Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Remains Of The Day

 First of all, I want to thank everyone who took time to call me, send me e-mail, and post to my Facebook page.  This out pouring of love and concern from you all really has meant the world to me especially since R has been out of town working, and I just wanted to say thank you.

Also I want to assure you that at no point so far (knocking on wood here) have I personally been in any danger from the fire itself. 

I think if you have a TV and turned it on, regardless where you are in the world you have probably seen some type of coverage of our fire.  People have told me from France, England, Australia and even India that they have seen it on their news.  The one comment that people keep making is how widespread it is.

Yes it is, however I want to take just a moment and put that into perspective for those of you who are not familiar with Colorado Springs.  I am sure you have seen that 32,000 people have been evacuated so far.  That does seem like a lot, and it is.  But we have roughly half a million people living combined in the city and the smaller outlying areas.

Also as of this morning over 18,000 acres have burned, but the majority of that is unpopulated forest.  Only a very small section of town was burned.  Which does not in any way minimize the loss we experienced, but it was all north west of interstate 25, and the vast majority of the city is east and south of that part.  So don't think that the entire city is on fire, it's certainly not.

I won't lie to you though, things took a very real and intense turn Tuesday afternoon.  We were all very nervous and scared.  We had winds of 65 mph blowing east which brought the fire back over the crest of the mountain and straight down into residential areas.  It happened in roughly 45 minutes according to the estimates I have heard.  I believe it too, because the gigantic cloud of smoke was on top of my neighborhood so fast.  We don't have any word yet on how many homes were lost.

 What we do know is that no one was hurt, no one is missing, and the evacuations have been amazingly orderly and well executed.  Also the Red Cross, Care and Share and a whole variety of other agencies have stepped up to help us and be prepared.  The animal shelter is taking pets in so that people don't need to worry that they are being cared for while they are evacuated.  There are also places for larger animals to be cared for while their owners are displaced.  People are getting on the average of about 8 hours pre-evacuation notice, so people are having time to grab a few things that can't be replaced, important papers, photos and essentials.

As of right now, we have over 1000 fire fighters on the ground, planes and helicopters in the air and a convoy of military bulldozers arrived last evening to dig trenches.  While that sounds like a lot, it's really not.  Plus many of the fire fighters came here after battling the enormous fire two hours north of us for a couple of weeks.  They are dehydrated, exhausted and dealing with extreme, record setting temperatures on top of the fire.  Despite all that they are doing a phenomenal job.

President Obama is coming  Friday to declare us a federal disaster area.  We have already been declared a disaster area, but being declared a federal one will bring us more aid, which we desperately need.  They are estimating it will take until July 16th to get the fire contained, and how long after that it will burn is anyone's guess.  It's currently at 5% containment. 

People in the city are really doing their part to help, there are tons of shelters set up in schools.  Businesses have turned offices into's truly amazing at how everyone has stepped up.  There is literally no room at the inn either, hotels both here and in Denver are practically full to overflowing.  So hopefully that helps you a little bit with putting it all into perspective.

As for me, Tuesday really was pretty rough.  The smoke cloud, which I heard an estimation was billowing 30,000 feet into the air set directly down on top of my neighborhood almost 20 miles away from the fire thanks to the wind.  At about 4-5 PM it was so thick it looked like night.  I had an asthma attack, which I have not had one in over 5 years.  I had to go to the urgent care and have a breathing treatment, and they gave me a script for an inhaler.

I could see the flames of the other side of town burning after the cloud dissipated.  At that point it was moving so fast, and we really didn't know if the fire was coming our way or not.  Luckily it didn't cross the freeway.  I was home alone, R has been working in Utah.  Normally I am good in a crisis situation, but this was pretty tense for me. They had the freeway closed for a while, and I was nervous R wouldn't be able to get home today.  But luck was on our side and the freeway was open and pretty clear, so he made it home safe and sound.

Yesterday morning I had settled down and was about to go to bed when I saw something laying on my porch.  I picked it up and that's the photo you are seeing above.  Of course after I picked it up and photographed it they said on the news a half hour later if you find any of this stuff to not touch it because it could be asbestos or some other toxic thing, but I threw it away and washed my hands right after so I am sure I am ok.  It still scared me to think something could reach all the way to where I was and made me think about blowing hot embers, which is such a danger.

