Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ending on a High Note

2014 ends tonight at 11:59 pm. Or does it end at the stroke of midnight? I don't know the answer and may 
never know - it doesn't matter. It's funny how perspective changes with time and experience. I always looked at 
New Years as a beginning, like most people, I suppose. It now seems more appropriate and true to look at New Years as 
an ending with a focus on accomplishments. 

When you take stock of your own productivity, you must be very careful. We tend to view our own lives through one of two (or three, perhaps) lenses: a rose-colored one, where everything is lovely and wonderful, or a magnifying lens, where every flaw is revealed. I like to think there can be a third lens; one of clear glass, preferably antique glass with bubbles and waviness within it, that allows me to view correctly and completely but with the knowledge that all images may not be perfect. 


I see myself sitting before a wood-framed, 6-pane window, made with that antique, wavy glass. Pane one is the first part of 2014. It's hazy, to be sure, but if I concentrate, I can start to make out a few images: working on my health, my book, my crafts and such. Started networking more, mostly on google and tried to blog more regularly. So, first window pane, not too shabby. 

Next glimpse is end of winter, beginning of Spring and a leap into the world of craft fairs. Sounds better than it turned out to be, but it WAS a learning experience and I sold a few things. Problem is, I didn't do any others after that. Lots of positive reinforcement received and more networking, though. Also decided to try getting back into nursing and interviewed for a telephone triage nurse job. Long story short, it went to someone else. Moving on. 

Late spring, early summer and the juices are flowing. I see myself getting busier outdoors with gardening and yardwork while still keeping up the crocheting. Came up with some new products and lots of cotton yarn projects. Sewing machine getting more use. Yard sale time, too. By now I quit the online games and stopped spending hours reading FB posts and clicking on every link. Turning 60 makes me realize that time is ever more precious and should be used more wisely. 









Midsummer days appear. Inside during the hottest parts of the day leaves lots of time for writing and thinking. With funds depleting, it makes sense to think about a paying job again (horrors?!?). Nursing seems low on the list of possibilities, even though that seems an unwise path to want to follow. I'm crocheting afghans even though it's 90 degrees outside. The AC does a decent job keeping it comfortable inside this 140 yr. old house, how thankful am I about that? Very. And, oh, major events this year! A visit with a dear high school friend to catch up on the past 40 years of our lives. That's an entire blog post in itself. And a reconnection to a past love, an ex-spouse, old friend, father of three of my children. Another entire post that I do not plan on writing anytime soon. Did I say major? I meant MAJOR. Yep. 
Pattern for commissioned afghan


oil painting in progress
Looking at early fall days now and, while it's still hot outdoors most of the day, there are comfortable mornings that allow me to flex my artistic muscles and do some oil painting. Great feeling to use that medium again to create with. Acquired a more disciplined approach to each day. I decide I need more structure in my life, and one way to do this is to make sure to allow 30 minutes or so for piano practice daily. This serves a dual purpose -  my 8-years-old-this-September grandson really enjoys my keyboard playing (not to mention the guitar and fiddle), and showing him how practice makes more perfect is something special. I've also decided to devote daily time for spirituality - always a  good thing. Sales increased at my etsy shop during this time, but it's still not paying any bills, so I apply for a job at a local grocery store. I'm not hired. Well, well, well - that's kind of deep.

The remaining vista is clearer simply because it is recent and the emotions tied to it much easier to reach. Holidays are a challenge for many. Being with family and the stress of preparations, stretching dollars, etc. puts a damper on feelings of joy and peace. I'm fortunate to have only experienced this a handful of times in my life. I know I am. And knowing that makes my 60th Christmas season so very much like a beautifully wrapped gift to me. Happily, I was able to concentrate more on sharing the togetherness of the season with those I love than worrying about making sure everyone got the perfect gift, or their favorite sweets, or a spectacular dinner with all the trimmings. I made lasagna and a few finger foods. Everyone enjoyed it and I, for once, got to sit down and enjoy it with them. Why does it take 60 years to figure out what's really important? I have no idea. Maybe I'll figure that out in 2015. 





Happiness, prosperity and a healthy amount of humor are my wishes for all in the coming year. Consider yourself hugged.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Allure of Autumn

Leaves are falling, as are temperatures. All I can say is YEA!


Autumn has always been my favorite season. As a child, raking leaves into super large piles and jumping into them with neighborhood friends and cousins was THE event that meant fall has come! 
After this, in the early evening, Dad and Uncle George (or whatever Uncle was around at the time) would light that pile. We always stood far away from the flames until they burnt to glowing embers. Then, we were allowed to toast some marshmallows. The best part of it all was knowing that, soon, Halloween would be upon us. 

