The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Pictures from recent Colorado trip

Train tracks in the center of a four lane city street
never seen that before (and no guard bars, yet it works perfectly well)

next three photos - drive from Ft. Collins to Estes Park - I saw lots of mountain goats

These two are of potted flowers decorating the Pearl St. area of Boulder. Plants like it there.

Three at the botanical gardens in Denver.

My dad's main hobby during my growing up years was organic gardening.  He would love that this kid is a professional gardener.  

BTW - we stayed one night at the Best Western in Raton (NM) where they had an absolutely fantastic breakfast buffet - even the coffee was outstanding. It's the only hotel I've seen with two exits from ones room - there's a door to outside and another door on the opposite wall that opens to a large atrium type space with an indoor pool.  Seemed really smart where the weather is less hospitable.

Some of the back yard landscape work -

Yesterday, while working on removing a white plastic pipe and the little dirty white rocks that encased it underground, a huge butterfly flew over head.  I wouldn't have noticed it had I not been looking up in to the trees.  I was trying to spot a fussing mockingbird. And I was thinking about hanging the individual crystals from the chandelier that came with this house ... hanging them from fishing line and letting them fall like raindrops from the branches that shade the yard over where there's still a lot of work to be done.  
This yard came with significant drainage problems and "layers" of failed attempts to solve those problems.  One of the solutions was to ring the entire house with a ditch, I'm guessing its about a foot deep and two feet wide, filled with walnut sized rocks.  I don't know when that was done, but long enough ago that the rock ditch is know filled with dirt that has compressed around the rocks like Karo syrup around peanuts ... it's brittle. And when we strike the rocks, the dirt breaks up in to pea sized "nuggets".  I am using the fire pit screen as a sieve.  My husband says he will reuse the rock we are culling out of some areas as the underlay for a drainage path/ walking path/  patio.  I know that doesn't make much sense without picture!  I'll go snap one in a few ... the only reason I have time to write now while I should be watering plants is because there's a cloud layer blocking the morning sun. 77% humidity with a 30% chance of rain ... which in Central Texas usually means there is one small cloud that will unleash a downpour over one quarter acre lot somewhere ... not here.

Today I will mix up a portion of Miracle Grow for every plant in our yard.  

Our daughter, C ... aka Four, is here staying with us for I hope all of July before she starts her teaching career.  She doesn't think we have made much progress, but then, she's not picking rocks out of where planting beds should be!

Plus, we pack up and go on little trips pretty often.  Next one scheduled this month - a camp out at the National Seashore where I hope to see some spectacular night skies.

I am really happy with the way our work is looking.  There's still a lot to do.  

rocks to repurpose as underlay 

This is that area where we are focusing our efforts right now.  The PVC pipe was a water sprinkler project (we think - no heads so not sure yet what the plan was) begun by a former homeowner. There is TV cable cord which cuts through our yard, goes under the fence and I'm guessing services the backyard neighbor (weird). We have cable guys scheduled to come out in October to upgrade that ... apparently it's supposed to be inside a conduit of some kind. I am postponing planting anything along the line where that is to be installed. My husbands idea is to provide a channel for drainage through the sidewalk pictured here but to expand it to pick up another "branch" under an expansion of the grid patterned sidewalk that we have already laid.  Those aggregate stepping stones were buried under thirty years worth of Asian jasmine ground cover. You can see where dirt and vegetation were piled against the fence and the casita causing wood rot.  As we replace fence boards, I am going to build a trellis which will attach to the back fence supporting the three vines my husband planted out there - two star jasmine (small fragrant white flower bursts) and one evergreen wisteria (Vibrant vermilion flowers which cascade like grape clusters reminiscent of wisteria).  I am very excited about the vines.
The sidewalk will fan out providing a junction for a gravel path coming from behind the casita.  That is the area set aside for garden "utility" such as our compost piles, a potting bench, a raised bed, etc.. we get good sun back there and it's hidden from view by the little building.  Where I drew on the picture in red - that's the area for our fire pit and a couple of Adirondack chairs.  We are planning on building a little table height rock ledge near the fence to sort of hug that seating area.

This area was covered by the Asian jasmine ground cover - it had really gotten out of hand and was a big part of the drainage issue in that area.  I really loved laying sod ... it's like instant gratification after hours and hours of root removal and dirt repositioning.  I planted caladiums there this year. Next year I;; plant begonias with them.  That's elephant ear in the blue pot.

Here's looking back the other way.  We plan on veneering the casita in the same rock as our house (eventually - husband will pour the ledge for that as part of the drainage job) and where that red is drawn on - a privacy fence and gate to hid my work area.  The drainage fix is really driving this project right now - the slab of the casita is about a foot below grade right now. It's going to look really nice and be functional as well.

This is one of my favorite parts about the yard work - cooling off in the pool!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kitchen changes ...


Here is the "mid 70's" kitchen that this house was built with.
I think the cabinets - real wood - may be the best feature.

