Friday, November 30, 2007

Julehjerte - Yule Hearts made of fabric

Julehjerte - Yule Hearts made of fabric
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

It's the last day of November.

That means two things to me right now: NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month; you blog every day during the month of November. The incentive? People who have succeeded are chosen at random for kick-ankle prizes.) is over at midnight. And I did it. Woo Hoo!!!! I joined mid-week the first week, and I managed to do it! Despite surgery and a holiday and dozens of miniscule distractions. OK: I guess I can do anything. Cool!

The other thing: Tomorrow's December, and I really need to kick things into high gear to get this house into Christmas decoration condition. This house hasn't been decorated for Christmas since the first year Rick lived here.

That was 3? 4? years ago.

My mom died of lung cancer in 2004. I haven't been able to pull out our decorations since.

When I was a kid there was a Christmas movie based on a book (they were quite faithful, too) called The House Without A Christmas Tree. The household consisted of a widower and his school-aged daughter, and she really wanted to decorate for Christmas. He refused. She won a Christmas tree in a raffle. There was a heart-melting moment, a reconciling of spirits, a realization that in addition to mourning one must celebrate life. I was probably a little young to see it but I definitely 'got it', though it has troubled me all this time.

That is, until I found myself in the shoes of both of those characters.

This year it seems I am the one with the melting of the heart and the reconciling and so forth. So I am making ornaments and trying to muster inspiration to clean (ugh... any thoughts?) and getting up the gumption (LOVE that word! It's not just for grumpy old men!) to climb around the boxes in the attic for our Christmas stash.

The best part about Christmas stuff being out? THE BOOKS!! And the music, too!

So here is the beginning of what I am making to give. There will be more! More colors, more designs. But for now, I need to get to work on the living room. It's going to be Christmas, and this year, I want to decorate for it!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just to see if I can do this (and because it's really funny)

I've never attempted a post like this before, but you gotta see this. Pay close attention or you'll miss crucial details. You know the song, but you don't know these performers. And they are LEGION.

Hmm. I just hit the "preview" button, and it looks like it the video stream might actually work. Nice. Um. I think.

I solemnly promise not to abuse this function.

So, I have to know: any ideas what that guy is cooking? The guy who's just dancing, playing with a spoon as opposed to playing THE spoons... I just can't even imagine why that bit is even in there! I'm quite puzzled about that.

My favorites are the flute vs. the Sousaphone and the man who invites the ladies of the audience to sing along, he's so Bill-Murray-in-a-nightclub cheesey. Oh -- and the marching band. How dare I forget a special mention of someone whose greatest desire is to "kill" everyone (he's just so darn cute): The Ninja makes an appearance. "Ask A Ninja" holding a banjo: Awesome. And it's not even shaped like a throwing star.

The finale is fantastic.

Some performers are amazing, some bordering on the dreadful side of mediocre. But they all boldly pick up their instruments and play. Better than that, they proudly share it with others. Hooray!!! More power to them. It truly is entertainment. It will always be a gift. When you juxtapose the sublime with the ordinary, ultimately you get a comedy act. Laughter is a gift, too.

I'm really thankful for goofy humor like this.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Sweeney Todd? For ME??? (ahem. Click it. It's a live link. Everything underlined here is.)

For CHRISTMAS?!!??!!!

Omigoodness. You shouldn't have.

But I'm so glad you did! It's sooooo perfect!! I mean, it fits and everything!

And it's loaded with everything I like: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter and true crime fictionalized set to music!

How often is it that cannibalism gets its own musical? Don't get me wrong, I have wider interests than that, and I'm certainly not a practitioner -- all together: ewww!!! -- but it IS a fascinating subject. Mention it to a roomful of 5th graders and you'll have their attention for the rest of the day (ask me how I know). Include it in a comic book, or Arthur Conan Doyle/Stephen King/Michael Crichton novel or sci-fi/horror genre, and you'll have a best seller.

Fabulous. Bring out your dead? Get a hair cut, maybe a shave. Ring in the holidays!

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She's Got Mail!

Dateline: Land of the Free.

Ann Coulter got some hand-delivered mail. I won't reveal the cover of the card, suffice to say it was a Dick Cheney quote. A real show-stopper. (Or, more accurately, Congress-stopper.)

The contents aren't quite as explicit as the cover. It DIDN'T say, Dear Ann, you are wise and sensitive, and I admire your discerning taste in delicate phrases." Nor did it praise her gentle way with children and small animals. It was not a request for cookie recipes. Unless they chose not to reveal the entire contents of the handwritten portion inside the card, nothing was said about enquiries after her hair dye.

The cover is printed; it is produced by Chronicle Books. I mention that because the design was first available as (and still IS) a counted cross stitch pattern from Subversive Cross Stitch, a site created by fiber artist Julie Jackson.

In fact, if you read the article linked above, you'll see Julie's participation in the comment section. In fact, here's the first bit:
I can't believe someone could print such filthy cards. And I can't believe my name is on the back of them instead of my URL.

That's a live link for Subversive Cross Stitch, up there in that other paragraph, folks! Click, visit, visit more! Browse, buy, tell your friends; it's a really fun site. She has glow in the dark designs!!!

I hope this brings her lots of business! I like her designs -- they're sassy, playful, and just the kind of things I want to stitch sometimes. Not all the time, but you know, there are just times when that embroidery needle only fits in my fist... (Figuratively speaking. In a practical application, that would never work.)

This is the first time I have ever endorsed any site that sells stuff. I am not being compensated for this.

I also buy patterns and supplies from Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, so check her out too! It's yet another gorgeous site full of great tools, art, materials, and goodness. You will learn, you will be inspired, you will come away a better person.

