Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Chapter.....New Blog!

I'm starting a new blog to commemorate the newest chapter in our lives. Since we have bought a property and won't be travelling extensively in the near future, I don't think I can continue "embracing my inner vagabond." But I've enjoyed keeping this online diary and will continue to do so. If you're interested, visit my new blog at:


That's Hoosier Mama Now.
The adventure continues!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We bought the farm - - Literally!!

"....which had no boundaries in time and space, where lurked musical and strange names and mythical and lost peoples, and which was itself only a name musical and strange."
- Ross Lockridge, Jr.; Raintree County

Yesterday we closed on the farm in New Castle, so it's official. We're Hoosiers! Next Saturday we'll start moving in, not that we have much to move!! Mostly photos and memorabilia! For furniture we'll be visiting various rummage sales, auctions, and the local Salvation Army (or Salvation "Armani" as my sister calls it!!)

After the closing we meandered around Henry County to get a taste of the local flavor and see what the area has to offer. I think I would describe the local flavor as "corn." It seems that the outlying areas consist mostly of farm fields and the towns and villages seem to consist of liquor stores and tobacco shops.

The folks around here seem to have a healthy sense of humor! I don't think we were in Henry Co., but on our way to the closing, we drove past a liquor store that had a HUGE pink ele
phant statue wearing shades guarding the entrance!! I'm going to try to get a picture and post it later.

I just finished reading a novel that is supposed to be based on Henry Co. It's called Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. It takes place on a 4th of July in 1892, but most of it is flashbacks from the narrators life. It's a big, thick book full of political and religious postulating and surrealistic dream sequences. Even though I got a little bogged down in the dream sequences, I enjoyed the story, especially the historical perspective it gives about the attitude of the characters towards slavery and the Civil War.

When we were in Asheville, I read Thomas Wolfe's novel, Look Homeward Angel. I think it was written about 20 years prior to Raintree County. Wolfe's novel, while fiction, is actually based on the people and places of his youth. He changed the names, but left them obviously similar to the areas and people that they represented.
Apparently his family and friends weren't appreciative of the way in which they were depicted.

Raintree County is written in a similar fashion. The main character is based on Lockridge'
s grand-father and the area where he lived as a boy. In comparison to the Wolfe novel, I have to admit I enjoyed Raintree County more. (I wasn't even able to finish reading Look Homeward, Angel. I just lost interest.) I think Lockridge's characters were more fully developed and even though he acknowledged and illustrated their faults, he seemed to possess a certain level of respect for them, even if he didn't agree with their beliefs or actions.

I know I'm not the only person who has drawn similarities between the two novels, but the most ironic similarity is that both authors only published one major work during their lifetime, and both died tragically at a young age after the work was published. Wolfe contracted tuberculosis of the brain and died 9 years after the publication of his novel; Lockridge committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning just a few short months after his novel was published. Apparently he suffered from depression and possibly a chemical imbalance. It seems especially tragic because he left a wife and 4 young children. My next read is his biography, written by one of his sons called, The Shade of the Raintree.

I've enjoyed looking at the area where will be living and trying to imagine what it was like during the Civil War and how things have changed.

In other news, we have acquired a new member to our K-9 family!
Our neighbors here at the KOA in Greenfield, IN bought an Australian Blue Heeler puppy a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, she was a bit too much for them to handle. Heelers are very energetic, intelligent dogs. This couple is quite young, the husband works 90 hours a week on a gas pipeline (which is why they live in a 5th wheel.) The wife stays home with their 16 month old daughter and a puppy just didn't fit into that scenario well.

Since we're familiar with the breed and getting ready to move to a farm, they asked us if we would be interested in adopting her. I kinda had a feeling when they brought her home that we might "inherit" her, so it wasn't a complete surprise.

She's actually a very sweet dog and I think she'll be a great farm dog!! Twiggy and Shelby are learning to tolerate her and she seems to be adjusting to her new life quite well.

I'll include a couple of photos. She's quite photogenic!

Her name's Ellie Maye and she's about 10 weeks old.

Here are the Three Amigos with their bones.....

So, this will probably be my last post as a "Nomad of the North." I think I'm going to start a blog about life on the farm as a wannabe potter. I'm trying to come up with a name for it. I was thinking about "Hoosier Mama."The other possibility that came to mind was, "Some Assembly Required." Something tells me that will be an ongoing theme for us in the future! Life continues to be interesting and fun!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For, You May Receive It!

Yet more changes appear to be on my horizon. Lately I feel like many of the situations I find myself in are giving me an opportunity to examine and evaluate (and re-evaluate) my life and choices I've made and determine whether or not I'm ready to pursue something I've always wanted to do.

Recently, an opportunity availed itself to me that has caused me to try to figure out how serious I am about my favorite hobby - pottery! Clay is something I've dabbled in sporadically since high school. I've never had any "formal" education in the medium since I chose to drop out of commercial art school after just 4 short weeks, which is a whole 'nother story about choices. But I've always managed to keep ceramics in my life in some form or another, either by taking (or even teaching) a class here and there at various art centers or setting up a makeshift studio on my back porch, or finally a "real" studio, at our last permane
nt residence before we adopted our current nomadic lifestyle.

I've always felt like I've never been able to give it my full attention. I've always wondered if I could ever become "successful" at it, if I was able to truly focus on it as more than just a sporadic, but enjoyable hobby.

During our winter in Asheville, I became quite interested in salt-firing, but this method of firing requires a rather expensive kiln and some expertise that I don't feel I've acquired yet. But earlier this week, a good friend of mine who also happens to be a knowledgeable potter, and was aware of my interest, e-mailed me about a situation that could enable me to pursue this dream that's been cogitating in my feeble brain.

(The object of my desire.....)

Unfortunately it seems that whenever I find myself on the brink of realizing a dream, a little voice inside my head says, "Be careful what you wish for...." Up until just a few minutes ago, I really couldn't remember where I had ever heard this phrase, or what is the unstated but seemingly dire implication of obtaining that which we have wished for.

So, I googled it.........."be careful what you wish for...." and now I remember!! It was a quote at the beginning of a short story I read, probably in a junior high or high school English class, called The Monkey's Paw. In this story, an old couple is given a "magical" monkey's paw by a friend of the family. According to legend, the owner of the paw will be granted 3 wishes. Typically, the first thing the couple wish for is "riches" in the form of 200 pounds. Unfortunately, the wish is fulfilled by the death of their only son, who is killed by a horrible accident at his place of employment. His parents are given monetary compensation by his employer which of course is equal to the amount that the couple had wished for. A few days later in the midst of their grief, the wife, remembers the monkey's paw and convinces her husband to wish that their son be brought back to life. He reluctantly agrees, and shortly thereafter they hear a knock at the door. Suddenly, the husband realizes that if it truly is their son at the door, brought back to life by the wish, they may not want to see him in the state he's in, considering he was mutilated by the accident and has been dead for several days. The father quickly makes his third wish and when his wife opens the door, there's no one there.