We found the house online and asked our realtor to arrange a viewing. 

This picture was how it looked when we bought the place from the "flipper".
They closed the door way which lead to a dining room (currently a study), took down overhead cabinets on the sink wall and increase the size of the opening between the kitchen and the living room. They upgraded the counter tops, the tile back splash, the appliances (except the refrigerator) and painted everything that unfortunate purple brown/grey ... taupe.  Yesterday I read an article about paint colors which said that color actually decreases the property value substantially. Every wall and every ceiling in this house was that color ... it might have been on sale.

I painted the walls white as soon as I could get to it which I thought made the room "better".

The cabinets were in rough shape.  The knobs were "whopper jawed" because the holes hadn't drilled uniformly on all the doors and some of the doors were crooked, unable to close. The finish trim was "glued" on crooked, with gaps, or missing entirely, making the whole cabinet system look "crappy". All except tow of the cabinet door hinges was painted over - the height of laziness and telling of hidden shortcuts made by the flippers. We replaced all the janky hardware as we set about repairing the deficits.  
Tile was haphazardly applied (everywhere it had been put it was done amateurishly.  I think this was a first time attempt by someone who is not detail oriented.  I don't like the tile selection - it's a mosaic herringbone pattern - but the real problem with it is the lack of craftsmanship.  People say a lot of flippers really don't care about anything but the time line and this house seems to support that.)  

Overall, from picture 1. to picture 2. progress was made and I was glad for the head start.  

I removed the tile that had been here. It just didn't make sense to me to have tile applied to the cabinet. That little section of wall maybe.  Someone said "they probably had tile left over and couldn't bare to not use it.  A plastic wood product was applied and sanded where wood came away with the tile mastic (thin set might have been a better choice there, but these guys seemed to love their adhesives - even a hinge pin for a 3-0 door was "monster-glued" in place, upside down). The wall duplex had been halfway fastened with a sheet rock screw which made getting the cover plate on impossible.  I'm pretty good at patching sheet rock so that gouged out looking section wasn't a problem. Here's a detail of the after:


The refrigerator is too big for the space, but after two years with the tiny broken-down one at the rental house I really needed a super nice frig. When we get ready to sell this house we'll replace it with a counter depth unit because that one is going with me. 

The cabinet paint color is Annie Sloan's Aubusson sealed with clear wax.  In high touch areas I enjoy the soothingly soft feel of waxed wood and it wipes clean easily.  I realize that not everyone will love this color as I do ... but ... I do! Left to do - change out faucet (the one the flippers installed is plastic! And while I'm being critical ... the grain on the marble makes a 90 degree turn at the "peninsula" seam - just silly - can't match it now). 

As we do intend to sell this home within the next couple of years, further kitchen modifications don't really make fiscal sense.  BUT if we were keeping this house I would definitely move the microwave to a built in spot below the counter tops (in that "L") and install a stainless steel vent hood over the gas stove.  The microwave has a vent that can be turned on, but it just vents into the living space. I would also (and maybe still will) change the tile out to a plain white subway tile.

For how much I love to cook the kitchen is a bit small.  It's a one cook kitchen - perfectly adequate  for us most of the time.

-from kitchen through to great room-

I'm working out in the yard now. 
Eventually I'll post some more before and after pictures of our work here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

HT ~ ntkfab
who writes "a photo of my brother @sgt_chern (center)
shared with permission

I am proud and blessed to be an American,
May God bless their sacrifices.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Oliver has found V's knitting basket.
Coming up on a year in this house and I will sheepishly note - the unpacking isn't complete. Yard work has been a huge push lately, has to be so before the Texas heats chases me back inside for the most of a day.  Already if I neglect to water the potted plants or my hanging baskets they appear to be "sleeping in" the next day.

Husband and I are back to walking an hour and a half or more each early morning and sometimes in the evening - after his cocktail settles in.  Surprisingly, retirement is even busier than when we both worked (and raised our house full of kids).  I guess it seems so because there are no huge chucks of the day scheduled by obligations and little things fill our days.

Come August we will be "empty nesters". It's still easy to remember the joy when back in 1986 we brought our first child home.  Last night he drove down after work to spend the night and drop off his dog for the weekend. The dogs (mine and his) like each other and have worked out their differences. Four's cat, Oliver, is here too. My dog barely spares a glance for the cat and over the past couple of weeks Oliver has settled nicely as far as the dog is concerned.  The Australian Shepard is seeing him for the first time though. AS does not differentiate between small furry animals. He seems to believe they are all feral and probably rabid. He seems bent on total eradication.  The cat delights in taunting him ... rolling around on the floor, mere inches away, separated by large expanses of glass which flank the back of the house. Oliver appears to wink at the dog, showing his soft furry belly as he flirts with a quick end save the glass.  Yeah, there's dog slobber and paw prints all over the place.  I'm a bit OCD about the windows so Monday, or Tuesday, not sure when vacation is over for One, I'll be spraying that wonderful foam window cleaner and buffing them back to invisible. When AS arrives the cat who sorta lives here goes elsewhere.  He and Oliver are not friendly as it is.  I had never seen a cat preparing to kill another cat until these two met ... and it hasn't gotten any better over the two weeks that Oliver has been here. "My cat" stands tall with his fingers splayed, claws unsheathed as though on tippy toe.  His eye are golden slits and his ears are pressed back looking all the world like a special forces guy's flat top.  I mean ... my cat has a notch out of one ear and the other is pierced waiting for a pirates golden ear ring. He is a bit of a thug cat.  He comes here for for a place to heal essentially ... and I think he enjoys sitting with me when I have my coffee first thing. No matter who is doing the accounting, there are too many animals here. Four may come home from her summer camp job for the weekend.  In the Fall she'll begin her career as a science educator. In the meanwhile her household furnishings are neatly stacked in one of the garage bays and her cat is on the prowl for trouble.

