Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We might be those people

We got this to solve the problem of litter dust going everywhere, not to mention to help hide the visuals of two open litter boxes.It's a kid's tent from IKEA. Yeah, we are crazy cat people.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Imitation as a form of flattery

A couple of months ago, a friend—D—made what I call catnip blankets for our kitties. They are double-sided rectangles of fabric with Velcro openings on the two opposite long sides, with a square sewn in the middle sort of like this:


You put loose catnip into each opening, shake vigorously and toss the blankets on the ground. If you have nipheads (which I do), they will go a little bonkers loving on the blankets and generally acting even more silly than usual.








My three kitties love those things. I’ll come home from work and find the blankets moved, or rumpled up or I’ll see a cat, just sitting on the blanket chilling out.

I have another friend (L) whose divorce was just final. She’s gotten a couple of kittens as part of her post-divorce life and as a way for her and her younger daughter to have another shared interest. She’s new to having cats and is utterly charmed by these kittens. Her older daughter (who is in college) also has a kitty.

So I copied what my friend D did, and made blankets for those three kitties. Now I will confess, my friend D is far more detail-oriented than I am and also I was in a hurry. I made mine with three channels rather than a square, and put the two Velcro openings on the same end. They sort of look like this:




Here's what they look like in fabric:


Her kitties aren’t quite the same nipheads mine are, but that’s OK. Really, I made these for her. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Like second-hand smoke

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so emotionally depleted. Yes, Kent and I are working through some circumstances that are difficult, and yes, my son has been deployed, and yes there are other things going on that I haven’t mentioned like a friend’s divorce, and so on. But those don’t fully account for the utterly squeezed-flat-wrung-out-beyond-dry place I’m in.

Then I realized that since becoming the manager of a large team at work, my team has gone through a lot of personal losses of their own. In not quite two years’ time:
  • One person has lost a father and uncle to disease, a best friend to murder, has another close relative in hospice and the remaining parent faces major surgery next week.
  • Three others lost a parent; two were sudden deaths and the other one had a long, lingering illness.
  • Another lost a parent and a sister-in-law, all within the last three months.
  • Another lost a sibling right before Christmas.
  • Another faced major health issues and had complicated surgery and a lengthy recovery.
  • Another had emergency surgery.
  • Another had to handle major health issues with two different in-laws.
  • And we’ve had the good stress too—a marriage, a baby, another baby on the way.
These losses (and the happy events too) aren’t mine. But they affect me because these people are on my team. I’m getting way too experienced at expressing sympathy and condolences and either ordering flowers on the company’s behalf or arranging a charitable donation in someone’s memory.

When I finally put all this together last night, I sort of sat there stunned. It’s been a lot of mostly bad news and events. No wonder I am so flat. I guess it’s more like second hand smoke than I’d ever realized.

Speaking of smoke, if you have never listened to k.d. lang’s album Drag, you are missing out. Most of the songs tie back to smoking in some way. Here’s my favorite from that album.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

A lot of fun

I work for a company that's active in the community—the founders have especially done a lot in the arts (the Bloch wing at the Nelson Atkins, for example). Pretty frequently, I’ll get an email from our CEO’s executive assistant offering a chance to win tickets to various events. Until Kent was laid off last summer, I didn’t enter anything, partly because I thought others might enjoy the events more and also because we could afford our own entertainment.

But since July, I’ve entered some of the drawings. The events always need to be something I’m actually interested in, and they need to be on a weekend night (or during a weekend day). It’s hard enough for me to get up after a late night on a weekend, forget about it during the week.

Here’s what we’ve been able to do:

  • In September, I won tickets to the Roman Empire exhibit at the Nelson
  • In October, I won tickets to Toni Braxton's concert (fantastic show, her voice remains amazing)
  • In November, I won tickets to the NCAA Hall of Fame Induction ceremony
  • And then in the most amazing stroke of luck, I won tickets to the Big 12 quarterfinals last week and we got to see KU play (and sadly lose)!
  • Finally, I won tickets for the Sporting KC soccer game last night. 

I feel really fortunate that my company supports the arts and sporting events, and even more fortunate that we’ve been able to go to some fun events.

Edited to add that I've actually entered and not won more than I've entered and won. Just in case you thought I had some sort of crazy insane good luck. 

