Positing my Present Participles

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Loving…this sign at the diner this morning.

Packing…for a quick trip back to Kansas City this weekend.

Listening…to the Pandora station: Wynton Marsalis – so good!

Archiving…my entire email inbox into a file to deal with later. I need a fresh start before getting woefully behind again!

Popping…some Pop Rocks Scott brought home to me earlier this week – as a fun surprise.

Stressing…a little over an upcoming anniversary celebration. Self-inflicted pressure is so dumb.

Appreciating…the life we are living right now. It’s crazy and jumbled and we don’t really have a home sweet home, but we are enjoying this time together immensely – WITHOUT the pressures of Scott being called away on a train at any unforeseen moment.

Dreaming…of Fall weather. Too early? Yes?

Laughing…over a morning phonecall from a friend – describing her technology woes with all the grace of an SNL skit.

Feeling…proud of Scott’s quick adjustment and rise within his new work position.

Thinking…about future writing projects.

Loving…the familiar feel of popping Pop Rocks in my mouth.

Remembering…just how truly nasty they taste!

Looking…forward to the weekend. Be it ever-so-brief, I have a good traveling partner who makes me laugh.

Praying…for good weather this Saturday evening for a photo session I’m shooting. (and by ‘good’ I mean ‘overcast’!)

Hoping…your weekend is beyond all your wildest imaginations!

Have a wonderful, safe, loving and hilariously fun weekend, my friends!!

xoxo ~ g

project life :: getting back in the game

Knowing that I would be somewhat isolated in a hotel room for a few weeks, I decided to tackle a travel album about our trip out west. I have to admit, it took me a little while to get back into the swing of things. It’s been since before our move that I’ve done any significant scrapbooking to speak of. I am not a good cropper. I don’t particularly enjoy scrapbooking anywhere else but home. It’s difficult for me to select the potential papers and embellishments I might need. And invariably, I leave something behind that I reeeeeeally wish I had brought with me. It is moments like that in which I am forced to embrace simplicity and come to turns with the idea that ‘this is enough’.

I knew I couldn’t lug my sewing machine to Omaha with me, so I decided to embellish with sewing after I returned back home. Man am I missing the textural addition of some sewn lines here and there.

Here are a few of the pages I’ve somewhat completed…

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The obnoxiousness of commerce.

Grant it, this will be a bit of a soapbox posting. I suppose everyone has that ‘thing’ (or two) that really drives them over the edge. It might not even be that big of a deal to someone else, but to you, it’s maddening.

Such is this post.

I am sitting in the dining room of our hotel, with my laptop, reader and camera. I’m in the far corner, and most likely, completely unnoticeable – just as I had hoped.

But I’m listening to everyone around me.

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There are not many families staying here on this Wednesday. The temporary residents seem to be made up, predominately, of business travelers. And mostly men at that.

There are 4 men, sitting at a table together, eating the hotel’s superb breakfast. Each of them are sporting their Jabra headsets. It’s a little too early in the morning to roll my eyes over their seemingly self-importance. I can certainly appreciate the importance of those headsets while driving. In fact some companies (like Scott’s) require their employees to wear them while driving and talking on the phone. I get that. But it takes a millisecond to hook onto your ear; why is it important to wear them the second you wake up?! Then again, perhaps they sleep in them too and forgot they have them on while enjoying their egg white and spinach muffin with a side of fruit.

Then there is the table in the middle of the eating area which holds two men, eating their power breakfast while talking on a conference call. ALL of us, in reality, are on that conference call. People sit silently at their tables; somehow feeling responsible to be quiet and not interrupt this business call going on in the middle of our Frosted Flakes and french toast.

My phone dings with a text from Scott. I quickly – with unconscious reflex – turn off the sound.

There is a man behind me that at one moment was talking to some fellow businessmen when I heard a phone ring. The next moment he was saying to his fellow waffle eaters, “It’s my wife…” and then he answered his phone. He continued to sit at their table as he planned to attend his son’s game after his wife picks him up at the airport. No, no…on second thought, he decides to just go home after getting home (his flight is at 7:16pm) and wait for the boys to get home after the game. It is his first trip to Omaha, he informs his captive wife (and his captive table-mates.) He describes the Old Market area as a refurbished area of town that he quips, “Is pretty cool.”

I forcibly stopped listening once he asked what she had on her plate for the day. His silent breakfast companions were not as lucky.

I turned my attention back to writing but had the slight urge to peek over my chair and nudge the husband: “Hey. Be sure to ask her if she’s out of toilet paper and needs for you to pick some up on the way home. Go ahead!; we’ll wait…”

I don’t think this is an age discrepancy complaint; nor borne out of my envy for their business lifestyle. In fact, I’m quite certain it’s not jealousy. I’ve lived in that world and hope to never return; it simply wasn’t for me.

