Sunday, April 10, 2016

Farewell, Spring Break! 2016

Today began with church.  I had a 10-minute talk to do in our Sunday school class; by all accounts it went well.  Then service.  Being at my home church is restorative for me.  I've written about this before; our church is not flashy or slick, but it's a place of worship, contemplation, family, and joy.  I always feel "home" there.

Then Darrel made tacos for lunch lunch while I worked on Jen's laundry. Then Darrel turned on golf on TV and I took a two-hour nap.  Sundays so often these days include a nap.

I finished Jen's laundry, and we played a couple of games.  I made bacon and eggs for dinner.  We decided to watch a couple of episodes of Dr. Who, so I got out some origami paper and folded bookmarks while we watched.

Then I decided to tackle some baby cards.  Since I only had an idea of the design, I had to make a prototype, which took some time, but I liked the finished product.  I've been working at my standing desk in my craft room, which makes it easier to grab things and maneuver and, oddly, to put things away when I'm finished.  I cut and stamped the cards, punched the shapes, Sizzixed the word bubbles, and assembled the dimensional pieces.  Tomorrow I will put the dimensional adhesive on the loose pieces and finish assembling the cards.

I'm so glad I blogged my spring break.  Not only did I record the various tasks that I accomplished during the week, but the act of recording caused me to wake up each morning with a sense of anticipation.  What can I accomplish today?  Blogging also helped me to recognize the time I spend with family and friends as tasks worth accomplishing rather than interruptions to my productivity.  I know the weather helped, but I am refreshed and happy.

I've made such good use of my week that it almost feels odd to think I'll be back at work at work tomorrow.  I'm so glad I did two weeks of planning before I left last week.  I won't have to get there particularly early, just early enough to double-check my plan book, update the journal topics and assignments on the white board, and make sure I have copies of any handouts I'll need for the day.

Come on, fourth quarter!  I'm ready for you!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Joyful Tasks: Spring Break 2016 Day Nine

I made it to Fuchsia Saturday at Fred Meyer, and after standing in line for a long time which seemed shorter due to the glorious weather, I got my hanging basket filled with fuchsia starts, creeping charlie, and bacopa.  Many years I miss Fuchsia Saturday all together, and even when I have known the date and made it on time to buy fuchsias, I have never had the patience to wait long enough for the employees to pot my purchases before.  I just buy my starts and take them home and plant them myself.  But today I waited.  Many of the other customers standing in line were in a sun-induced,  jovial mood, as was I.  The elderly man who potted my starts was pleasant, too, and I enjoyed my few moments with him as we chatted about how to arrange the plants in the hanging basket I had brought from home.

I picked up a few other things at Fred Meyer and then headed to Jen's new apartment in the U Village. Jen and Darrel were already there.  We spent several hours unpacking Jen's boxes, arranging her kitchen, sorting through items that had been in storage as long as three years.  She made a large pile for Goodwill, and Darrel took multiple loads to the recycle bin as we emptied boxes and discarded packing materials.  It was hard, sweaty work, but it felt good to see the progress we made.  I brought home a huge pile of clothes, sheets, blankets, and pillow covers to launder to remove the musty smell of storage.

Arriving home, I put out my new fuchsias on the deck, put away some treasures I rescused from Jen's giveaway pile, and started laundry.  Mountains of it.  I also finished making the birthday cards I began last night; I'm pretty pleased with the results.

I wanted to make baby and anniversary cards, but I ran out of time.  And energy.  My body is feeling the fatigue of the very physical labor I did today.  I got my workout today!

Darrel came home after dropping Jen off and taking his dad shopping, and we cooked dinner and played another game of Qwirkle while we ate.  Darrel finally broke my winning streak.  Then we watched a couple of episodes of Dr. Who.  We are slowly getting into the rhythm of the new season. Just as Clara and the others must become accustomed to the new doctor, so must we.

The day went fast, filled with joyful tasks.  And spring break is going faster.  One more day.

Broken Knives and Free Workouts: Spring Break 2016 Day Eight

It's going to be over too fast!  It's been a full week, but boy-oh-boy I could get used to this.

I slept well last night, the best night of sleep all week.  Maybe all the tiptoeing through the tulips yesterday had something to do with that.  And then today has been another glorious day of sunshine and warmth.

I was going to sew all day but I accidentally hit a pin while using my serger which caused the knife to snap, even though the knife is a pretty thick piece of metal.  The repair shop's "serger guy" wouldn't be in until Monday, so I decided to start taking it apart to see if I could troubleshoot it and repair it myself.  That's when I discovered the broken knife.  I took that in to the repair shop, but they didn't have that piece, so they ordered it for me.  It probably won't be in before Thursday.  Sigh.