I like downsizing.  By American standards I am a minimalist. I still have more airplane stuff than I'll ever want to use again.  That stuff has a emotional attachment I guess ... I'd give it away, most of it, to the right people or place.  One of the local high schools builds an RV every year, sells it and uses the proceeds to buy an new kit for next year. I might look in to that for a "good" place to donate some of my current materials. I have read that actually flight proficiency deteriorates rapidly even among high hour pilots even as their self-confidence increases during long absences from routine flying. I haven't flown in over a year but I'm still keeping my instructor certificates current. As of today I doubt I'll ever take (or give) another flight review.  I miss flying, but I don't miss all the hours in the air it takes to stay good at flying.

And dishes.  I like dishes.

AS keeps on getting in the pool then coming over beside me to shake off. My dog is conserving energy in the shade.  I may smell like wet dog while I do my housework today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

 Mexican Sage to replace those five plants we lost during the extended freeze.  I was able to find a small root ball in each of the holes which I'm experimenting with "reviving".  They are in a nutrient rich tub but no sign of green yet. These guys form a "hedge"line behind some native grass clumps - picture to follow in the months ahead as things take shape.  I am tickled with the front yard first phase of landscaping.  Still have metal edging and mulch to do out there but the back yard is more of a priority right now.

Two pots, alike, flank the front entry.  Still, the new door waits to be hung.  We are incredibly busy with the back yard projects.  I think the door installation is waiting until end of the summer - plus, we haven't decided on traditional key lock or some of the new, finger touch entry systems ... and other details to enhance the front elevation.  For now, the orange flowers are really beautiful. 

Here is the back yard bed where I'm still pulling remnants of drainage blocking ground cover.  This is behind the coolcrete pool deck and abutts the house.  Yesterday we began pour black tiny gravel between the stepping stones that my husband had so carefully placed.  That permeable walkway was designed to help with back yard drainage. The trees are huge and provide a full canopy of shade for the patio.  The elephant ear that I'm "starting" will be moved to this bed once everything is ready for them.  Yesterday I learned that our zone (8b) isn't wonderfully hospitable for wintering over in-ground.  I'm looking for plan B plants for this bed, but I'll still put the elephant ear in ground with the intent to dig them up every year.  If we sell this house in a few years, I wouldn't want to leave the next owners with a gardening job every fall ... so the elephant ears will be joined by some hardier buddy plants.  An hour and a half South of here (@ about 80mph) is practically a tropical zone!  

On selling - L. hasn't settled in to this smaller in-town lot yet.  He doesn't like all the noise that comes with in-town living.  I barely hear it.  Once the trellises are up (and the backdoor neighbor stops peeking over the fence at will) he may like it better.  If not, I'm not opposed to another move. All the landscaping and detail work inside the house will make the property value significantly higher (plus the additional square foot added by the casita addition).  All this work might just be a hobby that pays.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

That back fence line is where I'm putting most of my effort lately.  Turns out, there was an entire row of big, too heavy for me to lift, rocks. They must have been placed there to delineate a flower bed from the lawn.  This house is a lot different from our longterm home - better for us now, and I love having a pool, but the yard has been interesting.  We bought the other house knowing that we could "fix" the house over time (and we did) but the yard was already amazing, neglected, as the house had sat empty for a year or more, but pretty close to  Southern Living photo op quality.
I developed a real love for gardening over there.  Those older ladies, the garden club set. really brought me along.  Good women.

The starts I potted and brought along are now in the ground here.  The daylilies are thriving, and that one little hosta start is going to make it.  The empty looking pot in the foreground of this shot contains four elephant ear bulbs, two regular giant green and two of the dark purple ones.  We are clearing a bed behind this picture where those will be replanted once were ready for them.  I think those bulbs can stay in the ground in this zone, but I may dig them up every Fall anyway.  I'm learning about here.

