Category Archives: O/N it

Super Souper Bowl — O/N it 13

One of my favorite annual events is the “Souper Bowl” hosted by the ceramics program of Teton Arts Council.  It happens in early-mid November each year and seems to symbolize the transition from autumn to winter.

It’s a clever and delightful twist on a giant potluck. First, many volunteers create delectable belly-warming concoctions, filling tables full of slow-cookers and crockpots containing soups with descriptions like “vegan curry rice” and “bean-free chili” and “lemon chicken ravioli.”

Then, volunteers fill the entire City Hall entry way with a veritable smorgasbord osouper-bowl picf locally made ceramic bowls of every size and description, from brightly-colored to square to serious-looking. Every person who attends can choose their favorite bowl to use for their choices of soup that night– and then can take it home.

We have a whole collection of bowls from the last four years. Last year, Peter made soup; this year, he’s in Philly this week, so I’m on task Thursday to cook and take admission money at the bowl table.

Prizes are given for the best soup; the local music is always entertaining, kids love it, and 460 Bread donates their wonderful rolls. As a fundraiser it’s both affordable and fun — my favorite kind of community evening.

It’ll be a fun night.  See you there!


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What a legacy — O/N it 12

Eileen_1940s_Laundry_TWOToday would have been my mother’s 96th birthday. I found three special things to share in her honor.

The first is this photo, which I first saw when my cousin Laura Hall shared it at the “Uphoff Girls Only” reunion several years ago in Colorado.  No specifics on it, no idea where or exactly when it was taken: Laura’s slug just says “Eileen 1940s Laundry.” Isn’t she a cutie,though.  I love her big grin. I think this one’s quite a classic!

Secondly, I found a blog posted on quite a few years ago; I’d saved the page (not even sure how!) but I’m really glad I did since it’s no longer available on-line. I couldn’t find the passenger’s name, but I’ve cut and pasted part of what I saved. It describes Mom’s involvement in the Holland America “Gifts of Love” program (we’re absolutely certain that she’s the Eileen mentioned in the copy).

Day 9: Thursday, At Sea
It’s the second to the last day of my cruise, and I’m running out of time to try out some of the onboard activities… I scan the daily program, looking for something suitable. I decide to check out one of the more curious listings in the program. It’s called “Gifts of Love Yarn Distribution.” I assume this has something to do with knitting, a skill I have never acquired, although I did make a mean macrame pot holder in the Girl Scouts. I’ve seen some cheerful ladies knitting in the Explorer’s Lounge, and wonder if this is some type of knitting club.It turns out, the activity is a charitable endeavor. For the past several years, passengers on the Grand World Voyage have volunteered to knit items for needy children around the world. The beneficiary this year is an orphanage in Istanbul, Turkey, and Holland America donates yarn to anyone willing to knit for the orphans. A group of four ladies sitting in high-backed leather chairs spends the day knitting in the Explorer’s Lounge.They call themselves the “Happy Hookers,” and one of them, Eileen, knitted over 62 blankets on last year’s world cruise, along with 100 hats. She has completed 200 hats thus far on this year’s trip. When I chat with her this afternoon, she is knitting away, her hands flying over bright yellow yarn. Her companions, Trudy, Nelly and Florence, are doing the same. They’re all encouraging assistant cruise director, Vuk, as he busily completes a brightly colored blanket. “He’s a ‘happy hooker,’ too,” says Eileen.

The ladies, who rarely get off the ship, believe all the work is worthwhile. “Last year, the ship invited the children onboard. They serenaded us, and then we fed them ice cream in the Lido Restaurant. You should have seen the gratitude on their little faces,” Trudy says, with a smile. I promise that if I have time, I’ll return for some knitting lessons. “You know where to find us,” says Eileen.


Lastly, I just refound this photo of Mom (middle right center — she’s the only one in a black blouse) and the group of “Happy Hookers” from one of the cruises.

I don’t know specifically where this handcrafted bounty went, but I *do* know that she wrote us a postcard one year to say that what her group had created was all going to the children in an orphanage in Dubrovnik — and I loved knowing that when we were in Croatia in May. Just imagine, someone I saw or met there, in 2013, could have been a youngster who, years before, had been warmed by a blanket or hat that my very own mother had made….

This morning (while I was trying to find the link to the CruiseCritic piece), I saw a note online that said Holland America stopped the “Gifts of Love” program in 2010 because the gift-giving became too much paperwork for the company. Sad.

From doing laundry on the porch right on through to hand-making blankets and hats on the cruise-line, what marked my mother’s life was “Service with a Smile.”  Now that’s a legacy to aspire to!

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Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, O/N it, Scrapbook

Subbing — O/N it 11

Being in front of a classroom as a substitute teacher is always a learning experience. The last day I subbed, at Teton High in mid-October, I decided to capture bits of the day, and found inspiration on several levels — from the students, from various signs, and from staff and teachers.

