Monday, December 31, 2012

A Clean Break

Today marked the official retirement date of one of my colleagues.  He was is (good lord, he didn’t die, he just retired!)y low-key guy so he didn’t want any sort of retirement party, going-away soiree , or even a cake – which kinda sucked for the rest of us because we like parties, soirees, and cakes – but it wasn’t our retirement so we didn’t get a vote.  We did get to sign his card though.

Before everyone dispersed for the Christmas holiday the week before last, a few people stopped by his cubicle to say their good-byes privately.  Well, as privately as you can get in an office of cubicles – the sound barrier box wall nothwithstanding. 
I teared up the couple of times that I heard someone say good-bye to him. 

I’m such a sap. 
I said my so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good-bye late in the afternoon.  I told him to make sure he comes back to visit.
His response took me by surprise.  He said that he probably wouldn’t – he likes clean breaks.

Clean breaks?  Huh?  I can’t even comprehend that.  I don’t break from anything.    
I hold onto the past until well after even the past moved on. 

As I moved into my “officially-as-of-December 31, 2012 former” colleague’s cubicle today, I thought to myself, you know, maybe he’s right.  Clean breaks are healthier.  And not so messy. 

So, I’m making a clean break from 2012.  There’s no looking back on this year unless I want to remember something really really spectacular.  (Okay, maybe I’ve gotta work at the clean break thing.)    

It’s full-steam ahead for 2013.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unarranged.

Arrangement (n) 1. The process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials.  2. The organization and sequence of items within a collection
                                                                                                                Society of American Archivists Glossary


If there is no discernible arrangement, then enter the word ―Unarranged.‖
                                                                                                                The Standards
One of the most important concepts in my line of work is that of arrangement.  One can preserve an arrangement.  Or impose an arrangement.  Or even perfect an arrangement – place the emphasis on the second syllable because if you have a perfect (emphasis on the first syllable) arrangement, there is really no need to perfect (back to emphasizing that second syllable) the arrangement. 

Arrangement is my favorite thing as an archivist.  It’s a lot more than just making sure the folders, err files, are in A-B-C order – although, admittedly there is a bit of that – no, arrangement is the physical and intellectual act of organizing materials so that they are accessible for use.  It helps the people who ultimately use the materials.    
There is an order, a sequence, a pattern.  Things make sense.

Then there are the materials that have no order, no sequence, no pattern.  It is all unarranged.  Some theorists call that original chaos.  It’s up to the archivist to impose an order or leave it in its original chaotic state – and just, you know, write a folder list. 
Arrangement is not my favorite thing as Denise.

I look at my purse, my home, my life and all I see is original chaos.  Everything is   
Unarranged.         

Thursday, December 20, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

My Christmas list was due to my mother by last Friday.  I got it to her late so there’s a chance that I’ll be getting stuff from the “As Seen on TV” section of the store kinda like last year when Santa gave me a Wonder File that was supposed to organize my life in wondrous and amazing ways.  Seriously, a file folder can do that!  And it probably would have, if I had ever opened the box.  Who knows?  Maybe this year, I’ll end up with an Alluma Wallet or a Ped Egg!

I don’t want you to think I’m a greedy materialistic person.  In fact, for the past couple of years I have advocated against giving presents for Christmas.  I thought we should shift gears and give experiences like trips or adventures or Reenact Your Favorite Eighties Movie Nights.  The fact of the matter is I’m an independent woman of independent means so if I want something for myself, I usually get it for myself.  Basically, if I want a monkey, I get a monkey.  (My new favorite line that I stole from the newest reality show sensation “Sin City Rules”) 
But it’s Christmas time and my mother NEEDED a list, folks.  So, I started thinking about what would make this season magical for me…you know like when I was kid.  So…here’s my list –

A meal schedule.  Remember in elementary school when you knew what you were going to eat for lunch every day because it was nicely printed out on a colorful calendar?  How awesome was that?  Someone already had it all figured out for you – chicken nuggets on Mondays, tacos on Tuesdays, square pizza on Wednesdays, and something Spork-able on Thursdays.  Now, I’m getting better at the whole cooking thing and I don’t even mind going to the grocery store.  It’s just the whole planning part.  So, like just schedule all my meals for me.  Except no tacos on Tuesdays.  I always brown-bagged on Tuesdays.
A hobo bag.  With an actual hobo to tell me whether or not the hobo bag is authentic.  How cool would that be to open up a hobo bag and have a little hobo pop out of it?  It’s like a Jack-in-the-Box only it’s a Hobo-in-the-Hobo-Bag!

