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Monthly Archives: October 2007

Unexpected Disney

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There are several things you may not expect to see at Disney World – especially if you’ve never been there.  While most people take pictures of themselves in front of Cinderella’s castle or hugging Mickey Mouse, we tend to take a different approach (well, we do have a couple of castle pictures).  Following is a slightly off-kilter photographic doccumentary of our recent trip to Disney World full of things you may not expect to see in the land of mouse (and maybe a couple things you do):

Tie-dyed cheesecake and a tongue to match


A very unwelcoming sign (10 points to anyone who can tell me where this sign hangs)


Folk dancers from the Dominican Republic


Randy has become a “rocket scientist”


A  pile of headstones from Nepal


Mount Everest


Asian merchant boat


Jumbo the Elephant


Heads in a cage


A cool Asian Coke sign and a bicycle


Deer have learned to walk upright 


Decadent yarns decorating the ceiling of a Moroccan market


Randy and Kim on the Bus – on the way to eat at Chefs de France


Drunken Stained Glass

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Special Note: Thanks so much everyone for all of your support and well wishes for my mom and family.  We appreciate all of it!  This post will be short as things have been busy around our neck of the woods lately and I am way tired!

So I am an artist.  Or maybe I should say, arteeest.  I think I need to go purchase a beret to make it official.  (Because that is how you can tell someone is an artist, right?)

My foray into the art world began when I taught my friend Chris how to knit.  It just so happens that she creates a lot of awesome art including paintings.  Since turnabout is fair play, Chris helped me paint my first ever real painting after I helped her master the knit stitch.


I call it Drunken Stained Glass for obvious reasons.  I wanted something abstract because the pressure of having to paint something that actually looks like a real life object was too daunting.  So squares seemed to fit the bill.  I can make squares.


Originally I was going to hang it in my bedroom but it looked better in the living room so I relocated the living room artwork into the bedroom and here we are.  I like the warm, glowy colors.  Of course I tend to focus on all the bits of imperfection when I look at it and I have no idea if its kind of cool or the type of thing that a “real” artist would look at and roll their eyes.  But its doing the job in our living room right now and its kind of cool to have something I made hanging on the wall!

I Heart Mom

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My Mom…..


…..used to write notes on our napkins when she made our lunches – always ending with “xoxo, Mom”

…..made a family dinner every night and always took the time to transfer the food from pots and pans to serving dishes even when it was just us

…..would sit and talk it out with me for hours when I was depressed and angst-filled as a teenager

… us story after story when we were little and even read aloud longer books to us when we were older to help us releive boredom


…..helped me type out long term papers before I mastered my keyboarding skills

…..made me strawberry smoothies to eat on the way to classes so I wouldn’t skip breakfast in college

…..will stop anything she’s doing to help me when I need it

… me funny stories all day long because it was the only thing that kept me from crying during a particurlarly nasty sinus infection


…..made me french toast for dinner when I got home from the hospital because my last words before surgery were “I waaant frennnch toast”

…..always makes me feel special and important and wanted

…..taught us to always say kind words and be slow to anger

…..always put her needs last to accomodate us

…..was the mom all my friends in high school wanted to adopt as their own

…..has a never-ending supply of patience with a daughter who’s supply often runs low

… everything I want to be as a future mom

…..has ovarian cancer

A lot has happened since I last blogged – Rany is on another trip to Belgium, we went to Disney World………………but its all been overshadowed by the earth stopping, still unfathomable to me news – first a tumor spotted, then a hysterectomy, then word that it is….cancer – an aggressive, quick moving cancer.  You never realize what a scary word “oncologist” is until a family member has to go visit one.  The world seems cold and random and hopeless when these events transpire in your family.

But the news is good, despite the scare of this ordeal.  The cancer was in the earliest stage possible- a stage much earlier than they usually ever detect.  The tumor was completely contained in the intact ovary which was removed.  My mom is recovering from surgery at a lightning fast speed (case in point: she came home from the hospital on Thursday and decided to clean out the fridge on Friday – that’s my mom!).

So I am still trying to make sense of everything – and I doubt I will ever be able to.  As you can see from my above testimony, my mom doesn’t deserve to be sick and this couldn’t have happened to a sweeter, nicer person.  But then there are so many people who can say the same things about their sick family member.  And many, many people have it so much worse than we do.  As per usual I am looking to my mom for inspiration on how to keep the faith during this time.  Of course she has her down days – surgery is hard and facing chemotherepy is scary.  But I am amazed every day by her attitude and her faith and, as always, I’m making it my goal to be just like mom. 


