Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BABUSHKA: Story by Bruce Mero for Story Telling Sunday

This was originally published on 3/3/2013 and I'm republishing this for Valentine's Day which also happens to be my 20th Annivesary of wedded bliss with THE MAN.

This story accompanies a page I made recently. The photo reminded my Dad that he had not ever written this story. Since it pertains to my very existence...I'm thinking it will do nicely for Sian's Precious Theme over at Story Telling Sunday. Not exactly Irish, but maybe Russian and for sure Peruvian.....

        The 8AM class was invented to separate the lazy from the committed in college. Since it was my first semester at the College of Forestry at Syracuse University, I'd convinced myself to be committed and signed up for Professor William's Principles of Land Use course. Actually, the course was required for graduation, so I really had little choice but to take it. Since it was only offered 8AM, that too presented little choice.

          Making it to class on time meant that I needed to drag myself out of bed before 5 o'clock, shower and eat, drive an hour to Syracuse (I'd decided to live at home this semester and commute to school), find a place to park my car (always a huge challenge) then walk as much as a half-mile to Marshall Hall to get to class. I had transferred to Syracuse mid-year from a Civil Engineering program at a local Community College. It was early January, so negotiating winter roads added time to my drive. Given all of that, I'd made it to my first class a few minutes early and settled into a seat near the back. Quickly the room filled. By the time Professor Williams entered the class, all seats were occupied, except the one next to where I was sitting. Professor Williams had just introduced himself when the classroom door opened and an out-of-breath young woman entered. She apologized for disrupting the class, scanned the space and located the unoccupied chair next to mine. 

           She was a vision. I was stunned. She wore a long, red woolen coat, her long brown hair emerged from beneath a cream-colored Russian babushka and streamed halfway down her back. I watched her, open mouth, make her way to the seat next to mine. From that very moment I was hopelessly in love.

          I tried to concentrate on the professor's lecture, but found myself continually glancing at the goddess sitting at my side. Consequently most of the hour's lesson was lost to me. During the last ten minutes of the class, in my head I practiced how to introduce myself to her. However as soon as class ended, she stood up and quickly disappeared from the room. I followed her outside but only caught a glance of the babushka and the long, red coat as it rounded the adjacent building. She was gone.

          I wasn't completely sure, but I think I saw the babushka the next day across the huge auditorium in the Science building where I was taking Introductory Geology, with 450 other students. It may have been my hopeful imagination. I know I couldn't get her out of my mind.

          Wednesday, the previous sequence of events at Professor William's class repeated. She apologetically entered the class late and found the only empty seat, though this time it was nowhere near where I was sitting. I stared at her long hair the entire lecture. When class was over, she was gone in a flash. I had absolutely no idea of what that hour's lecture was about.

          That afternoon I'd scheduled Geology lab. It was a three hour session and she was there. My shyness kept me from approaching her while graduate students gave the demonstration. As soon as they dismissed the group, she vanished.

          Friday, I dutifully attended Professor William's 8 o'clock. This time I draped my coat on the seat next to mine and when she came in, I quickly retrieved my coat. She noticed the empty the seat and sat there. Again, my attention was not with the lecture. I was swooning inside and kept checking that I was not visibly drooling, smitten as I was. At the end of class I stabbed my hand toward her to introduce myself, hoping we'd shake hands. She ignored my outstretched hand, uttered a barely audible "hello" and left the room.

          I thought about her all weekend, the sight of the babushka and her long hair streaming down the back of that long, red coat were etched in my mind.

          I successfully replicated my "empty seat" ploy again at Monday's class. She sat next to me. I promised myself that I would listen to the lecture this time. Good thing. At the end of the class, she asked me a question about something Professor Williams had said and I knew the answer. She thanked me and turned to leave. Stifling a back-flip of excitement, I asked if I could walk her to her next class. She agreed, telling me that I'd need to walk fast. She had another class in ten minutes. Quickly we walked across campus together, formally introducing ourselves and chatting a little. I was totally intimidated by her presence, I'd put her on a pedestal since our first encounter. I tried to contain my exuberance though I'm sure I babbled more that I should have. My boots barely touched the sidewalk as I sprinted back across campus, late for my next class, after leaving her at the rear entrance to the Hall of Languages building.

