Wednesday, December 15, 2010

justin's homecoming...

Due to the security of the troops, the Army waited until 48 hours before his plane landed to let us know when he would arrive.  The bad part about that is it really doesn't give you much time for planning ahead; hotel reservations, travel arrangement, etc.

I was going to leave on Sunday, then Monday and it ended up that I left at 7am on Tuesday because the Army had finally called to tell us that he would be in Wednesday at 1:15pm.  Jerome would drive down on Thursday.

I drove straight through, with a 20 minute stop at the toll road service center for a nap.  I had been doing "the nod" and I didn't want to fall asleep while driving.  I arrived just on time to meet up with the Risse's in the parking lot.  They had just finished dinner; it was around 8:45pm.  I looked like $h!t...probably smelled too.

Jerome had reserved a room for us at a discounted rate using Hotels.com, since I was going to be there from Tuesday night through Saturday, it was nice to receive the discount. Sam had tried to jew-down the hotel manager and was able to get a pretty good rate, but Jerome's deal on Hotels.com was a much sweeter deal - too bad they didn't trust us to make the reservation for them.  Sam did want us to try to negotiate the same deal with the hotel manager that we got, but you had to do it on-line and use coupon code BEMERRY10 for an additional 10% off.  Even that the hotel manager was taking issue with.  He tried to argue a little that he, as a hotel manager, had to sign up with Hotels.com for that promotion, and he hadn't...but gave us the rate anyway.

Wednesday, I had a few hours of relaxation before we all headed to Pope AFB; Green Ramp to wait for Justin's brigade to arrive.  I figured that I could ride with Justin's dad (my ex-husband) since he has a military sticker on his car while the Risse's (including my grand-baby Peyton) drove in another car.  Peyton has a military ID card, so we thought it would work.  It didn't.  They had to turn around and have their vehicle searched before they were allowed to enter the base.
Once at Green Ramp, we entered into the hanger.  There were many family members already milling about and the Army band was playing Christmas music off to one side.  They had sandwiches and a cake ready for when they arrived.  The Green Ramp hanger is where the Airborne paratroopers come to wait before they get into the plane to do their jumps, so all the benches have a little step in the back, right behind where your butt would rest.  Justin told me that is to support the weight of the parachute since you could be waiting there for several hours before you do your jump.
 We waited for some time outside in the cold...however not as cold as Michigan.  We watched the plane land and waited for the troops to file out of the plane, which took an excruciatingly LONG time.  Finally, they were marching into the hanger and then had to wait again in formation while they sang the Army song and some Commander made a small speech.  I mean - REALLY!?  Is that necessary?  These guys and gals have been gone from their loved ones for nearly a year (they left Christmas Eve 2009) and here they are, torturing them with their family members at arms-length.  Disgraceful!
Finally they could drop their rucksacks and come plow down their mothers (yes, I was nearly plowed down by my own son running to see his new baby and fiance - what a welcome!).  He apologized later.
He was interviewed by the local newspaper about being a new father and seeing his baby for the first time.

It was a nice reunion.
Went out to eat several times in the next few days.  Justin signed his first lease while we were there, on his own merits.  And we visited the house where he will be spending this week until he flies home to Michigan on Saturday.  Got to meet his roommates - characters; all of them.  They do have a house "mother" of sorts - the only girl that lives with all these guys.  Her name is Peyone.  She is very nice and will be out of the Army by February.  She's going to school to be a social worker.  She's got some training with these boys.

Jerome and I drove back all in one day.  We were trying to avoid the upcoming bad weather.  We left around 1:45pm Saturday and arrived home by 2:30am, and I guess the snow started at around 3am.  We totally missed it.

Sam and her parents were not as lucky.  They drove out the next morning and right into bad snowy, icy, windy weather in the mountains.  They spun around at one point and were facing an oncoming semi-truck.  I had told Justin that they should leave when we did, but it's pretty typical that when I say something, there is a nod of acknowledgment but nothing happens.  Well anyway, they arrived safe and sound, so I guess it worked out for them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

my year in (facebook) status...

