Friday, November 27, 2009

Busy as a . . .

The other day I noticed several bumblebees on the few remaining cosmos flowers because, unlike most bees I've seen, these bees were not flitting from flower to flower. They were curled up on the flowers and very still. They appeared to be . . . sleeping.

I'd never seen sleeping bees before, so I did a little research.

Bees do sleep.

Isn't it funny to think that the very creatures humans say they are "as busy as" take time to rest?

Maybe we could learn one more lesson from our busy bee friends and be as intentional about taking time for renewal and refreshment as we are about reaching goals.

The next time you're buzzing around thinking about how busy you are, perhaps you'll remember the bumblebees and take a moment or two to slow down for a bit. I think you'll be glad you did.

A colorful walk on Thanksgiving Day

QB and I went for a walk this morning and saw bits of color along the way:

Happy Thanksgiving from QB and the rest of us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nip it in the bud

"Nip it in the bud."

The person most responsible for making this phrase famous has to be Barney Fife, Deputy to Sheriff Andy Griffith. His catch phrase has inspired at least one rap song and numerous comedy routines.

I was recently reminded of the wisdom of this saying when I took a moment to really look at the flower beds in my yard.

The cosmos plants were fading away and ready to be removed. I pulled out the dead plants, making sure the seeds stayed behind.

Then I found plants I didn't want in the bed. These plants had also flowered and were starting to go to seed. I wasn't going to allow the plants or seeds to stay in my yard, so I started pulling up the plants. They were much more difficult to remove. The roots were a lot bigger and deeper than those of the Cosmos.

I had noticed the plants when they were a smaller, but didn't bother removing them. Now, instead of tiny, easily removable seedlings, I was dealing with sturdy plants that wanted to stay where they were. After a lot of struggle, I finally removed the plants from my beds. Some of the seeds have fallen in my yard, so I know the plants will return, but I will be sure to pull up any seedlings I spy next year. I do not want to wrestle with those plants again.

How many times have I ignored an issue in my life until it became a huge problem? How much easier is it to deal with a problem when it first appears rather than ignoring it until drastic measures are required? How much pain and trouble could be avoided by choosing another path?

It's time to re-examine my life so I can weed out any problems and nip them in the bud.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to amuse a cat

There are shelves on our back porch. We use them to store . . . cats. Our cats love to run and climb and nap on the shelves.

Since TK is much younger and more active than the other cats, we got a special set of shelves with toys for him.

He helped assemble them . . .

tested them for sturdiness. . .

sat in them for a while . . .

and then decided to play with the empty kitty litter bags.

Next time we'll just give him a pile of bags.

How do you amuse a cat? Buy an expensive toy so they can play with the trash.

Monday, October 12, 2009

UFOs and USOs

Most quilters have at least one UFO (UnFinished Object) in their lives - a project that for whatever reason has not yet been completed.

While focusing on clearing out the things in my house that no longer belong, I've also found another category: USOs - UnStarted Objects. Everything is there - pattern, fabric, thread . . ., but the project has never progressed beyond its original form.

As I pondered how this happened, I soon realized there are many other USOs in my life -- books unread, recipes untried, goals unmet.


In some cases, I put the projects away and forgot about them because I no longer saw them. Those need to be revisited to see if I'm even interested anymore, or if it's time to send them on their way to a new owner.

In other instances, I started the book, mapped out a strategy or gathered necessary ingredients and reached a point where I felt "stuck". I have found that taking a break can be beneficial when I reach that point. I can rethink why I started and see whether or not I want to invest more time and energy in it. If I do, I can get back on track. If not, it's time to let someone else have a go.

It seems that my projects have a shelf life. Just as I disposed of the apple sauce that made its way to the back of the pantry ("Best used by 2007"!), there are objects in my life that are out of date and no longer belong.

I can continue trying to fit far too much stuff into my life, which will result in frustration and stagnation, or I can make room for my roots to spread so I can grow into the person God intended.

I think it's time to grow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Double the fun

Several weeks ago while QB was taking me for a walk, I stopped to look at the horsemint in the flower bed. When I looked up, QB was gazing intently at a spot on the other side of the fence. We had to investigate, of course.

As we approached, I saw a small gray and white cat who was looking at us while alternating between meowing and hissing. It seemed to want to get to know us, but was too frightened to come over. QB and I showed the cat to Craig and he issued an invitation to visit us if it was hungry.

A couple of days later I was taking out stuff to the recycling bin when I heard a now familiar combination of meowing and hissing. Our new little buddy was ready for breakfast.

A can of cat food was consumed in record time.

After several days, we knew we had a new cat. Since I hadn't checked to see if it was male or female, I called it TK (The Kat). We later learned he was a male, so TK now stands for, among other things, Tom Kat.