We all loved Halloween up north. Our town had a huge parade with floats and bands and many categories to participate in. The categories, which anyone could sign up for,  included many different types of costumes, props and themes. Families and groups often created wonderfully imaginative constructions and elaborate costumes. What I found out after several years of attending the event was that it was judged and prizes were awarded for the tops in each category. 

'The townspeople would line up on both sides of Main Street and watch the line of costumed walkers, wagon-pullers, flatbed truck floats, intricately constructed castles, robots and rocket ships. I recall seeing the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz one year. Of course, witches, ghosts and skeletons were always in abundance, too. 
Yoda and other Star Wars characters make for
great costume ideas nowadays

The year I was 10, I decided I wanted to be in the parade myself. My mother had sewn my Uncle Ed a witch costume with a great black, pointy hat for a party he was going to attend. I asked if I could use it, too, after his party, so I was allowed to wear it in the parade. The costume came complete with a green, hideous, craggy-faced mask, but I wasn't satisfied. So, I crafted a broom from a good sized tree branch, some dry weeds I pulled from along a neighbor's fence and a bit of twine. It came out really good. 

However, I still felt that I needed a "hook" - something to make my witch stand out in a crowd - and brainstormed a variation of the usual black cat riding on the broom. My version had a dark brown, stuffed dachshund (that belonged to my brother) astride my broom. To clarify, I wore a sign around my neck stating, "So? I'm allergic to cats." I won third prize in the Traditional category and a whopping $6.25! A small fortune for a ten year old in the early sixties. 
Granny square afghan with pumpkins, sunflowers and daisies for fall

Obviously, this was a gigantic part of my childhood and an experience I'd never forget. 

After moving down south in the early '70s, it became apparent that our new home base was not much in favor of Trick n' Treating or Halloween in general. No parades, no parties, no Tricks, no Treats. An era had been bypassed. It's no small wonder I ended up going back north, as a young adult, to enjoy several more years of Halloween parades and nights.

 My home town still has its traditional, annual Halloween parade, and, while the southern town I now live in finally gave up the anti-ghost, so to speak, and now embrace Halloween decorations and kids in costumes going house to house, it's still nothing like what so thrilled us as children. That's not to say there aren't some homegrown rituals that may be just as thrilling for the people who grew up down here in the hinterlands - it's just that I've not yet been able to figure out what they may be. 



crocheted pumpkins and leaves

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Friendship Rekindled

Summertime was coming to a lethargic close when it came to my attention that an old friend was going through a rough patch and could use a helping hand. Fact was, I had seen my friend at a class reunion a couple years before but, before that, hadn't been in close touch since high school. Oh, we'd emailed and did the social networking stuff, but that's not the same as spending time in the company of someone, heaven knows. 
Life had high-jacked us; education, family and professions had waylaid any thoughts of reconnecting with former friends who didn't live within driving distance. And, even though family visits had brought us to within miles of one another, we hadn't known the others' whereabouts at the time. 
But here it was, 50 years since high school, and, hey, what about taking some time to reconnect? 
So, a few phone calls later, I boarded a plane and headed on down to the southernmost, eastern U.S. state for a singular reunion. 
Here we are and above us are some of her flora 

First, I had to get acquainted with the pups, as they are fondly referred to. 

 First was the big guy, Axel
and his smaller friend, Erin.
A Springer Spaniel, Erin loved to play and we played a couple times a day while I was visiting. Mostly toss and fetch kind of stuff, and she was really good at it, too. Axel was more of a walk around and sniff kind of fellow. No playing for him.
We spent a lot of time talking, my friend and I. We also watched a few movies, the first season of Breaking Bad, and went out to eat a few times enjoying the warm, tropical breezes as we did so. 
We had appointments to keep, too, since my friend was recovering from a recent total hip replacement. I had brought my crocheting along, so I was never bored. To top the hip replacement, her marriage of 38 years had dissolved in a heap of smoldering ruin, so there was a meeting of a divorce support group that I drove her to and they kindly allowed me to sit in. I'd been through a divorce myself, many years before and got through it with the help of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, my kids and family lending their support. That and a lot of gardening. Nothing renews a damaged soul like digging, hoeing, sewing and weeding will, in my experience. 
My week of rekindling the friendship we'd once enjoyed so many years ago couldn't have gone much better. The comrade I'd known was unchanged at heart. We found we enjoyed a lot of the same things, found the same things funny, liked the same actors and actresses, listened to similar music, and shared many opinions about world situations, although we didn't get into current events very much. 
We had more to talk about than the world; our lives, our children, our loves, our failures and disappointments and our triumphs. 50 years is a long time to cover in a week, but we managed. 

