• sisters on a mission.

  • Three sisters. One in Virginia. One in London. One in New York. None of whom wear shorts. Ever.

  • the mission?

    Taking delight.
    Learning Italian.
    Getting to Italy.
    Wearing shorts.
    In Italy.
    June 2011.

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zen and the art of marble making

I love to learn – especially if it involves making things.  Crafty things to be specific.  So, when my friend MK suggested taking a class on marble making at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond I was intrigued.   I had never taken a class there and had never dealt with glass and/or torches so this would be something completely new for me.  And in my book, new = fun (at least 85% of the time).

In preparation, we checked out on-line tutorials and you-tube demonstrations to get a better idea of what we were getting ourselves into.  Now, I have to admit, I’m a confident crafter.  That is, I go into things assuming I’ll be able to do it and do it well.  Unfortunately I’m also a perfectionist with sometimes often ridiculously high standards.  Turns out MK and I have a lot in common in that arena.

By the time we got to class, we were both a little worried.   Our research showed us that marble making looked hard.  And potentially dangerous what with the fire and shards of glass.  Nonetheless we got ourselves together, put on our sexy safety glasses and selected our spots across from each other at the worktable.

Brad, our instructor, made it look easy as he turned a long thin rod of colored glass into a perfect sphere, adding contrasting dots for flair.  The tools: a torch, a metal rod, tongs, and a half spherical mold.  Now it was our turn.

Step One: selecting the glass.   I fiddled around and around and finally, in a panic to get started, chose a translucent blue for the base and red for the dots.  So very all-American.

Step Two: turning on the torch.  I’m pleased to say I successfully avoided singeing any part of my body as I finessed the mix of propane and oxygen to get the perfect flame the first time out (although, I did manage a wicked long flame on my next attempt).

Step Three: making the marble.  I would like to say that I was able to accomplish this with the skill of a zen master but that would be a big fat lie.  Instead, with the metal rod in a death-grip in my left hand and a glass rod held like a fragile pencil in my right hand, I held my breath and began the twisting dance of melting the glass onto the rod.  The once-pliable muscles in my shoulders gave way to rock hard knots as I slowly created an unsightly molten lump on the end of the metal stick.   The only thing that made me feel marginally better was that MK looked like she was in the same boat.

Deep breaths.  In.  Out.   In.  Out.  Now, into the flame to try to round this sucker out.  Finally after a few minutes it started to look like a little balloon.  Back out of the flame and a quick swish around the mold and OMG it was starting to look like a marble!

OK, OK need to calm down and add the red dots.  First one on – so far so good.  Second one – still good.  Third one – CRAP!  I botched it, leaving a trail that turned my dot into a sperm.  OK, shake it off.  This is your first marble, no one expects it to be perfect.  What to do?  Ah ha!  I’ll just make a bigger dot to cover it.  Brilliant.

More flame work, more swishing and finally I was ready for the dismount.  This is literally a make it or break it point.  I won’t bore you with the sordid details but suffice to say it’s tricky and stressful for the uninitiated.  But finally it was done and I deposited my round(ish) patriotic ball of glass into the kiln with a sigh of relief.

We made five marbles that day, each successively more complicated.  A lunch break of sushi and pep talks kept us going but by the end of the day we were wiped out.

I confess that when I first pulled them out of the kiln, I immediately focused on the  imperfections.  But then I stopped, looked at them as a whole and thought about the journey.   And now I can honestly say that my little band of marbles makes me happy.  I guess that acceptance is my moment of zen.


she finally had a chair

Well I’m back from a glorious long weekend in Boulder!  Actually, I’m tardy – it was last weekend but never mind that.  The weather was beautiful, the food was fantastic and good times were had by all.  The only downside was that the lacing mechanism on my new hiking shoes broke and I resorted to hiking four hours in the Rockies in my slip-on Merrell Mary Janes.  Yeesh.

No bears were sighted but bear hair was in abundance on the trail.  In fact we saw no prairie dogs, no bobcats, no nothin’ except for a lone woodpecker.  But we did encounter plenty of hikers and runners, including one guy running in huarache sandals.  We turned around at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and took a little tour before heading back.   A little bit of trivia for you – Woody Allen climbed down the side of the building in the film “Sleeper”.  But enough of that.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a slide show so here you go:

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We also had some yum, yum, yummy ginger cake at the Boulder Tea House.

mmm...ginger cake

The building was a gift from Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan.  Beautiful.

