who wants a wonky piece of crap? Leave me something you stitched correctly." Here's a secret. I've left a huge error in another project. A huge, honkin' glaring mistake, and you know what? No one has ever said a word about it to me, no one has ever noticed it(or maybe they just have some home trainin' and say it behind my back). It's on Prairie Schooler's Sunshine and Shadow piece, It's the quilt in the bottom right hand corner. I was stitching on it at work one night when I was working 11pm-7am and I stitched one of the blocks backwards. I didn't notice it until I was framing it. I left it in. This mistake that proves I wasn't paying attention, that I left as is to always remind me to count twice, stitch once, I left it, it doesn't bother me when I look at it. It makes me smile. So why does this error on HOHRH disturb me so much? I guess it's because I should know better, it's because I was trying so hard to count twice, stitch once. It's because it has occured at a point in the stitching where there's no way I'm going to frog the whole right hand side of the piece and restitch it. Those houses have too much work in each block to frog a whole section. As far as I can tell all my top borders match, the bottom borders don't match on the right hand side between the last house on row 1 and the last house on row two. There's just going to be a bit of difference in the spacing between House #4 and #8 between the rows. Every time I reach for HOHRH, I can't bring myself to work on it, even though I'm trying to let the error go, to take away it's power, it's stitching for crying outloud. Am I worried that someone will take my HOHRH to Antiques Road Show one day and then someone else will have one there, and they will compare them and say, "Well they would both be worth $25,000 but this one here on the left, a stitcher with a lack of skill stitched it, I'm guessing she didn't have much of an education, couldn't count very well, shame really, because of it's obvious mistake it's only worth, oh, let's say, $50 and I'm being generous. The other, have it insured for $25,000." Why does this bother me so much? I'll be dead! Couldn't the Antique Road Show define it as quirky and then it's worth $50,000 because it's different?

So spending time going through stitchers' albums brought all these thoughts bubbling up to the surface. But you know, I look at Kiwi Jo 's album, the link is in the sidebar on her blog, and see all the TW's she's stitched, the beautiful finishing she's done, and I see hope for myself. I go to my friend Siobhan's Webshots Album and I want to stitch, and stitch and stitch some more. She does absolutely amazing work and has a turbo charged needle. I see what she's stitched, just this year alone, and I know that finishing these projects is possible, even for a slow stitcher like myself. It can be done. I check out my friend Sharon's blog Sharon Stitches and see her progress on Mouline Rouge and want to pull mine out and start working on it. Her's is gorgeous!

So I think we do "feed" each other in the best possible way. So to all you stitchers, stitching bloggers, thanks for sharing your work. I find you all inspiring, if not a bit hard on the old wallet. Seeing your projects, your finished pieces, they give me hope.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Random Monday

First, thanks to everyone for offering your comfort and understanding where my HOHRH is concerned. Only other stitchers or crafters could understand how I felt.

People ask me all the time why I blog. This is usually after asking "What is a blog?" I blog for the very reason stated above. Stitchers understand each other. People who make things understand how bad you feel when something doesn't work out like it's supposed to. Also my husband was tired of listening to me talk about stitching. My friends Sharon and Siobhan had to be bored out of their minds when I kept ranting and going on and on about the same stuff. Maybe not, but my blog gives their email a little rest from my obsessive compulsive cross stitching rants. My plans, my frustrations, the fact that I never seem to ever complete anything at all, and most importantly the fact that I can't count!

You would think that the whole "counted" cross stitch would be a sign that counting is kind of important to success.

So this weekend while watching NASCAR, ok I wasn't watching NASCAR but the spousal unit was clicking away at channels and it finally sunk in that the National Guard, the Army and the Air Force all have cars in NASCAR. What is up with that? Are taxpayer dollars funding this? I get that there are advertising dollars alloted for this stuff but if they have enough money in their advertising funds to run commercials, magazine ads and each have NASCARS, pay a driver, a pit crew, and whatever else has to be paid for, I think there needs to be some kind of Congressional investigation since our troops are over in Iraq without proper equipment. I don't begrudge these institutions advertising money but NASCAR? Isn't that a little crazy? Maybe I'm in the minority thinking those dollars might do more good allocated to other departments like, oh, education, healthcare, homeland security. Just sayin'.

