Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Question

Do you meditate?  A simple question pertaining to what is, for me, a complex concept.

I keep reading and hearing that one should be in the moment, experience the here and now.  Take the time to center yourself instead of letting your mind go off in ten different directions.  This sounds like what meditation might be.

One definition I found listed the benefits of meditating as increasing awareness of the present moment, reducing stress, promoting relaxation and enhancing personal and spiritual growth.  (Make mine a double, please.)

In her book Inner Simplicity - 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, Elaine St. James says:

"Meditation is one of the most powerful tools
we have for self-expansion and inner growth.
Through meditation we can reach levels
of mental clarity that we cannot achieve
through any other means."


But, try as I might, I've been far from successful at learning to meditate.

I should be able to do it.  I've always thought of myself as quite single-minded (Narrow-minded?  Who said that!?), comfortably focusing on a task, thinking of nothing else but moving toward completion. 

I suspect my inability to learn to meditate may be connected, in some way, to the fact that I've tried yoga and tai chi and have been amazingly unsuccessful.  Both are too slow!  Now don't laugh at me because I'm serious.  Admittedly, one of my faults (yeah, there are many) is that I'm impatient.  (Just ask my husband.  No, never mind, please don't.)  I have a need to move (at more than a snail's pace) my mind or body.  A hike or brisk walk is more to my liking.  Any day.

Do you meditate?  When did you start?  Was it difficult or easy for you to learn to do?  How often do you meditate?  In what ways is it beneficial for you?  Please share.  I need your input.  Something you say may show me the way.

Friday, March 27, 2020

During the "Wait and See" Time

Everyone I know is doing the best they can during these days of unease.  We're not suffering personally, but I know others are.  There's definitely been a sense of pulling together, sharing and caring exhibited in our little community and for that I'm all the more thankful than ever for where we live.

Yesterday daughter and I decided to combine our grocery orders thinking it would be easier on those wonderful people manning our stores still open for food distribution.  The public is no longer allowed within the stores, but they are taking orders by phone or e-mail, and then calling when an order is ready to be picked up.  I gave dear daughter my list and she engineered everything.  All concerned couldn't have been more pleasant, all went very smoothly and only a couple items were not available.

Papa Pea and I have been doing a bit of cleaning, sorting and organizing and had a large amount of old cardboard boxes that needed to go to our Recycling Center.  He had heard a rumor the center was closed, but after I made a couple phone calls late Wednesday afternoon, a really pleasant guy I spoke with said the center was open, but I should probably get there soon as things were changing day-to-day.  So we loaded up our Suburban early yesterday (Thursday) with all our recyclable goods, made a town run to get gas in the truck, put some things in the mailbox outside the Post Office and take our load to recycling.  All went well until we were unable to turn into the Recycling Center area.  The entry was cordoned off with a sign that said they were closed until further notice.

Although I haven't made much quilting time for myself, this spring wall hanging now needs only the final outer boarder on the one side before it can be sandwiched and quilted.  Even though the center flowers turned out to be a piecing nightmare, I think I'll be happy when it's all done.  I also know it would have gone better if I had taken the time to stick with the cutting and piecing of all those little pieces in the right order rather than doing it with a start-and-stop, ten minutes here, twenty minutes there approach. 

Since I always seem to need to have a pair of socks on my needles, this great variegated red yarn is the start of another pair for my daughter.  I just gave her a super-soft, blue striped pair which was a hit.  (Forgot to take a photo to show you.)

If I don't feel like knitting when couch times rolls around last thing at night, I'm paging through one of my much-used cookbooks looking for new and interesting meals to put on the table.  We all need to keep our immune systems nourished and strong now more than ever. 

In our ongoing search for the best possible diet for our bodies, Papa Pea has been reading aloud to us for a short period each day from this book he's come across.

For my book to read together, I'm concentrating on keeping our heads on the right track.  With luck, both books and the info contained within will bring benefits.

Stay well and safe, everyone.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Wanna Read Something Delightful?

There is an author and illustrator who I adore.  Her name is Susan Branch, and she publishes a blog that is inspiring and beautiful and spreads large doses of joy and positivity.  If you care to check her out, click here and you will easily be transported there.

She's written and illustrated forty-some books including three autobiographical ones.

I'm now the proud owner of these three and will read all of them many times over not only for the story within but to feast my eyes on her illustrations.  All of her books are done in a personally unique style with photographs and her own amazing water color illustrations throughout.

These three books were not written in chronological order so don't let the publication dates throw you off should you seek them out.  If you do choose to read them, start with The Fairy Tale Girl, then Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams, ending with A Fine Romance - Falling in Love with the English Countryside.  Each book stands alone but her whole story comes together more completely by reading them in the above order.

Okay, off I go now to read her latest blog post.  Again.  To drink in that which gives me a (sometimes) needed shove toward looking on the beautiful, positive side of life.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Keeping Spirits Up On The Homefront

It's a simple thing to do.  Bake some homemade bread.

Who doesn't like the aroma wafting through the house of homemade bread just out of the oven?  Or being offered a warm slice of that bread slathered with butter?  (Perhaps not slathered as, if like me, you're kinda sorta rationing your supply of butter just now.)

We've had a wonderful source of sourdough bread for the past many months so I haven't been making and baking my own bread for that period.  (Go ahead and call me a lazy sloth.)  Well, except for a few times when I wanted to have some loaves of my Italian Bread to make into Garlic Cheese Bread.  (Come to think of it, using lots of garlic these days isn't a bad idea either.  It's been known throughout history for its health and medicinal purposes.)

