Monday, April 25, 2011

24 Years

It’s our anniversary today. Who knew that we’d be married for 24 years? I think we both did. I’ve liked my husband for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved him for a long time too. We get along very well, and when we don’t, we have a system in place that allows time to cool off, retreat to our own corners, and usually agree that both sides had a valid point.

I see others that don’t get along with their spouses and I feel bad for them. I wish everyone could like his or her spouse like I like mine.

Maybe we get along with each other because we’ve both been very sick and realize how lucky we are to have gotten better from our illnesses. I remember last year around February I didn’t even know if he was going to make it. A couple of nights I was so worried that I didn’t even know if he would make it through ‘til morning.

I’d have to say that 2010 was a pretty difficult year… January started out poorly and the year got progressively worse. Finally in August, he started to feel better, and life started to get back to normal.

So when I see others not treat their significant other with love and respect, it makes me want to say, “Life is too short to be spending it mad at each other.”

I’m sure there will be times when we forget how hard 2010 was and we’ll have some sort of disagreement about some minor thing. And, I also know that we’ll go to our corners and pout, and rethink the small stuff and get over it.

I’m hoping for at LEAST 24 more years of time together (but let’s just not do the math.)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keep this Coupon

I have a problem. I don’t know why, but I always find the part of the raffle ticket that says, “KEEP THIS COUPON” from long ago drawings. Do you think it’s because of the terse statement telling me I must KEEP THIS COUPON? I find various colored tickets in the obvious places – all kinds of pockets, desk drawers, change containers, wherever I can stash the ticket so that I will remember where it is when they call me with the news that I’ve won whateveritwasIboughttheticketfor.

Thing is, they already have my name and phone number, so why do I need to keep the ticket? Maybe to confirm that I actually won whatever the drawing was for. But, sadly, I’m never called as the lucky winner.

I guess I should keep all of the KEEP THIS COUPON tickets and make a collage out of all the tickets I’ve collected. Then they would be doing something useful.

Perhaps they should change the text on the tickets to “Retain this Coupon Until the Drawing if Over” then I would be able to throw them away and not break any rules.

Summer Memories... the Pool and Nancy Drew

We started hanging out with Cindy when her family got the in-ground pool. We weren’t friends with her before the pool, but after the pool came, we hung out at her house almost every day. I practiced and practiced until I could dive off the diving board and swim under water to touch the far end, make a turn and swim under water back to where I began.

We made up all kinds of games and practiced different dives. And when we weren’t swimming, we were in her screened-in garage that was set up like a living room (people did that in our neighborhood) and played all kinds of games.

One of our games involved playing “library” when we were forced to take a break from swimming. This game involved borrowing books from Cindy and reading them in her garage while we all hung out. We would have to check them out (but couldn’t take them home) with some type of system she devised.

I usually chose her Nancy Drew books. I was an avid reader and loved how Nancy was always finding some mystery to solve. But those who know these books, know that the mystery is usually solved in the last couple of pages.

Because of how each story ended, I would try not to let Cindy see where I was in the book. I didn’t want her to know that I was almost to the part where the case would be solved, because I knew (great detective that I was) that she would come over and grab the book from me and RIPPPPPP the last page out of the book. Each time I’d read one of her books, I’d attempt to keep my place in the book a secret from her so I could attempt to finish whatever mystery I was reading about.

I’d always go home disappointed that I didn’t get to finish the story because the last page was always torn out before I could finish the page. I think the only way I ever finished any Nancy Drew book was when I was older and reread my younger sister’s collection (in secret.)

I guess we put up with Cindy’s bad behavior because even though she was a bully, she was a bully with the only in-ground pool in the neighborhood.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Bedroom Incident at the Slab Ranch

The house we bought is very similar to the one I grew up in. Even though I had great memories there, I did NOT want to live in a slab-ranch house. Our definition of slab-ranch is: a little ranch house that is on a concrete slab. No basement to keep your junk, washer and dryer, and you know, the stuff you drag home from every sale you go to.

