Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping on Lopez Island with my family:  Preschool Arts & Crafts Fair, Just Heavenly Fudge Factory, and Paper Scissors on the Rock.  Of course this includes pictures with Santa.

Quality family time, homemade comfort food, and making a gingerbread house (with loads of extra candy decorations) are on the agenda.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Island Minutiae

We had a very nice, quiet holiday.  My family and grandkids are arriving today, and I'm looking forward to the hugs, and bustle, and noise, the activity and conversations.

But yesterday was sunny and calm.  It was a perfect day to take a walk, to absorb the minutiae of island life: the hidden treasures, the quiet moments, the small details.

And to "reflect" on them....

Thursday, November 28, 2013


The American holiday of Thanksgiving is today - a day for us to give thanks for all of our blessings.  But all of us, throughout the world could celebrate our unity, and the gift of each other and the world we share.

Please enjoy this gem:  Grateful

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Filling the Bird Feeder

Part of my morning routine now incorporates filling the bird feeder, usually every other day.  As I ponder buying seed in bulk, the problems and awkwardness of filling the feeder will only increase.  So with a bit of research (of course), I think the problem may be solved!

A Simple Solution for Filling Bird Feeders

I have eight multi-perch tubular feeders around my back yard which I fill with black oil sunflower seed. The heavy bird population we have can empty these feeders once a week and filling them keeps me busy.
I have over the years wrestled with how to efficiently get the seed into the feeders without spilling most of it on the ground. It is difficult as all of my feeders are suspended on wire from overhead tree limbs (to keep the squirrels off the feeder).
I now use a helpful tool which works quite well and is easy to make at home.
I would like to share it with you:
1. Start with a half-gallon, plastic milk container.
2. Half way between the bottom of the container and the mouth draw a line completely around the perimeter of the container.
3. Using a utility knife cut around the line severing the container in half.
4. The top half of the container, including the plastic lid, is now ready to be used as a scoop for getting the bird seed from bulk containers.
5. Hold the scoop by the milk container's original handle, but now, in an upside down position.
6. Use the scoop to obtain seed from bulk containers ( 25 pound bucket or bag of seed).
7. For the typical tubular feeder filling the scoop to the brim holds just the right quantity for completely filling the feeder.
8. Remove the top of the tubular feeder.
9. Position the lid of seed filled scoop over the the opening at the top of the feeder.
10. Holding the scoop in one hand, remove the lid from the scoop with the other hand. allowing the seed to flow from the scoop into the feeder, with no spills.
As previously mentioned, this scoop will hold just the right amount of feed to fill to the brim the typical, 3 1/2 diameter, multi-perch feeder. For larger feeders replace the lid, re-scoop and reload.
This works quite well for me.
I also use the bottom half of the milk container as water dish for my wild birds.
I hope this works for you as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Write a Book?

Having been asked the question several times now of why I am writing a book, being required to answer has been very helpful in clarifying the strength of the concept of the book.  That I can now explain what the book is about in one sentence is sure reinforcement that I do have a clear idea of my message: Exploring lattice twining bound weaves - their history, the variety of cultures that used them, and my own designs in contemporary basket patterns including weaving instructions utilizing the various bound weaves discovered.

Writing a book is a long process, requiring a long attention span.  It certainly helps that I am nothing if not an organized person.  So working on the proposal is even enjoyable for me:  the concept, outlining the book itself, the potential market, production details, the table of contents, and the chapter summaries.

People write books for different reasons.  There are some for whom holding the finished product in their hands is the goal.  Others love the process of writing. For still others they believe in their message and need to share it with others, in spite of the hassle of writing.  Some, I suppose, write because it is expected of them.

For me, I want to share my love of bound weaves in contemporary basketry.  I'm enthralled with the various related techniques of lattice twining. To be honest, I actually also love the challenge of creating new designs to reflect these techniques in new ways and materials.

