Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scorpion Patrol

So I got stung by a scorpion.  Twice.  In bed.  But it was no big deal.  No jittery vision. No tingling mouth.  No pain at the sting sites.  Indeed, the pain was gone from both sites within about 10 minutes.  Whew!  I was fortunate and I thanked God for protecting me from what is normally a very painful experience.  It happened two weeks ago, around 5a.m. and I actually went back to bed for a couple hours.  Yes, the same bed.  It took me awhile to fall back to sleep but when I woke up a couple hours later, I looked at the back of my knee and my elbow and couldn't even see any redness.

OK, so how come NOW, two weeks later, both sting sites are red?  And itchy?  Anyone know scorpion sting behavior?  Is this normal?  To me it's just plain weird.  They both feel and look like mosquito bites.  If I scratch them, they get itchier.  My jeans on the back of my knee touch just enough to keep that almost itching feeling going all day long.  And normal elbow use (leaning, resting, etc.) makes me ever mindful of the littler sting and it's itchiness.

I don't know if they were reddened prior to this past Sunday night because I don't often look at the back of my knee nor my elbow.  But they didn't feel irritated until then so I'm guessing they weren't red either.

Just thought I'd share that bit of oddness with you all. I just don't get it.

And how IS the scorpion situation at our house now you ask? Well, we still haven't gotten the exterminator out here.  The day he was scheduled it rained so we had to cancel, not wanting to waste the money on spraying the ground only to have the rain wash it away.  And between our schedules and his schedules, well we have to wait till next week.

In the meantime, we have bought a whole bunch of "glue boards".  They are ingenious for catching spiders and such.  They have this REALLY sticky glue spread over them that is laced with an attractant.  They smell like some sort of grain, corn or something.  You just peel the protective paper off and gingerly lay the glue board down wherever you need it.   They're about 4"x7" or so.

One of our problem areas is the basement.  We placed several of them down in a particularly troublesome corner and also several at the top of the stairs -trying to catch the nasty creatures before they make their way into the hallway and our main living spaces.  Also, of course, we placed a few in the bedroom.

Last week we noticed we'd caught one on the stairs.  Then over the weekend, I found another one in another trap on the stairs.  Plus...I saw (and killed):  one on the wall and two on the floor!  That's just WAY too many.  But at least they weren't anywhere else in the house.

Until....I checked one of the boards in the bedroom last night.  We had one!  Ugh!  Gross!  I can't stand that there was another one in the bedroom, just 5-6 feet  away from the bed!  It took me hours to go to sleep I was so freaked out.  I did indeed go to bed fully clothed, except I exchanged my jeans for pajama pants.  And I took the advice of my cousin who suggested I tuck my pant legs into my socks.  And I also wore a long sleeved T-shirt AND put hair bands around my wrists over the sleeves!  I looked like a complete dork but I felt safer. 

If you're squeamish about insects, here's fair warning that below is a picture of the disgusting creature caught on a glue board in the bedroom.  I lifted the board off the carpet and placed it on the sandstone slab on which sits our propane heating stove.

I have totally been having the creepy-crawly skin things ever since discovering this little, this little, ...I don't have pleasant or clean words to describe him.


We think we figured out how the one that stung me got into the bed.  I had been working on organizing some piles of stuff we'd had on the bedroom floor.  Our house is rather small and apart from the damp, mildew and mold prone basement that draws water every spring, the only storage space is our clothes closet.  In recent years, our lives have expanded to include a photography business, a creative re-awakening (read, art supplies), jewelrymaking, van camping in cold weather, and the acquisition of lots of Mom's stuff.   Bottom line?  We have stuff  EVERYWHERE.  We are still trying to whittle away at it and get organized by first getting rid of old stuff.

