Blogs in Space (space…space…)

22 05 2010

I haven’t had a chance to put up a blog post of my own in quite some time, though I’ve posted several for a friend.

I’ve attended a birthday dinner or two, a baptism, and a graduation.

I’ve traveled a state away to visit family, toured a house built in 1939 that is being lovingly restored by a family member, traveled BACK home with a Uhaul on my heels and the Wee Beastie riding shotgun in the cab with his grandma looking like he was born for that, and then helped unload the truck full of family memories before reloading it with other family memories.

I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve slept (a bit), but mainly I’ve just worked. Worked, worked, and then when I thought I couldn’t I worked some more.

So when better to find a little time for myself to sit and write a little than when strapped in the seat of an airplane, however high above the earth you are when flying, hurtling towards a meeting in Denver. One of the ‘little’ things I’ve been working for, but also a reward of sorts for all of the hard work.

This coming week in Denver will be a lot of things: frenetic, exhausting, labor intensive, overwhelming at times, and jam packed with meetings. It will also be a lot of fun. So much fun that I’ll wish someone would put me out of my misery come Wednesday night, but I will soldier on through monitoring a session on Thursday morning (EARLY) before rushing to yet one more meeting then closing up shop there and flying back home to arrive ~ 12:15 AM Friday morning.

I’ve only missed one year since I began going back in 1997. You heard me; I’ve missed only one meeting in 13 years. As much work as it takes to prepare for this annual meeting, as much running around meeting attending as I do AT the meeting, I’ve looked forward to this meeting every year since probably the 3rd one or so since I began.

The early ones weren’t as fun. I knew hardly anyone there and in order to attend at all (and back then it was for a very short time and I stayed in dives so that I could go) I had to prepare a presentation, have it accepted, and then deliver it to a huge crowd of people who I felt had more knowledge and experience than I could ever have. It was like 3 or 4 years of a Freshmen year at college where I was a little fish in a big pond.

Then things began to change. I started meeting more people. I became involved in a committee (where I’m on my second rotation as an officer). I got comfortable. Since then so many of these people have become very good friends and several more are like family. Some I get to see more often than others, but many I get to talk with regularly. We’ve lost a few over the years, some to death that we mourned like a family and others to job changes where you can still stay in touch. In a sense, it has been one long Senior year and I get to feel like one of the cool kids.

Where at first I knew very few people and was in complete and utter awe of some of the others. The ones I knew by reputation. The rock stars in my field. Now I know many, it is the most bizarre feeling in the world to me to walk around a city you hardly know and see all these people in the crowd you know. I don’t have that same experience at home very often. Yes, I’ve been in a store or restaurant and had a friend walk in, but at these meetings that sort of thing happens constantly. Or as you are walking through the convention center someone will call out my name or wave from across the way.

Some people I see annually, but don’t even know. We run in different circles, different areas of expertise, and yet we still wave at each other. How could you not? You see them every year, you feel as though you SHOULD know them, and so you wave. Letting them know that you too acknowledge that you see them every year. It’s just what you do.

There are also the people you wish you DIDN’T see, but they are ridiculously outnumbered by the ones you do want to see. There have been some funny events involving one particular person of that sort. It has now become a game to me when I see them since I’ve discovered they are more mortified to see me than I am to see them and well, that’s just too much fun to pass up. Messing with their head now overtakes that pit in my stomach.

Each year the meeting is in a different city and by now I’ve been to several more than once. Last year was my second year in Toronto. This year will be my third meeting in Denver, I think. I like discovering new cities and determining if I’d want to visit on my own dime, but I also like revisiting ones I’ve been to in the past because they are familiar. I look forward to Philly again because of a little hole in the wall we found. I also look forward to Minneapolis again because of several awesome restaurants. And Toronto, well, I just love Toronto. Next year it will be in Oregon, I’ve never been there. It should be an adventure like all the rest.

This will be the first year where social media will play a big part of my meeting attendance. We’ve been Tweeting about it (@B_EMC or BEMC_groupie should you desire to follow me geeking out), they have a Facebook page, I’ll be hitting foursquare as often as I can, and if I have time I may even blog about some of the fun things.

