It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday 04.29.2015

This picture of the thermometer on the back of my house was made yesterday (April 28th) shortly after I arrived home from work and yes, it is accurate.  It is the end of April and the temperature is struggling to reach 60 degrees!  Usually by this time it is starting to get hot and muggy, almost steamy if we have rain.  We've had a few warm days and I've seen a few sunburns, but the cooler weather seems to want to stay.  And that's just fine.

I've put away my beloved sweats, flannel pajamas, and sweaters; flip flops, capris, and shorts have taken their places.  But for a day or two it's okay to pull out those fuzzy socks again, make a nice cup of tea, and settle down on the sofa with the dogs.  Time to read or knit, while savoring the cool air slipping through the open door. That, dear readers, is one of life's little simple pleasures!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sharing words

A popular on-line game is Words With Friends.  I've never played (actually, no one has invited me), but I assume it is like playing Scrabble.  You put together words and block your opponents.  I think writing a blog is similar.  You put together words and share them; however, there is no blocking strategy and there really aren't any rules other than to be polite!

My thoughts have been on a journey of discovery the last few weeks.  Remember my posts about Creating Yourself?  That idea is part of my journey; who am I, who do I want to be, where am I going with my life.  Who am I deep down inside and am I happy with that person?  Add into those thoughts the idea that I need a new job where I feel productive (that's a whole different story). 
I picked up this copy of Simple Abundance at a used book sale a week or two ago.  I think there was a nudge from above that led me to buy it when I read the part about finding your authentic self.  This woman was talking to me because that is what I'm seeking.  In other posts I'll share more about what I'm discovering from this book and other happenings. 

After I read through the first pages I knew I needed to go back, think about each entry while exploring and writing about my thoughts.  Intrigued by this author and in a quest to learn more about her I discovered more books, including this delightful children's book.  I previewed the book and was astounded with the beautiful illustrations.  But I was even more astounded when I got to the author's comments.  First she quoted from  Meister Echkart .  I was amazed.  But was even more amazed when she begins her acknowledgments with a quote from Eudora Welty, yes Eudora Welty!

“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass."
Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings (William E.Massey Senior Lectures in the History of American Civilization)

Ms. Ban Breathnach's words and these quotes brought a realization to me.  I want to write.  I want share words.  I want to write. Where will this journey lead me?  I know not. Come with me on this journey, read my words and share yours.  I want to write.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday 04.22.2015

The amaryllis have burst into full bloom this week!  There are 4 stalks in this pot with 4 blooms on each stalk. I'm not sure what prompted this display, but I am enjoying it while it lasts!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Just one word

This plaque has been a part of my d├ęcor for many years.  I store it away during the Holidays and then bring it back out.  That simple word has given me comfort and strength on many occasions.  Just one word:  Believe.  That's all I need.  Why are you fretting, why are you worried it reminds me.  It tells me I am loved by a Heavenly Father who cares about me, who promises never to leave or forsake me, and to cast all my cares on Him.  Just Believe. So simple!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Assembly Required

Those words should strike absolute terror in everyone's inmost being.  They are scary and I have a new appreciation for them.  Here's why:

First - a little background.  At the International Quilt Festival in late October I purchased a new 4-needle embroidery machine.  I've made other big purchases at the Festival over the years and always got good deals.  I had bought another single-needle machine a few years ago from a local dealer.  It is a piece of junk and I'm not ashamed to say it is a Bernina and was costly.  I paid for the name.  After fighting with this machine and putting it in the dealer's shop several times I decided it was time to move on. (Just to note I lowered the machine down into its cabinet and plan to take it to another dealer at some point in time to see if I can get resolution with the bobbin problem.  For now it is out of the way and out of my sight). 