The day before the scorpion sting I was reorganizing the extra blankets, comforters, and bedding that had been in a stack on the bedroom floor.  I unfolded everything and re-folded it into my new favorite storage style, rolling.  I unfolded each one onto the bed and then rolled it up, tied it around with some yarn I decided I don't like, and made a nice, neat, compact stack - on the floor again unfortunately.   We're thinking all this floor to bed commotion is how the scorpion got onto, and eventually into, the bed.

Today, before I realized what I'd done, I had taken some OTHER stuff off the bedroom floor and used the bed again as a platform for looking through and reorganizing.  GREAT!  Can I expect another scorpion, or perhaps a spider, in bed again tonight?  WHAT was I thinking?

And WHAT were we thinking when we designed and built this house with no storage space?!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Catch Up - The Lost Weeks

We went down to Phoenix two weekends in a row. My husband (who I am now calling, The Fisherman, in this blog) had band practice, we attended a beautiful wedding at a real live western ranch, and we got to see our nephew, his wife, and my little grand-niece. Our trips were too short - because of the basement which is still drawing in water. (Speaking of the basement, it's much better now and we can last about 4-5 days without pumping or vacuuming. And when we do, we get much less.)


The Fisherman and our nephew love talking about the Bible together.  They mostly talk about prophecy and end times stuff.  They went at it right away and spent into late night hours talking about things.  I love this photo of Jonathan holding his baby daughter and gesturing with his hand to a passage in his open Bible.  Little Baby Girl seems like she might grow up to "talk with her hands", too.

For some reason, I loved how these turned out using the Black and White feature.  Her little polka dots were pink, turquoise, and lavender, with little socks to match.  So cute.

She is one cute little bundle.  Almost three months old and only weighed 10 pounds.

I love this photo of Baby Hannah and her beautiful Asian mom.

I haven't figured out if they are really going to call her Ayane like we initially heard because during our visits we heard them call her Hannah a number of times. Either way, I think both are pretty names.

And here's a color one just so you can see her little cuteness in living color.

Here's Baby Hannah with her namesake, my niece Hannah (13), who is Baby Hannah's aunt. 

With it looking like they might be going to call the baby Hannah after all, now we have two Hannahs in the family to distinguish between.  "Baby Hannah" is fine for now but "Big" Hannah is not a fitting name for the original Hannah because, well, she's quite small. She's always been very petite and cutely small - though she has hated it.  Her father can't even remember where one of his favorite nicknames for her came from.  He calls her Little Bean, or Hannah Bean, or just Bean.  So...he immediately christened Baby Hannah, "Baby Bean."  Too cute.

We came back on a Monday morning from the last of our two weekend trips visiting family and friends and arrived in our nearby town just in time for a "Town Hall" meeting with an Arizona candidate for the U.S. Senate, J.D. Hayworth. Lots of good questions were asked and he had lots of good answers. We're leaning toward voting for him over the incumbent...who has been in Washington for 28 years...and who I always thought I liked but have since learned is not as conservative as I'd like.....and who, well, recently ran for President.   Oddly enough, before I finished writing this post I received a recorded poll call asking whether I was thinking favorably toward McCain, who I was likely to vote for in the primary and what I considered the most important issue of this Senate election to be.  I always wondered who actually participated in all these polls I hear about.  This one, however, was not an objective poll.  It was conducted by the McCain campaign itself, taking the pulse of where he stands.

We have been busy trying to get caught up with things around here. Winter is finally over. The last tidbit of snow from the roof slide off our garage/workshop (seen here) finally gave up it's grip and melted away into the ground a couple weeks ago. I almost took a photo of it, to show the last 12" x 5" mound of winter clinging to our land.  There is, however, still snow on the north side of our surrounding hills.  That's fun to see.

We've had some beautiful weather lately. We 've enjoyed a couple 70 degree days. Gorgeous. We put a screen door on our front door. We love our wood front door and hated to cover it up with your basic ugly "security door" but it will be SO nice in the early summer heat to get a cross breeze going like has been absent to date.

