"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Big News! And Shameless Self Promotion

Just have to share - First, for those of you who didn't know, I was contacted about 6 weeks ago by the owner/writer for the blog Beantown Bride.... a very legit, influential and prestigious wedding blog that features real life weddings, venues and vendors in the state of Massachusetts - mostly Boston (thus Beantown). She had been on Etsy and had been exploring different shops. She asked if she could feature my shamrock tile magnet wedding favors that I sell on my Etsy shop, The Celtic Heart.

Since Boston and Massachusetts are IRISH to their core, I jumped at the chance! I sent her pics and a little write up about why I create Celtic wedding things to sell. We have been corresponding off and on since then. Well, today is the BIG day! She has featured the magnet tiles on the Beantown Bride and I am giving away 50 of them to some lucky bride! As you can imagine, I am ready to jump out of my skin!!! The Celtic Heart has been picked up by a big blog and promoted on the site. You can see here: http://beantownbride.com/blog/wedding-favor-giveaway-massachusetts-brides-hand-stamped-shamrock-tile-magnets

 Unbelievable! You will see my feature about mid-way down the page, so scroll down. While you are there on her blog, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on PRESS and you can see where she has been featured in different online wedding sites (the really 2 BIG ones) and other wedding sources and newspapers. I'll keep you posted as to who wins and the results!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Confession Friday - I'm a Swinger

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.  ~J. Lubbock

Confession Fridays return!  If you are a follower, you are very familiar with my Friday confessions. For those of you who are new to Late to the Party, Friday is a good day for "the baring of my soul and the telling of my darkest secrets" to all of you.  Please keep in mind that I haven't written in about six months, so I am just a wee bit rusty.  Here we go.....

I am a "swinger".  Swinging is near and dear to my heart.  It fulfills me and fills a void that my soul longs for.  Shocking, I know..... I LOVE to participate in swinging.  The thrill, the way it makes my body feel..... And yes, Ed knows I swing.  In fact, he arranged my swinging activity from the get-go.  There are few secrets in MY marriage.

Okay, even I am getting a little uncomfortable about the creepiness factor in the paragraph above.  In the words of Ernest P. Worrel, "Eeeeewwwww."  I feel like I need a shower or a good cigarette. 

Relax, it isn't what you think.  Thank God, you are saying to yourself at this point.  So let's cut to the chase....

HAMMOCKS.  I love hammocks. Not just any hammock, oh, no. But before we get to that, let me enlighten you on the lovely and interesting world of hammocks.  Interesting?  YES!  Read for yourself....

According to Wikepedia: "A hammock is a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting, suspended between two points, used for swinging, sleeping, or resting.  It normally consists of one or more cloth panels, or a woven network of twine or thin rope stretched with ropes between two firm anchor points such as trees or posts. Hammocks were developed by native inhabitants of Mexico for sleeping. Later, they were used aboard ships by sailors to enable comfort and maximize available space, and by explorers or soldiers traveling in wooded regions. Today they are popular around the world for relaxation; they are also used as a lightweight bed on camping trips. The hammock is often seen as symbol of summer, leisure, relaxation and simple, east living."

Native Americans used hammocks, as was discovered by the Spanish during the Spanish conquest. The origin of the word "hammock" is from the West Indies meaning "fish net", from nets made from fibers of the hamack tree. Hammocks were used to help protect the native peoples from snakes, insects, biting ants and some animals. 

Even Christopher Columbus liked a good hammock and transported some back to Europe from the Bahamas. Then in the late 16th Century (1500's if you get confused like I do), the Royal Navy started using hammocks on board ships.  Before the introduction of hammocks, sailors were at great risk of injury and death from being thrown out of their rigid berths during storms or heavy seas.  With hammocks, they swung and moved with the ships' motions and the sailors were enveloped inside of them.

Even into World War II, hammock were still used in our ships.  And during that conflict the US Marines adopted the jungle hammock which was used in the South Pacific, then later in Vietnam.  Did you know that NASA used hammocks for the astronauts in the Lunar Module during the Apollo program when man landed on the moon?  And you thought hammocks weren't educational and interesting, didn't you?

You might be asking yourself  how I got to be so obsessed with hammocks? Well, I'll tell you....

My love of hammocks comes from my dear, dear Uncle Jack - my father's brother-in-law who was married to my Aunt Etta.  He was a teddy bear of a man.  Big and gruff with marshmallows on the inside.  I spent weeks on end at their home during the summers growing up.  Now Uncle Jack liked to relax, unwind, and appreciated and valued the restorative value of a good nap on a summer's afternoon.  And the best place to do this is in a hammock in the cooling shade of big maple and oak trees with a gentle warm breeze blowing.  Add a glass of cold lemonade, though my beverage of choice would be a blueberry martini or a pina colada.  But there is a caveat to this scenario.  You MUST calculate in what I call "the swing factor".

