Friday, January 20, 2017

This Land Is Our Land

Today is Inauguration Day and I am torn. Part of me wants to watch it all because I like to see history in the making. Another part of me wants to stage my own little silent protest and not watch any of it. I am truly afraid for America's future. I am afraid of the things I have learned about my country's leaders, but, most of all for the truths this election has shown me about our people and our values. I want to give everyone a chance, but I am afraid of being too complacent, and not knowing when it is time to stand up and Resist. What if we are all like the frog who stays in the boiling water until suddenly it is too late? One of the scariest things I have read since the election has been that it is the "nice" people who can be the most dangerous. These are the people who look the other way as long as injustice does not affect them directly. It is easy to be one of the nice people. I have always felt more comfortable being "nice".

I am a little bit political. I don't want to try to convince others to change their views, to knock on doors and make phone calls, but I have always had an interest in the way our system works. Twice in my life I have had jobs at our Iowa Capitol. During the legislative sessions of 1967 and, many years later, in 2010, I learned a tiny little bit about how government does and doesn't work. I know our leaders don't always do what they say they will do, even when they really think they can. I know that there are checks and balances and I hope that will be enough.

So, today, I am doing my own little bit, and making (incredibly unattractive!) pink hats for the marchers tomorrow. I will be there. I will be one of them, and I will be uncomfortable, because I still believe in people, and I hope we will all know when not to be nice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tiny Bits of Christmas

 I live in a teeny, tiny space, and, as much as I may try, I will never be a minimalist. And I love to decorate. Most of my Christmas things are still in storage, along with my memories, I suppose.
Here are a few of the items that make it feel festive here.
 A few of my ornaments, and what I thought would be my only tree, on a shelf in my entry.

I made this chain my first Christmas alone. The fabrics are saved from bits of pieces  of crafting projects and family clothing. (I used to sew a lot as a young mom, and thought I would turn all those leftovers into a quilt at one time. Never happened.) I got a new sewing machine that year with alphabets, and each of these patchwork rings contain names, dates, sayings I like, family information, etc. They all button together, and were made as a garland for my tree. It was a project that kept me sane during a very dark time. I deconstructed it, and now it hangs on a tension rod in my entry.
 My sweet daughter in law decided I needed a bigger tree, so she brought one, complete with ornaments, lights, and tree skirt. Yes, I am a little crowded.

Garlands on Cupboards
Tiny Trees and Nativities
Another little bit of cheer.

                         It's pretty obvious that my decorating isn't what it used to be, and I don't do a lot of entertaining within my little space. It's cozy, and filled with old things I love, and just outside my door is the rest of the world I live in now. I had a lot of fun decorating the fraternity house for the holidays. My life is a study in contradictions, but I am content. Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Ink, She Thinks

The Meandering Vine
Hopefully, this will look better soon!
Well, it was an interesting day for me today. Bridget and I did a little mother-daughter bonding and got tattoos. I always said I would never show photos of a raw, ugly new tattoo, but I guess I lied. I worried a little at first. There were not a lot of dainty little flowers pictured in the studio. (Can you say bloody skulls and naked ladies?) Actually, I like it, and am pretty proud of it, since I went with my own design. I call it the "Meandering Vine" and it's something I have always drawn, and used in embroidery work. Anyone who ever took one of my crazy quilt classes will remember this.  If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be meaningful to me.
I've wanted a memorial tattoo for a long time, but had decided against it, because Jim was never overly fond of them. But I guess he has forfeited the right to make my decisions, hasn't he? I wanted a bracelet, so I can cover it up when I have to.
So I now have a bracelet around my left wrist with the word "Forever" in his handwriting. It made me cry at first, but purely in a good way. I've wanted to use his signature since  I first thought of getting this done. Unfortunately, Jim was a very creative speller, and I really didn't want a permanent "Forver" on my wrist. Although it would probably make me laugh. I did find it spelled correctly on an old valentine that I had saved, so I guess that was a sign. The vine goes around my wrist and has two peach roses since he always gave me Tropicanas; five daisies, for our five children; seven leaves, for the seven of us; and 8 tiny blue flowers for our grandchildren.
I'm not sorry I did it, but I don't think I will be wanting another one. Yes, it hurts.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Bucket List