I know you're all waiting with bated breath wondering how our road is looking these days, now that things are drying out. With deliberate efforts at driving over the high spots for several weeks, we managed to smooth it out pretty well. Our neighbor, who saw my photos on the blog and then ventured up himself a couple weeks later to see it's horrors for himself, was amazed at how relatively normal the road had become after our targeted driving. It was still uneven and in some spots with slants either to one side or the other, but we are very pleased it's not trenched and rutted.

If you haven't seen the photos of how this winter's 90+ inches of snow affected our road out here in the country, you can take a look at February's Snow Road post. It was pretty bad. We were snowed in for a week or more. We parked our van a half mile away at the end of the road and it stayed there for over a month. We could only use our 4WD truck to get in and out.

We ordered 60 yards of gravel for the road. What a "yard" is, I'm not exactly sure. I just know that our local cinder company has "15 yard" trucks and trailers.  The guy came out with his dump truck (15 yards) pulling another trailer (another 15 yards).  When this amount didn't make it as far as we wanted, we went whole hog and ordered another 30 to go all the way up our driveway almost to the garage (which was built as a studio-workshop and doesn't actually house any vehicles nor does one fit very well - unless you call 2 inches clearance on either side of the doorway a fit).

Here comes Mr. Cinders with his first load...actually this looks like his second load because the road ahead of him looks too nice.

When he gets to the right spot he stops the truck, gets out and goes to the back where he props open the back gate a couple inches at the bottom.  Then he gets back in the cab, raises the "dump" part of the truck and somehow he knows just how fast to drive away so the cinders will spread evenly behind him as he goes.

Here's where he stopped after his first load ran out.

He then turns around, goes back out to "The Big Road" where he parked his trailer full of another 15 yards of "Number 2 Red" cinder gravel.  He unhitches the empty bed, hitches up the full one, and comes back to pick up where he left off.

While we were waiting for him to go all the way to town (to the cinder pit just outside of town) and load up again, we decided to do a little raking in the driveway.  I unearthed my "elephant".  There was a tree right in the middle of what we needed to be our driveway so before we began building the garage The Fisherman cut it down, taking it as flush to the dirt as possible since we'd be driving over it.  One day I realized it looked just like an elephant face.  See?

Well, Blogger has done it to me again.  It's rotated a horizontal photo into a vertical format.  (Argh!)  Sorry about that.  Guess you'll have to turn your head to try and see what I see in this stump.  When I first discovered it, the elephant's "trunk" was much longer but it has since been broken away.  The trunk portion used to extend well beyond that little cinder sitting on it at the right edge of this unfortunately now-vertical photo.  Do you see it?  Kind of reminds me of the cartoon elephant Babar.  I had never taken a picture of my elephant stump so I figured I'd better get my camera out before a whole bunch of 2-inch cinders got dumped all over it.  I imagine it will remain hidden for years now.

Anyway, here's more photos of the cinder truck doing it's spreading/dumping thing.  Around the corner, making the turn from our Driveway to the Driveway Road, driving his way out.



Ahhhhhh! Nice new road.

We still have some raking to do.  There's only so much finesse a large dump truck can manage.  We still need to rake down some highs and pull into some lows.  This will provide an excellent base when the summer rains come.  We were down to dirt in many portions of the road.  We definitely needed something down before the rains made the roads solid mud again.  We've found that these larger two-inch cinders create a very stable base.  When rain makes the ground muddy again, they squish down in but don't get lost in the muck, they don't wash away and they pack in firmly.

Well, I think you're about all caught up on the major happenings from The Lost Weeks of my blogging life.  Time to get some dinner and settle in for a movie tonight.

Remembering Mom

In my last post, I told you I would put up the eulogy I spoke at Mom's funeral.  The main portion of it was from a "Thank You Mom" tribute I had written and given her for Mother's Day about nine years before her death.  I never imagined that I would share those words with anyone else, much less at her funeral.  But it was the perfect thing to do.  And, it blessed others.  I had a number of people tell me afterwards that they intended to write their own Thank You's to their loved ones, some living, some gone.  I think it's a good idea.

