It was time to do some serious cleaning . . . computer file cleaning that is. Serious house cleaning will come later. Much later. Much, much later. It may not come at all. As long as I can get to my computer desk without breaking my neck, it’s all good. Anyhow, spiders have to have someplace to live where it’s nice and warm. But those Stink Bugs have to go! So, maybe in a month or so I’ll get down to business and clean house. Or I could just let the spiders take care of the Stink Bugs for me. Anyhow, I finally got creative and designed this beach scene. Thanks for stopping by!
Regardless of the constant financial struggle throughout the year, mom and daddy always provided a magical, White House Christmas. Maybe they robbed a bank, or made some kind of deal with Santa, I don’t know. I just know that we had a tree, stockings bursting at the seams, presents piled under the tree, and a feast fit for a king.
At the time I didn’t know and appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that went into filling our long Christmas lists. I didn’t know why mom worked three jobs, why she took in ironing, or why she hunched over the sewing machine half the night. I didn’t know why daddy worked in his cabinet shop into the wee hours of the morning. I only knew the joy of Christmas spinning its magical web around my tender, trusting heart.
When we became teens however, Christmas lost its magic. Like a ruthless, winter storm, coldness swept though our house, freezing the warmth and joy that once lived there.
It would be years of confusion, unanswered questions, and searching for the joy and wonder I had lost. Years of longing and waiting for the Spirit of Christmas to ignite once again in my heart.
Today I am happy to say that, not only has the Spirit of Christmas finally ignited, it’s a blazing bonfire. And it’s called family. It’s called joy and happiness of being our silly, crazy, imperfect selves together. And it’s called wonderful.
To further express what Christmas means to me, I have put together some photos taken over the years and created a few digital designs that I hope you will enjoy.
There’s mom and daddy, my grandmother, and my two brothers and me.
Robbie is my one and only child. Due to many complications and surgeries after childbirth, I could not have more children. But that’s okay, my son gave me four awesome grandchildren!
And there’s my two oldest grand kids, Brandon and Brittany. As you can see, Brandon is the cut-up and Brittany is the charmer.
There’s Brandon, the Pied Piper, leading Joshua and Jacob in a guitar game. It must be fun, I don’t know. I just know it doesn’t take much to make them happy.
I’m glad God didn’t send me on a search party to find my son a wife, because he did a fantastic job finding her himself. She is perfect for him. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.
And there’s Brandon and Nicci and their son, Gideon who was born August 28, 2013. Not only is this Gideon’s first Christmas, but Brandon and Nicci just moved back to Winston-Salem, North Carolina from Virginia where Brandon attended Regent University for a year and a half. We are blessed having them back home. Now we all get to spoil the baby!
And there’s hubby and me.
In June, 2005, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery. He is now cancer free. In December, 2011, when this picture was taken, I had eye surgery. Then in January, 2012 I underwent colon cancer surgery.
A million concerns slap you in the face at once when you think you’re going to die soon. I didn’t know whether to start making funeral arrangements or plans for a long, overdue vacation. And the thoughts of chemo ravaging my body was as scary as the cancer. I watched that monster slowly destroy my sister before she lost the battle to breast cancer.
Finally, the results were in. The cancer was stage one, meaning the cancer was contained and had not effected any of the lymph nodes. Wow! No chemo on the menu; just seeing an oncologist for five years. My life wasn’t over, it was just beginning. I felt like kissing a frog on the lips!
So what does Christmas mean to me? It means God, family and friends. It means celebrating life. It means a warm house, food on the table, and people to share it with. It means love, peace and harmony. It means being married to the same man for forty-three years and loving every minute of it. Yeah. That’s what Christmas means to me!
Since we both had been married before, Buck and I decided to get married by the Justice of the Peace. When the day finally arrived, like two excited kids, we scrambled into the cherry-red 63 Ford and headed for the courthouse. On the way there however, I applied for a job. The wide-eyed personal manager handed me the application, and laughing nervously, I blurted, “He said he wouldn’t marry me unless I got a job.”
Finally, after thirty-five years of faithful service at Drexel Heritage Furniture, hubby retired; and just in the nick of time. The company folded in 2009, putting hundreds of employees out of work. Now he sleeps late, watches ball games, and takes out the trash . . . sometimes.