My Grandma Kopsell taught me to embroider (starting with a stamped cross stitch pattern) when I was 5. I took a huge hiatus from it, now I'm doing it again, mixing it sometimes with my weaving. It's a good hobby. It's a great artform. You make of it what you want. These two ladies can help you begin your journey along your own path.

BUT... I love that somebody's path got a little trippy, and included a Julie Jackson design hand-delivered to Ann Coulter. You probably want to exercize a little caution. Certainly, at least let the USPS deliver your missives whenever you feel the need to get your flame mail on! I rarely feel the need to do that, but caution and discernment are two great things to practice. I know from my own experience they take a lot of practice sometimes, but the result, just like 6-pack abs, is very rewarding!

If you can't do practice caution or discernment, then by all means, learn the delightful art of ignoring the jerk. That's the thing they most dislike. Try it, you'll like it. But also try embroidery!!! It'll make ignoring the jerks of the world soooo much more enjoyable. Plus, when you jab yourself with the needle, you'll have someone to blame.

Signing off from the Home of the Brave...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cleopatra's Pedicure

This is one very mad little dog.

Of course, NO one's ever thrilled about a visit to the doctor, so why should we expect the vet's office to be any different?

You can see it's not much fun for the techs, either. The muzzle and padded towel roll are there for THEIR protection: Cleopatra Bones is a biter. Just when she's being examined! I'm sure it's all the poking and proding and blood-drawing (ugh... I'm not good with that, either) and other humiliations thrust upon her little canine self, precariously perched on a table much taller than our dining room table. NOT that she would have ANY INKLING of an idea of what that might be like... no, I've never caught her there...

Anyway, this visit, she got her nails trimmed too. That's what's happening in this picture, that's the source of the doggy grimace. Notice there's one tech holding the dog and one tech doing the clipping. It takes two people to do this deed. She's 25 lbs, muzzled, and wrapped in a padded towel, screaming bloody murder, shooting daggers from her eyes.

It's important to me, at this point especially, to make it absoutely clear that our veterinary office is wonderful. They take great care of all of our pets, we trust them completely. A lot of our friends take their pets there, some traveling clear across town to do so! We would recommend them to anyone needing veterinary services. Contact me if you're in the Cleveland area and need a vet! This is the place you want. Cleo is not in discomfort because of mishandling. Cleo manufactures her own special brand of discomfort: Cleo is a drama queen.

Nevermind. She got treats from the techs. (Which she refused to eat until she got into the car, well away from 'THOSE people', cheeky little thing!) She got a treat at home. She'll be fine. Actually, she's already mostly recovered. (*derisive snort* mostly! HA!) She just needs a little something for that dramatic streak she's got. I guess she hasn't heard that Broadway's on strike!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

I refuse to buy into this...

Have you heard the ad campaign, "Nothing says 'Happy Holidays' quite like the word 'Duh' ", yet?

In this series of ads this company (to which I will not give more exposure by naming here) replaces the words, ALL of the words, with the universal sound of derision, or 'duh', of a wide variety of Christmas carols. Some of the carols are sacred, some are secular. Every one of these songs is made unspeakably annoying by the unflattering transformation.

Even the visuals of the ad are not lovely. Kaleidoscoped, disembodied, singing heads? Seriously, why? That's not the end of the nightmare. No one in any choir should have to strain that hard to sing the word 'duh'. Not for any reason, certainly not this season. Unless unless said singer is voicing an episode of South Park. At least in that case, we are preserved from having to see the human. Cartman is a funny parody when 'he' strains; real humans are not.

It gives me great pleasure to say that I will never buy the make of car using this wholely irritating ad campaign.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

HOW Many Crafting Days Until Christmas?????

Well, I guess I'd better get busy. The countdown has begun.

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Another Cat to Let Out of the Bag

Oh, silly Bert! You funny girl. I would never return you. Could never return you! For one thing, 'dumpster kitties' don't come with reciepts...

(For another, who would possibly fill the crater your absence would leave in my heart?)

The hair is me, by the way. Cameraphone wielded by My Beloved.

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Some Trepidation

Feeling a bit melancholy. Apprehensive. Like I want to use words like 'portentous' or 'abyss'. I feel like this image from our hike a few days ago is particularly ideal for my frame of mind. I am having surgery on Tuesday, always a scary thing. This procedure, however, may not be the end of it, though. It's a lumpectomy. So first I have to get through the surgery, then endure the waiting for the results, then deal with the results. *sigh* Yes, I think the leaf falling through the autumn air is rather correct for me today.

Know What Else I'm Thankful For?

Having enough food for a food coma. Today. Though this year, I never overdid it. I've been practicing mindfulness about the food on my Thanksgiving plate for the last few years with good results.

So, I guess it's not the food coma itself I'm thankful for, but the ability to have one. And then, immediately following the awareness, the choice NOT to have one.

Oh!! And football. It's just not cold-weather holidays without football. Whether the Browns win or not. And this year is simply astonishing...

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Again!

Thanksgiving, part 2!

We are heading down I-71 south-westish 2 hours driving time to Holmes County, the home of the world's largest Amish community. It also happens to be where Rick's Aunt Louise and Uncle Bill have a farm. They're not Amish, they're Methodist. But that's not important. What IS important is that today is another wonderful opportunity to gather together as a family, this time on Rick's side, and celebrate our gratitude.

How wonderful to have a day every year set aside for the exclusive purpose of being mindful about our blessings. Even nicer to stretch it out -- there are so many things to BE thankful for, one day is never enough!

And with a few keystrokes, I've come up with yet another thing for which I am ever grateful.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Fresh From the Market!

Morgan is apparently feeling needy and attention-hoggy!