Yesterday when I was cleaning out my refrigerator (does it seem as though I'm jumping around a bit disjointedly in this post?), I came across a really nice looking organic orange . . . that had one bad spot on the outside about the size of a dime.  Not wanting to waste the orange, I pulled out my recipe file to see what called for orange rind or orange juice.

Right away I saw my recipe for Dark Orange Raisin Rye Bread.  Gosh, I hadn't made that in a long time and it used to be one of our staples.  It's moist, makes wonderful toast with breakfast and a darn good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

So that's what I did with my orange that wasn't going to last much longer.  Well, actually all I used for the bread was the grated rind.  I gobbled up the rest of the succulent orange myself.

If you're at home and have a bit more time right now to do such a thing, why not pick out a bread recipe of your choice and quickly become very popular with your family.  It will lift the spirits in the way homemade bread just out of the oven can.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Our Latest Snow and Thoughts in My Head

Woke to another lovely snow covering this morning.  I just shoveled my way across the deck to get to the hanging peanut butter bird feeder that needed refilling.  Only a smidge over 2" so far, but it's still coming down.

No chance of me showing spring flowers popping up out of the ground as so many of you are.  But this wet snow, as it so frequently is in March, is good for the ground.  There will be no dry spring here this year.

Many businesses in our little town are closed as are all the restaurants (except for those set up for take-out), the library, senior citizen center, schools, churches and any events and/or meetings open to the public have been cancelled.  I haven't been in any of our food/grocery stores since last week but have heard some shelves are bare.

Our daughter is currently without her job.  The mom of the family of the little guy she cares for during the day has been laid off her work so is home along with her two older children who don't have school because of the shutdown.  Fortunately for them, the dad of the family holds a job that is essential to keeping things functioning in as normal a way as possible under the current circumstances.

Papa Pea and I are continuing to do our usual daily tasks on our little homestead here, never lacking in ways to fill our days.  We have our concerns, but like most everyone else we're doing our best to stay positive and help out as we can.  

From all we've heard and seen, people in our community are being sensitive, staying pleasant and kind but remaining very uneasy as to how all this will pan out.

We still live in a world of natural beauty that can be appreciated here and now (even it's just standing watching a sunrise or sunset from inside your home) and any possible feelings of down and dourness enveloping us because of the current uncertainty and disruption of our lives will not last forever.

I'd like to hear how all of you are doing during this time of unease that seems to have hit like a proverbial ton of bricks.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

Well . . . ,

The wooden structures you see are two
and three feet high.
Sitting on top of raised beds.

I guess I'll put off working in the 
garden today.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Trippin' Down Memory Lane

Here's a question for all of you, and I've love to hear what you have to say.

If you went to college or a trade school after high school, who paid for it?  Did your parents foot the bill?  Or did you work a year or two before being able to afford more education?  Did you have a partial or full scholarship?  Did you have to take out a loan of some kind to go to school?  Did you work part time while going to school to be able to afford it?  Did you join a branch of the military to get more education?

Or if you didn't pursue any further education after high school, did you continue to live at home or move into your own living situation?  If so, was it by yourself or with a roommate?  How did you support yourself?  What was your first job in order to do so?  Did any of you marry right after high school graduation?

I'm thinking your answers, dear readers, will be very interesting, but different than if I presented the same questions to the average twenty or thirty or even forty year old of today.

So, do tell.  What's your personal story? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Busy Fingers, Happy Heart

Being able to create with fabric using my head, heart and hands provides just about the best rewarding fun for me.  Well, perhaps digging in the dirt and growing things ranks a close second, but since that's not a possibility here and now, I'm feeling very content spending time in my quilt room.

I have two small wall hangings to show you today. 

(I'm using a new camera and having trouble
getting the pics to download correctly.
This picture keeps coming out on its side.
The right side as you see it should be
the top.  I'm picturing you
all tipping your heads to the right.

I'm using up some scraps of reproduction fabrics from a previous project which went into this slightly wild, colorful piece.  It measures 14" x 18" and is probably appropriate to display any time of the year to add a little color and eye-interest.  I'm happy with it although with so many seams to all the little pieces, it was a bear to hand quilt.

This one is definitely saying "spring" to me and that's where my color choices are pulling me.  It's 13" x 13" and although it seems silly to display it right now when we still have a healthy covering of snow on the ground, it's all ready for when spring actually comes to the Northland.  ('Round about mid-June most years.  Kidding.  Sort of.)  It's hand quilted, too. 

Now.  Do I finish the two projects (a baby quilt and a full-size couch quilt) that have been giving me the evil-eye stare every time I enter my quilt room?  Or do I start on another new project?  Hee-hee, so hard to decide . . . without letting that little guilt voice, "Finish what you've started," enter into the picture!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Fresh Air and Quilting Time

Last Sunday our temp topped out around 43° with lots of sunshine so even though I was putting in some quality quilting time, I let Papa Pea talk me into a snowshoe hike on our loop.

Here's the intrepid explorer leading the way across the very top of our ridge.  We saw lots of critter tracks, but nary a flesh-and-blood creature.  (I'm betting one or two saw us though.)

What was I working on in my quilt room over the weekend?

This runner for the top of our coffee table in front of the couch.

Long story regarding the origin of this piece.  Let's just say it was yet another flub-a-dub by yours truly trying to use up fabric in my copious stash without buying any more new fabric . . . and being unable (apparently!) to correctly calculate just how much of the background fabric was needed for the planned, larger piece.  I'll leave it at that.

There's a ninety to one hundred percent chance of snow predicted for us tonight into tomorrow.  These days of above freezing temperatures have definitely melted some of our snow, but we can't forget March can still be a very snowy month for us.  I won't be poking around in the garden beds just yet.  Good!  More time to play in my quilt room.  If only all those darn, necessary every day, routine tasks didn't scream for attention . . .