I’m retired too, finally. I thought I’d be cleaning toilets till I dropped dead at the ripe old age of ninety. Fourteen years were more than long enough for me, though. Most jobs are thankless today, but custodial work is ten feet below the bottom of the totem pole. There seems to be no respect for people or property any more, and even less respect for those of us who speak up. Sorry. I had to throw that in there. Anyhow, I’m happy just to clean my own toilets . . . when the mood strikes.
Caricatures are fun to create. As long as I have willing participants, I will never run out of creative ideas. Bookmarks and cards are always fun. Most people enjoy receiving personalized cards, even of their pets.
Each day may not always be good, but you can always find something good in each day. Even when I feel like crying, I can find something to laugh about.
Well, that’s it for today. I worked on this post for several hours yesterday, and when I posted it, it disappeared into the Twilight Zone. I finally gave up looking for it, then my computer decided to act up . . . all day long. I felt like throwing it out the window! Finally, after restoring it four times and cleaning up my files, it’s behaving much better today. But I never found the disappearing post.
Thanks to all who visit and like my stuff. Hope to see you again.
My blogger friend, Colin, atrampinthewoods.wordpress.com, gave me permission to do caricatures of him and Fizz. Caricatures offend some people, so I always ask permission first. Caricatures are meant to be fun, not to make fun of. I would never make fun of anyone; I know how badly it hurts. So many thanks to Colin and Fizz for being such great sports!
Fizz wanted to go first, so here she is. Creating digital caricatures takes a lot of practice. If you warp the photo too much, you have a ridiculous looking mess. Fizz was difficult. She’s the first animal I did a caricature of. She was very patient though, sitting through hours of being deleted and reshaped and moved from scene to scene. Even after all that, I still was not pleased with her look. She got too fuzzy, so I added texture to compensate for that. I like crisp and clean for my caricatures. Although Fizz didn’t turn out that way I had intended, she’s still adorable. Thanks Fizz!
Sorry Fizz, but Colin was so much easier to work with. Not that I’ve given up on you, it’s just that people have less hair than dogs.
Do they have cowboys in the UK? Well they do now. I think Colin makes a great-looking cowboy. Can’t you see him in a pair of leather chaps, spurs on his boots, and racing a sleek black stallion through the Forest of Dean? Sorry, Colin. I get carried away sometimes. At least I didn’t envision you wearing a cape and mask too. Or did I?
Well that’s all I have for today. I spend way too much time at the computer. Yesterday I finally got geared up and actually washed two loads of laundry and blew off the dust piled sky high on my furniture. I even washed the dishes! I might even clean my bathroom today . . . or not.
Thanks everyone for looking at my stuff. If you like it, please let me know by clicking the little LIKE button. And leaving a word of encouragement is always appreciated. Thanks!
I am living proof that you’re never too old to learn. Just when I think I’ve learned everything about digital art, I learn something new. Like these caricatures. I just started playing around with the RadWarp tool one day and came up with these characters. Life is never boring for me!
Below are eight different photos that I used to create my caricatures.
For anyone interested in knowing how to create your own caricatures using PaintShop Pro X6, here’s how: (1.) Pull up your image. (2.) Crop it. (3.) Erase all the background as close and neatly to the image as possible. (4.) Go to Effects in your toolbar at the top of the page. (5.) Go down to Plugins, then over to the KPT Collection, then over to RadWarp. For more detailed effects, use the Warp Brush on the left vertical tool bar. If you’ve never used the warping tools before, it will take a truckload of practice and a ton of patience. But you can do it! It took me, off and on, several years before I finally got the hang of it. Just like working with other effects, you have to change the settings in your toolbar at the top (Opacity, Thickness, Density. Hardness) to get the desired look you want.
When creating a caricature, just have fun with it. You can make yourself and others laugh all day long at what you come up with.
Even creating caricatures of children is fun. The sky’s the limit what you can create. Caricatures make great bookmarks and cards that I’ll be posting soon.
I don’t know who I was snarling at that day, my husband probably. Anyhow, I had fun creating this Roaring 20’s gal.
I gave this one a cartoony look. I love playing up the eyes and cheekbones.
Don’t you love that nose? I mean the one on the caricature! While creating these caricatures, familiar faces started emerging. This caricature reminds me of a sweet little lady from my childhood. I told everyone that I was going to be an Old Maid just like her when I grew up. Well that silly notion flew out the window!
Okay. Now you know. I’m an alien. I landed on earth a thousand years ago. I park my spaceship in the neighbors garage. I thought of going back to Mars, but I forget how to get there. Besides, I don’t see well enough to drive at night. So I guess I’ll just hang around here another thousand years or so.