Despite the fact that our house is small and there’s no storage, it doesn’t stop me from antiquing almost every weekend. That summer of the “bedroom incident” I was trying to figure out what I would be hunting for during my next trip. My husband and I decided I would look for a dresser. OK, I thought, I can do that. I can put a dresser on my list of things to look for. (I’ve found that you need a plan when you are a shop-a-holic or you’ll come home with WAY more stuff than you need or have room for.)

Saturday 6 a.m. - Mike kisses me goodbye and leaves for his weekend camping trip with his buddies somewhere in the Adirondacks. Soon after, his sister shows up and we leave for the antique show in Syracuse. Within minutes of arriving to the outdoor show I see IT. Yeah, a dresser…. did I mention, it’s with a 4-poster bed, wide dresser, tall dresser, 2 nightstands and a mirror? It’s beautifully refinished and FABULOUS! I begin to have a conversation with myself in my head, “I HAVE TO HAVE IT!” “Will it fit?” “I dunno.” “How much is it?” “I don’t care.” So I strike a deal with the owner and he tells me he will deliver it to my house in the next couple of days.

I walk away from that buy, high on life, high on my purchase. Kathryn looks at me and asks, “What’s my brother going to say?” I reply, “He told me to buy a dresser.”

Saturday 4 p.m. – I walk into the cool house from the sweltering heat of the antique show, and down the hall into my tiny ugly bedroom that I’ve HATED since I moved in. The ugly bedroom with the antique white paneling, the hideous carpet and decide… it all has to GO and GO before the furniture arrives.

I march down the short hall and out through the back porch to the garage to find some tools. I find what I’m looking for, a hammer, a crowbar, a utility knife and walk back into the bedroom “armed for bear.” I look around and figure out what has to be done first. The mattress – that’s gotta go. So I strip the bed and drag the mattress out into the hall, the box spring and the frame follow and I get to work.

Saturday 5 p.m. – I start cutting the carpet into one-foot strips and roll them up and put them out on the back porch. I then look at the paneling with “the eye” and a nod, and say, “You’re next.” I try the first piece. Crap, those idiots who lived here before me (the idiots that put paneling everywhere) glued it AND nailed it in a million places.

Saturday 7 p.m. – I remove the paneling piece by piece and some of the glue sticks on the wall and some of it pulls the wallboard off. Oops. I drag the huge 4x8 foot sections down the hall and out into the back porch, and wonder, “How am I going to tell Mike about this?” Finally, around midnight I am so tired I can’t see straight. I’ve been up since five that morning, out in the sun all day looking at antiques, followed by gutting the bedroom all evening.

Sunday 7 a.m. – Ugh, I can’t move. I have to get up off the couch and try to patch the holes in the wall before Mike gets home.

Sunday noon – There is no way I’m going to get this done. I need to come up with a story. Nah, the truth is the best. It’ll be ok.

Sunday 4 p.m. – Oh my God, he’s home. Oh my God. He’s pulling around to the back yard. Oh my God, he’s coming to the back door.

I greet him with a big hug and hello! “Welcome home!” He’s all scruffy from his trip and I notice that he spots the mess. “What’s this?” “What?” “All the junk in the back porch!” “What junk? Oh, the paneling?” I pulled it off the wall in our bedroom. “What?” “Yeah, you know how you told me to buy a dresser?” “Yes.” “I did.” “Yeah?” “It came with a few other pieces.” “Where is it?” “Oh, the dealer is going to deliver it sometime this week.” “What?” “Yep, next week.”

I follow him down to the bedroom and he looks around and looks at me and shakes his head. “Well” he pauses, “Did you measure it to see if it will fit?” “Uhhhhh, no.” “What if it doesn’t fit?” “Well, it all won’t fit, I can already tell.” He is flabbergasted. “You do know that I have to start that class on Monday and it’s all day, 5-days a week.” “Oops.” I start talking fast. “Well, we can sleep out in the living room until we get the walls done and the new carpet”…. “New carpet?” “Of course! We can’t put the new furniture in here on that crummy floor.”

