Friday, February 29, 2008

Just Start. You Only Need to Begin

Oh, I love this!

How often do I think about a job that needs to be done, picture in my head what tools I need to do it, maybe even gather the supplies?

Then let it sit.

I know that part of my hesitancy comes from being unsure that I'll figure out how to finish a job I begin if I don't have all the directions readily available. I get worried that I'll mess something up or not be able to figure my way around likely problems.

But turning the problem over in my mind does not get the job done. Sure, it's a first step. But eventually, I just need to jump in and start and believe I can pick up the cues along the way that will help me make reasonable decisions and take the steps needed to bring the job to completion.

But I do have to start.

564: Add a Little Color

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Highlighters

Once more into my desk drawer ...

Did you realize different brands of highlighters have different caps, so different bottoms to attach the caps to?

An important a-ha moment, doncha think?

You know, you could use these with a stamp pad and make some interesting designs on note cards ...

Hmmmmm. Another idea to try?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

WIP: Heart #2 [4]

I've made more excellent progress on my heart.

I think I'll be able to finish it up tomorrow.

Like that pop of orange in the center of the larger squares? I do!

Day 563: Blunt

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Bundle o' Pencils

It's back to my desk drawer for inspiration ...

This? A bundle of unsharpened pencils.


Miracles and Optimism

I was at a meeting last night where I felt like I was the only optimist in the room. It's a weird feeling. I'm so used to being optimistic myself and being around my family of optimists, that I came away from the meeting agitated and somewhat distressed.

The folks there admittedly had a boatload of problems. Mine seem small by comparison. Yet my problems are large enough on the scale at which I operate.

These folks kept talking about taking medicines and relying on doctors and social workers to get them out of their slumps. Now, I'm not dissing any of those helpmates! I've needed them all myself at one time or another.

What bothered me was that they talked very little about what they can do for themselves to feel better. That's where that pessimism came in.

Here's an example:

One person mentioned that a family member had written his own obituary. They assumed that meant that the family member was about to kill himself.

That seemed like a pessimistic jump to a conclusion, and I said so. How can anyone assume to know what was going through that writer's head if they didn't bother asking?

I've written my own obituary. But it was a wonderful exercise. I got to imagine all my best friends and loved ones gathered together to celebrate my life, to tell each other what they knew of me and loved about me. I got to write out what might be put in the local newspaper about my life story.

What it did was give me the chance to ask myself, "What do I hope is said about me when that time comes?"

And by doing so, I get to try and live to that vision. It's anything but pessimistic.

If my life is a mess — and sometimes it is — why should I wait for someone or something other than myself to plop a miracle on me? I don't think of it as "pulling myself up by my bootstraps" so much as simply asking, "What one little thing can I do right now to go in the direction I want my life to head?"

Then do that one little thing.

My life will change for the better ...
the miracle is me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day 562: Winter, Winter, Go Away

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,
The Great Melt

I made it out the door this afternoon for a short walk around the neighborhood. There being few sidewalks in this part of town, the walk was still a bit tricky.

Ice berms are piled up at the sides of the streets. Mud puddles and potholes abound due to the constant freezing and melting. Big patches of ice remain in the shadows of trees. It's not easy to stroll along without cars flinging water in my direction as they speed by.

Still, it was good to be outside again, bundled in my hat and gloves ... take in some sun and vitamin D ... listen to an audio book as I walked. I even found a dirty quarter over by Circle Park.

We may yet get another snow flurry or two. But the worst of Winter is over. We tiptoe, poised on the cusp of Spring.

Balance, Logic, Wholeness

I'm taking time today to dwell on these questions.

Yesterday was rough. My brain was not functioning optimally. So today I'm having a quiet day. Going step-by-step through my routines. Reading aloud. Accomplishing little things. Recharging my batteries.

This is important to me. I treasure balance in my life — even more when I have days that are so obviously out of balance.


That's where I choose to put my focus today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shout It Out

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Grow!

Do I sound impatient for Spring?

I'm looking forward to warmer days and fewer clouds. Less dead brown stuff and more fresh green.

The ice and snow is thinning in the yard day by day. The temperatures are rising into the 40s. The streets and sidewalks are almost clear enough for an afternoon walk.

These flowers were on display outside the Home Depot.

Spring is on the way. I want it to hurry up, already.


... or faster.

This is apt concerning my mental health, too. I get so impatient sometimes. I want to be better, faster. But being hard on myself on difficult days really doesn't help at all. It's just shouting at a bud to hurry up and grow.

Like the bud, I need some time and patience and sunshine and water. I'll flower in time.

Patience not being one of my natural virtues, it's something I'm struggling with as I cultivate it.

