Nov 9, 2017

Mission Accomplished - A Walk and a Card

I used a terrific set from Stamplorations called Yuletide Deer. It is designed by the very talented Deepti Malik.  Deepti kindly sent me the set to help me get through surgery. Is that sweet or what? 

Very few supplies -- navy and white cardstocks, detail gold embossing powder, Versamark, Nuvo gold drops. Simple.


After I wrote last night's post, I really didn't think I had it in me to get up and start moving again. But I did. I was showered and dressed by 8 am. Walked down two flights of stairs, grabbed some $$ and my phone, and headed outside. It's a cool and gray day and everything was wet outside. No stopping on a bench. So, I walked half a block to a pastry shop!

Our neighborhood is new so I have been surprised at how inaccessible the shops and restaurants are. Only Target has accessible doorways -- the kind where you can press a button to open the door. I had thought that the law required all new businesses to have these types of doors, but apparently not.

So when I got to the pastry shop I tried my best to open the heavy glass and metal door. No luck.  My arms are weak from the surgery (the breast bone is cut in half and we are cautioned not to lift or pull anything heavy in the weeks after surgery) and the blood clot -- using them is painful, so I've avoided that. It took three shouts for the woman at the counter to see me and come and open the door.  I explained that I was recovering from surgery, but she didn't look convinced.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a croissant. After 15 minutes, I walked back home. And then I made my way up to the 4th floor (stopping at each level) and made this card. I didn't sit as getting up and down is difficult due to the arm issues, but that kept me on my feet, which is great. When the card was done I took a quick photo with my phone. Terrible lighting but good enough.

And then I sat down and a shed a few tears of happiness. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. It means a lot!!

MOOD WHEN DONE = fantastic

Nov 8, 2017

The Crash

I was 14 and in the bathroom, brushing my teeth. The bathroom was a few feet from the living room. We lived in a tiny Cape Cod style house, built after WWII to house veterans and their families.

My mom was constantly painting or wallpapering the rooms. She made coordinating curtains and slipcovers and bedspreads. She would make things like placemats and dust ruffles and covers for the toaster so that everything matched. One day I came home and she had covered my shoes with the same fabric she used to make my bedspread. My mom took matchy/matchy to new levels.

She went through color themes like some moms changed hair styles. At one point every room was beige (maybe she was depressed?). Then everything was orange and green. Once she finished the last room, she'd start a new color theme and begin ripping out wallpaper. I guess house decorating was her hobby. On this particular day, the house was decked out in pale blue and cranberry.

The bus was coming in about 10 minutes and I needed to hustle. Suddenly, there was a loud boom, and the house shook. I wondered if there'd been an earthquake. My parents yelled to see if we were ok. We were and we all ran to the living room where we could see the front of a car that had crashed through the wall, ruining the white and blue and cranberry wallpaper.

This was problematic for several reasons. First, none of us was ever allowed to be in the living room. My mom wanted one room that was ready "in case the priest came by" (the priests used to go door to door unannounced once a year for a church census). And, most importantly, the car ruined my mom's pride and joy -- her pale blue wool wall-to-wall living room carpet. She had saved for years for that carpet and had decorated the living room around it. It was a great source of pride to finally cover up the hardwood floors. (Back then hardwood floors were considered low rent.)

This was a disaster.

This week has felt like another version of that day.

My recovery from heart surgery has been slow, but steady. I left the hospital weak, covered with an awful skin infection, and very nervous about the potential for a return of the atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) that had kept me at Mayo longer than planned. It wasn't easy for Mike to take care of me, particularly in those first days after discharge. As he put it, "I can't do what you did for your mom." But he did, and we flew back home four days after discharge.

Since then, I've made a point to move around as much as possible -- despite some pain and shakiness, I took a shower, got dressed, and walked outside every day. I did a little cooking. I took myself out to lunch in the neighborhood on a particularly beautiful day. I went up and down stairs, and finally late last week I was able to sleep in our bed. I even learned to use Uber so I could get to doctor appointments on my own!

But this past Sunday night, a pain in my neck and shoulder that I thought was caused by tension skyrocketed. Every time I breathed in it felt like a knife. I was in an ambulance and shortly diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, fluid on the lungs and heart, anemia, and a partially collapsed lung. Eventually they also identified a blood clot in my leg.

The ER doc told me I was lucky that the clot was small. It travelled through my heart, but did not damage the heart. I was lucky to be alive. YIKES. I still haven't finished my Christmas cards so death is not in the picture. Plus, I owe a ton of thank you cards to dear friends and family and I think I'd rather die before buying thank you cards.

I'm sure you understand.

After the car hit our house my mom had the pale blue wall-to-wall carpeting removed. She got back out the braided rug that had been in the living room; the one she cleaned by putting it over the clothes line and beating it with a broom; the one that made her feel tacky and poor. But, eventually she decided that the hardwood floors were gorgeous and easier to keep clean. The braided rug looked "colonial" and therefore was wonderful. She and the living room recovered from the crash. She put up new wallpaper and sat in the redecorated living room (alone!) and called it her happy place.

I feel like those clots crashed into me in the same way that car crashed into our living room. My careful recovery feels ruined. I'm sitting on the sofa most of the day, too afraid to move, tired, and depressed. I've got my own ugly braided rug around my neck.

So, tonight I decided that 3 days of this pity party are enough. I can't sit here waiting to get better. The less I do, the weaker I get. So tomorrow I'm getting dressed and going outside -- even if it is just to sit on the bench in front of our house. The stairs are hard again because the temporary lung issues cause shortness of breath. But I can just climb them more slowly.

And I'll go upstairs to my 4th floor craft room, even if all I do is sit there and take in the scene. I miss my stamps. I miss being around them, and the dies and the paints and inks and papers. I miss my box of adhesives and the sequins that end up everywhere except on my cards. I miss the view from the 4th floor, even if it is just an apartment house. I even miss the ugly wall-to-wall carpeting in that room.

It's my happy place and I can't wait to get back and sit there (alone!) enjoying a bit of my old life.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Oct 24, 2017

Heart Surgery Update

Had heart surgery on Friday, October 13th up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. The surgeon cut out of piece of my heart that was too thick and blocking blood flow, and also did some work inside the left atrium of the heart. The purpose of the surgery was to increase the amount of oxygen in my lungs so that I am no longer short of breath, have more stamina, and can up my stamping game!  It is also supposed to delay or prevent the onset of arrhythmias. Oh, and the internal defibrillator I had was removed. Amen to that.