Anyway, I purchased an Elna 4-needle embroidery machine.  My mother had an Elna and I have several and they are great machines.  Even now that the company is owned by Janome they still offer well made machines with exceptional features.  The machine came with a nice sturdy cabinet designed specifically for the Elna and Janome machine.  Both the machine and the cabinet were shipped within two weeks to me and by coincidence I was just coming home when both were delivered on the same day. 
I had assumed that the cabinet came assembled, not "assembly required".  It never occurred to me to ask about the cabinet's arrival status when I purchased the duo.  I had bought two other cabinets from the Festival and they both were rolled into the house, completely assembled and ready for the machine to be put in place.  Imagine my surprise when these four boxes were hauled into my house!  Since it was just a week or so before Thanksgiving I knew that they would have to remain untouched.  With some difficulty I managed to get each box into the garage and stored away for the holidays.  Each box was marked with the weight - between 40 and 50 pounds each, something I did not need to see as I wrestled them out the door.

One rainy Saturday morning in January I enlisted the fifth grader to help me.  He is good at putting things together (Lego's gave him lots of practice!) and it was something for us to do together.  We hauled the boxes in the house and opened them up.  Of course, the instructions were in the last box.  Now, I've put things like this together before and I knew that the odds were 50-50 that it would be easy or difficult.  Let's just say it was completely difficult.  We quickly realized that the instructions were worthless other than to serve as a guide to what came next.  Through trial and error and guessing at which part was which we got it started.

By the time he left we had made fairly good progress.  Later that afternoon I decided that I needed to get after it again and try to finish it up.  I managed to get the large rollers screwed firmly into the bottom and then realized that I would have to flip the thing over onto its side and then again to get it upright.  No problem, I thought.  Just take it slow and easy.  It is heavy, but just take it slow.  Right.  It went slow until it was almost to the floor on the first flip.  Then the weight of the cabinet threw it down to the floor.  Right onto my left foot, right across the big toe.  Lift the thing up, retrieve the foot, sit down, hold foot and imagine explaining this in the emergency room.  Pain upon pain. Assembly required also meant the possibility of being lame for the rest of my life. Sometime later I finished flipping the cabinet into the upright position while keeping what was left of my feet well out of the way and rolled it down the hallway to the sewing room.

At that point it sat for a while because time just didn't permit me to finish.  But the thought of using the new embroidery machine spurred me on and little by little I kept adding pieces, all without much help from the instructions.  I managed to jockey the top in place and hammer it down with a rubber mallet as it was not going to just drop down onto those pegs and funny looking screws that lock down.  I got the thread drawer together fairly easily and with some maneuvering got it to roll in place.
The real challenge came with the lower three drawers.  Only a few of the pieces were marked and the instructions weren't clear.  Each drawer had eight screws.  I'm not sure how many times I unscrewed them and rearrange parts.  I spent hours and hours working on these drawers.  I analyzed the side bars and how they worked on the rails.  I thought I had it figured out and then no, it was not right.  Through the process of elimination I got them together as shown.  The part that stumped me was how to attach the front panel where the handles went.  The bolts included were too short.  I also had six screws for each drawer and six holes on the drawer, but none to match on the front panel.  The instructions just said to attach the panel and install the handles.  Right. So until I could go to Home Depot and find the right bolts to attach the handles I decided that the cabinet was together enough to receive the machine.

In the process of unpacking the machine I thoughtlessly laid aside most of the parts to assemble to machine's thread stand and hoop holder.  Then, I couldn't find them and thought they were excluded from the box (I later found them under a quilt top).  When I pulled up the dealer's web site to get their contact information I saw the cabinet.  Yes, it is listed as weighing 200 pounds, but my foot already knew that!  The description also stated that it had assembly instructions included as well as the manufacturer's helpful help line number.  I flipped through the instruction book and there was no helpful help line number, there was no website, and no contact information.  Hmmm, I could see why they wouldn't want talk to anyone struggling with this thing. 