Sporting KC game last night

KU game last week

Toni Braxton concert

Friday, March 17, 2017

An anniversary of sorts

Eighteen years ago, I was in Atlanta for a business trip. Kent and I worked for the same large company then, and had met in another meeting for the same gigantic project a couple of months earlier. I knew him only slightly, and we had not (by anyone’s standards) been on a date nor did I really know he was interested in me. All of those details matter for this story.

Anyway—there were about 80 of us on that trip and the days were incredibly long, with contentious meetings scheduled for about 10 hours a day. As it happened. St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Wednesday and by then, a group of us were desperate for a bit of a break, so we all went out for dinner and then looked for someplace to go dancing.

By the time we found a place, it was pretty late. But the music was good, the beer wasn’t horribly expensive and we needed a way to blow off some steam.

On the dance floor, I noticed a man doing a very athletic version of the Electric Slide. He had clearly had a lot of dance training, and was really quite good. I’ve always like to dance, and I was intrigued. I started trying to add in the steps he was doing, and pretty soon he and I were dancing away as he taught me his version. But this version was truly very athletic: think squats and then leaps. You can imagine how tiring it was! I finally had to stop and I thanked him for working with me and told him I was going to go get a beer.

And here’s where it gets kind of sweet. The dancer said OK, and then he pointed at Kent. “I’ll go teach your husband how to do this dance.” If I remember correctly, I sort of sputtered something about not being married and then got a beer.

I told Kent, of course, and over the three years when I wouldn’t date him we would sometimes get together on our “anniversary” and have a laugh. OK I had a laugh. I don’t know what that man in the bar saw, but he clearly saw something in the way Kent watched me. And here we are, married for nearly 14 years.

Here's a video of that dance (obviously not me hahaha!):


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Another birthday

This time, it's my younger son. I don't have a lot of baby pictures of him, partly because he was the second and fell victim of the behavior of most parents with baby number two: far fewer pictures. But I will also say we had an entire roll of pictures from his first week that were completely lost by the photo developing place.

Here are two from the same day shortly before his first birthday.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Been dabbling

In paint. I’ve read some blog posts that describe painting fabric (often silk) for clothing, not d├ęcor, and I’ve been interested in trying that myself. But I sure didn’t want to spend the cash on silk only to have my efforts look like total amateur hour. So I got some cheap cotton cloth at IKEA, bought some paints with a bit of metallic in them that were billed as being suitable for fabric painting, and gathered up some other paints I had on hand for painting cards (you know, like Christmas cards). I had a set of cheap brushes and figured for this attempt, they would have to do.

I will say that if I go any further with painting on fabric, I’ll need better brushes. These were horrible—the bristles wanted to splay out and shed, which created texture I didn’t want. The paints for cards were OK, nothing you’d want to use on clothing fabric, but for this experiment they were adequate.


I penciled in a grid on the fabric, and then over the course of several weekends (and until today, only when it was sunny outside in hopes of better light), started painting random squares, rectangles and lines. I was going for a randomized stained-glass effect, so if you are trying to identify a pattern, you can stop. There isn’t one!

Today, I outlined each grid with black, and this is where better brushes would have helped. As it is, I console myself with thinking that it looks like the hand soldering you’d see in stained glass made by someone who is not an expert.





Sunday, March 5, 2017

How is it March already?

Don't you hate it when the blog posts you've got in your head don't quite make it to the blog itself? I keep starting posts, and then can't quite finish them up. And now it’s March 5. And today's my older son’s birthday.

I was talking with him on Friday and said something about well I knew I what I was doing the day he was born. He told me I say that every year, and he’s right. I do. But it was a big deal to me, having my first baby and my second major surgery—plus my OB/GYN was kind of nutty, and I was so scared about having a spinal that I didn’t give a rip about labor. Like I didn't even feel it. That's a needle phobia for you.

Anyway. Here’s one of my favorite baby pictures of him. He’s always been photogenic; what I love most about this photo is you can see his face and how we’re interacting. He was about 2 or 3 months old here.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Voting with my wallet

Last week, the CEO of Under Armour said "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country." You can read the Reuter article covering this here.

I disagree with both the premise that 45 is pro-business and that he’s an asset for our country. So I’m voting with my wallet.

I got a gift card to a local specialty running store for my birthday and made sure I didn’t get anything from Under Armour. Instead, I got the Nike top I'm wearing here.

