Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sometimes It's the Simple Things that Do You In


I know, it's the holidays and I am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off just like all you other chicks out there. But I felt that it was my duty to sit down and write a little story to warn you unsuspecting crafter wannabes out there about what can happen when you think that a craft is just too easy to be true.

Case in point, the lovely little Christmas tree in a jar. I know what you're thinking (because it is just what I thought). "What a simple little craft...I have a blue mason jar, wouldn't it look lovely with a little tree inside, nestled in the snow?" It is at this point that someone should come up and slap some sense into you.

Here is my story. I saw this little tree in a jar on the Art of Doing Stuff blog which I follow religiously. I can't say enough good things about this blog and this story in no way is directed at any fault on the part of Karen's instructions on how to make this wonder of wonders. And by the way, my finished product does not look like Karen's all.

The supplies needed sounded so simple: a blue mason jar (check), Epsom salts (check, or so I thought), a small Christmas tree and a small string of white battery operated lights. Easy peasy, right? So, off I go in search of my supplies. First stop, the Dollar Tree; no little tree, no lights, and a call to my honey to double check the Epsom salts, (nope used them last winter to try to melt snow on the steps). I did find the salts (check).

After visits to every store that had "dollar" in it's name I still had nothing more than stinkin' Epsom salts. So, on to stores with the word "mart" in their name. Nada, zip, nothing. I did find plug-in white lights, those would work, right? Wrong. The lights had to be coiled up and placed at the bottom of the jar with the salts covering them. What I realized, as I was trying unsuccessfully to wrestle them into the jar, was that their cord was much thicker than the battery operated lights so the lid wouldn't have fit over them even if I had conquered their unruly behavior. That Karen is a smart girl. Okay, so scrap the plug-in lights. What was the point anyway, I still hadn't found the ignorant little tree.

My last resort was going to the store that will suck every brain cell out of your head the minute you walk in the door, Hobby Lobby. (I have set a record of 4 hours shopping in that store and by the time I came out, I couldn't remember my name or where I parked the car) After much searching high and low, I finally spotted it. On the lowest shelf, in the farthest corner of the store, I found one... scraggly... little tree. It wasn't the beautiful plush looking tree like the one Karen used, it was more in the line of the tree that Charlie Brown used. But, it was a tree and it was small enough to cram in that stupid jar with the stupid Epsom salts snow!. So now,  I still had to find the battery operated lights. I found them with green cords and red lights, white cords and green lights, but none were to be found with white lights with a white cord. At this point I am ready to pitch the whole thing out in the back yard with the dogs and say, "Here you go, dogs, Merry Freakin' Christmas!"

I did what any self-respecting menopausal woman at the end of her rope would do...went home, took a chill pill (you know the kind), and started digging though my Christmas stuff, where I found a battery operated set of white lights with a green cord. It was at that point that I made the decision to screw the snow, screw the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and I wrapped those green corded lights around that green CB tree and crammed it into the jar. Yes, crammed.
There. Project finished. So, now it's time to just sit back and admire my handiwork.
Only one problem...I forgot to get batteries.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unexpected Treasure

I love a really good book, one that hooks you right from the beginning and you never want to put it down. One of the things that frustrates me the most is trying to find a good book. It is hard for me to go into a bookstore and lay out $15 to $20 for a book when I know I can buy one at a thriftstore for 50 cents or even a dollar for a hardback! But finding a good used book is a little bit more of a challenge. You can't really pick your choice by author. You have to take a gamble by reading the description on the jacket...sometimes you win...sometimes you don't...and sometimes you don't even realize just how close you came to missing something really special. That is the case with the book that I just finished reading: "A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly.

I like to read books that take place in a different time period or country. Escapism at it's finest. That was what drew me to pick up this book. It takes place in the year 1906 in the north country of the Adironacks. I almost didn't read it. I got it home and upon further inspection saw that it was a book for "young adults". Well, if there is anything I am not it is a young adult. But one night I was not in the mood for television and was desperate for something to read, so I began to read it. Which brings me to the point of this post.

The story is centered around the drowning of a young girl at a summer retreat for the wealthy. But that was not what sparked an awakening of questions in my mind, rather the life situation of the main character. She is a sixteen year old girl and life for her is hard. Her mother is dead, her father works their farm, her oldest brother has run off, she has three younger siblings that she is responsible for raising and she is trying to get her diploma from school so that she can go to college to become a writer. This is in a time when women do not have a whole lot of choices and going to college is definitely not at the top of the list. It is expected that she will marry by the age of seventeen and become a farmer's wife, raise a farmer's children and live a life a marital servitude everafter.

