Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yarn and Thread

I've been trading off between hand-quilted potholders and crocheting.  Here are some photos of my latest.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Misty Day Book Recommendations

These books don't require a misty day to be read, nor do they speak about misty days - it's just that misty days trigger the reader in me more than usual.

I highly recommend a new book from Liz Moore, Heft.  Its characters are so engaging that you may find yourself reading to the end in one sitting.  I did. 

The book tells the tale of Arthur, who was recently a professor of literature but now is a hefty (550 pound) shut-in.  The other primary character is Kel, a high school athlete, who is forced to mother his mother because she has become an alcoholic.  It is Kel's mother, Charlene, who provides the thread between Arthur and Kel, as she was once a student of Arthur's and they dated for a short period in time.  That relationship precipitated Arthur's shut-in life.  Into Arthur's house-bound world comes Yolanda, who comes to clean the house and ends up becoming Arthur's friend who eases him back into the world.

I especially enjoy stories in which people create their own families unexpectedly out of individuals who step into their lives, when perhaps the families into which they were born were less than ideal.  Pick up Heft to see how the lives of Arthur, Yolanda, Charlene and Kel weave together.

While Heft is a newly published book, another book about choosing your own family that I absolutely adore is Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos.

Broken for You is set in a large mansion in Seattle where septuagenarian Margaret lives alone with her antiques, including sets of valuable china.  All of this china, collected by her father, plays an interesting part in the story.  Lonely, Margaret decides to take in boarders and thus arrives Wanda, with a broken heart and little else.  The house gradually fills up with other characters and all of their stories weave together.

I like the notion that our sharing of flaws builds intimacy between us.  This is a book of such beautiful redemption that you will not be sorry when you lose yourself in its pages.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's Your Purpose for Money - Today's Burning Question

Danielle LaPorte's burning question this week is good, as always -- what's your purpose for money?

My purpose for money at this point goes something like this:
  • Freedom to let my gifts for creativity and encouragement come out to play every day.
  • Own my own home and studio so that my creative gifts don't necessarily need to take over my house (everywhere I sit is surrounded by yarn, thread, fabric, buttons); a home with generous porches and garden space as well as a guest suite so friends can come and stay in the comfort I love to provide.
  • Freedom to travel when I like - to walk the English countryside, spend time at Chatsworth, take summer courses at Oxford; visit friends in the South and spend more time in Charleston and Savannah; hop up to Canada; take the train to Portland for the weekend.
  • Abundant funds to start a foundation to address the needs of the elderly in my community and on the coast in honor of my parents.  I had the honor of caring for my parents through their declining years and deaths (oh, the rousing games of Bingo at the nursing home).  This gave me a soft spot in my heart for my elders.  I would be thrilled to be able to partner with groups already doing great work and come up with innovative ideas to bring joy, comfort and laughter into the lives of elders.  (When I would spend time with Mom at the nursing home our laughter would sing through the halls, and that shouldn't be an unusual occurrence.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Phinney Photos

We've enjoyed unseasonably warm, sunny days in early February (it was 60 degrees yesterday!), and prime weather for taking neighborhood photos.
Showcasing our amazing moss output this year
A Peaceful Garden Moment
Spring Arrives Early (or these flowers think so)
Free Range Chickens in Phinney

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Burning Question

I love Danielle LaPorte and her new "burning question" exercise.  Today's is:
Your day, next success, body, friendships, how do want it all to feel?  My answer follows:

I want my day to feel like a morning at the beach ~ tangy air, foamy waves, warm sand between my toes and kites floating on the breeze.

I want my next success to feel like early dismissal for a snow day ~ elation and white, fluffy joy abounding.

I want my laughter to feel like a robin on a spring morning ~ exuberant, sprightly, infectious.

I want the end of my day to feel like reading the last word at the end of Jane Eyre ~ satisfying, a well-told tale worth savoring.

Here's where you can get your own burning question:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Exercise, I Hardly Knew Ye

Let me start with a mea culpa - it's my own darned fault that exercise and I have lost touch over the last several months.  I could attempt to blame it on my computer job search, which means too many hours each day with my butt in a chair reviewing job sites and applying for new opportunities.  I'm tempted to whine about rainy days and windstorms, even days stuck inside by the snow.  But I've decided to talk back to my inner whiner and just do it, to co-opt a famous sneaker company's tagline.

The sunshine has certainly helped propel me out of my chair and get some fresh air into my lungs.  I've been logging an hour a day of walk time, which feels great.  Unfortunately, my extensive butt-in-chair time over the last few months means that at this point when finished with a walk I'm limping like a 90-year-old.  I don't mean to impugn my elders - I have found myself left in the dust at Greenlake by individuals considerably older (and fitter) than my own self.

I have been motivated by my discovery of SparkPeople, where they have a feature that lets you map your walking/running route.  You can map your route and find out how many calories you have burned.  I absolutely love being able to find out how far I have walked on a given day.  Their nutrition tracker is great, too, because the whole community has saved the calorie information for foods - so you don't have to do the research on every food you eat. 

I do have some indoor exercise options ready to go when this sunshine ends, as I know it will.  It's February, for heaven's sake!  But I intend to continue moving this body until I'm frustrated that the neighborhood hills aren't challening enough.  Then I guess I'll need to find a mountain to climb, or walk to Portland.

Seen: One Ballard Block

Call us shocked but not unappreciative of the unseasonable spring in early February sunshine we have been enjoying in Seattle for the last couple of days.  I saw these spring bulbs already blooming several places today.
I found this rock landscape lovely, but they can't fool me.  Those rocks were placed by the hands of man.  It's not like the ice age ended yesterday and left these rocks randomly strewn about.
It just needs to be said - this is some hedge!

One of the perks of walking a neighborhood is enjoying the sidewalk-scapes created by neighbors just to make the street prettier and more interesting for passersby. 
I love this form of gardening for the neighbors.  Perhaps, as gardeners do, they ran out of room to plant in their yard, so it has spilled out onto the parking strip.  I don't mind - it makes walks ever interesting.