And at this very beginning place of researching and discovering something new every day as I work still in the planning stages of the book, I am hooked. Oh yes, it would be lovely to eventually hold my book in my hands.  But for right now, I'm loving the process, and the discovery.

Hopefully I can hold onto this pleasure and enjoy each step of the process as I go.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Weekend in Photos

It's Monday and back to the routine:  exercise, blog, clear out emails, work on book, take a walk, weave, work on Christmas gifts, then free-time (which means I can work on anything I want).  I met someone over the weekend who has been graced with many material gifts, but is lonely and unhappy.  So I'm grateful for the abundance of love, laughter, and creativity in my own life.  I wish I knew the magic formula to share that with others.

Monday is a perfect time to reflect back on the weekend with my daughter and husband.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Deep Six vs Eighty-six

Ready for one of my random segue-ways?  While reading the article below and thinking about how to use 86 as a de-cluttering method, I kept thinking about the term.  My dad always used the term "deep six" in relation to tossing things out.

Deep six is a nautical term, referring to tossing things overboard in at least 6 fathoms of water.  (Some folks think that includes burial at sea, although today it's 100 feet, not 60.) Eighty-six is a term used in restaurants when they are out of an item.  Most definitions use them interchangeably and as synonyms.

So whether you are into deep-sixing or 86-ing, here are some great ideas on de-cluttering...

Eighty-Six Your Clutter

The holiday season has arrived, and as magical and wonderful as it is, it can also get cluttered quickly. Between gift exchanges, decorations, parties, and other festive things, you can undo a year of decluttering efforts in thirty days or less. While you could stick with the one in, one out method, chances are you’d rather pay attention to other things right now.
While I generally prefer slow, steady change, occasionally a radical challenge is necessary.

Eighty-Six Your Clutter

The phrase eighty-six or 86 simply means getting rid of something and is commonly used in restaurants. When the kitchen runs out of potatoes, they tell the servers to “86 potatoes” and let customers know that there are no potatoes available.

The Challenge – Get rid of 86 things in 2 hours or less.

Keep the potatoes and 86 your clutter 86 times. Speed is your friend in this challenge. Collect the clutter and get it out the door asap. If you can’t remove it from your home in the same day, box or bag it up and tape it closed. Combine this with other simplicity challenges you might be attempting now for maximum momentum.
I’ve decluttered so much over the past few years, that I was able to move from a 2000 sq. foot home to a 750 sq. foot apartment with no storage options. I took the 86 challenge to identify the easiest places to find 86 items to discard. I was also curious to see how quickly I could do it and what I had left to clear out. I eighty-sixed 86 in 40 minutes.

Where to find your 86 fast

My number is next to the area mentioned. The more you own, the easiest this will be. If you want to get rid of even more, consider two passes or challenge your family to see who can find 86 the fastest.
Bathroom – 18
86 Lotions, make-up, nail polish, and anything else that you haven’t used in a while.

Freezer – 5
86 anything with freezer burn, expired food and any packages that have been open for too long.

Pantry – 3
86 stale items. Donate food in unopened cans or containers that hasn’t expired but you will never eat.

Kitchen things – 8
86 doubles like measuring cup sets and spoons. If you have 6 mixing spoons or spatulas, could you get by with 4? How many drinking glasses do you really need?

Office/Work Stuff – 6
86 extra pens, old notes, computer software you are holding onto for no reason, and staples if you don’t have a stapler.

Closet/Bedroom -21
86 anything that doesn’t fit or still has tags from a Labor Day sale. Dump the single socks and the workout shirt that hasn’t been to the gym in months.

Hall Closet – 5
86 extra coats and donate them to a shelter. Check the top shelf too. No one owns this closet so things you forgot about end up stuffed in the back. Get rid of the unknown, the hiding and the unnecessary.

Purse – 8
86 extra chapstick, old receipts, expired gift cards and grocery lists.