Here is what I shared.

"My Mom was a beautiful and special woman. She has meant so much to me, my brothers and our wide and mixed family.

All of us in this room have known Mom through different means. To us she is Mom, Nana, Grandma, mother-in-law, step-mom, aunt. She has been known by you as fellow volunteer, fellow choir member, circle leader, office volunteer, elder, committee member, Bible study participant, teacher, school board member, hostess. But most of all, friend.

The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I marvel at the beautiful fact that all of us have been privileged to know and experience Mom through different means, and thereby we each have known her a little differently. We each have had a unique relationship with her. There are things you know about her, things you observed about her, experienced with her, that I as her daughter don’t know. There are things that we have been privileged to know and experience about Mom that can’t be known apart from our unique relationship as her family. ......What a beautiful thing a human life is.

As people have called, and as I’ve looked back over Mom’s life this week I am seeing her with fresh eyes. I am seeing how important she has been in the lives of many whom she knew, some of whom she quietly loved and encouraged through the years. She has influenced, loved, and cared for many people, quietly and unbeknownst to most all of us. She has had a powerful impact in lives that most of us have had no idea about. She has left a legacy of faith, love, and service.

Several years ago I wrote a Thank You Letter to Mom. I’d like to read it to you so that you can enjoy a bigger view of her as the beautiful woman she was. But first, there are a couple of items on this list that need some explanation.

One: At our first house here in Phoenix we had a gardener who planted and tended some beautiful flower beds out front. His name was Mr. Stepp. He was not a young man and a few years later, he died. Mom went to his funeral. I was young and it puzzled me that she went when he wasn’t really a friend or relative. When I asked her why she went, I learned that he didn’t have much of anyone here in the way of family or friends. She went to honor his life and let his son know that he had mattered to her.

And then there was a time when my Grandpa needed some serious surgery. Mom went back to Detroit to be there for him and my Nana. In the bed next to Grandpa was a man who was very ill and it didn’t seem that the nurses were tending to him very well. This was in the late 60’s or perhaps very early 70’s. He was a black man and mom suspected this might be the reason he was being neglected. Mom took care of him. She tended to him with cool cloths and comfort. And I think that man ended up dying. I am grateful he died knowing she cared about him.

So...here is a view of Mom through my eyes:

Dear Mom,
Thank you for letting me play in the bottom drawer when I was a toddler. I remember thinking it was “my” drawer. You let me drag everything out and play with it on the floor. I especially loved the eggbeater. And now I realize you had to wash everything after I played with it on the floor!

Thank you for making chicken for me when we had spaghetti. And now, thanks for the great spaghetti recipe!

Thank you for sitting with me till I fell asleep at night when I was scared as a child.

Thank you for trying to resolve that fear in me.

Thank you for giving me a foundation of church and Christianity.

Thank you for having birthday parties for me. Thanks for all the thought and fun you put into them - like the balloons hanging from the chandelier, each with the name of one of my guests written on it so she could take it home.

Thank you for making me feel special by fixing an after-swimming snack for my 5th grade friend and me to eat poolside - each item was in its own little bowl. I thought that was so elegant and I felt very special.

Thank you for knitting. It was always a comfortable homey feeling to be watching TV with you knitting on the couch. Thanks for all the beautiful afghans you have made for all of us. Thank you for teaching me to knit.

Thank you for always telling me I drew good trees and for encouraging me in my drawing as a child.

Thank you for remembering and valuing the lonely and alone you came across.

Thank you for attending Mr. Stepp’s funeral.

Thank you for caring for the black man who shared Grandpa’s hospital room in Detroit. Thank you for being there with him, putting cool cloths on his forehead, nursing him when the nurses wouldn’t - probably because he was black. Thank you for, by that act, teaching me that color doesn’t matter but that kindness and goodness and love do.

Thank you for taking me to lunch right after getting my braces off, to celebrate.

