Cooking, Cabins, Crafts & Careers

Things that make life interesting

Mid-month update – Caulk and Church Paintings

No pics this time, just talk.

It’s been raining cats and dogs, so after a lot of positive feedback from my 30 in 30 church painting challenge, this retired girl is putting the ones not already spoken for up for sale on etsy.

We did do a lot of indoor caulking, blocking, cleaning, and re-arranging in the barn, but I did spend some time looking around, and realized, if I’m going to keep painting, then I either need to start painting over some of them, or try to sell them.  As always, Mr. Architect, dear husband, BFF was encouraging to the sell option.

So… all that being said, and with additional knowledge from my art teacher, Susan Jones, I’ve posted images of my paintings, as well as photographs on two other websites.  These are called “print on demand” websites, which is kind of full circle since I used to work for a printing company, but way different.  These sites allow you to upload a photo, and then you can have that image printed on literally anything… leggings, phone cases, greeting cards, canvas, coffee mugs, etc.  I have personally ordered greeting cards of several of my photos and paintings, and have been pleased with the quality.  (BTW, I don’t set the prices – some of them seem pretty high to me, thus me ordering greeting cards.)

Just in case you are suffering from insomnia and want to check them out they are RedBubble.com and FineArtAmerica.com.

I have come to realize that I do truly LOVE painting, and the church series was so challenging and an awesome learning experience.  I only wish that dear husband could do the same with his banjo and furniture building.  It’s just not so easy to build a banjo or a piece of furniture in a day, much less 30 days, but we’ll get there.  Tiny house first, next career second.

Life is still good… life in the country… life working outside… life with my sweet, handsome, loving husband – swinging hammers, just not at each other.

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October update on the Tiny House

Gosh – what a heavy heart I have writing this post after the tragedies we have had within the United States, (not just continental) this last month… hurricanes and shootings, some close to home, some close to friends.  The circle of life and mother nature are not being very friendly this late summer and fall of 2017.

Today – Oct 4 – We are COMPLETELY sheathed in (vertically).tiny house sept a8

We have made progress!  Visible progress!  I fear that once we get inside, hopefully this month, that progress will not be quite so visible.  The next step (roofing) also makes me quite nervous.  We’re still open to possibly hiring that out, I mean, who really wants to strap into a harness if you aren’t doing a zip-line? Not this girl, but I will, (if dear hubby can do it, I can do it).

We had quite a few visitors, some unwanted, this month.  Ms Black Widow Spider, and her sister came to nest in our concrete block pile.tiny house sept a4-spider

“Spot,” the frog, named by one of our granddaughters, took root in the barn, seemingly entranced by this bottle of water on top of a tool box.

 

 

tiny house sept a3-frog

…and there is always “Hank” the neighbor dog who comes by most days for a treat and spray of the hose.  He’s also camera shy, and actually dodges the treats if you toss them to him, but he will sit and high five for a treat.

Now for the guts and glory!

  • House completely sheathed, check
  • Five front deck 6×6 cedar posts installed, check
  • Decks on front and back framed, check
  • Roof deck on back deck framed, check
  • CoPpEr roof gables, ordered, delivered and installed, check (my FAVE this month)

Oh yeah, there were a few watermelon success stories from the garden, this beauty came home with us today.

oct 4 2017 - 9

 

 

 

 

This month we also took a mini time-out for ourselves.  We were headed to South Carolina to a sweet house that backed up to a waterfall, (here – photo from airbnb)westminster sc, airbnb photobut passing thru Chattanooga we got a call that Hurricane Irma had impacted the sweet treehouse, and the power was out at our destination for the duration of our quick trip.  So I got on the phone and we re-routed to Lake Lure, NC and landed in the Patrick Swayze Suite IMG_20170912_195306482at the Lake Lure Spa and Inn who claims Mr Swayze actually stayed in the same room as us while filming the classic movie “Dirty Dancing.”  Luckily, (depends on your perspective), we just missed the 30th anniversary of the filming festival.  But we did get to do some amazing rock climbing and garden viewing… pizza eating… beer drinking… etc

And saw this Devil IMG_20170913_100055035_BURST001

near the top of Chimney Rock, which we climbed… over 900 steps, (there is a staircase to the top, IMG_20170913_093404595i.e. stairway to heaven, then a 2 mile hike to a waterfall, at over 2,000 feet elevationIMG_20170913_094951741_BURST001

where I relaxed, finally!