I can sew without my serger, but it does some tasks so much better and faster than my regular sewing machine that I decided to wait.  All those cut projects will remain in pieces a bit longer.  While I was out, though, I ran to Costco for bacon ($110 for bacon?  I didn't even get a cart.  How on earth did I spend $110?), then grabbed some lunch, and stopped by Safeway to see if anyone had turned in the magnetic sunglasses that came with my prescription glasses and which are impossible to replace without a ridiculous expenditure, and, yes, someone had!  So happy to have them back.

Darrel got home shortly after I did, and we decided to run to a local gym that is having a $10 per month/no contract offer.  They wanted all of our contact information, including our birth date, "for liability purposes," before they would even show us around.  Why do they need our birth dates for a liability waiver?  The guy didn't seem interested in just telling us how it works and showing us around without that information, so we left and came home.  Frustrating and scammy.

We knew there was some limited workout equipment in our condo clubhouse, so we checked it out. It took some finagling and reading the posted instructions, but we got several pieces of equipment to work.  My favorite is a sort of rowing machine that looks a bit like a bicycle and is very easy to operate and still a decent workout.  I went to the gym in the first place because I wanted access to a rowing machine.  Darrel said we could start working out together for free in the clubhouse after work. Free and convenient. The only downside, really, is that the workout room is dark, dank, and poorly lit.  After two years, my frozen shoulder is starting to improve, finally, so I'm hoping that if I am careful, I can ease back into exercise without making it worse and finally being doing something physical.

So we came back to the condo, cooked dinner, played Qwirkle, and watched a little TV; Darrel finally found a site where we could watch the recent season of Dr. Who for free.  I put all the sewing stuff away for now and began working on a card-making project.  I didn't finish any, though, because I was doing some hand water-coloring (with water color pencils and an aqua pen), and that takes time.  It's enjoyable but not speedy.

I'm coming to the end of spring break, and I feel just the tiniest bit of that amusement park anxiety.  I haven't done enough and it's almost time to go!  Tomorrow has some planned activities that will make the day go too fast, and then Sunday is church and gearing up for the week and then--back to work.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tulips: Spring Break 2016 Day Seven

Annual Tradition.  Rachel and her kids have gone with us several times. This was Amanda and baby Emma's first time.  We took Darrel's new 7-seater minivan.  Lunch at Calico Cupboard, tulips at Roozengaarde.  Might have bought maple walnut fudge.  Never gets old.

Companionable Silences: Spring Break 2016 Day Six

I woke up intending to sew, or at least cut, until time to meet my friend for lunch, but I got a slow start and needed a shower and started a load of laundry and actually made the bed and called my DIL to get my son’s deployment mailing address and eventually I ran out of time. 

I wore the new skirt that I just made a couple of days ago.  I picked up my friend a few minutes early; she was just as excited as I was to start our outing.  Because of our work schedules, we don’t often get to indulge in daylight hours together during the school year, so this is a treat.  We started talking before we even got to the car—sliding easily between lightweight topics such as the colors of our spring wardrobes to weightier matters such as how to frame a discussion on race—and kept talking all the way to the restaurant.

Ah, the restaurant!  A favorite of my pal’s but which I had never visited:  Palisades.  Situated above a marina, it overlooks the sound and provides a perfectly framed view of Mt. Rainier.  They offered a prix fixe lunch which included started and dessert.  For starters, my friend had sashimi and I had the lobster-crab bisque.

For our entrees we both had the prime rib dip.

For dessert, my friend had bread pudding and I chose the flourless chocolate cake. 

The food was amazing.  I brought home half my sandwich and I was still so full I waddled out of there.

The lunch was very slowly paced; we were there for over two hours.  The service was attentive but unintrusive.  We talked about everything.  (When I got home, my husband asked:  Did you solve the problems of the world?)  But we also occasionally slipped into those companionable, natural silences of several minutes at a time; we sat back in our chairs and contemplated the view while letting each course settle and mulling over the things we had been talking about.  We had no agenda.

The kinds of friends with whom silence is endurable are rare, but I appreciate the lack of a necessity to fill every moment with sound.  I value silence more the older I get.  I need time to think, or even time to not think, and especially after a week of junior high chatter and motion, I crave unhurried relationships.  At the same time, I value the freedom to discuss what’s really on my mind and to hear what’s on my friend’s mind and see where the conversation leads. 

After lunch, we went to a fun salon in Ballard and got pedicures.  They put us in a separate section that had only two pedicure chairs.  We turned on the electric massage functions and very quickly closed our eyes and quit talking altogether.  The pedicurists chatted quietly in Vietnamese with each other.  I might have dozed for a moment.  It was my companion’s first pedicure since her wedding; it was kind of fun to notice her delight in it.  Really, pedicures are a relatively inexpensive luxury, a way of saying, I’m worth it!

