Monday, May 31, 2010

A story worth sharing...

May 27, 5:30 AM EDT
Courtesy of The Progress-Index

Adventurer leaves NY career to walk across US

AVALON, Wis. (AP) -- In these uncertain times, most of us cling to the things that make us feel secure. Those who have jobs give thanks. We hug our children a little tighter. We wait - and hope - for better times.

So when someone like Matt Green comes along, we shake our heads a little and wonder. Who is this young man, bearded and weather-worn, pushing a cart down a country road, mile after mile? And why would he abandon a solid career as a civil engineer - a roadway designer, ironically - to walk all the way across America?

"Good question," he concedes to those who frequently ask about his motives.

Unlike others who've made cross-country treks, Green is not looking to break a record of any kind. Nor does he want to draw attention to a particular cause. He has no agenda, other than the handwritten list of directions he regularly compiles from Google Maps, in the event his cell phone can't access them from remote areas.

No, for Green, there's just something about the act of walking that makes him really happy, much more content than he ever would have been in his office cubicle in Manhattan, where he used to daydream about doing something epic like this.

On the road, there's a simple purpose to each day, he says. There is camaraderie with the people he meets along the way. There is excitement in discovering what's around the next bend.

"Playing it safe isn't really that safe," he has concluded. "If you do that, you miss out on a lot of the great things life has to offer."

For him, making this journey is freedom.


Green, a 30-year-old Virginia native, began his walk in late March at Rockaway Beach, a seaside neighborhood just south of New York's Kennedy Airport. The goal: Make it to Rockaway Beach, Ore., just over 3,000 miles to the west.

By air, the trip takes a little more than six hours. Green figures it will take him about six months. He started planning more than a year ago, saving money by living frugally and designing a rolling cart to carry his tent, sleeping bag and the fewest supplies possible.

On days off, he also prepared by leading groups on long walking tours in New York City, where he lived for five years. The routes he chose enabled people to see the city in new ways. He started them off at 6 miles, or 8, and worked them up to even longer distances. The groups steadily grew. People begged him to plan more neighborhood treks. And his own love of walking, and the connections that could be made at a slow, almost meditative pace, deepened.

So when Green told his walking buddies he planned to do a cross-country trip, they were among the few who "thought it was the coolest thing they'd ever heard."

Others, including his parents, weren't as convinced.

They worried about his safety, that he'd get hit by a car or attacked. They also wondered whether their eldest should be more settled in his life.

"For my generation, stability meant something different," says his dad, Barry Green, who lives in Ashland, Va., with Green's mom, Miriam.

In his day, there was more of a premium placed on sticking with a job and moving around less.

Not that he didn't have his own wanderlust, at least for a time. The elder Green remembers how, as a young man - even younger than his son - he saved up money, bought a car and did his own traveling. His own mother would wait by the telephone for him to call.

Now he and Miriam find themselves watching each night for an e-mail that comes when their son pushes the "I'm OK" button on an emergency beacon that transmits his exact location by satellite. Green also carries pepper spray and a stick to fend off attacking dogs. So far, he hasn't needed them.

He understands his parents' trepidation and does what he can to allay their fears, without giving up this adventure.

But for now, he's less concerned about stability, or preparing for something far off like retirement, especially in a time when so many people are having to put off that retirement, anyway.

"What's the point of living the majority of your life preparing for that last little bit?" he asks.


And so, he walks, up to a personal record of 28 miles each day, reloading on food - his main expense - when he passes through small towns.

In the West, he figures there will be five-day stretches with few signs of civilization. But even now, in the Midwest, his directions sometimes take him on hidden roads that most people would miss.

On one secluded stretch near Avalon, Wis., he happened upon a dairy farm with a large garden across the road. A handmade sign above it read: "Welcome Visitors - Gloria's Garden Tours Anytime."

Green knocked on the door. The owner was 84-year-old Gloria Ransom, who was more than happy to show him the garden she'd planted and tended for years.

"My kids would tell me not to talk to strangers, but I don't care. I like to think that everybody is good," she told Green, as she pointed out bright red poppies and other plants and flowers.

"Heaven sakes," she said, "nobody who wants to go through your garden is going to rob you."

