Sunday, February 26, 2012

WIP: Single Rose 8

The Saga of Miss Rosy

When last we glimpsed Miss Rosy, in mid November, she had started looking comfortable in her swirly surroundings. She had a solid grounding in her soil. Even the backstitching was done there. Her stem was beginning to take shape and her leaves were beginning to form.

I haven't taken much time to stitch over the last three months, but there has been some incremental progress. The frame is complete -- even the backstitching of the scrolls. All of her leaves have grown. Now I'm working on the background, from the bottom up.

I'm stitching Rosy exactly the opposite way that's recommended. Usually, pieces are stitched top to bottom, bottom to top, or from the middle out. I did begin at the bottom and had intended to stitch bottom to top. But ... well ... it's just not how the colors led me. So it appears I'm really stitching from the outside edges to the center.

The problem with this is that too often the needle comes up through a "dirty" hole (one that already has a stitch in it) rather than a "clean" hole. So I need to be careful about splitting stitches and getting fuzzies from the back of the piece coming to the front. Not a big deal to me since I'm not intending to enter this stitchery in a competition or give it as a gift. This sweet Rosy is for me to enjoy.

Rosy? Ready for your close-up? Smile!
click for a larger image

She obviously is going to need a good blocking once she's stitched and washed so that she doesn't look so wonky. I *doubt* I can find a mat and frame that will hold her in this condition.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Buy it. Read it. Love it.

There's a reason this book is #1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller's list. It's a really good book.

I was introduced to John Green and his brother Hank by my daughters in the summer of '07 right before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Hank wrote an awesome song about the book release. So I knew that these siblings are known as the VlogBrothers, that Hank sings, that John writes, and that their followers are the Nerdfighters.

What I didn't know was how well John writes. I was completely enthralled with this story of teenage kids dealing with cancer, death, life, and love. All the characters are well-formed. And for a young adult audience, it was nice to see realistic adults in this book. It's a good plot. And like life, there is not exactly a happy ending. But neither is it sad. One might even ask, "Does the story end?"

Lovely book. Great read. You won't be disappointed.
5 stars


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Distance Vision

Distance Vision

White cross trainers, a thermal lined hoody and me
outside for a change. The deadbolt clicked
into place at 6:52. Feathery light filters through cirro-stratus
clouds and into my foggy brain. I stretch my legs, then
head around our block. Yesterday’s warm winds
blew most of the snow away. Shredded branches,
pine cones and needles litter front lawns. Gravel left from
winter plows crunches beneath my soles. Workaday traffic
speeds along I-90 to reach the first shift.

I stomp the miniature ledge
of ice that lines the curb, it’s crackle echoes
between homes and wooded hollow.
My breath, a measured steam,
issues eastward between my lips, then prickles
my cheeks with blowback.

Hands deep in pockets, middle schoolers
dressed in orange and black watch for a bus, pretending
not to notice each other at the morning stop. Silent,
deep in the angst of adolescent drama, they try
to insulate themselves from the coming tussle
on cracked green upholstery, sworn
blasts of brave bullies, and halls crowded
with the clang of the locker doors.

I nod, walk around the corner, reminded that the seasons,
they are a-changin’. My daughters have moved on, their rooms
transformed for a house of two. A street sweeper growls
along Ponderosa Blvd. The honk of
Canadian geese overhead has gone mute. In its place,
sweet songs of neighborhood robins and chirps
of backyard squirrels have returned.

Turning down the final slope,
I awaken. An adrenalin aftertaste
sticks to my tongue, left over
from the short sleep of nightmares.
Promise of longer days filled with light blow
my darkness away. Chaotic synapses calm into
threads of prose. Distance vision. Light. Air.

Margaret M. Davaz
February 23, 2012

Mental illness is a challenge
but it can be managed

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Introducing the 2-Hour TA DA!

As my sweet husband and I were driving home from a relaxing weekend in the Columbia Gorge last Monday, we were chatting about ways to make progress on our personal goals, and then how to celebrate that progress. We came up with the idea of the "2-Hour TA DA!" What we realized in our discussion is that if we give ourselves permission to give any one project two hours of concentrated effort, we can often make excellent progress -- or even go from start to finish.

Two hours of effort. TA DA! A project done!

My personality demands feelings of accomplishment and then recognition for that accomplishment -- even if that is simply doing a happy dance for myself. Or, perhaps, writing about it on this blog.