I was at a meeting a few weeks ago and the conversation turned to "Bucket Lists". And, no, I am not making another list; the sixty seven things I wrote on my birthday just about did me in. But the conversation started with birthday musings. I think that as we get older, we all ruminate on the things we haven't done.
White water rafting was the first topic that came up. This was a birthday plan for one of us. Soon she will be having that adventure in Colorado. Speaking of Colorado, getting high was another goal of someone who had never....
As a little side note, that wouldn't be me unless it was legal. I am a person who has always been caught. Did I ever mention that I had five children in 10 years? I come from a family of adventurers, stunt men, and race car drivers. Yet, I was the one who had to go to driving school because of driving 35 in a 25, and getting three tickets within a month. I also got stopped one night 4 times within three miles for having a tail light out. A Walmart greeter once chastised me for coming IN the OUT door. And I even had a policeman come to the door one evening to collect my overdue library books. It was a mistake. I had returned the books, just not the little cards they used to put in the pockets. And thankfully, the library stopped doing that. It was an experiment that failed. And certainly scared me.  But I digress, back to the Bucket List conversation.
As we went around the room, everyone told of their desires and ambitions. Skinny dipping (no), kayaking (no), bungee jumping (no), a cross country bicycling trip (no), zip lining (no), flying an airplane (no), visting a nude beach (most definitely a no), running a marathon (no), a romantic encounter with a handsome stranger (no).
And then it was my turn. I actually have a bucket list journal that was gifted to me. Here's what's in it.
1. Learn to knit socks
2. Visit famous libraries.
It looks like Wild and Crazy Adventurer is not my middle name. Maybe this will be the year.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Happy Birthday To Me

