News from the one left behind

The comings and goings have peaked and eased. Over the course of the weekend we burgeoned from a household of 4 up to 11 people — and briefly even an additional dog — before settling down to only 3 of us on Sunday afternoon.  My BFF stopped by for lunch on her way home from the airport to pick up her plants. She courageously entrusted me with plant-sitting her herbs and tomatoes; thankfully, they weren’t forgotten in the heat, we watered them daily and found them some extra shade, and they are now safely back in her care.

Little Foot at wedding

Little Foot at the wedding (cell phone picture. Obviously.)

The entire clan (dh’s side) was in town for the nephew’s wedding. I was really impressed when the photographer managed to get Little Foot to look at the camera, and even more impressed when he easily managed a gaggle of additional 6 kiddos and their adults — a total of 33 for the big family photo.  I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Also, I fibbed: we were missing one person; there should have been 34 of us but our niece’s husband had to stay back home and work. We had a wonderful time at the wedding. We danced, and I paid for it with a swollen ankle that is still a little sore tonight, but how often is there a party like this?  

 

 

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We stayed until the music took a decided turn for the younger set (wedding party members and friends). My MIL seemed to be surprised that I danced, but I’m equally surprised that the 80-and-above folks were looking fresh at 11pm when we walked back to the car.  

Last minute packing, T-minus 90 minutesIt occurs to me that some of you may wonder: did the 24yo wear shoes? And yes, he did! (Footwear was policy at the event location and it was a formal event.) However, I’m pretty sure he took them off as soon as he was out of the building. He left earlier than the rest of us and walked the 3.5 miles home — ostensibly to pack, but that didn’t begin until 2 hours before his bus was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning. At that point SuperDad was by his side, putting his own expertise to work.

 H-J came home via Greyhound Bus, carrying all he needed in a small knapsack. For his return trip, he was joined by his brother hoisting a somewhat larger pack. Yes, The Barefooter is off on his big adventure.

PCT-ready, 9 July 2017 WEBSZED

This next week will be a return to our new normal: family dinners for three; work and time spent on beading (I’ve got a special order for this week’s market), card-making, and reorganizing my crafting area at home for me; The Scout and SuperDad getting that Eagle paperwork completed and preparing for the last hurrah of Boy Scout camp.  We’ll be busy but it will be quiet.  I might need to take a nap first…

 

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MTM: Exhibit at the Brewery

1475880014812You could call it “stepping out in fear and trepidation” or you could call it “making the leap”  — or any of a number of other phrases — but last fall I committed to being the artist of the month at my favorite local brewery.

After much thought and procrastination, I chose the photos that I wanted to display and then had them printed and matted. A few were from (or will be on) the walls of my own home.  All of them are for sale.

DSCN3048 Websized, Multnomah Tree

This picture of trees in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon (above) normally hangs on my living room wall. It was the only one that I had already shelled out money for — the rest of them (twenty-nine 8×10 prints, plus some larger pieces on canvas or metal) were paid for over the past two months in the hopes of recouping at least some of the cost in sales.

DSCN3041 WEBSIZED, clothesline, pink floral

These photos of my artwork were taken prior to adding labels with the title and price of each piece.

DSCN3046 Websizedm bird house, hummingbird wings

For the 8×10 photographs, I had them printed at a local shop on metallic paper and then a local gallery matted them and added hanging hardware on the back.  I’m really thrilled with the results!

DSCN3049 Websized, Palouse Barn and grain display

I spent 4 hours hanging out at the brewery on Friday evening. Two friends from Canada drove down to surprise me, and my good friend ~A~ stopped by for an hour after work.

DSCN1659 websized, first Friday at Bellwether

I’ll be popping in to visit off and on all month. While I hope to sell at least a few pieces, it’s exciting to just see my photographs hanging in a public space.

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Your turn:  What’s something you’ve done lately to step out of your comfort zone?

 

 

My Town Monday: Historic Reflections

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On  Thursday evening, my friend ~A~ invited me to join her at a small concert in a privately owned historic home. We met there after work, shedding warm coats and settling into a row of dining room chairs to enjoy the dulcet sounds of oboe and piano and a soprano.

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This was my view straight ahead, with the large reddish-orange star hanging from the eaves on the front porch and the lights from indoors reflected in the window.

