Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Dilemma

Even though I have been retired from a hectic corporate job for almost 5 years, I still look forward to the weekend.  When I worked I would think about all the crafty things I could do when the weekend came.  It went something like this:

Monday: "I hate Mondays...I'm back at this desk again and what did I accomplish over the weekend?"
Tuesday: "Maybe I'll work on that necklace tonight?"
Tuesday Night:  "I'm tired..I need to just some mindless sitcom."
Wednesday: "I need to get started on that tablecloth this weekend.  I can't wait to just sit and sew."
Thursday: " I shoulda organized my beads last night instead of watching American Idol. oh well I'll do it on Saturday."
Friday: "Thank God this week is almost over." Think I'll call Mary and see if they want to go out to eat tonight."
Saturday: " It's already too late for the Farmer's Market, but I can hit that garage sale up the street. I'll sew this afternoon."
Saturday Afternoon: "let's have Mary and Joe over for dinner tonight...I'll make French Cassoulet."
Saturday Night: "I should have read that summary for the meeting on Monday...I'll do it tomorrow before church."
Sunday afternoon: "The Cowboys are playing the Broncos? I can finish that necklace later."
Sunday evening: "Sure, I can make those earrings for you Mary...I can whip them out in a day or so."
Monday morning: "I accomplished nothing this weekend. It went so fast! I'm back at this desk..I'm exhausted...BUT, only five more days til the weekend, and I'll do all the things I want to do...I'll be so creative...I rock!"

So here I's Saturday morning and I am facing the Saturday dilemma:  What should I do today?

Work on the Art quilt?

Finsh the Art Necklace ? Who's going to wear this thing anyway?

I could sew and give Colette something to try on...

Or I could keep plugging away on this shawlette...

But I really need to pay bills this morning...and go get some fresh veggies from the Farmer's Market...I should go to the grocery store, but I hate going on Saturdays.  I wonder if there are any cool garage sales today? We need to go get fireworks too.  I should think about what to cook for the Fourth...I wonder what Costco has for meat? Ribs?

Well, I'll do all that stuff and be done so I can relax and work on these projects this afternoon...

Boy, this sewing room is a mess! You need to clean it up this afternoon, Laurel!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Confucius Say...

...finger tips burn when making Fortune Cookie.
...oven too hot, cookie burn fast.
...need many hands to make 350 Fortune cookies.
...woman who eat too much Fortune cookie dough get belly ache.
...slow to fold and roll make for crooked Fortune cookie. who dream up Fortunes for cookie is wise.

Thanks Cynthia for asking me to help! I can check this one off my culinary challenge list!

Laurel. My fortune is not in making cookies.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Account Rep Failure (ARF)

Sales is a tough business. From Real Estate to Cars to Jewelry to Pharmaceuticals, there are certain methodologies that are tried and true if you are going to be successful.  Ask any person who makes there living selling - it doesn't matter what the commodity or service is, you have to know your client and know how to close the deal.

For two years back in the early eighties I sold girls. Okay, I'm exaggerating slightly, but I was a sales representative for Kelly Services, the largest temporary staffing company in the nation at the time (they used to be called "Kelly Girls")  I had just gotten a divorce, had two young children and never held a real sales job of any substance. My initial interview for a Placement Supervisor ended in a bust, as I had no office experience, but several weeks later I was called in for another interview for an Account Representative position. "I think you'll be good at it", my future boss said. "The starting salary is over $12,000 a year."  I was beside myself...$1,000 a month...holy cow, I'm rich and who needs a man!

As an Account Rep for Kelly, my job was to develop new business for our pool of talented men and women, stepping into positions within the client company on a temporary basis. I would make appointments with executives, line managers and HR professionals at companies in the area, telling and selling the benefits of using temporary staffing. And as a good sales rep, I also kept our current clients happy and feeling valued.  However, the majority of my day was cold calling and on site drop in calls...sort of like door knocking.  At the end of the day I would have to record my calls and visits on little 3X5 cards for my Manager's perusal...and approval.

One Monday afternoon, I wrote on a note card representing the last call of my day:

Account Rep Failure!

"That's it?" my boss inquired. "What the heck does that mean?" The note card was for a big company that I had been calling on for over 6 months to no avail.

"Let me explain," I managed. "Though Kelly might classify my call as a colossal failure, I think I got the account!"

I had walked into the lobby for the umpteenth time and asked for the HR guy - I'll call him Joe.  For some reason, the little receptionist actually gives Joe a call and miraculouosly he agrees to come out into the lobby to meet me face to face.  He was all smiles as he walked up to shake my hand, and I am beside myself, excited to win him over with my charm and knowlege of our services.  I had worn my best suit that day and in my head I'm thinking that I looked like this:

Joe is listening intently at my pitch, nodding, agreeing asking me questions. Boy, I think I've finally got him interested after all this time. I'm mentally patting myself on the back, counting my future comissions, yapping on and on about all the good things we can do for his company, and he is still nodding, smiling and agreeing.