Right now I have some pizza dough rising in the kitchen, my new mission is making edible homemade pizzas. Saturday night I made pizza using Pillbury Pizza dough in the tube(it tasted a lot like biscuit dough), tonight because I'm lazy, I'm using Publix's Pizza Dough. It's half the price of the Pillsbury and freshly made in Publix's bakery. I want to start some sourdough starter so I can follow pizza dough recipe. If you go to the website, click on in the side bar and scroll down you'll see the pizza recipe.

I stitched for a bit on TW Fantasy Triptyche today. Not very much. I put in one length of floss while watching the original Pink Panther movie. This project is slow going. With every stitch my admiration for anyone who has ever finished just one TW design is my hero. I'm waiting on my fabric for her mermaid and really want to get started on that.

HOHRH is still untouched. I worked on it a little while on Saturday and haven't touched it since. I'm not depressed like I thought I'd be, resigned, is a better description.

This weekend I watched Signs on TNT every time it was on. I love that movie. It is so not a scifi alien invasion movie. Such a human story told in that setting. One of my all time favorite books is Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlien. It's like Signs in that it's more of a human story with the aliens as the instigators or maybe Micheal Valentine the earthling raised by Martians. Great book. Even if you're not a sci-fi fan Stranger in a Strange Land is worth reading. All the characters names were chosen specifically for their meaning. After reading this book a drink of water will always have a little more meaning.

Oh should I mention that I now have a mile long list of Heaven and Earth Designs I want to add to the stash. There are so many things of theirs I want to stitch. I just can't imagine actually finishing one of them. There are some fabulous fantasy designs there. Check them out, The over one on 25ct kind of stresses me out but I think if you stitch on any other count you lose detail, or maybe I should say if you stitch over 2 you will lose detail.

Anyone know what to do about stink bugs on my tomato plants? I have a gazillion of them. My tomato skins are all blotchy. Kind of a handdyed look to them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Breakdown Here

Otherwise known as WTF Happened? Below you can see an overview of my Houses of Hawk Run Hollow. See how much I've completed on this design? Do you see HOW MUCH I'VE COMPLETED ON THIS DESIGN? Sorry just felt a need to emphasize that this is a whole lot of work you are viewing(that's mostly for the non-cross-stitchers reading this):
The area of this piece under scrutiny is dissected below: Do you see how nicely those corners meet? All nice and lined up.
And look up, do you see how those corners match up so nice and pretty? That brings us to the questionable portion of the design. The "How in the heck did I do this?" portion.

As you can see under the diamond on the left there is precisely on over two row, if you look to your right you will see that under that diamond are two over two rows.

Hmmm, matching corners on each side, how in the world did I manage to do this amazing trick? So what shall I do? I shall bring the border on the right up to meet the border on the left, that will put House #3 up a row from House #4 but strangely enough everything below that looks ok. I think House #3 will be the only house that's "off". I'll know more when I start stitching those connecting borders which I'm going to do tonight. I can imagine and determine in my mind how I think it is but until it's stitched I won't know for sure. This weekend's stitching time will be devoted to those golden Xs and seeing if my HOHRH is on a hill. Since there is now a Village of Hawk Run Hollow, a hill might not be a bad thing. Can you tell I'm really trying to work with my stupidity? Trying to create art from this glaring, honkin' mistake? The whole lemons to lemonade thing? To quote Anna from her comment "it definitely sucks and blows".

In other news I picked up Pod Rescue software yesterday. Since getting my iPod and uploading 1300 songs to my desktop computer my computer has crashed not once, not twice, but three times. The third time I decided I was not going to spend hours reloading my music into iTunes, there had to be a better way. A few months ago I was reading GirlReaction -- Snip and she ran across this software. I'm hoping this software works and it's all a matter of plugging the iPod in and my music going from the iPod back to the computer. If it works(and all the reviews I've read have been pretty good) this software will definitely be worth the $30. I have that much invested in purchased music from iTunes on my iPod.