Thank you for giving me the professional water color set. I never would have taken art classes in high school if you hadn’t. Thank you for seeing the artist in me when I couldn’t and for encouraging me to explore art when I had no confidence or even a notion that it was part of me. If I hadn’t taken art classes in high school, I never would have taken them in college. If I hadn’t taken them in college I never would have discovered who I truly am. Thank you!

Thank you for having Young Life at our house.

Thank you for your example of being involved and wanting to make a difference in this world: communicants class, opening our home to church and inner city youth parties, being on the school board, your involvement in church circles, boards, volunteer jobs and administrative roles. You have made a difference in this world.

Thank you for resigning your effective school board position to be home with me my senior year.

Thank you for the Welcome Home Judi banner over the carport for my first visit home from college. I was amazed that you would tell the whole world you were so glad I was home! I felt so special and loved. Thank you.

Thank you for entertaining in our home - for always thinking of those who might be alone for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I love the memories of guests at these special dinners. You have shown me gracious hospitality.

Thank you for being the kind of woman that my brother’s old girlfriends want to keep in touch with.

Thank you for your committed diligent care for Aunt Nomie.

Thank you for passing on your love of animals to me.

Thank you for your commitment to what’s right - for being willing to say or do the uncomfortable for the sake of a higher good - for being willing to do the right thing though there is a risk and a cost to do so. That’s integrity. Thank you.

I love you, Mom.

I thank you for all of the countless ways you have loved me in my life - all the sacrifices you have made both small and great, all the thought you put into raising me, improving my life, and meeting my needs. Thank you for your laughter. I have observed your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your kindness - to me, my husband, my brothers, their wives and children, and to all people. Thank you for the privilege of this observation.

I love you,

I gave that to Mom about nine years ago and I’m so glad I did.

At the beginning of my sharing I said that Mom was a beautiful and special woman. Because of her faith in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary death on the cross for us, I can say that Mom IS a beautiful and special woman...present tense. She has eternal life with Christ in heaven because of her faith in Him, and though I grieve my loss of her, I do not grieve without hope, because I know I will see her again in heaven. The loss is temporary. And I am very thankful for that."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mom - The Anniversary

In several weeks where my blog was silent, a significant event passed.  The first anniversary of Mom's death was March 30th. 


I think Mom was around age 18 in this photo. She and Dad were married when Mom was 19.  In this photo she has her engagement ring only.

My brothers deferred to me regarding Mom's gravestone message.  It took me awhile to even be able to focus on on it, but I was pretty sure I didn't want anything typical, like, "In Loving Memory" or "Beloved Mother".  When I finally did put some thought into it, I knew I wanted something that reflected who she was to more than just her three children.  She was loved and important to many over her long life.  One day, three words came to me that seemed to say it all.  I conferred with my brothers and they liked the message so we went with it.

During  the Funeral Week we created a canvas on which we could write words and phrases that described Mom, or messages of love and thanks to her.  We had it at the visitation where guests contributed their sentiments as well.  Beautiful, respected, and loved seemed to be common.

 Mom was born just before the big stock market crash.  My Grandpa was an engineer and my Nana was a music teacher.  Mom grew up in the 1930's and once told me she remembered seeing the milkman park in front of the house in a horse drawn cart. 

A few days before she passed away, we got out old photo albums, both the family's and Mom's really old ones.  Spouses and grandkids enjoyed seeing for the first time old black and white photos of Mom as a child, wedding photos, pictures of her childhood dog, my Nana and Grandpa, and other relatives.  We poured over scrapbooks and photo albums in snatches but as a family.  The grandkids also got to see photos of their dads growing up.  It was nice. 

Mom was a dancer when she was a girl.  We are blessed to have some wonderful photos of some of her performances.

I love this photo of Mom laughing.  It was taken at her birthday celebration a year or so before she died.