The best part about having the surgery is that I'm no longer debating whether to have it. That amount of anxiety will wear you down. Time will tell whether the surgery was successful but I am already at peace with it.

Now recovery begins. I am very pleased at how far I've come already and hope to be back in my craft room in the next month or so. Thanks for reading this -- my blogging has been intermittent and I am always happy to see that I have folks who are still here.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Grateful for the best husband ever.

Oct 7, 2017

Winnie and Walter World Cardmaking Day Hop

Winnie & Walter is celebrating World Cardmaking Day with a bang. There's a sale, challenges, and this blog hop. All details can be found here.

More than delighted to be part of the Winnie & Walter World Cardmaking Blog Hop. There's some super serious talent here (some of my favorite crafters) and I cannot wait to see what they are sharing. You should have come from the mega talented Nina Marie Trapani's blog.

Plus prizes!! 5 random winners in total will be drawn from all the comments left on the different stops along the hop. Deadline is October 13th. Each winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Winnie & Walter shop.

I've got two cards to share. First up is one of my favorite color combinations -- gold, white, and black.

The sentiments and dies are from Winnie & Walter's In Bloom: Frenchy's Festive Florals with Angelica Suarez. And I LOVE this sentiment.

The "tree" triangle is cut out of Modern Graphic paper from Essentials by Ellen. It is black and white paper, but I put it through the Minc to add gold foil on top of the black dots.  The Joy die is stamped and layered 5 times to get a nice thick focal point.

The next card was a snap to make. Fell in love with this simple Noel cutaway die. Used a very bright red cardstock (Holly Berry from Memory Box) to go with the bold typography.

The next fantastic cardmaker on the Winnie & Walter blog hop is Vanessa Menhorn.

Hope you are able to carve out some time to stamp today!

MOOD WHEN DONE = What the heck am I doing as part of this lineup of stampers?? Thanks to Taheerah with Winnie & Walter for inviting me. Haven't done design work in over a year and this was fun.

Oct 6, 2017

Courage for Everyone

There are some moments -- the really big ones -- where folks face a life threatening now or never moment -- the amazingly courageous fire men and women who run into a burning building, the person who jumps down onto the subway tracks to pull a fallen passenger to safety, or the neighbor who picks up the phone and calls child protective services when they witness a parent abusing a child. Those are the moments where courage does roar.

However, this card is for those other moments -- the ones we all face -- the moments of our daily lives that seem overwhelming, but are numbingly common.  It's for the parents of an addict, the wife of a man dying from cancer, the single mom who never has enough time or money to take care of her kids, the homeless man who stands on the median of a busy street near my house collecting money, the woman entering a nursing home, the lonely teenager with autism, the woman whose afraid to leave the house, the worker whose supervisor is a bully, the woman overwhelmed by depression, etc. 

In other words, this card is for everyone, because we all need courage at times.  It uses a sentiment from a fantastic Essentials by Ellen stamp and die set called, fittingly, Courage. It was designed to raise funds for breast cancer research as well as bring awareness to the disease. But the sentiments also work for all the other moments in life where need to stand up a little taller and face things that we don't want to face, and still put dinner on the table and make the bed (and sometimes go upstairs and make a card).

I hope you have courage to face whatever is going on in your life. If you were paralyzed by fear or anxiety yesterday, I hope that today you are standing a little taller.

MOOD WHEN DONE = I'm good! I like the card, the sun is shining, and now it is time to clean up the mess I made creating it and the cards I'll show you tomorrow....

Sep 28, 2017

Life Update

I've gotten tons (ok, 2) questions about my health. Here are answers to some questions no one has asked.

1. What's going on?

If all goes as planned, in a few weeks, some guy (or maybe a bunch of folks in training -- please don't let me be your first patient!) is going to knock me out, cut open my chest, separate my rib cage, turn off my heart (no clue and have not googled), connect me to a heart lung machine, cut through my aorta (I think), remove a piece of my heart, and reverse each of those actions.  If it goes well, I will then wake up and be miserable. If it doesn't go well, see question #6.

It is also possible that, after a new round of tests, these geniuses will tell me that surgery is not needed. We shall see.

2. What is the point of the surgery?

The purpose of the surgery is to improve "quality of life."

A piece of my heart is too thick and is blocking some blood from going to my lungs. Not enough blood = not enough oxygen = getting short of breath and fatigue = impaired card making skills = even poorer photography skills. The latter two are unacceptable and I am willing to risk death to finally master where to put the sentiment on a card.

3. Will you live longer if you have this surgery?

The standard advice is that this surgery doesn't improve life expectancy. However, I get an email every time a medical journal posts an article on the topic. Really, I've gone that far down the rabbit hole.

Like most US voters, I tend to only read and remember stuff that I like, so yes, it improves life expectancy.

4. I thought you had this surgery in August. What happened?

I was supposed to have this surgery in August, but I cancelled the surgery. I wasn't confident that the medical team would take proper care of me after surgery (folks I spoke with who had this operation there recently were very unhappy with their post surgical care).

I also wasn't satisfied with the evaluation I got. It wasn't personal. For example, before I let anyone decide that I need an operation on my heart, I want someone, preferably Dr. Doug Ross, in a long white coat, to LISTEN to my heart and lungs with a stethoscope. And, if you do not listen to my heart and lungs, please do not describe the sound of them in my medical records. Also, the super smart specialist who wrote the book on my heart condition told Mike and me that "there isn't a single good cardiologist in the Washington DC area."

Big egos worry me. I mean, just the act of randomness would put a good cardiologist in DC on any given day.

So, as hard as it has been for both Mike and me to wait for the surgery, I am glad I did. Whether I'm right or wrong about cancelling, you shouldn't go into a major medical thing without confidence in your team.

5. Do you have confidence in your current team?



Not really. I trust no one.

I'm in the freak out stage. Mike just suggested I find something good on Netflix and spend all day binge watching it. Apparently he has no idea what I do all day.

6. Have you made a will?

No, you may not have my Distress Oxide inks. I told Mike to keep them for wife #2.

7. Your joking is a pathetic attention-seeking attempt to quell your nerves. How are you really doing?

I'm pretty much a pathetic, attention-seeking, nervous mess. Otherwise, terrific.

MOOD WHEN DONE = I'm excited and a bit nervous. It's an adventure I'd rather not be on, but I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity to feel better and live longer. I've got an excellent medical team and good health insurance. I have Mike and my son and family and friends. If the surgery goes forward, I should feel better and live longer. If it doesn't go forward, I will spin around and celebrate and place a really big stamp order.