She's normally quite content to keep to her royal princess self, and we had best remember our places as lowly foodgivers-who-must-never-be-tardy. Then she will surprise us with behavior that makes her unspeakably irresistable! Alas, the spell is broken the moment either of us gives in to the urge and scoops her into an affectionate squeeze.

Here's an example of the teenagey angst she seems to project directly to the brainpan: '(*tsah* rolls eyes) Ohh! I can't beLIEVE you DID that! You FLATTENED my FUR! (hands gesturing, eyes rolling) My *FUR*! (emphatic head bop-flip, another eyeroll; it's a workout!) *tsahuh!* You JUST don't underSTAND!!!' (flounces dramatically out of the room to pout on the pipework above the clothesdryer.)

No kidding. So we are avoiding that exchange (as entertaining as it is) in favor of more lovely moments like these. Coming from Morgan, this is extra precious!

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Morgan in the Sock Drawer

WELL! *This* will CERTAINLY ensure happy dreams tonight!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Blessed Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.

It's easy to come up with a topic for today: what am I thankful for? I don't think the whole of the internet has bandwidth enough for me to express my universal gratitude.

I know this makes me guilty of Polyannaism in the worst way. Guilty. I'd rather be guity of that than a lot of other things!

Anyway! I could say I am thankful for health, food, shelter, supportive family... all the usual things. None of which I take for granted, I might add! But today I feel particularly thankful for Companionship.

Rick and I spent our first married Thanksgiving holiday with my Dad (widowed only a few years ago), at the home of his girlfriend Ginny. It is amazingly good to see him genuinely happy again. Isolation is truly a thing to be feared; companionship, a necessity of life. I am most grateful for these warm and loving bonds this year.

We were also delighted to meet one branch of Ginny's very nice family. We found we had quite a bit in common! Such a good day! Oh! And I promised Ginny's granddaughter I would say this: 'Kira had a date!' (She's a bit young, and ever-so-gently freaking out about it...)

We had sooooo much fun.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Harbinger of Clean Carpets Someday? Or Just Another Apocalypse?

Oh! WILL there be peace on Earth, after all?

I expected a Miracle of Peace in the Middle East to preceed accord between Bert (on the left) and Morgan.

I expected President Musharraf of Pakistan to have peaceful nights full of untroubled dreams before I ever expected to see this.

I expected the glorious, voluntary banishment of the 'Stars and Bars' flag as a goodwill gesture towards ending racism before the germ of this scenario ever introduced itself to the petrie dish of my consciousness.

What I'm saying is these cats fundamentally despise each other. Not a day goes by without them exchanging great mouthfuls of fur. Of course, they also have to display dominance via body fluids (read: PEE; yeah, it's a quite literal pissing contest, we're so bummed out), despite being fixed.

So we, the hapless foodgivers, live at the mercy of these little, furry, lovable, AGGRAVATIONISTS (as opposed to 'terrorists'), seemingly destined never to have houseguests again.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tag! I'm "It"! 7 Random Things About Me

A few days ago, I got 'tagged' for a meme by Leandra, another artist participating in National Blog Posting Month. I looked at her blog. Beautiful drawings and paintings! I recommend checking out her site! Be sure to leave a friendly comment!

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a meme is:

n. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

And it's a cool meme, so I'm going to play. Here goes! Read along; the rules I followed will be at the end (per the rules), and then I have to find 7 more people's blogs to tag. Like Leandra did with her list, I will make mine as art-specific as I can.

1. I never took any art classes until my second year of college. I was all science and music and English lit, until my archaeology degree required a drawing class. That one tiny 3 tiny credit requirement, during which I executed one drawing of my ski jacket under the influence of one bottle of Bailey's. It changed my life. There's not a type of art I've tried that I don't love. Well, it didn't take the whole bottle.

2. According to my husband, I collect art supplies. That's how he sees it, anyway.

3. What I really collect is old textile equipment. Contact me if you have any submissions! I'd love a drum carder. (shameless, really...)

4. I like the late, great Bob Ross. I secretly imagine "happy little (ANYTHINGS)" all over everything I draw.

5. In art school, we were indoctrinated to disdain Monet. (It's mostly a knee-jerk reflex against having prints of famous art by dead famous people, the originals of which you could never truly hope to afford OR pry off the museum walls where they actually are exhibited, rather than real, original art by not-yet-famous people, whose art is actually in a realistic pricepoint. Support the Arts!) But when I paint and draw using color, I can't help but think, "What Would Claude Do?" And then I do it.

6. Though my degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts, I have been gainfully employed more years using my science background than my art degree, even though I never finished that part of my degree. I am a legitimate naturalist, though.

7. Hands are a pain in the (ahem) ANKLE to draw. I therefore tend to avoid drawing people. Yep. That's the main reason.

So that's my list of random, odd things about me. They are all true! I hope you enjoyed them. I will add 7 blogs in tomorrow's post. I have to get this posted before midnight.

The guidelines as provided by Leandra:

* Link to the person that tagged you and post these rules on your blog.
* Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
* Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
* Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

More tomorrow!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Potential Color

This was our project today: adding spring color to the front and back yards. Nice, doing it together! Challenging, imagining how things will fit together in 4 or 5 months. Still! The potential for good is too strong for any worries. We planted crocuses, daffodils, grecian windflowers, and 4 colors of tulips. It's something like 300 bulbs! That's a lot of color, potentially speaking.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


Adelaide made a friend while we waited for our turn in the JCPenney photo studio. Her name is Emily, and isn't she cute as a button! They are both playing so nicely, I will almost be sorry when our group is called.