As I write this, a month or so has gone by since the visit and I look forward to the next one. I'm sure there were important things we forgot to mention. Also, I've since finished the entire series of Breaking Bad and we need to discuss that whole thing. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter Day dawned bright and clear, sunny but cool. The church parking lot was already full when I arrived but I found a pretty good spot. The flowers by the altar were so lovely - white lilies - and the feminine members filing in looked so pretty in their spring colors. When the organist began to play the processional hymn and everyone started singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" the Hallelujah chorus never sounded as good. The homily, while encouraging to those who don't usually make attendance a regular event, made the rest of us think as well. We all laughed about the myriad reasons we often come up with for not attending services weekly: "Way too tired, It's my only day off, Weather's too cold or It's raining, I have something else to do, I'm sleeping in, Have nothing to wear, Just don't feel like it"  were a few of the most commonly expressed excuses.  We've all been tempted and even have given in to the temptation to skip a service now and again. 

Does it even occur to us what would happen if God decided to skip a day looking out for His Creation? Sometimes I wonder if we truly believe there is a loving God always aware of our needs. I wonder if we don't treat each other with apathy and unconcern because we really do believe that God is unconcerned for us. There was a time in my early nursing career during which I was caring for a woman with cancer. I heard a preacher on her roommate's TV asking for donations. At the time, I thought I'd get a positive response as I said aloud, "If there was a loving God, there wouldn't be so much sickness in the world." The woman responded immediately, saying, "God has nothing to do with my cancer. It's because of our own free will that sickness and death is in the world. I don't blame God for my illness." Of course, I apologized to her, but, more importantly, realized how off-base my thinking was. When I hear people say,  "There's no God watching out for us; children starving and people suffering and homeless all over the world proves it." I think about that little conversation. I also think about the non-believers I come in contact with on social media outlets and wonder if I am being a decent witness to the power of the Spirit of God. Those three sentences spoken by the woman dying of cancer was a strong witness to me. I hope my words might be as helpful to someone who needs to hear them, as much as I did that particular day. 

May the rest of 2014 be a blessing to us all. 






Thursday, March 27, 2014

MARCH EXITING AS WINTER ENDS?

March 27th, 2014 and it was 32F this morning, 18F yesterday morning and snow showers the day before that. Here's a video of a bit of those showers (note the winds!)

So, plenty of opportunity to stay indoors and craft! 
With Easter coming up soon, I decided to utilize some badminton birdies I had hanging around to craft some little egg-cover bunnies. 
I did that yesterday and today tried my hand at making a video tutorial. Here's how that turned out: video

I think she's pretty cute and will make others since I have four of those birdies sitting around not doing anything (we haven't had a badminton game set up for at least two decades!).

We have had a few truly Spring-y days here so far and I made good use of those days getting my garden ready. My yard is not well-lit or optimal in any way for growing vegetables. The earth beneath our feet is typical hillside clay and rock with little topsoil. I've tried a number of spots to grow edible fare with only a few little successes: my asparagus bed, which held a wheel barrow full of rocks before it was finished with additional dirt and compost, the elephant garlic I grow everywhere (it goes where it wants to and is very good), and my perennials (daffodils, tulips, daylilies, hyacinths, peonies, hosta, snow flowers, cutleaf toothwart and toadstool trillium {both native wildflowers} and Solomon's seal). I just acquired a hellebore which survived and is showing new growth! I have a few shrubs that we love, too - a couple crepe myrtles, some rose of sharons, a hedge of kerria, and a flowering almond and redbud tree. 
My efforts this season will be concentrated on one square foot garden plot and a dozen containers in a spot untried thus far. I've had to lop down some brush and need to do a bit more, so that the sun's light will get to the plants for at least six hours total daily. That was the hardest part, to find that spot. I've set up a large garbage can to collect rainwater off the roof right behind the area. A friend offered me composted horse manure and my son's friend had his back yard bulldozed and has bags of nice, loamy soil for me. Hopefully this will serve as the majority of what I need to fill containers and the rest of the square foot area. 
The remaining challenge is to keep out the gophers, goats and other scavenging and ravaging wildlife that manages to get to my produce before I do. 

