Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Year in Review...Creatively Speaking

One of the advantages to having a chronic illness, and the fatigue that goes along with it, is the amount of ‘down’ time. I spend hours spent at home, juggling periods of activity with periods of rest. I don’t sleep well, so I have many hours to fill each day, and I choose to do it creatively.

As I look back on the year, I am amazed at how productive I have been.

Immediately after Christmas last year I decided that the family crochet gift for 2015 (hats in 2013, slippers in 2014) would be mitts and matching hats. I started into the project using yarn I had on hand and donations to my stash. Some of these sets were earmarked for specific family members and some were to be for donation. By spring I had about 10 sets completed.

I also started a sweater for one of the grandkids but it is still incomplete. I hate leaving projects unfinished, it is so hard to go back and get motivated once you step away. I did finish two afghans and have two more on the go, but set aside.

The book I started in the fall of 2014 was completed, has been through some editing and is out for others to read, for feedback. I have been slack on getting back to it. Started a new book, and got momentarily waylaid with another story idea. Both have been neglected since my daughter decided to get married, and from the spring planned for a September wedding. I went into full craft mode, did the wedding bouquet, the ones for the two attendants and the two daughters. Also did some table flowers, corsages and boutonnieres for wedding party and family members.

Summer is not a good time for me, as hot weather and MS are a bad mix. Since I was home and inside, I decided to clean out and organize my craft stuff, a great deal of which had not been touched since I move two years ago. First thing I did was complete the scrapbooks I had started for the grandchildren. That gave me a lot of new space, using up the paper and photos I’d stored and then I moved everything (about 12 scrapbooks) from my place to the kids’ place.

Funny isn’t it, how the stuff one person cleans out of their place finds its way to another’s, only to be cleaned up and out once again. I found craft supplies given to me, kept because I figured I might use them, but was vicious in cleaning it out this time round.

I turned to art to fill some time. I was an artist before I became a writer, and realized I had not done any painting in a couple of years. I pulled out the bin of art papers and sorted through what had seemed, when I packed to move, impossible to part with.

I also found projects that I began many years ago. One of these was a series of art work based on the Native Phases of the Moon. I recreated this series, using some of the old, some of my amassed papers and some paint. I felt better to have this old project finished, and now I was on art mode. Here’s what I’ve accomplished since then.
1.      Mixed Media Collage about family for my daughter.
2.      Three other mixed media canvases.
3.      Three paintings on wooden canvases, two in a series.
4.      One acrylic landscape of a beach scene (not my usual thing) for my daughter.
5.      One acrylic landscape of trees for my son.
6.      A mixed media triptych for my daughter’s new home, for over the sofa.
7.      Series of three for my granddaughter’s new bedroom.
8.      A collage in a deep frame of a fancy dress (lace, ribbon, bling and paper) with a decoupaged initial for another granddaughter.
9.      Two sports frames, one hockey and one lacrosse for the grandsons.
10.  Photos of each of the kids’ families, framed.
11.  A mixed media collage about fishing for my son.
12.  And if there’s more, I can’t remember.

That used up a lot of my accumulated stuff, and I purged and reorganized as I went along. The downfall is I have no decent work space, but use the kitchen counter. Things got kind of messy and I had to choose, cook or paint, and paint won, so it was goodbye to all the effort I had made to lose some weight.

Alone time can be good. I’m trying to make my place friendlier, for someone with MS and a bad back. I’m making better use of space, have rearranged some stuff to make it more accessible.

I went gung ho in the month before Christmas, crocheting more mitts and hats (13 sets for family alone), replacement slippers for the ones my daughter wore out and a few new pairs for friends. Then there were the 14 cowl scarves for a friend’s daughter’s hockey team. That was fun. Oh yeah, and the 3 joke gifts I made for my daughter.

Is it any wonder I had to buy some pain relief patches for my hands?

I’m sure there’s more, but that is all I can think of at this sitting. All in all, I’m feeling good, productive. Now that winter has finally arrived, I hope to burrow in and get some writing done. That doesn’t take up any space in the kitchen, so I’m determined to get back to healthy eating.