I realize I am one person and almost certainly will not change Kevin Plank’s mind about anything. But I am going to do what I can where I am, and that means I will no longer purchase anything from his company.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A (belated) birthday round up

On my dessert plate

My birthday this year was a little weird—I’d scheduled a day off, and Kent and I had planned on using a gift certificate from my folks to Story. But he had to leave very unexpectedly for Tulsa that afternoon to help his mother, so we postponed everything.

After a week--still gorgeous!
My friend Kerry sent me some gorgeous roses (she knows that pink is my favorite color), and my mother sent me a book she found both enjoyable and thought-provoking (The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson). And oddly, I got a free meal from Ikea (guess that family rewards card pays off?).

This last Saturday, Kent was able to be home for about 36 hours (he is in Tulsa again) and we enjoyed our belated birthday dinner.



There’s a story behind the dress I’m wearing. My friend Jeanne who is both an imaginary and real friend (since we went to the same high school, she’s definitely real but she lives in Ohio so we don’t see each other all that often) has a daughter who is now in graduate school, so in her early to mid-20s. Jeanne had a dress that her daughter had worn in eight grade and was asking some of our mutual friends if their daughters would be interested. I hesitantly said that if none of them wanted it, I would be interested. Long story not so long, she sent it to me.





You can see the details
a little better here
I layered a lace bodysuit under the dress—it’s winter, after all, and the dress has spaghetti straps plus I don’t like wearing strapless bras. The bodysuit has a very deep-cut back and the sleeves are ¾. I also wore a raspberry pashmina with the dress since we had unseasonably warm temps on Saturday (70° in February?) and I didn’t need a coat.



All in all, we had a great time. I’m hopeful that my mother-in-law’s health will continue to improve and we won’t need to make emergency trips to see her and help her with things.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Catching up

Let’s see, where was I?

Oh right, I was going to attend a protest against the travel ban on January 29 at our airport, but my mother in law’s health took a real nose dive and she was admitted that day to the hospital. She was released Wednesday, February 1, then was taken by ambulance Thursday, February 2, released back to her home and then taken away again on February 3. This time she was admitted and is still there.

So I didn’t go to that protest. The next week, I did go to an interfaith vigil against the ban on February 5. As with the Women’s March, I had no idea what to expect, and as with the Women’s March, I found the event very moving and uplifting.

There were about 1300 people at the vigil. As with the Women’s March, the KC area will never pull the kinds of numbers that cities like Boston or LA do, but I thought that was impressive since the area is pretty red. In fact there were so many of us that we filled the sanctuary, the equally large fellowship hall and then a couple hundred of us stood outside in the large courtyard (the building is shaped like a hollow square and this courtyard is the center. Fortunately, the weather was mild but I’ll admit I got pretty cold by the end.

The vigil was definitely multi-faith. To the best of my recollection, the speakers included two rabbis, three Muslim leaders (maybe four?), a couple of Catholic relief charities folks, a leader from a local Buddhist group, the host church (which was Disciples of Christ), and a speaker from an atheist group. And a man who’d only been in the country for about six months spoke about why he needed refuge from Syria, and the threats against him and his family. He lost so many relatives and was being actively hunted himself—it was chilling to hear this story.

I found it reassuring to see that I was not alone in my opposition to this ban (and I was so glad to see the recent ruling on the ban). And I’m still figuring out how to act on my beliefs. Attending protests is a start, but it’s not enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I marched for me

The march itself was great—I didn’t know what to expect, having not participated in anything similar ever in my life. What I saw was a sea of pink hats even though it was sunny and nearly 60, and wide variety of people of all ages, genders, races, religions as indicated by their signs, sexual orientation (again as indicated by their signs), a few police officers on foot, three on horseback, several food trucks, a row of latrines and amazing weather.


I took this picture looking back at the march (I left a bit early—I get pretty antsy in crowds, which is another reason why me participating was a big deal to me personally).

But I’m dismayed by the number of people posting about how the women’s march doesn’t speak for them. Well of course it doesn’t! Just as one size doesn’t fit all in clothing or shoes, neither do marches. But what’s troublesome is the notion that this march was a single-issue march: abortion.

That’s so far from the truth, I don’t even know what to say. Sure, I saw signs on both sides of that issue, but by far most signs touched on equal rights for women.

So if you’re one of those women saying the march doesn’t speak for you or that you couldn’t have marched because you don’t support abortion, I say well find the cause you do want to march for.

