27 January 2008

WitW: week 3

Morning Pages: better this week, I think I had five out of seven days. I had a litte realization about them today though. I work a regular 8:30-5:00 office schedule, and I drive a carpool with a schedule to match, so I have to get up earlier to do morning pages on weekdays. But on the weekends, I can do the morning pages at my leisure, so I'll take a shower, feed the dog, make some coffee and sit down with my notebook. But then I find myself getting frustrated with having to sit and write when I could be sewing, knitting or even doing more mundane activities like cleaning or filing the bills. Inevitably, I end up putting down my notebook (just for a second, I tell myself), getting a second cup of coffee, get distracted by something else, and the next thing I know, it's one o'clock in the afternoon and I notice my still open notebook in the living room, right where I left it, midsentence.

Furthermore, I don't think I've written an entire three pages since I started the morning pages, and I have a small notebook to boot. Some days, I write only a paragraph. I truly don't feel like I am holding back, hesitant to commit thoughts to paper, I just don't have much to say. I end up making lists, about what I am going to try to accomplish that day or that week (a useful exercise in itself, so I don't intend to stop), but I get the feeling that it's not the "brain dump" it's intended to be.

Based on what I've just written, it seems like I should be writing morning pages on the trials and frustrations of writing morning pages.

All that said, I do like the morning pages activity, and maybe it'll grow into something more theraputic than list-making, so I've decided that I'll keep on writing them, I just won't get hung up on how many pages I write, or how long it takes. I'll modify the excercise to make it work for me.

Artist's Date: Perhaps a sorry excuse for an Artist's Date (ok, ok, I forgot about it) but I did go skiing with Eric on Wednesday and I made sure to take a deep breath and appreciate the wonderful scenery and weather we were lucky enough to have.

Weekly Walk: I had a couple of walks this week, and I like taking the time to center and think about the activities to come. My grandfather-in-law slipped into a coma on Wednesday and died on Saturday, so my long walk this morning was focused on that (and how abnormally well behaved my dog was on the walk) and what it will bring over the next week.

sad news: the end

Papa died on Saturday morning, so Eric and I will be heading down to San Diego this week for the funeral on Thursday. We believe his passing was painless, and are relieved to know that he's no longer suffering.

25 January 2008

february is quilting month!

Over at SewMamaSew! I couldn't figure out the button/HTML/Java thing (how computer illiterate am I?!?), so just go the old fashioned route by clicking here. It's not like I need to take on something else, but I'm looking forward to the block sew-along nonetheless.

23 January 2008

sad news

Our great skiing day ended on a somber note... when we got home, Eric's mom called to let us know that Eric's grandfather had slipped into a coma sometime in the last 24 hours. The doctors say that this is the beginning of the end. Papa's health has been declining over the last few years, so this isn't surprising news, but that doesn't make it any easier to receive.

hat, coat, gloves...

...skis, boots...pole? It's seldom that one arrives at the ski resort with two ski poles, and leaves with only one, but that's what I did today.

Knowing that Eric would have today off, and that mid-week would be an ideal time to hit the slopes, we planned this trip a few weeks ago. I wiggled out of the office--I don't look forward to my desk or inbox tomorrow). This morning, we set off for breakfast at one of our favorite places on the way, only to be informed that they were hosting a banquet and therefore not serving breakfast to the public. Not an auspicious start, but we pressed on.

We watched the outside temperature drop and the wind pick up as we approached Stevens Pass, and we started to really think about how cold it was going to be on the slopes. Brrrr. And boy, was it ever cold. I remember only a couple of times ever being so cold as I felt as we got ready at the car. My fingers were in true pain from the low temperature, even inside my gloves. All bundled up, we arrived on the slopes to some truly great snow (well, as great as it gets here in the PacNW--no boasting from my readers in Utah and Colorado, ok?). It was cold, but not windy, and it was absolutely cloudless. Blue sky from north to south and east to west. I scarcely remember such a perfect ski day on the west coast.

We were having a great day, and about three runs in, Eric told me on the lift that "something clicked" with his turning (he's always been a very cautious skier and focused mainly on getting down the hill in one piece, not how to do it with flair), and that he was feeling much more comfortable. We refer to it now as the epiphany. He skied here, and he skied there. He skied on the backside of the mountain (where they seem to apply a different set of criteria when categorizing the runs, so if you ask me, he even skied some mild black diamonds!), and he did it faster than I've ever seen him move on snow. It was fantastic! Did I mention that it was cold?

On the backside, we took one run that had more moguls than we'd anticipated, and after negotiating them, I called up to Eric that he would be better off on a different route. He took that route and skied out of sight. We hadn't yet skied this portion of the mountain, so I wasn't sure that where he had gone was going to meet back up with the trail I was headed towards. So I kicked off my skis and started hiking, rather than polling and skating uphill. After about six steps, Eric came gliding around the corner, no problem. But when I went to put my skis back on, the left binding refused to lock me in. Eric had to lean over and manualy pull the locking device into place. It worked, but it was clear that these (15 year old) bindings were showing their age. I've been considering new boots for a few years now, but it's hard to justify the cost when we only ski once or twice a season. After the binding incident, Eric pointed out that there will likely be some decent prices on boot/binding combos towards the end of the season, and we headed for the lift.

