Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Birthing a (virtual) baby

So, I have been as busy as a bee with "birthing" a new website for a dear friend and fellow fine artist.  She is an amazing person, and I am thrilled that she wanted me to design a website to showcase her art.  She and I worked together in the corporate world MANY moons ago, briefly.  Her beautiful given name is Leonora, but her friends and family call her "Nono" and it was only appropriate that her site be titled "Art by Nono."


When I am designing a site, I become immersed in the process and barely come up for air until everything is JUST as I want it to be.  With this particular site, that meant hours of scanning artwork and getting the right images in the right spots.  She has also written a devotional book, which integrates her artwork interspersed with some of her inspirational writing, that I included on its own page.


I absolutely love the design process and the immersive nature of tweaking and coding and tweaking and coding, in order to get everything to behave just as I want it to. This requires patience with the structures that I must work within, as well as knowledge of how to tweak those structures to get the look and feel that I want.  It is always a challenge, but that is where my design juices and determination come to life.  Launching a new site is always exciting, and it is especially rewarding when the client is so thrilled with the result.

Now that I am up for air, I will be visiting in your neighborhoods!  :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Could you possibly believe I was back in the dentist chair today?

Yes, after all of the saga I last wrote about, I was back in the chair today for yet another root canal.  Seriously, this has got to end.  Thankfully, the root canal doc is a gem and so are the nurses there.  And, I am counting on this being the last of that kind of thing for a while... with the exception of getting crowns on all these teeth. There is NOWHERE in my mouth to chew these days, and I have literally lost about 15 lbs. since the first of November mostly because of these dental issues! Yes, I needed to lose it, but no, I would have preferred not to do it this way.



Fortunately, life is not all negativity and dental chairs!  Despite the tooth pain, hubby and I got away for a week in the Florida sun for a belated 30th anniversary celebration.  Of course, we had to stop at the Florida Welcome Center for some freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice! We were greeted by the dolphin above and two gentlemen who were serving the juices.


We were scheduled to be in Florida for a conference anyway, so decided to make the most of it and have some "us" time.  We enjoyed the conference, the beautiful weather, a lovely hotel room and resort, and some really wonderful meals.  It was great to have time away to just be together enjoying each other's company.



video

Sun, water, and palm trees... a beautiful resort... time together... and really good food.  What more could a girl want (besides no more tooth pain!) ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Teeth, teeth, teeth... and a Public Service Announcement

Well friends, I guess I can officially just chalk this up to getting old. When I first went to the dentist back in NOVEMBER!, I had been having some really painful issues with the nerves along my lower jaw line. Usually I could knock it out with a few ibuprofen (Advil) and some heat on it. But, it had gotten consistent enough that I knew I needed to see someone about it. My dentist did x-rays, looked at things, had her technician clean my teeth, and was ready to dismiss me as "nothing really wrong" when her technician spotted a very small 5th wisdom tooth on the x-ray (I had never heard of anyone having a 5th wisdom tooth) sitting up in my gumline just above my other wisdom tooth on the same side that I had been having nerve pain, but in the top instead of the bottom. Well, I had also been experiencing shooting pains in that area on top when biting down on that tooth, so I decided maybe that was the cause of what I was experiencing with the nerve pain in the lower jaw, too. (photo above right: The tech let me take a photo of my x-rays with my phone.) In addition to this, I had also had a tooth extracted six months earlier on the other side of my mouth, for which I needed to see the oral surgeon about an implant. So, I decided to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and have both the implant done and the wisdom teeth extracted. And, that is how I ended up having this done three weeks before Christmas.

I recovered beautifully from both procedures with very little need for pain medication other than ibuprofen. I was very thankful for this and hopeful that this would be the end of tooth pain. And for a while it was. Fast forward to one week ago... I began to experience further jaw pain, but this time NOTHING would knock it out... 2 ibuprofen, 3 ibuprofen, 4... not a smidgen of relief. I would put a heating pad on it, and it would ease a little but not significantly. I was perplexed because the dentist had not seen anything else suspicious going on with other teeth, so I was stymied about what to do. I began to pray for wisdom from the Lord because the pain continued to get worse and worse, but I could not pinpoint where it was coming from.