We shake hands, I give him my card and promise a follow-up sitdown session to gather all the necessary background information on what his staffing needs might be.  He readily agrees, much to my delight. I walk out of the building practically skipping.  I am on cloud nine. Check me out-I am the number one Kelly Account.... At that very moment, interrupting my jubilant reverie, I happen to look down. Stopped me dead in my tracks - my blouse was unbuttoned to my waist.  My pretty little lace bra was stunning in the sunlight of the parking lot.

To Joe, I probably looked more like this:

Moral of the story: Do whatever you have to do to sell your client, but don't leave home in a blouse that looks like this:

It's a sure ARF if ever there was one.  But hey, I did get the client and the next time I visited Joe to thank him for using Kelly, I wore a turtleneck. My boss and I laughed about my "ARF" for months... I think it became a technical term for future Kelly reps to describe a failed sales call.

Laurel. Be careful not to get too full of yourself...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why Portia?

Magpie Tales

Mag # 123

Why Portia? Of all the characters in Shakespeare's cast of thousands, why pick her? What about the guy who took the pound of flesh - didn't he say anything worth remembering?  Was there a resident evil in the English literature teachers of yesteryear who forced memorization down our throats and to what end? And if so, why repeat this "speech" over and over in your brain for weeks at a time just so you could recite it in front of 20 other kids who also didn't give a rip about Portia either?

But though I can't tell you much of Portia's role in the Merchant of Venice, I remember her speech and with a little peeking, I can recite portions of it to this day.  As I read it this morning, I see that Portia (or Shakespeare's pen?) was brilliant...or at the very least, a Believer.

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
It is mightiest in the mightiest,
It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
An attribute to awe and majesty.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power dost the become likest God's,
Where mercy seasons justice.
Therefore Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice we all must see salvation,
We all do pray for mercy
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.
I have spoke thus much to mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou dost follow,
This strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence gainst the merchant there.

See other writing contributions inspired by Orson's evil on Magpie Tales.

Laurel. Tis noble to show mercy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Missing France

This or That Thursday

Felt like writing a poem today to go with my photos taken at Versailles, France

Whose gilded hand
Has touched your life
And spun your world around

Whose fingers wrought
Your everyday
With tales imagination found

Whose mouth wide open
unleashed wisdom
For you to glory in

Whose thirst is quenched
by water flowing
To save you from your sin



 See other inspired offerings on Deb's This or That Thursday

Laurel. Missing France.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pride goeth before the fall

Stephen from The Chubby Chatterbox (one of my favorite bloggers) wrote about finally receiving a copy of his college diploma from UCLA - he graduated in 1974, but never actually received the "piece of paper" denoting his accomplishment. While reading his humorous account, I was reminded of my own foray into higher academia a few years back and the drama surrounding getting that piece of paper.

I coveted college for years as a young student.  I took all those boring honors classes, waded through four years of Spanish and every science and math class offered in the hopes of someday going to college. My "dream" was never shared by my middle income parents who had met in high school and married before the war. They couldn't afford to send me to a four year university, and it never occurred to me to actually get a job and put myself through. I did what other young country girls did...I got married and had kids.

I spent years in a state of envy of people who "got to" go to college. I dabbled here and there, taking classes at junior colleges, and at one point I was able to enroll at the university here in my home town.  I quit in my junior year as my marriage collapsed and I had two mouths to feed. To make a long story short(er), my own kids didn't want to go to college, so I decided to go back myself and finish the dream.

I chose Economics as they had the most classes available at night, as I already had worked my way up in a demanding career in the corporate finance arena.  As an working adult in the "real world", it was a struggle to listen to the blowhard career professors espousing all manner of theory on how corporate America works, without having ever had a job in their field. I'm thinking "what are they teaching these young kids?? That's NOT how it works, big guy." but I kept my mouth shut and my nose to the grind stone. Just give me the piece of paper.

Almost three years of night classes brought me to my last Econ class.  I am one final test away from that diploma that I had coveted for years.  I had studied, but the Professor was a rather miserly fellow with his grading and I went into the final with a lowly C+.  We were all graduating Seniors, and he had written our current grades on a piece of paper which he handed to us as we walked into the class to take the final.

"You can keep the grade you see on that paper or you can take the Final", he says in his best deadpan voice.

I look at the C+. Dang! What a crappy grade. I can't have a will lower my grade point average. Like anybody cares what your GPA is 10 years later.  My own boss at work had said "what for?" when I told him I was going back to college to get my degree.

