Sunday, December 30, 2012

Garden Art

I'm already beginning to think about summer 2013 and what I want to do with my garden. Because I was gone all last summer, and because of the heat wave across the Midwest, the flower seeds I scattered a few days before leaving for BTUSFMS didn't produce much. I came home to a couple of zinnias and a couple of Black Eyed Susans. So, my plan is to make this summer the Summer of My Most Magnificent and Awesome Garden. For the SOMMMAAG to happen, I have to start preparing now. The first piece of garden art took shape today: turning a throwaway bicycle wheel into a flower. I'm going to hang this on my garden fence.

My Red Cabinet

After putting the fabric panels in and looking at the cabinet for three days, I decided I liked the cabinet better with just the dark interior. And after sewing a panel, putting it on spring rods, and covering the space on the lower part, I took it off to leave that space open. Sometimes I shake my head over the hours invested in a project and that investment not being followed through on, but in the end, what do those hours really matter? They were my hours to give. 

Now we have a nice piece added to our kitchen/dining space. It offers a coziness that was missing, and it also gave me a space to display Lovely Beautiful Daughter's soup bowls made for Empty Bowls. Other pieces in the cabinet came from our travels: to China, to Costa Rica, and to Florida. It's a cabinet full of memories.

While I was working on it, another memory was created, one we will laugh over for many, many years. Christmas day, I was putting on the final coating of wax then sanding to get the smooth, aged texture that shows up much better than what can be seen in the photo. At one point, I did a sniff, sniff, smelling what seemed to me to be a strong, natural gas odor. Angel Baby was in the living room, watching TV, and he had the gas fireplace going. I thought maybe I was just smelling it, though we'd been using the fireplace for weeks and had never smelled anything like this the whole time. A few minutes later, the odor was even stronger. I turned off the fireplace, and the smell began to dissipate. I continued on with my waxing and sanding. Several hours later, Hubby came in and started a burner on the gas stove to cook dinner. The strong, natural gas odor wafted through the kitchen/dining area again. Concerned, Hubby called the gas company. They advised us to get out of the house, so the boys, the dog, and I went to the garage (detached and separated from the house by a side yard). Gas Company Guy showed up quickly and walked through the house with Hubby. They checked the furnace, the fireplaces, and the stove. Nothing was registering as being abnormal on Gas Company Guy's gas meters. In fact, he was quite impressed with how little carbon monoxide was coming from the fireplace flame. Then he looked around and asked, "Is someone doing crafts?" Hubby showed him my paint and waxes being used on the cabinet. "It's the wax," Gas Company Guy said. He went on to explain how the wax has a petroleum base, and the fumes from it were mixing with the heat from the fireplace. The warmer the fumes got, the more a vapor was being created. That's what we were smelling. "It's harmless," he assured Hubby. When Hubby came to rescue us from the garage, he got quite the laugh over me and my "crafts" causing such a stir on Christmas day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And Just Like That A Year Has Passed

I can't believe a year has slipped by since Mom left this world. When I woke up at 5:21, one of my first thoughts was how a year ago today, at 4:07 am, my cell phone rang. I knew it was my sister. I knew she was going to tell me Mom had passed away. The days that have made up the year since that early morning call have all contained one constant: loss. In the wake of my loss, my family's loss, one positive happened: a sense of purpose. What started with a bike ride across the US to raise funds for MS research has turned into a desire to continue raising awareness of what MS is and to advocate for those living with MS. How this happens is yet undetermined. I'm hoping during 2013, the answer to the question of how? comes to light.

I'm not sure what my next move will be. While I dream of having the women's specific bike shop, I haven't proceeded with the business plan because Negative Voice in my head keeps insisting I'll never get financial assistance. Logical Voice says, "Jenn, you don't know this for sure, and you won't ever know until you have a plan in place and present it to someone who can give you either a definite yes or a definite no." My mom always used to tell me, "You won't know until you actually try," and I even use the You Have to Actually Try card on my own kids these days, so if I don't play this card myself, that makes me a hypocrite, right? When I sit back and think about the bike shop, I'm the only one who doesn't believe it can become a reality. All of my friends do. One even gave me a great idea to make a part of the shop. Another told me she couldn't wait to bring her daughter in to buy a new bike. So why am I hesitating?

Because of the hesitation, I have been putting Plan B into place. This plan is taking shape and includes everything I'd like to do regarding cycling except the MS advocacy. Ohhhhh, wait a second! I take that back! The MS advocacy is actually a part of Plan B as I signed up to do a segment of Bike the US for MS Northern Tier. Come mid June 2013, I will be riding the Indiana/Illinois portion of the tour--six days of cycling and camping right in my back yard--so I will be raising funds for the ride and spreading the word just like I want to continue doing. Perhaps Plan B is the way I'm supposed to go.

The direction my life is going is because of my mom. Though she is no longer with me in the physical form, she is definitely with me in the spiritual: still nudging me, still encouraging me, and still whispering, "You won't know until you actually try."

