Monday, April 30, 2007

St. Johns Town Center Brings New Friends

I participated in the 1st Annual St. Johns Town Center Fine Arts Festival this past weekend. Being a first year show, the crowd was understandably small, but I enjoyed the event nonetheless. Jamie Hendrix of J. and Company Events is a great person to work with and takes great care of her artists! This was also my first experience doing a two day show by myself. Whitney had another obligation so I was on my own, and I learned something! Whitney, you will be happy to know that I have finally mastered the puzzle of getting ALL the tent sides to fit into the tent sides pouch on the tent bag without having to hold my breath while squirming and stuffing them in there! Whoo hoo! I was so proud of myself! (I know, I know...simple things amaze simple minds....) Now I just hope I remember what I did next time!

I also made some great new artist friends at this show, so I thought I'd give them all a little plug here. I actually met Anne Cullum, the artist behind EliSilas Designs, at my December Jacksonville Beach show (yes, we suffered through the miserable weather and, therefore, dismal crowd together), but she was right next door to me this time so we had more time to talk. She's pictured here with some of her work. She has such a unique art style. Really beautiful work! Anne will be showing her work in her first Amelia Island Shrimp Fesitval this weekend, too! I'm so excited for her! Visit Anne's website at here. And, if you are in the North Florida area, go see her this weekend at the Shrimp Festival!

To my right was a great ceramics artist and all around fun person, Patty Bodney, the force behind Padi Custom Ceramics. Patty and I hit it off right away, and I think she and I are going to make a great pair getting the Jacksonville Craft Mafia off the ground! More to come on that later! We hope to be neighbors again for Jamie's Jacksonville Beaches festival series this summer. Patty does lots of custom work, so be sure to visit her website at here.

Next door to Patty was Jen Eccleston, who makes totally adorable handbags. Jen has a unique mission behind her handbags, called the Sophie Ann Collection. She and her husband are in the process of working to adopt a child from an orphanage in China. All the proceeds from her handbag sales go towards the adoption and to supporting orphans worldwide improving their health, welfare and living conditions. She makes big girl purses, too, but I thought this picture of her daughter modeling one of her smaller bags was too cute! Take a look at more of her fun handbags and read about her story here. If you are in the Jacksonville area, she also does home parties!

Last but not least, is Sandy Walker, the artist behind Parts of Art. I first met Sandy at the fall San Marco Arts Festival. She is also a jewelry designer, but her style is totally different from mine. She does some very cool things with paint chips, believe it or not! I admired her work last time, but I had to actually purchase a necklace from her this time. You can view more of her work here.

Though I'll continue to have new pieces posted on my website, I'm taking the month of May off from the festival circuit and enjoying some much needed time at home! But be sure to keep up with the blog for Free Bling Friday!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Your Daily Puppy

Being the animal lover I am, I have become addicted to The Daily Puppy. Look at this face! I have this site set to pop up on My Yahoo homepage, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face, no matter what my mood. A visit to the Daily Puppy is a great way to help you get through a bad day. You can even load your own little puppy's picture on there! And they also have a "Grown-Up Puppy" section for our furry friends that have passed the puppy stage. Go get you some puppy love!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Behind the Camera: Budding Entrepreneurs

We now have two little budding entrepreneurs at home. Sarah and Livvie created their first necklaces this weekend.....all by themselves! Okay, so I tied the ribbon on the ends so they could tie them around their necks, but I promise, that's all I did. They are modeling them for you here.

Having twins is definitely an interesting study in the whole nature vs. nurture concept. Here you have two little girls born only three minutes apart to the same mother, being raised by the same parents in the same house, attending the same pre-school in the same class with the same teachers. Yet their personalities are very different. These necklaces are made out of pipe cleaner and little plastic heart beads. When creating their pieces, Sarah was very abstract, just grabbing random beads and stringing them on the pipe cleaner, while Olivia was very exact, making sure all the beads were turned in the same direction. I pointed this out to my husband and he tried to string a bead on Livvie's necklace, deliberately stringing it upside down. Livvie quickly corrected him, saying, "That's not how it goes, Daddy!" This difference in approach comes out in their coloring too. Sarah is very abstract while Livvie is very much about staying in the lines. And yes, in case you were wondering...the apples don't fall far from the tree. Sarah is very much like her daddy, both in temperment and appearance; Livvie looks and act very much like me.

