Friday, April 29, 2011

A low thrill level

This week I was reading how a successful entrepreneur said she accomplished so much because she is a list keeper. 

That set me to thinking how I was once a diligent list maker and I was 99% more efficient in those days.  I had a constant little spiral notebook that, if temporarily misplaced, I joked I’d lost my brain. {No kidding because it contained a wealth of ongoing information.}

Today I ask myself : When my life went into crisis 4 or so years ago, why did I forsake my little book and my near-daily list making?

I honestly don’t know the answer to this because it makes so much sense to me. With the onslaught of my state of grief and my deer-the-headlights era, I would probably have fared much better had I kept up list-keeping.  Granted, I did have periods of improved efficiency when I did make lists – like before trips, and when family was coming for Christmas. There were some {probably desperate} futile attempts with index cards, Google lists on the side of my email and “sticky notes” that float on my computer screen. But I reverted back to a state of personal chaos.  I realize nothing works for me in the same way as a little book.

Today I’m vowing to keep up methods from what seems like a distant past.  I have a new companion notebook.  Once I had a quirky little routine that I'll try again {kind of like how individuals might have their own way of stacking a dishwasher.} A new page each day  ~  a column for phone calls  ~ a corner for emails  ~ a To Do list. If there’s something I don’t get done, it goes to the next page for the next day. On the opposite page I keep notes and phone numbers and ideas for menus or grocery lists or gifts.  This worked for me once, I hope it works again.

To tell you the truth, I’m excited at the prospect of being even slightly more efficient.  I think it could mean more time to be creative :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You win some, you break some

I had a wonderful weekend. Sunday was Easter and I spent a long weekend in Raleigh with Susannah. She’ll graduate in a couple of weeks, and I’m so proud of all her accomplishments. It was a great time to share with her right before she completes her final graphic design project for a student art show next week and then writes her finals.

She had special things to “show” me in Raleigh. One was a delightful bead and craft shop called Ornamentea.   I could have stayed for hours on end and quite easily spent $100. They sell the sorts of things that I totally groove on.  The wares in that store and the colors….oh man - they made the senses that are me go berserk to want to make something SO badly!

We also went to the relatively new North Carolina Museum of Art and poked around for a couple of hours having a gorgeous mother-daughter time. I asked Susannah, with all the learning she’s acquired in the arts, to teach me some neat things, which she did, and so it was a great learning visit for me.  Love-loved it!  The weather was amazing so we enjoyed meandering through the sculpture gardens and admiring the water lilies.

 Easter brunch was at Humble Pie, outside under the colorful umbrellas. As we left, our path home took us right by the Red Cross Disaster Relief team passing out Easter lunches to tornado victims whose homes and college dorms are still unlivable from the storms that were just one week ago. We also saw the heart rending damage.

Then tonight, back home, as I took down my Easter decorations, I was clumsy and I broke my favorite bowl, made when I took pottery.  I don’t know why I liked it so much – the sgraffito leaves and the greens and the yellow border I think. I don’t know how likely it will be that I’ll take pottery ever again, so I’m bummed about it. 

 Yet, really. 
I know. 
I'm so blessed.
It’s only a bowl.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I like Thursdays. 

There’s no pressure to be at work early so I can dawdle as I get ready in the morning. 

Today was an exquisite morning; I had the windows wide open.  I gazed upon nature’s palette in my back garden while squirrels scampered noisily up trees, chipmunks squawked rhythmically and birdsong filled the yet chilly air that was gently blowing in my net curtains. 

When it came time to leave, I was mindlessly scurrying down the driveway when I had the presence of mind to take in the scene that is my front yard, and stop my car.

I saw an opportunity I should not miss.  I fumbled for my camera.  The sun was streaming through the trees.  The light was perfect as it filtered through leaves and flower petals.

As I left my driveway, I exclaimed out loud, This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Psalm 118:24

 This, in turn, made me feel close to my precious mother, ailing across oceans because this is her mantra on glorious African mornings.  I phoned her at the first red light I came to, put her on speaker phone and she rode with me in conversation to work. 

It was a very special conversation for I had the pleasure of telling her I’ll be coming to see her next month!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Lily of the valley

Today I walked around the side of my house picking up a few sticks as I went.  I noticed something deliciously fragrant and looked over to where the lily of the valley grow.  To my delight, they were blooming!