I don't really think that buying this kiln will have such dire consequences, but I have come to realize that when we wish for something, we usually don't take all the facts into consideration when we imagine what the granting of that wish might entail. When I was young, I thought that I would be eternally happy if only I could have a horse. That wish was eventually granted for me, and my horses did bring me much happiness! If I had it to do over again, I would in a heartbeat! But I didn't realize the amount of time, money, and work that horse ownership required. It was more than I anticipated, but I also think that owning a horse helped me to develop a good work ethic, and patience, and many other benefits that I never realized would come with the blood, sweat and tears of the responsibility.

Similarly, I always wanted to own a small farm (this wish probably goes hand-in-hand with the previous wish!) Again, I had no clue that one never truly owns a farm, the farm owns you! But, also, I would do it again in a heartbeat (and apparently I will be soon, if we acquire the 18 acres in New Castle that we've made an offer on!)

So, yesterday and today I've been wrestling with the idea of buying this kiln (and a few other pieces of equipment) that would motivate, actually force me, to truly commit myself to being a potter. As I told a friend of mine, I guess it will make me finally shit or get off the (proverbial) pot!!

And as always seems to be the case, 2 fears stand in my way: the fear of failure and the fear of success!! I'm sure that my fear of failure is understandable and needs no explanation. Will I be able to produce quality work? Will anyone be willing to buy it? The real question is, will I be able to produce INCOME to justify the expense of the equipment?

But how can I be fearful of success?? I think of questions like, will the work consume me? Will I begin to hate the very process that I enjoy right now because I can do it when I want to, not because I HAVE to??

I also worry that I'm a little long in the tooth to be entering the phase of "emerging artist." Fercryinoutloud, I'm 47 years old!! Most days I would describe myself as a "submerging artist!!"

And then there's a 3rd fear that looms, the fear of regret. What if I spend the money on this equipment and months or years from now, find myself regretting it?

I have to say that I think my fear of regret is what has ultimately helped me make my decision. At this point in my life I feel like we can afford to take the financial risk, I feel like I've probably got more time on my hands than I've had available to me at any other time (even with the new grand-baby and the new home) and I feel like the classes I took in North Carolina, and the friends I've made recently will give me the resources I need to pursue this dream! I am truly afraid that if I DON'T take advantage of this opportunity, I'll definitely regret it!!

I have to admit that I've prayed about this a lot and I've been waiting for some kind of "sign from God" to show me what I'm supposed to do. I also have to admit that over the years, I've never really felt like God's reached down and hit me over the head with any obvious signs! It's usually been more a case of going into something with the right attitude. When I can do that, it seems to work out better. And that attitude has got to be something like, OK, let's give this a try and see where God takes me with it. When I've had an attitude of, "I need to do this no matter what the cost to me or my family...." it just has never worked out very well. I usually end up exhausted and disappointed because the cost turns out to be much more than I ever imagined, monetarily, physically, and emotionally!

I also think it's important that Steve backs me up in this endeavor. I've made a lot of decisions that he hasn't been too happy about (and of course he's made some boner decisions that I was against too.) It seems like if we're not on the same page when it comes to major decisions like this, stuff just doesnt work. But, we talked about this extensively and he seems to be very supportive, he told me to "go for it!" I know he has some worries and concerns, just like I do, but knowing that he's backing me up makes me feel like maybe I can pull it off!! Unfortunately, it also means I can't blame him if I fall flat on my face, dammit!!!

Actually, I think my point is somewhat similar to the point of the story I mentioned earlier. My desire to have God show me what to do is a form of wanting to leave my decision to fate. In the story, this point is illustrated in a conversation between two of the characters. The friend of the family who reluctantly gives the magical monkey's paw to the old man, tries to explain to him that having 3 wishes granted may not be as delightful of an occurrence as he would imagine. At one point something is said to the effect that fate rules people's lives, and that those who interfere with it "do so to their sorrow."

I'm hoping that this sweet deal that appears to have fallen into my lap at just the right time is a case of fate (or in my mind, God) ruling my life!! Of course I also believe that He require us to "take a leap of faith" once in awhile. I guess that's what I hope I'm doing!

Only time will tell, but over the years it seems like when I let Him be in control, things seem to go a whole lot smoother!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I have a new man in my life, he's a charmer!

It seems like it's been longer than a week since my last entry, but the calendar tells me that's really all the time that's gone by. On Monday morning our daughter still hadn't gone into labor so she went into the hospital to be induced. 24 hours later, our new grand-son, Jaedon, made his appearance in the world. It was a long night and we had some tense moments. She finally had to have a c-section, but both of them are doing great now!! They came home from the hospital yesterday and I am totally in love with this little guy!!

The experience has brought back a flood of memories from when Steve and I were starting our family! It's been an emotional roller-coaster the last few weeks! With his dad in and out of the hospital, and the 2 of us in the process of buying a house, and then the grand-baby coming - shwew! Let me catch my breath!

I'm so glad that we're living in close proximity to them right now. I remember how I felt with a new baby. I was only 20 and it made me feel like I was all grown-up, until something out of the ordinary happened, or he was fussy all day after a sleepless night, or I just wanted to take a long, relaxing, hot shower, but every time I laid him down, he'd start crying! Then my mom would appear and I didn't want her to know that I was relieved she'd shown up, but I WAS kinda relieved. And I'd take my shower, or a nap and then she'd start getting on my nerves and I'd be ready for her to leave us alone. My mom never had a clue when to give me my space. I don't think she understood the concept because she was the kind of person who LOVED to be around people!! She hated being by herself. So she just really had no ability to realize that sometimes I wanted to be by myself. I wanted to "do it myself." I have this really strong, independent streak. It gets me in trouble half the time! Occasionally it comes in handy.

I think Megan may have inherited that gene (and I wouldn't want it any other way!) I'm trying my best not to be "too" helpful. I do have a life of my own, believe it or not! So I try to make sure that she actually wants us to come over before we go, and when it seems like she's ready for us to leave, I try to take the hint and not fe
el offended. I think we're figuring it out.