Here’s the sign I made and the issues I marched about:


Saturday, January 21, 2017

I found my voice

And I hope my writing skills are up to what I want to say.

In seventh grade, I was going to a new-to-me school in Kentucky. Beaumont Junior High was a beautiful, brand new building filled with horrible ugliness on the inside. I attended school there for two years and in the first year, we had six or seven bomb threats (probably just students who didn’t want to take a test but the threats were all taken seriously) and more the next year.

We also had a race riot that year in the cafeteria that resulted in all forks and knives being removed (this was Kentucky in the early 1970s). And the violence didn’t stop there. Remember the big giant hoop earrings, they were quite thin but large in diameter, large enough to touch your shoulder? Girls had those ripped out of their earlobes, and I do mean ripped out with torn earlobes. As a result, I’ve never worn large earrings. Never. And my thumb was broken by a boy in my home room class who was angry I wouldn’t let him mess with my flute. He pulled my left thumb back across the top of my hand until I let go of the case but by then it was too late, and he’d broken it.

That same year, in seventh grade, I spoke up about the Vietnam War and had a POW/MIA bracelet to support the anti-Vietnam War movement, I’d started a small ecology club to clean up a creek in my neighborhood, and I was vocal about equal rights for women and minorities. You can imagine how that went over at school.

I also took the bus to school. Now remember, this school was a rough crowd and at least on my bus, the really rowdy kids sat in the back and those of us who weren’t so rowdy sat in the front. But you had to hustle to get on the bus early to sit in the front—and that’s what I did, I made sure I could sit in the front because frankly, those kids scared me (side story, one of them punched me in the stomach in PE class and when I asked why she did that, she said very nonchalantly “just felt like it” . . . ).

That year, George McGovern ran for president and I wasn’t shy about supporting him.

So that’s the stage for this story.

It was a coldish, drizzly day in October and for whatever reason, I couldn’t get to the bus early enough to get a seat in the front section. I sat perched on the edge of my seat way in the back of the bus and hoped nothing would happen.

One of the boys called out something about hey she’s for McGovern! The insults (you commie!) flew, and then one of them spit on me. Then more of them started spitting and I sat there in the back of the bus getting spit on because I didn’t support Nixon. The bus driver didn’t notice or didn’t dare notice.

I couldn’t get off that bus fast enough. I remember running into the house, finally able to cry, and going to the half bath on the first floor to start washing my hair in the sink and telling my brother that people who believed the way he did (he supported Nixon) had done this to me.

Nothing happened. At least not that I know of. No repercussions to those boys, no safeguards for students on the bus. Nothing.

And folks, I have to say, that shut me down quite a bit. Oh, I spoke up here and there about issues (for example, I reported someone who sexually assaulted me in basic training and he lost his job; when my first sergeant refused remove the female centerfolds plastered on the walls in a common area, I bought five or six copies of Playgirl and posted those centerfolds in the same area). But I stopped voicing my opinion on politics and stayed silent for the last 44 years.

I’m breaking that silence now. I cannot stand by and silently go along with proposals like a national registry or a wall between our country and another country. I cannot stand by while ACA is gutted and destroyed and people like my son, who has a pre-existing condition and was turned down for insurance, go without coverage. I did not serve in the Army to support those policies.

I’m making a sign today. I’m going to the KC version of the Women’s March. I’m done being silent.

Addendum: I realize you might wonder about being opposed to the Vietnam War, and then joining the Army. Remember that by the time I joined, we’d been out of that arena for a few years. The Cold War was front and center. I joined in that era, and served then as a musician. If we’d still been in Vietnam, I would not have joined.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Put on your mask before assisting others

Sometimes, sewing fills a practical need, and sometimes it’s more about creating something. I’m not a particularly imaginative sewist but I enjoy picking out fabric I like and then making something I can (hopefully) wear.

In December, I ended up sewing this jacket one Sunday. I’d had it cut out for a couple of months but between home and work, I had no time or energy to sew. But that Sunday, I was driven. And when I finished making the jacket, I realized that I had needed that creative effort. And that I shouldn’t wait until the pressure to create something, anything, becomes overwhelming.

Chloe photobombed this time

Yesterday, I made a skirt to go with the jacket. It’s all done except for hand work, and it’s hanging so that the fabric will stretch however much it wants to before I hem the lining and the wool.

What do you do to recharge yourself?


And for your amusement, here's a blurry photo but I'm smiling (clearly I am not very good at taking selfies).