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

So glad I was able to go and experience Boulder.  But, the best part was just hanging out, relaxing and having a good dose of girl talk.  Must do that more often.

The great thing about traveling, especially alone, is that it allows plenty of guilt-free time to catch up on reading.   So, I zipped through a few more chapters of No Ordinary Time.  I know this is a book about FDR and Eleanor but the more I read, the more I empathize and want to know about Eleanor.   Sure it’s interesting to learn about FDR and get insight into his character but, so far, I’m on the fence about what I think of him.

On the one hand, he’s the husband who lets his mother dominate him and doesn’t make the effort to secure a seat for his wife at the dinner table or near the fireplace – instead leaving her to find a chair wherever she could.  It was not until Val-Kill that she finally had a chair of her own.  I don’t know if I would have put up with that.  More likely, I’d have brought in my own damn chair and smacked a label with my name on it.

On the other hand, he respected Eleanor enough to speak for him at the Democratic National Convention, basically saving his nomination.  And I didn’t read anything about advisors reviewing her speeches prior to that or any other event.  That’s trust.

I’m interested to see how this all unfolds.

ready for adventure

Boulder, CO

I was already excited about my upcoming trip to Boulder next weekend to visit a BFF and then I pulled up the forecast.  Woot!  Perfect weather for our plan to:

and shop
and shop

and rent bikes if the weather holds.

(fingers crossed that no more wild fires will threaten the area)

As usual before travel, I have started obsessing over what to take.  Do I have the right bag?  Do I need a NEW bag (any excuse)?  No, no I need new hiking shoes more than I need a new bag.  Do I have the right jacket?  And on and on.  Gah!

Anyway, just a few days before I’m due to leave, I have finally found a good pair of shoes and will be returning the cute, but unnecessary, bag I bought at Macy’s during my initial travel spin-up frenzy.   I’ll be needing that cash anyway to buy trinkets in Boulder, right?

So the shoes.  I don’t know if I’ve every mentioned how much I hate shopping for shoes.  The problem, as I see it, is that shoe manufacturers cater to people with average to wide feet.  So a girl with long skinny feet [raises hand] has to resort to all manner of trickery to get a shoe to stay on her foot.   I’m talking inserts, thick socks, special lacing techniques.  That also means I frequently end up trying every shoe in my size in the store to find something that will work.  Time consuming enough in terms of sheer quantity but even more so when you factor in the switching out of inserts, changing up the lacing, etc., etc.

I heart my new kicks

Despite all of that, and thanks to the lovely folks at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, I finally settled on a pair of Merrel Siren Sport hiking boots.  They are comfy, grippy, light-weight and not bad looking as hiking shoes go.  I’ll keep you posted on how they do on the rocky Boulder terrain.

OK, I’m off to start sorting through my gear and clothes.  And maybe take a shower since it’s already noon and I can’t seem to rustle up the energy to work out.    Sheesh.

barking dogs in London

Hey hey hey!  I’m in London, visiting Cathlin and her family. Having a fantastic time as expected and so far the weather has been lovely.  Since I arrived on Saturday, we have been running around NON-STOP.  Not that I’m complaining.  But we’ve been so busy, this is the first quiet moment I’ve had to sit down, give my feet a break and blog.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow of the last four days but will pass along some highlights.

Portobello Rd. Market, Notting Hill –  so crowded with tourists we could barely make our way down the street.   We persevered though and I came away with two brilliant scarves (just practicing my brit-speak) and some trinkets to add to my jewelry making supplies.

BrickLane and Spitalfields Markets – it was too nice a day so we blew off our planned 4 hour round-trip train ride to Stratford upon Avon and did some power walking in London instead.  Went out of our way to get a much hyped but underwhelming bagel with cream cheese (we ate only half).  Made up for it with a delicious cinnamon and sugar churro from a street vendor (we shared – should have bought two).  Bought matching Mad Men-esque dresses (black for Cathlin, gray for me).   Vintage heaven if you’re into that kind of thing.  Lunch at Waga Mama’s – yum.

