Tuesday, December 31, 2013

January Money Diet

Have decided to officially do the January Money Diet this year.  Last year I did it on my own, with good results.  This year I will make it official, and see if it's any easier, different, or better.  Leaving a short comment apparently signs you up. It's a great way to start the habit of cutting spending, which seems to change my attitude for the rest of the year.

January Money Diet

Could you go for 31 days without spending any money?
Hundreds of people participate each year in the January Money Diet, and you’re invited to join the Fifth Annual January Money Diet starting January 1, 2014 when we again embark on a month-long break from nonessential spending. The January Money Diet will challenge you to explore ways to live well and have a fabulous timewithout spending cash.
Throughout the month, Happy Simple Living will post money-saving tips, photos, recipes, do-it-yourself ideas, moneymaking strategies, challenges and reader suggestions to help you start the new year right. We’ll also be featuring your tips, guest bloggers experts, and special prizes, so check back often!
Here’s how to join the challenge:
1. Subscribe to the Happy Simple Living feed to have the daily posts conveniently delivered to your e-mail InBox.
2. Leave a comment below pledging your participation.
“Doing the money diet was a great experienceby cutting out unnecessary spending, I was able to pay off some bills, and I had a lot of fun trying out free activities in the area. I will definitely be dieting again.” ~ Laura N.
3. If you have a blog or website and are participating in the challenge, feel free to add one of these buttons to your site by right-clicking the image and saving or copying it:
The January Money Diet from Happy Simple Living blog
January Money Diet, sponsored by Happy Simple Living
January Money Diet from Happy Simple Living blog
Your first challenge will be delivered on New Year’s Day. My hope is that by participating in this group endeavor together, we’ll all start the new year a little wiser and a little richer — both personally and financially.
All the best,

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying...For the Living

Not trying to be macabre.  But in thinking about New Year's Resolutions, it only seems reasonable to check out what others regret that they didn't do in life.

From  http://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-02-2012/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.html?intcmp=AE-HF-ENDART-REL:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Things to keep in mind as we plan what we want to do or accomplish in this next year.  Just saying....

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Simpler New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know this list is from 2013. Just pretend it says 2014 - it's a great list that I found on http://www.simpletruth.com/community/blog/101-easy-to-follow-new-yeare28099s-resolutions/. No, no - I'm not encouraging doing absolutely everything on the list!  But there are some great ideas that I want to try to incorporate into my life in 2014. It's just a great compendium for living a better, simpler, truer life, and I thought it worth sharing.

