Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dealing With Loss

I just heard this from a grief counselor and found it incredibly powerful-

"You can't just 'get over it' and 'go back to normal' after a significant loss because you are no longer the same person."
What I got from this- The loss itself changes you enough that your new 'normal' is no longer what your normal was before..
Losing my father left a place in my personality that no one else can fill. I am thankful that he is home, that he no longer hurts like he did. I am thankful that he is with Jesus, and that he is now the person God meant for him to be all along. I am thankful he is enjoying the presence of God and singing with the angels. I know that he is aware of what's going on here with me, that he sees his grandchildren, that he still loves us and that now it's a love perfected by the grace of God
But his loss changed me. I don't joke with anyone else like I did with him. He was my daddy, and I no longer have a daddy to interact with on a regular basis. I miss him.
And it's okay to walk through grief and allow that change me.

Photo found at:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fire from Campus

Jake works up on the University of AK campus in the museum. Last Saturday he went outside for his lunch and took several pictures of the forest fire. You can't really see the fire, but you can see the smoke pouring up behind the hills.

Forest Fire

Jake just ran to the store to grab something for dinner, and he found ash all over the car. In fact, he saw burnt pine needles on the car. The sky has been looking orange today and yesterday and I'm praying for rain. And I'm praying that God protects the guys who are out there fighting the fires.
Here's a picture of the smoke yesterday. Right before dinner, Jake stepped out and took a picture of the sky. Don't mistake what you are seeing here. It's daytime, on a clear day.

Even When God is Silent

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God, even when He is silent.

From the wall of a concentration camp,

With thanks to Matt Tullos

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Fires

It was raining little bits of ash at Farmer's Market today. The little bits looked like dandruff on our pretty black table cloth.
There's a very large forest fire about 20 miles from Fairbanks, close to Nenana, and we're dealing with some nasty ash & smoke. I had to use my inhaler at the market and I'm all shakey now... Blech. I'd almost rather not be able to breath than use the thing. I get all messed up with adrenalin.
This is a portion of the fire close to us. They're calling it the Railbelt Complex fire because several small fires started with lightning strikes, and now they've grown together into one mega-forest fire. The complex has grown to more than 190,000 acres.
Kinda freaky.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Too Busy

I've had a writing deadline this week, which means no blogging. :( Sad me.
Well, I met the deadline! YAY! So now I can blog! YAY!

Not much going on here, just regular life with a 3 yr old & a 6 yr old.
Swimming lessons, Farmer's Market, making jewelry, and doing some writing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We got a tent! Woo-hoo. =)
The girls are finally old enough to enjoy and appreciate camping. So we got everything major (tent, bags and chairs) and last night we did a test run in the backyard. Very fun.
Everyone started out being good, still in their sleeping bags, and at least pretending to sleep.

That didn't last long...
Abigail started wiggling around and moving her sleeping bag. Soon, they were down in the middle of them pretending to be caterpillars.

Enjoying the fan.

And it ended with enough wildness for everyone.
Abigail chose to come inside and sleep in her own bed, but Deborah & Jake lasted all night outside.
I guess that's as much prep as we need to take on the wilderness. We're hoping to get a chance to camp in Denali next month. We'll see. =)

A Letter From God

Dear child,
Distractions are everywhere. There are voices, sounds, worries, and the continuous battle between spirit and your flesh. I’m not asking you to try to achieve anything in your own strength. I just want you to look to Me. I’ll part your personal Red Sea. I know that at times you feel hemmed in by this quaking monstrosity you call life. Turn toward Me. The challenges seems to be right in front of your face. Turn away from them and trust me with the battle. If only you could see the world from My perspective. I defeated the enemies you fight. So turn your eyes, your face, your feet… Turn your emotions, your burdens and your dreams- turn every broken part of yourself over to me. Lift your eyes. Your redemption is today. Focus solely on me. There’s light in the darkness. There’s hope in despair, there’s freedom, celebration, release, and purpose. Focus. It’s just a small adjustment but it changes everything. Turn to me and watch everything else become strangely dim. So turn… Turn to Me.

Written by Matt Tullos

Friday, July 17, 2009

Simple Joys

The simple things in life are sometimes taken for granted.
Here's the challenge: List ten of the greatest joys you get from the simplest things in no particular order.
(No cheating! No big moments allowed here. You can't list the day your kids were born or the day you got married!)
1. Watching my girls play happily together

2. Feeling beautiful- could be a good hair day, or wearing the right outfit

3. When Jake gives me an honest compliment- My husband uses words carefully and he has the ability to make me feel special in a way no one else can, His belief in me makes it possible for me to attempt things I'd never try on my own.