That leaves me with the question that I think I have an answer for, but am trying to find other alternatives. What drives a person to suspend the realities of those around them to do something solely for themselves? How do they internally weigh the importance and priority of what they choose to do or not to do?

Why didn’t the conference call guests use the meeting room as a place to make their public, speakerphone call? Why didn’t they sit off to the side of the lobby?

Why didn’t the man call his wife before leaving his room so that they could plan their personal lives in private? Why didn’t he step off to the side to take his call so his fellow business travelers could continue to enjoy their breakfast conversation?

A man and his wife and child just walked into the breakfast room. Their daughter has tight, bouncing curls and is full of morning energy. They talked quietly over their toast and eggs and at one point the daughter asked an enthusiastic question to her mom who immediately gave a motherly “Shhh…”, admonishing the miniature Shirley Temple to lower her voice to an ‘acceptable’ level.

People amaze me. Where do we learn manners and who determines when and where they can be suspended?

I am not the most mannerly, courteous person at times. My husband and children have often ‘yelled’ at me for my texting and driving (I’m trying to be better.) But the one thing that gets my goat (…what a funny phrase that is…) more than anything else is Entitlement. When people determine that their conversation or their business is of greater importance than the people around them. People who lazily cross a street, reading their phone, completely oblivious to the cars, impatiently waiting for them to get across safely. People who loudly talk on their phone, making area conversations impossible. In general, people who inject themselves into others’ space without their permission or desire.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is sit in a public place and pretend to read or write or listen to music on my headphones, all the while listening to the way other people conduct their lives. It’s a fascinating exercise in human observation. I only know what I know. I am fascinated by the way other people make choices and conduct their daily life – and how they are different or similar to mine. Sometimes I hear intriguing stories. Sometimes I swallow a lump of sympathy, welling up in my throat. Many times I am amazed at the tenderness with which relationships are formed and cultivated.

Then there are the times that I am forced to hear the perceived selfishness and oblivious disregard of our more sinister tendencies in life.

So make your public conversations count.
Someone may be on their laptop nearby, fueled by a Venti Starbucks, listening with curious ears, with their fingers busily recording your words and deeds.

Now for just one more bowl of shredded wheat and I’m on my way…

Greetings from a (now) busy, hotel dining room in downtown Omaha -
g

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Adventures in the Oh! – setting up camp

When we first moved to Omaha, I wanted to ‘showcase’ all the progressive and growing parts of Omaha so people wouldn’t have the ‘corn-fed-backwards-Nebraska’ mindset about this city.

But then I ran into quite a few ‘corn-fed-backwards-Nebraska’ people and had some unpleasant encounters with them and my resolve to highlight Omaha’s progressive parts declined in priority in my mind.

And that wasn’t really fair to Omaha.

Now we are back for about six weeks, living out of a hotel, and my Omaha-is-Cool resolve is renewed.

One of the greatest sections of Omaha is the Old Market. I’ve talked about this area of the city since I first met Scott about 5 years ago. We have shopped and eaten and consumed caffeine and dreamed in this district area many, many times over the course of 5 years. It was our favorite area to come to and unwind.

Now we find ourselves living in the heart of it. I never cease to be amazed how life has so many little jokes and twists and turns to it.

Our view of downtown and Old Market is ironically fun…

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The Old Market area is made up of old, abandoned warehouses from many years past. The city refurbished the old warehouses and turned them into shops, and eateries and lofts. It is definitely where ‘all the cool kids’ live. The majority of the shops are locally owned, making it a hotbed for unique creativity and local flavor.

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We took a walk around the block last night and I took pictures along the way so that you could walk along with us!

You can see our hotel (Hyatt Place), tucked into the heart of it all. This hotel was under construction while we lived here, so it’s fun to be staying in a practically brand new hotel.

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A painted, brick wall with some of the local places to shop and eat. (And, a cute husband standing in front of it.) There are many bicyclists in this area or you can rent a bike and enjoy the neighborhood that way. I am very tempted to do that occasionally while Scott is at work during the days.

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The below picture has a personal story attached to it. This area is at a direct angle from the front of our hotel. Last year my extended family took a picture here when they were up for a visit. Who knew at that time the trajectory of the year to come?! Crazy.

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Next to our ‘home’ is a juice bar, Little Kings sub shop and a restaurant I am excited to try for the first time called Plank Seafood Provisions – specializing (obviously) in seafood. They are an oyster bar and seafood grill.

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Unfortunately (…I’m totally lying. What I really mean is ‘FORTUNATELY’!…) exactly right across the street from our hotel is an old-fashioned ice cream shop. In the past, Scott has always loved their malt shakes and me? I will take ice cream in any form offered!!

