Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today's the 106th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

A few Seuss quotes to rattle around in your brain today...

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.
You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
Think and wonder, wonder and think.
Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Creative Half Halt


Hyacinth in the snow...photo by the Pilot Guy

There it is allllll stretched out in front of you, a fresh new month. A month poised with one foot firmly in the icy temps of winter while the other foot dips a toe in the warming pool of spring.

Today is a good day to revisit hopes, dreams, and plans. The last post remains valid...give credit for what's actually been done, but, today, let's also look forward. What do you want to accomplish this month (week, day)? How does that fit into your year-long or life-long goals?

In horseback riding, it's called a half halt, where the rider 'gathers up' the horse beneath him with reins, legs, seat, and voice. It's a quick maneuver that signals a horse to stop, then immediately to go forward again. The animal never stops, most witnesses might not even see the hitch in the stride. The result, however, is a more collected horse. Alert, with all four hooves directly under her...balanced...resulting in more nimbleness. A half halt is excellent when a change in direction is needed or to refocus both horse and rider.

A human half halt could be the two minutes you stand quietly, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and ask, what's the most important thing I can do right now? Really listen...what's important, not what's urgent. You'll open your eyes with greater vision and clearer purpose.

Take a moment...

What important goals have you neglected recently?

What actions do you need to take to put yourself back on the path toward your creative dreams?

Go for it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Creative Perspective

Do you ever get down on yourself because you aren't regularly checking items off your to-do or goals lists? Yeah, me, too.

The voices in my head remind me ...
I haven't finish my work in progress.
I haven't finished a quilt project. (Finished? I haven't started)
I haven't kept up with my reading list....

And so it goes...

We creative souls beat ourselves up over our short falls and short comings. We are sensitive and easily discouraged at times. But, here's a thought. Instead of focusing on what hasn't been done, swap the perspective to what has been done. Unless you've been sitting in front of the TV 24/7, your list will get impressively long.

I have written. I have cleaned out some messes. I have painted and redecorated a room. I've helped my son and daughter in law move out. I've cooked some great meals. I'ved done a lot of stained glass. I've spent time being a friend. I've spent time with my husband.

The lists go on...

Take stock of what you have accomplished in the last few weeks. You'll feel confident and refreshed afterwards.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Memoir Monday ~ What You Wish You'd Known


How about a fun Memoir Monday?

When you look back on your life, what are a few things you wish you'd known to pay more attention to? You realize, of course, that someone in your life tried (hard!) to tell you, but you were young and not willing to listen. Okay, that's me anyway.

Here's a few to get you started:

1. Exercise more.

2. Eat healthier. Notice those first sneaky pounds piling on. Let's include here all those things you know you should have been doing...wearing sunscreen, getting enough sleep, and staying away from addictive substances like Dr Pepper....

3. Be money smart. Save more, spend less, work smarter.

4. Pursue dreams with greater passion and hard work and less by daydreaming for a big break.

5. Live with less fear. What's the worst thing that could happen?

6. Savor parenting more. Be stricter with my sons. Enjoy them more. Don't let the frustrations ever outweigh the delights.

7. Keep up with photo scrapbooking. The boxes of loose photos I have speak volumes. It's overwhelming to think about and a crying shame we can't enjoy our own photo memories. It's a double shame when you consider every photo leaving my studio was either in a frame, a folder, or an album. Beautiful. I wish I'd taken the time to treat my own personal photos with an equal amount of respect. Someday was what I always told myself.

8. Keep a journal of my son's cute sayings and antics. True, there's some things you never forget, but the older I get the more swiss cheesy my memory gets. Capture precious moments and write down family stories.

9. Hug people I love more. They may not be there tomorrow. Send more thoughtfully written cards telling people how much they mean to me.

10. Live more artistically. Be truer to my 'vision' and taste and less blown by winds of trends and fashions. Be more true to my creative soul.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Post your list on your blog and link back to here..and mention your blog addy in the comments below.

Profound or silly...I can't wait to read them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ta-Da Friday ~ February 19, 2010

You know you are NOT a homeschool mom anymore when you have an actual dining room.

In the years we've lived in this house, this 'formal' dining room has been a school room...a computer, a table, and four overstuffed bookcases were the decor. Accents included our French language world map, a microscope, and office supplies. Functional, yes. Valued, definitely. Pretty, not so much.

