Monday, 30 April 2007
I felt that I accomplished a lot today. I vacuumed the whole house (well, I didn't venture into the teenager's bedroom, that would have been potentially life-threatening) which is one of my usual Monday tasks. The to-do list included mowing the lawn, so I decided to get that done while the weather looked good. I used my gas mower (sorry, Samantha). We have nearly half an acre and it takes an hour and half with the self-propelled mower. Many dandelions were beheaded during the process!
I have a theory about the intelligence of dandelions. The first ones to come up in the Spring are usually tall. However, when you start mowing, the subsequent flower stalks get shorter and the heads get lower to the ground. VERY sneaky - they fly under the wire and the mower can't get them.
Anyway, by suppertime the bathrooms were clean, the houseplants were watered and all was well with the world. I can wash the dishes this evening and admire the neat lawn from my kitchen window.
The next photo shows how I put to use some bamboo handles I recently picked up at the thrift store along with fabric I love and have admired in my stash for far too long. (Of course Nicola will recognize this fabric as it is what I made her birthday gift from last year...)
A peek inside shows that yes, I had to do the pocket thing again. I just love having pockets to hold my keys separate from the main compartment ( I don't like having to empty everything out in the mad search for the keys at the bottom!) I still have some handsewing to complete on the other weekend projects before I share them online. Hope to soon show what I whipped up using those thrifted sweaters that I felted.
Friday, 27 April 2007
The area that has really hit home with me is the items I have kept due to memories attached to the item. The author says we often hold onto these items from a fear of losing the memory. Ouch! That hit the mark - as my mind traversed through the inventory of items I've clung to despite the fact that many of these items hold no practical purpose in my present.
I like the author's ideas in dealing with ways to separate the memory from the item while still preserving the memory in a way that will honour and respect it. For example taking a photo of the precious creations from my sons' early childhood as opposed to storing the items in boxes. The concept presented takes the power away from the object while returning it to me. I know how liberating it will feel to not have stuff that does not enable me to live my life as I envision or one that holds me prisoner because of fear of loss. I'm choosing to face the clutter on the outside as I see now that it started with thoughts and feelings I've had. Ah, the power of the mind!
I have clearer insight into why I've kept certain things in the first place. I have items that I've procrastinated on dealing with. For example I have certain baby furniture in storage. I always said it was because "what if we have another child?". Now I'm thinking, what if it was really my way of justifying hanging onto items because of the wonderful memories attached to them - namely, my sons' babyhood and early years? Perhaps I have been afraid to let go because I inwardly fear losing those memories? This train of thought leads to the idea I could be saying that I'm also afraid that these are the best memories of my life. Whoa! That is sad to consider. Also silly, because my sons and I are still creating memories. Yet, if I focus too much energy on the past, I'm not really in the present. Better to give my energy to now than in holding onto fears and living in the past.
I thank the author for this book and the wake-up call it has been for me. Clear thinking precedes action and I have every intention of living the life I envision. On with the decluttering (inside and out)!!!
Thursday, 26 April 2007
And these ones will go in our kitchen when it is done.
And this, this is just too pretty not to share.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
I believe these are called Viola (or Johnny Jump Ups). I love them because they are one of the first flowers up and they stay flowering (and spreading themselves like wild!) until late fall. They are very hardy which is perfect for me.
Another Viola - they come in such pretty colours and pop up even if you forget to weed your garden.
Fritillaria from Heather. So pretty!!! (Message to my husband in Siberia: look in the background to see height of new cedars. Also notice wheelbarrow that hardworking wife has been using - even with it's flat tire)
"I'm an organic beekeeper.
"Two things here. One, we would not be so dependent on commercial non-native factory farmed honey bees if we were not killing off native pollinators. Organic agriculture does not use chemicals or crops toxic to bees and, done properly, preserves wildlife habitat in the vicinity, recognizing the intimate relationship between cultivated fields and natural areas.
"Two, factory farmed honey bees are more susceptible to stress from environmental sources than organic or feral honey bees. I know a lot of people think beekeeping is all natural but in commercial operations the bees are treated just like livestock on factory farms.
"I'm on an organic beekeeping list list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services which stresses the colonies.
"Bees have been bred for the past 100 years to be much larger than they would be if left to their own devices. If you find a feral honeybee colony in a tree, for example, the cells they lay eggs in are about 4.9 mm wide. This is the size they want to build, the natural size.
