Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Upson, Downs

Hi Friend,
Well, my surgery is scheduled for 11:30 am, January 4. 
I have been having a range of emotions: feeling normal, really tired--slept all Christmas Day!; teary, angry, disbelieving that there's cancer in my body, wondering how/what 'caused' it...

it goes on.

My plastic surgeon, Dann Leonard, said that before surgery it's common to imagine every twinge is cancer spreading thru my body.  And it's happened--every headache, mole, twinge, bloat, MUST mean it's spread...

try not to think that, Carole!

Anyway, we're past Christmas, and it was warm and wonderful.  i've gotten encouragement from wonderful strangers: a prayer shawl from a work-friend of Caitlin's (Rita, a two-time survivor), two ladies, Betty Ann, and Ramona (from my sister, Melinda's church); people unknown to me all over the state prayerfully lifting me up.

I'm so SO thankful.  It makes me cry thinking about their love for me, and faith that God will provide.

God, thank you for their loving hearts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Surprise, Surprise...

Hi Friend,

I haven't been here for a long, long time...about 4 months.  I wasn't sure if my voice was necessary in a world full of noise.  I have been really busy, and that's nothing too new, and I can update later, but today, for you:

Not so good news...

I have Breast Cancer.

That is like standing up at AA, and telling everyone you're an alcoholic.  It's shocking to say, and shocking to realize it's true, and actually happening to YOU.

I will copy and paste here, a copy of an email I sent out this morning to friends and family.  That way, I won't have to write everything all over again. 

Typing was only a 'C'-grade class for me in High School--what with being able to 'cut out' for lunch at Bob's!

Anyway, here is is, and if you want to get in touch with me:
my email is



Hi Friends,
This is a good news/bad news kinda email. I'll start with the bad news.
I have been diagnosed with Stage 1 (possibly 2) breast cancer, in my right breast.
It is in two locations; about 4" apart.
Last year, I scheduled my annual mammogram for October. Prior to that, one day, I was 'prompted' to do a self-exam. That's when I discovered the first lump --it was about the size of a blackberry seed, and right behind the nipple. I had testing at that time: mammogram, and two ultrasounds, all of which showed NO abnormal tissue.
I went ahead and lived life. I was busy, and pre-occupied and didn't really pay attention to my boobs!
With the approach of October again this year, my annual check-up was on my mind. I rechecked the same spot (although I am lousy at these exams!), and was shocked to find the 'seed' had now grown to the size of the end of my little finger.
Now, we 'fast-track'--
I got right in for my check up, and the mammogram happened, followed by an ultrasound the same day (Nov. 30). On December 4, I had biopsies taken of three places. My drs. office called last Friday , telling me that I have cancer, and asking me if I had a follow-up appt. scheduled with a surgeon; which I did.
(December 7--what irony--'A Day that Will Live in Infamy'!--
we are going to WAR AGAINST CANCER!!)
So, yesterday, December10, I met with my surgeon, Dr Beth Dayton yesterday, and was given the 'the big picture.' (cancer in two locations- the first spot had grown outside the 'ductal' walls, and has now involved other areas, including the nipple, and so the whole thing needs to be removed.
Let's have some good news--
however, it will take awhile to get there...
I will have a mastectomy, right side (there is no cancer in my left breast-nor immediate family history); followed by reconstruction. I will have them start that process right away. I do not know yet if there will be chemo or radiation. but that is a possibility, depending on what is found during surgery and pathology reports.
I will have an entire team of surgeons, oncologists, plastic surgeon and probably a couple others who will work together for my success and health. Eventually, I will have my left side 'lifted', so i'll 'match'--YIPPEE!! GREAT NEWS!
okay, these are the main things for right now.
Here is what you need to know from me:
I LOVE YOU, AND AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY family and GOBS of friends. I believe in God, and although this is not a path I would EVER choose; because the likeliehood of Breast Cancer would strike me (or someone I know)--I am not surprised that it has happened. I am putting my trust in God for my life, recovery, health, financial, the medical team--EVERYTHING in His hands. I know that people all over have already started praying for me, and I am humbled and awed by that. THANK YOU!
I believe that God will use my experience to touch others--that's how 'this thing' works! So-thank you for loving and caring about me! As I rely on your positive thoughts and prayers for health and strength now; someday I will be helping others around me in the same way!
Not everyone is open about their Breast Cancer, but I am choosing to be. I can't control this, but I will do my best to control my reaction, be positive and laugh, and be 'ME" as much as I can. You have my permission to share my story with others who love and care about me--EVERYONE, THINK GOOD THOUGHTS!!
If you know good blonde jokes, or funny things about boobs, (Kim Kardashian, and Kanye West are two boobs, I can think of right now!)--send those along! I'm making a little 'altered' book about BOOBS!
1- please take care of YOUR boobs! As in my situation, even as I 'tried' to do all the right things, I still had cancer that did not show up! I am validated knowing my 'gut' instincts were/are correct. Check yourself, get checked, get tested, don't wait around or be afraid. Make sure those around you do, too!
2- I got a little Christmas story here from a friend, and am passing it along to lighten the mood, and know that it's sweet, and cracked me up. Laughter is a great medicine.
Love, Carole Kurth