Perseverance.  My mom says I don’t have any so I figure she can buy me some for Christmas.  I try to develop it on my own but then I never follow through.  Probably because napping is so much easier than persevering.  So, Mom, stick some perseverance in a box and let me open that on Christmas morning.  Unless, you know, I don’t get around to opening all of my presents.  Wait, what happened to that Wonder File? 
Reset my iPod.  My brother and I share iTunes – the legality of which I’m not entirely sure of but that’s neither here nor there.  Anyway, I have about 500 songs on my iPod.  450 of them are Kenny Chesney songs.  My brother hearts Kenny Chesney big time.  So much so that he even has the Kenny Chesney Christmas album on his iTunes.  Who even listens to Christmas albums anymore?!  The last Christmas album I had was New Kids on the Block and it was one of those big black record things.  Anyhoo, do you know what’s like to be getting my Top Gun (soundtrack) on and flying my Mighty Wings into the Danger Zone when all of a sudden Kenny’s begging the Boys of Fall for Another Beer in Mexico?  It’s like – gimme a break!!!  But ever since I added my iPod to my iPhone, iConfused.  And so the Kenny torture continues.  So, you know, resetting that would be awesome. 

While we’re on the subject of music, would someone other than me please admit that that “Christmas Shoes” song is ridiculous.  That would be a great gift.  Look, I’m sorry – especially to my friends who admit to crying when this song comes on – but I just don’t buy this song at all.  The kid doesn’t need Christmas shoes for his mom!  It’s a SCAM!  Daddy’s saying there’s not much time because the cops are on their way to catch the little grifter!   Have I crossed over the line to full Grinch-hood?  In my defense, I do mist up when I hear “Silent Night.”
A hovercraft. 

So, there it is – all I want for a magical Christmas.
That's not asking for too much is it?
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Sign of Peace

Indescribable.  Incomprehensible.  Horrific.  Tragic.

There are so many words and yet there are no words to describe what happened on Friday morning. 
As we begin to learn more, as we start to put names with faces – and those faces with birthdates – it will only get harder. 

There are no words. 
During the Catholic Mass, parishioners shake the hands of those around them and whisper “Peace be with you.” 

And so those are the only words that I can summon on this weekend of unimaginable heartache.
Peace be with you. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Megan Ashley

The week before last, my friend sent me a link to check out.  I’m going to paste it here – you can copy and paste it in your browser to read the article if you want or you can just read the link itself -

Wait…I’ll bold and enlarge the important part –
http://jezebel.com/5963627/this-holiday-season-kids-will-be-getting-american-girl-dolls-with-hearing-aids-and-allergy+free-lunches

My pal knows I have a thing for dolls.  I mean, who wouldn’t?!  Dolls are awesome.  People with dolls are even more awesome.  I am a person with lots of dolls.  Therefore I am lots of awesome. 
If you read the whole article or still receive the American Girl catalog, you know about “Special Sparkle,” the page in the catalog that features special accessories for American Girl dolls including fashion boots (although, sadly, no fashion sneakers), sporty sunglasses, a wheelchair, an epi pen, and a hot pink hearing aid.

Well, I’ll be!  Special Sparkle me (and my dolls) from head to toe! 

A hearing aid for dolls?!  What a novel idea!

Well, um, not exactly. 

Let me tell you about Megan Ashley. 
 
I got Megan Ashley when I was seven years old.  She was a special order, special delivery just for me.  She wasn’t like the rest of my dolls – she had a cloth body, brown yarn hair, a pretty pink dress, leg braces, and gray hearing aids that were stuck to her ears with Velcro. 

Megan Ashley was Special Sparkle before Special Sparkle was cool.

And, obviously, so was I.  

Megan Ashley and Me
We're forlorn not because we were
going into surgery but because
we missed General Hospital

Monday, November 26, 2012

Small Business Scores

Black Friday.  Small Business Saturday.  Still Shopping Sunday.  Cyber Monday.  Take It Back Tuesday. 

Have you guys started shopping yet?!  I don’t know what you’re shopping for but you should be shopping.  You will never get 60% off of that thing-a-ma-bob again!   You’re gonna miss out on this year’s greatest watchamacallit if you don’t get it now!  Do you want to revisit the Furby disaster of 1998?  I didn’t think so!
Despite the multitude of receipts in my purse, I’m actually not a huge fan of shopping so I don’t get too swept away in the shopping madness that descends upon this country right after Thanksgiving.  That’s not saying that I haven’t had some cool Black Friday adventures but these days I’m content to go to bed Thanksgiving night instead of going out to get a jump start on Black Friday shopping. 

But I have to say, I like this Small Business Saturday event.  And yes, I know that it was created by a big, gigantic, financial corporation.  But hey, everyone needs a reminder every once in a while.
I like small businesses and I give props to the people who take that risk to open up their own shops.  I’ve always wanted to open up my own little store – Knick-Knack Paddy Whack where I would sell knick-knacks.  Or Crafty Gals where I could sell the crafts that my friends and I make.  Maybe an independent book store called Book Mark It.  Or my personal favorite – an old-fashioned ice cream parlor called What’s the Scoop? – the waitresses and soda jerks would have to ask “What’s the scoop?” when they took orders!

Actually, maybe I only like coming up for names for small businesses. 
Whatever…I’m happy to support local small businesses and I’m excited about my purchases this weekend!  (And they were all for me...I haven't started Christmas shopping yet!) 