You see, different types of hammocks provide different swing factors. For example, if you are fortunate enough to have 2 large substantial trees growing close together, so close that you can attach hammock hardware to each tree and suspend you hammock between them, you have the ultimate in swing.  But most of us swingers are not that lucky and this is where your choice of hammock frame becomes crucial.  There are hammock frames where the hammock attaches to four places, two at each end, resulting in the most stability but minimal swing factor, which is fine for small children and initiates into the world of suspended relaxation. But this to me isn't what the fine art of hammocking is about.  Nix the four-point hammock stand.  Then there is one level up, the three-point hammock.  This hammock suspends from two points at one end and a singular one at the opposing end. Still somewhat stable and a little better swinging, this is for the somewhat experienced intermediate hammocker.  Which brings me to the hammock stand and hammock of choice for me - the two pointer.  Just as in being attached to two trees, the hammock stand accomodates the hammock at one point on each end.  Aahhh...nirvana achieved.  The art of hammocking at its' best. 

There are hazards involved in hammocking, particularly in the two-point hammock.  With a larger swing factor comes the method in which one proceeds to get into the hammock.  And if you have bad knees as I do, all precautions should be taken or you will find yourself hitting the hard ground instead of lying comfortably in the cocooning folds of the hammock.  Approach the CENTER of the hammock walking BACKWARDS into it until you feel the material of the hammock touch the back of your thighs or knees.  Continue to SLOWLY walk backwards, pushing the hammock into an almost vertical upright position.  Make sure your buttocks make contact, grab the edge of the fabric, bend the knees into a sitting/squatting position and lower yourself into the hammock, making sure that your hind end is still in contact at ALL TIMES.  Take a deep breath, gather your courage, sit and straighten your legs in one awkward movement and PRAY that you don't slip out or flip backwards.  Lift your feet and turn on your hiney to EASE yourself into a prone horizontal position in the center of the hammock, again using precise and measured movements.  Congratulations!  You have now entered into the Hammock Zone of relaxation.  Please note:  Before committing to lying in the hammock make sure 1) you go to the bathroom, 2) have all reading material and pillows with you and 3) all beverages are in easy reach.  Failure to do so will cause you to struggle to get out of the hammock which is almost as bad and dangerous as getting into it and having to repeat the entry process.  Unless, of course, you have children or grandchildren or a willing, doting spouse who can be your legs and go fetch whatever you may need.  In the case of needing a bathroom, however, you are on your own.
Though not mine, this looks very much like the setting in my backyard.

Late last summer, Ed gifted me with a gi-normous hammock of my very own - a two-pointer, none-the-less. And so now June, luscious June, is upon us and hammock time is here once again.

For me, my favorite time of day to be in my hammock is almost dusk.  Located up under the canopy of the lush green leaves of midsummer of the grand old trees in my backyard, surrounded by trailing ivy, I lie in a woodland setting of fireflies with the sounds of the birds' evensong and the strange rise and fall of the melodic cicadas in their symphony with the accompanying crickets.  I am transported into a world away from my modern life and daydream of fairies, elves, and Celtic lore.  I visualize lists of the creative things I want to make, the books I want to read, the far away and distant places I would love to visit.  The last of the sun sets, the greens and browns of the woods and the golden orange of the sky fades, and the colors disappear into the gray of night.  If I had a mosquito net, I would stay well into the night sleeping in my suspended bed.

Now if I can just get Ed to add twinkle lights!

All I can say is that there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, that is as relaxing and soothing as being a swinger in a hammock.  Hammock swinging is not the same as swinging in a porch swing or being in a lawn glider.  No, it is more subtle, more sublime, more delicious. 

It teaches one the art of the guilty pleasure of daydreaming, of passing time specifically designed to squander, of doing absolutely nothing except enjoying a summer day or evening, relishing the ever gentle motion of the hammock.  Thank you Uncle Jack! What an absolutely wonderful life's lesson to learn!  I wish it for all of you.

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.  ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Muse Awakens

It has been a while since I posted....anything....6 months to be precise.  The Muse has lain dormant. Much has happened in 6 months. When I am consumed by another calling, another Muse, all else is pushed aside. 

