04/09/2013: What a difference a day makes!    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When I last posted here, my world was still in one piece. It was a Friday. There had been a blizzard. I had worked in the office that week instead of getting anything done in the studio. I had gone out the day before and bought an Expedition so Mr. Virgo and I could travel in comfort and enjoy life instead of waiting till retirement. He would have texted me that morning to tell me he loved me and to see what I was up to. Along about 2 in the afternoon, he would have called to see what was for supper. As he always did, he would have called me at 5:30-6:00 to tell me he was just leaving the parking garage. We would have talked till he got halfway home then I would scoot into the kitchen and get the food going. I would sit back down in the living room and call him back, just to hear his voice. I would tell him to let me know when he got to the bridge and I would get back in the kitchen to put the finishing touches onto his favorite dish. Then, back to my perch in the living room to watch for his headlights. When I saw him turn into the driveway, I would jump up, fling open the door, wait till he was out of the car so he could hear me, and yell "BABY!". He would turn to me and smile and say, "Hey, honey!" I'd tell him, "Get yer butt in here!" and he'd say "I'm a tryin'." He'd come in the door, tired, but grinning from ear to ear and say "Mmmmm, that smells great, babe!" and I'd pretend to blush and say "Come on, let's get your coat off so I can give you a big hug!" Every night, same thing. Never, EVER got tired of that man's homecoming. It was an EVENT!

I don't know what I did on Saturday and Sunday. I'm sure I worked in the studio, but didn't post on here. Mondays and Tuesdays were sacred...they were for us. He was really tired on Monday, and I had to get something ready to send to the printer, so he rested on the couch for awhile. It was a nice, lazy day with a nice lazy dinner that evening. Tuesday dawned, beautiful and sunny. I fixed him a nice breakfast and asked him if he'd like to go for a ride in the new car and go see travel trailers. He lit right up and said that sounded like a perfect day. I did up the dishes and we set off for the next big town, about an hour away. We commented how nice this new car was for holding hands while you drive...a major prerequisite in purchasing a car in our house. We talked about where we would like to take the trailer on our first trip in May. We laughed, and told stories, and caught up with what was going on in our lives. We got to the RV dealer and someone said to just take our time and browse...they were all open. It was a warm morning and we walked toward our future, hand in hand.

In the fourth trailer, I noticed he was grimacing and asked him what was wrong. It was his shoulder, he said. It really hurt. I asked him to sit down on the sofa for a minute. Concerned, I asked him if he thought I needed to take him to the doctor, and much to my amazement, he said he thought I'd better. This is a man with 3 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. If he tells you he needs to see a doctor, something is terribly wrong. Now, I've worked in medicine for over 40 years. I know what questions to ask and what to look for. I asked if he hurt anywhere else and he said yes and pointed to his neck. I told him to wait right there and ran to get help and have them call 911. I wasn't gone 60 seconds and when I got back, things were really bad. I had the guys that were with me put him down on the floor of the trailer in case I had to do CPR. I elevated his feet and yelled for an aspirin. One miraculously appeared! I made him chew it. I kept yelling to him to hold on, the paramedics were coming, just please stay with me. I finally yelled "I Love You!" and he said "I Love You, too." And that is the last thing we said to each other. Because he was only 62, they worked on him for about 4 hours, but there was nothing they could do for him. The cardiologist said the type of heart attack he had is called a "widow maker". That it was.

Today marks four weeks since my sweetheart left me. Our 6th Wedding Anniversary was day before yesterday. I can breathe now, not great, but I can. I can look at his picture and talk about him without bursting into tears...sometimes. I feel him with me. I talk to him and I imagine what he would say. And, since I asked Jesus into my life 8 years ago, I know I will never be alone, but oh, how I miss him. His sweet smile, his clear blue eyes, that shock of silver hair, his rapier wit, his hugs, his quiet, steady breathing as he lay beside me at night. I feel as though half of me is paralyzed. It's there, but I just can't feel it, I can't move it. This grief is like walking through tall grass. You start to move forward, carefully at first, and then take bigger strides and BAM! You step on the rake that was hiding in the grass and it comes up and smacks you right between the eyes!

I will get through this. I have had heartbreak before and survived. What makes this worse is the finality. The waves of grief that come out of nowhere. The planned life that is just....gone. The uncertainty. Sometimes, there just are no words.

