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Runs with Scissors

December 2, 2017

Hello, again! I hope I don’t disappoint too many of you if there is no running involved in today’s Run with Scissors. “Barely moving with scissors” is more like it today. I’ve been back from Minneapolis for a few days but it will take a little longer before I am running at full speed.

My fatigue is the result of keeping up with two toddler grandchildren as well as walking up and down the three flights of stairs to my daughter’s condo. It is worth every weary cell in my body to have made the memories we did during this visit. I will have photos and stories next week. Grandma needs time to sort and organize.

Enough chit chat. Since there is very little time left to make and send Christmas cards, I have kept today’s cards easy peasy: quick and easy to make so you have time to put them in an envelope and send them on their way.

This is the last of the alcohol ink backgrounds, and I saved it for the Ornament Tree and the Merry Christmas sentiment. It has been helpful to have backgrounds made up ahead when time is running short. I may even be running out of my supply of gold cardstock. I hope it all comes out even by Christmas.

Previously, I stamped this Amaryllis stamp using silver ink on black cardstock and loved the effect. Because my plan for this post was to demonstrate “quick and easy”, I tried stamping the Amaryllis with Versamark and embossing in gold. That beautiful stamp did not disappoint!

The gold embossing powder was on the desk and I wanted to emboss another Christmas image in gold. I chose the wreath from the Festive Season set along with the sentiment from the Peace and Love set. I layered the cardstock using the Antique Frame die set. Every wreath needs a bow and so I added one to the card. Easy peasy and elegant.

My Friend Gretchen

I am fortunate to have a friend named Gretchen who has been a blessing in my life. My first encounter with Gretchen was when I received an eviction notice from her father. Great way to start a friendship, huh?

When my children were very young, we bought a business and moved to a small community outside of Madison, Wisconsin.   We were lucky enough after a long search to find one of those big old homes to rent that you often see in small towns, two stories and four bedrooms. It was perfect for us.

I repainted the rooms, we had a new kitchen floor installed, put down room sized rugs, hung drapes and settled in. We loved the house. After worrying for so long about finding a place to live, this was heavenly.

The eviction letter arrived before we had lived there a year. I was home alone when I read it and the strength just left my knees and I had to sit down. It seems our landlord had a married daughter, Gretchen, who had been living with her family in a different state and had recently made the decision to return home. Our landlord wanted to offer his daughter the home we were living in. We had one month to move out.

One months’ notice does not give you much time to cry. By this time our business was doing fine and we were able to buy our own big old house to live in.

Life went on and my next encounter with Gretchen was after Mr. RWS and I were married and participated in a Marriage Encounter Weekend. Gretchen and her husband were also attending. Somehow during the course of the weekend, Gretchen and I realized how we were connected. She shared that she always felt badly about our having to move and I assured her that it all worked out for the best as we had bought a home.

It wasn’t long before Gretchen and her husband and Mr. RWS and I were asked to be part of a team that led Marriage Encounter weekends. We got to know each other very well, laughing and crying together, sharing our stories with other married couples.

Gradually, our lives didn’t intersect much but the friendship with Steve and Gretchen was one of those that you pick up where you left off when you do get together.

On the day we moved from the house where I raised my kids, it was Gretchen who interrupted my painful farewell tour of the house and took crying me by the hand and drove me to the new house while the guys wrangled with the furniture.

A few years ago, Gretchen and Steve stopped to see us on their way home from wintering in Florida. Steve had been diagnosed with an illness that gave him a five year life expectancy. It was hard to believe this big, tall, blue eyed Irishman, younger than us, would ever die, much less in five years.

Sometimes five years seems like forever, but sometimes it just isn’t long enough. Steve didn’t even get his five years. Two years later he died while on a hunting trip to South Dakota. Gretchen, who has a phobia of driving on interstates and will only make left turns at a stop light, drove herself from Wisconsin to South Dakota in time to be with Steve for a few days before he died. Then that brave woman drove home with Steve’s ashes next to her on the front seat, chatting with him all the way.

My heart broke for her. Gretchen was the one I looked to for sound, loving, practical advice about handling life’s challenges. She wasn’t much for self pity. Gretchen had a way of maintaining her calm and there always seemed an aura of peace about her. When they visited us, we would leave the guys to watch football and we would sit at the patio table sharing stories, listening to each other and occasionally swapping advice.

Living so far away, there wasn’t that much I could do but I ached for my friend and wanted her to know I would be around as she got through this life event.

It’s been two years now. Gretchen made it through that year of “firsts” and now the second year is behind her. Gretchen shared her journey with me: what she was feeling, how she was managing, what she did to reinvent herself now that Steve was gone. She tackled remodeling projects some days and some days took to the couch with wine and chocolates. My only advice: do what helps you get through the day.

I sent a few gifts, flowers once, and lots and lots of emails and cards. I felt so helpless and could do so little.