Being a grandma is every bit as fine as I imagined it would be and I just can't wait til he's a little bit older so we can start reading books and playing games and making him laugh!! It won't be long, it goes so fast!

So as another Mother's Day approaches, I find myself feeling wistful about my mother's absence, feeling nostalgic about my early mothering days, and feeling joyous about my daughter's entry into the realm of motherhood. There's nothing like it!!

Here are a few pictures of the little guy............it's been confirmed by everyone who sees him, he's about the cutest baby in the world!! We got some pictures developed at Walgreen's and the photo guy thought he was so cute he didn't even charge us for them!! Seriously!

These were taken when he was about an hour old!! He was so wide awake! Look at those teeny little fingers!!

These were taken the very next day!

And this is my favorite!!! Can't you tell he loves his Nana already?!!!

We are gonna have some good times!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

To blog, or not to blog..............

Sometimes I wonder about what sort of things are appropriate to blog about. We've had lots of things going on and while some of them were happening, I had the urge to blog about them, but I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not because of the "public" aspect of a blog. I think that aspect is probably partially responsible for the popularity of blogs, and I don't think that there are really all that many people who are taking the time to read my blog, but it is "out there" for people to see, so I find myself wondering whether or not I want to post certain things.

So, at least now I probably have managed to elevate the curiosity of both people on the planet who
do occasionally check in on my meanderings! And I think that I will mention the occurrence that I'm alluding to because it has had a happy ending (so far.)

We spent last Sunday afternoon hanging out in the emergency room of Bethesda North Hospital because my father-in-law had a stroke. It's not a pleasant way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but I'm thankful that if this had to transpire, it happened in close proximity to a place that was equipped to deal with it. I'm pleased to report that my father-in-law is now in his own home with no apparent side-effects or damage from the whole ordeal. Steve spent a couple days with him to make sure he was truly doing ok, and to talk to his family doctor and get him set up with a medic alert system.

Steve reported to me that the medic alert system is pretty amazing regardless of how dumb the commercials make them seem. When you're talking about maintaining independence and dignity for a relative who's going to be 80
years old this summer, it's nice to find an alternative to a nursing home or assisted living that's inexpensive and sensible. Steve says that when they installed the system and checked it out, they told his dad that he could use it if he just wants them to call one of us for any reason or if even if he's just feeling lonely and wants to talk to someone. I suppose it could make you feel a little paranoid, almost like you're being spied on, but I think it's definitely going to give Steve and his siblings some peace of mind regarding the well-being of their father.

I have a couple other pieces of news to report. The first thing is that we're still not grand-parents. Apparently "baby Stuie" is unaware and oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to have made his entrance into the world by now. I suppose he's going to take after his Uncle Dan, who was 2 weeks overdue and required surgical coaxing to see the light of day. And to provide yet more evidence that it must be genetic, I have to submit that Danny's lack of motivation can be traced directly to his father, the guy who put the "pro" in procrastination!! So it appears that we will have become official grand-parents by Monday (or Tuesday at the latest) because as of right now, the plan is for Megan to be induced if she doesn't show any signs of going into labor over the week-end.

In the midst of all this excitement we somehow managed to buy a new home. Well, technically, it's not a "new" home, it's actually a rather old home! But it's new to us. We bought an 18 acre property near New Castle, Indiana with a lovely old farmhouse and a beautiful 3-car garage that will serve as a wonderful pottery studio!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had been looking in the Brown County area and weren't finding anything that looked extremely promising. I had also been having some concerns about the distance between Brown Co. a
nd Steve's family in Ohio. So, I had started searching for properties between Indianapolis and Troy, rather than south of Indy. We came across this place a couple weeks ago, went to see it, liked it, made an offer, and it was accepted. Now, barring any unforseen issues cropping up during the inspection, it looks like we'll be moving in the last week-end in May! And with everything that's going on with Steve's dad, I think it's good that we didn't end up in Brown Co!!

I'll attach a few photos of the place since I haven't included many photos lately.

Here is the exterior of the house..........

It has a verrrrrrrry long lane! I won't need a Y membership, getting the mail will provide daily exercise!

The living room. I love the natural woodwork! That window will be the perfect spot for this year's Christmas tree!

No sliding down this bannister without a little reinforcement!!

I think it's going to be a fun place to live and have the grand-kids come and visit us! It's a little more house than we were thinking that we need, but this way we'll have plenty of room for family to stay in!! I'm pretty excited!

On Tuesday we have an inspection scheduled to determine whether or not there are any issues that may require attention (and money) in order to live in this house. Hopefully they won't find anything serious. We already have some fears about the septic system and some parts of the roof. We'll know more next week.

Also, next week, I will hopefully have some news on my grand-parent-hood status. And maybe I'll be able to post a few more pictures of the farm.

Until then.........keep on bloggin'! (that sounds lame!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Meandering Train of Thought

We are adjusting once again to new surroundings. This time we're parking our home in Indianapolis, well technically at the KOA in Greenfield, which is only about 15 minutes from The Sprawling Metropolis that is the home of the Colts and the Hoosiers, which apparently refers to both IU's mascot and natives of the state. I've tried to discover where the term was derived from, but the details are pretty sketchy.

As seems to be typical with KOAs, we're once again being lulled to sleep by the constant whine of traffic on the interstate. I would much prefer living near a train track!! I can make that statement with a level of confidence, since I grew up with a train track in my back yard. Our house was probably a couple of hundred yards from the train track and I never found the sound annoying. I actually enjoyed the clackety-clack rhythm of the train on the tracks. Sometimes our windows shuddered a bit, but even the whistle blowing had a somewhat romantic, lonely sound to it.

Our dog, Ginger, LOVED to chase the train, and whenever one went by while she was in the back yard she would race back and forth barking at it frantically! Luckily our yard was fenced so she wasn't in any danger.

Living near the train even provided some opportunities for adventure when we were young. I think we talked about putting a penny on the track but we were afraid it might cause the train to derail! We also discovered a "short-cut" for walking to school thanks to some neighbors who lived "on the other side of the tracks" (literally.) At first my mom didn't want us going that way, but she eventually realized it was pretty safe. It's not like you can't hear a train
coming and we had to cross the tracks at some point to get to school!