"The foundation wax that beekeepers buy have cells that are 5.4 mm wide so eggs laid in these cells produce much bigger bees. It's the same factory farm mentality we've used to produce other livestock - bigger is better. But the bigger bees, for a lot of easy to understand reasons, do not fare as well as natural sized bees. It's now possible to buy foundation with these smaller sized cells but most beekeepers in Canada don't have a clue, or aren't willing to put the effort into going organic this way. Certified organic honey, as in the President's Choice brand, still allows chemicals to be put in the hive.
"So the factory farm aspects of beekeeping, combined with all sorts of negative environmental factors, puts enough stress on the colonies that they are more susceptible to dying out."
I am quoting Bill Maher here - sounds like something about which we should all be concerned.
"Here's a quote from Albert Einstein: "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
"Well, guess what? The bees are disappearing. In massive numbers. All around the world. And if you think I'm being alarmist and that, "Oh, they'll figure out some way to pollinate the plants..." No, they've tried. For a lot of what we eat, only bees work. And they're not working. They're gone. It's called Colony Collapse Disorder, when the hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, and all that's left are a few queens and some immature workers -- like when a party winds down at Elton John's house. Also, if your stinger stays up more than 48 hours, call your doctor.
"But I think we're the ones suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder. Because although nobody really knows for sure what's killing the bees, it's not al-Qaeda, and it's not God doing some of his Old Testament shtick, and it's not Winnie the Pooh. It's us.
"It could be from pesticides, or genetically modified food, or global warming, or the high-fructose corn syrup we started to feed them. Recently it was discovered that bees won't fly near cell phones -- the electromagnetic signals they emit might screw up the bees' navigation system, knocking them out of the sky. So thanks guy in line at Starbucks, you just killed us. It's nature's way of saying, "Can you hear me now?"
"Last week I asked: If it solved global warming, would you give up the TV remote and go back to carting your fat ass over to the television set every time you wanted to change the channel. If that was the case in America, I think Americans would watch one channel forever. If it comes down to the cell phone vs. the bee, will we choose to literally blather ourselves to death? Will we continue to tell ourselves that we don't have to solve environmental problems -- we can just
adapt: build sea walls instead of stopping the ice caps from melting. Don't save the creatures of the earth and oceans, just learn to eat the slime and jellyfish that nothing can kill, like Chinese restaurants are already doing.
"Maybe you don't need to talk on your cell phone all the time. Maybe you don't need a bag when you buy a keychain. Americans throw out 100 billion plastic bags a year, and they all take a thousand years to decompose. Your children's children's children's children will never know you but they'll know you once bought batteries at the 99 cent store because the bag will still be caught in the tree. Except there won't be trees. Sunday is Earth Day. Please educate someone about the birds and the bees, because without bees, humans become the canary in the coal mine, and we make bad canaries because we're already such sheep."
-- Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill
Maher" (Fridays at 11:00PM)
Sunday, 22 April 2007
This is my second week of the low-allergen cleansing diet recommended to me by my herbalist. The foods that are acceptable are: vegetables, raw or cooked (not fried) except for mushrooms, corn, white potatoes, tomatoes and bell peppers; fruits, except for citrus, dried fruit and bananas; peas, beans and lentils, except for soy beans and foods containing soy; raw nuts and seeds, no peanuts; gluten-free grains like rice, millet and quinoa, but not oats, wheat, spelt, kamut, barley.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to stick to this way of eating and a lot of thought about what the heck I am going to make for dinner!
Tonight I cooked some turtle beans and smooshed them up with some spices for a bean dip. I spread this out on a serving plate and covered them with a layer of cooked yam also with added spices. On top of that went some home-made guacamole and a sprinkling of chopped green onion. We scooped it up with raw snap peas and carrot sticks and it was very good.
I have been getting through the week with lentil soup, brown rice, brown rice pasta, millet, LOTS of vegetables, salad and fresh fruit, but I have really been missing bananas. However cutting out the sweeter fruits has made me appreciate the natural sweetness in some other foods.
My husband has been following the diet with me, and when I said I thought I'd treat myself to a banana at the weekend he encouraged me to stay strong and keep going! What a taskmaster, but it's good that he is doing that because otherwise I'd probably have fallen off the wagon by now.
Saturday, 21 April 2007
the pink bits you see are my double-flowering almond shrub and I love looking up at this mountain before I get out of bed - even though my neighbor tells me there is a cougar up there that just ate 3 sheep belonging to someone living nearby. That is where where we go for our walks all the time and it is a "favourite thing" for my dog.
Samantha - I'll have you know that I went and changed all my "favorite"s to "favourite"s just for you!!!