There's a sack of seed and four empty feeders which I hope to hang this week. Once we return from our graduation trip I'll get right on planting that bed along the fence.  In the "opening" where the backdoor neighbor's fireplace can be seen, we plan to build some trellises for evergreen wisteria - a magenta cluster that does look like wisteria but isn't at all - some of the pink honey suckle and I think star or Carolina jasmine.  My husband intends to build five separate trellis to enhance the looks of this area. I'm planning on mostly purple blooming things interspersed white daisy plants and an assortment of bedding plants ... we'll see.  It'll look nicer this year, but really won't fill in oil next year I think.  Lotsa fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

It's the prettiest thing I've seen lately.  I really smiled at the "blue-eyed grass", periwinkle is one of my favorite colors ... this egret. Wow.

I don't know who to credit.  I came across it used as an enticement to read a short story on LONGREADS, a recent subscription for me.

I've asked an artist whose life and work we admire to draw it for us.  I would put it over the fireplace.  As a matter of fact, I can see it there already when I close my eyes.  I hope he says yes.  And I hope I can afford it.

I could draw it.  I'd try gold and silver prism colors with all that grey scale ... and I keep the color true in the bill and feet. I don't even think it would be very hard. But my husband would like it even better if it was done by a real artist. Maybe an anniversary gift.  He misses the view of the San Gabriel river and the birds who lived in that area.

I've never seen a baby bird breaking out of his shell.  I've seen a nest being built.  I've seen eggs in that very same nest when the parent bird flew away for necessities. I've seen the hatchlinsg craning their still wet pink heads and orange beaks up in the open air demanding attention.  I need to check for the shell breaking on you tube.  Somewhere along the way I've come to believe that the shell breaking is accomplished by the baby bird ... unaided ... and on his own time table.  I think I can hear my dad telling me not to break the eggs in a nest because the baby bird was still busy becoming ready for the world. I think he told me that the momma bird doesn't want people smells on the eggs so I wasn't to even touch them.  Maybe it was my big brother who told me that.  I don't remember why I think it's true.

This morning I was trying to explain that to my husband.  Seventeen year olds are exactly like baby birds.  They are struggling to peck their way out of the shell.  I bet it's not easy making those first few intentional neck movements ... their wings would be crammed against the shell itching for room to extend a bit ... the cartilage in the feet still soft.  Baby birds are incredibly demanding. They're vulnerable too. I imagine that all they know is they need. 

I've seen them make the flight out of the nest.  It's a joyous thing to see. Then the nest is silent. Maybe there are birds who return to their nests to hang out with each other. I don't know much about the habits of birds ... what ever the birds who nested around our house were ... they flew out, not very gracefully, and never came back as baby birds.

The 24/7 hands on days of parenting are almost done.
It feels good.
It feels like an accomplishment - they are people who I love, like and admire.  Pretty cool.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's that time of day when shadows stretch silver and gold across  the pool.  Soon, the hush will fall and insects will start to sing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

There are twenty of those tall brown yard bags full of tree debris lined up for curbside pick up today.  My husbands right eye swelled shut yesterday and was seeping so bad that I teased him about being a cry baby in order to get out of yard work.  Yesterday morning found me on top of the roof blowing that stuff down to the ground ... we wanted to scoop it up before it got blown into the pool where it really becomes a mess! Another wave of it was blanketing everything again before we'd finished a late dinner.  The blower was still plugged in so I blew the bulk of what was around the pool back from the edges last night in the dark.  In a awhile I'll snap a pic of the pool surface.  It looks like we are setting up a habitat for snapping turtles! And water moccasin!  

The picture up there is of the front yard - that's society garlic blooming.  We seem to have lost all of the majestic Mexican sage, and what I call wandering Jew, but am now wondering if those are an unfortunate choice of names nowadays. I'm trying to locate replacement plants.  We have edging material ordered from amazon to start delineating the beds.  I'm excited about that.  I have almost all of the perennials and shrubs in for the front beds.  I'll add to the bulbs over time. The backyard plantings are a priority right now. Last year we put in two palm trees and five knockout rose bushes, two short as it turns out. we'd like to supplement the privacy fence with several staggered trellises planted in trumpet vine, coral honeysuckle and probably some other flowering vines as I figure out the blooming cycle.

Best news! The doctor who is looking at the proteins in my blood - said (this isn't verbatim and all the applicable disclaimers are thus invoked), after a long explanation about those markers, the volume of protein in my blood is (optimistic, but confirming he said) not sufficient to even red flag. Mine are at .1% and the beginning of the potential problem area starts at 4-6% and even in that pool increases at such a slow rate that the progression to multiple myloma is extremely unlikely for me. He did have several vials of blood drawn which he said he'd give me a call on next week. Any concern about that isn't even on the back burner now. It is an interesting thing to consider though - one's own life in light of an early death. I understand as well as anyone how suddenly the death angel might appear, but in my paradigm He's always been coming for someone else.  I may write about some of those thoughts later.

Grateful.  I'm very interested in what comes next, but I really do love being alive.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Yesterday we returned home from what I think is my final college selection visit.  V seems to be all set for next Fall and we couldn't be happier with her choices.  Time hasn't seemed to move faster than it did with the home years of this l a s t  o n e.  