WIP: Heart #2 [3]

I made some decent progress on my heart while my husband was at a meeting.

I've finished the second row of stitching within the larger squares, and am now working on the third row.

As this piece develops, I keep changing my mind about my color scheme and where I want to fill in the squares, and where I want to leave it blank.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Day 560: Pokey Pokey

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Push Pins

Returning to my desk drawer ...

Actually, I was out at a hardware superstore yesterday. Lo and behold, outside (!) in the 40 degree weather were some hothouse flowers in brilliant color. So good to see the flowers again!

I did snap a few shots.

WIP: Heart #2 [2]

I made some decent progress on my heart while watching the Oscars last night.

The outlining is done, and I'm beginning to fill in the larger squares.

Step by Little Step

Change can be frightening. It can be unknown. I can get queasy when I don't know what to expect. And I don't handle transitions all that well.

Drives my family crazy.

Right now, I'm trying to learn to make the changes in much smaller steps. The smaller the step, the easier to take. That lessens the fear in me.

I do know one thing. When a positive change comes in my life and appears to stick, it's much easier to focus on the pleasure.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

WIP: Heart #2 [1]

I started another of the heart quilt blocks last night. As you can see, this one is going to be much more geometric.

It's a nice change of pace to be able to stitch in one color (for now) and a repetitive pattern.

Once I get the heart all filled up with little squares, I'll fill the squares in with color.

You can get a hint of what that will look like if you look at the bottom point of the heart.

Day 559: Reorganization

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Bulletin Board

I like being organized, efficient and on top of things.

So ... my new bulletin board, complete with tasks posted.

I hope to have a "45 minute day" tomorrow and see how many of these tasks I can decimate in one day.

Of course ... we all know about the best laid plans ...
I'll keep you posted.


This might sound weird.

I like to be organized. It gives me pleasure. It helps me feel content and settled.

Yesterday I bought a new bulletin board, some index cards and push pins. I organized my to do list on these cards by category. Now I can just pick one card and do that little job from start to finish. Most will take less than 15 min to accomplish ... or can be broken down into 15 min steps.

I suppose other folks might look at this and say I'm an over-achiever or I'm nuts to think I can get all that done or that I'm being anal or something. I find that it helps me get the clutter out of my brain and onto a space where I can put it in order.

I get a simple pleasure from knowing that this puts me one step closer to the peace I seek, the dream of living a simpler, less cluttered life. It gives me a vision of the possible.

Sunday Secrets: Feb 24, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. This secret that resonated with me today:

Shortly before my dad died, I learned that I would be responsible for the millions he left for his nine remaining children and 19 grandchildren. Had I understood the consequences of being named executor, I may have turned down the job. I wanted to do it for my parents. I just didn't know it would cause such turmoil with my siblings. Fair as I tried to be — as I continue to try to be — there are those that are not happy with the choices I've made. Sometimes, this job sucks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Dance: Hearty Heart Heart

Here's my first quilt square for charity for 2008.

I've decided to stitch one heart per month for the charity stitching group I participate in. Using the outline of a heart, we get to fill it in however we want.

My heart is an adaptation of two free patterns I found online. To read more about my square, check out Cameo's Corner in my Stitching Studio.

Day 558: In My Desk Drawer

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Paper Clips

Oh, dear.

Do I detect another theme on the rise?

This is getting pathetic. When will Spring arrive so I can get outside and take photos in the natural light ... and bore you all with more images of flowers.

:: wry smile ::

Life of a Blogger

Yet another guffaw from We Blog Cartoons:

This is me ... deciding on the next photo to take ...

Oh So Talented

Lately, what I love to do is blogging about what I love to do!
  • Photography — especially macro photography
  • Needlework
  • Thoughts for the day
  • Reviews of books I've read
  • Volunteer work for charities
  • Humor
  • Talking about my family

Does this mean I have a talent for this?
:: batting eyelashes ::

Friday, February 22, 2008

Day 557: Rubba Slipper

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Cap Erasers

My favorite writing tools are #2 wooden pencils. I have hundreds, I think.

I wear the erasers out before I use the pencils up, so I usually have a number of cap erasers on hand.

This little shoe eraser got mixed in with the others. I think of it as the Cinderella Special.

Gotta Pay Attention

I had trouble sleeping last night. I finally gave up and arose early. I'm so tired that it will be a test just getting through the day, completing the tasks at hand.

So to be aware today of "hidden moments of delight" will take some effort. I'm glad I have this prompt so I can remember to pay attention.

Another Chuckle

Here's another gem from We Blog Cartoons:

The shape is different from this monolith, but the enormity of the task of cleaning up my studio is the same.

