Saturday, December 31, 2005

Counting Down to 2006 ...

Get in on the Times Square action here.

Or, indulge in a little whimsy for your countdown here. (Thanks to Betsy3491 at Verla Kay's for this one).


As long as I got to sleep until at least 9 a.m. on January 1st, I have never had a New Year's Eve I have regretted the next day.

This is probably because I don't drink.

But I have always been around people, whether family or friends, for at least a portion of the time before those last milliseconds of the year.

No matter if we were in the middle of a riotous board game session (college friends); vegging out in front of Star Wars (with my brothers); or eating copious amounts of chips and dip while re-hashing family tales, watching the Twilight Zone marathon, and tuning the TV to the ball just before it drops (extended family); I have always been surrounded by people. Tonight, I celebrate alone.

Which is why, minus the assumption that we all give in to consumption (of alcohol, that is), I found this radio clip by Brian Unger on NPR to be so amusing.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ms. Procrastination

That's me. Yup.

But at least I've done a few things right this season, for instance, in direct response to the article I linked to about thank you notes, I wrote them. Handwritten, on a thank you note card. This isn't so much a pat on the back as a confession: I am the world's worst good-intentioned procrastinator.

This might be a good New Year's Resolution ... procrastination--Be Gone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Weather Report

Got a call from my mom just before dinner time saying to watch out for extreme weather conditions, as predicted by the Weather Channel.

I told her that yes, it had started to thunder and lightning, but not to worry, that I was heading out for a little bit down the road, but I would be home before the storm really hit.

Not so! Somewhere in between 5:30 and 6:00 EST, I drove through our subdivision and the rain started to drizzle, then rain in earnest, then pour, and then ... I had to stop my car when the rain sounded awfully loud on my roof and seemed to be gathering in chunks on my windshield.

It was, as you can see in this picture, hail.

Needless to say, I hadn't driven even a minute down the road when I had to turn back around and wait it out at home until the storm dissipated around 7:30. The hail, fortunately, stopped before I had to make a dash back inside the house. But I managed to get this snapshot of our side door out of the garage, and the "precipitation" that gathered there in less than two minutes.


No Thank Yous


Whatever happened to the Thank You Note?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Remembering Reality

I've been trying to avoid this wretched thing called reality. It haunts me, even in my dreams. Back to work. Back to smiling and nodding and handing back change or calling out "order up!" Back to remembering that I am, indeed, all too human and frail and undisciplined.

Don't get me wrong: I loved Christmas, every second of it. I loved the food and the family gathering and the presents and the tacky wooden lawn ornaments that mysteriously appeared on my across-the-street neighbor's front lawn one day. I loved the Christmas Eve time of family worship in which we read the Christmas story and sang old-fashioned carols out of the same booklet we have used for nearly 20 years. I loved remembering that Christmas is more than jingle bells and red-nosed reindeer, and that the best gift of all came wrapped in swaddling clothes.

But it was almost too good to last. My brother has driven back to his apartment over 4 hours away, my parents took down the Christmas trees and packed up the decorations before traveling to visit extended family. As for me, I'm heading back to work at Ye Olde Big Retail Store tonight, just in time to handle the rush of returns from the Christmas present that didn't work.

So now, as the New Year looms, I'm looking back and remembering all the events of this past year, a year that has changed my life.

Ten months ago, shortly after I started recording my life events on this blog, I quit my job as a graphic designer. It all started when I realized that I wasn't happy and I was literally becoming ill from stress. A split second later, I realized the only way for me to regain my health and happiness was to leave my dream job. A day later, reality set in and I had to break my lease, eventually move in with my parents again, and begin hunting for employment. I got a job, was laid off from the job, found two more jobs to make ends meet, and you know the rest.

Now I'm feeling restless again, making me ask, is it just me? Am I giving in to discontent? Or is this God, nudging me on to my next adventure? I don't know. I really don't.

There's no shame in working food service or retail--I know that. It's honest work rewarded by honest wages. The problem is my creative spirit and intellect are feeling a wee bit neglected lately. Quite frankly, only three months after starting my two jobs, I've nearly mastered my job descriptions, and now I'm, well ... bored.

So I have a few options:

a) Start seriously looking for a professional job (or at least one that will support a lease and health insurance payments).

b) Quit one of my two jobs in order to spend more time focusing on my writing and small business.

c) Go back to school for a Master's degree or specialized training.

d) Do nothing. Keep on keepin' on until I sense a more clear direction to move.