This is a small collage that I made several years ago. It says "The best journey is to find yourself". It's a journey I have been on for 67 years, as of today. Yes, it's my birthday, and I can't help it but I always feel excited on July 15. I expect magic, and surprises, and all around, generally wonderful and sparkly things. I know that everyone has a birthday, and lots of people like to ignore them and say it's just another day. I can't help it. I will always anticipate wonderfulness happening during that 24 hours. Many years ago, I had a birthday that EVERYONE forgot. Really, everyone. Oh, I got several calls the next day, when they all remembered. But that was the day I decided to never let the day go by without doing something myself to make it special and different. So, now I do, and today I will, even though I am not yet sure what is going to happen.
I have had a better year than several I can remember. Sadness, yes. But this year I learned to laugh again, and to enjoy my life.
1.   It is never about things.
2.  Always try to leave it better than you found it. (Thanks, Gerry)
3.  Everyone has a right to an opinion.
4.  Opinion isn't always truth.
5.  Eat dessert first.
6.  Love is always the right answer.
7.  Younger isn't better.
8.  We waste too much time wishing things were different.
9.  Just because they sell it in my size doesn't mean I should wear it.
10.But, if wearing it makes me happy, I shouldn't care what other people think.
11.I can't help it, I still stand by #9.
12.The world is scary for everybody sometimes.
13.We all deserve a chance to sparkle.
14.Discipline can disappear after just one day of not following your plan
15.It's okay to be different.
16.We should all probably take a break from Facebook.
17.I probably won't be able to think of 67 things.
18.Good thing I'm not any older. I would be here all day.
19.Sisters are the bestest friends.
20.My computers always do strange things. I swear, it isn't my fault.
21.My children don't want me to get near their electronic devices.
22.There is a lot of truth in Tarot.
23.I think people should read things til the end.
24.We are all afraid of something.
25. We all hear the same thing differently.
26.It is good to know what your truth is.
27.Everyone doesn't have the same truth.
28. There is no happiness without sadness.
29. Doctors don't always make it better.
30. Sometimes we just have to trust.
31.And sometimes there isn't a reason. (Hardest life lesson that I have learned)
32.Sometimes we have to depend upon ourselves.
33.Money isn't everything.
34.Having money helps.
35.Music always cheers people up. Unless it makes them feel worse.
36.Traveling gets us out of our comfort zone.
37.We learn our limits when being tested.
38.We never really know how we feel about something until it happens to us.
39.Most people have very limited vocabularies.
40.The word f*ck has lost its' shock value for most people.
41. I miss having that one bad word that you only said if you were REALLY upset.
42.Still works for me. I just shocked myself.
43.I'm not sure if dieting is worth it anymore.
44.Making things is a form of meditation.
45.So is yoga, but I have better luck with making things.
46.I still don't understand the point of coloring just to color. A journal page, yes. Coloring book, no.
47.I think it's funny that everyone is suddenly into planners again.
48.I like rules. I wish they would stop changing all the time.
49.I really miss my furniture. It's the hardest part of downsizing.
50.I want this to be the year where I am more care-full of and cherish my friendships.
51.Fifty was actually my favorite age. I would do that year again.
52.I would love to have written a book. Not so sure about actually writing one.
53.I really want to have a plan.
54.Can you plan to be spontaneous? Think about it. This makes me laugh.
55.Forgiving might be just as important as loving.
56.When we create something that lasts, it makes us feel good about the future.
57.Make a quilt, plant a tree, have a baby.
58.If you can't have a baby, hug one.
59.Nobody is really paying much attention to you. Go ahead and dance.
60.I want to start mailing all the cards that I buy for people.
61.Stop and look at the sky.
62.I promise to walk more. Even without a Fitbit.
63.If you look at people with love in your heart, maybe the differences you see won't matter.
64.Time expands when you have less to do.
65.The world is big. There are places to go and things to do.
66.Religion isn't the same as God.
67. Next year, I will only have to add one thing to this list.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Life As A House Mom

I've made a few changes this year, and one of the biggest has been going from living alone to living with a houseful of young men. I think my role is to basically stay out of their way, and to be a friendly "mom face"(Unobtrusively, of course. What young man wants their mother hanging around all the time?) I don't discipline, and I don't clean.  But I try to keep the house from falling apart. Not cleaning is probably the hardest. I think it is natural for most of us to pick up glasses and plates and bottles and cups and empty bags and trash and shirts and socks when we walk by them. Get the picture?
(Multiply this photo and imagine my mornings!)
 It is summer break now, and not nearly as many people are living here, so I wanted to rearrange things a little and make fewer surfaces to clutter. Also since they like to watch tv, I thought it would be nice to have a seating area that looked like it was supposed to be there.

 I left a note on the message board yesterday because I was having trouble moving things. I don't really see everybody very often because of so many conflicting schedules. This morning when I woke up I thought it was Christmas! Everything looks so nice today.  Thank you Coda and Mike for all the work you did this morning. The front room and patio and kitchen look terrific, and now they are tackling the basement storage room.

Every day here is an adventure. I love it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bear Hugs

Make a bear. Make a difference
Here are my first three bears I made for a wonderful charity.  It is called Mother Bear Project and was founded by the mother of one of the fraternity members here at my new home. He saw me working on a project and asked if I could knit.  He very casually mentioned that his mom makes teddy bears. This organization has sent over 121,000 handmade bears to children in the past few years.
From the website: "The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear."
It began when Amy read an article and was so moved by it, she wanted to do something to help. Her mother had made knitted teddy bears for her grandchildren from a vintage pattern, so Amy learned to knit, taught her friends to knit, and Mother Bear was born.
All bears must be made from the same basic pattern, but it is amazing how different they are. The pattern is very easy. I am not much of a knitter, and had to watch a few you-tube videos to learn how to pick up stitches for the arms, but the results are great. And anyone's heart will melt when you see photos of the children with their new bears.
I am almost finished with #4. Then I will send my first bears in with money for postage. Hearts will be sewn on each of them and tags included with the maker's name. I plan to finish many more.
When I first heard of this project, it struck my heart. And then I realized that I had read a book a few years ago called "Knitting for Peace" which tells all about it. So, I guess this was one of those projects "meant to be".

