Six Communication Tips (Help Me Remember!)

8-26-2019

Communication is so important. I am drawn to think about it this week since I have been twice (that I know of) in situations where my communication was less than sufficient or completely missing, forgotten. In my world of “communication rain”, it was pouring!

And if I could just read people’s minds, and they could read mine, miscommunication would not be an issue. But I guess, or assume, and things go awry.

I forgot to invite a family member to a family gathering. And when I did contact them late, I neglected to find out if they knew where the gathering was. I neglected to exchange cell phone numbers in case plans changed. I spent half of the family picnic feeling worried about why they weren’t there and wondering if they had gotten lost. I couldn’t call them to find out. I felt the guilt. It was the hardest thing ever to pick up the phone later that evening and find out what had happened.

The very next day(!) a series of late decisions and wrong assumptions led to disappointing some friends and leaving them waiting at a restaurant for us to meet them for dinner. Mom was in on this one and her observation was that her aversion to talking on the phone often kept her from necessary communication. We could have just made a call, earlier than we did.

Realizing that I have caused someone inconvenience or emotional pain/upset is stressful for me. I don’t need more stress! And I don’t want friends, family, or anyone for that matter, to feel confused, unloved or unimportant. That is stressful for them. So, thought and prayer brought some things to mind. From now on I will tell myself:

Shirley, listen now,

1. If you are in doubt, pick up the phone and find out! People don’t have to answer if they are busy. They will know you cared and will call back when they can.

2. Let people know that you don’t mind being called. They might have that phobia or aversion to calling. I always feel cared for, not bothered.

3. Text, if they use texting enough to be familiar with it. Be sure to SEND the text after writing it. (Yes, that one is for me.)

4. Call sometimes when there isn’t a pressing reason. This is how to make sure you have the correct contact information, home phones and cell phones.

5. Realize that it’s hard to over communicate. Talk plans through if you make them in person, and agree to confirm later if needed.

6. Probably the most important thing, pray about any plans, that they would be under God’s direction. Even if things seem to be going wrong, if he’s in charge, he is working something out and he isn’t expecting you to worry about it.

Oh, What Shall I Wear?

Oh, what shall I wear (that doesn’t make me look like a dork)?

I have photos of all my most memorable hikes. Most of them were taken by me so I am not in them (before selfies) but the ones I am in are always a little embarrassing. Some people look really cool when they’re hiking (and that is SO important) but me, not so much. I just don’t look like I know what I’m doing.

This hike might be different, although I’m not going to bet on it. I’ve had time to prepare and get some real hiking clothes. I justify it more on the practical side so I don’t appear totally vain and superficial. The right hiking clothes do make a difference in comfort, and I have listened to people talk about comfort a lot.

I’ve already shown you about the weather extremes that are possible in May (in post E) so you know that layering on top is going to be important. I also value things that breathe, dry quickly, and are stretchy to allow me to move. I love pants with good pockets, that will not look dirty even if I wear them all three days, and are somewhat water resistant. With these things in mind here is my list.

  • 2 short sleeve T shirts
  • 1 long sleeve T shirt
  • 1 fleece pullover
  • 1 rain jacket (which I might leave behind if the forecast is for no rain)
  • 1 pair convertible pants/shorts
  • 1 pair long pants
  • Socks and underwear
  • Brimmed hat and bandanna
  • Warm hat and gloves

I already wrote about my hiking boots and socks, but I’ll also take along a pair of lightweight camp shoes to give my boots a rest at night.

Actually, I am going to look like a dork on this hike too, because I found this awesome hat that I can also wear all summer in Wisconsin. It will keep the giant mosquitoes and deer flies off my head because it has a bug net that I can lower for ultimate protection.

Front and back selfie – my awesome bug hat.

Another useful purchase for this hike was a set of gaiters. These attach to my boots and come up to my knee to keep my pants and legs clean and dry, and keep debris out of my boots. They are easy to put on and comfortable to wear. I’ve already tried them out – they are good in the snow, an added bonus.