It's a win-win.

Sep 27, 2017

Inspired by Lisa Spangler

Last year, Lisa Spangler (whose work I adore) posted this Christmas card on her blog. LOVE. Decided to make my own version with supplies I already had, and this is what I came up with.

Painted the branches from Essentials by Ellen (designed by Julie Ebersole) Christmas Scribbles set (retiring and out of stock!! What?) with white gouache paint, and stamped on a Memory Box Licorice card.

White gouache or acrylic paints provide the only real solid white coverage against dark cardstock that I've ever been able to achieve without embossing. I did not add any water so the card did not warp. Squirted some gouache on a palette and used a small brush to paint onto the stamp. Make sure to wash the stamp and brush right away!

Added Nuvo Crystal Holly Red drops and a green foil Joy die cut (also designed by Julie but does not appear available anymore).

MOOD WHEN DONE = Of all the Christmas cards I've made this year I think I like this one the best (so far!).

Sep 25, 2017

Trio of Autumn Cards

Vintage Leaves dies from Stampin Up. Just fooling around trying to make something different.

MOOD WHEN DONE = No time for moods!! Running around crossing things off my pre-surgery list of things to do. EEEEK.

Sep 15, 2017

Holly Red Bear

Look familiar?  This is the same card as this one, except the card base is a Memory Box Holly Berry card, and I used a Technique Tuesday sentiment (from a really old set).  Cozy Cuddles Penguin set from Flora and Fauna. White gouache paint accents.

I made these red ones first but Mike was "meh," so I made the different version in white. Not sure which I prefer....but I think it is the white.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Made a whole bunch of these, so feeling accomplished.

Sep 13, 2017

Simple Warm Winter Wishes

So easy to make and, since I loved this so much, I had to make a few more.

Flora and Fauna Cozy Cuddles Penguin. One layer, just stamps, ink, and paper -- a style I like more and more. If you like this, check around your stash as you can easily substitute other stamps.


Sep 5, 2017

Copper Thanks

The weather has gone to hell in so many parts of the world, but in DC there is a hint of fall in the air -- very unusual this early. So I was inspired to make a card with autumn colored leaves, but snuck in the outline of a butterfly because it is still summer.

Leaf from Fauna & Flora, Butterfly die from The Stamp Market and the thanks die from Poppystamps (cut with copper cardstock). Adhered vellum and the thanks with Elmer's spray adhesive. Distress Oxide inks.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Just fine!

Sep 1, 2017

You're Fabulous

Really, you are!

Bows for You by the Stamp Market. Distress Oxide Worn Lipstick and Picked Raspberry. Black Nuvo Drops.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Fabulous!

Aug 31, 2017

Happy Day

Here's a fun 4-Bar sized card to make someone happy (I hope). The graphic little mountains (?) are from Flora & Fauna's Cozy Cuddles Penguin set and the sentiment is from The Stamp Market's Bows for You.  Peerless watercolors.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Well, happy of course!

What Happened When I Blogged About Gratitude for 31 Days

Day 31: What Happened When I Blogged About Gratitude for 31 Days**

I can't remember what prompted me to start the 31 Days of Gratitude series. However, whatever it was, I'm grateful for it! This has been a terrific experience.

The best part of writing about gratitude was the time I spent thinking about what to write. It shifted my brain from its usual cycle of worry/anger/annoyance to happier thoughts. I'd wake up and say, ok, what am I grateful for? What am I going to write about? And that process sparked some fantastic reflection. Memories flooded and I felt the abundance of a good life. I'd look around, literally and figuratively, and identify all the good things.

Doing this didn't wipe out the sources of my worry/anger/annoyance. There still there. It didn't totally change my personality -- I'm still a skeptic, a worrier. But, the edges of that skepticism and anxiety were worn down just a bit, rounded by gratitude and a bit of joy.

I also loved reading your comments. I'm still working my way through responding to each of them. If you haven't taken the time to read them, you may want to do so. They are terrific. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Finally, I felt kind of funny writing about some parts of my life. I didn't want to come off as someone with a perfect life. Social media has a way of leaving the wrong impression and making everyone's life look either perfect or tragic. Mine's neither.

So thanks for reading along and it if you are trying to cope with garden level anxiety, this is a great mechanism to shift your focus to the positive.


** If you've just found this series, you can start from the beginning by looking on the right side of my blog at the list of blog posts in August 2017.

Aug 30, 2017

Folk Art Heart

Wanted to make a few cards with a design in the shape of a heart in a folk art style. Used an older but wonderful set designed by Julie Ebersole for Ellen Hutson -- Autumn Acorns.

Penciled in a heart on copy paper and then made a practice card with just black ink. This avoids wasting a lot of cardstock trying to fit in the leaves and acorns. I kind of liked the black and white only and may go back and make another with just black ink.

For these I used Distress Oxide Inks, which are perfect for solid images.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Delighted, except it's time to make dinner...

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

Day 30: Mike

I've saved my last gratitude day (tomorrow is a wrap up day) to talk about how grateful I am for my precious husband. Anyone who knows both of us knows I got the better of this bargain.

I met Mike when we were both working at the Department of Justice. The section of our division had over 200 employees and Mike and I had not yet met.

My office mate, Nancy, was getting married. Nancy and Mike were friends. One day Mike walked into our office to ask Nancy something about her wedding. I was the on the phone, upset about something involving a case. I sort of slammed the phone down (don't ever share an office with me), and screamed out "UGH" -- just as Mike walked in. And so we were introduced.

The next time I saw Mike was at Nancy's wedding. Mike remembers noticing me because of how great I looked "in that backless dress." (Note: I was not wearing a backless dress. I have never worn a backless dress. Nancy gave us a framed picture of Mike and me at her wedding, and my dress is up to my neck -- front and back. Still not sure who that woman was...)

The rest is our sweet, sometimes difficult, but always together, life.

I'll share one anecdote to give you an idea of why I am such a lucky duck to be married to Mike.

When I was working at DOJ, most of the lawyers in our section were young and single. And the majority were guys, so the dating ratio was in my favor. We worked really hard and played hard -- lots of parties and get togethers. Most partied a LOT harder than I, but even I, who hadn't dated much, was going out.

