This is my best friend Nita. We've known each other for about eight years now, but because we worked in the same office those eight years- not to mention emails, phone calls, and having gripe sessions at our local Panera- I probably spent more time talking to Nita than anyone else in my life. She was with me through all my troubles with the first marriage, my cancer scare in 2003, my divorce, and my new life with James. I haven't seen Nita since I moved in December, but we email nightly and still call each other, although long distance charges limit those calls. I still consider her my best friend, she's that person who lets me say outrageous things, vent my anger, gossip about co-workers, and will meet me for coffee to talk anytime I need to. But she is four hours away now, and I haven't found another "Nita" here in GA, and I doubt I will. Nita and I clicked right away, we started eating lunch together on my first day of work back in 2001, and except for vacations or weekends, we'd see each other every day until I moved. I really miss Nita a lot, emails and phone calls are great, but it doesn't take the place of seeing her smile first thing in the morning, or swat playfully at me when I say something awful but funny. Things have really gone awry at work lately, and it saddens me that I am not there with her to poke fun of it. We're not so far apart that we will never be able to see each other again, but it's not the same, and I miss her a great deal.
I had to dig out my marriage license today to change my last name on my car title, and it struck me that although I talk about James like we've been together a half century, we've only been married a few years. James and I met at work in 2003, when I was getting separated after a miserable 12 years with my first husband. It was fireworks, sparks flying, violins playing, the earth moving- all of those cliches- when I saw him for the first time. I really hate that phrase "soul mate"- it is so cheesy- but I can't think of anything better to use when I describe how I felt when I met him. I actually fell in love with him before I even knew his name! We lived 45 miles apart in the beginning, but we saw each other as much as possible, away from work that is. James sold his house and got an apartment about 15 minutes away from my house, then we got engaged in 2005, married on a beach in Key West in February 2006. I can't imagine there is another woman out there as happy and as lucky as I am. James and I both had already been through crummy marriages in our past, and thankfully neither of us had children to tie us to our former spouses. It has been genuine smooth sailing since day one, and although it FEELS like we've been together since the beginning of time, and we've had enough experiences together that makes it seem like a lifetime already, we just only recently celebrated three years of very very blissful matrimony. Best of all, he's a younger man. Okay, only by five weeks, but he's still younger!!! (Wow, look at me with long red hair!)
I have to confess that I borrowed this photo from a website, but this is the exact place where I grew up, Bradenton Beach. Yes, I'm a beach baby. I was born in Bradenton in 1966, grew up there on the beach, and lived there until I moved to SC in 1996. We didn't live in a house right ON the beach, but our town was on the coast, and it only took us minutes to get a loaded down car over the bridge and to the beach. We really did grow up there. My dad was born in Miami, so I am a second-generation Floridian. Not a lot of us around, since Florida has become the haven for retirees and transplants. I met my first husband in Bradenton, and he was a, gasp, yankee. From Ohio!!! A lot of those around that area! I don't know if growing up in a beach town formed my love for nature and animals and vacations to the tropics, but I don't think growing up there hurt me in any way! We did spend a lot of time at the beach as kids and teenagers, but me, not so much as an adult. I just never had the time to hang out at the beach, even though when I was in my 20's my apartment was close enough to ride a bike there. I found that a job, grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking, laundry, and plain ol' life just got in the way. I guess I took our beaches for granted because they were just a constant background for my regular every day life, while somewhere up in New York or Michigan there were people putting away their dimes and quarters in a "vacation" jar in order to come down to my hometown. Now that I only get back home maybe once a year, and I live in a landlocked town, I understand how wonderful it was to have a childhood spent on the soft white sands, feeding Cheetos to sea gulls, and having the waves knock you down.