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Sticks and Strings and Other Things

There was a time in my life when there was never enough time. Isn't it strange that we can be so busy that we dream of a few moments of solitude, but when it arrives, we don't quite know what to do with it, do we? I grew up in a large family, and then was the proud mama of five, so I have always known a little bit about noise, and the difficulties of finding a quiet time and the space to be alone. And, then, suddenly, there were months and then years when I was alone, and everything in my life became reduced to doing the necessary things, and then staring out of a window or losing myself in a book for hours every day.
And then suddenly one day, I took a giant step and moved myself into a little space in a big house. There is a lot of noise, and activity, and laughter, and wrestling matches, and arguments about whether a hot dog is a sandwich.... And I am hearing certain words and phrases more times in one day than I have ever heard them in my life. My job here is to be nearly invisible and in the background, which is understandable. How many young men want to live with an old (who, Me?) woman?   None, of course. And I totally get that. But, yes, they are friendly to me, and polite, and respectful. And most of them talk to me a lot. And I am laughing again. I have the feeling that Jim and Rich are laughing too.

This began as a post about all the things I have been making with my free time. That is the Sticks and Strings part. I really miss having a crafting room, because, at one time, I had the best of the best. But knitting and crocheting don't have to take a lot of room, so I have been busy in my little space. First, I made a large afghan, as a Christmas gift.

Next, some smaller projects. I needed a bag to hold my yarn.

And then, a smaller bag.....

I couldn't resist this granny tea cosy:

And a decorated vase:

I saved my best for last, and now my picture won't come up. So I'll be back.........

Friday, December 11, 2015

Not So Silent Nights!

Tis the Season for festivities, and here at The Frat House, we have done a little decorating. I've kept it pretty traditional this year with reds and greens, garlands and wreaths. Nothing breakable is always a good rule.

 This is the entryway. I put a garland around the door and ribbons and greenery on the chandelier. Lucky for me that exit signs and fire alarm pulls are red and fit right in!

Here is the top of our mailboxes in the entryway. I got a little crazy here and used glass jars!

 I think the tree turned out pretty, even though it is very simple. I used snowflakes and ornaments, with a large snowflake as a topper. The curly red branches are also used in arrangements throughout the house. Some days I find surprises that the guys have added, but they are reacting to my decorating pretty well. Sorry about the glitter,guys...........................

 This looks a little junky in the photo, but it's actually better in reality. A garland decorated with  the words "Merry Christmas Theta Chi" and lots of ribbons, tinsel, and ornaments. Max has added his "Holiday Hanukkah socks"
 Here is the front entry. The mailboxes are in the vestibule. I would like to add lights to the garland,but as for now it is ribbon, balls, and snowflakes. More glitter, I'm afraid.

The doors to the Alumni room have matching wreaths.Once again, simple but effective. There are lots more little touches around, so it does give a holiday feeling.
This is my doorway. Sometimes I do miss having a house, but I like it here. Not my usual decorating style. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Here We Go Again

As some of you may or may not know, I have made a few changes in the last several weeks. I've gone in a new direction and become a fraternity house director or "house mom". And, yes, I did say fraternity! This position became available to me all of a sudden. In fact, I had my first interview an hour after I learned about it. And in a few short days I decided to change my life completely. I am now living at the newly built fraternity house with thirty young men. I'm still discovering what my duties will be and every day is a new experience. I have a teeny tiny apartment suite and am learning to really downsize. Not an easy thing for a woman who still had ten bookcases after the previous move. Now I have only one. ONE!!!!!
I will still have my charming brick tudor for a few more weeks as I clear it out and put my favorite treasures into storage. My new rooms are mostly furnished, as if I needed any more furniture. So I am changing my style and changing my life.
I've loved the duplex and certainly didn't think I would be leaving soon, but life does have a way of surprising me.