Well, on Sunday I received an answer to my prayers when the pain just really intensified and collected in one spot under one tooth. I have never really wanted an answer to prayer to be THAT painful, but it was probably the most pain I have ever experienced (and it was relentless) with the exception of childbirth. After going to two dentists, I ended up in the chair again yesterday for a root canal. Apparently I had a large abscess under that particular tooth that had been festering for a while. The doc who did the root canal said it was huge and no wonder I was in so much pain. He said that an abscess can cause the roots to radiate pain all up and down the jawline, usually staying on one side of the face and rarely crossing over to the other.

The PSA part of this is HOUND YOUR DENTIST if you are experiencing anything like this. My dentist just looked on the surface, saw nothing in particular, and dismissed me (until the tech saw the 5th wisdom tooth). She also didn't seem terribly interested in helping me figure it out. I am not thrilled about that and about the fact that what I went in for originally was not ever even diagnosed by her. I wish I had hounded her further, even though she was dismissive originally (basically telling me I had "self-diagnosed" with trigeminal neuralgia). Nope, I just knew that there was a problem and was trying to get help for it.

Today I am very sore and very thankful to have this issue resolved. And, I am simply worn out from fighting the pain. After a month of dealing with this, I hope to NEVER have another issue like this again. And I wish the same for you! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year, Same Old World

The New Year looms ahead like a shiny new journal with all empty pages. Yet, even yesterday as I sat on my sofa enjoying time with my family, contemplating the peace and quiet of the next few days, planning a 21 day prayer journey for my business, and generally looking ahead to the coming year... there was a phone call from friends that their 38 year-old son/brother had passed away suddenly and tragically yesterday afternoon.

We quickly made our way to their home, and we tried to give as much comfort and encouragement as you can in a time like this.  This is a fallen, fallen place in which we reside.  The great, true joy of Christmas is balanced by the devastation of separation and death.

What comfort can we give in a time like this? The only real comfort is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He knows the situation, He loves them all, He loved the one who died, He cares deeply for His children and offers to carry our burdens -- even the heaviest ones -- for us. So, we embrace them as He would, love them as He loves, bear this burden with them. He is Emmanuel even in this, guiding through the darkest night with His light and His hand.

(As always, you are free to use this graphic.)

There is so much I do not understand about this world.  But, I am just simple enough to trust God's promise that He will never leave or forsake me and His promise that HE is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Whatever this world sends my way, I am thankful for what I have today, now.  I choose to not live in the past (while being thankful for it) and not live in the future (while looking forward to eternity with the Lord and its reuniting with those I love). I am thankful for my family, for my friends -- even ones I have never met. I am thankful for home, for safety, for life, for love, for enough -- you know, the "this day our daily bread."  I know that we are not even promised one more breath, so I am choosing to thank God for now. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Art Show

Today is a day of LUXURY!  Why luxury, you ask?  I have the LUXURY of sitting on my couch and having time to visit and catch up with all my blog friends.  I cannot wait to catch up with what all of you have been doing over these past couple of weeks.  I plan to read and read and read...  (HUGE smiling, contented sigh)!

Here are a few photos from our two week art show... a wonderful time for our art association and so much beautiful art.  I am so proud of all the artists. 



The show was held in a wonderful retail space in a local mall that just happened to be empty. The space faced the main thoroughfare of the mall with a large window across the busiest part. The mall was happy to have us filling this space during the holiday season, and we were happy to have such a visible location for our art show.  We had over 70 artists of all kinds from extreme realism to abstract to whimsical and everything in between.  And it is all 2-dimensional art... no sculpture, no jewelry, no crafts... only paintings and drawings on traditional 2-d mediums.