She invited him into her grand old farmhouse. She showed him her quilts and paintings and photos of her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She even pulled out an old photo from a trip she made out West with her family in 1937, when she was 11. The mode of transport was a Ford "Model A" that pulled a camping trailer - a rig the adults in the group sometimes had to push up the steeper terrain.

Whether it was that trip or something else, Gloria understood the allure of a trip like Green's. And when he left, she seemed genuinely sad to see him go.

It's the type of connection Green has found repeatedly on this trip - another lesson, says the self-proclaimed introvert, in taking chances and stepping outside his comfort zone.

"The people I've met who've had no fear of me, they generally seem to be really happy people," he says. "I just hope I can return that kindness to others."

Jason Eppink, a 28-year-old assistant museum curator who met Green through the walks he led in New York, says Green's journey is "obviously a personal project, but I don't think it's a one-way street."

Green, says Eppink, is "able to touch people."


Each night before the sun sets, Green counts on that ability, knocking on farmhouse doors to find a place to pitch his small tent.

He doesn't always get a "yes." But night after night, there is always someone who takes an interest in this young stranger and his quest, including Liz and Ron Struzynski, a bank worker and laborer who live outside Milton, Wis.

"I don't suppose you've watched 'Forrest Gump,'" Ron Struzynski said, chuckling as he compared Green - as many people have - to the movie character known for his penchant for running.

Green grinned and nodded, as he went to set up his tent near the couple's newly planted vegetable gardens.

The Struzynskis let him charge his cell phone and fill up his water bottles. He washed up in their barn, and they invited him in for a meal.

"He's more than welcome, heck," Liz Struzynski said. "It takes a lot of courage to do what he's doing."

Back in Virginia, his parents look at the photos Green regularly sends from his cell phone to his website, which is used by family, friends and people he's met along the way to keep up with the trip.

Green is circumspect when considering whether the journey will help him figure out what he wants to do next.

"I didn't want to be too ambitious about what I would figure out on this walk," Green says. "I didn't want to tell myself that when I was done, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. But maybe in the back of my head somewhere, I'm kind of hoping that."

His parents are hoping that, too, though they're also learning about letting go.

"You just have to have faith in somebody sometimes," Green's dad says. "So we have faith in him."



Matt's website:


Martha Irvine is an AP national writer. She can be reached at mirvine(at) or via

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My Steed, the lizard hunter!

Here she Steed! This is Lexi, our Boston Terrier fur-child! What a face, huh? 22 pounds of LOVE! She has lots of nicknames including: Charlie Chomps, Stinky, Lexi Lou, Alexis Louise (When she's bad), Boo Boo, etc.

She loves to be outside rolling in the grass and chasing lizards around the house! The lizards run along the row lock of the brick foundation. Poor Lexi...she hardly ever catches them. It's quite comical to watch her run around and around. Most of the time the lizards are right in front of her face and she just doesn't see them. I know they're laughing at her!

Here she is sniffing for them. They are right near her nose, but she just misses them.

Still trying...................................................

Party's over! She's given up! I'm sure the lizards are glad!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Sermon - May 30

Location: Ivor, Virginia

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Muddy Buddy Pics are finally here!

First, I'd like to thank Lisa for taking such great pictures of the Muddy Buddy. She and her husband, Mike, and their two daughters (our adopted nieces) were there for the 7 a.m. start and waited for us to cross the finish line! What good friends we have to patiently wait all that time!

As you can see my Dynamo was being such a gentleman by holding up the flag as I drag myself under the flag and through the pit. Not the best angle, but our photographer was free so I won't complain.In the above picture my niece, Madison, is giving me a great big hug after the grueling race! She hadn't competed in the Mini Muddy Buddy yet, so I just had to go ahead and get her dirty!

Above is Jordan crawling through the pit with her Dad in the Mini Muddy Buddy. It is so much fun...until.....

She realized that she was dirty.....

What a fun day! It was a lot of work, but totally worth it! So, here's the last photo that I'll share of Dynamo and I right after the race! Dynamo looks great, but I'm such a wreck!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Designing Good Roads for Everyone...A Planner's Perspective

My friend, Jamie, of Walkin' In High Cotton, is my guest blogger today. Her day job is being a Long Range Planner for a local government. I asked her to share a little about the value of bike lanes and community planning. Thank you, Jamie, for sharing with us today!