As the anniversary of Mom's passing drew closer, I started looking over my journal of that period last year.  I remember how draining and emotional her illness was.  How sad I felt.  How tired I was.  We moved her home from the hospice house one week before she died.  That was a difficult week that also had blessings.  Family was around every day.  Family from out of town also came to help care for her and to be close.  The closeness and support that filled the house every day was comforting and strengthening.

After she passed I received these gorgeous spray orchids from our old church where I used to be secretary.  They were so beautiful and they blessed and cheered me so very much.  Mom loved pigs and I set the flowers next to one of her many (many) pigs.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Though this is a totally unflattering picture of me, it speaks volumes about what Funeral Week was like.  I don't know if I was listening to someone here, or if I was just staring off ...either thinking of all the things to do or simply in exhaustion. 

At the visitation the night before Mom's funeral, it took me almost until the end before I had a chance to sit down with my dad.  I love this photo of us.  My husband took it, wanting to record what he knew was a special moment for me.  We talked about Mom, how hard it was for us to face that she was gone, and shared how special she was and shared our love for each other as we sat with arms around each other.   After several minutes, we made our way to the casket together. 

Though Mom and Dad divorced when I was 14, they remained amiable and our family celebrated holidays and birthdays together. I'll never forget two special things my Dad said. Just before we turned from the casket to go back up the aisle, he said to her, "Byyee-bye." And as we walked away, he said to me, "I spent a third of my life with her."

This is Mom at her 70th birthday party.

This is Mom at her 81st birthday party 6 months before she died.

During Funeral Week, I took a lot of condolence calls.  Everyone shared their love for Mom and they all seemed to have a story of how she touched their lives.  It was such a blessing to hear.  She blessed everyone she knew over the years of her life.  As the hours and days went on and I kept hearing from more people,I realized I needed to share at her funeral.  Though I was nervous and wasn't at all sure I could do it, I knew beyond any doubt that I had to.  I realized that we each knew her differently.  We each had different experiences with her.  She touched us all in whatever relationship we had with her.   I knew just what I would share.  It was a "Thank You Mom" tribute I wrote for her for Mother's Day nine years earlier. All I needed to do was add a preface and a conclusion and it would be great.  I'll post what I shared in a separate post.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Yesterday I was driving home from Phoenix.  I left much later than I intended.  I had a couple of long phone conversations, went to the cell phone store and got a bite to eat...and pretty soon it was 4:00 in the afternoon.  Great...rush hour.  Oh well, I settled in with no worries and turned up my favorite Christian radio station that I miss so much.  I didn't think I would get home before dark like I'd wanted, but I was trying to make it as soon after sundown as possible.  Driving out of Payson I saw one of those huge digital signs and it said: "Crash 17 miles ahead. Road Closed." 

Uh oh.  Now what?  All I could do was turn around.  As I did, I realized that a road closure caused by an accident often has the makings of a tragedy, a fatality.  I called one of my brothers and he got on the internet for me and sure enough, "Road closed due to fatality."   I was so sad.  I prayed for the family and friends whose worlds had just been turned upside down by a crushing blow.

Meanwhile, I was stuck.  It was about 6:30 p.m.  Road closures of this nature usually last 3-4 hours.  I knew I would not be fit to continue the drive that late.  Do I turn around, drive 2 hours back to Phoenix and do it all over again in the morning?  Do I drive over 100 miles out of my way to circumvent the road closure?  Neither of those options set too well with me. I decided to stay put for the night.

And thus I had my first adventure in solo van camping.  I'm quite proud of myself, actually.  Van camping is quite a sport.  I drew on my husband's wisdom regarding choosing a spot.  When van camping, you can't camp in what at first glance appear to be the ideal camping spots.  Ideal spots first seem to be those that are dark and away from buildings, other cars, and people.  We're thinking sleep here right? Nice dark place out of the way, right?  WRONG.  No indeed, we're talking safety here!  In those cozy sleep-perfect places you're a sitting duck, an obvious camper, and an easy mark for people up to no good.  My husband once woke up in the morning to graffiti sprayed all over the van and had to spend 4 hours scrubbing it off before he could continue his travels.  On another occasion he woke up to someone attempting to siphon gas out of his tank in the middle of the night.  The key is to try to blend in, look like your vehicle belongs there and not be too far from the company of other cars.  Hotels and 24-hour stores fit the bill.  You may have to sacrifice in the areas of lighting and noise but it's worth it.