Now that I have two little ones, I'm definitely not the neat freak I used to be....I'd go insane if I tried to keep up...but I do like to keep a clean house. And Livvie loves to clean! "Gimme a wipe, Mommy! I need to clean the floor!" No, this is not slave labor. But I definitely don't turn her down! I discovered Livvie's affinity for cleaning when she was about two years old. I was wiping off the kitchen counters when Livvie picked up a napkin off the kitchen table and started wiping everything down. And I mean everything. The floors, the chairs, the furniture. She'd wear out one napkin, bring it back to me and ask for another. This went on for at least 45 minutes. I finally had to break out the camera and take some pictures. I dug these two up.

After watching her for a while, and probably noticing that I was taking her sister's picture, Sarah decided to give it a shot. She did one cursory wipe of the table, decided cleaning was not her bag, and went back to playing with the legos. But she can build one heck of a mansion....she'll just hire Livvie to clean it for her.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Getting Noticed!

I just clicked over to see the latest on one of my favorite sites, Scoutie Girl, and saw a pair of my very own earrings included in a listing for Wonderland Retreat, the site set up to benefit indie crafter and promoter extraordinaire Alison Gordon. Alison recently had a medical emergency requiring surgery, and like most full-time artists and craftsmen, has no medical insurance. Her friend Renee Gardner set up Wonderland Retreat to raise funds for her. Artists and craftsmen in the indie community were encouraged to donate some of their wares to the site, and I donated two pairs of earrings. One pair has already sold, but the second is still available. Here's the mention on Scoutie Girl. You can see my Magnolia earrings in the lower middle of the picture cluster! Visit all the great stuff to benefit Alison at the Wonderland Retreat Esty store here. Look for these earrings specifically here.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Healing Lick of a Dog

I found two treasures in my email this morning. The first was this picture. This is Daisy, of the St. Marys, Pennsylvania, Animal Welfare Foster Program. She was looking for a student to comfort on the Virginia Tech campus Friday, where a number of dogs were on hand to play and visit with students traumatized by Monday's tradegy. The photo was taken by Evan Vucci.

Then I stumbled across this quote on the about me page of an ebay seller a friend of mine sent me: "I believe that dogs and cats are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly." That quote is perfect for Daisy and her friends, isn't it? Here's this ebay seller's link. She has some pretty cool bracelets!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Be a Johnny...

I rarely manage to post something here daily, much less twice in one day, but I just received this from a colleague of mine, Victor Collazo, who is also a dear friend. I thought it was the perfect answer to Yasmin's "cold America" she talks about in her story I posted Wednesday. Take a look at this video. Be a Johnny...

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One Lucky Cat...

If you live here in Jacksonville, you're well aware of the recent fire at the Jacksonville Humane Society. In total, 80 animals survived the fire (68 dogs and puppies and 12 cats and kittens) plus another 25 that were in foster homes at the time. Sadly, 85 perished (67 cats and kittens and 18 dogs and puppies). My initial post about the fire is below, April 9. Since then, I've been following the story of one very lucky cat. He reminded me of that Lucky Duck I wrote about in February here.

This cat was found in the rubble the Monday after the fire as workers and staff came to recover whatever they could. They had completed their search for the day but then returned to an interior room to search the rubble one more time for four animals whose kennel was found open, but remained unaccounted for. Although they made an attempt to shovel through the debris on the floor, there was just too much of it to move and sift through, so they gave up. Remarkably, as they were leaving the room, a slight movement caught their eye and they found a live adult cat who somehow managed to survive the blaze. The cat was immediately rushed to the Animal ER on Southside Boulevard. He had burns on his foot pads and remained on oxygen most of the night, but otherwise looked like he was going to be okay. Tuesday, he was back at the JHS clinic and was doing well. Where the cat emerged from they'll never know. But finding him was the best way to end what was otherwise a traumatic day for the staff - and most likely a sign that it was time for one of them to adopt a cat! Important to note....as unbelievable as it may seem, the name on this cat's identification collar was "Lucky."

Well, it seems Lucky is now going to be famous. He and a couple JHS staffers flew to New York City yesterday to appear on the Rachael Ray Show. The episode will air sometime around Mother's Day.

Another famous pooch who escaped the fire is a little puppy rescued, and then adopted by, firefighters at Station 28. This puppy, as you might guess, has also been named Lucky. It appears he has a whole family of happy new dads! You can read more about him here. The Humane Society is still in need of your donations and support. Visit their website here for more information. They are holding a memorial service for all the animals lost in the fire at the Humane Society Pet Cemetary Saturday, April 21, at 11:30am.