Sue-thanks for the comments on our beaches. It really is beautiful here. There are times when you forget you're in lower Alabama Northwest Florida and can't imagine you're anywhere but the Carribean. Go check out Sue's patio all ready for summer. Don't you want to sit down and have some iced tea and chill out there? It looks great Sue.

I want to take a minute and thank everyone that takes the time to comment. I appreciate it so much.

As Promised

A framed Sirens of the Sea:
Now a family member posted a comment about the babysitting skills of Audrey and Ryne versus other's drinking skills and I must point out that our drinking skills are far superior to Ryne and Audrey's babysitting skills.

Random Saturday

I guess this post is going to begin with a tease. I've apparently uploaded all the pictures that Blogger will let me for a post. So what you see below is a close up shot of the frame for my CHS Sirens of the Sea. I'll post the picture of the whole piece in my next post. When we went to see Dwight Yoakam at The Swamp last weekend finding a place to sit or stand was at your own peril. What you see below is my view of the stage:
Until gigantor turned around and was mortified that he was 7ft tall standing in front of someone 5ft tall. He moved me around to stand in front of him and then asked all the taller people in front of him to move me up closer to the stage. COOL! In the pic below you'll see the only shot I got of Dwight. Why, if those kind people moved me up in front of them did I only get one shot of Dwight and a poor one at that? Well in the pic below you can see the hair and part of an arm of a woman who had and I quote "been standing here since 5:30, so I can get my picture and then move my ass to the back where I belonged because she had been there since 5:30." She didn't appreciate my pointing out that technically she had only been in that exact spot since 7:00 because the doors didn't open until 7:00 before that she was standing in the parking lot. Oh yeah, I make friends everywhere I go. So Dwight comes on, I snap that pic, and the woman and her friend tell me that picture time is over and to get back where I belong. At this moment in time a fist fight breaks out, my flip flops go all over the place and I'm trying not to lose my Dwight cozy from the local radio station. I'm crawling around on the floor looking for my flip flops and the woman in the picture looks down and says to me, "What are you still doing here? Go back where you belong." I get scared because I mean it's just Dwight Yoakam and he's good and all but not Elvis you know?
Below you will see a watermelon. It even has stripes! No it's not square, yet.

Here's a sunflower I planted along a wall on the southern side of my house. It's about 5ft tall. Awww, isn't she shy? Here's a sunflower on the same wall turned towards the wall. What is up with that? I guess she's a "wall" flower.
After hanging with the family at the hotel in Ft Walton Beach all weekend I come home to find this huge dredging pipe stretched across the only public beach my little hick town has. I was furious. They had all winter to do this and wait until summer when LOCALS want to use the beach they pay the taxes for and half the beach is blocked off. Yes I called my county commissioner and complained to his receptionist. She took my name and number and he never called me back. DS#3 is worried that now that I'm on a list we'll have to move. I realize they want to rebuild the beaches, I get it. But really these barrier islands were never meant to be built on and should all be public land. The reason damages are in the billions of dollars when a hurricane hits the coast is because they let people build on these islands. They are called "barrier" islands for a reason. They protect the land where people are supposed to be living.
Here's DS#3 in front of the waves that Tropcial Storm Alberto brought our way. The storm made landfall 6-7 hours south of us and we got this kind of surf. Never ceases to amaze me.
Here's one of my nieces on the fishing pier with a heron. Yes, the picture is dark, I wasn't sure if her parents wanted pics of her on the internet or not.
However sweet you think these two are, don't believe it......

Friday, June 16, 2006

New Family Member

Yes, the Red Mr Coffee is our newest family member. My coffee pot died on me about 13 days, 6 hours and 10 mins ago but who's keeping track? I could have replaced this sooner with a coffeepot I didn't really want so opted to hold out for the red Mr. Coffee because it's the one I've been coveting for a while. Our Target was short on the red coffeemakers so I've been spending a lot of time checking their shelves until they restocked. The maiden pot is currently brewing. I might even be able to string a couple of thoughts together today.