Some other guy (James --not his real name) had his eye on me, but I wasn't interested in James. When he found out that Mike and I were seriously dating, James came into my office and said: "I just heard that you and Mike are a thing. If it was ANYONE but Mike, ANYONE else, I would be really upset. But how can I be upset? It's Bardee! You caught the best guy here. I'm done."

I couldn't say it any better.

Aug 29, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 29

Day 29: An Uncomfortable Gratitude

I woke up this morning to the sound of the rain. The weather here in DC has been remarkably beautiful. August is usually hot and humid, but this week has been gorgeous with low 70s and no humidity. We slept with the windows open again and, therefore, could hear the rain. I jumped up, worried that water would be coming in. I felt some momentary relief that the rain hadn't come in. And then I remembered Hurricane Harvey and felt guilty for worrying about damp windowsills.

I think it was the picture of the elderly women trapped in an assisted living home while sitting in their wheelchairs in waist high water that brought home the unbelievable tragedy playing out in Texas.
You can't watch this suffering without wanting to reach out and help. But I also reacted by being grateful for having a safe, dry, home. It feels funny saying that -- I'm grateful that I'm not suffering what someone else is suffering. I guess it is human nature to feel this way, but it is an uncomfortable gratitude. Regardless, here's hoping the rain stops soon and no more lives are lost.

Aug 28, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 28

Day 28: Being a Mom

I'm so grateful that I'm a mom and for my son. I don't post much about my son because: 1. he likes his privacy and 2. he likes his privacy.

So let's just say he is funny and smart and kind.

Aug 27, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 27

Day 27:  Reading

Boy, I'm grateful for reading. There was a time when all I did was read. However, stamping pushed it aside quite a bit. Now that I'm retired I have time for both.

I was thinking about including here a list of my favorite books, similar to the one I did for movies. However, after I read my movie list I realized that there were so many I loved that I omitted. So, I'll focus on three books, as I read each of them so often they became my friends.

I read The Chosen and its sequel, The Promise by Chaim Potok, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, every year for about 10 years. I get lost in those books. I realized years later that they both have young characters, an absent mother, and a strong loving father. I'll let Freud think about that.

I assume that most of you have already read To Kill a Mockingbird and are familiar with the plot. My goal for years was to be able to write like Harper Lee. Sigh. And, no, I haven't read the book Harper Lee released recently. I'm boycotting it!

The Chosen is a coming of age story set in a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood in New York City in the 1940s and the Promise follows the two boys into college. Those books took me to a world that I didn't know existed, but the struggle of the two main characters to break free from their fathers' expectations is universal and told with such love. Writing about these books makes me want to reread them.

On another note -- I'm putting together a list of books to read post surgery. Would love your recommendations (I don't do sci fi or fantasy)!!

Sweet Cake Card

Stamps from Flora and Fauna. So sweet! That little gold and black washi tape is from Little B.


Aug 26, 2017

31 Day of Gratitude: Day 26

Day 26: Friends

I am grateful for each of my friends, those gone from my life, those still here, and those I will meet tomorrow. Each one -- whether from school, stamping, family, the neighborhood, work, or through chance -- adds immeasurably to my life. I'd tell you about some of them, but I don't want to offend anyone by not mentioning them.

So, I'll just say thank you friends.

Aug 25, 2017

31 Day of Gratitude: Day 25

Day 25: Free Speech/Free Religion

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

I'm grateful for the First Amendment. It is precious.

Aug 24, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 24

Day 24: Meg and Dr. M

When I was in my late 20s I was hit with a major depression. For me, major depression meant a physical pain and tiredness that never went away, coupled with a dark empty psychic pain. It's not having a bad day or feeling sad or tired. It's so much more.

My world got smaller and smaller. I went to work, put gas in the car, shopped for groceries, and went to the laundromat. Except for my dear coworkers, I lost my friends as I had no interest in doing anything. When I got home from work, I sat in the car trying to get the energy to walk from the curb to the front door of my apartment. The sidewalk seemed endless. After a quick meal, I'd sleep from 6 at night until 7 the following morning, only to repeat the cycle every day. I didn't listen to music, read, or watch tv. I just sat. It wasn't easy working, but I managed.

I got really sick one day with some type of virus and went to the doctor. This woman spent 5 minutes with me and urged me to see a shrink. So I did.

I saw Dr. B twice a week and took so many antidepressants and other drugs that I could barely function. At one point I was taking 7 drugs at a time. My family and coworkers were worried. Eventually I was hospitalized, over and over -- 18 times I opened the door to the local hospital's psych ward. Opening that door was scary and beyond sad. My job suffered -- my coworkers had to pick up the slack, and that's asking a lot of already overburdened staff.

Something was really wrong and whatever "treatment" I was getting was making me worse. So I kept at it because when you are that depressed and on that many drugs, you lose yourself and all ability to make decisions. Some friends urged me to see a different doctor and I just looked at them as if they were suggesting I float up to the sky.

Eventually I couldn't work, so I went on disability. After one lengthy hospitalization, Dr. B said I shouldn't live alone, and that's why my mom moved from Connecticut to Virginia to live with me. I went back to work, but things remained tough.

After 4 or so disastrous years, Dr. B fired me, telling me that I was too difficult to manage. He provided no recommendations for another doctor. I remember leaving his office and looking up at the sky wondering if I was walking on the ground or dreaming. After a couple of weeks, as my prescriptions ran out, I went into physical withdrawal.

I was a mess and at the lowest point of my life.

During the many hospitalizations, I had met a nurse, Meg. Against all rules, she gave me her home number and told me to call when things got really bad. And when Dr. B fired me, she had me call her every day for 2 weeks. Her anger at Dr. B made me realize that maybe this wasn't all me. Maybe he was part of the problem. She recommended that I see Dr. M. And I did.

Dr. M was different. He was younger and had an attitude. I handed him a list of all the drugs I had taken, expecting him to write a prescription. He looked at the list, shook his head, and ripped it up. His theory was that I was overmedicated and needed to "feel" the pain so I could identify it and address it. He came right out and said that I had never really been in therapy and had not received proper treatment.

Wow, a doctor telling a lawyer that another doctor had screwed up. Maybe I could trust this guy.

Turns out that I had the type of depression that was not chemical -- it was based on my reaction to some life stuff. I'm not being coy leaving things out here, but the reasons for my depression don't really matter. It's the ending that counts.

It was a tough 3 years, but we did it. We beat the depression. No drugs, no hospitals, just talk. At my last appointment, we chatted about my boyfriend Mike, the travel I was doing, my hopes of getting a new job, and my new life. And then we sat there in silence for a good 20 minutes, just basking in the victory. I had never felt such joy.

