Life continues to move at warp speed for some reason.  Is it just in my little 'corner' or do others feel like this as well?

John and I have a great group of friends that have been through 38 plus years of ups and downs and in betweens for each of us.  They know more about us than our parents and most siblings.
They are our "PEOPLE"  the 'go to friends'  when we need an ear, to share great news or devastating news.
We have been there for weddings to each other, babies, graduations and then graduations, weddings  and babies of  our children.  We have been there for deaths of parents and siblings.  The love and comfort, joy and sadness we share makes us our own 'family.' 
Life seemed to keep us separate from each other with jobs and childrern and grandchildren.  About 8 years
ago I decided we needed to start a new phase of our lives together.  John and I were in Hawaii for one of our children's weddings.  We were at an outdoor market and found a coconut with 6 surfboarders
painted on it.   We bought it and sent it to one of our friends with the note that we were going to start a new tradition.  I dubbed us the "Old Farts" and we now have monthly potlucks with each other.

Each of us takes a turn to host the evening dinner.  We ask the others to supply the side dishes and dessert.
It works so nicely.  We follow dinner with clean up and good conversation and sometiems games.
On occasion we have all gone to a restaurant instead of each other's home but we usually stick to the intimacy of each other's homes.
Sadly the original coconut with all of our names on it, represented by the surfers, perished in our house fire.
One couple took a trip to hawaii a year later and returned with a new coconut.  It is always present at dinner and taken home by the couple who hosts next.

I love hosting and entertaining and we got elected to always do the December dinner. I love the festive time and usually have a very formal table set.  This year I wanted to mix it up.  After a trip to New Orleans last spring and being treated to a home made 'shrimp boil' I had to serve that here last week.

Imagine everyone's surprise when our friends all arrived and instead of a formal table complete with holiday
centerpiece, the table is covered in newspaper!
They were all a little taken back but I reassured them it was the right night and 'no, we aren't doing crafts."

They understood when John poured dinner directly out on the table.  It was so yummy.  Corn, potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, shrimp and garlic.

We supplemented with a beautiful fruit tray, green salad and garlic bread.  Dessert was a huge chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

If you have special friends in your life or even family that you want to get together with on a more regular basis this might be a way to start a new tradition.



Some of you have often wondered just what it is that I have. Since this is National RSD Month, I thought I would explain it in full.   Reflex sympathetic dystrophy or CRPS  complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic neurologic condition where your automatic nervous system runs amok for whatever reason.  Nerves misfire and constantly send the wrong messages to your brain.

Scientists/Drs still do not know what actually triggers it and there is no cure.  Up to 6 million people in the US alone suffer from this.

It causes unrelenting severe pain, burning, tissue swelling, joint immobility, muscle spasms, paresthesia (numbness), sleep disorder and depression from the never ending pain,  One can also have bone changes like osteoporisis in the affected area. Many complain of mental changes like memory and difficulty getting a word to the tongue from the brain. This latter one upsets me the most.  I can be talking and a simple word like many or a personal name  is in my brain and i can see it but for some reason it will NOT come to my tongue so I can speak it.

It has been related to traumatic injuries, following surgery, infection and sometimes there is no incident found to have been the cause.

Mine started after a devastating knee injury when I was working in the hospital.  Six long years and 35 physicians later I have RSD/CRPS and am a survivor. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to a possible remission or prevent of spread.  I was not so lucky as mine wasn't diagnosed for almost a year and a half.

Parts of my life as I once lived it are no longer.  Through the grace of God and a few great drs I am doing okay.
My family is the center of my life and that has not changed.  I thank God for them and a few very special friends for keeping me focused and always watching my back.

Blogging helps me keep focused on the positives and keep moving forward.  The friends I have made from
this blog help me to remember the goodness that comes in small ways every day.