My husband and I had been happily married (most of the time)
for five years but hadn't been blessed with a baby.

I decided to do some serious praying and promised God
that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother,
love it with all my heart and raise it with His word
as my guide.

God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son.

The next year God blessed us with another son.

The following year, He blessed us with yet another son.

The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.

My husband thought we'd been blessed right into poverty.
We now had four children, and the oldest was only
four years old.

I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it!
As a minister once told me, "If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella."

I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children
each day as they lay in their cribs..

I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and
I didn't want to disappoint Him.

I tried to be patient the day the children smashed
two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks.

I tried to be understanding...
when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom,
although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.

When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see
how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess..

In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers,
never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time,
I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect mother - I didn't even come close...
I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God.

I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going
to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to
"wash up" Jesus, too.

Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life,
and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his "last wife."

My proudest moment came during the children's Christmas pageant.

My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man.
This was their moment to shine.

My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line,
"We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes."
But he was nervous and said, "The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes."

My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly.
That's dirty, rotten clothes."

A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd
and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing
Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying,

Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown,
knelt at the manger and announced,
"We are the three wise men,
and we are bringing gifts
of gold,
common sense
and fur."

The congregation dissolved into laughter,
and the pageant got a standing ovation.

"I've never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one,"
laughed the pastor, wiping tears from his eyes
(For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the
Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hi Friend,

Did you know every day is a day of discovery?

(well, at least it should be!)

I spend a lot of time in my office at work looking out the window at large
mounds of Sand and Gravel and Topsoil, the trees and their leaves...the coming and going of my work kitties, deer, geese taking off in groups;

punctuated by clouds, sunshine, rain, thunderstorms, snow, sleet and hail.

All this, in between customers!

There's time for reflection--thus Discovery.

in Reading--finally tackling 'The #1 Ladies Detective Agency' and
           Loving It!

occasional Quilting-- sewing binding or cutting fabric for an upcoming

Art Journaling--online tutorials and favorite artists in books encourage and I attempt something new, I'm PROUD OF MYSELF!!

I saw a tutorial from artist Violette, and was then empowered to attempt to draw a face for art journaling... Here she is!

(I had 'bleed thru' from the previous page, so I turned one spot into her heart-shaped beauty mark--the other was the orange splotch on the left--but

'Hey! Whadda You Gonna Do?!'

so I made more cool stuff!

This was silvery tissue from a friend's baby shower gift...YUM!  And the image was ON THE BACK of something else I thought i'd wanted to use.


I really like it.  and I don't think it has to 'say' anything.  At least not yet!

Then, I found a large pair of Ray Bans, and wanting to put them on my 'girl face,' but not wanting to cover her pretty face, I drew another girl, and made her my alternate-self...

Hello, Gypsy Art Girl!
(I wonder what I'd look like w/ Periwinkle Hair?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Art-Is-Stick! That's ME!

Hey Friend!

It's only been less than a month that I was here!

I have managed my two jobs and much more.

The title is really: ARTISTIC!!  that's me...but I thought the other title:

ART-IS-STICK  really quite clever for a Friday afternoon...

anyway, in the last couple weeks, I've worked on FOUR quilts!  I'm in the middle of number 5.
('Soldier Quilt' for friend, Lonny, a Marine back from Afghanistan)

It's so cool!  I don't think I've avoided my Studio/Aerie/Garret/need-a-name as much.  I still don't like the color of the walls, but you gotta have money to buy paint, and know what color, and I don' there it is

What I'm most proud of, is the 'Soldier Quilt,' which I had an idea to make about 8 months ago.  A caring and patriotic young man joined the Marines, and was sent to Afghanistan.  8 months, and many prayers later, he's back safe and sound (praise God!), and home for a couple weeks vacation.