Gaiters

So, what do you think? Am I ready? (ready to look “not cool” in this year’s pictures too?)

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things P

Purses

Having the right purse can literally save your life. Think about it.

I’m aware that purses are a big fashion statement, and I get that. They are so visible and such a everyday attachment on people’s arms or shoulders so they should look nice. But more than that, a purse that makes available what you need at a given moment, quickly and efficiently, is sent from God, a rare blessing. I keep trying to find one.

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My leather Nordstrom purse, gifted to me, which I have used nearly to death.

A couple of my purses are probably expensive, I don’t know because they were gifts. Being leather has made them last a long time, 10 years or more, and they are just now starting to look shabby. When I buy my own purses I don’t pay over $50, often I don’t pay more than $20, and sometimes I make them myself. What seems to be more important to me than cost is size and configuration.

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Just to prove looks aren’t everything… my totally functional $12 travel purse.

One of the handiest ones I’ve had is an army grey canvas cross body bag, small in size but it has surprised me how adequate it is when I am traveling. I can hide it under my sweater when I’m on a flight and don’t have to go digging under the seat every time I want a pen or my chapstick. It has an easy access for my phone and two zippered pockets for things I don’t want falling out. When I need money or my ID they are in front within inches of my hands. It’s nothing special to look at, but maybe that’s a good thing.

I’m less of a minimalist when I’m not traveling. I like to have room for a back-up battery, cosmetics, sunglasses, books, a bigger wallet and just odd stuff (things the husband doesn’t want to carry…) lots of it.  These bigger bags are prone to problems. They either have too many pockets, making it hard to remember where things are, or they have only one big compartment where everything gets mixed up. I end up having to dump it all out to find one thing. Every purse is an individual, having some good characteristics and some annoying ones.

Which brings me to the reason I keep so many purses. I like to change up my purse problems every now and then. It is refreshing after a week or two of hunting for car keys, to change to a purse that has one key pocket. Period. There they are.  I don’t have to have a purse to go with an outfit or my shoes because purses are pretty much their own show. I can change them just for fun and variety. I keep thinking I won’t buy another one… and then I see an interesting design and I have to find out how it will work.

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I have to buy purses in Cambodia – such interesting choices. Crochet one is handmade by acid burn victims. I really like it.

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Another oldie, my Harvey Seat Belt bag, is one of my absolute favorites. It’s so shallow everything in it is visible and easy to find.

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My new birthday purse seems to be a good size, and my key hook is easy to see.

Do you think man bags are ever going to catch on? I keep hoping.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things F

Fabric

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repurposed dresses from the 80’s and scraps from other projects – now a tablecloth

 

Defined: 1)A cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers. 2) A complex underlying structure: “the fabric of society”.

I hardly ever meet fabric I don’t like. I like to look at it, feel it for smoothness and thickness, see how it lies and bends. I love to make things with it, which is why I have accumulated what we call a “stash”. It’s fabric that is waiting to be used for something. It might have been bought for a specific project which never got off the drawing board, or it may have just been too good a price to pass up, but of course, I’ll figure out how to use it later. From every project that does get done, there are scraps of fabric and even these have a charm all their own when combined with each other in various colors and designs. That’s what I love about fabric – the endless variety, beauty and usefulness that it’s capable of.

From years of sewing everything from clothing for my own family, wedding dresses for friends, and home decorating with curtains and coverings,  to clothing for horses, and dogs, I have gained a respect for cloth. It has to be chosen correctly for its purpose, positioned to drape correctly, handled and fashioned “just so” or it will not behave. Watch a couple episodes of “Project Runway” and you’ll see what I mean.

I have often thought while sewing (really, I have) that there are so many parallels between fabric and society. That second definition really says it all. The fabric of society that is us, is complex and it underlies everything that is important and dear to us. We all have our part in making that fabric look and act the way it does. We are those fibers that get woven together in actions and dependencies over a lifetime. We are stronger together, but we are only as strong as the weakest fiber and there are many things that can stress and weaken us.