May is National Bike Month, and with my dear friend the Dirt Diva (and her dear friends!) out on the roads, I’m glad to put on my Community Planner hat and write a post about designing good roads.

Sound boring? It could be—if you never leave your house.

But here’s the thing… roadways that are safer for bicycles are generally safer for everyone else too. Being an advocate for bicycle safety means being an advocate for pedestrian safety, kids-walking-the-dog safety, senior-citizen safety, wheelchair-travel safety, families-going-to-the-neighborhood-park safety…the list can go on and on. Shared roadways are very common in the more urban areas of Europe, like these in Italy. They are designed for everyone.

Photo credit

In America, roads are designed for cars and everyone else is a secondary concern to moving those cars faster and more efficiently. If your area doesn’t have sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes—you need them. Each serves a different a user group and purpose--don’t let anyone tell you they’re redundant. Kids don’t walk to school in a bike lane.

There’s a new concept floating around in Community Planning circles called Complete Streets. It’s the idea that streets can be designed to safely and attractively accommodate all users, not just cars. For example, here’s a car-dominated road in Minneapolis…

Photo credit

And here’s an idea of what it could look like if it was designed for all users, based on legislation proposed by the Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition (….

Photo credit

What can you do to bring change like this to your neighborhood?

Get familiar with these ideas. Go to your local public meetings and tell your Board members what you want and why. Tell developers coming to your community what kind of roads you want to see in your neighborhoods. And support and follow groups working to make these changes, like America Walks (, Smart Growth America ( ), and the National Center for Safe Routes to School ( Good streets make good neighborhoods.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kiawah Me and Win!

Ever been to Kiawah Island, SC? It's a fantastic place to visit right near Charleston. My college roommate, Melissa, and her husband have a company called Cobblestone Destinations. They are offering a complimentary night in their Kiawah house and all you have to do is post a comment! Go to their blog to enter!

Hello Again Thursday!

The above card was sent to our adopted niece, so I used a color scheme that was bright and cheery for a kid. Of course I had to add some stitching. I think it just adds so much to the card. It's probably a lot easier for me to stitch on cards since my sewing machine is always out and ready to go. Lots of people don't have that luxury. It would look good without stitching too...your choice!

I used the Hello Again Stamp set from Stampin' Up! This is a great inexpensive set (picture below from catalog).
Other materials used in the project include:
Crushed Curry Cardstock, Razzleberry Lemonade Designer Series Paper, Confetti White Cardstock, Rich Razzleberry Cardstock, Melon Mambo Polka Dot Ribbon, Rich Regals Stampin' Write Markers, In Color Stampin' Write Markers

Interested in any of the items above? E-mail Me! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buzzed at work...

This post is dedicated to my friend, Missy, at Melissa Marie's House of Bees.

Yesterday at work was a very eventful day. All was going well until I got a call to come out and "see" what a bear did to a local beekeeper's bee hives. When I arrived at the farm field where the incident occurred, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Bell of Nuby Run Bees (Orbit, VA) all dressed in their beekeeping garb trying to put the hives back together. Apparently, a bear had tried to get to the larvae inside the hive. I always thought they were after the honey...I guess not! The bees were very upset. I guess I would have been too if something attacked my home. I was back at what I thought was a safe observer's distance, but apparently that wasn't the case. Mr. Bell walked over with a frame from the hive to show me the damage up close and a couple of the bees must have thought my hair smelled inviting so in they flew. I don't really know how many flew in my hair, but it was a lot. I heard them buzzing around down at my scalp. They told me to be calm and they would find their way out on their own. Yeah right! Well, not so much! I think they were planning to set up camp in there. So, I started to panic a little. Well, they started to panic too, and that was all she wrote. They started stinging and stinging and stinging. I really don't know how many times I got stung in my head and on my face, but I know that it hurt some kinda bad! Mrs. Bell doused me with smoke (that is supposed to calm the bees) during the incident. I'm not sure if that helped. All I know is that after the attack was over I smelled like I'd been sitting at a camp fire for hours. I'm pretty confident that the farmer and his son discing the field were laughing hysterically watching me dance around frantically.