I thank every one of you who are there in my life and who openly share the ups and downs in theirs as well.
We are all here to meet people and socialize in different ways but the underlying theme is about sharing...ideas.....art....family...culture.....faith.....health.....illness......joys....hardships.

Isn't it just amazing and truly wonderful?

this video spot is put out by the austrailian support group for rsd but it explains how our lives are affected every moment of the day.  I wanted to share it with you for a basic explanation of what RSD is.
I also ask that if you know of ANYONE enduring a chronic illness or in chronic pain that you pray for them and their families.  You might even do a small generosity that will reach far beyond its measure.


A Month In Review

This past month of Merry Mondays have been  very 'merry' and fun.  The kids were so in to making  'stuff' for Halloween so we did just that.

Here the kids are making little pumpkin people.  My 'example'
 is lying on the right here.  I show the kids  what we are going
to make then let them have free rein.  I love what comes out of their
imagination and creativity.

I remember taking an art class to make a greeting card. A woman and her mother presented
it together.  I decided to change mine up a little more to my 'own'.
When the mother came around to check on each project she saw mine and said  "Oh No.
You didn't make it right.  That is not what it is supposed to look like.  Mary we have a problem here."
She motioned her daughter over to my table and they both 'tsk tsk'd' and told me how 'wrong' it was.

When I explained to them that I made it on purpose to be different, they could not be more perplexed.
"But it is SUPPOSED to look just like this one."   The daughter held my card up to the class and said
"Please tell me none of you other women did NOT follow directions and did her own thing."

She promptly made another 'card'  the exact image of the original and gave it to me and said
"I won't charge you for extra materials but if you take a future class with us you HAVE to follow directions 'exactly' or you won't be allowed in any other classes.

You know I did NOT ever attend another 'art' class they held.  This was only a few years ago but I learned a valuable lesson.  True Art comes from one's heart or inner vision.  If you HAVE to make something exactly like someone else's then you are not honoring the creativity or vision within.  That 'art' piece instead is a copy of someone else's  inner vision.
I love it when the kids go their own direction and do what their heart tells them.

Here are a few of the girls and their 'pumpkin person'

It isn't fall or holiday season without homemade caramel apples is it?  Here I am helping some of them
dip their apples into the melted caramel.

No matter what we are decorating .... sprinkles of all shapes and colors are always a favorite!
forget the nuts

These were so yummy.  Here they are 'cooling/hardening'  for the trip home.  The rule was ONE lick before dinner!

Today we are making 'ghosts' out of white fabric scraps and polyfil with ribbon embelllishments.

meet  'ninja' ghost

a 'girly girl's' ghost

Here we are decorating their baked cookies---note the 'icky' colors the girls are mixing for their halloween
fare.   And note the bottles of sprinkles!  They love the baking projects most of all.

some of the finished 'art'.  I used a homemade sugar cookie recipe that was my grandmothers.



Through the summer months we continued to have Merry Mondays as often as there were kids to show up.
This is one of our messier, longer projects.
Paper mache pinatas!

We started with the blow up punch balloons...thank you jason and brianna for helping me blow them all up--16 in all!!  phew!!  Then started adding strips of newspaper to make and outer shell.

While those were drying we came inside out of the wind for lunch.  A few girls were not speaking, so crowding everyone together and making them pass things and use their manners, it was quickly resolved!!

Then it was cutting strips, cutting them and gluing to
the pinata shell!

                                           Lots of color and back outside after lunch!

                             Some of the finished results!!!!  On a recent 'pinata check' most of the kids still have them hanging in their rooms.  One of the boys saved his until his august birthday, filled it with candy and then invited nakiah and tovi joi and brianna and jason over for the big 'bash'.

several sported big sunglasses and happy face smiles!!

Lots of personality!!  This took a few weeks of gatherings to finish up but was well worth the fun and the smiles on the participants!!



Opa (John)  celebrated a major milestone recently when some of us were able to vacation together on the
Oregon coast.                                                                                                                                       
Here granddaughters, 6 yr old Sydne and 2 yr old Lauryn, decorated opa's cake.