And finally, I share the paint chips that I have been staring at for weeks, trying to decide just what shade to paint my bedroom. They all look the same in the picture but trust me, they are not and I keep going back and forth on what colour to pick. I can sort of see why my husband told me to paint the house whatever colour I wanted, just PLEASE don't show him any more paint samples.
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Here they are again - to show before and after felting. I have been waiting for the sweaters to dry before I start remodelling them...
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
a log fire
a cup of hot tea
the sun on my skin
a good book
a soft pillow
a comfortable bed
a husband who brings home chocolate or flowers
yarn in the mail
Last night I finished these...Women's medium size socks knitted in Elann Esprit Print, Fourth of July, on 4mm needles. I made the legs longer than the other socks I have made, but each sock still only took one ball, so I needn't have bought three.
After grafting the toe and darning in the ends on the second sock, I went back to my Pi Shawl...
From the centre to the needles, it's about 13 inches. This shawl is based on a mathematical principle, so you don't need a pattern - you just double the rounds between each round of doubling stitches. The section I'm working on needs 48 rounds, then I will be doing a "yarn over, knit one" round again to double the stitches to 576. At that point, the mindless endless knitting in the round will almost be done and I will be able to change direction and add an edging.
I was originally thinking of sending this to my mum, though her birthday is now long past, and it's not a very exciting colour. I'm thinking it would make a good baby shawl, especially as it's not too lacy and won't catch little fingers.
Monday, 16 April 2007
It’s easy to get smug when one compares one’s vegan, active lifestyle with carnivorous, overweight couch potatoes. You think that if anyone is going to get problems, it’s them, right? Well, not necessarily.
On two occasions this year, I’ve had three days of pain. The first time, I thought it could be painful ovulation, even though it wasn’t at the right time of the month. I put up with it, then the next month it didn’t happen, so I thought that was OK. Then it happened again, at a different time of the month, so I went to the doctor. (You see how public ranting can also backfire - I was complaining about doctors only a few weeks ago)!? I wanted to rule out appendicitis. I wondered if it was irritable bowel syndrome. He checked my abdomen, listened to my list of symptoms, and told me to book an ultrasound scan.
The medical centre has a long waiting list so I had to wait a few weeks. When I went, I told myself there wouldn’t be anything. However while the scan was being done, I saw a large solid black circle in the middle of the screen and wondered what that could be. I went home and a couple of hours later received a call from the doctor’s receptionist, wanting to make an appointment. The speed of it worried me - I thought it must be something serious if they followed up so quickly. I had a good cry, then tried to put it out of my mind over the weekend.
It turned out they found an 8cm ovarian cyst. On the one hand, it wasn’t very pleasant to think of this fluid-filled thing growing in there, possibly weighing half a pound, but on the other hand it’s not life-threatening and will hopefully shrink away by itself. I have to go back for another scan in May by which time it should be much smaller or gone. It can be removed surgically if necessary, but I’m trusting that that won’t be necessary.
So it’s been quite a learning curve for me the last two weeks. First thing I learned was how grateful I am for my friends and how their support makes all the difference. My faith in my body to heal itself is being tested - I have visited a herbalist and am taking two types of herbal tincture to cleanse the lymph and liver and have removed many possible allergens from my diet, such as soy, gluten and certain fruits and vegetables. I have been applying castor oil to my lower abdomen covered with a towel and heating pad every other day, as this apparently detoxifies the lymph.
I have done cleanses before, but this time I have a specific purpose.
I have had no more acute pain, though there has been discomfort - it feels like I have a pinched nerve in my left hip some of the time, and I’m very attuned to every twinge and ache. The hardest thing now is living without some of my favourite foods, like bananas! It feels like all the sweet stuff is gone, but it’s not for ever, so hopefully the willpower will withstand the pressure!
One of the ways that Dave and Helen garnered support for their cause was with this website. I highly recommend watching this film, there are a few moments of disturbing (to me) pictures of animal treatment - these kinds of pictures were gathered to prove to the court how badly animals are treated, but I think it is good for family viewing with older children.