Recently I have been reflecting on what makes a life feel meaningful to me.  I've been privileged to do a lot of really cool things with my life so far, but I think, looking back, the sweetest joys for me have been found right here at home raising my five.  I am so proud of them all ... and they have become adults who I truly enjoy sharing time with.  
Against all odds, I have become a good cook. I count that among my joys too.

Empty nest years ahead - bring 'em!  I'm interested to see what we may find to do with the luxury of free time.  
I have a few little trips in mind.
I've wanted to retrace the Lewis and Clark trail from St. Louis to the West coast for example. I've never seen St. Louis and I want to visit the Arc as a starting place.  Terrell's wonderful installation in the desert of Arizona is at the top of my need to see list but isn't my first choice for a trip - I'd like to build up to that!

roden crater, located in the painted desert region of northern arizona, is an unprecedented large-scale artwork created within a volcanic cinder cone by light and space artist james turrell. the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception culminated into roden crater, with specially engineered skyspaceswhere the cycles of geologic and celestial time can be directly experienced. a controlled environment for the contemplation of light. it takes its place within the tradition of american landscape art that began in the 1960s, requiring a journey to visit the work in the remote desert with truly dark night skies. 

All the way back to early elementary school, the Weekly Reader days (remember that?) I have wished to see The Crazy's Horse Memorial.  We think that will be the farthest away point of our first trip, which will include the cliff village in SW Colorado.  I love Colorado, then New Mexico (behind Texas of course).  

I long to see Big Sur and there was a place in Wyoming which I can't remember right this minute.  We are thinking about trying out one of those tiny campers.  I'd like to rent it because I think after a few road trips I wouldn't want to use it again.  We have scouting missions planned to look for what works best for us.  

This arm thing has to be settled out before we get to far away from home.  The PT requires a good bit of floor space for stretching out in.  

I think our next outing will be to see a super moon at the National Seashore.  The new moons of June, July and August are all to be super moons I have read.  A college graduation and big move are the main "plan arounds" for catching one of those events.  I'm excited about putting my kayak back in the water asap!

What I'm really doing with the bulk of my free time lately is yard work.  This yard had no landscaping except a creeping asian jasmine which contributed to poor drainage, and gave harbor to scores of insects and snakes. (No, I didn't see a snake, but I'm sure that those areas were crawling with them!) Fortunately, my husband especially didn't like the ground cover and has put forth a Herculean effort of digging it out.  The soil under that stuff is beautiful.  All those years of decaying leaves have produced great planting beds.  It's looking like the hard freezes we experienced this winter have killed several of my October plantings, which we're replacing as soon as they can be located and bought.  They were purple Mexican Bush Sage and at their mature height of 4-5 feet they will form an important design element in the front yard.  

Last year we planted two palm trees and five knock out rose bushes in the back yard.  I am working on the design back there now. It's so much fun! 

taken by V

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It seems like the Internal Medicine guy is there to hustle up work for the other guys.  I went in for routine bloodwork and came away with (new knowledge of) high cholesterol.  Both of my parents had heart problems - Daddy's death at the incredibly young age of 45 was all about his cardiovascular system. My mom opted not to take high cholesterol medicine back in the 90s, her death was due to cancer, but she left the hospital when that was discovered with a referral to a cardiologist as well as to the oncologist.  So, although my blood pressure is perfect, and I am not at risk for diabetes, I am taking the cholesterol number seriously.  It would be nice to be alive for whatever happens next!

I am also to see an oncologist for those proteins in my blood which aren't supposed to be there.  Worst case scenario for those markers is multiple myeloma.  I'd so much rather not. Most likely is "We haven't figured out why some people have that." why can't the medical community get comfortable with just saying, "I don't know ... we don't know."  Or, "We haven't figured it completely  out yet, but your data might help with that."  I mean, well, two things.  One, I've raised five kids, I know when someone doesn't now what they're talking about. Two, I say I don't know all the time - it hasn't made me seem any stupider.  Lol.  Seriously, I'd love to hear a medical doctor, or maybe especially a PhD say, I don't know.  Period.  If you don't know, stop there.  It's okay.

And ... I do have a rotator cuff tear which I am in physical therapy for.  The surgery isn't scheduled yet because I need to improve the range of motion before it's scheduled.  The woman I work with is pretty amazing. I spend a lot of time working on it at home too and it's really neat to see the improvement.  I am suddenly interested in anatomy so I'm studying up on that.  I think rehabilitation the shoulder after surgery is a pretty long process.  

The picture was taken down the street a ways from the retreat cabin, if a 3000 soft log cabin kit home may be considered a cabin.  If I win the lottery I will definitely spend some of it on a small ranch for a few horses and some of the exotic herds that I've enjoyed seeing at Brushy Top down by Blanco. I like horses and enjoy riding but I don't know how to care for them.    