4. Having one of my jewelry designs work out and look beautiful

5. Listening to my girls laugh/their big belly laughs

6. Singing worship songs

7. Being silly with my husband

8. The smell of the ocean

9. Hugs from my family- my girls, Jake, Beth, my mom

10. A piece of art that hits me and fills something I didn't know was empty
Jake took this picture on a backwoods trail in the Fairbanks area.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kierkegaard Quote

Life must be lived forward but it can only be understood backwards.
Soren Kierkegaard

Jesus once said, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

Jake took this picture on one of his hikes. He loves to go hiking around town, and sometimes takes the girls.
The thing about hiking that he loves is getting to the top of some hill or rise and looking back at where he's been.
Just like life. You really only understand where you've been when you look back. I can only tell how much God has taken care of me when I look back and see his hand carrying me through everything I've gone through.

Garden Butterfly Clipboard.

I'm not done yet, but here's the next step.
I've worked some on the butterfly, and cleaned up the flowers a little.
I'm wishing that I didn't start this one on a clipboard! =)
Oh, well. My idea was to have a durable and usable piece of artwork, not art to hang ont he wall...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The World

"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."
Frederick Buechner

Tent Day

One of the girls favorite activities is tent-building. Using blankets, furniture and weights (books, bags, toys, etc.) to fashion a playing space.
They LOVE this. They can spend hours doing this... In fact, I'll probably never understand the fascination they have with building tent spaces. They maybe spend 10-20 minutes in there after spending an hour building the perfect tent.
Frustration with falling tents sends Deborah into hysteria faster than anything else. And Abigail delights in pulling down Deborah's tents... Or at least that's what it seems like. Really, it's just that stillness is essential to maintaining the stability of Deborah's makeshift tents, and Abigail is NOT still. Not even when she's sleeping.

Garden Butterfly Clipboard

Here's my newest clipboard. I'm not done, by any means, but I'm more pleased with this one. I think I'm getting where I want to be with these. I'm still figuring it all out, and that's okay.
First, I gessoed it white, then I found a butterfly shape and traced it on.
Next I painted it sky blue (I actually wish I'd done that before tracing on the butterfly- learning, still learning), then I painted the butterfly black.
Finally, I cut out all the flowers and glued them on. I'm going to work on the butterfly next, but I thought I'd share where I am right now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Got back from Farmer's Market and I'm TIRED!!! I miss my mama so much.
The first words out of my girls' mouths this morning was, "When does Grammy get home??"
They came to the market with us for half the day, and they just wear me out. They wear each other out... Gonna shower 'em and put 'em to bed. Grouchy little things!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Basic Beading

I'm teaching a basic beading class down at The Stash today. They've been keeping me really busy this summer, which is GREAT!

I've been teaching the beading classes at JoAnn's for about 3 years now. I LOVE teaching. =) It's fun to see people get it and get excited. I like seeing everyone bring in their own stuff and make something unique and fitting with their personality and style.

However, I really like teaching at The Stash, 'cuz I don't have to worry about the cooperate headquarters of JoAnn's deciding what I can teach and what I can't. At The Stash I can cater to the students who show up, and their level of expertise. I've taught kids and adults- people with absolutely NO experience, and people with tons who just want to learn a new technique or brush up and old one.

Check them out. The've got some really cool stuff, including our stuff. ;)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Heat, Rain, and Getting Cool

It finally rained last night! Hallelujah. So the air quality is a little better.
It got over 90 degrees yesterday, which means that in our house it was probably 95. Blech. We finally went to McDonald's last night and let the girls play just so that we could all be cool. With the smoke so bad, I wasn't willing to let them do much running around outside yesterday and they were crazy with cabin fever.
After dinner we went to Mickey D's for some ice cream, coolness and play time. Then we went to Fred Meyer's for some milk. The girls went through the toys with Jake, while I looked at swim suits. One of the straps on my swim suit broke at Abigail's last lesson. And while it is still 'decent', it's mighty impressive right now. =) I have to say, it was kinda fun that Jake came along to our last lesson to take pictures of Abigail and me in the water. He liked the new variation on my swim suit. The best picture was the one he took from the balcony with me waving at him. And no, I'm not sharing the pictures here.

