Sunday, January 30, 2011

Willow and Kona


 Here is my post for the Writing Buddie Blogs Carnival! 

Quite often, when  I am writing or sewing, I realize I have company.  Willow has come into the room-quieter than snowflakes falling on snow.  She is a subtle girl.  She walks on whispering feet; showing up without a sound.

We love her.  That goes without saying-but it wasn’t a love that happened over night.  We got her when she was a year and a half old.  She was utterly and totally wild; not knowing what it meant to have the security and love of a forever home.  She had been a street dog-then a shelter dog-then an adopted, but quickly   unwanted dog.  She was a mutt-a mix of random ingredients.    She was offered  free to any home willing to take her.  We were her last hope. Those first few years we had our doubts, though, about the wisdom of our decision.  But not any more.


While Willow sometimes gives the impression of being a little slow off the mark, nothing could not be further from the truth.  She knows that the sofa is a much more comfortable place to sleep at night than a dog bed-but she also knows that it’s best to wait until the house is dark and quiet before she relocates herself.  She just hasn’t figured out a way to hide the dog hair she leaves behind on the cushions.

She also knows to keep here eyes peeled on the kitchen floor when any sort of cooking is going on.  She has learned that sooner or later-something good to eat will end up there, and it’s best to be first in line.


Though Willow doesn’t show much interest in dog toys-(we don’t think she learned to play as a puppy)-there are exceptions—she relishes the ones purloined from Kona- when Kona is not watching.

Willow is the salt in our lives-adding just the right amount of dependable  flavor-nothing too fancy, but still really good- for nearly 14 years now.  Willow turns 15 in May.

And then there is Kona.


If Willow is the salt,  Kona is the pepper.

There is NOTHING subtle about Kona.  And what you see is pretty much what you get.    When Kona comes into a room-everyone knows it.  Kona is not a dog who will settle for sitting quietly at someone’s feet-she makes sure she is noticed- with licks, nibbles and a friendly tap of her paw.  She is brash, impulsive, incautious.   She thinks nothing of leaping down the last half of a flight of stairs, or racing  across an icy expanse of pavement.  She is about as hard to miss as a meteor landing  on a tin roof.

Kona's first snow

Kona was not free-but at 25 bucks she was a darn good deal.  She was part of a litter of puppies that weren’t exactly unplanned-they just didn’t turn out to be the purebred Border Collies that some of the parties involved were expecting.  (It seems that Kona’s mother was an Australian Shepherd-there was a little bit of miscommunication.)  Last May, when we first saw 7 week old  Kona, it was love at first sight.

When I am writing  or sewing, I know when Kona has decided to keep me company- she comes barreling into my presence-ready to claim any discarded scrap of fabric or piece of paper, which instantly becomes her favorite new plaything.  She is funny that way-and doesn’t care about expensive toys.  Her toy basket is mostly filled with bits of old socks and rags.


Kona smiles, and does somersaults for fun.  She chases birds and chases her tail.  (I wonder when she’ll figure out that she doesn’t have one.)  Hopefully she will be our companion for years to come.  In the meantime, Willow is trying to come to terms with the fact that her twilight years are not going to be as peaceful as she might have hoped they would be-but she’s having fun trying to keep up with (and outwit) a dog who is a fraction of her age, and twice her size.  Willow and Kona.  Salt and Pepper.

Life would sure be bland without them.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blue Day

shell bag
It’s been one of those days-the kind that leaves you  feeling defeated and discouraged.  When I have a day like today-I have to find a way to regain my sense of emotional balance-zero myself out, so to speak.   So, I  am going to blow my own horn for a minute and talk about a recent accomplishment that I am proud of, and when I  think about it, the world seems ok again.

A few years ago I bought a cute 1940’s vintage bag. I loved the style, but it was a pretty complicated design.  My goal was to try to figure out how it was made without tearing it apart. Many times I studied it, and tried to imagine how it was put together, but I  just couldn't grasp it.

“Spatial relations” are not my strong point.  Geometry?  I had a headache that day.  In high school, a math teacher once asked me to drop his class.  He said he didn’t have the time or patience  to help me understand what he was teaching because he thought I was a lost cause.

But I’ve come to realize  that I need to give myself  a little more credit,  and that  I  shouldn’t  dismiss a challenge because I automatically assume I will fail.

I figured that bag out-and I am still patting myself on the back. (That's my version pictured above.)  And every time I feel the way I did today, I recall what I can do.

What works for you when you have one of “those” days?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pen Pals

I love learning about my family history.   In this case, there are two reasons why.  One-I get to know more about my dad and his life before I came along, and two-in an instance like this, I may be able to help my dad find a long lost friend.
So my guest blogger today is my dad-Robert.    I would love for you to let him know what you think:)

When I was still in high school, sometime after the end of WW 2, I had a pen pal in Hilo, Hawaii.  Her name was Elsie Ryusaki.  She had two brothers who had served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe.  She even sent me a shoulder patch of the famed regiment which I still have and cherish.  We corresponded for a couple of years - she went on to the University Of Hawaii and I  joined the U.S. Navy.  Our paths parted.

Just recently I was reminiscing and I wondered, "Where is Elsie Ryusake?"

My son in law did a little searching on the Internet using the name Ryusaki and he came across an obituary for George Ryusaki.  This obituary listed a sister of George's named Elsie Yamamoto and from that point I picked up the trail.Doing a bit of searching on my own I came across an Elsie Yamamoto, aged 81 (just about right) who lives in Honoka'a, not far from Hilo. However, when I tried that name in directory assistance for Honoka'a, it came back with 'name not found'. 

