Really digging mixed media projects …

The thing I like most about creating mixed media pieces is … there are no rules! 
It is a very intuitive art form and allows you to try new things and play and have fun, all while creating beautiful art.

Here are some recent pieces I have completed.

Most of these pieces contain gelato colors, bits of napkin, Sharpie, watercolor pencils, and modeling paste.

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I recommend everyone try something creative!  Very therapeutic!

 

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You can take the girl out of the country…

Am I a country girl?  or a city girl?

Good question!
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and lived there until 4 years old; we moved to Dayton, Ohio and lived there until I was 10 years old; then we moved out into the absolute country to Jamestown, Ohio, and lived there until my mid-20s.

I consider myself a country girl!
It started at an early age – even when I lived in the “big cities” of Cincinnati and Dayton, some of my favorite memories were visiting my Uncle Eddie and Aunt Lila’s 350 acre farm in Lebanon, Ohio.

I would follow the peacocks around in hopes that they would drop a tail feather.  I absolutely adored the morning ritual of collecting eggs in the chicken coop with Aunt Lila.  I would brush the horses, Big King and Little King.  I would watch the calves being born and nursing from their mothers.  I climbed the wooden slat ladders to the hay mow and ran deftly along the giant beam rafters in the top of the bank barn.  I took naps in the straw, played in the crick (again, creek for all you non-Ohioans), chased butterflies in the meadow, dug worms as “treats” to hand fed to the chickens, and helped move the cattle herd down the road to the alternate grazing pastures.

I started taking horseback riding lessons at six years old while we still lived the city life. 
Going to the riding stables was the absolute highlight of my week.  I trained with English tack and my discipline was hunter/jumpers.  Riding the school horses around the outdoor arena and learning the nuances of riding and how to interact with the horses was always great.  But, on the days when our riding instructor Frances Steinohrt would take us trail riding – any shred of my existence that didn’t take place on the back of my horse du ‘jour disappeared like a mere wisp.

Communing with nature from the back of a horse is the best feeling in the world.  Strolling along the trails in the meadows, your horse deftly picking its way through the brush and subsequently the wooded trails; the birds calling out; the sound of the babbling brook in the distance; wading across the river on horseback – these are some of the most defining moments of my childhood.

Once we moved to Jamestown – and specifically, Grape Grove – my fate was sealed.
Jamestown, Ohio, was a little town with one stop light smack dab in the middle, and I lived five miles out of town.  Legend has it that the crossroads of Route 35 and Route 72 was where two Native Americans cross paths.  Who knows.

We moved to the parsonage beside the little country church in June of 1974, which gave me the entire summer to explore my new surroundings and become acclimated to the country life before I would have to start at a new school in the fall.

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Grape Grove Church of Christ – our little country church were my dad was the minister for 17 years.
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Greeneview North Elementary (aka Ross Township School) – where I attended for 5th and 6th grade.

It felt like the entire world had opened up to me and there were no limitations or borders.
I was used to riding my bike up to the five and dime store up on Salem Avenue in Dayton, and that was freedom to a 9-year-old girl in the city.  I’d take my allowance and go buy a candy bar or a new stuffed toy, or a treat from my dog Bootsie.

But this … the wide expanse of the country was something completely different.  When they refer to a “country mile,” they aren’t kidding.  In linear terms, a mile is a mile, but a mile out there on my bike or the back of my horse seemed to stretch on for days!

Unlike the rolling hills of the eastern portion of the state of Ohio, southwest Ohio is very flat (until you hit Cincinnati). 
Most days you could see clear past Ritenour’s farm all the way to the end of the road, which was literally a mile away.  And you could hear everything — the screech owl pair that lived in the old, abandoned one-room school house just past Watkins Road; the mower running all the way down at the cemetery across from Thompson’s farm, and combines – lots of tractors and combines – all hours of the day and night.

And the smells are some of the most near and dear to my heart.
The smell of a hundred worms on the wet pavement after a storm is a smell I will never forget.  People make fun of me because I can tell you the difference between cow and pig poop just by the smell.  And, I’ve always said, my favorite smell in the world is my dirty horse.  There is nothing like that smell anywhere.

In my early 20s, I moved back to the “big city” of Dayton, Ohio, went to college, got a job, reveled in the fact that I lived less than a mile away from the Dayton Mall. 
Heck, I even lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for a year in 1989-90, before moving back to Ohio.  Columbus, this time.  I lived with my parents, who had retired to Columbus while I was in New Orleans; got married the first time and bought a house with my first husband; got divorced and lived with a really cool co-worker and roommate, Heidi, up in Dublin, Ohio; and even purchased my own home back in Columbus and lived the single life there for several years.