I don’t think I maintained any of the resolutions I made last New Year’s, which is why I keep it a mental list. I hope to do better this year, with a big dose of creativity thrown in. After all, I’m on a roll.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Don't Forget...Free Book Offer

Don't forget, free copies of my book "Hidden Gems" are available in E format for Kindle, through amazon.

don't have a Kindle Reader? There's a free app on Amazon to allow you to download the book to your computer.

Hope you take advantage of this offer, available Dec 29th and 30th,

Losers Weepers

I live alone.

My place is very small.

So how is it that I’m losing things? I have searched and searched and some items have seemed to vanish. For example:

I have a heat bag filled with grain that can be put in the microwave and heated, to offer a few minutes of blessed relief from headaches, muscle and joint pain. Mine is long and narrow, perfect to place around my neck, or drape over my knee. It’s always close, but for a couple of weeks now, lost.

I remember going out the door last month, checking the mail, and saw it was the phone bill. I took it inside, set it down...somewhere, and went on my way. I have never seen it since, and believe me I’ve looked. I paid on line and all is well, the new one arrived the other day.

I planned to make binders for the grandkids, for their Lego instruction sheets. I bought the binders, filled them with plastic sleeves and then looked for all the Lego stuff I had cut out to make a collage for the front covers. (I seem to make everything more complicated). Can’t find those papers anywhere.

Today, I couldn’t find my charger, the one I use for my Kindle. All my chargers and electronic stuff, and my camera, are stored in a basket on the bookcase. Obviously, I didn’t put it back where it belonged. If I don’t find it, it would be just my luck to have it quit when I’m just about to find out ‘who-done-it’ in the book I’m reading.

I hate “misplacing” things which is why I try to be organized. I have twenty some odd photo boxes stacked on the shelf in my storage closet with all (OK, to be honest, only some) of my craft supplies. Things like glass paint, fabric paint, colored pencils, ribbon x3, collage stuff, get the idea.

I also have one of those plastic towers with nine drawers. I had never seen a tall one like this, bought mine at Staples many years ago. Each drawer is labeled, and I am usually very good at putting stuff away. From the top: Tape, glue, glue guns, staplers, scissors, other cutting tools, rulers and measuring tapes, tools and one for assorted junk (everybody needs a junk drawer).

I have a couple of other ones, not as tall, with fewer and deeper drawers that keep all my art supplies. As I do mixed media collage, the supplies run from stencils to things that make texture like cheese cloth, bubble wrap, sea sponges and tissue paper.

I’ve been cleaning out, using up supplies, feeling good about making something creative out of the stuff, honest again, the stuff I’ve been hoarding. And as much as it pains me, I’m not amassing more, being more cautious in what I keep for that one moment, that ‘just in case I need it’ scenario.

Now that the holidays are winding down, I’ll get back into a routine, and purge some more. I badly need to clean, and always seem to approach it like spring cleaning. Too often I get waylaid by some new project using something uncovered that inspires me to create.

What can I say, that’s always been my way. Though my place has never reached the spotless stage, I have created some works of art I’m proud of.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Free Book Offer

My book "Hidden Gems" is being offered free on December 29th and 30th.

It's in E format for Kindle, available through Amazon. If you don't have a Kindle reader there is an Amazon app that allows you to download to your computer.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. All the best for the New Year.

Here's the link.

Sunday, 27 December 2015


The holidays always leave me confused as to the day and date. Christmas felt like a Saturday, so Boxing Day was a Sunday and today I got up thinking it had to be Monday, garbage day. Wrong.

This confusion made me think of words from a song, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered".

Thought I'd share the Rod Stewart and Cher version. The song is from about 1940, and has been sung by many greats, like Ella Fitzgerald, over the years. It's a soft, quiet bit of music to give me a moment's peace until I can get my head around to what day it is.

Same thing will happen over New Year's. I should just grab my books and burrow down in the comfort of my bed until all is normal again. But is it ever normal, anymore?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Feels Good to be Needed

I received an early morning call today that caught me awake but not up and active.

"What are you doing calling me so early?" I asked.

She needed advice, some turkey talk.

I haven't done the official holiday meal in at least fifteen years. You know what I mean, the turkey, stuffing and all the works. My kids have taken over the meal plan for the holidays, and I am assigned to dessert detail.

Today's question was whether she could cook the turkey early, carve it and still keep the meat moist and warm to eat later in the day. Of course, whatever makes the day easier and stress free.