Friends Joanne and Suzie (above in photo) made blocks, and two weeks ago, I cut the blocks into quarters, traded them all around, sewed them back together and then, with sashing I made, put the quilt top together.  Joanne quilted and bound the quilt, and yesterday, we were able to present the quilt to Lonny.

I was a real moment.  Just for a moment, he was a child embracing his 'blankie'.  I believe this quilt will help heal the ravages of war. 

I'm so thankful to have blessed a soldier.

(detail shot of blocks and quilting)

Here's another quilt, a sample for Greenbaum'

this is a new line of fabric by MoMo for Moda, 'Oh Deer'--

I quilted scallops onto it, and this is all scrunched up after washing.  Very cute, and now hanging at the shop. (Greenbaum's Quilted Forest-Salem, OR)

I did make two more samples for the shop--but did I take photos?  nope!  so, I guess that'll be another post.

(ha!  and I'm always thinking I have nothing to say!)

Today, I read Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's (Art Journal Every Day) blog, guest bloggers Lori Wostl & Lorri Flint (who started the Art Camp for Women retreats in Colorado), referred to Sarah Whitmire's Soul Journaling site as an awesome free online site for beginning art journalers.  I went over there, and checked it out, and they were RIGHT!

I was inspired to finally, truly BEGIN!

Fortunately, I had in my truck, miscellaneous jounaling items, including a book I'd made about 2 years ago in a class, and had never made a mark in.
I'd recently put the book in my truck to MAKE SURE to use it...

(but I didn't want to 'wreck' it!) 

"CARPE DIEM!"  I say!

So, following Sarah's prompts for Day 1, I tore paper, and covered six or more pages with random paper, glue-sticking along, then let it dry. 

Next, using Sarah's prompts, I wrote on the pages, covering them with my thoughts.  Here are my photos:


Look!  The 'Process' has begun!
I'm WAY excited and thinking that if I complete Sarah's 22 days of
Soul Journal prompts, that art journaling won't be so
'scary' or intimidating to me, and I will finally be on my way.
for years now, I've been admiring Art Journals, and been intrigued by them.
White pages Would Intimidate me
What to Say?
Who would Care?
How to Keep Up?
Guess What?  I'll try this and see what happens!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Crazy, Summer Not!

Hi Friend,

I'm really embarrassed that I haven't been keeping up with my blog.  I've been working, and trying to fit in quilting, and friends, and the Sisters Quilt Show, and church, and devotionals, and a couple weekends with my daughter, and Oh Yeah, a quilt class or two, and a paper crafting class or two!

There might have been some sleep in there!

and a doggie parade (last night at Greenbaum's!)


I finally figured out 'Words With Friends'--so I have 3 select friends I currently play with.

If you are a person who is not too competitive, and doesn't have to SMASH someone else in order to win,

we can talk!

anyway, yesterday was August 1--holy COW!  how did that happen?!

I'm not ready for Christmas!  

(I only say that because you and I both know that once it gets to this point--
it's 'just around the corner'!)

                                                              blech!  the commercialism!

it's like biting on a piece of tinfoil!

                           BUT!  That's not what I wanted to write about--

I did something this week that I've always wanted to do...I signed up a couple weeks ago for a Postcard Exchange!

I read a beautiful blog called, 'Kandeland'--written by Natalea Kandefer.

I don't know where I saw it, or how I got there, but it is fun, and she is a great artist, and I've been reading her for about a month.

Natalea asked for people who were interested in a postcard exchange, to comment, and sign up, and I decided to try it. 

I had an idea to  make my own, and as I did I took photos, so you can see how all the parts came together. 

I was making something out of almost nothing! 

So my little postcards...They're going all over the United States!

New Mexico,


                                       New York,

                                                                      North Carolina...

Each person is sending one to the other seven people.  They are to be 'arty' in some way, and have an affirming or inspirational quote.

So here's the sequence...

Old file folders, cut to standard (4" x 6") postcard size...

A really cool vintage image (artist unknown),
sent out by Women Who Create

the colors reminded me of Maxfield Parrish's art--YUM!

I wasn't sure how copied images would work being 'Mod-Podged' onto the
file folder base, but after a 'test' image, it worked fine.

(no smearing of color!)

Two coats of Mod-Podge--ON!

Let's make the back of the card!  Cardstock in a luscious
Periwinkle (matches my House!), cut to the 4" x 6"
size.  I finally got to use my

official 'POSTCARD' rubber stamp!