Gretchen expressed thanks that she had me to send those emails to. She could be crabby, sad, angry, hopeful, worried, and sometimes happy. She didn’t burden her kids or nearby friends. My email address was a safe place to send her feelings and worries. On my end, I mostly listened and encouraged. I gave her permission to just feel her feelings (something we learned in Marriage Encounter) and get through her days any way she could. We were able to stop by and visit her two summers ago and it was good to hug her and know she was in one piece and coping.

Gretchen has been appreciative of my encouragement and willingness to be part of her journey. She compliments me on my card making! Well, yesterday that card you see in the photo arrived. There is a beautiful message inside but seeing the homemade card said more than words. We were speaking the same language.

Grief journeys never end. They just become a little less painful as time passes and you adapt to the new normal. I can’t say Gretchen is “done” grieving. But I can say she is succeeding at reinventing Gretchen without Steve. I can imagine Steve looking down at her with that darned Irish twinkle in those very blue eyes saying, “Good going, Gretch!”

I’ve learned a lot about friendship because of the woman brave enough to share her painful moments with me. I learned I needn’t do anything more than keeping in touch and being an email address that was always available. Never ever underestimate the value of the homemade cards you send. They are more than cardstock and ink. A piece of your heart goes with them, love falls out when they are opened, and they are proudly displayed as a reminder that someone is thinking about and loving you.

Little Hedgy is doing some star gazing, perhaps looking for Santa. I used the Hedgy Joy mini set and the Hedgy Joy Cut Out die set along with a sentiment from the Greetings die set. I think Hedgy is on his way to a Christmas party and just stopped for a moment to experience the wonder of it all.

Speaking of star gazing … Polar Bear and Penguin, the Star Gazing Friends, decided to take in the celestial beauty, too. This is simple silver embossing on navy cardstock, again using the Antique Frame for mounting. Heat embossing may be “simple” but it only works if you carefully prepare your cardstock in order to prevent stray flecks of powder from sticking where it is not welcomed. Ask me how I know!

Cooper is due for grooming next week. He refused to pose while looking so shaggy. So here’s another photo of Cooper with his favorite person, Mr. RWS, at his favorite place: the banks of the Tennessee River.

I thought when I sat down to write I would do a Reader’s Digest version of some sort of story, and then Gretchen’s card arrived and that was the story I had to tell. So I will do a condensed version of my goodbye and tell you I am off to the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery to enjoy the cards you post there. See you next Saturday with my running shoes on.


Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies

Card No. 1: 51-248 Merry Christmas, 51-364 Ornament Tree

Card No. 2: 30-450 Peaceful Winter, 40-577 Amaryllis

Card No. 3: 30-438 Peace and Love, 30-442 Festive Season, 51-397 Antique Frame

Card No. 4: 30-447 Hedgy Joy, 51-174 Greetings, 51-389 Hedgy Joy Cut Out, 80-017 Festive and Frosty

Card No. 5: 30-445 To All, 30-451 Star Gazing Friends


24 Comments leave one →
  1. dawnnz permalink
    December 2, 2017 1:21 am

    I am so glad Gretchen has you as a friend Judy. I had tears in my eyes while reading your post. You are a good friend! And added to that a very talented card maker. Thanks for sharing both you cards and your wonderful posts.

  2. Jan Pignanelli permalink
    December 2, 2017 4:15 am

    Every Saturday, first thing, with my coffee and news program, I read your column and enjoy your art and stories. Sometimes little tears are part of that ritual. I agree with dawnnz…Gretchen is blessed to have you as her true friend. Thank you, Judy, for encouraging us to be true friends.

  3. creatingincolors permalink
    December 2, 2017 4:42 am

    What a touching story about Gretchen, and a great reminder about friendship, “being there” and “how” to be there. You are such a good person. I also appreciate the inspiration on Christmas cards that are quick and simple to make, something I always seem to need this time of year. I especially love the Star Gazing friends – never thought embossing it, and the silver on navy is striking! It’s good to have you back. Hope you get that needed rest after your tiring but wonderful trip.

  4. dlweldon permalink
    December 2, 2017 4:52 am

    Yours is the first email I look for when I have breakfast and coffee. I look forward to your email showing your awesome card making skills, but also the personal touches you add to your posts. Thank you for sharing the story of your friendship with Gretchen. She is truly blessed with your friendship.
    One thing you said in your post really resonated with me. “Never ever underestimate the value of the homemade cards you send. They are more than cardstock and ink. A piece of your heart goes with them, love falls out when they are opened, “.
    Thank you for that…this is just what I needed to hear.
    Happy Saturday, and I hope to “see” you at breakfast next week.
    Thank you!!!

  5. Juanita Sellers permalink
    December 2, 2017 5:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your card making projects but especially your writing skills. Sometimes we need to be reminded to keep on keeping on and things will be better, no matter how painful. Thank you for touching me today.
    And yes, I needed to be reminded that cards are a good way to encourage others and send a piece of myself.

