Thursday, December 31, 2009

flower child.

Hey, How you doin’?, he said, the vowel of “hey” lagging in speed, voice smooth as black coffee. I was a little taken-aback by his greeting & even more shocked to find him lounging on an elbow wearing shiny metal-framed Blues Brothers sunglasses. His speech was slowed just a bit, vowels & syllables dragging here & there creating an accent I couldn’t quite pinpoint.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was a child of the 1970’s; a kid of peace, love, & rock-and-roll; a teen of smokes & drugs & all-you-can-get. At age 63, the youth had long been gone, but the cheeks below his tousled mop of thinning hair were rosy.

We learned he loved music—guitar, in particular. And I pictured him in a field of daisies, some blonde haired Farah Fawcett whirling around like in the opening scene from the Sound of Music. We learned he loved art…and I figured something odd like paint splattering or wood carving was probably his forte. We learned he loved traveling, & road biking, & Harley’s, & the Beatles.


We also learned that, in his days of freedom, he really loved his booze. He’d get drunk, shoot up, wander a bit, love on some lucky woman, sleep…& start it all over again. And suddenly my picture changed. Instead of fields of daisies & VW Vans & the happier scenes of Forrest Gump, my imagined pictures of his life turned gray, hazy, chaotic.

I couldn’t quite grasp it. Not him. Not the 1970’s. Not the drugs or sex or rock-‘n-roll. But I could grasp the fact that his abdomen was packed with fluid that would have to be drained. I could grasp the fact that his liver was failing, secondary to Hepatitis C he contracted sharing needles. I could grasp the fact that his lungs were destroyed, the consequence of smoke inhalation from years of sacred puffs. And I could grasp the fact that he had regrets.

My mother told me never to touch the stuff”, the “o’s” & “th’s” lingered in the air, “and god I wish I would have listened.”

My words were gone. I stood silent, not knowing what to say, where to console, or how to encourage.

But you know”, he said looking at me, “we sure had fun.”

Finally my smile came.

I’d run out of questions & continued my exam in silence. Meanwhile daydreaming about my own future, wondering if I’ll look back at age 63 & take the good with the bad, the life with the malady, the health with the sickness; wondering if I’ll cherish the residue of my memories & poorer decisions or choose to live in regret.

…wondering what substance in my life right now will propel me into remorse; wondering how to squelch it.

And wondering how to make it all more fun.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

thrifty: the embellished sweater {II}

i snagged yet another sweater at the Veteran's Day sale @ Value Village. and i was stumped about what to do with it. the cut is plain & the color brown is a bit faded & really needed something to make it look "on purpose".

i dug through my mom's "scrap" drawers & came upon this old lace & ribbon. with a little fancy stitching & a sewing machine, i've got a new sweater :)


i'm considering dying it a darker color...but that just might be too much work (& time) for the $4 i spent on it.


Monday, December 28, 2009



I’ll chalk it up to exhaustion. Nine hours in three days simply isn’t enough. And my hold-it-together had run dry. And again, in my usual fashion, I started picking my eyelashes & shoving my sanitizer-with-alcohol-covered-finger in my eye to give me a good excuse. But it was quite obvious, I think.

The tears were subtle, but present. And the remnant red nose was an indication, too. All it took was 5 minutes. But then again, I knew what we were walking in to.

She is from Russia. She speaks Russian. She eats Russian. She looks Russian. She lives Russian. Or so says her beautiful teenaged daughter. And this high-cheek-boned petite Russian woman doesn’t live American. In fact, she doesn’t speak English at all.

So we dialed the hospital interpreter service & held the phone between us. Myself, the resident, the intern, the attending, & the patient. Like a little pow-wow warming ourselves around a bonfire, we stood around that phone & listened to the smooth river of syllables that flew between two mouths who didn’t understand each other.

And very soon, that theoretical bonfire became a burning mess of emotion & tears & fragile sobs.
We stood huddled around, syllables soaring, handing Kleenex & altering the pitch of our condolences. And oddly enough, in the midst of the words, the discourse, the piles of soggy Kleenex, we stood silent. Knowing.

Knowing that her life would never be the same after her encounter with the firey phone, the flying chatter, the forecasted timeline.

Knowing that she would leave the hospital & live a different Russian life than the one she was living when she walked in.

Knowing that the blow from the news we’d just delivered would never fully disappear—the bruises left marked in real, physical malady & real, emotional chaos.

Knowing that her family would forever change; her daughter without a mother, her husband without a companion.

And knowing that we wouldn’t see her again. Because she wouldn’t live long enough to come back to the hospital. Because she would be discharged tomorrow & live the remainder of her short life, her petite Russian frame & strikingly high cheek bones fighting the tsunami of American turmoil with her smooth river of syllables.