101 Easy-to-Follow New Year’s Resolutions

It’s 2013. How are you going to make this year the best yet? Sticking to a New Year’s resolution takes work; make sure to choose something worth working for! Here are 101 ideas for simple resolutions that can make a big difference.
  1. Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators to get daily exercise.
  2. Walk or ride your bike more often instead of driving.
  3. Schedule “me” time to turn off your cell phone, computer and other electronic devices.
  4. Don’t use your cell phone during work meetings, social events or dinner.
  5. Don’t text and drive (as a matter of fact, don’t use your phone at all while driving).
  6. Cook at home more often—you will learn new cooking skills and save money.
  7. Be more than punctual—try to be early to every meeting you attend.
  8. Make more personal phone calls instead of sending emails and texts.
  9. Write one handwritten letter a month to someone special.
  10. Do something out of your comfort zone.
  11. Bring more to the table at every meeting—speak up and voice your opinion.
  12. Be more willing to talk to others and learn something about strangers.
  13. Sign up for a dance or art class.
  14. Start running a little further each time you run.
  15. Enjoy the seclusion and solitude of eating a meal alone.
  16. Read one new book each month.
  17. Turn off the Internet and television and read a book before falling asleep.
  18. Make more eye contact during conversations.
  19. Use your credit cards for emergencies only by removing them from your purse or wallet. Only spend with whatever cash you bring with you.
  20. Refrain from gossiping and listening to gossip. You’ll be a more trustworthy person and will engage in more productive conversations.
  21. You know it’s the most important meal of the day, so why skip it? Give yourself an extra 15 minutes in the morning to prepare and eat a good breakfast, like organic cage-free eggs, oatmeal or a green smoothie.
  22. Participate in “Meatless Monday” by forgoing meat once a week. It’s budget-friendly and helps improve your health and the environment.
  23.  Make healthy swaps when you can. Substitute soy or almond milk for dairy and try using coconut or olive oil instead of butter and margarine.
  24. Choose organic when possible and spare your body the harmful pesticides.
  25. Try portion control when eating meals. Put leftovers in the refrigerator immediately to prevent eating a second helping.
  26. Use products that are eco-friendly and don’t contain harsh chemicals.
  27. Be more open and communicative with others. You’ll likely gain more respect and cooperation from them.
  28. Get more vitamin D by taking some time to spend outside. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  29. Stop late-night snacking: your body will take the calories and store them as fat.
  30. Floss your teeth more often.
  31. Try cutting fat from your diet. Fat is not a good energy source and causes major reductions in your physical endurance.
  32. Do more of what you enjoy doing.
  33. Spend a few hours a week enjoying time with your family. Don’t allow any external distractions.
  34. Start recycling by having a designated bin available and educate yourself about what items are recyclable.
  35. Grow a simple garden: start with herbs that are easy to grow and maintain.
  36. Don’t litter.
  37. Spend time once a quarter to de-clutter your home. Get rid of anything you don’t use or haven’t worn in a year.
  38. Learn something new every day.
  39. Start saving for a family vacation today.
  40. Invest in your retirement.
  41. Incorporate more vegetables in your meals.
  42. Substitute red meat for turkey, chicken or even pork.
  43. Buy fresh vegetables instead of canned, which often don’t have as many vitamins and minerals.
  44. Designate a family dinner night that everyone must attend.
  45. Walk your dog every evening after dinner.
  46. Keep in touch with loved ones – update address books, email addresses and phone numbers.
  47. Pick up a new hobby.
  48. Make a spa day once every few months – whether it’s pampering at home or booking at a salon.
  49. Help others by volunteering.
  50. Build a community garden.
  51. Donate furniture and clothes that you no longer use to those in need.
  52. Get organized.
  53. Do a safe walk of your house – replace smoke alarm batteries, check locks on windows and doors.
  54. Save energy this year – replace appliances and light bulbs.
  55. Use more of your kitchen appliances – pull out the slow-cooker, stand mixer, bread maker and juicer.
  56. Plan birthday and holiday gifts ahead of time to save with sales and deals.
  57. Pay off your credit cards.
  58. For everything negative you say, say two things that are positive.
  59. Eat more high quality dark chocolate - it’s loaded with antioxidants.
  60. Listen to more of your favorite type of music. Music boosts spirits and helps reduce depression.
  61. Boost your energy and health by adding fresh juices or green smoothies into your everyday diet.
  62. Revise comfort foods by adding a healthy twist.
  63. Invite more friends and families over for a monthly gathering.
  64. Buy local.
  65. Cut out processed, prepackaged foods.
  66. Eat food that is free from artificial colors, flavors, ingredients and preservatives.
  67. Have more fruit available throughout the day to refuel your energy.
  68. Schedule your day to be productive and plan to get the majority of important business completed in the morning when you’re alert and energized.
  69. Drink water or green tea instead of coffee to reduce caffeine intake and keep you hydrated.
  70. Get on a solid sleep schedule. Listen to your natural sleeping patterns and adjust accordingly. Aim for seven hours of sleep each night.
  71. Prepare ahead of time with travel snacks. Pack a variety of snacks from dried fruit, nuts, energy bars and fruit to help make healthy choices while on the go.
  72. Add more whole grains to your diet. Whole grains have been linked to the battles against heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
  73. Replace sugar with natural sweeteners like agave, honey and Stevia.
  74. Eat with the seasons. You’ll be eating fresh, high-quality ingredients that are packed with the nutrients your body needs.
  75. Bring your lunch from home more often. Whether you’re packing for yourself or for the entire family, creating money-saving lunches is a simple way to add variety to your lunch without breaking the bank.
  76. Cut down your sodium intake by using spices and herbs to flavor your dishes instead of salt.
  77. Use a designated date to complete the majority of your meal shopping and prepare any of your week’s meals in advance to help cut down on cooking time.
  78. Invest in a few kitchen utensils that save you time.
  79. Preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables by learning how to can them. Bulk up on produce that is in season and on sale.
  80. Take preventive measures to minimize the risk of getting sick by washing your hands frequently, eating more fruits and leafy greens, taking a multivitamin and staying active.
  81. Identify the things that make you stressed during the day and take action. Create a list of things that are in your control and take small steps to change them.
  82. Don’t let things out of your control overwhelm you. Realize there are certain obstacles to challenge us, but never defeat us.
  83. Improve your quality of life by getting more involved in your community and connecting with nature.
  84. Support local small businesses and keep your money where you live.
  85. Help reduce your carbon footprint: go car-less one day a week by staying at home, walking, taking public transportation or riding your bike.
  86. Eat five new foods this year. Have you tried kale, quinoa, coconut oil or almond butter yet?
  87. Loosely track your goals. Don’t be too specific on deadlines or set yourself up for failure.
  88. Keep a journal to jot down anything that comes to mind, like recipes, memories and ideas.
  89. Listen more in conversations.
  90. Learn others' resolutions and help them achieve their goals.
  91. Give someone a compliment once a day, but really mean it.
  92. Rearrange your furniture every once in a while to create a new living space.
  93. Give your dishwasher and washing machine some love. Check for leaks, mold or clogged drains.
  94. Bring some of the items that make you happy at home to your workspace, like photos of family or small trinkets.
  95. Make your bed daily. This simple, three-minute chore is an easy way to positively impact your happiness.
  96. Take the time to clean as you go and clear away any clutter that has accumulated over time.
  97. Not everything is going to be easy or enjoyable, but try to appreciate the challenge and look on the brighter side.
  98. Spend money on things that create memories.
  99. Before you go to bed, take a step away from your daily struggles and contemplate something much larger than yourself.
  100. Give yourself more credit. More than likely, there is no one who will master everything on their list. The fact is, you’re trying and nothing is better than that.
  101. As always, keep it simple.
Will you be trying any of these goals for 2013? What’s your simple resolution?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Visit to Island Fibers