M and M's   colorful and fun!

Sorry about the pink frostening honey but the girls  LOVED IT

yummmmy  supposed to melt in your mouth.............................not in your hands!!!


such a pretty cake  decorated with much joy and love

I'll help you blow them out Opa!!



I want to say HELLLLOOOOO to everyone who has wondered where I have been and welcome you all back.

The last 8 months have been full of LIVING LIFE !!

We have mourned losses, gone through financial setbacks, welcomed new life, and most of all have CELEBRATED friends and family.

I have missed everyone and have missed being in the blogging world staying up to date with family, friends and fellow artists/moms/women in general.

We are winding down from an Indian Summer and know that Old man winter is just around the corner.....and if not him, then his little 'jack frosts' waiting to paint the gardens/lawns with their frosty confections.
I LOVE hummingbirds. These two were spotted at one of our feeders a few days ago. Am sure now that freezing temps are in the forecast they are no longer close by.
We planted gourds this past summer and they are just NOW producing. Not to self:
plant much earlier next spring!

Last bloomings of my 'brown eyed susan's or 'rubedeckia'
my 'fourth of july rose ...blooms in late june/early july and again in the fall.
my perennial favorite: bachelor buttons
we tried this new corn: sweet red corn and it PRODUCED!!! Hooray! Sweet and pretty!
Our childhood home was sold this summer and this planter is the shovel blade from a big back
hoe.....my dad drug it home and made a planter out of it. We brought it to our home and I can think of Dad and special memories growing up whenever I see it.
corn stalks all in a row.

I still have my girls and boys come from the neighborhood. We met most of the summer then I had to take some time off. Each one planted sunflowers around their garden spots.
Our kids brianna and jason and tovi and nakiah grew plenty of produce as well. They had to relocate to alaska for jobs!!!!!! I am sorry you aren't here to enjoy the bounty from your endeavors!!! We love you!!


Our First Grandson!

We are the proud grandparents of a little BOY!! Our first grandson! Here is Opa... our proud son..... AND Landon Elijah....three generations of males! Landon Elijah joined the world on feb 18th. He tipped the scales at 9# 2oz!
He joins his big sister and five very special girl cousins!! tovi joi 3, sydne 5, holding little sis Rylee
almost 4 months; Nakiah 7 holding cousin Lauryn 2, and Landon's big sis Nai'a 3!!!
Proud mommy and daddy and oma and opa!!
Oma and opa already thinking of ways to spoil this new little one! I think all our kids will agree that is not difficult for us !



What is brown and white and fuzzy with big red lips and over 100 years old? MY FAVORITE COLLECTIBLE!! I was visiting central nebraska with a dear friend. We had stopped in this little town and I could 'hear' a sock monkey calling my name!!

We went to every thrift, craft and antique store and it was no where to be found. We did hear a story from every sales person we encountered . Each one had a special memory of a childhood 'monkey' that saw them through the roller coaster of life.
After three hours of slogging through the heat and humidity we had lunch and decided there was nothing else to see and it was time to drive on.

That sock monkey was out there on Main street. It's plaintive cry was louder than ever.
I told this to Patti with a straight face .....I am very serious when it comes to my sock monkeys....
and she said we have to walk back down the street to the car. If it isn't in sight that's it.

We walked down the street and all of a sudden I saw IT-----this poster in a small quilting store tucked back from the street.
We rushed in and asked how much the poster cost. She kept saying "I am sorry it is not for sale....then kind of threw her head around. Neither of us caught on she wasn't having a tic.

She was waiting on customers and Patti kept pressing her with the story of searching in the heat,yada yada....she kept repeating herself and only when she almost threw her neck out of whack did we GET IT.

After the shop was emptied of customers she said "OK I am sorry. I didn't want to set a precedence of selling all my posters." Of course we understood. She had to climb on a ladder and move a ton of stuff but gave me this poster for $1!!!!!!!!!

