Category Archives: family

New year, new “Chucks”, new me

The new year is starting out very well.  I feel I have a good grasp on homeschooling eighth grade. We are now in our eighth year.  I think homeschooling into high school won’t be a challenge.  The challenge is to get my now 14-year-old son to think about something other than playing Minecraft on the computer.  I shouldn’t be discouraged, he does well, he volunteers at the local science museum and humane society once a week.   He’s really a good kid.  People ask me all the time, “What is he going to do about college? Will you homeschool college?”  I reply with, “Homeschool college?  Are you crazy?  No, I won’t homeschool college. Did you think about college in eighth grade? Good grief!  Let the boy enjoy his middle school and high school years. There will be time for college.  I never thought about college until my senior year of high school!”  Okay, maybe I don’t say all of that, but I sure do think it, and then some–

IMG_5156

My birthday was a couple of days ago. I turned forty-two years old. Yeah, that’s right–I’m forty-two years old. I know, I can’t believe it either!  I am not going to question this unexplainable youthful feeling I have.  Maybe it’s from yoga. Wherever it comes from, I embraced it and I ordered a pair of orchid Converse Chucks.  They look like this.

Why do I feel the need to define my “youth” by wearing some Chucks? I don’t really know. Maybe because it’s fun. Maybe I’m in denial about getting older. The truth is, I’ll probably look ridiculous, but I don’t care.  I do have my limits.  There will never be any skinny jeans in my wardrobe.  I draw the line there.

Some of my friends and family say I don’t look forty-two, I certainly don’t act forty-two.  How does a forty-two year old mom act?  Does she listen to Dinosaur Jr?  Religiously?  I doubt it.  I’m still obsessed with J Mascis. There–I said it.  No worries, my husband knows all about it.  He isn’t jealous.  He thinks it’s kind of funny.  He knows how I am and accepts me.  I know I’m not like any other forty-ish year old moms I know. My husband knows it, too.

Here in North Carolina, one would think it was already spring.  Last winter was mild, and this winter is feeling about the same.  In fact, the warmer temperatures have allowed some trees to bloom early.

Flowering tree

There was a small amount of snowfall in our area a couple of days ago.  The blanket of snow was nice to see on my birthday. Wish I could have seen this tree with snow on its blooms.

There isn’t much else to tell, other than I can say I am in a much better place than I was a year ago.  This time last year was horrible for me, and I never want to experience what I experienced ever again. Depression. Confusion. Anxiety that crippled me for weeks on end.  If you have ever felt real anxiety, you know how awful and scary it feels.  That tightness in your chest, the dreadful unhappiness, loss of appetite, and insomnia.  I lived on supplements like passion-flower during the day and valerian root at night to ease the symptoms of anxiety.  It helped only a little.  I couldn’t focus on homeschooling, chores, my home, or my life. I disappeared from blogging for a while and tried to get myself together.  I wanted to disappear all together, but I hung in there.  It took me several months, but I finally did it.  With that said, I’ll share a video of  Dinosaur Jr., of course.  J’s acoustical version in the studio is awesome!

But if you want to rock it out, listen to the original version:

Enough of my rambling. I’m just glad happy to be me again. Thanks for reading my blog.   🙂

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Choices and life

When I was a child, I never thought about what my life would be like.  I didn’t have a care in the world, as they say.

As a teenager and young adult, I lived in the moment, never thinking about where my life was going.  Sure I made plans and had goals, but back then it was easy to live day by day.

Now, almost half-way through my life (should I live to be 90),  I have come to the realization that the decisions and choices I have made leading up to today have carved out my life.  In many ways, the life I have has been chosen for me, either from intentional or unintentional choices.

Unlike the days of our youth, the freedoms to plan and create aren’t there as we grow into adulthood.  Our choices become limited.  Not only that, but we are not “of our own” anymore.  Rather, we live to affect the people around us by the choices we make.  They are at our mercy, so to speak.

My grandmother will turn 90 years old this Saturday.  I know she’s made many choices in her lifetime.  Most of those were self-sacrificing ones. 

I guess those are always the best choices to make. 

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The story of Biscuit

A true (and lengthy) story about a dog who found his family.

I have never believed in reincarnation, nor have I ever given much thought to whether there are angels on earth; though, I believe there is a heaven.   Some people often find comfort in claiming that a loved one who has passed on is watching over them from heaven.  I have had loved ones to pass on, and to me they are just…gone.  They are remembered, missed and loved dearly but gone.  One in particular was our family dog, Bodie.

Bodie has been gone now for over a year and a half.  I often think about him and miss him, but my longing for him has never made me want another dog.  Since April, my son and I have been volunteering weekly at the local humane society, and not even one dog has tugged at my heart-strings so I would take him/her home.  My position was I didn’t want another dog.  What I would rather have, was another Bodie, but that would never EVER be possible.  That is, until Biscuit came along.