Loving fibers of every kind, visiting Island Fibers yesterday was enthralling.  I needed to exchange a skein of wool for something softer - and found some lovely alpaca.  But the joy was watching my husband (well, okay, and myself) become mesmerized by the owner's enthusiasm and passion as she described and shared every phase of her work, from carding, combing, spinning, weaving, dyeing, hand-painting, knitting, felting and design work.

We explored the wool, camel, yak, bison, goat (cashmere!!), silk, cotton, rayon, blends - you name it, we fondled it as roving. We got totally lost in the experience and her wealth of knowledge.  Holding a cotton plant and seeing how the fibers grow around a seed was new to me.  And I had never seen a carding machine before. We talked about different spinning wheels. I saw some lovely patterns I want to try when my knitting is better.  And the handspun yarns are to die (dye?) for. Just standing there surrounded by all the amazing colors was heavenly. 

What a wonderful adventure.  Here. On our little island. An unexpected gift. Not at all what you get when you wander into a commercial craft store on the mainland. Lucky us!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Etching Glass

The new craft that I learned this holiday season in order to make most of the gifts that I gave is glass etching.  Perfect idea for everyone on the list -including the men.  I etched glasses, glass coasters, mugs, a cookie jar, glass bowls, and wine glasses.  (Inexpensive glass items are readily available at dollar stores or discount stores.)

Etchworld at http://www.etchworld.com/ carries the supplies, etching cream, and stencils (although you can certainly make your own with contact paper, and Michaels or craft stores carry the cream).  The best directions, however, are on http://bebbc5ebdc1a4edbc607-be4c9c211ff8912b25b764f460a9b626.r66.cf2.rackcdn.com/DIY%20Etched%20Glass%20(2).pdf.

There was, of course, a slight learning curve, and one needs to pay attention to the details, take care with stencils and taping around them, neatness (any stray drop will, of course, etch where it touches), protect an enamel sink, and the timer is essential.  The results were amazing, though, and the recipients were pleased and impressed!  Heck, I was impressed every time that I finished an item!!

It was a very pleasant and gratifying process.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Results Are In

My family unanimously agreed that our simpler, homemade holiday gift-giving this year was absolutely the best - much more thoughtful and creative.  It's one thing for me to want to live more simply, and embrace the island life.  It's entirely another to have shared it with my family, and that they were willing to give it a try - at least as far as our Christmas gifts.

Gifts that I received included special homemade food items, a crocheted scarf, family members traveling to join us, pictures,a re-gifted cookie jar (love it!!) and a wonderful bound photo album of the first 9 years of life with my grandkids.  My gifts to others were a crocheted baby blanket, crocheted potholders,  two beaded bracelets, and a myriad of items from my newly learned craft - glass etching! (To be shared in a later post.)  Other gifts included homemade beef jerky (a huge hit), homemade coffee liquor, and a fun weekend to be shared with the grandkids. I know...oddly no baskets were made for the family!

Living in the moment, appreciating the thought, time, and care that went into each gift, and slowing down to talk about our experience of simpler giving with each other - absolutely priceless.

So yes, we will continue our new tradition.  And we have an entire year to plan and create! To describe this as gratifying would be a total understatement!