So until they get the fire contained I will be praying for no wind and lots of heavy rain which we desperately need, and that it does not turn and make it's way back into town.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Social Networking

First of all I want to tell you all that we are doin ok here.  The fire is still going, but we are hangin in.  No one has been hurt and no structures have been lost as of yet.  I have been posting updates to my Facebook page if anyone is interested in that.

Now on to the post...actually today I am going to repost a post I made 4 years ago because it still holds true.  There has been some discussion about using Facebook and Twitter for selling.  While there is nothing wrong with that, I do it too...I want you to keep in mind it's called social networking for a reason, so if you want to mix the two, I don't see a problem. Also keep in mind as you're reading we weren't using Facebook yet.  So here is the post I made 4 years ago:

"I have a no soliciting sign on my door. Lots and lots of sales people tend to ignore it and ring the bell anyway. It never occurs to them that maybe there is a larger reason behind that sign than just not wanting to buy something. I am a day sleeper. So nothing annoys me more than having a pushy sales person at my door who not only ignored my sign but also woke me up. Do you think that results in them getting a sale? No. Never.

I view my computer screen the same as my door. If I wouldn't let a person into my house through my front door for any variety of reasons why would I let them into my house through my screen?

As I have mentioned before I have my things for sale on my website and Etsy. (I edited this because two of the sites are no longer around.)  People talk a great deal about promoting their shops on these sites. They want to know how other people do it. I read these a lot. I have even tried a few of them with little or no results. I also see them saying they promote their shops to their friends and families. Really? No REALLY? I have mentioned these sites as a whole to my friends and family and told them what to expect from other sellers by looking at them, but I don't promote my own shop to them. They already know what I do for a living. I don't know about you, but if my Mother wants something I made I give it to her. She is my Mother for crying out loud! The same with my friends, if they insist on paying anyway...I certainly don't send them to an online shop so they can go through the entire check out process, pay for shipping and I can give Paypal a cut. If they did that to me I would find that really strange and think long and hard about their friendship.

Many people don't think the site is responsible for promoting us, I don't see why not...I am giving them a cut of my sales or a listing fee. They have just as much obligation to promote me as I do them. They are making money every time I promote in the simple fact that a new customer will most likely be a return customer because they aren't going to just stop at looking at my shop in most cases. They are going to look at lots of shops and items for sale and probably in the end they are going to buy something else on top of that initial purchase.

So what about the rest of the world at large? What is the right way to promote to them? We have Twitter and our blogs and all sorts of places to network. But imagine if you will for a insurance salesman in your neighborhood. If he rang your doorbell every day or even several times a day to try to sell you some insurance would you appreciate that? Would you just finally cave in and buy something? And if you actually did, what if he kept coming back day after day to try to sell you more?

Where did we get the idea that non stop hammering was the way to make a sale? I suppose in some instances it works. But I don't think I would sleep very well knowing that is how I run my business. Coincidentally since I have stopped almost all self promotion the past few days I made a sale last night...go figure!

I suppose my perspective might be a little different since I did shows and sold to shops and advertised for 25 years before moving my business to the net. I was used to the regular sort of selling where I make the effort to show up and the customer makes the effort to come and see me. It was mutual agreement.

I saw a video the other day of a man talking about social networking. He said he expects to make 0 dollars from Twitter. (This would also apply to Facebook now.)  He views Twitter as a party where he meets people. Once he gets to know them he invites them to his blog which he equates to his house. In his house he has personal things and also things that reflect what he does for a living. By getting to know people and make friends they find out what he does and they are more likely to mention it to someone else even if they are never going to make a purchase. I thought this was brilliant. It's the way I like to do it. I post pics of what I have just completed because I like to look at pics of other people's stuff and I think many of them do too. I also think it's a good way to keep a back up record of what I have made and when. I post a link to where they can find it and I have links on the sidebar to where I sell my works. If you want to go look you can. If you don' pressure. I clearly want to support these selling venues because if I didn't I wouldn't have shops in them. But ultimately I am in business for myself because I want to make sales for myself. I do occasionally post a link on Twitter, but I would rather just chat with people a bit on there than post link after link after link. That gets old real fast.

I find in the long run I have made more friends and more sales in the end by doing it that way. Maybe that's why they call it SOCIAL networking and not SALES networking?"