The camera cord is missing or I'd share the photos of wonky Houses of Hawk Run Hollow. Right now I'm trying to figure out why a digital camera cord would be anywhere but near the computer.

On Sunday I finished reading Crusader's Cross : A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux Myster. James Lee Burke writes so beautifully, so poetically of the modern South, of a flawed hero constantly fighting his demons. His books are always devoured by me in one sitting. I can't put them down. If the only contact you've had with James Lee Burke's work is the movie, Heaven's Prisoners I beg you to please give James Lee Burke's words another chance. That movie was a joke(it's not unwatchable but Alec Baldwin is not Dave Robicheaux). He's a great writer, wonderful storyteller. This series doesn't have to be read from the beginning, Heaven's Prisoners is the first in the series, but it helps to know where Dave's demons grabbed hold of his life.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tale of Woe

And a big woe it was a few minutes ago but I've let my desire for perfection go. So I'm feeling better. Oh I bet you're wondering what is this tale of woe? Well, let's say you're cross stitching a project, a biggie. One that's fairly large, probably will be an heirloom to someone. Ok, it's HOHRH....well if you see the pic on the right of the design, you'll notice that everything is very lined up. Borders all line up, blocks of houses all line up. Well I discovered this morning that my House #3 doesn't line up. How I did this, I have no flipping clue. One minute I've got XXXXX the next minute I've got XXXXXX and they don't connect. The second group of XXXXX, is a row lower than the first one. So I have no flippin' clue what's going on, what I've done(well I know that I miscounted). If I have to frog all of House #4--I think the original miscount must have occurred there or maybe I'm just going to move the second XXXXX up a leave it a little wonky. It might even be just noticeable enough to drive those linear focused people a little nutso. The error could be fun for that quality alone. At this point I don't know what to do. I know that I've completed way too much on this project to start over, and I don't think I have the ability to actually frog a whole house block, I seriously think I'm going to leave it just a little off. I'm not anal so it's not going to bother me, seriously, if I leave it just so, House #3 will be a row shorter than House #4. Houses 1 & 2 will match up with three, but 4 won't. I'm thinking the house below will be a little off too. But you know cross stitchers at times complain about the difficulties of putting their personality to a piece, I think funky, wonky, not conforming, well that's me a "T". I'm going to sleep on my decision to leave this flaw in the design and if anyone asks I'm just following the Amish Rule that no one but God is perfect. At the moment this thought is the only thing keeping me from ripping the whole project up and setting fire to it in the backyard.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Weekend Festivities

This has been our view of the beach for much of the last week. Family is here, hanging at the hotel so we get to see the view from a little higher up for a change.

OK if you're reading this blog because you are friends with some of my family, oh boy, do I have stories to tell and you know who I'm talking about. Those will be told but only after the fog of much sangria and margaritas has cleared. How can a guy as classy as Dwight Yoakam bring out the redneck in people who are 60+ years old? I thought they knew better. Oh and if you are reading this and you are the woman in the purple zebra striped cowboy hat(I'm not making this up), I really don't think Dwight was going to sleep with you and I'm pretty sure he wasn't singing directly to you. There were easily three thousand people between you and the stage and uh, well I was right up at the front of that stage for a few minutes and well, he was singing to me and continued singing to me even when I moved out of the mosh pit. Oh and just so you know I think I even got some Dwight spit on me, are you jealous now? Then again it could have been beer.

If you're reading this and you have a daughter here, I saw her at midnight and she was fine. I haven't heard all about the babysitting adventure other than Laney and Alex were with Barbara and Sue when we got back. That's probably not a sign that Ryne and Audrey handled it. But Audrey did know how to order pizza so everyone got fed.

Oh if you're reading this and you were at Los Panchos last night, they sat us in the back, if we had been any farther in the back we'd have been at Fudpuckers. We appreciate the standing ovation when we left, but was shouting "Thank God they're leaving!" really necessary? It was just a little rude and you got off easy. We could have had all the kids with us and well, let's just say, it could have gotten really ugly. Other people requested to be relocated somewhere else in the restaurant, you had the same option. Lighten up, have some sangria, we had 8 pitchers. Oh you knew that already?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Summer Time and the Readin' Is


I went to the library today and picked up a few books for some summer readin':

Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Every

A Death in Belmont: Books: Sebastian Junger

American Theocracy : The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, O

And here I thought chick lit was calling to me. I do think Freakonomics will not be as heavy as the last two. American Theocracy has been on my list for a while and I've read a few disturbing things in reviews and decided I needed to check it out for myself.