James and I love to travel, and we realized right away that is one of the "advantages" of not having children, just cats. It has allowed us to be spontaneous for extended weekends, or take as much time as we want to go wherever we want as long as the petsitter is available. We've been to a total of 14 Caribbean islands, some more than once. We've been to Mexico. We've spent two long vacations on the Outer Banks. Plenty of trips to the Gulf Coast beaches in Florida to see my family. Jaunts to the Tennessee mountains, to Asheville, to Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach and Key West. We just love to get away from it all and spend uninterrupted quality time with each other. We love to plan our trips as well, and it's always fun to spend an evening at the computer looking up hotels and airfare and museums and restaurants. I count myself among the fortunate to be able to do this. This year we decided, between our tight budget and just to do something different, to go to Las Vegas for a week in place of our yearly Caribbean trip. It was spur of the moment, just a suggestion one night and the next thing you know, we were online booking everything. We leave in two weeks, and I'm excited. My husband works long days (up to 14 hours) and a lot of weekends (like today), and I don't get as much time with him as I would like. I've been to Las Vegas, and he has been, but both visits were years ago before we met. So not only am I looking forward to seeing Vegas again, but I'm looking forward to enjoying it with James. I always miss the kitties whenever we're gone, but I'm hoping they understand mom and dad need alone time.... (photo of James and me in St. Thomas last year)
So I mentioned in my last post that we are currently carrying two mortgages, I'm sure like many many Americans right now. We bought our beautiful home in Rock Hill (photo) in the fall of 2006, and we loved it. It was older, about 20 years, but custom built with a lot of unique features that we loved. The neighborhood was old with mature trees that towered along all the streets, and when we bought the house the market was so different. We paid full asking price the same week it went up for sale. Most of the houses in that neighborhood sold within days, because it was a very very small subdivision (three streets), but everyone wanted to live there because of the school district. So two years later in September of 2008, my husband had the opportunity for a promotion, something he had been working hard for. We worked for the same company, me for 8 years, James for about 12. We knew it was a risk, with the way the economy is, but we also knew for James it would be hard to pass up this chance for his career. When we bought our new house in Newnan on December 29th, we left behind our old home, still lingering on the market. It's been on the market for five months now, and although we get at least one-two showings a week, no one has even made the first offer. And of course, I've yet to find a job in our much smaller new town. Luckily James works in an industry that so far hasn't taken a great hit from the economy (wholesale food distribution). We don't stress out about our decision, because we both believe things will get better soon, and we also realize we are fortunate that so far we are still swimming with our heads above the water. I won't say it hasn't been an adjustment for me to lose my income and to take on a second house payment, but we are optimistic, and I don't regret for one minute the support of my husband's job.
Well I've finally finished my little painting of Maarten. I was going to antique it with stain, but have decided against it. Normally I put my pieces on eBay or Etsy right away, but now with my new town having a monthly street fair, I am going to "stock up" on my art and give it a try. Since I started painting, sewing, making pottery, etc., I've either given everything away as a gift or sold it at craft fairs or more recently, online. I only own one piece of my cross-stitch, one of my pottery bowls, one handmade tile, and one painting. We're talking over 30 years of stuff. Family members always seem to be extra appreciative of my handmade gifts. Either that or they are being polite because they have to. I will miss Newnan's opening Market Day for 2009 this Saturday (we will be back in South Carolina checking on our old house that weekend- yes, we are a two-mortgage family right now), but I am super excited to see what it is like. Do a lot of crafters and artists set up? Are the crowds there and if so, are they buying or just looking?? In Florida in the 80's, street fairs were popular in my area and very successful. And I did a good business at flea markets as well. I tried to get it going in South Carolina, but it seemed like locals would rather go to Wal-Mart than buy handmade crafts. I don't know if it was just the area I lived in, or maybe simply a sign of the times. I cross my fingers in anticipation of future Market Days in Newnan, and hope that if I don't sell anything, at least I will have a good time!
I don't know why I picked this photo, I saw it on my screensaver and it made me smile. This is a plate of local food that James ate when we were in St. Lucia in November. We spend a week in the Caribbean every year, and James is extremely adventurous when he eats. Not like fried grub worms or anything, but he wants to experience something different whenever we are in another country, something authentic. Me, I look for the pasta or hamburger plate. In my quest to lose weight and be healthier, I know it's about more than taking in less calories. For me, I have a hard time eating "quality" foods. I still eat the super-carb-alicious foods that I love, just smaller portions. Today? I had a frozen pretzel for lunch. Sigh. My mind knows I need to make better choices, eat whole foods and less processed snacks, but my hands reach for the baked chips or low-fat cookies when I go to the grocery store. So I've lost 11 pounds in the last few weeks? It wasn't by doing the right thing, I can assure you. I do love Weight Watchers and the tools they teach me, but I also know that I can't live off Lean Cuisines for the rest of my life. I love my subscription to Clean Eating Magazine, but unless I adopt that lifestyle and try to incorporate better foods into my way of thinking, and therefore my home, I might as well throw my copies into the recycle bin. My husband goes on a meat-free, all-veggies kick every once in a great while, but I get bored with salads for dinner every night. He says he would be satisfied if that's all we ever ate. Somewhere out there is a happy middle of the road between Burger King and becoming a vegan............
I'm using this photo of my work space today to remind me that I need to work on my painting. This is still the piece I'm tyring to finish of Maarten. This weekend we are having family come to visit, so I won't be able to work then. I have only today. So I'm not going to spend all afternoon on the computer, but make myself go upstairs and paint! I will be back here in a few days. Have a nice weekend to you all!
