Monday, November 11, 2013

Out of Retirement/In to Retirement

Well - almost 3 years is enough time to have taken a break from blogging (it isn't like I was very comfortable with it any way!) But now that I'm retired, I alledgedly have more free time for capturing my flashes of brilliance. We'll see.

One of the best things to happen in this sabbatical is discovering a new medium - encaustic. For those unfamiliar with it, it is painting with melted beeswax mixed with resin and pigment. It's very forgiving (you can remelt it, scrape it, paint over it, etc.) and can incorporate collage and mixed-media inclusions. There are some incredible artists out there that I continue to learn from, and I have found an outlet that I really enjoy. I built a 400 square ft studio on some property our family has on the Blanco River outside of Wimberley, so I try to go to my happy place a couple of days a week. I'm part of a group I met at Encausticamp in Washington state this summer - we are following Judy Wise's Hot Wax e-book and encouraging each other with monthly technique challenges. This piece was inspired by the all-to-brief autumn color we have in this part of Texas.

If nothing else, I'll try to post vanity pictures as my art progresses. As blog-worthy life events unfold, I'll include those. With both sons traveling overseas in the coming months, I may just need to vent - the nest may be empty, but those maternal instincts don't go away! And don't even get me started on my mother...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What I’ve learned this week.

Having someone close to you being treated in a trauma center ICU provides you with a lot of down time.

Which means I've had an opportunity to observe a few things:

  1. The next time you are zipping down the interstate, going the speed limit, or faster, and someone comes up on your tail and obviously wants you to get out of the fast lane, do it. I know its annoying, and you want to teach them a lesson & send a message to back off. But it just might be that they have someplace they really need to get to – like an emergency room because someone they love is going to beat them there because they are in a helicopter, and they are limited to a car. Odds are, most people who get up on your butt are not headed to a hospital – but you just never know.
  2. Yes, we know that neurosurgeons have studied for years, work God-awful hours, have paid a fortune in student loans, and save lives every day. That really doesn’t buy them the right to be jerks. If mere-mortals ask stupid questions because we’re hanging on to any positive signs we can find, and don’t easily absorb the idea that there are no absolutes when it comes to brain injury recovery – please don’t make us feel like idiots.
  3. Nurses are the best. Period. Especially ones that understand that some families have to find humor in strange and sometimes inappropriate places to get through tough times. They usually know more than the doctor, so save your stupid questions for those who actually see the patients as people (see #2 above.) At least if they are going to roll their eyes, they have the good grace to do it behind your back.
  4. If you are ever asked to renovate a hospital, do NOT put the Critical Care waiting room in the middle of the building. Sitting and waiting numbs the butt and the senses – without natural light to give you a frame of reference, it is even more disorienting. And no one should ever have to watch Fran Drescher reruns for longer than 30 minutes a day. I know health care reform is going wreak havoc on medical expenses, but maybe a deck of cards could be available for check out?
  5. Forget what your mother told you – don’t worry about the condition of your underwear ‘in case you are in an accident’ (they just cut it off any way.) Instead – make sure your feet are presentable at all times. This is primarily directed to men – although I’ve seen some pretty knarly women-feet, too (I won’t name names.) Keep in mind that the medical team is going to pinch, poke, and prod any available extremities to get a response from you. This could explain why the doctor is a jerk (again, see #2 above.)

Finally, never underestimate how important the support of family and friends can be. We may not be quick to return phone calls, or acknowledge emails – sometimes its hard to relay the same info over and over again. But to those sitting and waiting for something to change, knowing you are in our corner means the world to us, and we thank you for it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

1 "down", 1 to go

Yesterday, my oldest baby transitioned from being our tax deduction to a member of the independent working class that will support ME in my old age. He humored me and agreed to do the cap-n-gown thing -- luckily UT has the good sense to break up the ceremonies into 2-3 hour chunks, so it wasn't as long as it could have been. He is double-degreed - American Studies, and 1 of a handfull that received the new "European Studies" designation (see, Texas is global!)

What's next? He has 2 months to find something to cover rent, food, utilities -- all those boring expenses that come with adulthood. Beer, wine, martinis(!) all will have to take a back seat (or wait until happy hour or someone else has a party.) He has a car that will need to last until he can handle the payments on his dream car, he has some job-seeking clothes (although he learned last week why removing pens before you wash is a good idea), and I suspect a backlog of 4-years of textbooks that he can sell if the going gets tough. He is still employed as a Senate messenger at the Capitol -- so he has modest income through the summer. Then that's it. Reality bites.