Homemade presents - the gifts that keeps on giving!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Thanking for Service Providers

Funny, I thought everyone "tipped" or gifted their service providers at Christmas time.  One more thing that I learned from my mother, I guess.  Federal regulations don't permit the postal worker to accept cash, but that isn't a problem - I fill decorative bags with homemade candies and cookies each year.  Those goody bags go to the sanitation engineers (aka garbage men) as well.  Each year I also make or purchase small gifts for my hairdresser and nail technicians, also the neighbors that take in packages for me when I am gone.

Complete lists of potential recipients are listed on the websites below.

Why even do it?  In the least, to say thank you for their attention to your needs all year. For me, it's a way to let them know that they are valued and not taken for granted. (There are additional bonuses as well:  if I have to occasionally change a last minute appointment, or put out an extra bag of garbage, I'm not charged - but that truly isn't my reason for gifting.)

But also, in this day and age when we often don't even know our neighbors' names, showing someone that you notice them and their efforts speaks volumes. It's even better if you've taken the trouble to learn their names!

By Emily Post:

A less conventional site:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Moment By Moment

I think I am enjoying this holiday season more than almost any other year, simply because I am savoring each day, each hour, each moment. Living in the moment means enriched experiences, noticing the little things, being fully present in each conversation.
Every person in my life is a treasure.
Holiday baking is more pleasant as I anticipate the pleasure it will bring.
The homemade gifts, made with love, are even a joy to wrap (and normally I hate to wrap presents).
A holiday meal here, a party there, a quiet conversation, a shared moment - all are brought into crystal clear focus by my being fully there in the moment - at least trying to be.

I 'm sounding very pollyannna-ish, I do realize.  But I simply need to share what pleasure it is to live this way, and how much I appreciate my life and all the gifts in it.  I just need to open my eyes and see them.  And, yes, being more "other" focused at this time of giving is part of it. Oh, some not so nice things do happen.  I just choose to live them in that moment, and then they pass away so much more easily.

How can you not be filled with gratitude if you let yourself be aware of so very many moments to cherish?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Focus

Slowing down helps me focus on the moment, on the person right in front of me, on what is important to me in my life.

Not surprisingly, there is a book that reflects on three types of focus, their importance, and that just possibly we are losing our ability to focus. This isn't really a news flash, is it, with all the multi-tasking we do everyday with our electronic leashes??

Are We Losing Our Focus?

--by Jill Suttie, syndicated from Greater Good, Dec 20, 2013
In a new book, Daniel Goleman argues that focus leads to greater happiness, better relationships, and increased productivity.
My teenage son does homework while watching sports games on his computer and Facebooking his friends. Of course, I understand the draw—homework can be boring and tedious. But, I wonder what kind of impact this multi-focused attention is having on his learning and social life, not to mention his future success.
According to Daniel Goleman’s new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, I should wonder.
Goleman, renowned psychologist and author of the bestselling books,Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence, writes that attention—or the ability to focus on one task to the exclusion of others—is a lost art among today’s teens, not to mention many adults. Yet focus is an important skill to have in life, and is connected to greater happiness, better relationships, and increased productivity.
The most successful people, he writes, excel at balancing three types of focus: inner, other, and outer. Inner focus demands paying attention to our values, intuition, and ways of responding; other focus involves knowing how to be present and develop empathic connections with other people; and outer focus means being aware of larger systems and trends in society.
To find that balance, we first need to understand how our minds and hearts work. Goleman explains that our brains our designed for two types of thinking—fast and slow—that interact with one another and compete for our attention. Voluntary attention, willpower, and choice are examples of slow thinking—what you might need to study for a science test, for example. Reflexive attention, impulse, and habit are part of fast thinking, which you might need when sizing up a potential date. Knowing how each type of thinking is stimulated and how they work together can help us master our focus to better effect and make wiser choices.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holidays and Difficult Relationships

During this season of forgiveness and good will, family relationships come front and center.  While I'm enjoying a thoroughly delightful weekend with my niece and her husband, I can't help occasionally thinking about one family member from whom we are estranged because of her toxicity, alcoholism, and abusive nature.

That I have removed myself from the abuse and can actually be sad for her is a testament to how much healing has occurred for me.  My sadness is that she cannot experience loving family times, laughter, holiday traditions, and the special bonds that the rest of us share.

So my holidays this year also include empathy, and gratefulness for the rest of my family that I adore.  I'm only sharing this because I know there are very, many other families out there with difficult members.  We can love them, pray for them, but it is not essential to spend time with them if it is toxic.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mixed Feelings About the Snow

Absolutely adoring snow (why else would I venture to Alaska every year in November???), I have mixed feelings about the forecast for today.  It is snowing now on the island (a scant 1", so sadly not worth a picture yet), and with the fire going it's cozy to look out and watch it.  Having lived in Washington all my life, I know enough to stop and appreciate what snow we do get, because snowfalls are few and far between.

