Monday, September 24, 2007

Go Steelers!!!

This is a picture of me in the Ocean Tank at the Pittsburgh Zoo. This was on TV here in town the year the Steelers were in the Super Bowl. I missed it, myself, but quite a few people said they saw it. I missed my own 15 seconds of fame. LOL

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Steve & I

I needed a place to host a pic of Steve & I, so here 'tis. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

On my mind

This will probably end up being a rambling post, but this has been on my mind. Maybe if I put it "on paper" it will be freed and I can move on. (probably not, but it's worth a try).

So, here's the deal. Every day, I live my own "every day life", just like everyone else. There are things that are common in my day, or in my life. Things pop up, that I've seen, heard, or done before. You know, normal life. For example, I was driving behind a car today, and the person in the back seat, put their arm up into the back window, and I saw bracelets on their arm. Seems pretty benign, but it gave me a flash of Renee wearing bracelets like that and playing with them on her arm.

I heard a song the other day that I hadn't heard in a long time and I remembered that I told Renee once that it reminded me of her SO much. I had to sing it for her because she didn't know it. I remember that I sounded terrible, and she laughed at me. (that's ok, I can take it) :)

Sometimes, something will happen that I want to confide in her about, or ask her opinion on. For the past couple years, I'd "file it away" in my mind. I'd think, "That's something to ask Renee about, I'll try to remember it when I find her again." OF COURSE I knew that I'd forget by the time I found her...but the point is, I thought I'd find her. "Filing away" became a habit for alot of things. Usually, those were the times that would make me jump online and Google her and Rachel again. I still catch myself doing now, though. There are things that come up almost everyday that I want to talk to her about.

Sometimes I think of things that I want to tell her about, and I can hear her hearty laugh, because I know it's something she would have thought was so funny. I can hear it now. I can see her in my mind laughing. I don't think it's a particular memory of any particular time, I just see her...healthy, happy, beautiful, and laughing.

I still can't comprehend that she's really gone, that the world is missing Renee. It doesn't seem possible. I didn't meet Renee until I was 19, but to me, it's like she's just always been there. How can she not be there now? She's just away somewhere and she'll be back...not so, though. Doesn't work that way, I know.

But, how long do I have to go through my everyday life seeing, hearing, feeling, and thinking things that I relate to her? I mean, God! She was on my mind for the 3 years I couldn't find her, and now she's STILL on my mind and I "found" her, but I'll still never be able to hear her laugh again.

I told her once, that for some reason, I wanted to call her "Re" (souns like Ree). It's funny now, I don't know why I got that feeling, but even now I think of her and I think "Re". I told her about it once and she told me not to call her that. :) haha I don't care. It's a name that I came up with, it's my own "thing", and now she can't stop me. I love her, and she's Re.

Maybe it stemmed from the time we were at Have A Nice Day Cafe and we were dancing. They played "Ring My Bell" and she told me a story. I don't remeber all the details but something about her sisters calling her Reena Bell, because of the song. So, that's stuck in my head, and Re is a shortened version of it. That's my best guess of where it came from. But I remember laughing about the name, Reena Bell, with her that night.

That was the night she broke the heel spur she had. I have a picture of the two of us together that night. I'm smiling with a big smile and she's sitting next to me doing a goofy pout because her foot hurt. She ended up sitting at the table all night because her foot hurt, so I stayed too.

So, one memory leads to another. Everyday life keeps rolling along and remind me of times in my past, and people I love & miss. I love you, Re. :(

But, then, that's the point of it does keep rolling along. Jimmy Buffett has a new song out on his latest album. It's about Hurricane Katrina, but there's a line in it that says, "According to my watch the time is Now, the past is dead and gone....Breathe in, breathe out, move on." I guess, in the land of the living, that's what we do. I'm always going to love her, I'm always going to remember her, but life keeps rolling and so must I....good advice, but hard to do.

Ok, here's my deep breath. I have to go... ***HUGS*** to you, Re.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Derby Champ

Well, enough sad stuff in my blog! How about a serious "Proud Mama" moment?!

On St. Patricks Day, my monkey competed in his first Pinewood Derby.