Apparently, I got carried away with his rapid improvement, and when we were loading onto one of the lifts, I completely spaced out on when to move forward from the "wait here" line, and my right hip collided with the approaching quad chair. I am just fine -- not so much as a tiny bruise on me. Fortunately, my pole took the brunt of the impact, and afterwards it jutted out at about a 45 degree angle. The liftie had done his best to scoot me out of the way, and I felt awful about making such a gratuitous error. No real harm done, Eric scooted up and we boarded the next chair. I was (am) just embarassed for my mistake -- I've been boarding ski lifts for over twenty years now, and suddenly I forgot to look out for the approaching chair! Well, my poor ski pole paid the ultimate price -- knowing that it would need to be replaced, and not wanting to have to deal with a rediculously tweaked pole, I tried to bend it back, but ended up snapping it into two pieces. Hm. So I pitched it into the trash can at the top of the lift and skied with my lone remaining pole for the rest of the day. Now I'll have to add poles to my boot and binding shopping this spring.

The rest of the day on the mountain was good, but more dropping temperatures and rising exhaustion drove us in at 3:00. We concluded the day with coffee and a brownie, packed up our stuff and headed home.

I had to take a photo of this tiny two-seater lift that serves one and only one run, a double black diamond called Seventh Heaven. We passed it several times, but I only ever saw one person on the run or the lift.

20 January 2008

WithW: week 2 check-in

Morning Pages: I'm embarrassed to report that I only managed one day (today!) of morning pages, and even they were spare. I even remember my first waking thought as the alarm clock went of at 6am on Tuesday: morning pages suck! Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to criticize the activity, I just can't seem to get my arse out of bed on weekdays. I realized that there is a strategical problem that is working against me. We recently painted our bedroom, and rearranged some of the furniture, namely moving the dresser to my side of the bed, placing the alarm clock (atop the dresser) within my reach while I am still in bed. So instead of getting up to turn off the alarm clock, I have been listening (and snoozing) to NPR for an extra 30 minutes every morning. So the alarm clock has got to move.... maybe to the kitchen.

Artist's Date: I went with some dear friends of ours to the Seattle Art Museum. My first visit, and a lovely creative date. I spent sufficient time wandering by myself, often in rooms alone. I sat on a bench in one of the European Art galleries, closed my eyes and grounded myself a bit, then listened to the sounds of the museum... murmuring voices in the next gallery, the soft shuffle of the museum staff member making her rounds, muffled construction noise from First Avenue. I tried to absorb.... I don't know, an aura? of these long-dead artists, whose works I have studied before. While the museum was very enjoyable, afterwards, over lunch, my friends and I recounted what we saw and what we liked. We even ended up talking about what it is to be an artist... are any of the three of us artists? Mukwa Ogimaa reminded me that in order to achieve the sorts of art I want to, I have to show up. There's a quilt that I have designed in my head. I have tried to sketch it out a couple of times, and sometimes I really like what I see, but sometimes I just get frustrated when I sit down with fabrics and really think about how to make this quilt. Mukwa Ogimaa asked me if I was afraid of starting. Without hesitation, I said "yes." I then recanted, because while I am extremely hesitant, it doesn't feel like fear. I just know (and accept) that the pieces, when I do begin, won't be what I want at first. I've been good at quilting so far, so now I expect instant gratification, but this design will push my skills as an intermediate quilter and I fear that I've bit off more than I can chew. Mukwa Ogimaa gave me some good words and reminded me that I just need to show up in order to get my bearings, and to not expect a perfect piece o f work right away. I really need to remember that. Even though I know and understand that from a logical point of view, my inner artist still expects perfection the first time... and if I don't try, I won't fail. I know the Artist's Date is supposed to be a solitary activity, but this time, the encouraging words of my friends were the real inspiration.

As a bonus artist date, after seeing my friends off, I went to a nearby quilt store that I hadn't yet been to. I bought some lovely batiks for a different quilt, which are now tumbling around in the dryer.

Weekly Walk: I walked to my carpool on Friday morning, about a mile. It was hard to not be thinking about work or the weekend, but I managed to center myself a little and enjoy the crisp morning air and the sounds of the waking city. Maybe too short or too purposeful a walk to really make any self-discovery. I'll try to stick to my more leisurely lake walks or similar from now on.

shorter than short

have I mentioned how much I love having short hair?

don't worry, Eric's hair is still shorter....