Last time I started listing options for my dilemma, my office closed down and I ended up on unemployment. I hope this time my "clear direction" isn't quite so dramatic, but, then again, I did get the picture when it was spelled out for me like that!

This is one problem I have when it comes to looking to the future or back toward the past: I over-analyze everything in an effort to understand it.

After Christmas, Part 2

Oh, Christmas Tree

Monday, December 26, 2005

After Christmas, Part 1

And the snowmen were laid by the chimney with care
Relieved that St. Nicholas at last had been there.

(The image quality isn't the best, but bear with me ... I got a digital camera for Christmas and I'm still learning. Such fun!)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

For unto us a child is born ...

... unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

May the Prince of Peace be with you.

~* Merry Christmas *~

Friday, December 23, 2005

Because She Makes Me Happy

... and I need a smile.

Here we are, my beloved Zoe and I. This picture was taken by a good friend of mine last year around Christmas. I've used it as my avatar on a couple of forums, and I'm planning on handing it out with my Christmas cards this year (no, I have not sent them yet! I figure if the wise men took so long to get to Jesus, my card can wait a day or two as well *grin*)

Happy Christmas Eve - Eve.

Shop 'Til You Drop

I love Christmas, but this is getting ridiculous. The Big Retail Store did $8k over its goal today. My register alone had almost $10k in sales from the entire day. Oh, and I didn't clock out until about midnight--30 minutes later than scheduled.

And before I ended up there, the Christmas Crazies had hit the tea room earlier today. Kids were running around and screaming, customers were allergic to numerous items on the menu and sent things back two or three times, people waited and waited to get seated, and waited some more for their drinks to be filled and their orders to arrive because we only had two servers on the floor.

Meanwhile,the cook and I were running around like madwomen, bumping into each other, hunting down dishes to put things on, and generally making a mess that would rival that of a tornado, had one ripped through the kitchen.

Rough day, all around.

Monday, December 19, 2005

And inside ...

Can't believe I'm still working on this. I need to send them out, already! At least when I get home this evening after work (around midnight) I will be able to PDF the files and print them off on my iMac. I've been using my parents' PC, which has the Adobe Creative Suite 2 on it, but they do not have a color printer, and I do not have the CD for the driver so I can simply bring mine upstairs to connect with the PC. Then again, I probably could find it online. We'll see.

Regardless, this is the inside of the card. I have to stop playing with Photoshop now and get ready to go to work for the second time today! It's going to be a looonnngggg week. I'm scheduled five nights out of seven, in addition to working during the day. I have the pleasure (note sarcasm) of working an 8-hour shift at the Retail Store on Christmas Eve and will undoubtably end up working on the day after Christmas, otherwise known as Returns Day. But it's all good. And it will bring in the $$$, so I'm grateful for that, anyway.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Card 2005 ... Front

This is the revised front of my 2005 card, as of right now. I'm still working on a few things ...

List of elements used so far:

- Acrylic paints on art paper
- Old-Fashioned Floral Illustrations (Dover Publications, copyright 1990)
- Adobe Illustrator CS2
- Adobe Photoshop CS2

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Crazy, Klutzy, Day

Yesterday was, without a doubt, an embarrassing one for me.

I started it off with a good ol' fashioned phone explosion. I had been booking a reservation at the tea room while cleaning up my mess from the scones I had made, so the phone was propped up between my shoulder and ear while I worked. In the middle of confirming the date, the phone slipped off my shoulder and crashed to the floor, the battery cover flew one direction, the battery another, and the phone ended up under the bread warmers.

According to the kitchen manager, the look on my face was priceless. She lost it, and started laughing, and I joined in, collapsing to my knees on the kitchen floor because I was trying to pick up the pieces while out of breath from laughing so hard. We collected the pieces, and no sooner had we jammed the battery back into place then the lady called back, sounding a little confused. I had to try my hardest not to laugh while talking to her on the phone, although a couple giggles came out, so I ended up having to explain the situation to her.

Then, once the Friday rush had started, I began working on the orders that came in from the first tables and ladled vegetable beef soup into the soup cups for one table's side dishes. The order went out, the day went on, and it wasn't until halfway through lunch that one of the waitors asked which pot was the veggie beef so he could get a cup for a customer. I pointed to the pot I had served out of, and the kitchen manager/cook pointed to another. We looked at each other in surprise.

