Monday, June 25, 2012

A Vacation With My Girl - Part 2

This picture was taken seconds before I fell backward into a mud puddle. This was our first stop on the day we arrived. I walked around Washington with my sweater tied around my waist for 7 hours to cover my muddy bottom. It was a priceless day.
So, what did the previous post have to do with vacationing with my girl? Well, Caiti called me one evening in April to tell me she was going to Washington, D.C. for a 4 day conference. So I told her, as any photography loving mama would, "Bring your camera and take lots of pictures. It'll be amazing!" Her response was, "I was thinking I'd bring you and YOU could bring your camera!"
Lord help us, I'm actually showing my mug. This is us in front of the White House (my sweater is wrapped around me). It was hotter than Hades the 4 days we were there. In every picture with me, my face is beet red. 
You need to understand, my husband and I have never been away on vacation - ever. We got married just after he and I turned 21 and 20 respectively. We had our first child when I was 22, and I stayed home to raise our brood of four after the birth of our second, 18 months after the first. Money, especially for vacations, isn't something that we've ever had. I'm going to be 50 in July. Our children have never gone without, and we've managed to scrape together the money for them to have the opportunity to go on trips; they certainly didn't do without the necessities, but the wants weren't always available. We've put them through school and have helped financially as much as we can and have helped with a business s much as we can - vacations away as a family weren't an option. We were stay-cationing before it was popular.
I can't explain the overwhelming sense of awe and pride in my country that I felt when I looked down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capital Building.
So, when Caiti suggested that she buy my plane ticket and take me to Washington my first response was no. I didn't want her to spend her money on me. Gabrielle asked me if I was nuts. We've provided for them and if Caiti wanted to and could afford to take me on vacation I should let her. Well, I relented and I'm so glad I did. All of the kids chipped in for Mother's Day and bought me a Visa gift card to take on my vacation (thank you, I love you all!). It was wonderful to spend so much time with Caiti and hear about her new life and how happy she is.
Rolling Thunder was in town, we were there over Memorial Day weekend. We weren't there for the parade on Memorial Day, I'll bet it was amazing.
Thus began what I call - planes, trains and automobiles. Cait's ticket had been purchased by the hospital she works at in advance. She scrambled for a ticket for me. The price, in my opinion, to fly into Reagan International as she was, was outrageous and I wouldn't hear of it. So, we found a ticket for a flight that was reasonable but landed in Baltimore. The Husband was not impressed. I don't know if he thinks I'm inept or just loves me so much he doesn't want anything to happen to me (that last comment is dripping with sarcasm) - I think it's more of the first. Our flights left Portland at approximately the same time and arrived in our destined cities at the same approximate time. However, I had to figure out how to get from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. For a week Tim asked me several times a day if I had figured out how to get from point A to point B. I told him to leave me alone and I'd figure it out. Finally, I sat down one evening and mapped it out. I'd arrive in Baltimore, take the shuttle to the Amtrak station, the Amtrak into Washington and then the Metrorail to Dupont Circle. Success! I made it, the only complicated part was figuring out the Metrorail the first couple of times!
A statue of FDR at the FDR Memorial
A couple of weeks in Washington might be enough to see all there is to see. I definitely want to go back and see everything we missed. While there, we walked from the White House to the Capital Building down Pennsylvania Avenue and saw the exterior of the important buildings we wanted to see. We didn't make it to any of the museums, but we did see all of the monuments we wanted to see. Just amazing. My absolute favorite was the FDR Memorial. It was so interactive. I'd love to go back and spend an hour or two just at that memorial. Arlington National Cemetary is so amazing - the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns brought tears to my eyes. Seeing President Kennedy's resting place, and those of Teddy and Robert was also humbling - growing up I thought IrishCatholicDemocrat was all one word, at least it is in my family.
President Kennedy's resting place
The Changing of the Guard
Freedom is not free. Arlington National Cemetary may be a tourist attraction, but men and women who serve and have served are still buried there daily.
On Sunday of our trip we took the train out to Maryland and spent the afternoon with my cousin and her family! It was so great to see them, we haven't seen one-another for years. My cousin Sharleen's daughter Abbey has just graduated from high school; we hadn't seen her for nine years. Sharl and Abbey took us to a winery for a tasting. We had so much fun!
Abbey and Caiti
This was an absolutely amazing trip for me to see our nation's capital, visit with family and most importantly - to spend time with my daughter!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Vacation With My Girl - Part 1