This story made me think a lot about how it was for my own mother at the age of sixteen in 1944. She, like the main character, lived in a rural setting, the Ozark mountains of southern Missouri. There were 8 children in her family. They were not well off and life was hard. My grandpa took whatever jobs he could to feed all of those mouths, logging, driving a schoolbus, going to Kansas to work and taking my mom along with him to cook and clean for their room and board. And it seems as if my grandma spent most of her life pregnant and taking care of the kids while he was working. Most of the time they lived in a two bedroom house heated by wood and with no indoor plumbing. Life was not easy. I have heard stories of getting fruit in their stockings for Christmas or the occasional piece of candy...and they were thrilled to get it. There were several parallels to my mom's childhood in the book. One of them was when the entire family was sick and she had to take care of them that reminded me of a story my mom told about several of her siblings getting the chicken pox and them having to sleep on cots outside. Also, in the book, it was rare that anyone received schooling past the sixth grade. My mom and her brothers and sisters went to school but none were able to go on to college. The boys went into the army and the girls got married. There was no money for college.

Before I go any further I just want to state that I have the best most loving mother in the world and I am very glad that she chose to marry my dad and have three children.

But reading this book brought up questions...In the book, the men when they were courting, never told the girl that they loved her, even when he asked her to marry him. The main character's mother said that she "just knew" by the way he acted when he was around her and that she, herself would "just know". We place so much importance on saying the words "I love you" that you wouldn't even dream of marrying someone that didn't say them. When my dad proposed did he say the words or did they "just know"? Did my mom ever have dreams to do something besides the path that she took? I have never asked her that...but I think I know the answer she would give. She has always been there for her family. She would send us off to school in the morning and be there when we got home. She would always have supper on the table when my dad got home from work. I have never heard her complain about the life she has. I believe she would say that she chose the life she wanted.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Another cool link...for those of you that are Grandparents

Is a really cool link for anyone looking for ways to keep grandchildren entertained! Maybe someday I will get to use it...sigh...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Favorite Link

Just discovered this great link for folks that knit and crochet. It is a knit and crochet community, it is free to join and has lots of free patterns.

Auto-tistic Expression

Driving home from work today, I had to take the route through downtown Louisville due to heavy traffic on the interstate. Now, I don't mind this so much because you get to see things you might miss from the interstate; as was the case today. As I was on my way home, a parked car caught my eye. It was an old silver VW Rabbit that had been painted to suit the driver's preference. Either that, or it had been left on the street and been the target of a graffiti rampage. (And not a very good one, at that.) It made me wonder what kind of person would be the owner of a car like that? And why that car? Are there certain cars that lend themselves to artistic (and I use that word lightly) expression more than others? I would think, first of all, that it would be a car without much monetary value. I can't really see busting out the old acrylics for a paint job on a 2010 Hummer, if you know what I mean. I also noticed that they tend to be small economy cars...most of them silver. I guess silver is a good background for painting and if you have to buy all of those little bottles of acrylics, you would want a small car. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks...I had actually owned a car like that! We only owned it for a week, but owned it non the less. My husband (at the time) had taken a job delivering the newspaper and needed an economic car to drive the route. Enter the "Beruit-Mobile"! It was a "silver, VW Rabbit" with a paint job (or lack of one) that looked like it had been in a car-bombing. This seemed like just the thing for a stealthy job such as early morning paper delivery. And for $500 how could you lose? It drove great...well, for the first week, anyway. Then the thing just up and died. Well, we called the guy we bought it from and he said he would come and get it and fix it for us. (What a kind, generous soul.) Well that was the last we ever saw of the guy, the car, the money. I like to think that maybe he died in a car-bombing somewhere in the middle east.

Okay, so I owned a car that looked like it had been in a car-bombing, so what? It's not like it was an artistic rendering of my inner soul. (At least I hope not) Enter "the Tercel". Yes, it was yet another aparition of beauty, (in someone's eyes) those eyes which happened to belong to my free spirited 17 year old daughter. She needed a car. The Tercel was 4-wheel drive (sometimes), had "cool" (her words) navy blue plaid seats (right out of the 80's), and a working radio. But, the real selling point was the sun and moon that was painted across the hood, yes, I said HOOD of the car. In white paint. The car was navy blue. Get the picture? And, as if that wasn't enough, the word NAMASTE was painted, in white paint, across the back of the car. My daughter loved that car and had she not needed something a little more reliable to go to college in, she would probably still be driving it today. We ended up selling it for $700 (original investment plus repairs) to a group of college boys that also thought it was "cool". I think they liked the plaid seats, too. And as they drove out of sight all I could do was wave and say, "Namaste".

Namaste - "the divine in me salutes the divine in you...I honor the place in you in which the entire universe resides"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Favorite quote of the day:

"No, not the cats. Don't trust them. Their eyes. Their eyes. They know too much."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Here's one from one of my favorite blogspots, dandyland muse:

There were three moles going along one after the other in their tunnel to have breakfast - Daddy mole, Mama mole and Baby mole. Daddy mole said, "I smell coffee!" Mama mole said, "I smell bisquits!" And Baby mole said, "I smell molasses!" (teehee)