I know that many people may feel that in light of the more recent tradegy at Virginia Tech, the fire at the Humane Society is small potatoes, since no human lives were lost. I certainly agree that the tradegy at Virginia Tech is the most horrific example of senseless loss of life our country has seen since 9-11, and even more hard to understand and accept given that it was carried out by the hand of a fellow student. Yet for those who work with these animals and all the animal lovers who've worked to support their efforts, this fire is also an incredibly sad story. I hope that the stories of these two lucky survivors brightens your day just a little bit.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech: An Example of a Cold America?

Normally, I try to keep my words here very positive and uplifting, but today I really want to say something about the sadness that is the Virginia Tech story. I received an email last night from a friend of mine who had written a very engaging commentary on the tradegy and I wanted to share it here. Yasmin Shiraz is a writer and speaker who I had the pleasure of meeting when I brought her to campus to talk with our students about the politics of hip hop culture. Below are her comments:

As news coverage continues of yesterday's shooting at Virginia Tech-"The Greatest School Massacre in US History"-I hear more and more people asking how this shooting could have happened. I hear people share their shock and awe in the tragic turn of events. As saddened as I am about the inexcusable loss of life, I am not shocked. I am not shocked because I see the anger that young people possess. I am not shocked because I see the harmful effects of pursuing profits over the needs of people. I am not shocked because America has become so cold in the past 30 years.

In my line of work, I connect with middle, high school, and college students. Young people who for all intents and purposes have their entire lives ahead of them. And yet, so many of the young people that I come across are so angry-so very angry. When I ask of the source of their anger, many teens have buried the pain for so long, the words literally get caught in their throats. From what I have gathered in my research, however, many young people feel neglected by the very family that is supposed to love, guide and protect them. They are angry for being sent to school with an empty stomach. They are angry for being asked to do homework and no one in the household will try to help their efforts. They are angry at the crowdiness in their homes. They are angry at the drug abuse that goes on in their homes. And yet with all of the anger, hardly ever does a young person feel that they have someone with whom to confide. What happens to a young person who feels angry and doesn't believe that they can release the anger? Do they explode? Was the Va Tech shooter an angry person?

Capitalism. I studied it for years as a college student, I embraced it as an entrepreneur but now as a practitioner who works in the field with young people, I see how the pursuit of profits is diminishing the quality of life for all Americans - regardless of age. What happens in America when a child needs psychological help but the parents don't have insurance? Are his needs met? No. Does the child's suffering stop because the money isn't available to pay for the counseling? No. What happens in America when the anti-gun lobby asks for stricter laws in selling firearms? The pro-gun lobby PAYS more MONEY, the anti-gun lobby is silenced and the laws never get enacted. The gun manufacturers want to be rich, rich, rich. They don't concern themselves with the people who may die, die, die when a firearm easily gets into the hands of the wrong person. What happens to the young person who is angry, needs psychological help and has access to purchase a firearm? Bang! Was the VA Tech shooter in need of psychological help?

America: Land of the Beautiful, home of the COLD. Americans hardly say please or thank you to one another. When they're about to bump into you in a mall, they don't even want to say, "Excuse Me." They stay in their homes like groundhogs afraid of interaction with another human. Americans have become isolated. They hide behind locked doors and pretend electronic interaction is on the level of real human interaction. Americans see other Americans in trouble, but they don't speak up because it's against their slogan of "It's Not My Problem." Americans no longer know their own neighbors. The people who moved across the street from them could be pedophiles, you could see them bringing young boys into their home at all hours of the night and you wouldn't even raise a brow. The most the average American would say is, "Wow. That new neighbor is one heck of a boy scout. He must have lots of activities for his boys." Again, we're committed to the slogan, "It's Not My Problem." The problem with the slogan is: Somebody else's problem will eventually become your problem if it goes unchecked. The alcoholic who hits his wife and no one reported him because no one thought it was their problem. Well, that same alcoholic got behind the wheel and ran over one of the neighborhood kids. It's your problem now. Did the VA Tech shooter have a problem that someone saw but decided against acknowledging, reporting or even attempting to help?

I don't pretend to have the answers, I just know that young people are some of the angriest people I've ever met, the pursuit of the mighty dollar is leaving a lot of people short, and turning our backs on other people's problems is getting us stabbed straight in it. I don't know how many massacres it's gonna take for America and Americans to step up to the plate. As one of my colleagues has said, "Who's gonna take the weight?" Somebody, somebodies, a whole lotta bodies ought to.