But I have my pride. "I'll take the test," I hear myself say.  He snickers to himself as he hands me the five page poison from the mouth of Satan. Oh, sweet Jesus. It is the hardest test I had ever taken and I froze. I could not seem to conjure up even the simplest of theories.  I wrote blindly through my stinging salty eyes.  I made stuff up.  I BS'd. It was horrible.

For one miserable, gut wrenching week I sweated...I cried and cried, thinking how stupid I had been to not take the C+.  My boss had already promoted me into a top financial position, chiding me.."you better get that piece of paper". Graduation ceremonies were scheduled, I had picked up my cap and gown, Dave had my grad party all planned, people were going to watch me walk up and claim my college diploma...and you have failed your last stupid bozo.

The rest of the story, of course, is that I got my grade in the mail the morning of the ceremony. I prayed like no body's business as I opened the envelope, as if God was going to supernaturally change the F into a passing grade - at that point, that's all I wanted.

"B+". I cried. And cried. And cried again. I walked into the massive arena that evening, cap and gown adorned.  I couldn't see my family in the upper decks from the floor and the mob of people, but it didn't matter.  I was a college graduate at the tender age of 47. 

And like Stephen, my diploma is framed and hangs over my sewing machine.  Nobody ever really sees it, much less comments on it. (People don't read diplomas unless they belong to your doctor) But I will glance at mine every once in a while and be reminded, not of my accomplishment, but of the pride that almost swallowed it whole.

Laurel. Live your dream.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

These mountains are killing me!

Re: Art Quilt No. 2 -

I have stared at these mountains for three days.  I have dreamed about them.  I have laid awake for hours wondering what's wrong with them and how I could fix them.

"Painting" with fabric is a challenge. You can't always find the fabric you like, much less what you need in order to complete a particular area.  I have even tried bleaching some of the cotton batiks to achieve the right coloration, to know avail.  Isn't it funny that if you accidently splash bleach on your pants, you have a white spot?  Not so on this fabric - I don't know how they dye them, but the color is there to stay.

At any rate, after another few hours of messing with them (again!) this morning, the mountains are starting to take shape. Think the clouds and sky are still too vivid...I see some acrylic paint in their future.  It's going to be a long summer!!

Laurel.  Think I'll go knit for a while.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I don't often re post, but it's Father's Day and I want you to know my Dad.  He passed away in 1995 at the tender age of 70. Here is an excerpt from "Red and Bernie" that I wrote as a tribute to he and my friend Peg's Dad in 2010. Surely your memories of your father are worth writing about too.


My Mom would say that I have a very childlike, idyllic hero worship of my Dad, and she's probably right. But who cares? My memories of Red are as sweet and nostalgic as the oak-laden countryside where I grew up. We jokingly called him Dudley as we aged because of his ability to do anything, make anything, fix anything. Hence, most of my memories of him have building and creating themes - "Dudley can do it!" I remember sitting in the driveway next to a greasy canvas covered with valve stems, rocker arms, nuts and bolts, watching him carefully clean the parts in a can of gasoline. I couldn't put an engine together to save my life, but I know what a head gasket is. I used to brag that I could skin a deer, but Mom's right - that would be a slight exaggeration, even though I do know how to wield a hunting knife fairly well.

My Dad built roads all over California. It took him away most of the weekdays of the dry summers, leaving Mom to be the disciplinarian. So when the weekend finally came, I was the first one to wake to the smell of Dad's frying bacon. Our memories are powerfully linked to our sense of smell, and to this day I love to cook bacon on a Saturday morning. I can't drive buy a field of fresh mown hay without opening the window to take in the earthy warmness and remember hours of driving a tractor in circles with a baler in tow...or walking through a mountain meadow and rustling the skunk weed without thinking about camping trips without a tent under the stars.

Today, I putter in my wannabe garden of three tomato plants and two zucchinis, a pathetic tribute to the memory of a half-acre maze of corn, tomatoes and every kind of vegetable that I, along with my siblings, were made to weed. Dad would brag at dinner that everything we were eating was grown in our garden or raised in the barn. I credit him with my love of eating good food, despite the fact that he made my mother cook his vegetables to a frazzle. But even my foodie friend Peg would acknowledge that green beans cooked on the stove for three hours with bacon still invoke a warm, comfortable feeling of "home" - Martha probably cooked them for Bernie that way too.

I can conjure up flashbacks to wood cutting days in the Fall with buzz saws and brush fires and enjoy them as much as Summer evening rides in the back of a Chevy pickup over to Dad's old ranch a few miles away. I can picture my Dad laying on the lawn on a hot summer evening with a piece of grass dangling from his mouth, laughing at his uncles' bad jokes and tall stories. Red could tell a joke better than anyone, and that's probably why I love to laugh.