My purchases - a scarf/shrug/wrap; an
antique window; and pina colada rum jam

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reflections of the Way Life Used to Be


“And now the journey is over, too short, alas too short.  It was filled with adventure and wisdom, laughter and love, gallantry and grace.” 
                                                                                Maurice Tempelsman
                                                                                (My Senior Quote)
Even though I never lettered - much
less played - in a sport, I had a
varsity jacket
Last night Friday night was my 15 year high school reunion.  I didn’t go.  Mainly because it was in the city and I would’ve had to take a train and there isn’t much that I hate more than taking the train into the city.  Oh, and I really didn’t want to go.  Most likely, there would’ve been mingling (at which I am so stellar).  Then after the rousing rendition of “Reunited [and it feels so good]” and the initial pleasantries, I probably would’ve sat in the corner awkwardly examining the train schedule to figure out the next train back to suburbia.     

It’s not that I don’t look back on high school with fondness.  I do.  Well, not “my high school was exactly like Degrassi and I’d go back in a second” fondness but more of “it was fun to have a locker” kinda fondness.  High school wasn’t the best time of my life but it wasn’t the worst time of my life either (for the record – that was roughly 2001 to 2003).  I wasn’t a popular girl, a bad girl, or even a mean girl.  I wasn’t a freak and I wasn’t a geek.  I wasn’t even a misfit or an outsider…although in high school don’t we all feel like misfits and outsiders?
Does anyone know what
an El Delator actually is?
I was solidly middle of the road in high school.  I wasn’ t super smart but I wasn’t dumb even though I never quite got the hang of algebra.  While I got along with most of my classmates, I had a small group of friends that I hung out with – in the cafeteria, during free periods, and under the Friday night football lights.  I endured bullying although I never considered it that; choosing instead to walk down different hallways so I could avoid the upperclassmen offenders.  I was in the girl’s locker room after gym when I found out that Kurt Cobain died.  I never cheated, got a detention, or had to visit the school disciplinarian.  I didn’t cut on Senior Cut Day.  I was sitting in math class (Pre-Calc) when O. J. Simpson was acquitted because the glove did not fit.  I hated every school picture ever taken of me.   I was in the audience when Hillary Clinton came to speak at my school.  I made the honor roll for most of my academic career and received the History Department’s Excellence Award in senior year.  I wasn’t on any sport teams and the only extracurricular club that I was involved in was Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and that was only as a favor to a friend.  I went to all the Homecoming dances but skipped the Prom.   I never had perfect attendance.   
 
All in all, I was a typical high school student. 

I think it took me almost 15 years to realize that.    
Cheers to the Class of 1997.  Maybe I’ll make it to our 20 year reunion.

But only if it’s in the suburbs. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hat's Off!

Last night was Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving, the annual gathering that my friends and I have before actual Thanksgiving.  I chose to pass the hosting torch to someone else this year so I was off the hook for hostess duties, oh, and for cooking the turkey duty too!  This year’s hostess, however, allowed me to indulge my “force your friends to take home a kitschy holiday keepsake” tradition.  I’ve made name place cards for the past two years and now they’ve become hot collector’s items! 

I found this year’s inspiration from that cutting edge company Fiskars via Pinterest of course!
First you start off with a black paper cup that you can get at any party store, some black cardstock, some white cardstock, and pretty yellow scrapbook paper.



Cut a large circle from the black cardstock (luckily, I had a coaster that was just the right size for my template!)  Then, paint the rim and the bottom of the cup black.
 
Dip the rim of the cup in some glue, turn it over and place it in the center of the black circle.  Make sure the seam of the cup is facing the back.   



If you want a truly authentic pilgrim hat - or want to commemorate the new movie Lincoln - STOP NOW.  DO NOT GO FURTHER.  If you choose to go further, please be aware, that one of your friends will most likely look up “pilgrim hat” on Wikipedia to inform you that pilgrim hats were really just black hats with no embellishments.  We’ve all been living a lie folks.  Next they’re gonna tell me that Columbus didn’t really discover America. 
The Pilgrims might’ve liked to keep their hats simple but I liked the jazzy sash and buckle that we've all seen on every Pilgrim image since the first grade so...

Cut a strip of white cardstock and glue it around the cup.  I ended up just cutting a small strip for the front of the hat.  Then cut a square of the yellow scrapbook paper and place it in the middle of the white strip so it looks like a buckle.  (I actually assembled the sash and buckle first before I glued the whole piece to the cup.)
Write the guest’s name on the brim of the hat in a shiny gold marker that you may have to borrow from a friend.  I guarantee you will have a friend who will have a gold marker.  Just ask.  But don't ask me because I actually don't have a gold marker.      



Viola!  An awesome place card to adorn your Thanksgiving table!  Not to mention, a keepsake for the ages! 

These were so easy to make!  I ended up joining forces with one of my friends and we banged out 15 in no time!  
It’s already time to start thinking about the name place card for Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving 2013! 