So back to the present, in conclusion here, I just want to remind you that Twitter, which I no longer use because it became nothing but endless links to people's Etsy shops and other venues, and Facebook were originally created as ways for people to socialize.  It's great that we can use them to show off what we do for a living.  But I don't think people should be using these for nothing but selling.  I know when I have a Facebook friend that does nothing but post links to things to buy...they are gone.  I unfriend them. I did the same thing for the brief period I used Twitter.  To see nothing but endless links to work is boring.  You don't have to spill your entire personal life onto the screen either, but mix it up a little on these sites.

I think it's really important to have a free standing professional presence elsewhere online where you do nothing else but sell your work.  From the other side of the fence, as a collector I have never purchased anything from Twitter or Facebook.  I like seeing what people make, but I don't want to send a message and hope I can buy that item if it's still available.  I want to go to a website that has a buy now button so I can just buy it and be done with it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Fun And Fear

Today started off pretty good.  R and I got up and headed up to Larkspur Colorado, which is a very tiny town about 30 miles north of our house.  We were going to the Renaissance Festival.  We like to do that every summer.  It's always a nice day outside and a good excuse to eat steak on a stake and drink a little beer.

We have been having a heat wave though.  It topped out at 100 degrees today which is just unheard of for Colorado.  We stayed at the festival for about 4 hours and then the heat started taking it's toll on me.  I kept getting dizzy and R was yelling at me to stay in the shade.  Although there wasn't much in the way of shade to stay in.  I am never very good in extreme heat, but I am also sick so it was a bit worse today.

I picked up a few little trinkets, which I was going to show you pics of.  But when he headed towards home we could see a huge column of smoke rising up from the south west.  The closer we got to home, the more we realized that the smoke was pretty close to Colorado Springs.

When we got home we turned on the TV.  A fire had broken out in Waldo Canyon.  Now if you have been following the news, you know that we have already had our fair share of fires in Colorado this year.  This was coming on the heels of our flooding I posted about a couple weeks ago.  We are having a rough time this year.

They were already evacuating parts of the west side of town, including our old neighborhood!  By 8 PM they were saying 2000 acres were on fire, but they were confident that Manitou Springs wouldn't have to evacuate. 

About an hour ago they evacuated the entire town of Manitou.  The fire crested the ridge and started down this side.   The above pic is not a pic I took.  I hate borrowing other people's pics, but this is the most recent photo I could find so I snagged it.  (My apologies to the photographer since I can't credit you!  I don't know who took it.)

We are on the far east side of town, so we are in no immediate danger.  However they have recommended that we all pack a bag just in case.  Although honestly I have no idea where I would go with my pets.  I don't think it will come to that, but you never know I guess.  We have had high winds off and on and it could potentially blow our way.  It's still about 25-30 miles from me.  So I am not overly concerned.  But I did go outside a little while ago and the smoke was so thick I couldn't see the end of my driveway clearly.  It's since dissipated, and things are clear again for now.  

I have a throbbing headache.  In fact it's so bad I couldn't sleep.  The price of allergies I guess.  At this point the fire is 0% contained, and I am hoping and praying that they get it under control really soon.  It's very scary even though it's a ways away from me.  I feel terrible for the several thousands of people already evacuated.  It's just a little too close for comfort.

I will update you when I can.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dirty Laundry

When I was getting ready to go to the airport to get R this afternoon I was watching "The Talk."  Daytime TV isn't my thing, but I don't mind watching that show once in a blue moon.  They were discussing a picture that posted to an English tabloid today talking about Sharon Osbourne having arm wobble.  Sharon is very funny and said you bet I do!  Well of course she does...she is 59 years old, had 3 children and survived cancer.  I think there are a lot of things you could say about her far more interesting and flattering than that she has arm wobble.  Who cares?  Why is this news worthy...or for that matter even tabloid news worthy?  Is it really going to draw ratings to pan the woman's age appropriate arms?  The whole notion that people have to look absolutely perfect all their lives is ridiculous, even if they are famous.  It's so damaging to all of us.

You can't go anywhere or get online without both news and tabloid news hitting you in the face.  I don't really think that many people care about that stuff.  I know I don't.  Sure sometimes we read a headline in the grocery store check out line...but it's forgotten exactly 3 nanoseconds after it's read.