Adelaide is so excited about wearing her BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL red velvet Christmas dress!! Omigoodness, she's quite fancy. As are we all today. For a change! It's a bit of a culture shock, for such hyper-casual folk as we.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Phew... Blog EVERY Day???

Ok. Today, it's a bit of a stretch to come up with something to say. This NaBloPoMo challenge is... um... (ahem) CHALLENGING.

Guess I'll blog about not having anything to say.

Except that's not strictly accurate. There are some wonderful things I'm just now very encouraged about--my creative life is just booming. I'm thinking about the projects I have ahead of me, and not just because it's the Christmas rush time. I have a tapestry I've started (see a post a few days earlier for the thread assortment), there are new Inchies to be made for my Art For Cures group, and now some new projects branching out from that group that are not inch-square in format, and (per Professor Cintron) there's always the daily drawing.

No, not like the Lotto. Professor Cintron said probably a million times that if you want to be an artist, you must do two things: draw every day, and draw from life. So I have been trying to do just that.

Let me tell you, it is just as challenging to try to keep up with that as trying to keep up with writing something everyday.

So having said it, perhaps I'd better scan and post some of my drawings... if at least to give me something to blog about!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Help Is In (ON) the Bag

Can you imagine the dinner conversation?

"Oh, what a delicious and moist turkey. YOU are a wizard. I *never* time it right. Tell me, what's your secret?"

"I just shop at (store name X). They put all the instructions I need on the outside of the plastic shopping bag they pack my groceries in. Who needs a cook book or Butterball's hotline? I think Martha's days are numbered, too, don't you?"

Good grief. It is long past time for me to carry my own bags to the grocery store. I could have been spared this exasperation.

I am a little afraid for the people who think roasting a turkey is quite as simple as this. I mean, what if they don't think to thaw it, or know how very long thawing takes! It would be a disappointing dinner at the least, disastrously unhealthy on the other end of the spectrum. Yikes!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh, It Is SOOOO November

No picture. Sorry. I'd love to, but I've tried and nothing I take is doing this weather any justice. Furthermore, it's a danger to my camera. The sky is overcast, so lighting is part of the challenge. I'm sure you can understand that bit. The precipitation? Aye, as the Bard would say, there's the rub.

What would I call this stuff? Soft hail? Pellet sleet? It's drifting across the street like it's got the mass of powder, yet on close inspection it's quite wet! 'Close inspection', HA! It's an industry of a spare moment! This substance melts almost as quickly as a snowflake. *sigh* What a delicate puzzle.

I guess it's best to just chalk it up to this month.

Oh! *chuckle* It's done. What snow or rain or nameless, spectacular precipitation had fallen is now simply wet on the ground, or lovely cabochons of captured melt on the iris and dogwood leaves.

I'll just wait for the next wind of change, and see what meteorological delight that brings.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Celebrate Life

Every single day is a gift.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Morgan the Oddball Mogwai?

Oh, poor Morgan! The sun is an irresistable warm treat. But too bright for her big blue eyes!

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Sunny Canopy

Our backyard tree has taken the autumn transition nicely!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Surgery Sinks In... Or Is It Just The Scalpel?

Here's the full story of my breast cancer scare.

Almost a year ago I found a lump. It was a fluke, a total accident. I usually wash using a mesh 'scrunchie', but for some unknowable reason, that day I just used my hands and shower gel. That's how I found the lump. It was on the outside edge of my right breast.

It took a couple of days to call my gynecologist. I kept forgetting! Yes, I know. That's dumb. That's probably reckless. I'm sure you understand it's not the kind of thing that you want to think about... it just took a while, that's all.

I was referred for a mammogram -- it showed NOTHING. So they wheeled in ultrasound equipment. With difficulty, something kindasorta was there, they weren't sure what. The only sure test for whatever was there, was to search manually.

On my next annual exam my doctor referred me to a surgeon, but she used the term "breast specialist". I pondered the meaning of that title: Breast Specialist. I imagined having that title, and being at a cocktail party. "So what do you do?" "I'm a breast specialist." (pause, as the ice in everyone's glasses clinks musically) "Did you say 'best'?" "I heard 'test', do you test cars, or planes?" (It was fun!) But my GYN explained that to tell someone they are being sent to a "breast SURGEON" is far scarier than a "breast specialist", and I can testify to that.

My surgeon was great, very reassuring, and was confident that my situation was not critical. It was decidet to meet again in 3 months or so (that would be June) for a follow-up. Summers are really busy for us, though, because of the bike training and fund raising we do, plus our wedding was in early July. So I didn't see him again until late July. We decided no surgery unless there was a drastic change.

When I started feeling a pinching, burning sensation in the area of the lump, an internal alarm went off. There was also a warmth in the area that wasn't associated with the usual spike in my menstrual cycle; again, the alarm sounded. This was late September, early October.

This time it took me two weeks to make the call to the doctor. It takes something to wind up that dialing finger to call for someone to slice a hole in my body. Probably a lot of it has to do with finally admitting that there's something really wrong and very scary. Not just hair-raising, but hair-losing scary. Maybe even life-ending scary. And no matter how many people have been there before, it's a very cavernous and alone feeling. Overwhelming? Nope. That word doesn't touch it. Find a bigger one, then double it. Then quadruple it. Then you'll have a close idea.

After that, everything else was relatively easy. The staff at Fairview Hospital were simply amazing. Everytime I have had to be there, for whatever reason, they have outdone themselves with their ability to care. I am smiling as I type! They made me feel special. That's an accomplishment, because I walked in there absolutely terrified, so bravo. You all are superstars.

Recovery has been a breeze, largely because of a textbook job done on my surgery and my marvelous husband. Our pets have been very comforting. Pain management has been practically nothing -- I haven't needed the maximum of the heavy duty 'stuff' EVER, and I have stopped taking it as of Thursday. That's just 2 days post-op, folks! I'm very proud of my body.