He told me a week, or so, before the derby that he had a dream about it and he hoped he won. I said, "This is your first year. There are going to be kids there that have done this for a few years already. If you win, it'll be awesome, but if you don't this is your year to learn." I had no idea what was about to happen. :)

We arrived in the morning for him to race against the other kids in his Tiger Den. His car won FIRST PLACE!
We had to come back later in the day to race in the finals. I was so proud of him for winning first place in his den, and I was hoping he'd get to race at least a few times in the make him feel good about his accomplishment. by one the kids were knocked out of the race, and STILL my little Tiger Scout stood with the bigger kids. When it was down to 5 I told one of the moms, "I'm so proud of him! I didn't think he'd make it this far!" (yee of little faith, huh?) Then it was down to 3, I realized the worst he could do now was 3rd place and I was so happy for him. (Meanwhile, he looked like a deer in the headlights through the whole thing. haha)
Well, the other two boys raced and one lost, so now it was down to 1st and 2nd place! The boy he was to race was a 4th grader...a "big kid". They put their cars on the track (Spence needed to stand on a mik crate to reach the top of the track). He centered his car carefully in his lane and they started down the track. The other boy's car pulled ahead right out of the gate. But then, as they neared the finish line, Spencer's car pulled ahead at the last moment for a spectacular finish. The room erupted into cheering. It was really something to behold. I think everyone was just so impressed because this little boy had done so well.
Me, being the sappy mom that I am...I was crying because I was so proud of him. He is convinced it's because we're Irish, and he wore green on St. Patrick's Day. Maybe it's true... :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dream on, my friend

It's been a rough start to 2007. First Neko, then my friend Renee. I met Renee when I first moved to Detroit in 1991. She was one of the first people I met and we were instant friends. She had the same goofy personality I did. She understood me when I was being totally stupid and I understood her, too. There was so much we had in common. We had a connection you don't get to find in too many people. I loved her like a sister, and I know she felt the same about me. She'll forever be a huge part of my life and a soul I felt honored to have been connected to for so long.

She had a rough time for the past few years. I moved from Detroit to Central PA and we didn't get to see each other that often. We talked on the phone alot in the beginning. We both got divorced around the same time. Shortly after that, I lost touch with her. She had lost her job, so I couldn't call her at work, her cell phone got shut off, so I couldn't reach her there, and I didn't know the people she was staying with. I had no idea how to find her. I tried for the past 3 years. I Googled her name, her daughters name, even her ex-husband. I didn't try too hard to find her ex, because I figured I'd find her someday. I thought I'd find a company listing of employees and she'd be there. Or, I'd find some post she'd make online somewhere. I started wondering what I did, did I make her mad? I got a little mad at her for just leaving me like that. I couldn't believe that after we had been SO close and shared SO much that my best friend would forsake me. That was hard enough, then on February 5, I searched again, like I usually did. It didn't take me long to find a post a friend of hers had put on MySpace.

The post simply said, "Renee Franzen passed away Dec 13." Her friend was letting someone else know, and had she not written Renee's full name, I might never have known...But there it was, not even 2 months, but too late to find my best friend. And that's what I found.

The why or the how doesn't need to be said here. What needs to be said here is that I'm full to the brim with memories of her and they're almost entirely good. She was SO special and everyone I know felt the same way about her. I miss her terribly and I'm so sad that I didn't get to say goodbye. I found out that she wasn't mad at me, and she couldn't get ahold of me either.

Her favorite band was Aerosmith. She LOVED that band. She had every CD, she'd been to probably every concert. She and I went to one together once, and it was fantastic. She met Steven Tyler once and I remember her gushing about it for months! :)

I haven't had the heart to post this about her until today when I was listening to my Aerosmith CD and thinking about her. I had to post this and say that I think Dream On is the perfect song for her. We used to sing songs together all the time, and in this song he says, "Sing with me, sing for the years, sing for the laughter and sing for the tears , sing with me, if it's just for today, maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away..." And he did. God bless your beautiful soul my dear sweet friend. I'll love you forever and I'll miss you for every minute of it.

This is an old picture. It was her birthday party for her 26th birthday, but I remember this day like it was yesterday.