When I got back to the office, I picked out all of the stingers (At least the ones I could find.) My co-worker had a Benadryl so I took that and decided to get home and rest before I couldn't make the drive home without falling asleep from the medicine. My head throbbed for a long while. I iced my head and slept for a while once I got home. Mr. Bell called to check on me. I told him that I wasn't making anymore farm visits to his place for a while. I'm okay today, but my head is really sore, and now the itching has begun. I told my friends at work that they might have to assist with the application of the anti-itch cream since I can't see inside my hair.

I'll survive. I must say that this is the worst thing to happen in my 9 years of working in agriculture, so I consider myself lucky! Lesson learned...there is no safe distance when it comes to bees.

Awash With Flowers Thank You

The above thank you card was made with the following materials:
  • Awash With Flowers Clear Mount Stamp Set, Great Friend Stamp Set, So Saffron Cardstock, Rich Razzleberry Classic Stampin' Pad, Melon Mambo Polka Dot Ribbon, Rich Razzleberry Textured Cardstock, Razzleberry Lemonade Designer Series Paper, Very Vanilla Cardstock, Chocolate Chip Classic Stampin' Pad, (Stampin' Up!)
  • Old Dictionary page
  • Sewing Machine

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life is a Matter of Moments

It's the last week to celebrate National Scrapbooking Month with Stampin' Up!
Here's another 6 x 6 page that I recently did.
Life is a matter of moments and it's really important to capture those memories in some way. The 6 x 6 album is great for small photos. I don't do a lot of journaling on my pages, but I plan to start. The photo on this page was made to look like an old Polaroid(TM) instant photo using an online program called Poladroid. Be sure to check it's free!

Materials Used in the above project include:
  • Pink Piroutte Cardstock, Wild Wasbi Textured Cardstock, Real Red Classic Stampin' Pad, Elements of Style Stamp Set (Stampin' Up!)
  • Pages from a really old dictionary, Lace (Thrift Store)
  • Old Milk Bottle Cap, Red Polka Dot Ribbon, red flower, pink floral paper (Jenni Bowlin Studio)
  • Sewing Machine

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mountain Bike Monday and More

Well, we had a busy weekend! We went for a morning ride at Pocohontas State Park in Chesterfield on the Lakeview Trails on Saturday. We only saw 2 black snakes (in the root ball of a big tree hiding from us), some squirrels, and a frog. Sorry the pictures are a little foggy. My camera phone was cold from being in my Camelbak and the air was hot and humid. We biked with our friend, Mike. It was a fun ride.

Then, we took a little ride to Raleigh, NC...

Little did we know there would be an Ag Fest going on at the NC State Fairgrounds! We were going so I could shop the Flea Market! Jeff enjoyed looking at the old trucks and tractors! We've never seen so many old tractors in one place at one time! I couldn't believe the giant ice cream cone!

Then, we visited the Raleigh Farmers Market! What an awesome place!
We just had to take a picture of ourselves (into the sun might I add) with the pig!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Sermon - May 23

Small messages are everywhere...just look! The above message, "God Loves You," on the front glass of this little country store in Dendron, Virginia, was printed in black ink on computer paper and then pieced together in the window by someone. Patrons that visit the store everyday probably rarely notice, but it caught my eye while driving by and I thought I should share with you. That little reminder meant a lot to me that day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

May is National Bike Month

Bike Month 2010

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day today, Friday, May 21. It's a little late for me to advocate you biking to work today since it's already here! I'll do better about promoting it earlier next year!

Since we work a little far from where we live it's a little tough for us to bike to work (the unfortunate part of living in rural Virginia), but we definitely celebrate biking most every week in our house by either biking at a local park or taking a road ride to the Petersburg Farmers Market.

Bike Month is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather. Dynamo and I enjoy biking together and with our friends. In the photo above, Dynamo was trying out our adopted niece's bike last weekend. I think he's a little big for it, don't you?

Remember to always share the road with bikers! In the state of Virginia, it's a law that drivers must give bikers at least 2 feet of clearance. Read about the effort to change the law from 2 feet to 3 feet here. Please be respectful of bicyclists. To learn more about bike laws in Virginia, visit the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Please remember to share the road!

Thank you Friday!