I thought for sure when Nathan graduated, I'd get to overhaul this room. But, instead our oldest and his bride moved back home for a time. The dining room became a place to display wedding gifts. Then, after baby C's arrival, a place for all the stuff babies require. A few weeks ago, my oldest son and his family moved to a place of their own...and I got an itch to re-do the room before something else came up.

Here's a before (on the day all the baby stuff moved out) Homeschool books still in place.


And after a few days of work, here's the new improved version....


I like yellows and golds, can you tell? I wanted a fresh and happy room. It's not done, of course...all that wall space needs addressing. The chairs probably will get painted black in the near future. I can so see a distressed white French country dining set in that room.

All the books are re-located into oldest son's former bedroom. I'll be going through them and having a homeschool book 'garage sale' online in the coming weeks. It's been hard to go through those books, but, somehow, moving them around has helped break some of the strings to my heart. We will always be a homeschool, love of learning family, but we don't need to keep all these books.

The Pilot Guy ended up doing all the high work on this project and did it way better than I would have.


That's my creative effort this week. We also took a couple of sunny days to prune the roses. It's been a good week. I hope yours has been fun, too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A New Season


What a difference a week makes...this time last week, we were covered with gorgeous snow. Today, however, is the first unofficial day of spring no matter what the calendar may say. Here is the first of the daffodils to bloom. Tulips and hyacinths are pushing up leaves. The roses are breaking bud (and desperately need me to finish pruning them.)

Today is also the day pitchers and catchers report for spring training. The 2010 Major League Baseball season has begun. WhooHoo!

That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. ~Bill Veeck, 1976

It's a time of new beginnings, of waking up old dreams. Shake off those winters doldrums and create something wonderful today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Out Beyond...

A quote found in an old appointment book of mine...

Out beyond ideas of right thinking or wrong thinking there lies a field....
I'll meet you there.
They make me want to be very, very brave in my work, but I have no idea what that means exactly.
What about you?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Memoir Monday ~ Valentine Reflections


Since Valentine's Day was yesterday, let's explore those recollections for Memoir Monday.

What are your strongest memories of Valentine's Day?
Any special traditions associated with the day?
Foods? Activities?
Favorite Valentine's cards?

Can't wait to see what you reveal!

For me....

Valentine's Day stuff is a product of our school systems, I think. From an early grade, students learn to apply glue to paper and lace to make valentines. There's a party, so each student has to give a small card to every other student. I noticed when we started homeschooling, Valentine's Day became a lot more fun because we could tread more lightly and with less frou-frou stuff.

My strongest Valentine's Day memories are not of glue, glitter, or paper hearts. The first V-day, The Pilot Guy and I dated was one busy weekend. That year, Valentine's fell on a Saturday. The same Saturday of Master Follies at Lubbock Christian, a huge annual performance event. It just so happened that was also homecoming, too, with all it's related festivities. We were the only hired photographers on campus and busy doesn't even begin to describe that weekend. A yearbook deadline and the regular weekly deadlines for the campus newspaper were also a part of the mix. We worked long and hard to cover all of our responsibilities, something close to sixty hours each within a three or four day period between our actual photography duties, plus darkroom time. By the way, I got paid a whopping $1.67 per hour in those days...I don't remember if that was minimum wage or simply work/study pay according to college standards. It was good money as far as I was concerned. As you can see, there was simply no time to go out for a romantic date on February 14th, so we postponed our celebration until the next day.

Thirty-five years later, we still are.

In fact, a couple of years after that first Valentine's weekend, we became engaged on February 15th.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Snowy Scene

Wow, it kept snowing yesterday, breaking long standing records for our area.
12.5 inches in my yard.

Mostly, it was just plain pretty...
The bird feeder in the veggie garden. This snow draped and flowed like fabric in many places. The snow looked lovely here with a ribbon of white connecting the leaves to the bloom.

The pond is round, yet the hole left around it is squarish in shape. Curious.
I keep a string of white lights in the shrubs by the front porch until spring. Last night the snow glowed through like an enchanted village. By morning the heat from the lights had melted the snow...still enchanting.

A white kingdom...

We made snow ice cream yesterday:

Combine milk (or cream) with sugar and vanilla to taste. Stir in heaping amounts of clean, fresh snow. Combine until the mix resembles homemade ice cream.

A friend made snow candy by boiling maple syrup with a little butter, then drizzling the mix across the cold snow. I haven't done candy yet, but it sounds good, don't you think?