Wee Beastie is at ‘camp’ this week. He was thrilled to see where we were when we pulled up and he nearly busted a gut when he saw his favorite kennel person. No love for me when he was taken back, couldn’t delay getting back there to bark at the other dogs! He’ll be thrilled to see me when I return though and that will be good enough for me. He’ll be thrilled and then he’ll sleep for two days straight…even better for me!

We’ll both be exhausted from our own little adventures. Now, if I truly intend to blog from space I need to jump on it since we are about to begin the final decent that marks the official start of this year’s adventure!


You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

21 03 2010

One of my favorite local small businesses, Imaginese, hosted a jewelry making class the other night. It was taught by one of the local artists whose beaded jewelry is carried in the store. I’ve never made jewelry before and decided to sign up for the class.

The project we’d be learning to make that night was a pair of chandelier earrings. I was excited and a little apprehensive to see how I was going to do with this type of craft. Before that evening I hadn’t made any jewelry since the days of friendship bracelets or macramé necklaces. Most of my artistic expression had taken the form of latch hook rugs, macramé plant hangers, crocheted blankets, cross-stitched bibs, and most recently embellished magnets.

Apparently, I’m a bit of a late bloomer since the other class attendees were, at best, in their early tweens. I almost think if you added the ages of the other class attendees together, I’d STILL be older. The artist/instructor was only 16 years old herself and has been making jewelry since she was 8 years old!

Each seat at the table was provided with the basic materials for the earrings:

There was a selection of beads to choose from to embellish them:

After an introduction to all of the materials, the tools we’d be using, and the basic premise of the final product (including an example), she walked us step by step through the process:

Until finally, and I mean FINALLY since ever other classmate completed their earrings LONG before me, I had a beautiful pair of earrings suitable for wearing:

I really enjoyed putting these together and seeing what choices the other girls made when selecting from the beads and putting together the designs. The hardest part for me was learning how to roll the wire holding the beads into a loop that could then be opened slightly to allow the string of beads to be added to the chandelier holder. Our instructor made this look SO easy, with every twist of her wrist resulting in a perfect circle with seemingly no effort whatsoever. Obviously that is the sort of skill that comes with practice and experience. Mine were nowhere near so perfect or so consistent in their shape and size. The perfectionist in me was screaming while the other side was quietly reminding me that this was supposed to be fun and relaxing, not stressful.

The other young ladies in the class came up with some beautiful earring designs. It was amazing to see the combinations that could be achieved with the number of beads provided for the class:

With so many choices of beads and options for arranging them possible, I could see myself becoming overwhelmed by the entire decision making process. It always seems when I’m shopping for jewelry that it would be so much easier if I could just make what I was wanting, but now that I’ve actually made the earrings I no longer believe this to be true. I learned so much and hope that the classes continue so that I can pick up some more skills and perhaps dabble some more with the hopes of being able to make gifts for my friends.

I left the experience with a whole new appreciation for friends/artists who make jewelry of all sorts. The talent and skill they possess (not to mention the restraint!) is amazing, just one more reason why it is SO important to support local artists. The vision they possess, the things that they are able to accomplish, the unique pieces of art they create in all shapes and sizes, and the beauty they bring to the world are contributions we cannot afford to lose.

Seeing the abilities of the young ladies in the class, I’m filled with hope that the future is brimming with potential for talented young artists. I think it isn’t so bad off for the friendship bracelet making old dogs in the crowd either.

Being me isn’t as awesome as it looks sometimes…

19 03 2010

Sure, on the surface it looks like I’m living the dream life. I get to take lots of fun car rides that earn me nice refreshing beverages along the way.

I get to nap whenever I want, wherever I want! I even have a pillow with my picture on it (I’m sure that’s me on there).

I may work hard…REALLY hard, BUT…

I also get to play hard…REALLY hard!

It may look like the all fun and games, you may even be jealous and wish you were me, BUT a life like mine does not come without a cost…

First, there are the t-shirts

Then there are the costumes

And, OH MY GOODNESS, the themed photo shoots…

BUT, the icing on the cupcake of my life? At least once a year she makes me wear a SKIRT!

