And… he jumps!

It’s April in north Texas. The weather is heating up but the pool water is still chilly. Kids must be made of sterner stuff…

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Jack-AprilSwim2014-02It’s likely to be June before I jump in :-).

Since then, Elanor, Lorna, Chris, and presumably Bear have been in the pool. I missed some swimming times and that’s OK because the kids would have wanted me to jump and I really don’t love the cold water. Steve, however, has been in the water all winter long. I think I may have married a polar bear :-).

In other news, Linda is here! We’re working on a revision of the Piecing book and it is going to be terrific!

 

An outing to look at flowers…

Mom’s 82nd birthday was last week! She enjoyed a variety of activities and one was a trip to the Dallas Arboretum. Lorna came up with the idea for this excellent adventure and I’m glad she did. Mom, Lorna, Bear and I set off on  Wednesday morning, a beautiful north Texas spring day.

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Bear was an excellent adventurer. He rode in the stroller and sometimes got to get out and walk…

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The grown-ups looked at the flowers and plants, mostly to get ideas about what we might do in our own yards. Wild roses are so pretty, but I don’t have room…

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I have a lot more shade in my yard now than I used to and the best idea I got was to plant some ferns, purple oxalis, and some other purple-y shade lovers!

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I also have succulents in pots near the pool. I wish I could grow one of these, but there’s just not room…

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Here is my succulent space. No room for a century plant, although these guys should get bigger over the summer.

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Mom loves her plants. She used to love to work in the yard but she can’t do that so much any more. Happily she is only 4 houses down so I can do some digging for her, along with Hector (her yard man and his crew), and Christopher.

I spent most of last Thursday and Friday in my yard, and then mom’s yard. I should have been working on the manuscript for the next (two) book(s), but I didn’t. I felt some guilt but not enough to go inside :-). I was too busy last year with the color book to work in the yard and I promised myself that this year I would get out and deal with the bare spots. The weather was perfect when I planted and we got some rain on Sunday to water the plants in. My yard is making me smile!

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It’s nice now and it’s only going to get better! FYI to those who have not seen pics of my yard before: it’s small and unusual for my neighborhood. Every other house has the typical big yard of grass with bushes at the house. Lucky for us we live in a neighborhood without restrictions. Also, luckily, our neighbors really like our yard.

 

Hello there, stranger…

It’s been days since I posted and if I was sitting next to you on the subway, or standing next to you in an elevator, I might tell you about it. Yes, I am one of those people who can’t seem to help themselves: I smile at strangers on the street, I talk to strangers on elevators. It drives my NYC-son crazy.

Now it is my turn to say “Hah!”. It turns out that talking to strangers is a mood lifter for all concerned and there is data to support that. You can read about it here in the NY Times. It’s a short read and worth the time it takes. Hers’ a teaser, quoted from the article:

“The behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder approached commuters in a Chicago area train station and asked them to break the rules. In return for a $5 Starbucks gift card, these commuters agreed to participate in a simple experiment during their train ride. One group was asked to talk to the stranger who sat down next to them on the train that morning. Other people were told to follow standard commuter norms, keeping to themselves. By the end of the train ride, commuters who talked to a stranger reported having a more positive experience than those who had sat in solitude.”

CrystalBridges-Cafe-01I have come to realize that each one of us is actually living a life that is one, long story. Who doesn’t love a story?! We heard stories read to us as children, we watch them on screens, and we read stories in books. When a stranger and I interact, we offer each other a glimpse of our own unique story. You may not think your story is interesting because you are used to it but to someone else, it’s new and different.

Most of us like to think that we are open-minded. I know I like to think that of myself but I’m like everyone else… I don’t break out of my personal bubble often. Interacting with complete strangers is one way to that I put myself in a position to hear, and learn, something different. I can tell you that it works for me.

On being hopeful…

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Spring is the season of hope and I keep running across interesting articles that are hope-related. You would imagine that I am referring to uplifting and happy articles, but these are not. In fact the second article is depressing, just so you know.

Yesterday in the NY Times Simon Critchley wrote an op-ed piece, Abandon (Nearly) All Hope. It requires a certain amount of focus even though it is a short read. I was tired when I read it so had to concentrate more than I normally do when eating my granola. The upshot is that dewy-eyed hope can be harmful. For example, when we elect someone who promises things we that know are not remotely possible, why do we let the hope that ‘this time will be different’ allow us to believe in the impossible? This is true not just in politics, but in everyday life. There is a lot to be said for realistic hopefulness.

In the Times Sunday Magazine was another, longer article: It’s The End of the World As We Know It… and He Feels Fine. It is about Paul Kingsnorth, a long-time environmental activist and novelist who has given up activism—not because he doesn’t believe in climate change, but rather, he doesn’t see the human race changing in time to avert disaster. This is not a happy article.