Journey Clipboard

Here's the final clipboard in this set. I am pleased with the final result I got. I love the repetitious pictures.
Again, my goal was to create a usable piece of unusual art. While this one still kinda looks like a Hallmark card, I still think I did better working with the images.
I'm comfortable using my tools now- the mod podge, sander, varnish, the different glues, and the paper images.
I'm ready to begin my next set of clipboards, which I expect to be quite different than these last four. =) Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday & Smoke

We didn't go to Farmer's Market today. Not because it was hot, although it is currently 90, and we would have been miserable in the tent. We're miserable here so it's not that much of a difference. At least we might have made money while being miserable.

No, we stayed home because of the smoke. Whenever I spend more than 15 minutes outside my chest starts hurting. And I HATE my inhaler. I hate the jitters I get after using it (my hands shake and I feel all jacked up on adrenelin).

Beth kindly decided there was no way she was dragging me there when I might get really messed up. And the rule at FM is that if you go, you STAY all day unless you sell out. Which rarely happens to the crafters. Sometimes it happens to the farmers, but never the crafters. (There's a guy who has a carrot farm. The most incredibly wonderful carrots- they are almost like eating carrot candy- and he normally sells out in 3 hours. 3 hours! Can you imagine? The only thing holding him back from selling more is land space.)

Anyway, we were concerned about me ending up in the ER after a day spent in the heat and smoke. So we didn't go. And we're still miserable here. :-P

Joy Clipboard

Here's my third art deco clipboard. I'm actually fairly pleased with this one.

Again, my goal was to create a usable and unusal piece of art/craft work.

So, The usable and durable was achieved. 7 coats of mod-podge, sanded twice. Finally, 3 coats of varnish for a durable and water-resistant surface.

I'm more pleased with the unusual and unique aspects of this one than the others. The quote is 'Joy is not in things, it is in us.' And the large image is of a woman swimming in a lit pool. I like how the round circles I cut from the 70's style paper create floating bubbles... I wish the flower paper under her wasn't quite so dynamic. After putting the image of the woman over the back, I felt like the flowers competed with her and her bubbles... But, I admit I'm learning. And I admit I didn't really know where I was going when I started this one.

I am keeping the fronts of the clipboards very simple so that they don't affect the writing- who wants weird lines on their paper?

Okay, last night I went on Etsy and looked up 'clipboards'. Most of them were in the $16 range, but they were only one side, and they looked more like what I'm doing on the fronts- simple, pretty, a few blocks of paper plus some ribbon.

I found a couple that were 2 sided, and they were $32. However, both sides looked like what I'm doing on the front.

So, where does this leave me? Are these unique enough that I should be charging more? Or are they basically the same thing as what I'm doing, with me just making them more like note cards? I don't know enough yet! And so far, they haven't sold. Will they? Or are they just something I spent way too much time learning on?

Too Hot To Sleep

It's currently 81 F outside right now, and our second floor bedroom with one window and no A/C is way too hot for me to sleep... I can tell that the actual temp up there is probably 94 or so.
Jake and I have been tossing and turning and complaining for about an hour now, and I just finally gave up. I hate Fairbanks heat waves. The only place to go is the library, the movie theatre or a bank. Very few places have A/C, and most places are built with a definite lack of outside windows. Like our bedroom, which has only one window.
I'm too hot to think or do anything up there. It's at least 5 degrees cooler down here on the main floor.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Faith Clipboard

Here's one of the other clipboards I've done recently. Again, my goal was to create a usable and unusual piece of art.
I know I've done well on the 'usuable' part of my goal.
And I am more pleased with the 'unusual' aspects of this one... I feel like I am making progress in how I want these to look. It's like the next step in my clipboard art, and I've got a LONG way to go still towards getting the result I want.
It has taken me many years to get where I am with my jewelry, and I know how far I still have to go with that. I don't know enough about the collage stuff for me to make a guess on how long it will take to get where I want to be!

The open butterfly was cut from a box of butterfly stamps my sister gave me, and the pictures of butterflies are from a Birds and Butterflies mag. I fiddled with the pictures on this one forever- at least 2 days of thinking and making decisions.
Again, I'm not sure about the pricing on these pieces. Right now, I'm asking $35. I'm going for mid-price, but I'm not sure if I should go higher or lower.

I'm not convinced that anyone would actually buy one of these for themselves. I'm thinking they are more of a gift item- something you'd give a teacher or a mom who always needs to have a clipboard on hand.