We donated 10% of our sales to a local organization, Hand-in-Paw, which is an organization of therapy dogs.  There were a number of these amazing animals at our opening reception, a Schnauzer, a Great Dane, a Pekingese, a Spaniel, and many more. The photos are all from our opening reception, which could hardly have gone better.


 I am very thankful that on the year that I happened to be president, the show turned out this well.  I also did a few commissioned pieces over the holidays, one of them for a friend who was in our wedding 30 years ago, and one of them for someone who picked up my card at this show.  I will wait to post those here until I am sure they have been gifted.  For the the 8th year, I am thanking God for another wonderful year of allowing me to do something I love so much!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

All is calm, all is bright...

After a very busy month with the art show (which I will post more about in a later post), emergency wisdom tooth removal after the discovery of a 5th wisdom tooth (yes, this really is possible, and yes, you can still have to have your wisdom teeth out at 50+), and this week a lovely stomach bug (NOT!)...

today was such a WONDERFUL day beginning with celebrating our Lord at church this morning, then lunch with my mom and step-dad, then opening gifts with our children, and then more gifts with my mother- and father-in-law... then playing with gifts and enjoying one another's company.  And now we're sitting -- feet propped up -- watching Little Women.  All is calm and all is bright... peaceful and joyful deep down. 


Thankful for what Christmas really means... 
it means in spite of my nerves in a dentist's chair about wisdom teeth removal, 
or my nerves about painting live in a mall window with people watching me the entire time (for the first time), 
or my heart's ache for my step-father who lost his 43 year-old son this summer
(who left four beautiful boys 13 and under and a beautiful wife behind),
or the fact that the eldest of those four beautiful boys is battling cancer himself,
or the fact that my bout with a four day stomach virus or food poisoning fog these last five days has derailed my best laid plans for Christmas...

Jesus has me right where He wants me.  He knows His plans for me, and He knows His plans for my step-father's family, and He knows His plans for my children, and He knows His plans for you, too.  I don't have to know HIS plan, I just have to trust HIS hand.

I wrote this in 2012 and it still applies even more today.  

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Hail the incarnate Deity! Jesus, our Emmanuel... Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the King of kings!" (This last line is how Wesley wrote it originally; it was later revised by George Whitfield.) As I look at the many blessings of life, including my precious family, I am struck that even as precious and wonderful as our family times are, and as much as I treasure EACH and EVERY memory we make… even family is not what Christmas is all about. It is about One thing and One thing only: Jesus desired so much to bring my sinful self back into relationship with Himself that He was willing to lay aside the glory of heaven and His right to stay there, to put on the flesh of a helpless babe and later walk as a man, and then to be the sacrifice necessary to pay the penalty for my sin. It is with wonder that I think about this and all it means. And because of His sacrifice, I receive all the benefits: peace that passes understanding in a world riddled with anxiety and fear, contentment in a world that would sell me dissatisfaction, joy in a world that offers great sadness, love in a world filled with hate… and on top of all that the promise of eternity with Him. Christmas is not feelings or faith or even family … Christmas is Emmanuel, the God Who is with us… and that is Everything.

Monday, December 5, 2016

'Tis the (busy) season...

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we have rapidly moved into busy season!  I have finally gotten all my inside decor up and am very thankful to have all the boxes back in the attic.  I have also been working on a two week art show for the association of which I am serving as president and have several commissioned pieces lined up.  So, I am really thankful to have the decorations up.  Although we have two trees, here is a peek at "my tree" as my children like to refer to it.  I am sharing this first photo because I loved the effect that the lights made. 


However, as I continued taking photos I realized after three or four tries with this same result that my lens was smudged. 😉 So, here is the entire tree without a smudged lens...