A couple of months later, I was back in the psych ward, but this time as a lawyer. A patient had requested that someone from legal aid come talk to her about something. I bumped into Dr. B. He expressed concern that I was back in the hospital. Frankly, I looked fantastic and was thrilled to see him. I showed him my engagement ring and said "Nope, just here as a lawyer."  "Wow," he said, "you made a lot of progress." "Yes," I said, "I finally saw a good doctor."

The look in his eyes. Bam!

Dr. M wasn't able to attend my wedding as he was out of town, but Meg was there. When our wedding mass was over, Mike and I turned to walk down the long aisle of the church. I had plenty of energy to make that walk. But, I stood there and caught Meg's eye. She was crying. I looked away, refusing to ruin all that makeup! Later, I introduced her to Mike and he gave her a quick hug and said: "I've heard so much about you. Thank you, Meg. Just thank you."

Today both Dr. M and Meg are quite ill. I wish I had magic and could cure them both, but all I have is my gratitude. Thank you, Meg. Thank you, Dr. M. Just thank you.


If I had a choice between my heart thing and depression I'd choose the heart thing in well, a heart beat! Depression is the worst thing I've ever experienced and my heart goes out to anyone who is suffering from it.

I've given a lot of thought about sharing this story, but ultimately decided that if it helps one person, it is worth it. The stigma of mental illness adds to the difficulty in getting good treatment and it is way past time to end it. If anyone in my life thinks less of me, then think less of me. I'm happy to do my very small part to end the stigma. And, it just seemed like this month couldn't go by without acknowledging these two angels in my life.

If you are suffering from depression, there is help. See someone. Drugs might help or might not. Ditto with therapy. Maybe a combination would be best. Maybe you tried and didn't get relief. Try again. Maybe you did and are still suffering. Try again. Find someone else. My theory on successful treatment is "whatever works for you."

There is real hope. If I could beat it, so can you.

Aug 23, 2017

3 Flora and Fauna Cards

I'm smitten with a new company, Flora and Fauna.  Their whimsical images are perfect for simple cards. Colored inks are Distress Oxide.

Love the font in this sentiment!

Added some teeny hearts from a Concord & 9th set and a sentiment from The Stamp Market.

Snail mail is the best!

MOOD WHEN DONE = happy to be stamping!!

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

Day 31: Laundry

Today I am soooo grateful that our laundry is on the same level (the 3rd floor) as our bedroom. I'd hate for Mike to have to schlep those clothes up and down the stairs! HA

Aug 22, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

Day 22: The Movies!

So grateful for movies. Such a wonderful slice of escape. Love going to the movies in an actual movie theater as long as everyone agrees that it should be a felony to have your cellphone on once the previews start. I dislike gratuitous or sadistic violence, and most action and sci-fi movies.

Here's a few memorable (to me) movies, in no particular order except The Godfather, which is the best movie ever made. Do not argue with me.

The Godfather -- The fact that my Italian born grandfather may or may not have been running a small time numbers operation out of his barber shop may have influenced my love for this movie. Plus the tollbooth scene. Plus cannolis. Plus everything.

If you haven't seen this, we cannot be friends. Drop everything, go watch it, and come back and resume friendship with me. But do not ever watch it with me because I know every line and will say each line 2 seconds before the actor does. Also, notice that there is orange in every scene.

The Godfather, Part 2 -- Sequel just as good as the original. OMG, the scene where Kay comes to see the children and Michael shows up.....

Life is Beautiful -- If you can watch this without crying your eyes out, you have no soul. The music is haunting.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople -- Bittersweet fun. Freedom!!

Casablanca -- If you haven't seen this, your life is not worth living. The best movie to get across the point that it's not all about us.

Goodfellas -- Henry Hill's story of growing up on the edges of the mafia is part hilarious, part tragedy, all addictive. I read once that it is playing on TV somewhere in the world 100% of the time.

Pollyanna -- One of the first movies I can recall seeing in a theater. 35 cents to get in plus a nickel for a Hershey bar. What more do you want?

Beaches -- my first date with Mike. Awww.

There are so many more movies worth watching. Here are a few:

Slumdog Millionaire, Uncle Buck, Dirty Dancing, Good Will Hunting, The Town, Rain Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jaws, Groundhog Day, Serpico, Apollo 13, The Wizard of Oz, Breaking Away, Airplane, Rocky, The Bridge on the River Kwai, West Side Story, Parenthood, Thelma and Louise, Bridesmaids, Toy Story, The Sound of Music, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, All the Presidents Men, A Raisin in the Sun, Old Yeller, Father of the Bride.

Did I mention The Godfather?

Aug 21, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Day 21: Mrs. Schwartz

It was pretty common in the 1950s and early 60s for Catholic churches to raise funds through a summer carnival. Our church parking lot/school recess lot was too small to host one, but Blessed Sacrament Church, farther away from the city, held one and I really, really wanted to go. My brother had ridden his bike there the year before and spent most of the fall taunting me with stories of cotton candy, the ferris wheel, and zeppoles.

By the following summer, I was 7 and determined to go. The problem was that it was too far to ride my bike at night, my parents had no interest in going or giving me a ride, and had a complete and total lack of understanding of the importance of the carnival. They weren't mean; it was just that back then their lives did not revolve around their kids' happiness. My father didn't get home from work until almost 8 at night, 6 nights a week, and my mom pretty much kept to herself in those days. So when I asked if they could give me a ride to the carnival, they just said no and moved on.

The carnival was 4 nights in August and when school ended in June, I set my mind to figuring out how to get there. But there was no point getting a ride if I didn't have any money to spend at the carnival. So my friend Carol (not her real name) and I decided to sell magazines door to door. We gathered magazines by asking our moms and the other neighbor ladies if they had any that they didn't want. Bingo! We ended up with about 25 magazines and decided to sell them for .10 a piece. That way we would each earn $1.25 and that would go along way towards financing my night at the carnival.

Carol and I put the magazines in a wagon and pulled them from house to house. Most ladies were nice and just said no, but Mrs. Callotti (not her real name) accused of us of trying to sell stuff that we had just been given as gifts. We backed off fast and kept running, hiding behind the shrubs of a house a couple of doors away, exhausted and laughing.