03/08/2013: Blizzard!    Saturday, March 9, 2013

Well, this was an absolutely crazy week! I always take Monday and Tuesday off to be with Mr. Virgo, but I usually get right back on here bright and early Wednesday morning. When I "quit" my job in December, I actually stayed on to do the clinical research, which is very part time. Wednesday was my day to go in and see patients so it was a 12 hour day. Thursday morning I took the Toyota in to have the tires changed. There was a shimmy in the front end that needed attention. The mechanic called me to say it needed new struts, shocks, brakes, oil change, and tires. All told, it would be over $1000 and I'd still have a car with over 122K miles on it. There is a Ford dealership next door so I told the guy not to do any work on the Toyota. I walked over and test drove a couple of cars and settled on a 2010 Expedition with 45K miles. Got a screaming deal, but that was definitely not what I was planning to do with my Thursday! The car scenario continued into Friday when I needed to take some of the Toyota's accessories and the spare key back to the Ford dealership. On my way back to the new car, I noticed a hex head screw in the left rear tire! Grrrrr. Two hours later and $17 and I was back on the road.

We have dubbed her The Queen Mary. She's HUGE! She sucks gas down to the tune of 18-19mpg. However, she will easily tow the used travel trailer we are anticipating buying in the next month. Mr. Virgo and I are dreaming of retirement so we are looking to get something that will take us into our golden years where we can have fun and relax. Poor guy is so exhausted when he gets home from work on Sunday nights (his Friday) that we really don't do much more than sit in front of the TV on his days off. We are NOT going to spend our retirement sitting in front of the TV. Hence, the trailer. I have a commitment to put him in the car Sunday night, head to the hills, and return on Tuesday afternoons. OK, there will be a TV in the trailer, I am sure, but at least we'll be doing something different! I can't wait to head out for long road trips!

We are experiencing a spring snow storm here in the Rockies today. It is this time of year that I itch to get outside in the sunshine, get my hands dirty, and warm my bones. It's fun to browse the Internet for that screaming deal on a used travel trailer and dream of days to come. Oh, and I do need to get some work done! I've been away from the bench for 6 days! Have a fabulous day, everyone!

2/27/2013: To Pin or not to Pin...    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I have had a Pinterest account almost since it started and for the most part, it just floats out there exposing my innermost dreams to the world. I love it and could become seriously obsessed with it, if given the time. I have been told by those whose opinion I hold in high regard that I should put my jewelry on my Pinterest page. Here's the flaw in that logic as I see it. If everyone uses Pinterest the way I do, they are out there cruising for ideas to make their own stuff. It's not that I'm stingy, but I really would like to SELL my stuff, not give it away through detailed photos or tutorials. I know, it worked for Martha. If I had a staff of 500 minions at my beck and call, I could do what Martha does. Oh, and the money...don't forget the money. I did just purchase a book through Kindle that details the secrets of one woman's Pinterest journey to over 1 million followers in just 9 months. I'll read that and see if I can elevate my brand into the public eye. I have some nibbles on the line for some enviable exposure and I have LOTS of ideas. I am creative and enthusiastic. And I have no problem being my own cheerleader!

Mr. Virgo and I had a discussion about this a few days ago. I told him I was afraid of "giving away the farm" and he had a valid point. Yes, people are out there getting ideas on Pinterest. But there are probably more out there just loving what they see, having visions of what they want, and look! Here it is right here on Pinterest! I wonder if she sells that? I just assume everyone is like me and makes just about anything that pops into their funny little heads. Not everyone can, or wants, to do that. And I shouldn't have any qualms about using my talents to get where I want to go. After all, that is the whole point of this exercise. I am trying to change our lives through my own creativity. I'm still not sure which side of the fence I will land on this issue, but I will be informed and hopefully make the right decision. In the meantime, happy Pinning!

2/20/2013: Mom's Home Cookin'...Brown Gravy!    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I was going through some vintage ads this morning and came across this little gem. I know I have used this stuff in the past but I'm not sure you can still buy it. It brought to mind a story that I simply must share. Some of you may read this title and have visions of delectable dishes emerging as if by magic from your Mother's kitchen. You may remember the smells of fresh baked bread or the vision of a pie just out of the oven cooling on the window sill. Ahhh, such a bucolic memory! I wish it were so for me. I had to learn to cook at a very young age out of sheer desperation. My mother, God rest her soul, was probably the world's worst cook (Well, short of Mr. Virgo's grandmother who boiled the Thanksgiving turkey! Argh!). We didn't have much when we were growing up. We ate from my Grandma's garden to supplement the pound of ground beef that had to feed a family of four. That's no different than a lot of us who were born in the early 50's. But it was what Mom finally DID to that pound of hamburger that drove me to start cooking the family meals when I was in sixth grade.