April 2011
My oldest daughter Caitlin moved north to Presque Isle last fall. As in almost 5 hours north; as in, I can drive to the Connecticut/New York border which is 4 states away in only a few minutes more than it takes to get to her; as in, you might as well be in Canada, 'cause it's just across the backyard (not hers, but not too far away). There were multiple reasons for her move, but the single most important was that she was taking a job at the hospital. Caiti graduated from the SMCC/MMC surgical tech program and PI needed a surg tech. They courted her, she spent time thinking about it and then she took the job.
Caiti's graduation
Initially her plan was to move north for two or three years, then come back this way maybe to Bangor or Augusta. Both were acceptable to me - I could drive to a future grandchild's soccer game/hockey game/dance recital.....and have it not be a 3 day trek. You don't do Presque Isle in one day. I did it once and I'll never do it again. I had to pick Gabrielle up from soccer camp and I decided I'd drive up, get her and return all in one day. 10 hours of driving. Never. Again.

Well, life is full of twists, turns and interesting bumps. Cait has met a very nice young man though she wasn't looking for one. She's. Never. Coming. Home. I made this realization a few months ago when I was driving home from work. I received no sympathy from The Husband when I arrived home teary eyed. NONE.
 My tribe minus one (TJ) - Gabrielle, Matty and Caiti
Anyhoo, I adore my girl. She's not unlike me - which occasionally causes friction, because two passionate, strong-willed, opinionated women in a small space is one passionate, strong-willed, opinionated woman too many on occasion. Caiti has a huge heart, a curious mind, an incredible work ethic, and an incredibly strong sense of what is right and wrong, fair and unfair. She is a care-taker. She is full of joy. I miss her terribly. Don't get me wrong, we talk on the phone every day; we Skype. It's not the same. However, I don't get to wrap my arms around her every day. I feel blessed that I was able to do that for 25 years. I know they grow up, get their own lives, and leave the nest. I didn't think the nest would be quite so far away. Yes, I know, it's only 4.5 - 5 hours. Yes, she has been home to visit a number of times since last fall. Yes, we've met in Bangor for lunch a number of times. It's not the same.
 Caitlin in silhouette - July 1993
Cait loves her new life in her new hometown. There's a contentedness, a happiness, a spark that I can hear in her voice and see in her face. It had been missing for far too long. I am thrilled that she is happy with her new life and that makes me happy. All I've ever wanted for my kids is for them to be happy, healthy and whole. She is all three. She likes the pace of her life, the friends she's made, the independence she's gained, and the love that she has found. She's never coming home again, and I'm making peace with that. I will find a way to be an involved grandma to my future grandchildren if it kills me.

We're making the trip up to visit her this weekend, we're overdue. We haven't been up since last fall. I can't wait to meet all of the people who are part of her new tribe and to thank them in person for loving her, caring for her and welcoming her into their lives.
May 26, 2912
Well, this wasn't the post intended to write when I sat down at my laptop. What does all of this have to do with a vacation with my girl? That's a story for another post (in a couple of days) - made all the sweeter if you understand what came first..........

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pantone Spring 2012 Bead Swap

from Lakes Region Tent & Event
I have been so busy with my day job I haven't yet had time to visit the Challenge of Literature blogs or the Art Bead Earring Swap blogs to comment. I hope to rectify that later tonight and early tomorrow morning.

In between all of these events our basement flooded because we received about 9 inches of rain in a couple of days. This is the second time in 22 years that we've had water in our basement - both times after we had finished the basement, of course. I'm not talking inches or feet of water in the basement, but enough to come up through the cement (says my husband, I'm not entirely convinced). Our house was built in the early 1950's and it was a swampy area that had fill brought in. When we finished our basement 7 years ago, my husband broke up the floor where the bathroom would be. The dirt underneath was wet, not damp, but wet. We have pretty good drainage and it flows pretty well during wet weather. However, when we receive torrential rain for long periods of time, we apparently get a wet basement.

The last time this happened was 5 years ago in the Patriot's Day storm. Both of these storms were N'oreasters. We don't typically get this much rain. Anyhoo. I noticed last Sunday night when I went down to the laundry room that something was amiss, as I stepped in water. When I flipped on the light switch (I know, not terribly smart), I could see water had come up through the joints in the laminate flooring and was puddling (there was a barrier layer of plastic that had been laid over the concrete prior to installing the flooring). This then prompted 3 days of back-and-forth arguing between me and my husband because I was afraid of black mold. He finally pulled up about 1/3 of the laminate on Wednesday evening. The concrete is now dry, more flooring needs to come up and I think we've decided that we're going to stain and seal the concrete and put down scatter rugs (or scared rugs if you're my husband - they're scared because while he's a very good plumber and project manager, his home maintenance skills are sorely lacking). Oh well.