TK visited the vet to make sure he was healthy. Everything checked out and he moved in with us. He explored every nook and cranny of the house. I found him here one afternoon.

He got a little more comfortable with his surroundings . . .

and finally settled in, knowing that he'd found a safe new home. . .

thanks to QB.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walking the . . . cat?!

Several of our older cats have died in the past few years and we have been carefully considering whether or not to adopt another cat, or perhaps even a dog, so I would have someone to walk with me.

Most mornings I take a walk before I go to work. Bentley used to go with me, but his poor health prevents that now. I bought a rolling carrier in hopes that he could accompany me again, but he very carefully and vocally explained his extreme opposition, and I continued to walk alone.

A few months ago a friend asked if I could provide a home for a cat whose owner could no longer keep her. We talked it over and agreed to have her join us.

Since the cat didn't respond to the name she had when she arrived, I tried a variety of new ones. She likes to be called QB - short for Queen Bee - and Queen of the Boxes.

It took a while for Bentley to adjust to her presence (they still hiss at each other on occasion), but Morgan welcomed her.

When I went for my walks, I noticed that QB wanted to go outside with me, so one afternoon I let her try out Bentley's rolling carrier. She loved it! She's much larger than Bentley, so there wasn't a lot of room for her, but she enjoyed being outside and hopped in the carrier whenever I rolled it out for her.

Our neighbor noticed us walking one day and said he had a stroller that his dog refused to use (sound familiar?) and offered it to us. It is the perfect size for QB. She sits up and surveys her Queendom as we stroll around.

Ever since that day, QB waits for me to get home from work so she can go for her afternoon walk. She reminds me it's time to take "her" walk with escalating insistence: meowing, then tapping on the door knob (oh, for opposable thumbs!), and finally, jumping into the window and rattling the vertical blinds until she is certain I know it's time to go . . . Now!

When I roll out the stroller, she hops in and waits for me to zip up the screen so she can safely travel.

Now QB has a forever home and I have a walking companion.

If you'll excuse me, I've got to go -- It's time to walk the cat!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dick and Jane . . .

When they hear the names Dick and Jane, a lot of people think of the books they read as children.

Others may think of the two "Fun with Dick and Jane" films.

I think of a couple I know.

Dick and Jane met when they were in their teens. They had many happy times together, went away to their respective schools and then married . . . other people.

Fifty years later, when both were widowed, Dick called a mutual friend from their youth, got Jane's phone number and called her for a little chat. That led to phone calls and letters and packages and flowers and . . . marriage.

They decided it would be fun to have a "Dick and Jane" theme for their wedding. I knew no ordinary gift would do, so I made them a set of pillowcases using Dick and Jane fabric:

The pillowcases were made of the same fabric, but are not identical.

The fabric was "fussy cut" so "See Dick and Jane." is visible on both pillowcases.

May they live happily ever after. :-)

Friday, April 17, 2009


I was delighted to read that a recent study shows that doodling can be a valuable tool for boosting memory.

When I was in college I discovered the joys of steno pads -- one side for taking notes, the other for doodling. I have continued to use steno pads -- and doodling -- to stay on track when I want to focus on information that is being presented.

For the longest time my doodles have looked like this:

Lately I've experimented with a more flowing style that looks like this:

and this:

This article discusses doodling as a creative process, and this site is for fans of doodling.

Next time you're in a meeting, waiting for someone, or talking on the phone, give doodling a try -- I think you'll like it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thoughts of Spring

Spring is definitely here.

Tomatoes are planted . . .

butterflies are in the yard . . .

and Bentley is adamant that it is time to go outside - NOW!

I hate to deprive him of time outside, but he's been sick lately - so sick that he had to stay at the vet's. He can see the yard from our front window and the screened porch, but it just isn't the same.

Today I picked up a couple of catnip plants and I'll replenish the containers of wheat grass so there'll be a little more green stuff inside. It's not "outside", but it will have to do.

In the midst of Bentley's illness, Luigi got sick, too. Luigi didn't make it. Now he and Muffin and Gordon are gone. It's one of the disadvantages when litters are adopted - everyone is old at the same time.
(Luigi is gray, Muffin is the tabby and Gordon is the "blonde".)

A walking iris was blooming the day we brought Luigi home.

Now I think of him and the other cats who are no longer with us whenever I see one.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Enjoying the season

We had two very cold days (in the 30s) recently. A lot of the vegetation in the yard got rather brown and crispy after that.

Bentley did his best to help me find flowers, greenery and other interesting stuff while we were outside.

Still, sections of the yard look rather sad.

Instead of fretting about the plants I've lost, I'm learning to enjoy the scenery provided by each season and looking forward to the changes that will take place in the yard as the weather gets warmer.

That's the way life works, isn't it? I can spend my time bemoaning the changes that are taking place or find ways to appreciate all of the opportunities to learn and grow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lose weight fast!