Well today I had every intention of bragging about my favorite new store in downtown Newnan, The Vintage-Flea, and wow I discovered they have their own blog here!!! So I please encourage you to take a look (see my list). I've only been in there a few times now, but I adore it! I picked up their business card this weekend, they are opening their upstairs and from what I was told will apparently rent space to local craftspeople to sell their wares. Although as I mentioned before, my "stock" is low since I sold everything on eBay or Etsy at the end of last year, I am very very interested in seeing how this works out at the store. And if I can concentrate on painting long enough to finish something, and if I can find a place to once again start making my pottery, I am entertaining thoughts of checking out renting my own space at their store. It is what I have always aspired to do, share my work with others. Venues such as eBay and Etsy are great, but highly impersonal, although I had wonderful repeat customers who kept me going. But please check out The Vintage-Flea page with a link to the store's website. The artwork in the store by Valerie Dumas is something I've never seen before, and so unique that this last Saturday when I was in there, I just had to touch some of the pieces hanging on the wall (apologies) to see if I could figure out just what it was! I had to go on her website once I got home to read all about the technique, but instead of explaining it here, I will let you explore it on your own. Thanks! If you are ever in this area, please go see this quaint and wonderful little store! (Another photo of downtown that I borrowed.)
This is a photo of me (blue shirt) with my parents, my sister, and her family. Also a photo of James with his parents and his granny.
I am thankful that we both have such incredible families. Although all of my family still live in my hometown of Bradenton and James' family all live in his hometown of Knoxville, we see everyone as often as possible. His folks have visited twice with us already this year, and my parents were just here this last weekend. And we make the drive to Florida or Tennessee as much as we are able to. James and I don't have children, and since we are in our 40's it isn't likely to ever happen, but his sisters and my sister both have two each, so we have many nieces and nephews to love. Our parents and our siblings are all happily married. Everyone in the family is healthy and balanced, even his 92-year-old granny who still lives independently in her own home! Even in this economy, everyone has a great job (not counting me, but I left mine voluntarily), they own their homes, take vacations, spoil their pets, devote time to church and community. In other words, our entire family is just absolutely wonderful. And for that I am thankful beyond words. We have fantastic role models for marriage in our parents, we have watched the nieces and nephews grow up to be young adults, we both had grandparents we were able to enjoy spending time with as children. I see some of the crazy things families do to each other, and I don't understand it. Friendships come and go, but families ARE families forever!
I know I already posted today, but I have to just remind everyone to please please please consider adopting a cat or dog from your local shelter! Our animal control here in Newnan is filled with loving and beautiful animals who just need another chance, and I know this is a situation seen in every town and county in the US. It saddens me to think of all the sweet, innocent animals who have ended up in shelters with a death sentence just because their owners are themselves facing financial hardships in this recession. I still see stories on the news about puppy mills, and I hear about people still breeding in their backyards and selling animals for hundreds of dollars, while just up the street at the local shelter sit lonely but hopeful cats and dogs. Our five cats were all rescues or strays we took in, and if I could I would adopt every animal that ended up at animal control. Our last two cats, Maarten and General (see photo), were adopted when we used Petfinder.com to locate a local kitten rescue group. These two wonderful little boys could have easily ended up at animal control or worse. While we are all tightening our belts and weathering the dismal economy, please consider saving the life of an animal going through their own crisis!!! Thanks for reading!!!
Saturday we spent the afternoon downtown, buzzing in and out of the shops and bakeries, and lately we seem to find ourselves there quite a bit. Newnan has a spectacular & busy downtown area (it is a square centered around the old courthouse) for such a small town, and they are big on the arts here. The Newnan-Coweta Art Association (NCAA) is an outlet for local artists to not only display their pieces, but sell them as well. Many of the local shops carry local artwork, and even places like city hall have paintings for sale. A few weeks ago my husband bought an oil painting for me that was hanging in Espresso Lane, a coffee house that not only had wonderful coffee and desserts, but a wall full of artwork for sale. The NCAA also offers many workshops to the public and I plan to take advantage of that. I am not in a position right now to "join" the organization, but maybe in the future. Newnan also offers an Art Walk a few times a year (there is one this Friday but it's supposed to rain) as well as Market Day on the first Saturday of the month from April to December. From what we hear, this is a very successful endeavor to bring not only local artists downtown but music and food and fun. Back in the late 80's and early 90's I used to set up booths at street fairs back home in Florida and I really enjoyed that a lot. I am hoping to possibly do the same on Market Days in my newest adopted hometown. Right now I have no artwork ready to sell, but it gives me a goal to shoot for, maybe later in the summer. My husband encourages me to paint every day, but I'm still struggling with getting it started back up again since we moved. I have so many distractions right now- planting bulbs, organizing the basement- sometimes painting just doesn't make it onto the daily To-Do list......... But, it sounds like Newnan is just the right place for me to be right now, and we love downtown (see the photo I borrowed from a website). I hope to get very familiar with it soon, and they with me as well!!