 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Environmentalism for Dummies

Thursday was America Recycles Day.  I know ‘cause I have a button that tells me so!

You wish you were this cool!

I’m not a card-carrying tree-hugging member of Greenpeace or anything and I probably don’t do my share to protect the environment – I never planted the the tree seedling that I got on Earth Day 1991, I don’t carpool unless it’s snowing or icy out, and I’ve used copious amounts of spray paint over the past few weeks – but I try to do a little bit to help protect the Earth until December 21, 2012 for future generations. 

Over the last few years or so, my workplace has really gotten into the whole green thing.  We actually won an award, I think, for using special light bulbs or something.  I probably should’ve read that article in the newsletter more carefully.  Although I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act didn’t have anything to do with reducing paper, my particular agency advocates double-sided printing and then we encourage everyone to recycle it when they’re done!  If that's not helping the environment, I don't know what is!

Recently, our efforts towards a greener America have taken a trashy turn.  Earlier this month, they installed three large trash cans in our cafeteria.  Hanging above each can are what can only be described as trash art – signs labeled “Compost,” “Recycle” and “Trash” with examples of each type of refuse that should be placed in the appropriate container.  Now, I’ve seen this before, most notably in the greenest of cities, the Emerald City – that’s Seattle for those of you who don’t keep up with city nicknames (oh! New trivia contest idea!!)  Anyway, since Seattle can do no wrong in my eyes, I was super impressed when I saw it.  Seattleites are so cool. 

But now every day after lunch, I feel like I’m faced with a multiple choice test and if I fail, Earth goes straight to hell in a trash can!  And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – it’s fun watching my colleagues confidently approach the trash cans and then falter as they are faced with The Decision – which can do I throw my trash in?!
I’m fine with the recycling can – I expertly toss my Coke cans like I’ve been doing since before mixed recycling streams became cool.  But then I have to consider the rest of my lunch scraps.  The cardboard sleeve that my Healthy Choice Steamer Bowl comes in goes in the recycling bin.  Check.  But what about the plastic bowl and strainer thingie that are probably filled with dangerous amounts of BPA but which I ignore because the chicken margherita is just so good?  I think it’s a number 27 plastic.  Is that recyclable?!  If it's not a recyclable plastic will the recycling police take me away?  To the recycling plant, no less?!  I've heard about the recycling plant - they have corrugated cardboard there!  The horrors! 

What should I do with the offensive, disgusting mushrooms that I push to the side on the days that I eat chicken marsala instead of chicken margherita?  Do I scrape them into the compost container?  They came from the earth so they should probably return to the earth, right?  Then do I go back to the recycling can to throw away my bowl?  But by then, another one of my colleagues is trying to throw away his or her lunch and it’s rude to cut in front of them so I have to wait until they make their trash decisions.
According to the examples stuck on the signs, candy wrappers go into the trash can.  Okay, that’s perfect because I always have a 3 Musketeers wrapper to toss.  But what about that last bite that I never eat because event though we're Facebook friends, dear 3 Musketeers, sometimes too much nougat is just too much nougat and I can’t finish it eating you...which, by the way, I would argue means I'm really only eating 2 of the 3 Musketeers.  Does that last musketeer go into the compost can?  Should I just stick it in my mouth and chew so I don’t have to deal with this?  I just don’t know! 

There’s just so many choices!  So many decisions!  So much trash! 
No wonder I’m so stressed out afterwards. 

I think I’ll just go out for lunch from now on. 
---

On a serious note – recycle!  It’s the right thing to do!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Come On Baby, Light My Lamp

When I moved into my apartment, my aunt and uncle gave me a pair of lamps that they were no longer using.  The base is filled with shells so they’re perfect for anyone with a beach décor or for anyone who loves seashells. 

My apartment didn’t have a theme – unless you consider futon chic a theme – so I didn’t really care what the lamps looked like.  As long as I had adequate light so I could study late into the night, I was happy.  I’m just kidding.  I never studied late into the night.  That’s library school for ya.  But I did enjoy the light.
The lamps came with me to my new house where my intended decorating scheme was a beachy, coastal, Riding Giants kinda look.  I didn’t really achieve that vision but that’s another story.  Anyway, the seashell lamps were relegated to my basement utility room waiting for a trip to the Goodwill donation station because I’m giver like that. 

Now I’m in the process of fixing up my basement den aka GIRL CAVE (what?  you just thought they were for men?!) and I got an idea – redo the lamps for my den! 
So, here’s the pair – the left is the original and the right is its twin after a facelift!

Hey you!  Yes, you!  Don't you dare look under
that lamp shade!  Have a little respect for the lamp!


Now I just need to find a new lampshade!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's Shakin' Bacon?


I’m kinda obsessed with rhyming phrases right now like – what’s the story, morning glory?  What’s the tale, nightingale?  Scat dang cat!  Chin up, buttercup.  Mostly, it’s the just the cats enjoying my witty wordplay but they don’t show much appreciation for it.  Damn cats. 