How many times has the phrase "lose weight fast!" been uttered this month?

Well, I'm here to tell you of a sure way to lose weight fast . . . are you ready?

. . . give away your stuff!

Last weekend we got rid of over 200 lbs. just by listing our futon loveseat on Freecycle. It went so quickly and it was so nice to have the space in our house that we gave away its twin, too.

So - want to lose weight fast? Look around your house, pack up the stuff that no longer fits (physically or otherwise) and pass it on to someone else who can use it.

Lose weight fast today!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't (just) look back - look sideways

The Cafe Press anti-Valentine contest has proved to be an eye-opening experience for me.

First, I was amazed at how easy it was for me to come up with ideas that reflected a cynic's view of love. Negativity is not the most desirable of traits. :-)

Second, when I looked at the designs others created, I learned that there are people who are a lot more cynical than I am out there. Bitter, bitter, bitter.

Third, was the major "duh" moment I had when I realized that I could create designs with a positive message even though they weren't part of the contest and added a couple of positive valentine designs to my shop. I think this was the most important thing I learned from this experience.

It reminded me of times in the past when I have started a project with specific ideas and goals in mind and gotten stuck when I found something blocking my path. Sometimes all that's required is a tiny adjustment - other times, not so tiny.

If I keep focusing on the problem, all I will see is the problem. On the other hand, if I glance around a bit, I may see an alternative that I had missed before. In many cases, it might not have been there earlier - timing is everything. Often the best way to deal with getting stuck is to change my perspective and look "sideways".

Monday, January 12, 2009

You are (not) here

Cafe Press has announced an Anti-Valentine's Day design contest and I decided to enter.

After some thought, I created a "heart map" inspired by the maps you find everywhere from shopping mall to high rise to national park. You know, the ones that show the layout of the area and mark your location with the famous phrase: "You are here."

This was the result:

If you want to see what it looks like on shirts or a tote, click here.

I'd like to know what you think about it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Square peg, round hole

I recently observed the completion of my 50th year on earth. Birthdays in general invite introspection -- birthdays that end in zero, even more so.

When I told Kelly that I felt like a square peg in a round hole most of the time, she reminded me that the perfect place for a peg to be was in the hands of the Carpenter.

Several tissues later, I am still grateful she shared that image with me.

It reminds me of solving a jigsaw puzzle.

In a standard puzzle there are pieces that are more easily recognized and easier to place. The straight sides of the edge pieces leave no doubt as to their location, even indicating if they belong on top, bottom, left or right side.

What happens with the remaining pieces? They find their place with pieces that have similar characteristics. There will be false starts, with pieces that look promising, but don't quite fit. After some trial and error, all of the pieces are combined and the whole picture finally comes in to view.

Life is that way; some purposes are easily seen and others are visible only after a lot of trial and error. Unlike online jigsaw puzzles, there is no "Auto Solve" button! And, unlike jigsaw puzzles, the pieces can change shape -- skills are acquired, attitudes change and rough edges are softened.

I'm looking forward to seeing the next picture formed by the puzzle pieces of my life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Walking the cat

All of our cats live in the house, but Bentley, the tuxedo cat, likes to venture outside at least once a day. He joins me on my morning walk, and I usually accompany him on an evening walk.

In general he is very fastidious, but he can't seem to resist a roll in the dirt. When the ground is soft and powdery, he makes "sand angels" for me. :-)

When he is inside, he can often be found near (or in) the latest box that has arrived.

He doesn't mind sharing his bed with us . . .

. . . but his favorite spot to spend the night is in the office chair beside the computer hutch -- he tucks himself in after we've gone to bed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Be careful when you throw rocks . . .

At a family get-together several years ago, I overheard my brother telling his children to "be careful when you throw rocks" as they tossed gravel from the driveway at each other.

While I appreciated his attempt to rein in his children, I thought it would have been better to tell them not to throw rocks at all! (Especially since my car and I were in the vicinity.)

Since that time, "Be careful when you throw rocks." had become a joke between my husband and me.

Now I see the phrase from a very different point of view.

The Bible study group I meet with is currently studying the Book of John. Chapter 8 begins with the story of a woman accused of adultery and condemned to be stoned to death. Jesus invites all who have not sinned to throw stones. The crowd quickly dissipates.

We began to discuss how many times people "throw rocks" at us and we respond in kind -- angry words, bad attitudes and judgemental thoughts.

I was reminded of sets of rocks I painted for a "garden tea" at church. Each rock lists a characteristic of loving and Godly responses to others: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness and self-control.

Now I see that "be careful when you throw rocks" means if someone is not loving and gracious to me, I don't have to respond in kind. I have the option of choosing to respond differently.

I decided to paint a few more rocks this weekend. Here are some of the results:

Be careful when you throw rocks! :-)