Monday, June 30, 2008

Starry Night and Bright Sunshine Day

I have been wracking my brain to try to remember the last time my sister was here for a visit that counts. Typically her time in Boston is during the holiday season so there is never an opportunity for her to just relax since the running around to see everyone factor is at an all time high. Plus she is coming here from Arizona so a visit to Massachusetts in the dead middle of winter is probably not her idea of a super vacation; at least when it comes to the weather. There are people in the family that still say ‘Oh W is coming home for a visit’ but she has lived in Arizona for so long now Boston is no longer her home.

She was here last February but that does not count as a real visit because it was for my Grandpa’s funeral; although that trip was more of a party than any time she was here before it so maybe it should register as, at the least, a half vacation. Regardless of the fact that we rarely see each other there is no denying we are cut from the same cloth and even if I can not recall the last time we were in the same room, when we get together it is like we hang out every day. We spar with verbal wit and a dry sarcasm but it is never cynical, always with laughter and in good fun. God help whoever else is there because we will roll right over them if they are not quick enough to keep up.

Last night we picked her up at Logan (late because of delays due to weather) and despite our best efforts to come home and go right to bed, everyone, including my Mom who rode in with us just to surprise her, was up until well after midnight. After my mom left we attempted to go to bed but just like the forty five minutes it always takes us to say good bye on the phone, we could not seem to stop blabbing at each other. Even Matt, who had to get up at 5:30 to go to work this morning, did not seem to mind that it was after 1:00 in the morning when we finally crashed.

Since she is here in the summer for the first time in almost six years it is all about the beach this time around. W made the very strong declaration to everyone in the family that if you wanted to see her that is where she would be. With that being the case, I decided to take the week “off” and hang with her at the cottage because, again, I can not remember the last time we spent summer time at the beach together. Of course, for me, taking the week off means bringing the laptop with me and only writing (no paint jobs or sewing) and doing seven hour days instead of fourteen. I do plan however to leave the laptop at the house when we hit the beach since there is no way I will ever be that person.

Looking back through time there were so many moments where we bonded and it would be impossible to tell every story or post every photo but here are just a few. Please note our hair through the years is not to be judged.

At my grandparents house March 1990 before they sold it and moved to New Hampshire. Note the New Kids pin my sister has on. Note the ghetto gold earrings I am wearing. Yeah, were we gangsta or what?

HEC Spring Conference in April 1991. My hair got bigger, hers just got longer. Of course you know it was back in a French braid when we sang That’s What Friends Are For with the rest of us total dorks who were there in front of all the other total dorks who came from all over the country to party like they just got a free sewing machine. I mean after all this was the Home Economics Club conference. Yeah, Miracle Ear rocked the house.

Luckily no one can tell in this photo that we just spent about a half hour sobbing because this was the day she left to move to Arizona for good. January 1996. And she will never move back.

Even though we will probably never live in the same state again we are never far away.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Move the Car

Yesterday I watched as the rain poured down off and on all day, lightening was striking all over and I got zippo work done because I booted and shut down the computer so many times I finally just decided to forget it and chalked it up to an extra vacation day. When Matt got home from work we were supposed to go pick up my Mom so she could take us out to dinner for my upcoming birthday. There was another pouring soaker that started a few minutes after he got here so we decided to wait for the rain to subside before venturing out. Since we are weather freaks we went to the balcony door to watch the lightning cross the sky and check out the “river” flowing down the side of the curb.

A car drove up the street and we watched in disbelief as a wake of white caps followed it. The majority of our street view is blocked by trees and the building next door but seeing the swishing water this far up we knew the street must be flooded. The journalist in me grabbed a camera and flip-flops and ran outside to see the action.

Our street runs perpendicular to a creek known as Mill Brook. The town was incorporated back in the 1600’s and a mill known as the Old Schwamb Mill was built on the Brook in 1650. That mill is still working today and I have no doubt it was double time yesterday.

