Friday, February 28, 2014

Breathing Again

Actually, it's not just being able to breathe again, it's also sleeping, thinking, and feeling centered.  Dear, dear Lopez Island:  you offer comfort, quiet, dark and peaceful nights (I didn't realize how much the ever present ambient light during my travels disrupted my sleep, let alone the noise factor), fresh air, and security.  I can let down my guard and completely relax.

Sophie is still a bit clingy from my recent absence due to traveling, but even that is nice. The deer and birds have already been to visit.

Sigh.  Life is wonderful and feeling complete.  Schedules, dead lines, work, worries about a friend's health - they are all still there. Bur for right here, right now, I'm taking refreshment in the view from Anadaré, sipping my morning tea, and absorbing the peace.  How very, very lucky I am to have found my little corner of paradise.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Loss of Cursive Writing

Afraid my post today will be more like a rant....or a lament.  With 45 states embracing the Common Core, cursive is definitely becoming a lost art.

State leaders who developed the Common Core - a set of preferred K-12 course offerings for public schools - omitted cursive for a host of reasons, including an increasing need for children in a digital-heavy age to master computer keyboarding and evidence that even most adults use some hybrid of classic cursive and print in everyday life.

Perhaps I'm showing my generational gap here, but my gut is telling me that this is one decision that may well come back to bite us.  What are the benefits of cursive or penmanship or handwriting?  As mentioned in several internet articles, it used to be an indication of one's education, of literacy.  But there is so much more.

Some arguments FOR teaching cursive:

Cursive advocates cite recent brain science that indicates the fluid motion employed when writing script enhances hand-eye coordination and develops fine motor skills, in turn promoting reading, writing and cognition skills.
They further argue that scholars of the future will lose the ability to interpret valuable cultural resources - historical documents, ancestors' letters and journals, handwritten scholarship - if they can't read cursive. If they can't write it, how will they communicate from unwired settings like summer camp or the battlefield?

Writing by hand helps us slow down our thinking, encouraging deeper and fuller thinking during the writing process.  Creativity is enhanced.  Just think about the Morning Pages as described by Julia Cameron in An Artist's Way.

And don't even get me started on writing with fountain pens!!!  They are built for fluid writing!  How very, very sad to think that the next generations will not even have the opportunity to experience that joy.

Here is another great article on the subject:

5 Reasons Cursive Writing Should be Taught in School

Their list includes (but the full article is WELL worth the read):
     Cursive develops motor skills
     Cursive reinforces learning
     Cursive helps students with disabilities
     Cursive is an art form
     Cursive connects students to the past

North Carolina joins Massachusetts, Idaho, Ohio, Maryland, California, Indiana, Kansas and Utah in proposing various measures to combat the disappearance of what some educators consider a vital skill.
Laura Dinehart of Florida International University's college of education, handwriting skills in children are a strong indicator of their success in school later, citing research that showed children who had strong handwriting at age 4 were more likely to excel at math and reading once they reached grade school.
“A lot of people feel an emotional connection to cursive,” Dinehart said. “There is thinking that as your pen flows on paper, so does your thinking.”
Read more:

Okay, I think you all know where I stand.  Now I'm going to write some notes to friends, with my fountain pen, on actual note cards, and mail them .... with a stamp.  Ah me, so very old fashioned!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back to the Island to Weave

I am simply itching to get back to the island, settle into the quiet, and weave for a few days before I start preparing once again to teach classes.  At least the next teaching venue is local, so packing and travel issues won't be troublesome.  But I recognize the unrest within me, from lack of both weaving and island time.  I need both to remain "centered" now.

So today is full of bookkeeping, laundry, baby-time with youngest grandchild, and tackling the emails.

I enjoy well as coming home.  What was my word for this year?? Oh yeah - Balance!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back to Washington

Riding before dawn, snow, de-icing planes, late connections.... But my bags and I finally got back.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Snow & Smuckers

A light snow, a stop at Smuckers to buy lemon curd, then onto Amish Country. A perfect sightseeing day with a dear friend.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Maybe Too Slow

Very slow to post today.... Could only manage to get up and to class! But my last day of teaching went well...teaching three Turk's Head knots. Tired - still jet-lagged, but content. What wonderful students I've had!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wildwood Cultural Center

Bare trees and cold seem to set off the manor where we teach to good advantage.  But class starting at 8 a.m. is a bit difficult with the time change!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cedar Baskets at Winter Weave

My Cedar Squares basket class at Winter Weave..... Great students, working with cedar, snow outside...... Life is good!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Mixed Bag of Customer Service

Two thumbs up to the shuttle driver from the airport to the rental car facility for helping with my bags and getting them onto a cart. Even more thumbs up to Sheena, working at the Budget Rental Car desk, having observed me struggling to manhandle the recalcitrant luggage cart up to the desk, quickly checked me in and then SHE went to get my car, drove it around, backed it up, and even helped me load it.  Wow.