Plastic smiles were exchanged. And shoulder pats, with affection. We stood around that phone of dialect, vernacular flaming the permanent bonfire it symbolized.

The edges of my eyes wet, soul-driven salty water desperately trying to put out the flame.

I’m slowly learning, though, that the power of my emotion isn’t strong enough to extinguish some fires—only bold enough to make the embers glow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

13 Ways to Better Photos...Intro

Let’s just start out by clarifying that I’m not, in any form, a photography expert. Not like this woman. Or this one. Or this one. Or this guy. But, I’ll claim to know a few things—all self-taught.

Since apparently some of you are interested in learning more, I thought I’d share what I DO know. And tips & tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

So…over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing 13 ways to better photos. And although I can’t promise you’ll become an Ansel Adams, I can guarantee that you’ll begin to notice details & composition of photography differently. And really, it’d be great if your photos got better too—but that is up to YOU.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

thrifty: the embellished sweater

so wayyy back around veteran's day, i took a trip to our friendly Value Village. they were having a 50% of sale (on everything!!) & i just knew there'd be treasures waiting (you know, sort of like you know how eating 5 cupcakes will make your jeans tighter...).

when i go to thrift stores, i always look through the jackets, the blazers, the skirts, the dresses, & the sweaters. and the sweaters were a gold mine :) (well, okay, so were the jackets...& the dresses...more to come on thrifting methods & finds).

we (sister #1 & i) happened upon this plain cream-colored sweater from Ann Taylor. aside from the slightly worn & falling-off buttons, she was perfect.

korryn sweater.001

and at $3.50, the price wasn't too shabby either.

sister #1 just happened to have a birthday shortly after. so i made some flowers using this tutorial, & made some more flowers using this tutorial...

korryn sweater.004

then i reinforced the buttons & washed the sweater...

korryn sweater.002

and ended up with this little treasure.

korryn sweater.003

the flowers are removable for friendly washing--i attached them to a large piece of stiffened linen & sewed on three pins.

korryn sweater.005

and now, thanks to the $3.50 i spent, i'm a bit obsessed with making these.

would you like to see more of them? ...okay

Thursday, December 24, 2009

time travel.

She was scared & I couldn’t blame her. The tender age of 18 would bring new life into the world…not just one, but three; stunned to find that her high school love would turn her into a mother of triplets.

She held his hand tightly, a white knuckled grip on the chair in the darkest corner of the exam room. She was drawn to the shadows—shame, maybe? I thought of her life in 8 shorts months. The expectant belly pregnant with anticipation. And in the process of growing the lives inside her, judgment would be hurled. Scoffs & strange looks would find their way into her heart, shock at the size of her girth & the age of the face above it. Surely her group of friends would change—17 year olds usually don’t know how to embrace best friends entering motherhood. She was frightened. So she gripped that hand of his & didn’t look back, didn’t let go.

I would have too.

The Virgin Mary came to mind. Young, expectant, gripping the hand of her Joseph. Surely their friendships would change, judgments tossed in their direction. The expected visit from Angel Gabriel promised one Life would grow---I can’t help but think she was surprised to find that her innocent “yes” would turn her into a Mother of the World’s Savior.

DaVinci’s portrayal of her young face flashes on the projector in church, smoke from the advent candles below drift upward making a floating shadow like eerie ghost in front of Young Virgin’s face. Just as the smoke rises, so do their voices—young, old, tenor, soprano. Uplifting. Surrounding. Echoing off the pudgy face of young Mary & innocent Heir.

{image source}

Sweet sound. Sweet life…growing from one…to three…to multitudes. Their voices travel upward, onward, preparing the path to parishioner’s hearts in preparation for His humble arrival. And on shines young Mary, youthful Mother.

“Gloria sing Praise Hallelujah, Gloria sing Praise!!...”

One voice stood above the rest. I look up to see a young girl at the microphone. No surprise, belly pregnant with anticipation. Her expectant glow matching Mary’s, her solo voice rising as the smoke of the advent candles.

Anxious expectancy.

“Glory, Glory to God in the Highest. And Peace on Earth to all men…”

“Gloria sing Praise Hallelujah, Gloria sing Praise!!...”

Voices louder, now. Onward, upward.

At His bedside, the angels sang praises—the light of the North Star illuminating the scene.

Lifetimes later, within the walls of stained glass, the choir sings, voices surrounding the Expectation, lit by the flicker of candles in waiting.

Voice boxes open, echoes rise. A cacophony of beautiful octaves.

And just for a moment, I close my eyes…gladly lost in the centuries.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

tides of emotion.

Sometimes I become one of them. And in my fragile humanity, I’m critical, condoning, and unloving. I take on the attitude that life is unfair, that I’m not getting what I deserve, that the World, in its innate sin, owes me something. I let my heart slide, my world turn, & my perspective sour. My smile curdles. My emotions soar. And I feel my comfortable World sliding off its axis.