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


An old friend, Bp, chose to share her birthday largess by booking a place specifically set up to accommodate quilting retreats ... retreats for quilters. The guest list ended up including five people who I've known forever and five strangers.

Gosh, I can tell I haven't been writing for a long time!  This feels so stilted!

I mention the stranger thing because I tend not to warm up to people very fast and sometimes (mostly) not at all.  Close to the last minute I messaged Bp attempting to "vacate" my spot so that a real quilter might enjoy the venue and camaraderie.  Apparently quilt retreats are a thing. I am the sort of quilter who pieced a crib sized top 33 years ago and finally jettisoned it, unfinished, during the great move of 2015. It was a Jakob's ladder pattern and was so meticulously pieced together that I basically was over it before picking out a backing fabric.  I realized in 1984 that I was not meant to be a quilter, but Bp flatly stately, "No, you're in," shushing further discussion on my attendance.  I had a blast!

#doover, pictured above, is a mug rug ... party favor.  Bp requested that each of us create a mug rug (that's like a place mat specifically sized to accommodate a coffee cup, a mug coaster), wrap it up cute (she said doll it up when I asked if it should be wrapped for the party), and each guest would have one to open and take home to enjoy.  Quite frankly, I liked the idea of the challenge - creating something out of the thin air of my quilting imagination, but I wasn't THAT enthusiastic about bringing home another "ditty" when I'm spending so much time on clearing away years worth of
s t u f f.  It takes a lot of time to decide if a thing brings joy, and then if it doesn't, deciding where it needs to go.

 "joy" ... maybe you'll want to look at Marie Kondo's book:

the life-changing magic of tidying up
the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
#1 NEW YORK TIMES best Seller
(on loan from One)

 but I wasn't THAT enthusiastic ... Until 
I opened my package, saw my new treasure, and read the note safety pinned to it. Here's what the little note said:

I am learning not to rehash the previous day & not to listen to the uninvited voices that go along with doing that. Everyday is a do over. I thought it might be a beneficial reminder to the recipient as well.                    Leviticus 2:22-24

Here's one of my favorite parts - remember, I was just writing about "intentional ... in the day ... blah blah ... maybe I'm best at big picture ... lol ... I remember.  "Big picture" encourages one to run amok all over the canvas ... to paint as the Master's did, da Vinci for example was big on layering for effect and painting over entirely to find the most pleasing lines, takes diligence and commitment to excellence.  The mug rug, as beautifully crafted as it's intended take away was thoughtfully conceived, invites me to the present, to today ... to a clean slate and an engaging God.

Here's another one of my favorite parts.  There is no Lev. 2:22-24.  But/and the mug rug's message is "Do Over's, not only allowed, but encouraged".  As I lay on my bunk contemplating the possibilities ... was this a simple mistake ... I thought it would be a verse about His mercies are new every morning ... one of my favorite verses about God's provision of grace ... or was there some little gem in Leviticus, hidden among the rules, that these reference numbers could be un-jumbled to reveal.  I concluded that my new buddy girl might need a do over on the verse directive. I even wondered if she planned it that way.

Here's my next, another, favorite part.  Coincidently, I was seated next to her at dinner.  I told her I'd made an attempt at finding the verse, but "There is no Leviticus 2:22-24".  As her eyebrows pinched together, I continued, "Leviticus chapter 2 stops at verse 16". And her deadpanned response?  "What kinda Bible are you reading?"  Ha!  I laughed out loud!  Too funny.  At that moment.I knew I had found a kindred spirit, a friend.

Here's my mug rug - given the constraint that I can't make every corner joint meet (I know that because of all the hair I lost on my first attempt at the mug rug challenge (yes, it was challenging)) I found a way to make wildly mismatched angles appear intentional. The handwork included French Knot flowers (one for each retreatee) and a bluebird singing in a tree, one of the many forming the piney veil of East Texas.  My mother taught me how to sew, also how to embroidery.

Would have made a delightful Barbie quilt!

Thankful 117/1000 People who love us
                118/1000 Stangers who quickly become friends
                119/1000 a mother who taught me to sew and embroidery
                120/1000 #doover - a beautiful reminder, tailor made to how I start my day, that His mercies are new every morning, in other words, He doesn't run out of grace, patience and love, for us.

PS!  Almost forgot!  I made a quilt top!  It is so cute (if I may say so myself) and I am looking forward to finishing it and will post pics asap - 

Monday, February 19, 2018

My treadmill was plugged in today for the first time since we moved to this house.  60 minutes on the treadmill doesn't sound like that big "a" deal - should be easy to reincorporate some cardio back in to my routine.  It's time, past time actually.
My treadmill has a ledge, a 1/2" deep pocket across the front, below the data screen, which perfectly accommodates either my laptop or an iPad.  The most difficult part of the work out is finding something interesting to watch for an hour.  I guess that's where the TED talks I keep pinning in the middle of the night come in.

