Monday, December 26, 2011

Heart Broken

Mark Bledsoe

William Mark Bledsoe died December 22, 2011 after a sudden and devastating illness. He died the same way he lived, surrounded by family and friends, love and laughter.

Mark was born July 9, 1958 to Bill and Memory Bledsoe in Tulsa. He was a graduate of Big Cabin High School, Rogers State University, and Oklahoma State University.

He was Executive Director and Lobbyist for the United Suburban Schools Association, and also an adjunct professor at OSU-OKC. Previously he worked for the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Mark was a member of the Putnam City School Board, the American and Oklahoma Societies of Association Executives, and Mayflower Congregational Church.

He was devoted to his family and friends and to pursuing his many passions: books, beer, baseball, church, history, politics, public education, Scouting, and following his beloved Cardinals and Cowboys.

Mark was preceded in death by his beloved sainted mother and sister, both of whom were named Memory Bledsoe. He is survived by his wife, Kimberlee Williams; his cherished daughter Grace Bledsoe; his father, Bill Bledsoe; his baby sister, Kathy Kostelnick; his favorite nephew and niece, Derek and Karissa Kostelnick; and a whole horde of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

A celebration of his life will be held Wednesday, December 28, 2011, at 1 p.m. at Mayflower Congregational Church, 3901 NW 63rd St., Oklahoma City. The family has requested that “real fans wear orange.”

In lieu of flowers, please express your love to your spouse; if you are a Democrat, hug a Republican and vice versa; donate blood; support your local public schools and libraries; spend time with your kid; volunteer for a worthy cause; share a laugh with a friend. Memorial contributions may be made to: Deaconess Adoption and Pregnancy Services, 7101 NW Expressway, Ste. 325, Oklahoma City, OK 73132; or to the Putnam City Schools Foundation, 5401 NW 40th, Oklahoma City, OK 73122. Go Pokes!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dry Spell

This blog has been haunting me for a long time now..."Update me! Mwahahaha!". But I just have not had the energy or the inspiration. I started this blog to share some information about adoption, but with Lil Sweetie now 9 years old, it's just not foremost in our minds anymore.

And then I thought I would post about my creative endeavors, but my free time is such that I feel like it is often a choice of either being creative, or documenting my creative pursuits...there's just not time for both.

So I've been in a bit of a slump lately. A dry spell. Crunchy and brown like the expensive shrub pictured above, which perished in our heat spell hell of a summer.

Then I discovered the imake podcast, which led me to, which introduced me to attic24, which gave me the pattern and inspiration for this:

And just like that, I found my mojo.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remember This?

Remember this?  Remember snow and howling winds and bitter, bitter cold?  Most people don't understand this about me, some even claim I'm crazy, but I long for Fall and Winter all year long.

My pasty, white skin was not meant for the harsh, bright sun of summer--I only burn, never tan.  Sweating makes me itch.  Mosquitos love me, and their bites swell up on me the size of quarters.  I don't like to swim.  Summer just has nothing to offer me that I'm interested in. 

And this year has been especially brutal.  A record-setting heat wave coupled with drought has made this summer unbearable to me.  Walking outside is like walking into an oven.  The air conditioning cannot keep up when it is over 100 degrees day after day after day.  No matter what you do, count on sweating while doing it.  I would like to kiss the person who invented ceiling fans.  The nearby lake looks so desolate, what with its fishing dock sitting on dry land.  The lovely (and expensive) bushes I planted so hopefully and lovingly this Spring are as dry and crispy as corn flakes, even though we watered them faithfully as often as the water rationing would allow

My creativity is dry and crispy too.  Art and Craft have lifted me out of many a funk, if only temporarily, but this time I got nuttin'.  I cannot find the energy to do much at all.  I suspect I may be a wee bit depressed.  The summer doldrums?  Can I call in sick to work with that?