However, my experience with Lawnfield Inn & Suites in Mentor, Ohio was not as pleasant.  A very definite thumbs down to their indifference to my much earlier request for a first floor room...knowing that I had several bags to manage to my room, alone.  They ignored their earlier promise, and as I struggled to get to my top floor room, having to maneuver around tight corners with an even larger luggage cart with a mind of its own to the one, small elevator, a very kindly soul from the kitchen staff offered to help and actually assisted me all the way to my room.

   I travel a lot, and usually can manage quite well on my own.  But when I know that I may need assistance or accommodation, and request it ahead of time, I'm dismayed when that courtesy is absent and my requests are simply ignored. Now I'm struggling NOT to become the hotel guest from hell, finding fault with everything.  Yeah, I know, that's my issue.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Bit of a Nomad

Unpacked from the water adventure with the kids and now repacked and at the airport for a teaching trip. Feeling a little nomadic. Airport is bare and quiet this 4:45 a.m.  Definitely missing the island..... am counting the days until I return. But the teaching income supports my island life!

I will say that having TSA Precheck is awesome and takes the hassle out of flying!

This may be TOO empty.... I'll go check my gate again.....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Great Wolf Lodge with Grandsons

 We're all exhausted, but happy. Having created wonderful memories of playing in the water, facing our fears ( some of deep water, some of heights, some of speed) and playing Uno, we're heading home. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Not Your Usual Lighting

Taking the grand kids on their Christmas gift "adventure", on the way we got a bit more than expected. Stopping for a hamburger, it's always good to notice the   decor .... Shot gun shell casings for the light covers????? 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Sharing Your Simpler Life

An interesting post.  Obviously it promotes his blog and classes, but well worth reading.  I'm working on #1, fulfilling #2 & #5 here, and still have a long way to go.  But I also know that if you really have no interest in living slower, simpler, or minimally, it's pretty easy to ignore my Sunday blogs!

Oh, and yes, I did sign up for a free ticket to see them on their tour.

Posted: 11 Feb 2014 10:02 AM PST
Once you begin to experience the benefits of simplicity and minimalism, it’s natural to want to share what you are learning and hope to help other people in your life.
The only problem with that is people generally don’t enjoy being convinced or converted. We do like to be inspired and educated, but the life choices we make are better when we make them for ourselves. This goes for friends and extended family as well as the people who live with you.

1. Live by example.
When people ask me how to get their family “on board” with simplicity, I advise them to stay focused on their journey and their stuff. In a Q & A webinar I hosted for the Dress with Less course, my response to “How do you help people see the joy in less?” was simply, “The best way to help people see the joy in less is to be joyful with less.”
When you see a friend that’s lost a lot of weight, you ask them how they did it. When you notice that a co-worker has more confidence and appears happier at work, you want to know why. Be a living demonstration of the things that mean most to you and people will invite you to share your experience.

2. Use your social networks.
Use your social networks to connect and inspire.
§ Facebook: Join the Be More with Less Facebook page and other pages that inspire simple living. Facebook only shares the information they think you want to see based on your activity. Show Facebook that you care about updates from pages you choose to like, by engaging. Comment, like and share posts from the pages you like the most. If there are pages you don’t care about, unlike them and make space for the good stuff.
§ Twitter: This is the best social media platform for direct communication and answers to your questions from simplicity authors and others. Follow me, @bemorewithless, and start a conversation. If Twitter seems confusing, don’t worry about knowing it all. Simply start your question with the name of the person you want to chat with and ask anything. For example:
Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 9.51.49 AM
When I see that, I’ll respond with what worked best for me and just like that, we’ve made a connection.
§ Pinterest. Be visually inspired with me on Pinterest. I share simplicity quotes and inspiration boards, capsule wardrobe collections, simple recipes, books I love, and pictures of small spaces.
§ Instagram. This is where I share my Project 333 looks, and will be sharing travel images from a big trip I’m taking in March. Instagram is a great place to share photography and the daily beauty of a simple life.
I’m not suggesting that you have to be everywhere, but choose the social media channels that you already visit and use them in a meaningful way.

3. Give books.
Read and share, or gift a book about simplicity to your loved ones and let them explore on their own. They can experiement with Mini-Missions for Simplicity, Learn that You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) and finally be Clutterfree.