This morning I got the urge for some fried dough. The other day on Paula's Home Cookin' she made these canned biscuit donuts. I happened to have a can of biscuits and what I needed to make a glaze. Krispy Kreme watchout because these donuts were pretty tasty. Pretty much all I did was open the can of biscuits while my oil was heating, I used the cap off of a water bottle to cut out the donut hole, fried my dough, constantly turning the donut in the oil(a few browned pretty fast and were a bit doughy in the middle, not raw, more like al dente), then I dipped them in a glaze of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. I didn't measure anything for the glaze, just made it up as I went along. Kept adding milk or sugar until it was the consistency I thought it needed to be which was also a guess. Nice late morning treat.

Today has been pretty much a wasted day. No house cleaning and my kitchen floor is pretty sticky, ick, but donuts needed to be made, and the baby across the road needed to be held. Sometimes it's good to spend a little while holding a baby and enjoying his smiles. They are priceless.

No stitching today either. I hate looking for the origin of my mistakes. I need to step back, take a break and start looking again in a couple of days.

This Morning

Breakfast came straight from the garden. Well, with the exception of the eggs which were Egglands Best. I wish I had taken a pic, but I didn't think about it until I was taking that last little bite. I'll blame it on lack of caffiene. The coffee pot passed away quietly after it's morning brew yesterday. So what was breakfast? A two egg omlette with fresh picked bell pepper, roma tomato, a bit of onion and oh, ham, also not from the garden. I've always suspected that homegrown anything tasted better than store bought but there's something about growing it yourself. It makes it taste just a little sweeter. Since I used bell pepper and tomato from the garden the extra expense of buying Egglands Best eggs was insignificant. Egglands is as close to organic as I can get around here.

I've got a "hitch in my git-a-long" on Houses of Hawk Run Hollow. I've made a mistake on House #3, the border along the bottom, and can't seem to find where the error originated.

DS#3 and I went to the beach yesterday morning, it was a Monday morning, plenty of beach for all those that show up yet this family decides to camp out right on top of us. I mean talk about invading my space bubble! There were so many places they could have set up but they were so close to me that the shade from their umbrella was on my chair. Yes, we could have moved over a few feet, there was room, but we were there first! I could have understood if it was July 4th or something but we didn't budge and they gave us dirty looks. What is up with that?

To family that's going to be here this weekend, the June grass has arrived but it's not too bad. I'm not sure which direction it's moving, there was none in Pensacola on Sunday so it may be heading towards Ft Walton Beach, I'll sacrifice and go to the beach again today to check it out just for y'all.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday Read-A-Thon

Late yesterday I started reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. The book sent me on an emotional journey I wasn't expecting. I knew from various reviews that the book was going to be a hard read and I expected some tears. I didn't expect a whole panorama of emotions. The book covers not only the relationship between husband and wife, but parents and child, grief, love, not wanting to let go, trying to fix what was already broken but maybe, just maybe, if you research something enough, try to understand it, you can change the outcome. I think that thought, that the outcome could be changed, hit me the hardest. How many times does something we didn't anticipate happen, and we go through events that lead up to that something and wonder if we could indeed have changed events by doing one thing differently? We think that we can control events that effect those that we love but we can't. We can't prevent the act of living and we can't prevent dying.