We decided to skip the rest of the houses of the ladies that had given us the magazines and headed across the street, which was sort of foreign territory to us. We went first to Mrs. Schwartz's house. There's always a mystery house in the neighborhood; people who don't quite fit in. In our case, it was the Schwartz's because they were the only house without kids. Mrs. Schwartz didn't sit on her front porch after dinner watching her kids play ball in the street or stand in the driveway shouting for her kids to come home for dinner.

All we knew about them was that, in addition to having no kids, they had potato chips delivered once a week! The Charles Chips truck would pull up and the man in a uniform would carry two big tins to their front porch and take away two empty tins. When I asked my mom why we didn't have potato chips delivered, she told me that people with no kids had a lot of money for things like potato chips.

Carol and I headed up the walk to the Schwartz' door and rang the bell. Mrs. Schwartz came to the door and was wearing a dress and had her hair done, just like Donna Reed. So this is what ladies without kids looked like. We politely asked if she wanted to buy any magazines, gesturing to our collection -- only ten cents each! She asked us to wait. Carol and I looked at each other hoping to sell a few magazines, but Mrs. Schwartz came back with 5 one dollar bills and bought out our entire collection for twice our price. Bam! We each had enough money for the carnival.

We jumped up and down thanking Mrs. Schwartz and she asked us what we were going to do with our money. The carnival we shouted!

And then I said, "except first I have to get a ride."
"Well," said Mrs. Schwartz, "I hope you get to go."
"Oh I'll figure out something. Thank you Mrs. Schwartz!!"

And back home we went.

That night my mom came into my bedroom where I was reading before going to sleep. "Did you ask Mrs. Schwartz for a ride to the carnival?"

"No, honest. But we sold her magazines just like I told you."

"Well, she called and told me she has always wanted to go to the carnival at the church and asked me if she could take you. I said yes. So behave and don't let her pay for anything for you. You have enough money."

And so Mrs. Schwartz and I went to the carnival. She wore white pedal pushers with a blue and white polka dotted sleeveless blouse. Her hair was swept up off her neck and held with a barrette. She looked like a movie star to me. We each bought our tickets for the rides and I told her she had to get a zeppole. She had never heard of one! We ate zeppoles and cotton candy and ice cream and finally, at 10:00, we went home. By then it was dark and the lights on the ferris wheel and the other rides sparkled like it was Christmas, only it was warm outside. As we walked to her car, I could hear the noise of the carnival and I thought that there couldn't possibly be a better night.

I saw Mrs. Schwartz after that, just to wave hello. One day a moving van pulled up and I asked Mrs. Schwartz why they were moving. She asked me to come in, and in her little living room was a bassinet with a tiny baby wrapped in pink. She introduced me to Barbara and told me that they had adopted her and were moving to a bigger house. I asked her if the Charles Chips guy would keep delivering to her new house. "No," said Mrs. Schwartz, laughing.

Mrs. Schwarz wasn't a mystery to me anymore. She was a mom, and just like all the other ladies in the neighborhood, she had traded in home-delivered potato chips for a baby.

Thanks, Mrs. Schwartz. Thanks for buying our magazines and for the carnival. I'm grateful even now for that special night. Hope you and Barbara and Mr. Schwartz lived happily ever after.

Aug 20, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 20

Day 20:  The Grocery Store

My maternal grandmother was the oldest of 5 daughters. She left Poland in the early 1900s, made it through Ellis Island, and settled in Connecticut. She worked as a maid/housekeeper and saved enough to send money for the next sister to come to the US, a story very familiar to most of us who were raised in the northeast. Four sisters made it to the US, but by the time there was enough money for the youngest sister to come over, it was too late.

The Soviet Union had taken over Poland and religion was prohibited. However, my great aunt continued to believe in her Catholic faith and continued to teach her children the faith. They sometimes went to underground masses, a violation of the law. Children were taught that such behavior was treasonous. So, my great aunt's young children reported their mom to the government authorities (their school principal). My great aunt was sentenced to prison in Siberia, released only when her youngest child was 18 and no longer in "danger" from her mother.

The things humans do to one another.

Fast forward to the 1980s and by then my grandmother is long dead, but her 3 other sisters send money so that their youngest sister can visit America. She doesn't speak English, but most of the family speaks Polish so they can communicate just fine. She is all right, but her children will have nothing to do with her. Nevertheless, she doesn't want to live in the US just in case the children have a change of heart.

She stays in New Haven for about a month and there are lots of family gatherings and parties. They cook and cook and cook as the large extended family comes to visit and they all sit around catching each other up on their lives. My mother and her cousins make large trays of kielbasa and kapusta and other eastern european dishes. When they aren't sitting around talking, they take my great aunt all over -- to New York City, where she goes on a Polish bus tour of the city, the Long Island Sound, Boston, etc.

On the day before my great aunt's flight back to Poland, my mom asked her what her favorite part of America had been. Surely it would be the Statue of Liberty, maybe the ocean?

Her answer: the grocery store.

My great aunt explains, "I had to take pictures in the grocery store because no one in Warsaw will believe that all that meat is available. All that fruit. I still can't believe that you can just walk in and buy as much as you want. We stand in line for hours just to buy bread."


So, today I am grateful for the grocery store.

Aug 19, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 19

Day 19: Sleep!

A few years ago when I was still working, we were waiting for a meeting to start. There were 5 of us -- all women in their late 50s/early 60s. Someone remarked that she hadn't slept well the night before. One by one we all piped up and it became clear that most of us rarely had a decent night's sleep, and by decent night's sleep I mean 5-6 hours. Sleep gets harder as we get older.

But there was another reason why no one was getting a decent amount of sleep back then. Many of the senior staff in our agency regularly worked through the night. I guess they would doze on and off, wake up, check their email and feel the need to respond. So I felt like I had to do the same. It was insane -- I mean we were working on things that mattered to kids, but we weren't doing death penalty work. One day I decided that it could all wait until the morning. And it did and sure enough, no one died!

My sleep improved, but not as much as I had hoped. Since I love to research, I read a lot on the topic and learned all sorts of reasons why many don't sleep well and all sorts of suggestions on how to improve sleep. I tried them but still didn't sleep well. I thought it would change when I retired.

However, apparently work was not the sole cause of my poor sleep. Now that I'm retired, I sleep better, but still have way too many nights with only 2-3 hours of sleep. However, last night I got plenty of sleep. I woke up this morning and the first thing that popped in my mind was "I'm so grateful for sleep." It may not be the most interesting part of the day but it sets the stage for a great day to follow. It's just one of those things that we take for granted until we don't have it.