All good things must come to an end.  I dropped her off, made quick stops at the gas station and the grocery store, and came home and crashed for an hour.  Darrel was home by then, and we did our usual sharing of our days.  I was far from hungry, so for dinner he ate my leftovers from lunch.  I went out to pick up fleece scraps from a former colleague who is also a quilter--and therefore has the scraps I needed on hand (she assured me she had plenty more and I could take everything in the pile she had set aside for me)--and ran back to Joann’s for a couple more project-completers. 

I came home again and cut out fabric until I finished for the day. I put away the cutting table.  I think I am finished cutting for this round of sewing.  The rest of my free hours (many are already committed to other plans) will be spent trying to finish up the projects I’ve already cut out.

Tomorrow has all my local grandkids in it.  I shall not expect silence.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Playful and Polished: Spring Break 2016 Day Five

 No alarm (but woke up early anyway).  No makeup (at least until I had to run an errand).  No seeing anyone I knew (except Darrel).  A good kind of day, and a nice change of pace.  I like work but I hate alarms.

I cut fabric—a skirt, two tote bags.  Mused over other projects.  Dug through my supplies.  Needed a few things.  Got dressed.

Bath and Body Works: new shower sponge
Home Depot:  curtain rods and hydrangea food
Costco:  returns, plus olive oil and honey
Post Office: mail letters that wouldn’t fit in our condo’s outgoing mail slot
Taco Time: a girl’s gotta eat
Joann’s: 1/8 of a yard of denim, some Heat ‘n Bond, a magnetic purse clasp (Don’t look!  Don’t look at all the pretty things! I looked.)
Car wash: ‘nuff said
Bank: deposit checks

Project:  I applied Heat ‘n Bond to the denim and then cut letters out of the fabric with my Sizzix, then ironed them on to the bottom portions of legs of pants I had cut off (I do a lot of cutting off of legs of pants for some of my family members), sewed up one end and across the corners to make a rectangle-shaped bottom, added a cord and a handle, and made cute little initial bags.  I can’t show a photo because someone is getting those for a gift!

Oops, I should have bought ¼ yard of denim.  I forgot I needed some for the strap of another tote bag that I didn’t have quite enough fabric for.  Made do.  I also put out a Facebook call, plus one strategic email, for scraps of polyester fleece batting that I can use for the tote bags.  It needs hardly any, and I didn’t want to purchase a whole piece when I just need a few smallish squares.  Three different people have offered me their leftovers!  This is why crafters are hoarders.  I once needed some wine corks for a project (believe it or not, I didn’t have enough of my own), and a friend gave me a huge bag of them.  The things people keep on hand!

A good friend and I have an outing tomorrow.  We chatted online about what we’ll do; it’s so seldom that we both have daytime hours free at the same time.  So fun to make plans!  When I get tired of working on projects, I check Facebook, play online Scrabble or Solitaire, or read articles I have saved.

Darrel came home. We played a game, he napped, I puttered some more, he woke up, I made dinner, he put the sash rods on the French doors to the craft room, and we ate and played another game.

Oops, I should have bought a full yard of the denim.  I forgot I needed some to make a two-fabric child’s dress.  I keep picking up pieces of fabric and patterns that I want to make work, but I don’t have quite enough of something to do that project, so I set them back down.  An hour later, I do it again.  There must be some way to make this work, I think, but alas! not without another trip to Joann’s.

Project:  I made sash rod curtains for the French doors out of a piece of novelty tapestry fabric that I love and bought some time ago for this purpose.  They actually went together pretty fast, in spite of my error.  I ripped a piece of muslin in half to use for the lining, but I did something wrong and it didn’t rip evenly (usually it does). Or maybe the piece wasn’t a perfect rectangle to begin with.  I don’t know.  So now I have unlined sash rod curtains! 

It doesn’t really matter because the unlined side faces the craft room, and when I am in there, I always have the door open anyway.  My youngest daughter may have to sleep in the craft room when she visits this summer (we’re expecting lots of company); now at least she’ll have some privacy.  And now it doesn’t matter how messy the craft room is any more because, if the doors are closed, no one can see in.  I really like the way they turned out—playful but polished.

Tomorrow:  sewing in the morning, outing in the afternoon, sewing in the evening.  I hope to be a sewing machine.  Ha ha!  I crack myself up sometimes, especially at 11 p.m.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Breaking Bread and Cutting Fabric: Spring Break 2016 Day Four

The alarm went off this morning, and I got up to get ready to meet a new friend for breakfast at the Crystal Creek CafĂ© in Bothell.  The body wasn’t cooperating, though, moving way too slowly, and I was almost late.  I’m glad it worked out.  For not knowing each other well, our two-hour conversation quickly turned to personal and spiritual matters.  It’s deeply satisfying to connect with another human being in a significant way. She is a ministry colleague, although she has spent most of her career on the mission field, but we had lots of common ground.  I left feeling encouraged and uplifted; I hope we remain friends.

