Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween party!

If you know anything about my husband through this blog, you understand he is a crazy, fun-loving guy.  And he loves to build and fix and tinker.  We have an entire basement and garage and attic full of stuff from which he can build things.

And he LOVES HALLOWEEN and building costumes.  So after 3 years of talking about this creating this particular costume, he finally did it.  It was one of his most complex and amazing costumes!   Drum roll please...

Iron Man!

The costume is primarily made of PVC pipe, Kydex plastic, drawer liner and cardboard.  And oh yes, there's a motorcycle helmet and battery powered light involved as well.  To say that this was a time-consuming project is an understatement.  Mike was up many nights until 1:30 a.m. over this past month finishing the costume.  And he loved every minute of it!

The helmet underway

Costume structure

Black Widow with Iron Man.  Amazing how petite you can look next to a super hero...

And though there was a lot of work getting things ready for the party, it was a blast!  We love having our friends over for food, laughter and conversation.  Here are a few scenes from the evening...

The before pictures....
Folks LOVE the margarita ball...

Parties always happen in the kitchen

Chuck and Melanie as duck dynasty and the swan princess. It's a long story...

Brian and Stacy

Elena and Atanas


Melanie, Cathy and Brian

And the laughter and stories continued until about 2 in the morning.   After a very long day, I turned in with a smile on my face...

Enjoy Halloween, and remember it's NOT just for kids!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another view

on Breast Cancer Awareness month from a friend who shares the experience of being a breast cancer survivor.  We had a lively discussion over dinner last week, and I found out that she raises money for indigent women to get mammograms and cancer treatment  We agreed that October has become too commercialized with many retailers jumping on the pink bandwagon, but this doesn't really bother her because of the money being raised for prevention and a cure.  I also learned that she celebrates each year of being cancer free by adding a pink stone to a beautiful ribbon lapel pin.

After expressing my strong views last week, I thought it was important to describe another point of view.  I appreciate my friend's ability to look beyond herself and focus on helping other women deal with breast cancer.  She may be right in saying that "it's too close" for me.  With only three years since my own diagnosis, everything is still a bit fresh and painful.  Maybe like many other difficult situations, time heals...

Ok, definitely time to get past that subject.  On a lighter note...

Last week I decided to paint the guest bathroom.  With a Halloween party coming up this weekend, it seemed like a good idea.  Nothing like those self-imposed deadlines, huh?

Covering the lovely contractor off-white walls

I learned an important lesson here.  Know what color you want to paint a room before you start on a painting project.  Sounds like common sense now after I made 3 different trips to Sherwin-Williams to purchase sample quarts of different paint colors.  It's hard to be decisive when you don't know what you want.  Given my project management experience, I should know better.  Always know your requirements before building (or painting)!

Chaise mauve walls and silver framed mirror

Anyway, for less than $100 we changed the look of this room. In addition to paint, we removed the 48 inch square mirror over the sink and replaced it with a beautiful framed mirror from Home Goods.  Last year when remodeling my house in Des Moines, we learned how much changing a mirror can update a bathroom. Eventually we will replace the counter top and faucet, but for now we are quite happy with the results.

Eagles concert. Yes, we were in the nose bleed section.

We also enjoyed an amazing Eagles Concert on Friday night with friends Mel and Cathy. Between all the Eagles songs we know and love, the band members interspersed comments on the history of the group and what was happening at the time of a song.  The Eagles totally rocked Bankers Life Fieldhouse filled with baby boomers like us.  Ok, I did see one young person, but they missed the concert because they were texting the whole time...

And after a weeks long media circus about Peyton Manning's first trip back to Indy as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, and an my own expectation that Andrew Luck and the Colts would be crushed, the Colts won!  The Colts dominated this very physical game, and I admit that I was glued to the TV set until after midnight watching the game.

And alas, cool weather has returned.  We've had frost the last 2 nights, and some local areas got snow.  Seriously? It's only October!  So I moved several plants inside and saved my pansies from frost by putting them on the front porch.

So Mike's frantically putting the finishing touches on his costume, and I'm happy for a simple costume using clothes I already have.  And yes this is the most complicated costume Mike's ever built.  And yes he's slightly crazy!  I'll share pictures of our costumes after the big party this Saturday.

Hope you are enjoying this spooky season...


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Getting this off my chest

so to speak...

I have a problem with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Ok, there I said it.

When I told a friend in early 2010 that I had breast cancer, she responded that she knew I could beat cancer. She went on to say she knew that I would be leading a team in the Susan B. Komen walk in October. It was the beginning of my distaste for the commercialism that is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Another friend commented that I might want to visit the Susan B. Komen memorial in Peoria.  Seriously? "Breast cancer survivor" was a "club" I didn't want to belong to.

I understand the need for early detection. My stage one breast cancer was caught early during a routine annual digital mammogram when the radiologist detected a slight change from the previous year.  And I found out in the strangest way.

After a long day at work, I picked up a message on my home answering machine from some medical group wanting me to call them.  I wrote down the number and planned to call them in the morning thinking it was some wrong number.  Did you ever have one of those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night with startling clarity of a situation?  I literally sat up in bed and knew this phone message was bad news related to my mammogram.  Thus began a long journey called breast cancer.