I still haven't meandered  to a new word or interesting idea to think about ... sometimes I think I have forgotten how to be truly interested in anything.  That's weird isn't it?  It's like, this intensely interested in lots of things both big and small, has suddenly become a shoulder shrugger.  Spellcheck informs me that is not a word - meh - it should be.

Lobsters have rights?

When we were little (and that's actually part of the problem - there's no "little we" at exactly the time I can do that part of the journey)...

When we were little we used to go to the playground, heading strait for the merry go round, whoever got there when all the places were taken, had to be the pusher.  We did the until someone puks or the last kid gets slung off version of merry.  That was back in the day.  I liked the feeling of the sky spinning. That sort of thing felt very focused to me.  Even later during flight training with my old fighter pilot CFI - I liked that he couldn't rattle me and I liked that he tried really hard to do so.

I think I have lost my ability to focus.

When my brother was dying (cancer) not focusing worked best.  Cancer, for the surviver, is a day by day sort of thing and all the edges are best blurred.

Today, my kid brother's only son is turning 30.  I know I am supposed to "represent" his dad somehow with a meaningful birthday gesture, but ... I don't now how to.  I don't want to spend the day looking for just the right picture to send with a birthday note ... maybe later today.  I'll try.

I am discombobulated.  Huh - it took it, first time, no spelling adjustments needed.

I like the looks of that word.  Not for my word - not for my word to think about or anything. Just - its a funny word and it looks funny.

I have thought that maybe "we" are designed to live in the day ... I think that's what they're taking about with all the "intentional" stuff.  What that - staying in the day -being present,etc. - I've been doing that.  I don't think that works for me.  I might be more of a big picture sort of person.

I am supposed to be enjoying doing things around my house.  And I do really like what I'm doing. and while I'm thinking about it 116/1000 (thankfully - its a gratitude challenge, probably an exercise, but I like challenge resonates better for me) - I am thankful that I can afford the stuff I want for my little home improvement projects.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

b  r  e  a  t  h  e

Still working on my kitchen cabinets. 

Top right shows the backsplash I took down.  It seemed odd to me that tile was installed on the pantry which is a wood cabinet.  We are going to install some live edge shelving there for my coffee supplies and maybe a cookbook or two. There was no trim out molding along the top of the pantry - buying it is actually on today's to do. 
Next, those nasty looking painted over hinges. New hinges are in! Husband has said he will put them on and install the doors - shortly.
Next, the demo - a lot more work than I expected and because there was extensive sanding, patching with plastic wood or sheetrock mud, as appropriate, more sanding and lots and lots of very fine dust.  I also sand the Annie Sloan between paint layers and again before it is waxed.
Botton pic. is of the other, as yet untouched, bank of cabinets.  One that wall we would like to scoot the cabinets to the right about two inches to make a tiny bit more space for the refrigerator. When we do that we will relocate the microwave to the pantry and install a vent hood.  I'll also put all that chevron style tile down and put subway tile there instead.  That's a DIY for us, but it's a bigger job than either of us wants to tackle before we re-do our bathroom.

It's 56 degrees with 96% humidity on my back porch, aka workspace.
Drying time is causing delays!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Except for Max fur that blows like snow on a dry frozen tundra somewhere
the house stays pretty clean

Monday had been housework day (unless I was flying) for a long time now

I'm glad I took time to sit on the floor at that table and play with my kids

the glass top is pretty scuffed up  

but I can hear it giggle
when I close my eyes to hear.

I think, well, I know, I messed up my arm painting this house white.  And, I still have some painting to do.  The kitchen cabinets are still sporting ugly purplybrown paint.  I have started painting them.  I tried on two different shades of Annie Sloan chalk paint and have decided on the darker (color of that dark teal pillow on the couch). The flippers put tile backsplash up a wooden cabinet, also some sheetrock that abuts the cabinet.  It was one of the things here in the house that I thought looked just weird.  I started pulling that off but Larry is removing the thick mortar stuff that held the tile up.  I am supposed to be resting my arm entirely (on the advice of a doctor friend).  My hands got pretty used to working from either seat in the airplane making my non dominant arm a lot more coordinated than it might have been otherwise ... but it's really weird to have a weaker arm.

I remember how it was hurt several years ago.  I actually had put it from my mind until the friend insisted I remember saying this is pain from an old wound.

Old wounds.  I think it's good to forget them.  

I'm past that.  

But I wondered a bit today if there is some good reason for new pain from an old wound.  It made me start thinking about Paul, from the Bible, with his affliction.  I think it actually served him well ... that being the point of why we were even told about it.  

Thank goodness I can paint with my left hand.

I also have a girls three day weekend sneaking up on me and as a party favor we are all supposed to hand create a "mug rug".  Of course I had no clue what that is.  So far my mug hasn't even thought about needing a rug.  Turns out its a quilted thing and I'm looking forward to the design process.  Hoping to get my sewing machine out tomorrow.  My friends don't think I as "sewist" as they are and though I sure that's right, I do have a project or two in mind.  I want to make a pretty pj set with a long full robe.   Like this. 

