Friday, January 28, 2011


The theme for week 4 of the MCP Project 52 is Soothing Repetition. This is the photo that I'm submitting. 

We bought this cuckoo clock in Germany when we were on our honeymoon (just over 21 years ago), and over the years we have gotten used to the sounds it makes - the soothing tick-tick-tick, the cuckoo that pops out and sings every half hour, and the dancers that spin around their circle to the tunes of Edelweiss and The Happy Wanderer.

A few years ago, our clock stopped working. If you've ever owned a cuckoo clock for any length of time, you know how hard it is to find someone who is willing to repair them. The little shop where we had taken it once before had gone out of business. After several months of searching, I found a shop that advertised cuckoo clock repair, so I took it in and dropped it off. I tried to be patient, because I know that clock repairs never happen quickly. Three months went by before I called to check on our clock. The owner promised that he would start working on it the following week. Again, I waited. A month later, I called again. He told me that it might require some extensive repairs and it could be very expensive. Something in his voice told me that he really didn't want to work on our clock. Then he offered to sell me a new clock. I picked up our clock that afternoon and we hung it back on the wall in our living room. It is still nice to look at, even when it's not working.

Several months later, fate smiled on us. While shopping at the Texas Renaissance Festival, my husband met a young man who works at a clock shop. A clock shop that wasn't too far from our home.  A clock shop that repairs cuckoo clocks!  We wasted no time in adding our clock to the (very long) repair queue at their shop. It took a few months for our little cuckoo to get to the front of the queue, but when it did, it was updated with all new workings. The repair was expensive - more than the original cost of the clock, including what we paid to ship it to the States - but it was worth it.

The now working clock has returned to its rightful place in our home, and we have since turned off the cuckoo and the music. Not because the noise bothers us after all those months of quiet, but because it attracts the attention of our new kittens. This is not a good thing. We can easily imagine the potential disaster of a kitten trying to "capture the cuckoo".  So, for now, we will be content with the soothing tick-tick-tick of our little Black Forest cuckoo clock.

In case you're wondering, the name of the clock shop is Moore Time, located in Old Town Spring, Texas, and no, I did not receive any payment for this mention.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adventures in Medicine - Part 6 (The Final Chapter)

Today, I took my last dose of Coumadin. My six months of taking Coumadin should have run through the end of January, but I have run out of pills - ten days early.  I don't see any point in buying a month's worth of pills when most of them would go to waste, so I'm done. (I also don't plan on making that final doctor's visit to be told that it's okay to stop taking the Coumadin.)

The Coumadin has caused joint pain and an overall lack of energy. I'm hoping this reverses soon so I can get back on my regular workout schedule. I'm looking forward to eating broccoli and spinach salad again. And now, as my sister so cheerfully reminded me, I can shave my legs without fear of cutting myself.

I hope I never have to deal with blood clots again.


Shades of Gray
I'm still getting to know my new camera, and loving every minute of it. The theme for week 3 of the MCP Project 52 is Shades of Gray, and here is the photo I submitted today. This picture was taken on Sunday, when it was cold and rainy, and I think it really conveys the feeling of cold.  I love how black & white brings out detail that might be missed in a color photo.

Which do you like better - black & white or color?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bad Day, Good Day

Today has not been one of my better days. I put my truck in the shop again. Looks like there is a problem with the transmission - yet another expensive repair. *sigh* At least I know my truck is in good hands with my friends at Milstead.
These Boots Were Made For Walkin'

Even with this less-than-stellar news, I was able to find redeeming moments in my day. The theme for week 2 of the MCP Project 52 was to illustrate a song. I thought about this one for days before finally coming up with an idea. Here's my picture and my song is These Boots Are Made For Walkin'. My picture is an illustration of the song title, not the lyrics. These old boots have been around for a long time, and have been re-soled four times. Obviously, they have seen a lot of walkin'. I was thrilled to get some comments on my photo from the Flickr group, and would love to hear what you think, too.

I'm still keeping up with my 52 Organizing Missions

#38 Organize Your Exercise - My exercise of choice is yoga - specifically, Julian Michael's Yoga Meltdown. I have the DVD, I have all the supplies, and I have a schedule that will work. I was doing regular yoga workouts last year before I went into the hospital. Now I just have to get back into that routine. Wish me luck.

#39 Declutter Your Surfaces - This is one that I started working on a while back. It is so easy to let things pile up, so this requires constant maintenance. My next target with this is our home office... there's a work table in that room that has turned into a huge pile of books a papers that need to be sorted, filed, and organized. Now, I just have to get my husband on board. *crossing fingers*

I just realized that there are only 13 more missions to go.  Wow!  I'll be organized in no time.

Today was a pretty good day after all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Ornament Game

Loki, preparing to climb
 Every year, I feel a little bit of dread when we start setting up the Christmas decorations. Why? Because we have eight cats.  The cats love Christmas decorations. They think of the tree as their own personal climbing tower, complete with dangling ornaments that they aim for, much like the "golden ring", as they launch themselves from the branches.