4. Join the tour.
Bring a friend or family member to meet Ryan and Joshua from The Minimalists. They are on a 100 City tour in 2014 and tickets are free. I’ll be joining them in Boise and Salt Lake City and would love to meet you.

5. Start a blog.
If you want to share a message to help others, start a blog. I’m working on something new to help beginning bloggers. Please answer this 3 question survey if you just started or want to start a blog.

If you are ready to share, it can be as simple as forwarding a blog post via email, retweeting something that inspires simplicity, or a gentle dinner conversation. If you are just getting started on your simplicity journey and aren’t ready to share, stay focused on absorbing information and implementing what you learn. Connect with like-minded people and enjoy the ride.

When your friends and family are ready, be there for them.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Aging Reflections

A friend sent these Refelction photos by Tom Hussey that are so thoughtful. They illustrate just how much we change in our lives and how it seems to happen all at once, no matter how many years actually go by.

Those of us aging relate to this truth.  For the younger set, please take note that this is why your elders may have difficulty grasping their limitations at times.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day - for Lovers, and Others

Happy Valentine's Day!  But I realize that not everyone likes this day, so if you are anti-Valentine's Day, please skip to the end of this post.....I have something special for you.

An historical perspective:  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.[2] A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.[3] Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion,[4] as well as in the Lutheran Church.[5] The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, albeit onJuly 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Dia de São Valentim is recognized on June 12.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.[6]
I admit, I did have to look up one word:
Web definitions
  1. (hagiography) a biography that idealizes or idolizes the person (especially a person who is a saint)

As a Baha'i:

And for those not overly fond of this day:


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Creative Apples

Oh my mind is a scary place sometimes. The random pick for the day (pun intended)?  Creative apples...just in time for Valentine's Day.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three New Inspirations

Waking up this morning on the mainland, three new ideas for woven projects were drifting around in my consciousness.  They were still a bit illusive and half-formed, but I got up, grabbed my studio book, came back to bed, and tried to capture them on paper before they melted away. Sorry, can't share them yet, they are still maturing, but one is a coiled piece and two are wall sculptures.  Potentially, anyway.  Things always work well in my head, but getting them into reality is totally another animal.

So why now, when I'm not on the island?  Perhaps the relaxed island time let them gestate and it was coincidence that they surfaced now?

And really, just what is it about creativity and new ideas in that half-dreaming state before getting up?  I've mentioned it before, but it still puzzles me.

One article seems to have part of the answer:
Simply Waking Up With the AnswerEasiest methods for solving problems,
and for ingeniously creating

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

"Early Bird Gets That....Wriggle of Creativity"
A number of individual writers, artists and other high-level creators have found their best time for creative work to be first thing in the morning, before the distractions of the day set in to disturb the order and arrangements their mind had settled into through sleep and dreaming. This still remains very much the case, though some of us aren't "morning people." Those of us who can somehow function before normal people start putting in their work hours, continue to find and will always find this first-thing-of-the-day approach to be an easy, productive strategy and practice.

Another article goes on:
While you are asleep, your brain is busy processing the day’s information, according to sleep and cognition researchers Robert Stickgold and Jeffrey Ellenbogen. "It combs through recently formed memories, stabilizing, copying, and filing them, so that they will be more useful the next day," they wrote in Scientific American.
Areas of the brain that restrict our thinking to the logical and familiar are significantly less active during REM sleep, according to Harvard psychologist, Deirdre Barrett. In other words, when we're experiencing the Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep, our way of thinking is less inhibited. "Such disinhibition is a crucial part of creative thought," Barrett also wrote inScientific American.
Whatever the reason, it continually works for me.  I don't take it for granted, and I do try to jot down the ideas or sketch the image.  It may take years for them to come to fruition.  Creativity is such a strange and wonderful thing, but unfortunately life with it's appointments and schedules will not let me have studio time to play with these new ideas right now.  Thankfully they are preserved for their "moment".

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Simple Day on Lopez

My meeting in Friday Harbor was cancelled yesterday, so I had an unexpected day at home to continue to work on preparing basketry kits for teaching, watching the red-winged blackbirds empty the bird feeder, listen to the rain, gather some driftwood to dry out and prepare for baskets, and simply enjoy the quiet.  A bit of weaving and a tad of knitting rounded out a perfect day. (Sophie made sure she had her play time, by bringing her toys to me quite regularly throughout the day.)

My charming views of the bay, the eagles overhead, the deer wandering through the front yard - how could I NOT be in love with this island?  I suppose my life here would be boring to many.  To me, it is simply home, and to be missed when I have to return to the mainland for the "other" parts of my life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wondering What To Do Today?