Dream On, Aerosmith

every time that I look in the mirror

all these lines on my face getting clearer

the past is gone it went by like dusk to dawn

isn't that the way everybody's got their dues in life to pay

yeah, I know nobody knows where it comes and where it goes

I know it's everybody's sin

you got to lose to know how to win

half my life's in books' written pages

live and learn from fools and from sages

you know it's true all the things come back to you

sing with me, sing for the years

sing for the laughter and sing for the tears

sing with me, if it's just for today

maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

dream on, dream on, dream on,

dream yourself a dream come true

dream on, dream on, dream on, and

dream until your dream comes true dream on ...

Friday, February 02, 2007

A warm fuzzy blanket for a dear friend :)

Today was my boss's last day. On Monday I realized I needed to get him a going away present (nothing like last minute, eh?) I didn't want to get him just any old thing, so I decided to crochet an afghan for him.

He races in his spare time, so I searched the internet and found a pattern for a race flag afghan ( ).

Here's a picture of him racing (in front, of course), and a picture of him enjoying his blanket.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Spencer, Shark-lover

My most recent dive at the zoo was on January 20th. Spence and Steve came with me and when I was done, I found out it was time to feed the sharks. Steve got some pictures of us on the platform at the top of the Ocean tank. Spence got to pet some Zebra sharks, which he thought was really cool (of course!!) This is the tank I just dove prior to these pictures. It's my favorite tank at the zoo, and the Zebras are my favorite animal in this tank. There are two in this picture. The guy from the zoo is holding one for Spence, and the other is coming to see what's going on. They're pretty easy-going sharks and they're used to being handled.

After Spence pet the Zebra sharks, it was time to feed the Bonnetheads (see the one in the picture that looks like a little Hammerhead?) They feed them chopped squid and another small type of fish. We don't pet the Bonnetheads, though. LOL

Friday, January 26, 2007

Neko, you will be missed

In November of 1996, I was living by myself in my first apartment. It was an apartment on the 8th floor of a building in Detroit. I decided I needed a dog to keep me company, but they wouldn’t let me have one in the apartment, only cats. A day or two later, someone at work asked if anyone wanted a cat. I think I only waited one, maybe two, heartbeats before I said yes. She said her sister had found a cat crying outside her apartment. He was a little bigger than a kitten, but not fully grown (so I figured his birthday was in July, and what better day to call his birthday than the 4th of July?). She had hung signs up and she would wait another couple of days to see if anyone claimed him. If not, he’d be mine.

The days passed and I went to go get him. I had toys and all the essentials in my car when I got there. I brought this spunky little guy home with me, and started trying to come up with a name. I wanted something kind of cool. I had a cat calendar at work that had something like 50 cats on each page, showing the names of all of them. So, I started flipping through the pages reading all the names. I found “Neko”. I thought it was perfect. It was short, it was cool…I just liked it. Of course, a few years later I found out that it apparently means “cat” in Japanese.

When he first came into my home, he was a little shy, a little standoff-ish. Shortly after moving in he got a little sick and he came and lay on his side by me and put his head in my lap. That was our first real bonding moment, I think. I remember his first week with me, we had a terrible snow storm in Detroit. There were stories on the news about record lows, bundle up if you go outside, don’t leave your pets outside…I looked down at the kitty I brought home and felt so lucky someone had saved him and brought us together. He could have been out there in that weather but now he was safe with me.

Neko was all boy. And I used to tell him that all the time. He was proud, he was smart, he was “his own kitty”. You couldn’t pick him up and cuddle him, but he had no problem coming to you and cuddling you. So MANY times he’d come lay with me and wrap his little arms around my neck. So MANY times he’d sit on the back of the couch and drape himself over each of my shoulders. And everytime he did it, he’d purr. And what a purr this cat had. It was a deep contented purr. It was like he was just so happy to be there, at that moment. And everytime he did it, so was I. I would always try to sit very still so he wouldn’t move. Just stay… He did this the last time just a couple of weeks ago.

We had our little “things” that we did. He would nuzzle me with his nose so that I would pet his nose and right between his eyes. He would just close his eyes and stick his little face out the whole time. If I stopped, he’d nuzzle me to keep going. In the morning, he always sat on my bathroom sink. He’d sit there and wait for me to come kiss him on the head. And when I did, he’d press his head up toward my kiss.

He was playful, and unfortunately, he was a bit of a biter. But, he always kept it in check and tried not to bite hard. It was just how we played. I’d try to get his belly and he’d try to get me. He’d roll over and over, trying to “surprise me” and get my hand. And over and over again, I’d pull away and get his belly again. If I stopped, he would bump me to get me started again. We played that game every morning, too.