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And an even BIGGER temptation for me is located just around the corner…cupcakes!! I thought I would just go ahead and get the cupcake purchase out of the way last night, so I bought a French Vanilla Strawberry cupcake. I wanted it to be just so-so. I really, really wanted it to be that. But it was heeeeeaaaavvvennnnlllyyyyy. Oh my. Six weeks of cupcake intake? This could be bad. Very bad!

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I might be showing you a picture of the end-of-the-day, almost-empty cupcake display.
I might be showing you a picture of my cute husband.
Or,
I might be showing you a picture of the cute little guy working behind the counter.

I’m not telling.

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Spaghetti Works is certainly our go-to place to eat in Old Market. We love their salad bar (really!) and I love their fresh tomato sauce. Last night I got their angel hair pasta with one HUGE meatball on top. The freshly cut tomatoes that were smothered all over it was summerly scrumptious!

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Old Market offers casual dining as well as fine dining. You can get a sub, a slice of pizza, fresh salmon or a roasted duck tart. There is Italian, Mexican, American and foods from coast to coast and everything in between. And bar offerings? A plethora! I LOVE the food and beverage selections offered here.

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We had a late-night hankering for some bar scene sit-down, so we walked around the corner to Billy Frogg’s Grill and Bar.

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This bundled up baby girl was so cute! She turned her head after I asked Mama if I could take a picture – but you get the idea. And isn’t Mama a cutie too?! Something tells me this little girl will be decked out in pink and frills for as long as Mama can get away with it!

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He doesn’t look quite as cute as the above baby in her pink tennies, but he is extremely patient when I say, “Don’t move. The lighting is really good…”

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Someday I am going to be able to duplicate this intertwined S and g. Meanwhile, I just keep taking pictures of it. The cigar smells wafting out of this shop are simply divine.

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I mentioned the cupcake place, right?… oh dear.

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I wish there was a reality show for how quickly someone can set up a hotel room to look like home. I would totally win that.

‘Dear CBS -
I have this awesome idea…’

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Another thing I immediately found ironic, our hotel window is facing the Union Pacific Headquarters. I have both loved and hated that building at various times in my life.

Because of them…
…my husband has been gone for long stints of time
………many times missing Christmas, while he sits in his hotel room, alone, in North Platte, Nebraska
…I had fabulous health insurance during 3 major surgeries in the past 5 years
…I have had to wait at intersections (but only when I was in a big hurry!) while the longest trains in history, drove by
…Scott has an end-of-career job that he loves and aligns perfectly with his innate skills
…I have traveled with my husband through the Southwest, fully experiencing Utah
…I moved away from KC to a city where I knew no one…
………and didn’t find it to be very welcoming at times
…I was originally introduced to the Old Market because Scott worked here
…I am now enjoying a different experience of living in Old Market for a few weeks

I am so thankful I can now look at that building and feel such deep gratitude for all the experiences it has lent me.

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Some of our downtime in Omaha will consist of re-watching Gilmore Girls. We started to re-watch this beloved tv series when we were living in Omaha but were interrupted with a quick move, an extended vacation and now…life is slowing down a little bit. Enough to enjoy watching our Stars Hollow pals again.

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This is where we have breakfast. I will have to do a whole separate post about this tomorrow. It is seriously awesome to wake up to a healthy breakfast already prepared and waiting for you. There’s a good chance I may never want to leave here…

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Just one more picture of Scott from last night. He left this morning for work, confident and ready for his first teaching gig. There is a T.O.N. of information to remember, but so much of it is natural for Scott who has worked for Union Pacific for 25+ years. I am so happy for him; this position is a well-earned reward for a lifetime of hard, dedicated work.

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This morning, Scott woke me up very early and whispered, “Ma’am, your USA Today has just been slid under the door.”

I’m feeling a little like Charlton Heston:
“They will pry this room key from my cold, dead hands…”

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Here’s to a great Monday!

In a land far away…

…there once lived one single girl, one married-with-no-children girl, and one mom-of-two-teenagers.

gtb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-forward 8 years and many, many story line twists later and you have…

Two married gals with two small children each and one married gal with twenty-something-year-old children, out on their own.

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Same conversations…
Same inspiration…
Same poking fun…
Same camaraderie.

The reunion has been long overdue.

These two girls, Tiffany and Brenda, have been my creative inspiration muse for many years. They each possess loads of talent but in very different ways from each other – and from me. All of us, thoroughly inspired by the creative world, but each bringing something unique and different to the table.

It felt good last night to get together and have long conversations about stuff that others might find [sucking in air in complete and utter shock] ‘boring’. We each walked away from the evening having learned something new from the others. New avenues to explore and investigate until the next time we get together.

Our lives have all taken various different paths in the last 8 years, but our souls have remained loosely tied together with adhesive and art pens and yummy, delicious cardstock.

gtb.

It’s good to be back.

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And as always, Tiffany made the gathering special by adding her sweet flair in all manners of presentation.