There are some fabrics that are woven with the expectation that the fibers will be smoothly aligned and uniform. Others show the beautiful twists, turns and flaws that make them unique and priceless.  I get kind of excited just thinking about it. It always sets me thinking about whether I make the fabric of society weaker or stronger.  Do you see what I mean?

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This stack of fabric is an art exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

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Part of my own “art exhibit”, my stash

 

 

Ordinary Times and Travels: Christmas in Seattle, post 3

My first day in Seattle was not rainy, not snowy, not even terribly cold.  The sun shone and Charlie and I took an afternoon walk on Alki Ave. and on a couple stairways up the bluff.  It was a whole different view from our highest point because there were no leaves on the trees. Puget Sound was beautiful and the Olympic mountains across the way were snow capped and rugged. It was not one of our longest walks but good for the first day.

Probably the most interesting thing of the day was a gift from youngest daughter. She gave me an electric jacket. Sounds dangerous? Apparently not. It is a carefully constructed down jacket with strategically placed heated areas. There is a lithium battery which gets connected to a wire in an inside pocket in the back.

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My heated jacket, with battery (oh, and Charlie).

You can turn it on three different heat settings with a switch located inside the front opening. If it’s 35 degrees outside and you have the jacket on low setting, it will keep you toasty warm for six hours.

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On/Off switch, cute.

Youngest daughter says it’s like wearing a soft heating pad on your shoulders, but of course it’s much more convenient and a bit more fashionable. It even has heated gloves that you can connect at the sleeves. The gloves have screen sensing fingertips so you don’t have to take them off to work your phone. Speaking of phones, you can also charge your phone with your jacket battery in a pocket especially for that. It has a hood. And the whole thing only weighs 1.59 pounds.

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Glove attaches to the connector on the sleeve = nice warm fingers.

Youngest daughter has had a jacket like this for a while now, having seen it as a kickstarter project online.  If you are curious about the jacket or other products made by the company, you can find them at www.ravean.com.  They make a heated hoodie and a sleeping bag.  It feels great out here where it is 35 degrees. Now I’ll have to move somewhere colder than Florida so I can make good use of it.

A portion of my day was spent getting settled in my room. I love it when there is enough closet space for unpacking and hanging everything in the suitcase – no need for pawing around trying to find my wrinkled clothing. It has been an AirBnB room now for about a year and has had a good number of interesting guests staying in it. My daughter’s house, which she has named “Ocean’s Arms” is only a few blocks from Alki public beach and is in a neighborhood of small private homes and apartments, with coffee shops, eateries, finer restaurants and a couple nice parks. It is a good vacation spot with a very relaxing vibe, and if you have read any of my previous Seattle posts you know that there is no end to the captivating places to walk. Urban hiking at it’s finest.

The other venue for the day was Cafè Fiorè, Oganic Coffee House,  where youngest daughter does a lot of her thinking and writing. I can certainly enjoy being in the coffee shop and writing, and I did it, but I am also partial to sitting at home where I usually write and the coffee is cheaper.  It’s a pretty place with a fun loft looking out on an artistic chandelier and the lower entry level. Fortified with a latte, I was able to whip out a post for my brother’s business blog while watching hipsters come and go. Ah, the Seattle life.

I took my vitamins, second day in a row. Yay me.  We were in bed by 9 pm because youngest daughter was needing to go to her workplace the next day. She does contract work for Starbucks corporate and I planned to do a little “learning” about it.  Come by and read about it tomorrow.

Sew What?!

Back in t he old days, we had to learn to sew.  Everyone took one semester of sewing in high school, and it was a popular project in 4-H. Some people even made a lot of their own clothes (me)! Since then I’ve made quite a few things and worn out a couple of sewing machines in the process. I’ve made home decor projects, several wedding dresses, baby clothes, doll clothes, but I haven’t often sewn horse clothes. Well maybe not clothes, but accessories would be a better label for this project.  Some horses just want to stand around looking pretty, you know?

