Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday

Extra day together makes a long weekend THAT much sweeter.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Common miracles: #3

Vacation brings about a different mindset, don't you think? Much more conducive to common miracle spotting! Being in relaxed mode helps open up my brain to the little details...

We took a walk down to Piggot Bay, and I was struck by the beauty in the mess of driftwood and debris. It looked to me like someone had gotten there before us and arranged it just for our viewing.

Blue sky is a miracle these days, it seems. I love the deepest part of the blue. (The water was really still, too. Perfect for ocean kayaking...)

I have been working on my braiding skills, and my lovely sister-in-law is a patient recipient of my practice. I love how practice improves just about anything you're working on... it reminds me of other things (piano, especially) that I've let go and regret letting go...

These lilacs captivated my mom and dad down at the park--I wish I'd gotten a picture of the two of them taking pictures together, like paparazzi stalking the lilac bush. I got a little closer and the lilacs captivated me as well.

 My mom's apple pie is indeed miraculous. We all enjoyed a little graduation celebration for Seth, as he'll be finishing off middle school in a week or so.

It's been a lovely family time together. Re-entry to reality will take a bit to get used to...

To play along with Common Miracles, go here. It's a fun project that Chel of Ginger Blue Studios started just recently, and it's a great reminder to stop and look for the miracles in the little things.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
-Robert Brault

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

This week it is very simple and immediate.

I am thankful for my family. For my husband, who I would travel on any adventure with, any time, anywhere. For my young man, who fills me with all kinds of mommish pride with his just being, and sends me texts to make me smile, and says very, very honest things to me that remind me of being young. (It feels very long ago and far away). For my mom and dad, who never fail to make us feel welcome and welcome and welcome when we visit. For my brother, who is knit into my earliest memories, and his precious wife, whose presence in our family I am indeed thankful for. For the dear nieces, with their smiles and giggles and hugs and stories and pets and rainbow toes.

I am also thankful for the challenges that come our way. Without challenges, I wouldn't know how sweet it is to walk in the sunshine; I would probably complain about the glare! Without challenges, I know that I would so quickly forget my need of God, lose my awareness of myself within a larger context and universe, and I would blithely glide along (tra la la). And, I'm also quite aware that, in perspective, my particular challenges tain't nothin'. And for that I'm thankful!

Hope you are thankful too, wherever you are. And your weekend filled with joy and rest.

(If you're paying any attention to when this is posted, I feel it's important to note that I'm posting with 41 minutes to spare to make Friday night, PST. We're finally off the ferry to Mayne Island, and it was a long, long day to get here, and sleep will be so sweet. When I said to the boys, well, this will be the first time since I started blogging that I won't have posted the grateful list ON Friday night, Seth was most encouraging that it still happen--you must, Mom! So here I am. Now 40 minutes to spare...)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday 13: Stuff to share

I haven't done one of my info-roundups lately (but you can see a few of my past ones here, here and here), and folder of items I want to share has gotten a bit full... so I'm mixing it up on a Thursday, and posting a few choice tidbits I've had tucked away. Enjoy!

1. With summer coming (theoretically... it still feels rather slow but I'm not complaining, at least there aren't any tornadoes!), I am in desperate need to get the freezer cleaned out and ready to receive new bounty. Here's a great article to inspire me. I love the idea of writing the contents on the door in dry-erase marker. Quite clever.

2. I am a big Tetris fan. I lost hours/days/weeks to Tetris in college (back in the day). And also, maybe a little bit of time a couple of years ago when we were reintroduced... but this outfit would tip me over from fan to fa-NA-tic, for sure! Still, kinda cool...

3. Have you run out of meal ideas? Here are 100 recipes to rev up your menu planning.

4. Looking for a new crafty outlet? Just a few (100 tutorials) ideas to get your creative juices flowing...

5. This concept has me so intrigued... I believe that I would totally eat salad every day if I had salad in a jar:

I have one of those FoodSaver things, but have never used the vacuum-pack attachment... might just need to get that figured out, head to Costco and come home with a truckload of lettuce!

6. Just a little bit of leftover royal wedding hoopla: Some dude got Wills and Kate tooth tattoos. Good grief.

I'm now officially done talking about the royal wedding. Thought you'd want to know.

7. How to be like Steve Jobs. I have been feeling the pain of iTunes this week, so I think this label is rather spot on.

8. Extreme minimalism: Could you pare your belongings down to 15 items? I'm pretty sure I couldn't... but this guy did. I kind of admire it, but also shake my head a bit at the idea. Seems a little close to that post-college "can I sleep on your sofa this week" lifestyle that everyone tries to avoid later in life...