This has been my House of Healing.I am sad to leave it but happy to move on to my House of Adventure.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Traveling My Way

I learned a few things on my recent vacation. And I would like to pass them along to the next unwary traveler. We decided it would be best to pack all our clothing in a carry-on bag and a tote. We were lucky enough to have laundry facilities at both the houses, so we decided we could take fewer bags. Also, we worried just how much space there would be in the car that we rented, so traveling lightly seemed like a good idea. Right? Not so much.
When I got to the airport, I decided to check my bag at the last minute. It was heavy, and I thought the layover would be much easier. Well, you can probably guess what happened. My bag eventually got to London, but not on the plane I was on. Tracking down my bag took several hours out of our first day. And, everything I had to wear was in it.
RULE ONE: Don't check your bag on the way there if you can help it.
We had a lot of trouble with our phones this time. Reception was not always good. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make calls to the US, but my phone carrier had assured me that I could send photos to Facebook if I had Wi-Fi available. My friend had bought a special package to be able to use her cell phone, but it barely worked.
RULE TWO: Do not be overly dependent on your electronic devices.
Credit cards are another thing that have changed since I was in England in 2012. All British cards now have chips. Many of the cash machines will not take a card without a chip. We were able to use our cards most of the time, but not always.  The little squares on the backs of our recent cards are not chips. I do not know what a chip looks like. The machines scan the cards, instead of swiping them. Some of the little villages we visited only have cash machines that scan the cards. Most of them are like ours, but when you need cash, that can be a problem. Especially if you find something that you really, really want at a village craft/junk/antique/show.
RULE THREE: Just tell your bank you want the card with a chip. And don't forget to notify them what days you will be gone.
I had planned to mail things home if I bought more than the fold up duffel bag I had packed could hold.. I always think I won't buy much, but I still like stuff. Somehow, I could never find a post office and box to mail said treasures back to Iowa. So the next solution was to buy a vintage suitcase at a local charity shop. Five pounds!! And with three locks and two straps, it looked pretty sturdy. And I tied a cord around it just to be safe. I am such a classy traveler.  HA. The picture above shows what it looked like when I saw it again at home. We watched them load our baggage. They are not gentle.
RULE FOUR:  Do not check a second bag. This idea cost me $100.00. I had no idea it would be so expensive. I won't forget this rule.
RULE FIVE: Just because you speak the same language doesn't mean you will be able to understand them. Everything is different, including appliances and food.
I loved it all and can't wait to do it again. Even with the little snags and snafus. More of my travelogue to come

Friday, May 08, 2015

Road Trip in the Cotswold Villages

I just spent two glorious weeks in my favorite place-England. Here we are a few days into  our trip. Sherry, Gerry, and I have traveled together often since my first trip to England in 2000. I went again in 2003, 2005, 2012, and now.  I never get tired of it, and in my ideal life, I would travel every year.
My other trips have been group tours, organized by Sherry. The first time I went there were over 20 women, but the average since then has been about ten. This time it was just the three of us. We rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for the first week. Our address was One the Square in Upper Slaughter.


