Monday, December 1, 2014

Who let the alligators out?

Today I came across a memory jogger at the resort here in Florida where we are staying for a couple of weeks on the beach.  "Hey, is this the pen for the alligators?" I joked.

I chuckled to myself as I recalled an event from my childhood.  As I am telling the story to my husband, I realize that it must be scrapbooked on the page with my Daddy's livelihood... his service station and souvenir shop.

The story goes something like this...

Many years ago it was perfectly legal to sell baby alligators.  (This is before they were almost extinct, I suppose.)  So that my Daddy did.  You can bet he got a great deal on them and was making a lot of money selling them.  I can't recall how much they sold for or any of those other details.  (Maybe $1 each?  Who knows?)  I do remember how he built a small pool on the north end of the store and built a caged cover so that the tourists could see through the top and pick out the one they wanted to take home with them.  He would keep the pool filled slightly with cool water.
This jogged my memory. (The "alligator pen")

These little babies would crawl all over each other and nip at each other.  Perfectly harmless!  However, as a young child (I must have been 4 or 5) I was totally afraid of that pen.  So I would run past it whenever I had to go north.

I would literally run past it, and hold my breath.  (As if that helped??)

But wait a minute.  My sister who was four years older than I was, absolutely loved  that pen.  She would pull out a baby, chase me around and scare me to death.  She also liked to entertain the tourists by holding a baby on its back and rubbing its belly until it went to sleep.  It was obvious that my sister had inherited my father's sales ability.  She seemed to be successful selling those baby alligators most of the time.

Well as the story goes, one day my Daddy went out to put water in the pool... and there were no baby alligators!  What in the world... who let them out?   "Cathy!!" my Daddy shouted at me.

But it was not me.  Remember I would not even get near them!  I had to remind the man that it was not me!  How could I let them out if I could not even STAND close to the pen??

It was later decided that after an exhibition of Alligator Sleep Induction the previous day, my sister probably had left the pen's cover a little less secure than it should have been, i.e., the concrete blocks had not been lifted on the corner to secure that "latch".

For many years after that we found alligators in random places.  I remember as a teenager that we went out to take a swim in the pool and there was a 3-foot alligator that had walked into the pool (it was not fenced in) and was unable to get out.

Uh.  Yeah.  Right.  No swim that day, or for a few days after that.

As I consider scrapbooking this story, I think of how I can paint a picture without a picture... only words.  Or maybe a re-creation of this word picture.  And how the alligators themselves kinda represent my scrapbooking supplies.  They started out small.  They got out (of hand).  They grew threefold.  Chuckle.  Ever hear of "being up to your knees in alligators"?  That's me and my scrapbooking supplies!

So with this story, I intend to bring back a picture of this moment in our everyday life back in that day, for there was never a dull moment with my Daddy!  He was a man who made life fun.

And then there was the day my Daddy trapped a monkey.  

Well, that's another story for another day.
I can't seem to escape those alligators!

A Few Clouds May Give you a Clearer Picture

This afternoon while photographing a sunset I realized that I was getting some really good shots because of a set of dark clouds that suddenly moved in.  What a great thing, I thought to myself.

I certainly could apply this photo tip to a lot of my adventures in photography.  In fact I have been told by professional photographers to wish for a cloud cover for an outdoor wedding day.  Who could wish for that if you are Mother-of-the-Bride, Mother-of-the-Groom or even a Guest?  And why?  Rain usually follows those clouds, right?

Just apply this tip to your life.  A few clouds roll in and after you wait and wonder... suddenly things are clearer.  Maybe its a season in your life; maybe a life situation that seems permanent.  Maybe it's an illness.  Maybe it is a family relationship.  Whatever is clouding up your life right now, just wait... things will become clearer when your mind takes a photograph and you sit back to analyze the situation through that clear picture.  

I am told there would be clouds (trouble) if I followed the path of righteousness.  John 16:33  "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer!  For I have overcome the world."  In this clear picture of ultimate hope and restoration, I see the end result.  So no matter what my trouble is, Jesus has already overcome that problem for me.  

Today as I look again at this perfect picture of the sunset that I was able to capture with my camera, I also received the message of hope in my time of distress through the clouds that shaded just what light needed to be removed.  It's amazing how God works the universe, isn't it?  
The Master Artist gives us beauty and hope every single day.  All we have to do is look for it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

You really don’t know how much you miss someone… until you see them again.

I got to see my BFF (of all BFFs, mind you, that I have or ever will have) today.  I think it has been a couple of years since our paths crossed. 

I have known this girl for 53 years.  I don’t recall the first time I saw her or the first time we decided to be friends.  I do know that if it were not for her I would not have made it through high school.

Brilliant, tall, lovely and quiet was this friend.  She was my back and I was her's.  We were there for each other.  I can't even remember having a fight.  We talked for hours about nothing on the telephone.  We lamented and laughed… were heartbroken for each other… made plans and schemes together.   She was my BFF before I even knew what a BFF was.