I always leave knowing a little bit more about the way young people see the world — and about myself.

This IMG_2078hallway poster, above a classroom door, encourages punctuality; in fact, where just about everything else runs on “Teton Valley time” — it seems like just about every event begins at least ten minutes late around here — at the high school, the bells ring right wIMG_2077hen they are supposed to, and everyone hustles between classes.   My travel-agent parents would have approved.

I loved that this second one was on a classroom door, rather than in a locker room; the message, to go outside one’s own expectations, certainly applies to a wider audience than athletes.
And this oIMG_2079ne, a reminder to limit personal destructive behaviors, outlines expectations of every student.

Every time I’m at one or another of the schools, I’m struck by something new. This time, it was an over-sized mural painted on the main wall between the office area and the cafeteria.IMG_2074
I asked one of the teachers if it had special significance: no, she said, just the idea of breaking free to find what’s in the world outside…. I liked that, too.

Be sure to notice it next time you’re there; it’s opposite the doors to the gym and just past where the classroom corridors veer off to the north and south.


When you’re a sub, you rely a lot on school personnel.  They are incredibly helpful about procedures and AV problems and the schedule and answering general questions. I don’t sub that often, so I’m always glad to see the smiling faces at the THS office; neither Regina Beard nor Trudy Treasure were that excited about me taking a picture of them, but I caught them in action, anyway. And teacher Rose Hendricks helped in a pinch about how to deal with the classroom computer.

And lastly, I remember just how vulnerable we are in the early parts of our lives….. and that a little growing up goes a long way. On that beautiful fall Friday, I had one class of seniors (Economics) and two classes of sophomores (World Issues).  IMG_2083The lesson plans provided by Troy Miskin weren’t that different but students’ attitudes and the content they prepared certainly were. The seniors were attentive, interested, engaged on a higher level intellectually — the underclassmen — well, not necessarily so much so. Here’s the last class rarin’ to be dismissed at 3:09 pm.
Oh, it doesn’t seem possible that I roamed a high school’s halls as a student more than 40 years ago!  But I’m glad I’ve had the chance to rub shoulders with those in local academia at least every so often.

Perhaps subbing is as much a humbling experience as it a learning one.

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Desert delights — O/N it 10

I had such a great visit with my sisters in Arizona in September! And it was a gorgeous time to travel there.

I have always loved the Southwest, and it had been a long time since I’d enjoyed the particular light and colors of the desert environment.

On an afternoon when we’re having snow and wind (admittedly with a few bursts of bright sunshine) here — well, it’s nice to again see some of these things, then growing in Tubac,  from garden roses to potted plants, plenty of sidewalk cactus and even a palm tree.

I also especially appreciate the play of shadows on building walls.

So lovely!

IMG_1931 IMG_1939 IMG_1947 IMG_1948 IMG_1959 IMG_1847 IMG_1848 IMG_1884 IMG_1885 IMG_1887 IMG_1889 IMG_1890 IMG_1893

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Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, O/N it, other finds

Re-touched, O/N it 9

Two weeks ago, I mentioned to Betty VanNewkirk, a dear friend who has recently moved back to Teton Valley, that I always carry a small notebook with me when we travel.  I showed her the one I picked up recently and had shared with her that I was concerned it wasn’t big enough for my scribbles and that it wouldn’t last our next three-week trip.

Voila, the next day, when I returned home from a trip to town, I found a package of two small Moleskin journals sitting on the kitty box on our porch. The paper is even lined, just like I prefer.

Moved to tears, I called Betty to say thanks. I was pretty sure that she was my secret angel. She thought maybe I wouldn’t know it had been her!

moleskin_journalHere they are, along with the (banged-up and full) tiny composition book I used last fall on our South American trip.

I promise not to use my blog to thank every nice gesture, but this one of Betty’s, like the rocks from Susan Lykes that I wrote about yesterday, deserves special notice…. because these gifts represent such consideration and careful listening and caring. But then again, isn’t that ALWAYS what “surprise gifts” are all about?

Big and small, they matter all.

After I hit publish on my last blog post, I had immediately remembered so many OTHER people to recognize and to thank for artwork stuff. And this morning I woke up thinking of so many heartwarming surprises that are NOT jewelry-and-junk related — starting with the journals from Betty.

I am incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful, generous people in my life.

How to thank each of them? I’m not exactly sure. But what a wonderful “problem” to try to solve!

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Touched — O/N it 8

Surprise gifts are always a pleasure, and I’ve had some real doozies!  Topping the list: the set of rings Peter gave to me the holiday we spent in Greece (I thought we’d agreed to forego exchanging presents). I think my jaw dropped nearly to the sidewalk, when in the most romantic spot imaginable, in the shade of the Acropolis on Christmas Eve, he pulled a treasure box from his jacket!