My husband's answer to everything is, "This too shall pass."  Sometimes annoying, but always, ALWAYS true.  And so I comfort myself by dreaming of nippy days and chilly nights, piling another blanket on the bed, digging out my fluffiest, warmest socks, and celebrating those wonderful gray days of Fall and Winter.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself , I am large, I contain multitudes."  ~ Walt Whitman

  1. I am allergic to raisins.
  2. I am not allergic to grapes.
  3. Raisins are made from grapes, are they not?
  4. I hate boxing and think it's barbaric.
  5. If I leave a hockey game without seeing blood on the ice, I feel cheated.
  6. I don't believe in astrology.
  7. I feel a wee bit superior because I am a Scorpio, the sex symbol of the zodiac!
  8. I am proud to have been born in the Year of the Tiger.
  9. I feel sorry for all the Rats and Goats.
  10. I am convinced that one reason for my happy life is that I live with a Horse and a Dog, which are both compatible with Tigers.
  11. I don't believe in the Chinese Zodiac.
  12. I am a "people person."
  13. I need a lot of "alone time."
  14. I am a Christian.
  15. I love images of Buddha and Ganesha.
  16. I believe in being polite.
  17. I curse.  I mean, I effin' curse a LOT.
  18. My heart leaps at the sound of Native American flutes and drums and therefore I am convinced I was Indian in a former life.
  19. I also believe that I lived in Czarist Russia.
  20. When I was a small child, I talked constantly about the friends I had when I was a bunny, before I was a child.
  21. A friend-of-a-friend who claims to be psychic showed me a mark on my palm that she says indicates I was a citizen of the lost city of Atlantis.
  22. My daughter has the same mark on her palm.
  23. When I met my daughter, I felt like we had known each other forever.
  24. I do not believe in past lives.
  25. I'm putting this list on the internet for the whole world to see.
  26. I'm pretty sure this is the kind of thing that is interesting only to me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pot Holes on Easy Street

Life has been a bit less than great lately.  Things are not BAD--I'm incredibly blessed.  Let's just say that Easy Street has developed a few pot holes lately.  There is still uncertainty in my job, we're right in the midst of some painful anniversaries, and I've had a lot of trouble sleeping off and on.  And let's face it, the view is less bright with bleary eyes, is it not?

When I start feeling this way, I think a lot about the late Peggy Chun, who inspires me greatly.  No, not Connie Chung!  Do you know who Peggy Chun is?  I have to admit that I had never heard of her until just a few years ago.

Peggy was born in Oklahoma but made her home in Hawaii.  When ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) took her twin sister, an artist, Peggy became an artist in tribute to her twin.  She became a quite well-known and beloved artist in Hawaii.  And then, she was diagnosed with ALS too.  She kept right on painting.  When she lost the use of her right hand, she learned to paint with her left.  When that also became impossible, she painted by holding the paintbrush in her mouth.  Eventually, ALS robbed her of that ability too.  Did that stop her?  Hell no!  Peggy kept on painting by using a computer program that read her eye commands.  The woman was incapable of breathing on her own, and yet she taught classes in painting.  She wrote a book.  She kept on living her life, communicating solely through eye movements.

Eventually it became clear that she was losing even the ability to control her eye movements, and that it was time to turn off the ventilator.  But not before Peggy finished her bucket list.  With the help of friends and family, she enjoyed a final tub bath, a campfire, a ride on the Superferry, and a going away party in her front yard that lasted all day and night, the electric cord to her ventilator run between the beer coolers.  Her bucket list completed, Peggy passed away in November of 2008.

And so, on those mornings when I lie in bed, weary from lack of sleep, already stressed about the day ahead, wishing I could pull the covers over my head, I think of Peggy Chun.  I think, if she could face ALS and say, "You will not keep me from the things I want to do, and you will not take me until I am ready to go," then surely to goodness I can drag my lazy butt out of bed and face those little pot holes on Easy Street.

The artwork that accompanies this post has nothing to do with Peggy Chun; it is art created by Lil Sweetie using an Iphone app called SpinArt.  Peggy Chun's artwork is lovely and can be easily found by Googling her name...I just wanted to avoid infringing on any copyrights held by her family.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about nudges lately.  It all started with a book I read, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.  It's classified as an economic book...not my usual genre by a long shot.  But I saw some blurb somewhere about it which discussed how school cafeterias can encourage children to make better food choices just in how those choices are presented.  For example, children are less likely to eat french fries if they have to go around to the back side of the serving line to get the french fries.  Or, if the chocolate milk is moved behind the white milk, children are less likely to choose it, even though it still is easily available to them.  Fascinating! 