Here are photos of the old "studio" at the South Carolina house (below), more commonly known as
the laundry room. I had one small counter to work on. But as you can see from the other photo (above), the new and improved space in the Georgia house is still a work in progress. I'm to the point where I need my husband to help with shelving units and moving furniture, etc. When I can tackle him for a few hours I will get the room finished. For those who have asked where I got the name for my art, Hairy and Spider are our two female cats, and of course they are both solid black. The name of my crafting business back in Florida was called On My Front Porch, and wow did that ever sound so eighties! And for my eBay customers who have emailed me, no, I am not making pottery right now. I was using someone else's kiln in South Carolina, and since we've moved I've unfortunately not found a place to take my tiles to have them fired. James has threatened to buy me a kiln, which is all well and good, but I don't know how to USE one! So, hopefully I will find a way to continue with my pottery soon. I miss working with clay!!
We are still unpacking boxes here and there after our big move at the first of the year. Life is almost back to normal, although I have a suspiciously growing list of items I just can't seem to find. One of them is the lamp I've always used when I paint. Whatever box it was packed in, it must still sit silently mocking me down in the basement. I've probably walked by a dozen or more times already and thought "Hhhmm, I believe I've looked in that one" when in truth I've not touched it yet. But the new "art studio" is coming along without the lamp. I've claimed the bonus room upstairs, a 500-square-foot room complete with closet and full bathroom. No more running back and forth to the kitchen for cleanups. The room is big enough that the kitties can keep me company without running all over my work space. And joy, I have large windows overlooking the woods out back, perfect for sunlight and fresh air (see above for the view). I'm currently working on my second painting since we've moved. The first one I buried among miscellaneous items on the fireplace mantel, hoping no one will notice it. Now I'm working on a cute little piece of Maarten sitting at the window, looking out at the birds. On a recent rainy day, he sat there mesmerized long enough for me to complete a sketch of him. The painting goes slowly, but I am in no hurry. If only I could find that lamp...
Spring is finally starting to show up here in our neck of Georgia. After the big snow storm, we were back up into the 70's by the next weekend. It was so beautiful out that James and I went for a hike at a nearby state park. I made it 5 miles, while he completed the entire 6.7 mile loop. I was proud of myself, it was listed as a "moderate to difficult" trail, and it ended up having many spots where we literally had to climb up rocks. James was a great navigator, and we used our wonderful book "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles", for the Atlanta area. The book had exact details of the trail and we were able to follow it easily, even after the umpteenth time we crossed the same river and I said "Why do we keep going back and forth, why can't the trail just stay on one side!" It was a wonderful time for us to spend together. I was slow, but James was patient. And for our efforts we treated ourselves to a late lunch at The Redneck Gourmet, our favorite place in downtown Newnan. James promised we'd go on the trail again when I am more up to it, for now we will stick to the 2-3 mile trails until I am in better shape. In the meantime, I am just enjoying this absolutely beautiful weather we're having.
We had amazing snow on Sunday, at least four inches, and it snowed all day!! As a Florida native, I still get as excited as an 8-year-old to see the snow. Sadly James had to go in and work to cover for the employees who "couldn't" make it in. He always tells me to notwish for snow, it's bad for his business! Customers close, employees call out, and he has trucks on the road to worry about. He came wandering in at 4am today after working all night, only to sleep a few hours and go back in. But, even though we were alone- and without power here and there- the kitties and I enjoyed the snow. Even with all the thunder and lightning, what an odd experience! The cats sat and watched the giant snowflakes flutter down, absolutely mesmerized. And the snow did not stop the birds from visiting our feeders all day long. I let the cats out on the back deck and front porch while I was taking photos, but no one stayed out for very long or wandered very far. The first few snowflakes hitting their face, or toes touching snow, made them scurry back indoors, where they groomed themselves, warm and cozy once again. When we moved to Newnan, we were told it doesn't snow here. In South Carolina, we got at least one good snowstorm for the 12 years I lived there. I expected a warm winter since we moved a little farther south. So, I am not disappointed one bit in the weather yesterday! I only wish my hubby had been able to stay home with us and enjoy it as well.
My husband James and I moved to Newnan, Georgia in 2008 from South Carolina- due to his career. We both work for the same company- James 15 years and 10 years for me. We love our life, our new home, our six kitties, our family. We love to travel, and put our paid vacation days from work to good use! Most of all, we love to spend time together no matter what we're doing. I have an ordinary life but share it with an extraordinary man. I am so lucky! Life has been great to both of us. I know I started this blog off insinuating that I would be showing my artwork, but I left my muses back in South Carolina when we moved. They haven't managed to find me again so far. Maybe one day.