But once I got up on my own two feet again, there was no way to ignore the tug of the fresh country air.
In 2005, I bought myself a little 5 acre farm up in Morrow County, Ohio.  There were no farm provisions at the time, but I managed (with the help of a couple friends) to build my own pasture fences, install gates and water troughs and a run-in shed for the horses.  I turned an existing tool shed into a chicken coop and was happy as a lark.  I knew it was official when I bought myself a brand new John Deere tractor to keep up with the grounds on my little slice of heaven.

I would wake up in the morning to my horses staring into my bedroom window from pasture 2.  And, just like the morning routine with Aunt Lila back when I was little, I would go outside and gather the fresh chicken eggs every morning.  My two spoiled hand-raised peacocks would trounce around the yard and make the craziest noises.  I rode my horses up and down our unpaved road and across the expanse of freshly cut fields (with permission, of course), and watched as Amish buggies would pass my little ranch on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, a year later, cancer struck me for the first time and I lost it all. 
Lost the farm and my car and my truck and my tractor.  I had to find homes for all my horses and chickens and cats and rabbits.  It was awful.  But, that’s one of the things about the disease – it just doesn’t care!

Since that time, I’ve been back in the city.  Columbus, Ohio, to be exact. 
City life absolutely has its conveniences, as I am well aware of still today, where I live a little over a mile from Polaris Fashion Place (mall) in north Columbus, Ohio.  We have shopping galore, convenience stores on nearly every corner, and every type of restaurant imaginable.  And it’s nice.  I’m close to my office and my Mom and my nieces, and it is nice to be able to make a Taco Bell run at all hours of the night whenever the mood hits.

But, am I a country girl or a city girl?  Maybe a little of both.

 

Weird Wednesday – January 17, 2017 – Steroid Reaction

Does anyone else have strange reactions to steroids? 
My strange reaction is apparently an insatiable need to chew fibrous material.

I don’t know what made me think of this today, but I remember during my 2006 chemo, they gave me some type of steroid to combat nausea.  All I can remember was wanting to eat everything in the house.  I was absolutely ravenous!  The worst craving was apparently fiber.  I found that out one day when my then-husband came into the living room and caught me literally gnawing on the arm of the couch.

Then, a couple years ago – I can’t remember if it was from my mastectomy or from my twisted ankle (they happened a week apart), but I was once again given steroids, and I was sitting at my desk and I literally gnawed an entire pack of Post-It notes.

Mind you, I didn’t swallow any of these things, just the insatiable need to chew fiber was uncontrollable.

Anyone else have a weird reaction to steroids or medication?

 

Weird Wednesday – January 10, 2018 – Superstitions

Weird Wednesday today.

I’m not sure if I’m superstitious or believe in old wive’s tales.
-but some things happen so frequently that I cannot summarily discount them.

For instance, there is a saying that if the palm on your dominant hand itches, you are going to get some money; and if the palm on your non-dominant hand itches, you are going to lose money.  I have to admit these two things happen to me frequently and are almost nearly followed by the respective outcome mentioned above.

Today, for instance, my right palm started itching.  A half an hour later, my supervisor brings me a completely unexpected bonus check.  I’m new here and I had no idea our firm even did such a thing.

Thank you!  Much appreciated!

 

 

Screw You, Cancer – I went to Neskowin, Oregon – June 2017

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Proposal Rock on a sunny day in the Pacific Northwest!

I’m a real science nerd!
– especially when it comes to nature, geology, astronomy and especially marine biology! I wish I would have followed my dream to become a marine biologist, but that’s an entirely different blog.

I combined my love for both travel and squishy things in June 2017.
I had never been to the Pacific Northwest (and only on the west coast in Los Angeles), but have always wanted to see the Oregon and Washington coast. I and Kelsey, my favorite traveling companion, rented a cabin on the Pacific shore at Neskowin, Oregon.

I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this experience was.
First off, we both love to fly, so we didn’t even mind the long trip through the air across the continent.  Seeing Mt. Hood jutted above the clouds just below our plane was an impressive sight. Once we arrived at the Portland International Airport, we collected our bags and our rental car, and headed off for the 1 ½ hour drive to Neskowin.

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Mt. Hood

When making plans for this vacation, I was certain of three things:
1) I wanted to be on the beach where I could hear the surf at night and where there would be tide pools to search for marine critters;
2) I wanted to be able to ride horses on the beach; and
3) I didn’t want to be in a hotel.
Anything else was going to be added value!

Neskowin absolutely did not disappoint!
I did a lot of research before finding a website called VACASA.  On this site, people who own property all over the world can list their locations for rent – Airbnb-style.

I searched the site and checked out several hotels and cabins on the coast, but absolutely fell in love with Fisher’s Roost.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one.  Reading the amazing reviews solidified my decision.