Aiding my recovery, of course, is the news that my lump is completely cancer-free. I've been wiping my brow and thanking God hourly since I got the news.

I am adopted, so I have no family medical history. I have no idea what curve balls genetics will be throwing me. I feel like I've just had a dress-rehearsal for The Next Big Thing. I feel like I could possibly help someone else.

I had to tell my story because it underscores the importance of the breast self exam. (And ladies, please check your men. Men have breasts, too...)

posted in honor of all who have fought and won
posted in honor of all who have fought and passed on, including Cleveland Institute of Art Professor Wayne Draznin, 1950-2001

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's My 1st Hockey Game. EVER.

Wow! Zamboni rides at intermission! This sport has it ALL.

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There Can Be Only... Wait--HOW Many Now?

On the left: apparently they increased the quotas on Highlanders. Think his hockey stick is really a claymore?

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Kinetic Hockey

Stuff keeps happening! And we have NO IDEA what's going on! But Rick (in the reflection) and I agree, we like it!

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Jones Owns

Power Play scorer Mr. Jones! I guess #23 is a boon in any sport.

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Empty Hockey Rink

This space is about to be flooded with testosterone.

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Saturday Night's Like, So Retro

Cats cradles at Bob and Mag's house! It was 80's night, and we had just too much fun with nostalgia. Music set the mood, Mag made great food, we all wore clothes and badges and hairstyles from the 80's. It's like being back in high school again, but without the swirlies and the angst and acne! Ooh--AND without the cliques. This was a very nice group of people. Such FUN!

There was a dance off: There was OMD, Tears for Fears, The Cure, Hammertime, the Pogo, Funky Cold Medina (LOVE Tone Loc), a very white man who is an engineer Mon-Fri dancing STEP FOR EVER-LOVING-STEP 'Baby Got Back'(not sure it's really 80's; an anachronism here or there isn't so bad in this time machine.). I didn't like that song much before. NOW I have comic context! Hilarious! And did he know the words? Of course he did!

Cycling on the basement tv for additional atmosphere was a collection of movie hits including Fast Times At Ridgemont High (I *STILL* haven't seen it, happier to spend time with real people, and I still get to look forward to that precious first time seeing it. I've heard it's good; everybody quotes it.), First Blood, and Caddy Shack. During the dance-off the movie sound was turned down and dance music was played while instead. As a result the most ironic songs would inevitably play at the scenes of the most carnage during First Blood. Interesting.

We all compared notes on the lengths we went to for our outfits and hairstyles. Funny: no one came in a power suit with Joan Collins shoulder pads. We actually couldn't get everything we wanted to 'celebrate' in; can you believe there's talk of a sequel party? True. Actually, that's typical of the 80's. Count the Rambos.

It was a, like, TOTALLY fun evening! Tubular, fer SURE.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tearful Farewells and Cheerful Rememberings

This is a picture of Mr. Arnholt. He was my 7th grade homeroom teacher, and for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, music, health, and science teacher too. He was also the director of choirs and organist at our church. A very good friend of the family, as well as all of these things. Since Daddy was principal of the school and Mom was also on the faculty, they worked closely with Mr. Arnholt. In my memory, it was a very close-knit group back then. Family-like. Very supportive and socially active, I remember lots of parties and picnics and family barbecues.

He died on Sunday. He had fallen and broken his neck last month, and was completely dependent on life support. The decision had been made to remove life support (based on no likelihood of improvement of condition), and he gently slipped into the hereafter. Today was his funeral.

It was both an elaborate and yet understated service. Very right, for him. He was the one who impressed upon me "liturgical correctness". I had, up until 7th grade, watched the changing of the altar colors but never gave a thought to the symbolism behind the colors or the embroidered images. We got the whole story as part of our supplemental religion instruction from him. He took us into the sanctuary (it was a Lutheran school, so we were 'attached' to a Lutheran church) and lovingly explained the details of each item on and around the altar, the lectern, the pulpit, communion rails, in the stained glass, even in the narthex where details are easily missed. His words echoed clearly for me in later years when studying ecclesiastical architecture both in Europe on site and in art school back in Cleveland. It was a strong foundation... 'Ein Feste Burg', even... he started for me. Some of my embroidery features the patterns of my faith.

In science class I was less fulfilled. I got yelled at a lot because my easily distracted self was not challenged nearly enough -- I wanted lab time! Merely memorizing the Periodic Table was not the brain-stretching exercize he thought it was... but that's ok! It made me read more on my own time, so perhaps I do owe him more than I think. Still, Mr. Arnholt provided all sorts of other entertainment.

At some point in your life, I'm sure some responsible adult has told you never stick things in your ears? Especially sharp, pointy things? Well, he (like every other adult) would tell us never ever do that. However, he WOULD do that very thing! Right in the middle of class! He did it so often it was clearly an absent-minded action. Sometimes it was his keys, his shiny silver pen, or now and again it was his silver letter-opener. This would be done while he was leaning back in his swivel chair. Just crazy! We were all convinced that someday we'd be calling down to the office for one of the secretaries to call and ambulance. I mean, eventually the chair springs would have to give out, and he'd skewer his ear straight through to his brains, right? And, being morbid little 7th graders, we all had to talk about it and speculate about when it would happen and what it would look like. During lunch. That was the 1980-81 school year. I am very happy to say that this horror never happened. (I would also like to make it patently clear that not one of us actually wanted it to happen, we just assumed that it had to be a consequence. Such was the degree of our conditioning of "If you do (x=bad thing) then (y=bad thing of greater personal value or greater public impact)" Shudder. I know that's been true for me.)