Today, I finished my first 2-Hour TA DA. It all started with working together to construct a bookshelf. Dale and I accomplished that feat after breakfast ... and only had to take one bit apart and put it back together correctly. Not bad. The bookshelf was the final piece of furniture for our massage and meditation room.

A bit over a year ago I took a 6 week class at our local community college on Swedish massage for the back, arms and legs. I bought a massage table, oils and other supplies. Mostly, I give massages to family members and a few close friends. To encourage me, my daughter Jodie and her boyfriend Ken made me this sign for Christmas. Jodie (in her Beaver hat) and I finally got the hardware to hang it just over a year later. (I'm not known for finishing project in a timely manner ... but eventually many get done.) This basement room became available once all the daughters moved out and Dale and I became empty nesters.

So here is a tour of Got Knots?, our massage and meditation room.

As you enter the door, before you is the new bookshelf. On it I have a series of books and audio programs that I use during my meditation time. I'm lucky to have a variety of light sources in this room to set a relaxing mood. I've also got one of my kids' old boom boxes so that soft music can be played during a massage to set a calming mood.

To the left is the massage side of the room. There's enough space to keep the massage table set up at all times.

We bought a dresser that matches the bookcase to hold massage supplies. To the left is a foot-soaking tub that can be filled with warm water and marbles to soothe aching feet. To the right is my rolling massage stool that seats me at the correct level for scalp and neck massage. On top of the dresser is a bolster I use to ease back stress. Also ready are the tools for dry brushing, getting the skin ready to accept the oils.

The right side of the room is set up for meditation. My habit is to exercise first, then come into this room for meditation. It's a great way to cool down and move my focus from physical activity to spiritual activity. I begin by sitting in my grandmother's rocking chair and do some deep breathing. We bought a small dressing table that matches the dresser and bookshelf which I use as an altar. It holds my vision board, a journal, a book of reflections, and a candle.

The candle has a wonderful huckleberry fragrance -- an Idaho specialty. I use the pretty heart-shaped pottery to hold the burnt matches. And as a special treat, I bought myself this exquisite candle snuffer in the shape of a tulip, and encrusted with crystals. Gotta have those shiny objects!

In two hours Dale and I constructed the bookshelf, I set up the massage table, I filled the shelves and I took these photos. Dale is scheduled receive his first massage of the year tomorrow.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine Date Night

For Valentine's Day, I played with my new bakeware.

I made some sweet heart-shaped cupcakes.


A six-inch mini cake with chocolate icing
and pearl-edged heart.


Another six-inch mini cake with white fluffy icing
and a dabbed on heart.

And a handmade card to go with Dale's favorite Date Plate.

Here's the inside of the card ... 
but my sentiment to my sweet husband is private.  :)



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Reason to Celebrate

My sweet husband and I surmised that the restaurants will be overflowing with Valentine's Day diners this evening. We got up before dawn and headed over to Denny's. We were seated at our favorite table by Micki, our favorite waitress.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Micki!"

She took our order for waffles and bacon, then paused.
A Valentine's Day Sunrise

"You two don't seem to need any reason to celebrate.
You're always so happy together.
I'm envious."

:: sniff sniff ::

What a great way to start a day!

May you all be filled with so much happiness
that you don't need a special day to celebrate!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Gettin' My Craft On

My daughters and I have decided to do a bit of long-distance crafting together. It will be a way to stay connected and inspire each other even though we are miles apart in three states. We haven't quite worked out all the details, but we'll likely each pick a theme and explore that theme in a variety of mediums.

My theme? Hearts

I have lots of ideas on how I might capture a few hearts!
The first? A bit of melted crayon magic.

I learned to make them using the tutorial on the WhipperBerry blog. I bought my heart-shaped silicon baking mold at WalMart and a box of 48 crayons at the dollar store.

I'll give these crayon hearts to Jodie when I see her this weekend. She may use them to spread some Valentine goodness to her friends at OSU. I think I might use that baking mold to make some red velvet mini-cakes for my sweetheart for Valentine's Day. That can be my next Heart Art!



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bolstering My Ego

The Sunday after I made my couch pillows, I headed back into my studio for another stab at home decor. I had a rectangular piece of the pillow fabric left over, so decided to create a bolster. I'd checked at Wal-Mart, and they didn't have any bolster pillow forms in stock, so I decided to use items from my stash to see what I could manage.
I found a roll of quilt batting to use as stuffing. I found a couple squares of burgundy upholstery fabric left over from recovering the seats of the dining room chairs. And I found a long light green zipper in with my dressmaking supplies.