Anyway, I originally intended Yellow Fever to have “Chin Up, Buttercup,” in white letters against the yellow paint but it really didn’t pop and too much yellow paint ran into the letters to make it look anything remotely pretty-like.  So, that's when I painted over the whole thing. 
I adjusted course and switched things up a little.  And since it’s going to be hanging in my bathroom now, I changed the rhyme!

Yeah, it's not a Picasso but it's proof that I'm trying!
See, this just proves that mistakes are the foundation for something better.  Or for bathroom art.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paint it Again, Sam

So, Cal Ripken I am not.  I didn't post yesterday.  My mom was right – I’m not good at perseverance.  In my defense, I wasn’t just sitting around doing chocolate milk shots…I was crafting creating art until “Shark Tank” started late into the night. 

I was super excited about this art project.  You stick some letters on to a canvas, spelling out a witty, clever, meaningful saying - or something that rhymes, paint over it, then peel off the letters to get a one of a kind, unique piece of art.  It looks great on Pinterest.  But then there’s realiy:
This is where the photograph that
I failed to take before I painted
over the whole thing should be


Basically, It didn’t look quite like I had envisioned.  By this afternoon, it was irritating me. 
So now this is reality:
Maybe I'll slap some stripes on
this puppy and call it done
 
I’m titling it “Yellow Fever.”    

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Grab and Go

On the 11 o’clock news last night, they did a special about the stuff people would take with them if they had to evacuate their homes.  Thankfully, I’ve never been in that situation but it got me thinking about the things that I would take with me if I had to evacuate or leave my house quickly under dire circumstances.  Here’s what I would grab on the way out –

1.       The cats.  Obviously.

2.       My personal archives, important paperwork, and family photographs

3.       My laptop, iPhone, and camera and probably the chargers for all of them

4.       My American Girl doll – I’ve had her since I was like eight.  And they don’t make them they used to!
And that’s about it.  I have to admit, I was surprised that I only came up with a handful of things to take with me.

Actually, it made me look around and wonder if I really need all the stuff that I have.    

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's Behind Curtain #3?

I’m loving this new trend of using anything but curtains for curtains.  Shower curtains (which are technically curtains, I guess), tablecloths, burlap, bed sheets, oversize college sweatshirts – you name it, someone is slapping it up to cover a window.  I recently got in on the trend too.  I’m bored with some of the décor in my house so I’m making small changes here and there.  One of those changes was in my library/office/room I’m still figuring out what to do with.  I had striped curtains hanging for a while but I decided to switch it up a little.  The curtains that I really liked were actually shower curtains – not the icky, vinyl shower curtains of my youth that attacked me every time I took a shower, mind you, but the fancy quality  fabric shower curtains from Target.

There were a couple of issues with using shower curtains as window curtains.  First, the curtain rod didn’t fit through the holes.  I solved this problem by cutting strips of ribbon and attaching them to the curtain rod.  The second issue was the length.  Shower curtains are 72 inches and longer than curtains but shorter than drapes.  So, these are a little shorter than I’d like...but my desk is strategically placed in front of the window so it’s not too noticeable. 
The curtain rod isn't lopsided.
It's just the room. 
 
My next home décor project – replacing my shower curtain with a shower curtain. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gettin' My Vote On!

Well, it’s here – Election Day 2012.  I got up early today and reported to my precinct’s polling place to vote.  Since I didn’t report my address change when I moved, I had to fill out a provisional ballot but my vote still counts! 

I have two treasured possessions in my personal archives – my grandfather’s passport and my grandmother’s voter registration card.  When my grandmother was born, women in this country didn't have the right to vote.  She was 12 when the 19th Amendment was ratified.  
This is her (last) voter registration card:

Even though she's no longer with us, I "redacted"
her personal informaion and political affiliation!
Like all women, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the brave suffragettes who fought to give us the right to vote.  

So, in honor the women who came before us, if you haven't voted yet today, go vote!  It's our civic duty! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Are Family


This photograph intrigued me as a kid.  Taken on an Easter morning in the late 1950s, it captures my mother and my mother’s mother and cousins whom I never knew as bow-tied, suspendered, frilly-dress wearing children but who, as adults, played big parts in my own childhood.  I used to ask my mom who was who.  “That’s Stephen, and Bill but not Bill Schellhardt, Bill Knuttel, and that’s Bobby and Nanny’s holding Jimmy…” and my mom would name each one and in my mind I would pair up my cousins’ adult faces with their child faces. 

Then we would get to the two little girls whom I didn’t know.  “That’s Gaby and Gitte,” my mom explained.  “They’re cousins too.”  And she would attempt to explain the familial lines that related me to them.    