Another tremendously endearing characteristic of Mr. Arnholt was his devotion to Cleveland sports teams. He was a Browns season ticket holder for years and years. You could tell immediately during the 10:30 am service if the Browns were in town by the way Mr. Arnholt played the organ. If the hymns were short and with few verses PLUS near the end of the service the liturgy was being played faster than at the beginning of the service, then Somebody On The Organ Bench was anxious to get to the kickoff! Every note got played, though! Every hymn got sung, due diligence was paid to the purity of the liturgy. He was out like a shot for that ballgame, but not before he worshiped AND made sure the congregation got to have a quality worship experience. It's good to remember his values and priorities. Football (or visiting the zoo or an amusement park or whatever the day's plan) is important. But God (faith) comes first, as do our responsibilities.

He also predicted that the game *after* Lenny Barker's Perfect Game would be a near sell-out (he was right). There were fewer than 4,000 people at the Perfect Game, and he predicted that many more people that would would claim that they were there, for years and years (right again). I thought it was uncanny, the way his predictions came true. I understand pro sports a little better now. I met Lenny Barker this past summer. I'm one of only a few to tell him that I *wasn't* there at that game, and it shocked him. I even told him I wasn't even watching it on tv, which also surprised him. So I explained that I had been listening to it on the radio while doing homework, as baseball was always on the radio in our home, and then I told him about Mr. Arnholt's predictions. He laughed and enjoyed the story. Lenny would have enjoyed Mr. Arnholt too.

Christmas decorations at St. Mark were always so very elegant. Mr. Arnholt had very exacting tastes, everything had to be 'just so'. He out-Martha-ed Martha before there was a Martha, and I believe he and Mr. Gunn (of Project Runway) would have gotten along either extremely well or not at all. I guess what I'm saying is he revelled in the details, yet never lost sight of the big picture. Not many can do that. Best? It always resulted in gorgeousness.

We students were often recruited to refurbish Christmas ornaments. To this day the smell of white glue and dusty glitter takes me back to re-coating styrofoam balls in the back of Mr. Arnholt's classroom after classwork was completed. It was almost always disastrous. I'm still unable to work with glitter without getting some of it in my eyes. I have since learned it's best to avoid it...

The funeral today was very lovely. It really was quite full of love. So many people were there that I remember from so long ago! So many people who wanted to make sure this man we all cared for was celebrated lovingly. And he was. The choir sang -- and Linda MacKay, directing, invited previous choir members up to join in. How could I refuse? It was an honor. Challenging, of course, to sing between the tears. But to persevere is to succeed. It was for the love of a respected teacher and for the glory of God. How could I fail? Anyway, it was very moving. I noticed other choir members sniffling and choking on notes. We all had moments. We all sang despite and because of the emotion. This is what love moves us to do.

Every hymn chosen was a long one, and except for I Know That My Redeemer Lives, every verse was sung for each hymn!! I guess Mr. Arnholt, in planning for his eventual funeral, knew he would have a Saturday when the Ohio State Buckeyes are playing late? ;-) No one at the post-service social was in a hurry to leave, actually. The gathering was so joyful, and the reunions as celebrated as the honored deceased. (I loved, LOVED!!! seeing so many long lost friends!!) In life, this man really knew how to throw a party, but in passing, he's certainly no slouch of a host! Oh, Mr. Arnholt, you really were quite a guy. The world will miss him, but Heaven's going to have him just in time for Christmas. What a treat for Eternity!

This is longer than I like to post. I think the gentleman I memorialize is fully worth it. I find it strangely hard to end it...

Well done, good and faithful servant. Soli Deo Gloria.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

J Jump Joyful

"J Jump Joyful" was one of my favorite Sesame Street songs when I was very little. It fit me then (my middle name is Joy) and it fits me RIGHT NOW, hence this composition! Silk bobbins and my hand-carved stamp help me express in color and gesture my joy:

the pathology on my breast lump came back benign.

I cannot begin to express in words my relief or gratitude.

I'm going to start a new tapestry to celebrate. I'll use these threads.

Having scheduled my follow-up appointment with my surgeon, the next pressing engagement I must arrange (I'm not usually this formal but the occasion kinda needs some sort of ceremony) is the donation of my hair!

I have been planning to donate my hair for months, it's quite long now. How marvelous that I get to give it to someone else! (How much better it would be if the world could be rid of cancer and alopecia, perhaps there would no longer be a need for hair donations.) I did worry it would have to be made into my own wig. May my donation be a blessing to warm and cool and crown another.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Breast Cancer Inchies - details

Breast Cancer Inchies - details
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

As promised: some Woman As Goddess Inchies, in inch square pieces. Here you can see fragments of Wonder Woman, the Venus of Willendorf, and another paleolithic Venus figure that I just love and ended up carving into a rubber stamp. I guess it's technically a vinyl stamp; I used a vinyl eraser. One of the Venus figures I have drawn over and over, too. Cup-and-ring designs from northwestern Europe sites are common in my doodles, and were an appropriate addition to this theme.

The eventual combination of everyone's Inchies will result in a unique artwork that will be auctioned to benefit the Komen Foundation. This is why the color pink was chosen.

I am proud to have participated, and I am honored to have my work combined with that of my fellow Art For Cures companions.

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Front Yard Late Season Color

Front Yard Late Season Color
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

The day is a very gray one. But our yard is bursting with color! I am astonished that we have three different colors of iris blooming at this time of year.

In May we have eye-poppingly different colors of iris, in both the front and back. We expected the bright yellow, as my mother-in-law Sandy gave us some rhizomes of twice-blooming irises in that color a few years ago. But the pale blue (around the edges; in the diffused light it is coming off as just white) and pale yellow are completely unexpected.