In the early 70s, my neighbor, who was MUCH older, probably in high school or college (and who I might have had a little crush on) decided to experience the hobo lifestyle for a couple days. So he and a buddy hopped a freight train and rode it to some point up north. I don't remember how far, probably only a couple hundred miles. I also don't remember how he got home, possibly another less adventurous buddy picked them up. He must've been in colleg
e and maybe home for the summer. I seem to remember that his folks weren't too happy about the situation, but they apparently felt he was old enough that they couldn't stop him. (I can't believe they didn't use that tried and true parental stand-by, "As long as you're under my roof, you'll abide by my rules.") I guess they figured there were worse things he could be doing. I remember my mom talking about it, but nobody seemed extremely upset. He was a good kid and I think his parents viewed it as a sort of "rite of passage" into adulthood or something. Of course, I didn't have all this figured out back then, I was probably only 8 or 9 years old. But looking back on it now from my own parental viewpoint, I think that might have been what was going on.

I remember that the neighbor boy's adventure caused my mom to do a little research about hobos. (I'm sure that I inherited my inquisitive nature from her, she would've LOVED the Internet if only she'd been born a little later.) There's nothing more fun to me than googling some obscure topic, but since that wasn't an option back then, she opened our well-worn set of "World Book Encyclopedias" (which I think had been purchased from a door-to-door salesman. Either that, or she had bought them with S&H Green Stamps. We got a lot of products that way!)

She found it interesting that hobos developed a method of communication between themselves. They would draw symbols on a tree or fence or rock in front of the house or establishment that they had just visited that would let other hobos know whether or not the residents would be sympathetic toward transient types. I think that I even wrote up a paper about it for school at some point.

By that time, the era of hobos had pretty much played itself out, but we would occasionally see people hitching a ride in a boxcar. According to wikepedia, hobos also had a lingo of their own. Here are a few of the more colorful phrases:
  • Barnacle - a person who sticks to one job a year or more
  • Bone polisher - A mean dog
  • California Blankets - Newspapers, intended to be used for bedding
  • Catch the Westbound - to die
  • Chuck a dummy - Pretend to faint
  • Reefer - A compression of "refrigerator car".
  • Sky pilot - a preacher or minister
  • Stemming - panhandling or mooching along the streets
  • Tokay Blanket - drinking alcohol to stay warm
  • Yegg - A traveling professional thief
Up until I was probably 8 or 9, there was a passenger train that ran from our town to Wapokenta, OH (if memory serves.) One time my cousin's cub scout troop took a ride on it and my mom made signs for my sister and me to hold so we stood out in the back yard and holding those signs and waving to him when the train went by. I don't remember if he said he saw us. I would doubt it, the train was obviously going pretty fast.

So why did I even start this "train of thought"?? Oh yeah, I was saying that I wouldn't want to buy a house that's close to a busy highway but I wouldn't mind living near a train track. I also wouldn't want to live near an airport. Having jets constantly flying low overhead is pretty annoying. And I always worry that one of them will crash!

I wouldn't mind living next to a cemetery or funeral home though. Again, probably because the house I lived in when I was a child was located near a funeral home and a cemetery. We actually lived "2 doors down" from the funeral home and one of my schoolmates lived in a house behind it because her dad owned the funeral parlor. (She later went to school to be a mortician and took over the family business.)

The funeral home wasn't there when I was first born. Up until the time I was about 3 or 4 years old, there was a field with horses there. That seems so strange to me, because we lived almost downtown!! I have a feeling that having horses next door when I was growing up probably contributed to my love of horses.

But living next to a funeral parlor also provided some benefits for kids. They put in a HUGE paved parking lot, and as long as there wasn't a funeral or visitation going on, we were allowed to ride our bikes and rollerskate all over the place! We spent many, many hours over there taking advantage of that vast amount of blacktop!

On the other side of the funeral home were 2 or 3 houses, then a little church and then a cemetery. We actually never spent any time playing in the cemetery, I admit I was a little weird, but not completely morbid!! I do remember that every 4th of July, the city would shoot fireworks from the stadium which was just around the corner from our house and we would walk down to the cemetery and sit on the rock wall to watch the fireworks. One time piece of firework shrapnel landed on the roof of a house across the street (a huge old mansion where a local rich widow lived, now the Troy Board of Education.) It began to smolder and our neighbor went up and knocked it off and made sure the roof didn't catch fire. 4th of July excitement!!

After Steve and I got married and the kids came along, we would drive into Troy for the fireworks and park in the funeral home lot and put our chairs or a blanket in the grass and watch the fireworks from there. The people who owned the funeral home were very supportive of the community and never seemed to mind ('cos we weren't the only ones who took advantage of it!) I'm sure they never scheduled any funerals that would coincide with the 4th of July! And anyways, the fireworks never started 'til 10 pm.

So, I guess I must be feeling a little nostalgic right now. I'm sure it has a lot to do with this upcoming grand-baby! Yesterday we took Megan out for breakfast at a little cafe near their house. While we were eating, that old Loggins and Messina song, Danny's Song, was playing in the background . That song was one of my favorites when I was pregnant with our son, Danny (and yes, even had some influence on the choice of his name.) I almost got a little teary eyed while we were sitting there (luckily no one noticed!) It just doesn't seem like it could have been all that long ago that Steve and I were in the same situation that Dustin and Megan are in right now, awaiting the birth of our firstborn. I started remembering the feelings of wonder and excitement and even fear, that they're probably experiencing right now!!

And I also started thinking that it's pretty amazing in this day and age that her dad and I are still married and still pretty happy!!

Like the song says:
Even though we ain't got money,
I'm so in love with ya honey,
Everything will bring a chain of luh--uh-uh-uh-uhv....
And in the mornin' when I rise,
Ya bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looking for Bears

Yesterday we took the dogs for a short hike in the woods around the KOA. It's a nice little trail, but short. The trails at Campfire Lodgings offered at least a couple miles of hiking (and not as much highway traffic noise!)

Something else I noticed that was missing was a little excitement. The knowledge that we could possibly see a bear on the trails actually brought a sense of adventure to our hikes, even short ones. (Like a night-time doggie potty break!!)

I suppose life's like that. We know we're going to come across the unexpected, but as long as we feel equipped to handle it, it's not as scary or overwhelming. Until we actually experienced a couple of bear sightings, I found the possibility more troubling. But once I realized that the bear was more afraid of us than we were of it......well, it wasn't quite so stressful.

I guess that the things in life that cause the most stress are things we haven't yet experienced, things we don't expect, and things we don't feel equipped to handle. Experiences like a new job, losing a job, a new relationship, moving to a new area, or facing a serious illness can all cause stress. But the more we experience these situations and learn how to live through them, the better equipped we are to deal with new ones.

I dunno, it's just Sunday morning ramblings. I'm also pondering what in the world causes people to claim to have seen Bigfoot or have had an alien encounter. Unfortunately, I'm not having much success articulating my ponderings so I'm giong to end this post for now.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nashville rhymes with Asheville....