I ran across this GREAT video clip some time ago about the time we have left in our life.  Just thinking about it motivates me to get up and get going, on those mornings when it would be easier to just sit in front of my computer with a cup of tea and kitty on my lap.

What, indeed, will I do today?

The Time You Have (in Jellybeans)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Weather Rock

The weather forecasting this time of year is so varied, with blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, or unusually warm weather.  So naturally, seeking a "simpler" way of determining the weather, the faithful weather rock is always available.  Oh, and what could be slower??

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Uncomplicated Life

At the risk of inadvertently inviting unexpected turmoil into my life, I've been thinking lately (and talking with my dear friend) about how quiet, calm, and tame our lives are.  Granted, I may tend to over-commit at times, and have to deal with deadlines and such.  But for the most part, there is no hysteria, no drama, no tumult.

Leading a quiet, reflective life on a beautiful island, I can only contemplate on how lucky I am.  Chaos, unrest, and unhappiness must be kept at bay by, wait for it, our bays??  Sorry, that just came out.

In sum, it's just one more thing for which I am so lead a full but un-messy life. For now.  Right now.  In this moment.  Yes I know it may not last.  But it's definitely to be enjoyed.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dawn Inspirations: Interfaith Book Club

What is it about that magical time, just as I wake?  I'm relaxed, drifting, thoughtful.  It's when some of my best basket designs come to me. Well, and other inspirations too.

This morning it happened to be to start an Interfaith Book Club on Lopez.  I'll need to check around first to see if one already exists. Then of course I need to find at least two other folks who might be interested.  Based on the principle "if you build it, they will come", once started it will hopefully build in momentum and membership.

I coordinated such a book club at Barnes & Noble in Tukwila for several years.  We met in the store on Sunday evenings, and the group actually swelled to 15 at times.  Of course we also had ready resources for speakers on the various religions, which helped.  And the book store ordered in the books for us, so they were readily available.

But I'm inspired.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seattle Traffic

Oh my, trying to drive in Seattle traffic this morning to go teach a class on how to write a credit policy.

And THIS is why I live on Lopez!!!  Heading straight back to the island after class - to my kitty, and the birds, and the peace.  I suppose if I don't experience this mess occasionally, I wouldn't know what I was missing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why Not Us?

Thank you, Seahawks, for a glorious Super Bowl Game.  And thank you Russell Wilson for sharing your father's saying: 'why not you?'  Which you then shared as Why Not Us?

Couldn't we each take that for ourselves?  How much more could we accomplish if we simply asked "why not"??  What's holding us back?  Why limit ourselves?

How succinct, inspiring, and a gem worth keeping.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Missed Groundhog Day?

The Super Bowl rather eclipsed (pun intended) Groundhog Day this year, which was also on Sunday, February 2.  Officially, he saw his shadow so there are 6 more weeks of winter this year.

What we call “Groundhog Day” is also known as Candlemas, a European custom in which the clergy would bless candles on Feb. 2 and people would light them in their windows to ward off the darkness of mid-winter. The weather on Candlemas was held to indicate the course of winter, as indicated by this traditional rhyme:
"If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.”
(“Winter has another flight” is a variation that sometimes shows up in the second line instead.)

One of the traditions that surrounded Candlemas involved turning to the humble hedgehog for its weather-predicting skills. If a hedgehog, considered to be a wise animal, came out of its hole on a sunless day and didn't see its shadow, it would stay outside. But if it was a sunny day, it would see its shadow and retreat into its lair for six more weeks of winter.
The tradition migrated to America through German settlers, and the groundhog, being another hibernating animal, was substituted for the hedgehog.

In other countries, according to information from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, “other animals have been used to foretell the weather: the badger in Germany, and the bear in France and England.”               

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Work Day

It's Monday morning and a work day beckons:
     Preparing basket kits for teaching
     Writing 3 weaving patterns
     Working on my book
     Finishing a basket for the gallery
     Writing proposals to apply for teaching

What is NOT included in my day:
     Traffic to get to work
     Noise and fumes
     Working for someone else
     Views of congested roadways and city streets
     Getting dressed up and wearing make-up
     Tension and stress

I definitely don't take my life for granted.  Even with a full day of work ahead, I appreciate the idyllic views of Barlow Bay, taking a break to refill the bird feeder, planning a walk after lunch to breathe the island air, and occasionally petting or playing with my feline assistant.  I know, I've worked hard to create this life. But I am continually grateful for what I have.  Perhaps the word I'm looking for might be....happy??