It sucks to be shoved out of the nest during a bad economy -- but Texas hasn't been hit as hard as most areas. So we'll all keep our fingers crossed, and try not to hover too close -- he's very independent, thanks to being raised by daycare! Now he just has to close his eyes and jump...and I need to let him figure out how to land on his feet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Herd of Bunnies

I love old photos -- if I happen to know who is in them, that's an added bonus. Most of my family knows I get first dibs on any family ephemera - including ticket stubs, diaries and love letters! But when it comes to photos, I'm perfectly content to appreciate them without recognizing anyone in it. I frequently download old photos from other people's sites, and they get a new altered life later in artwork or handmade greeting cards. So, for any like-minded appreciators of old pix, here's a little gem I'd like to share.
This little darling to my left is a 'market days' find from last year -- all I know is that the print was made at Fox Photo in San Antonio, and bunny-boy is '2 1/2 years old.' If I had to guess, I'd say it was from the early 1930s - maybe even Dustbowl days. It appears that the house behind him is modest -- if that was a trellis, the gardener apparently has the same skills as I do! But someone has made the effort to put little Buddy in his Sunday best, staged the collection of bunnies around him, and quickly grabbed the photo before the bunnies tipped over, or Buddy got dirty. Anyone who has attempted to shoot a photo of a 2 1/2 year old hopped up on Easter candy has to appreciate the patience that went into this photo. Of course, we might find out that little Buddy preferred being called Reginald, that this was his maid or cook's cottage, and that this was the start of little Reggie's obsession with figurines that later led to Lladro and Hummels...nah, I don't think so.
Anyway, Easter is just around the corner and Spring weather is kind of all over the place! We finally received (some) much-needed rain this week, and temps are supposed to dip into the low 40s tomorrow (after weeks of upper 80s!) So for now, we've held off our own Dustbowl -- at least the chocolate eggs won't be gritty!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blogger shame

Oh the has been 7 months since my last post. And now I want to enter the "One World, One Heart" giveaways -- but then everyone will see how neglectful I've been. Needless to say -- the world has really changed in 7 months! I don't pretend to say I can encapsulate everything here (nor would you necessarily even want to read it!). But President Obama said it all on Tuesday: the world is a challenging place right now, but we each have what it takes to make it better. So let's get going!
I really will try to find the time to keep this updated...I'll add it to my list of good intentions!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The last few months, I've been losing sleep over my son Mitch. Between dragging his feet on finding an apartment for his senior year at UT, and completing all the forms and applications needed for study abroad, he just didn't seem to be too concerned about looming deadlines. He's been home for the last 2 weeks -- the longest stretch since starting college -- and every day I've been ready to strangle him. He stays up too late. He sleeps in too late. He eats too much. He got (another) speeding ticket. He beats up his brother. He won't "practice" packing. He won't make lists of the toiletries or anything we need to buy before the trip. In other words, he won't agonize and plan and make lists for this adventure the way I would.

Yesterday, he flew away for 6 weeks in France.

Now that I've confirmed that he made it to the hotel, with his luggage, I can relax (a little.) If he forgot something, it will be up to him to buy it there, or learn to live without it. His budget is definitely more beer level than champagne, so he will have to choose wisely at restaurants. And, after 6 weeks, he will have to make his way from Grenoble back to Paris to catch a 12:55 flight home. Other than that, he just needs to study enough to complete his foreign language requirement -- and experience all that 6 weeks in France can offer a 21-year old!

Once he's home, the laundry is done, and he's shared all the info he cares to, it will be time to start thinking about the rest of his life -- or not. Some of us wake up each morning and handle things as they come along, while others of us plan, make lists, worry -- and then change the plan to handle things as they come along. One approach isn't any better than the other -- its just a matter of individuality.

So, thanks to la famile Brage (good luck on feeding him!), the people of France, and Mitch's own wits and devices, I can resume sleeping well for a few weeks. Or not....

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just a year ago....

A member in one of my art groups mentioned this week that she was going to get to see Robert Plant and Allison Krause, and it brought back very fun and fond memories of a "girlfriend" trip I took last April with my best friends Coleen and Cindy.

Picture this: 3 middle-aged (yes, 50s is middle-aged) women go out to eat at Emeril's NOLA Restaurant in New Orleans, dressed up and looking middle-aged hot. After a wonderful meal, we weren't ready to head back to the hotel (middle-aged, but still have some partying left to do.) Cindy suggests we grab a cab & head to Tippetina's -- a small (maybe 250 people), but well-known club outside of the Quarter that's been there forever.

We arrive & there's a few pierced & tattooed folks half our age standing outside. It looks like there's a good sized crowd inside & we debate whether to try it or not - I hop out and
Me: "How much is the cover?"
Door Guy: "12 bucks"
Me: "Ooooh. (turns to tall young person) Think its worth it?"
Young Guy: "F**k YEAH."
Me: "Really...hmmm."
Young Guy: "Uh, yeah -- Robert Plant is supposed to show up later."

Well, we took a chance, half expecting it to be some Cajun guy named Robert Plant. Sure enough, way past middle-aged women's bedtime, THE Robert Plant shows up. The headlining band was a local band he was using on a Katrina benefit album & they had invited him to drop by. Because of my middle-aged women knees (which magically didn't bother me anymore), we had snagged a spot next to the stage so we could lean against something -- so we were up able to get up close and personal.

It was a night to remember -- yes, just like us, Robert Plant is older, but to hear him sing "Sea of Love" from 20 feet away...from the 20-something tatted and pierced "kids", through the urban professional 30-year olds, to those of us that still have Led Zeppelin ALBUMS...we all loved it. Excuse the poor quality video (and I deleted the audio because it really didn't record well) - its short, but you get the gist.

Anyway -- due to some speedbumps in life's road, we won't be able to take another girlfriend trip for awhile, but we WILL plan something soon. I'm not sure we'll have adventures that top this one--but you never know!

Coleen - get better soon. We have places to go, and people to see!