          I saw the babushka across the room at Tuesday's Introduction to Geology lecture, but was unable to find her after class. I did the seat saving exercise at Professor William's class on Wednesday and she sat next to me. Again I walked her across campus and sprinted back, late for my next class. That afternoon, in Geology lab, she was saving me a seat when I got there. I could hardly contain myself, checking for drool again during the class. I knew that I must have had a noticeable, stupid-ass smile on my face the entire time. Near the end of the lab, the instructor suggested that we form two-person teams for the remainder of the semester. She asked if I would be her lab partner, stating that she'd seen that I could do the complex Math the next labs required (yea, engineering school) and that she was terrible with numbers. Of course, I agreed, trying to contain my giddiness.

          We began a friendship. Gretchen was her name. One morning, mid-semester, I arrived in Syracuse early and began my quest to find place to park my car. Slowly trolling for an vacant parking spot on the street, I saw my new friend walking to class. She recognized me and motioned to a driveway next to a two story house and to the empty garage beyond. She lived in an apartment on the second floor of this house and the garage was part of her rent. Neither she or her roommate had a car so the garage was unused. She was certain it would be OK for me to park there. What a find for me. By this time I had accumulated more than a dozen parking tickets from the City of Syracuse for illegally putting my car where the city could profit from where it was parked.  So far I owed Syracuse $75. Having a free, off-street place to park was a huge benefit, aside from the fact that it belonged to the lady I was terribly smitten with. I parked in her garage for the rest of the semester and Gretchen and I walked to class together every day. She walked. I floated.

          Winter turned to spring and the long, red coat and babushka were put away in moth balls for the year. We parted the last day of classes in May as good pals, she to Lake George to work for the summer, me back home to a summer job. I was in love. She, I'm not so sure. I thought about her all summer, really thought about her. I couldn't get her and the long, red coat and the Russian babushka out of my mind. We had no contact all summer.

          It was the last day of August or the first or second day in September. I had the day off from my job and gave in to the uncontrollable urge to drive to Syracuse late in the afternoon. My instinct was to drive the street near her apartment to look to see if she had returned for the fall semester. No luck. She was not there. I was leaving the area when I passed a decrepit, gray Valiant coming up University Avenue and I recognized Gretchen as the driver. She hadn't seen me. I turned my car around and followed her to the driveway at her apartment.  After an awkward moment and a totally half-assed explanation as to why I was in Syracuse, she asked me to help unload her car. It took multiple trips to her second floor apartment before the car was unloaded and the unpacking started.

          She offered me dinner. Her choices were hotdogs or liver. I was so happy to be with her again that my response to her choice was:

          "Whatever you would like to make."

          I really didn't care what she made for dinner. I had the incredible luck to be with her again. We had reestablished a connection and there was no way I was going to screw it up, hopefully. Dinner was liver. I hate liver. Couldn't eat a bite. Thought I'd screwed it up. Fortunately she was not offended. She laughed. In fact, we both laughed. I spent the night.

          We have been together since then. It has been a superbly incredible trip. I love this lady. The babushka is gone, as is the long, red coat. We can't remember where the coat went, but recall that the babushka was left at the Catholic priest's place when we were preparing to get married, never to be seen again.

          We tied the knot after finishing college and have been blissfully married for forty years.
          Fast forward. We were in Cusco, Peru this past September. The tour we were on stopped at a Llama farm and we walked among and fed the llamas, alpacas and vicunas. Attached to the farm was a state-of-the art retail store with a huge number of items made from the wool of the animals we'd just seen. 

          We were wondering through the store separately. I hate to shop. I was in a remote corner of the place when I heard Gretchen bellow...."Bruce"!  

          "Yes dear,"  my automatic response.

photo by Luke

          "Come here," the reply.

          I found her on the lower level, surrounded by several of our tour companions, modeling a vicuna fur hat. It was an uncanny replica of the Russian babushka that was her signature so many years ago. I shivered and had an instant recall of seeing her for the first time in Professor William's class. I fell in love with her all over again. Of course she bought that new hat and got a pretty good deal on the price, as well.