In a family in which distinctions have never really been made as to who was once removed, who was a second, or who was five times removed and adopted by Great-Grandpa's half-sister…in a family in which cousins are just cousins – although never kissing – whatever the degree of separation, I couldn’t believe that there were cousins whom I didn’t know; cousins whom I didn’t see at weddings and funerals and on Christmas Days and New Year’s Days and, oh yes, on quite a few Easter mornings of my own childhood. 

Then last year, in one of those weird coincidences of fate – proof that the universe ripples in ways you never quite expect – one of those little girls sent a message to my mom – and a little bit of what was lost, was found again. 

And so on Saturday, this photograph sat perched on top of my parents’ television while some of those children (and a few others), all of whom are now grown and who have children and grandchildren of their own now, gathered for a feast of food and family. 

And I finally got to meet my couins Gaby and Gitte!  (who are technically my third cousins twice removed...or something like that!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Take a Bite Outta These Letters


When I wrote yesterday’s post, I had no idea that I’d see another version of letter art so soon.  Check out these awesome soft pretzel letters that my cousin brought as a surprise treat for a family party that I’ll tell you about tomorrow!
 
 

And for those of you counting…that’s an 11 letter last name!  That’s a lotta soft pretzels! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Can I Buy a Vowel, Please?

I don’t like arts and crafts.  I’m not a crafter.  I’m not crafty.   It’s probably why I sucked at being a Girl Scout, well, that and the fact that I didn’t like camping, selling cookies, wearing sashes or vests, or singing friendship songs.  I did like earning merit badges though…

Anyhoo, I’m not into crafts.
But a few weeks ago, I had an absolutely horrible, rotten day at work.  I was really angry and it just gnawed at me all day.  That night though, I was going to a Pinterest party.  What’s a Pinterest party?  Well, this particular party had food as the theme – make a dish from a recipe that you found on Pinterest.  You can also do a craft-version.  Back to the party that I was going to – I came home from work, still madder than a hatter, and had to make my dish.  A funny thing happened as I prepared my spicy chicken wings – I wasn’t thinking about work.  At all.  

So, I decided then and there that I needed to find a constructive activity that I could focus on when I came home from work.  Because quite frankly, I’m sick of bringing my work home with me.  So, I needed a project.  Then I looked around at my house and was like – oh yeah, THIS is my project!  And I’m building equity!  (I actually don’t know what that means but people tend to say that when they find out you own your house…oh, you’re building equity!  I smile and say, why, yes!  I love building equity!)
To that end, I’ve been doing a couple of DIY projects that you’ll be seeing over the next few weeks.  I keep referring to them as “DIY” and “art” because you know…I am NOT a crafter.   
But...I discovered Modge Podge.  Modge Podge is the gateway drug to crafts.  It’s to a crafter what Elmer’s Glue is to a kindergartener.  You just can’t get enough!  It’s a sealer, glue, and finisher all in one, folks!  I’ve got a few projects lined up that make use of Modge Podge and canvases but my first projects have involved letters. 

Letter or Word Art is all over the place – or at least, it's on Pinterest and if not you're not pinning, you're just not with it – these days.  Letters are hot stuff!  Everyone wants their initials in big wooden letters hanging on their wall or they want an alphabet collage as wall art.  I’m into the craze too!  I almost ordered the letters “EAT” from Pottery Barn for $49, not including shipping and handling.  And then I thought…wait, a second.  I can make it myself!  Only problem…I painted them in the wrong order so now I have “ATE”.  That’s what happens when you try to save a few bucks. 

 
Seven years ago, when I moved into my apartment, my mom – always a trendsetter – actually gave me letters that she painted for me that spelled “BOOK NOOK”.  They were for the book nook in my bedroom.  I don’t have a book nook in my house (‘cause I have a whole entire LIBRARY!) but I wanted to do something with the letters  because throwing away good letters is just wrong.  So, I bought a second “B” and I made two “BOO”s for myself and a friend.  Just take some scrapbook paper and a few coats of Modge Podge and viola!  Halloween decorations!


During my hurricane hiatus, I did the same craft for the word “JOY.”  Instant Christmas decoration!  I did learn something important on this go round though – always erase your pencil tracings BEFORE you Modge Podge!  I might do the “Y” over again.  The actual paper is sparkly but after I put a coat of Modge Podge on, it dulled the sparkle.  And a “Y” that does not sparkle just will not do! 

So, there you have it…my letter craft art.  The only problem?  I can only do three-letter words. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…Especially if A-Hurricane is A-Coming

Last Friday morning, I was fuh-reaking out.  And it had nothing to do with the monster Sandy storm that was bearing down on the East Coast.  Actually, last Friday (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) morning, I wasn’t giving Sandy her due respect.  Nope, I had other things on my mind. 

That morning, I found out that the technology that I chose to use for an event at work wasn’t going to work.  It was an event that I spent almost six weeks planning and organizing.  And the technology – that would’ve broadcast the event to multiple off-site locations in my agency – was crucial.  It worked on Wednesday.  It didn’t work on Friday.  When was the event?  Monday, October 29th.       
When the technicians told me it wasn’t going to work, I almost lost it.  And by “lost it,” I mean drop to my knees flailing my hands screaming, “WHY?!”  Luckily, I’m a professional; so I did what any professional does – I went to buy pies with the Refreshment Committee.  Not that I liked that too much either but an event organizer’s gotta do what an event organizer’s gotta do. 

