Saturday, July 31, 2010

Before and After: Fireplace Mantel

When we moved into our new home, it came with something we’d never had before… a fireplace!

It started as a blank slate…

I put things up and took them down almost as quickly. Then I came up with something that was “alright” but not quite where I wanted it.

So the other day I pulled everything down and started over again. I used some of the same elements that had been there before and brought new things into the mix.

And I came up with this!

It sets the mood for the living room… in fact, the whole house.


This little case I picked up at Home Goods says it all!

The vase was purchased in Budapest, Hungary. The candle sticks are from my sister. The “candles” are not candles at all! They are blown glass tumblers I bought in Mexico. I put them there to check for height and loved the color. So they stayed.

The little toucan next to them is an ocarina I bought in Costa Rica. That’s where I saw my first toucan and I was delighted with them (but they look nothing like Toucan Sam! LOL).

This bronze bust is a Maasai morani (warrior) that Himself brought home from his military trip to Kenya in ’98. He didn’t realize I have quite an interest in the Maasai culture. He does now! We sponsor two Maasai children to Compassion.

I brought back the balalaika from my trip to Russia in ’94.

And the clock came from Home Goods. The large face tells the time at home. The smaller faces have photos of places I want to go and tell the time there. They are (clockwise from top left) Mt Everest base camp, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, and Loch Ness in Scotland.

A future project is to replace the mantel piece with an old beam from a barn. I have my eye on one… just have to wait for them to take it down.

Now I have to work on the hearth area!

I've linked this to the Saturday Night Special link-up at Funky Junk Interiors. If you haven't visited her site... it's worth looking at! She is SO creative!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Bring Your Own Tree" bonsai workshop

I really enjoy being able to take bonsai workshops at the shows. It is such an opportunity to get some one-on-one time with really talented bonsai artists.

As I mentioned Saturday, this year Guy Guidry was our guest judge and workshop instructor. Guy comes from the New Orleans area and it’s not surprising his specialty is bald cypress. Two of the workshop participants even brought cypress to work on. I didn’t know this (my negligence) but it didn’t really matter as I didn’t have a cypress anyway (my little cypress forest didn’t make it thru the winter).

We all gathered in the work room and spread out our tools. It’s always interesting to see what everyone brings. Of the seven participants we had 2 bald cypress, 1 dawn redwood, 1 azalea, 2 junipers (different varieties) and my elm.

v. Zeldova carpinifolia (medium sized tree native to the Caucasus Mountains of extreme SE Europe).

And my little tree.

First thing Guy did as he worked with each person was to sketch what form he thought the tree should be trained towards. How cool! (I have a new B&W for my art wall!)

Next step for those of us who brought deciduous trees was to defoliate them. That’s right… pluck ALL their leaves off! This causes them to rebud and produce denser foliage with smaller leaves

One does not realize how many leaves even a tiny tree has…

When I was finished I had a naked tree.

Then it was time to wire it. Every supporting branch had to be wrapped in wire so the branch could be bent to create its new shape.

An elm as a lot of branches…

Once done with that, Guy came over and helped bend each branch to the position it should be in.

From there, it was done… for a while. I am to let it regrow and this fall repot it in a bonsai pot and pinch each set of leaf brackets back to the last two buds.
Next spring it should really pop out. Then I will have to take this wire off and rewire (to allow for growth of the trunk and branches without the wire cutting into them).

BTW, does anyone else think that Guy bears a resemblance to…

… actor Scott Bakula??

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

I had to memorize that poem (and his 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Eve') when I was in 5th grade. It has stayed with me.

I have always wondered about "I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:…" Was his sigh one of contentment or regret?

I too have always chosen the less traveled path. And for the most part, am content.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nashville Bonsai Club 2010 Show

This weekend is the big bonsai show my club puts on each year. We have it at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. This year it coincides with an exhibit by stain glass artist Dale Chihuly so we had a LOT of visitors.

There are bonsai exhibitors from many states with their beautiful trees (52 trees are being shown this year). I hope next year I will have a tree or two ready to exhibit.