However, my niece and her husband from North Carolina flew in last night and are planning to drive up to join me for the weekend.  Snow could certainly put a damper on their plans.  Well, really, on the plans of so very many people who are traveling for the holidays.

I want them to be safe.  I want them to visit. And I want a lot of snow.

I'm afraid my 'wants' are mutually exclusive.  Life is sometimes confusing like that.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

With New Eyes

As I pack more belongings to take back up to Lopez Island, I realize that I am seeing all my "stuff" with new eyes.  Do I really need this?  Do I even want it? And most importantly....where will it go??  

I'm dealing with all this accumulation from a totally different perspective now.  More IS NOT better.  Maybe I'll need it "someday" is definitely not a selling point. And owning more than one....just in case....does not meet the new standards.

Sounds like I'm well on my way to simplifying, doesn't it?  It will be interesting to see what my New Year's Review and Word for 2014 will be, now that I've turned the corner on this aspect.  Oh, it will take some time to divest myself of all this stuff - must see if the kids want any of it.  But there certainly isn't any internal argument to get rid of most of it.

Caveat:  All craft, weaving, beading and sewing items are not yet included in the clearance.  I'm still working on that part.  Making progress, but it's a bit harder.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Imperfect Holiday Preparations

These few days are gloriously filled with holiday baking (mainly for gifts) and visiting friends. The only shopping I need to do is for stocking stuffers....actually the most fun of all, anyway!  Well, I did spend 3 hours yesterday working my spreadsheets for basket supplies inventory, kit calculations, and ordering supplies.  But now I can just enjoy the best of the holidays.  Sadly my house isn't decorated, but I suppose the good part of that is that I don't have to take them down???

I'm enjoying my neighbors' lights, and finally have the Christmas music on. If I put it on too early, I'm tired of it before the holiday even gets here.  So I'm heading to the kitchen to make double batches of fudge, almond roca, and candied pecans.  Then it's off to fill those stockings and run a few errands....such as getting a massage.

This year the limited preparations are part of the enjoyment, living in the moment and not feeling overwhelmed. Oh for so many years I felt that "have to" mentality, maybe trying to make it perfect for my family. Now I'm relaxed and and just "be", loving what I'm doing and knowing it's enough....more than enough.  Giving myself permission not to be perfect.  Hmm...maybe how it should have been all along???

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So Much Stuff!!

Off island for a few days, connecting with friends. While I was in downtown Seattle yesterday, my thoughts, pretty much in order were:

- Oh my heavens, I had forgotten that they play Christmas music everywhere (to get you into the mood to shop, I'm sure)
- There is so much totally unnecessary "stuff" to buy
- The lights and decorations are pretty
- Way, way too many things, even if creatively displayed
- Most people are frowning or rushing and not really having a good time
- Feeling overwhelmed with too much....of everything (music, noise, people, did I mention the stuff?, traffic)

Did I really ever enjoy this???

Yes, I'm sounding like a reclusive islander.  Two bright spots were a lovely lunch with my dearest friend, and knowing that the few things that I DO need to buy are available.

My survival plan for staying sound until I get back to the island - live in the moment and enjoy the one I am with....after all, that's the reason for my visit to the mainland.  Oh, and breathe.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Spirit

The Ladies Holiday Tea      
        Craft Fair at Port Stanley School
                  Cookie Sale at Woodman Hall
                            Holiday Show Reception at Chimera Gallery
                                    Lessons & Carols at Grace Episcopal Church
                                             Dinner at the Galley with family & friends

A full, island weekend.

How could one not be filled with the holiday spirit - island style?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Think in Percentages

From the author of http://www.positivityblog.com/ comes the great idea of thinking in percentages:

To set human standards for yourself by thinking about personal improvement in
Instead thinking that you have to do things perfectly or that you should improve
in any area of your life pretty much instantly.
I wanted to bring this habit up today because I sometimes hear that you should
always be positive or always be winning or working towards your goal.
And that may sound inspirational in theory. But reality is not ideal or perfect and
neither are you and I. Life gets in the way sometimes. You may get in your own
way. And sometimes you simply don't have the energy or the courage or the time
to do something.
And that is OK. Instead of trying to live up to some perfect image that other
people and/or you may press upon you, choose to set human standards for

Choose to give yourself a break when things don't go as you may have wished and
choose to cut yourself some slack.