Last fall when we were leaving the Richmond KOA, and heading south, the leaves had just begun to change. It was pretty (of course) but I remember thinking, "Thank goodness we won't be around when those leaves come off, I'd hate to have to rake them all up!!"

So, now we're back, and it's spring and apparently those leaves waite
d for us!! I spent about 6 hours today raking up old dead leaves from last fall and my arms are killing me!!

But my motto is "work hard, play hard" so I thought a good w
ay to top off such a productive day would be to try the Asian restaurant we keep driving by that claims to serve sushi and and boasts a hibachi grill. Plus I thought my sore elbows might feel better with a little therapy (like repeatedly raising a gin and tonic to my mouth!)

Unfortunately it was a little disappointing. I haven't had sushi very often, but when I have, it's
been really good. This, unfortunately wasn't. Kinda rubbery and fishy tasting. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up, this restaurant was really more of a Chinese buffet (and we're in Richmond, Indiana fercryinoutloud!!)

I felt kinda s
orry for the owner. His english was difficult to understand, but I think his name was Tony. He was really nice and apparently trying to come up with new ways to drum up business. He's doing this "promotion" where nothing is priced, you eat however much you want, and pay whatever you think is fair. For some reason, it was a tough concept to grasp!! I could tell by some of the conversations I overheard that we weren't the only ones having this trouble. I asked him why he was doing it and he said it's tripled the amount of customers they get. I guess the local paper did a write-up. I asked him if he was getting ripped off, and he said that younger people were usually the ones not paying enough, but most customers were being pretty fair.

He was telling me what all they had at the sushi bar and was naming off the rolls, California roll, Pennsylvania roll, and I asked him, "where's the Indiana roll?" He was quite amused by that and said they'll have to start making one!! I don't know what they'll put in it though, corn?? Soybeans??

Even the hibachi part was a self-serve buffet. There's a variety of uncooked meat and vegetables, you take whatever you want and give it to the hibachi chef who cooks it for you and rings a bell when it's ready. It is a rather intriguing concept, and also a pretty gutsy experiment. I have to admire the ingenuity he's using to battle some tough economic times, but the food just wasn't that great and worst of all, they didn't serve alcohol!! Didn't get my therapy after all.

So, yesterday we spent the day in Brown County, Indiana looking at possible properties to buy for our more permanent abode. Last week we looked at a few, all of which were uninhabitable without a lot of work. There was one last week I liked alot with a little house on 20 acres. It had 2 ponds, some woods, a hayfield and a nice sized garage that would make a great studio with a little work. The house was condemned because the septic system wasn't up to code. It
was a foreclosure, so we might put a bid on it, but it will be really low and if we can't get it cheap, we won't do it 'cos the house really does need to be gutted and completely remodeled.

Yesterday the properties were a little nicer. Most of them are at least 5 acres. There was one in particular that I liked. Part of it was an old hunting/vacation cabin that was built in 1934. That part would make a great pottery studio and showroom/gallery area. It has an small, old kitchen area, a woodburning stove, and a loft that you get to by climbing a ladder. Wide plank flooring, and that great, musty, old cabin smell!

This is the exterior, the part behind the tree is the older section. The 2 story part on the right is the post and beam section. Don't you love that huge tree??!

This is the old cabin area. You can see the woodstove and part of the loft area and in the back is the old kitchen.

This is the front half of the room. I think some display shelves and track lighting would make it a great gallery area!

The main living area was added in 1999 and is timber frame. It's a great room, a kitchen and bath and a large loft. The things we don't like about it is there aren't any closets or storage areas. I think it was built as a vacation home. It also doesn't have a bathroom upstairs, which is the master bedroom, actually the only bedroom. But it's a very large loft, I think we could build some closet space pretty easily and maybe someday even put a toilet and sink up there. Going to the bathroom at night is something that we need to do more frequently the last few years and I don't like the thought of negotiating the stairs in the middle of the night!!

This is the loft area, I love the window! They have a porch swing hanging up there, you can see part of it in the picture.

After we finished looking at properties, we went into the little village of Nashville to get something to eat. Nashville is the main town in Brown County and pretty touristy. Fudge on every corner!! It was fairly crowded for a weekday, but I think some of the schools are still on spring break and people were there on a little getaway. I picked up some brochures and last night I got online and did some research on some of the local artists, especially potters. They seem to have a fairly well-organized Arts Alliance that promotes the local artisans. I looked at some of the potters' websites and I think I like Greg Schatz work the best. He does gas and woodfiring and it looks like he has a very nice studio and gallery. I think that next time we're down there looking at property, I'll look him up. I want to talk to him and see if the artists (especially the potters) are friendly and welcome new potters to the area, like they seem to in North Carolina. From what I've seen, it looks like they have a close knit art community, but sometimes in that situation, the people can start to get a little exclusive because they're worried about competition. I hope that's not the case. I may have a pretty high standard in my mind from what I've seen among the potters in western North Carolina, but I figure it can't hurt to check it out and hope for the best.

So I guess this is about as close to North Carolina as I'm gonna get for awhile, at least if I wanna be involved with the new grand-baby.....and I definitely do!! I hope we can find a place soon and that it's in Brown County. I really got some good feelings when we were there, the area's beautiful and hilly, there seems to be a lot of art, a few potters, bluegrass music, and restaurants. And Nashville rhymes with Asheville, what more could I want??? Oh yeah, hippies!! Well, I guess that what Nashville lacks in hippie population, it compensates for with hillbilly population!!

I'm looking forward to the next chapter in the little adventure we've been privelaged to enjoy!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Back "Home" Again, in Indiana

This morning when I took the lid off the milk carton, it almost shot into the air like a champagne cork. Hmmmm, perhaps I should check the expiration date. MARCH 12!!!! No wonder my cereal tasted funny yesterday!! That's kinda the way things have felt to me lately, not quite right, but you're not exactly sure why. (Well, I'm pretty sure I know why the milk tasted funny.)

When I woke up yesterday morning and stepped into the living area, the window shades were up and it was mildly startling to be greeted by vastly different scenery from what has been residing outside these very windows for the last 6 months. That's the strange part I've noticed about living in a camper. The inside starts to feel like home, but when you move, you have to readjust to the outside. It probably wouldn't be as noticeable if we weren't staying in one place for 6 months before moving on.