9. Bouncing gelatin, just because it's so rad:

10. Pantone's Fall 2011 color chart. Very pretty!

11. Two items relative to cooking + time: That is, the idea that it should take TIME to make a good meal. While this is true, in theory, it's a pretty hard argument to make to people for whom time is a precious commodity, who work and juggle family activities and life. And, frankly, may not prioritize "home-cooked" meals (which everyone defines differently, of course).
a. Michael Ruhlman on quick and easy cooking.  (30-minute meals are not a good thing, in his world... He does have a point.)
b. Google has a new recipe search tool. (It does not favor the small, specialty blogs/sites, in case you're wondering. Bigger is better in their world.)

12. Mighty Girl: A lovely post about childhood memories; some really sweet memories!

13.  Fascinating obituary of an anti-social socialite.

Hope there was an item or two to pique your interest! Me, I'm especially fascinated by that obit. Which one was your favorite?

For more Thursday 13s, go here. And have a fabulous Thursday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday

Sunshine's here, however temporary. I'll take it; mower's revving now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Common miracles: #2

I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation.
With all respect to heaven, the scene of miracle is here, among us. -Marilynne Robinson

This quote jumped out at me from my readings this morning, and I thought, what a perfect way to not only start my week, but to participate in Common Miracles again.

As I get ready to go spend time in the yard (even though it's kinda cool and damp out there again), I am really struck by the common miracle of mindset. This spring I have been dreading the yard, honestly. I'm behind before I get started (didn't finish stuff up well and proper last fall), and feeling overwhelmed with all I have to do. And yet I am not structuring my time properly to accomplish the stuff I need to do... I could go on, but it sounds a "little poor me."

So the common miracle is that I spent a number of hours outside on Friday and had a total mental shift. It was sunny, which always helps. I enjoyed the fresh air, I made progress and even though there is still a LOT to do, I feel like it's doable, one day at a time (it always was, it's just how I see it, see?).

We spent time again in the garden on Sunday, husband rototilled the blueberry patch and I got that replanted, and finished off some of the veggie areas as well... Seth even came out and helped me thin the radishes, and now my task for the day is to get the drip irrigation back to 100%. There are still a few chewed spots that Ruby left her indelible mark on last fall, and I need to get those fixed and ready for real warmth.

The mindset thing is big for me. I am a huge believer in the concept that the circumstances can be the same for two individuals, and it's all in how they perceive it and react to it that drives their reality. I've seen it, time and again. I've lived it, even. For me, it can sometimes (most times?!) be just planting myself in the situation (the yard) and putting one foot in front of the other, and waiting for the mindset to catch up. If I wait for the spirit to strike, I could wait all day (and I have, a few days this spring, for sure).

That's my Common Miracle for today, and I'm on the lookout for others... I hope your day is miraculous, common and otherwise.

If you'd like to participate in Common Miracles, go here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

How can a week feel really long and really short, all at the same time? Apparently, that's possible. Roundabout Wednesday night, I was thinking, "Seriously? It's not Friday tomorrow? What's up with that?" But, Friday arrived eventually... and really quickly too! Ha.

And I am soooooo grateful for it. Soooooo.

I'm grateful for the warmth, and the sunshine. I'm grateful that plants actually have to be watered (by something other than the sky!). I'm sure that particular novelty will wear off quickly, but still, it does feel like a long time coming. I have so enjoyed wearing shorts in the yard the past couple of days.

I'm grateful for color. It's all around me right now in nature, thankfully, and I feel like I see bursts of color in other places too--Pinterest is one such place. I have pinned many images to my "Color me happy" board, and to my "Rainbow love" board too... If you want to join Pinterest, shoot me an email. It's still in invite-only mode and you can request an invite, but I think if someone (me) invites someone else (you), it might happen a bit quicker? I like to spread the addiction...

In spite of my color affection, I'm still surprised how many days I reach for black and white and gray out of my closet... it makes me laugh. I try and mix it up with a spot of color here and there, but some days are better than others... I did paint my toenails orange today, so there's that. It's very pretty and not at all silly, I swear. Well, maybe a little bit silly.

I'm grateful for music and audio books while I am in the yard. I can have my little devotional time to music while watering the beets, or hoe a little harder to the sounds of Oprah's biography. Try not to judge me too harshly for that one... I gave in and got the Kitty Kelley, thinking it would be light listening, and it is. I take it with a grain of salt, some of the more salacious tidbits, but by and large it rings true-sounding (how's that for a vote of confidence--"true-sounding!"). I thought it would be a fitting sendoff for her last season, which I have only watched sporadically at best...  I just listened to the section on Stedman Graham today, and found it quite interesting, as I've paid very little attention to him over the years. Apparently he's just arm candy. What's the harm in a little arm candy, I say? (And it would seem that if that was the only thing he was good for, she'd have traded him in for a newer model by now, don't you think? But what do I know.)