So I pulled up the manufacturer's website and searched for this cabinet.  There it was and, oh my, they had instructional videos for the assembly! Well, better late than never I thought.  As I watched them I realized why I was having problems with the final step of the drawer.
The last video explained how to assemble the drawers.  Oh, how I needed to see that before I started!  And, it solved the problem of how to attach the front panels -  you don't use the bolts in the parts package - you use the ones that are taped to the outside of one of the boxes!  See that little yellow tag in the picture above?  It explains it all, but I had not seen the little packet taped to the side of the box (fortunately I had not put the boxes into the recycling bin yet!).  I had the drawers finished up in no time. 

And, the video also showed the lady that was putting the cabinet together using a drill to screw in all the screws.  A drill!  I never even thought about going out to the garage and getting the cordless drill out!  Oh my poor aching fingers, I could have spared you the pain. 

Assembly required - assembly completed!  It was finally together and the machine ready to turn on!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday 04.15.2015

Texas Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) are wildflowers, native only to Texas.  Growing from seeds they appear in late winter through early spring (depending on location).  They prefer well-drained, slightly gravelly soil and just the right amount of rainfall.  Rainfall in November is an important factor in beginning the seeds' germination; however, there must be significant rain throughout the winter for the plants to develop.  Too much rain will stunt their growth and result in yellow growth with little or no flowers.

I've never seen a photograph or painting that accurately depicts the show-stopping beauty of a field of Bluebonnets! Even a small clump of them catches your eye and when you see a whole field in bloom, usually mixed with other wildflowers, your eyes are dazzled! I'm sure that is why all six varieties of Lupinus texensis are the State Flower of Texas.

When the plants begin to form they look like a bushy plant.  Years ago when my parents lived in Texas my mother planted seeds in a brick planter in front of their home.  Later in the spring she complained that she had nothing but a group of straggly looking weeds come up from the seeds.  Looking at the empty planter I asked her where the weeds were...she replied, "Oh, I threw them away".  I then gently explained that she had thrown the Bluebonnets away as they do look like a weed!

On Good Friday Jaydon and I had headed out to the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, Texas hoping to see Bluebonnets and more.  The past few years rain has been scarce in this part of Texas and wildflowers have been in short supply.  This year we had rain in November and several good slow, soaking rains during the winter.  We were not disappointed in what we saw along the roads, although it will take several years of the right rain to really bring back the wildflowers. 

The weather that weekend was lousy with gloomy skies and light rain, so I didn't even try to stop along the highway to make pictures.  The Wildseed Farm had plenty for us to photograph.  Note the field in the upper left of the picture above that is solid blue. 
And yes, they were allowing visitors to walk into one field and make pictures.  Making pictures while standing in a field of bluebonnets is a Texas tradition! There were signs to remind the city slickers to watch for snakes and holes in the ground!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Baby Girl quietly entered eternal rest this evening.  She passed comfortably in the familiarity of her own living room.  She was quite a kitty, and will be missed by all her human family.  She rarely meowed - she had a little squeak that she would give you if you told her, "Squeak, Baby Girl". 

She was a stray kitten that my daughter took in, mama kitty was feral and had moved on to leave her remaining kitten to fend for herself.  Since Stephanie was pregnant it was appropriate that she named the kitten "Baby".  Somewhere in the coming years we added "Girl" to her name!  She lived with S for the first year of her life, spending most of her time in a little basket in a sunny window.

She spent the next 11 years with me, but we all thought of her as S's cat.  She didn't ask for a lot, but was always around and friendly with everyone. She will be missed, but what wonderful memories she left us with!  How thankful I am for my little companions and celebrate each of their lives.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday 04.08.2015

Several weeks ago this sweet little doe and I met up along the trail in a local park.  Her companions had crossed in front of me, but for some reason she stayed behind.  She stopped her grazing and posed for the camera with a look that said, "you can take my picture, but nothing more".

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday 04.01.2015

Giddings, Texas
I love the Magnolia Oil Pegasus! Isn't this a quirky combination?  Made me smile!