One of the things about the front of the clipboards- I can't do much to them, or the collage will affect the paper attached to the clipboard. Who wants funky lines and shapes on their grocery lists, or their class attendance sheet? So, I'm keeping the fronts attractive, but simple.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Fire & Smoke

Today is the third day of smoke over Fairbanks. I hate forest fires!!!
I've got asthma, so it makes it hard to breathe and makes me feel nasty. Plus, it's just depressing.
We spent Saturday at Farmer's Market under a cloud of smoke. It wasn't as bad as it is now after 3 days of it pouring into the valley, but it added to the general yuckiness of the day.
Blech. Smoke. Double Blech.
There are currently 58 forest fires blazing in Alaska. Pretty freaky.

Sunday Band

Yesterday marked my debut with the Friends Church band. I loved it. Yesterday felt a little like coming home.
These last 3 years have been the longest stretch I've ever gone without singing in a group- whether a choir or a band. I missed it. A lot.
I'm not the best harmonizer (I can sing some tenor lines above the melody, but many people do NOT want someone up there screaming as high as I can sing. I'll need to do some extra work to get my top two notes back, but I can still sing up to an A above the G clef. Back in my hey-day of college choirs and two hours of vocal work a day I was singing more like Julie Andrews or Sandy Patti...), but I can sure sing a solid melody line.
Jake also played guitar and sang, which he hasn't done in about 8 or 9 months. For reasons all his own, he felt the need to take a break and stick closer to home.
I'm so glad to be making music with him again. Since that's how we got to know each other (playing in a band together) it's sweet to revisit that part of our relationship. I love playing with Jake- He's such an amazingly gifted musician. I'm completely mind-bogglingly jealous of his ear and his ability to pull a song out of the air. After years and years of playing in bands and singing in choirs, I still don't have an ear like his.
Ask him to tell you the story of how we met. I can tell it, but it's way more fun to hear him talking about me stealing his job, because he just loves telling about how God works...

The girls were so good at the rehearsals. I honestly can't believe how well they behaved! Since my mom's gone we had to bring them to the Wednesday night practice. I packed crayons, paper and some toys, but mostly they just ran around the auditorium. They played and climbed, danced and sang, and drew princess pictures.
Our pastor came in for the last half hour or so of rehearsal and they immediately glommed on to him- sat on his lap, talked to him. Deborah even drew him a picture. He has three teenage boys, and after the rehearsal he stopped us and told us how much he enjoyed them, and made the comment, "Girls are really different than boys." Yup. It's the truth. I had no idea there would be so much PINK in my life at this point.
On Sunday morning they came to rehearsal with us at 7 a.m. Blech. We were ten minutes late, which I thought was pretty good for all four of us. And they were good then, too! Far more sedate- mostly sitting, coloring or crawling on the floor. They explored under the stage extension, and left their shoes under there. I thought they'd be all whiny and tired, but they weren't. I had packed snacks for them the night before- a banana, PB crackers, fruit leather- so they were able to eat when they got hungry.
I was so worried about how grouchy they'd behave, but they were amazing. I was delighted and pleased by their behavior.

Bloom clipboard

Okay, so this is the first of the four I completed. As much as I like the sunflowers, I'm a little disappointed with the end result...
I wish this one was a little more 'arty' and a little less commercial. My goal with these clipboards was to create a usable piece of unusual art-work.
I achieved the 'usable' portion of my goal very well. Each side of the clipboard has 7 coats of mod podge- I sanded in between coat 4 and 5. Then sanded again after the 7th coat. Finally, I varnished the entire thing to create a durable water-resistant surface.
However, I'm not convinced I achieved the 'unusual' part of my goal, particularly with this one. It's pretty, but not all that unique. And I'm annoyed with how the flower lays over the bric-a-brac ribbon. I wish I knew more, and could have solved the problem more effectively. I am learning as I go, and getting better at recognizing what tools, glue, decoupage medium to use when...
I have had some people express interest in the clipboards at Farmer's Market, but no bites yet. Right now, I'm charging $35 for them, and I have NO idea if that's about right... People have no idea how long it takes, and I don't really expect them to... I've looked at Etsy for other work along these lines, and I'm really not seeing it. I've seen some stuff with only one side done, or with 3 pieces of paper (more like how I've done the front), but nothing that ties it all together yet. Some of it was priced much higher $65, and some of it was priced much lower $15, so I was going for mid-range... We'll see how it goes.

Clipboard Front


My friend Sarah shared this quote on her blog
"God allows more variety than I am comfortable with."
Yup. I agree with that. Not that I don't love people and all that. But wouldn't it be easier if it wasn't all so messy...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fourth of July

We went to Farmer's Market today, and it was almost a complete bust. Not our worst day, but since our worst day was the day in May when we didn't sell anything, that's not saying much!