I came up with this long, slender bolster. It's ... slightly whacky. It's longer than I'd envisioned and more slender in profile than I'd intended. The red ends are a little odd, though they work since they match the chairs in the next room. But the part that made me feel good was figuring out how to sew a 20" zipper in a narrow cylinder. That part came out pretty darn snazzy!

So though my completed bolster is not what you'd call "well-proportioned," I'm still happy with the experiment. I "made something from nothing" because I didn't have to buy any new supplies. All materials came from my stash. I used my noggin to figure out the zipper -- and it turned out well. The biggest win is that working on this project got me back down into my Studio in front of my sewing machine. And that is a habit I plan to cultivate.


Sunday, February 5, 2012


As my sweet husband and I take these first steps into Chapter 3 of our lives, I am finding that my world is shrinking. It seems that, for now, I am spending an awful lot of time alone. I've slowly withdrawn from groups and organizations in the area. I no longer am involved in church. I have no close friends that live nearby. My daughters all live at least 100 miles away. I go to the grocery store, the discount store, the post office. There are a few restaurants that my husband and I frequent. Other than that, I don't get out much.

This was not done by design. Not consciously, anyway. It's been a slow process. But last week I drove around Coeur d'Alene, our neighboring town. I hadn't been in that downtown area in quite a while. I drove past the apartments where I used to live. Drove past the beach where I used to take my kids. Drove past the churches I used to attend. Then I drove home. I realized just how much my life has changed since I first moved to this area 28 years ago.

I wasn't sad, exactly. More ... aware, I suppose. Aware of the trials these years have brought and that I've overcome. Aware of the choices I've made. Aware of how my mental illness has played a role in this journey -- and how much more balanced my life is now that I've had the diagnosis, treatment, and have learned to manage the bipolar fluctuations.

It makes entering this new chapter all that more poignant. All that more anticipatory. As the quotation above crystallizes, I see that I needed to stop some things so another thing -- already inside me -- can grow. I've put up some boundaries to harmful situations, so that my life can flower in other areas. I can stick my neck out, become involved with new-to-me people and organizations, release my creativity, expand my confidence, be courageous.

Mental illness is a challenge
but it can be managed

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Five Years and Two Hours

 About five years ago, when Jodie was in 8th grade, she and I traveled to Boise, Idaho. Jodie was the Post Falls Middle School representative to Math Counts, a statewide math competition.

At the time, we didn't take many road trips. This was our first duo trip together. I was fairly nervous about a long drive and then finding my way around the "big city." (I truly have become a small town Idahoan). But while there we did manage to get to the "big" mall and to a couple well-stocked fabric stores. We found this upholstery fabric which I purchased to make pillows to match the home decor we were planning for our living room remodel.

Shortly thereafter, I bought 18" pillow forms. All I needed was some time, concentration and hutzpah to get the job done. So there in the organized chaos of my studio, the supplies sat. Eventually, the pillow forms were utilized for another project. This fabric languished. The living room got new flooring, a new sectional, new bookshelves, new TV, new blinds. But no new couch pillows.

Jodie continued on through high school and moved away to college. Over this last Christmas break, she asked to play in my studio since it's now an inviting work space since I rearranged and streamlined it last Fall.

She also requested permission to raid my fabric stash, and rely on my expertise so that she and I could make some pillows for the couch in her apartment. We put two corduroy pillows together in about an hour and a half -- and had a lot of fun and laughter doing it! 

(My pillow supplies are right there on the table behind Jodie's left shoulder).

Once I saw how easy it was, I bought a couple more pillow forms, dug out the fabric, and vowed to make my pillows within four days.

But ... I didn't.

Last week my daughter Julie came up for a visit. She asked if she could raid my fabric stash. Julie has her own sewing machine, but asked me to explain how to make the pillows. I gave her three methods. She tootled back to her apartment, happy as a clam with her supplies.

 But my project remained sitting next to my sewing machine. Why? It's much more fun to play in my studio when my daughters are there to play with me!

 Finally today, I took a firm stand. Two hours later ... TA DA!


They look so nice in the living room!

Now I'm pooped. Time to try them out! Nap, anyone?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

GloomyDay Goodness

Saxophone solos

Canadian geese calling on their fly-by

Sun briefly peeking out from behind clouds
Stacks of clean, folded laundry

Email from a long-time friend

Aroma of fresh oil-popped corn
Watching an old movie while snuggled
beneath a handmade afghan.


Mental illness is a challenge
but it can be managed