          Gretchen wore that babushka on the mini-bus for the next leg of our trip, a huge smile lit her face...a smile reminiscent of the one I imagine that I had on my face the first time she sat next to me in that 8 o'clock class. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cheer Layout from Crafternooning

I didn't make a lot of pages from Christmas this past year. Just two so far, with this one being the third. I have a few more photos to scrap, but in general it seems I take a lot more during the summer! Thank goodness we had a little crafternoon here this past Saturday and Jean MADE me make this page! She always comes with everything cut & ready to assemble! Fun times!

It's a fairly simple page with the glitter making a big presence. I added the flowers and the velvet pine branch to give the page a little splash of color and some dimension.

I think the burgandy really brings out the color in the photo. We had this photo taken at the Civil Air Patrol Christmas party and I love it! Generally we aren't all dressed up or even in the same place at the same time!

Now that I'm in the mood for pages....I'll have to wrap up a couple more!

I'll be back on Valentine's Day with a story from my Dad!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Handful of Hearts

Lexi has been hard at work at learning flame working at the Museum. She pretty much has herself scheduled every Sunday to head down. The following Monday she generally has a couple of pretties to show for her effort. Lately she's been making glass hearts for fun & to see how the properties of certain glasses work together.

Believe it or not, but the clear glass ones were supposed to be red. She's still trying to figure out how that happened. Regardless they are cool and I'll be sharing them next week with some peeps.

My favorite thing she has been playing around with are fish. She's getting really good at the pretty little fins. All this work is for her portfolio as she's been uploading photos to her digital account to share in hopes for a summer intern down at CMOG. Wish her the best of luck! I'd say it's going swimmingly!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Vintage LOVE U Shaped Cards for The Cutting Cafe

Goodness, I really cannot get enough of this holiday! I love love love Valentine's Day! It's also my anniversary so I lucked out with a romantic wedding! Aren't these little cards the cutest? I really enjoyed making layers with this LOVE word shaped set from THE CUTTING CAFE! I started with one sheet of cardstock per card that looked like water color and cut the entire card all at once. The color variation comes from the water color paper. Some of the hearts I mixed and matched for more contrast.

It's really easy to create a lot of dimension with this cutting file. I always choose to mount mine on cardstock and use all the layers to make the card pop with pop dots. LOVE layers too!

I really enjoyed decorating these with white heart doilies and pretty little flowers. Adding glitter glue on the edges was fun too.

These are heading off to our Habitat Volunteer Recognition Event this coming Thursday where they will brighten a volunteer's day!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Trevi Layout for Another Freaking Scrappy (Rome, Italy)

Goodness, I've started back on the Italy album for Lexi. It's likely about half done and I ran out of steam this past summer due to camping and then there was Christmas....thankfully Another Freaking Scrappy has a challenge up to scrap about:  "what makes you feel loved?", or "how you make others feel loved" and I thought I'd show you. I like to make people feel loved by scrapping memories. In the case of this album, they are Lexi's memories as I was just a bystander watching as cool photos got posted on Facebook. Love that she had this opportunity! 

It's hard to take outdoor photos this time a year, but you really need that outdoor light to see things like the gold shimmer embossing in this paper. It's really quite pretty. Disregard the black plastic mat I used to keep the page dry. Check out the edge too. I used the really pretty floral paper under the embossed and let it peek out a little. So pretty!

I really wanted to show case a lot of paper here, but didn't want the floral one to overwhelm my photo so I added a sheet of velum over it in the circle I cut. The little strips & that cool turquoise straw create a spot to ground the photo of all the kids that went to Italy. They were tossing a coin over their shoulder into the Trevi Fountain for good luck when they were in Rome so they can ensure they will return!