To comment on Yasmin's article, please visit: http://blueyouth.blogspot.com

Kelly's comments...I was still mentally processing this tradegy when I got this note from Yasmin. Much of what Yasmin says here speaks to the same feelings I have. I work with college students on a daily basis, and I, too, come across many angry students. Though, I don’t think the population I see is angry for the same reasons Yasmin addresses here. Our students here are middle class students on average, and though I’m sure a few have faced some of the issues Yasmin mentions here, I think a greater majority of our student population has not. What I see most in some of the students I come across is an angriness or negative attitude that comes from an air of entitlement. Almost like they feel they are owed something simply because they are living, breathing human beings. In these students, there seems to be an expectation that things will just be handed to them, that they shouldn’t have to work for them like generations before them. I’m fortunate in that the majority of students I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with don’t have that attitude, though there are certainly a few who come to mind that did.

Here’s an example…every year, our department puts together a very elaborate student awards program. Students are nominated by faculty to be recognized for excellence in academics, student leadership, and community service. As part of the program, I attempt to get a photograph of each nominee with the person who nominated him or her. Quite a task this year with 62 nominees! I was taking several pictures yesterday when one of the students I came to photograph said she threw her letter away because she thought it was a scam. This was not said in an apologetic manner. To her, it was a joke. I told her it was definitely not a “scam” but rather quite an honor that a faculty member thought enough of her to nominate her for an award. She continued to laugh it off and said that she receives stuff like that in the mail all the time and just throws it away. When I asked her if she would be attending the program now that she knew it was not a scam, she asked if she would be getting any money if she showed up. And this is someone who is supposed to be an honor student. Entitlement. Thankfully, she was the only student who appeared so ungrateful for her nomination.

But here’s another very simple example that has a far broader reach, and stems from the big event we had today, our annual Spring Fling. I doled out 78 large pizzas piece by piece today, so that’s 624 slices. Free. With free drinks and free entertainment. I kept a mental count of the number of students who I heard say thank you. It was 23. I’m sure I missed a few, but even with that, that’s a very pitiful percentage. Entitlement. When the pizza delivery was running late, I’m sure our campus leadership could hear the complaining all the way down in the administration building. When we ran out, more complaining. Very simple example? Yes. But also a very simple example of the entitlement complex I see in some young people today. As we were cleaning up, we had to walk around picking up all the trash these very same students didn’t have the courtesy to put in the trash can. Entitlement coupled with lack of courtesy and respect. And don’t even get me started on all the trash these very same students leave on the tables and floor in the student center, just steps away from perfectly good garbage cans.

So to follow Yasmin’s theme…did the Virginia Tech shooter feel entitled to do what he did? Given some of the information that has come out about him since, particularly his rant against “rich kids and girls”, it would seem so. Yasmin said that America has become the home of the cold. Due to the nature of my role on campus, I am one of those people that has an open door and an ear for students to confide in, and because of that I’m often told both wonderfully uplifting stories as well as brutally sad stories. But through these conversations I now see a generation that can either further Yasmin’s cold America or fix it. If things keep moving forward as they are, unfortunately, I think they’ll further it. But if they will take a minute away from their ever-important cell phone chatter or text messaging and look beyond themselves for a moment, maybe they'll see that they just may hold the key to fixing it. Does it start at home with good parenting? Sure, that’s most definitely part of it. But it’s not all of it. I’m tired of parents getting blamed for everything. Just as I’ve seen excellent student leaders come from homes with very poor, if any, parenting, I’ve also seen good parents end up with very ungrateful, self-involved children, despite those parents’ best efforts. It’s the children of these latter parents that need to be the first ones to stand up and take responsibility for their own actions…or their own inactions…and stop waiting for someone to give them a handout or come to their rescue. And the rest of us should lead them by example.

I did see a glimmer of hope today. In the midst of our Spring Fling activities, we took a break to share a reflection in honor of the students and faculty lost at Virginia Tech. Following a reading from Ecclesiastes and quotes from various other faiths, staff member Billy Thomas asked that we share a moment of silence to reflect on the tradegy and say our own prayer. At first, as you can imagine, it was difficult to get a crowd of more than 300 students, outdoors, to stand quietly. But soon, all that I could hear was the traffic going by on Roosevelt Blvd. My own prayer not only included that God provide comfort to those families who experienced this tradegy first hand, but also that he lead the students participating in that moment to help do something about it...to work to warm Yasmin's cold America.

Those who will fix the problem will be those who accept their part in it, and work to change it. I’ve worked with some great students over the years…I hope they will be part of the solution…and hopefully have the courage to influence those who are not.