In our 30's and 40's we raised our children and mostly had lives apart from each other.  We were distant for a while but always stayed in touch.  

And today it was as if we had never been apart.  As we age together (only a week apart are our birthdays) I realize what friendship means to me.  Maybe as I get older I think about these things and prioritize them.  

And I was reminded of it tonight when I saw her again.

I listened to her talk, I watched her and remembered all those conversations we had in the past.  She listened to me and I listened to her.  It’s not just drama; these are thoughts and feelings and are truly our hearts.  I was able to open up to her about things that had really been bothering me that I had not talked with anyone about (only to God).  I realize I have so missed talking to her and being with her one on one.  

For the very first time since I left, I sorta wished I lived closer to my old hometown so that I could spend more time with her again.  (That was a passing thought, however.)

We planned and schemed and were girls again tonight.  Aren’t friends the GREATEST???!!

When we put our glasses on I realized we looked like sisters!  Kinda. 
Here we are!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Overcome with Nostalgia

Life is a trip, ain't it?  The older I get, the more nostalgic I seem to become.  Somehow I spend time wishing I could "undo" some things in my life and "redo" them once again.

If I could have been a better wife before it was too late!  If only I had been a more patient and soft-spoken mother...  the kind I have come to admire.  If only...

Then things happen and I wake up and realize that the life I remember is no longer apt to be changed.  I must accept things as they are and as they were.  And that, my friend, is when the nostalgia enters and I long for those days once again... If I could only just to be there...

Example.  I'm doing the household dusting and as I polish the piano, I find the autograph of my young son that I had forgotten was there.  Suddenly I think of him, the man now, and as a young boy with a look that could melt my heart no matter what he did.  (No other man has had that power over me.)  I realize this... sit down on the floor and have a nice little cry as I think of how I must have scolded him so for this!  I realize what a gift it is to me right now, this day.

What then?  I pull out the family albums (yes, this is why I can't seem to get any housework done!) and re-live those memories all over in my mind and my heart.  I really did have a wonderful season of motherhood, didn't I?   Yes.  I have wonderful, wonderful children and I give all the credit to their father for being the strong one because certainly it wasn't ME who was strong!

I am grateful for the family albums I have.  Whatever it was that possessed me to make these things... I wish I had more of.  I was driven until I finished adding and journaling all the old photos.

Now I know why.  To get me through days like this.

If you look closely, you can see the precious autograph.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

'Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone—
And yet no farther than a wan-ton's bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

I would I were thy bird.

Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow. 

Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 176–185

Some people are lucky enough to get to see their family all the time.  Some people do not get to see their children frequently, as they have children that live all over the planet.  I think it may be hard when you see your family all the time;  I am the type of person that could really kill my family with much cherishing.  (Or should I call it micro-managing?)  

As Labor Day marks the end of the summer, this has really been a wonderfully, blessed one.  We've had lots of family gatherings this year!  As our family grows up and out, we don’t get to see each other very often and I am grateful we've had this time together.  As I traveled to these gatherings, I'd find myself abundantly remembering Psalm 23:5 "...My cup runneth over," and feeling so very blessed!  

This time together has been especially precious.  One of our own is on the move with his family to Germany to live there for a while.   Germany is a long way over the pond and even though it may seem just as far to Washington State (it is really only one-half the distance), Germany is nonetheless international.  

It was so hard to say goodbye to these Monkees knowing that the oldest one will be a TEENAGER when they return to the states… now that is just too sweet sorrow.

I am especially grateful to be able to keep in touch via modern technology that allows us to see each other on the telephone!  Hopefully they won't forget me during the time they are away.  I feel that we were just getting to know each other again this summer.

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow. 

Shooting these Monkees with their Grammie one last time for a while.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Toomas, we really miss you

To tell you the truth, I didn’t know that Estonia was a country.  That is until we briefly visited there on the first leg of our 36-day cruise.

We had heard so many good things about Estonia from people who had previously visited.  I was so looking forward to visiting their favorite Nordic country!  When we arrived it was raining and I had a feeling that the rain would prevent us from walking around at our own pace and leisurely enjoying the city of Tallinn.
Tallinn, in Panorama
I was right.

We hired a taxi that would take us on a city tour.  We tried to avoid the rain and all the tourist busses but that was not happening this day.  There was not much we could see in the short time we had.  We wove through the old city cobblestone streets to the panoramic view of the City and saw the little Old Dude that we’d heard about from the Cruise Director's talk about Tallinn.  This was my favorite story from Estonia that I bring home with me. 

It goes this way... Toomas was a peasant boy who could fire a mean crossbow…competitively.  Because he was a peasant, (a plebeian!), he was not able to receive a REAL prize because of his lowly status.  So his reward was the job of guarding the town of Tallinn FOR LIFE.  Wow.  What a prize.