One Thursday, my husband and I were sitting outside on our swing enjoying the cool evening of the early fall.  Hearing some steps, my husband turned around expecting to see our son walking towards us.  Instead, it was a dog – small, but stout with a floppy ear.  The dog cheerfully walked up to Daniel and begged to be petted.  He was sweet and friendly without any timidness.  Then, he scampered over to me and jumped up on the swing and sat down beside me.  He stared straight ahead allowing me to see only his profile.  Immediately, I saw Bodie.  It was in his eyes, though they were brown, but not as dark brown as Bodie’s were.  Also, it was the shape of his head and his snout.  Daniel also noticed the resemblance, except for the ears and his coloring, his ears were smaller and his coat smoother – a cream color.  His body style was very similar to Bodie’s.  We jokingly referred to him as our Bodie angel.

We suspected that he belonged to someone up the street and that he had gotten out.  After a few minutes of petting the dog, we decided it was time to walk him back home, wherever that was.  The people at the first house we stopped at told us that he had been roaming the neighborhood for a couple of weeks, but that they saw him regularly at a house at the end of the street.   We walked the dog to that house and as we approached the porch, the dog acted like he was at “home”.  A lady came to the door and told us he wasn’t her dog, but that she had been feeding him and basically giving him a place to “crash.”  He either slept in a chair on her porch or would enter her doggie door and sleep in her garage.  She continued to tell us that she had made a few attempts to find the owner, but no one came forward.  She already had a dog and wasn’t in a position to take in another one.  Upon hearing that the dog didn’t belong to anyone, my husband asked her if we could take him off her hands.  She said sure, and let us take the food that was on the porch that was obviously his, and we walked back home with him.

All I kept thinking was that someone must be missing their dog.  He was such a sweet dog, he’s got to belong to someone.  He had a home, somewhere.  In the meantime, I couldn’t allow this dog (unneutered at that) to continue to roam the streets.  Besides, what would the people at the humane society think of me?

We prepared a place for him to stay in our garage.  Bodie’s dog basket had been put away and we got it down along with his old bowls.  There were some old towels and throw rugs that Bodie slept on and we put those in the basket.  I put the food in Bodie’s metal food bowl and the dog began to eat.  He sounded like Bodie eating.  Daniel and I just looked at each other and listened to the familiar sound.  Then he drank from the water bowl, and the rhythm from the sound he made as he lapped up the water even sounded like Bodie’s drinking.  He walked over and got in Bodie’s basket, rearranged the towels with his paws, and then lied down – just like Bodie.

There we were with this dog, a dog that looked and acted like Bodie, yet wasn’t quite like him.  He had his own personality, especially with his one floppy ear, but there were too many similarities.  All of this was definitely strange. 

Daniel and I needed another opinion, and we called our son downstairs to see the dog.  As the dog walked around the garage and jumped up for attention, our son  also noticed the resemblance to Bodie.  Ian became so excited and pleaded for us to keep him.  Daniel felt the same way, but I was reluctant.  “Someone out there has lost this dog, ” I said,  “Someone might be looking for him.  How could someone just let this sweet dog go?”

The dog did well in our basement overnight.  We expected to see a disaster by the morning, but he was house broken thank goodness!  When we greeted him in the basket, he wagged his tail vigorously, and then rolled over on his back so we could scratch his belly –  just like Bodie.

My husband walked him and I went to work on the computer, making flyers and posting “FOUND DOG” on several websites, including the local county animal shelter.  Daniel later took the flyers around to some local businesses to display.  He also took the dog to our vet to ask if they were aware of anyone looking for him.

That entire day, the dog did so well with us, and we did well with him, too.  Having a dog seemed second nature, and the fact that he was so much like Bodie fascinated us.  But we couldn’t get comfortable with having him around.  I was certain it was only a matter of time before we’d hear from his owners.

Later that evening, a lady called about the dog.  She had seen his flyer at the Post Office.  She even emailed me a picture she had of the dog and it was, indeed, the dog in my garage.  After we confirmed that we were dealing with the same dog, she began to tell me more about him.

One rainy September evening, the lady and her granddaughter were on their way church. Driving along a busy four-lane road, they watched the dog get thrown out of a truck.  The driver then kicked the dog and drove away.  After witnessing such a horrible scene, the lady couldn’t leave the dog there all alone.  She and her granddaughter got out of the car to get him, and drove on to church with a wet and frightened dog.  Once at church, she asked a woman, who was a veterinarian, to come out to her car and examine the dog. ( That vet just so happens to be our veterinarian.)  The vet looked him over and said he was about a year old, a lab mix, and didn’t appear to have any injuries.  She mentioned he was such a friendly dog, especially to have been tragically abandoned.  That night, the lady took the dog home with her.