I posted a post-haircut picture of Seth on Facebook last night, as he headed out to the Band Festival to perform with the other middle school and high school. It was a fun concert of quite recognizable songs--movie scores, popular songs from years back, etc. The kids had fun, and it's always great for the middle schoolers to hear the big kids really go to town on some large sounds! Gets them all juiced up for high school. Anyway, I'm grateful I can see Seth's eyes again! I know he thinks, "That's pretty silly, Mom," but it's true. These two pictures I didn't put on Facebook, since I didn't want to embarrass him in that venue (he's still my friend there). But here, where he never looks, I should be safe. (I think the one where he's looking down looks like an album cover or something. I know, I'm a kooky mom. Ha.) (iPhone photos, not so hot on the focus...)

I am truly grateful for my family. For my little threesome here, and my extended family across the pasture, and across the state and even up there on that little remote island. Yes, you people too! My brain often goes to the place of sadness for people who don't have people, and it makes me sad. People are good. Especially the family kind, even if we do hold blister pictures for ransom and demand all kinds of favors to not release to the media...

I have been listening to spoken word poetry lately. It seems to be the new "thing." (Well, I'm sure it's been around for awhile, but lately it seems to have hit some tipping point...) The jury's out for me, frankly; not sure it's my style. I have a whole blog post percolating about it, too... apparently I have opinions on the matter, who knew? I am so grateful for poetry as a form of expression, though. It's one of my all-time favorites. I am amazed how often a poem will cross my path, and then it will pop up again somewhere on a blog, or a site, or an email, and then here it comes again a third time. It's like there's a collective energy behind these things sometimes, and it feels like it's been put there, just for me.

I'm grateful for dreams, even when they're nutty and odd. I have had a week or two of the strangest dreams. I won't even get into the imagery for fear you'll never come back (well, not that bad), but some very funny--laughing funny and weird funny--stuff. I like dreaming, though. Makes me feel like my sleep is doing something for me, besides resting me up for another day.

I mowed the outside patches this afternoon--not the nice lawn, but the greenery between the lawn and the actual pasture, the wheat. It had gotten SO long in the past few weeks of rain, I couldn't believe it. I was trucking along, doing my thing and I saw the grass ahead go jiggle jiggle. I live in fear of hurting a bunny when I'm mowing the regular lawn, and hadn't considered that they might be frolicking in the grassy patches. So I slowed down and let a momma bunny hop and skip and jump to safety. I saw two big bunnies and was just praying that there wouldn't be some bunny nest in the grass when I saw the grass move again. This time I stopped the mower and did a little tumbleweed removal along the fence, making a bit of noise and bustle to let bunny know to move along... and the tiniest little guy hopped out of the grass and headed across the lawn to his mom and dad. I am so thankful for our little bunnies. They just make my day with their peppy antics. And I'm grateful that they don't build bunny nests out in the open!

I made a batch of falafel this week, thinking it would be a yummy and healthy lunch option. A local restaurant had a Greek salad last summer that had falafel on it, and I loved that salad. Well... my batch turned out horrible. Not just sort of bad, but really bland and tasteless and kind of gummy. I think I know what I did wrong, so I won't give up. But I'm grateful it was just Seth (Mr. One Bite) and I trying them out over lunch one day... imagine if I'd made up a batch for company or something? Hmmm... wouldn't be the first time, I suppose. Trial and error, and some days it's more error than trial!

I am grateful it's the weekend. For. Sure. And grateful for another weekend with my men. Plans with some girlfriends to see a movie on Sunday, definitely more yard work on the agenda, and some relaxing between now and then. A little worship, a little pause for praise, and then hitting another week...

I hope your weekend is exactly what you want it to be--full if that's your thing, restful if that's what you need. Peace to you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday 13: Keep Calm and Jump The Shark

Once upon a time, there was a war on and it was thought, by some people in charge, that a few peppy, rah-rah slogans would keep the good people of England from freaking out during air raids, or God forbid, if the Germans invaded.

So the Ministry of Information (I like to say that with a proper British accent) released a couple of slogans to cheer the masses: Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory and Freedom is in Peril (which seems less encouraging and more like stating the facts) were released by His Majesty's Stationery Office (also good to say with an accent). These slogans were plastered on public transport and shop windows, all over the place.