Hurricane.  What hurricane? 
I was focused on pulling off a big event.  See, in the past year I’ve become active in trying to stage a nonviolent coup to take over the professional organization at my agency.  I’m one of the committee chairs and last month I found out that I had to organize an event based on a suggestion that I made a few months ago.  Talk about something coming back to haunt you! 

A lone committee member and I began to plan and organize in September - you know, when the weather was sunny and bright.  An Archival Rockstar – what’s it take to become an Archival Rockstar?  Ask me in 10 years.  That’s not cockiness…just confidence – was coming to engage in a discussion with our staff about the four most controversial letters in our profession.  Archivists debating and engaging in dialogue about cool archives stuff!  We developed an entire concept (trademark pending in 23 countries).  I designed a (kickass) poster.  I printed pamphlets.  The event itself was going to consist of a presentation, a panel, and pies.  And at the very end, maybe someone was gonna get up and say “Let them eat pie!”  It was gonna be epic.    
And then Friday happened.  By Friday night, I was stressed out and worried.    

Oh right, and a hurricane was coming.
On Sunday morning, I received an early morning text from one of the panelists – a colleague from New York City – her train was cancelled and she wouldn’t be able to make it.  Sigh.  I was down but not out – the show would go on.  Even with an empty chair.   

I spent Sunday tracking our guest’s flight and found out that he arrived safe and sound.  Right around the time that I found out our office would be closed the next day – Monday, October 29th – because of the hurricane.  Talk about a Sandyshitstorm. 
So, what did I learn this weekend?  

When a colossal mega-hurricane’s headed your way, don’t sweat the small stuff because you've got bigger problems to worry about. 

Oh, and have plenty of bottled water on hand.  Or have a friend who keeps extra for you.    

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days Hath November

And so sweet November has arrived!  It was touch and go there for a bit, what with all that hurricane business of a few days ago.  But we made it through and now we can look forward to a season of gourds, cornucopias, tiny Pilgrim people salt and pepper shakers, and turkeys made from every sort of craft material imaginable (pinecones, flower pots, light bulbs, socks, palm prints…I’ve been Pinteresting again).  Ahh, the season of giving thanks is upon us.

So too is the season of NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month.  Write 30 blog posts for each of November’s 30 days.  I made the attempt last year and failed miserably.  Then again, I also made the faulty decision to participate in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  I failed miserably at that too – although I continue to nurse the novel that I started writing for that project and on my good days think I could actually publish it one day.
This year, I’m only committing myself to NaBloPoMo.  And this year I hope to succeed.

As I nosed around on the NaBloPoMo website, I came across the article “How to Blog (Better)” and I chuckled.  How can I blog better?  Well, rule number one – I can show up.  It is not lost on me that I’ve only written 23 posts this year.  Have my words dried up?  Have I become boring and routine?  Have I become lazy?  Have I just given up?  Have I lost that bloggin’ feeling? 
It’s not you.  It’s me.  Really. 

There have been really extraordinary things that have happened to me that I’ve fully intended to write about and then just…didn’t.  The words haven’t dried up…but the writing has.  It's time to fix that.          
I’m not sure what this November will bring but I’m going to try very hard to bring you 30 blog posts.

And if I don’t…well, there’s always September, April, and June.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Got Game!

For a good time, call Denise.  Supposedly, that's the word on the street.  And the word on the street is never wrong.    

I like having fun and making people laugh.  And I really like making games to play; well, really making people play games.  Not all games, mind you.  I’m not into games that involve math, boards, pressure, stealing gifts, pinning tails on live donkeys, or asking Red Rover for permission to come over.  My games of choice involve trivia and random factoids that you only learn when you buy those fun fact-of-the-day calendars.   
I’m currently organizing a couple of games for some upcoming parties.  One email requesting my assistance went like this – verbatim – “Hi Denise, blah, blah, blah, blah, do something fun.  Blah, blah, blah.  Nothing childish.”  Clearly, the live-action version of Candy Land that I planned would not do.  No worries!  The new game will be completely fun and completely mature in a sensible, respectable adult way filled with lots of teachable moments.  I not only know how to show people a good time but I teach them while I’m at it! 

But I'm really, really excited about an awesome game that I've been developing that I think will take the world by storm!  In fact, if I knew how to make an app, I could probably make an app, charge 99 cents and make at least $1,000!  But alas, I don’t know how to make apps and I don’t know any app designers so I’m out of luck.  But I don’t want the world to miss out on this game so I’m giving up the chance to become an app millionaire and telling you about this game FOR FREE! 
I got the idea when I went to an Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Extravaganza and I’ve been refining it ever since.  Here are the rules – you get three names of movie characters and you have to guess the movie!  You get so many points if you guess it on the first (hardest) name, fewer points if you guess it on the second (kinda hard) name, and even fewer points if you guess it on the last (and easiest) name.  Then each round gets increasingly harder as the movies become more obscure.  I haven’t figured out the point system yet because it involves math and math makes my head hurt.