I immediately scoped out but rejected some hotels en route back to the center of town.  Too small, too crowded; I'd be noticed and possibly ousted.  That's another concern.  You don't want to have to get up in the middle of the night and go find another place to finish sleeping.  So I headed for the Wal-Mart, hoping it was a 24 hour store.  Yes!  Wal-Marts often allow overnight camping.  The always did. Then they didn't. And now they do again.  I checked for signs to be sure.  They said, and I quote: "No overnight camping after 24 hours."  Huh?  Well... I guess that means I can stay, right?  Just so long as I don't set up camp, roll out a patch of AstroTurf, set up a lawn chair and stay a week, is, I suppose, what they're saying?  OK, so one night's allowed.  And looky there:  a huge RV is parked with interior lights on and a man sitting at a table using a computer.  Another traveller turned back by the road closure I presume.  And a semi is parked over on the other side.  I'd found my spot.

Next I went in search of an internet cafe.  Found one - a combination ice cream parlor andcoffee shop, oddly enough (stark and bright, but with a couch) - and I spent the remainder of the evening online checking Facebook, email, and catching up on some blogs.  Didn't have the "umpf" to post to my own, though.  Thought it better to wait until the solo camp was complete to write about it.

And my first (and very likely, last) solo adventure in van camping came off without a hitch.  After some initial activity of cars and people nearby, I settled in for what turned out to be a great night's sleep.  I was tired.

So energized by my "big girl" success, this morning I took my time and visited a couple art galleries I'd found while cruising around town last night.  I felt a little like I was on vacation, stuck out of town and all.  I got home safe and sound this afternoon, saying a prayer as I passed the mark where I thought the accident had been.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Header Photo

I thought since spring has sprung I ought to get the snowy branches photo off my blog header. I don't have any typical spring-like photos from around here. The pine forests don't seem to have an abundance of colorful blossoms to announce spring in the typical manner this time of year warrants. So while this photo has more of a cozy autumn feel to it, for now, it's a welcome change to the cold wintry photo I've had up for several months.

Let me tell you about this new photo.

I love stained glass. And I LOVE this photo. I took it of a stained glass piece at my friend's cabin. The full piece is very tall and narrow, displayed with it's sister piece on opposite sides of a wall of windows. They are each about 5-6 feet tall. They are beautiful. Gorgeous.

The artist is Perdita Mouzakiti, a German friend whose home, studio, and shop are in Greece.

I love how she incorporates natural elements of rocks and branches into her work. That is SO me. When majoring in ceramics in college, I was always adding nature to my wheel thrown pottery. I have always brought nature indoors, be it twigs, branches, rocks, leaves, or birds' nests. So I love how Perdita has figured out how to add stones and wood to her stained glass work.

There are so many art forms I would love to get into. My heart aches when I see beautiful pieces like this. I love to look at them but I also long to create them. Unlike Perdita and my friend Angie (and here), who are both the kind of artists that literally cannot stop creating art, I tend to let life swallow up and push aside my creativity. Yet the ache remains.

For more of Perdita's awesome work, check out her website at Perdita's Art Glass. She does frames, mirrors, lamps, wall sconces out of old Greek roof tiles, votives, and jewelry. She is amazing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heebie Jeebies at 5 AM

There I was at 5:00 a.m. this morning, minding my own business, half asleep and turning over in bed when...ouch! The back of my leg hurt. OW! The pain intensified. I grabbed my leg and cried out, "Something bit me!" as I was frantically scrambling up the bed under the covers. I was desperately trying to get every part of me away from the middle of the bed where something I definitely did not appreciate was lurking.