Thought it was cute, so I'm sharing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my first wreath-making class...

Yesterday, my DIL2B came over with my lovely granddaughter.  She wanted to make a wreath for her mother as a birthday present; her mother's birthday is in December.  So you could say that I gave my very first one-on-one class yesterday.

Before heading downstairs to the wreath making workshop, I walked Peyton over to the nearly bare Christmas tree in the living room.  She was awestruck by the lights; she just stared and stared.
Then off to go work on wreaths...however, missy Peyton had other ideas for a moment.  She cried like I'd never seen her cry before - for a good few minutes.  Sam thought maybe she was overstimulated, so I turned off the overhead lights and Sam gave her a bottle to calm her down and then put her down for a nap by making a makeshift bed from one of the chairs using the throw pillows to block her from rolling over.  She slept for almost an hour which gave us plenty of time to work on our wreaths.

Sam picked Pink, Red and Gold bulbs and because I was making one for my sister Terry who had already told me that she wanted one in Green, Red and Gold, those were the colors I was working with that afternoon.

Normally it takes around 2 hours from start to finish but today it took about 4 hours, with Peyton on Sam's lap for the last 5 or 10 minutes.  By the time we were done, the house was completely dark.
Well anyway, I tried to "instruct" without leaving blanks in my sentences - a difficult feat if you know me - I rarely complete a sentence.  I think I did OK...you'd have to ask Sam for a more accurate critique.  I should have made her fill out an end of class survey - Haha.

Both wreaths turned out well - first time I didn't use a ribbon.  I find that when you hang the wreath from the ribbon that the top portion falls too far away from the door - as though it is top heavy, so I decided that we'd use a wire hoop/hook.  This brings it much closer to flush against the door.  But it is missing the extra loveliness of a pretty bow.

So, other updates to the wreath making and selling process...so far I've made 6 wreaths.  I've sold only one so far and made one for each of my sisters and one for my friend Diana at work.  The other two are still for sale on Etsy.  Maybe I should knock off $5 or $10 from the price...I don't know,...I think I will.

Today I heard from the lady that purchased my wreath.  She lives in North Carolina and told me that the wreath is beautiful.  There were some broken ornaments (2 white ones with the candy canes) and a few bulbs fell off but she hot glued them back on. Parcel post only took half the time they claimed it would.

I'm sad about the issues, but happy that it wasn't worse.  She still seems to be happy with it, so I'm going to not dwell on it.  As I had stated in my previous post, that one was the one I was worried about since it was on that evergreen wreath form.  NEVER again.
The wreath that fell, I was able to repair.  It's great that when I buy the ornaments from Estate Sales that I get the whole box of stuff as well, because in the box were these pointy sticks used for floral design that I pressed into the styrofoam wreath form and secure the broken form.  Then it was just a matter of cutting off the ornament fragments and regluing some new ones in their place.  You can't even tell that anything happened.  Oh, and I wrote 3M, they responded and asked me to call them. I did. They were interested in hearing about what type of surface the product was stuck to, etc. They said that on the packaging it says not to use them on heirlooms or irreplaceable items. I'll have to check that out next time I see them in the store. Then they asked what I would like 3M to do for me...I told them I have no idea. It's not like they could replace the wreath.
I also made a smaller wreath using a grapevine wreath form for the base.  This one was for my sister D. - I don't think she reads my blog, so I'm safe putting the pic up here. She wanted a small Silver wreath.  I didn't have much Silver ornaments left, but I did have some White, so she's getting a Silver and White wreath.  It's a little kitschy, but it grows on you.

Well, there you have all the updates about the different wreaths I've made so far.  I hope that I can sell the others...otherwise next year I'm going to look into being in a Christmas craft show or two.  I do like making them - I like the way they turn out for the most part and I'm starting to perfect my method.