Feel free to post your own thoughts by clicking the comments link below.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Weather Gods of San Marco

So, did I jinx myself by sharing the story of my very first Springtime Tallahassee in my April 5 post? How ‘bout that weather this weekend? Whether you were here in Jacksonville or anywhere on the east coast, this storm has been something….and it came through Jacksonville half way through the 14th Annual San Marco Arts Festival. Add to that a few other misadventures and we had a very interesting weekend.

The day started Saturday with an early morning call from Whitney telling me she had just spilled grape juice all over herself (and the inside of the car, which I’m sure brought forth a few choice utterances…), so she had to go back home to change. Once we both got to the festival site and started to set up, the first injury happened. (Yes, that’s a clue that there was more than one.) As we were setting up the tent, I had a little mishap. You know that fleshy part of your middle finger just above where your finger attaches to your palm? I know you’re looking at your finger trying to figure out where I’m talking about….I’ll give you a moment :-). Found it? Now, imagine that that little space gets caught between a metal pole and a sliding bracket that slides up that pole and locks into place. You with me? Once caught, and I mean caught, stuck like glue, finger-in-a-vice-like-white-on-rice kinda caught…I was literally attached to the bracket by my squeezed, screaming flesh…I said “Whitney, Whitney, Whitney, help me Whitney, now Whitney, WHITNEY!”, apparently loudly enough that Steve, our resident parks and recreation electrician who was about ten yards away setting up power, ran over, saw what happened, said “Holy S*%t!”, and pushed the bracket up while pulling my hand away. Luckily, Steve had a first aid kit on his truck and cleaned and bandaged it up for me. It’s now a lovely shade of purple but at least it’s still attached. I've spared you the picture and just shared this love picture of Saturday's shoppers instead (above).

So the rest of the day Saturday was fairly uneventful, and even with my throbbing hand, we managed to make some great sales. (My neighbor Jenny Stine did great, too! These are her fish. Love her work and want to contact her? Email me. She doesn't have a website.) By the end of the day Saturday, word had started to spread about the coming storm and nearly half the artists packed up; whether or not they planned to come back the next day, who knows? We decided we were sticking it out, so we weather-proofed as much as possible, said a little prayer and went home. I guess the storm hit about 5am Sunday morning...well I guess I should say started hitting about 5am. Finally stopped raining about 9:30, so we headed back down to see how we did, and yeah!, we were still standing, and thanks to the industrial tarp we threw over everything inside the tent, dry!

But then there was the wind…..so, I told you about the wind at my first Springtime, right? Well, this was most definitely worse. And again, beautiful blue skies after all that rain cleared out, but wind, wind and more wind. Saturday morning, there were 102 artists’ booths. Sunday morning, there were 54 artists’ booths. By 1:30pm Sunday afternoon, we were down to 18. But we stuck it out! Then about 3:30 pm, we got a very large gust of wind and Heather Blanton’s tent next door quickly started leaning to the left…which is where we were! Whitney and I both jumped up and pushed, while Heather and Ryan grabbed the other side and pulled. (That's Heather's work above; contact her here.) And here’s where injury number two came along….as I was trying to save Heather’s tent, one of her paint cans filled with sand fell, taking out my right index finger on the way down…the middle finger injury from Saturday morning was on my left hand. Once the can passed my finger, it apparently landed on my right foot. I say apparently because I was in so much pain from my finger that I didn’t feel my foot at the time, but judging by the lovely purple and red strawberry and soreness on the top of my right foot today, that is my theory.

So we helped Heather break down her tent, and then guess what that meant? We quickly realized that Heather’s tent had been blocking a great deal of wind from our tent, and once Heather’s tent was gone, well, I think you can imagine what happens to a jewelry display tent in 30mph steady winds with 40-45 mph gusts. We grabbed the tent first and got it down (now, keep in mind I have four 25 pound weights for my corners, and for this show we added two 55 pound barbells to the side that was catching the most wind and we were STILL blowing away). Then we quickly went to work getting the jewelry put away. Thankfully, as small as jewelry is, it doesn’t have much wind resistance so the jewelry itself blowing away (short of some earring cards) was not the issue….however, the necks the jewelry is displayed on made rather lovely little black kites! Over all, I lost one piece of jewelry to breakage and a few pairs of earrings. Not too bad at all given the situation.

Trying to get everything packed up in that wind was also rather entertaining…and was the cause of my last injury. As I was folding up one of my chairs, it also caught a big gust of wind and one arm lunged itself into my collarbone, leaving me with yet another lovely purple abstract work of art. I mean, come on, I’ll admit I’ve always bruised fairly easily, but today I look somewhat like a Van Gogh painting. When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had been run over by a truck. The highlight of our day Sunday was the visit from Casey and Audrey, having a little conversation in this picture. Through it all, no matter, we still had a great time and now have another interesting show story to add to our adventures. Always something! Next stop is the 1st Annual St. Johns Town Center Arts Festival, April 28-29. Come see us!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Behind the Camera: Workin' the Tire Swing

We had a great time down at the lake for Easter, so I finally finished the role of film that was in my 35mm. Even found Christmas pictures on there!