IMG_20170913_095653665

 

 

 

So it was a nice break from hammering nails, sawing up boards, taping seams, etc… but it’s always amazing to be back “home,” and working on the tiny house.

P.S.  The church painting challenge… I believe I finished 25 paintings in 30 days – and we were traveling 5, or so of the 30 days, so I feel like I made my goal… the fact I was still painting every day after a week is pretty amazing – here are some of the pieces I didn’t post last update.

 

September Update – with a 30 paintings in 30 days BONUS

Here is where we are at the end of today!IMG_20170903_144000388.jpg

Isn’t that stone foundation just the BOMB?

We’ve added a roof – square cedar columns for the back porch roof & rail, “tar” felt on the bottom exterior sheathing, and started the second row of sheathing using the “Zip system,” (it means we won’t have the extra step of coating the exterior with Tyvek or something similar because it is built into the 4 foot by 8 foot sheets (coated in green).

Some terminology, (because I had to keep asking Mr. Architect / Construction Foreman / Sweet-Patient Hubby).

tiny house august 7.jpgRidge board:  the LEVEL 2×10 board at the peak of the roof that extends from the back to the front.

Rafters: the boards that are angled from the ridge board to the top plate of the walls.

Roof joists:  the horizontal boards going across the house perpendicular to the ridge board that host the rafter tails.tiny house august 8

Bird’s mouth cut:  the special v-shaped (also special angled cut) that allows the rafter to sit on the top plate.  The bird’s mouth cut is mostly covered up by my amazing hurricane clips (300+ nails driven by hand = sore forearm).

 

 

 

The roof rafters were a challenge – second to getting the ridge board straight and level.  The most challenging part, of course, was trying to stand and balance on top of the roof joists while lifting and bracing to make everything “plumb and level.”  (Plumb & Level seems to be really ReAlLy REALLY IMPORTANT!)

We had several rain days this week, (thanks Harvey), but nonetheless, we “topped” out the roof tiny house august 6.jpg

We installed the posts on the back deck for the rail.tiny house august 9c.jpg

And we put on the tar felt and zip-system sheathing (pic at the top).  It’s been a great week – but EVERY week is a great week when Hubby and I are out at the site – working together.

My father-in-law was out today, and he said we worked together like a surgeon and a nurse – I’m pretty sure it was a compliment to both of us.

BONUS TIME
Just to keep this blog interesting – since it is about more than our Tiny House Project, I’ve got a personal side challenge going – 30 paintings in 30 days – my theme is rural Tennessee churches, the first 5 are below, but you can follow me on Instagram to see my daily posts for the rest of the month – click here

Old Trinity Episcopal – Mason, TN1 churches - Old Trinity Episcopal - Mason-Actual Painting-7x9.jpg

Unknown Church – Adams, TN2 churches - Rutledge TN-Actual Painting-9x12.jpg

Cobb’s Chapel – Santa Fe, TN3 churches - Cobbs Chapel Methodist - Santa Fe-Actual Painting 8x8-1

Headricks Chapel -Wears Valley, TN4 churches - Headricks Chapel - Wears Valley - Actual Painting-8x8.jpg

Abandoned Church – Adams, TN5 churches - Adams - Actual Painting-9x12.jpg

August Update

Well, well, well – it’s been really sunny AND really hot!  But sunny days make awesome work days on the tiny house front.  We’ve made A LOT of progress, (for us) in the last month!  As in, you can see where the walls go, and that there’s going to be a roof!

Tiny House foundation 07-06-2017Here’s where we were a month ago… see that dark sky – that was one of the not so sunny days, where we were spending more time carrying the tools in and out than we were actually building anything, but hey, a day building in nature is a good day.

We were so proud – we had squared a not-so-square foundation and we had leveled a not-so-level foundation.  So we were “good to go!”

 

The most recent “lumber package” as hubby so fondly calls them, came this week.  I think he only orders lumber in “packages” so the cost is at a level he can swallow, and the visual is a level I can fathom.