I'll never forget that hot summer night. Mom worked hard every day and, as all Mom's do, came home at night to cook for her family. Dads did NOT do much, if any, of the cooking in those days. We had some corn, green beans, and potatoes from Grandma's farm. Awesome! And we had that dreaded pound of hamburger. What mystery dish could be created to satisfy the hunger of her family? We had creamed hamburger gravy over toast or biscuits or mashed potatoes...a LOT. The gray, pasty dish may not have been visually appealing, but it was filling and cheap which was the primary goal. I guess Mom had been reading her Ladies' Magazines and had it in her head that she wanted her creamed hamburger to have a rich, brown admirable ambition. She piddled around in the kitchen, working on her culinary creation while my brother and I watched Captain Cartoon on the new black and white television that had miraculously appeared in our living room. Finally, she was satisfied and called us all to dinner. She was SO proud as she dished up this FABULOUS looking creamed hamburger, the likes of which we had never seen. She sat and anxiously watched our faces as we marveled over the feast before us. And then....we tasted that first bite. I wasn't sure what I had just put in my mouth. I had never tasted anything like it before. It was certainly not a flavor that went with beef. As a matter of fact, at the tender age of 10, I didn't think that taste went with anything. But, what do you do? We were raised in the "children should be seen and not heard" generation and you most certainly were thankful for anything you were given. I looked around the table to see what the response would be and no one said a word. Satisfied that her delicacy was going over well, Mom took her first taste...and spit it clear across the table! I still wasn't going to say a thing. It was Dad who finally ventured the question we were all thinking. "Wanda, just what did you put in here to make it brown?" Mom was dumbstruck and you could see the gears turning as she figured out what went wrong. The magic ingredient? Instant COFFEE!!! The next week I took my first cooking lesson at the community center and Mom got a "much needed break" from kitchen duties. Hmmmmm....I wonder if that was her plan all along?

2/15/2013: Motivation    Friday, February 15, 2013

What motivates you? If you are a creative person, putting your heart and soul into your art is a catharsis, of sorts. But what keeps you coming back for more? What keeps you sitting at your easel or workbench for 10 hours straight? For me, it's a way of paying it forward. I am closing in on my 60th birthday. I have been around the block a couple of times and have had some wonderful, and not so wonderful, experiences in my 60 short years on this planet. I have always been creative but I have not always been able to spend large chunks of time creating. I have this opportunity now with Marshmallow Ranch to really put myself out there, pour my feelings into my work, and send it with love out into the world. I have a wonderful support system in my sweet husband, Mr. Virgo. He is my greatest cheerleader. As Javier Bardem says to Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love..."You don't need a man, Liz. You need a champion." Mr. Virgo is my champion and that helps to give me the self confidence I need to put myself out there. Out where I will be judged and perhaps criticized, but hopefully successful and enjoyed. The art and jewelry I make now is so much different than it was even 5 or 6 years ago. I believe that stems from a new self-confidence I have achieved, not only in my art but in my life. I send my pieces out into the world with love and blessings for the recipient. I stuff as much of my joy and happiness as I can in everything I create because I truly believe that if you create your art as something you truly love, others will recognize that and feel it on some level. They will find that this necklace or this painting speaks to them and they must have it in their lives. I do not mass produce things just to make a buck. This may be idealistic of me, but so be it. People will either love you, or they won't. They will love your work, or they won't. That part is none of my business. My business is to create and that is a powerful motivator for me. So, I ask again...what motivates you?

2/13/2013: Time's a' Wastin'!    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wow, tomorrow is Valentine's Day already! I swore...SWORE that I was not going to spend my two days off with Mr. Virgo on the computer and what did I do? Monday...connected with other like-minded business on Facebook all day. A great way to free advertise each other's businesses. OK, Monday is Mr. Virgo's day to rest and catch up on some zzzzz's on the couch so I could have sat and watched him sleep or be productive...good choice, I thought. Then yesterday, it just so happens that my contract renews on my phone just before Valentine's Day. doesn't say "stupid" on MY forehead! So, Mr. Virgo needed to go to town for a hair cut, I needed to go to the post office and complain about a package that I mailed to WV on 1/26 that STILL hasn't arrived (that's a subject for another time), and I just HAD to upgrade my phone because, gosh, I've had this OLD Smartphone for what? Oh, yeah...2 years! Mr. Virgo loves his new Samsung Galaxy SIII. He wanted me to get one because he says they are outselling the iPhone like, a million to one. (He sometimes likes to exaggerate a bit to make his point. He's cute like that.) I, on the other hand, had my eye set on the new iPhone 5. Why? Because we have two beautiful grandchildren that I simply MUST see on Facetime as often as possible. (I sometimes catch my daughter as she's walking out of the grocery store so we get to chat for a couple of minutes while the car warms up. I like her, too.) So, what did I end up doing all afternoon/evening? Programming my new phone, of course. And, which phone did I get? Well, the iPhone 5, silly! 'Cause, if Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy! It doesn't say stupid on Mr. Virgo's forehead either!