There are merchants selling trees, accent plants, tools and bonsai pots.

There are contests. This year it is a styling contest where the contestants are each given a juniper and have something like 4 hours to turn it into a bonsai tree.

And there are workshops. This year we had a “bring your own tree” styling class taught by Guy Guidry – who is well known for the beautiful bonsai he creates.

As soon as I finish sorting my photos, I’ll show you what happened with the tree I brought for the workshop.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Now I'll Never Roam Alone Again!

I get a kick out of the Travelocity “Roaming Gnome”. Especially this ad:

I know that “I’ve got to get out of here…” feeling!

I’ve always thought it was a hoot to have a “travel mascot” to take on trips. For a while I brought along my Beanie Baby dragon… but people kind of give you funny looks when you’re in your 40s and have a stuffed toy. (Kill joys!)

But WHO could give the stink-eye to the Roaming Gnome?

So I hit the Travelocity web site and sure enough – they have a web store! And in that web store was not one, but TWO sizes of Roaming Gnomes!! Score!,,TRAVELOCITY%7C1751%7Cmkt_main,00.html

After much consideration of packing space (we will not even get into ‘available space’ and my overpacking husband…) and airline weight restrictions, I decided to go with the 8” gnome. Travel size!

Gotta admit tho, that 18” one is calling my name really, really loud.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Words Don’t Mean Anything

“The words we speak to each other are not empty. Speech is an action. It fills the silence, fills in the blanks, and connects the lines between thoughts and responses.”

So starts a post by Jane Devlin at

This posting of Jane’s has made me think long and hard about words and how we use them.

The more powerful the word, the more people try to use it to make themselves and their lives more dramatic. But in all this hyperbole, these words have been rendered as powerless as Samson with a buzz cut.

Love. What a person feels when they see their new baby… not when they see a cute pair of shoes.

Hate. Kenya, post election 2007, as one tribe murdered their neighbors of another tribe with stones and knives… not what one feels when the traffic light turns red.

Hero. The soldier who took the fire so his team mates could escape… not the millionaire football player who spends a few days at a kid’s camp.

Devastation. Port au Prince, Haiti on 12 Jan 2010, 6pm… not what a living room looks like after a 5 year olds birthday party.

How can a society understand the depth of an event or a feeling if the words needed to explain it have been applied to candy bars and a bad hair cut? How can your spouse or children know what you really mean with you love them and you love Candice Olsen?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recent "Nifty, Thrifty" Finds

Because I have picked up some wonderful things lately thru ‘thrifting and gifting’, I’m going to try my first “link up party”. Coastal Charm has “Nifty, Thrifty Tuesdays” and these finds certainly qualify as that!

Hit the jackpot at my sister’s home. She GAVE me these first 4 things

First are these cool blown glass plate chargers. There are 8 blue ones and 4 yellow.

I can’t believe she was tired of this cute corn on the cob plate. Don’t you love the place to hold the corn picks?

And she decided she could no longer use this desk set. Yippee!! I was SO excited to get it! Mom bought this from a second hand shop when I was around 1 year old. That’s been a while…

The other thing she parted with was this telephone stand that was my great grandmothers. After a bit of refinishing I know exactly where I’m going to put it.

Found this little bench at a yard sale just down the road. The lady said it was an old piano bench. The top has seen better days but for $3 it came home with me. I have plans for it…

This little shelf is from the same sale. Not sure what I will do with it but for another $3 it’s mine!

Knew as soon as I saw it what I’m going to do with this $1 blast from the past. It won’t look the same when I’m done with it.

This burlap was wrapped around a large plant I purchased. I bet there is 10 yards of it!! I’ve some plans for this freebie!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Purpose of Relationships

Relationships are something I’ve been considering a lot lately. I’ve realized in some I need to step up to the plate more. And in some I need to disengage. Some need repairing. And some need to end.

The quote “no man is an island” is true and you have a purpose in the lives of your family, your friends and other people you know. Relationships are a two way street – you give and you receive. A part of figuring out your purpose is in regards to others is to also know what your purpose is NOT.