I had served sphaghetti sauce as veggie beef soup! In my defense, it did have hamburger in it, just like the vegetable beef, and the vegetable beef was also tomato based, just like the sauce. What is so funny about it is that nobody complained! Fortunately, I only served the "vegetable beef soup" to one table that I can think of, but I was extremely embarrassed when I told the owner at our Christmas party last night about my soup incident.

And ... on the way to the Christmas party, I rode with another girl and helped get us both lost by giving misguided directions.

It was my very own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I think I'll move to Australia.

Actually, it did end on a good note. The food we ate at the bed and breakfast that night was excellent, and I enjoyed hanging out with my coworkers for the night. They're a fun bunch of people. And something amazing happened to me! I won a game! I NEVERwin games, or prizes, or anything at all. The prize I won was pretty amazing, too: a portable DVD player. Seriously. I would have never dreamed I'd ever have one.

Later, when the kitchen manager gave us all small gifts, and mine included some of those stretchy knit gloves, a coworker teased me that I had gotten a portable DVD player and been like "ohhhh, cool," while I had gotten gloves and been like "ohhhh! wow! I've been needing these!". I don't think he quite understood how amazed how surprised and grateful I had been about the DVD player ... I couldn't say anything else. I had been speechless! (And that doesn't happen very often).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Christmas Card Artwork

I was an art minor, not an art major in school, so it might show in these impressionistic renderings of my sketches, but I'm happy with them. My favorite is the alabastar jar in the middle for the frankincense. They're going to be assembled with the rest of the card soon, on a deep blue painted background. What do you think?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Cards Are Comin'

Just some rough sketches for my 2005 Christmas card. The idea behind it is four gifts for the King ... gold, frankincense, myrrh ... and my heart.

tending the fire

Most Sunday evenings, when my work schedule allows, I would be driving to church right now, but instead I am the Keeper of the Flame at home ... literally.

My parents' house's heat pump just up and died on us yesterday afternoon, just as the cold front moved in and two weeks after the home owner's warranty expired. So, my dad stayed home this morning and I am keeping an eye on things this evening. Every twenty minutes or so I poke around in the embers and rearrange the wood, adding a piece or two as needed.

Meanwhile, we have a kerosene heater in the garage (to help keep pipes from freezing) and a space heater that we move around with us to pick up where the fire leaves off. Tomorrow, the heating men are supposed to come and take a look at things. I hope that they fix whatever is broken before it gets even colder!

So, in between my fireplace duties and spending some time with my dog, I am taking advantage of the unexpected free time by sitting down to paint the design for my Christmas cards. I will upload some sketches later on.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I've looked forward to this for two years!

I am a HUGE fan of the Chronicles of Narnia. My mother read the entire series out loud at least three times to my brothers and me. I grew up on the BBC videos, and, at one time in my life, I wanted to believe with all my heart that if I just found the right wardrobe, I might end up in Narnia.

Today, I did. I convinced my family to go with me to the opening day of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was a wonderful movie. Go see it!

Although I couldn't help comparing this big-screen version of the story to that of the book and the BBC production, I was, overall, completely enthralled by the actors, scenery, special effects, and ... Aslan. Wow.

Afterward, if you are at all familiar with the rest of the series, go to this website and take a quiz to find out which Narnia character you are. (I'm Prince Rillian!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh, goody! I can't wait!

Went out to the "Big City" tonight with my youngest brother. Combined errands that needed running with a Christmas-shopping excursion that turned up not a single present. But, all was not lost, dear readers! We ate some scrumptious Chinese food and my after-dinner cookie contained a "fortune" that was just too sweet to keep to myself, so I'm sharing it with you!

Hope your dream comes true; I know I'm all a-flutter hoping mine is just around the corner!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dear Santa

Okay, so while I don't celebrate the Man in Red on December 25, I do enjoy a good Santa Claus story or two. And I'm not above writing him a letter!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Only Cold I Want to See

If the weather outside is going to be frightful, I'm gonna have to ask, Mr. Weatherman, that it include some snow. LOTS of snow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's December!

Despite the fact that I am always cold, and therefore shun cold weather as much as possible, I do love the spirit of the holiday season. Christmas, especially, has been a favorite holiday of mine for as long as I can remember. We're not very extravegent about it in my family, but we all love to play Christmas music in the house and sit on the couch in the dark, just gazing at the glowing tree.

We're not the "Ho,Ho,Ho!" kind of Christmas people, either. We're more the "O Come Let Us Adore Him" type. Many of the ornaments on our tree have symbolism, such as the lamb, or the angels, or even the evergreen of the tree itself.

So, today I'd like to share the lights . . . my favorite part.