Phone – 3
86 apps you don’t use, even if you paid for them and you thought they would make your life better.

Computer – 9
86 files that you’ve been saving just in case that you haven’t opened in months or years.

Other places you might find your 86 – garages, attics, storage units, dining rooms, living rooms, dens and any other room in your home.
Just like that, you are 86 things lighter and can enjoy the holidays without worrying about complete clutter chaos waiting for you at the end of the year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Brisk Day on San Juan Island

It's cold and clear and sunny.  It's a perfect day to walk onto the ferry and go to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. (Even better?  Walk-ons are free between islands!)  On these clear days Mt. Baker will be out and showing off her snowy splendor.

And it's an opportunity to go to the bead store, the yarn store, and hopefully the museum.  Of course, my family will have their own choices and shops they want to peruse.

And yes, we could do all these things in the summer, with all the tourists.  But it's so much better in this off-season.  No crowds, quiet shops, and no lines at the restaurants. 

Walking onto the ferry makes me feel like such an islander. Hopefully this simple joy will never wear off.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Colder Temperatures and Bean Soup

The temperatures are falling and frost is in the air.  Automatically I think of making a pot of navy bean and ham soup with cornbread.  Whether this is habit or instinct, I'm not sure.  There is something just so comforting on a cold day to have homemade soup simmering on the stove, filling the house with gentle aromas and the anticipation of a tasty meal. Plus it frees me up to get some work done while it transforms itself into its delicious self.

The beans are soaking, my little fireplace is burning, and I've straightened up Anadaré awaiting the arrival of family members today.  I'll work on the book for a couple of hours, put the rest of the ingredients into the soup pot, then weave until their ferry arrives.

I do feel very nestled in today.  I think that's one of the blessings of this time of year. I love this cold, clear weather!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Making Progress on the Book

Had a delightful surprise yesterday as I settled down to my new self-imposed routine of working on the book.  I'm setting aside one hour in the morning to work on it, no matter what, but anticipating the usual frustration and struggle.  That I didn't come up for air until three hours later can be attributed solely, I know, to the restructuring and re-organization of the chapters that had come in a flash of insight on one of my trips.

Now I'm eager to work on it, because I'm clearer on the progression of what needs to be done.

And oh my yes, so very much needs to be done.

I'm no where near ready to "write", and the more research I do, the more I discover new paths to follow.

But just thinking and worrying about it certainly wasn't getting anything accomplished.  I've had the inspiration (and I'm sure more will come).  For now, I'm in the "perspiration" phase....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Open to Inspiration

Sometimes amazing inspiration is right there in front of you, if you'll only open your eyes.

While emailing back and forth regarding a mutual friend's birthday party, I happened to notice the links in Cami Ostman's signature line.  I have a copy of one of Cami's books, and knew that she was now writing for Psychology Today (one magazine subscription that I read religiously).  On a whim, I clicked on the link to her blog for the magazine. Wow!  They are full of insight and inspiration.

Her own website starts with:

You are the author of your own life. Write like you mean it!

So let me share these links, and encourage you to peruse her blogs. 

And I must admit, this was not the first email I've received from Cami.  Thank heavens I finally open my eyes and found these treasures!  Thank you, Cami!

Psych Today Contributor:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick Trip to the Mainland

While on a quick trip to the Mainland ("going to America"), I'm noticing my inner shift to truly being an islander.  Home is on this little rock in the San Juan Archipelago. It is where my focus and heart reside.

According to the United States Geological Survey, only those islands in San Juan County make up the San Juans, not the other surrounding islands. While traveling through them by ferry, there certainly aren't any dividing lines!  But I guess that's true of any boundaries that mankind creates.

Hmmm, there's always something new to learn.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Moderate Routines

On the island full-time now, and I'm a bit resistant to setting up too many routines.  The island is the epitome of peace and freedom, so how am I supposed to be strict with myself and regulate my days??