He takes a big deep breath and walks out of the room, to the back porch, and out the door to get his camping gear – and starts to put it away. I have no idea what he is thinking, because he is quiet. He starts to ask a question, and stops. Sometimes mutters. Sometimes he’ll ask another question or make a statement. “You didn’t measure.” Nope. “The price was right. Remember, I checked out dressers at the furniture store? They were as much as this whole bedroom cost. I’m sure we can sell some of the pieces if we need to.”

Following week – Mike takes on the job. The bedroom walls get fixed and painted (he picks pink), the bed and dressers fit (including the mirror), a new carpet is installed and I feel like a queen when I’m in my, oops, our room.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Painting

My sister-in-law and I take a week vacation in August to go to our local antique show in Bouckville, NY. We usually start on the Sunday before the big weekend and spend the week scouring the fields daily. Typically, (I don’t know why) I make a statement about what I want to find – I don’t know if it is to “put it out there” in the universe or what… but that year I stated “I want to buy a piece of art – cheap.”

And… almost the first booth I went to, I found a piece of art –an oil painting that was on the ground propped up against a plastic box. I picked it up and looked at it and thought it would look good in my living room. It didn’t have a frame AND it had a small hole in it. It was a beach scene in Hawaii (I guessed this based on the information on the back of the canvas), and I thought it was from around the 1930’s. I brought it over to the owner and asked, “How much?’ After he grabbed it out of my hands, he said… “Oh, I’ve got to get $20 bucks for this!” Since I already was holding a small beaded bag that he said I could “have” for $35, I asked if he’d “do” $50 for both. He said yes and I handed him a $50 bill. We put the painting in two small plastic bags (one on each end) and I tucked it under my arm and went on my merry way.

A little while later, while I was walking around with the painting still tucked under my arm, I heard a weird buzzing sound and then SMACK, a bug hit me in the center of my forehead! (I even had a baseball hat and glasses on.) I started to freak out because I thought it was a Japanese beetle, and flicked at it and it landed on my shorts… and when I when looked down and I saw that it was a ladybug. I scooted it off me and said, “Ladybug, bring me some good luck, help me find something good.”… I didn’t know I already had found it.

When the day was done, I opened the back door of my car, and tossed my $20 painting in the back seat and went home.

A few days later I started to wonder about the artist. I thought the painting looked like it had been painted by someone who know what he/she was doing. I “Googled” the signature and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had bought a painting by a famous American artist!

My husband and I did more research about the artist and decided that we couldn’t keep something so potentially valuable – and make sure it was properly cared for. So… I contacted a few auction houses in New York City and Brunk Auctions in North Carolina. All three agreed to sell my painting. I decided to use with Brunk Auctions, because they gave me personal attention and I knew up front what the costs would be. I sold the painting in January of 2006. We watched the auction through a live auctioneering site. It took only 28 seconds for it to be sold for a lot more than my $20 investment.

But that isn’t the best part of the story…

After the sale of the painting, I thought, “Now that I have this money, I want to make sure I’m around to enjoy it” and called my doctor’s for a regular checkup and a mammogram.

My mammogram was scheduled for February 8, 2006. After my mammogram, I sat in the waiting area for a long time. I don’t remember how many women came and went while I was still sitting there. Finally the technician came in and told me the doctor wanted a ultrasound because he saw a cyst. The ultrasound showed a mass right next to the cyst. A few weeks later, I had a biopsy and it was confirmed – I had breast cancer. This was very difficult news to hear and realize that even though I felt fine, there was this evil “thing” lurking in my body. I had a couple of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And, one and a half years later, I was finally “done.”

Using the word “done” isn’t a word that I use lightly. I don’t know if you are ever “done” with this type of thing. I try to keep a positive attitude, but you know it can come back and “smack you in the face” again. I am choosing to believe that I did all the necessary work (surgery, chemo, radiation) so that I am, in fact, “done” and that I won’t be sharing my body with cancer again.

