Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best of 2012

I love this time of year.  It's a time of looking forward to a new year with hope and optimism, as well as looking backward in reflection and contemplation. 

*And it seems that there's a movement afoot to encourage the rest of the scrappy community to post their favorites.  Stacey at Oh Schwiet Scrap is hosting an informal blog hop for participants of a top ten favorites.  The idea is to list your favorite ten layouts or projects, then share it with her in the comments section of her blog.  She'll compile all the posts and send out a RAK to one lucky participant.  

Here's the link to Stacey's blog post - which also includes her list and tutorials - so you can check it out and join the fun.  Stacey has some pretty amazing talent - and her creative ideas are always fun. 

I had to winnow out from a massive total of 156 completed projects.  I was a busy busy girl in 2012!  I think 2013 will see me slowing down a bit.  I've resigned from my job at my LSS and won't be creating projects for teaching classes any longer.  I'll miss seeing my students every month, but I'll still have time to take a class or two, and I'm pretty sure that I'll have plenty of scrapping time with my design team duties for Paper Mixing Bowl and Nuts About Sketches. 

Anyway - enough of that.  Here are MY favorite 12 projects for 2012.  And I hope your new year is safe and happy!   

Ahhh!  That's The Spot!

Bobby Dawg

Celebrate Life (with Root Beer)

Hilton Head

Make A Joyful Noise

Odd Coincidences 

Oh, To Be In Paris In May

Porch Swing


 Shell Seekers

 The Lord Is My Shepherd


Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Random Thoughts About Connecticut

My random thoughts about the Connecticut tragedy, based on 34 years in the public sector of education, as a parent and as a teacher.   

The shooter's mom (I refuse to post his name because that gives him more of a public forum than he already has) being associated with the school as a part time employee meant that he was most PROBABLY recognized as a family member, which would have PROBABLY prevented the alarm bells ringing in the heads of anyone seeing him in the hallway.  
***Updated reports say his mom wasn't a teacher.  Even so, based on the size of the community, this guy would have been known.  He attended school in the town - which has only one HS and one MS.  People knew him, knew what his issues were, and still never perceived him as a threat.  Odd, certainly, but not threatening.    

Secondly, there are procedures in place in schools for registering visitors.  You can require visitors to register as they come in, and you can intercept them in the hallway if you don't recognize them - assuming that there are people IN the hallway to see them, which often isn't the case.  But the security measures at any school are only as good as the location of the front office and the convenience of the public. You can't keep ALL the doors locked ALL the time. It's just a physical/logistical impossibility.  

Parents start complaining about having the doors locked so they can't walk right in and pick up their kid for a lunch outing.  Students start complaining because they can't get back into the building when they have to pass from one building to another for things like recess or the library or to another class or lunch.  Teachers start complaining because they forgot their key to get back into the building from a quick errand to their vehicle to grab the science demonstration equipment that they brought with them from home because the school didn't have the funds to pony up for the hands-on activity materials.  Yes, today, that all seems reasonable, but in six months, when the new of our national grief has worn soft, it'll be happening all over the nation again - especially in small town America where everyone knows everyone else and everyone feels safe.    

In my opinion, this whole tragedy is defined by our collective attention to three issues.  


Health insurance - what a hot potato topic.  Poor people can't afford it, middle class hope that their company will help offset the cost of an affordable option, wealthy folks don't even think of it AS an issue.  Good health insurance will SOMETIMES provide for mental health counseling, if you are willing to pay an additional cost for a rider.  But it's not "standard."  It should be, but it's not.  Universal health insurance - in my state at least - is still "up for debate" and jostling for position on how to NOT make it happen because we want to keep our tax dollars for ourselves for our own private use.  

We used to provide housing and treatment for severely mentally ill people, including children. But somewhere along the road, the rights of the severely mentally ill took priority over the rights of the rest of us to keep ourselves safe from what they are capable of doing.  We quit being willing to pay the costs of these housing facilities with our collective tax dollars.  We closed facility after facility.  We started housing them in the prisons, treating them while they were in house, hoping they would continue to treat themselves when they were paroled.  Because no-one stays in prison forever until they do something so horrible that they are sentenced for life or death, depending on your state's attitude about the matter.  

Well, here's a news flash.  These people are severely mentally ill, which by definition makes them incapable of self treatment, and our answer to that is to leave them to cope with their paranoia and delusions on their own, with no structured support system in place beyond having a parole officer with an overloaded case file.  Meanwhile, we find them nothing more than a minor annoyance when we step over them in the doorways of our cities, and only give them serious attention when one of them demands our attention with heinous acts like the one committed in Connecticut.   

There is nowhere for these people to BE treated unless you are blessed with enough private funds to provide for the expense - and it's not as simple as "I'd do whatever I could to make sure that it got done."  In doubt?  Watch "Waiting For Superman" to see how hopeless it can be to want to "do whatever you can" to realize just how little you can do.  

As a nation, we are pathetic about the way we fund public education.  We've begun seeing charter schools as a panacea for the problems of public education without doing the homework required to research their effectiveness.  The Nation's Report Card has posted a report on a study that shows charter school students, on average, score LOWER than students in traditional public schools. We are abandoning the public schools in a mad rush to the bottom.  Security in a school system takes personnel and it takes technology.  Both of those things require FUNDING - funding for metal detectors, funding for security cameras, funding for security locks, funding for security guards.  Schools can't pay for these kinds of security measures.  Schools can't even afford TEXTBOOKS and TEACHERS right now because WE won't fund the schools.  

