Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.


I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?


This sucks!

“There are people who laugh to show their fine teeth; and there are those who cry to show their good hearts.”~Joseph Roux, French Catholic priest

Today is a bit of both. After spending 35 months in clear acrylic braces, I now am forced to wear a metal retainer with a small spring that will move one tooth backwards something like 1/100th of a millimeter of a speck of a smidge. That’s just so wrong on so many levels. I feared it was going to hurt like replacing my braces’ wires, but this was just a little mold stuck up in my mouth. I have to wear it 24/7 except when I eat or brush my teeth. I can take it off if I need to give a lecture or have my picture taken–whew!–but this month is all about getting my mouth and teeth used to it. Next month he tightens it and I expect that’s when the really pain begins.

“Be careful of the spring wire,” my orthodontist said. “Your tongue will go there because it’s the most interesting thing in your mouth.”

“Not really,” I replied. “My tongue is more interested in sucking the top.”

Sucking the top of my palette, I meant to add. Of course, that does not sound much better.

Tangling on a Thursday

What an exciting day! Christmas cards are mailed. My car turned 123,456 today just as I got off the highway. I was able to pull into a parking lot for this pic. It was raining out, so flashers on the side of the road would not have been wise. But still….


A good cup of coffee at my fave coffee shop in Ann Arbor, Espresso Royale. I found a table under good lighting so I could complete the Diva’s Challenge #100. Just like on the iPhone game Drawsome, I am a member of the Century Club.


Not that taking a picture in a coffee shop is easy. Good lighting in Espresso Royale still means shadows. Like Laura played with getting her video right, I had to prop this up against my water cup braced against my coffee cup. To keep it from slipping, I barricaded it with my pen and pencil and finger while I balanced my phone to take a pic. Let no one say I’m not Macguiver-esque.

Give yourself permission

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”~Stephen King, American author

New retainers = tight = sore teeth = hot tea.

After much pain and suffering (*dramatic sigh here*), I spent an afternoon in Barnes & Noble reading mixed media art books. This is why I got into ATCs, to explore creative mediums.

Zentangle is another aspect of that. I am reminded of it every time I pick up a tile or piece of Bristol paper or even look at something that could be tangled on…which is almost everything. This week’s Diva challenge has restrictions: use only the two tangles Strircles and Hibred.

How do I start?  Knowing they can be either filler or border patterns, I wondered if I would subconsciously draw a string that enhances those tangles. To remove any potential bias, I picked out one of my ensemble tiles which happened to be a border. Since I want to leave some borders open, I was stuck with this weird swirly string of one tiny oval and several big open spaces crammed into half a tile. Too big and too small.

I started with the smaller segments and then divided the larger ones at random.  That was the hard part: making random but deliberate choices that affected the whole tile.  That’s really the challenge: what do you accomplish with limitations? How do you make two patterns unique and varied? Carry that into today.  How do you scrapbook the same events over and over while keeping each one fresh? How do you mix up a class or presentation to keep it exciting?  How do your make your same old boring life fun each day?

There’s a current TV commercial about the daily routine of a woman ordering a to-go drink at a fast food restaurant. One day, she changes the flavor and her alter-ego asks, “Who are you?” It’s a good question.

WoW! Guess what I did March 1…!?

…I bit into my first apple today.

Delightful to feel the sweet moist juice flow down my chin, my tongue unable to catch it.  Wonder-full!

To add to that thrill, registration for MegaMeet Scrapbook Convention opened an hour ago.  Within that time, all three of my Zentangle classes are half full.  I am quite pleased.  Who am I kidding–I’m thrilled!

So without further ado…

“Be aware of wonder.”~Robert Fulghum, American author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Leap into a tangled WoW for Feb. 29

“We convince with our presence.”~Walt Whitman, American poet

I realized today that, without my braces, I can eat BBQ ribs again.
Maybe that was inspired by the rare Leap Day of February 29?

Today I got away from my desk and sat down with a decaf vanilla latte in my favorite local Starbucks to work on the Diva’s weekly challenge #60.  Sixty!?!  Already?  Wow, it does not feel that long. By the way, for those tanglists who participated in my guest Challenge #58, I want to share the accomplishment of THON 2012.  Penn State students raised…are you ready?…


Yes, you read that number right.  In 365 days, students alone raised over $10.5 million dollars, an amount that is $1 million more than 2011.  I am breathless from that and for the support the Zentangle community has shown. Thank you, thank you from the top of my heart and the bottoms of my feet.

When I approached the DuoTangle Challenge using Cirquital and Munchin, I could not remember the last time I used those tangles. Even as I type this, I cannot think of a reason not to use them. Since these were “new” tangles to me, I was excited by the challenge. A bit rusty, I came up with a tile that was somewhat straightforward but fun to do. I varied each tangle slightly, enough to keep me interested, while keeping strictly within the wacky string I drew.  It was not a good string for these tangles, and maybe that’s part of my reluctance to these tangles.  Perhaps I have never known the best way to use these in my art.  Now I think of all the ways I want to vary the tangles. I’ll get more inspiration as I roam everyone’s websites, but this immediately left me all kinds of creative and wanting more.