A few days later, the lady found a family who expressed interest in taking in the dog.  That family lived in the same town as us.  The lady called the family on a few occasions to ask how the dog was doing.  The mother would say the dog was fine, but made excuses for why the lady and her granddaughter couldn’t come by to visit the dog.  Now knowing that I had the dog and that he been roaming in my neighborhood for at least two weeks, the lady realized the mother had been lying to her the whole time.  The lady proposed that I keep the dog.  She did not want him going back to that family since they were not only neglectful, but liars.  And God-forbid the man jerk who cruelly abandoned him come forward to claim him!  Of course, I didn’t want the dog to go back into the hands of such unworthy people.

After listening to her story, which I believed to be true, I realized that this poor dog didn’t have a home.  At one time, someone had indeed loved him.  He behaves well, is easy to train, desires much attention, and even walks obediently on a leash.  I shared with the lady our story, how the dog approached us the day before, and how he resembled and behaved like our Bodie who passed away.  The dog was like an angel of our Bodie with his cream-colored body and lively self; he was Bodie with a new youthful body.  She believed that it was meant-to-be that we keep the dog, this dog found us for a reason.  Maybe so.

We debated over a name for the dog.  The lady who rescued him on the busy four-lane road called him Marley. The lady at the end of the street who allowed him to crash at her house called him Buddy.  Those two names weren’t options for us because we have close relatives who have dogs with those names.   Ian suggested Bono or Elvis (I’m not sure why.)  Daniel suggested Charlie, but I couldn’t warm up to it.  With his cream or biscuit colored coat, I was leaning towards Biscuit.

So, we decided on Biscuit, not only for his coloring, but as a tribute to Bodie because he loved to eat dog treats that we called…

Biscuits

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Demonstration and preview: Week 4

Last day at the studio.

My time at the studio has come to an end.  My family and I, along with our Japanese exchange student, drove to the studio yesterday to pick up my finished pieces.  I haven’t had time to take picutres of them.  I hope to do that during the next week or so.  In the meantime, here is a photo of a pot that turned out nicely.

One thing I had forgotten about was how much ceramics shrink after the glaze firing.   The coffee mug my husband made is now fit for tea, not coffee.

I had planned to return to the studio when our Japanese student would be with us.  I wanted to take the time to demonstrate to him how to throw clay on a potter’s wheel.

I typed out my own instructions on wheel throwing in English, and then translated it to Japanese using Google Translate.  I printed a copy to use to teach him.  My experience so far with using the Google translating tool hasn’t been 100% accurate, but I believe he understood me well enough.

My son also had another opportunity to throw on the wheel again.

I guided him along the process so his experience would be a successful one.  He did very well and I think he enjoyed his first time working on the wheel.

Next, his bowl will be bisqued and I will return to the studio at a later date to glaze it for him.  He will likely have already returned to Japan after it has been glazed fired.  I plan to ship it him when it is finished.  I’m sure it will be a small reminder of his time at the studio and his stay with us.

Funny how something so small could mean so much.

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Glazing: Week 3

Returning to the pottery studio was different than the other times I had been there.  I felt rushed and I was there only long enough to glaze my pots.  Anyhow, I want to share my third week in the studio, as well as some other thoughts and good news at the end.

As I mentioned in my last post, I would not be able to visit the studio often this week.  In fact, I have only been once.  Today.  I glazed my final batch of pots that had been bisqued.

The glaze room:  a simple plastic table and glazes stored in five-gallon buckets.

A row of pots:  I lined up my pots to number them and make notes as to what glazes were used and how they were applied. See notebook on left. 😉

The final two:  Below are two of my most ambitious pieces.  Both were dipped into three different glazes.  The layering of the glazes will bring out different results.  I have no idea what those results will be, but I hope it looks nice…’er decent.

All or most of my pieces will be glazed fired over the weekend.   I am not sure when I will pick them up, but I hope it will be sometime within the next week.

My time at the studio was filled with mixed emotions.  In the beginning, I was very enthusiastic about working on the wheel again.  Eighteen years had passed since I last threw clay.  My first two weeks were very productive.  Then, we received dreadful news that my husband’s 18-year-old cousin died in a car crash.  Thankfully, the other two passengers survived, but it has been difficult to accept that Cody is really gone.  He was a wonderful young man and a star athlete.

Cody will always be remembered for winning the Class 1A state title in the 300 meter hurdles this past May.  Click the photo of  Cody to see an interview with him right after he won that race.

At this point,  I am eager to pick up my pieces when they are finished and move on.  I enjoyed my time at the studio, but sometimes life throws (pun) you a curve and what you thought was important – really wasn’t.  Hug your kids and tell them you love them.  We are never promised tomorrow.

Since returning from Cody’s memorial, I have been getting my house in order for our visitor on Sunday.  We are going to host a Japanese exchange student for a month!  This has been in the works for many months and it is our first time hosting.  We are excited, yet a little nervous.  His mother told me he knows very little English. To make matters worse, our ability to speak Japanese is laughable.  We have a phrase book and Japanese/English dictionary…we’ll see how it goes.  Regardless of the language barriers, we are anticipating to let this be a good experience for us all.

After our exchange student has arrived and is settled, I hope to write about his stay. Until then…wish us luck!

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