Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow, Beautiful Snow (Yes, I Really Said That)

Well, it did snow. It took it's sweet time, falling about eighteen hours later than anticipated, but when it came, it gave us quite a show. We got about five inches at our house Friday afternoon and night, which isn't much compared to other parts of the country, but around here that's pretty good. It was the big fluffy stuff that covered everything in a lovely ivory blanket. It fell with fury Friday afternoon.

And lasted into the night. The wind was something else. As we snuggled in front of the fireplace and watched TV, it huffed and puffed but didn't blow the house in. It did blow the snow around, creating beautiful little drifts again the house. Yesterday morning, the neighborhood kids did their best to wear out their sleds, reminding me of some rides in washtubs I made down slick hills many years ago.
In the past I would have whined and moaned about it, but this time I tried to enjoy the beauty of the snow. I managed a few pictures before the roads got too slick, and I spent about three hours today at area lakes snapping photos underneath a cold, bright sun. Thanks to the camera, I'm weathering winter better than usual. Don't go thinking I'm losing my dislike for cold weather. I'm still counting down the days until spring, but I made it through this little spat of Old Man Winter with a cheery attitude. And I didn't even have to buy any bread or milk.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I may Actually Have to buy Bread and Milk This Time

From the National Weather Service this morning:




Seriously??? All I can say is come on Spring!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ice Storm 2009-RIP (Please RIP!)

Today was the one year anniversary of the ice storm that knocked our socks off last year. Actually, it knocked out the lights and sent us all into a crisis like most of us had never known. For up to three weeks, people did without electricity, scrambled for supplies like gas and kerosene and longed for simple comforts like heat and a hot shower. They cooked food on grills and huddled together under multiple layers of clothing and blankets to stay warm in forty degree houses. Before it was over, the National Guard was called in and everyone in a sixty mile radius had begged, borrowed or stolen (literally, in some cases) a generator. It was a crazy time.

Since I work for an electric company, my life was turned upside down in many ways. I worked around the clock for the first couple of days and then settled into eighteen and twenty hour shifts, doing everything from relaying information to the media and coordinating our response with local government to answering phone calls from desperate customers. I rarely saw my family. It was nearly a week before I saw my house in the daylight. It was the most intense work experience of my life, and that’s saying a lot since I used to work in television news, and my time in that career included covering a school shooting that killed three students.

We were without electricity at my house for eighteen days, and by that last day, we were getting pretty worn down from the experience. Hubby and Teen Angel were tired of the daily grind of doing without a lot of creature comforts, and I was just physically and mentally exhausted from work. It was a time that we will never forget and hope not to experience again.

In the past few weeks, people started mentioning the anniversary of the storm to me and joked a lot about it. I politely smiled and laughed, but frankly, I didn’t find it very funny. The comments about the anniversary picked up the closer it got to today, and the local news outlets were all over it yesterday and today. God love ‘em, they can’t help themselves, but I just don’t want to relive it. It has literally taken a year for me to catch up on everything that got out of whack or off schedule because of the ice storm.

I took about 400 photos during the crisis and the recovery stage, mostly of our folks at work. Some of them will appear soon in a local book that’s being published about the storm. During the storm, I longed to spend days stomping around, taking pictures of the ice, but I only had time to grab quick shots of the things that happened around me while I was working. I managed a few beauty shots, though. I share those today, as a way of giving you a glimpse of what things were like around here during that time, but mostly it’s my way of putting that storm to bed. I’m done with the storm. Finished, kaput, over it. I will share stories about it with friends and family in the coming years, but for now, she’s a dead issue for me. Take a last look, ‘cause these photos are going into an album for the grandkids.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's A Small World

Dabbling in photography for the past year has taught me a few things about myself, namely that I tend to focus on small things. I’m drawn to the delicate and the diminutive. I just realized this a few days ago as I was going over some pictures I took in the woods behind my house. It’s probably something you noticed before I did, if you pay any attention to my nature pictures. I’ll skip the pun about not being to see the forest for the trees. You’re welcome.

In college, I spent a fair amount of time in the ceramics building, throwing pots on a wheel. There’s something you didn’t know about me, hmm? I loved the feel of the clay between my fingers, and while I tried my hands at large items, usually I reverted to small, delicate items, such as finger bowls made from slick porcelain that slipped between my fingers and required a light controlled touch to keep them from collapsing or spinning out of shape. At the time I thought it was comfortable to me because my hands were small, but now, I think it had little to with my hands. I think it was just more esthetically pleasing to me. I believe this because I’m still traveling down that path.

I have no trouble embracing that because even though I’m using a different medium now, focusing on the tiniest of things forces me to stop and appreciate things I would never have noticed if I hadn’t looked at them through the lens of a camera. For instance, have you ever truly noticed the fascinating textures and shapes in nature? In those woods behind my house, lies the rough:

And the wispy.

The curly.

The fuzzy.

The thin.

And the sharp.

There are gnarly things.

Things that are twisted.

And things that are stringy.