1/8/2013: My Hero!    Friday, February 8, 2013

Good morning, everyone! It's another blue blaster Colorado day today! I love days like this. I don't mind the snow on the ground so much if it's sunny. Today is another busy day. First, there's coffee with the girls. Hey, I have priorities, alright? Then I get to go to my brother's six month evaluation. Now, before you "tsk, tsk...that poor girl's brother is in some kind of trouble" let me tell you about him. Gary is my absolute, cape and mask, leap tall buildings hero. Gary is a year and half older than me. By the time I came around, they began to suspect there might be something wrong with him. He was slower to develop than his peers. One eye trailed to the side. He wasn't talking and when he was, he either stammered or you couldn't understand what he said. By the time I started school, the doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy and that totally politically incorrect term, mental retardation. I didn't care. Gary was my hero. We played together all the time. He was a perfect foil to my comedy. He was a great Indian to my Cowgirl. He loved hide-and-seek. He was generous to a fault. He gave away his toys to others so they would have some to play with. He was tenderhearted and sweet. He was my hero. As time went on, I grew older and played with other kids. Gary became content to play baseball cards and scrabble and watch TV, usually by himself. Someone gave him a golf club and he would putt around in the back yard. He got a hand me down bat, ball, and glove and would enlist whoever was available for a game of catch. He was my hero. In 5th grade, I was playing on the playground and someone came up and asked me if Gary went to Sumner School, the "special" school in town. When I asked why, she said there had been a bus accident that morning and the driver was killed but she didn't know anything about the students. I went cold inside. My hero! Where is my hero?! Dad came and got me and took me home. He said Mom was at the hospital with Gary and he was pretty banged up but they thought he would be ok. The knot in my stomach eased a little. After all, he was my hero! Gary survived the accident, although he might have been a little slower because of his head injury. Later he had a surgical repair to one of his legs to improve his gait. He was in a cast from armpit to ankle in the heat of summer. I read to him and played games. Poor kid was pretty miserable. Late that fall when he was better and up and around, i was in the house and he was out shooting hoops in the back yard. I heard the neighbor boy mocking him. That made me so mad. NOBODY picked on my bubby! I snuck around the back of this boy's house. He was crouched down in a space in the hedge at the top of the bank that led down to the street. He never heard me coming. I gave him a swift kick in the but and sent him head over heels into the road below. No one messes with MY hero! Time went on. Gary went to the special school till he couldn't any more. They sent him to a vocational rehab training school to try to teach him a skill, but it was too far away from my Mom for her comfort, so she brought him back home. He lived there and worked in the Sheltered Workshop in our hometown, counting screws in bags and stuffing envelopes. He did this till the day our mom passed suddenly. I rushed home and he asked me what was going to happen to him now. He broke my heart, this hero of mine. As it turns out, there is a wonderful program near me that cares for and teaches adults with developmental disabilities. When I went to enroll Gary, they told me there was a ten year waiting list for residential services. Ten years! I love my brother but he and I both know living with me is not the best scenario for either of us. So I prayed. I asked everyone I knew to pray. I told God that if it was His will, I would care for Gary myself. But if not, here was this wonderful program that could give him a life of his own. Gary didn't know how to do anything for himself. Mom did everything for him down to cutting his meat. He had so much to learn to make it in this world. Well, three DAYS later, I got a call from the service stating they were able to get emergency funding for Gary because his primary caregiver had died. Then, miraculously, they suddenly had an opening. They NEVER had openings. But get this....they called everyone on the ten year waiting list and NO ONE could move in within a month! And that is when I gave my life to God. HE is the one that made that happen! Now, Gary lives in an apartment with a roommate, works four days a week for the county clerk, volunteers four days a week for the local hospital, belongs to a literary book club, participates in Special Olympics, and takes public transportation all over town. He has even taken trips to Mexico and Hawaii! Yes, heroes are real....very real. So today, I get to go to his six month evaluation and listen to how well he is doing and give him praise for the great job he is doing! He's been in the program 9 years now. He is my hero.