Since I last composed anything for Late to the Party, I have celebrated Christmas and New Year's.  I have survived another legislative session at the Georgia House of Representatives.  I have planned and produced my 40th wedding vow renewal and celebration, a grand success in May.  I have gained weight, lost weight and gained it again. I have sworn to pick up the exercise gauntlet again, only to fail miserably.  So publicly, I promise to start walking once more...now it's offficial and you all can hold me accountable and to my word,

I have worked like a dog on my Etsy shop, The Celtic Heart, and watched two daughters get new jobs and another daughter lose one, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.... losing a job, that is.  She has been given the opportunity to spread her wings even more, shall we say, and that is always a wonderful thing. 

I have become obsessed with Celtic lore and history, an off shoot of planning my vow renewal party which was at an Irish pub and the ceremony incorporated Celtic symbols and traditions.  My Irish roots are calling me.

I have seen a dear nephew just on the beginning cusp of an addiction recovery to a full-blown sober life.  You can read the latest in his journey here on  http://erindrello.blogspot.com/2012/06/vacation.html.  And if you have followed me at all, you know I love stories of epiphanies.  Congrats, Erin, wonderfully done.

Ed continues to take care of me when I need it and sometimes when I don'g and love me through it all.  He turns 62 next week and combined with 40 years of marriage to this man, I ponder to where all the years have flown off  and how can we actually be discussing which year in the near future to start drawing Social Security. WTH?

The Fab 5 grands have had birthdays and milestones to count; they are, after all, growing up despite my protests.

We have taken another yearly trip to Hilton Head Island, albeit a very short one this time.  I can tell the South Carolina kids are growing up.  Only the youngest one, Cale, took us up on any bribes to learn new things in the pool.  We got away with only having to shell out $7 to him only.  His big sister Erin was too busy with the other teens at the pool and Walker said he had learned enough swimming.  Sad but true, they are learning independence. 

Erin, our oldest Fab, is on her way to SCarolina's Governor's School for the Arts for an intensive 5 week summer ballet training.  Can't wait to see what she has learned at the performance at the end of the summer

The remaining two of the Fab 5 have had their ups and downs.  Carson's biggest challenge is reading...no, that's not right... learning to LIKE reading.  And fight his fear of timed tests.  Olivia, who used to never read, has discovered books, particularly The Hunger Games series and animal books.  Her goal is to read all of James Herriot's series All Thing Bright and Beautiful. Olivia has just returned from a Young Woman's church camp.  As I write, they are at First Tee day camp learning the nuances of golf. 

The future holds bright and promising things.  A big trip in the fall.  More Etsy business opportunities.  An upcoming week at the SCarolina daughter's house with no men, filled with creativity and fun. working on Etsy items....maybe.

The need to write has returned.  Funny how the Muse works.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Legos for Christmas - It's LEGO FRIDAY!

Legos are high on the list for a couple of the Fab 5 - that's the grandkids, just in case you have forgotten.  So to get into the swing of the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share some Lego videos with you all.  Ladies and gentlemen, these are NOT the legos of our childhood.  So take a look and have fun! Oh, and there might be more through the Christmas season so keep an eye out for them...you'll get the joke and groan after you watch the video......  Merry Christmas!

Hope your Christmas Season comes together in little pieces that make one big Happy Holiday!

Musing about Muses and Christmas

Oh, yes, I have been away from the blog for months.  But when The Muse is dormant there isn't anything I can do about it.  I should say the Writing Muse has been quiet, for the Artistic Muse has had me in her grips and control for sometime now.  I have been working feverishly on the Etsy shop (which is under a new name, by the way - The Celtic Heart - if you are so inclined as to take a look.  The Flyboy's Baby, the original name is now the Vintage section of the shop....stop by and take a look at The Celtic Heart .....as I was saying, I have been a mad woman making Short Scarf Neck Warmers, covered buttons, Christmas ornaments and beaded wrap bracelets, as well as selling 31 Gifts, my newest venture, which I might add, is a wonderful company to represent.  So let's get the shameless plugging over with - here are the link 31 Gifts http://www.mythirtyone.com/PamAndGabriel/ .  If you are so inclined, please go take a look at both 31 and Etsy!  Now onto the real reason for this long awaited post...Okay, I know you all have not lost sleep in anticipation and pondering if I would ever write another blog entry, but I have!

It is the second day of December and the time of the year that I circle the wagons, so to speak.  Candles get lit, the house gets decorated, music is on and the TV is set to the sappy holiday movies on Lifetime and Hallmark rather than the news stations.  In other words, the real world is shut out, avoided, shunned.  If only for a few weeks, I try to capture "the warm fuzzies" before we all return to the chaos and day to day routine of normal life after the New Year.