This is "my tree" for many reasons... one reason is that it was inspired by my grandmother ~ a beautiful gracious southern belle of a lady ~ who always had a special way of decorating her own tree by using only white, silver, crystal, and gold ornaments.  I have taken this tradition as my own and used only those items (with a couple of exceptions for ornaments with burgundy and red ribbon hangers) on it.  While I have used only those colors, the ornaments are not "designer ornaments" purchased from a store just for the purpose of decorating.  Rather, they are primarily either heirlooms or gifts from family and friends... like the beautiful Gorham angel on top of the tree that was a wedding gift.


The above photo captures several ornaments from my grandmother. The white fireplace and stockings at the bottom was a gift to hubby and me from her early in our marriage, the blown glass ornament top right, the small glass frosted pine cone at top left, and the crystal icicles are heirlooms from her very own tree after she passed on.


 The bottom left gold glass ball wishing us a frosted "Merry Christmas" was my husband's as a child.  The two Lenox snowflakes at the top, one crystal and one white, were gifts from precious friends.


The brass bear with a photo of my oldest son was a gift from my aunt when my son was a baby, and it sits beside a white glass ball with a Currier and Ives scene that was also an heirloom from my grandmother.


The two Precious Moments ornaments, the Little Drummer Boy and the bell, in the photo above were baby gifts from friends when my now adult sons were born.  There is another white glass ball with gold stars and the small frosted pine cone in the photo that were heirlooms from my grandmother's tree.


These two twin brass ornaments are also heirlooms... the one on the left belonged to my grandparents long before I ever thought of marrying and the one on the right belonged to my husband when he was a child.  I just love that.

You couldn't have looked at all these photos without noticing the round cross-stitched, gold and white Chrismon ornaments. (If you're not sure what a Chrismon is, it is an ornament that is a Christ Monogram... a symbol of Christ: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chrismon and a little more info here: http://www.blcelgin.org/chrismons) 

These Chrismons were lovingly made by my mother-in-law's mother.  She was a precious woman who was severely handicapped by rheumatoid arthritis. Rather than sulk in her suffering, she chose to be joyful and to be as productive as she could.  Though her hands were so bent by the disease that her fingers were permanently curled so that she could hardly hold a needle, she insisted that we should all have a set of these beautiful ornaments.  She tried her best to get a set for each grandchild and even great grandchild before she died.  She was a treasure, and I am so thankful for these ornaments but even more thankful that our children got to spend a great amount of time with her when they were small.   
  
I am thankful for all the ways these ornaments remind me of those who have loved me and my family well... so many have gone on to be with the Lord, and what a glorious reunion we'll have someday!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankful...

We had both sets of parents along with my brother, his wife and new baby with us for Thanksgiving.  Here are a few photos.  I have been too busy to craft a really thoughtful post about Thanksgiving, as we are planning for a two week art show opening this Friday.  Here are a few photos from Thanksgiving...

The table...



The food (this is what comes from having four families making food for the day!) ... oven roasted turkey, smoked pork loin, smoked Boston butt, smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, gravy, squash casserole, creamed corn, collard greens, gourmet potatoes, green beans, purple hull peas, sweet potato casserole...




...lime jello salad, deviled eggs, Greek salad of broccoli & cauliflower with feta cheese, homemade cranberry relish, canned cranberry relish, pickled and olive assortments, French silk pies, pecan pie, and a homemade carrot cake. Abundance would be an understatement... but everyone had their favorite things!  And leftovers to go for one and all!



I am exceedingly thankful for all the wonderful blessings God has given me and at the top of the list is my family. Praying your Thanksgiving was warm, wonderful, and filled with loved ones.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It was hard keeping this a secret...

I have been waiting to post this one... such a fun super secret surprise piece. This was commissioned by a groom for his bride as a wedding gift because this was the spot where he proposed to her... under the big oak tree at Augusta National, the home of The Masters golf tournament. Congratulations to the bride and groom who are now Mr. and Mrs.!


"The Big Oak at Augusta National"
- 10" x 13" graphite