Originally at Town Hall
Now Toomas (Thomas in English) was a kind man, giving candy to the children in the Town Square.  And they really missed him when he died.  

So the lore was borne, mainly because of the uncomfortableness of answering questions about death to small people who would only ask more questions.  

It was decided to make Toomas a permanent guardian of the city by placing him in weather vane form over the Town Square.  Once the weather vane was put on the spire of the Town Hall, parents would point to heaven and tell the children that yes, there he is and Old Thomas was watching how they behave and may just leave them candy under their pillow if they were good.

Alas; during World War II Tallinn was bombed by the Red Army.  In 1944, Old Thomas hit the dirt.  It was in 1952 that Old Thomas was resurrected.  The original Old Thomas can be found in the Town Hall.  (Where else would he be??)  

And Vana Toomas is now a weather vane, still guarding the city.   He is there, twirling and predicting the wind and weather while he guards the city.  This picture proves it.
Old Thomas Today

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Nordic Travels, Part I

Our first Seaports brought us to Denmark.  Having never been to Denmark, we really didn't know what to expect.  We were surprised to be greeted so warmly.  The people of Denmark are quite unique to say the least.  And I mean that in a good way.

1st Danish Port:  Aalborg.  We drove around in a rental car (and a rented driver) to see the historic Viking sites.  The significance of ancient burial grounds (oval graves (men) vs round graves (women)) at a place called Lindholm Høje; the real live Long House (we need one of these for our brood) displayed in Hobro; another one of these “functioning” Long Houses and the ruins of an ancient market in Fyrkat; and a walking tour of the Old Town of Aalborg.  

2nd Danish Port:  CopenhagenCopenhagen was a Viking fishing village before it became the Capitol of Denmark during the 15th Century.  We really liked Copenhagen!  I guess it helped that it was an extremely FABULOUS weather day.

Our first project was to disembark the ship and find the “Little Mermaid” which is the signature of the City of Copenhagen.  Perhaps because of Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid was what put Copenhagen on the map (and I am not talking about the Disney Movie).  We found the very small statue which was overtaken by tourists, buses and cameras.  Seems that everyone (except us) wanted a photo with her.  We hiked further into town, stopping by a REAL WORKING royal palace, Amalienborg,  complete with a changing of the guard.  We even saw someone (maybe royalty, but they looked like everyone else) leaving the palace.  We had heard that members of the Royal Family often bike around town like a plebeian.  (More on that term later.)  Did you know that every Danish Royal is named Christian or Frederik?  Interesting.
We saw the Royal Gardens, St. Albans Anglican Church, and had an across-the-harbor view of the Copenhagen Opera House.  

It was here that the real fun began!

We hired a bicycle taxi near the Royal Gardens for 2 hours to take us for a tour of the City.  The hubs thought we’d see much more than we possible could see by walking… so he negotiated the rate and we were off!  

I must say it was a fast two hours!  We saw City Centre, The University, and spent some time cruising Strøget (the pedestrian shopping district).  It was there I asked our Romanian driver (who spoke excellent English) to stop by the Pandora Store so I could purchase my very own Little Mermaid charm as a memento of this beautiful day.  (See the photo.)  We saw The Round Tower (and no, we did not climb it).  We rode past Copenhagen’s Stock Exchange Børsen  and of course, past Tivoli Gardens, Denmark’s Disneyland!  Across the street from the entrance was a larger-than-life statue of Hans Christian Andersen, facing the Gardens.  

Now after crossing the bridge and into Christiania, I sort of lost track of things… where we were or where we were going.  Maybe I was consumed with all the stories I’d heard about it; maybe it was the fact that I could not take photos as we rode through the streets… that kinda killed my mojo. 

Circling back several times, I was beginning to recognize some of the places, which is not really like me.  But our last destination was a place we'd not yet seen... it was a street called Nyhaven.  It is a charming 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment center.  A lot of houseboats lined the canal and there was a feel of Amsterdam!

Yes, our journey was just beginning.  And I had so much to write about in my journal each night as we sailed away!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Meeting the Captain with stipulations.

One of our earliest invitations on this voyage was to meet the Captain for cocktails on the first formal evening of the cruise.  Was I ever excited!  

Out of over 600 passengers, why were we invited to this reception?  Was it because we were next-door-neighbors for the summer?  (We really are, you know.)

Whosoever knows the logistics of these decisions!  We presented ourselves in formal attire and said hello to the Captain and then the officers, chief engineer, hotel manager and other staff.

(Oh, and by the way; we were asked not to shake any of their hands.)  

So after we had mingled a bit, our Captain gave a short speech and a little bit of history of his ship.  He told us the history of the original large reception suite which happened to be where we were partying... right there in the Captain’s quarters.  There was speculation by the Captain as to why the private reception area remained just that but no one really and truly knows why it has not been transformed into another suite for passengers.  