I thought about doing some shopping but my heart wasn’t in it.  My filter this week has been: “Is this how I really want to spend my spring break?”  So I came home to decide which project should be next.  I had cut out fabric for custom Christmas stockings two years ago, and I briefly entertained the idea of sewing those up.  But I knew it was going to be a time-consuming project that would require me to re-engineer the process (since it’s been so long since I first made them and I don’t have a pattern), and it felt a little daunting.  I found fabric I had cut out for a skirt some time ago and decided that now was the time to stitch it up.  It was a cheery print spring-weight stretch twill that would be perfect to wear now.

I used to sew a lot, so much that my sewing machine was out all the time and I never had to hunt for anything.  Now, though, it’s a once-in-a-great-while kind of activity, and it takes longer to find my rhythm.  However, I’m practicing not stressing over multistep projects, so I just let each step happen in turn and get what I need as I need it.  It worked pretty well until I got to the last step: inserting elastic.  This step requires a tool to thread the elastic through the waistband, usually a large safety pin, and I could not find a single one anywhere in my stash.  I have a little elastic-pulling tool, but it’s worthless and kept slipping off the elastic.  No problem, I thought, I’ll just run to the store to get some, and while I’m out I’ll do those returns at Costco. 

I put on my sweater and gathered up my stuff and looked outside: pouring rain.  I’m not talking about our usual Seattle misty no-need-for-raingear sort of precipitation.  I’m talking downpour.  My fatigue talked me out of going anywhere, so I texted Darrel and asked him to pick up some safety pins on his way home, and then I lay down to take a nap.  That’s what I needed.

Darrel came home and I pretty quickly finished the skirt, safety pin in hand, and tried it on.  A sleeveless top I bought recently in a BOGO sale was, I discovered, a perfect shade of green to go with the skirt.  A pink wrap, pink sandals, and pink necklace I already own brought the ensemble together.  I’m pretty happy about all this, especially not having to buy anything else to complete the outfit—can’t wait for a warm enough day to wear it.

Darrel and I made dinner and played a couple of games of 9-Hole Golf (the card game) while he was watching “the” basketball game on his phone.  Although I’m usually the distracted multitasker, Darrel occasionally takes on that role.  He tied for second in his pool; I guess that’s good news!

I had more fabric for another skirt and couldn’t decide which pattern to use.  A second pattern had some custom-sizing options that appealed to me, but it looked complicated and time-consuming, and I wasn’t sure it would fit right even with those options.  The fabric, it turns out, goes perfectly well with the OTHER sleeveless top I got in that BOGO sale, so I decided to make another skirt just like the first one.  This required getting out the cutting table, which is folded up in our bedroom, covered with a custom cover, and disguised as an accent table.  I uncovered it and dragged it into the entryway, which is so roomy in this condo that I can open up the table and still maneuver through the space and access the front door.

I cut out the skirt and decided to look through my stash; once I’m in cutting mode, I want to cut out several projects so I can put away the cutting table.  I found fabric I had bought impulsively (I really thought my fabric-hoarding days were a thing of the past, but all these pieces I have purchased relatively recently—in the last year or two) to make a tote bag, found the pattern, figured out I had everything I needed, and proceeded to cut that out as well.  Snag—the fabric piece was a bargain because it had a big black mark through the middle of it.  By refolding the fabric, though, I was able to cut out the bag anyway with no black mark showing.  Have I mentioned that I love problem-solving?

I love looking at my fabric stash, too, and the patterns.  My favorite part of projects is gathering the supplies, but I feel guilty about gathering supplies I don’t use, so I do try to get projects done from time to time.  (One of the things I dislike about working full-time is not having enough project time!)  When I finally get projects moving, the sense of achievement is powerful.  I like being the kind of person who can do lots of different things “from scratch,” so to speak.  I like being resourceful.

I debated cutting out even more things, but I simply ran out of steam.  When I was young and running a business from my home when my kids were little, I would work on projects from about 9 p.m. after the kids went to bed, until about 2 a.m.  Late night TV kept me company, and I got so much done in those quiet hours.  But those days are done, I guess.  It’s 11 p.m. and I’m done for the evening.  Tomorrow—no alarm necessary, and nothing particular on the schedule, so maybe I’ll sleep in and then plunge in.

At breakfast this morning, I confided to my new friend that frittering away time is not at all restful to me—but completing projects feels truly restorative.  I’m physically fatigued, but my soul is happy.