She tries to tell me they are called KILTS and that we are celebrating our Celtic roots, but I know darn well the gobshite is full of BLARNEY!

We ALL have something to overcome. We ALL must push ahead anyway.

17 03 2010

NO excuses…

“And indeed if you think you’re a genius at something, what you achieve is very much according to your expectations; if you think you’re no good, you’re not going to get anywhere.” ~ Diana Wynne Jones

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.” Read the rest of this entry »

My Wild Welsh Wee Beastie

14 03 2010

We had another pretty day today, the first one where we’ve been home and had the time to take one of our longer walks.  When the weather is cold and it gets dark so early in the evening and stays dark later in the morning we tend to stick a little closer to home, either taking the long loop around the edge  of our neighborhood, around the neighborhood next to ours, or the two combined together.  With it being so lovely outside today I decided to shake things up and try a new route, which completely threw my little man for a loop.

It struck me while we were walking that there are several definite stages to our walks.  We don’t always hit all of them, but we generally hit most of them.  Today, with us going a new way, I almost think I noticed a new one. The ‘are you sure about what were doing and where we’re going?’ stage. He sort of gave me a look that questioned if I was going to be expecting him to find our way back home.  It cracked me up how concerned he was that I didn’t have a handle on things.  New experience having your dog doubt you!
I was able to capture some of our walk ‘stages’, so with out further ado I present – A Walk with Wee Beastie…

Starting out and happy to be on a walk...

1. Starting Out. It really depends on the weather, the time of day, and his mood, but most of the time he is thrilled to be out and about so he happily leads the way.

Are you still back there?

2. Checking In. For our daily walks that are meant to let him do his business, check things out, and get our exercise, I let him have fairly free rein on his flexi-lead unless there is a reason I need him close and under control (like crossing street, etc).  This way he can sniff, explore, and set his own pace.  Every once in a while when he gets well out in front of me, he’ll take a quick look back over his shoulder to make sure I’m still back there.  Silly pooch.

What's the hold up, slow poke?

3. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting. Sometimes he likes to take advantage of his lead and wait until I catch up with him so that he can have a bit of a breather.  Other times he likes to poke around the area investigating until I’m in the lead.

Losing Steam, No Longer Feeling It

4. Not Digging It. Sometimes this is how we start our walks, even after he whined and begged to go outside.  Sometimes it hits around the halfway mark when he is thinking he should be back at the house hanging on the couch or watching the happening in the hood from his watchtower.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

5. Full Steam Ahead. Regardless of whether he did any or all of the other stages of our walk, one thing is for certain…When we are headed back towards home he is a dog on a mission and nothing will sway him from his path. Which tickles me considering that when we started out he was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find our way back home!

Footprints in the Mud

6.  Reality and Perception. The little paw prints belong to my Wee Prince, but the big paw prints match the size of his paws in his heart.  To me, the larger paws match the size of his heart.  I think we can both agree they reflect the size of his attitude!

Seriously? No really, I’m asking…SERIOUSLY?

11 03 2010

It is completely understandable, it happens all the time, and especially in parking lots.

I realize, sir, that you were probably a little shaken up after having rear-ended another vehicle in the restaurant, but did you really have to BLOCK IN *MY* CAR while you exchanged information slower than snails?

Forget the heart attack I suffered seeing someone with a dent on the front end of their light colored car that had dark colored paint on it parked behind my car while people were exchanging words.  And yes, please ignore me as I look to make sure that dark colored paint wasn’t from MY car, the one you have blocked into its parking spot.

Honestly though, at lunch time on a weekday you, in your admittedly shaken (and I’m not convinced not ‘drunken’) state, couldn’t have pulled up just a little further to stop and exchange information? The woman you hit had her vehicle well out of the way.  You obviously didn’t hit her behind my car so you had to have parked there.

Why for the love of all that is good in this world did you ignore me when I looked imploringly at you as I walked past your car to get to mine?

Why did woman just shrug when I looked imploringly at her when I realized you didn’t allow enough space for me to exit between you and the car parked next to me (aside: I parked on an end space so I’d only have one car next to out of concern that one less wingnut have opportunity to harm my not quite 1 year old (to me) car)?