It started when my friend and former employer decided to adopt three Freisian horses. They are beautiful animals and have done carriage pulling for a lot of their careers. They are semi-retired now and have the “life of Riley” (they have it pretty sweet, for those of you who don’t know Riley. Come to think of it, I don’t even know Riley, but I know what it means.) My friend also has a lot of horse art and in looking at one of her wall paintings she began imagining her own charges looking just like the horses in the picture. wp-1466703198542.jpgClearly, some horse capes were needed. With tassels, please. I decided to take the job.

I have been to the stable and met my models and measured them. They are sweet animals and on the large side.  I have been trying to imagine how to sew their capes ever since. It’s just a rectangle, you say, how can it be hard?  I will tell you. There is a lot going on when a horse walks and this piece of cloth has to stay on and not scare the horse, or anyone for that matter. It has to be durable, comfortable, and in this case not terribly expensive. All these things add to the complexity of the project.

I initially spent time on the internet looking for suitable fabric because there aren’t a lot of fabric stores to visit. It wasn’t going well. Fabric is ridiculously expensive in our country, and as I said, these are big horses – lot of yardage. Then luck happened and the only fabric store left in my town went out of business and put most of their stuff on sale at 60% off. The fabric and tassels were there. The purchase was approved. I’m now sewing. This is probably one of my weirdest projects, just sayin’.

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..

Day One and Counting

The real me is a farm girl, and not so much the kind that sets apple pies to cool on the windowsill, more likely the kind that has a close affinity to dirt. Dirt ends up in my hair, on my face, my clothing, my feet and under my nails. It’s not that I love dirt (and I do clean up fairly often) but that I can’t seem to get away from it. I accommodate this proclivity in several ways.

For one, I almost never wear white, and I’m a bit afraid of light colors. They invite soil. A white shirt is just waiting for spaghetti sauce. Wear white pants and it won’t be long before I sit on something I shouldn’t. It isn’t worth it, so I wear a lot of earth colors. And I rarely buy a piece of clothing that costs more than twenty dollars. Throwing away a designer priced T-shirt with a weird blob of something on the front is sooooo painful. And contrary to some reports, Oxy Clean does not cure everything with a stain.

I also have opted for a no-frill hair cut that can be washed often and pretty much left to dry on it’s own. It is my answer to Florida humidity and bushy (not really straight, not really curly), kinky hair. I never wash my hair in the morning because I know if I go outside I will be sweaty and unkept in a matter of minutes. Unless I shackle myself to a chair inside I will need at least one shower later, when it’s safe to clean up.

And I don’t do manicures and pedicures. True, I live in sandal land and am insanely jealous of people with beautiful feet on display in their beautiful shoes. But I have trouble pulling it off. It would be easier now that it’s trendy to go with black or brown polish (eew…) but I rarely get past the stage where you have to let it dry. And the fact that my feet are so far away from my eyes that I can’t see them very well is a mixed blessing.

And manicures? My excuse since 8th grade was Miss Varien the piano teacher telling me to cut my nails short or else forget playing piano. After that it was the nursing profession that claimed a whole army of bacteria lived under fingernails and polish. Did we want our patients to die on account of our vanity? No we didn’t.

Well, the person who invited me to an online Jamberry party was clueless about all of this. And since I didn’t know what Jamberry was (I love jam, I love berries, what could go wrong?) I signed up. This sweet girl was thinking of me in her circle of friends and I need all the friends I can get. Imagine my surprise upon finding out it’s all about manicures and pedicures. For a week I learned the language, listened to the stories, watched the videos and entered the contests. By the end of the party I started thinking about the decorative plastic film (think contact paper) as armor for my almost nonexistent fingernails. Not only did I end up buying to support my sweet friend but for the second time in my life I won a contest and got a free sheet of Jamberry thingies to apply to my fingers and toes.

It’s a holiday weekend. I’m going to relax and be a lady (of leisure). I’m going to avoid harsh chemicals, dirt of all kinds (yeah, right…) and abrasive activities and see if my manicure can live up to expectations. Two weeks sounds kind of impossible but here we go, day 1 and counting…

This is not really me, but sometimes it's kind of nice to be someone else...
This is not really me, but sometimes it’s kind of nice to be someone else…