This is a brand new coffee table book given to me by Nick and Sue when they visited last month!! I LOVE it. Thanks kids.

These are my flannel pj bottoms......how sweet are they?

Shannon and Nat sent me these for christmas two years ago and I still wear them a lot!

Doesn't every one have a sock monkey room of their very own? I had sock monkeys all over the house before our kids left home. Then eventually they all moved away to their own apts/homes etc.(the kids, not the monkeys.....they like to 'loiter' as oppposed to 'working'.
I turned one of the bedrooms into my sock monkey room. It was a red and white circus of a room. Then we had the fire. The old red and white room is now my studio and one of the guest rooms downstairs houses my monkeys. I haven't put much of myself in this room as yet but it is on my to do list.
Last count was over 100......every one old and much loved, hand sewn and has many 'monkey tales to tell."

My love for them started when my AUNT DOLLY made one for her guest room when I was little. When I stayed with her I would sleep with that monkey. She would keep my favorite doll of the moment company and wear her clothes and sleep in her stroller.
I received my dear sock monkey long after we were married but she is the one that started the family downstairs. I would look for them at thrift stores, antique stores and shows, garage sales etc.
We could be driving down the street and I would say "Honey turn in here I hear a sock monkey!" John would want to ask the clerk where one might be and I would just want to wander around the shop, waiting for it to jump out at me.!!"

I know I have embarassed him , my kids and friends when I am on the hunt and no one is in the vicinity. I have been asked "do these monkeys always talk to you? or do you hear other things talk to you?" Once we had spent an hour in this antique mall and I KNEW it was there. I kept looking and John growing more impatient, asked the clerk if there was one even there.
He thought there was but it must have been sold. All of a sudden I saw this long brown/white tail hanging below an open newspaper. I pounced on it and found the sweetest monkey.
"Oh Honey, look. No wonder he was crying so loud, he's blind."
Customers around all looked like I was contagious and whispered among themselves but that is ok........I knew it was waiting for me.

I always thought I would dress them up. Many had little outfits made out of felt or lots of pom poms. They removed the monkeys after the fire and before I could tell them NO... the cleaning company threw them all in the laundry without removing them. They all came back pretty much back to normal. The company also included a large bag of 'monkey parts".
I resewed legs/arms/tails on a more than a few. Some eyes did not return. But they are still alive and well and home.

The kids have given me little furntiure for them to sit in.

These winter sledding buddies hang out on John's sled from his youth.

I opted to hang these instead of curtains. I have to find some sock monkey fabric for those.

aren't they adorable? So sweet and much loved.

These hang around the closet so I have more floor and bed space.
more little furniture

a sock monkey throw from debbie mumm.

my raggedy andy I found swinging from a flag pole outside a thrift store watches over them.
Our granddaughters love the monkeys. So do other little children. When they come to visit these monkeys are carried, dragged, dressed and undressed, rocked, pushed and loved.
Once in a while the cats will drag one around. The neighbor kids that come love going down there and every time a new child shows up to join our group, someone always wants to take them down to see the monkey room.

We have grown children that do NOT want to sleep in there. I am amazed at that but I can't blame them if they were made without a 'sock monkey' gene!!
To know that the little ones love them is fine with me. I hope the girls will always remember being at Oma's house and having as much fun with the sock monkeys as I did when I was a little girl.

This is in our kitchen. I was given some little tiny monkeys and they sit in my red and white enamel ware along with raggedy ann and andy's. Whenever I see these I pick them up.
They are housed here because they are at eye level for the littlest ones. They aren't breakable and they can be played with at will.

I keep thinking I should make sweet and funny outfits and start posing them around inside and out to sell as cards etc. I know there are those out there but my stuff would be using MY monkeys and my scenes so would definitely be 'different.'
Have a fuzzy brown red lipped day!!!!!!