But this got me to thinking.  In my last post I talked about when people take their personal differences and post it publicly online.  Maybe to a degree it's not so much the fault of the individual, but a product of society as a whole that we have started thinking this is an ok thing to do.  Afterall we have Facebook and Twitter for the sole purpose of posting what we are doing at any given moment.  Social networking has become like our own personal news feeds.  In the news they post everything and anything, whether it's true or not...the more scandalous or attention grabbing the better, so somewhere along the line we have started thinking that we should do this as well.

I have fallen victim to it too.  I post this little thing or that on Facebook...if I am going on an outing or having dinner somewhere.  My snakes in the garden issues.  What my latest tally is on my diet...25 pounds by the way!  Sorry I am feeling proud over that and want to shout from the rooftops.  Plus a whole host of other little mundane things.  But like the tabloids I suspect that when people read this stuff they remember it for all of about the same 3 nanoseconds as they would a tabloid headline, and move on.  I don't expect anyone to hang on my every word, but I almost feel obligated to post something to Facebook at least once a day when I don't have a new piece to show off.  

I don't suppose there is anything wrong with that, it's fun to keep up with what our friends are doing.  But when it turns malicious or gossipy, is it a way for people to get ratings much like the tabloids try to do?  To be honest I do think that plays a part in it for some, even though they don't consciously realize that's what they are doing.

All I can say I guess is the next time you read about a person, famous or otherwise, who has a few too many pounds here or there, has done or said something stupid they wish they hadn't, or had a fight with someone...instead of reading further, get out of your chair...walk to the powder room and have a good long look in the mirror.  If you have 0% body fat, never done anything stupid you regretted, or had a fight with someone...then by all means go back and read what it've earned it!  But if you aren't in that category and are a mere mortal like the rest of us.  Think for a moment before you continue, how would you feel if someone was reading your dirty laundry!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Dramatic Reading

I have a friend who is an author.  She is always telling me I should write books.  I do have lots of novels floating around in my head, but they never get committed to page.  I am too busy making bears and doing other things.  To be honest I am not sure I could do it anyway, or that anyone would want to read what I write.

I do like to read though.  My favorite authors are James Rollins and Steve Alton.  They write exciting adventures and have colorful characters which I like.  James Rollins has a new novel coming out this month and I simply can't wait.

When an author writes a novel they create characters and situations based on their own knowledge, experiences and perspectives.  The hope is that the reader will identify and sympathize with the hero/heroine of the story.  Regardless how good the author is at conveying what they want to get across, each reader will never fully interpret the characters or story in the exact manner that it was written.

We interpret what we read based on our own perspectives and experiences, and to a degree that can color the initial intent of the writer.  I like the main character of Gray Pierce in James's novels, but I most identify with one of the supporting characters; Kowalski.  Kowalski is tough and funny and has a thing for nice shoes and he secretly collects teddy bears even though he claims he buys them for his girlfriend.  He is a great character.

If you were to read the novels, you might like a different character and you might interpret the situations these characters are in a little differently than I do when I am reading it.  The stronger an idea is presented, the stronger the reaction from the reader will be...either for or against.  That's perfectly natural.  It's fine when we are reading fiction.  The same thing happens when we read or write things on the internet.

Very few people can relay all of the information about a situation from a completely objective, non partisan perspective without putting their own bent on what happened based on their own experiences, mood, or interpretation.

This is what leads to conflict and drama.  Regardless how diplomatic you are and how much you try to stay out of things, drama will eventually find you.  Now if you're like me who has strong opinions on things and are's a guarantee it's going to find you.  Recently however, it found a friend of mine who is not like me, and tries to avoid it.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't go looking for it either...but when I am involved, usually these things don't bother me overmuch, and I figure that something else larger is going on in the life of the person who is getting upset and that's making them overly sensitive...or it's a simple case of conflicting personalities. (These run on sentences are part of the reason I don't write novels, but I digress.)  I know it will pass and a new drama will crop up gathering the attention of others.  It's just a fact of life....but back to my friend.  She is a very sweet person, and most people like her very much.  On this particular day she chose to stand up for something she felt was wrong and say something.  It wasn't really a harsh comment and too much was made of it.

When people have some type of conflict on the internet it usually goes that one person discusses the specifics of it on some type of public arena and the other one doesn't say anything.  The person who discusses it usually is the one who garners the sympathy and is the hero of the story because it's written from their perspective.