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Fisher’s Roost Cabin

Fisher’s Roost was absolutely perfect for the two of us.
There were two bedrooms, 1 and ½ baths, washer and dryer, full kitchen, dining room, living room, tv, and woodburning stove. Outside, there was a wraparound deck and a propane grill at our disposal.  The best part, the beach was just across the way from our front door.

The Pacific Northwest coast is fabulous!
It’s beautiful! The forests go on for days.  It only took a matter of minutes for us to throw our stuff into the cabin and wander out into the sand and surf.  I was overwhelmed and awed by the beauty of the area.  And even though the first two days were foggy, Proposal Rock could still be seen standing majestically in the water.

We dug around in the tide pools, where we saw barnacles and tiny shrimp and sea anemone clinging to the stumps of the Ghost Forest.  We collected shells and agates on the beach throughout our visit.  I had hoped to come across a nudibranch in one of the tide pools, but it wasn’t meant to be.  However, I was not disappointed, as there was so much to take in.

Neskowin is nestled between Pacific City to the north, and Lincoln City to the south.
Pacific City is small and homey and quiet. Lincoln City is larger and more touristy, with pastel colored souvenir shops and most restaurants and fast food places you’d expect of a decent-sized city.  Kelsey and I fell in love with the Pig ‘n Pancake and had breakfast there three out of five mornings.  There is also a Safeway in Lincoln City so you can stock up on all the goodies you’ll need to make delicious meals on the grill at the cabin.

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Crab Benedict!  That’s right, I said Crab Benedict from Pig ‘n Pancake!

Up north at Pacific City, the atmosphere is more sea-faring, laid-back, and hometown. There is a little place called the Village Coffee Shop where we stopped and ate lunch before our beach horse riding adventure.  The cheeseburger!  So juicy!  You can’t beat it.  And the people were so nice.  Great service!

Once full of burgers and fries, we made our way to Green Acres, a little stable on top of the crest of the hill.  Kelsey and I walked among the horses and petted each one as they munched their hay.  We were matched up with our rides and given a short tutorial on horsemanship before mounting up and heading down to the beach.  It was still a little foggy on this day, but the beach was stellar, and riding along hoof-style on the surf was everything I had hoped it would be.  My horse, Charly, was the coolest.  He was very nice and mannerly.

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Horseback riding on the beach!

We rode along the surf for about a half an hour before turning inland to climb up the dunes to the ridge.  The views from here were spectacular.  On one side, you could see the ocean in all its splendor stretching on for infinity.  On the other side, you could look down and see the forest and the park and the small weather-beaten town off in the foggy distance.  It was surreal and everything I had hoped for an more – especially since beach riding was one of my bucket list items.

Our cabin was wonderful.
I felt so completely relaxed there. The entire place is a gated community, so the privacy and sense of peace was greatly welcomed.  I took the bedroom that had the patio door for two reasons:  1) in case some miscreant tried to break in during the night, they would have to go through me to get to Kelsey; and 2)  I’m selfish!  It paid off.  I slept with the sliding glass door cracked open several inches at night and went off to dreamland with the sound of the crashing waves lulling me to sleep.

We spent our mornings sleeping in and our afternoons either in some activity or simply walking along the beach looking for sand dollars and shells.

On the last full day, we ventured south of Lincoln City to Newport, where we took in the Oregon Coast Aquarium – again, engaging my love for all things squishy.  The Aquarium had both indoor and outdoor exhibits, and each was well marked with information on what you were looking at.  We experienced the feel of the critters in the touch pool – some sea urchin, starfish, anemone, small skates and rays – and it was amazing.

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Squishy things!

I had just purchased my new car “Penelope” a week before our trip, and I couldn’t resist the urge to stop in the gift shop, where I found a pastel purple, stuffed jellyfish to hang from her rear view mirror when I got home.

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“Nessie” (named for Neskowin) hanging from Penelope’s rear view mirror.

On our last night, I truly did not want to go home.
I could have stayed there forever in that tiny little cabin, just right for me and my favorite traveling buddy, on the beach, listening to the surf, and enjoying the absolute peace and quiet. I will never forget this trip of a lifetime to a part of the country I had never been to.  It did not disappoint, and I will be returning!

How I Deal – LIFE AFTER CANCER – Part 1. decide what you want and plan your finances accordingly!

I don’t like the word “remission.”
– especially considering the definition found on Dictionary.com.

CaptureWords like “diminution” and “temporary” don’t sit well, even though as a two-time cancer survivor, I know how absolutely temporary remission can be.  And, just because I don’t like the word, doesn’t make it go away.

