Monday, August 29, 2011

Of Heating Pads and Ibuprofen

There has not been much knitting, photography or carving/letterboxing going on at my house of late. Mostly there's been time spent with the heating pad and waiting for the clock to catch up for my next dose of pain killer.

Turns out I have either sprained my lower back or have a herniated disc. (Won't know for sure for another week or two. Have to jump through the right hoops for a while before the insurance company will pay for the MRI to make the diagnosis.)

I went to physical therapy last Friday and had a wonderful time soaking in the heat and electrical stimulus. That led to a pretty decent weekend. (I went grocery shopping!) But I am uber sore again this morning.

My first three days with the school district were spent in training. Today will be my first day in the building. I am looking forward to meeting some students!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School!

Today is our first day back to school! Can hardly believe my youngest is starting his senior year today!

I am off to training for literacy coaches. Fortunately it's at the public library, so I think there will be good air conditioning! (Why is it always so HOT for the first day of school??)

I'll miss my Wendesday sit-n-knit group! (I'm still plugging away on the baby blanket.)

Have a great day!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Survival Tips

Sometimes things happen and you wonder what sort of job you've actually done in conveying lessons to your offspring or the next generation. So I'm putting together some thoughts which I hope I am managing to pass along. Enjoy the first installment!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back To School

Hi Friends! Today I had my first meetings to attend in the school district. Next week I meet at the elementary where I will be a Literacy Associate with the other reading teachers/helpers. I am REALLY excited about this!

Sorry I haven't had time to blog this week! As an apology I am simply putting this advice column out there which a friend shared with me.

Why Men Should NOT Write Advice Columns!


Monday, August 15, 2011

What We Did

This is the Splash Pad at Oleson Park here in town. It's free and open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, weather permitting. It's a great place to take visiting 7 yo nieces!

I'm very tired today. I've been dealing with low back pain for about 10 days now and if you've ever had that, you know how tiring it can be. (It's bad enough that several nights I haven't slept much. It's too difficult to get comfortable enough to fall asleep or stay asleep for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.)

So, since I'm a little scatterbrained, I thought I'd just list all the fun things we did with "csnacks" while she was here!

Geocaching, picnic/grill-out at local park (which included stream to walk/fall in!), watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory AND Willy Wonka, wrote postcards, went to the library and checked out books, went on a photo shoot to get the cowgirl photo (and met a horse!), went to breakfast at McDonald's with my DS, went to the splash pad, got ice cream, went to the little park near our house, went back to the splash pad, went grocery shopping, made spaghetti with meatballs, went to office where DD is temping and took her to lunch where I work at Bloomers, did a little homework, played a hidden objects game on the computer together, went to the splashpad again, visited the orchard where we got peaches, fudge and played in the kids zone, made a blanket fort which transformed the entire dining room into a tent, made candy sushi with rice krispie treats & gummy worms & fruit roll-ups, slept with cousins in said tent over night, went to the Market on Central (where we got another coffee beverage at Bloomers and met some firemen who handed out fire hats and coloring books), went to play at the school playground, went out for lunch at Chen Garden, played in the tent, went to the splash pad with everyone, and then it was time to leave for home.

(In between there I also managed to squeeze in some work, dishes, laundry, etc.)

No wonder I'm tired!

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Getting Old

Having a blast with my 7 year old niece visiting for a few days. But I'm discovering I don't have the same amount of energy as when my own kids were that age. (What's up with that??!!??) I'm working on the magazine while she watches Willie Wonka with her cousins, so I'll just post this pic of her and her brother outside their dad's office yesterday when I picked her up. (And I might add that my little bro's office complex is quite swanky indeed!!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Free Pattern

My knitting pals were interested in me writing up the pattern I am using for the baby blanket I have in progress. Here it is!

Sailor’s Rib Baby Blanket

Worsted weight yarn and U.S. # 7 needles. (Gauge is not crucial in this project.)
(I am using 5 skeins of Caron’s Simply Soft in baby colors.)

CO 153 stitches using crochet cast-on.
(Pattern is multiple of 10 plus 1 - extra stitches added for garter stitch border)

Begin with 12 rows of garter stitch to form bottom border.

Every row in the pattern will begin and end with K6. This will form a garter stitch border along each side. You may want to place markers to separate these six stitches on each side so that you remember to always knit them.


Row 1 (right side): K6, place marker; K1tbl, *p1, k2, p1, K1tbl* repeat pattern between ** until six stitches remain; place marker, K6

Row 2: K6; p1, *k1, p2, k1, p1*, repeat pattern between ** to marker, K6

Row 3: K6; K1tbl, *p4, K1tbl*, repeat pattern between ** to marker, K6

Row 4: K6; p1, *k4, p1*, repeat pattern between ** to marker, K6

When blanket reaches desired length or yarn is running low, end with 12 rows of garter stitch to match bottom border. BO

K1tbl = knit one through the back of the loop (this causes the vertical row of knit stitches to stand out in a more pronounced way.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

7 AM Wake-Up Call

What was I doing first thing this morning?

Taking photos of a fireman!

The local fire department was more than happy to participate in the story I'm doing about people in jobs that young kids dream of becoming when they grow up. They invited me to come to the fire house bright and early this morning.

I arrived shortly before 7 a.m. and met up with Nathan C., the subject of this part of the story. The guys at the station were super friendly and willing to do whatever it took for me to get the shot.

Later in the week I'm going to do the part of the story that focuses on a cowgirl! (The rodeo coach at our local community college!)

I will miss getting to go out and do these kinds of stories and meet such wonderful folks!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A New Path

At least once a month for the past 5 1/2 years since I left the ministry someone asks me if I miss it.