As a wife, daughter, sister and aunt I am to support my family. To help them in ways that are healthy for them. To come along side during difficult times. To be a “safe place” for them.

And they should be the same for me.

I know well that in so many situations it just can’t be done. And this is where knowing what your purpose is not is so important. Your purpose is not to be abused in any manner. Your purpose is not to enable harmful behaviors. Sometimes you just have to “love them from a distance”.

To a lesser degree, the same is to be expected for and from a friend. Now mind you, I am not talking about acquaintances or Facebook “friends”. I’m talking about true friendship – a bond that goes past “Hi! How are you?” because they already know how you are.

Then there is ‘everyone else’.

They are in your life for a purpose – for you and for them. But that reason and purpose is quite limited.

A co-worker. A fellow organization member. Friend of a friend. Class mate. Interact within the relationship and enjoy it. But you do not have to go beyond that. Don’t let it become a burden and don’t be burdensome.

And sometimes when you examine it, you’ll find quite a few in the “know them” category are – to be blunt – drama queens and kings who expect you to fulfill their needs without ever feeling compelled to give back.

"Never allow someone to be your priority while you're just their option."

I am finding the relationships that count are so much more meaningful since I have recognized the roles I play in the life of each person I know.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Guest Blog: Himself "Man Overboard"

This is something Himself sent a couple days ago... There's always something happening up there! (Up there being Bristol Bay, AK where he is working salmon season).

Tough day today. Got to bed at midnight and was woke up at 2:35 AM for a knee injury. Finished that at 4:00 AM and was going lay back down until my alarm went off at 4:30. Never got those 30 minutes. That's OK- I figured I'd nap when my morning clinic ended at 0630 hrs.


I got a call from the Bridge ref 'some fisherman fell into the sea and was floating with the current 20 minutes before being rescued'...and they were steaming as fast as they can to the Indy for me to stabilize a hypothermic patient.


Air temps hover around 50 degrees, water temps lower than that. Over the radio we tell them to strip off his wet clothes, get anything warm around this guy that you can and lay him down. And get here as fast as you can.

Our deckhands & engineers teamed up to receive the gillnetter ship in very rough seas as I did a quick glance in my paramedic book for hypothermia protocol. Seeing different levels of treatment in my med book, I set up my defibrillator...just in case. Had IV bags out to microwave for extra warmth (around the patient as well as a warm IV if needed). Then we waited...

Out of all the fishing boats visible on the water eventually here come TWO gill netters-one towing the other. The wet hypothermic dude is in the second boat. The first boat comes alongside and releases the second gillnetter to drift into us because he is 'not under power'. Drifting means, well...drifting, and soon this powerless gillnetter drifts right into our sponson. THUNK! It then continues to beat on it due to very rough seas. The towing gillnetter peels off and sat out 50 feet...bouncing in the waves. The thunking gillnetter (with the patient) soon gets lines thrown to-and-from it by our deckhands and theirs. Only partial success- now in this position it keeps slamming into our steel sponsons and an increasingly miffed gillnetter captain barks orders to, "Get the #&%*$ tire-bumpers in PLACE before we break APART!!!" Watching his wood and fiberglass hull crash against our steel hull, I had to agree.

His three deckhands scramble to accommodate while our guys try to put extra 'buoy-bumpers' in place. Me? I'm thinking, "How am I going to get onto that boat to check the patient?!"

Someone comes up with the idea to fit me with a harness and snap-link a rope onto it. (That way if I DO fall into the drink, at least I can be fished out.) Then they seated me onto the 'rescue scoop litter' and crane me over. As I was lowered, I hopped that last 18 inches down onto this bucking rodeo boat- trying to time my landing with the bouncing deck. Once aboard I work my way to an open hatch. With barks & growls still coming from within, I figure I'm about to meet the captain.

With the Indy folks working to 'make this happen' safely, (including doling out the safety line rope I'm attached to) I get onto this boat and 'go below'...dragging the safety line behind me. Stepping into the dark interior, I see a 60-ish dude standing there (the captain) who is trying unsuccessfully to hold his gillnetter steady. I move past him to their 'sleep hold' to my patient.