My dear mother-in-law gave me a few little plants from her garden about twenty something years ago and now I have a nice stand of them and can pick a hearty little nosegay, which I did this evening after work.  I was having a neighbor over with her potluck and mine to eat dinner so we enjoyed the glorious little blooms on the table. And we always have tea when we're together!
I must remember to send a photo to Katherine who made the vase in pottery class and to Colleen whom I will always associate with lily of the valley {she's a stitching friend who, way back when, made her babies' christening gown with lily of the valley lace!}

And a note to self: if and when I move, take some of these plants with me....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PS. I love green too!

When people tell me that they associate me with blue, I tell them I have never met a colour that I don't like!

I am crazy about all colours really.  My home sports a lot of blue and white so that is why it is natural to assume I am a blue freak {and I am!}  But I really groove on all colours, be they pastel, bright or dull and somewhere inbetween.  It makes it hard for me to have a cohesively decorated house that flows because I have blues and then greens and then browns and blues and then red, black and white.  Oh well.  I love it all so that's what counts, right?

Recently, when contemplating redecorating what we call "the hall bathroom", I bought a shower curtain.  This is something I have not done in the past.  I have always sewn all the drapes, valances, comforters and duvet covers, cushions, and certainly something as easy as a shower curtain.  I just happened to see one that I really, really liked and it was sort of an impulse buy.  The colours sucked me in - that marvelous lime green, and also the leaves.  I haven't told you yet how much I love leaves!  Leaves are a recurring theme throughout my house and even my wardrobe with scarves I've made.  Yes, funny I'd love leaves this much because {in my new life} keeping up with them in the Fall, they have become the bane of my existence and one of the {many} reasons I don't get to craft or sew.

Back to the hall bathroom, I have just recently done a wee bit of updating with taking out a boxed-in fluorescent light and adding a new fixture, and then replacing the medicine cabinet with mirror-backed glass shelves - this was Susannah's brilliant idea and I'm doing it in my bathroom as well.  I replaced the mirror with a framed one that a friend found for a song, and then other things like taking down the wallpaper with Waverly ivy-violet border {what made me love that in 1998?}, new knobs on the cabinet and painting the walls {actually a neutral color, although I did contemplate lime green.  OK I made a mistake - I did have lime green mixed, brought it home and chickened was going to be too insanely green :) }  

I needed something on the wall where a wicker shelf had been, and then I spied 4 unfinished mirrors that I'd bought from Ikea a few years ago and done nothing with.  I have no idea what I planned to do with those mirrors when I bought them, but I suddenly thought: aha they'll be perfect! I haven't painted anything with my craft paints in a long time, so I fished around.  I came up with some paint Shannon and I mixed for a garden bench years ago - green, but the wrong shade and then I did find some lime AND....I found some crackle glaze from who knows what year that I had never used.  My brain started into overdrive as I contemplated how to proceed.  I wanted the lime on the outside but whatever you paint underneath shows through the crackle, but the mixed green from the bench would be fine for the under color.  I don't have enough experience with this, and I obviously didn't paint on a thick enough coat of the crackle glaze, but I love how they look - even the spot where I put my finger {by accident} and there's a blotch.  Yep, that spot of lime green is just what that blank wall needed.  {oh, and I painted an old basket from the Goodwill pile for hand towels, and the ivy leaves on the laundry hamper...I'll unabashedly admit that I went a bit wild with the lime green!}

Glass shelves aren't in the "opening" yet.  Coming next week :)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Late night tea and madeleines

Susannah came home from college for the weekend.  I have been SO excited about this since I found out because I haven't seen her for two months. I love it when my children come home. I love to make them their favorite foods, have their rooms ready with fresh flowers and offer to help with anything I can do to make their lives easier. Sus' request for dinner last night was my oven fried chicken and "please can we make madeleines together?"

Yesterday I woke to my brother's email news about my mom and her health.  It was not good. It's possible she's had a small stroke.  I felt on the verge of "breaking down" several times and had a good cry after I spoke to her when I came home early in the afternoon.  I hung up wondering how many more times I'd have the joy of hearing my beloved mother's voice like that and at a gut level tried to grasp the knowledge that I'm still someone on earth's child.  Foremost on my mind is that I need to plan a trip over to see her, but how to time it right? 

So yesterday was a day of emotional ups and downs. It was great to end it on a happy note, welcoming Sus home and opening our birthday presents {first time we've been together since our mutual birthday apart}, sharing fresh cheese crackers with a beer, hearing about her semester and Spring break trip to Alaska before a yum dinner and then....baking those fresh little French, orange tinged cakelets together.

 I do declare that I have never before had a tea party at 11:30 at night, but when the madeleines came out of the oven we put on the kettle, made a pot of decaf Earl Grey in a girly teapot, and we had the most delightful and unexpected tea party for two!