Married to the Empire

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bye-Bye Star Wars

Because Steven got rid of the Star Wars room over the summer, he now has a bunch of collectibles boxed up and overtaking the guest room.  He posted a bunch of his ships on Craigslist on Saturday, and within hours, his giant Millennium Falcon was gone.  Another guy came over last night to do his Christmas shopping for his son at our house.  Steven prepared for that by setting up a card table in the living room and putting out stuff that he's getting rid of. 

Calvin, naturally, had to be in the middle of it.  We were joking about him exulting in his Imperial conquests.

We always called him our Rebel Cat because he used to sit on Steven's desk in the Star Wars room and use his tail to sweep the stormtroopers off the desk and into the trash can.  Cracked me up every time he did it!  He also loved to knock the lightsaber out of Darth Vader's hand.  Additionally, he has a lovely camouflage coat that would be perfect for the forest moon of Endor.

Doogie, on the other hand, is our Sith Kitty.  He's stormtrooper colored, and he chose a particular Yoda years ago as his personal chew toy.  When Doogie would not leave that Yoda alone, Steven finally gave it to him.  Yoda has been kicked around, chewed up, and horribly mistreated. 
Hey!  You'd better not be messing with Darth Vader's shuttle up there!
If you look closely at the first photo, you'll see a tin can on the left by the table leg.  That was a Star Wars tin that came loaded with Doritos or some other chip.  It has a very fierce-looking Yoda on it.  Doogie really didn't like that Yoda, and he'd circle the can and hiss at it.  He became brave enough one night to smack that mean Yoda.  But Yoda fought back with a loud metallic noise when hit.  Doogie was thus terrified.  He left the can alone after that. 

The can went home with that guy last  night.  It will now be a trash can in his son's room.  In fact, a lot of stuff went home with the guy.  Steven made a nice little chunk of change off of him. 

It felt a little sad to see things with memories attached leaving our house.  But Steven said we still have the cats who helped make those memories, so isn't that the important thing?

Indeed it is. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

New-to-Me Artwork

When I was at my parents' house over the summer, we somehow got onto the subject of the artwork of Al Richardson.  He's a former oil man who started a new career in the 70s as an artist.  My dad has a few of his hand-watercolored pen drawings of oil derricks.  They used to hang in his office, but they'd since been wrapped up and relegated to a closet in a guest bedroom. 

I actually love these pieces.  They remind me of my childhood.  So my parents offered to let me have them.  Only problem is that they screamed 1970s in a very bad way.  Note the brown and orange matting.

My dad blessedly knows how to do picture matting, so he got out his box of matting samples, and we spent a good amount of time trying to find just the right color to use.  I then took the sample with me to Hobby Lobby and bought two big pieces of matting.  They were on sale at 50%-off, so I only paid $8 to have these pictures updated. 

My dad got them done pretty quickly, and they look 100% improved!

The lighting isn't very good, so I'm not sure you can truly see how very improved these pictures are!

We'll hang these in the guest room... as soon as we can get in there to start beautifying it.  Right now it's packed to the gills with boxes full of Star Wars stuff.  Steven finally got around to listing a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, so hopefully we'll be able to use that room again.  It's kind of weird to see him getting rid of his Star Wars collection (and he's not getting rid of all of it).  We spent so many hours years ago scouring area stores to find the new releases, but truthfully, I think the joy was in the search more than the find itself. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This and That

I'm still here. I just haven't really had much to say, I guess.

I found a way to (finally!) be able to have fresh flowers in my home.

Doogie always knocked over any fresh flowers.  He likes the water in the vase.  But if he can't see the water, we're good!  I bought that vase in the clearance aisle of Hobby Lobby a while back for something like $3.  Not beautiful, but functional for why I need it.  I'd prefer to use one of my crystal vases, but that's always disastrous with Doogie the Destroyer around.  I'm just thrilled to have some flowers.  Kroger had those gladiolas on sale yesterday for $2.50. 

I have no hometown.  I'm an oil baby, and the oil business moves families around almost as much as the military does.  The closest thing to a hometown I've ever had is Slidell, Louisiana, which is a suburb of New Orleans.  I loved the years we lived there!  So this 5th-generation Texan was beyond thrilled to visit the Cajun market in town this week to find boiled crawfish on sale.  The dinner plan quickly changed to accomodate!