Those of us who are the older generation, remember the Norman Rockwell painting of the father at the head of the table carving the turkey. I have never seen that done, carving was always done in the kitchen and a platter of turkey brought to the table.

Doing some of this ahead of time makes the rest of the meal preparation easier, and some of the cleanup.

More time to visit, which is what the holiday is all about.

But it was so nice to be asked for help, to be the Mom whose advice the kids still need. There, I had one of my Christmas presents already.

Here are a couple of modern remakes, for a laugh.

Out on the Town

I know that many women, when they are getting ready to go out, put on makeup, and do their hair.

I have a collection of make up, from years past, but I never bother with it much anymore. I dragged out my stuff as today is an important gathering for the holiday.

I guess the reason I let the makeup go is my "get ready" routine is a little different. I put the heat patch on my lower back, the Voltaren ointment on my knee, and the smaller heat patches on my hands and wrists under my arthritic glove, depending on how bad my hands are.

Not glamorous, but still a Feeling Good kind of thing.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Ornaments on a Tree

A few years ago I had this brilliant idea, not to say that it was the only ‘brilliant’ I’ve ever had, more implying, in my own sarcastic way, that it might not have been all that bright of an idea.

I have this fixation on leaving my grandchildren something more tangible than just memories. I remembered how, when my kids were small, I started to buy them a Christmas ornament every year, a start for their tree once they left home. It was a late start, so their collection was not that extensive.

When the grandchildren count was up to four, I decided to do the same for them. This time though, I was going to make the ornaments, to make them more of a keepsake.

I went back to the beginning, to my first grandchild, and made an ornament for each of her first three years. Each one was dated, some had pictures. A second granddaughter was born and now I was making two each year, for the next three years. Another granddaughter followed, then a grandson the year after and the count was four.

This lasted another three years and then, surprise, surprise, another granddaughter and grandson, born a month apart and the count is up to six.

Four years ago I had some health issues and never made another ornament, until this year. I have managed to create the ornaments for 2011, 2012, and 2013. One more set and I’m up to date. I’ve decoupaged, painted and sewed. And then there were the glass balls I bought for last year and never used, filled with goodies from my beads and baubles stash.

By the time I stopped (for a spell) in 2010, I had created 42 ornaments. This month it was six ornaments times three, and then by seven as I gained a new granddaughter through marriage.

It’s cutting it close, but I may still get the ornaments done for 2015.

I realize now I should have planned this whole thing out better. First I would have set a deadline, like maybe ten each, but then how do I stop for one when I’m still doing for another. Better to just decide on a year, and that’s it, over and done.

I also wish I had picked a theme, and made all the ornaments of the same style, like rustic or country, which suits my family more than anything like Victorian. But it’s too late now; they have a mish-mash of ornaments, theirs to do with as they wish.

Odds are good they’ll remember me for doing this, at least once a year. I can hear them now. “What the hell was she thinking, making all these weird ornaments?”

Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

Merry Christmas, kids. Love you all.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

House Work

I'll admit I'm not the best housekeeper. I have good intentions but...some creative effort always gets in the way.

I try to make Mondays a 'for sure' house work day. That is mainly because I start the day by putting the garbage out, and it just makes sense to continue the cleanup.

Good intentions, right? It's time to think about New Year's Resolutions, and again, housework will be on my list.

I'm a great one for what I call Make Work Projects. Like last week, when I had a couple of the grandkids here. I printed off some coloring pages, then printed off more for them to color as a gift to their parents. Then it was how we could use those pages and next thing I know, I'm going to the dollar store and back home to spend the rest of the day, finalizing 'their' gift. Like I said, make work.

So when I saw this handy household hint, I had to share. Like I don't have enough work to do, now I'm supposed to wash my crochet hooks?

Sticky hooks will have to wait, if I don't soon get the laundry done I'll be in tough times. Prioritizing, that's the key.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Inked Out

I should have known something strange was going to happen when I saw the eerie color of the sky late that afternoon. There was this otherworldly feeling, more than the glow of a setting sun. The sky was dark, and if it hadn’t been so mild I wouldn’t have been surprised to wake the next morning to a blanket of snow.