It is during these times, when I forget humility & take on bold audaciousness, that I’m most distant. Emotionally. Physicially. Spiritually.

I think it happens to all of us in one form or another. The lull. The calm before the storm. The break in the winds, eye in the hurricane, peace in the blizzard. Some react by lashing out, the claws of emotion striking their loved ones’ raw; others hide within their turtle shells & prefer to listen to the echoes of avoidance; some spill hurtful words like buckets of burning acid—unable to be neutralized by natural remedies, & still more blend the pain, the heartache, the hurt with a rich cologne of substances as a perfect, smell-good costume to hide their dirty world.

I’m guilty of them all. Are you, too?

The self-pity rolls in. I’m taken away in the tides…current driven by the floating solar body that shines only in the absence of light of the sun. And sometimes it is even painful, rolling about in the waves—being shaped & smoothed by the constant current of emotion. Rough, ragged edges to be smoothed into stones, the process hurts.

And I’m reminded that I’m fragile.

My life is in the hands of Someone else; my years ahead pregnant with possibility. And I recognize that these emotional storms, the crux & the calmness, are like labor pains—widening my heart’s doors in anticipation of deliverance.

I’m not the only one, either. Because God’s grand plan included someone much younger & much more vulnerable, many centuries ago. And her labor pains were real. Her place of deliverance was dirty. And her tide was stirred by the hand of God Himself.

How will you handle the pains of pregnant expectation this Christmas?

…life offers no epidurals…only redemption.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a brief hiatus.

i'll be on an away-rotation until Dec. 19th. limited internet access (aside from email)...means limited blog posting.

i'll try shops will be my friend ;)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

thrifty: the transformed chair {#2}

korryn & i went yard-saling this summer. the same day we found this frame, i snagged a chair. yes, another chair.

my original intent (& current intent as well) was/is to use them as photography "props" during photoshoots. chairs always make things a bit more interesting, yes??!!

so back to the chair. we stopped by a rather-crummy-looking-yard-sale outside an old, run-down apartment complex. apparently one tenant had just left all his stuff in the apartment...& the landlords were trying to get rid of it.


my sympathy got the best of me...and $5 later, (instead of the $2 i should have offered) the chair was in my car.

nice, huh?

steps are always the same...

#1. find the chair. dust enhances the "thrifted" look.



#2. find cute sisters to pose for you with the chair.



#3. decide you kind of look cute too (i got dressed! in real clothes!) & get in a picture by the chair with one sister. (look at the photo later & realize your torso looks as long as the Mississippi River...).


#4. remove chair cushion.


#5. start sanding.


#6. keep sanding.


#7. eat some energy-food. in this case, artery-clogging food is fine.


#8. prime it.


#9. paint it (twice.) ...actually thrice because you might have accidentally grabbed a can of SILVER spraypaint for "touchups" instead of black.

#10. remove cushion cover & use as pattern.

#11. attach newly sewn fabric to cushion. with staples!

#12. attach to chair with screws.

#13. pose again.

#14. be proud of yourself for another cute chair (with many, many flaws...but pretend i didn't tell you, okay?!)

the end.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It isn’t often that I publicly change my opinion. And really? Most often, it is because I deliberately think through my words, my thoughts, my actions before making them public. But I’m finding that more days than not, my opinion of life, of people, of faith, of stuff is just changing. The changes are largely out of my control... fed by my experiences, resurrected by my stories.

And tonight? You deserve to hear more of the story. Instead of changing my opinion, however, I’m going to make an addendum.

To this post.

You see, when I wrote this story about this giggling girl’s mommy, I was writing mostly out of frustration. Because it IS frustrating to see patients that don’t have emergent (or even urgent!) problems, that are not sick, not in pain, not needing immediate medical attention in what is supposed to be the emergency room. In my ideal world, we’d see emergencies in the ER. And if you talk to “old-time” physicians, you might find that Emergency medicine has mercilessly changed. In most community (read: smaller hospitals without advanced trauma units) medical centers, the ER is filled with a myriad of patients on any given night. And what used to be a population of patients with what, in my opinion, were true emergencies or urgencies have now become patients with minor medical problems that very-well could have waited for tomorrow…or 2 days from now…or next week when they could have gotten an appointment with their primary care doctor.

I fully (FULLY!) realize that other issues are present in many of these cases. Patients may not have insurance. They may truly be worried…& in many cases, the patient truly does know best & their concerns are fully warranted. They may have an underlying condition or problem that would not have been discovered had they not come into the ER. But for the most part, the patients I was referring to in my post were those who did need medical attention…eventually.