As for Easter, my husband's extended family gathers every year down at a lake house in Keystone that's been passed down through the generations. Big gathering! We had about 75 there this year. LOTS of cousins! And even after 12 years of marriage, I still have a hard time remembering who belongs to whom. The girls spent a good part of the day on the tire swing, so I got lots of great BLURRY action shots. Oh well, at least a couple of them came out well. The day ended with the big egg hunt. The house sits on about 30 acres of land, so the guys hide the eggs in a wooded area, taping of a "4 and under" search area for the littler kids. Livvie really got into it....darting here and there like a little dragonfly on speed. Sarah was a little more "divaish" about it. She'd see an egg, but not want to get her hands dirty, so Livvie would say, "I'll get it, Sarah!" and drop it in her own basket. You snooze, you lose! :-)

Well, I'm off to tackle the San Marco Arts Festival this weekend. The forecast calls for a sunny and warm day Saturday, though windy (see my Barnaby's and Fried Pickles post for my experience with winds...), with strong storms coming in overnight Saturday. Looks like I'll likely have a wet booth Sunday morning. Pray that the storms decide to avoid us!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Women's Restrooms....The Naked Truth

I got this in an email this morning, and definitely laughed out loud, so I wanted to share it with you.... Enjoy!

For you men, you may want to think twice about asking a woman what took her so long in the restroom. When you have to visit a public bathroom, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place. Once it's your turn, you check for feet under the stall doors. Every stall is occupied.

Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall. You get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn't matter. The dispenser for the modern "seat covers" (invented by someone's Mom, no doubt) is handy, but empty. You would hang your purse on the door hook, if there were one, but there isn't...so you carefully, but quickly, drape it around your neck, (Mom would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yank down your pants, and assume "The Stance." In this position your aging, toneless thigh muscles begin to shake. You'd love to sit down, but you certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold "The Stance."

To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the EMPTY toilet paper dispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mom's voice saying, "Honey, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!" Your thighs shake more. You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday...the one that's still in your purse. That would have to do. You crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It is still smaller than your thumbnail. Someone pushes open your stall door because the latch doesn't work. The door hits your purse, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest, and you and your purse topple backward against the toilet.

"OCCUPIED!" you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, lose your footing altogether, and sliding down directly on the TOILET SEAT. It is wet, of course. You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper...not that there was any, even if you had taken time to try.


By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose that somehow sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in too. At that point, you give up. You are soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You're exhausted. You try to wipe with a gum wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

Now you can't figure out how to operate the faucets with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting. You are no longer able to smile politely to them. A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it??) You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it into the woman's hand and tell her warmly, "Here, you just might need this."

As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used and left the men's restroom. Annoyed, he asks, "What took you so long, and why is your purse hanging around your neck?" This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with a public restroom. It finally explains to the men what really does take us so long. It also answers their other commonly asked question about why women go to the restroom in pairs. It's so the friend can hold the door, hang onto your purse and hand you Kleenex under the door!


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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Impractical Delights!

I made a great little discovery on etsy, which is full of great little handmade discoveries! Abby Gabert makes these cool little pin cushions, as well as other "impractical delights" as she calls them, out of vintage fabrics. I purchased one of her little pin cushions to use as a home for an angel pin I'm giving a friend of mine and just received it yesterday. It's too cute! It could be used as a utilitarian pin cushion for someone who sews (so I guess I really do need one for me!) or just a fun little thing to have hanging around. Here's a picture of a pin cushion she currently has listed in her etsy store, White Paint and Ribbons. Best of all, she's a fellow Florida State grad! Small world! Click here for her etsy store. Her blog is listed in my links to the right.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

Jacksonville Humane Society Needs Our Help!

When I saw the news Saturday morning, I was heartbroken, and as a devout animal lover, when I read the paper yesterday morning, I couldn't help but cry. The Jacksonville Humane Society suffered a devasting fire Friday night. As the news continues to come in, we're learning more and more about this tragic fire. Currently just under 100 animals are still missing and were most likely killed in the blaze. The Humane Society needs our help! What they need most right now are donations. Click here for this morning's article on the blaze and click here for the Humane Society's website to keep updated on their needs and find out how you can donate. This picture is of the Humane Society mural painted on wall of the Thrift Shop. Please give with your hearts! I have two big shows coming up in the next three weeks and will be donating 25% of my sales to the Humane Society to help them recover from this tradegy. I received a really sweet video as an email late last week, and I'm glad I saved it; it's a perfect addition to this post. It's about celebrating life as it is from the perspective of a dog. Click here to see it .