Look at the recent issues in Chicago and tell yourself how you felt about striking teachers a few months ago and then think about what happened in Connecticut and think for just a minute, not about the children who died, but the ones who survived because a TEACHER was there to protect them and give up HER life for the lives of her students - without thought, without hesitation - just like a soldier on a battlefield.  What's the likelihood that you'll get shot at your job this week?  

Until we are ALL willing to step up to the plate and say to ourselves and to each other that we are WILLING to pay collectively for services that protect ALL of us at the expense of EACH of us, well things are not going to change much. We will all continue to be vulnerable to the next lunatic, at which point we'll spend a few weeks arguing and moaning about gun control which only puts a band-aid on the problem, and then puts it on the wrong wound anyway.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the wounded community in Connecticut this week.    I hope this tragedy wakes us up for a lot longer than the 15 minute sound bite that is typical of our collective attention span.   But in the meantime, I'll be praying for the rest of us as we continue down our own delusional paths of selfish and egocentric isolationism. 

Monday, December 10, 2012


The word harmony originates in a pair of old Greek words - one a noun that defines a joint agreement, the other a verb that means to fit or join together. 

Normally, when we think of harmony, we think of the way music sounds - of contrasted notes and vertical progressions - one higher, one lower - blending together to create a single element of beautiful sound.  The melodies may be different, but the music that the contrasting notes follow along their separate paths fits together in a perfect way. 

I can think of no better way to describe my parents relationship.  They are very different people, my mom and my dad, but they complement one another in a way that fits together in a beautiful example of what a marriage should be. 

The church my parents attend updates the church photo directory every couple of years.  This year was an update year, so I have this wonderful photo.  They'll celebrate their 57th anniversary this year. 

Mom, Dad, this one is for you.  I love you both! 


Monday, December 3, 2012

My Mark On The World

Wow.  It's Monday, and it's another blog post from ME!  Unbelievable.  

I wanted to post my most recent project for Nuts About Sketches.  I haven't been very faithful to Shawn on this blog - neglecting to put my DT work up here.  She's got my gallery linked on the NAS site, so it's not been too big a deal.  And besides, I know that this blog doesn't see a whole lot of traffic, so I've not been too concerned about it. 

But I think, now that I'll have Paper Mixing Bowl duties starting in January, I'd best get IN the habit of dropping my projects here, and probably doing a little more in the way of photographing them instead of just "point and shoot and upload." 

Here's Sketch #242

And here's what I did with it.  

The papers are Prima's Almanac Collection.  The little crochet fan came from Mandy Harrell's etsy shop.  

I took the little fan apart and put my own handmade floral on it so it would match my page a little better.  Then I created a sort of vine of similar buds with some floral wire and stuck them in behind the fan.  

The right hand photo has some text work done on the bricks - nothing amazing, just an invisible text box and some black text before printing.  

Thanks for taking a stop by.   I'd love to hear comments - the crickets are chirping pretty loud in the room here.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Janie's Buddy

This horse was a throw-away. You can read his story in my Scrapbook Dot Com  gallery under the photo "Pasture Ornament." Go ahead, I'll wait. It's kind of important background to understand this photograph.

Pasture Ornament

My mom is a breast cancer survivor, but the treatments to save her life ravaged her body. She now has neuropathy (damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system), tremors, and add to all that, she's 74 years old. 

She has begun developing an interest in my horses and I've sort of hoped that I could offer her an opportunity to ride at some point.  But horses are ... horses, which means anything can happen, and usually does, so I've not really felt comfortable with the idea. Much as I love Java and Charlie, she's my MOM, right?

Well, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I decided that I would get on Buddy and see just how broke he was. And in short - he's amazing. Sane, quiet, unflappable. Just like I hoped he would be. In fact, he's BETTER than I hoped he would be. I called mom and told her, "I finally have a horse that I can trust with you. His name is Buddy, and if you want to, you can ride him this Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving dinner came, and after the dishes were cleaned up and the men were watching football, Mom said, "let's go out and see Buddy." And on the way to the pasture she said, "if you'll saddle him, I'll ride him." She told my niece, "you better take a good picture because this is the last time I'll ever ride a horse."

I helped her up onto the mounting block and helped her get into the saddle. I handed her the reins and explained that all she needed to do was point her thumb the direction she wanted to go and give him a hug with her legs. Her first words were, "He does what I TELL him!"

If you're a horse person, you'll probably notice that she's riding this horse with nothing but a halter and some reins hooked into the nose band. And her shoes aren't "regulation" or the least appropriate. And no helmet - I know.

But - the photo doesn't show EVERYTHING. I Photo Shopped out the lead rope and my right leg. The truth is, neither me nor the lead rope was the least bit necessary. Buddy took care of my mom as if he were walking on eggshells. He was - he IS - an unbelievable soul.

Mom had a great time. I know because she called me yesterday and said, "you know, I'd really like to come ride Buddy again." I said, "anytime. He's here for the rest of his life. I promise." 

As if there were ever any doubt.

This layout used the Nuts About Sketches Sketch #240. Come check out the NAS website and see how much fun you can have with a sketch a week!