Retained but not restrained…WoW!

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”~Carl Reiner, American comedian

A storm is expected to roar through Michigan tomorrow. As a kid, I adored crossing the street to slide down the hill for hours and hours. Now…I hate commuting in icky weather.

My orthodonist gave me two thumbs up today. My dentist did not think I needed cosmetic tooth bonding, neither did her partner orthodonist and neither did mine. My ortho did a fabulous job, and now I don’t need to see him until May, weeks before he graduates and moves back to Nevada.

It is because of him I am in the torture of dentur–I mean, retainers–but it is because of him that I have now eaten my first apple. Bit right into it…well, almost. My teeth are tender immediately after I remove my retainer. I made a few bite mark indents in the apple, a vast improvement and a happy one. It is added to my repetoire of no-longer-forbidden foods that now includes:
–Gummy bears

Retainers will be examined in May and then July. At that time, the frequency of wearing them may decrease. That is something to look forward to. That and petrified Peeps on Easter. Gotta start early.

THON past and Zentangle today

It’s been two weeks since my braces came off.   My teeth still  hurt.  The retainer is cumbersome, but yesterday I had my teeth whitened.  Zoom whitening.  If you’ve never had it done, it goes like this:  A horse-style chomping bit is shoved into your mouth.  A bleach gel is brushed on the front of your teeth and you sit under some super duper heat lamp for 15 minutes until the gel is rinsed off and reapplied two more times. For some reason, I expected the back of the teeth to be done.  Yeah, you can’t see them, but still. 

No one told me about the sensitivity.  You know that shiver you get when biting into an ice cream cone or sno cone and the cold just smacks your teeth?  That was what the post-whitening sensitivity was like, except it was constant.  It hurt to breathe.

It’s silly to be so concerned about something as simple as this.  Elective, in fact, something I did not need to do.  Perspective.  The pain in my teeth is gone today.  The pain that Four Diamonds families feel dealing with cancer never goes away.

Perspective changes over time.  Now that you’ve read about my most recent 2010 THON adventures  and line dance, let’s step back in time and read about my first experience.  The 40 years of THON is being celebrated over at The THON Blog, and when they asked for submissions of experiences from previous dancers and committee members, I submitted mine.  Talk about time machine.  Look at what beverage was a sponsor and what the newspaper printed in Friday’s paper.  Want to know about food and bathroom breaks?  Follow the link for answers to those questions and so much more.

Since that post is chock full o’ pictures, I’ll post one of my Zentangle tiles I’ll be donating.  I was sick at the beginning of the week, and I think my first tiles reflect that. I so wanted to use Florz.  I often leave the diamonds open anyway, giving them a delicate, crystal look.  I’ve tried twice now but can’t get the feeling right.  This is my tile for Thursday.  There are elements I like, some I don’t.  Perhaps I’m watching too many pre-THON videos.  Perhaps I’m feeling too literal these days.  Maybe there’s so much more to this because it is my challenge.  I can often spend a lot of time creating a Zentangle, but I gave myself a time limit.  When my alarm went off, I was done, finish what I was currently doing, shade and sign.  I’m picky about it, but I’m sure a family will treasure it.

Brace yourself for a one week WoW

“Freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.”~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet

It’s been one week without braces. My reaction?

Retainers suck. Literally.

Like biting your fingernails or chewing gum, I find myself sucking on the upper retainer. It’s meant to fit snugly but not airtight, so there’s just enough space to get a good…well…a good suck. This is going to be akin to sucking a thumb, a hard habit to break someday.

Just one month shy of three years in braces, there are other hard habits to break. Brushing my teeth after eating anything. Sure, brushing is a good thing, everyone should do it, but it’s now become compulsive reaction. Food stuck on your teeth is a mossy feeling. I still cut up my food. Part of that comes from the health-conscious side of me: portion control. Part of it is my mindset that I need tiny bites to shove in the back of my mouth. It took me six days before I realized I could actually bite into a slice of pizza. Eat like a normal person. It’s been thrilling at almost every meal with my husband to say, “look at me!” as I bite into a quesadilla or burger.

It’s hard to feel excited when my teeth are now in a clear plastic jail. When I take the retainers off to eat, there is some pressure, not unlike after a braces tightening. Sure, I can eat any food, but there’s still a tenderness. That’s distracting from my joy.

Food, however, has still been a joy. So far this past week I have enjoyed:
–Marshmallow crisy treat
–Baby carrots
–3 snack bags microwave popcorn
–Hard shell tacos
–Crispy coated cashews
–Crusty bread
–Pasta sauce with shredded tomato slices
–Chocolate covered caramel squares
–Pretzels, the big chunky sourdough kind
–Coconut macaroon

I haven’t had time for gum yet, my teeth being tender after retainer removed after all, but I have three packs of it (two of which my husband has already raided). I saved the receipt from buying them to scrapbook.

What’s next? Stay tuned til next week.

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