There's a lady on Etsy that makes vintage ornament wreaths and I absolutely LOVE THEM!  According to her profile, she spends all year hunting down the most beautiful vintage Christmas ornaments.  Shiny Brites, Polands, West Germany and Made in the good ol' USA. (kinda like me :D).  Then she spreads them all out and crafts wreaths until all the ornaments are gone. Each year is a limited production. Once they are gone, that's it until this time next year.  I really like the way hers turn out.  Anyway, she's sold out already this year.  I think I will try to be more like her; creating wreaths in her style...we'll see if I can.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

buying frenzy...

Since my post about making the wreaths, I have had two different people purchase two wreaths from me on my Etsy shop...within a week of listing them!

I was so excited when the first one was purchased until I after I read that her feedback rating was at 92%.  I've never seen one that was under 100%.  Most of the bad comments were "never received payment", "don't buy unless you plan to pay" and "never responded to contact".  My heart dropped...and unfortunately, that first "buyer" fell through for me as well.

Then the next buyer wanted the large gold and white wreath.  This wreath is the one that I was most worried about because it was the most flexible and the one I've decided never to use that type of wreath form again because of the relatively unstructured soundness of it.

The person who bought it lives in North Carolina - to send it parcel post is the least expensive way to do it, only it takes up to 10 days to get there and according to the postal worker that I spoke to, it's handled quite a lot.  So, I'm just waiting to see if it arrives in one piece.  Fingers crossed!  It's been a week since I've sent it and I still haven't heard from her.  However, I did "Bing" her house and if the wreath survives, it's got a nice place to live.

I'm serious about putting a class together to show people how to make these.  And since I'm serious, I need to buy, buy, buy vintage ornaments!

I'm constantly looking on craigslist, going to Salvation Army and looking into Estate sales.  There's an Estate Sale website that I stumbled upon and it led me to a very nice Estate sale that was in my neighborhood(ish).

I made a list of 4 different Estate sales to go to on Friday.  I was armed with my clipboard.  Friday was the day to just write stuff down with the possibility of going back on their last day - be it Saturday or Sunday and hit them up for their 1/2 off sales.  Well, I'm not that controlled and I did purchase some ornaments that day, as long as they were reasonable.  The least I've paid per ornament has been 6 cents and the most I've paid was 20 cents.  But that is not exactly accurate either, since when you go to these Estate sales they don't always let you just have the ornaments - sometimes they want you to take the whole box.  So you end up with all kinds of other Christmas crap that you have to figure out what you're going to do with.  

On Friday, I ended up with 3 plastic storage boxes of differing sizes.  Only one of those boxes was only ornaments.  The other had other Christmassy items and the third had WWII articles...which I'm keeping for another project.

I have since put the whole box of Christmas crap up on craigslist for cheap - we'll see if anything comes of it.  If not, I will give it to charity.
 
I made Jerome come with me to one of the Estate sales, on its 1/2 off day.  The immaculately clean and neat condo was nearly empty compared to the Friday before, but there were still some items that I had written on my list that I would like to buy that were still there.  I bought a decorative birdhouse, a Ball mason jar, metal nutcrackers and picks, some ear muffs, a watering can,...and that's when I noticed this really cute "shabby chic" table.  

Small round vintage table with sides that close down.  I was able to get it for $35 (this table is a great place to display my parents and grandparents wedding photos.  I was actually thinking that I was going to buy it for my son and his fiance, but I think I like it too much - we'll see).  Jerome found himself down where the old cameras were and bought an old Cannon flash that is really in MINT condition, a self timer and a really nice tripod.  He's thinking we can sell these items for way more than what we bought them for.  We paid $18.50 for them.  I'll report later what we got for them.

Anyway, I have upwards of 800 ornaments now.  It takes nearly 100 of all different size ornaments to make a nice full wreath.  If I really want to have a class in my home, I will need to have enough ornaments to satisfy everyone.  I think I'll keep the class size low; 8 to 10 people...if I can get that many people interested in taking a class.

I have two more wreaths to make; one for my sister Terry (she wants a red, green and gold wreath) and one for my sister Deni (she wants a small silver wreath).  Also, I'll be having my daughter-in-law-to-be over on Monday to help her make a wreath for her mom.  That will be my first attempt at teaching.