So… that’s my painting story. I truly believe that if I hadn’t sold the painting in January, I might not have scheduled my mammogram until later in the year and my diagnosis might have been worse. I was lucky – and I think the ladybug did help me “find something good.”

Note: It’s now five years after this story began. I make sure I get my mammograms yearly and continue to shop for more artwork.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kick it Hemmes!

I ran in to my high school coach today in the hall at the college where I work. I was engrossed in conversation with a colleague, and never expected my coach from thirty years ago to be there. As this spry woman was walking past us, I caught a glimpse of her and said, “Majka?” and she looked at me, because I’m sure she was thinking the same thing, “Why would Hemmes be in this hallway?”

We greeted each other with a big bear hug, and not enough time to catch up. She was headed one way, and I another. I told her where my office was, and asked her to stop in one day to visit or stop by for lunch.

It was this woman who used to yell from the other side of the track, “KICK IT HEMMES” when I was on the last 200 meters of the grueling 800 meter race. I heard her yelling these very words every race in my senior year.

For some reason people in sports typically called each other by their last names. Hers was Prumo, and in my head I still think of her as Prumo, even though I know she’s been married for at least 25 years now and her last name is Majka. She’s the one who brought our school out of the gymnastics era and into the Title IX era, where we had teams of girls playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and track. She’s the one who mentored us to become what we are today.

We learned so many skills playing sports and being coached by Prumo. She was more about the hustle and less about the skill. Of course if you had both, that was great. Prumo was always looking for those who would work together and form the perfect team.

The “KICK IT HEMMES” helped me when I was young, just as it helped me when I really needed it. I don’t know if I can tell you a particular time when I heard her yelling in my head during my chemo treatments. I think whenever it got difficult, she was there yelling. Maybe it was on my fourth chemo treatment and I was sicker than a dog and vomiting like I have never vomited before. I heard her yelling “KICK IT HEMMES!” Or maybe it was during the 12 weekly chemos that I had to go through and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore – I’d hear her voice.

I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciate all that she did for me when I was in school. She helped me apply to college, helped me get a soccer scholarship, and even gave me a job coaching JV soccer when I graduated from college.

But I really think she helped me make it past anything that was difficult in my life with three simple words yelled at the top of her lungs. “KICK IT HEMMES!”

So all I can respond is with a “THANK YOU PRUMO!”

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Backyard Balance Beam

Back in the early 1970s the Russian gymnasts were inspiring young girls across the world with their skills and abilities. Olga Korbut was changing the face of gymnastics with her fabulous moves on the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam. Olga had inspired (so it seemed) every girl in my school to want to become a gymnast, and I was no exception. I got involved in all the gymnastic events at school and could even do a back handspring (with some help). I was terrified of the vault, and couldn’t do it in practice, but when it came time to show off my skills during a showcase for parents, I managed to make it over the horse and without landing flat on my face.

In 1976, Olga Korbut again inspired us to do more difficult tricks on the balance beam. I must have hounded my father into making a beam for me. He sanded and varnished a piece of wood, and put it up in our back yard near by bedroom window. My beam was the standard four inches wide, and probably about three feet of the ground.

While Olga was doing back flips and crazy back bends on the beam, I was honing my skills with a full turn, a shoulder roll, and some other fabulous moves that certainly would help get me into the Olympics one day.

During practice at school, I learned how to do cartwheels on the beam and a dismount that was a no-handed round off. This move was quite simple for me, and I wanted to show it off to my friends and cousins one day from my own backyard balance beam.

I kicked off my sneakers and hopped up on the beam while explaining what I was going to do. I gracefully moved to the end of the beam and prepared for the most fabulous dismount that they would ever see in person (and not on TV). I moved my arms around, and my feet followed.

All of a sudden, the momentum stopped and I was in the air suspended parallel to the ground for what seemed to be an eternity. I looked around at the faces while I was in the air looking something like Wylie Coyote when he runs off the cliff when chasing the Road Runner.