Other surprise gifts aren’t nearly as dramatic but just as welcome. On Wednesday, at the strategic planning session of the Community Foundation of Teton Valley, my friend and fellow board member Susan Lykes pulled a Zip-loc bag from her purse for me; it was full of little rocks she’d collected for me on a recent fishing trip to Alaska.

photo 2Here they are. The only big one was distinctively heart-shaped. All of them had stripes or markings that Susan thought would be nicely put to use in my jewelry and junk art pieces.

Tough to see the detail and various textures in the photo, but trust me, each one is unique.

So thoughtful!

But this isn’t the first bunch of things from Susan; she’s also brought me a slew of precious seashells from Florida, gathered while she and husband Mayo were at the Lykes’ family beach-house there. But shells are lightweight and easy to carry: stones, not so much so!

Nor is Susan the only one who has contributed items for my artwork over the years.  Both Joan and I started making different kinds of art pieces with costume jewelry that had belonged to our mom. It was a way to honor Mother’s memory and assemble something incredibly special from the memories…..I’ve simply expanded it from that original idea.

Our employees found me things. So have my sisters, and Rusty, too. And it was always a fun day at Dark Horse Books when someone walked in and said, sometimes shyly, “I have something for you, if you want it.”

These surprises came from a host of friends and customers — Carole Flaherty, Janna Rankin, Erica Burns, Joyce Zajac, Jeannette Boner, LaVon Grandy (especially poignant as some of them had belonged to her mother Bertha Gillette), from the now-gone Carolyn Kasnak, the then-newly arrived Mona Monroe, to mention a few. I apologize for not listing the names of others.

I’ve received special boxes of shiny buttons, Mardi Gras garlands, a fishing tackle with sorted beads, a basketful of earrings, strings of necklaces (some falling apart from frayed fittings but all still beautiful), wedding cake decorations, tiny kids toys, a beat-up brown bag of old keys, and much more.

It was always like Christmas to hear the particulars about what was inside.

I especially love the feeling of connection I have when I find the absolutely-perfect piece and place it on a work in progress. The person who gave me the bit becomes part of the story for the recipient of the finished frame, tin, or whatever I happen to be working on. Put them all together and even the smallest thing is transformed.

Thank you, again, Susan, for thinking of me and carrying this precious cargo all the way back to Teton Valley for me!

And to anyone out there who would like to take part of the ultimate in upcycling, well,  start me a small container (a plastic bag that closes works especially well) and just throw any piece of jewelry or junk you had thought about pitching into the garbage into the container instead!  Let me know when it’s full, and we’ll figure out a way to get it to me.

I know I’ll be once again touched by the effort, and surprised, too!

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Filed under Fun art, Matters of the heart, O/N it

Fall, falling — O/N it 7

The snow predicted for last night came, but only to the upper elevations. Table Mountain is already well-covered, what looks like its flat surface (but is actually a steep scree slope) lies buried.

Tphotohis view shows how socked in it was this morning to our East; what looks like the silhouetted mountains is actually cloud cover over their tips, and you can’t make out Table’s distinctive shape against the still gray crags of most of the Tetons, as you can when it’s clear.

I loved to see such a vivid condensation trail as well — one of my favorite indicators of the magic of our technological world and that someone, today, is traveling somewhere exciting….

Frankly, I was delighted to wake up to the still-green leftovers of our barely-there lawn.

We had plephoto(1)nty of wind overnight, though: this morning I am encouraged by these leaves on the aspen trees in front of our porch. They are so stubborn to take flight!

They can’t “know” the inevitability of their fate.  The kitty’s bowl is testament to just how litkitty bowl w leavestered our front porch was with them today.

We’ve also had many freezing nights over the last month, evidenced by the fact that we’ve already swapped out Sweeter’s regular bowl for the plug-in one with the heater.  I’m glad I was home today to empty it of its organic matter and refill it for her with fresh water.

She didn’t seem too worried about anything, though.

kitty on boxOn this, what might be our last day of Indian summer (judging by the clouds gathering to the west), our little black cat is perfectly content to sit on her towel and blanket atop her box in the somewhat-warmish sunshine.

“What?” it looks like she’s saying. “Let me enjoy this moment won’t you?”

Yes, I will.

This has always been one of my favorite times of year, and this autumn has been a particularly noteworthy one here in Teton Valley.  In what can be one of the  most divisive places (it seems) on earth, the local population joins together to appreciate the beauty of the colors, the absolutely brilliant days, and just how many of them we’ve had.

Peter and I went for a good long walk out in the fields to the east of our house yesterday afternoon — a great way to cap this about-to-end season.

I see on the national weather that my cousins in Kansas could be having trouble in the shape of tornadoes today.

Whatever conditions you find yourself in, on this final Monday in October in Monday, take good care.

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