A quick update: Apparently last night one of my 3M Command hooks failed and so, one of the wreaths fell to the ground and broke a bunch of bulbs and cracked the styrofoam wreath base.  I'm sad, but I think it's repairable, but unsellable.  I guess I'm going to have to write a little letter to 3M.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

we should just sell it!...

Back in April of 1996, I bought my first house.  I bought it on my 30th birthday.  My mother was my realtor.  It was a little house in an established neighborhood; by that I mean old.  Big mature trees everywhere.  I was a single mother, making $10/hour.

The house needed a lot of work, but I was determined to buy it and even though my mom thought I could do better, why would I listen to her?

Anyway, over the 9+ years that I lived there and the additional 5+ years that I (we've) rented it out, I (we've) had EVERYTHING done to it that could have been done to it other than bulldozing it down and starting over.
I was even interviewed for the local paper about the work that was done on the house.

The "troubles" started on the day I received the keys (6/24/1996), when I noticed that the previous owners had a jar in the lower cabinet in the kitchen that was collecting the water that was leaking from a water pipe.  The disclosure had said that they had the plumbing inspected...this was soon followed by a complete tear out of the galvanized plumbing and install of copper plumbing.

Well, a little over a year passed and it was winter and I was having issues with the water draining from the toilet, bathtub, utility tub, sinks, etc.  I had the septic tank pumped out a couple of times by now and it was starting to become an emergency.  I contacted the local Township offices and also the nearby City's offices to see about tapping into the sewer.  It seems that the offices spoke to each other and they figured out a way for me to get tapped into the sewer line in the alley behind the house (still not sure if that alley is owned by the city or the Township).

Since I didn't have the money to pay for such an expensive project, I was able to apply for one of the Township's grants.  These grants that the Township gives out are liens on your house that are 0% interest loans and don't need to be paid off until you sell the house.

The Township worked with a local plumbing company; A&E Plumbing...and the job got done.  Because of the pitch from the house plumbing to the sewer in the alley, they needed to install an ejector/grinder pump, which I lovingly call the shit shooter.  It grinds up all the waste and ejects it down the pipe into the sewer.

Total cost was $6500, which I ended up paying off in 2002, when I needed the Township's help again...I won't get into that story now.

In October of 2008, all the residents of the street got a letter from the Township stating that they were planning on bringing the sewer lines through.  They would be coming along the front yard and this would be the time to tap in if needed.  Well, I didn't have to tap in, I was already tapped in the back - so the sewer was brought through and I was happy that I didn't need to spend any additional money to tap in.

Over the last couple of years, our "on-call" plumber, Don has been out to the house 4 or more times fixing drainage issues.  The last time we called him was last week Tuesday, when our renter called to let us know it was happening again.  This time Don could not fix the problem.  He said it was the ejector/grinder pump and that is not in his repertoire.  So, I called the company that installed it; A&E Plumbing.

After being at the house for a couple of hours and not being able to make any headway trying to open up the pump, they decided that they needed to leave and come back the next day with a backhoe.   In the meantime, they installed a sump-pump so that my renters could still use the facilities.  The bill for that night was $675.  Uh-oh...I couldn't sleep just thinking how much this was going to cost by the end.

They came back Wednesday morning and were able to free the pump from the outer containment unit using a backhoe and a lot of leverage...as the main contractor got sprayed with sewer water from the force!  YUK!

The pump was encased in tree roots and they were surprised that it even worked for the amount of time that it had.  I guess the 3 or 4 times that Don came to fix the drainage issue was just a precursor to the major fail.  And we would need to replace the whole unit; pump and containment unit.  Could cost another $5500!

The contractor kept informing us of the progress, however he was very concerned that if we replaced this unit that we would need to continually maintain the pump since the source of the problem - the huge mature tree - was still there and looking for water.