But then how is my book ever going to be written if I don't create the time for it? There is much weaving to be done, and deadlines to meet.  I need to channel some inner moderation, value the quiet, but at the same time be firm enough to set some boundaries.

To date, I truly have been gentle with myself, working on pretty much whatever I wanted to while on-island.  This IS my life now.  While I don't want to over-schedule or over-manage my time, there is a happy medium out there just waiting to be found.

As the sky slowly lightens over the bay, and the deer munch in my front yard, I am taking my Day Timer in hand and graphing out a moderate schedule for myself, at least to get started.  And yes, even an artist needs a Day Timer.

It's time to break some of my already formed, too lenient habits and get my act together.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Special Poignant Moments

Trying to live a slower and simpler life leaves one open to poignant moments.  Perhaps the following article struck me because I just celebrated a birthday yesterday.  But I can hope that it would have caught me up and made me pause on any day.  And as I look forward to holiday visits with my own grandchildren, it is a wonderful reminder to be fully present in the moment, and listen to these darling souls.

Please read further for this touching reflection.

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. --Khalil Gibran

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sophie's Great Adventure

Settling in on the island last night had a few ups and downs.

The electricity went out after an hour of working just fine....but only at my house, not at the neighbors. Silver lining:  I know where the flashlights, candles, and lighter are. 

When my husband arrived, Sophie escaped to the out of doors (previous owners declawed her, so she is totally an indoor kitty).  So with a flashlight, and after much adventuring and soothing persuasion, I finally corralled her onto the porch and got her inside. 

Eventually I figured out that we have two, not one, main breakers for the house, so the electricity issue was resolved.  Sophie in the mean time was yowling to go back outside and continue her explorations.  It took a lot of loving attention and lap time to restore order to the household.  Silver lining:  knowing where all main breakers are and snuggling time with kitty.

Life is in the little things, isn't it?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Enough Traveling - Back to the Island

So enough traveling already - Sophie and I are heading back to the island today, to settle in for the winter.  All my newly started projects, materials for an abundance of Christmas gifts to make, and supplies for holiday baking don't leave much room for too much else in the car. My priorities couldn't be clearer!  On the next trip to the mainland for some appointments, I'll pack up some of the plants.

With my teaching starting up again in February, I know I'll have to be traveling again.  But for now I'm looking forward to celebrating a quiet birthday and Thanksgiving island-style.  Working on the book, completing UFO's (unfinished objects), making gifts (I'll share after Christmas what they are), weaving on a large project, practicing the harp, taking long walks, sitting by the fire.....ah, yes!  THIS is my island life I've wanted.  Family will be joining me here and there to add laughter and love.  Maybe a little snow?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Art Isn't Just About Making Things

I'm knee deep in the "other" side of art-making....the planning, paperwork, proposals, inventory of materials, and usage charts.  Don't get me wrong, I happen to enjoy being organized, working with spreadsheets (now for materials and travel costs rather than collections and high finance as in my past).  It helps me feel centered to know what I will require in the next few months, have a record of what is on hand, and place the orders for what is needed.  There is nothing worse to me than to have the nagging, constant worry in the back of my mind that I might not have enough material for the classes coming up.

And after all is planned, ordered, received and organized, then comes the task of making up the kits.  Ah, eventually I also get to weave again:  the new class baskets, the experimental new ideas, the new "art" pieces.

It's all part of the process, and most of the time I enjoy each step.  I'm itching to get weaving and finish up some uncompleted projects.

But for right now...I'm going to go take inventory.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sophie and Home

It's lovely to be back home again - perhaps that just might be part of the joy of traveling...the coming home?  And although I have a lot of emails to which I must attend, and appointments to schedule, and work to get done, Sophie is right here, front and center, reminding me of the most important thing.