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Behind the Camera: Two Little Mermaid Queens

The little ladies and I went in for a haircut yesterday. My regular stylist just moved to Hawaii, so I'm breaking in a new person. I told her one of my customers I met at Springtime last weekend had the cutest little short haircut, BUT that I wasn't ready to go quite that short just yet. Well, ya know, we got to gabbin' and the next thing you know, I think it IS that short. Still haven't decided what I think about that yet. Guess it'll grow on me, literally and figuratively. The girls love getting haircuts because they're both rather enamoured with their reflection in the mirror. I guess my constantly asking them who the most beautiful girls in the world are has probably contributed to that! Ms. Shirley took this picture of my two little mermaid queens while I was at one of my recent shows.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Catty Eggs vs the Fashionista....

Ah, the time of chocolate bunnies, marshmellow peeps, and peanutbutter eggs... The girls came home from school yesterday with a big Easter basket full of candy, and the Easter bunny hasn't even visited our house yet.

A very Happy Easter to you and yours. I hope you enjoy the day and, in between all that good eating and egg hunting, take a minute to remember the true meaning behind the holiday. While this cartoon is very entertaining, painted Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies are not what Easter is all about. May God bless you and your family on this special day.

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Barnaby’s and Fried Pickles….(or the Anatomy of a Great Arts Festival)

Being a Florida State graduate, I’ll take pretty much any excuse to visit Tallahassee, so I love participating in the Springtime Tallahassee Arts Jubilee, and this year’s festival was no exception. I had dinner with some dear old friends Friday night, and on Saturday, I saw lots of old friends and met some new ones. And regardless of sales, two things always make a trip to Tallahassee uber-successful for me: Barnaby’s pizza and Po’ Boys fried pickles (not together, mind you…that would probably cause a serious case of what my students like to call “bubbleguts” :-). Had my Barnaby’s Friday night and my pickles Saturday for lunch. But if you add to that the Burger King I had for lunch Friday, the Krispy Kremes for breakfast Saturday, and the Zaxby’s in the car on the way home Saturday night, I ate more artery clogging food in that 30-hour span than I normally do in a month…but hey, I was in Tallahassee, so it didn’t count…kinda like what goes on the road, stays on the road….or the fact that birthday cake has zero calories.

Whitney and I enjoyed a great day at the festival. Here’s a picture of our booth. Sales were brisk and, as usual, we met a few interesting characters to add a little spice to our day…but I’ll not discuss them here so as not to embarrass anyone (though I’m not sure anything will ever top the 70-year-old cross dresser at the Riverside Arts Festival in September…pink high tops, fishnet stockings and all, he was quite a sight!). I also managed to spend less than I usually do at my average arts festival! That’s the downside to festivals in general for me: I’ve loved attending them, and purchasing art at them, for as long as I can remember, so that habit is unfortunately still heavily engrained in me! This was my third time participating in Springtime and it’s gotten better and better each year, but then again, the first year was a bit of a challenge….

My very first Springtime Tallahassee was also my very first juried arts festival. My husband (we’ll call him DH for darling husband) and the girls came over with me that year and we stayed with family in the area. DH helped me set up at the crack of dawn that Saturday morning (that’s the one downside to Springtime…it’s a one-day show with set-up and breakdown on the same day) and then went back to my cousins’ house to take care of the girls. Well by 9:30am that morning, we were dealing with some major wind….beautiful blue skies, but major wind…probably 20-25mph steady with 30-35mph gusts. What’s minimum wind for a tropical storm? 40? I was holding up pretty well with my heavy duty tent weights DH made me, but things were not exactly enjoyable, particularly since the adorable handbag booth next door to me did not seem to be quite as weighted as mine. (Little hint there…) So about 10am or so, that not very well weighted booth next door actually took flight, and I mean literally took flight, and flew into me. Handbags flew everywhere, and the lattice they were hanging on took out one set of my shelves and my work table. If you’ve ever seen my booth, you know that I use glass jars as part of my display. Did I mention we were set up in the street? I’m assuming you get the picture there. So in addition to losing some glass jars and a few pairs of earrings, on my worktable was my notebook, cash box and cell phone…oh, you mean the cell phone that was now laying on the ground cracked and smashed? Oh yeah! That cell phone! Which, of course, meant that I could not call DH for assistance. I cleaned up best I could and prayed things would settle down. I felt so badly for the girls next door; they were really sweet.