That's when we were reminded that the Township had brought the sewer through the front of the house 2 years prior and maybe it would be a good idea to tap into the front sewer line.  However, they were unable to get ahold of anyone at the Township offices that day...they just kept leaving messages.  Curtis, the main contractor told us that if they needed to tap in under the road, it could run us closer to $10,000!  None of this was sounding very good.
 
Curtis, continued to do all the running around for us.  He called the Township and found out that when they brought the sewer line through, that they had installed a lead.  He negotiated the situation with his boss who was able to somehow have the Township waive any of the connection/frontage/tap-in fees...maybe because I had already paid for all of that back in 1998 with the first tap in, but none the less, we were tickled pink to only pay an additional $4500 and never have to deal with this problem again (as she knocks on wood)!

feeling a little crafty...

Not sure why, but I've picked up some sort of bug.  A crafty bug.  Can't remember the last time that I've done anything quite so time consuming...other than this blog - LOL.

Earlier in the summer, on one of my days off, I noticed that there was an Estate Sale on Main Street.  I decided that I'd go check it out.  While I was there I purchased some vintage Christmas ornaments.  I had purchased a couple of ornament wreaths at a holiday craft show last year...

...and thought that I might like to make one of my own - for cheap; either to give away or to sell or to keep, not sure which. These two wreaths were made by my SIL's friend from Richmond, MI.

On Labor Day weekend when we were on a camping trip that got rained and colded out, there happened to be an Estate Sale going on in that little "Thumb" town.  I convinced Jerome and our friends to stop and I was able to score even more vintage glass ornaments.

Then I thought that the Salvation Army might be a good place to go and check out to see what they had.  I scored big time because little did I know, everything was 1/2 off that day.  So, 149 ornaments cost me just under $9!

So, I created a spreadsheet with the colors and sizes and tried to figure out what color wreath I could make with all the different color ornaments that I bought.  The final choice was Blue, Pink, Silver; with hints of red and green.  I used a preformed (extruded) styrofoam wreath that I purchased at Michael's.  I ended up using 102 different size glass bulbs:
I thought that a good place to start gluing the bulbs was kind of in the middle of the wreath, but soon learned that it would have been MUCH easier to start from the bottom and work my way up.  And as usual, I waited until AFTER my first wreath to do a search on the internet to see if there were any instructions for making these types of wreaths...and of course, there are plenty.  I could give step by step instructions, but I would just be mimicking this persons blog.  I followed her instructions with the next wreath:
Only I would change the type of wreath base that she used.  She used one of those fake evergreen wreaths that you can buy at Michael's, but it makes the structure of the wreath very flexible and no amount of glue will keep everything tight.  Bulbs won't fall off, but it just seems not to be structurally sound.  So, from now on, I will make the wreaths with just a regular styrofoam wreath base, which I wrap with tinsel-ly garland: 
Here's a shot of the back:
In fact, Jerome had a great idea; just purchase a large slab of styrofoam and cut our own wreaths from that using either an electric knife or a jigsaw.  From what I can tell, you can make 3 wreaths from one styrofoam slab, and save $8 - or more if you have a Michael's coupon.

After having made all of these wreaths, I thought I'd see if I could actually sell them, so I put them in my Etsy shop.  It only costs .20 cents to list an item and if it sells, then there are commission fees to pay, but they are very minimal.  Anyway, I've sold two in a week!  I hope they arrive safe and sound.
The next thing that I decided to tackle was something that I saw in a blog I follow; a teacup bird feeder.  Very simple and I had all the materials at home, so it turned out to be a 3 minute job with an overnight drying time for the glue.
 The neighborhood squirrels love it :D

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a year...

I've made it! 1 year today!  I'm happy about that.  This part-time temporary position has lasted me longer than I thought {knock, knock...oh that's not wood...}.

It helped out a lot to conduct that little experiment on positive thinking back in February.  It "forced" me to think about all the good things that this job entailed.  I learned to appreciate it more.  I may still have my complaints, but who doesn't, right?

I still love, Love, LOVE that it's part-time.  Gives me much more time for myself and errands, etc.  Really not sure how much longer my boss is going to allow me to only work 3 days a week...he "threatens" to make me full-time every now and then, but I'm not sure they can afford all those added benefits for an additional employee - however, it does seem like things in the auto industry are starting to recover.  More of a possibility he will ask me to work 4 days.