In the photo above the orange barriers were blocking off a part of the street under construction for the past couple months. The ironic part is that two of them floated all the way down to the bridge and became stranded right in the middle of the road; a perfect location to block traffic from driving through the flood. The little red house and the white house next door had residents home at the time and they all came to their doors laughing because, what else could they do.

I have no patience for idiots as most of you know. I wish no harm to come to anyone but when there is actual moving water flowing across the road at a fairly rapid pace, and a left turn that could have been taken in lieu of driving through that water, my only wish is that your car stalls out and the fire department charges you to come and rescue you from your own stupidity.

In order to get away from the morons who thought they were invincible enough to drive through this raging rapid I decided to walk down through the parking lot of the building next door which borders along side the brook. This little guy came and stood not 2 feet from me. I think he was a bit shaken by the incident too because he kept looking up at me with eyes that said ‘I was not even born when this happened the last time ten years ago so this is kind of freaking me out’. I decided to call him Quack.

Finally I will leave you all with some video I took while down in the parking lot with my buddy Quack. He enters the frame right at the end of the video, our first encounter with each other. We both watched for a while but then my grumbling tummy and full camera card got the best of me so we took off for dinner hoping the fat rain drops beginning to fall again let up before we got back home.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feeling Basic in a Twisted Sort of Way

For the past fifteen minutes or so I have been staring at a blank Word doc knowing I want to blog but with no idea what I want to say. So many things have been happening lately -- completing interviews for The Organic Mechanic, covering musicians on MySpace for eZine, being commissioned to create two tote bags (a pattern I created too!), helping two clients get organized in their offices, being asked to complete 3 painting jobs, setting up a new company press kit and the list goes on.

I recently told my mom that I would love to have dinner with her if I didn’t implode but in all fairness I would have it no other way because an idle mind collects much dust. Or something like that. Sadly a busy body does not collect much sleep since over the course of the last few weeks I have been known to wake up at three in the morning raring to go and come to the computer to send out interview requests. Luckily Matt is a heavy sleeper.

Even though there is so much going on, none of it seemed punchy enough for my blog and a while back I got tagged by The Mum and the Rose. I told her that I would come up with something creative and get it posted but in my daily insanity of living and working I admit to have forgotten all about it until today. The premise of this one is to share seven random facts about myself. I will yet again stress that I am not usually into tags because I tend to answer these questions with an ocean full of salt, not just a grain, but you asked for it so without further ado...

1. I eat everything small in multiples of two. Call it OCD or whatever but jellybeans, Fritos, blueberries and all other small foods must be put into my mouth so that there is one on each side when I chew.

2. Although I am very social and love to talk up an entire room, I really enjoy spending boat loads of time all by myself in complete silence. There are days I actually turn my phone off and close the windows to my apartment just so I do not have to hear anything going on outside my own head. Especially birds. On those days, birds are the single most annoying sound on the planet.

3. I once went to an open casting call for models and even though he did not exactly laugh at my clear delusion, he absolutely looked right over my head to the next girl standing directly behind me.

4. If it was practical, and I would not have been arrested for doing so, I would have been stalking Edward Norton since seeing him in 1998 both in Rounders and American History X. He is now going to be Mr. Huge Star for his role in The Incredible Hulk and gals everywhere will quickly discover what I have known for years; this guy is the man. I mean not only is he hot in a very boy-next-door kind of way but he freaking graduated from Yale so he actually has a brain and the guy has range which is more than I can say for a lot of actors out there. Case in point - what other actor has pulled off being a neo-Nazi skinhead and a Priest and portrayed both convincingly? The cherry on top? He is hugely into environmental activism. ::swoon:: Maybe he will let me interview him for the OM someday.

5. Clothes drive me crazy. Tugging at them and trying to get them to fit is never an easy task for someone who can not afford to hire a costume director to design clothes for my individual wardrobe on a daily basis. If I could live right on the equator at the ocean shore and wear nothing but a bikini and flip flops every day for the rest of my life I would never stop smiling. Plus my house could be a lot smaller without the need for all that closet space.