Such was the case with giggling girl & her mommy. It wasn’t the fact that the little girl had a reddened throat that bothered me so. In fact, literature (& Grey’s Anatomy, for the record) cites cases where red throats turned into something much, much more serious. But such cases are, largely, outside the norm. And giggling girl had nothing more than a red throat. No fever. No cough. No signs of infection. But her impatient mother decided to forego waiting for her pediatric appointment just a few days following & rush her to the ER because it might be something serious. That "common sense" doesn't seem to be common anymore...

The patients I was speaking of were those who coming in for toenail trims. Or for hangnail removal. Or who want to “be fixed” in less than an hour after 19 years of pain.

And, more likely than not, the patients I was speaking of…ARE NOT YOU.

So PLEASE….go to the Emergency Room if there is an ioda of concern, of anxiety about your situation that arises in the midst of whatever medical chaos you might be experiencing. Use your best judgement. Think through the situation. Ask yourself if it really is EMERGENT…or even URGENT. I certainly can’t go through each diagnosis here (we’d all be dead by the time I was halfway done)…& that is not my intent. I write to vent, to share my now-feelings with my 40-year-old-self in a couple of decades, & to remind myself that there is PURPOSE, greater purpose, behind the sometimes frustrating-monotony of my days with patients.

I cannot be the judge of your medical decisions. And I cannot be the decisive voice in your care. That responsibility belongs to you. What I can do, however, is share: my opinions, my experiences, my HOPE.

Common sense.

recipe:: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

in the last 3 weeks, we have made TWELVE (12!!!) batches of these. given, i haven't eaten all of them...but trust me when i say i've eaten my fair share. 4 batches were eaten by the young life kids. 3 batches were given away. 3 batches were eaten by hungry teenagers at our house for movies. and the last one? uhh....


the recipe is super simple. and the only recommendation i have is to decrease the flour just a little bit if you are making more than a double batch.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
{original recipe by Carol Churchill}
1 cup canned pumpkin
1+ 2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted (melted) butter
1 cup chocolate chips (mini chips work best, in my opinion)
Mix sugar, eggs, & pumpkin. (Hint: one large can of pumpkin makes exactly FOUR batches of these muffins). Add dry ingredients. Add melted butter. Then add chocolate chips.
Bake @ 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

EAT. eat a lot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

thrifty: the transformed chair {#1}

so if you haven't noticed, i've been a bit over-the-top-excited about thrifting lately. and i think that more than getting junky stuff, it is the thrill of the find that keeps me going back. we had our first suitcase...our second suitcase...and now...

a chair.

a whole $2.60 at Goodwill.


but i believed in her...just like the Ugly Duckling.

and i sanded.

and ripped.


and primed.


and painted.

and cut.

and stapled.


and covered.


and voila!!!


{please don't mind the paper towels on the floor...protecting the carpet from spray paint drips...}
let's compare:
aqua chair before.after

i'm officially in love with refinishing chairs. because you always need more chairs, right? this one now sits at my desk. much better than the fold-up one it replaced.

and yes...more re-do's to come!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

thrifty: the repurposed shirt

so i found a blog.

and i kind of fell in love.

because, well, who doesn't love j.crew. and this woman does j.crew. and this woman tells YOU how to do j.crew.

so i took a black shirt i already had--the collar was stretched out from a hanger. and i bought a $3 remnant @ Joann's.


and i used Fray-Check on the edges.


and i gathered & tucked & pinned & sewed.



and voila.


j.crew + my old shirt = new, repurposed shirt!!


[on a side-note, jon told me that it looked like toilet paper. does it really look like toilet paper?...]

{much, much, more to come...}

Thursday, November 12, 2009

recipe:: O'Henry's

chocolate + peanut butter + goodness = GIANT YUM. i haven't met a sweet-toothed person who didn't like these. and i've made them a lot.


prepare yourself--& leave all your healthy habits behind when you enter your kitchen to make these....



{recipe found here}

1 cup light Karo syrup (found with other syrups)
1 cup sugar
1 cup raw peanuts (I prefer unsalted)
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups rice krispies
1 package chocolate chips
1 package butterscotch chips

Mix Karo syrup + sugar. Microwave for 2 minutes.

Add peanuts + peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute.

Add rice krispies while mixture is still warm.

Spread into 9x13" baking pan (to about 1" thickness)

Combine chocolate + butterscotch chips in bowl (i save myself & use the same one). Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Spread on krispie mixture in pan.

Let takes way too long. You can expedite the process in the fridge or freezer (or outside if it is cold enough!!)

In the meantime, take out the garbage, watch 4 episodes of The Office, drool, fold some laundry.

Then drool a bit more.

Cut into SMALL 1-inch squares
(these are super-sweet!).




Simple enough, right?!

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