The other day a recruiter called me on my cell and I answered it in front of my boss...not unusual since we share a cube.  I was awkward in my responses to her and he knew instantly that it was a recruiter on the other end of the line.  When the call ended, he had no issue asking all about it.  He was wondering if I was "looking" for full-time.  I told him that I think I have it pretty good here and that if full-time is something that is required, I'm willing to do it...but I do like my part-time-ness...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

fall color and winery tour...

For the past 4 years, the third week of September was dedicated to the Michigan MINI Cooper Club's only charity event; The Great Lakes Crossing.  The past three years, Jerome and I have been involved with the planning committee.

Typically the charity is Make-A-Wish, but last year we tried to accommodate some others in the club and we chose 2 local charities; one in West Michigan and one in Eastern Michigan.  This did not go over very well with some others in the club.  In order to appease them, we added Make-A-Wish to the list...but it did not satisfy them.  So much so that Jerome and I decided that we would no longer be a part of the planning committee for this charity event in the future...if anything.  Yes, it got THAT bad.

There was only one more Great Lake to "do" and that was Lake Ontario.  We gave over everything to a Canuck that is a part of our Michigan club.  However we knew just how much time and effort this event takes up and we were not very confident that our brother to the North would be able to handle it, especially with what little "committee" that he had (one other guy). As it turns out, he let his life get in the way of the event and thus, this year there was no Great Lakes Crossing.

Predicting that this event was going along the wayside, a couple of couples in the club decided that they would plan a different event; The M-22 Fall Color and Winery Tour; sans charity.  A bunch of people became very interested very quickly in this trip.  As did we.

So last weekend was the Winery Trip and it went very well.  Any time there are a bunch of MINIs caravaning down the highway with walkie-talkies, is a good time.  There were a total of 20 MINIs and 40 people.

The weather was gorgeous; couldn't have asked for any better - the trees were changing colors - the temperature was pleasant.

 {Look how the water changes color as it gets deeper}
{Stopped at the Grocer's Daughter Chocolates...}
{A beautiful barn along the way...}
 {Lil' Bo's in Traverse City - if you click on this pic, you will see that they had a sign welcoming our group...}
We celebrated Jbo's (Jerome's) 35th birthday while we were on the trip...Larry and Kris informed the staff and they brought out this wonderful cake...that Jerome had to cut into 40 pieces - Happy Birthday Hun! :D...
{We stopped at Meijer and found this funny looking.  To us it looked like a dog driving a Durango...}

 Some of the colors...however, others in our group have some really GORGEOUS pics of the fall colors...
{Photo op at the 45th Parallel...}
 Blackstar Farms Winery.  Jerome has never seen the netting over the vineyards before and he's from wine country in Cote d'Or France...
I'm not much of a wine drinker, but it was still a lot of fun.  We visited 5 wineries in the Traverse City area.  I acquired a wine glass from each winery we stopped...
 {The old Asylum...made into a mall.  Really cool place...}
 This was shot on the morning of the 10th...it looks like the edge of the earth...the sky and the water were the same color...
{Martha's Leelanau Table...I HIGHLY recommend this place.  Fantastic breakfast...}
Yum.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

quick trip out east...

Last weekend, we headed east on a mission; to pick up my son's car in New Jersey.

Both of my sisters live out east; one in Sagamore Beach, MA and one in Brooklyn, NY, so while we were on that side of the country, we thought we'd stop in for a bit.

My sister Terry and her husband Bill moved back to the US last year around this time - you may remember from an earlier post that I drove out to Boston to surprise them at the airport.  Since then, they purchased a really nice place a block away from the ocean.  This was our first time visiting this new place.
The evening we arrived after taking a short walk down to the ocean, we ate real live (at first) lobster...that was by our request.  You can't go to New England without having some lobster, can you?
We were only visiting for about 48 hours, and for one full day, my hubby was sick.  He's been working very hard for the last couple of weeks; staying up very late working on a project for work and it finally caught up to him.  So, he was in bed for the entire day on Monday.