Now, will one of you northern gals tell me how to go about shoveling off the driveway? Especially since I don't own a snow shovel?

This is a good time for creative pursuits indoors.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Snowy Walk

Snowing today...big, fluffy flakes of whiteness... come take a walk with me...
It's a gentle snow, tracing the lacy outline of the metal bench beautifully. See how it's piled up on the lantern? We have a couple of inches and flakes are pouring out of the sky still.
Crepe Mrytles in the winter are beautiful. With snow, their graceful elegance is enhanced.

If we must have winter, then having a lovely snow (and not having to drive in it) is a great way to decorate the day.

A cup of hot chocolate
A fire in the fireplace.
A Very good day.

Today would be a good day to write snow poetry, don't you think? Let me know what you come up with...I'll post mine, too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Words Wednesday

All day yesterday we wrestled with a virus attack on my computer. To make it more fun, my resident computer expert was clear across the country on that other job he does...you know, the one where they pay him. I had to do all the techy stuff. Really this virus didn't know whose computer it was messing with. Stand between me and my blog? No way. Get between me and my Facebook friends? I think not.

So, here's a few words of warning.

Update your virus protection.
Go to Avast and download the current version. It's free and effective. Sign up for the free updates. I've gotten sloppy about updates and running regular scans. If you run into a nasty bug, go to a clean computer to download instructions and a fix from the folks at Malwarebytes. They helped me oust the nasty yesterday.

Back up. Back up. Back up.
Back up everything on your computer. As I wrestled with the bug yesterday, I was confident I had all my work backed up elsewhere. If I'd needed to get a new hard drive, I would have still had all the words from all my fiction saved in other places. All our photos are on both The Pilot Guy's laptop, my laptop, our external hard drive, with some on Photobucket. External hard drive. Disks. Stone tablets...whatever. Just back up.

And a few words about computer security....

“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”– Stephen Hawking

“The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards.”–
Gene Spafford

“Being able to break security doesn’t make you a hacker anymore than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer.”– Eric Raymond

“Passwords are like underwear: you don’t let people see it, you should change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.”– Chris Pirillo

Happy and safe computing!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ta-Da Friday ~ February 5, 2010

I haven't hosted a Ta-Da Friday in a long while, but it's been a productive week or two around here.


Several thousand words on the current novel. Yay! I love it when the words flow.


Stained Glass days with The Pilot Guy...

The Pilot Guy working on his angel

From this....

Raw glass on the light box

To this....
a sun-washed work area

to this...
My Work in Progress....I made some choices in cutting that are making it difficult to fit the pieces easily. It's taking a lot longer to grind and fit than I was prepared for. I guess it's hard to see the lightly patterned glass between the plant stems. Still more cutting and fitting to do...It's going to hang in the big west window over the bathtub when I'm done. The border will be a smoky purple.

I've worked on a few more pieces. I'll show photos of them next week.

What have you been up to? Anyone publish anything recently? Knit, paint, scrap, or create anything? Post photos on your blog and link the addy in your comments on this post so we can all enjoy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fresh Herbs


The sweet scent of fresh basil snipped for my lunch is a delightful summer smell in the middle of cold, gray February day. I love having pots of fresh herbs growing in the window during the winter.

Here's a few tips for keeping herbs happy....

1. Light. Lots and lots and lots of light. The herbs I love, basil, rosemary, lavendar, thyme, and oregano, all love the sun. When I remember how they thrive under our brutal Texas summer sun, I know they'll love being in the south window all winter. If the plants look sorched, move them to a place with less direct sun.

2. Water. Just a bit. Not too much. I love my indoor plants to death sometimes by overwatering. During the summer, potted outside, these herbs are thirsty all the time. Indoors, they need a drink once a week. One thing that makes the plants really happy...when we clean out the fish tank. Wow, the plants love fish water.

3. Warm. Even placed in the sunny window, these plants get cold. We had a cold snap several days in length in which the outside temps didn't get above freezing. I scooted every pot away from the window an extra foot. Still in the path of the elusive winter sun, but far enough away that the cold soaking through the double paned glass couldn't touch them.

4. Snip. The joy of indoor herb plants is using them in your cooking. I hope it makes the plant feel loved and useful, too. Mine certainly seem to respond with more growth after I take a leaf or two.