 Instead of beating yourself up mercilessly.
 So in my efforts to simplify, I'm going to think more in percentages.  Ah, a much gentler approach.  Since I'm obviously NOT doing this perfectly, how much kinder to myself to acknowledge what I AM able to accomplish, and celebrate that.

So today, I estimate that I've simplified my holiday gift preparation by 70%.  I'm happy with that!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


It's going to be one of those random days today.  I woke up thinking about Babylon (I watched a documentary on it last night before going to bed) and the amazing influence it's great thinkers have had on us today.

The Babylonian mathematical system was sexagesimal, or base 60.  (Did I ever learn this in school???  Obviously only in passing, if I did.)  From that we have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 360 degrees in a circle.  Why 60?  It is a superior highly composite number, with factors of 1,2,3,4,5,6,10,12,15,20 which facilitates calculations in fractions. From this they created huge advances in arithmetic, geometry, algebra, a basis for trigonometry, clocks, astronomy (with angular distances on a celestial sphere), and the list goes on.  They created the zodiac signs.

Really, just think about it. So very many of the things that we take for granted each and every day, were created in Babylon.  I am awed, and fascinated.  So much of what I've discovered in weaving (designs, the number of spokes, angles) is based on this as well.  What genius stemming from 2300 B.C.!

Friday, December 13, 2013


My peaceful view will be restored in a few days, as well as the shoreline of Barlow Bay.  Yesterday I went over to the worksite and spoke with the Aquatic Restoration Specialist from the Department of Natural Resources.  The barge and crane are part of the shoreline restoration project, working with the Friends of the San Juans to help restore healthy shorelines.  (She did say that the size of the barge and crane were a bit more than they had anticipated for the size of this project.) They are simply removing the decaying pilings from an old dock, eliminating the creosote that leaches into the water.

I'm relieved.  I'm sure the fish and seabirds will be relieved.  A little bit of notice would have been nice, but at least the mystery is solved.

I won't be sad to see them gone. But I am intrigued to know that divers with underwater chainsaws will finish off the work in the next few days.  Ah, the things we learn.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Serenity Disrupted

My perfect, idyllic view of Barlow Bay is temporarily disrupted with a barge and crane.  When it came into the bay yesterday morning, before dawn, I couldn't quite figure out what that moving light above the tree line was.  Soon there were many lights and as daylight appeared, so did this huge contraption. Thankfully it hasn't been too noisy - yet.

I know it probably won't be there very long.  But it certainly does not improve my view - it's smack dab in the middle of the vista from my front windows.

I'll probably become one of those nosy little old ladies and wander over today to find out what they are doing...and for how long.  It's all in one's perspective - if my grandsons were here, they would be enthralled with the front row observation of a working crane.

I have come surprisingly possessive of my tranquil bay and calming waterfront.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing a Bucket List

My bucket list has been changing and evolving since I moved to the island.  My wanderlust has diminished - not evaporated completely, but it is definitely trimmed down.  I'm happy where I am!!!  There are a few places or things that I want to see, but not nearly so many as before. 

As I update my bucket list, I find myself trying to define what would go on it as opposed to a goal list.  Goals are more achievements, a bucket list satisfies an inner longing or desire. At least those are my determining factors.  But I'm finding the lines blurring a bit between the two.  Some of my goals are so important to me and imbued with so much emotion  that they could easily find a place on the bucket list as well.

Maybe I need to find a better label for a list that combines them both?  Life List??

If you've never actually written down your bucket list, I recommend it.  If nothing else, it can be enlightening to read a list of the things that are most important to you before you leave this world.  It's interesting to see how it may change as your life evolves.  What was important last year may not be nearly as important today.

Need some help in getting started?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mystery of Sleep

The phenomena of sleep remains a mystery to me.  It intrigues me, both what it is and why we need more on some days, less on others.  At least I do.  I awoke last night from a very odd dream, and simply could not go back to sleep.  I was totally awake.

Apparently, studies do show that "older adults" need less sleep.  http://www.livescience.com/8075-older-adults-sleep.html  I'm not sure I like being labeled an older adult, but there it is.

Whatever, and however, I'm comfortable getting up after only 4 hours of sleep and starting my day, albeit very, very early in the morning.  Sometimes I have a new design for a basket in my head and that's what gets me up.  Unfortunately, that is not the case this time.

So I'm starting my day.  The sleeping island is quiet, peaceful and cold. (It's way too early for even the birds.) Sophie is not quite sure why I'm up, so has accompanied me to my chair to supervise this early foray into our day.  Normally she vocalizes her confusion or dissent, but perhaps it's even too early for that.....she hasn't said a thing.