I've been completely mesmerized by this concept.  How can I put this to work in my own life?  Can I encourage myself and my family to make better food choices if I put the carrot sticks and the grapes front and center in the fridge?  How can I use this concept to get my butt in bed at a decent time and finally get enough rest?  I'm just obsessed with it.

And so I've also been thinking about nudges in a more general context.  I really believe that God speaks to us through these nudges...a growing feeling that further and more invasive infertility treatment was not for us, a mention by a friend of an adoption agency looking for potential adoptive parents open to adopting a child of another race, and on the other side of that equation, a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy feels a nudge to contact an adoption agency.  These nudges are miracles, really.  You can't convince me otherwise.

But sometimes I ignore the nudges.  And I wonder how it changes the course of my life.  A few months ago, I woke up one day with a sudden feeling that I should send a friend of mine $200.  For about two days, I could not shake the feeling.  I didn't make a conscious decision not to send the money, but I hemmed and hawed and worried over how the friend would perceive an unexpected check in the mail--she is proud and I was afraid she might be offended.  I never sent the money.  In the intervening months, an unrelated series of events unfolded and now this friend and I are estranged.  And I wonder, would we be if I had just sent that money? 

I do know this, I do intend to listen more closely to those nudges in the future.

The photos that accompany this post have nothing to do with nudges, I just think they are pretty.  I recently visited the Georgia Aquarium and was quite impressed.  If you are ever in Atlanta, it is well worth the rather substantial cost of admission.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why She Loves Me

  1. I feeds her.
  2. I drives her places.
  3. I cooks food of her.
  4. I buys her clothes.
  5. I nice.
  6. I folds her clothes.
  7. I clens the dishes.
  8. I buys her book.
  9. I is Awesome!
  10. I make her lunch.
I asked her why she didn't mention the mother-daughter pedicures and she said because she didn't know how to spell "pedi."  Ha!

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Possible Scenarios for Heaven

Years ago, I read a blog post that touched me deeply. It was entitled “Possible Scenarios for Heaven” and it was and is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. All these years later, I still remember it and think about it occasionally which is weird because I don’t even remember how I ended up on that blog.

In the past seven days, Mr. Sweetie lost his auntie, Birdie lost her mother, and my family observed the 20th anniversary of my beautiful little cousin’s accidental death at age 19. It’s been a hard week. So in honor and memory of Janie and Betty Jean and Kelley, here are my own personal possible scenarios for heaven:
  • You wake up every day to the smell of coffee and bacon, and warm peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream is considered an acceptable substitute for breakfast.
  •  Your front porch has a sweeping view of snow-capped mountains. Your back door opens onto the beach.
  • Baseball season lasts all year long, and you have season tickets right behind home plate for your favorite team, the Universal All-time All-stars. Your hot dog never grows cold, your beer never grows warm, and you catch a foul ball at every game.
  • Every day right after lunch, you sit at God’s feet while he brushes your hair and tells you how special you are. Then he gives you a hug and insists that you take a nap.
  • There is an enormous library in which every book you pick up is the best book you ever read. Included in this library are the answers to all the mysteries of the universe, no matter how big or how small, including whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, whether Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster exist, whether there is intelligent life on other planets, and where the missing socks go when you do laundry.
  • Heaven is a giant craft store that carries only your favorite colors of paints, yarns, beads, and other supplies, so that you don’t even have to look at the icky colors. You can effortlessly learn any art or craft that you like, and every project turns out exactly as you pictured it in your head.
  • It is always strawberry season.
  • You sleep at night on a screened in porch under a blanket soft and faded with age. Fireflies twinkle in the darkness until a gentle rain starts to fall on the tin roof overhead. From inside the house, you can hear a radio, softly playing Patsy Cline singing “Crazy.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ooh, look! Something shiny!

What with the continued public employee bashing in the media, I'm feeling a little beat up lately.  One of the joys of being an eensy bit shallow is that I find it quite easy to distract myself with shiny things.

So behold, my soldered pendants:

I'm still learning, still perfecting my soldering skills.  And I'm having fun with it.

I'm still finishing up the Soul Restoration Workshop.  It's officially over but I'm still working on the last few assignments.  I just can't let go.  It was that good.

And I'm art journaling up a storm.  One of my journals is to help me with my goal to develop some better habits this year in the area of health.  When I want to eat a cupcake or an enormous plate of nachos, I paint, cut, paste, stamp, or write instead. 