They all had their mouths open and I was splayed out in mid-air. And then all of a sudden, gravity took over and SPLAT. I landed flat on the lawn. Arms extended, legs straight out, and you could hear the WOOOSH of air come out of my lungs. The audience all held their breath and looked down on me lying on the ground. I sucked in a big breath and they all sighed. When I finally could breathe, we all started to laugh.

The only thing I can say about that incident, was thank God my mother didn’t see my fabulous dismount, because she would have had my father sawing the legs off that balance beam faster than you could hum the first few bars of the USSR’s national anthem.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Convergence - and a Song Called "Skinny"

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I started a class called Digital Narratives in January 2011. At the same time, my husband, decided he needed to "fill some holes" in his life by contacting one of his friends that he hadn't spoken to in a long time.

During the time they hadn't spoken, Mike's friend Jon had been creating a lot of music and brought over multiple CDs of the songs we hadn't heard. This one song stuck in my head and I couldn't get it out. At first I was annoyed with a section of the song, but after I heard it a couple of times, I guess I "got it."

I sat down at my computer the Sunday before my class started and created this video. I yelled to my husband from my office "What's the name of that song? I need to find it on our iTunes!" He yelled back, "I don't think it has a name, it's Track 7." So, I decided it was going to be called "Skinny." I'm not sure if that's what Jon was going to call it, but that's its name now.

So here's my first digital narrative project - while it is not a personal story, I think the lyrics tell a story and the images give the lyrics meaning. I used images that are out there in the webosphere to illustrate the lyrics in this song.


"Skinny" music by Jon Liebing, video by Lynne Browne

The Ivory Horse - an artifact project

Another assignment for Digital Narratives class was to create a story using artifacts we've collected. Those who know me KNOW that I have probably a MILLION artifacts (that might only be a slight exageration), so I chose to use only ONE artifact and develop a story around it.

I chose a little ivory horse that I found a few years ago. He is about 2 inches tall, and I have him on my shelf tucked between decanters. He is very delicate, so I put him there to protect him from the tiny people who come to visit who ALWAYS pick up the scariest thing possible.

I hope you enjoy the story:
The Ivory Horse

~ Lynne

Birthdays - an Animoto project

I created an Animoto project called "Birthdays" for my Digital Narratives class.

Here's the link:

I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to my husband for acquiring the props (cake and candles). Also thanks to my parents for participating.


Here's a link to the full version of the birthday song.
We had to do it twice, because I forgot we could do more than one "take".
(You must have a facebook account to see the video).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What a day it was - 3 stories

I created three stories for my audioboo narrative. The first one was rejected by my husband because he said “you sound like a chow hound.” Nice. I thought I had the assignment done and it was good – I even had found an alarm sound effect. I guess it was back to the drawing board.

The second story I wrote after hearing Prof. Banner tell her story about her accident. The visual of the buildings and blue sky and the story really helped me see that my first story was not personal enough. And, my husband was right. I guess I went to the other extreme with story 2 because it made him cry when I let him listen to my recording. He said, “that one’s too sad.” Ugh.

He told me to “tell the painting story.” I opted to tell the “how the painting was sold” story, and I’ll save the actual “how I found the painting” for another day.

The stories are listed in reverse order of creation. I’ve included an image of the painting and a link to the audioboo file at: in case you're interested in hearing the story instead of reading it.


Story 3 - What A Day it Was (and the one I used)

What a day it was…I was feeling awful that Saturday morning. I had a cold, I could barely breathe, and my nose hurt. And even though I felt terrible, I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. Today was THE day I had been waiting for… for over five months!

This was the morning my painting was going to sell at auction. It was one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me – and the outcome of the sale would be known by 9:30.

Since the auction was in North Carolina and I live in New York, I planned to watch it online. It started at 9, so I brought my cup of tea into my computer room and logged in. My painting was lot 74, so I had to sit through 73 other lots before the fun began!