I'll just see it as a gift of about four extra hours today.  I suppose I would be worried if this happened every night, but thankfully it doesn't.  Yes, it's a mystery.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Community Life of an Island

During this past week, I've attended a board meeting for the San Juan County Textile Guild, had tea with neighbors, met with the board for Chimera Gallery, held a study group with Baha'is, and attended a Christmas party for the Lopez Artists Guild.  What all of these have in common is an immediate sense of community.  On the mainland I attended many gatherings, but only after several years did the feeling of acceptance even start to insinuate itself into the interactions.

Where else but on an island would a warm and lovely lady approach me, introduce herself as another Sally, and in exclaiming that there are now 4 or 5 Sally's on the island, suggest that we need to get together to socialize? I'm well aware that Sally is no longer a common name.  To prove it, of course, I looked it up and found that the first name Sally occurs 0.135%% of the time in females. So voila!  We're creating even another chance to gather and meet!

My point?  The island I call home is full of open, caring, artistic, and genuine people who are eager to welcome me into the community.  While it's easy (and tempting) to hide away on my dead-end road and just work and write, it's also wonderful to participate in the community life.  That islanders are so open to new friendships is a testament to island living, which includes non-judgmental acceptance.

But whatever it is, and by whatever name, I do feel welcome......and at home on this island in our little corner of the world.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Honesty


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc. Furthermore, honesty means being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere.
Yes, I'm still on the honesty kick.  So now that we've defined it, what does it have to do with slower and simpler?  I guess that I automatically equate them.  Living a slower, simpler and thoughtful life automatically incorporates honesty.  Am I being naïve??
At the risk of being esoteric, I'm going to share an essay series by a task force at Stanford: Endangered Virtues, with articles on not only honesty but other virtues. 
The Endangered Virtues essay series is an online volume, written by members of Hoover’s Boyd and Jill Smith Task Force on Virtues of a Free Society that rests on several shared convictions: that the American constitutional tradition is a source of wisdom about the mutual dependence of liberty and virtue and the tension between them; that the tradition places primary responsibility for the cultivation of the virtues on which liberty depends not on government but on the institutions of civil society, particularly the family and faith but also on education, work, and civic life; that in recent decades and owing to a variety of causes—social, cultural, economic, and political—those virtues and the sources that sustain have been exposed to danger and are weakening; and that renewing the virtues and the sources that sustain them is an urgent task.

Why am I harping on this?  If we don't get back to the basics, our society will not last. I'm concerned to the very core of my being. We could be teaching the virtues in our schools - are we??

Saturday, December 7, 2013


For the third time in 4 years, our credit card information has been stolen (we still have possession of our cards). Checking the statistics on the frequency of this happening reveals that only 10% of Americans are victims.  Hmmm, feels like I'm at a higher end of those stats.  So reviewing how to protect oneself from this fraud (see below), reveals that we do all of that, and more.  Having worked in credit and  collections for so many years, I am extremely cautious in the use of my card. 

Living in my bubble on the island doesn't protect me.  Law of averages (my daughter's car being broken into and now our card information stolen) certainly aren't helping.  Aside from the supreme hassle of dealing with the fraud (only a hassle, not financial - the credit card company were the ones to catch it and shut off the card), I'm simply left with great sadness over the dishonesty of others. And the realization that the only way to totally avoid credit card fraud is not to have one.

What are we doing as a society that theft is becoming a norm???  Color me sad and disappointed today.

Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud

Theft, the most obvious form of credit card fraud, can happen in a variety of ways, from low tech dumpster diving to high tech hacking. A thief might go through the trash to find discarded billing statements and then use your account information to buy things. A retail or bank website might get hacked, and your card number could be stolen and shared. Perhaps a dishonest clerk or waiter takes a photo of your credit card and uses your account to buy items or create another account. Or maybe you get a call offering a free trip or discounted travel package. But to be eligible, you have to join a club and give your account number, say, to guarantee your place. The next thing you know, charges you didn’t make are on your bill, and the trip promoters who called you are nowhere to be found.

What Can You Do?

Incorporating a few practices into your daily routine can help keep your cards and account numbers safe. For example, keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud for each company in a secure place. Don’t lend your card to anyone — even your kids or roommates — and don’t leave your cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. When you no longer need them, shred them before throwing them away.
Other fraud protection practices include:
  • Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.
  • Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.
  • During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
  • Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Save your receipts to compare with your statement.
  • Open your bills promptly — or check them online often — and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.
  • Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
  • Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Living My Eulogy or My Resumé?