We built the walls in sections of approximately 9 feet high by 10-12 feet wide.  We used 2 x 6 studs and we placed them 16 inches on center, for all of you building techies.  2017-07-29 framing week 1-3Additionally, each wall section that fell in a corner had a diagonal (literally) inlaid support 1 x 4 mounted to maintain structural support and “square-ness.”  By the way – in the words of Huey Lewis, it is TOTALLY “hip to be square!”  (That’s my Huey doing the hard work.)2017-07-21 wall building.jpg

2017-07-24 framing 1

As of today – we have all of the walls in place, interior and exterior.  We have the temporary supports in place (and level, of course) for the ridge beam (roof).  The stone columns in front are for a covered porch that wraps around to the front door (where the step ladder is on the right).  There is an equally cool set of even taller stone piers on the back side for a similar covered porch and awesome view.

2017-08-09 Roof Images 3

In the meantime, I made PICKLES!  First time growing the cukes & actually canning ANYTHING! 2017 pickles

 

Life is good in Santa Fe (TN) and I couldn’t be a luckier girl than to have this awesome builder/boss for a husband!

Sill plates + rim boards + floor joists, oh my!!!

My vocabulary has certainly changed in the last year!

Last July I would have been talking about bytes, data analysis, Perl code, quality analysis, and TimeTrax (don’t ask); now I’m tool belt pocket deep in galvanized and sinker nails, deck screws, and when to use each.  And I just need to add – I’ve never had more fun, been more challenged, felt what “good tired” means, and actually NEEDED a shower at the end of the day — and one more thing… loved and respected my husband any more.

blackberry vineA week ago the tiny house was where it was a month ago – foundation poured, block foundation up, and “sweet” rock exterior foundation applied.  We still had work to do on the “barn.”  A staircase to erect, a deck to build, hand rails, deck rails, blackberries to harvest… just seeing if you were paying attention.

 

Today, the tiny house has sill plates, rim boards, AND floor joists!  (Notice those dark clouds in the sky – we’ve been dodging them ALL week – take tools out – Tiny House foundation 07-06-2017-2.0work 30 minutes – take tools in – ask each other, is it over… take  tools out – eventually learn to work in the rain, as I sit here now, it is still pouring outside, but dark, so I’m not wimping out on a rainstorm.What took us so long, you ask?  The well-placed foundation wasn’t square.  You can watch YOUTUBE all day on how to frame a house/building that is square, but try finding how to re-square a foundation that isn’t.  It’s pretty damn hard, and takes A LOT of patience – just sayin,’ but grateful, we both have a lot of time, and my husband has a lot of patience.

So, for the record, we are officially square.  (I’m kinda like the Huey Lewis, “It’s Hip to be Square,” and he’s more like the “wait Robyn, if we don’t get this square, the whole house will be wrong.)  While I love me some Huey Lewis music, hubby is right – the house MUST be square, or all kinda things north of the floor joists go south… you know, like especially when you get to the roof.

But in the meantime, I played the “Chef Robyn” card and made some blackberry jam.Blackberries and jam.jpg

I also cooked Mr. Wonderful a birthday dinner, complete with a big bone-in piece of prime rib!  prime rib.jpg

Now we are BOTH happy and tired!

Until next time…

May update and Q&A with the Architect

We are making progress!  The foundation has been poured, and the concrete block foundation is in place.  The stone mason (David Travis out of Hampshire TN) began his magic this week.  What an amazing craftsman!  What started as a big pile of LOCAL cut stone like this:  2017-05-08 foundation wall 4

has turned into this piece of intricate stacked stone facade for the foundation of our tiny house, (back porch piers in the front, house business in the back):

05-15-2017 stone foundation.jpg

I thought it might be interesting to share a Q&A I had with the architect, who wears many hats.  The hardest, perhaps is being my husband, but he is also the foreman, the contractor, the heavy lifter of all things “heavy,” (decisions and physical), and the mind behind all things creative.

Q:  When designing a house, what are the “ideal” dimensions?

A: increments from small to large – 8″ – 16″ – 2′ – 4′ – 8′ for room and exterior dimensions.

Q:  When buying boards what are the actual vs. standard (aka “nominal”) measurements of the product?

A:  A 2″ x 4″ board is actually 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ … any inch measurement on boards up to 8 inches is one-half inch short.  Over 8 inches is three quarters inch short, i.e. a 2″ x 10″ board will be 1 1/2″ (the 1/2″ off) by 9 1/4″ (the 3/4″ off).  The original cut boards are the actual size; the reduction comes from planing and dressing the boards.  This works well withing finishing because they typical drywall thickness is 1/2″.