We've come across quite a few people who are taking a year or 2 and living in their camper while traveling across the US. Some are retirees, some are semi-retirees, some are our age some are younger. Some have kids that they're homeschooling on the road, others have dogs (actually almost all of them have at least one dog.) Some of them are working while traveling and others planned not to work during their travels, but are going to go back someday.

We've also come across a lot of people who have said, "We've always wanted to do that" and I have to think to myself, "well why haven't you?" I understand that some circumstances could prevent or postpone it, but I think if it's truly something you've "always wanted to do" you'll figure out a way. There are as many possibilities as there are human beings!

I would say that over all it's been a fun year and embracing this lifestyle even just for a year was probably one of the best decisions we've ever made! I know that Steve would continue living this way indefinitely, he loves the freedom and the fewer number of responsibilities that we seem to have. I, on the other hand, am fairly ready to settle down again and have a less mobile home. I still want to take some trips and see more of the country. I'm hoping we can figure out a lifestyle that will still allow us to travel, more than we used to be able to.

But I also want to have my own flower bed and garden and lots more storage and wall space for hanging art and shelves for pottery!! A home that doesn't rock when the wind blows. A kitchen with a little more counter space. And being within an easy drive from that grand-baby that will be here in the next few weeks!

Some of my friends think I was a little crazy to have embraced this nomadic lifestyle. They can't imagine not having a "home" and not knowing exactly where you might be parking your camper next week. Others of my friends think I'm crazy to want to give this up to settle down again. There are aspects about both ways of life that are appealing, and other areas that are not so appealing.

I have to admit, there have been some stressful times. Right now I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. We're trying to figure out where to establish permanent residence and there are so many factors to consider!! Some of the questions include, the distance from children/grand-children; the distance from Steve's dad; whether or not the area will be compatible for making and selling pottery; what kind of jobs will be available for if/when we both need to start looking for more gainful employment. How much can we afford to spend? I think we've decided that we want to avoid going into debt if possible, and we would like to have a few acres so we can try to be somewhat self-sustaining. It's a lot to consider and I'm not naturally a patient person. I would like to get everything figured out asap and it just doesn't seem like things fall into place as quickly as I'd like them to. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is that things do eventually seem to fall into place if I pray alot and learn to be more patient!

I want to get settled so I can get my hands back into some clay 'cos I'm afraid that I may lose the momentum I feel like I gained when we were in North Carolina! But I can always pick up where I left off. I talked with a really nice potter once at an art festival in Columbus. It was last spring at a time when I hadn't been able to pot for awhile. I believe he asked me if I was a potter and I was lamenting the fact that I didn't feel like one because I hadn't been able to produce any work lately. He told me that he thinks a potter is always a potter, if they're thinking about pots all the time. I suppose it's true of any passion that a person has. If you think about what it is you're passionate about every day, you'll remain passionate about it. Sometimes I think it's even beneficial to have a period of time where you're not actually doing the action, but putting lots of forethought into it. I think that visualization can be an extremely positive force.

Eventually, though, you have to actually take all those thoughts and put them to use, or else you're just a dreamer and while I think that a dreamer is a fine thing to be, you're missing out on the whole point if you never actually make your dreams a reality!

Someone named Walter Mueller said, "The difference between visionaires and dreamers is that visionaries make the dreams come true." (I love quotationspage.com!!)

By the same token, I think we have to be careful that we don't become so obsessed with achieving our goals that we forget to enjoy the people and circumstances that we're involved with in the process. That's something I have to constantly remind myself to do, enjoy the moment. There's always something to be gained from whatever it is we're going through, whether that moment seems good, bad, or just plain boring!!

So here's to walking that fine line between being a dreamer and being a visionary. The main thing to remember is to be sure to enjoy the walk!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Farewell to North Carolina!

Tomorrow I'm leaving North Carolina. I'm going to leave a piece of my heart down here. I think there was still a piece here from my very first visit, which occured almost 30 years ago! Steve and I weren't even married yet. We came down here with some friends and camped on top of Mount Hibriten in Lenoir, NC, about an hour and a half northeast of here. That's when I think this area took hold of my heart!

When the kids were fairly young, we came down again. We were visiting Gatlinburg, TN with some friends, and they suggested we come to Asheville for a night. They wanted to visit the Biltmore. We couldn't afford for all of us to go so we let Megan go with them, and Steve, Danny, and I did a little site-seeing in Asheville. We remember eating at a really good Mexican restaurant and walking through a quirky toy store. We also visited the Folk Art Center, which I thought was the neatest place I'd ever seen!!

I finally went there again today! It's still a real treat! We were doing some geocaching on our last day and one of the caches required visting the Folk Art Center and decoding information from some of the plaques to help us determine the GPS reading for a couple of caches. It added a new element of fun to the whole treasure-hunting scenario!

So after a day of hiking and caching, we came back to the campgrounds and fixed dinner and sat at the picnic table on one of the premium campsites that wasn't occupied, and enjoyed the sunset. It was a pretty good one for my last night. I took a picture of it......

I'm going to end today's blog with the lyrics to a song that's become very dear to me. It's written by Steven Curtis Chapman and it's based on the verses in the Bible about Moses and his journeys up and down Mt. Sinai when he was leading the children of Israel to freedom. Exodous 19, I believe.

The Mountain
by Steven Curtis Chapman

I wanna to build a house up on this mountain
Way up high where the peaceful waters flow
To quench my thirsty soul
Up on the mountain

I can see for miles upon this mountain
My troubles seem so small they almost disappear
Lord, I love it here,
Up on the mountain.

My faith is strengthened by all that I see
You make it easy for me to
believe up on the mountain
Oh, up on the mountain

I would love to live up on this mountain
And keep the pain of living life so far away
But I know I can't stay
Up on the mountain

I said I'd go, Lord, wherever You lead
For where You are is where I most want to be
And I can tell we're headed for the valley

My faith is strengthened by all that I've seen
So Lord help me remember what You've shown me
Up on the mountain

You bring me up here on this mountain
For me to rest and learn and grow
I see the truth up on the
mountain And I carry it to the
world far below
So as I go down to the valley
Knowing that You will go with me
This is my prayer, Lord
Help me to remember what You've shown me
Up on the mountain
Up on the mountain

I cherish these times up on the mountain
But I can leave this place because I know
Someday You'll take me home to live forever
Up on the mountain

(You can listen to this song on youtube, click here if you'd like to hear the music.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Sight-seeing trip - Grandfather Mountain

On Wednesday we decided to visit Grandfather Mountain. It's one of the last tourist attractions in the area that I wanted to visit before we leave. It's about an hour and a half from Asheville. I would say it was definitely worth the drive and (almost) worth the admission price ($14/apiece.) Surprisingly enough, it's privately owned (as opposed to a state or national park.) For some reason, I don't mind the fee so much if it's privately owned. Must be the capitalist in me!! When we paid $14/apiece to get into Chimney Rock, a state park, it bugged me to think that a state-funded park would be charging such a high admission fee? Whadda I pay my taxes fur?? Guess I should be happy it isn't MORE expensive!! Ok, enough politics.

