“Welcome, Rosie!”

I have to give a shout out to Rosie here, who is the first person to “follow” my blog!  I thought I was writing in anonymity but hey!  She saw my post about Nie Nie and wrote a lovely comment.  Having taken a look at Rosie’s creative blog I really must say, “thanks for the support, Rosie!”.  Now hers is a real blog.  I’m just getting started.

It was Stephanie, though, who inspired my post that moved Rosie.  Stephanie Nielson, who continues to dominate my thoughts and heart.  Stephanie Nielson, who, it appears, is gradually being roused from her deep, healing sleep.  Slowly they will bring Steph round…and I know the prayers for Stephanie will continue and be renewed once she’s aware and fully aware of what has happened to her.

I am so incredibly awed by how Stephanie, and by extension, her very cool and wonderful sister C Jane / Courtney (gosh, to start mentioning members of either the Clark and Nielson families could go on for paragraphs) has touched so many people around the world.  How being drawn in to this family, whether you’ve “known” Stephanie from her Nie Nie Dialogues or are just getting to “know” her now, through the love of so many bloggers, friends and family members, feels so personal. I mean, I’ve shown her posts to my kids – told them about the auction and latte bowls I’ll be getting – and how I want them to think of Stephanie when we start using the bowls here at home.  I’m not sure it’s possible for my children to have the visceral response to Stephanie et al. that I have…but I sure do want those bowls to mean something.  They will, to me, and I guess that’s enough.  They will serve as a reminder to strive for something more and to celebrate the everyday.  I’m no Stephanie and my blog is no Rosie…but in my own personal way, I want to be the best Jeannie I can.  Ya know what I mean?

Another thing is what I’ve been learning about the Latter Day Saints through my “relationship” with Stephanie and C Jane (and the sisters, and sisters-in-law) and Rosie here, who I also noticed is a Latter Day Saint.  Although I’m Catholic, I really enjoy getting to “know” people who live their Christian faith and are raising their kids in this modern and often immoral world.  I like to be amongst people who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.  I’ve seen so many people receive true blessings within my internet community of friends…and have also interacted with people who don’t believe, who just don’t understand.  I am finding I prefer to “hang out” (albeit cyber-ly) with like-minded people.  Look at how Stephanie Nielson’s situation has effected soooo many people:  this is how God can work in a terrible situation.

I believe He is going to continue to take of her as she wakes up to face her new reality.  And I think Rosie believes it too.

Good Hair Weather Arrives in Atlantic Beach!

October 23, 2008

It isn’t often that I can wear my hair down and feel good about it.  In the humid south, my already big hair swells and feels icky on the back of my neck.  So up it goes in a Sarah Palin-like pre-RNC makeover… a knot, with an edge.  (I do have a bit more style than her pre-stylist librarian bun.  And I do like Governor Palin just for the record, but I digress.  I gotta admit that her hair, though is looking awfully good since someone took over the blow dryer for her). I can’t take any more political talk as I fear that the liberals will be lurching through all branches of government, sadly, within a few weeks.  I’ve been driving myself crazy for the past several months and now that it’s down to just a few days, it’s not looking good for my ticket.  Big sigh.

So, let’s talk about my hair instead.

Good hair weather defined: it’s cooler, drier air that makes my hair feel lighter when worn down, is smoother altogether and keeps the style it had when I left the climate-controlled environment of my house.  Atlantic Beachlife is great but for my long hair, the inherent humidity just makes it go limp, puffy.  Good hair weather makes my hair feel strong, bouncy.

The last time I experienced good hair weather was in March 2008 during a trip to California.  It was blissful to wash and style my hair, wear it loose and feel it swinging on my back instead of growing wider and not moving much, on most days, here in my beloved Atlantic Beach.

There is something to be said for beach hair.  I can scrunch my long hair after washing it, let it dry all curly and IF I DON’T BRUSH IT, EVER it can even look kinda good.  But even then, I pull it up, knot it, but pull out curly tendrils for a look I can live with.  Some days.  Other days, not so much.*

So when the cooler and drier air finally creeps in around this time every year, it’s a good thing for hair.  For my hair.  But still and all, this is the south and while I love what the humidity means for my skin, I prefer the dry mountain or desert air for those good hair days.  I remember being in Beijing in 2005, on the Great Wall in fact.  It was terribly cold and dry in the early days of January but damn.  My hair looked great.  All swingy and healthy looking, just like a commercial for Pantene Pro-V!