Terry and I went to visit Plymouth and the Art Center where she is volunteering her time.  Right now is the biggest event that the Art Center throws; The Plymouth Guild 43rd Annual Juried Art Show.  I got to walk around the Center and vote for which piece would be "Best in Show" and play a little scavenger hunt game where they give you a paper with 20 or so pictures of a portion of different art pieces and you had to find them within the Center and write down the name of the art piece.  I won!  I think everyone wins if they are playing.  I suggested that they should offer 10% off a purchase of an art piece if the scavenger hunt paper is completed and correct.

I really could have used that 10% off coupon because I ended up purchasing one of the 1st Place winners for its category..."Sense of Sight" by Hollianne Wood-Carruthers.  This sculpture is made from old metal negatives (dry plate negatives or printing plates) and the wood from the printing frames.  The metal has been oxidized so each negative has a different color; purple, orange, black, white.  The only thing that I've seen on-line that is close to this sculpture is this.  I am anxiously awaiting my sisters next visit when she will be bringing me my sculpture.

Which brings me to my question of the day...What is the greatest amount of money that you've ever spent for a piece of art?  If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine :)

I'm pretty lucky - I come from a family of artists, which means I didn't have to pay for any of their pieces...and we mostly have only original art work on our walls.  We have purchased a photograph from a friend - otherwise we have friends that have actually GIVEN us their artwork; even if it's something we're specifically requesting (sort of commissioning without paying).  We have great friends!  Mostly, we spend our money on framing and in some cases, matting.

Also while there, my sister showed me her finger.  Two weeks prior, she had been walking her dogs on the beach and needed to have the one dog retrieve the other and the dogs leash which was wrapped around my sisters ring finger yanked the finger and it was sprained or something.  (There's a longer story about this having to do with my sister not being in her right mind at the time because her daughter who had spent a month and a half in Africa during the summer had just been admitted into the hospital that day with Malaria..etc, but I won't get into all of that).  It was pretty swollen, still.  She could not get her rings off and was worried about going to the hospital.  I told her that all we needed to do was go to the fire station; they have the equipment there to remove rings (I saw it on Design Star a couple of years ago).  So, as she was driving me around her neighborhood, I asked her where the fire station is located.  So we went and the paramedics took care of removing her rings without too much pain.
Anyway, the next day Jerome and I needed to leave Massachusetts for New York City.  About a 4 hour drive.  We would only be in NYC for a few hours before heading to New Jersey.  Enough time to take a gander at my sister Deni's new kitchen that my brother Ray put in last year.  It looked really nice and opened up her apartment quite a bit.  She prepared dinner; pesto ravioli with some ingredients that she grew in her urban garden.

We had plans to head out for a square dancing evening, but since Linda was waiting (in New Jersey), we thought it best to head out.  It's about a 45 minute to an hour drive from the city to where Linda lives in New Jersey.  She is the one that was housing my son's car that he purchased on the internet while he's been in Afghanistan.
We watched the first disk of the birthday project for my dad and played games and then headed to bed.

The next day Jerome and I would spend it entirely in separate cars.  We brought our walkie-talkies so that we could keep up communication with each other.  He drove Justin's car the first half and I drove it the second half.  The car does not have a radio, so you basically listened to rattling noises and a high performance engine...for 6 hours (each).  Luckily the seat was comfortable.

Anyway, it made it home and will have to make it down to North Carolina in November and then it's all his :D

Mission Accomplished - for real!
**I was just informed by a close friend that the above image is disrespectful.  I thought it was funny...but to be more "non-partisan", I am adding another equally disrespectful image below.  I say disrespectful because it didn't happen.

I was really only trying to convey that MY Mission was Accomplished - for real.

And then my husband reminded me that this is my blog and I can put whatever I want in it; whether it offends people or not.  This is why people have blogs...I will try to keep this in mind for future posts.