Let's talk about Grandfather Mountain! It's basically a really tall mountain that's known for it's "mile-high, swinging bridge." I suppose that at this point I could spout off a bunch of statistics and facts that I would blatantly plagiarize from their website, or I could just post some of the pictures we took while we were there. I think people would rather look at pictures than read!

Let me just add a couple more facts to the blog though. When we left Asheville, the temperature was in the lower 60s. When we were arrived at the top of the mountain the temperature had dropped about 15 degrees and the winds were whipping across the mountain at 50 mph!! The lady who took my (grumpily paid) admission money recommended we visit the bridge first (if we didn't need to pee) because if the winds get up to 65 mph, they won't let anyone cross it. Don't worry, I don't think I'd WANT to try crossing it!!! She also recommended that we purchase some obligatory fudge at the tourist shop because her cousins ran the shop and it was homemade fudge!! (It was actually pretty good!)

One other fact, I'm not extremely fond of heights.

OK.......finally, the pictures...........................

Heeeere's yur sign..............

That's just what I needed to read! Very reassuring!

Next sign, stating the elevation of the bridge, let's call it a mile.......

(To be fair, that elevation is "above sea level," the bridge itself is spanning a chasm in the mountain that's actually only 80 feet deep. Of course, when you can see for miles all around, vertigo is an issue!)

I told Steve I had to try crossing it after seeing half-a-dozen snot-no
sed kids skipping across! He encouraged me by striding confidently out to the center. His only regret was dressing inappropriately for the altitude! Can you see the goose-bumps on those legs??

Before crossing the bridge, I pause for a moment of prayerful consideration. (OK, I'm actually assuming the fetal position!) Those guy-wires were humming like a choir because of the wind!! It sounded ominous, like a Tibetan funeral chant. Hummmmm.........

Making my way across the bridge...........

.........and I made it!!!!!!

Actually the first shot was taken on my way back across, I was so panicky I didn't want to stop for a photo-op on the way over the first time!!

WOW! It was worth it!!!

to see the rest of my photos, visit my picasa site!
And if you're ever in North Carolina, be sure to visit Grandfather Mountain!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yet more food!!

I'm pretty sure I've put on a few pounds while we've been down here!! When we first arrived I lived under the delusional I thought that I might actually lose a little weight, get a little exercise, eat healthy. Yeah, right!! There's wayyyy too much good food that's too easily accessible down here! Not that accessibility has ever been an issue for me! No, I seem to be able to access food, and lots of it, no matter where I am!!

Night before last we went out for sushi. Steve got friendly with one of our campers who took us to a a great sushi restaurant where he is friends with one of the sushi chefs. It's called Mikado and it was great!! I've been trying to get Steve to go to a sushi restaurant with me since we arrived down here. One night when he was out of town, Ande and I ate at Green Tea Sushi and I've been wanting to do it again ever since. Of course he thought it sounded disgusting when it was my idea, but when a visiting camper talks about it, suddenly he's interested. Whatever! Our friend, Matt, alas, I'm afraid will never try it. He refers to it as "bait." I have to admit, that when I first got up the nerve to give it a try, the names of the entrees were somewhat intimidating. Of course some had rather innocent names like Butterfly Roll or Tuna Roll, but some of them start to sound like one of the Bizarre Foods you'd see Andrew Zimmer eating on the Travel Channel. Eel, squid, octopus......there's just no way to make that sound appealing to me.

The chef, Okki (not sure how it's spelled) was very patient with us and explained many things about the food. For instance, sushi is assumed to always contain raw fish, but that's not the case. Sushi is the word for a vinegared rice dish topped with other ingredients that usually includes fish. Sometimes, the fish component is raw, this is referred to as sashimi. And that's about as educated as I needed to get, I was ready to chow down!! As long as my meal's not staring at me, or still breathing, I'm not too picky!!

I do have to say that food is taken very seriously in most Japanese restaurants and that the presentation is as important as the taste. It's all considered an art form. I would love to visit some of the Asian countires someday to see the pottery and of course eat the food!! I find it pretty fascinating. I recently bought a DVD entitled Eat, Drink, Man, Woman that takes place in Taiwan. It's about a retired chef with 3 daughters. Much of the movie shows the methods they utlilize in that country to cook meals, many are primitive and somewhat graphic. They often start with the live critter and proceed from there to the table! Obviously our meat dishes here in the west begin with a live critter too, we've just managed to remove that step from the general public's concept of eating meat. I suppose we'd have a lot more vegetarians around otherwise. Rent the movie if you enjoy learning about other cultures and can stand to see a little fish gutting.

To top the evening off, Okki made us a special dessert (I don't think he put it on the bill which immediately made him Steve's hero du jour!) It consisted of fried bananas with chocolate sauce and whipped cream!! yum!

Today we went geocaching in a little town east of here called Old Fort. We wanted to be the "first-to-find" on a cache that was just hidden. We found it and then started searching for a place to eat. We don't need our GPS for that, altho I think I did punch "all food" in to the garmin in the car. It directed us to a restuarant on the outskirts of town that had a new name. It was called Tagi's BBQ Junction and that sounded pretty good to us!!

The owner (and chef) welcomed us warmly. His name was John but he went by Tagi. They weren't very crowded because it was late in the afternoon so we got all his attention. He was extremely friendly and recommended we try the sampler platter when we admitted we'd never been there before. He and his wife opened the place last January and he wants it to be the catalyst that puts Old Fort on the map!! He said he specializes in "fusion" BBQ, which means he uses a combination of secret spices. All I know is, it was pretty doggone good (and we were stuffed!!) The sampler included hushpuppies, french fries, cole slaw, baked beans, pinto beans and rice, a veggie burger, a beef brisket sandwich, and a pulled pork, plus 2 kinds of cake for dessert!!! SHWEW!!

I have to say that my favorite dish was Tavi's Special Cake. OMG!!! It was so good. It was a yellow cake with fried apple slices on top soaked in reduced balsamic. If you don't watch the food network, that balsamic part may sound a little gross, but lemme tell you, it was wonderful!! He even brewed me a fresh pot of coffee to wash it all down, no you KNOW that put him on top of my list!!