So, hello Fall and Winter in Atlantic Beach.  I’m quite glad you’re finally here.  I don’t have to bundle up like those northern winters I remember, I can pull out my southen Fall fashions, and enjoy the absolute best that weather has to offer.  For the next several months.  And I can finally let my hair down.

*scroll down to the ‘Craft Impaired’ post to see a picture of my unfortunate humid air hair style.  There I’ll be, gaping with joy at my daughter’s ghost and wearing the aforementioned humidity hair.

Making Room for More…

Soon I’ll be welcoming six more latte bowls from Mesa, Arizona.  I’m the proud winner of the Anthropologie latte bowls from the Blissfest Auction for the Nie Recovery Fund.  I’m so excited.  I first bid on them a few days ago thinking I’d give them a bump in price.  Today was the last day of the auction, and as the day progressed I found that someone else wanted them as much as I did…and I’d become attached to the idea of those bowls coming home to me.  I know it’s silly, getting emotionally attached to some bowls of all things, but it’s really Stephanie and her family that’s at the root of my attachment.  

Of course I’d read her post about her love for latte bowls and being a latte bowl lover myself, I was attracted to them.  I’ve had my own latte bowls since 1995 and actually did drink latte out of them (though now they’re used for soups, cereals and ice cream when I snapped them up at a coffee shop in Toronto.  I’ve loved them ever since and let me tell you, they are sturdy little bowls!  I was a childless girl longing for her children when these bowls came into my life.  Now my family is complete and bowls are used every day, much like Steph used hers.  I have no doubt that Steph will one day make that ceramic piece she’d envisioned from her own broken latte pieces.  Perhaps it will make a wonderful occupational therapy project for her when that time is right.  Who knows!?  With all the wonderful things that are happening for the Nielsons because of the people who know them in real life and people who’ve come to know them online, I feel privileged to be part of it all.  It sounds mawkish, I know, but having those latte bowls in my home will remind me to celebrate the everyday, as she did.

I hope that one day soon she will realize the magnitude of her impact on the people who now know her, and that it will somehow buoy her spirits for her long recovery ahead.

Parting Ways with Publix

Dear Publix,

I’ve left you, just like I promised I’d would, if you didn’t attend to my issue.  I thought things might change after our last…conversation.  But they didn’t, and surprisingly, I don’t miss you!  I actually don’t even mind grocery shopping as much as I used to, probably because I’m not spending as much anymore.  It’s true.  Your prices are too high, and you have proven to me that you don’t deserve my business.  I told you three times exactly how much I spent on groceries in 2007.  (I know this appalling fact because of the credit card’s annual breakdown of expenditures.)  I told you that I’d take that $12k across the street and over the bridge, and now, Publix, I’ve done just that.

And it’s been several weeks, too.

The spending on groceries is down.  And we’ve got all kinds of good things to eat here.

So I’ll come in for the Boar’s Head meats occasionally.  And the the other butcher meats, occasionally.  But Terry’s Country Store is getting most of that business.  And I plan to clean up on the buy one/get one items.  I was in about a week ago and I stuck to the plan.  It wasn’t hard at all!  

I’m telling ya, Publix.  You blew it.


Your former loyal customer in Atlantic Beach who is now Friends with Food Lion, Getting Winned Over by Winn-Dixie, and as always, Tickled by Target’s prices on foodstuffs.

See ya.


From Where I Sit

It’s a lovely Fall day in my little corner of the world.  Musing mostly on being grateful rather than wantful, though material yearnings poke me when I click on those clever and incredible design blogs or watch HGTV while folding laundry…but still.  I am completely content with my place in the world and although I know there are so many other lovely places to live, this place suits me.  It isn’t a place of spectacular beauty, rather, it’s the lure of the coastal life that does me in every time.  I grew up thinking it would be so magical to live close to a Great Lake or the ocean…and guess what?  I’ve done both.  If I’m quiet enough to consider my life,  I see how so many of my dreams have come true.

It’s the weather that I love and the autumn through spring times that are absolutely delish here in this part of the Florida coast.  People say we have no seasons here!  So not true.  It’s just that the changes are more subtle here.  The light changes, the sea changes, the wind changes, the air changes.

It’s too lovely for studying in the house so I set up my camp on the front porch here and with the joys of wireless technology I’m able to study and relish this day with its sea breeziness and autumn skies and 83 degree day.  Life on my front porch.  It’s something to be grateful for!
Craft-Impaired Gardening Girl Rescued by Daughter…
Spooky Ghost Lives on the Front Porch Chair.