But we can still play!  Okay here goes (answers at the end of the post) -  

1.        Nick Bradshaw
2.       Tom Kazansky
3.        Pete Mitchell

Anyone?  Anyone at all?  Would it help if I changed it to –

1.       Goose
2.       Iceman
3.       Maverick

Oh geez.  I totally gave it away!
Here's another one - 
1.       Brandon Walsh
2.       Stef Steinbrenner
3.       Data Wang

Here’s a free clue – when I saw Data in one of the Indiana Jones movies, I came up with this game! 
Okay, here’s one that I had to really think about!

1.       Quirinus Quirrell
2.       Minerva McGonagall
3.       Ron Weasley

I have to admit – I’m a Harry Potter virgin so I had to get some help from IMDB!
So – what do you think?  Can you see you and your friends having hours and hours of fun with this game?  Because I sure can! 

Hmm, I wonder if anyone ever called Milton Bradley for a good time.    
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1 – Top Gun
2 – The Goonies
3 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sick Daze

For the past few days, I’ve been sick.  I don’t mean like sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough.  I mean (said in my most dramatic fashion) I was on my deathbed unsure if recovery was humanly possible.  At least, that’s what I told my mom when she called to check on me.  Thankfully, the death plague has passed.  They’ve lifted the quarantine off of my house.  I can rejoin the human race again.

A few things you should know:
I don’t get sick often.  Sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough – yeah, sure.  That happens to all of us.  But really, really sick.  Nah, not me.   Maybe it’s the flu shot that I get every year religiously.  Maybe it’s my super-human immune system.  Whatever.  The last time that I got really, really sick was like ten years ago.  It wasn’t fun then and it wasn’t fun now. 

I rarely call out of work sick.  This week, I had to do it twice.  At the end of the government’s fiscal year.  I failed my team.  I failed my agency.  I failed you, the American people.  To top it all off, I probably infected a bunch of colleagues.  Talk about guilt.  On the bright side…aww heck, there isn’t a bright side. 
I’m not stocked with the proper supplies to survive getting sick.  Well, I’m actually not stocked with the proper supplies to survive much of anything.  But I can usually run to the store to get those supplies.  Not this week.  (Although I did go out to get ginger ale.  In my pajamas with a huge hole in the back of my pants.  I didn’t much care.) 

I live by myself.  Living by oneself when one is sick sucks.  When my brother (who also lives by himself) gets sick, my mom is at his house in seven minutes with chicken noodle soup and ginger ale to make sure he’s okay.  Because she lives seven minutes away from him.  My mom lives two and a half hours and $35 in tolls away from me.  She doesn’t bring me chicken noodle soup.  Probably because of the tolls. 
I’m not the best when it comes to asking for help.  I always thought that meant I was strong and independent.  Really, it just means I have a huge flaw in my character.

Operation Influenza Drop
This week I needed a little help from my friends. 
And by the power of social media – and my mom – help was generously offered and gratefully accepted.  One of my friends brought me medicine and tea bags and soup and even a pile of DVDs.  Other friends offered to bring me anything that I needed.  That meant a lot to me.  Especially when I got all maudlin and weepy when I was sure that I was going to shrivel up and die and the only people that would notice would be my little cat family.  Did I mention that I tend to be a little dramatic? 

I’m incredibly thankful.
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And now, a few observations that I made during my sick daze – 
Having no ABC soap operas to get me through from noon-thirty to four o’clock was just sad.  The death of the soap opera is the death of an art form!  They canceled “All My Children” for “The Chew”??? 

Ginger ale is disgusting.  There’s a reason I usually only drink brown sodas.  (And now for a brief tangent – this is why I believe restaurants have a moral responsibility to inform patrons that the Coke machine isn’t working before they pay for their drink – clear sodas stink.  Do you hear that Boston Market?!) 
The ladies on “The View” are annoying.  So are the ladies on “The Talk” although they are more diverse -  two black ladies, a lesbian, a Brit, and a media mogul’s wife versus two black ladies, a Republican, an octogenarian, and Joy Behar. 

Saltines are good crumbled up in soup.
Anderson Cooper is good people.  (Full disclosure, I met Anderson Cooper at a book signing once – he seemed like a genuine guy!)

Cats don’t care that their human might be sick.  They just want food.  And they’ll walk all over you to get it.
Katie Couric’s stage looks like a giant kidney bean.

I get a lot of calls from 1-800 numbers during the day.  I thought I was on a Do Not Call list somewhere! 
Being sick is no fun.

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Finally feeling much better!  Although – in my never-ending quest to understand the definition of irony – is it ironic that I’m going for my flu shot next week?  Or just rotten luck?