Wednesday, March 28, 2007

setting the bunny table

Little helping hands make quick work of setting up the annual bunny table where the grandchildren enjoy imagining the quick snack visits made by the Easter Bunny prior to Easter. Since part of the fun is anticipation, the pink glass bunnies hold little treats that keep disappearing as Mister Bunny (aka Grandpa, when no one is looking) nibbles while zooming around getting ready for his big day. Our clear Finnish iitalla plates allow the quilt pattern to show itself. Celery green flatware and cabbage leaves on the butter knives keep the colors fresh. Sparkly colored glass eggs, marble eggs, blown glass carrots, ducks and chicks are gathering already. When it comes time for the grandchildren to eat there on Easter day, we'll add the fun finishing touches.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

everyday things

Today I'm still feeling a little down. After months of innumerable delays, my son Eero and his team suddenly deployed from Ft Bragg for Iraq just before 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. Eero had to fly back abruptly from an in-law reunion in CA, but we managed another mini reunion on Green Ramp to fill his thoughts into the wee hours just before departure. His older brother Bill also flew in from Boston, and the three old paratroopers (Eero, Bill, and Dad) spent their time reminiscing about earlier days together in the 82nd Airborne Division. It was good to see how much his team respects Eero's leadership as they head off to Anbar province, an area that is so unstable but possibly ready for a change. Of course, the whole team assured me that my cookies were essential to their success. You can bet I'll be baking up a storm to reassure them they are all in our hearts every day.

Just a few weeks ago, we had dinner with Eero at Bragg, where he was preparing his team for a nighttime field exercise before his imminent deployment to Iraq. During the 5-hour drive there, my husband and I enjoyed time to decompress and discuss politics, government, insurgents -- you know, the big-picture stuff that eddies and swirls but seldom resolves and never commits itself on pretty paper. The two new generals undertaking command in Iraq and Afghanistan are family friends. The politicians announcing their run for President are not. It is always my fervent wish that ambition does not cloud judgment, especially with so many lives truly in their hands, but who is helping these people keep their balance? Do we have a compromise-conjuror like Benjamin Franklin lobbying behind the scenes, or just lobbyists? Do we have a George Washington combining the hard lessons of battle and leadership with a leavened understanding of historical consequence, or just ambitious hard-working political overachievers whose attachment to history is argumentative and self-seeking?

Coincidentally, Bill returned to Boston to attend an intimate evening "sensitivity session" with Barack Obama. He mulled over what he could say in that small forum where minds are hopeful and already largely made up. Lip service is paid to supporting our troops regardless of individual opinions about the war itself, but Eero and his team have already had to purchase civilian versions of many protective-gear items for themselves. The Army is stretched to the breaking point in terms of supply-and-demand, even for advanced Cougars and other essentials, because this country, unlike during our previous full-scale wars, has not switched to war production on a level able to meet the demand. As suggested on a recent Bill Maher show, we'd rather shut down GM and Ford plants and put people out of work than manufacture the goods to support the troops while our political factions argue for advantage.

Meanwhile I'm concentrating on the everyday things that are good. My grandchildren bring me fresh perspectives on everything, from flowers just inching through the ground to acting in school plays to making up secret codes for classmates, just in case . . .

And I'm enjoying sharing in the development of the new Scrapbooks Plus store, from the nitty-gritty of painting with fresh color to inviting a friend to be a guest-teacher at the store. Carol Wingert (left) is an exemplary teacher with her own gorgeous mixed-media style and a very generous personality, and she's agreed to come from Phoenix to teach 3 classes at the new store in June. Her class at last year's Creative Escape was among the most popular there, and she'll be a guest there again this September. She's co-authored two books with Tena Sprenger, the latest (out soon) entitled Lifelines: Creating Memory Art to Chronicle Your Personal Connections. I'm delighted that she'll be staying with me so we can play together whenever we have some free time. You can come play with her, too, by signing up for her classes as soon as registration opens.

As you concentrate on your everyday things, I wish you good moments and good memories, fresh perspectives and good friends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

cottage orchid

Isn't this a luscious wall color? Now that ScrapbooksPlus has access to its new store location, Debbie has asked me to dust off my old interior-designer hat and get to work. With the move in just two weeks, yesterday we took measurements and selected this yummy "cottage orchid" color -- just light enough and warm enough to act as backdrop for the front area where all the new product will be featured and also to soften the lower half of the cinder-block throughout the expansive warehouse area. As soon as the walls are cleaned, I've agreed to start painting them. I think it will take me about a week to paint both the standard walls and all that cinder block surround for about 4000 square feet. With white-slat displays and the gradual addition of some shabby-chic cottage style to the standard aisles of product, the store will have a jaunty new attitude. Shhh -- I'm also planning a couple surprise painted cameos for any leftover wall spaces.

Just a reminder: The store will remain open at its current location through March 31st, then close for the first week of April and re-open on Saturday, April 7th, at its new site about 5 minutes away. Look for the large airy classroom!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

bring on the green

Just returned home from a week's break in the ideal climate of Boca Raton and Ft Lauderdale to gratefully find that winter seems to have spat out its last frosty breath here in Virginia while we were gone. Already the fresh green shoots of perennials and bulbs in my garden are reaching tenderly for the sun.

But the green under discussion among my friends in Florida is the Everglades, now literally less than half the size it was before Boca and Lauderdale et al developed on the drained portions. The slightly rising sea water is already encroaching through the porous limestone base of the lower Everglades, that saltiness threatening to change the ecostructure of the fresh-water life cycle there. And many are sure that the rising shoreline, the shorter but more severe winters, and galvanic weather upheavals in general are all the intertwined results of global warming. The draining of the Everglades to provide more settlement areas is considered a big minus in our continent's ability to cleanse increasing carbon levels from the atmosphere, but then so is the destruction of wetlands along all our sizable rivers (including the New Orleans delta), the depletion of aquafirs in order to water desert communities, the deforestation that continues with little sustainable replanting in spite of the commercial advertisements, and so on. The new "green" Hearst headquarters building in Manhattan, with its beautiful interior waterfall that collects rain water to humidify the building, says its most difficult "green" task by far was not the 80% recycled steel, etc, but finding sustainable reforested wood for all its office furniture. Its biggest surprise? How beautiful are the results of the intelligent "green" approach! It helps, too, that NYC is giving tax breaks to construction that meets the city's green codes.

By the way, did you hear that last Friday, the EU agreed to outlaw incandescent lighting within two years? By replacing all incandescent lights with the new energy-efficient fluorescent lighting already on the market, densely-populated Europe expects that one easy change to make a significant reduction in the tonnage of carbon produced per year. Brazil, of course, has already switched entirely to hybrid cars running on ethanol, Brazil's sugar production not only sustaining that regulation (made into law over a decade ago) but supporting sizable exports to other countries (not to the US, however, since Congress has slapped a big tariff on Brazilian sugar imports). France produces something like 95% of its electricity through nuclear energy and furthermore sells electricity to Germany and England. Meanwhile, China and India are moving like runaway trains to build a coveted middle-class standard of living using the same energy-inefficient air-and-water-assault methods we are now regretting. The next international forum on global warming is in Brussels in April -- to what useful parameters do you think we'll agree this time around?