Q:  OK, so what about other materials, like the concrete block we used for the foundation?

A:  Concrete block is usually a 3/8″ nominal difference because the typical mortar bed is 3/8″.  (A 8″ x 8″ x 16″ concrete block is actually 7 5/8″ x 7 5/8″ x 15 5/8″)

Q:  What do you prefer for a framing material?

A:  Southern yellow pine is preferred for structural framing, including rafters and floor joists.  Spruce fir is common for studs.  (FYI:  Southern yellow pine is either loblolly pine, short leaf pine, long leaf pine or slash pine.)

Q:  What can you tell me about roof pitch?

A:  Roof pitch is rise over run (y-axis to x-axis for all of you geometry nerds like me).  The range spans from flat to 12/12, which is 45 degrees.  The Southeast is good for a 4/12 (18.5%) to 8/12 (33.75%).  Our “barn” has a 8/12 roof.  For perspective, Florida would be fine with a flat roof, but the snowy regions would need a steeper roof.  An advantage of a steep pitch is a reduction in leaks.

Q:  What is our tiny house roof pitch?

A:  The pitch on the house is 8/12; the pitch on the porches is 2/12.  The change in pitch is purely aesthetic.

Now for some credentials and personal interest questions…

Q:  What and where did you study?

A:  I graduated from Auburn University in 1985 with a 5 yr Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Minor in Art History.  I am especially intrigued by the Mockbee Rural Studio that Sambo Mockbee started at Auburn after I graduated.

Q:  Who is your favorite architect?

A:  Frank Lloyd Wright

Q:  What architect has inspired you?

A:  A Nashville Architect, Robert Anderson.  I knew of him and personally knew some of his family, and have lived in one of the first houses he designed in Nashville.

House Pictures 3 2009-10-25 014

Q:  What is your favorite Architectural style?

A:  Traditionally, I would say, the craftsman style, specifically the Gamble House in California.

Alex Vertikoff - gamblehouse.org

from gamblehouse.org (c) Alex Vertikoff

Locally, I would say, the Carpenter Gothic style you see in Rugby, Tennessee.

Christ Church Episcopal

Christ Church Episcopal – Rugby TN

Q:  What is your favorite house?

A:  Like many others, Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Falling Water

fallingwater.org

Q:  What’s next for you after the Tiny House?

A:  Well, I’d love to design and build something for someone else, or build banjos, or furniture in my new shop.

More on the banjos and furniture in future posts… as wells as the 5+ house plans we’ve developed for this one site that could work on “your” site.  We love using local craftsmen and incorporating the layout of the land to the plan… leave a comment or email me at rrbarber@yahoo.com if you have specific questions or are interested in custom architectural / banjo/ furniture commission.

P.S.  Life in the country is good.

 

The Next Chapter…

I lost my job.  Not sure whether to follow that with a happy or sad face emoji… so I just won’t put either.

My husband, the architect/woodworker, retired about 2 years ago.  We sold the only house we’ve ever owned together and moved to “the country.”  In full disclosure, we’d been planning this move for a while, but with the loss of my job, we decided to go full tilt and start building the next house on our 10 acres of land.

A little history… about 18 months ago we started “the barn.”  It’s really hub’s woodworking shop, but it was an experiment — well, many experiments.  Can we really work together on a job site (aka can I take direction)?  Do we really like it out here?  How fluid are we on the plans?  Are two “retired” people able to co-exist after living in the corporate world for so long?  I’m happy to say, all of the answers have been a resounding “YES”!!!  Here’s “the barn” as it is today – still needs shutters, siding on the back, deck on the far wall… and more, but basically, it’s a go… AND WE DID IT ALL OURSELVES!  (except for the roof).

barn Apr 2017.jpg

As these posts evolve, I’ll include the barn raising story, but for today, the excitement is all about breaking ground on the TINY house.

breaking ground

Our 600 square foot house will be close living quarters, but I think the most challenging part will be a single bathroom!

Our inspiration…

houseplans.com tiny house photo.jpg

What’s the goal?  Well, given our record of a pretty slow pace, it’s “this year.”  Given, we are renting, “it’s 4-5 months” until occupancy and giving up our rental.  Maybe putting that goal out into the world will give us a greater goal, and we’ll “make it,” otherwise, we’re still renting!