Granted, my memories sound idyllic and childlike, and probably not altogether accurate, but I cherish them never the less. Some country singer wrote a song about "Daddy's Hands", and amazingly, that's one of the things I remember more vividly than anything else about my father. I guess that's because he used them in so many ways, his whole life was carved into their freckled, gnarled fingers. Thankfully,I don't have my Dad's hands. And truthfully, my hair only had a hint of his red. In fact, I am my Mom all over again - her eyes, her mouth, her skin. But I love that I am Red's daughter, through and through. It isn't June 20th yet, Happy Father's Day anyway, Dad.

Laurel. Happy Father's Day to all my blogging friend who are Dads.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Something about a paint job...

Weekend Reflections

Do you think there might be some psychological malfunction of a person who likes to take pictures of car hoods? Whenever we travel, this photographer will seek out every shiny paint job in her path to photograph.  Maybe it's the notion of capturing all that raw power in digital form, as she can never hope to harness it under her foot.  Or maybe she's just a crow at heart, hoping to take every snippet of bling back to her nest.  Whatever it is, I love taking pictures of expensive cars...the shinier the better.

See other photograpic reflections on Weekend Reflections, a photo link up of like minded bloggers.

Laurel.  Still driving my 6 cylinder Acura.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Once a day

He throws some water on them occasionally, but, he maintains, they're not suppose to need it.  I am dubious.  I water everything...but then I am a farm girl. What is it about these prickly creations that would make us stop in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere,  jump out and retrieve a tiny specimen to bring home?

Some just sit there for what seem like years, taking up space.  Some look like they are dead, or at the very least severely stunted and dehydrated. He tells me they are made that way - to withstand nature's cruelest tortures of the sun.

But then on some unnamed day at some random time in the continuum, the explode.  Your morning walk to get the paper is interrupted by the suddenness of it's appearing. The prickly orb sends forth its progeny, the frog prince is revealed and all is right with the world...or at least, Dave's cactus garden...

Laurel. Patience is a virtue.

Linked to: Floral Friday Fotos
Flower Art Friday

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In my own back yard

This is how it goes: You take a trip somewhere, anywhere, and you are awed by the beauty of the landscape.  The deserts and red rocks are different than the view out your front door.  You snap your camera endlessly so that you can remember its song, and all the while, just up the road at home is magnificence that you have taken for granted.  You have forgotten there are people in this world who dream of one day seeing your state's treasures.

After driving three or four hundred miles a day on our road trip, we traveled a mere hundred miles up the interstate to surprise our friends in Tahoe. How quickly we forget how blessed we are to live in Northern California.

Laurel. Enjoy a Sunday drive.

Linked to Our World Tuesdays.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

War of words

Magpie Tales

Mag #121

Still Life, 1670, detail by Jean Fran├žois de Le Motte
I can not bear it
This interminable absence
This war, this horrific massacre of humankind
This blight on creation

I wait alone
Your words lost amongst the noise of children
running through the sprinkler
My tears falling in time
to the swaying of the porch swing

I listen
Talking heads of empty promises
Planning their chess game
Endless war of words
I can not bear it

Laurel. War is hell.

 Mapie Tales is a Sunday blog for people like me who write "for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well."  I see the weekly photo prompt and then write as I am inspired.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One thing leads to another: Art Quilt #2

It's funny how one trip to New Mexico and Arizona can inspire my artistic leanings. I absolutely loved all that Terracotta colored scenery against the blue skies.  We visited a Native American Pueblo in Taos, as I was on a mission to do an Ancil Adams photography shoot of my own.

After seeing all those adobe buildings, I decided that I would paint our fireplace when we got home.  Our house is Spanish style and I thought the colors of the Sedona landscape would perk up our den.

I love how it turned out, but as I glanced around the room, I found that the large framed print on the wall to the left of the fireplace was old and I was tired of looking at it...

Which led to..."hey, I think I'll do another art quilt".  Since this room is more "Dave's Man-Cave", I consulted with my "client" and he agreed on a Southwest Pueblo theme. So here we go...

First things first...the design on muslin.  Then shopping for specific fabrics to round out my color palette.  I work top down, so I'm starting with the sky...a storm is brewing over the Pueblo.  Not sure it's right yet, so I'll keep messing with it.

I'll keep you posted....

Meanwhile, poor Collette is staring at the art quilt scraps with jealousy...awaiting her turn to wear all the yummy fabrics I bought in Dallas and Santa Fe.

Laurel.  Being Creative means never having to say you're sorry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grand Canyon Splendor

This or That Thursdays

Our recent road trip through the Southwest yielded a veritable treasure of stunning scenery to photograph. I remember my first trip to the Grand Canyon with our kids.  I was totally taken back and filled with emotion as I caught my first glimpse of her spectacular beauty.  Some places on this earth defy words, and surely this canyon is one.

Who can really capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon...I tried...

And tried...

But Dave won the contest...

See other photographs by my friends at This or That Thursdays.

Laurel. Blessed to travel.
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