I am also looking forward to my first craft fair in which I will be a vendor, finally. It is a couple weeks away and I'm already nervously making lists and gathering items, drawing diagrams of how I'll lay out my props, and trying to make some spring-y, Easter-y, and baseball-y (it's coinciding with opening day for the Dixie Youth Association ball season) items and props to catch folks' eyes. 
I figure my little easter bunnies will be a nice decoration, too. 


I cannot imagine a Spring without birds, bunnies, flowers and pretty little girls in Easter dresses, so I found this marvelously cute pattern for a crocheted dress on the My Hobby is Crochet site (link: http://www.myhobbyiscrochet.com/2014/03/crochet-top-iris-child-size-3-5-years.html ) and by way of the Facebook page Myhobbyiscrochet. Thanks to Kinga, the curator, for a great, free pattern. Here's my first dress in rayon chenille using that pattern, I'm starting on another in cotton: 

I got those cute button from a shop on etsy.com. fabric-covered with a metal shank. https://www.etsy.com/shop/CottnLove
I love them and it's something I can't make myself and they're very reasonably priced.  
While I'm at it, my shop on etsy is 3Csshop. Stop by and browse when you get a chance. 
I'll even throw in a 10% off coupon code for you - 1STTIMER which is good through July '14. Use it at checkout for your discount to be applied.
Thanks so much for reading and visiting with me and allow me to wish you a lovely Spring, wonderful Easter season and blessings in the coming year to you and yours. 
The God of our fathers is a loving god who desires nothing more than our love in return for His. 

------
Pray for World Peace 

Friday, March 14, 2014

#SOSVenezuela: Les étudiants venezueliens appellent AU SECOURS - I would love it if someone would translate or at least paraphrase the gist of this report in english. PLEASE!

The unrest in Venezuela is very troubling to me. I would like to get the real spin not the "official" or what authorities or mainstream media say is going on there. I know there are google-ers out there who live nearby or even in the same country. Let me hear from you about this. So far the US is not saying much except a certain past-nominee for President who says the people there are "tired of socialism." I'd prefer to hear it from someone who is living there. Thank you and bless you.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Missed February altogether!

I swore I'd blog at least once a month this year but, hell's bells, I didn't meet that goal, did I? In my defense, I have been very busy. I had several projects to finish that were put on hold by the Holidays. I did catch up finally, but then decided to participate in two Crochet-a-longs (CAL), one of which I've completed, and one Mystery Quilt project. Yes, I said QUILT! Yes, it's a pieced quilt, something I've attempted before, but didn't truly master. This one promises to be easy and do-able, so long as I can sew a 1/4 inch seam, cut and press properly. I won't lie, I'm scared! Fabric is expensive, first cuts petrify me most of the time, but, if I pull this off, it will be a 30 year dream fulfilled. I'm holding tight to that dream, too.

This is that first CAL project I mentioned. It is a Stripey Sampler Stitch Afghan and a stash buster. I'm keeping it. As you know, if you read my blog before, I have an ETSY shop (3Csshop) where I sell, mainly, my own crocheted items. However, there's no way I could part with this for any amount of cash. Really. The edges (not shown) came out wobbly, so I decided to cover them in fabric. Here's what I did:
First, I used felt fabric to even out the uneven sides, then I covered the felt with blue linen, pinning both sides so that the felt edges were caught beneath the folded seams of the linen. That was not as easy as one would think. 
Eh, voila'! This is how it came out! 
Not perfect but I think it's lovely and that's all that matters. Looks really nice draped over the end of my queen sized bed, too. 

The other CAL is a Red Hearts Yarn project. Theirs is in gray, mine is in shades of violet. So far I've done 10 inch granny squares - 10 of those- and one each of the three squares they've released thus far; actually I'm not quite done with the one that was released this past Wednesday. I'm not at all sure how many more squares there will be and they are only giving out the patterns for new squares every other week. No telling when that project will wrap up! Some folks participating are already joining the squares but not me, I've got to have them all before I know how I'll lay them out. 

Now, getting to the quilt, I've decided on my fabrics,
washed the fabric and, if all goes as planned, will spend the rest of today, pressing and cutting strips. If I have time, I will begin making squares from the strips. I do not expect to begin sewing until next week. Do wish me luck. Thanks in advance for that. I will need all the luck I can get.

Until next time, stay well, and
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
traditional gaelic blessing

Right Under Your Nose: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll by Gene Brignola (NOOK)

Right Under Your Nose: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll by Gene Brignola (NOOK)

Written by someone who grew up in my hometown about the same time I did. Must put this on my TO BE READ list.

