Recycled Fountain

Today’s bright spot is a new planter with five neon pink petunias in it. Last winter one of my fountains started leaking badly. I replace it with the smaller fountain shown in yesterday’s post, taking the pump from the leaking one to use with the smaller fountain since its pump wasn’t doing the job.

Then I got bags of potting soil and filled the leaky fountain so that it could serve a new function. It’s a bit early for planting, but I also found five neon pink petunias, and I planted them in the newly created planter. I’m very pleased with the results and it felt good to plant flowers again.


Spring Break

I am so grateful for Spring Break, which now is a bit more than half done. I’m a volunteer tutor for our alternative high school, tutoring 34 hours each week, if everyone comes (thank heavens for cancellations!). I was really ready for Spring Break and I’ve spent the week mostly puttering on small projects, moving slowly and at my own pace, playing with my cats, and working puzzles. I even got to have lunch with a friend yesterday. Today there was a break in the rain (didn’t last–it’s now raining again) and it was not bitter cold, so I worked on getting my small outdoor fountain working again. I had to unplug it last winter when the pump became clogged with pine needles. The pump was really too small anyway. I’ve now replaced the pump with a bigger one, which I’ve put inside a screened basket to keep it free of debris, and plugged it back in. I can see it from my kitchen window (as well as from the yard) and it’s brightened my day to have it running again.


A Kitten and the Faucet

I haven’t written in awhile and I’ve been trying to think what to write. I think I will do shorter posts, finding something which I’m grateful for. Today I’m very grateful for the new cats I’ve adopted, an 8 yr old black female named Foxy, and two 8 month old male kittens, Emmett, a buff colored tabby, and his brother, Ghost, a siamese. This morning Emmett figured out how to catch drops of water from the bathroom faucet. It brightened my day, getting it off to a good start. Here’s a photo of him.


Sounds of the Day

the sound of dog toenails
on the hard floor
new hearing aids

I know my hearing has been getting worse over the years, and I finally decided to get it tested. Sure enough, while my hearing isn’t truly horrible, it has now gotten to the point where I can be helped by hearing aids. I got them this past Tuesday, and the last few days have been really amazing. I’m hearing things I’d forgotten about and noticing a lot more. It’s more than just not having to say, “What,” so many times. It’s all sorts of little things, such as the noise the dogs make as they walk across my marmoleum floors. Now I didn’t say that all the sounds were necessarily helpful, but then I can’t really pick and choose  what I want to hear versus what I don’t.

I’m still getting used to my new hearing aids, but overall, I have to say that my world is richer for having them. While all of our senses are important, I think hearing might be the most important. Helen Keller said, I believe, that she found her lack of hearing to be a worse handicap than her lack of sight because the lack of hearing isolates us from the rest of the world. And I notice this isolation with my fellow senior citizens. It is hard to engage in a world that you can’t hear, to have friends and family talking but be unable to keep up or understand.

So I am very grateful for the technology which allows me to hear what’s going on around me, to know that I’ll be able to keep up with my granddaughter’s conversations, that I’ll be able to continue tutoring, and that, yes, I can hear my dogs walking across the hard floor.

Snow Day Decisions

img_5688I was supposed to head into Seattle this morning on the 6:40AM ferry for an appointment. When I went to bed last night I knew we were under a winter storm watch, but since it was the third such warning this year and neither of the others had proven to be accurate, I still set my alarm for 4:27AM. However at 4AM I was awakened when my generator kicked in, causing the outside yard lights to activate enough for me to realize that there was some major snow outside.

I looked at the tweets on my phone and discovered that snow had hit Seattle as well as Vashon, and that while the Vashon schools only had a late start notice (later to be changed to closed), the Seattle schools were already closed. I lay in my bed, under my warm quilt, and pondered my choices. The decision should have been easy. The appointment wasn’t urgent and certainly not worth risking life and limb for it. Seattle rush hour traffic is not easy even with the best of conditions. A friend had offered to take me with his truck, and said I could call him even at the last minute, but I knew it would be a miserable trip.

Why did I even hesitate, you’re probably asking yourself. The decision was obvious. Reschedule. But I’d been brought up under a strict code which allowed for no “wimping out,” as far as meeting obligations and moving forward. Part of me said that I have a good car and I am a good driver and I just needed to get over my fears and do it. Thankfully, the saner part of my brain prevailed and I rolled over and dozed until a more reasonable hour. By 7AM not only had the generator kicked in yet again, but it was staying on (and is still on, thank you, you wonderful generator, over four hours later!), and I found out that The University of Washington was officially closed. In addition, the Vashon schools were closed as well. Now I knew my decision, which I was still stewing over, had been correct. Then the office where I was supposed to appear at 8:30 called at 7:45 to say that they were closed because of the snow. I got rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Had I forced myself to drive in the hazardous situation, I would have arrived only to find out that my appointment had been cancelled.