I’ve been mulling over the ideas presented in these two articles and how well they dovetail. I am married to a scientist and I do believe that we are altering our planet, and not for the better. I would happily do my bit to change things but real change requires a collective will to make changes that none of are going to like. For one thing, it’s going to be expensive. And I live in the South… should I give up air conditioning? I would if everyone else did but I look around and I don’t believe that many of my fellow Texans would willingly sweat through our summers. What to do?

This brings me back to hope. I am an optimist by nature. I am hopeful that somehow, we’ll muddle through. I am not sure that this is a realistic hope and I can understand Mr. Kingsnorth’s point of view, but I am not going to live my life constantly depressed. Instead, today I planted flower seeds in the bare areas of my yard. (Luckily there aren’t many bare areas.) I did change the sprinkler system this year to drip irrigation. I can water less and less water will be lost to evaporation.

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I’m going to enjoy this beautiful Spring  and I hope for many more. I am going to try to be willing to make hard changes when the time comes. I am going to be happy—and I hope that you will be too.

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PS: My stacked rocks are beginning to resemble something (Jabba-the-Hut?) with two large front teeth. I may need to do something about that…

 

Flowers are pretty!

There are times when I wonder why so many of my quilts have flowers on them. And then, spring happens!

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Dianthus is a happy plant. Look closely at the bottom, center bud that is opening like a whirlygig. So fun!

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Many of my iris are now in so much shade that they’ve given up, but not this one. One of the best parts of digital photography is that you can almost always get decent close-ups and it’s so lovely to see the details in flowers. I love the beard…

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Columbines are always exciting!

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Like shooting stars, or fireworks, or aliens…

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I have some bluebonnets in my yard and they are such a great shade of blue. I’m hoping to gather the seeds this year and scatter them better than I have in years past.

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I know that many of you are not yet enjoying spring. I hope these pictures make you smile on this Easter weekend.

 

 

From RI, NJ, and NYC!

It seems like I left home a longgggg time ago, but it was only last Tuesday. Since then I have been with 3 guilds in two states: Rhode Island and New Jersey. I visit a 4th guild tonight and tomorrow, also in NJ. But yesterday I got to go to NYC and visit Jeff and Celia. To be completely honest, that has been the high point of my trip :-).

I rode the bus from NJ to Times Square where I walked around a little. Does any other place look like this?

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And even if it did, I’ll bet there wouldn’t be little Statues of Liberty all over the place…

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It was a beautiful day and people were out, everywhere. I was not the only one snapping photos, but I might have been the only one taking photos of manholes. I love this op art design combined with my very polka-dotty legs and feet. This would be a great machine quilting pattern!

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And, if I lived here, I would definitely be a NYC Sew-er! Image

I did look up and there was so much to look at! This exposed set of building walls caught my eye…

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The dark grid of iron again the white cement blocks stood out from a distance. When seen with the horizontal orange strips of construction plastic and the narrow horizontal bars of something brown in the upper left and the rectangular windows, this makes an interesting composition. Adapted, it could make a nice pieced quilt.

You might have seen the tile floor that I instagrammed… it, too, would be fun to piece:

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And as long as I’m posting tile pictures, here’s one from the restaurant Jeff and I visited for lunch. I should remember the name, but don’t. It serves Mediterranean food and is near the Natural History Museum. The fish mosaic is made from white tiles (broken or cut, or both) stuck directly to the exposed brick. No mortar was set around these tiles. It was a nice look and wouldn’t be that hard to do at home. There were other designs, trees especially, on other walls in the restaurant.

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I should have taken a photo of Jeff and Celia, but I was too busy enjoying our visit. I really hated to leave, knowing that it could well be next Christmas before I see them again. That said, I did get to see them yesterday and that was wonderful!

 

Tinkering with tools…

I recently taught my grandson, Jack, how to hammer a nail and how to use a hatchet. He’s 6 and, I think, plenty ready to learn how to use simple tools.

Jack learns how to use a hatchet! #hatchet

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I just watched this TED talk and now I’m thinking that we could do more! Yay, Gever Tulley!

There’s also this article from The Atlantic, goes right along with the idea that kids can do more than we gave them credit for. In fact, I suspect that there are many of us who did a lot of things when we were kids that we never let our own children do. Maybe that’s why I think Jack might need a drill for Christmas this year, and a small hand saw…

PS: For those of you who are wondering why Jack got to work with these tools and not his older sister, Elanor, it isn’t so much sexism on my part as it is that whammering and whacking seem to fit Jack’s personality better right now. So, Elanor, if you are reading this and want to work with tools too, just say so :-).