So where am I?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WIP: Heart #1 [2]

I was able to spend some more time on my first heart for charity.

Trying to figure out the placement of these hearts is a bit more of a challenge than I realized it would be.

I do like the way it's coming out, though.

Day 556: Sparkling Orb

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Cat Toy

All our family cats are now out of our home.
Tabby moved to Denver with Jeanne.
Rolly moved to Moscow with Julie.
Ashlee left us all too soon.

But like Lite Brite pegs, we stumble on some of their toys in the oddest nooks and crannies.

Tooooooo Funny!

I found this blog that posts cartoons that are free to use ...
We Blog Cartoons.
This one cracks me up!

Oh, my.
Pierces me to the core.

Let's Eat!

Hmmmm. My favorite Jenny dinner? Fajitas!

Think I'll delight in that tonight.

And ... maybe some popcorn!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WIP: Heart #1 [1]

One of the projects our charity stitching group is doing this year is to use this outline of a heart, and then fill it however we want to.

I like this challenge for a couple reasons.

First, no deadlines. I can work on one of these whenever I want to this year and not have to worry about life getting in the way of a stitching deadline. That makes stitching more fun and relaxing for me.

Second, imagination. We can fill the hearts in however we want so it puts our imagination to the test.

I still hope to stitch one quilt block per month for this group. Here's the start of my first one this year.

Day 555: Doctor, Doctor ... Give Me the News

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Waiting Room

The help of Jenny and the persistence of my exercise program is really starting to pay off.

Sure, the weight is coming off. I'm ready to get the next size down in pants again.

But the more exciting news for me came at the doctor's office this week after my quarterly blood draw. ALL my numbers have shown drastic improvement.

Blood pressure? Like a teenager!
Resting heart rate? Like an athlete!
HDL? LDL? Liver function? All within normal ranges.
Blood sugar? Super! I may soon have no more diabetic symptoms.

But my biggest nemesis of all ... triglycerides? WAY, Way, way down.
I've been fighting that number for years. Now it's so good I get to cut my meds in half.

Talk about a happy dance!

Oh, yeah ..... and my doctor greeted me with, "Well, hello, Skinny!"
That was nice to hear.
He's been my doctor for 23 years.
I've never seen him look so proud of my progress.

It's the Little Things

My small pleasures today?

Laying out two quilts at St. George's Quilters this morning.

Starting a new cross-stitch quilt square for charity.

Folding laundry. I love the smell of clothes as they emerge fresh from the dryer.

Kissing my husband hello when he comes in the door from work.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

All Things Warm and Fuzzy

We had a gorgeous sunny winter day today in north Idaho. People walked around with grins of their faces, just grateful for the clear skies, the melting snow, the drying streets, the extra Vitamin D.

So I thought that in honor of the promise of spring (still a ways away here, but we got a taste today), I'd focus this week's phrases on pleasure and delight.

Today's delight? Standing on the porch with the sun in my face, soaking in the 40 degree warmth and allowing myself to be calm.


Day 554: The Butts Stop Here

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Butts

I ran across this oddity yesterday morning. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I burst out laughing.

What IS this thing?

Looks like an outdoor latrine, nestled in a snow bank. And it appeared that someone had been remiss about opening the lid before they relieved themselves. Perhaps it was a man and he didn't need to sit? That puddle looked awfully suspicious!

But in truth, this metal receptacle was stationed outside my doctor's office.

It is a sentinel for the lowly cigarette. Gotta keep 'em away from the sick folk — and those like me, trying to stay healthy.

Sure gave me a giggle, though!

Ain't nothin' like potty humor.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 553: What Came First?

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Chick

I went with a new friend into downtown Spokane today to do a bit of shopping. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip and turned out to be extremely enjoyable. So glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.

We met this cute chick at the Pottery Barn. Inquisitive looking little fellow, isn't he?

Hope through pain

Interesting that I'd chosen this quotation a week ago, not being conscious at the time that I was approaching the 9th anniversary of my dad's death.

That time of sorrow hit me like a ton a bricks. My dad died two weeks after my oldest brother died. It was a lot to absorb. I was a mess for months.

Somehow I made it through and continued with hope.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Nine years ago today, my dad died.

So I thought I'd share a little something I made for him when I was in college.

I got a book from the library to get some ideas. Then I made up this poem and embroidered this sampler with the floss I had on hand on a piece of fabric I had on hand. I was a college student, so had no money and only some time to give.

My dad hung this sampler in his office at home. When Mom and Dad moved, it would always land in his office, hung with pride. That made me feel really good because, face it, this sampler is not exactly a thing of beauty. The stitches are uneven and the colors are ugly. He saw that the beauty of the sampler lay in the energy that went into creating it.