She writes about death occuring on "an ordinary day". It was an ordinary day when my grandfather died. I was in 11th grade. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I had been laying on my bed, working on my term paper, the relationship between Elizabeth Barret and Robert Browning. The phone rang, I didn't answer it, I was 15. Any other day I'd have ran to the phone, but this morning I didn't answer it. My grandmother had called, no one answered, she ran out on her carport screaming, my grandfather had a heart attack. If I had answered the phone, if my dad had gotten across the road sooner, would my grandfather still be alive? How many times has this thought replayed itself in my mind? How many times since March 30, 1980 have I gone over this? Time and time again. There was finally a day when I let it go, when I knew that his dying wasn't my fault, his heart just couldn't do the job any more, but for so long replaying it in my head kept my grandfather close to me. It was my very last connection to his life. That last thread that kept that moment in time attached to my heart.

This passage about marriage brought so much home to me:

We were equally incapable of imagining the reality of life without the other....Marriage is memory, marriage is time. "She didn't know the songs," I recall being told that a friend of mine had said after an attempt to repeat the experience. Marriage is not only time: it is also parodoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I didn't age.

I read this over and over. I kept turning back to that page. I understood those words, her feelings. Sometimes it's hard to believe we've been married 20 yrs. There are moments when I do believe I'm still in my 20s. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I am 40ish. Aren't we still kids? We still tell the same lame jokes to each other and still laugh like it was the first time we said it. We "get" each other. We "know" the songs. How could 20 years have just flown by unnoticed except for some gray in the hair, lines on the face, but aren't those just laugh lines, 20 yrs of stupid jokes?

I can't begin to write about the part of the book where she writes about her daughter. I know the fear of someone not being able to tell you if your kid is going to live or die. My child was only a few days old, but I already knew his songs. Trying to understand what is happening, trying to control it, trying to tell the drs what to do. Wanting to scream, but having to stay calm. My child is 15 now. Every time I look at him, I think back to those days when his life was an unknown. Every breath was a battle, every moment a gift.

The Year of Magical Thinking read it. Be prepared to cry, be prepared to may be be a little disturbed, the emotions that come up to the surface may not be the ones you expect.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Random Saturday, Part C

Here's a picture of DS#3 with my Mammoth Sunflower in the flower bed in front of the house. Sharon, Siobhan-it's bigger now than the other day when I sent the picture of it to y'all, doncha think? Those orange plants are his feet are Cosmos that I planted from seed a few months ago. We need to weed and put some cedar chips in the flower bed. I've started tossing my coffee grounds in the flower bed everyday sort of as a compost kind of thing. Our soil is all sand for the most part with some potting soil I've added over the years mixed in. The soil needs a lot of help. Here's a picture of some sunflowers I have growing on the side of the house. These were an experiment and I planted them too close together and didn't weed the area as well as I should have. I plan to do some weeding this weekend and get the area ready for a late summer sunflowerfest. This year is a learning experience for me. Once these bloom and wilt away I will start over and see if I can get it right this time.
Here's my tomato container garden:
Close up of one of the Better Boy plants:
Close up of one of the Roma plants:
Here's our watermelon patch such that it is. It has 4 watermelon plants and 2 zucchini plants:
Here's one of the watermelon plants with a few blooms:

Thought I had a picture of one of the zucchini plants but Blogger has been acting up today so I'll just say that I had planned to vine the zucchini plants up the shepherds' hooks you see on each side of the watermelon patch. And yes, you are correct more sunflowers surrounding the watermelon patch. I figured if the watermelons didn't work out maybe the sunflowers would. We also have some pumpkin sprouts started. Next year I'm going to Square Foot garden on the side of my house where the tomatoes and sunflowers are now. I think I make it look it pretty. Yes our grass is dead, we're in the middle of a drought. We need a little bit of rain every day for a month and maybe things would turn green again.

Thanks for the comments on my HOHRH. I can't wait to get it finished!

Random Saturday, Part Deux

With the boys home I can't seem to complete a thought. So today's random post will be in parts, who knows how many. Even though I have a laptop and don't have to fight for computer time, finding time to write is almost impossible these days.

Current Movie Guilty Pleasures:

The Perfect Man with Heather Locklear, Hilary Duff and most importantly, Big himself, Chris Noth. Yes, there are a couple of ridiculous scenes that make me cringe but all in all it's a cute, mindless kind of movie that I seem to watch every time I run across it on cable. It's worth watching once if only for the Styx concert scene.