 We rented a car and I was the driver except for the times we were leaving or going to Heathrow, and our drive to Norfolk for our second week. We hired Denis, our driver from our previous tours, and he was worth every tuppence, shilling, farthing, or pound that we paid him. This was my first time driving in England, and it was an adventure. I really think I did pretty well, but I'm not sure what my passengers would say. The Cotswolds is full of picturesque hills, and winding one lane roads where most of the speed limits are 60 miles per hour! And of course the steering wheel and lanes are opposite of what we are used to. I did finally begin to like the round-a-bouts. In some parts of  our trip they seemed to be about every mile. They were just like childbirth labor contractions. I would just get through one, catch my breath, and another one would begin. They are time-savers, though, eliminating a lot of traffic lights.
There were several cottages on the square. Here is a view out of my bedroom window, and the cottage across the way. Ours was very comfortable after we understood the heating system. The first two days we nearly froze, and made trips to the charity shops to buy warmer clothing. The weather wasn't the best, and we did wear our coats a lot.                                                    But there really wasn't too much rain. We had a fire in the large                                                              fireplace a couple of times.

Our little town was residential. We had a church right behind us and their was a very nice hotel that once was the vicarage. Very expensive. We visited one morning for coffee. We also walked over to the allotment gardens and met the neighbors. There were a lot of hikers and walkers in the area. And there were many towns nearby. We ate at the local pubs and hotels, and some nights we ate in. We visited the little grocery stores several times and dined on soups, and bread, and salmon, and victoria sponge for pudding. And during the day there was always shopping,  lunch, and tea.
One of our highlights was our "Secret Garden Tour" Not too many pictures, because she likes to keep it secret! Five of us went on a guided tour. We went to the owner's thatched cottage for a tour and coffee, then drove to several villages and out of the way places, back to the cottage for lunch, more beautiful towns, villages, walks, and gardens, and then tea at the cottage. We even went to a few places that Sherry had never been to before. That is really hard to find, because she has been to England more times than she can even count! The Cotswolds was a great mix of history, historic homes, shopping, and books. I didn't want to leave, but there was still another week of our trip to enjoy.                                                                                                

Reading Through England

 If you know anything about me at all, then you know that I have an obsession with the printed word. I have always  loved books, even if just to look at them. I just got back from a wonderful trip to The Cotwolds and Norfolk, England. All of these ended up in my very heavy suitcase on the way home.

 One of my favorite things about England is that they decorate with books. This was in a hotel window. Have to get one! Nearly everywhere I went, there were books. Most pubs and restaurants and hotels and even shops have old books even when they aren't for sale.
 And this is wallpaper in an attic tearoom. What's not to love?
 This is the best garden shop ever in Burford.  An archway of books leading to the children's room.
 More of the garden shop. There are many more cupboards and shelves filling this room with vintage books. It also has several tables, in case you want to have breakfast, lunch, or just a cup of tea.
 One of my favorite concepts-hats and books at The Mad Hatter bookshop. (I was a milliner one day a week in my past life at Living History Farms, you know)
 Another way to decorate with books. It seems that everywhere I went there were things on books.
Every National Trust home has a bookstore with used books for sale. These can range from a few shelves in the corner to this library sized building in one of my favorite places, Blickley Hall.
 This was my favorite old book store. It's called The Brazen Head Bookshop in Burnham Market in Norfolk. Feeling pretty brazen myself, I would have married the elderly man who was proprietor just to stay there. I know, there is a name for women like me. There were rooms and rooms of books, upstairs and down. My friends probably could have left me there, but there are some advantages to being the driver!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Luck of the Irish

                                       Oh, and the fact that most of them are just so darn cute!

                                     Aidan, Tess, Finn, and Cass about to enjoy green eggs and ham

Monday, February 16, 2015

Announcing a Winner of Wishes

Hello everyone,
I have picked a winner for my Grow Your Blog bottle of Wishes. She is Dixie of  Arranged Words. I have emailed her and as soon as I have her address, I will be sending her a package.
I would like to thank Vicki for sponsoring this blog hop. I have 21 new people following my blog, and several more left really nice messages. Unfortunately, those messages have disappeared because of the trouble I have had with Google+. Still working on that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Be Mine, Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day. Here is a sweet little heart that can be made in a quick minute. Enjoy.