While I am most certainly craft-impaired, I’ve been known to get overly excited about my abilities and wind up with a bagful of craft supplies and no idea about how to execute anything out of such various items as craft paints in Halloween colors (including funky glitter paints), cheesecloth and googly eyes, white paper plates and yes, some Murano-glass-like pumpkins, cool and edgy and ready for display.  My type of craft (the non craft) and frankly, what were these lovely glass pumpkins doing at JoAnn Fabrics in the first place?  No matter.  I bought the rest of them.  

Which left me with that bag full  of crafts…and no inspiration.  I do love craft paints, but what?  I paint terra cotta pots, but how many of those can one home use? 

Inspired by the cute ghost featured on the cheesecloth package, Jeannie tried to make one all by herself when the kids were at school.  My daughter, Lily, upon viewing the outcome says bluntly, “it didn’t turn out.”  And of course she was right.  It didn’t.  It looked stupid.  It missed the mark.  It could have been cute, should have been cute, but was not cute.  

I lose patience and interest very quickly and move on to things I really love doing.  I am a gardener.  I’m a photographer.  I read.  I go to the beach.  So tonight, I’m gardening.  It’s a lovely Fall evening, warm and mild, and I’m peacefully pulling weeds, sweeping the curb, transplanting some things, taking pictures. Being with the cats.

So Lily trotted out to hang with me and watched me messing around with the silly ghost I’d made, trying somehow to make it look right.  She patiently helped me fumble from one manipulation to the next when she finally suggested, “you take the head stuffing out and just drape it over the chair…” so we did.

And voila!  We had a ghost that looked right!  Lily rocks the house.

Getting to Know Nie Nie

While studying for the Florida Life, Health and Variable Annuity State Exam (punctuated by many naps and detours into the blogging world) I found the blog already made famous by the adorable Stephanie Nielson…and her family.  This young mom had been blogging about her marriage, kids, extended family, and all its nuances when one day back in August she and her adorable husband with whom she seemingly has an adorable marriage and family, went down in a private plane crash.  Their pilot/friend was killed.  Stephanie and Christian sustained very bad burns.  He was burned in about 30 percent of his body; she in over 80 % of hers.  I found her sister’s blog, in which she and her other sister, indeed, the whole, large, extended family are keeping the ball rolling.  Their kids are now living with two of Steph’s sisters and the blogging community has raised in excess of $100,000 for this couple’s recovery!  It is utterly amazing.

So in between studying, I’ve been getting to know Steph and her hubby; her sisters and the kids; and a bit about their great faith in Our Lord through their Latter Day Saints religion.

I cannot, literally cannot stop thinking about her.  Her darling freckled face with its impish smile that one of her daughters wears like she’s her little sister.  Of her marriage and all that she has seemingly put into it.  The kind of faith her family members have, and have proclaimed, some of them on blogs of their own.  I love this family.  I love their commitment.  To each other, to the Lord, to living life to its fullest.

I cannot stop thinking of her.  Of her, with her arms wrapped around her husband, adoringly.  Of her arms full of her children, or draped across her sisters’ shoulders, their own adorable faces clustered together for an impossibly cute photo.  And oh!  The photos!  Nie Nie’s blog is filled with photos like the crafty scrapbooker that she obviously is.  I love this young woman.  

I cannot stop thinking of her.  My eyes fill with tears knowing she will never look the same, wondering about what is really happening to her body, there in the Maricopa County Hospital’s Burn Unit.  Her hubby is progressing and her sister writes that he spoke to his little boy on the phone the other night!  These are people who are blessed with both physical beauty and inner beauty.  I know their beauty will endure.  But I do cringe, just cringe, knowing that someone who has been so extensively burned, will never look the same.  She’s been in a chemically induced coma for nearly two months now.  Will that affect her cognitively?  Will she recover and be able to have a normal existence?  Am I naive to hope that she will?

Oh Stephanie.  Oh Courtney, and Lucy and Page.  The four sisters.  And your brothers, whose names I haven’t yet memorized.  Oh Christian.  But I know, I know you will pull through one way or another.  Your collective faith is now a testimony to a wider world that desperately needs to see how family values can be intertwined through tragedy, and how life and smiles can go on amidst the tears.  How beautiful and stylish girls can save themselves for their handsome husbands and celebrate married sexuality in a way that God intends for us to!  Joyfully!  So much, Stephanie, have you shared with the world in your 27 years…and now your family is carrying on your tradition wonderfully and it is through them that I am getting to know you all.  

Love, Jeannie