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The home was built in 1909 and has been beautifully preserved. The current owners pointed out the recurring theme of the Maltese crosses, the original lighting fixtures and told us that the beautiful woodwork had never been painted over (unlike some fixer-upper historic era homes).

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It was such a lovely evening that I did not notice that my ankle was badly swollen until I was leaving to go home. I’d brought my cane with me to help me manage the many stairs from street level to the house, and it was definitely needed for the trek back down to the car.

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At home I attempted to massage out the swelling while sharing with my husband how beautifully perfect the evening had been; a few hours later, I was using his foam roller to release tension in my calves and feet — an the effort to achieve sleep. In the morning I headed off to my regular water exercise class but once that was over, I was done for the day. A full day of work plus the evening concert on Thursday caused me to be overdrawn on my Pain & Abilities account. It’s been over a year since my surgery and apparently this is my “new normal.” The things I was able to do just 13 months ago are no longer possible. I know this — I’ve experienced it before — and yet I continue to forget or else stubbornly try to do things. I can attend a concert in the evening or have a busy day, but I cannot do both without paying the consequences in overdraft fees for that Pain & Abilities account.  After my class at the YMCA on Friday morning, my kind husband assisted me into stranded turtle position (ankle on pillow on overturned laundry basket) and massaged out some of the swelling. I spent the afternoon looking out the window at the falling snow, much as I did one year ago.

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From August to September in only one week

 

  1. Monday was a summer day in August. My teenager was still on summer break, the day was hot, the sun was bright.
  2. On Wednesday morning, I went to the dermatologist to ask about a spot (sort of a suspicious mole but not exactly).  The doctor agreed it was worth checking out and numbed me up for a biopsy. I walked out with a dime-sized wound on my cheek well-covered by an appropriately sized bandage.  [Awareness alert and example of white privilege: the bandage color is close to my skin tone so it blends in very well when I’m not using a flash.]    I walked back in 90 minutes later to have the wound re-cauterized and bandaged again. It is best to not walk around with blood streaming down your cheek.

    Hopefully this is all just for peace of mind (worth it!)

    Hopefully this is simply the price paid for piece of mind.

  3.  I placed two bead orders this week — one to each of my favorite online bead stores that just so happen to be my favorite bead stores to visit as well. I received one package in the mail today and plan to pick up the other at the store tomorrow. [Side note: $80 worth of beads may fit in one hand.]  I sold quite a few pairs of earrings at the farmers’ market today and need to replenish my stock, so the timing of all sales — stores with price reductions, stores to me, me to customers — worked out nicely. Now to actually sit down and create! I’ve had a bit of a dry spell but am feeling inspired tonight with new vision for my new beads and some positive feelings. Having a customer return to my booth today made me happy for both of us. She had purchased one pair of earrings last week after I told her why I make them. (The very short story is that I can’t wear most store-bought earrings. My skin is really sensitive to metals, but the earrings I make I am able to wear on a daily basis without any trouble.)  She had the same experience I’ve had, being able to wear earrings again. She returned today to purchase 4 more pairs of earrings. I’m grateful for the sales, but most of all I was happy to make her happy.
  4.  On Thursday, September 1st, the clouds gathered, the wind blew, and the air cooled. It felt as though Mother Nature looked at her calendar and got busy. It rained a little overnight, and then today a storm snuck into town. The wind nearly blew several canopies away while setting up at the farmers’ market this afternoon, but the rain held off until we were taking them down again after 7pm. By the time we drove home, there were flashes of lighting. I feel a little cheated, like a kid whose summer is interrupted by fall. Nothing against fall — I love many things about fall — but I don’t feel like I had enough summer. Not camping might have something to do with that feeling.
  5. Five is the number of Fridays this month — and that’s a good thing, right?
    (Confession: I edited and changed that last bit. I had previously written “– and that’s a good thing, eh?”)  Five Fridays = five market days until the end of my vending season. I’ll miss the people and interactions, but it will be nice to have my Fridays free again.

Bonus pictures:
The Scout goes to grade 11, 8-30-16
first day of school = sad dog
Moses sad under table after his boy went to school

Have you transitioned into fall yet?