And look!! There are still buds! How delightful!!!

THIS, after we had snow on Tuesday. Not that the snow lasted, and the snow was only on the east side of town. No one I talked to at the hospital had snow on their side of the river. It never lasts, this time of year. But still! This is a spring flower. And by all the signs, we should be expecting more blossoms.

Reasons to smile!!! Yet more delight!

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Iris in the Midst of Autumn

Iris in the Midst of Autumn
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

A close-up of one of the pretty ice-blue irises. I really like this color. I probably shouldn't have been doing this today, but I didn't want to miss these blossoms. Grab life by the stamens!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Three of my recovery aids, from left to right: Bert, a capful of Darvocet (I only ever take 1, though the bottle says I can take 2 at a time if I need to. How nice it's not yet come to that!), and Cleopatra. Oh, and my panda blanket helps a lot, too! Bert and Cleo don't let me move around much. I think my surgeon would give them gold stars for their assistance to him, keeping me still. Ok, the Darvoset's pretty effective for that, too! In the meantime, Rick's making supper! Lovely. I am surrounded, uplifted, very very blessed.

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Election Results: Diebold SUCKS

...Or should I say, Premier Election Solutions. For a nice change, the Board of Elections ran a smooth day yesterday, sort of a dress rehearsal for next year's presidential election. God knows we don't want any more repeats of the antics witnessed in prior elections: ballots being pre-counted, technical difficulties during the polls, lines out the door necessitating the extension of the polling for the evening.

Now, please note that several of those past disasters were human-caused, and some were solely technological glitches. And I am happy to report that this time, fortunately, the voting public was spared any direct inconvenience. I guess by that, I mean, nobody was left in pouring rain waiting for four hours to vote.

Where the disappointment in the system surfaced was during the vote tallying. There were reporters at the Board of Elections offices during the local newscasts. They reported that the touchscreen voting machines would load data for a short period of time, and then "threaten" to crash. The workers would have to stop, save all the information, then start over.

Bumbling, stumbling, January molasses, what other descriptors can we come up with?

During previous elections of this sort (primarily local issues and local offices), most of the voting tallying would have been completed and results reported by the 11 o'clock news.

Is the need for electronic voting machines really all because of hanging and dimpled chads? Aren't there better alternatives? Isn't there a better company with more reliable technology? Is it any wonder that there is low voter turn-out for local elections, when the results are so discouraging?

What will happen in less than 12 months, when the weight of the country rides on what the people of the State of Ohio do at these same electronic voting machines?

I vote for a recall of Diebold/Premier Election Solutions.

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On the Couch to Recovery

Recovery is better with company. I have my usual snugglers, my dog Cleopatra and cat Bert and husband Rick, who surprized us all with the addition of normally standoffish Morgan and Mirth! So it's monkey-pile on the couch, at least til Morg and Mirth can wriggle out of Rick's arms! There's another companion on the couch I'm appreciating right now, but you can't see it in all it's pinky goodness: Darvocet. Ahhh. Lovely. It's nice because it keeps my boob gash from being a constant companion. I'll take that swap!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Bling

I'm home now. Groggy. Fed, now, too! Wearing something more substantial than a hospital gown. Still with the nagging headache, that's aggravating! I just wanted to show off the new and improved hospital bracelet, and make sure the world knows I made it out of my scary lumpectomy. Next hurdle: the mystery of the pathology. Interesting: while we were at the hospital, the City of Cleveland Heights planted a stick ('tree', if you like; we'll see if it sprouts leaves in the spring) on our tree bank. Also, right this moment, it is thunder snowing. A very interesting day. Also interesting? My cameraphone's ability to focus at this distance from my wrist is about how well I am able to focus on the world on Darvocet... but I kinda like it... (for now, anyway. As long as it keeps me from feeling the gash in my boob.)

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Comic Timing

HA! I *really* hope this is legible. In case it isn't, here's the text: the caption reads 'Med School'. Student raises hand to say, 'Examine them?' to which the instructor responds, 'Wrong! After they wait in the waiting room, you make them wait in *another* room.' I'm in the waiting room. It's reassuring to know they get this training early on.

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A Bit Nippy

Season's first snow! You saw it here first! We are going to vote, then to the hospital to get rid of my lump. Hideho, what a day!

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Letter from Sarah

Letter from Sarah
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

This amazing piece of mail arrived yesterday!!! My 3 year old niece Sarah wrote it. Wow, she's GOOD! Look how clearly she can write! I love it. What a cool letter! How nice to be thought of! But then, she is a very thoughtful little girl. Matt and Marianne are wonderful parents. I deeply admire them. (It's sooooooo cool watching my little bro being a dad.)

I just looooooove that wonderful little girl. Oh! Can't get enough of her! Simply breaks my heart we all live so far apart.

And she wrote on the back, too! No slave to conventions, she wrote "LOVE" diagonally, then "SARAH" in a circle around the letter "O". I think it will be forever before I see anything quite so charming.

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Breast Cancer Inchies

Breast Cancer Inchies
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

I recently joined a group called Art For Cures. What we do is create as community works of art, which are auctioned off for various charities. In this community creation, we are producing "Inchies", multiples of collages that are inches in scale. One person compiles them all into one unified THING. It's pretty cool. Shown here are my "Inchies" as I finished them as a drawing/collage, then the big picture is once I cut them up (that was hard to start doing!!), and finally, a detail of the uncut image. I'll try to blog later using some of the individual pieces.

This month the theme is "Woman As Goddess", the action is against Breast Cancer, and the charity that will benefit from the auction is the Komen Foundation. I took the challenge in a Paleolithic direction, although you can see one of my pulp heroines figures rather prominently too. I felt the need of some pseudo-Amazonian strength. Don't we all.