Each morning I gather the ornaments that the cats have collected and discarded on the floor of the living room, and carefully hang them back on the tree... all the time knowing that these same ornaments process will be repeated the next day, and the next, and the next.

Christmas day is the last day I carry out this little charade. After that, I am too busy with winter camp to bother, and there is really no point in it anymore.  We just collect the ornaments until it is time to put everything back in the attic.

Here is this year's collection.  The angel is starting to look a little shabby after her numerous skydiving episodes and will probably have to be replaced with something a little sturdier next year. Not pictured are the ornaments that were "retired" this year because they were damaged beyond repair.

At least we don't have to worry about getting bored with our collection of ornaments. We are constantly buying new ones to replace those that the cats have taken a liking to. (Or maybe it's dislike - I can't be sure.)
We have joked about discarding the traditional ornaments and decorating our tree with a variety of cat toys. I'm thinking that may be a good plan.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Vacation and a New Year's Challenge

Every year (for seven years now) we have spent the week after Christmas at Boy Scout Winter Camp. Sleeping in tents with temperatures sometimes below freezing... doesn't that sound like fun? The last two years, we have opted to commute so we could enjoy hot showers and warm beds every night.

Our current job at camp is to run the Trading Post. This is the place where people come to visit, warm up, shop, and spend every dollar they brought. We sell items ranging from shampoo and hand warmers to souveneir shirts and patches. The most popular item is always knives. No surprise there. 

This year I had a wonderful staff (3 adults and 2 teenagers) who dealt with the mad rush of kids each time we opened our doors - locating products, answering questions, changing all those first day $20 bills - and made it look effortless. I was also charged with managing the Snack Shack, and was lucky to have 3 great teenagers who efficiently (and with very little supervision) sold assorted snacks and drinks to the eager crowds of campers.

We did really well this year. By the last full day of camp, the Snack Shack was sold out and the Trading Post inventory list had gotten significantly shorter.  We were able to complete our last day inventory in record time.  

People ask why we keep coming back to work (volunteer) at Winter Camp every year and my answer is that it's fun. I'll choose Winter Camp over after-Christmas shopping every time! We always have a great time, and we are already making plans for next year... or should I say this year?  :)

Stormie contemplates Christmas
Speaking of this year...

In honor of 2011, I've decided to try something new. I have joined in MCP Project 52, where I will submit 52 photos based on a weekly theme. I'm a little shy about sharing my work, but this seems like a good opportunity for me to get to know my new camera (one of my New Year's goals) and the challenge will (hopefully) encourage me to try new things. The first weekly theme is Something Around the House, and this is the photo I submitted. There are eight cats in our household, so I thought it was quite appropriate. 

I'm looking forward to the weekly challenges and will also share my photos here. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goals for 2011

I have given up on New Year's resolutions. I mean, how many times can you resolve (and fail) to lose weight, find the perfect job, etc., before you finally admit that the whole resolutions thing isn't working? 

This year, I have decided to set goals, instead.

1) Become a healthier person. Eat less junk food and make time for exercise.
2) Make my home comfortable. Continue removing the anxiety-causing clutter. Work on one small area at a time until the whole house is done. (No, my house does not look anything like those on Hoarders, but there is enough random stuff sitting around that it makes me uncomfortable.) I plan to celebrate reaching this goal with new paint for the walls.
3) Learn how to correctly use all the features on my new camera. Then take some pictures that are worthy of framing and hanging on those newly painted walls.

That's it, just three goals. I'm hoping that at this time next year, I can look back and say that I reached my goals. 

An update on my 52 Organizing Missions...

#36 Organize Your Paperwork - I usually stay pretty organized with paperwork. During Christmas vacation, I cleaned out my overstuffed file cabinet. Now my file cabinet is neat and I can easily file my bills and statements.

#37 Organize Your Diet - This one is harder. I've set the goal of eating healthier (less junk food), but eliminating it completely would take it away from the other people in my household, so I will just have to use will power. I do plan to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet and will try to cook meals from scratch as much as possible.

Believe it or not, I am caught up on the missions!  Never thought that would happen after last summer.  :)  I will continue to do my best to keep up with these weekly missions as I work toward my goals for 2011.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Celebrating the New Year

We haven't gone out for New Year's Eve in years, and this year was no different. We stayed home, the three of us sitting in separate rooms playing on our computers. Just before midnight, we came together for a glass of chocolate wine - something new this year, and quite good. We toasted the New Year and then went back to our respective computers to serve the gaming addiction before heading off to bed.

I gave up on New Year's resolutions years ago, but I am setting some goals this year. One goal is to declutter every room in my house. I started a few months ago - choosing one small area to work on each day. Today, I made some really good progress. I finished up Winter Camp paperwork, handled the e-mails that accumulated while I was away at Winter Camp (more on camp later), sorted out t-shirts for donation, cleared out old files, and I even got to sleep late!

I have two more days before I go back to work, and I hope to get a lot more done. Oh, and maybe relax a little, too.