An awesome quote on Happiness from the

site (arranged by moods and attributes!)


the discovery Tuesday morning, that although I thought I had ALL THE FRONTS, and ALL THE BACKS

I had lost some backs, and had to 'punt'

to make the August 1 mailing date!

eeek!  had to use some renegade complimentary paper on two of them, and remake 3 other backs out of the periwinkle scraps.

I did debate for a time about actually using my sewing machine to
stitch the papers together, and 'grunge them up',
but after the Mod-Podge of the layers, and fronts to backs,
they were really sturdy, and I didn't think it would add to the
effect I wanted. 




I used some Tim Holtz 'Crushed Grape' Distress Ink
on the edges to add depth.

Here she is- almost done!

for my last step, I used a gold pen, and inked around the edges,
to top it off!

Can't wait to see what ARTSY THINGS are headed toward me!

Before I Close...

a Quilt from the Sisters Quilt Show...

this took my breath away.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Follow Your Heart!

Hi Friend!

How's your day been?  I've spent the last week or so, still recovering from my illness...the virus 'going around'--and was finally able this last weekend to do nothing but SLEEP!

What a gift THAT WAS!!

To have two days lost to sleep brings a load of rumminess --where am I?!--mental fragility--who am I?--and a little spurt of Creativity!

I can do a little something, but not a huge project yet!

So, in the spirit of sharing, I will show off my 'little'  (2 1/2" x 3 3/4") book; originally gifted me a couple years ago by a artsy friend.

When I received it, I thought the little handmade treasure charming, but I was also a little put off--I loved the idea of it, but it wasn't quite 'me'.  I couldn't imagine what it was...

hmmm, was it the color on the front? 

                           (not much on 'rust' and earth-tones...)

was it the pages with the little stamped sayings, about stamping, following the muse, and hearing voices?


half of the pages were completely blank!

                                  (equals no color!  and I'm a total COLOR person!)

maybe it was a little bit of everything?


The book is so cute, was begging for bling!

So, taking the reins the other day, I imagined my friend Sharon would be happy for me to add the love to the little book she'd gifted me, and it would also be a tool in my recuperation.  I'm thankful to have friends who gift me handmade treasures like this...

Using copies of 'Where Women Cook' and 'Digital Studios,' both by Somerset, and a few little trinkets I had, I made this into 'My Heart Book'!!

I first covered up the rust ribbon on the front cover...little strip of scrap paper--green!  That's it!  equals 'growth'...

then, a little red heart made in an art class...melted embossing powder in a mold!  FUN!  

(I know it told me to follow my muse, but i'm not sure who that was /
'follow my heart' felt more 'me'--at least right now!)

open it up...
a couple quotes from 'Where Women Cook'--old issues--and they always have inspirational quotes.

Next page:

i love silver linings in clouds if we look closely enough, don't you?!

you can see the original stamp here, and I added little stickers which might be 'my' four out of five voices! the top page, a little Mary Engelbreit 'cherries' paper, with a little dab of chocolate 'love'!

This stamp really seemed to allude to all the chatter in the universe, and the black and white paper was a perfect foil to that, plus adding a Bible verse, and the little cutout from an old poster (1920's clip art), which seems to be like God watching over all.)

this little paper on the left was cut from a fabric sales catalog, and I added all the little hand-drawn flowers to the stamp on the right.  I'll color some in later on with my watercolor pencils.

I can laugh a bit about voices not being real, but I also prefer the positive creative, inspiring ones!  Used the clipping from a poster by 'My Concrete Sky'--a fantastic blog!  (check it out!)

Here's a little flip-up which reveals the original stamp, and a photo of 'nest'-which to me illustrates my 'little world' (my little purple house!) and those who know me there--me, myself, and I; plus the kitty=Maggie!

loved this little quote....felt really good to me...the book is coming together!

and then!  A little bit of Divine Intervention!

A little ATC made by Stephanie Voss, on page 61 of the latest Digital Studios, resonated with me!  loved the art, but it wouldn't fit!  Undaunted--I trimmed it, folded it, and taped it in.  the quote shows on the front (above-photo 1), the  little boy running on the sand was a photo on the back side of the ATC! (divine intervention!!), and then Stephanie's Art Trading Card is the next fold-over page!

It extends on the left above the cover--I used her legs upside down at the top of the page, along w/ the stars from the trading card.  The Bingo number is mine, a little wooden bling, which is the date of my birth!

Isn't this FUN!!?

(one of my favoritest things about altered art is 'going outside the lines'--I LOVE having things off the canvas, outside the edges of the book; inviting the viewer to relax, and get involved)

(clipped from 'Women Who Cook')

Look at these roasted cherry tomatoes ...YUM!

and I cracked up when I saw the WC Fields quote--

can we ever laugh enough?

