Sunday, January 17, 2016

Live Your Dream

Most of my teaching career was as a speech therapist. I do not know why I chose that major but I have a lifetime teaching certificate in speech therapy. For me it was the most boring job possible. It is sit at a table and drill work. Not good for ADHD (very hyperactive) me. The problem is that there are not enough school speech therapists and so I was stuck.

Finally in 1995 I was allowed to move into a position as a Head Start teacher at North Early Learning Center in Orange, Texas. The entire campus was 3 and 4 year olds. There were about 350 children. My classroom was next to Sandra  Hoke and there was a sliding door between us. At center time we would open the door and the kids could go into either classroom. Sandra and I were perfect together. She loved science and outdoors but HATED computers. I loved the computers but HATED digging in the dirt. We became great friends. We would both get to school early and walk around the halls solving all the problems of the world. Much more mental health than physical health.

I could talk about my friendship with Sandra for days but that is not what this post is about. This is about Sandra and her husband Michael. He was a middle school science teacher who loved nature AND computers. On work days and inservice days when all of us loved to go out to eat, Sandra would go home and eat lunch with Michael. He did not really like to go out to eat so she cooked every night. She cooked good healthy food for Michael.

Michael was an extraordinary person. He loved kids and science and did all kinds of wonderful things to get kids to love science. He retired from teaching and became the executive director for Shangri La in Orange. "Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center are private botanical gardens and a nature preserve located in the center of Orange, Texas.  Wikipedia"

This week Michael died.  He was doing what he loved best, teaching science to children, when he passed out.  I do not know the cause of his death right now. I just know that this great man is gone. Sandra has lost the love of her life and best friend. Saturday I went to Orange to attend his funeral. 

On the day that he died I attended another funeral. I did not know her. I know her brother in law. As we left the funeral another friend said, "I really wish I had known her. She sounded wonderful." 

These two deaths make me more aware that I must make the most of every moment that God gives me on this earth. I also saw a video by Steve Harvey "You Gotta Jump to Be Successful". You have to jump off the ledge and use your gift. God has given me some wonderful gifts. It has taken me the greater part of my 62 years to realize those gifts and work with them. I will concentrate on my art and on my work with the children's ministry at church.

I do not work to be rich or famous. I would,however, like to be able to pay the bills. I want to develop the gifts that God has given me and share them with the world. 

There is a flip side to this. I am going to make a commitment to get rid of my weaknesses, my sins. I want to improve my eating habits. I would feel better and be able to use my gifts better if I lost some weight and more importantly, ate a  healthy diet. Another problem that I need to work on is my overbearing personality. Sometimes...well, frequently...I voice my opinion as law. Everyone should do what I say because I am right. God help me to be more gentle and understanding of others.

It is Sunday morning, January 17. My sweet daughter-in-law's birthday.It is time to go to church. Keep all the people mentioned in this blog in your prayers. Sandra lost her husband/friend. Emily is another year older. Keep her strong and healthy.Help me to rid myself of the sins of gluttony and pride.

This week I will be taking my art to a different store, RusTique, in Pearland, Texas. I will blog about that soon.


Monday, January 11, 2016


  In 1978 the community of Friendswood presented a friendship quilt to my mother, Esther Speck. Squares of fabric were given out to many of her friends and family. The ladies, and even her husband, K., had an old fashioned quilting bee at a wonderful friend, Jane Gamble’s home.
Before her death, Esther wrote about the quilt: This friendship quilt was presented to me at a surprise party in December 1978. It is a treasure to me and an heirloom I cannot leave to anyone specifically. Lots will have to cast for it among our children after I am gone.
Jane Gamble put it together. She sent out the green squares in the spring of 1978 to Australia, Switzerland and various parts of the U.S. When she got them back, she moved her two sons into one bedroom and set the quilt up in the other son’s room. Quilters came in as they had time and quilted on it until October or November. The kept all of this a secret from me. I remember on one occasion Lisa showed her block to Melanie and they were giggling about it. I walked up, didn’t see the block but saw Lisa quickly put something in her purse. When I asked what was so funny, they said, “Oh, nothing.” I thought they were showing some vulgar cartoon that they were ashamed for me to see. I really got upset with them. Shame on me for being so suspicious!
“Lucky” Dong, a Vietnamese friend whose family we sponsored when they came to the U.S., made the beautiful wall hanging giving the names of all of those who helped with the project. 
Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for all of the love and work that made this possible.

The lots were cast and the quilt was given to me.Actually they knew I would take anything old. But the quilt is GREEN. Not a calm, quiet green that is easy to fill in with any decor. This is neon green and it is king sized.