No handshakes.  A lot of small talk.  Snap.  No cameras either?  (They really didn't say anything about cameras, but no one seems to have brought theirs.)

I recall about ten years ago during my very first cruise we had pictures taken WITH the captain and shaking his hand.   How times (and illnesses) have changed traditions!  

From my balcony I was able to sneak this candid photo of the Captain (since I live next door to him for the summer) as he was on the bridge, overseeing a Prinsedam docking at a port

I don’t think he suspected a thing, do you?  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

All Aboard!

We embarked the Prinsedam, one of the smaller vessels of Holland America according to schedule, arriving early and being able to board without any problems.  We were anxious to visit our Neptune Suite.  It surely was one that I had occupied only in my dreams!  

From the way it appeared, it was anxious for us, too.  There were cards, letters, invitations and even a bottle of welcome champagne chilling.  (That bottle is still sitting on the desk!)  

Life aboard a ship on an extended journey takes some getting used to.  We are not only talking about time and location difference here… there are adjustments to this way of life that just wear you slap out.  I think I was exhausted just in anticipation!

So we set sail to see places we’ve not yet seen and make more memories for us to cherish as we grow older.  Our lives aboard the Prinsedam were no different from any other vacation.  Sea days (days of sailing only and no ports of call) include upcoming port talks, time for reading or journaling (or blogging!), a very expensive manicure and even church and Bible study.  My favorite part are the cooking demos done by the onboard chef.  This time I will even get to take a cooking class, which I cannot wait to document!  

So as we adjust to our summer it seems appropriate that it will be an extended summer.  The days are longer here… so long that sometimes the sun never sets.  One night I peeked out of the drawn curtain at 11:15 p.m.; the sun was shining still like the morning!  These surely are long days in the Baltic!  Unlike our cruise last year when our Vista Suite presented a different sunset every evening from the aft of the ship, this year on the starboard side it seems we are chasing sunsets.  


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A "little" behind

I am a little behind on my posts.  I will work to catch you up on the highlights of our travels in Northern Europe very soon.

(Taken outside Amsterdam, at The Dyke.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cheese! It's a new granddude!

This past Friday night while in Amsterdam I got a text from my overly expectant only daughter.

Well we r headed to the hospital.  This was Friday morning around 9:20.  (Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Savings time).   

Hubs and I had spent the morning at the Alkmaar Cheese Market near Amsterdam and we’d been up and out starting very early to make the opening ceremony, being overwhelmed with the whole cheese-buying/selling processes.  

Still in cheese mode I found myself thinking… Cheese!  Today my Granddude will be born!

I texted, Will today be his birthday??

We continued to text back and forth.  Mom and dad-to-be kept me up to date with what was transpiring.    That is until it was getting more exciting there.

There was a two and a half-hour-delay and it was 1:39 a.m. Amsterdam time.  I was trying to keep busy to not think and worry, but it was very hard.  

I got the text… Pushed for 10 minutes, 3-4 times :) He’s got the dimple.

He was really here.  I was not there.  I had missed it by 4700 miles. 

I got the vitals from Facebook when Dad posted the picture and details.  

I was so excited.  I could finally go to sleep!  I was shocked back to reality; the jet lag was taking over and my body was screaming for rest!

As I tried to sleep I realized that noise was rising to our open windows from the street below us.  There indeed was a party, typical of a Friday night in Amsterdam (or any large city for that matter!)  Yes, let them party!  We had something to celebrate!

We finally had our John Matthew.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You are making these right now.

Memories, that is.  

What memories are you making this summer?

School is out; schedules are relaxed for summer.  No matter what your plans (or no plans!), you will be making memories this summer.  You may not be jet-setting around the world or taking a “formal” vacation.  Nevertheless you are making your very own unique memories.

I just so happen to be seeing a part of the world I only dreamed I would see when looking at the map.  I have been many places on Planet Earth but where I will be this summer is a place I never knew if I wanted to see, being born in the 50’s, growing up in the 60’s and having my young and impressionable adulthood during the Cold War.  

Yes, my memories will be made in Russia and surrounding Baltic countries with the Hubs.  It ill be a learning and cultural vacation for me, as this is usually what I seek when I travel.

And as I travel, I’ll be documenting it all, via Facebook, this blog, a handwritten journal and eventually a Photo Album filled with pictures and memorabilia so that when I am old and can't remember, I'll always have something to remind me of the details of the places we visited.  

As exciting is my summer trip is, so is yours.  I  can say this will the utmost authority as I remember my earlier years when we had no particular “adventure” but these memories are still fond and vibrant ones as well.

So whatever your adventures this summer, may they be happy and blessed!

Monday, May 19, 2014


What do you do with your disappointment?