When I asked nicely that you pull forward did you continue to ignore me? I was TRYING to be considerate.  I even waited a bit thinking to myself, ‘how long could this take? SURELY they must almost be done by now!’

NOPE.  So I waited a bit more until I realized I was now almost 30 minutes late getting back to work because of YOUR accident. Then you did the unthinkable and you got out of your car and WALKED AWAY! So yes, I yelled and I cursed (and I am LOUD and I curse WELL), but you STILL refused to budge (not helping my theory that you were drunk, by the way), acknowledge my existence, or even  notice the inconvenience you were causing me (not helping my compassion for your situation one teensy tiny bit).

I reassessed the situation, immediately discarding the idea of just backing out and taking your heap along with me as I went. I dug deep, I took a few cleansing breaths (HA, I *snorted* with rage, but it had a somewhat cleansing effect), and I channeled my family’s long history of car maneuvering abilities (my uncle can park  SIX 1950 vintage convertibles into a garage with two doors meant to be a 2 car garage with workshop area) before I performed a miracle maneuver WITHIN my parking space (did I mention I was in a CUV parked next to an SUV with a jackass parked on my ass? not a lot of wiggle room) so that I could ease my car out between your vehicle and the SUV next to me with my back-up alarm losing its shit because of the proximity of the other two vehicles (NOT helping my mood towards you AT ALL).

And guess what? THAT is the EXACT moment you chose to return to your car (still ignoring me and my efforts to escape the predicament you created for me)! And when I was almost clear of your car, THAT is the EXACT moment you chose to FINALLY move your P.O.S. That was also the exact moment when I almost completely lost it and jumped out of my car window to beat you to a bloody pulp.

Perfect timing, Jackass! Yes, I did yell that at you. Yes I did yell, now as I was almost clear of your fucking vehicle and you were finally going to move your car, that if you decided to move any direction other than forward and caused me to hit your car in the process I would most certainly kick your ass.

Trust me, that was no threat, it was a promise.  I wouldn’t have succeeded, having never actually hit anyone in my life, but I would have tried like hell and in the process you would have received the tongue lashing of your life.  That IS something with which I’m very experienced and quite adept too, if I do say so myself.

Here is some free advice for future such occasions:

1. At the VERY least acknowledge the innocent 3rd party’s existence. Maybe even apologize for inconveniencing them and offer to move your vehicle if it is blocking their way.

2. Don’t ever flip the bitch-switch on a Type-A Red Head unless you arrived willing to get the horns.

You’re welcome.

A Challenge to Myself (A Suggestion to You)

6 03 2010

Recently I ran across an article on Lifehacker about online journaling ( about a webapp at that challenges you to write 750 words a day created by  You get a point for writing SOMETHING, ANYTHING and you get additional points if you meet the 750 word goal for the day.  What I find the most intriguing are the statistics once you have completed writing.  It feels more like interactive journaling than just a brain dump or a venting of your spleen.  You get feedback about how long you typed, how fast you typed, which words you used most frequently, analysis on your frame of mine, and more. I think it is this kind of feedback that would keep me engaged enough to keep at it and I’m a saner, happier person if I can unload the thoughts that fill my head.

So far I have spent two days and have met the challenge both days.  I still have a lot to unload before I think I’d have to struggle to come up with something to write, but from what I understand once you reach that point it is even more revealing about the thoughts that rattle around in your head trying to make it onto the page.

If you are looking for motivation to write more or are on a journey of self discovery, I suggest you check it out for yourself.  I arrived a couple days too late to participate in March’s challenge, but think that I will make it an unofficial challenge to myself to continue to complete a 750 word entry every day in March and then take on the official challenge in April.

I also suggest checking out Buster’s website as there are more great stats, some wonderful inspiration, and some excellent life rules.  He’s also on Twitter and Facebook and seems to have an endless supply of ideas.  I’m looking forward to where this takes me as I work through the hardest year of my life and continue to move forward.

For now though, my 750 words have been entered there, I’ve posted yet another blog here, and now I’m going to hit the hay so that I will be best prepared to face whatever challenges tomorrow brings as I face the first anniversary of two life changing events: the birth of a dear friend’s much beloved son and the death of my much beloved Grandfather.