I have seen this happen over and over.  Then people tend to jump on the bandwagon and support the person telling the story.  The thing I always find ironic is that the unnamed person they are agreeing is a horrible person is often one of their other friends and they don't realize it.  I have had it happen to me, and nearly everyone I know has had it happen.  It's probably happened to you at some point.  Quite often it's someone they like and admire and would never think badly of based on what they know of that person, and they would never make the comment if they knew who it was.  The other person gets their feelings hurt because they don't understand how their friends can think so badly of them.  It's at this point I try to remind them that the friends in question are agreeing without knowing who it was or the other side of the story.

Conflict never comes without both parties doing some things right and doing some things wrong.  But very few people set out to intentionally hurt someone else.  The world is not as evil as we think, and very few sane people actually thrive on or delight in making others miserable.  Most people simply are not hardwired that way.  
I urge you to remember this when you decide to support someone who is...well for lack of a better term...throwing a hissy fit publicly online.  It's usually a case of mistaken intent or interpretation.  Just let them get it out of their system, return to their normal sweet selves that you like them for and say nothing. Don't jump on the bandwagon, don't take sides.  Remember that you are never reading the entire event as it played out in an nonobjective way.  And unless they named names, you never know who they are referring to for certain and you might inadvertently end up hurting a friend you care about.  I also urge you to not throw public hissy fits if you can avoid doing so.  But I also understand that we are all human and these things happen sometimes when we get upset.  Either way it's not the end of the world, and it won't ruin your reputation or your friendships with most people.  Chances are not nearly as many people saw it as you think.  We have the tendency to think the entire world read it when in fact it's just a small handful of people.

Drama and conflict are an unfortunate fact of the human experience.  It's because we all come from different places with different experiences, core values, and things we hold dear.  Naturally we all think ours are the best right answer even when we are open to other ideas.  It brushes all of our lives whether we want it to or not.   Good can come out of it however if people can resolve the conflict and work through their differences, or at very least hopefully we can agree to disagree and move on.  The best choice is to work through these things in private, let others work through their things amongst themselves, hopefully in private...and save the dramatic readings for novels.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Decline Of The Roman Empire

 Alexander Demandt published 210 theories as to why the Roman Empire declined.  They reigned as the superpower of the ancient world for hundreds of years.  I am sure the cause of their fall was probably a combination of things.  But I don't have any more insight to it beyond what has been published already.

What I can tell you is what most likely got the ball rolling.  At some point I am sure they bought into the hype that they were unstoppable.  It's at the precise moment that we begin to believe we are unstoppable that we should just fasten our seatbelts and put our tray tables in the upright position because we have begun the final descent.  As soon as we believe we are invincible, it becomes our Achilles heel.

All throughout history civilizations, groups and individuals have risen and fallen.  Sometimes that's it, and it's the end.  Other times things go on to rise and fall again and again.  While it can be a slow process, it's a natural cycle of all things. 

Despite this happening since the beginning of time, we don't always recognize that it is happening or is going to happen.  Ironic isn't it?  It's actually happening in the US right now.  A few decades back we started to believe that our government and country was comparable to Camelot.  That was also the start of our decline.  Whether we will rise again or not remains to be seen.

So what happens when this cycle appears in our own lives?  I think as artists it's even more acutely apparent. The industry as a whole also rises and falls in popularity.  Artists become popular, and then they fade away for a while...replaced by something new.   Sometimes they rise again and sometimes they don't.  I always find it sad when someone fades away, never to be seen again.

What makes the difference between rising again and not?  Having been on this roller coaster for a very long time, I have observed a few things that I hope you will find helpful...because this isn't something that gets discussed a lot and not everyone knows what to do when it happens.  

I think step one is to simply recognize the cycle.  We are in a fickle business and trends can change in the blink of an eye.  As long as you keep making things you will keep selling things because there is always someone out there who likes what you do.  You may go through periods where you don't sell everything you make the minute you make it, but you will sell.  If you can support yourself through the lean times, then you will ride out the down cycle and be on your way to the next up cycle and be able to stay in business.

Which brings me to the next point.  Being prepared.  You have to know that this will eventually come to pass, and set up a plan for what to do when it does.  This could mean a change in design to stay with current trends.  It might mean a different selling venue.  It might even mean having to grab that bull by the horns and put yourself out there a little more.  You may have to work a little harder to make opportunities happen instead of just waiting for them to come to you. 