Anywho…about 30 minutes later, DH and the girls showed up and we took down the tent and the shelves so I wouldn’t have to fight the wind all day and just layed everything flat on the tables. Despite that, I still did fairly well in sales. Since we had taken down the tent, we let the couple on the other side of me use my tent weights since part of their display was incorporated into their tent walls and they really had to leave them up. They were festival veterans and, since I had told them this was my very first juried show, they kept encouraging me and told me that in the 12 years they had been doing festivals full time, they had never encountered this kind of sustained winds. Talk about trial by fire! I definitely experienced it with that show. Now, I check the weather….and pay very close attention to the wind forecast….daily the week prior to a show.
Coincidentally, that veteran couple was next door to me once again this year (I didn’t see them last year) and we reminisced over that windy day. They were happy to see that my first Springtime Tallahassee didn’t scar me for life!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Instincts...

You never realize how much having children changes you until you become a parent. I’m sure those of you with children know what I mean, and those of you without children may think parents are a bit insane at times. I know I did before I had children! Before my girls were born, I knew I wanted children, but I really didn’t have a whole lot of that “motherly instinct.” I was actually scared to death of babies! I never wanted to hold other people’s babies because I was just flat out uncomfortable doing it, or I was scared I’d drop them and cause permanent brain damage. :-) I don’t know if it’s hormones, God’s magic or a combination of the two, but something just happens when you have children. Immediately, I couldn’t get enough of babies, mine or those of others, and that hasn’t changed to this day. My close friends with children have experienced this, too.

Instinct case in point…I was in Target today and needed to, um, use the facilities, shall we say. So there I am doing my business when I hear two little girls in the stall next door talking. The younger one (guessing by the tone of her voice) was asking the older one to help her, um, finish up, shall we say. The older one would not help her. The younger one kept asking and the older one kept saying she’d have to do it herself, and then left the stall. Well, I was out of my stall by this point, and I could hear that the younger girl was getting upset, and my instinct to help her was overwhelming. I told her that I had two little girls and didn’t mind helping her if she needed me to. She immediately said, “Yes, will you help me, please?”, so I pushed open her door to help her finish up. She was about 4 and her sister looked to be somewhere in the 8-10 range. Being the good mommy that I am, I made sure we both washed our hands afterwards. :-) She was very grateful and then her sister proceeded to tell me about this great bracelet she made at school today. I had heard them say something about “Nana” to each other earlier so I guess they were there with their grandmother, but I have no clue where she was.

I’ve been trying to teach my girls about strangers and what to do if they ever get separated from me or their Daddy in a crowd, and I realized today that my advice is contradictory in a sense. On one hand, I tell them never to talk to strangers, like we all do, and then, like many doctors and child experts recommend, I tell them to look for another “Mommy” to help them find me if they ever get lost. So that’s telling them to talk to a stranger, isn’t it? Catch 22, I guess. Parenting is definitely an on-going learning process….one of those “make it up as you go along” kinda things. Did I do the right thing for that little 4-year-old today? I hope so. I’m not sure I could have just walked out of there and left her there struggling. Now that I think about it, I remember a similar episode from several years ago! Our next door neighbor’s little boy needed some help “finishing up”. Since I was “A GIRL!” he wouldn’t let me, so I went to get my husband...who was not happy with me... Maybe Daddies just don’t have that “must help them out in the bathroom” instinct. :-)


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Monday, April 2, 2007

Another Great Animal Shot...The Kiss

Got this via email so I don't know who the photographer was, but it's a beautiful shot. Here's the copy that came with it:

"She is pregnant. He had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire. When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest.

A photographer from a Charlotte newspaper noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman. He saw her walking straight toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do. As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph."

And people say animals are dumb…

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Flying Solo for St. Larazo

This picture popped up on my Yahoo home page today and I thought it was really funny. The dog was what caught my attention, but it was then even more amusing when I realized that the guy's fly was down. The copy for the picture referred to the Saint Lazaro's celebration in Masaya, 15 miles south of Managua, where every year hundreds of parishioners take their dogs, most dressed up in costumes, to ask Saint Lazaro for their health. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) Apparently some are in such a hurry to get there they forget to zip their pants. :-)

Random thoughts...I removed the couch cushions today and vacuumed up what was surely at least one whole box of Cheerios....

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