The simple answer is no, I do not.

The longer answer is that I will likely never miss "the church" as an institution. But I do still connect with one of the prime motivating factors that lead me into the ministry in the first place: a desire to help others.

That desire to help is now leading me in yet another direction, down a new path!

I gave my two weeks notice to the newspaper on Friday. The September issue of the magazine will be my last. I have accepted a position as a Literacy Associate with the local public school system! I will be working with children in grades Kingergarten through 4th on reading and writing skills in conjunction with their classroom teachers.

I have always believed in the value and power of education, the foundation of which is literacy. I will be working with kids on the whole spectrum--those who have fallen or are on the verge of falling behind to those who are already achieving beyond grade level expectations.

I'm really excited about this change and opportunity! And it will be nice (if not tiring, and at times frustrating!) to feel I am making a difference in the lives of others.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Finale

(This post has everything to do with one of the forks in the road of my journey and where the changes/growth of the future is leading me. More about that on Monday!)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Love & Marriage . . .

. . . often lead to the baby carriage!

You may recall that I photographed my nephew's wedding last November.

So it seems that now they are expecting early next year. So, I did what any knitting great-aunt-to-be would do; I cast on for a baby blanket!

It's Caron Simply Soft yarn, and it lives up to its name! It's also 100% machine washable which is super important in baby stuff. Not having any idea if it's a boy or girl, I went with the "all inclusive" colorway.

The pattern was found in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It is about 34" across and will be however long 5 skeins takes me!

I'm not sure when my nephew will be back from Afghanistan, but it should be before the baby's arrival. Hopefully the blanket will be done by then as well!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Inspirational Mentors

One of the people who influenced my creativity, both with writing and with photography, was my 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Pithan. He started me on a practice which I've continued from time to time throughout the years, especially when I feel "stuck" and need some prompting to get the creative juices flowing.

Mr. Pithan kept several large files stuffed full of creative images he had pulled from magazines and advertising. The images could be anything: people, just faces, landscapes, a close-up of an item, architecture, street scenes, anything. What was common to all the photos and artworks was the fact that there were no words or lettering present with any of the images. The first time he pulled out the file folders, I had no idea what to expect. But once I knew what they meant, I looked forward to the days we would see the files laying out on his desk when we came in to class.

He divided us up in to groups of three or four and had us face our desks together. Each cluster of students was then presented with a stack of folders, the same number as students in the group.

He then explained that we were going to do a writing exercise. (At this point, some grumbling from several students always happened.) Each folder contained a single image from his file along with several blank sheets of writing paper. When he flicked the lights off and on, we were to each take one of the folders. We then had 10 minutes to look at the image in our folder and write a one page (or longer) story.
He challenged us to ask as many questions about the image as we could think of in the process of developing our stories. Who? What? Where? When? Why? What if? Why not?

When the time was up, we were to put our image and story in the folder and pass the folder to the person beside us. Another 10 minutes were put on the clock in which to accomplish the same task, but with a new image.

We kept this up until everyone had had the chance to write something for each of the images which had been given to our group. The folders were collected and kept until the following class period. Then we were asked to take a folder and read the stories while keeping the image before us.

I found it a fascinating exercise. I was always amused, and sometimes challenged, by the fact that each of the people in the group had seen and written such different things despite the fact we had all looked at the same image.

So let me challenge you. Here's a photo I took a couple years ago. Without looking at what others before you have written in the comments, write a five to seven sentence "story" with this image as your illustration and leave it as your comment.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Monday, August 01, 2011

If Life Hands You Tomatoes

....grab some chicken salad!

My first vine-ripened tomato became my lunch last Friday. It was truly delicious!

Last night I was lying in bed trying to think of ways to make a variation on the the theme of "work" for the September issue of the magazine.

[Side note: my employer is very anti- union, so talking about the real origins of Labor Day or mentioning anything to do with labor unions is not allowed/won't be published. Having grown up in a union home and lived through several strikes and being a staunch supporter of labor unions...because let's face it, if your job has any/good benefits you can thank unions!....this is a tough pill for me to swallow.]

Last year I did "Where We Work" and featured workers from two of the city's largest employers, the school system and the hospital.

Suddenly, four variations on the theme came together for me! One way to go harkens back to my days of watching Sesame Street and is a sort of "they're the people that you meet when you're walking down the street each day," idea: highlight folks in jobs you interact with regularly: the check-out person at the grocery store and the postal carrier.

Then the idea of highlighting "helping" professions came to me. Perhaps a nursing home aide and one of the EMT's on the ambulance.

Why not feature some of the many, many people who keep the city's economy running: people working in small businesses? Someone working at a hair salon or pet groomer. The couple who own the lawn mower repair store. The local coffee shop barista.

And finally, (this may be the idea I like the best!) perhaps an article on "Dream Jobs." I'd like to get several people, perhaps even recognizable city leaders, and ask them what, as children, they wanted to be when they grew up. I'm hoping some of them will give me answers that all kids want to be at some point: fireman, astronaut, cowboy, ballerina, teacher, etc. I'd put their head shots, along with their "dream job" from childhood as a border on the story, then feature a couple of those "dream jobs" like one of our city's firemen, a doctor, etc.

The best part about last night's insomnia-induced brainstorming session for one is that even as I type up the results this morning, I'm still ok with any of these ideas coming to fruition in the magazine. (Trust me, that doesn't always happen! More often than not I look at the scribbles I've made in the middle of the night and think, "what the . . .??")

And now I have something to present at the meeting tomorrow!

What motivates inspiration for you?