I've discovered that my disappointment will go down one of two paths:  1) I embed it and then it turns to anger and bitterness which can erupt at any given moment; or  2) I embrace it, go forward and use it for my benefit.

I learned this just yesterday when I suffered a minor disappointment.  Well, shoot a monkee!   This was something I had looked forward to and anxiously awaited for a few weeks!  It just didn’t happen.  (No one to blame; only Life.)

So yesterday I chose to forget the circumstances and use that extra energy to my organizing advantage.  It seems I ALWAYS have something to organize, don’t YOU??

Thus, I made distinct headway in organizing a project I was currently working on (with only minor enthusiasm and at a snail’s pace)!   By the end of the eight hours that I had dedicated to working, the project was newly inspired and organized!

This is not typical of me.  Yes, I usually sit around and because there is so much to do I just continue to sit.  And mope.  And whine.

So now I discovered that here’s a little cheese to go along with that whine:  Disappointment can help you!  Sometimes disappointment will bring creativity to seemingly uncreative people!  

Try this and let me know if it works for you just like it did for me:   Choose a disappointment you have experienced, maybe one you just can't handle, and use it to bring new light into your life just by letting go of it!  I know this sounds like madness, but it did work for me!   From now on, I will try to channel those energies anew!

Here’s the child life album I organized yesterday.  The material was (physically) ripped from an old paper-type scrapbook and is now ready to be re-written into a photo-safe album.  This stack represents ages 3 to Graduation, including all school memorabilia and photos as well as some background papers to use for various subject as I make them all into an album celebrating the life of my son!  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just to be Mom

Ain't it just like a mother?  To take the day set aside to honor her to guilt herself into telling herself how she has failed as a mother (but not by what her children have done, for they are perfect!).  

All the things I've done wrong and/or failed to do right come flooding back to me each and every mothers' day.  I try to focus on my mother to ease the guilt.  But these things still consume my thoughts on mothers' day.  They probably will until my last mothers' day on Earth.

I wrote this poem to my children this mothers' day, hoping to relay some of these thoughts to them.

How much are you like me?

Do you live you life sublime? or
Is your head filled with rhymes? and
Are you content within your times?
How much are you like me?

Do you have my same thoughts?
Are you spared all my faults?
Do you choose the wiser alts?
How much are you like me?

Is the MAIN THING important to you?
Do you remember Him in what you say or do?
Do you love unconditionally, each day, brand new?
How much like your Dad are you?

Happy Mother’s Day…
from your unequivocal, undeserving, imperfect Mom who loves you, although she does not act like it most of the time.

I am so grateful that my children take after their father.  They wouldn't stand a chance if they were like me!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pictures from "New York"

 Packed and ready to go
 Excited at the airport
 Taking off!
 REAL Eggplant Parmesan!
 Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse.  (But I'd eaten to much bread to enjoy it!)
 In training.
 Exploring our options.
 Our Group.
 Back to the City to LEAVE!
Cannoli  !  OMiGosh!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pixels2Pages ROCK!

Happy National Scrapbook Day, y'all!

IMHO, this day is as important as my birthday.  Each year, the first Saturday in May is National Scrapbook Day.  This year May 3rd was National Scrapbook Day.  

And this year, 2014, was the first year I have not celebrated (with at least 2 people around me) by hosting an event as a scrapbooking consultant.  This year was special.  This year I celebrated at a Digital Event called New York City Live! with Pixels2Pages.  

This was a digital scrapbooking event; training and fun which means there was no actual cutting or pasting.  Color was not added by colored or printed cardstock and adhesive; these were added by the click of a mouse!  

Moreover, this event was a training workshop event.  These sessions are actually held in various cities all over the country.  (This particular event was in New York City.)  

So.. who/what exactly IS Pixels2Pages?  They are a group of "Pixies" who train people how to use Artisan and Historian software, the software which I promote and use myself.  These programs were created by Panstoria.  Artisan is a fantastic digital scrapbooking software that is easy to use, but full of features that allow users to fully customize their scrapbook pages.  Historian is a digital photo organizing and editing software – again, it’s simple to learn and it has tools you might expect to find in much more expensive programs.  These programs are designed for PCs and have the advantage of not requiring an internet connection to use.  If you haven’t tried them yet, take a look on my sidebar for your free trial offer for 30 days.  

If you happen to purchase either program and need tech support, just call on Pixels2Pages!  That's what I did and they have never let me down.  I have been a fan for many years.  You can find them RIGHT HERE !!

This weekend was full, my headed was filled with wonderful ideas and tecnhiques, and created almost 20 pages to have for a wonderful album I am working on!  WHAT A WONDERFUL NATIONAL SCRAPBOOK DAY IT WAS!

Here’s my most favorite page that I created this weekend.  I really struggled with it to get it right, but when it was finished, I knew immediately it was going to be my favorite page.  And that it is.