The last photo is just for fun. There was a light dusting of snow on the sidewalk and the birds have wandered all over. In fact, I even spotted some very tiny hoof prints which means a deer came to check out what the birds have been up to. At the very top of my layout in the snow you can see some little hoppy bird prints.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Magic of Good

The other day I was having a discussion about pets with the guy that sits behind me. He maintained that dogs and cats didn't produce anything useful say like milk and eggs, therefore he was unable to see how they contributed to a household. He's a young fellow, so no doubt after a few more years of life experiences he'll figure it out. There wasn't much point in arguing although I did point out that the day before when I was awake at 3:30 with a brain that wouldn't quit, the third shift cat that prowls around our house and I had a nice cuddle. A few minutes of reading and petting soft kitty fur I was ready to go back to bed and actually sleep. It would be nice if Eragon brought home a paycheck or could make pancakes, but I'll take a nice cuddle in the wee hours.

My brain was busy at 3:30 am because I am idealistic. I think that if I'm working very hard on someones Habitat House that they should want to be there too. Potential homeowners need to be able to financially afford one of our houses (regardless of what the house & taxes assess for, the homeowner will pay what they can afford which is 30% of their income), be willing to partner with us on working on it (a set amount of sweat equity hours are required) and be ready to own their house.

We just wrapped up a really hard rehab the other day.  When we started, the house was smelly with a lime green kitchen. After the foreclosure and before we started tearing into things, we had to get rid of bedbugs and fleas as well as two dumpsters full of possessions in the house and one we filled up from the yard. Later down the road we figured out the house had termites from a leaky water pipe that never gotten taken care of. We tore into the plaster and started rebuilding large portions of walls. Four months later it's rebuilt and is a happy shiny new house with cherry colored kitchen cabinets and a beautiful burgundy stained glass door. I'm pretty proud of what it looks like today, but it wasn't an easy task getting here.

The potential new homeowner is difficult. Difficult like one of those balls of fishing twine you find on the bank of a river that is looped through itself and basically can't be unraveled. The dude has had many years of fighting for everything and he can't stop fighting. I only wish he'd put that energy into working on his house. It was his mouth that got him in trouble with me around 8:15 on a Build Club Day. I was waiting in my car for our big Habitat van to defrost when he approached my window and started in. Having had the appropriate amount of coffee and nothing better to do, I got on my soup box and engaged.

I have had enough life lessons to know better than to argue with a five year old who is having a tantrum so thankfully I came to my senses about ten minutes into a pointless heated discussion and left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The good news is that there is a bit of magic associated with the doing of good things. If you are patient, things have a way of working themselves out. Karma of the universe if you will. It might not make sense now, but in a bit it will.

Thankfully there were other better things to cheer me up this week. We also wrapped up a roof on house for a lady who is nearly twice as old as me. She was grateful and awesome. Her house was warm and inviting. The side porch that was in bad shape from a bad roof is now much safer. Onward and upward, I say!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stack of Vintage Valentine's

It's a good thing these cards won't be mailed because I piled on the pretties! I'm in production mode for our upcoming Valentine's DayVolunteer Recognition Event at work next week.

I had a stack of seam binding that was well aged from my Erosion Bundle so I started tying that in pretty little bows that I hot glued on with some flowers. I really like how these turned out.

I'll be back with my layout for Another Freaking Scrappy soon as the 1st of the Month has rolled around again! Goodness! Happy Almost Friday!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Any Friend of COFFEE is a friend of Mine Card

Had a smidgeon of a piece of craft paper and a few little coffee goodies that I wanted to make up into a card after I made the page I showed you yesterday for Kraft +. It's a thing with them to make a card or a tag after your layout for an additional entry!  Happy Coffee Dance! Some of the yummy card stuff came from Lisa over at BZ Scrapper and it made me happy to use it on a Valentine's Day card!

While I was making a coffee card, I thought I'd make up one with these pretty vintage buttons,  turquoise key and some dyed seam binding. They both turned out so pretty!

I had so much fun cardmaking this past Sunday. It was warm and sunny, but wet out. My office was all sunshiny and I got all kinds of paper scraps out. Had a nice little scrap Valentine's card making session! Back tomorrow with my pile!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hawkeye Layout for Kraft + Challenge

Oh what fun! I've been wanting to play along with a challenge for a while and finally snuck one in! Just at the wee end too. It's nearly the end of the month!