Hours after the sun left us in the dark of night, strange things began to happen. I was wrapping presents and as I wrote the gift tag, my pen ran out of ink. I grabbed another sitting by my laptop, and it too ran empty. (2)

I remember, and it must have been a fore warning, that my beautiful Cross pen, a gift from a friend, had run out of ink the night before (3) as I was writing my lists and notes, catching up with my Christmas journal. I couldn’t find another pen that worked among the three pens in my bedside table. (6)

I had made a holder that drapes over the side of my chair, to hold the remotes...and a small pencil case. Three pens and a Sharpie in the case didn’t work. (10) What is going on here?

I love pens, have been known to pick up freebie pens whenever I can to add to my stash. And I have pens everywhere, for you never know when inspiration will strike and you need to write something down. Since most of my usual pen places were letting me down, I went to the cupboard where I have a mug from my old desk, filled with pens and pencils. Three promos and a Bic, all out of ink, or not working at any rate. Now the count is (14).

I finally found a neon green promo pen from Durham College that would write. I also found a Papermate and two cheapies from the dollar store that worked.

I could go to bed, feeling safe and secure that if inspiration struck in the middle of the night I would actually have a pen to make notes.

The next day I replenished my stock. The pencil case is full of new pens, as is the bedside table, and the table with my laptop is similarly equipped.

A little OCD you might think, and I’d agree. But every writer I know loves paper, and loves pens. The fear is always to come up with the perfect word, the perfect phrase...and not be able to write it down.

Just in case, I think I’ll add some pencils, and a sharpener, to my pen stashes. You just never know, and if inspiration strikes, I want to be prepared.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Message on a Mug

It is so nice to have a friend who truly understands you. I had lunch with such a friend yesterday.

We worked together for almost a decade, then lost contact when I left the job, left the city. A few years ago we reconnected on Facebook. Now, when we can, we meet for lunch at a designated spot, a half way point between where we each live.

We met yesterday and exchanged Christmas gifts, and hers to me was perfect. It made me laugh and gave me a good feeling that someone knows me so well...and likes me anyway.

Aside from our nursing career, we have writing in common. We often spend our time together discussing our various projects and the problems we might be having with our writing. Amazing the plot twists that can be worked out once verbalized and bantered back and forth.

A few years ago, she was writing a crime story, complete with a detective, a serial killer and a bit of witchcraft. I was working on a novel about a woman who discovers she was adopted, after the death of her adoptive parents. We were both using the library for research, and laughed about what the librarians must have thought about the books we signed out.

Her librarian might have feared she was going to go on a killing spree, and my librarian might have figured I was looking for a child I had given up, or I was searching for my birthparents.

I do most of my research on the internet, and will admit I have an extremely diverse browsing history. Everything from World War II battles and adoptions, to how to do a choke hold. And then there is PTSD and the care and housing of homing pigeons. Like I said, diverse.

You just never know where a story will take you, which is why I love the gift my friend gave me and will give it a place of honor on my Keurig coffee maker, ready to inspire, to make me laugh and to fill with my next cup of brew.

Thank you, Connie

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Blame it on Genetics

My son’s two children were here for awhile this afternoon so their parents could do some ‘kid-free’ Christmas shopping.

I know this ten year old boy is a country music fan, and I admit, I like it too, but my taste runs is more for the older stuff from 10 years or so ago. I have quite a collection of Brooks and Dunn, Faith Hill, Reba and Tim McGraw. Those are the most well known names, the ones he recognized, as he likes this ‘older’ country, too. (Older country for me was always Patsy Cline, so for the music I like to be old is too funny).

I never play music at home; my background noise has always been the television. I bought a new DVD player, hoping to change this but it sits on the shelf collecting dust, as does my collection of CDs. I change them around, in the car, as that’s the only place I listen, where I can jack the sound up real loud.

So before he left today I went through the CDs and gave him a selection, told him he could keep them, and he was thrilled.

His Dad asked what was going on and his son showed him the CDs. “Country?” he exclaimed, looking at his son as if he’d grown two heads. Shaking his own head he looked at me and said “he likes country, I don’t get it.”

I have to laugh as I did the same with my son in his younger days, but my questions were “Heavy Metal? Hard Rock?”

Maybe it’s a genetic trait, and my grandson and I are the norm, my son the odd man out.

Here’s one country song for a father and son I think he'll appreciate.

This one didn't seem to open, so I found another.

And this is why the kid likes Brad Paisley.