And somehow all of the pink ribbons, pink t-shirts and annual walks kind of rub me the wrong way.  Every TV and print ad during October seems to talk about Breast Cancer Awareness.  I went to a Colts Football game earlier this month, and the players wore pink wrist bands.  Even the mascot was dressed in pink instead of blue.

But the clincher was Tuesday when I saw two men wearing "I love boobies" plastic bracelets.  First was the young guy at the bagel shop, and later that day when shopping for tires,  I noticed the tire shop manager wearing the same bracelet.  Later I researched this bracelet on the internet and learned that it originated at the Keep-A-Breast organization that is geared towards young people and focused on breast cancer prevention and detection. Seems that young people can relate to this "I love boobies" message, and it encourages open dialog about a previously off limits topic: breast health. I am sure it is a well-meaning and valuable organization,  but somehow this message doesn't seem quite right.

I am now 3 years cancer free, and yet hearing I had breast cancer remains one of the most defining moments in my life.  From learning to live with the scars to lymph nodes that swell with a cold to shirts that hang lop sided, and daily hot flashes from a prevention drug, I face this reality every day.

But this experience has also been invaluable to understanding what is truly important in my life.  I finally understood that moving to the same city to live with my husband was more important than living 500 miles apart for my job.  I learned that life is finite,  and I need to focus more on the important people in my life.  I am learning to "go with the flow" and let go of the small stuff that used to bug me.

But really, I don't want to be reminded of breast cancer each October.  I don't want to be part of the cause du 'jour.  I absolutely respect the need for education and ongoing research into the cause and cure for breast cancer.  I just wish we could find a way to do this without wearing pink and bracelets like a badge of honor.  I don't need to be reminded of breast health by the young man at the bagel shop wearing the bracelet "I Love Boobies".  Somehow this just hits me the wrong way...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Seems like an appropriate license plate in the south

"SAY HAY" to the beautiful Lexington, Kentucky area.  Mike and I spent a delightful weekend there with friends Chuck and Melanie.

Buffalo Trace water tower

We skipped out of town on Friday and headed south. Our first stop was the Bourbon Trail where we visited the Buffalo Trace Whisky Distillery for a tour, and of course, whisky tasting.

Interesting history about how whisky originated in Kentucky.  In the late 1700's when this area was part of the Virginia Commonwealth, payment for 400 acres of land was one acre worth of corn.   Finding it extremely difficult to transport corn over the Appalachian Mountains in covered wagons, these clever settlers shipped whisky instead.  So there is a rich tradition of whisky in this area with about 80% of U.S. whisky originating in Kentucky.

Natural temperature changes contributes to flavor

It was fascinating to walk inside an open-windowed brick building filled with hundreds of barrels of whisky.  This is where the whisky ages, and there was the pleasant fragrance of whisky in the air, sometimes called "angel share".

And the Lexington area was simply beautiful.  Rolling hills, horse farms, black fences and tobacco barns as far as the eye can see.   And an amazing sunset.

We stayed with Melanie's mom and  spent hours on the back porch soaking in this beautiful scenery.

Lunch with Chuck, Melanie, Shirley and Mike

We enjoyed some wonderful meals including Hall's on the Kentucky River and a local winery where we dined outside on a beautiful Fall evening.

Melanie and her mom

Dinner  with Mike, Christine (Melanie's sister), Chuck and Melanie

Being in Kentucky it seemed appropriate that our final stop was Keeneland, a famous horse track in Lexington.

Tailgating at Keeneland

Although we came to watch horses, people watching was just as fascinating.  There is money in Kentucky horse racing, that's for sure.  Lot's of women in dresses and boots and men in jackets and hats.  And possibly we were under-dressed...

And the winner is...

Our "scientific" method of betting on a horse based on his name didn't make us rich. Why we didn't win on a horse named "Wendy and her cats" when our own cat is named Wendy, I'll never know!   On the other hand, being the cheapskates we are means we only "donated" about $20 to Keeneland.

Enjoying Keeneland

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery to clear your mind and give you a new perspective.  And spending several days with friends in a beautiful place did just that.  And I keep imagining living there...

Have a great week! Diane

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall is in the air

Fall is in the air! And this Fall in particular seems to be a really busy time.  Kind of reminds me of work, of course without the work. It's that feeling of being propelled from one event to another, or in other words, just plain busy.

Here's what Fall looks like in our neck of the woods.

Cross country races.

My nephew, Adam, competed in a state middle school cross country meet.  Despite rain and mud, he finished 11th in a field of about 250 kids.  We are very proud of him!

Man cave.  Note the Starship Enterprise Phone. What can I say?

Continuing work on our house.

Mike's study is still a work in progress, but there is now a table surface we can see after a years of paper.


We attended a GREAT Colts game on Sunday where they beat the undefeated Seattle Seahawks.  I think I finally understand football mania!  I didn't have much of a voice after this game!

My roadside rescue chair, re-purposed as a planter


Would you expect anything different from my blog?

Roses behind the porch.

Splash of color!

Pansies in my new flower bed

Hibiscus loving the cooler temps

We enjoyed a great family meal on Saturday evening.  My sister, Angie, and her family and my niece, Diane and her family joined in.  Laughter and the sound of Alice screaming as she chased cats echoed through the house.  Happy sounds!

And I am so glad to have time for the important stuff like taking a friend to the doctor and attending a visitation for another friend's mom.

I hope you are enjoying a great Fall.  Maybe without the busy.