If you don't have a pot of basil or rosemary in the window, grab a bunch the next time you are at the grocery store. Nothing smells like summer like fresh herbs on your pizza. And the taste! Very worth while.

I found these two pieces of writing about basil....

Pounding fragrant things -- particularly garlic, basil, parsley -- is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chilli pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one's being -- from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated. Virgil's appetite was probably improved equally by pounding garlic as by eating it.”Patience Gray, cookery author

And a bit of poetic writing.....

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not:
but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moistened it with tears unto the core.
-Keats,John Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems, 'Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil', stanza 53. (formatting mine)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Words Wednesday

Nope, not Wordless....Words....thoughtful, funny, or timeless...

An interesting quote for a cold winter's day....

Antisthenes says
that in a certain faraway land
the cold is so intense that words
as soon as they are uttered,
and after some time
then thaw
and become audible,
so that words spoken in winter go
until the next summer.

~Plutarch, Moralia

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day!


Ever wonder why we hope for a cloudy, no-shadow day on February 2nd?

It begins with an old Scottish myth full of mystery and fog....

Cailleach is the old woman who controls winter across the land. It is said if she wants winter to last a long while (and she does), she needs a bright sunny day in the first part of February to gather more firewood. If the day is cold, gray, and nasty, Cailleach goes back to sleep and does not replenish her firewood supply. When she runs out, winter is over.

Are you ready for spring yet? I am. Shhhhh, it's gray and cloudy here. Let's be quiet and let the old lady sleep in this morning. Okay?

The Chapel garden (where the wedding was held last summer...)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ten Writing Commandments

A friend gave these to me several years ago. I have no notion who first penned them, but I appreciate the effort.

1. Thou shalt not procrastinate.

2. Thou will honor all thy writing. Even if it is terrible.

3. Thou shalt have faith in your creative ability.

4. Thou shalt keep an open mind.

5. Thou shalt slay negativism.

6. Thou shalt not fear rejection.

7. Thou shalt be kind to thyself.

8. Thou shalt cultivate happy thoughts.

9. Thou shalt place thy posterior in thy chair.

10. Thou shalt finish thy book.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Memoir Monday ~ The Best Meal

Apple Pie ala Mode

The Pilot Guy and I had just sat down to a casual Sunday evening supper of baked brie with almonds and garlic, crackers, sliced avocado, and a glass of wine when the Food Network advertised a show titled, "My Best Meal Ever.' Instantly, I thought what a cool topic for memior Monday. We love to eat around here.

What's the best meal (or food) in your memory?
Was it a fancy sit down affair or a casual picnic?
Where were you?
Was the food cooked by your own hands or someone else's?
Who ate with you?
What about the meal made it memorable?
What meals emerge from your childhood memories?
Any fun memories of your own children's food preferences?

It's all things food today...have fun!

One of my favorite meals was in Oban, Argyle, Scotland while we were waiting for the ferry to take us to the Isle of Barra. Our B&B hostess had recommended a local fish and chips eatery for our lunch before we caught the afternoon ferry. I can't remember the name of the place, unfortunately, but it was a little take away shop with a bright yellow front. And busy. We arrived just as they were opening for the day and already there was a small crowd. We ordered and our hot fish came wrapped in paper. We stepped out the shop and strolled down the street to sit on the wall surrounding Oban Bay. There, we unwrapped our treasures. Hot, flaky, freshly fried fish fillets, dusted with salt and splashed with a malt vinegar and surrounded by fries (or chips as the English and Scottish call them.) The warm sun, a cool breeze, the lap of waves and the cries of sea birds...the smiles of my sons and the happy chatter of our conversation made this meal one of our finest. We've had fish and chips since - in fact, The Pilot Guy and I had some terrific ones seaside in Vancouver last summer--but none will ever beat that moment.
PaJo's Fish and Chips, Vancouver, B.C.

A meal that has become a family 'legend' happened in France. We were in the burgundy region staying in Beaune. (Pronounced 'bone.') I really wanted to have Boeuf Bourguignon while in it's home of orgin. We didn't travel with too many dressy clothes, but we scrubbed up to the best of our ability and donned our travel finest, all the while impressing on our 15 year old and our 9 year old to be on their their very best manners. The inn we were staying at helped up locate the "Cheval Blanc' restaurant (white horse-and yes, that's one of the reasons we picked it.)

