Amy Artisan

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Month: December 2010

On Holidays & Home

As 2010 comes to an end, I look back and see that most of the year was spent away from home. My Christmas photo card shows that while I may not have been home that much I enjoyed many “home” moments during the year.

While up north this month, I managed to do a lot of Christmas prep work. Many evenings in the hotel were filled with simple gift knitting for some dear kids in my life. One evening I made the paper chain from holiday papers and “O Holy Night” lyrics to loop on the mantel. On one Friday afternoon trek home, I stopped at exit 107 to once again pick up a beautiful wreath from a Boy Scout stand to provide fresh greens for the house. The UPS Store up there was very handy for getting packages mailed. Holiday décor and Christmas gifts were found at some of the local stores.

For the 2nd year in a row, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree at home because of my WI work assignment. Needless to say, I definitely look forward to having a tree at my home next Christmas! The mantel and fireplace glow with white lights as a back drop for the fresh wreath, the paper chain and nativities. My collection of nativities is on the mantel including the newest addition that I picked up in Door County in August. The top of the entertainment center is a forest of Christmas trees. In the dining room, my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The Sunday before Christmas I hosted my 5th annual Holiday Tea for several girlfriends – over plates of tea treats & cups of holiday tea we all escaped the hustle and bustle of the holiday prep to celebrate friendship. The Monday before Christmas I finished up my Christmas cards while enjoying the glow of the decorations in my living room  – it has been a couple years since I had the cards done before Christmas. This afternoon I hosted a friend for lunch and knitting in the midst of the holiday light glow. Tomorrow, the decorations will come down as I watch the Rose Parade.

I’m thankful that the flights to and from Georgia were non events – the highlight of the travel was on my flight down to ATL…the frequent flier in seat 1C gave up his seat for an Army Captain in a middle seat in the back of the plane. At home in the ‘Ville, I think we had the most perfect Christmas tree ever – it took us till Christmas Eve morning to finish decorating it; however, even just with the lights on it was gorgeous to gaze at. On Christmas Eve we enjoyed our family tradition of a movie in the afternoon and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the evening. On Christmas morning, holiday coffee and Mom’s orange rolls provided sustenance for tackling the mound of presents. Rebecca once again hosted the family for a lovely Christmas dinner – at the end of the evening we looked out to see the car covered in snow & big, fluffy snowflakes falling – it was the first White Christmas in Atlanta in more than 130 years. Other decorations of the time at home included catching up with high school friends – including some that I haven’t seen since graduation – it is nice to be better connected with these friends once again.

Looking back on the month that was, once again I’m reminded that holiday and home can be found in the simplest things – traditions and new things equally contribute to the happiness. As I look ahead to the new year, I look forward to more moments of holiday and home – both near and far.

Mobile Moments

Several years ago, when I was upgrading my cell phone I remember commenting that I didn’t need the camera feature on the new phone – “why would you bother with that?” was the spirit of my comment. Of course, at that time the camera phones produced very sketchy pictures. Last December, when I made my latest smartphone upgrade I had to chuckle that my phone now had a better camera on it than my first digital camera. While I do have a small camera that stays in my purse, I do enjoy having a ready camera on the phone to capture unexpected moments.

As I have been north in Marinette this year, the camera on the phone has been handy for capturing a few insights into my “life” up north. Since “end of the year” retrospectives are common, I’ve assembled some of these highlights into a collage.

(Click on the collage to view it in Flickr with details about each picture)

As I look at these highlights that I captured, I’m reminded that even in the midst of times of great busyness and stress you can find bright moments. Who knows what moments I will capture when I’m back up north in the New Year…

Anywhere USA

So…a little over a year ago I began my current project assignment that has me trekking northward. The project has been pretty intense; however, on balance I have enjoyed my time in Marinette. This is a small town – I have come to appreciate the change of pace & have settled into a routine. In my year up here, there have been many joking conversations with my counterpart (a Marinette native) about “big city life in Chicago” vs. “small town life in Marinette.” When people would ask where my current assignment was, the name Marinette didn’t mean anything – so I would then elaborate with “it’s an hour north of Green Bay and on the border with the UP.”

Now, people know of Marinette because of Monday evening.

After a fairly typical start to the day and week, as I was wrapping up my day I heard a man in a nearby cube receive a call from his teenage daughter – as he quickly left the office he mentioned that the high school was on lockdown – there had been a shooting – not a lot was known. I did a quick search online & didn’t see any details. When I left the office & headed to the hotel to check in I followed my normal route – at the high school intersection, the dark sky was aglow with the blue and red lights of emergency vehicles. As I checked in at the hotel, a favorite front desk gal was on the phone with her daughter at the high school trying to gather more details.

Not a lot was known – a student had taken his classroom hostage.

Details and rumors began to trickle out – news media from Green Bay scrambled to get reporters up here. Regular programming was interrupted with breaking news updates. Social media lit up with the story – in addition to the rush of false statements and comments I saw some great journalism in less than 160 characters via Twitter – throughout the evening Marinette was a top 10 trending topic on Twitter. Sprinkled in were emails & text messages with colleagues.

Finally, the news that the students and teacher had been safely freed from the classroom. No comment on the student that had caused the situation – the look on the police chief’s face indicated the next update would not be good. With each subsequent news conference, the news about the student became more dire and now there is a family, a school, a community wondering why this boy felt this action was his only possible solution.

On Tuesday, the office conversations were filled with reactions to Monday evening. This is a small town – it seemed like almost everyone knew someone involved. More and more details about the events are being shared. The teacher is being hailed a hero – a high school social studies teacher that is well liked and makes an impact on her students. (Hearing how that teacher handled the situation, I am once again in awe of my little sister…a high school social studies teacher that is well liked and makes an impact on her students and has dealt with various student situations in her years in the classroom…)

Today, the school is reopened. The conversations in the office are mostly filled with other topics. My colleagues are ready for the glare of the national spotlight to leave their community. On Saturday, a new Navy ship is being launched from the plant next door – it sits in the river waiting to debut – that was to be the big story from the town this week.

And once again, I’m reminded that these types of tragedies can happen anywhere at any time. This week, I happened to be in Anywhere USA.

P.S. Amongst all the coverage this week, my favorite piece is an editorial blog from the daily paper at Iowa State University – the editor is a Marinette grad who truly wrote from her heart.

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