Slackline

DSCN2849 waterfall

Niagara Falls, August 2009

I live with two opposing desires: the desire to create and the desire to be free from the weight of too much stuff, of everything that holds me back from spontaneity.  The tiny house movement, minimalism, the popularity of the Konmari method and Marie Kondo’s book about tidying have infiltrated my brain. I think of how lovely it could be, living in a small space only surrounded with things that bring me joy. The pure lack of stuff would surely enable me to live more freely, to gather up my minimal possessions on short notice and take off on adventures. Or would it?

Life is Good Camping imageGoogle & Pinterest for the image win

Several plastic bins are filled with yards of colorful fabric purchased on sale and waiting under my worktable to become quilts; the new-to-me BERNINA is still under its cover, ready to replace the old, simple workhorse Sears model (which will continue to be used by the rest of the family). It’s been there since I broke my ankle seven months ago. I have filled more than a few acrylic boxes with organized displays of beads, just waiting for my creativity to turn them into earrings or lanyards. I taught my children that books are special friends and should be treated as such, which probably explains our full bookshelves despite multiple cross-country moves and routine purging of unnecessary items to keep below our weight limits.

DSCN2513  Bedside Books 4x6

Ye old bedside table overfloweth

And yet, I hear the siren song of minimalism: clean, dust-free surfaces that gleam with openness and possibility. Those images whisper to me that my house could look like this, too, if I would just get rid of stuff and tidy up my life. I can be overwhelmed by the piles that need my attention, those things that weren’t put in their proper places because I wasn’t quite done using them… two months ago. There are more than a few items that were set down on or near my worktable because I needed to figure out where they should live, and apparently they are imprisoned in the homeless encampment where I left them because the clutter grows into wretched, visual walls that keep me from doing anything. I am weighed down and immobilized.

The connection between these two extremes is perfectionism and self-diagnosed ADD. Once upon a time, I thought that a perfectionist was one who kept a perfectly clean and clutter-free house — and if that was so, then the minimalist lifestyle would be the answer. If I wiped the slate clean, there would be so little to care for on a daily basis that it would be simple to keep everything nice and neat and perfect. But I have since learned that a procrastinator like me is also a perfectionist. I will begin a project and fail to complete it because I don’t have enough time (supposedly) to do it perfectly. And yes, time management might be an issue here as well. I become distracted by other projects, other needs, and set what I am doing aside to finish at another time. Another project is set down right next to or on top of it, and another one, and soon I have overwhelming clutter on top of, under and around my worktable, rendering it useless.

I vacillate between enjoying my hobbies and the paraphernalia that comes with each of them — the scrapbooks, the paper, the beads, the fabric, the many supplies needed to turn vision into reality that can be held, touched, and felt — and the guilt that comes with owning so much stuff: things that no one else in my household seems to care about or enjoy. I’m the lover of the scrapbooks. I’m the one who spends untold hours looking at photographs,  working with paper to bring a book together that tells our family’s story in color. My scrapbooks are simple in design (nothing fancy here) and enable me to look back at events and remember details. Since my husband rarely looks at them (and my sons even less often) they really are for me, not the family.

Beading is another hobby in which I have invested time and money. The small clear boxes have compartments filled with semi-precious gemstones, round containers hold colorful vintage Venetian seed beads, and other small bins keep Swarovski and Precosia crystals separate from less costly glass beads. I have less guilt over this colorful and pleasing collection due to the earrings and lanyards I sell and make for my own use; however, I freely admit that I own much more than I will ever use. The call of the Pretty! and Sparkly! is a strong one, even for this not-so-girly female.

Some of my crafting supplies have come into my life as fads that quickly fade away. Counted cross-stitch, wreath-making, and stamping readily come to mind as examples, and there is no doubt that some of these supplies could improve my life by simply going away. I’d have more space, less clutter, and less guilt when I look at them because I haven’t been using them. I still use a few stamps, but most of the items in those bins are neglected and unloved. These are the items that Marie Kondo writes about, things that were once thought to be useful but no longer “spark joy” — things I hang onto because I spent money on them many years ago.