So, in the midst of this I received my lovely earrings from Shelby and Diane. I'm wearing a pair as I type and feel quite sassy! I had previously signed up to do a bead swap, sans blog hop, with Keri Lee Sereika of Pink Lemonade through a match-up by the Queen of Bead Soup, the lovely Lori Anderson. We both belong to a group Lori started on facebook called Bead Soup Cafe. It's a spot where folks who've participated in the swaps, and those who love beads (doesn't everybody?) can chat. Keri Lee and I decided we'd follow the same swap parameters as the regular Bead Soup swaps: focal, clasp and supporting beads, and we'd send them out around the end of May. This swap was based on the spring 2012 Pantone color forecast. Keri Lee and I decided to pick 2-3 colors from the forecast and go from there.

 Well, I wanted to wait 'til I returned from my trip to Washington, D.C. (that's for another post, love you Caiti!) in case I found a bead shop(s) there and could add some items from my travels. No. Such. Luck. Oh, I found a couple of stores, but nothing piqued my interest. I'm very spoiled here in Maine. We have several lovely bead stores, The Beadin' Path being my favorite. So, I waited until I returned home to pull my stash for Keri Lee together.
images from Invitations by Ajalon
I chose margarita, sodalite blue and cockatoo for Keri Lee's soup. I think I've said before that I love the ocean and the beach ;) and I these colors reminded me of a summer beach. I'm not a huge fan of the really bright colors or the pinks/purples. Here's the soup I sent to Keri Lee:
I selected porcelain rings and crackle finish MOP ovals in sodalite blue, Czech glass ovals and MOP squares in cockatoo, buri seed and pearls in margarita, as well as clear sea glass bits that I drilled, a sterling silver starfish clasp and a pottery shard from the ocean that I soldered (this one I purchased because I didn't have any in my collection that coordinated). These beads were purchased at another local bead store, Caravan Beads (the original), with the exception of the clasp which I had purchased at The Beadin' Path a number of years ago).

Keri Lee is one very talented lady. She made almost everything she sent to me! There's a textured copper clasp, another textured copper piece that's calling out to be a bracelet (to me anyway) along with beautiful torch fired enamel beads - in the same colors I sent to her!! as well as a crystal/bead mix in complimentary colors.
We both found it quite funny that we had the same color scheme in mind! I've had my torch fired enamel supplies for a year and a half and haven't tried them yet, I'm a little intimidated. I think it's time to take Barbara Lewis' e-course!

Anyway, it was a lovely swap and I've enjoyed getting to know Keri Lee a little bit (and hope to get to know her even better)! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art Bead Earring Swap - June 2012 Edition

Hi folks! Quick post - a lot on the burner at the moment (flooded basement and 16 ornaments for my daughter's lacrosse team for tomorrow)! Many thanks to Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio for again hosting this lovely swap! My partners for this swap are two VERY talented ladies; ceramic artist Diane Hawkey and jewelry artist Shelby Foxwell.

Shelby sent me a beautiful pair of earrings that are going to go with a LOT! They're sterling silver with lampworked beads by Atlantis Glass & Bead. They're just gorgeous! Thank you so much Shelby!
Diane was again very generous (we were paired for the last swap too!) and sent 2 pairs, both are beautiful! Sterling silver with pearls and stones or glass and her own ceramic charms - love them! Thanks so much Diane!
I am a lucky girl! All 3 pairs will go with so many things. Thank you both so much!

The earrings I made for Diane and Shelby are both made with sterling silver wire and ear wires, ceramic rounds by Keith O'Connor (that I purchased at The Beadin' Path) and decoupaged beads (sealed with ICE Resin) by me.
The pair on the left for Diane has the image decoupaged to blue Chinese "sea glass" beads. Shelby's on the right are decoupaged on red Czech (I think) glass briolette pendants. The floral image that I decoupaged and sealed came from a back issue of Jo Packham's Where Women Create (Jo is also responsible for Where Women Cook, The Creative Connection and a number of books - she's an artist, author and entrepreneur) - spring 2010 issue I think. There was an article about Luana Rubin of In the article there was a picture of Luana holding up a beautiful quilt and I thought it would make a wonderful decoupage sheet for some future project.
So, it's time to kick back and take a tour of the other blogs to see what beautiful earrings the other other participants created. Thanks for stopping by and thanks again Diana!

Diana Ptaszynski
Patti Vanderbloemen
Lesley Watt
Jenny Davies Reazor
Melinda Orr
Cilla Watkins
Stephanie Haussler
Sally Russick
Susan Kennedy
Cheryl Brown