It’s psychological warfare.
Do I acknowledge that there is absolutely no cure for cancer? Sure, mine appears to be gone, but I have to remind myself that it is in remission.  My brain keeps saying, “But it was ‘gone’ before and then I was diagnosed again.”  The very nature of remission.

Will my cancer rear its ugly head again? No one can know.  My doctors don’t know, I certainly don’t know.  God probably knows, but He reveals things in His own time.

So, what’s a girl to do?
Accept it! As hard as it is sometimes, I really don’t have another choice.  My unabashed determination and unquenchable sense of adventure drive me forward.

So, I soldier on.
I do the same things other girls do. I go to work.  I fret about my weight.  I spend too much on cosmetics.  I love on my pets as if they were my children.  I yell at other drivers.

I have always had an insatiable sense of adventure and the need to see the world. I want to see and experience everything.  And, I’ve accomplished a lot of that in my 53 years.  But, it’s never enough.  I’d like to be happy and comfortable with what I’ve been able to do.

But, there is always more.
The world is such a vast place with so many intriguing views to take in. From the mountains and canyons and rivers, to the ocean with its beautiful reefs and deep crevices, to manmade wonders, such as the Eiffel Tower and the San Antonio Riverwalk.  There is so much more ethnic and unusual food to try.  So many more animals to pet.  More zip lines, more riding trails, more beautiful malls and museums to check out.  More boats to ride and more planes on which to fly.

I have to be honest – sometimes it feels like absolute desperation.
I think as we get older, everyone feels a sense of urgency every now and then. An impinging notion that we are “x” years old and still haven’t accomplished “y.”  Even before my first diagnosis at 42 years old, I could already feel the beginnings of just such impressions.

After my first round with the disease, it wasn’t much different, although I was in a very different mindset after my first round than I have been after my second round. (Another blog post will come regarding this.)  I was married, and we never had much extra money.  Mainly because of my inability to say “no” to my husband and stepchild.  One wanted a new car every six months, and both wanted the latest new phone and electronic gadget, and every gaming console available, and every cable channel imaginable.  I don’t have to tell anyone how financially irresponsible this is, and I have no excuse for my inability to buckle down, since I was in charge of the finances, and I can do nothing but take full responsibility.

But, I digress.
Now that I am divorced, back in charge of my life completely, and only responsible for my own self, the outlook is splendid. I have money to do the things I want to do.  I have the time to do the things I want to do.

Having cancer definitely heightens your sense of desperation.
No one knows how long they have to live.  And, I am no different.  However, given my cancer history and my family’s cancer history, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel an added sense of urgency to accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

To that end, I have revamped my own person budget. The first thing I did was execute my idea of opening the two additional checking accounts – an idea I had attempted to implement during my marriage to no avail.

How it works:
My original checking account is used to pay rent, utilities, car payments, credit card bills, groceries, and other household and living expenses.

Once all of those things are taken care of, I then allot the remainder of my paychecks to my second and third checking accounts.

For my second checking account, I allot the same amount from each paycheck twice a month to what I call my “Shopping Therapy” card. This account is funded with enough money to assure my daily living expenses, including gas in my car and lunch at work, as well as some “fun” money, which can be spent on anything I want, including my insatiable lust for Kate Spade bags, over the next two weeks.  The key to this strategy is … ONCE IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE.  After that, I’m taking canned tuna or $1 frozen Michelina’s entrees to work with me and tearing myself away from the Michael Kors jewelry case. But, that’s the very purpose of this account.  To keep the first and third accounts in check.

The third account receives all remaining funds from my paycheck AFTER I’ve taken care of living and daily expenses and my fun money. This account can ONLY be used for travel and experiences (or emergencies).  I cannot use it to buy those tweed Coach loafers – even though it seems like at the time it’s a dire emergency!

Being spontaneous I have no willpower otherwise. My daddy spoiled me rotten, and, (with the exception of deference to my husband and step-child during my second marriage), I have always gotten what I wanted.

This wanderlust continues into my middle age and my post-cancer lifestyle.
Fortunately for me, I now have a responsible financial system in place and awesome vacation day benefits from my job to give me the PERMISSION to get out there and involved in whatever my heart desires.

Because I recognize the absolute need to take charge of my life after cancer, taking charge of my finances and creating a budget to ensure that I am allocating my funds to all the things I need and want, is the first way to ensure I am now able to see a future of fun, adventure, travel, and all sorts of experiences that I can take part in.  Screw cancer.  It  may have had me down and out at times, but I’m back up and still alive – nay, LIVING – each and every day!

Yes, the desperation is still there, but I take solace in the fact that I know good things are coming because I have taken the first step in creating for myself the ability to follow my dreams and desires – financial stability.  Even if the experiences have to happen six months at a time.s, in-the-moment type of person, I need this type of checks and balances because