  6. BeverlyBL permalink
    December 2, 2017 6:00 am

    I do so enjoy your stories, and your writing style. Always entertaining. Your cards are lovely, as is Gretchen’s. What a wonderful friendship. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. cmt permalink
    December 2, 2017 6:16 am

    Sweet inspiration on two fronts. Love the animal cards. Now I’m ready to tackle those Christmas cards I haven’t started yet.

  8. Patricia Gasko permalink
    December 2, 2017 6:22 am

    You are truly a good friend to Gretchen and she to you. This is so cool and wonderful and I wish you two many many years of such a great friendship. I think Little Hedgy card is awesome and so is Polar Bear and Penguin which is my favorite. Thank You because I look forward to Saturday mornings reading and enjoying your amazing cards. Wishing you an eventful week filled with events that make you happy.

  9. DebbieP permalink
    December 2, 2017 6:42 am

    Aloha Judy…what a touching post this week! You and Gretchen are so blessed with your friendship. And your cards this week were lovely. I’m not sure I consider stamping and embossing quick and easy, especially on dark cardstock. Sounds like you enjoyed your visit with the grandkids and can’t wait to hear about it next week.

  10. Sheri D permalink
    December 2, 2017 6:54 am

    I am writing this with tears running down my face for Gretchen and all of us on that horrible grief journey. It has been three years for me and you are so right, it never ends. And the new normal is not nearly as good as the old. I still miss him every day and he is still constantly consuming my thoughts. I am glad you take care of your friend. She surely needs it

    • judka permalink
      December 2, 2017 8:04 am

      Big hugs to you Sheri! May each day bring some joy.

  11. December 2, 2017 6:56 am

    Awesome cards, I especially love the alcohol ink card!

  12. December 2, 2017 7:58 am

    Bless your heart for being there for Gretchen. I have been in the same situation for a little over a year now and without my blogging friends life would have been pretty awful. My friend Cobweb ( who I may never get to meet in person)has been a life saver for me.She is a card-maker too and they will be forever on my display shelf. Thank you for your creative drive and for sharing with us. Cooper…have you been good this year? Time is running out.

    • judka permalink
      December 2, 2017 8:05 am

      I send you big hugs! And wishes for comfort during the holidays. Peace.

  13. mjmarmo permalink
    December 2, 2017 10:42 am

    Such beautiful cards! We also have a very close family friend who lost her husband this past May. He was quite young too. I am sure it will take her a while to get through it. In the meantime, I have been sending cards and emails trying to keep connected.

  14. Harriet permalink
    December 2, 2017 1:47 pm

    Everyone who has a friendship like you and Gretchen share and has touched the heart of another has only to count their lucky stars and say thanks to whoever will listen.

  15. December 2, 2017 4:08 pm

    So thankful you were and are there for Gretchen…as well as many of us who have lost the love of our life! I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and thoughts to me during that time…a year and a month now without my Sweetie. Crafting and crafting friends have been a wonderful help as family is 3,000 miles away. In turn, I am able to help others with an uplifting card or word. Thank you Judy for your encouragement…and your inspiration!!!
    Paper Hugs,

  16. Julie permalink
    December 2, 2017 4:36 pm

    Your Gretchen story, esp the part about emails and the importance of handmade cards, was very touching. My close friend in the UK died a few years ago. The distance meant that I couldn’t get there before she died, but the time difference meant that she could email me during rough nights while her family slept aand she needed support/comfort/a safe place to share her anger and fear. We talked just two days before she died, and I knew it would be our last chat. Her husband has kept up our email exchanges, sharing his grief, our memories of Penny, and now, the new companion in his life.

  17. December 3, 2017 9:03 am

    What a beautiful post Judy! Friends…one of God’s sweetest gifts! And I can’t believe that for years I just looked at your cards and never read your stories, and now the weekend is one of my favorite times where I so look forward to reading what you’ve written!! Thank you for sharing your heart…it’s always a wonderful visit! :0)

    • judka permalink
      December 3, 2017 9:22 am

      Thank you, Marcia. The kind comments mean so much! And you can always go into the archives and get caught up!!

  18. December 4, 2017 3:33 am

    What an incredible story. I always look forward to seeing your posts. Thanks for sharing about you and your friend. Reading this was a wonderful way to start a contemplative day.

  19. jane harrah permalink
    December 4, 2017 1:19 pm

    How lovely and how encouraging! Your cards are wonderful but your stories always touch my heart. I would enjoy being your neighbor, chatting the day away. Your shares are the best. Hugs.

  20. December 6, 2017 8:36 am

    What a powerful post, Judy. I’m currently feeling helpless far away from a friend going through a difficult time. I hope she does feel the love inside. Thank you for the beautiful cards today & a darling picture of Mr RWS & Cooper! Fritz just had his haircut–a couple weeks late, so he was really shaggy. Now he’s probably freezing with our cool temps, but thankfully he has a fleece jacket & a rain coat! Now maybe we can get a new family picture–at least he looks great! So glad your trip was wonderful–looking forward to pictures!

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