So, instead, I shoveled my walkway out to the gate, measured the snowfall (4.5″ at that time), and now I’m happily enjoying my unexpected snow day with no appointment and no students. I showered in the snow (for those who may not know or remember I have an outdoor shower), which was delightful in spite of having my loud generator on the other side of the low fence of my shower. I’m now watching enormous snowflakes fall all around my nice cozy warm home (thank you again, generator!). And I’ve vowed to be easier on myself and to give myself permission to say no when that’s the right answer, without feeling that somehow I’ve wimped out.


picking up dog poop
a light dusting
of snow

We got a surprise light dusting of snow overnight as I discovered when I woke. Yesterday was Candlemas or Groundhog Day, so we’re half way through winter, and I thought that having a bit of snow along with the chirping of birds was timely reminder of the midpoint. It seemed like a mixing of winter and spring, or looking back and forward. 

Defining Oneself

Seven years ago today I chose a new name for myself, a name which I felt better fit who I am. My birth name had never reflected me. Instead, I’d spent most of my life trying to fit the name. It finally occurred to me that it was high time that I got rid of what wasn’t truly a part of me.

And so I began searching through names, finding their meanings, looking at the numerology involved, imagining myself using various names, listening to the sounds, and so on. Once I’d found what I thought was the perfect name, I announced my decision to family and friends.

I then lived with my new name for six weeks, just to make sure that it truly felt like me, before I made it legal. The process was surprisingly easy, and as I stood before the judge in a room mostly filled with infants and children who were being adopted, I proudly asked for the right to bear a name of my choice, a name which reflected who I am.

Over the years I’ve never had even a moment’s hesitation that I’d made the right decision. My name fits me better than I could ever have imagined. Now, I’m watching a couple of my students going the same thing, but for different reasons. I’m very supportive of their changes and the way they are searching for their true identity. Names are important. They are an integral part of who we are.

Site Under Construction

I recently saw another post by a friend who said that she really hated it when people just stopped blogging without any explanation and I realize that I’ve been guilty of that. I haven’t blogged in a long time for a variety of reasons, but I’m now putting a note on my other sites that they are permanently closed. I may resume blogging in some form or other and if so, I will do it here at Part of my problem was that I had way too many blogs to maintain, and so if I begin again it will be with just this one blog. Now I just have to figure out whether I want to blog and if so in what format. So this site is under construction until I figure out where I want to go from here. Thank you for following me and I’m sorry for just disappearing, so to speak.

The Right Time

We all have chores that have to be done just to keep life running smoothly. And I’m sure we all also have things that are on some sort of wish list, things that may not be necessary but which we’d really like to see done. What I’ve figured out recently is that sometimes those wish list items just need to wait until the right time, when I really feel like doing them. Over the recent spring break I did a few of those, most notably pruning some branches that were impinging on the walkway and hence potentially jeopardizing the eyes of any visitors. I’d debated how to do these without making the trees look funky. I procrastinated. I decided that folks could just be careful. I dithered. Then one morning during break I thought that I’d really like to give it a try. The results have been spectacularly wonderful and I feel good about my efforts.

I’d wanted to get the fountain by the front door flowing better and I had a birdbath that really needed to be leveled. These tasks sat in the back of my mind, but nothing happened. Then yesterday, as I was rearranging items in the garage so that I can store things for a friend, I came across part of my old shower base, a beautiful green diamond, that is no longer needed because my shower now has a lovely and more practical red concrete floor. For those who may be new to my blog, I do have an outdoor shower. Anyway, I needed to move it and was surprised to find that it wasn’t as heavy as I’d feared. Then I got to thinking that it might make a very nice platform for the aforementioned birdbath to sit on, making it much easier to level.

I was excited about the idea and so this morning I did just that. I took the diamond out of the garage and placed it in my backyard, got it level, moved the birdbath on it, and filled it. It looks wonderful, and here’s a photo of it.