6. Fresh cilantro, basil and dill are three of the best flavors on the planet. Some days I actually find myself drooling for any of the above three. In a whole wheat wrap with cucumber, garlic roasted hummus and a few strips of turkey bacon I will put all 3 in to make the most awesome lunch ever. Yum.

7. I was born at 1:58 AM exactly six months from Christmas day. Sun sign of Cancer with Moon in Taurus which makes for a pretty interesting combo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Surreal, but Why?

Today Tim Russert passed away. I really can not even explain why this is having such an oddly strange effect on my brain right now. I did not know him, he was not like a friend of the family or anything but in some journalistic way he had a presence that connected to his viewers and it is really making me sad that he will never be able to share that with the world again.

When Matt and I lived in Springfield, and were not constantly working on the house, we would take as many weekends as possible all to ourselves. Most Saturday and Sunday mornings consisted of getting up at about nine and drinking coffee while we talked about life and the world in general until about mid day. We always drank too much coffee and ate breakfast far too late because we were so engrossed in our conversations or watching the TV on in the background.

Fodder for our conversations when we did not just come up with our own random topics generally had to do with what was happening on TV. On the weekend mornings that was either one of two things -- infomercials or Meet the Press.

One of our biggest loves is to watch completely mindless infomercials. Ron Popeil and Chef Tony just have a way of convincing a person that chicken really can cook in 5 minutes and that knives that sharp should have been used to cut drywall all along. We would delight in the Magic Bullet and the “wow, this is one good smoothie!” faces on the “non-paid actors but real people”. You mention a product seen on TV I can tell you all about it. But I don’t own a single one of them, it was all just for laughs when the mood needed lightening.

The reason we needed a mood lifter was due to our other weekend morning love of watching and commenting on Meet the Press. By now, those of you who know me can pretty much attest to the fact that although I am no dummy when it comes to things like politics, I do not spend most of my time relishing the daily battle of debate between candidates or even what the politicos of our country are doing in their daily lives in non-election years. I know it, I get it, I just prefer not to discuss it most of the time. Sunday mornings in the comfort of my own living room with Matt however was an entirely different story.

The familiar music would start and as soon as I heard Tim Russert’s completely monotone yet surprisingly enthusiastic, almost guttural excitement for who was on that week my adrenaline began to rush just a little. He would introduce every show with exactly the same level of vigor because no matter who was on he knew this was going to get good and he never let us down. Tim would lay into each guest and no matter who it was they better have an extremely eloquent, straightforward and honest response to his question or he would not let up until he broke the guest. His questions were always pointed, poignant and sometimes tough to take but he asked them with a straight face and unrelenting love for drawing out an answer.

There was nothing more satisfying than watching a politician visually crack just because a man did nothing more than ask a boat load of questions in an unyielding, yet calm, manner. Emotions did not register on his face, he was straight shooting news anchor all the time; unless Tom Brokaw was in a wiley mood, then all bets were off as Tim would actually burst out laughing and we all got the chance to see the heart and soul behind the steely persona. He would stay up for forty eight straight hours during an election but still never miss a beat. He was one hell of a good journalist.

As a person who has always had a love for pushing limits I respected, admired and truly enjoyed watching Tim Russert work.

This Sunday morning will be time to find something new. Goodbye Tim. We will all miss your candor and dedicated love for the political game.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stand in Awe

As inspired by taking part in some really fantastic comment discussions recently on subjects ranging from pastry to politics, how these things relate to superheroes and the fact that everything old is new again.

When I was a very young girl I lived in a tiny town called Humarock. If you read me over the fall and winter last year no doubt you heard all about it. The beach and that town in particular, have been the inspiration for many of my endeavors. My business name, Chucka Stone Designs, is a direct derivative (Hum-a-Rock, Chuck-a-Stone). Since a couple family members owned houses there I spent nearly every waking moment on the beach as a kid and as many as I could spend each year after. See my profile picture of me at age three. I still like to be barefoot as much as possible. For a short time when we were kids we lived in my grandparent’s house and my favorite thing about it was the fireplace on cold nights. My sister and I would take our night time shower, wash the dishes from dinner and then toast marshmallows while our hair dried and we watched Wonder Woman. We would go to bed smelling like a campfire, without all the pesky bug bites, knowing that girls who owned invisible jets and deflector cuffs ruled.