I've been battling my first-ever ear infection.  I didn't even feel sick, but I'd been getting small bouts of dizziness.  Most were not problematic, but I could no longer stand on the stage at church to sing without getting really dizzy and disoriented.  Had to do last week's music set sitting on a stool while all the other singers stood.  So I saw the doctor on Monday.  She opted to give me an antibiotic and something else (a steroid, I think) through shots in my rear end.  I haven't had shots since I was a kid!  And I'm pretty sure the med tech who came in to give me my shots was a kid himself.  When the guy taking my blood pressure and giving shots looks like he could be in my youth group, I don't feel terribly confident in his abilities.  He did fine.  I just felt old. 

As for whether or not any of this has helped, I guess time will tell.  I've been running a fever off an on since visiting the doctor, and I was still dizzy during rehearsal last night (as soon as the drums start, the stage moves, and the room spins), but I'm hoping it'll be cleared up by Sunday.  But I may be wearing pants this week in case I need to sit on a stool again. 

And finally, a Calvin update.

I think he has another bladder infection.  He was quiet and clingy all weekend, then Monday he let loose on the bed.  So we're back to a higher dose of his daily antibiotic.  But at least he's starting to talk again, which generally signals that he feels better.  Years ago, this cat used to drive me batty with his constant meowing.  Now, I consider it a blessing when he's chatty because it means he's feeling all right. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The plate on the wall in my kitchen holds a bible verse that I had to remind myself of repeatedly this past summer. I was struggling in my role with the youth group, and admittedly, there were times I felt so overburdened and burnt out that I just wanted to quit. But of course, I didn't. I won't.

It's a calling, but sometimes ministry is hard. Sometimes it feels thankless. It can even feel fruitless at times. And that's where I was this summer, except I think the fruitless part was me.

Psalm 71 has become my new go-to passage in the bible. These two verses specifically stand out to me:

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

So I'm not old yet, although I'm getting a little gray here and there, but verse 18 hits me like a ton of bricks every time I read it. "...Till I declare your power to the next generation..." That's a big responsibility, and it's one I need to take very seriously.

Once the youth group went back to school, and I could stop playing weekly activities director, my anxiety went away, and I started sleeping well again. A few weeks of recuperation, and I'm ready to get to work again. I'm now stepping into a role I'm more comfortable with: working with our youth singers who lead worship on Sunday nights.

I don't remember if I've mentioned it here or not, but I sing on the praise team at church on Sunday mornings. Singing is my favorite thing to do, next to reading. Our youth singers have been struggling since the girl who used to lead them left for college. I stepped in on Sunday night. In addition to giving them some direction on what to do in their songs, I had a talk with them before we started. I read to them from I Chronicles about the appointment of the singers in the temple. I talked to them about the importance of that job, how the singers even accompanied the Ark of the Covenant. Leading worship music is not a job to be taken lightly, and if it's about ego and being noticed and having everyone think they're amazing, then they're better served going home and just making YouTube videos of themselves. (There's been some competition to be heard on stage, which is why I made that comment. Some crazy harmonies have been making things sound chaotic.)

I think my talk with them made a difference because they really toned things down during worship, and they already sounded a little better. I have some ideas for working with them in the next few weeks. I told them I want them to learn to listen to each other and really work well as a team. I gave them some examples from the adult praise team about ways we work together to make each other sound better. They don't need to worry about people leading out with solos right now. They don't even necessarily need to mess with harmony. They just need to learn to work together. Every one of them has God-given talent, and I just want them to use it to the best of their abilities and to God's glory.

I'm actually excited again about youth work. This feels like a natural fit, unlike trying to coordinate activities. That isn't my gift, but singing is. I think I'm meant to grow myself by teaching others to lead in worship, not just sing.

"Let us not become weary in doing good..."
"...Till I declare your power to the next generation..."
"But as for me, I will always have hope."

I feel renewed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fun with Friends

We have a group of friends we hang out with regularly. Typical get togethers involve meeting at someone's house for dinner or a lunch out after church. Sometimes things are more interesting, though.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Fair Park in Dallas for a murder mystery dinner. The food was just so-so, but the entertainment was great. We had to meet the other diners before dinner and ask questions to get to know people. Then we went upstairs to the dining room and had to look for clues between courses to try to figure out who the killers were. My husband got very into it, which cracked us all up. But ultimately, our group solved the mystery.