I was so pleased with the outcome that I then decided to clean the fountain on my front deck, which was running very sluggishly. It turned out not to be a big deal and the task was quickly completed. Here’s a photo of it:


My final task was to finish my project at Camp NaNoWriMo. Last year I wrote and published three novels. I wrote the first draft of each during either the two Camp NaNoWriMo’s (April and July) or the full blown NaNoWriMo (November). I’ve decided not to do that again, as it was an unbelievable amount of work. Once was enough. But I enjoyed my Camp NaNoWriMo experience so this year I’m going to learn more about my characters by doing character sketches during my camp time and setting my word count at a gentler level, namely 30,000 words. Today I finished my first camp session with 30219 words. I didn’t write every day. I went at a pace that worked, writing when I felt inspired and had the time. And it worked.

So what I’ve learned is that while some things can’t wait, others are much more enjoyable when I wait to find a time when the task fits in with my moods and energy levels, when I feel inspired, as I did with the solution to leveling the birdbath. There was no harm in waiting, and now I’m feeling really pleased with what I’ve done on this beautiful spring day. I’ve even written a one line haiku about my day:

leveling the birdbath overhead a hummingbird

Baby Firs and Wild Poppies

Here I am again. I’m sorry for my absence and I’ll be changing the format of this blog a bit. Life has been rather unsettling lately, and I’ve been devastated by the way two unscrupulous greedy lying businessmen have managed to close Island Quilter, the island retail store which brings more people to our small island than any other, a store filled with joy and love and excitement, a store which will be replaced by yet another exercise studio, something our island already has in an abundance. I will spare you all the gory details, but my best friend, who has put in countless hours and all her energy into making Island Quilter an island jewel, has been stabbed in the back, slandered, and now forced to close as her building was sold out from under her. For me personally, I’ve had to watch my friend’s pain, helping as much as I could, but realizing that in the end there was nothing I could do to stop the inevitable. In addition, I am losing one of my favorite spots, the source of inspiration for my quilting, and one of my few “safe” spaces. I suffer from depression and an anxiety disorder, so safe spaces are particularly important to me. But I am far from alone in my dismay at what has happened and today is the last day that Island Quilter will be open.

What does this have to do with baby firs and wild poppies, you may be asking by now? As I look out my kitchen window even in my current mood of wondering what the point is to anything, I see many baby firs, some getting quite tall, volunteers in my yard. Mingling with them are some lovely yellow poppies which sprouted in a turtle planter I had in my previous home, moved to Vashon with me nearly nine years ago, and are now happily thriving and spreading. Whenever I look at them, even on my darkest days, I smile. Here’s a photo showing them (along with my dog, Oliver):


I once had a someone tell me (and tell me, and tell me) that I needed to pull these volunteer firs as soon as I saw them because they were weeds and one day would become really big. I would end up living in a fir forest. I know this is a valid way to look at them, but I can’t see it that way. They always make me smile. This seems a good thing to me, especially given my constant levels of anxiety. I realize that some time in the future someone may have to cut down some of these, but is that a reason to keep them from every growing? And one thing recent events have reminded me of is that there are no guarantees at all. What we have is this moment. The little firs and the lovely yellow poppies know that. And I can learn from them. I think that if they were able to make a choice, they’d say that they’d like the chance to live and grow for as long as they can.

I have a lovely yard, filled with many wonderful trees and plants which I chose and which I paid a considerable sum to have planted. And I do enjoy them. But my favorite plants in my yard are these firs and poppies. Maybe that is ironic that the free additions are my choice, but that’s just it. I made a lovely yard, well tended and well cared for and these additions chose to live with me. I honor their choice and am grateful for it, especially in the spring when the little firs burst forth with their bright green growth which is so soft and cute. Here’s another photo of another of my firs:


A good friend and fellow blogger has a Saturday feature, Suggestion Saturday, where she shares interesting posts with her readers and today she had one suggestion which really hit home for me. It is Your World is How You View It, and I really encourage you to read the entire post, which I found extraordinarily helpful. What I realized is that it is way too easy for me to focus my lens, as the author says, on the wrong things. My baby firs and wild poppies help me to bring my focus away from what’s going wrong, not that I don’t have to help with that, but I need to remember the joy that is out there, right in my own yard. So I won’t listen to the nursery owner’s Chicken Little attitude toward my volunteers. She never did understand what power they have for me. In the photo above, I could choose to see all the weeds, but instead I see that lovely little fir bursting with new life, not asking any existential questions but just being. Is it easy? No. Is it necessary, I think so. I’ll leave you with several more photos of my lovely firs.