I've still got the girls with me- they stay with Jake until it's time for him to go to work, then they come play/work with me for the rest of the day. Wednesday they were fantastic, but today they were grouchy. I call them 'dill pickles' when they're sour, and 'sweet pickles' when they cooperate. Today was definitely a dill pickle day. Their cooperation can make or break a Farmer's Market day. They didn't completely break it today, but they didn't really make the day either. ;)

It was 81 F here today. Us poor pathetic Alaskans without A/C died today... And out in the sun under our hot tent, Beth & I roasted.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Biker Babes

Even though I haven't been able to go biking with the girls (the ankle and the cast) Jake has been taking them.
Deborah's still on training wheels, but she's finally willing to go a little bit faster. Whee! Maybe she'll be able to take the training wheels off this summer. Honestly, she's been having quite a bit of anxiety when trying to go faster. So, we've been doing our best to take it at her pace. Which is hard.
And Jake's been riding my trike so that he can stick Abigail in the back and they can all go places, like the school playground!


After everything that's happened this year my youngest daughter, Abigail, has shown some signs of increased fear, nightmares and clinginess.
When you consider that every member of her family has been in the hospital, either here or far away in Anchorage, or been taken away from her in an ambulance, it's really more of a wonder that she's NOT having more problems.
Our pediatrician recommended that we take her to a play therapist, and I want everyone in the world to know how wonderful I think the counselor has been for her. Abigail goes in and plays, and the 'Play Doctor' (as Abigail calls her) talks to her about what she's doing, and what she's feeling.
I can already see some improvement in Abigail's fears, and she's only seen the doctor twice. Anyway, play therapy sounds so silly, but it's excellent. Just lets her act out some of what's been going on in her head, and deal with some of her anxiety.

My Aunt Corine

This is for my Aunt Corine, and was printed in the Albany, OR & Coos Bay/North Bend, OR papers.

Corine Shepard Ransom
Oct. 6, 1943 — June 24, 2009
Corine Ransom, 65, of Albany joined her family in heaven on Wednesday.

Corine was born in Galveston, Texas, to L. A. “Shep” and Evolyn (Durrett) Shepard. Her early years were spent in Clovis and Portales, N.M. In 1955, the family moved to Albany, where Corine was active in Swordbearers (youth ministry) and graduated from Albany Union High School in 1961.

She attended Oregon State University, then married and moved to California, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. She returned to Oregon in 1976 with her four children, and lived in the Coos Bay area for another decade.

Corine married Michael Ransom on June 22, 1978, at Shore Acres State Park near Charleston. She worked for the Department of Human Resources as a staff trainer, presenting workshops on bereavement and childhood cancer. She also directed the Big Brother/Big Sister Program, and volunteered with Candlelighters.

The family moved to Albany in 1987. Corine trained as a legal secretary, and worked for a Salem attorney. She retired in 2001, following a series of complications related to lupus.
Corine’s gift of wisdom led to 25 years leading women’s Bible studies in North Bend and Albany. She loved researching theological questions, and exhorting people to get beyond the “pat answers” by doing their own research. She was also an avid genealogist, researching and documenting her ancestral lines.

Corine is survived by her husband, Michael Ransom of Albany; sister Dixie Roylyn Emery of Fairbanks, Alaska; brother John L. Shepard of Albany; son David Ransom and wife Stacy of Eugene; daughter Susan and husband Jason Mikkelsen of Albany; grandchildren Dominik and Whitney Warren of Albany, Micaela and Emma Ransom of Eugene, and Scott, Kelly and Jacob Corliss of Eugene; nieces and nephews Josh Turnbull, Deidra White, Derek and Duke Shepard, Rebecca Sirevaag and Beth Emery; and numerous cousins across the United States.

Corine was preceded in death by her parents; sister Sharon (Shepard) Turnbull; brother “Mike” Shepard; and two daughters, Kristine Creek, 10, in 1977, and Debi Ransom, 20, in 1985, both at Coos Bay.A celebration of life memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, at Willamette Community Church, 420 Third Ave S.E., Albany.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Edmund Burke Quote

I just finished Odd Hours by Dean Koontz.
I've thoroughly enjoyed his Odd Thomas books, but this one doesn't quite hit the mark for me. It wasn't bad, just not as good as the others. A little dry, a little drawn out, a little boring, a little too much talking...

However, I found this quote in the book and really liked it:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
by Edmund Burke