She needs to be held.  So I work a bit...and then find something I can do sitting down so she can reclaim my lap.  She does help me keep my priorities straight.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Snow at Last

Oh sure, the day I have to leave we get snow. But at least it came! I'm leaving renewed, inspired, and got to play with a puppy all weekend.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slower & Simpler - Work in the Mess?

Part of living slower and simpler is getting rid of stuff, clearing the palate, making room, downsizing.  But the following article by Yelizaveta Renfro has some interesting thoughts on living in the moment, so not necessarily cleaning absolutely everything up before starting to write, or draw, or weave.

It reminds me of some Baha'i teachings:
It is incumbent upon them who are in authority to exercise moderation in all things.
 (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 215)
......moderation is preferable.
 (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 144)

But then I had children and moved too many times, and my writing place became right here, right now. I can spend time making a writing place, or I can spend time writing, because there isn’t time for both. And since the places all turn out to be temporary, I choose to write.
    *    *    *
Sometimes I can’t find tape to save my life, but I have all of these other objects always at my fingertips, and it is in the midst of these juxtapositions, this disorder and uncertainty, that I write. Not only does being neat and organized take time, but a tidy environment makes me feel compelled to have tidy thoughts. And never do they come that way. The disorder is freeing; may it all come any which way. May I dip into the sea of disarray and pluck out the objects that gleam in the light of the present. May I keep that which is important and push aside the rest for another day.

So finding that moderation of living simpler, but keeping in mind what is important, using the "right here, right now", may take a bit of practice.  I tend to be a black and white thinker (working on that), and cleanliness is next to godliness, and whatever else my parent tapes are telling me.  It's that moderation thing that continually trips me up.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Aurora Borealis

Finally!!!! After coming to Alaska for so very many years, I saw the Northern Lights at last!!! Okay they weren't magnificent colors or a dramatic display, but they were there. From about 2:30 to 4:30 a.m. I watched the light green show. When I'd start to fall asleep the brighter lights would wake me.

So does that remove it from my bucket list??  Not at all. I still want to see it in dramatic and vivid colors. One day.

But I am so grateful for the gift that was mine early this morning. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Get Out of This Book Free Card

Infrequently, I simply have to put a book down and walk away.  I have to give myself permission not to finish it.  After years in book clubs, I've discovered that perseverance often pays off in reading something that isn't in my comfort level.  I gain insight, I learn things (even if they are succinct arguments why I don't like the book, or author, or style of writing).

But yesterday I gave up on reading Diana Gabaldon's Lord John and the Private Matter. Perhaps its because I just finished reading another book that I had to struggle to complete.  Whatever it is (and it definitely could be me so this is in no way a reflection on the author or book), I had to stop and read something else.

So I went in search of my Get Out of This Book Free Card. Many years ago my local library gave them out.  I eventually misplaced it, so then created one of my own.  Not sure exactly how it's supposed to work: do you put it in the book you want to stop reading, then take it out? what about ebooks? how long do you put it there?

To simplify the process, I now write on the back of it the date, author, and title of the book that defeated me.  Not that I'm usually planning on going back and attempting to read it again (although this last one might be in that category, and I did finally read Shogun, so I do know it can happen).

Reading should be enjoyable, at least on some level.  When it's not, well, I have my card!

North to Alaska

Making my annual trek to Alaska to weave, visit a good friend and celebrate my birthday, Alaskan style. Second time in a row that I've been chosen for the pre- check line. Love that!! Having an empty seat beside me on the plane wasn't bad either. 

Wove a miniature black ash basket today.... Hope to tackle the lid later thus weekend.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Lessons

Here is an article that I simply must share on life lessons.  I highly encourage you to read the entire article at  But the short list for living a happy life entails:

1. Life goes on - no matter what happens, we eventually return to our baseline of happiness
2. Count your blessings
3. Relationships matter - a lot
4. Money also matters - but only up to a point
5. Don't compare yourself to others

I'm thinking it would be well worth my while to have this list constantly in view as I plan my days.  After all, life is happening every single day.