Last year I shared with you different aspects of Christmas time and the holidays that make it special to me.  I hope I accomplished that goal.  Just today, I went back and reread some of those blog entries.  And it was then that the Muse called her siren's call.  Who can deny the Muse?  And so I am in the clutches of the Writing Muse once again.  Between the magic of Christmas and the overwhelming desire to compose, I surrender....surrender to the wonderful elixir of words and language and phrases, an elixir that is to me as intoxicating as any liquor.  How lovely!  So given that I have no choice over this element of creativity, I am committing to blogging this Holiday Season.  Fulfilling for me, possibly entertaining for you.  We shall see.....

So I am committing to writing on the blog once again.....expect in the next month my take on December and the festivities and soul searching that comes during this time of year.  A December Word of the Month, some reflective pieces on the holidays, and if they are out there, new Flash Mob videos for Flash Mob Mondays!  I know you are all just waiting with bated breath.....hang on, I'll be posting some new stuff shortly! 

P.S. And yes, it is BATED breath, not BAITED breath, for those of you who really care and for those of you that think I have a typo.  Bated means "almost to stop", thus holding your breath waiting for the next entry to this blog......  End of English grammar lesson.  Sorry....I just can't help myself......Carry on!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Requiem for Summer

"Summer is like the ultimate one-night stand....hot as hell, totally thrilling, and gone before you know it." ~ Author unknown

Summer 2011 in the deep South took us with a vengeance, as it did with most of the country.  Days the temperature hovered in the 80's were in the spring and short-lived.  Choking ninety degree heat, closer to the century mark, has been the norm with little respite in the form of rain or cooler temps.  Our little waist-high pool was much used by the Fab 5 grandkids and I particularly enjoyed the new hammock we purchased and set up in the shade of the trees in the backyard.  We anxiously anticipated our vacation to Hilton Head Island at the end of August and enjoyed it immensely even though I had a tooth extracted while there and Hurricane Irene threatened to ruin the last few days but in the end was no more that some heavy rain squalls and wind on our last day. 

As we drove back to Atlanta, tired from our vacation and using the proverbial joke about needing a vacation to recover from our vacation, it dawned on me that something had changed while we were away. At first I couldn't pinpoint exactly what the change was.  I just knew it had.  After riding in silence watching the gray band of highway pass under our car and the dusty trees of late summer edging the interstate slide by mile after mile, it came to me:  the light - the light was what was different.  It wasn't the light of late summer - that blaring white hot light that heats the air to the point you feel you can't breathe.  No, there had been over the course of the week a shift in the light and the haze it produced was the pronouncement that summer is dying and we were witnessing the initial hint of the autumn season that will soon overtake summer and send it on its way.  Looking out the big picture window of our home just a few days ago, we saw the evidence of falling leaves scattered on the lawn. Labor Day, summer revelers' last hurray, brought rain from Hurricane Lee and with it temperature highs barely in the 70's yesterday and just 65-68 degrees today. 

Yes, temperatures will rebound into the eighties, possibly nineties, as they are expected to do so by week's end.  But for all practical purposes, summer is over.  Summer with its fireflies and hammocks, swimming pool fun, meteor showers, lush green foliage, watermelons and homegrown tomatoes,  popsicles and snow cones, and all the hundred other little things that make summer fun, laid back, worth savoring. 

So....Good-bye Summer.  For some inexplicable reason I will miss you more this year than usual. I'm not quite sure I know why. Yet I do know, as sure as the passing of the seasons, I will embrace Autumn as I always do.  The boxes of fall decorations are already pulled down from the attic, waiting to be placed on the mantel and hearth, around doorways, in the dining room.  Hello, Fall.......
"Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled.  The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season's last crops."
-   Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis 

Back to Normal - If I am ever THAT!

"Writer's block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite."  ~Terri Guillemets

After a short and eventful summer I am back to writing.  Most of you know I broke my arm on Memorial Day weekend and that made it quite difficult to write.  Then I got busy with grandkids coming to visit, starting a new business venture as a 31 Gifts consultant (insert shameful plug - www.mythirtyone.com/PamAndGabriel), a wonderful week's vacation at Hilton Head Island, joining the Y to get these blasted last 50 + pounds off, and being distracted in other areas of my life.  All that adds up to  less time to put the thought and effort into writing and the ever dreaded writer's block.

Now, however, Labor Day has come and gone.  Putting my thoughts down and playing with words are once again calling my name.  I really, truly am back this time to write.  Hope you will join me, as in the past, for the ride!  Stay tuned......