There was another, lesser known slogan: Keep Calm and Carry On. This slogan was meant to be used only if Germany did, in fact, invade. As that did not come about, the posters made from this saying languished, displayed only in a few offices, and never released to the public.

What? Never released to the public?, I can hear you asking, in shocked amazement. How did that happen? And how on earth has it now become plastered not only all over the place, but mutated into a one-size-fits-all slogan for every interest and hobby out there? Worried about invasion, nothing. We want a slogan for our latest obsession. Cupcakes. Or soccer. Or roller derbying. You name it, you'll find a Keep Calm and... poster to fit it.

It's pervasive, that's certain. And whether or not I'll take down my Keep Calm and Carry On poster that hangs in my crafty area any time soon (um, no, I won't), I can still call a spade a spade. This is one poster that has definitely jumped the proverbial shark.

So, in honor, homage and a little bit of horror, here are 13 variations I've curated for your Thursday enjoyment.

Which one is your favorite? Have you seen even more unusual variations? Let me know in the comments!

Hope you're having a fabulous Thursday. For more Thursday 13 participants, go here.

Oh, and here are two more for good measure... see, I can't stop myself! It's craziness!

Oh yes, could not resist that one!

History source.  Images found via Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Midweek reminder: A scar means I survived

And I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means I survived.
-Chris Cleave

My thyroidectomy scar is my most visible physical scar, by far. A four-to-five-inch line just inches below one's smile is somewhat obvious; seven and a half years later, though, it's pretty faint and most days it's easy to miss in the mirror. My only real reminder that I don't have a thyroid is the little blue pill I take every morning.

When I tell the story of that summer, how the lump was discovered and as we assessed it and watched it and I pondered options... how it became three lumps, then six, then dozens of little nodules before the whole messy mass was taken out... I am reminded that on good days and bad days, come hell or high water, one foot in front of the other is about the best you can hope for. That's how you get where you're going, one step at a time.

My beautiful scar is a reminder to me when I think I have to know how things are going to end up, and imagine that I can control all the bends in the road on the way, too. I can't. But I can take care of this step, and then that step, and bit by bit, one step at a time, I can get where I want to (need to) go.

My days are a balance between looking out to the horizon and looking down at my feet. Some days I'm better at looking out ahead, some days I feel like I'm staring at the dirt right in front of me. I'm thankful to live with a visionary who is good at helping me keep my eyes out ahead to the future, and I'm thankful to have the reminders (this one's on my body, and if I pause at the mirror, it's there) that sometimes not knowing how things are going to turn out can bring the greatest blessings of all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday: Procrastination angst (2)

Turning off online "distraction" until deadline is met. Period. Nuts.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Common miracles: #1

As I mentioned in my Friday Night Grateful Moment, I want to start participating in Chel's new Common Miracles project. And given my general mood (quite Eeyore-ish) and the weather (very blustery), I might as well focus on something other than the grass that is growing to otherworldly heights with all this rain, and the snow in the mountains (again).

The Pema Chodron quote that Chel uses as her jumping off point is a great one:
“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
–Pema Chodron

What ordinary things do I rejoice in? Where is my everyday good fortune today?
*In the amazing shades of green I see all around me. (Especially if I don't look too far into the distance at the hills and their whiteness.)

*In the heavenly scent when I walk by the lilac bushes. That smell is truly one of my favorites of the season. I could stand there for quite a while... I almost inhaled a bee last week, so I'm looking a bit more closely now!

*In the plethora of tiny cherries on the tree just outside my office window. Now for them to grow and turn color and sweeten...

*In my sugar-cinnamon mix that makes my oatmeal just that much better. (It also doubles as a glorious toast topping too, of course!) I don't remember having it a whole lot as a child, but for some reason, sugar and cinnamon together just *seem* like a total kid thing.

*In clean sheets. Even if they're flannel. In May.

*In kisses. And hugs. I am blessed by human touch, every day.

*In the garden sprouts. They made it through what was supposed to be freezing weather on Saturday night (I don't think Mr. Weatherman knew what he was talking about. At all.), and are looking pretty good in spite of the downpour(s).

*In my relationships; the ins and outs and ups and downs of living with two men. I think I learn something new about each of them, every day. I really should be writing this stuff down!

*In my to-do list. It's long this week, as a result of my own putting things off, and having the urgent become dominant over the important... but the list has been written (and will be updated as needed), and I expect it will guide my week so much more fruitfully.

I'm still working on getting fully awake--the constant gray really makes it difficult to come out of dream land and into reality. So if you see this post changes and is updated sometime in the next day or two, it's because I DID finally wake up and needed to edit!