Kraft + has a fun one up called Caffeine Hit that I opted to play along with. I was inspired by the lovely photos of coffee to add a lot of round cut out circles to my page, as if they were tops of mugs. I also went hunting down a stamp that looked like rings a cup makes if the coffee sloshes a little, but never did find it. Instead I found one that said You've Left An Impression on Me and used some gold embossing power. Some brown shimmer spay completed my coffee look. Of course I used a piece of kraft paper. Mine was recycled as I don't have any in my that's also a win!

I ran with snowflakes and stars to decorate. Hawkeye was adopted over the holidays and was a gift from us to my Mom and Dad. He's a very awesome kitty so I knew I needed to make a page to celebrate! They are currently enjoying having a spastic kitten around who has more energy than a toddler who has sucked down three espressos. I guess the other day he tried climbing the wood stove! Simmer down Hawkeye!

I'm back tomorrow with a card I created for the challenge too! I had more recycled kraft paper and some fun coffee things to play with!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Lexi's Stained Glass Kaleidoscope

I took Lexi's Kaleidoscope that my Mom made her for Christmas outside the other day for some glamour shots. It was too snowy to take the photos in the sun on the walkway. Instead I tried taking one looking into it and it worked! Let me show you what's making all those pretty colors from the other side.

Look at all that pretty glass! Mom must have had all kinds of fun picking the right pieces and then carefully soldering them together! It's a double wheel so you can spin them both and it changes the colors that are produced.

Look at the lovely little scallops & the orange & white roundel work. So pretty!

Nice job Mom!!!

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hazel Barger's Scrapbook & some Vintage Yummies

Don't ask me how a little scrapbook & school memory book from 1927 and Bynum Texas ended up at our ReStore. We've had a lot of fun here with it at Pratt Inc. because of course it had to come home with me.

I've quite enjoyed flipping through Hazel's School Memory book. I've gleaned important details such as red and white carnations were her favorite, she recalled when someone put a bullet in the stove during Physics class and she was Class Secretary despite being the new girl as a senior.

Hazel was quite a cutie! Love the bow! And as far as I can tell, Jinnie V. is one of her besties. The pile that came home from the store included some much older photos and a couple of newer ones.

This one is BY FAR my favorite. I mean look at those hats! And course we should take a photo with our favorite instruments...

Another gem was a poem....we think was written by Hazel.

In the East, a copper disk
Hangs in a cloudless sky
A thunderous silence fills the air
Shimmers catch the eye
Two thousand miles
From you!
And this moon smiles there too!
I feel your breath I hear your sigh
Your sparkling eyes behold
Brighter than the twinkling stars
Brighter a thousand fold
So far away
My heart
And we must stay
But maybe you behold the moon
With other eyes than mine
Perhaps another’s arms may hold
You from time to time
I tell the moon to say

Love fades so soon away

Lexi and I had to have a quick google and see if we could find Hazel. We pawed through quite a few searches but didn't really find her. We'll continue to enjoy her albums and eventually we'll make some art with all the pretty vintage things!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hufflepuff Framed Crest with THE CUTTING CAFE Paper Flower File

Over at THE CUTTING CAFE it's a free week, which means we get to pick any cutting file we want to use! I always really enjoy making flowers so I indulged myself. It's the perfect file if you are trying to match a look but all of your flowers are in the wrong colors or you want them a specific size.

In my case I was looking for something vintage yet not overpowering because the crest is so bright. A sheet of patterned paper with postcards did the trick! I used the Paper Flower Template & Cutting File and made the largest size blooms just a little smaller so I could fit two whole sets on my cutting mat.

I always add centers to mine if I'm being extra fancy. This involves cutting a small hole for the stamens to sit in and then I add hot glue. Some of my flowers got some shimmer spray to darken them a little.

A trick to using patterned paper is to pick the really plain pieces for the center with a more interesting piece for the outer part. I also made a flower that looks like it's just opening for some contrast.

I had to of course make a snitch as well too. That is just a round ball with two holes drilled. I added two bendy sparkly feathers with one side cut off and then some contours with hot glue on the ball. Some gold spray paint completed the project! This project is a gift so it's heading out of here shortly!

Happy Saturday!