Aug 18, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 18

Day 18:  Dogs

I'm grateful for dogs. Except for a few gone wrong, they are awesome!

I want a dog, but I don't want the mess and the cost that comes with one. I just want the good part, the part where they wag their tales and sit by your side and are happy you are alive. Mike really doesn't want a dog, but he'll go along because he's so nice. Not sure I can do that to him. On the other hand, he's never had a dog and that should be fixed.

Many of our neighbors have dogs, which surprises me because no one here has a yard. They walk their dogs all over the place. And I'm not talking tiny dogs, although there are plenty of those. Some of these dogs are gigantic, as in they look like miniature horses. Go figure.

We had 2 dogs when I was growing up. My father brought the first one home over my mother's objection. She did not like animals. We called him Mikey and he jumped all over the furniture and knocked down a lamp and my little brother. He was huge and strong. One day Mikey disappeared. My mom said that he ran away to find a farm to live on, but a few years before she died she told me that, at her insistence, my father had given Mikey away.

Mikey, we hardly knew ya!

Years later, my father talked my mom into getting Ginger. Ginger was a mutt and friendly. She didn't do much other than sit near the heating vent in the winter and eat. But you could talk to her and pour out your troubles, which is exactly what a dog is for. Then my father died and my mom was in charge of Ginger.

I had no idea you were supposed to put dogs on a leash. Since our yard wasn't fenced, my mom just let Ginger run wild in the neighborhood. One day the the police brought Ginger to the door, warning my mom that the dog had to be on a leash. I was terrified. The cops were on our front porch!!! But, the NY Giants were playing on TV and I heard her tell them "the Giants have the ball and are about to score!" So the police came in and stayed until half time. No ticket and my mom still let Ginger out to run around.

Ginger finally got a leash when our neighbor, Mr. B, had a heart attack and his doc told him to walk every day. Mr. B had retired from working on the railroad (really) and spent a lot of time fixing his car in his driveway. Ginger used to lie there listening to his stories. After his heart attack, Mr. B would knock on our door and yell "dog patrol". My mom would open the door and Ginger would fly out. Mr. B would put a leash on her, and Ginger would accompany Mr. B on his walks.

Eventually we kids left, and it was just my mom and Ginger living in the house. Mr. B retired and he and his wife moved to Florida to escape the New England winters. My mom begged them to take Ginger, but they decided against it.

A few months later, my mom moved to an apartment about 10 miles from our old house and took Ginger with her, still insisting she didn't want the dog. But Ginger was old and limping and my mom felt she had no choice. Again, she just let Ginger out loose.

One day my mom got a call from another former neighbor, telling her that Ginger was lying on Mr. B's former lawn. Ginger had walked all the way back to the old neighborhood to die on Mr. B's lawn. By then I was a young lawyer working in Norfolk. My mom called me and said "Ginger is dead on Mr. B's lawn. What am I supposed to do?" Well, let me look that up in my daughter bag of tricks. I told her to call the police because what else was I supposed to say? And, yes, one of the cops who showed up was the same cop who came to our house years earlier.

I loved that dog.

Aug 17, 2017

Hand Drawn Happy Day!

Drew some fun balloons and strings, and colored very lightly (so no bleed through) with Copics. Then I re made the card 3 more times until I was happy!! So you are seeing version 4...

Added a sentiment from The Stamp Market and teeny stars from Concord & 9th, which are covered with Nuvo Crystal Drops.

And then I thought about making version 5 but decided enough was enough ...


31 Days of Gratitude: Day 17

Day 17:  Workers in clothing factories

Many of us older types grew up wearing clothes made by our moms. They made them in order to save money, not as a fun hobby. In fact, my mom wanted me to have a better life than she, so she refused to teach me how to sew because she wanted me "to have the kind of life where you could just walk into a store and buy something off the rack." (Not a huge amount of logic in this, but that's another story....)

So now I have the life where I can just walk into a store (or click on the internet) and buy something off the rack. The clothing isn't as nice as the outfits my mom made. Those clothes fit better and lasted longer (made big so I could grow into them!). I don't have coats with coordinating linings, or skirts with scalloped hems. But I can buy decent clothing at relatively cheap prices.

Clothing costs much less, when adjusted for inflation, than clothes cost 35 years ago. Of course, the clothes we buy are cheaper now in large part because they are made overseas by workers who get paid very little (although these jobs are often the better paying jobs in some countries). I'm not getting into the morality or the politics of this situation -- the effects on the US worker are well known.

Rather, I'm focusing today on my gratitude for these workers. It's not an easy life to work in a clothing factory. It can be loud and boring and sometimes dangerous. Yet these folks go to work everyday because they are just like our moms -- they want their children to have a better life. I'm grateful to them.

Aug 16, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

Day 16:  Elementary School

My goal in elementary school was to get all As and be ranked number 1. I failed at that goal, but still managed to learn to read, write, and do math. I also (almost) learned a bunch of life lessons for which I'm grateful.

I went to Catholic school at a time when they were mostly staffed by nuns. The nuns in my elementary school were part of the Congregation of Notre Dame. Back then, the nuns wore heavy habits with a rather bizarre looking head dress (a white starched thing with a long pointed thing sticking out under their chins). I cannot imagine how miserable they must have been in the heat. We didn't call them "Sister Whatever", but rather "Mother Saint Whatever." The nuns weren't paid and lived rather spartan lives. Yet they did their jobs without complaining.

Looking back, each year had its special lesson:

1st grade:  I was very excited on that first day. I was wearing my uniform, a new navy blue jumper and white short sleeved blouse and finally was going to learn to read. This was the very first outfit I owned that was bought in a store and not sewn by my mom. I tried it on so often my mom finally took it out of my room, only to return it the morning of the first day of school. We had to be there for an 8:30 mass. I was ready by 7:00.

The church was across a small side street from the school, and we were to walk across the street after mass and gather in the school parking lot by grade. My brother was ahead of me by 3 years and he told me that my first grade teacher was "Mother St. Buck Tooth." Sure enough, I found her -- she must have been all of 20, clad in this heavy habit on a hot day after Labor Day. She was easy to spot as she, indeed, had a wicked set of buck teeth.

I wanted my teacher to know that I was smart enough to already know her name, so I walked up to her and said "Hi Mother St. Buck Tooth. I'm Joanie and it is my first day of school. I want to learn to read." It's been almost 60 years and I can still see her brief wince. She didn't yell at me, just bent down and said, "My real name is Mother St. Thomas. That another name is a bad name that we won't say again." Shut up Joan.