The restaurant was gracious and not as fancy as I'd feared. The Pilot Guy started his meal with escargot. I don't remember my starter. I think I was too fascinated by the escargot. Yes, I did steal one. Me, eating snails. Who would have ever believed that! Our 15 year old had something as well. Our little guy didn't order an appetizer. The restaurant graciously brought him a lovely slice of smoked salmon so he wouldn't be the only one not eating. I'm pretty sure it was the first time he'd had salmon. He enjoyed it.

After our meal of Boeuf Bourguignon, the cheese cart came around. It was a good sized cart with a huge assortment of cheeses. The Pilot Guy chose three or four to try. One he was familar with and the rest were best guesses. One particular selection was cut into one inch cubes and covered with herbs. It looked like something soft. However, when he tried to cut into it, it slipped from under his knife and shot away just like that funny scene in Pretty Woman. The cheese bounced off the wall behind him. The boys' eyes grew huge and I thought giggles would swallow them whole. Here we were trying our best to be on our best behavior in a French restaurant and Dad is throwing cheese against the wall. I'm pretty sure the 9 year old almost slipped out of his seat because he was trying not to laugh so hard. To hear the guys tell this story makes it even better.
Coffee from the original Starbucks in Seattle. Apricot Croissant from French bakery

I'm lucky enough to have had lots of great meals to choose from. Fried chicken dinners at my Mamaw's house. Brisket and homemade ice cream at my in law's home. Campfire breakfasts with my family. Some super suppers right here in our own home. Lots of memories are made around the table.

Is it time to eat yet?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This morning I earned my first Jamba Juice reward of 2010.

If you remember, I reward myself with a (Peach Pleasure) Jamba Juice for every 10,000 words I write. The year to date total is sitting pretty on 10,010 at the moment. Ten thousand words that weren't born into this story thirteen days ago.

WooHoo! This is getting the year started off right.

How do you reward yourself for a job done?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trench Coat Mentality Part 2 Or Randomness Ahead

Beware--randomness ahead....

A real life friend pointed out that trench coats don't have to be boring beige. What do you know--She's right! Just today I saw a bright yellow trench in a magazine ad. Then I saw a bold red one. Okay, maybe trench coats aren't all the same. You can rest assured if I found one in a deep purple, I'd try it on.

In the comments section of the last post, Joanne reminded me pairing a hat with a trenchcoat gives off an Ingrid Bergman vibe ala 'Casablanca.' Nothing wrong with that at all.

Then, Jan, bless her, pointed out what a split personality I can be, yearning for unity in one post and daring everyone to be stand out individuals in the very next one.

Yes. Welcome to my world.

My son has a t-shirt which tickles me when I see it. In big letters across the front....

I am Unique
Just like everyone else
There's times lately when I feel life is squishing me into conformity. Other days, I feel downright invisible. On still other days, I feel life is an adventure and I'm sitting right on top of it.
For some reason the old saying 'every path has it's puddle' comes to mind now. Life is a path...and it's often a muddy, messy trail, but the farther down the path you go, the farther down the path you can see.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Trench Coat Mentality

You won't find a trench coat in my closet.

This is despite reading list after list from fashion 'gurus' who insist every woman in America needs a trench coat in her closet. Tim Gunn, Oprah's style guy, those folks from Bravo...all list the trench as a must have.

Trench coats are boring in my humble opinion. I've never needed to pretend I was a spy in post WWII Europe.

I actually did own a camel London Fog in the middle eighties during my "Dress for Success' phase. (Talk about must have lists!) If you knew me then you'll remember I dressed in power suits a lot. In those days I was running a small company where young me had to ask older dads and moms to trust in my abilities. It was necessary to dress with authority, or so I thought. So I wore a trench coat, sensible closed toe heels, power suits, and pantyhose. And, quite often, a hat. Fortunately, my photography spoke volumes about my creative soul and provided a terrific outlet.

Then there was the day my friend, Susan, came into a room wearing a red wool coat. It was stunning, beautiful, and powerful. It made my creative soul lust for that same panache, flair, and color in my life.

So, here's the lesson I'm still learning 25 years later, 'to your own heart be true.' Don't wear it, buy it, use it, or try it unless you really want to. On the other hand, be alert to the red wool coats out there in the world. Don't be afraid to grab one when the opportunity presents itself. And you know I'm not just talking about clothes or coats here, don't you?

Make a statement.

Do it your way.

Listen to your heart.

Go For It!