I learned to use a blend tool and a special filter for the awesome effect.  I am so happy with this page!

Is this something that peaks your interest or creativity?  Let me know how I can help!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gotta live with them. Can’t live without ‘em.

It’s my birthday.

Birthdays.  Gotta live with them.  Can’t live without ‘em.

Ever wonder what actually went down on YOUR own birthday?  I wonder that a lot.  I know that my Mama was really, really large.  She told me me that at one point she thought she was having twins.  (I was number five; I could have been number five and six).

I know that I was born in a little beach town.  The hospital was small and a white frame building that was used for a nursing home after it was a hospital... and now it doesn’t exist.

I know that when I was born the doctor had a peek and loudly exclaimed, “Oh, s*@t!  Another girl!!”  (He knew my daddy wanted sons.)

I know that at the first glimpse of me through the hospital window my (youngest) oldest sister blew me a raspberry.  She also insisted that my name be the same as her doll’s;  my eldest sister, lost out on her bid for my name.  

If only I had more details!  When did labor start and how quickly did my mother get to the hospital?  How fast did my Daddy drive?  Did her water break?  Was it an easy birth?  Was she happy to meet me or just relieved it was over?  Did she have any extraordinary out-of-body experiences? 

I remember asking her for the details once and she said she didn’t remember much about the day.  I mean, why did I have to ask?  Why hadn’t she been telling me all these years on the anniversaries of my birth??

I just can't understand it.  I love to tell my children the stories of their births.  These were by far the most important days of my life!  I realize that as adults they can’t stand it, but at least they know every little detail... no matter how stupid it may seem.  Every birthday gives me a reason to recall the story.  And the right.

As a mother, you don’t have many rights but in my book this is one of them.

And PICTURES?  What about those?  There are none of me.  I know back in the 50’s cameras were NOT like opinions (you know... everybody’s got one).  I realize that it was quite expensive to own a camera and purchase and process film.  But not even one picture of the new tiny blessing?

Ha. Ha.

Today a film crew is called in for every aspect of a birth.  Even before the birth and at the “revelation” of the gender of the child! Aren’t today’s newborns so fortunate?  Babies are documented (daily) on Facebook, by e-mail and have their own pages or addresses before birth!  It is SO amazing to see what technology can be used for.  In this case it is building the child’s self esteem and confidence.  

Which leads me back to the original question... I just wonder what went down on my actual birthday.  

Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong with me, my self-esteem and confidence.  

If you know your story, let me hear it.  I love a good story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just Being the Baby

Siblings Day was this past week.  Well, shoot a monkee!  I totally missed it!  So maybe it is still appropriate to talk about my siblings?

A book has been written about Birth Order (The Birth Order Book by Kevin Lehman), places in the family and the general characteristics of those in Birth Order.  It is the opinion of some that every family is different and based on the number of years placed between children, it is said another “family” can be constituted.  

Pshaw!  In my humble opinion... siblings are siblings are siblings.  

I can say that because I am the Baby of the Family.  Everyone knows that they are different.  Everyone has an idea of what it is like to be the Baby of the Family.  You really don’t know what it like unless you are the Baby of the Family.

Older siblings have an idea of what your life was like when you (the Baby) became the only child at home.  Your life was the charmed one.  You were the favored one.  They believe you were spoiled during that time.  They believe you got to do things they were not allowed to do.  

They refuse to believe that your life was just like theirs.  Just in a different decade.

When you have the same parents, those parents change very little during the course of a generation.  They become more “mellow”.  (I can say this from personal experience, having become an older parent.)  That is the only difference I see.  Over time, parents learn to pick their battles and they learn what is important.  

I SOOOO love my older siblings.  But they still see me as a child.  I suppose to them I will always be that younger child... nothing will change that.

My oldest sister was more like a mother to me.  She was 14 when I was born and always displayed love and affection for me when the other siblings teased me until I actually cried.

My second oldest sister expected me to babysit her children because she had been forced to babysit me as a teen.  What?  That is not my fault... blame Mama... sorry girl, but I've got a date and I won't be here this evening!  

My brother, who was the middle child, was 10 years my senior and although I never actually remember him living at home, I do remember that he referred to me as “Li’l Sista!”.  He would stand back with his hands on his hips and say this.  (I could never tell if it was awe or wonder?)  

The sister closest to me always called me the “Little Kid”.  In my childhood, I took it as a term of endearment.  It was only through intense family counseling that I realized it was not an endearing name. These days, however, I would take it as a compliment if she actually called me that.  When we are together and people ask if we are sisters, I always exclaim, “I’m the younger sister!”  

Then my sister will chime in... “Well... you’re only 3 years younger!”

Actually it is 3 and a half years.  

My siblings with me, the baby, sometime in the late 1950s.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trees, a Lighthouse and Rain

We are in an area of western California known as Big Sur. When we checked into our lodge three days ago it was raining.  We had no idea at the time that rain would be all we would see for the next three days.