He could also be gentle. When my son was born in 2000, I was worried that Neko would bite him, not knowing that he could hurt him. He never did. Not even when my son grabbed him by the ears and pulled him down into his lap. I have that one on video.

Not long after I got him, I was watching a show about pumas on TV. They reminded me of him. Some of the things they did and the way they moved. I started calling him Puma Kitty. When I was growing up we had a cat named Sox. For some reason, my dad started calling her Pooh. So, after a while of having Neko around, Pooh just started sounding “right” as a term of endearment. I called him Pooh a lot. I bet he was confused about what his name was.

Puma Kitty
Kitty Kitty
Pookattie (from Pooh-Kitty), pronounced POO-ka-tee

The list goes on and on. What ever he was, he was loved so much.

We found each other when I was in my mid 20’s, single, in my first apartment. He was there by my side through so much. A marriage, a divorce, a new baby, and now a new fiancĂ©. But Neko was always there. Always my buddy. Always ready to hug me, eat my hair, or just purr in my ear to let me know he loved me. And I’m sure he knows how much I loved him, too.

A week ago today he got really sick. He spent this past week in the hospital, where he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. The vet tried everything he could to save Neko. But today my fiancé, Steve, and I went to say goodbye. We spent some time with Neko. I got to hug him, kiss his head like I always did, and call him Pooh. He was so sick but he still wiggled his tail and pressed his head to me. It was so hard to say goodbye to such a great friend.

He was more than a cat. He was a beautiful loving spirit, a wonderful companion and a cherished part of my life.

I love you, Pooh. I’ll miss you always. God bless you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How I did it...

I've received several requests for information on how I expanded the Prairie Star pattern.

It's not an easy answer, but if you're willing to play, I'll tell you how. I started in Microsoft Word, but I've found Excel actually works a little better.

If you don't already have the Drawing toolbar visible on your screen (mine sits at the bottom of the screen and has buttons for Autoshape, Fill Color, etc.) then goto the View menu, select Toolbars, and Drawing.

I used the Autoshape feature to create a diamond shape that was about the right proportions. I then just kept copying and pasting that shape, so my proportions were always the same. You can use the rotate functions in the Drawing toolbar to situate your shape the way you need it. You can change the fill colors, etc. Once you have a group of shapes the way you want them, you can group them together and copy that whole group so you can continue the pattern. (If you get stuck, try Help. They can tell you how to use these features.)

It was alot of just playing with the drawing features to find out what worked best and going with that. One thing that was nice about Excel was that I could adjust the size of the columns and rows so it was a bit like graph paper on the screen. Once you get into it a bit, you'll get the hang of it and you'll be creating patterns all over the place. lol

Good luck! :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another idea for expanding the Prairie Star

I started thinking maybe I'd want something more than a square. So I came up with this.

Prairie Star

I started a Prairie Star afghan ( several years ago. I've been trying to remember when, and I think it was about 5 or 6 years now. When I found this pattern I got ambitious from the beginning and decided it was so pretty it needed to be turned into a duvet cover for my queen sized bed. I worked on it feverishly, in the beginning, but for the last several years it's only come out during the winter.

Well, the other day we got hit with a snow storm just as I was ready to go get some yarn to start a working on a bag I'm supposed to be doing for a Crochet Along on So, instead, I stayed home in my comfy clothes and pulled out the ol' blanket.

Some of the girls in the crochet-a-quilt CAL on the 'Ville have asked to see my progress. This is my first post on this blog, so I'm going to attempt to post some pics here. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this works. :)

This is a picture of my cat, Neko, laying on what WILL be a very large afghan for my queen sized bed. (I've abandoned the duvet cover idea, now I'm just going for a queen sized afghan). For those of you familiar with this pattern, you can probably see where I've added motifs to continue the pattern out past where the original one stopped. I didn't make my motifs any bigger, to extend this, I added motifs to the pattern.

Here are my plans for the extending the pattern.

A regular comforter for a queen sized bed is 86x86. So, my thought is to complete the square (the part inside the light blue border) and use the borders to adjust the size.

I couldn't resist one more picture of Neko. Besides, you can see a little of the detail of the motifs here.