1/7/2013: Junkin can make strange bedfellows!    Thursday, February 7, 2013

Well, it was a very busy day after all. I hit a few junk shops but unfortunately, we live in a touristy area of Colorado so nothing much is cheap. Also, some of the major hotels in Aspen are doing complete remodels and the junk/resale/Habitat for Humanity stores are chock full of very pricy things. One in particular caught my eye. My hubby (aka Mr. Virgo) used to work for the oldest hotel in Aspen and they are one of the big players doing a major remodel. When he worked there, he used to take a shift once or twice per month as Manager on Duty. When you are MOD, you have to stay a a really NICE suite! Since Mr. Virgo and I were dating at the time, it only seemed appropriate for him to invite me along to enjoy said suite. Did I say how BIG the bathtub is? Well, not to brag, but you could park yer John Deere in there and have room fer a heifer. Well, ok...maybe I exaggerate. Anyway, we used to stay in one particular suite that I liked. I noticed the antique bed had a missing piece of moulding right in the center. Added to the character of the room. The first night I stayed there, we had just got in bed, turned off the lights, and he said...softly..."You DO know Johnny Depp sleeps in this bed when he's in town, right?" WHAT?!?!?!? I jumped up out of there and marveled at the pillow where I just laid my head. I wanted to call all my girlfriends and my daughters and anyone else who would listen. I didn't. I went to bed and had dreams of Jack Sparrow. But I digress...sort of. When I went into the Habitat for Humanity store, what to my wondering eyes stood before me? Yes! Mr. Depp's bed! MY bed! Mr. Depp's and MY "not sleeping together" bed! Sigh. But I've got something even better than that! I got to sleep with Mr. Virgo in that bed and that's something I would NEVER give up in a million years! Not even for Johnny Depp!

2/6/2013: Better Late Than Never!    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I had a late start today. You ever have one of those days that you REALLY want to get a ton done because your attentions have been spent elsewhere and you REALLY need to catch up? Well, that was today. I woke up early. Really early. Like 4:30am early. TOO early! I was debating what I would work on first today and prematurely delighting in how much I was going to get done. I stretched. I yawned. I looked back at the clock and it was.......9:30am!!! As in...FIVE hourse later! No, no, no! This cannot be possible! I must have fell through a wormhole or something because I just couldn't have slept another FIVE hours! Ahhhh, but sleep I did. I must have needed it. But darn it...I had all these things I wanted to do. In the end, I finished 25 necklaces and a pair of earrings! AND a trip to the grocery store (Sorry Mr. Virgo....they didn't have chicken wings like you wanted!). And now I have blogged. I do believe I will call it a day for the studio and head downstairs to see what else I can get into!

Hope you have a FABULOUS day (what there is left of it)!!!

(I've attached a picture that I took at The Brass Armadillo in Denver over the weekend. I can't get out of there fast but had to limit myself to under 2 hours!)

2/5/2013: Growth    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When you have built your website. When you have written your blog for a month. When you have sold some pieces. When you have developed a Facebook presence. Then you need to start marketing yourself. Get your name and your creations out there on the web. I have spent the last couple of days doing some of the most fun marketing I have ever done. I am cruising through Facebook looking for business sites that I like. Really like. Like enough that I would love for them to like my page back. I browse their pages, oooooh and aaaaaah over the beautiful things that I wish I had thought of, and I "like" their page. Then I write something nice regarding what I like about their page. I tell them where I am from, and I invited them to come to my page and look around. I ask them to "like" my page if they like what they see. I feel like I'm begging, but this is a networking idea that only costs time. And I am hoping to gain lots of new friends...not just fans on my FB page. I love what I do. Yesterday, I sat down with my coffee and worked on advertising for awhile. I had every intention of making Mr. Virgo a wonderful breakfast since he is off Mondays and Tuesdays. I "came up for air" and heard him in the kitchen rattling around and making his own breakfast. I felt really bad and told him so. He is so precious. He told me he is proud of me. I asked him why and he said because I am building a business. This isn't just a hobby anymore. I am taking this to the next level and I just love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I see the numbers go up on my FB page. I want to thank all my new followers for "liking" my page. I hope you are pleased and love what you see. I also home you will also take the time to view my website and see the kinds of things I make. Have a fabulous day! I will back at the bench tomorrow. Now, it is time to make pancakes for my sweetheart!
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