The great part in building a tiny house when you haven’t built a “big” house, is that it’s practice:

  • building walls (check on the barn, done that)
  • building decks (check on the barn, done that)
  • picking out cabinets
  • picking out lighting
  • picking/installing flooring
  • downsizing… do you really need 45 t-shirts when there’s only 7 days in the week?

Oh yeah, we also upgraded to a Toro 60″ deck, zero turn mower… I’ve always loved mowing (thanks dad)… but I hated my first time mowing and accidentally taking this “big” guy out… I never saw him (thank goodness), else I’d been doing a wheelie back to the barn on the mower…

snake.jpeg

Next up… I’m trying a hay bale garden

 

 

The Admiration Project – 2015 Issue # 5

from theyodysseyonline.com

from theyodysseyonline.com

Wow!  It’s September and “my” schedule said I’d be posting Issue #9 of The Admiration Project this month.  Well, better late than never, and NEVER let late keep you from doing what you said you’d do.

I’m taking a different approach to this post… I think I learned the Five W’s and one H questions sometime between 4th and 6th grade.  The answers are considered basic in information gathering.  According to Wikipedia, they constitute “a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.”  My subject this month is a friend I’ve known for 25 (really!!) years.  I’m changing up the official order of the Five W’s, and will save the “Who” for last.  All that being said…

What:  This issue is dedicated to a fantastic female I have known since 1989.  I had just decided to train and try out to become a Jazzercise Instructor.  I met her at one of the initial meetings for all of the “wanna be’s.”  Little did I know I was pregnant and would soon be fighting morning sickness before this journey got off to much of a start, but she was right there, encouraging every single newbie, even the sick, pregnant one.  She immediately got my attention as the one to watch closely if I wanted to succeed.  I had no idea that in a few short years, we would become close friends and she would be the one I could turn to during what was one of the hardest times in my life.

Why:  This lady has been a sister I never had, a mentor, a mother when mine was 200 miles away, a peer, a teacher, an employer, a confidante, a defender, a cheerleader, an example, but most of all… a friend.  While the cartoon I posted up top makes me chuckle, I liked it because it said we’d be new friends.  I think that is true of any long-term friendship.  Over time, as you remain friends, (if you do remain friends), it is because you have “new” levels to your friendship and as you each become “new” people, your friendship either deepens, or becomes distant.

from wikipedia.org

from wikipedia.org

And she did teach me the proper preparation and enjoyment of a good martini…

When:  1989 – current.  After the training, tryouts and birth of my daughter, I was at a meeting with all of the Nashville area Jazzercise instructors.  I again saw her as someone that had “it.”  It, being the keys to success as an instructor, little did I know that her “it” went far deeper than being a mentor.  I sent her a letter, actual snail mail – I don’t think we even had “email” back then, and asked if I could meet her for lunch.  Fast forward a few decades, and let’s just say, she is one of the few people I call “best friend.”

Where:  Right here in Nash-vegas, TN.

How:  Gosh – how do any of us become who we are?    How do any of us become best friends?  We endure; we put on our big girl panties; we laugh; we commit to helping each another; we forgive; we learn from mistakes; we trust; we lean on others when we have to; we cry; we hug; we love; we become what our innate being meant us to be… we hang on!

from utsports.com

from utsports.com

And we both do love our Vols!

Who:  For the sake of her private story, I will not disclose her life’s personal details.  However, she has survived more than her fair share of the worst life has to offer: the untimely death of loved ones, the low’s of being a mother, a business owner, a wife, and fighting health/weight/life issues…  She has also had life’s best offerings:  being a mother, a business owner, a wife, and winning health/weight/life issues…  I’m sure I do not know all of either of those low’s and high’s for my friend, but I’ve seen her at her best – she’s seen me at my worst – and she has always been a class act in both situations.

So for this 5th issue of The Admiration Project, I’d like to honor my friend that I admire so much, Mary Helen Yarbrough, by making a donation to the Middle Tennessee YWCA.

And by the way, if you want a killer Jazzercise class and you’re in the area,

from jazzercise.com

from jazzercise.com

check out her class schedule here.

To my friend – Thank you for being a friend.