Off to be a warrior in this wet world!

To participate in Common Miracles, go here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Always ready for the weekend, for sure. This week it feels like spring just might have arrived. Finally. And I'm ever so grateful for that.

I'm also grateful for a few other things:

We had our first "summer storm," you know, that heavy feeling in the afternoon when the clouds come in and then the wind picks up quickly, bringing dust and rain. At least, that's what a summer storm looks like around here... and even if it didn't get much above 75 degrees, it still qualified as a *summer* storm, in my books. I'm thankful for the warmth that we're finally getting a piece of...

I'm grateful for my men. They know how to make a momma feel loved on Mother's Day, and every day. I'm giddy with our extra weekend time with Seth this weekend. Poor boy, having to deal with the masses of mom-affection. I don't know how he'll make it through!

I'm grateful that our strawberries have taken off, like crazy! I transplanted them from another berry patch last year, making room for blueberries (which subsequently died in the winter horrors) and voila! We are going to have major strawberries this year!

I'm grateful for garden starts. I'm sure we'd figure it out to get seeds started earlier, but it is nice to be able to put plants into the ground a few weeks ahead of the game. And the variety too, it's lovely. The garden is almost completely planted, and so far it's got: cabbage, onions, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, squashes, pumpkins, green beans, radishes, carrots and peas. Peter Rabbit would love to hang out with us.

And speaking of rabbits, I am so grateful to live in an area with so much wildlife. I took about 200 pictures of bunnies yesterday afternoon, lying about in the sunshine and sneaking up to get pictures; it was another sign that summer is truly on its way. I was *supposed* to be weeding, but when there are four baby bunnies, at least, and a momma, and upteen pheasants, and hawks and dear Owen the owl to look at? (I did get a little weeding done, eventually.)

I'm grateful that Blogger got back up and going. Did you notice? Things were definitely whack there for a day or so... Ma and Pa actually pointed it out to me when we were chatting on the phone ("Sher, there's a funky blue border at the top of your blog, what's that about?") and from there it was straight downhill for I don't know how many users... lost posts, lost comments, it was wild I tell you! I tracked it a bit in the news, and felt bad for bloggers who might be impacted in a financial way, but I bet most people who actually make coin off blogging use something a wee bit more polished than Blogger. At least, that's my hope, for them. Anyway, grateful that they're back, but probably not as grateful as they are! I imagine a few folks didn't get much sleep last night!!

Have I mentioned I'm grateful for sunshine? And flowers? 

I'm also grateful for friendship. For friends who are finding their way out of a dark patch (yeah for that!) and for friends who can see the possibility of miracles, big or small, in their everyday existence. I'm going to start participating in a bloggy thing called Common Miracles, that my bloggy (and very creative) friend Chel just started last week. I love that she stepped out in this way, and encourage those of you with blogs to participate too. Click on the Common Miracles link and check it out. I'm also grateful for the group of women I've met with on Tuesday mornings the past few months as we've studies the fruit of the spirit and realized how desperately we're in need of a little patience, gentleness, self-control. Um. Yeah. There are a few others, but those are the ones that stuck out. Love, no problem. Joy, in spades. Kindness, most days. But self-control. Hm.

I'm grateful I'm a woman. I don't mean that in any kind of an anti-man way AT ALL. I love men (well, a few in a particular, but in general I do enjoy men). But I love BEING a woman. And all that goes with it, from the crying (happy and sad) to the girly girl stuff to the support of each other. When I hear of someone who feels like they were born in the wrong skin (male or female), my heart breaks for them and I hope they are able to find peace. For me, being a girl is grand.

I'm grateful for cheese. Specifically blue cheese, today. Yesterday it was cheddar, but today it's blue. Tomorrow it might be chevre or feta... or mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan... I made a big big lasagna today for the weekend... that should help with the cheese love, for sure.

I'm grateful that I was raised in a house that was warm and homey and where meals were savored and enjoyed. Maybe (just maybe) sometimes we enjoyed them *too* much, but still, I think I'd rather swing to that side of the pendulum... we did/do know how to celebrate!

I'm grateful that Seth has finally agreed to a haircut. It took someone calling him Justin Beiber to do it, but I'll take that. Hair appointment is being made, and I am looking forward to seeing those eyes again! (I'm making it sound worse than it is... it isn't that bad! Sorry for the blurry pic, I just couldn't resist...)

I'm grateful it's that time of year when all the balloons are in town. That, to me, says spring, and sunshine, and color. (Of course, thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow, as can happen when the balloons come around...)

Hope your weekend is filled with all good things. Peace.
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