During these times it's also important to support your shows, magazines and shops as well as the industry as a whole.  

Recently an artist I adored has made a come back to the bear world.  I couldn't have been happier when I saw he was back, he was a good friend who makes beautiful bears.  I wish him all the luck and success in the world, and I hope others who have been lost follow suit.

I had a discussion today that made me remember many of my proverbial fallen peers.  I remember so many artists that have gone by the wayside and stopped making their art because of this very cycle.  People who would sell out at shows and now people don't even remember who they were or what they made.  I find that sad.  The world can always benefit from art, so when an artist changes jobs, the world loses out.

Rome may have fell never to rise again, but with a little preparedness and planning...we as artists don't have to.

Awkward Situations

First of all, the pic of Mina above has nothing to do with the post, but there was no pic that would go with the you get to see a new pic of Mina!

I don't know about you, but lately it seems as if I am thrown into more awkward situations than I used to be.  Perhaps my tendency to feel awkward is my fault, but I don't think the situations themselves are under my control, at least to a certain degree.

I have been buying my groceries at the local Safeway for almost 13 years.  In the past couple years, I have started going to Target more and more.  We got a Super Target a few years ago.  It's not that I don't like Safeway, I do.  It's just that every single time I check out they want me to donate to another charity.  I am all for charity, I like to do my part.  I have been known to go over and above on occasions.  But I can't donate every single week.  It always puts me on the spot.  I feel terrible and guilty afterward if I say no.  I also don't like the judgmental faces of  the cashiers and the people in line behind me if I don't do it.  I have always said we live on a small isolated planet and if we don't help each other who will?  But I can't help every charity every week.  So as a result they are losing me as customer, because I would rather go to Target and avoid the whole thing sometimes.  I even feel guilty for feeling that way.  The other thing that I don't care for is being accosted by Girl Scouts outside the front door to buy cookies, Boy Scouts to buy whatever it is they sell, people wanting me to buy the paper...we already take it.  I just want to go into the store and buy my groceries.  Honestly that is hard enough all on it's own.

The other awkward situation I have come across many times lately is being added to a Facebook group.  I cannot even process that people can just add you without your permission.  That needs to be changed.  

I got up this morning and my inbox was flooded with e-mail.  Most of them were from a group I had been added to.  Normally I am fine with just clicking leave.  But this was a little different situation.  

This group was for sharing information on tips and techniques to make bears.  The first thing I saw when I got there was several people saying that artists who don't share information are bad, not worth knowing and should be avoided.  (I am paraphrasing, but that was the jist of it.) 

Ok here is the thing though...I don't have a problem sharing basic info.  I don't really have anything new to bring to that particular table, but if you need to know how to joint a bear, set eyes, ears...close a seam, etc.  I will be happy to help you.

When it comes to the fancier stuff, I think it's important to figure out a few things on your own.  It's a learning process, and that process is a very necessary component to developing your own style.  

My second issue is that I saw a lot of potential for problems to arise.  It has happened in the past that people have shared techniques from other artists.  If an artist develops a new technique it should be their choice to share it or not share it, not someone else. 

There is so much discussion on being unique, and people get very upset by the idea of something being too similar to another artist's work.  The dreaded subject of copying comes up.  But yet we are expected to share every little detail of what we do.  I don't really get this mind set.

Again I don't mind sharing basics, but I am an artist not a teacher.  If I do choose to teach, it's in a workshop situation, not a public Facebook group.  So I was faced with an awkward dilemma, if I leave then I look like one of those artists they thought was so terrible.  But if I stay my inbox is flooded and I belong to a group I don't really support.  I did in fact leave.  I am sure I will be thought bad of for it, but at least my inbox was quieter.

Our lives are filled with all sorts of issues we have to deal with on a day to day basis.  It would be wonderful if we could avoid a few of these awkward situations that are unnecessary.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crazy Weather!

Last week we made the national news for our crazy weather!  We had two evenings in a row with thunder, lightning, rain and HAIL!  A little to the east of us they had 6 tornado's.  

In the first pic is a hail stone that was on my back deck.  Now that was actually rather small in comparison to what some people got on all sides of us.  Some people had golf ball size hail, and to the east they had baseball size hail.  

The second pic I didn't take, but it's a picture of the flooded Citadel Mall parking lot with hail floating on top.  (I would give credit to the photographer but it didn't say who took the pic.)