15 January 2008

in lieu of WIP

I have a funny story instead. I work in cube land. In my office, you tend to get to know those people in the cubicles near you. One of my cubicle neighbors once mentioned that her husband grew up in Salt Lake City, and based on what I perceived her age to be, I extrapolated that there was a decent chance that her husband may have gone to high school with one of my parents (since between mom and dad, they have two of the four high schools of SLC covered [at the time]). Well, it turns out that cube-neighbor's-husband went to one of the other high schools -- where my grandmother taught English. At our office holiday party last weekend, I asked him if he rembembered having a teacher named Mrs. S, and he stepped back and said yes, the name was very familiar. I told him that she was my grandmother. He laughed and said that thinking about it that way made him feel old, and I tried to comfort him by pointing out that she would have been 100 years old next year. Cube-neighbor reported back to me yesterday that over the weekend, they had asked her husband's sister (who attended the same school) if she remembered Mrs. S, and she did! She said that the students in her class had given Mrs. S such a hard time that Mrs. S would get so upset, she'd have to leave the classroom to calm down before continuing with the lesson.

I recounted this story to Eric last night, and he asked me if that sounded right to me. I realized that I only knew my grandmother as a grandmother, and not as a woman. She passed away when I was a naïve 15 years old, and while I have strong memories of her, I can't say I knew her well. Nevertheless, I have a hunch that the story is accurate. A warm and loving woman, I don't think my grandmother was a sugary sweet sort of person, and even if she had to step out of the classroom to breathe a little, I bet she held her own against a class of high schoolers.

Edited to add: My mom emailed me today, saying "You are right about her...not sugary sweet. And not one to let any little snot noses run her class. But she was one of my favorite people and I miss her." I miss her too.

11 January 2008

WitW: week 1

By way of explanation for this post and those to come....I am participating in a self-exploratory online read-along with some folks from the about.com quilting forum. The book is called Walking in this World, The Practical Art of Creativity by Julia Cameron (hereafter WitW), and it's described as a "jump start to the creative process," and employs inner reflection, self-study and alone time to achieve this. I don't know that I am feeling stalled in my creative process necessarily, but it sounded interesting, and I was intrigued at the idea of self-exploration, something I would have resisted even a year or two ago.

It's a twelve-week "program" and each week includes a "check-in," which I am going to do here on Sundays starting today. So bear with me while I get touchy-feely (it won't be too bad this week, I promise), or if you'd rather, stop reading now and come back later.

~~~~ Week 1 Check-in ~~~~

Morning Pages: I only managed three days of morning pages, though towards the end of the week, I had ideas for things I wanted to write about. I am not at all surprised that I didn't manage them all this week, I know they will take practice for me: both the getting up earlier and the writing itself -- my first entry largely consisted of I-don't-know-what-to-say sorts of thoughts. I'll make a better effort at them next week, and I can already tell that they'll be useful once I get the hang of it.

Artist's Date: not yet. Well, at least, not for real. While out and about on other errands on Saturday, my husband and I went to an antique shop in Seattle that we had driven by many times and had always promised to visit. Like I said, I wasn't alone, so it wasn't a real Artist's Date, but it was certainly as close as I was going to get to one this week. It was a real antique store, not a junk shop, but also not superfine, collector-level antique place. I was inspired by the farm-esque kitchen cabinets and utencils... I also particularly loved the vintage knitting needles (some plastic, some aluminum), all organized in a circa 1950s "knitting pin" display.

Weekly Walk: I walked the dog around Green Lake solo on Saturday morning (busy day, Saturday), and I tried to focus on my creative self, to some success. I walk quite a lot in my daily life, so I feel like I might have to go for special walks to fulfill this activity...though it would feel weird to walk without the dog.

09 January 2008

finn foto

photo by eric (canon power shot SD1000)

08 January 2008

WIP tuesday

felted bowls-to-be...

bedroom painting...
(on my screen, the color there is fairly true to life)

journalling for a self-exploration project...

03 January 2008

veggie box

We've been thiking about doing this for years, and this past week, we finally did it: we signed up to receive a delivery of vegetables from a local farm through a program known as community sustained agriculture, or CSA. So this evening, in the dark and driving rain, I plucked a waxed cardboard box full of veggies from the porch of a nearby volunteer's home. In the box were carrots, potatoes, lemons, satsuma oranges, sunchokes, swiss chard, braising greens, broccoli, celery, green bell peppers, an eggplant, pears and tomatoes. We are both looking forward to experimenting with our new bounty (if you have a good recipe for sunchokes, please let me know!) and we're happy to at last be supporting a local farm program. No more "1200 mile ceasar salads" for us!

02 January 2008

01 January 2008


I love making new years resolutions (also here). Unfortunately (or fortunately, for my list-making-organized-self), this year's resolutions looks more like a to do list than anything....

For 2008, I resolve to....

* Buy no new books (text books for school are excepted -- anyone who has ever seen me in a bookstore will know that I have just set the bar way up there)
* Eat less meat, if any (really, I mean it this time)
* If I need something, buy it used instead of new, if possible
* Make a quilt for Eric and me, finally
* Study for and take the GRE, then apply to the UW MLA program
* Phase out paper crafts
* Volunteer at least once per quarter
* Exercise and eat healthier
* Be on time with birthday cards