When Dad died, the sampler came back to me. It now hangs in the hallway that leads to my studio, along with Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary sampler and a photograph of them.

While decluttering my studio some more today, I found the original pattern that I designed for this sampler.


I miss you, Dad.

You were hard to grow up with, but I sure did come to love you after Mom died in your last year of life. You came to rely on me and see me for the woman I've grown into. I'll never forget the afternoon I dropped you off at your home after your doctor's visit and you looked at me with such profound love.

Thanks for trusting me and keeping watch over me.

~ Margaret

Sunday Secrets: Feb 17, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. Three secrets that resonated with me today:

Ah! A stranger did this for me once when my girls were toddlers. My car died. I had no way to contact my husband. I was too far from home to carry my girls. The kindest man gave us a ride. It was a leap of faith on my part. I'm so grateful for the goodness of strangers.

Oh, man. Noisy neighbors. Hated having them in college.
After I got married, I heard the phrase "neighbor-wakin' love."
It's stuck with me ever since. Makes me laugh.

A friend of mine told a tale of being on the road and having noisy hotel neighbors. The friend stood and listened for the longest time, enjoying the show. My friend's traveling companion was appalled. My friend was enthralled.

So glad my husband has more sense than this. Real friends are hard to come by —
and easy enough to lose all on my own.

Day 552: Tie One On

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Ribbons Aplenty

It appears I've moved from my stitching accessories to my sewing and crafting stash.

Guess I'll go with that for a while, if that's what sparks my imagination.

Spools of pretty ribbons, lined up like a rainbow. How inspiring is that?

I've taken to watching old episodes of The Waltons while doing my morning workout on the elliptical. It's amazing how well those old shows stand up. Now that was a way of expressing "family values" that didn't just bonk you over the head with didactic baloney. Those are fairly well-crafted stories with well-formed, multi-dimensional characters, decent plot lines and intelligent dialog.

Anyway, last week while "hope" was on my mind and I was preparing this batch of Today's Phrase images, Grandpa Walton opined this bit of wisdom. During the Great Depression, I'm pretty sure that hope was the thing that got a whole lot of people through the worst of times.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's Amazing What You Find ...

... when you clean up your room!

I was in a decluttering mood today. Decided to set a timer for 15 minutes and start on a shelf in my studio that held old craft ideas. I found this from 1977:

Wasn't I a cute young lady? The rug I'm holding is one of my own latch-hook creations. I made it for a very good friend of mine, Tony. We grew up together ... 1st through 12th grades. Tony was the brains behind dissecting a frog in 7th grade. In high school, he dated my best friend. Then off to college at UC Berkeley and Med School in Davis, CA. Now he's an upstanding pillar of the community in upstate New York.

Think he still has this one-of-a-kind creation?

Hmmmmm. I should find the puppy pillow he made for me and post an image!

And check this out. Not only did I find the photo of the finished project, but I also found my working pattern!

I also found this photo:

I made it for a friend of mine who was a drama teacher and faculty adviser for his school's Thespian chapter.

Organized person that I am, I had the working pattern for this rug, too.

After all, you never know when you're going to need it to make an identical rug, right?

Happy Dance: Star Flower Bookmarks

I whipped up these two bookmarks over the last couple days.

Cute, eh?

They'll be donated to charity later this year.

You can learn a bit more about the pattern in Cameo's Corner.

Day 551: Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Buttoned Up.

In a recent post, I mentioned that I used a button from my grandmother's button collection on a Valentine craft. Here's part of that stash.

My maternal grandmother and great-grandmother were seamstresses. They made dresses for prominent women in town as a way to earn a living in the early part of the last century.

My mother learned to sew from her mother. When Grandma died (long before I was born), my mom inherited my grandmother's sewing cabinet. That cabinet was later given to me, complete with the drawer full of buttons.

Grandma's buttons and mom's buttons and my buttons are all mixed up together now. I've sorted them by color and type, and put them in these sweet jelly jars. They're on display and in easy reach now in my studio.


This is my favorite definition of forgiveness. It makes more sense to me than "just let it go" or to write the stuff down on a piece of paper, burn it, and let the forgiveness happen with the rising of the smoke. That makes no sense at all to me.

Forgiveness is so internal, such a deepening process for me. That's why this definition makes sense. I get the chance to work the situation through in my mind every which way, then come to the point where I stop wishing it could have been any different.

Again, hope seems to be an essential component here. To no longer hope that the past will change, but bring that hope forward that the future can play out much differently than the past.