But the things I like best are the pieces of nature that seem to have human qualities, like tenacity:

Or warmth in the core despite the ravages of age on the outside and scars on the heart.

I’m amazed at what I’ve found by simply taking the time to look closer and longer at the things that are under my nose. It makes me wonder what I might have missed in years past in nature. And in people.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Family Fun Fact #47

Hula's love of hats began at a very early age.

And apparently, so did her habit of sticking her nose into things she shouldn't.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fun Monday-Favorite Room

Our lovely Fun Monday hostess this week is Jan, and she wants to see our favorite room in our house. Weeks ago I promised before and after pictures of the renovations to our new house, and I must confess that since then I've lacked the motivation to dig out all those photos and post them. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to it, but in the meantime, this post gives me the opportunity to show you at least one of the rooms.

While the kitchen is a close second because it's big and has lots of counter space and good glory in the mornin' a PANTRY, my favorite room is the living room. It is the center of our home and where we land when we're not bathing, eating or sleeping. When we realized a couple of years ago that we had outgrown our old house, we started making a list of things we wanted in a new house, and near the top of the list was space to entertain. We could entertain a large group of folks on the deck of the old house but had little room indoors. That limited our entertaining to months that are neither cold nor hot and humid. Basically, May, June, September and October. We certainly fixed that issue with the new home. We love the large living room.

We purposefully chose furniture that would maximize the seating capacity, like this table with pullout benches. How cool is that?
It was one of my favorite furniture purchases, and when we use those little benches and the ottoman, we can comfortably seat thirteen people in that room. If we drag in more chairs, we can hold more. I LOVE that.

That entertainment center was a splurge purchase for us. We scrimped in some other areas in order to buy that piece. Hubby and I fell in love with it when we saw it, and it hides the electronics so the room doesn't scream TV when you step inside. I hate it when the TV is the focal point of the room, and I didn't want the TV over the fireplace because it's uncomfortable to watch it that way even if it does look good in those pictures in House Beautiful. What I did put over the fireplace was a print that belonged to Sissy.

It was one of the few things we saved from her stuff. She bought it in St. Thomas on a vacation we took with her, and it gives her a presence in this house. It reminds me of the good times we had with her, and I love the colors in it. The vase on the left holds sand from a vacation in Destin, Florida (my, that caused a search of my bag in the airport) and shells from various trips we've taken to the Caribbean. We installed the fireplace as an alternate heat source during power outages. After last year's ice storm and eighteen day outage, we felt the need to better prepare ourselves for such things. We actually use the fireplace quite often and love it.

As you can tell, I still have a few empty shelves and corners to fill, but my interest in decorating went by the wayside after seventeen paint samples, four trips to the furniture store and and endless hours researching and shopping on the internet. I'll get around to filling those spots one of these days. In the meantime, we're just enjoying the space and feeling blessed that we have a house that truly fits our needs. Now, toddle on over to jan's and see what everyone else has to show us today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brace Yourselves!

I finally taught myself how to add texture to photos in PhotoShop. It's like grandma's gold jewelry, a little bit goes a long way, but it's so addictive.

Somebody stop me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Phil Is A Marked Man

Our weather the last couple of days can be summed up in three words: gray, gray and gray. I hate a day that looks the same after the sun comes up as it does before it rises. It’s all rain, rain, rain and gloom, gloom and gloom here. It rained yesterday and even harder today. The clouds really opened up about noon today and drenched everything in site, filling up ditches and making rivers in unexpected places.
Yesterday, I put off a task that required multiple stops around the county because I didn’t want to get wet. Big mistake. I had to get it done today, so there I was, dashing in between downpours, all day long. In and out of the car, stepping into Lake Erie every time I got out. It was the kind of day that reminds me of why I hate winter in western Kentucky. And it’s not over yet. I am headed out the door in a few minutes in heels, hose and a formal dress for a black tie event. I’m sure to step in a few puddles and spend the evening hoping no one can smell the Frito like aroma of wet hose wrapped around feet.

January, February and March are long months for me because of the weather. As mama says, I gripe, piss and moan about the weather from January 1st to March 30th. The gloominess just brings me down. Not in a “can’t get out of bed need some Cymbalta” kind of way, but more of a “somebody kick me for not taking a job in Miami” way. I love the sun. I need some sun. Every day. I guess I could get one of those little lights they prescribe for seasonal disorder, but I don’t think sitting under one of those every day would be enough. I want the whole enchilada; sun, heat and sweat. There will be none of that in the next ten weeks. Just more of the same wet gloominess. (And right here is where people in Haiti are goin’ shut the heck up Hula, and the people in REALLY cold states are rolling their eyes.) I will endure, but if anyone out there in a sunny, warm place wants to ship me a bottle of sunshine, go right ahead. And if that fat little groundhog sees his shadow in a couple of weeks, I’m gonna kick him so hard he’ll be wearin’ his butt for a hat all year long.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Face of Disaster