Is this the end of the trail?"

For my dad’s sake, I hope not.  Here’s to finding long lost friends…

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It’s All Good

broken tape

Girl Singer is no more.  I just got this tape a few days ago-for 50 cents- at one of my local second hand stores.  I played side one.  Perfect.  And then I played side two-or tried to.  My tape player had other ideas.

Which forces me to admit something.  Maybe I do love technology after all.  If Girl Singer had been in the form of a digital download, I could be listening to it right now.

I have a love hate relationship with technology.  I know it can be a good thing-but I’m not always comfortable using it.  Case in point-I will take one of those awkward accordion type folding maps over  GPS any day.  Even if I can’t always read the map-or fold it up again.  I just like the paper map better.  The same can be said for cell phones.  I realize they are convenient-and even life savers in some situations-and yes, we have one- but how can they compare to the sleek stylish lines of a heavy old black rotary phone?  I could go on and on-my list of old versus new is endless…

I know that what is new technology today will be old technology tomorrow.  It’s really all relative.   The Girl Singer cassette tape is proof of that.   I remember years ago trying to show my grandmother how to operate her new cassette player, and having her tell me that she didn’t like these new fangled devices.  Devices which are now almost ancient history.

So yes.  I admit it.  I’m ready to become as much of a technology junkie as the next guy.  (I know you couldn't possibly read this post if I’d  typed it on my old Remington Rand.)  While it may be curtains for Girl Singer-I guess it’s not too late for me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a telephone call to make.  Just as soon as I do locate the cell phone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Learning the Hard Way


Painful lessons are the hardest to take. 

Last July, I was contacted by a gallery-Queen City Emporium- interested in consigning some of my handmade bags.  As an artist, it is always thrilling to get this type of recognition.  Unfortunately, this gallery’s intentions were far from honorable, and along with many other talented artists, I’ve just learned this weekend that I’ve been scammed. Now I am having to learn the ins and outs of dealing with the proper authorities in an attempt to recoup my losses.

While I may be out several hundred dollars, it breaks my heart to see that other artists may lose thousands of dollars.  And while For the Love of Pete is not my bread and butter-the same cannot be said about all of us involved, and losing money for some literally may take food from their tables.

As artists, we know we have to take risks-we put our work out in the public eye, fully aware that there may be criticism and rejection.  These are hard enough to take-but  they can also cause us to do some re-evaluating- potentially helping us improve what we do.    But dishonesty is different-because it destroys trust in others and makes us jaded-something I don’t want to be.

But I am jaded now.  Because I will never again risk being cheated this way.  And it makes me doubly sad, because the reason I named my business For the Love of Pete was so that I could honor my uncle-someone who valued the meaning of honesty and integrity.

Yes-I’ve learned my lesson.  But my heart is broken.

Important!  If you are reading this and have consigned with QCE, there is now a Facebook page called Stop Queen City Emporium that can assist you in taking action against these people.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The View From My Front Door

Red sky

“Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.”

I was all prepared to write a post today about the forecasted storm that is due to hit tonight.  When I saw the beautiful rose colored sunrise this morning-I thought of that old weather forecasting adage and opened my front door to take a picture.

But about an hour later, a scene much closer to my heart played out.

Every morning when Amy leaves for school I see her to the front door and I send her on her way with a hug and a kiss and a  “Have a good day!  See you soon!  I love you!”  We wave to each other for the first block or so, and somewhere in there I even blow a kiss to her and she blows one back to me.

This morning, at the same time  Amy was walking down the front porch steps and I was seeing her off, a big high school aged boy walked by.

And at this moment I knew what it means to know and understand and love your child enough to let them do what they need to do-and not be hurt.

Amy crossed the street and walked-never looking back for a wave or a blown kiss.  And I was completely ok with that-and in fact I would have been surprised if she had turned back.

Of all the years of being a parent, these are the hardest ones for me-because I am preparing Amy to be able to go out into the world on her own.  Her eventual ability to do that  means I will have done my job well.  (And yes, there are a lot of private tears on my part these days.)

I keep watching Amy walk this morning-pondering these many thoughts that fill my head.   And then- just when she is almost out of sight- I see her turn and wave, before she rounds the corner and is gone from my view.

“Have a good day! See you soon!  I love you!”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

One Drop at a Time


Yesterday it didn’t seem  funny at all, but today I can laugh about it.

I have this bad habit (or I should say I HAD this bad habit)  of not unplugging my hair dryer.  I leave it hanging off the edge of the sink-the cord wrapped once around the faucet- so that all the weight  isn’t on the plug.  Not a good idea.

It’s been really, really cold here these past few days-hovering right around zero at night, and so my husband has been letting the faucets drip slowly all night to ensure that the pipes don’t freeze-and possibly  break.  (We’ve been there before…) 

Enter my hair dryer-that I should have unplugged, but didn’t-and  one slowly  dripping faucet-and I’ll bet 9 out of 10 times, the water will travel-drip by drip, down the length of the cord, and on to the floor.

I was in for a rude awakening yesterday morning when I went into the bathroom, and saw all that water…

This year I’m embarking on my first major writing project-the story of my Uncle Pete.  The task seems  overwhelming most of the time.   How will I make all of the bits and pieces I have so far come together to form a finished piece of work?

Let me direct your attention once again to that rather large puddle that soaked  my bathroom floor.  How did it get there?  Slowly.  One drop at a time. 

Point well taken.