Friday, January 17, 2014

NEW CALENDARS

To begin with, I've decided I need to get myself out there into cyberspace a little more than I have of late. So here's a couple of links to my creative and crafty showcases:           3Cs Shop on Etsy.com    and my Facebook site

Now that shameless self-promotion has been dealt with, let's get onto to our next post here...

First Month 


Do you remember learning the months of the year? Was it in school or at home? We always had a large calendar on the kitchen wall near the phone, as I recall. It was just white and black, no pictures of waterfalls or cats or anything, just the days and dates with enough room to scribble important events and appointment times. It was a handy thing that I don't see around anymore. A pencil dangled from a string in front of it, which was even handier. What I'm getting at is that I KNEW of the names of the months but hadn't really LEARNED the months of the year until I was taught it in school. 

I don't think I'm alone in that I tended to imbue everything with a personality when I was very young, even words and numbers. For example, the number 5 seemed a bit cross to me, while the number 2 was an affable sort of fellow. Silly? Perhaps. The months' names seemed to suggest something to me as well. January's name (before I knew anything about root words or semantics) meant happy times to me; February - a bit severe; March, a mixed bag; and April, very fresh and lively. May is my birth month, and it seemed a gentle and kind one. June was freeing for so many reasons (summertime, no school,swimming) not the least of which was the letter J appearing again after nearly half a year (I always liked the letter J). I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but you get my drift, I think. 

This January of 2014 (personally, my 59th January) again makes me think "happy times" even though so much has gone on that could certainly argue for a different view of things. I remain estranged from my nursing career; I remain overweight and not in the best shape; I continue to struggle with my writing, finding all manner of excuses to leave manuscripts unfinished or needing "touch-ups" so I avoid the submission process and subsequent rejection notices; I continue to have a conversation with myself that never seems to end regarding what my passion in life truly is. So, the "happy times" that January tells me it is bringing is based more on faith and trust and hope than reality, in my life anyway. 


What about a new year is new anyway? 


Aside from the addition of one number to the date, what makes anyone think January first brings us anything new? Lots of people make those resolutions. They get on the band wagon for  new diets and more or different types of exercise, eating healthier, vowing to get outdoors more or take the stairs instead of the elevator. You know the routine. In my 59 years, I've broken more than my share of resolutions, so I quit making them years ago. Not that setting goals is out of my repertoire, I just don't set them to the timing of the coming of January first. But to those who do, I wish you the best and most success. 

To me, every day is new. The sun rises, the birds start singing and the day begins - anew! Each morning is an opportunity to thank God for it. To be grateful for the power to be all we can be if we put forth the effort, is a feeling that dawns with the light of day. As a former nurse, I know not everyone is on such a schedule; but I can imagine a night nurse who opens her "morning" eyes to a nighttime sky, full of stars and constellations, arousing the same emotions of gratitude and humility that the sunrise does in me. It's all relevant, in that respect. 

Here's what each new year brings, in my mind: 
Another opportunity to plant in the springtime, weed and tend all summer,and harvest when the time comes. This is how my earth sign (Taurus) brain works.
And I  think about sowing seeds of love and hope in the world outside of the garden in my yard. Sharing what's great about my life with others in an effort to bring about good things in the garden that we call our neighborhoods and communities. As with planting seeds, we rarely end up with a fruitful harvest if we don't revisit those seedlings and do some cultivation and weeding, occasionally watering. Often, in our absence, insects or scavengers invade and decimate all within the garden walls. 

Actual seeds sometimes plant themselves. No help from the gardener/farmer, but with help from rain, wind, birds & insects, animals and unknowing people. Similarly, seeds of love are planted  - rain as tears, shared in times of trouble; wind as words, spoken in peace and to comfort the hurting; birds & insects as a spirit of caring that allows us to discern those in need ; animals as things done for the greater good without thought of reward; and people as a vehicle for bringing forth goodness, whether meaning to or not. If growth and goodness can come that way, how magnified it can be when the gardener/farmer makes the effort to do so! 

Vigilance is necessary when tending a garden, and even with that, no harvest is 100% assured. Yet, we still choose to grow things from the soil with our own two hands, don't we? And we still hope that our words and actions somehow make the world a better place. Most of us are eternal optimists, gardeners or not. Thank God for the optimists, thank God for the gardeners and farmers, and thank God for the new year in which to bring more goodness, more peace, more caring to all the world, near and far. Happy New Year, everyone.