Size Does Matter

People say that size doesn’t matter, but we all know it does, depending on what one is measuring. There’s an old joke about big feet, big...naughty, naughty, naughty, not what I was referring to at all. I was thinking more of the following examples.

In money amounts: the dollar amount in your bank account, the amount owing on your credit card. Then there’s your hourly wage earned or outstanding mortgage, or even cash in your pocket.

Then there’s appearance: weight for women is always an issue, just as height is for a man. Some things never change.

How about the weather? Amount of predicted rain or snow, and let’s not forget the scales used to measure the force of a tornado or hurricane.

Funny, what inspired this whole thought process was the cap on my bottle of water. I find the cap hard to open as it is so narrow, barely 5/16ths of an inch. Not usual for many products is the fact that the bottle is filled right to the top, and the plastic used is so very thin. Every time I struggle to open the bottle I squeeze it and once the cap is off I splash myself with water.

I go through this every morning with the bottle of water I keep at my bedside, and use to take my morning pills. I have to find a new system.

Back to things where size matters, how could I forget the fishermen? In any good fisherman’s tale it was always the big one that got away.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Quality of Television

I know I don’t have the classiest taste in television shows, not a lot of History Channel or National Geographic in my viewing. But this morning, while lazing in bed (I seem to do a lot of that) I was flipping through the channels and was amazed at the number of shows offered that are, well, in my lowly opinion, crap.

And I realize that sounds strange from this admitted crime show junkie. I have the television on for background noise, and watch/listen to crime shows one after another. And as I write murder stories, maybe I’m the strange one.

I just don’t get some of these reality shows as they seem to highlight the worst of our society. I know my crime shows are too often based in reality, but they are made up, make believe, a well-crafted story.

I suppose you could say the same for the reality shows as there are many made up parts, for the drama, for the ratings.

There was this show I saw on the listing today, ‘Lauren Lake’s Paternity’. It was about a man demanding a paternity test for the child he has with his fiancĂ©e, as he felt she’d cheated on him and he wanted his ring back. Much the same kind of show as Jerry Springer, Maury, and the Steves...Wilkos and Harvey.

Then there are the court comes the judge. Judge  Mathis, Judge Judy and Justice with Judge Mablean.

Self help, there’s Doctor Oz and Doctor Phil.

And the talk shows...The View, The Chat, The Talk and The Social. Also the ones with one headliner like Ellen Degeneres, Meredith Vierra and Wendy Williams, not to forget the most famous of all Oprah.

If I don’t stick with my crime shows I go to a happier place like the Food Network for all that cooking or HGTV for home and decorating.

I suppose all these reality shows are examples for people to grab their five minutes of fame, but does it have to come because they lie, and cheat and aim to win all cost.

But, I get it. Sex sells. Why else would there be a show called ‘Naked Dating’?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


With the 29 views today, my blog has reached a new level, 10,000 page views.

The number one viewing country is by far the United States, followed by Canada, Russia, Germany and France.

I have made 438 posts, 439 now with today. Thank you to everyone for reading, it means a lot.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Painted Rocks

My grandchildren are very fortunate to have a babysitter who spends time with them doing crafts, encouraging their creativity. Their efforts are frequently posted on Facebook for all to see.

One day they did painted rocks, and though the stones were very colourful, they were very simple. When the kids visited me the next time I showed them the painted rocks I had found on Pinterest. They immediately asked if I would paint rocks for them, but unfortunately, the rocks we found were not good for painting.

I was playing on Pinterest today and found this picture of rocks painted to look like dogs. I loved the caption where the person wanted to make some, and leave them on the path where she walks, imagining the result when another walker finds them.

This reminded me of the time I painted pavers with my granddaughter. I had a supply of the odd shaped pavers as the patio at my apartment building had been torn up to make space for a new deck. We painted them to look like snowmen and I made toques and a scarf for them.

For the next few years the snowman I made was in the lobby of my building as a doorstop. My granddaughter made a snowman too, and one to look like her Dad, dressed in camo, his favorite color. It sits by the wood stove all these years later.

I feel the urge to paint rocks. It will have to wait until after Christmas, and if I plan to do it I had better take a quick turn along the beach boardwalk, for too soon my chance of finding rocks will be lost under ice and snow.

Just what I need, another project. But, if it makes the grandkids happy, I’m all for it.