I enjoy the process of creating, gazing at colorful beads and fabric and paper, deciding which ones to use. I find pleasure in planning and envisioning a completed crafting project. I love having a scrapbook to look back at events through the eyes of the photographer (usually me). I’m realizing that while I am not what I consider to be an actual artist, I have an artist’s heart. I dream of creating something of beauty  and I see possibility where others see a mess that needs cleaning.  A blank surface is a creative void, begging for fulfillment and lacking inspiration. Emptiness on walls and surfaces is, to me, a cry of loneliness.

I read this recently on Maximum Middle Age:

Having stuff has never kept me from having experiences, or feeling joy. On the contrary, my things are a primary source of joy in my life, more meaningful than any expanse of white wall, any patch of “negative space.” My things are talismans, giving me luck and guarding against forgetfulness. They have brought me joy. They are worth keeping.

This is where I find myself: on a tenuous slackline walk between tangible reminders of past joys and the illusion of minimalist ease.  On one end is the abode with clean, clear surfaces, no excesses, no clutter and, supposedly, no guilt; on the other end is a house filled with wellsprings of creativity and memory-keepers that also inevitably bring clutter. And  I bounce in the middle, seeking to make a home and a life I love.

DSCN1354 2013 Slackline World Cup

photo taken at the 2013 Slackline World Cup tour in Spokane, WA

 

Memorial Day at Manito

 

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Last Monday, SuperDad and I had a picnic brunch up at our favorite city park. The rose garden was not yet in total bloom, but here and there were some lovely roses to smell.

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The bees were certainly busy.

busy bee in Allum, flowering onion 4x6 cropped

DSCN9217 Allium (flowering onion) in perinneal garden WEBSIZED

The perennial garden almost always has something lovely for my camera to capture. The [both photos above] purple flowers are Allium, or flowering onion.

DSCN9272  WEBSIZED Duncan Garden, sunken garden, freshly planted not yet mature, May 30. 2016

The formal sunken garden has been planted with annuals, as it is every spring, but they are nowhere near maturity. In another month it will be quite lovely here.

On the Podium

I wasn’t there to see it happen, because I was babysitting our grandson in another town, but SuperDad was busy making dreams come true on Sunday. For the second year in a row, he stood up on the podium after the race, but this year he also placed 3rd in his division at the Langlauf 10k Nordic race.

Langlauf medal 2016, cropped to 4x6 and websized

He tells me how out of shape he is aerobically, but I’m proud of him. Back in younger years as a college ski bum racer, he exercised several hours every day. Then for many years, work and family responsibilities kept him from spending time on skis (and living in Texas didn’t help matters for 5 of those winters). When he retired, SuperDad knew he wanted to live where he had the opportunity to spend plenty of time in the great outdoors. Spokane’s motto of “Near Nature. Near Perfect.” fit right in with what he desired for his lifestyle, and he does indeed spend time hiking, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing.

Tonight SuperDad and The Scout are cross country skiing by the light of the Snow Moon up on the mountain. I sent the camera with them and hope there are pictures to share on another day.

January highlights

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Little Foot at age 6 weeks

  • Two weeks ago, my sweet SIL and her middle son came to visit, and of course we drove the 160 miles (’round trip) to see the newest family member. I am so in love with this little boy.
  • Once I could put weight on my booted foot, I worked up to being able to hobble to the van, balance while folding up the walker and stashing it by the back seat, and getting myself into the driver’s seat — and then reversing the process. Ah, the freedom of driving oneself! Obviously, all of this had to be done without pain medications. The physical therapist uses a combination of ice and heat at the same time at the end of our twice-a-week sessions, and I’ve been doing this at home as well. It keeps me from freezing the internal hardware while still relieving pain.
  • I’ve gone from hopping with the assistance of a walker to actually walking with a walker; a few times, I’ve even forgotten to use the walker and taken steps without it! All of this while wearing a walking boot, of course. I am not yet allowed to put any weight on my left foot without being strapped into the boot.
  •  It’s been over two months since I had surgery for my trimalleolar fracture. Some things I can do on my own now, but I continue to need assistance getting safely into the shower chair and working in the kitchen is challenging.  Still, I plan to transition back to work in the next week or so.
  • The teenager is taking one of his classes online and my laptop is the only computer in the house that has the necessary voice capabilities for his Spanish homework. This has meant that my evening and weekend time online is sporadic.

Here’s a little something extra for you: “January” by Elton John.