The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #4

 

from pablocalderonsalazar.com

from pablocalderonsalazar.com

 

Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard this phrase in the last 10 years.  It has been used so often that it now produces an instinctive eye-roll.  The kind of instinctive reflex that was initiated when you heard as a kid and swore you’d never repeat once you had kids of your own… but you do.  You know, like, “if you stick that lip out any further you’re gonna trip over it…”, “you better be careful, your face is gonna freeze that way…” or the ever popular “make sure you have on clean underwear in case you get in an accident.”  Oops, maybe that’s just my “East Tennessee” showing and you did not grow up hearing those endearing tidbits of wisdom.

Ahh well, I digress – I’m quite sure none of those sayings have much to do with where I’m going with this post, other than,

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

“it is what it is… until it ain’t anymore.” 

 

What does that even mean?  To me, it means

  • to settle,
  • to accept what is presented to you,
  • to give up,
  • to believe there is no hope for anything better.

Dramatic or extreme?  Maybe… but to have experienced the highs and lows of what I have seen exhibited by the people I am admiring in this post, they are more than worthy of being described as extremely admirable, not people who live by “it is what it is.”

The management of the facility where I have worked for over 25 years announced in January that it would be closing its doors on May 1 of this year.  I drove away for the last time on Friday.

I want to use this edition of The Admiration Project to admire those co-workers and friends whose paths crossed with mine over the last 25+ years BECAUSE of this place.

This is a photo of where I began my career with Check Printers in July 1989.

Circa 1986

Circa 1986

I was a fairly new mom with a 17 month old heading back into the work force; and I had landed a new, flexible position that allowed me to work just two days a week.  The way the story I’ve been told goes is that the programming manager that hired me asked one of the other programmers if they should hire me and he said, “yeah, we don’t have any girls.”  I’m guessing if that comment from 1989 had been made in 2015 it may have been a tad politically incorrect, but I thought it was quite humorous.  I also took it as a bit of a challenge — to prove “a girl,” at least “this girl,” wasn’t an “is what it is” kind of thing.  Those two men proved to be some pretty great guys in spite of their reason for hiring me, and provided me with an environment in which I was able to learn and advance.  I admire them to this day.

There were many other admirable and amazing folks employed at Check Printers back in the late eighties and early 90’s.  I am fearful to start dropping names because I KNOW I will leave someone out.  That being said, there is ONE name I cannot omit…

Jim Knight – There is no end to the number of people who passed through Check Printers, be it, the Nashville location, the Winston-Salem location or the Jacksonville location that his generosity and Southern gentleman charm did not touch in a positive way.  I’d also venture to say that this man has never uttered the phrase, “it is what it is.”  He taught me that nothing should ever be “settled for.”  He was a proponent of  lifetime learning while giving you enough space to explore a better way, but still maintaining the importance of capitalizing the word Customer.

By 1990 my two day a week part-time gig had turned into a full time career.  There were people I worked with during this time that I was still working with in January of 2015 when the closure was announced… people who are now dear friends, friends that had been with me through the birth of my second child, a divorce, a second marriage, two bonus daughters, the loss of two adored Chessies and the birth of two precious granddaughters.  People I admire because they know when to give you a hug, they know when to say nothing and they know what it means to be a friend.

Then there are the admirable folks who were around during the loss of our naivete associated with moving from working for a privately owned company to one that is publicly traded.  The beginning of several false endings for some of us and unfortunately, the beginning of the end for many, and the beginning of the use of the phrase, “it is what it is…”  These folks knew when it was time to laugh, time to put your head down and work and how to offer a hand when their work was done.

Circa 2009

Circa 2009

 This photo shows the building after the name change from Check Printers to RR Donnelley.  It was taken at the peak blooming time for the pear trees, trees that have also seen their end.  They were cut down several years ago.  There were no saplings of another kind to replace them, another “it is what it is” moment, I suppose.

Through the last 25 years, there have been many people pass through these doors that I admire.  The reasons are as varied as the personalities.  Some for the way they handle anything life throws their way, even their own end of life.  Some for the extreme generosity they have shown me.  Some for life-lessons they taught me, both professional and personal.  Some for their ability to make me laugh.  Some for their knack of giving nicknames, (mine which I will not share here).  Some for upholding their work ethic when it would have been easy to take a short cut.  Even some to push until I thought I would break, but became stronger in the process.

June 2015

I have driven to this building to report for work for 2 weeks shy of 26 years.  The only thing I have done longer in my lifetime is to be my parents’ daughter and my son’s mom.  It was bittersweet as I drove away for the last time on Friday.