Some of my on-line reading the other day included the article: Are You Living Your Eulogy or Resumé by Arianna Huffington at  http://www.dailygood.org/story/615/are-you-living-your-eulogy-or-resume-arianna-huffington/.

The phrase has stuck with me, tugging at the edges of my consciousness as I go about my days.

One of my life-times ago, actually about 29 years ago, I taught Time Management, Organization and Goal Setting seminars.  At the beginning of each session, I would have the participants write their own eulogy.  From that, we would set our goals, hopefully based on realizing that eulogy.  (Then we would proceed to the time management and organizational part, to create the time in ones life to attend to those goals.)  I stopped teaching those seminars when I realized that most folks simply wanted to become more organized in order to cram more and more things and schedules into their life, not to live a better, fuller, prayerful, thoughtful life.

But what it just took me a paragraph to write, is summed up perfectly in the title of her article.

Perhaps a better title for my seminar would have been:  Creating a Life Where Your Resumé Is Your Eulogy.  And of course, someone has already done just that in a time management seminar, if not in the title at least in the content.  See Tony Agnesi at http://tonyagnesi.com/2013/10/living-your-resume-or-your-eulogy/ with some added thought-provoking comments.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chimera Gallery

The Board of Directors of Chimera Gallery notified me yesterday that my work has been accepted into the gallery.  While I wait for space to open up (for "my" area in the gallery), I will be able to participate in shows.  I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Chimera!  There is no dawdling on this: I will have 3 pieces in the Annual Holiday Group Show from December 14th - 30th.  http://www.chimeragallery.com/

Achieving goals like this are definitely part of the "highs" of being an artist.  The lows we know only so well:  the self-doubt as I recently shared, when new ideas don't work on the first....or twentieth try, rejection, criticism, lack of acceptance (all on the work...but it does feel personal at times), and sometimes the shear effort to just "show up" in the studio when uninspired.  This all applies to teaching as well - one can never assume their classes will be accepted, and if they are, then if they will fill.

But good news like yesterday make me smile, and do a few dance steps. and  the whole day seems lighter.

May I never become so blasé that I take any of this for granted.  Living here, being able to both do, and now show, my work are pure gifts.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Self-Doubt as an Artist

Yesterday was a mix of attending the board meeting for the San Juan County Textile Guild on the inter-island ferry, and then presenting my work that evening at the board meeting for the Chimera Gallery (hoping to be juried in as a member to show my work).

Joining groups, volunteering, and willing to put myself and my work "out there" takes a bit of effort, and well, courage.  I guess it's the fear of rejection...of me or of my work.  I can read all the books in the world that encourage artists to ignore what others think and just make your art.  That's fine during the time that I'm working.  But then comes the time when I want to show my pieces, to have them accepted in shows or galleries.  And that's when my stomach knots up and I start having doubts.

I'm sure it's all part of the process and not unique to just me.  Being an artist is not for sissies!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another Reason to Live On Lopez


While I'm enjoying my quiet life on the island (with it's almost non-existent crime), my daughter who lives in Seattle had her car broken into last night.  Senseless - bashing in a back window to take a gym bag.  It was parked directly in front of her apartment building.

So now she's dealing with police reports, that will do nothing but produce a case number for her insurance company, taking time off of work to get it fixed, and the inevitable feelings of loss, distrust, being a victim, and simply the hassle of it all.

It's not right, it's not fair, and I'm trying to remain calm and assure myself that whoever did this will eventually have to face the consequences, someday at least.  Oh, I know it's not a huge thing. As a mother, I just don't want my child to have to deal with this injustice.

We all can't live on an idyllic island, I know.  As a Baha'i, I believe in working toward world peace.  We certainly have a very, very long way to go.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Unexpected

Ah, sometimes life throws you a curve, a moment to pause and laugh.

I needed to put something under the sink.
It seemed an appropriate time to straighten out the clutter that seems to accumulate there.
When I removed the bag full of extra shopping bags, the fire extinguisher fell over (evidently without the pin in place) and it discharged under the sink, which then billowed out into the kitchen.

So instead of just straightening, I was gifted an opportunity to totally clean out and wipe down, not only under the sink (once I could get the cloud of whatever was in the extinguisher cleared so I could breathe) but also the floor and surrounding area.

The kitchen is sparkling.  I need to recharge or replace the fire extinguisher. And just perhaps I'll know to double check the pin in it.

Thankfully I could see the humor in the moment.  At times it's tempting to take life a bit too seriously!