We had hoped to commune with nature and have some outdoorsy adventures... like hiking.  I had envisioned arising at daylight, having a hearty breakfast and taking off until sunset.  My first two visions have sort of happened; the latter has only been a vision so far.  The rain has kept us off the trails of this beautiful state park.  

Until today.

Rain had been predicted until late Thursday so I had resolved to myself I would enjoy the few bursts of sunlight we were able to obtain.  I had even mentioned to the Hubs, “At least everything is so green!”  I am really glad those forecasts are not always right. 

Today was the day we had decided to do the Point Sur Light Station tour.  (If you know me, you know I hardly can pass up a good lighthouse --  ANYWHERE.)  We had seen the Light Station on a big rock just south of Carmel on Highway 1.  We checked out the schedules and days of the tours and picked today as the best day for us to do it.

All through the night last night it rained.  Peaceful, wonderful, sleeping rain!  When we awoke this morning to the same wonderful rain, I figured that Our Light Station Tour was probably going to be cancelled.  

We arose (before) dawn.  While having a hearty breakfast, Hubs prayed we would have “good weather.”  I agreed with him, in prayer.  Yes, wouldn’t that be nice, Lord?  

We then casually headed north about 10 miles to the tour meeting point:  mile marker 54.1.  Though we’d arrived early, there were already three cars waiting at the gate!  

And as we waited for the tour to start, the sun began to shine.  It did shine.  And there it was... shining some more!

This particular tour was a walking tour... about 1 mile straight up the rock and 1 mile back down the rock.  And what a fabulous tour it was!  The sky was the bluest I have ever seen a sky.  The wind was barely blowing.  Hubs and I agreed after the tour that it was like none other we’d ever done. 

But the best part was halfway through the light station I realized that we actually had been graced with good weather after we’d asked for it.  It really was supposed to rain today after all, wasn’t it?  My faith was increased over such a small favor...

After the tour, we hit the slippery trail for about a mile or so to a very TALL waterfall and hugged a few very LARGE trees.   

More good news for us:  the weather forecast looks sunny for the rest of our time here!  

My vision was dream-come-true, like most of my life these days.

The Big Rock with a Lighthouse.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lord, I want to be a Minimalist in my heart.

We had a very inspiring Bible Study and message from our Pastor yesterday at church.  The Bible Study was on The Power of the Tongue - OUCH!  (from various Proverbs) and the message was about Overcoming Obstacles.  So fitting for this ole gal in both arenas.  I love it when God’s Word is so applicable to my life.  The way I see it, He was saying to me yesterday... “Shut up ... get ahold of yourself!”

After all afternoon of meditation on what I’d heard straight from the Messengers, a thought came to my mind.  I decided I really need to consider Minimalism.  Although I am not quite ready to take out the appliances and eat only cold vegetables or move into a mini camper van, I’d love to think of some creative ways of minimally downsizing my golden years.

I am working to get all my photos into album to preserve the family history.  I am going to create digital albums for travel (making them about 1/8 of the size of my normal travel books).  Does that count?

Do you consider yourself to be a Minimal person?  What are some ways you consider yourself a Minimalist?  I’d love to hear your ideas.  Believe me, I need all the help I can get.

Just a few of the albums.  Think of how many boxes of pictures these used to be... !

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Now that my taxes are almost ready, it’s FUN TIME.  

How are your weekend plans?

My weekend will consist of spending some time with three of the darlings and the D.  (And of course my favorite son-in-law.)  The littlest darling of this particular bunch will be celebrating her four year birthday.  A few friends and some of the family will be helping her celebrate.  Her birthday is not until next week, but the weekend seems to work the best.

As children’s parties go, I can’t remember making a big deal about my children’s birthdays the way people do in this new generation.  I guess it is always a good thing to celebrate births; new births or the anniversary of the same.  

The anniversaries I most like to celebrate are the new lives in my life instead of this OLD life of mine.  I know that life will pass away soon enough for all of us, and having experienced it myself, (well, not death of course, but death of loved ones) sometimes it passes away too soon.  (Or so we think.)  

Instead of thinking of how fun life is, we sometimes think of how much we will miss our stuff.  Some people obsess about it and worry about what will happen to their stuff when their time is done.  Some people DON’T obsess about it although they probably should, at least a little bit!

Would it put your mind at ease to think about dealing with your stuff before someone else has to?  For instance, if you had a chance to look through your family photos (but only if they were all organized) you could relay some facts to your loved ones about events they did not know, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Think about it and let me know.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sometimes you just need a shot in the arm

The past few weeks I’ve been suffering from inflammation of the rotator cuff.  I am not quite sure how it happened.  It’s just one of those things that happen when you get old.  I was told yesterday, “Women in your age bracket can experience a frozen shoulder; if you notice increased limitation on your range, call me or your physical therapist as soon as you can.”