Steven has now been inspired to try to do this as a youth activity. Our youth team is even throwing around the idea of having it catered (because it's a lot of work for me to handle a dinner for the students) and selling tickets to the church as a youth fundraiser. Should be fun!

This past weekend our group of friends went to the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney to watch a documentary about the ivory-billed woodpecker called Ghost Bird. That was followed by a guided night hike through the sanctuary. It was a lot of fun. I was looking for new and different things to do, and I learned about this activity in The Dallas Morning News. (I'm addicted to my daily newspaper and find it an invaluable resource.)

I forgot to take any photos of our nature night, but just know that we had a blast! (Although, coming face-to-face with the evil ragweed plant has been wreaking havoc with my sinuses ever since.)

What fun things do you do with friends or family?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I went to The Peddler Show in Arlington a few weeks ago. I've admired this one booth's potpourri for years, but had never bought any. Finally, I did. I've had a good time finding places to put it.

My MIL gave me this pink bowl a couple of years ago. So nice to have a use for it! It's now gracing the counter in our guest bathroom.

A Chinese bowl that sat for years on top of my turtle cabinet in the dining room is now on the bedroom dresser helping to keep the room smelling sweet.

And the teacup and saucer that are part of my Beatrix Potter collection now serve a dual function.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lavender Sachets

Almost a year ago, I promised a tutorial on making these lavender sachets. Although all of my readers have probably long forgotten, I actually haven't. I just got lazy. But I finally pulled all my materials out again and have been busy making sachets. Here's how I do it.

First, lay out fabric (doubled over) and trace out squares. I made mine 5"x5".

Cut out the squares. I used pinking shears, as I'm lazy and didn't want to deal with turning the sachets and then slip stitching them closed. Pinking shears can give a semi-finished edge with minimal work. Remember, I'm not an experienced, or good, seamstress. I like shortcuts and easiness.

Let the cat have his moment to pose with the squares.

Sigh with sadness because that picture was taken almost a year ago (yes, I'm that behind on this), and the cat, while skinny in the photo, looks almost fat in comparison to today.

Get out the sewing machine and thread that matches the fabric. Match up 2 fabric squares and sew around 3 sides. (Please pardon the bad lighting/photos. We all know I don't actually know what I'm doing with my camera.)

Open the 4th side to reveal a pocket. Fill the pocket with dried lavender.

Cut a piece of ribbon and pin it inside the opening of the 4th side. Sew across the top of it to close the sachet.

It's basically done at this point, and can be hung somewhere. But it's a little boring, so I like to add a bow. I do this by cutting another piece of ribbon, tying it into a bow, then hand sewing it onto the sachet.

Another variation, if you don't need a loop for hanging it, yet don't want it to be completely plain, is to stamp it with something. I used a bible verse stamp for mine. Just be sure to stamp the fabric before you fill the sachet with lavender.

These make nice gifts. In fact, I gave some away this past weekend. They were very well received.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I sit cuddling my cat, this tiniest of tigers, a fierce little fighter who just wants his mommy right now. I kiss his head and smell the scent of the vet's office still clinging to him. I'm growing to like that scent, as it's becoming such a part of him. For a brief moment, I feel as if I'm holding his younger self, a fuller body with more substance. But it's fleeting. My head knows it's just the fluids he received earlier that fill him out right now, make him feel like his once-bigger self.

He purrs loudly, then in a flash, he leaps out of my arms as if made well by my attention. He's busy and has things to do, even if those things are brief these days, crammed in between longer and more frequent naps.

Some days he seems almost normal. Only his thinness gives away the truth that he's sick. Other days, like the days we've had this week, his frail little body lets me know that his life is waning.

But still he fights. He fights hard. He likes life, and he lets us know it. He races through the house when he hears me in the kitchen, always hopeful that something good will be given to him to eat. Mail Time is the daily highlight in which he sniffs the fresh air and rolls in the grass in a state of bliss. And sometimes, he even swats at a bit of string when he's feeling a bit kittenish.

So we help him fight for his precious life. How could we not?