This is a quick thank you card using Rich Razzleberry textured cardstock from Stampin' Up! as the base. I used assorted SU colors to make the flower. Simply cut random sized circles and then distress the edges with a distresser tool (you can also use an emory board) to make the aged/worn look. Put them together with a designer rhinestone brad. The leaves are from the new stamp set Awash with Flowers from SU. The fabric is ribbon I found in a grab bag at the local thrift store, which I sewed on. I just love stitching on cards! Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Mini Catalog Polka-Dot Album

Have you seen the new Stampin' Up! Summer Mini catalog? Well, you have to check it out! There are lots of pretty new things including the above green Polka-Dot 6 x 6 mini album! It's perfect for those of us who like to do quick scrapbook pages.

For this 6 x 6 page I used old sheet music and lace found at the local thrift store. I also used a piece of cardboard-like textured packaging filler. I'm sorry that i don't know what it is exactly!. The brown polka-dot paper is from the Bella Rose Designer Series Paper collection. The rabbit is stamped on Very Vanilla cardstock. The stamp set is Alice in Wonderland from TJ Designs. Of course I had to use my sewing machine to jazz it up a bit!

National Scrabooking Month ends May 31st!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Always Dream Big

Thank you to Jamie at Walkin' In High Cotton for inviting me to guest blog today on her site.

I created the above Dream Pillow with no particular pattern. I had bought this fat quarter pack a while ago and have been waiting for the best time to use it. It's pieced together randomly and then cut to the size I liked for a small accent pillow. I used lace from a grab bag I bought at the local thrift store to make it more feminine. Next time I might use lace around all edges of the pillow.

For the bookmark/tag placed in the pocket I used Stampin' Up! goodies! They are: Embrace Life Stamp set, Rough Type Stamp set, Whimsical Words stamp set, Old Olive Stampin' Write Marker, Old Olive Classic Stampin' Pad, Clear blocks B & C, Kraft cardstock, Kiwi Kiss cardstock, Not Quite Navy Classic Stampin' Pad, and watercolor pencils.

I love the new clear stamps from Stampin' Up! It's so nice to be able to arrange letters onto the block into words and combine multiple images. If you'd like to order any of these items or learn more about Stampin' Up!, contact me at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vintage Sewing Patterns Found at Friday for the Arts

Don't you just love old stuff? Well, I do. I was so excited to find these three great pattern sets last Friday night at Friday for the Arts in Petersburg! The best part about old patterns is that the patterns are already cut out and ready to use (most of the time). Now, I just have to find some pretty fabric to make me a dress!

Friday for the Arts in Old Towne Petersburg is great! Petersburg has come a long ways since I was a child. Our new favorite spot is Demolition Coffee, 215 East Bank Street. This place has great character and good food...especially the fabulous eclairs! Many of the decorations are repurposed items.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May is National Scrapbooking Month

May is National Scrapbooking Month and Stampin' Up! wants to celebrate! From now until May 31, 2010, get some great freebies!

It's the perfect time for you to start documenting your memories!

To assist you in this, Stampin' Up! is offering a special promotion for the month of May: purchase a qualifying scrapbooking stamp set or the My Digital Studio software and receive a FREE package of Designer brads--choose from four designs! If you're interested in placing an order send me an email or go online and order 24 hours a day! Be sure to select me as your demonstrator to get preferred pricing!

Qualifying products and Designer brads are listed below:

Stamp sets

Page Description Wood-Mount Item Wood-Mount Price Clear-Mount Item Clear-Mount Price

Extreme Elements

115181 $26.95 --- ---

Framed with Love**

114389 $27.95 --- ---


113706 $27.95 --- ---

Circle Circus

115778 $28.95 --- ---

Elements of Style

118611 $27.95 120045 $19.95


119910 $27.95 120105 $19.95

Elements de style

119900 $27.95 120099 $19.95

Rough Type

118659 $26.95 120072 $18.95

Sentimental Journey

118513 $23.95 120075 $17.95

First Day

118521 $23.95 120051 $17.95

Camino a la Escuela

120152 $23.95 120154 $17.95
*From Summer Mini Catalog
**Last Chance stamp set!

Designer brads

Page Description Item Retail Price Price with Qualifying Purchase

Flower Designer brads

112579 $5.95 FREE

Filigree Designer brads

112577 $5.95 FREE

Circle Designer brads

112571 $5.95 FREE

Star Designer brads

112572 $5.95 FREE