It got me behind the knee. I'd just rolled over and felt a little sting that slowly increased. As I was scrambling to sit up and get away, I leaned on my opposite elbow and felt another smaller sting. I threw off the covers in a panic and reached for a flashlight. Living in the pitch dark woods, we always have flashlights at our bedsides. I also always have extra pillows hanging around me. I moved one of the pillows and scanned the light to see what had gotten me. "There's a SCORPION in the bed!" I blurted it out with a combination of fear, disgust, and anger...all while I was clamoring out from under the covers in one direction and climbing off the end of the bed in the other direction. Eew! Gross! And huu-ah-ah (said with a shake of the head and a complete shudder of skin crawling creepiness!) I'm shuddering just typing about it! I gave my husband a book and he promptly killed it.

We called the hospital Emergency Room to inquire about what to expect. I understand from my brother, an E.R. Doc, they don't really do anything for scorpion stings anymore because they found people were getting sicker from the anti-venom than from the sting itself. They told me that it's a neuro-toxin and I'd probably experience jittery jumpy eyes and a tingling in my mouth when I drank. She told me to put ice on it to slow the progress of the venom.

The fact that I'm posting rather nonchalantly about it lets you know that it was not a bad sting. I understand they can be very, very painful...for days and days. I am fortunate. I've always heard that it's the little scorpions that are the most dangerous, the most venomous. That's what we have, little ones. I'm starting to suspect, however, that "little" could be a result of either breed or age. This sting was not bad and the pain didn't last very long at all. My father-in-law was stung by one and he was in terrible pain for 3-4 days. My dad was stung by one as he reached into his laundry hamper and his hurt pretty badly, too. By the time I was talking with the doctor, I couldn't feel the pain of either sting anymore and I never experienced the symptoms. I am very thankful this was so insignificant.

But a scorpion! In my bed! I tell you it's going to be hard to go to bed tonight. I'm tempted to sleep fully clothed and with my shoes on! And a scarf around my neck. And mufflers on my ears. And safety glasses over my eyes. I've been feeling skin crawlies every now and then all day today. I've been checking everything and this morning I shined my flashlight into my jeans, my shoes and my socks before putting them on!

This is not the first scorpion I've seen in the house. We've seen a number of them. They mostly come in through our basement. We set out these glue traps and catch them. Once I actually took a shower with one. It was in our "jug shower" days - before we had running water here off the grid. Thinking it was a little cluster of hair and, not wanting to wash it down the drain, I left it there but kept looking at it. "Huh," I eventually thought to myself, "that little bit of hair is in the exact shape of a scorpion. There's what could be the tail and there's what could be the pinchers." I sprinkled some water on it and it stayed in the same shape, but it moved. As in, with life. So, yes, I took a shower with a scorpion once. And now it seems I've slept with one in my bed, too. (There go those crawly chills up my leg and down my arm!)

When my Mom and Dad first lived in Phoenix it was back in the 1950's during Dad's residency. They lived in a little apartment on 36th Street and Indian School Rd. (so named long ago because there was once a school for native Americans back when no one thought it wrong to call them Indians.) My brother was just a baby and Mom was advised to put drinking glasses underneath each leg of his crib because whereas scorpions could crawl up the wooden legs, they could not crawl up glass.

I'm basically pretty miffed that we have scorpions here. We do not live in the desert. (Do you hear me, scorpions?!) We do NOT live in the desert! We LEFT the desert for the mountains, the cool wooded mountains with pine trees, not cactus. But we have scorpions nonetheless. And rattle snakes, by the way, but that's a complaint for another time that I'd really rather not get into anyway.

At any rate, we've called exterminators today and have selected one to come out this week. He will spray around the outside perimeter, the foundation, the basement, and the interior. AND we're going to have him "dust" the crawl space with a special insecticide dust that clings to the woodwork and should kill any creepy crawlies clinging there. We will feel much better once that is done.