For the last week on this blog, I’ve carried on with my usual nonsense, while half a world away people are dying in the streets of Haiti. I have meant no disrespect. It’s just that I think there are numerous websites telling that story far better than I can, and I believe people need to continue laughing when there is despair in the world. It’s what keeps us moving and gives us hope when things go wrong. It gives us the joy that it takes to reach out to those in need and to pick them up. While I’m carrying on as usual, my heart is breaking for the beautiful people of Haiti whose lives have been changed forever by the rocking of the earth. Photo by: Ricardo Arduengo/AP

Daily, I read about the destruction and the rescue efforts; the joy of a man who found his wife alive in the rubble six days after the quake and the heartbreak of others who have neither the chance to mourn nor bury their dead. But it’s the images I’m most drawn to. The pictures of people whose lives are in chaos right now. Newspapers around the world are carrying some incredible images. There are shocking pictures of bodies stacked in the streets and burning in crowds, but the pictures that speak to me most are those of the faces of the people who are in the fight of their lives.

The tired. Photo by: Jorge Cruz
Photo by: Logan Abassi/AFP/Getty Images

The weak.

Photo By: Lisandro Suero/ AFP/Getty Images

The heartbroken.

Photo by: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Photo from: EPA/

And the scared.

Photo by: Francois Mori/AP

Photo by: Ivanoh Demers/AP

I am sad for the people of Haiti, but I am hopeful for them, hopeful that eventually life will become somewhat normal again. Why? Because for centuries the people of this world have endured wars, famines and disasters by reaching out to each other and giving each other the resources and strength to move forward and rebuild. It will take a long time for Haiti to get back on its feet, but there are already small signs that, in the smallest of ways, that unity has begun to take root.

Photo from:

And that makes me smile.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

The slumber party with my girlfriends Sunday night was a blast. It was a long night of fun and frivolity, which included a whole lot of this:

And it proved several things, mostly that I can only dream of being a rock star.

But also:

A. Despite my lifelong desire to sing like Aretha Franklin and the numerous hours I spend practicing in the car, I cannot carry a tune, even if it’s in a five gallon bucket with a handle that is duct taped to my fingers.

B. I do NOT know the words to Roxanne.

C. The room isn’t big enough for me to get enough distance between me and the TV in order to read those fuzzy Roxanne lyrics rolling across the screen.

D. I should not be allowed to sing Roxanne ever again, unless it’s in the confines of the shower or my vehicle. Even then, it’s iffy. I hurt my own ears.

E. Alex Van Halen need not worry about me taking over his drumming job. I sound nothing like him. I do, however, look as ragged as he does if I stay up way past my bedtime.

F. I CAN play the drums to We Are The Champions, but as Teen Angel says that’s just, Boom, Boom, Thud over and over again.

G. Lord have mercy, I cannot party like a rock star as I do not bounce back from staying up until 3:30am as quickly as I used to.

H. The only chance I have at working in a rock band is to be one of those backup girls who is just supposed to snap her fingers and look good. And frankly, at age 40-something…any career based on looks is not a wise move. But we can all dream can’t we?

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Good to Catch up With Old Friends

There I was putting on my rolled up jeans and new Sperry Topsiders this weekend and I shouted, "Hello 1980! I haven't seen you in forevah!! Have you seen my friend Big Shoulder Pads?" Sigh. I've missed them all so.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Proof We Are Not Pretentious People

We really know how to make people feel welcome in our home. Friday night, janjanmom and her lovely youngin's came by to bring me a cake the eldest had made that day. Look! Isn't it cute?

Let's not talk about how fast it took me to eat it once I got over cutting into the lovely decorations. Thank goodness we got the TV hooked up in front of the treadmill. Otherwise, it would have been a weekend of staring at that Norman Rockwell print.

Anyway, I was giving janjanmom a tour of the new house, and I was all blah blah new lighting this and yak yak counter tops that. I walked into the dining room to show her the cute little Hula Girl napkins Teen Angel got me for Christmas when I stepped in the biggest dog turd ever. It appears the dog had NOT endured my marathon trip to the grocery store and the beauty shop Friday as well as I had thought and he had pooped in the dining room. To make matters worse, I accidentally sent some of it rolling underneath the hutch, where it now sits waiting for me to find the yardstick to fish it out from under there. Nice. I'm sure she failed to notice much of anything else on the tour because her head was probably screaming, "She had dog poop in her dining room!" the whole time.

Now, fortunately janjanmom is a down to earth, understanding person who has three children and a big dog, so she's dealt with a little poop in her time. However, that doesn't make me feel any less embarrassed about the whole thing. It will give us a good laugh in the coming years. When we're old, wearing gold shoes and playing Bingo, she can lean over to me and cackle, "Hey, remember that time the dog crapped in your dining room and you kicked that turd under the hutch?" We'll laugh and wheeze and wonder out loud why the kids don't come to see us more often.

In the meantime, please know dear readers that you are welcome in my home anytime and you definitely won't have to worry about using the right fork or a tea towel between dinner courses. You might however, want to watch where you step. Now, about that yardstick.......