In case you’re wondering, I was giving my husband “that look.” I don’t like having my picture taken, especially when I look like somebody’s great-grandmother. But it worked out perfectly for my alien grandmother caricature, don’t you think?
Well I hope you had fun with my people. Thanks for stopping by!
Growing up with a strict, religious parent, who taught everything was a sin, I wasn’t allowed to dance. I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts, or makeup, or my cute little skating skirt at the roller rink either, but I did. Too many restrictions breeds contempt. I always felt guilty, though. Like the time I went to a theater for the first time. I was twelve. The age of accountability. Old enough to decide for myself. After years of restraints I was hurled to the wolves with only my guilt-ridden conscience to protect me. Sitting there in the pitch dark, the smell of rancid popcorn trailing up my nose, and guilt feasting on my guts, was like watching the Shaggy Dog in the pit of Hell.
Guilt kept me in line. Fear ravaged my soul. Rage controlled my life. As a kid, I didn’t know better. As a grownup, I finally do. That’s why I don’t like religion. It’s mean, manipulative and cruel. There’s no room for grace. No room for love and forgiveness. No room for error. You goof up, you slide right into Hell!
Finally breaking free from those rusty chains of religion and brainwashing, I view things through my own eyes. I follow my own heart. At the age of 65, I got my first tattoo; twisted vines trailing down my right leg and foot, representing years of emotional bondage, and a beautiful butterfly representing the agony of breaking free.
So what does all that have to do with ballet? Everything. To me ballet represents beauty and strength, anguish and joy, tears and laughter. Never giving up, always pushing through the cocoon of transformation. Beauty, poise and grace are what we see on stage. Blood, sweat and tears got them there.
So I never learned to dance. But in my heart, I am a dancer. I mess up, fall down, get back up and keep dancing. I’ve ripped off the mask of religion, falsehood and self-righteousness. I am what I am. Saved by God’s grace. It’s good enough for Him, so it’s good enough for me!
I hope you enjoy my digital designs. Some of the pictures I used are picture tubes, others are downloads from the internet. Thanks for looking!
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope to see you again!
Birds teach me things about life. They don’t care what their friends think of them, what kind of house they live in, what kind of car they drive, what they wear, or where they send their kids to school. They don’t boast. They don’t preach, judge and condemn. They don’t worry where their next meal is coming from, or where they’ll be this time tomorrow. They love their kids and work tirelessly to care for them. When it’s time for the kids to leave home, momma pushes them out of the nest and teaches them to fly. They sing, they play, they soar through the air with ease. That’s because they don’t burden themselves with the cares of the world, kill themselves to make tons of money, torture themselves because they goofed up, strive to be something they’re not. They are exactly what God created them to be . . . birds.
In my fantasy world, everyone lives in peace. Like a bird, nobody’s staggering home drunk. Nobody’s yelling. Nobody’s beating his wife and kids. Nobody’s crying alone in the dark.
What happened to our desire to walk in truth? Did we find it too boring? Too impossible? Too old-fashioned? Or has it just fallen along the wayside and trampled by corruption and greed?
Then there’s the cat. Sly and sneaky, always preying on something smaller and weaker than itself. Just like the bullies of the world. Those who prey on women and children, the elderly and the poor. The cat is just being a cat. People should know better.
I think if a bird were trying to teach us a new song it would go something like this: Smile more, complain less, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Like a bird, we have to make our own paradise. No one can make it for us. All it takes sometimes is to lower our expectations of ourselves and the people around us.
Birds do not welcome just anyone into their home; only those who belong there. We can all benefit from that practice. Anyone who comes into my home and drags me to the pit of despair with all their moaning and groaning is not welcomed back. I can be depressed all by myself, I don’t need anyone’s help.
Like a bird, I’m just plain and simple. Maybe that comes with age, I don’t know. All I know is, I have everything I need and I’m satisfied with that. I’m thankful for a warm bed at night, food in my belly, and a computer and TV. Oh, and my dog, Rascal. And of course, my family: my husband, my son and his wife and their four children, daughter-in-law, and grandson. We love one another, laugh and play together, and miss each other when we’re apart. I thank God for such a loving, wholesome relationship.
Maybe in your eyes none of the above has anything to do with birds, but in my heart it has everything to do with birds. They are simple, honest, and free, the way all people are meant to be.