London Walking tour – another beautiful day so we headed out by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, across the river and then along the banks of the Thames.  Lunch on the terrace at the OXO building overlooking the city.  Found a fantastic shop (henrietta park) in a tiny pink kiosk filled with silk dresses and wool coats in beautiful saturated colors.  Um, yes, we spent a fair bit of time (and money) in there.  But that was the only shopping we did yesterday, I swear.   Except for some matching leggings to go with our previously mentioned matching dresses.

Museums and Swanky neighborhoods – Cathlin had to work today so I was on my own to check out the Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A (worth the price).  Wandered around Kings Road and Sloane Square, admiring the posh houses and avoiding out-of-my-league designer shops.  Did have a moment of weakness at the Radley store whilst considering an orange handbag that was not on the sales shelf.  Took a picture and decided to think it over.  Met Cathlin and the boys at their school and headed home for Neapolitan pizza in their neighborhood.  And then gelato.  Hey, I’m on vacation.

Running – to counteract all the food excess, Cathlin and I got up at 5:30 this morning to run for 27 minutes and 22 seconds.  We saw a fox, the milkman, and smelly trash – just as Cathlin described in one of her posts (I’d link to it but I’m in a bit of a food coma right now)!  We’re going to try to get in one more run before our Race for Life 5K at Finsbury Park on Sunday.

And now, I will attempt to add a slide show of a few less than stellar pics I took with my blackberry because after the first day I got tired of carrying a separate camera.

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ordinary adventures.

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From the Jolly Green Giant in Minn, to the ranches of Wyoming, to the Badlands of South Dakota, to our first house in Boise, ID, to the stage door of the theater where I directed my first play…our roadtrip of life’s ordinary adventures is proving to be truly extraordinary.

And. I’m finally joining my sisters in graduating from the C25K program. Tuesday morning, Park City UT.  In an area that was part of the Olympic Village in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Extraordinary.

searching for the perfect bubble bums

If, while perusing your blog stats, you discovered that someone had found your site via the search engine terms “bubble bums” what would you do? If you are like me you would:

  1. chuckle.
  2. google it immediately.
  3. search through 15 pages of booster seats, male buttocks surgery implants, advice on achieving a bum like Beyonce and all manner of sites dedicated to cataloging said bums to finally find the link to your own humble blog.
  4. marvel that someone looking for the perfect bubble bum reference would be intrigued enough to click on your link – although I can imagine that the excerpt shown below would be titillating for someone on this particular quest.

Page 15

I wonder if they were disappointed?  Alas, they didn’t leave a comment so we’ll never know.

I love the internet.


Graduation comes in all sorts of ways. This week, my daughter graduated from 8th grade. Next year, she’s in high school. I can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday she was graduating from 5th grade, and she was  stressed about having to figure out how to use a locker with a combination when she got to middle school the next year. Now her concerns center around ensuring she maintains her unlimited text messaging privileges and if she can go on facebook. How she will change in high school — driving, dating, proms, college. I can’t wait.

I was hoping to have graduated from the C25K program this week, too. But, alas, I’m still in week 8, after repeating week 6 several times and delaying the uninterrupted running sessions I knew were coming. Though…Congratulations to Cathlin for graduating! And it sounds like you are finally truly enjoying your 30 minute runs. Look how far we’ve come! I’m still not to the enjoying running part yet. And this morning I felt like an elephant. But I trust that day will come and thanks for the inspiration, sisters. I want to graduate, too. And I need to do it before our cross-country roadtrip. I have until July 6.

I’ve also discovered that no new shoes, new song, new device, new route, time of day, energy drink can be as powerful a motivator as your Mind.  The mind-body connection is so purely connected when running. I can tell myself to quit (for so many reasons, I’m good at them) or I can tell myself to keep going. Despite tired legs, deer flies or humidity. I need to graduate from being controlled by my body and let go and love it.

“Strictly by accident, Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner’s aresenal: Instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well you’re not afraid of it anymore.” Born to Run

Oh. And here are my new running shoes. Yeah, the mind is everything. But I’m really digging the new shoes. Mizuno Ronin 2.