 We decided to hang it in the dining room so I had to figure out how to incorporate the color into some design. Well, you will soon realize that everyone gives me anything they do not want any more. A friend gave a a bolt of rubber-backed green fabric used to make diaper covers. I used  it to make different things for the grandchildren.  Then it hit me. It would make good curtains for that west facing room and the green would work with the quilt.
I bought some white sheer panels to tone down the green. Someone else had given me some old valances. So I put the sheers over the diaper cloth and used the valance cloth to make tab tops.

The center has to be drawn apart so that the dog can see the street traffic.

 I added a watercolor that I painted and one that my mother painted of our first house 35 years ago.

The room is coming together. For Christmas Brad bought me some plain white dishes that will work just fine with the neon green wall hanging.

I have been cleaning and organizing my so I can start working on merchandise for the fall craft shows. Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas with the Princess

 Christmas with the Princess

It has been over 2 years since my last blog entry. That was right after my son and his family moved to Massachusetts. I only posted twice in 2013. My life got busy with other things and I neglected blogging. Now I think I will try it again.

My interest statement is still true: " I am a retired school who now follows her passions...grand kids and creating works of art." My son, daughter-in-law and 2 grandsons still live in Massachusetts and we do not get to see them enough. But they are happy and that is important. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter live in Oklahoma which is also too far. They were here for Christmas and we had a great time.

For the last few years my works of art have been made from salvaged wood. Slowly but surely I will show you my creations and how they have evolved. This first post, however, is going to be about the things I made for my 4-year-old granddaughter. When she was born her father said that she would NOT be called Princess and her mother said that she would NOT have everything pink. Of course you know what happened. She loves anything princess and pink.

As I said, I create out of anything I can salvage. I get things people leave at the curb for the trash men. People call me about things they see in someone's trash. I stop whenever I see someone replacing their fence. When my friends do a remodel, they call me to get the old wood and any scraps.

Several years ago I built the grand-kids a backyard plays-cape to resemble a pirate ship.


For Christmas this year I changed the flag from skull and crossbones to princess crown, added a turret and a prince so it is now a castle. The front is going to be a pirate ship when the boys come this summer.

Granddaughter also wanted me to make her a dress-up closet. Her mother wanted me to make it so that it could be taken apart and transported to Oklahoma. It was a big success but did not make it into the car this trip.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Adventures of Spiderman

Recently our son received a fabulous job opportunity. This is great for our boy and his family. However this great opportunity is in Massachusetts. That is 1770 miles from our home in Friendswood, Texas. I had the privilege of helping with this transition by flying with the 2 boys and my daughter-in-law's sister after their parents made the 3 day drive. This all happened around the first of July. I stayed until July 14 to help with the kids, but our oldest grandson was turning four on July 23. His parents decided to have his birthday party on July 4 while his aunt and I were both there.

"Ba-Daugust" in into super heroes this month. At my house I painted his face.

 The plan was for a superhero party. I bought a Spiderman and Frogman superhero action figure and way too many Avenger t-shirts. Then I started looking at gift bags. They were so cute, but sooooooo expensive.
My crazy brain started to work and the imagination went wild. I would make a "Spiderman City" out of all of the packing cardboard they had used for the move. Then I would put the presents inside the buildings.

This had to be done in my bedroom, after the kids were asleep and hidden before they woke up in the morning.  I took boxes and pieces of cardboard and began cutting and taping them into skyscrapers. My co-conspirator was my daughter-in-law's sister. Let's call her "Cohort". She brought me a Greek yogurt case that had holes in it that made great windows.

I had so much fun, I ended up making 10 buildings. I bought some string and crocheted spiderwebs.
 We had the party on the deck. The building were okay, but Papa gave him light sabers and the building had to wait.

The new house has a great basement. We don't have that in Texas. The basement is finished except for one little alcove. It is about 5'x7'. Ba-Daugust claimed it immediately. Papa hung colored lights and it was great.
Later I found white lights and they became the stars inside Spiderman City.

 The 2 largest buildings are big enough for a 4-year-old to get inside. He decided to use one to make a robot.  I cut holes for the arms and for his face. When the robot became a building again, the holes were windows.

I had mixed emotions about leaving Massachusetts. I was tired and needed to go home, but they were so far away. They are all adjusting, meeting new friends and getting very busy. I have time to work on other projects here. (More on that later). We will have to master the art of FaceTime.

Don't forget to check out my new and improved website. Imagine with Melanie

I am really going to make an effort to write this blog. I have so much to tell you!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Name...A New Look

I have not blogged this year. It is time to get back in the groove. I think I have finally figured out what to call my business, my brand:
Imagine with Melanie

Most of my work and time has gone toward my website: www.imaginewithmelanie, but I miss just being able to express myself.
I'm back!

This post is just to introduce myself again. I will write a real blog post soon.