Except no patient...

I ask this grouchy captain, "Where is the man who fell overboard?!"

The captain--amid bucking waves, blaring radios and yelling people says, "It's ME!"

I look at him like, "Say again?"

Him: "Yes, it is me! I'm the one who fell overboard!"

Me: "You drifted in that cold water for 20 minutes? What did you have ON?!"

Him: "This-just regular clothes."

Me: "AND??!"

Him: "I floated."

Me: "And, how are you feeling NOW?!"

Him: "OK."

Knowing I should do something, I take his temp with my 'hypothermia thermometer'--which shows lower readings for hypothermic patients. Waiting the proper time for a reading to take effect I studied this guy. If disposition was a factor, hypothermia wasn't an issue. But I checked anyway. Temp? Almost normal. Of course, with this guy who KNOWS what is normal because he was still barking orders to his crew with the thermometer sticking out the side of his mouth and bobbing up and down to the rhythm of various emphatic and colorful commands.

I then take his electronic vitals (pulse rate, SaO2) amid seriously bucking seas while everyone else are standing by with bated breath and ready to call the Coasties in case the man-overboard-guy 'goes unconscious and needs to be medevaced.'

I declare him fit to live a few more years after telling him don't EVER do that again... It turns out this is the second time he has done this. Floated away.

Then I get ready to be lifted back off this little bucking bronco ship. And none too soon-I was starting to get seasick. Mission accomplished.

Oops-not quite. Before I left that little ship Captain Grouchy asked me to check one of his men. Might as well check him, the barky ol' captain certainly didn't need me...) This guy? He had a raging ear infection and the captain-softening a bit out of concern, had asked me to 'take a look' at this deckhand.

Upon getting back on our ship, I determine to run back upstairs to get this guy some stuff before they cut the ship away- a priority for them due to the beating it was taking against our hull. Our own captain wanted a 'report of events' concerning our 'patient' but that could wait-let me take care of Red first. I takeoff...forgetting I am still attached to...something. With me zooming into the ship from the sponson I suddenly become aware of lots of yelling. NOW what? Thank goodness I realized it wasn't more yelling between the gillnetter crews and our crew.

It was our guys yelling at ME! I stopped just in time before being yanked to a stop and unhooked myself as if I meant to do this the whole time. They didn't buy it for a moment...

End result? Their deckhand should be recovering, their captain is dry (for now) and I was back in my safe clinic.

Time for a nap...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chihuly At Cheekwood

A few years ago I had the opportunity to see the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. It was fantastic! So I was very excited when I learned there would be a Chihuly exhibit in Nashville at the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens!

Yesterday I made my first visit (there will be several!) and it was wonderful. Even if it was 950* out! OK, OK! 95* out! And it was not a dry heat…

I didn’t see all the pieces, wanted to leave some to discover on other trips. Hopefully, cooler trips.

Here’s a little Chihuly eye candy to enjoy! If you’re in the Nashville area, I highly recommend seeing it! It will be here until 31 Oct.

Macchia in the Botanic Hall. Name comes from the Italian word for “spotted”.

The Saffron Tower. Over 27’ tall and weighs about 4,600 lbs.

“Cattails” in the cannas.

The sphinx seems to be gazing at the glass.

Silvered purple “Herons”

So much like the spiky petals of some of the water lilies.

Erbium Fiori – one of my favorites. The color is incredible.

With the lotus.

A beautiful place for a dragonfly to rest.

This piece is about 10’ tall. Love those colors!

“Bamboo Reeds” Fantastic the way the light reflects from them.

“Niijima Floats” LOVE these!! This definitely gives me an idea for my garden!

“Boat” Talk about a ‘boat load of treasure’!

It reflected perfectly.

One of his impressive chandeliers. I wonder how they dust it…

“The Sun” This is one of the pieces that is illuminated for ‘Chihuly Nights’. I bet it’s wonderful. I’m going to try to make one of the night displays.