It was an unforgettable experience. One of many we've had down here. Most of them seem to involve great people and great food!! I suppose it's better for my health that we'll be waddling up to Indiana soon. Although, my son-in-laws family has a lot of good cooks, we may be in BEEEEEG trouble!!

Striking a balance

I'm beginning to feel a little worried. I started this blog as a way to keep track of what has been going on the last 12 months. I suppose that my genetic pre-disposition to forget important happenings was the major "prompting" factor. But when I re-read my posts, I begin to worry that I'm being too dry and ....... factual. My goodness, if anyone besides myself and an obligatory relative read this, well, when I look back at my posts, I pick up on some major, yawn factor (shall I say?)

So perhaps today would be a good time to ramble about deep things, like the meaning of life and whatnot. So here goes!!

Some days, I think of myself as an artist. I spend the day at the studio, and I'm on the wheel, feeling as if I'm "in the zone" cranking out work like nobody's business. (Well, not as fast as some production potters I've had the pleasure of knowing, but at a pretty good clip for me.)

I enjoyed eavesdropping on a make-up class one day being taught by one of the instructors at the studio. After seeing the work being produced by her students and hearing some of her class lectures, I wish I had signed up to take her class this session instead of the one I did. But of course, then I wouldn't have been able to continue focusing on my decorating skills. There aren't enough hours in the day.

What I liked about this instructor's teaching was the critiques she conducted with her students. The way she talked about their work was extremely positive but somehow she managed to make suggestions about something they could do that would make the piece more interesting, or improve its design. I've been trying to do that on my own, but sometimes it's nice to have input from an impartial observer; someone who doesn't have the blood, sweat, and tears, invested in a piece that might taint my view of it. This instructor seems to be able to do that without devastating the person who put that blood, sweat, and tears into the piece of work. That is an admirable skill.

Of course I still have to spend time doing the real "job" that we came down here for - which unfortunately consists of the mundane type of chores I filled my time with the first 20 years of my marriage. Those years consisted of cleaning toilets (and behinds) and chasing dust around the house. I don't regret keeping my focus on "maintaining a home" during those years, as a matter of fact, when I look back on it, there's little I would change. However, I don't want that to be my focus now. Especially when the home I'm "keeping" is a rental unit on a campgrounds.

Fortunately, our decision to come down here during the winter meant that I actually did have enough free time on my hands to spend time at the studio attempting to perfect my ceramics skills.

I still find that I think of myself as more of a crafts person than an artist. I don't feel like my work is making any kind of statement, and I'm not sure I want it to. I like producing something that serves a specific function. (Obviously a painting or sculpture serves a function. It's decorating a wall or floor space, and sometimes also making some sort of social or political statement.) But I think that's what I like about pottery. Aside from liking the 3-dimensional characteristics of it, I like the fact that it's often something that a person might use on a daily basis.

I was telling a friend of mine about Andy Goldsworthy, He's an "environmental" artist who utilizes things in the natural environment to produce works of art. If you're not familiar with him, watch some of the videos posted on youtube. He is completely obsessed with the process of producing his art. I get the impression that it's more important to him than any of life's typical neccessities, like food, water, companionship, etc.

I don't feel as though I'm DRIVEN to produce pottery or art, it's just something I enjoy doing. (I suppose sometimes my husband thinks I'm obsessed with it, but I could spend many more hours on it than I do.) I've done it sporadically to put it mildly, over the years, with stretches lasting days, months, even years, of not even getting my hands muddy. Looking back, I can't say I would do it differently.

I know it sounds archaic, but I can't think of any career or job that would have been any more meaningful to me than taking care of my family was. Of course we had years where we struggled financially and I contributed by finding part-time jobs waiting tables or cleaning dog kennels or horse stalls. I can't say I regret doing any of that either. Well, the only thing I might regret is that it made life a little more hectic. I wish I could have enjoyed and observed many more moments of the kids' "growing up" years, but it was probably good that I had to learn how to budget my time. I had to prioritize what was important.

Having several close friends and relatives pass away in a fairly short time period also forced me to re-prioritize what really mattered to me. It turns out that relationships and the time spent developing them, is the one thing that I think I will regret not spending more time on.

The pottery is fulfilling and enjoyable and I don't think I'd ever completely give it up, but I also don't see a reason to ever let it completely engulf my life. I hope that somewhere along the way I've learned to strike a balance.

I think that some of the current economic problems (and I hate talking politics) are actually a result of the breakdown of traditional family roles. YIKES!! Now that's something I would not have want to admitted 25 years ago!! But it seems as though it's become too commonplace for people to rely on 2 incomes and base their mortgage, car payments, and credit card debt on the dependence of 2 incomes. When one of those incomes suddenly disappears, that can cause major financial problems.

I also have always believed that if many women would be surprised if they calculated all the expenses that come with a career (and I'm only considering the financial expenses now, not the emotional expenses that come as part of it) I think it would be shocking how little income is produced by most full-time jobs, unless a woman is a doctor or lawyer, or owns a large, successful business.

When one figures in the cost of child-care, travel expenses, clothing for the job, and convenience meals, it's surprising how little is left from that paycheck for the work that went into producing it! I guess that it never really seemed worthwhile to me to work full-time. Of course I didn't have the education or experience to make it a difficult decision. It might have been more tempting to pursue a career outside the home if I could've made $40,000 a year. Or $140,000. I dunno, I like to think I would've still made raising my family my priority.

I know that many of my female friends would NOT want to return to the era where women were expected to stay home and cook and clean and raise the children, but part of me wonders if in some ways it might have been a relief to have the roles and expectations so clear. Part of me is glad that women have achieved more "equality" with men, especially in the workplace. I just wish that along the way we hadn't trivialized the importance of raising our children and creating a pleasant home environment. At least for those of us who chose to focus on that.

I guess I've started thinking about it more since my daughter is about to give birth. I think that she and her husband are going to make good decisions about what they need to focus on. I just wonder about other members of their generation who take it for granted that their children will go into daycare as quickly as possible.

Part of me understands why a woman doesn't want to lose her identity to her children, but another part of me thinks that mothers and fathers both should be a little more concerned about who, or what, is influencing their children, whether it's a baby-sitter, a day-care worker, a teacher, a playmate, the TV, or the X-box.

And how I managed to arrive at this topic when I started out talking about art and pottery is beyond me!! I believe this post has been a complete rambling rant!! Well, haven't had one for awhile, guess I'm entitled. Oh!! Entitlement - now there's a whole new topic to rant about. On another day!!