My contribution for this post is being made to The American Heart Association.  Check Printers and RR Donnelley have had teams participate in the local Nashville Heartwalk for many, many years, and I want to show my admiration for my co-workers with this donation.  If you are a former Check Printers employee or a former/current RR Donnelley employee of the Nashville facility, I hope this post has made you smile today.  I hope this post will inspire you to tell at least one person who has your admiration that they have made a difference in your life.

P.S.  My team now consists of 4 “girls” and 1 guy.  I guess that warrants an “it is what it is.”   Please know that I admire each of you in many ways.

The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #3

Image from hellogiggles.com

Image from hellogiggles.com

So I had this list… a list I started compiling in December of 2013 of my “admiration project” nominees… in the beginning I had grand aspirations of being able to do one a week, well since I am tying the posts to a donation (and I still have my day job) – I cut the goal to once a month.  It was a good excuse for me to be able to “lower the bar” and actually set a goal I could achieve… so it’s once  a month, and here is the March installment (albeit 1 day late).

Back to the “list,” well it’s a good thing it was in pencil.  For those of you that know me, and more importantly know my husband and/or my parents, you have to know they are at The Top of any admiration list I could ever compile.  Spoiler alert:  Parents coming in October for their anniversary (and my birthday) – Husband coming in June or July (our anniversary or his birthday, respectively).  In my book blog, anyone who has lost, or loses a child or parent, automatically goes to the top of the list.  Thus the March post…

I’d like to say “my best friend,” but I think we all have “best friends” at different times in our lives, so to label a person as “the ONE best friend” is difficult.  The handful of people I have called “my best friend” at different times in my life were important for a reason at that time.  Less than a handful have remained what I’d still call “best friend” at this point in my life, but they were ALL important.  I am glad to say that this is one of the people who taught me what it means to be a best friend, AND, she is one of a handful of ladies I still call “my best friend.”

“My best friend” lost her dad last month.  Surviving that, which most children will have to do, is a feat I admire.  It is also a life-changing event I cannot fathom.  My dad “hung the moon,” as did hers, I am sure.  I knew him, and I’m quite positive he hung a moon over her bed every night while she was a child and looked at the moon and wished her well every night once she was an adult and gone from his home.  We live states apart now and I hope she is able to feel the warmth of my admiration, love and support through this post.

It was not likely that a friendship would have organically developed between us two.  After all she went to the RIVAL high school and could/should have been considered an enemy from the start, but somehow, through divine intervention we were assigned to the same floor in the same dorm just an elevator apart as freshman at UT Knoxville.  Somehow, we overcame the rivalry of “high school” and became friends, allies, sounding boards, strong shoulders, silly sisters, and confidants.

I have many memories I cannot share here for the safe keeping of many embarrassing “best friend secrets” that come from young, extremely naive, girls being away from home for the first time.  (There’s probably a reason our dad’s let us live in the dorm… after all, it was a 30 minute drive, at best, from home.)  But…

  • Remember when we were sitting on your bed in the dorm and President Reagan was shot?
  • Remember the “Tang” under the door?
  • Remember the mattress in the elevator?
  • Remember Spring Break in FL after I had moved to Nashville?

To this day, over 30 years later, we are still in touch.  Do we call regularly?  Shamefully no.  Do we see other at least every 3 years?  Shamefully, no.  Do we exchange Christmas, birthday, and holiday cards?  Not regularly.  Do we call or text once a month?  No.

Do we call or email when there is a crisis?  YES!  Are we looking at that same moon and sending good thoughts both ways every full moon?  YES!  Do we send an unexpected gift that means much more than a regular/obligatory token?  YES!  Are we VFL?  YES!  Are we BFF’s?  YES! YES!

My dear friend, I admire you.  You were so much more mature than me, “back in the day,” (I sure hope I’m mature by now.)  I admired you back then… I mean you had the coolest car… you taught me to clog… shoot, you even had a declared major your freshman year!!!  I admire you now.

I would like to challenge anyone who is reading this to reach out to someone you admire.  Send them a note, make a phone call, let them know they are or were an important part of your life.  Then, if you are able, please make a donation in their name to something important to them.  Share this blog with others so that the word will spread and admiration can spread far, far beyond my small universe.  Life needs to be full of more positive, loving, giving messages.

My friend, In honor of you and your father I am making a donation to:

The Dream Connection, Inc., P.O. Box 10924 Knoxville, Tennessee 37939

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