Now I just need a good battle cry. Today's the day I have my lumpectomy. Yesterday I finished my inchies. I really feel like I can kick just about *anything* in the ankle...

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Monday, November 05, 2007

PreSurgery Jitters (YOGA BREATHS! FAST!)

Earrings OUT! Surgery is tomorrow. In addition to the usual precautions (no food or drink after midnight, no aspirin from 4 days ago), I have to remove all piercings. There are usually 13 earrings distributed across the surfaces of my ears. This is the most metal-free they have been in YEARS (read: there is NO metal in my ears, and I find it very strange).

Oh yeah, and the rings have to come off. I think that can wait til tomorrow just before I go in. I think asking my husband to hold my wedding set will be comforting for both of us. I guess the absense of metal is precautionary in the event of an emergency MRI. Hmm. OR get caught on instruments/clothes during the procedure, causing further injury.

Then again it could always be that spectre of liability: if it's not in the hospital in the first place, no one at the hospital can be sued when you discover it has disappeared!

Nevermind! I'm not going to have that kind of day tomorrow!

But I am a bit nervous and restless today. Wandering around on the World Wide Wait, I discovered that this month is National Blog Posting Month, already in progress, but I'm throwing my hat into the ring anyway! Perhaps because I've only just made the discovery they will waive the previous few days. So stay tuned! I'll be far more present!

I'm also wishing aimlessly wishing there was an 'Advance Sending Corps' of, I don't know, 'anesthesia light' provided on the day before Scary Cutting Open Days!

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Some Trepidation

Feeling a bit melancholy. Apprehensive. Like I want to use words like 'portentous' or 'abyss'. I feel like this image from our hike a few days ago is particularly ideal for my frame of mind.

I am having surgery on Tuesday, and surgery is always a scary thing. This procedure, however, may not be the end of it, though. It's a lumpectomy. So first I have to get through the surgery, then endure the waiting for the results, then deal with the results.

Interestingly, Tuesday is also Election Day. There's usually some anxiety involved there. Fortunately it's only local offices and issues on the ballot this time, so nerves are only at minimal alert and limited to worrying about the technical execution of the balloting itself. Fingers are crossed, prayers are being said, and there may be a chicken or two on obscure altars, who knows? All I know is that we will be voting before we go to the hospital. It would be irresponsible (and possibly illegal) to vote while still under the effects of anesthesia. ANYWAY...

*sigh* Yes, I think the leaf falling through the autumn air is rather correct for me today.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weekend Radio

Regardless of the plans for the weekend, which are ALWAYS varied and hectic, the radio is tuned to our local NPR affilitate.

Saturday we simply cannot miss Car Talk. Tom and Ray Magliozzi are a hoot, and surprisingly, or at least, contrary to their self-deprecatory delivery, we always learn something. We never don't laugh!!! If you don't listen yet, give it a try. It's well worth it.

The other gem on Saturdays is The Michael Feldman Show. Regional miscellanea, random trivia, Wisconsin references; it's like radio from before FM hit the big time. Very personable and mellow and family-friendly.

There's some other stuff on Saturday afternoon that kinda blends into the background of the clatter of daily chores and occassionally warrants a "Hey! Turn off the vaccuum cleaner, I was listening to that!". No entire show elicits the devotion of the two previously mentioned.

Sunday morning and afternoon, I curl up with very quiet projects as close to the radio as I can. There is a series of cleverly outstanding programming that, if other plans come up, I am gently disappointed to miss.

First is Studio 360, wonderful overview of arts -- full spectrum arts. Including comic books. I have been made aware lately of one series and one tpb (trade paperback, or "graphic novel" to those who aren't regular haunts of their local comic book shop), thanks to this fantastic show.

Following that is This American Life. Great storytelling. Iconic radio voices. Just go listen. They podcast EVERYTHING.

Then, in one hour there are two half-hour game shows. The first is the American-produced Says You! which is lively and full of punny banter. You will groan in pain, you will laugh til it hurts, you will learn a new word you never knew you needed desperately to know. Contrasting perfectly is a different temperature of banter, the British game show My Word. As the title reveals, it's another word game, and your brain will grow with each puzzle. The end of the game pits two contestants against each other in a story telling contest, each endeavoring to explain (intentionally hillariously WRONGLY) the origins of a well-known phrase. Fun.

The next hour is Le Show, one of Harry Shearer's latest vehicles. I love it. My favorite segment is The Apologies of the Week, apparently copyrighted, so don't copy it! It's usually quite lengthy, and full of good examples of how NOT to apologize. Oh, and what not to do, too, but that's not as entertaining.

But my favorite radio thing on Sunday comes at 2:00. Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is a news recap sent through a very thick humor filter. It's another game show, featuring a panel of comedians and humor writers and other very clever folk, and if you've been keeping up with the news the previous week, the answers are generally easy. -Ish. Easy-ish. Contestants win Carl Kassel's voice on their answering machine. What news junkie wouldn't covet that??

This is what my ears do every weekend, or what they wish to do while we're doing other things. I'm an NPR geek. There's no cure.

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Friday, November 02, 2007


And we know what that means: I get to listen to Ira Flatow and Talk of the Nation-Science Friday. It's one of the big highlights of my week!

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Made It Myself!

I baked the bread. Couldn't resist showing off! It's whole wheat sourdough. When it came out of the oven, my humble little loaf looked like something crafted at one of the neighborhood artisan bakeries. The cloth it's on is a teatowel I hand-embroidered. So I guess this picture is really a big bunch of of brag. But in a humble way, really!

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