What’s that supposed to mean?  Women in my age bracket?  As my research reveals, menopausal women are more likely to suffer a frozen shoulder than just about anybody.  Since I am post-menopausal, I figure I am out of the woods.  

From my best guess it happened while shifting boxes and crates in storage.  Since it is my right arm, perhaps I was favoring my right side at the time.  Now it turns out to be menopause that is the culprit.  LOL.

After four weeks of physical therapy without much change I finally gave in and decided to have a cortisone shot.  I’ve had these bad boys while suffering from tennis elbow many years ago so you might guess I was not really excited about this concept.  But after disturbing my sleep for so many nights (I can’t sleep on my stomach anymore) I called the PA and scheduled the shot.

I must say the pain in my shoulder today is not as bad as it was yesterday.  But it is still not 100%.  All it took was a little shot in the arm to give me hope for a quicker recovery.  I know that if I follow through with my home therapy and rest it some, my chances are greater that it will heal completely.  

All this said, I was thinking about how I might could be a shot in your arm.  I could help you organize your photo chaos and enjoy your photos again.  Even though you’ve been putting it off for a long time, you could feel much better the day after I come in with the injection.

What’s your excuse for putting it off?

(The red area is your photos and please note that they are “frozen”.)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Too much stuff

There are days like today you wonder why you do what you do. 

Today I “inventoried” products on hand for my business.  I am thinking that it is not as BAD as it was last year.  That’s only because the photo solutions company I represented over the past 17 years is no longer in business.  

I spent the better part of the afternoon going through products for album making and displaying and organizing photos and wondering if I would have enough stuff to handle my needs for the rest of my life.

Are you kidding me?   There will definitely be enough for a while.

This is just the new stuff.  The old stuff is a whole different story.

How much stuff do you have?  Is there one thing that you could move along out of your home every day?  Is there one thing, big or small, that you could part with?  Or if, at least, I brought something in, maybe I could take one thing out.  

This is very hard for me.  I need your encouragement by just telling me what YOU have done or could do... with YOUR too much stuff!

Let’s Pack it out!

(I could help you decide which photos to keep.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

It all started with a name

Inspiration?  I wonder how many authors begin their novels with the title.  I wonder if you start with the title that tells the world something about your personality.  Perhaps you are the creative mind, never being able to finish anything, but always dreaming up the next great idea.  Before you finish your creation, you have a new title ready for the next one.

Amid?  Yeah, how about during the process?  Maybe you are a person whose mind that methodical, rhythmic.  You march to a steady drum.  You commit to a project and somewhere during the process you exclaim, “I think I should call this... but I am not sure...I need to think about it some more...”

Perfection?  Maybe when you are complete?  After all is said and done, written, complete, every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed, you name your project.  “It shall be called ______.”  It was.  And it was good. 

My inspiration for SHOOT A MONKEE came from my sister-in-law.  Instead of the “S” four-letter word she uses the expression, “Well, shoot a monkey!”  I must admit I’d never heard it until I joined the Edwards family.

As a photo organizer and one who loves to help others achieve control over their photo chaos, I offer advice, toppled with that expression.  “Gather your photos all together in one place.”  (They do that: from frames and boxes under the bed and old suitcases and from drawers and nightstands and all over the house.)  When I arrive and see one room full of photos I then exclaim, “Well, shoot a monk-ey!”  

Another inspiration for me (you might guess that I was the very first example given) were my 12 granddarlings, a/k/a the little Monkeys.   Their existence, coupled with the word “shoot” (which is sometimes used when taking a photograph and I do a LOT of that) the expression is deemed, “Shoot a Monkey!”

Lastly, the spelling of the name.  The domain name Shoot a Monkey! was already taken.  So I compromised with more emphasis on the last syllable which makes it easier to remember (hopefully). 

Thus the name of the venture you are taking by this following.

And these are my little “Monkees”.

(Content used is Lettering Delights’ Knit Wits.  Don’t ya just love em?)

Photo Solutions for YOUR Photos, your way

Do you need help?  Do you have old slides, negatives, old photos that you don’t know what to do with?  Do you have digital photos on your computer, your cell phone, your tablet or even on camera memory cards or jump drives?  You might be surprised to learn that you are not alone in your present situation.  I am here to be 

Your Photo Solutions Specialist.  

You might think to yourself... “What are photo solutions?”

It is what it sounds like.  Imagine having all the photos throughout your home completely organized so that you might actually find them at the touch of a hand (or a mouse click away)?  

 I can help you with that.

If you can remember the year or a subject (or however it works for you to remember your photographs), you will be able to file them all away.  I will help you with 

Once organized, I can help you with the options for enjoying your photos once again.  

Let me know what you need.  E-mail me @  I am here to help you!