I consider us quite lucky that all we had was what I am holding.  It certainly could have been worse.  We did have a tiny bit of flooding on our walkway, but nothing to get excited over.

Another storm is supposed to be coming in about 20 hours or so...I am keepin my fingers crossed it's not as bad as the two we had last week!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mermaids And The Bermuda Triangle

It's a rare day that I indulge in purchasing a piece of costume jewelry.   It has to be sterling, white gold or platinum so I don't break out.  Allergies are the bane of my existence.  I have found that I can get away with yellow or rose gold for short periods, and even occasionally what my Grandma used to refer to as "pot metal." 

It's even rarer that I buy a big gaudy necklace.  Combined with allergies, making bears for three decades has left me with chronic neck issues and some days I can barely tolerate a simple chain with a charm.  Plus I am not that fond of most big gaudy necklaces.

There is an exception to every rule however.  Today when I was out shopping I ran across this piece.  Now in all fairness my photo does not do it justice.  I love ocean inspired pieces of jewelry for some reason.  I don't know why, because even though I have been boating and swimming many times, and snorkeling in Barbados, the ocean still scares the bejeebies out of me!  I have even been 180 feet under the ocean surface in a sub.  Anyway, the colors on this piece are incredible.  But the blues and greens are slightly iridescent so it reflected the camera flash a lot.  The shells that look black are actually a beautiful indigo blue and the large shell in the center is a lovely teal green, and not nearly as dark as it appears.  Each shell has either white or light amber rhinestones on it.  I just had to have it.  I have a girl day coming up Wednesday with my friend Carol and I intend to wear it...allergies and neck pain be darned!

After I got it home, I got to thinking about a comment I received last week after I got brave enough to post a picture on Facebook.  One of my friends said her daughter thought I looked like a mermaid.  It's the hair of course...but with this necklace I am sure I will really look like one now!  XD

I am proud to tell you that my diet program I was on technically ended today.  I ran out of drops and I lost 20 pounds!  I still intend to keep dieting, but I am not going to stay on just 500 calories a day.  I will be going up to 900, which for my height, weight and age is the recommended amount to lose weight.  It won't be quite as fast, but I am feeling confident.  Six weeks on this program really has changed how I eat as well as how fast I eat.  Now that might sound like a small thing, but for me it was HUGE.  I had severe issues with eating slowly going back to my childhood.  But I don't want to tell you that sad suffice it to say that I have overcome a really intense mental obstacle, and I no longer feel the need to inhale my food or clean my plate.   It's truly amazing how what happens to you as a kid can carry on through life with you that you don't even fully realize it.  The impact these things have can be devastating and you aren't even aware of it.  So as hard as it was, I consider the program to have been a success.  I feel confident that I can go forward and eat the way I should and still lose weight.  Time will tell.

Now if you have been reading my Facebook page, you know that I have also been tackling R's little junk pile in the corner of the backyard and getting rid of it since the snakes love to breed I just don't like the junk pile.  Once I started, he picked up the reigns and hauled away the four tires that had been sitting there for 3 years.  There was also an old patio table. 

When I get a new piece of furniture, I found that I was at a loss as to what to do with the old thing.  Goodwill doesn't take as much stuff as they used to.  Most of it isn't worth the effort or expense of a newspaper ad to sell, and honestly I don't trust people who use Craig's List.  You hear too many horror stories and since I am home alone a lot...well just no.

At any rate one day I had something I was going to have R haul away the next weekend.  I had no place to put it so I set it in the drive way in front of the garage door.  I can't stand doing that because I am always convinced it makes the house look like we are poor white trash to have things sitting in the driveway.  Three days later I went to the store and when I returned the thing I had set out there had vanished!  I thought this was awesome because that meant we didn't have to haul it away.

The next thing I had was an old BBQ.  R had gotten a new one for his I got this idea...this time I would put a sign on it that said "Free."  I kid you not...3 hours later...gone!  Since then that section of the drive way has been dubbed The Bermuda Triangle.  I have learned that you can put literally anything in your driveway with a sign on it that says "Free" and it will vanish within hours!

Late last night I put the patio table out there with a sign on it, and at 6:21 this morning...I was just about asleep when I heard a tailgate slam shut.  I peeked out...GONE!  The Bermuda Triangle never lets me down!

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