Now if you will excuse me, I believe someone mentioned an enormous plate of nachos.  (See, I told you I was easily distracted.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Help

I am a state employee.

Contrary to public opinion, I am not underworked and overpaid, nor do I gleefully mis-transfer calls, nor have I ever once sat around eating bon-bons.  I work hard all day, every day, though not nearly as hard as the state workers who care for our veterans and disabled, maintain our highways, guard our prisons, and the myriad other hard, thankless jobs that state employees do.  You may have read in the paper or seen on the news things that make you think otherwise, but for every crappy, corrupt state employee that makes the news, there are thousands of dedicated, hard-working, ethical state employees with their heads down working. 

There are times the building I work in is uncomfortably warm or cool due to lack of funding for basic maintenance.  I do without basic tools I need to do my job, because it's that or let an employee go and we are already understaffed as it is.  I work on average between 40 and 50 hours a week; I get paid for 40.  I take leave if I am 15 minutes late to work, regardless of how many hours I put in the day before.

My health insurance premium is exorbitant due to a state law that for years has disallowed our insurer to exclude pre-existing conditions.  I know state employees with children with hemophilia, severe autism, and other heart-breaking conditions who went to work for the state solely for the insurance coverage--it's about the only way they could get it.  I don't complain--it's a good recruitment tool. 

 I have excellent benefits and generous paid leave.  The cash value of all of my benefits including salary about equals the salary alone I could get in the private sector.  I get no bonus, no incentive pay.  We pay for our own employee picnics and holiday luncheons--tax revenue cannot be used for such expenditures.  State employees in my state have not had a raise in four years.

We have the authority to do what the law says we can do, no more or less.  Often this stymies us in our ability to perform our mission.  You know when you call the government and we can't help?  It frustrates and pisses us off, too.

Why do I work for the State?  Because I'm a bleeding heart liberal who wants to make a difference, because I come from a tradition of public service, because doing so allows me to practice my profession and still have a life, because unlike my experience in the private sector my client always pays my bill and never once sits in my office and bawls.

I'm not asking for sympathy.  I asked for this job and all told, I love it.  I'm just tired of hearing public employees bashed.  It's a free country and you have every right to speak your mind.  I'm just asking that before you bash public employees, educate yourself.  Things are tough all over.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SRW Week #4 -- What I Learned

  1. I am incredibly blessed in that I have a number of people in my life who believe in me more than I believe in myself.  (Robin, you are Exhibit A.)
  2. The messages that hold me back are mostly coming from inside my own head.
  3. I say really hateful, hurtful things to myself most of the time.
  4. I really should stop that.
  5. Mod-Podge is not so bad after all.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SRW Weeks #2 & 3 -- What I Learned

  1. Looking back at my life, the times that seemed the most difficult were the times that moved me forward to better things.
  2. It would be nice if I could learn lessons the easy way instead of the hard way.
  3. I freakin' love art journaling!
  4. Painting and coloring and cutting and pasting are not just for kindergarten any more.
  5. Waxed paper between the pages of my art journal can keep them from sticking together and allow me to paint a lot of pages at once.
  6. It is easier to hate the icky parts of myself than it is to love my whole self, icky parts and all.
  7. Loving the icky parts is really, really hard.
  8. I am really hard on myself.
  9. Being really hard on myself is soooo not productive.
  10. Melody Ross is a goddess with the hands of Martha Stewart and the heart of the Dalai Lama.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SRW Week #1 -- What I Learned

I've been doing the online Soul Restoration workshop with the Brave Girls this week, and I have learned many lessons already.  Here is a sampling:

  1. Restoring my soul is time-consuming and exhausting. 
  2. I'm not such a fan of the Modge-Podge.
  3. I'm more of a glue stick kind of a girl.
  4. It's ok to go rogue and use the adhesive I like best.
  5. Soul Restoration is not about adhesive.
  6. Paintbrushes make me nervous.
  7. Paintbrushes are for REAL artists.
  8. Make-up sponges are really good for smearing paint around on paper.
  9. Using make-up sponges instead of paintbrushes for smearing paint ensures that I get a lot of paint under my fingernails.
  10. Paint under my fingernails makes me happy.
  11. Make-up sponges are really, really cheap at Dollar Tree.
  12. Cheap make-up sponges from Dollar Tree make me happy.
  13. The wedding accessories at DollarTree make me sad.
  14. Soul Restoration is not about paint brushes, make-up sponges, wedding accessories, or Dollar Tree.
  15. I find it impossible to think of myself as an artist.
  16. Thinking of creating art as "practice" is freeing.
  17. I have a law practice and a spiritual practice and an artistic practice.
  18. Calling it practice makes things seem less scary and gets me past my inner perfectionist.
  19. Creativity is like a muscle...when I don't use it, it gets flabby.
  20. The only way to get creative is just to dig in and start creating.
  21. The more I create, the more creative I become.
  22. I worry a lot about whether I am doing things the "right" way.
  23. Soul Restoration is not about doing things the "right" way. 
  24. Soul Restoration is about doing the work, any way I can.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Duuuuudes, chill!

I'm very disturbed by the tone of rhetoric in our country.  I've been thinking about this for a long while.  I know I'm showing my age, but I remember a time when our elected officials would stand up on the floor of the House or the Senate and say things like, "With all due respect to my esteemed colleague from the great state of Tennessee, I could not disagree more."  Now it seems that we would rather scream at each other than listen and try to understand.  We all have gotten so entrenched in the belief that our truth is the only truth, our way is the only way.

I know everyone thinks that lawyers can I put this politely?...the south ends of north-bound horses.  But I have to say that as lawyers, we are trained to go into litigation or negotiation and fight to the death, in (usually) a very civilized way, and then go have a beer together after.  We don't take it personally.  We know that there are many sides of every story, many viewpoints, many truths.  (If you think of truth as having a capital "T", as in there is only one Truth, I invite you to talk to numerous witnesses of the same accident or crime.)  I have seen lawyers argue vehemently and loudly in the courtroom, then shake hands and kindly ask about each others' families.  I once witnessed two female lawyers argue so strenuously that I worried at one point it would come to blows, then go to lunch to discuss a concern one of the lawyers had about her children.  I have seen lawyers take time away from their own practices to volunteer to go to court and ask for continuances for a sole practitioner who had a sudden, unexpected health crisis so that his law practice did not fall apart while he was ill.  This, from lawyers who ordinarily were his opponents. 

I'm never going to convince you that lawyers are great people, and that's ok, that's not my goal.  I just want to point out that there are civil ways to disagree.

As if having a lawyer in the family is not enough to heap shame and ridicule on our family, my husband is a lobbyist.  I'm pretty sure "lobbyist" is the only profession more hated than "lawyer."  Mr. Sweetie sometimes amazes me by mentioning what a great guy Senator or Representative So-and-so is.  I'll stammer, "But...but...his political beliefs are the complete opposite of yours."  My husband will laugh and say, "Oh, I disagree with his politics, but he's a great guy!"  Then he'll tell me about So-and-so's integrity, their intelligence, their good-naturedness (if that's a word), their volunteer work, their family.  It seems to me that so many of us are slapping labels on people and discounting them because of this one label--You're a (fill in the blank--Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Feminist, whatever) so you don't count.  I love that the hubs is able to see people in 3D--yes, Senator So-and-so is a Conservative Republican but he is also a husband, a father, a volunteer, a coach, a friend, a helluva nice guy.

From what little I've heard, the shooting in Arizona of the Congresswoman and numerous others was due to mental illness and not a reaction to rhetoric, but still, it amazes me that this country has not seen violent reactions to the rhetoric.  (Maybe we have, I tend to stay away from the news.)  Can't we go back to a time when we could disagree with civility and honor?  Wasn't our country founded on such ideals--"I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" and all that?  Kindergarteners know you have to play well with others, why can't we?  Our lives may depend on it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Song for my Daughter

In your laugh, there are a thousand butterflies.

And in your eyes glows my sun.

In your skin are all the silks and satins of all the world;
nobody else's skin was ever as soft as this.

And in your song
that only you can sing
are a thousand church bells,
backed by a thousand choirs,
lifted up by a thousand prayers.

In your breath is the smell of wisdom, sweet as fruit.

In your belly button is a little piece of lint.

And in your dimple,
the one by the corner of your mouth,
in that dimple,
right there,
resides my heart.