Well now, you gotta love the 'Hokey Pokey'--but I'm thinking for my little
happy book about things i love, that I'll just put those right here!...found the inside of a greeting card with a hand-written message from my Dad--I don't find those very often (Mom usually does the writing), and a quote from Susan Branch, then opposite;

 a little tag with a silver heart charm, and on the tag, all sorts of fun things I LOVE: dark chocolate, cozy jammies, smell of cut grass, etc....

(a little bowl of berry-love from (Where Women Cook')
once  you sample a red raspberry, and the flavor of summer bursts in your mouth...

                                                         really, is Life that Complicated?!

Well, we're on the last page, and here's what it's really all about (to me):

"Live Each Day On Purpose"

(like you're MEANT to do it!)

to me, the cross is symbolic of What I'm here for,  and

Why I do the things I do


Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Got A Re-Alignment!

Hi Friend!

So glad you stopped much is happening in my life--i'm excited to share a little bit...!

Almost two weeks ago, I was struck by the 'bug going around' that seems to be a laryngitis/sinusitis/parasitis!  that 'everyone else' seems to have.  Now, don't get the heebie-jeebies on me; because i'm on the downhill-getting better side!

(normally, in my case, 'it' goes right into sinusitis, and i'm laid-out in a coma of exhaustion...however, this time, on Day 2 and 3, I WAS achy and BLECH, BUT--something was different. )

Know when you get to that coughing incessantly stage?  (oh--THAT!)  Well, at night in my 'I'm coughing-my-head-off' times;

I ALSO had times of:

Great Creativity! 
Cleaning Frenzies!
Fascinating Colorful Dreams! 

and now you're thinking:

'WOW!  I want what SHE's having!'

i say two things:

1- Like the old 'Ronco' commercials:
"you can't buy this in ANY store!"

2- I think this adventure was a ticket admitting only ONE.

The evolution of this week has brought me closer to God--and in my case, that means 'leaning into him' --so much so, that yesterday, I realized with the limited amount of sleep I've gotten each night in the past week,

yet STILL being able to continue with all my work obligations--

I must have leaned SO hard into God (depended on Him so much),

that my feet were actually off the ground;

He carried me;


(in some oblique way, I knew what 'sustenance' was...yet when this concept hit me yesterday, I instantly gasped, then, 'WOW!' and 'THANK YOU, GOD'!)

each night (in my illness), I have been shown concepts / ideas / discoveries about myself and my relationship to God, and by becoming closer to Him, I have been able to let go of some past hurts, and in that; cleaning away mental, and spiritual 'sand' or dirt.

you know,

in the Bible; when it tells us not to condemn someone else for the sliver in their eye, while we have a PLANK in our own?! 

(hahahaha!  I SO love that--the mental picture has made me crack up since I was a child)

I am a positive person, and try to encourage others,

but somehow in my altered state of illness and lack of sleep,

the connection between mental dirt, and tangible dirt/dust was made!

so--the cleaning jags!  Each night:

Laundry was done! 

Junk Drawers cleaned out! 

Old magazines sorted and shared! 

A quilt I made without a 'home'--given away!

Plants watered!  Old nail polish removed!

I moved the couch and cleaned underneath!  This is like... 3:00 am one night!  Poor Maggie the cat!  She dashed and darted around- watching in disbelief--'What IS Mama DOING!?'

At first I thought i was just 'finding something to do'--later on, I connected the dust/dirt idea, and it became energizing:

As I clean away the 'flotsam' in my life, I am better able to shine my light for God= both as a reflection back TO Him,

AND; TO others= as a reflection OF Him!

in one instant two things happened: 

I yelled out loud--


and Then, I BURST out laughing--

(I have ALWAYS HATED TO DUST!  What's the point?!  Aren't the little motes just dancing and laughing at us in the sunbeams, as they waft around, and land not TWO INCHES FROM WHERE THEY WERE?!!)

If you are a believer, what does God call us to do?


the things we may not be good at, or avoid-- because we 'don't wanna'.

So--along with smiling, laughing, being positive and encouraging, and trying to help others (my favorite things); I am called to the drudgery of DUSTING  (my mom and daughter are laughing convulsively right now!!  yeah, yeah-- I love you both!)

which, to me, seems like the most pointless-annoying-stupid-irritating thing EVER!


I've been telling people my whole life that I believe God has a sense of humor

Guess WHAT?!!

I'm celebrating my front-row seat to His show!!

Have a fantastic day!