Another movie I watch every time I run across it on cable is Kung Fu Hustle. I have no idea why I absolutely love this movie but I do. The story is good and so are the actors. The first time I saw it I came in somewhere in the middle and nothing made sense, so the next time I caught it at the very beginning and have now watched it about 6 times. I like it more every time I watch it.

I'm currently reading Labyrinth and it's moving kind of slow. I normally read books in one or two days if they suck me in but this one so far hasn't drawn me into the story. I mean I'm there with the characters but not lost in the story. Last year I read The Historian in just under 48 hours, but Labyrinth, well, I can't decide if I just don't care about the characters or what my problems with the story are. When reading The Historian I would look up from the book and forget where I was, with Labyrinth, when I set the book down I have to go back and read a few pages to remind me what happened when I pick the book up again.

I'm beginning to think my brain is fried with the kids home and I need to focus on some chic lit. I picked up Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle at the library a few days ago and it might be more my speed these days.

Things I've learned over the past week:

1) I really need to quit watching the news. Seriously I hear a commentator from one news channel on another channel and I know their voice. That's just sick.

2) Who needs a safe deposit box, just send important papers to your Congressman. They will be safe there, even if they're subpoenaed.

3)If I hear one more press conference on Hurricane Preparedness I'm going to stab myself in the eye with a fork. If people don't "get it" by now they aren't going to get it ever. I can say this, I'm on the coast, well three miles inland. I learned many hard lessons after Hurricane Ivan. I thought I was prepared, I wasn't. When Hurricane Dennis hit we went to Publix after they reopened for something to do, not because we needed anything. That was a great feeling. I've detemined that other than water and believe me buy what you think you'll need and then buy more because you really will need more than you think, buy your cup o noodle, and make sure you have some gas in the garage. What happens down here now is that as soon as a storm is brewing there's a run on gas stations because we were cut off after Ivan. The one lesson everyone seemed to learn was fill up their tanks and every other empty container in their house. I'm hoping to get a generator and one of those large 5 day ice chests-neither is a necessity but let me tell ya a fan is a gift in the 100 degree temps after a storm passes. Other than that I think we're set. I add a little extra food to the shopping list here and there but we've got a lot of MREs and a substantial amount of water in the garage so I think we're good to go.

Correct Pic of House #2

As promised here's the right pic of House #2:

Random Saturday

Stitching Update: House #2 from Houses of Hawk Run Hollow has been completed*:

And for my friend Sharon-here's a pic of my piece to date:

I'm making decent progress on House #3.

On the gardening front, watermelons are vining, as is the zucchini. My four tomato plants are also doing well. The bell pepper is wilting away, I think I'm going to move my plant over to the side of the house where I have my tomatoes. My basil went to seed. I'm so dumb. I thought the flowers at the top of the plant were pretty. DORK! My friend gave me a rooted basil plant so I'm going to take my original plant, plant it somewhere that doesn't get as much sun as the front porch and see if I can bring it back, my new basil plant will go in that pot and will also join the tomatoes on the side of the house. I'm planning on starting some lettuce-yes it's late for that down here but I think it might do ok in a shady part of the back yard. I can try anyway. I'll take some pics later today and one of the 10 yr old next to my Mammoth Sunflower stalk. It hasn't bloomed yet.

Some thoughts on kids and summer vacation, first of all it's nice to know that I'm not the only one with kids who get bored. If I ever bugged my parents the way my kids relentlessly bug me about being bored I'd have been mowing, cleaning, washing, etc. So kids, "My name is not Julie and I'm not your cruise director!" There are tons of books, video games, DVDs, ancient videos, entertain yourselves. They look at me like I'm speaking some foreign language when I say, "Read a book." Good grief I spent most of my life avoiding my parents and hiding out in my room, my kids, they are "close talkers". Don't they know they aren't supposed to want to hang out with me(ok what they really want is mom to drive them around, ditch me at the mall, and hand out money like it grows on the tree in the backyard--so technically they don't want to "hang out" with me).

*Just noticed that the pic I posted of House #2 is not the pic of the completed block....I'll repost that later today.....