I've seen some of those high priced pjs in snotty stores in Austin and they are crazy expensive and the details weren't tended to when they were sewn so they look sloppy.  I can remember my mother stressing how important it was to sew with the iron ready at hand so all the seams looked great.  Mom was a stickler for the details and taught me well.  I just don't like to sew ... unless it's something I want that I know I can do as well or better.  also looking for a shower curtain fabric that I'd like for our guest bathroom.  The rod is at 84" just like I asked for.  I have an eye on the exact right shower curtain unless I can make it for a lot less.

I'll post a pic of my mug rug when I get it done.

My friends have me doing the food for our retreat ... because I do love to cook for people.

Monday, January 22, 2018


I do have a new goal, and because I am a post-menopausal woman you might accurately guess it has something to do with physical fitness.  I'm on track.  Check in is every Monday morning at 8:30.  Good.

To dream a new dream ... probably Lewis didn't intend this literally, but I'm taking it that way anyway.

I have a dream stuck in my head from, geez, almost ten years ago.  The dream started and ended somewhere in the middle as dreams (and life) seem so often to do.  I am praying for closure on that dream.  It's just a dream you might think.  To me it is more, a metaphor.

I have an idiosyncratic need for closure.  Most of the time I'd say that's a good thing, it comes in the diligence basket, and I'm diligence personified.  On this, I have wished to "just let it go" but have been unable to comply with my better instincts.  So, there's that.  Dream closure would rock.

Dream closure?  Yeah, it counts.

I stopped remembering my dreams starting in 2015.  I don't know what makes someone, usually able to recall large parts of dreams routinely able to visualize and recount them, suddenly unable to do so.  I'm just guessing it's chronic fatigue or stress (which would be companions).  But, you know what?  Get news - I have arrived at a less stressful, I'd characterize it as idyllic, time in my life.

I know the world is a mess, but my finger doesn't fit the hole in the dam.
I'm actively trying to enjoy the good around me.
Why not?
That to note - now that I'm all chill, I expect to start dreaming and remembering those dreams again.

And, I did dream a little dream last night.

My niece was sitting behind me on otherwise empty bleachers and she leaned forward to whisper something funny (I don't remember what) in my ear.  It tickled my ear. I laughed because it was funny, I laughed louder and longer because it also tickled.  It was the sort of laugh that curls one up in mirth.

I'd like to complete "an old dream", short of that, a new dream might chase the old one away.  Closure either way I hope ... .

"Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel, and the book of events is always open in the middle." -Szymborska

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our garage is about half full of perfectly stacked boxed of stuff. L's stuff. He is systematically disappearing for the entire morning into his study with one of those boxes.  He's scanning notes, pictures, articles, entire books for all I know.  Our oldest son recommended the scanning to digital storage idea and my husband has taken to it as only the truly compulsive can (no disrespect there, it is as the if the kettle is calling the skillet black).  I applaud the effort.  Our huge recycling container sits ready, straining lid cocked open, every pick up day.  We are burning already scanned stuff in our little fire pit. Someday we may be able to park a car in the garage.

This picture turned up.

He came out to find me saying, "Hey, look what I found."  This was taken in July of "81 at the airport in Buffalo.  The night before we had been in what seemed to me was getting ready to be a fatal car wreck.  A speeding car screamed through a red light broadsiding us and spinning the brand new station wagon L was driving round and round and round just like a toy flung during a temper tantrum.  The car was totaled. From my seat on the right I could see more clearly around the blind corner.  I saw it coming.  There's a word for "when time fragments in to tiny fractions of a second and those fraction move forward like box cars on a freight train" ... it's like slow motion ... even one's prayer is stretched like a cassette tape that will never sound right again. 

I've never told anyone this - after my dad died I started thinking, irrationally of course, that everyone I loved would die (because I loved them).  That's some sort of weird messed up.  The earlier death of my best friend/older brother had left a jagged scar, Daddy's death was too much loss to absorb. For a long time I kept my love small because of that ill conceived idea.  

During those splintered seconds before impact my breaking heart reminded God that He promised to never put more than we can bear.  That's what I'd been told.  That's what I believed.  (I now know that is not what the scripture says.)   Please, no, my heart whimpered. My husband and I walked away from the crash.  I miscarried a few days after we got back home.  And I dropped out of graduate school and went to work.  

It surprises me what comes out when I just sit down to write ... . 

I sat down today to talk about how much I am enjoying ALEXA.  Maybe I can tell that story tomorrow because I am out of time today.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Recent birthday pictures - plenty to be thankful for - 116/1000

and what the dog willingly endures when we are inside more than we like to be

the eye liner is all him, I just added the brows

Today I  decided to stop wearing eyeliner myself ... it just smudges so easily and looks bad (noticed as I searched for a pic of myself).

I also received the gift of outdoor heat for my birthday - Max likes that almost as much as I.

This little guy usually snuggles with me first thing in the morning as I sit here enjoying my coffee and life in general.