As I moved into grammar school, the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Pretty Pony reminded me why I was much more partial to trucks and climbing trees so it was no surprise I was drawn to cartoons like Inspector Gadget instead of Muppet Babies. With so many movies being made from old television shows these days it is only a matter of time before someone turns that one into a blockbuster hit. Oh wait, I almost forgot, David Kellogg tried using Matthew Broderick as Gadget back in 1999. It is really hard to keep up.

The current new millennium blockbuster based on a truly one of a kind old time show starred the guy who actually voiced the character of Gadget. How sad that even in 80’s animation Don Adams was pigeon holed into the role of a bumbling idiot spy just like his character Max in Get Smart from twenty years prior.

Now Maxwell Smart was the coolest dork I had ever seen on late night syndication. I mean, seriously, he had a shoe phone for crêpe sake, how could he have not been superfly?

The real secret to both Gadget and Max of course is that they never really did anything right and the women in their lives, Penny and 99 respectively, were the real crime solvers and spy thwarters just like Diana Prince as Wonder Woman. These ladies were the quiet force to be reckoned with even though they were likely dubbed as total geeks; Diana could bench press a football team, Penny’s only friend was a dog and 99 was a multi-lingual violin player.

The moral lesson: Never underestimate the power of a woman. Even if she is a geek, one day she just might save your life or set you free with her lasso of truth.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ask and Gleefully Accept What Comes Back

It always amazes me to witness just how powerful it is to unabashedly ask for what I want and then go ahead and get it. There are powers at work much like a check out register; bring the desired item to the belt, ring it through and take it home. The funny thing there is that occasionally I take the wrong item off the shelf and end up wanting to go back to return it while other times I actually manage to get the exact thing I asked for and skip home with it under my arm.

Regardless of our personal feelings on the outcome of our requests, if we really examine it, the Universe always gives us exactly what we asked for. A good example of this is saying we just do not want to go to work and then on the way get in a car accident that doesn’t leave us with a single injury but instead places us in the repair shop until about 5:00 PM. What a sense of humor that Universe has. We certainly did not have to go to work but definitely would have chosen something else to do with our day besides pay for car repairs. It is this kind of thing that makes me remember the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.’

Yesterday I got exactly what I wished for and then some and I plan to giddily skip with it all over my neighborhood for a long time to come.

About two weeks ago I pointedly said to Matt that I wanted to find a way to get paid to blog for a living. No strings, no explanation, just get paid to blog because it was the style I loved to write the most. We quickly moved on to another topic and I basically forgot I had said it but the Universe imbibed that statement while I was not looking and hiccupped on the bubbles. I was sitting in my office a few days ago and decided to get over to The Morning Coffee, a freelance writers pot of gold and what did I see posted there but an assignment to get paid to write for an up and coming environmental blog. The position would require the blogger to locate, interview and post on artists who use green practices. Ba-boom.

Welcome to the Universe, feel free to leave your tray tables down because there will be no bumps on this ride.

The emails went back and forth between the blog administrator and me and as of this morning I have my first feature blog posted on The Organic Mechanic titled Alternative Solutions for Shredded Paper. She and I both know that it will be a slow and steady process to drive traffic to this blog but I am hoping that all of you will at least check it out and hopefully bookmark it as well to return for some amazing artist features (written by me of course!) as well as fantastic style, design and simple tips on ways to incorporate green living into our lives. I am required to post a minimum of ten blogs per month so there will be a lot of activity between myself and the other contributors.

Above and beyond being paid to do this I am just so pleased to be part of something like this where I can provide information for how to live green and help save our planet. It is truly a blessing and a joy to be doing this ♥