Finally, up came my painting with a reserve of $8,000.

The bidding started immediately, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 11 thousand dollars… While clapping my hands, I shouted at the monitor, “Come on, give me some more!”And the price started to rise again, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17... Text came up on the screen, “This auction is about to close.” Auction closed. Sold for $17,000.

The whole process took about 28 seconds.

The painting with a small hole in the sky that I found sitting on the ground propped up against a plastic container, just sold for $17K. Not a bad investment for $20, and just buying it with the intent of hanging on my living room wall in a $5 frame.

Story 2 - What a Day it Was

It’s hard to forget the day that changed your life forever. My day is Wednesday, February 8, 2006.

I went for my yearly mammogram – well, it supposed to be yearly, but somehow I would skip 6 months or a year, I was young and healthy, so no big deal.

I had my mammo done and they told me to go and sit in the waiting room. I remember waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. I saw many women come in and put their little cotton tops on and come back when they were done and leave.

All while I sat there. I remember reading Fortune magazine, and thought that it would be a good magazine to subscribe to. Why, I remember that tidbit, is beyond me.

They asked me to have a couple more films taken, and then more waiting. After that, they brought me in for a sonogram.

And I waited some more.

Finally, a woman, or should I call her a girl, told me to go into an office and the doctor would talk to me. The doctor came in and had a weird look on his face. It wasn’t happy, it wasn’t sad. It was just weird.

As I sat there, he explained that there was something on the mammogram. “Now,” he said, “It seems like something is there, but don’t worry. It might not be anything.”

I left his office with a little sheet of paper with a checkmark in the section that read, “suspicious” or something like that.

I went back to work in disbelief. I worked the rest of the day until I got a call from my doctor and she said, “You need to meet with a specialist. What do you want to do? Who do you want to see?”

I replied, “How do I know?” She tossed out a couple of names and I told her to make a decision, since I didn’t really know who to go to. She told me that they would make an appointment for me. And they’d call me back sometime.

My mind was blank. I drove home. I told my husband. It sucked.

Finally, my brain started to work again. I called my sister-in-law who has had “problems” with this type of thing. She gave me a name. I called a friend, she said the same name. I called another friend, and again, the same doctor’s name was mentioned.

It was after these phone calls that I realized that I needed to take control of the situation and choose the best doctor who would get me out of this potential mess. What a great decision. He saved my life.

That was 5 years ago. What a day indeed.

Story 1 - What a Day it Was

What a day it was

I woke up to the smell of bacon wafting down the hall.

Sniff sniff, was that cinnamon too? Mmmmm Mike must be making breakfast.

I got out of my warm comfy bed, and strolled down to the kitchen to find French toast, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. What a way to start a Monday!

After breakfast I got ready for work, and even made it there on time.

My morning was filled with emails and returning phone calls, but nothing major to get upset about.

Lunch was good too – good food, and friends talking about their weekends.

The afternoon was uneventful – more email, more web changes, and no one bugged me.

The ride home was just as good as the ride in. No traffic, and the sunset was pretty. I felt great.

I stopped into the nice and easy and picked up 2 scratch off tickets, one for me and one for Mike.

I got home and dinner was on the table – pizza, my favorite, and a salad, not so much a favorite, but according to Mike, an important part of dinner.

We scratched our scratchies and we both won $5 bucks. Not a million for life, but better than a stick in the eye.

We hung out and talked and watched TV, and then went to bed, saying, “I love you” to each other.

As I laid their reflecting on the great day I had, I drifted off to a nice calm sleep….


I cracked one eye open to the alarm clock, ugh.

What a nice dream. I guess it’s cold cereal again today.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome to my IDT 523 Digital Narratives blog

Hello and welcome.

This is where I will be posting blogs for my spring 2011 digital narratives class. I've chosen this name because I'm hoping after this class my husband will use it to post some of his tales. In my opinion, he really is the story teller of our family.

~ Lynne