Sunday, 15 April 2007
Years ago we bought a bed. We did not pay a lot for this bed and it was my first lesson in 'You Get What You Pay For 101'. The workmanship was fairly shoddy, although it has held together pretty well with a little help from R. The stain job however, was atrocious. With a little inspiration from Martha, I decided to paint it 'antique style'. It was sanded, primed and painted - first with a tan colour, followed by a white colour. It looked pretty good white and I was tempted to leave it way but on closer inspection I realized if I did that, I would need to put on another coat of paint. That idea was vetoed and the delicate hand sanding (that Martha recommended) began. Slowly. I would do a small patch here and there. Then my arm would be sore and I would move onto something else. I was feeling discouraged - until I remembered my mouse sander! I knew this would get the job done quickly so out she came and two days later the job was done! I am very pleased with how it turned out. Now I just have to get the walls painted...
This is also turning into quite the time consuming job. The filling and sanding is going well, but I have to let it dry before I can sand it which takes time. I've been washing the walls and finding drips, bumps, etc left by the last people who painted. Although tempted to just paint over them, growing up with a perfectionist mother means this can't be done. I am sanding them down, even the ones that will be behind the bed. Like a wise (muscular, tank-top wearing) man once said, "Make it right!" And that is what I plan to do.
Saturday, 14 April 2007
I sewed some Barbie clothes as a birthday gift for my niece T using some vintage patterns I have. I think these patterns came from my great-grandma via my mom. I have other patterns that I know were from my great-grandma, including ones she designed herself (she used newspaper pages as her pattern medium - she was ever so thrifty!). It was pretty cool to be given these patterns along with a few others as I do remember and still possess the doll clothes my great-grandma lovingly hand sewed for me as a kid.
I sewed these little retro fashions on the machine (faster than completely hand sewing everything) and took this photo before I completed the little bits of hand sewing I did to attach the fasteners and some bits of fancy.
I would've used my own Barbie to model these, but as she's in storage and I was lazy... you'll just have to imagine them being modelled. I will have to drag my doll home just so I can try such little bits of sewing fun on her. I must admit that I only dreamed of having the clothes I made for her as a kid turn out this well. It's nice to know that my sewing skills have come a long way since childhood. Well, that and my patience in figuring out how to make these tiny sewing projects go smoother has improved with time. Looking back I'm amazed at how I persisted. These tiny clothes certainly present their own challenges. Now I know why my mom shook her head and asked me how I could be bothered with such piddly little things. She had it right in that I think it is easier sewing larger items because the larger scale is more forgiving when you make a boo-boo.
Grrrrrrrrrr!!!! This fellow is destined for my nephew B. B is into the dino-craze phase that little boys seem to go through, so I'm thinking he should love this soft yet ferocious looking T-Rex. This was the easiest stuffie I've ever sewn. All the pieces were printed on fabric along with sewing instructions, which explains the lovely detailed markings he has. I must admit that this bit of goodness was a thrift store score. A mere $2 for the printed panel, some polyester stuffing which was also a thrift store major score ($4 for a huge bag that retails at $13), and a little quality time with my machine and VOILA! A perfect birthday gift for B.!
Finally got the gifts boxed up and sent off today. I always enjoy making gifts like toys and the Barbie clothes allowed me to revisit the countless hours I spent as a kid designing and whipping up my own doll fashions. Best part with the small stuff is that it's completed faster. Now it's back to bigger sewing projects now that this gift making is over...I'll keep you posted ;o)
Friday, 13 April 2007
A bed quilt (the only one in my house not made by me), commercially made, and acquired at a garage sale for $5.
An astronomy calendar on my kitchen wall.
Gordon, the big blue engine, from the Thomas the Tank Engine series. We've had this Brio train set since L was two (13 years ago), and for a few years we kept adding to the set, but now it sits in the box for long periods. However, even though the boys are now 15, 11 and 8, it does still come out occasionally. And I wouldn't want to sell it or give it away because it's such a classic toy and maybe, one day, will be played with by the grandchildren!
An agate slice.
A vase which I love, even though I rarely have fresh flowers in the house.
Middle son's contribution to AZUL - the T shirt he was wearing today, some flower-headed pins and a home-made beanbag.
Laundry hanging out to dry. I love it when Spring comes around, as I can start saving lots of money on machine-drying and enjoy hanging out clean laundry in the sunshine.
Oldest son's Volvo 240 - for two years, this has been sitting in our driveway. He was desperate to get a car, and despite the rest of the family being very resistant to this idea, I supported him. He's not old enough to drive it yet, though it was running when he bought it for $250, but he could have learned a lot from messing about under the hood. Unfortunately he has let it go, taking off the outer trim and dismantling the inside, and I am now hearing "I told you so" from my husband!
Beach toys and garden tools that have been sitting outside the back door all winter waiting for hot summer days to return.
That was fun - now to decide what colour to feature next!