I’m looking forward to next month already!

A weekend with no national monuments…

but a nice getaway from the getaway.

Scott and I drove to his parents’ home out in the country this past weekend. It was so nice to hang out and talk and do a little work around their 40-acre property. I got to mow (yes, ‘got’ – I love to mow their lawns!) while Scott did a bunch of tree planting and tree re-arranging and weed-eating. My mother-in-law, Joanne, even took a break from cooking and we had delicious leftovers which were, of course, completely new to us. Delicious!

People joke all the time about needing a vacation after their vacation, and we are no exception to that sentiment. I have lots of pictures still to blog from the end of our trip, but as soon as we got back home on Tuesday evening, we ended up running with work and commitments the rest of the week. On Saturday I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t seem to stop being tired.” It was as if once we stopped running around for a little bit this weekend, all the tiredness caught up to us. Also, it made me feel really, really old; my bouncing back mechanism isn’t as bouncy as it once was!

And yet, even with the tiredness, we feel so deeply blessed for our time out west! What a trip.

Now it’s Monday and I have a long To Do list for the week – culminating with us leaving on Sunday for three more weeks out of town. We are as gypsy as gypsy can be!

Joanne’s flowers were really at a pique this past weekend – I wish I had brought along my big camera instead of just relying on my phone.

Some of you know that I have a little bit of a hummingbird hang-up. To most people they are a ‘sign of good luck’. But I was always raised that (as with most things in our house, if it couldn’t be explained it was simply attributed to ‘a Southern folktale’) a hummingbird was a sign of BAD luck and signified that death was coming to someone. I did a little research online about where that originated and found that soldiers in the trenches in WWI called some artillery shells “hummingbirds” because they made a similar hummingbird noise as they flew by. So after spending 45 years strictly avoiding the sight of hummingbirds, it took some time to get used to the M.A.N.Y hummingbirds that congregate in Scott’s parents’ backyard…

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My mother-in-law is a known stickler for sticks. She walks around their property regularly and picks up sticks before any mowing can be done. So she and Scott were my reconnoissance team, cleaning up the parts to be mowed, deep in the trees. Jackson (neighbor guy) is my clean up crew. He weed-eats and mows all the parts of the property that I’m afraid to tackle on my own. I have joked with him in the past that he knows the limits of my bravery like no one else does! Once the hill gets too steep and it looks like I’m about ready to roll into the lake, that’s when I think to myself, “Jackson will have to handle things from here on!”

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Or when the grass is way overgrown and the path looks like a prime place for spiders to hang their webs and a Welcome mat – like below – then I think, “No way!” and move right along. Someone braver than I, go they.

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Mostly, I sit right back in my nice padded chair and prop up my nice padded legs and enjoy the ride. All the gas and breaking and forwarding and reversing and turning is done with hand levers. It’s 3-4 hours of pure bliss – riding and thinking and writing in my head…

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I mowed over lots of mushrooms on Saturday, but this little guy was so fake looking I just couldn’t mow him down. He looked like a ceramic project from a 70′s community center class. Joanne called the next day to say that the mushroom I took a picture of had blossomed out 4″ wide after I left. Guess it was on the precipice of adulthood…

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I took a picture of Scott, weed-eating part of the garden. I didn’t want him to feel left out when I blogged about all MY hard work this weekend!

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Larry and Joanne have a lot of beautiful artwork and jewelry around the house. All I have asked for is to receive my mowing buddy in their will. He and I are like this.

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Heading back home, it was impossible not to notice the beautiful clouds. They have been high and thickly white these past few days. Pre-storm clouds are so gorgeous!

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It’s a good, good day when you come home with dirty work boots and canned green beans. Canned, pickled beets would have pushed ‘good’ to absolute ‘perfection’ – but I have a while to wait for the beets. So I will enjoy some of Joanne’s delicious, fresh-from-the-garden picked green beans in the meantime. All weekend we snacked on lots of fresh-from-the-garden items – like asparagus, and lettuce and squash and green beans and…so much great stuff. I don’t know if I necessarily want to live in the country – but it sure is a nice place to visit!

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Hope you guys had a great weekend too!!

Day 12: SLC Trip – I got nuthin’.

I have laughed at the texts I have received that scold, “Where’s Day 3?!” “Did I miss Day 3??”

Makes me want to hug those friends since it means someone is reading – and counting the vacation days!

So Day 3, nothing.
Day 12…nothing.

I actually didn’t do anything interesting those days, worth documenting anyway.

But to fill in the Day 12 gap, I’ll post this badly lit picture of my morphing process into a western’er (as western’ers everywhere cringe at the site!) (Not to mention my children.)

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Also, I’m making the mental note that I need to get a white tank for under this shirt because I’m not loving the black one.

Yep. That’s the extent of the exciting world that was Day 12…