Lonely Autumn

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Randy is in Belgium…….Belgium!  On business.  And I have been reduced to a lonely, pitiful shell of a person.  I tend to go a little mad when I am alone too long and this is the longest we have parted since we got married five years ago.  Luckily, I have had some diversions thanks to my friends and family including a visit to my grandparents house (hi Grandma and Grandpa!), releasing my “inner artist” with Chris (more on that next post), and the following adventures out on the farm with my sister, Kelli.


We were both craving some fall atmosphere after our searingly hot, parched, and long summer, so we set off to Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is near Dayton, to Young’s Jersey Dairy  for their Fall Pumpkin Festival.  And we were not the only ones – the farm was crawling with people, its ice cream parlor with lines of customers pouring out the door at least 20 people deep.  We were lucky to score a very close parking space and were greeted with the scenes we so viscerally yearned for…..wide, crisp, blue skies, rusty-red barns, green fields, mountains of pumpkins.


We strolled along the paths of the farm and were delighted to find a goat petting zoo full of little characters eager to meet their public and receive treats from those who sprang for the $0.25 goat snacks dispensed by gumball machines next to the pens.  We didn’t indulge their appetites, but we did stroke their egos by making quite a fuss over them


These goats were all watching a group of lively children with great interest, no doubt hoping they would come closer and shower them with tastey treats.  I’ve not spent much time with goats, but these reminded me of dogs – eager to show off and be fussed over.  I think I would like goats if I got to know them.


After making friends with the goats we checked out some of the produce and considered purchasing this “snake gourd”.  I have never seen anything like it and at $2.00 it seemed like a bargain.  I had visions of painting eyes and a split tongue on it and displaying it on my porch along with pumpkins.  In the end my laziness won out and I decided not to lug it out to the car with me.


After enjoying juicy, handmade caramel apples, Kelli and I journeyed on down the road to Peifer Orchards, a cozy and picture perfice little spot we happened to find as we drove by. 


Their store is in an old barn packed with atmosphere but not overdone.  I was happily surprised to find a large display of handmade socks for sale at crazy low prices – I wish I had taken a picture.  They also host  quilt shows and sell locally made quilts from time to time.


In the end, Kelli and I both purchased mini hay bales and I got five pie pumpkins to use in my fall decorating.  More pictures of that later (my fall decor masterpiece is not yet fully complete!)


From the Orchard we were lured next door, to Stutzman’s Nursery and Animal Refuge .  At first we were attracted by the mums bursting with color and the picturesque displays of huge pumpkins perched on hay bales atop large, wooden wagons.  We didn’t know that we were, in fact, stepping into a mini-zoo.  A beautiful and eclectic spot where chickens and cats roam around with the customers, tending to their young among the pansies and black-eyed-susans that were watiting for gardeners to take them home.


As well as identifyable birds like chikens and peacocks, we were acquainted with several members of the poultry family that I can only describe as chicken-duck hybrids.  They literally look like the offspring of star-crossed chicken and duck couples – with chicken-esque faces, duck bodies, and webbed feet with chicken-like claws/talons (what is the right lingo for chicken toes?).  Strangely enough, we have history with these strange birds.  During college we would frequent a small local lake where we enjoyed feeding the ducks.  We made friends with an outcast – a chicken/duck hybrid we named…..what else….Chuck.  He was there every time we went and we always saved some bread especially for him.  We never thought we’d run into some of his cousins.





It turnes out that the animal refuge houses and adopts out llamas, horses, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, rhea, emus, chickens and roosters, turkeys, peacocks, Indian runner ducks, rabbits, a tarantula, cats, iguanas, and fish.  We didn’t see all of these animals, but we did meet some goats and iguanas.  Luckily we didn’t encounter the tarantula, but we were warned about the apparently ferocious frogs.  


We left the nursery and refuge feeling charmed and lugging a cart full of big pumpkins (two apiece for our porches) and scads of mini-gourds.  It really was the perfect autumn day – the colorful, simple sights, the campfire smell in the air, the crisp blue horizon….the only thing it was missing was Randy.