2nd grade: We went to mass as a class on the first Friday of every month. After one such mass, Mother Saint Zenias, who had just celebrated being a nun for 50 years, called me to the front of the class and yes, made me eat soap for talking in mass. Shut up again Joan.

3rd grade: A new girl showed up. That never happened. Her name was Liz and we became best friends, a friendship that lasted through the end of high school. Liz died last year. I wish I had know she was sick; I would have showed up. Friendship is everything when you are a kid.

4th grade: Something went wrong with our nun teacher. She got sick. No one told us what the problem was, but we went through 17 different substitute teachers that year. It brought out the crazy in all of us. That's my excuse for what I did.

I was terrified that I couldn't memorize the multiplication tables, so I brought mine with me to the math test and put it under my butt, hoping to cheat off it. I never got a chance to cheat because I couldn't figure out how to look at it without getting caught. However, the substitute teacher saw me trying to look under my butt at the sheet, and accused me of cheating.

How could I be guilty of cheating when I couldn't see the cheat sheet?? I sat there and told this imposter teacher that, at most, I could only be guilty of attempted cheating (I was a big fan of Perry Mason back then). I don't remember exactly what she said until the end of our conversation when she told me that she'd be keeping a close eye on me. Luckily, she disappeared only to be replaced by yet another substitute. Winning a case isn't always the best thing that can happen.

5th grade:  Mother St. Barbara Elaine let us have drinks in the hot afternoons. We were each assigned a day to bring in jugs of Kool Aid or plastic cups. None of the other teachers did that and we looked forward to it every day. We'd put away our work and she'd walk around pouring Kool Aid into each of our cups. We couldn't drink until the last kid had Kool Aid in his or her cup. Then she'd stand in front of the class with her cup, raise it up, and say, "To the Blessed Mother." And then we'd all drink the Kool Aid to the Virgin Mary in one big gulp. Adults can be interesting.

6th grade: I told my 6th grade teacher, Mother St. Joseph, that I was writing my life story and someday it would be a famous book. She told me that I was "vain." It was pretty clear by her tone that vanity was a sin. Shut up Joan.

7th grade: By then our class really was out of control. We had never recovered from the 4th grade debacle and a bunch of kids were way behind. And once again, our teacher disappeared and was replaced by numerous substitutes.

One substitute was Mrs. Larson. She told us we were incorrigible and was going to only teach us useful things since it was a waste trying to stick to a curriculum. She taught us little tricks to remember how to spell certain words -- for example: she taught us the difference between "principle" and "principal" by telling us to remember our principal is our "pal". Well our principal was some super scary nun and definitely not my pal, but I got the point.

She taught us fractions by bringing in pizza pies at lunch time. Mrs. Larson taught the boys how to tie a good knot in their ties and how to polish their shoes. At recess, she taught the girls how do double dutch. I learned more from Mrs. Larson than any other teacher in elementary school. There's more to school than books.

8th grade:  The great Northeastern blackout happened on the night before we were scheduled to take a science test. I hated science but I really wanted an A and planned on studying for hours. But the lights went out and it was dark, so I couldn't study. My father called home to tell my mom that he and other men were out with flashlights directing traffic and had heard rumors that the blackout was caused by the Russians bombing New York.

It was possibly the end of the world so I assumed that, between the Russians and the lack of light, the science test would be cancelled. When the lights went back on later that evening, I watched Peyton Place instead of studying.

Mother St. Catherine had other ideas and proceeded to distribute the science test. I raised my hand and reminded her that we couldn't be expected to study in the dark. I left out the Peyton Place part. Mother St. Catherine responded:"You don't wait until the last moment to study." I got a D. Don't wait until the last minute to do stuff.


I'm grateful to this school and to the nuns that staffed it. It's a relic of the past. We had 40 kids to a class and probably outdated books, etc. We had no science labs, field trips, gifted education, special education, or anything fancy and I suspect some kids didn't fair well as a result. But I did ok. I graduated knowing how to read and write. And I eventually learned my multiplication tables. I'm still practicing when to shut up though.

Aug 15, 2017

One Layer Graphic Hello

Only used The Stamp Market's Memo set, and ink and paper.  My favorite type of card!

The pink and green inks are Distress Oxide, and, unfortunately for my wallet, I've fallen in love with these inks. They provide amazing coverage on solid stamps -- stamped each image only one time.

And that's that.

I'm off to go to Chris Franco's Close to My Heart Open House this morning. Love meeting up with stamping friends!


31 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

Day 15:  Social Security

If you are in the US, you know that Social Security is the program that provides $$ for folks in their older years. It also provides $$ for children under 18, when a parent participating in the Social Security program dies, and for disabled individuals. In June of 2017, 61 million people collected SS (about one in every six Americans). As we baby boomers age, that number will go up and then drop a bit.

Yesterday SS celebrated its 82th anniversary and I realized that I'm thankful that it exists. Unfortunately, a lot of folks can't or don't save towards retirement and SS ends up being all or most of their income. HINT: You cannot live decently on SS alone, unless you have no debt, don't like to eat, and are very healthy OR live with your daughter. (Yes, that's one of the reasons my Mom lived with us.... )

Speaking of which, if a relative on SS dies, contact the Social Security Administration immediately. It's not uncommon for thieves to scan death notices and then try and steal the dead person's SS number. Plus, you don't want those SS checks to continue to pile up on your deceased relatives account. It's a pain to give it all back.

In any event, I'm grateful that SS exists -- not just because the husband and I will collect it, but because it is often the only thing keeping some folks alive.

And that's my social commentary for today.

Aug 14, 2017

31 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

Day 14: Harris Teeter

There's a Harris Teeter grocery store about a mile from our house. I'm grateful to it for one particular reason -- it hires disabled workers.

Checking out the other day, I noticed a man about 35 bagging my groceries. He had on a Harris Teeter ID, but the unusual thing was that his arms were flailing around quite a bit. There was nothing typical about his behavior and it took me a second to process that Harris Teeter had hired someone whose behavior just might upset a customer.

Good for them.

It doesn't directly help me, but I'm still grateful.

Aug 13, 2017

Hand-Drawn Cacti

Sometimes you just want your own little images. Used the book Botantical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean to draw these cacti. Kristina Werner used the book here.

Practiced a bit on typing paper and then went for it. Have no idea what I'm doing, but it was fun to draw these. Colored with Copics. Sentiment from Technique Tuesday.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Accomplished!