Monday, December 17, 2012

So Many Fabrics to Choose From!

I decided to use fabric to cover the back of the cabinet, behind the shelves, so I took some time today to browse the rows of fabrics at the local hobby store. Tons of choices! Too many, really. I picked out three and asked for 1/8th of a yard of each just to tack them against the back and see how they look. Of the three, the black with bright flowers is the one I like most, with the white/flowers coming in a close second. I don't like the white/Paris motif at all, so that one's out of the running. I'm actually considering returning to the store tomorrow to purchase three more swatches; I saw several other patterns I really like, and I don't want to settle just yet.

Another idea I had was to wait until I paint the entire cabinet to see what happens with the color. Lovely Beautiful Daughter and I are going to take a short road trip tomorrow to see about paint. The only place that carries it, a small second-hand store, is about 20 miles west. I'm going to talk with the owner to get her input on painting and how best to go about making the china cabinet look as awesome as possible. According to the paint manufacturer's website, no sanding is needed before using this paint. I'm hoping this is true. Not having to sand such a large piece would definitely make a difference in how long it will take to rehab it.

Thinking about what to do with this cabinet helped me get through my root canal this morning. I cycled to the dentist, enjoying the brisk air, and was ushered right in upon arrival. While Doc did his work, I thought about what color would work best in our kitchen/dining area. I also thought about how I finally have a place to put my turn-table and albums, and I can listen to my vinyls every single day. All because someone decided to throw this wonderful piece of furniture on the curb, and I happened to see it because I was cycling by. The root canal was over before I knew it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Curbside Freebie

Found another treasure while cycling today. Thankfully Lovely Beautiful Daughter and Funny Delightful Son were both home to accompany me back to the treasure (a mere two blocks away), load it up (it's heavier than I thought it was going to be), and bring it home (can't wait to see Hubby's face when he sees it in the garage). Already have some ideas for giving it new life. Should be a fun project.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What I Learned Today

During the ride for BTUSFMS, we stopped in Charlottesville, VA for an appearance at the James Q. Miller Multiple Sclerosis Clinic. While there, several individuals living with MS spoke, and several of the cyclists were interviewed about taking part in BTUSFMS. I was approached about being interviewed, but I declined. At that time, I couldn't maintain my composure when talking about why I was cycling. Mom's death still hurt, and thinking about how she suffered the last few weeks of her life brought on the tears.

Today I presented my experience with BTUSFMS to a fairly large group. When I began, I explained why I decided to do the ride--for my mom--and I felt so strong, so confident when I explained how she had been diagnosed with MS, how she eventually lost her mobility, and how MS has no cure. While a twinge of sadness grabbed my heart when I thought about how she lost the battle to MS, I was able to continue on, showing the group what an amazing summer I had cycling across the US.At the end, I fielded questions. In the process, I learned how one gentleman used to live in Pittsburg, KS, and how another gentleman knew exactly what I meant when I said Telluride, CO was a sparkling gem nestled between the mountains. I walked away from this morning's presentation knowing I had connected with many in the room.

I am and always will be grateful to BTUSFMS for what it is doing. Not only is it raising much needed funds for MS research, but it is giving people like me an opportunity to find the strength within to face life head on. Because of the ride, I'm more confident. Because of the ride, I'm not afraid of the unknown. Because of the ride, I know I am capable of achieving whatever I set out to do. Most of all, I can think about and talk about Mom without succumbing to the tears. Her story helps others, which is what's most important, and I hope I can keep telling it for a long time to come.

Friday, December 7, 2012


This is for a presentation I'm giving in a couple of days. Still have some work to do, but it's coming along. Going back through all the photos and remembering the days of the ride create a mixture of emotions, mostly happiness. Now that the semester is nearly complete, and if the weather holds out during break, I'm looking forward to getting some longer rides in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My First Interview

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in an interview about my writing, and during the conversation, I realized I really love talking about the pieces I'm working on. If you'd like to hear that interview, you can do so by clicking here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another Recycling Project

I went to the crafts store today with the intention of buying a bracelet holder to display my bracelets. The holder wasn't expensive, only $7.99, but when I looked at it, a eureka moment occurred. I had just put a paper towel tube in the recycling bin, and a heavier cardboard tube from plastic wrap. Why not make my own holder from freebies? So instead of buying the holder, I put the money into some beads to use for some necklaces I have in mind to make, beads I wouldn't have bought this time around if I'd bought the holder.

Initially I'd intended to use one of the many event t-shirts I've collected over the last three years as the fabric to cover the cardboard tubes, but when I began rifling through my closet, I remembered a velvet jacket I had that I've not worn in several years. The last time I wore it, I was walking across campus when it began to rain. The jacket still shows all the little spots where the rain hit it. I loved that jacket, hence not being able to part with it in more than two years, but now part of it has taken on new life. I know I'll make another bracelet holder, so another section of the jacket will be used for it. Somewhere along the way, the buttons will be put to use, too.