#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things N

Notebooks

20170415_215151It’s not just that I like paper. I like it when it’s many papers bound together with an interesting cover and preferably a divider with a pocket. I have a lot of notebooks. It’s almost like I panic if I don’t have something I can write on – something that’s not a receipt or a napkin. I love the look of a blank page with nice blue lines that are begging me to make a mark on them.

One of the things I do when visiting in a new city, even if the store I’m in is just the grocery, is visit the aisle where they sell notebooks for school or business. Every area of the country is bound to have a different type or size of notebook and they are hardly ever expensive, so I buy one (or two. Okay, sometimes I buy three.)

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Bought these three beauties in Seattle at a Target store.

I have small ones for my purse because I might need to write something down at any given moment and must be prepared.

I have a notebook by my bed because I might get a good idea before falling asleep and I know I’ll forget it by morning.

I have notebooks where I record the books I read and notebooks where I journal.

I have a notebook of quotes that I like.

I have notebooks to keep track of my house and what’s in it.

I have a church notebook in case I think God is telling me something while I’m in a service.

I have notebooks by the phone and notebooks for the grocery lists.

And finally, I have a stack of notebooks, mostly gifts, just blank and waiting for me to need them for something.

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My stack… Okay, ONE of my stacks.

My calendar that I use most is like a notebook. I buy the same kind every year and use them like a journal. There is a lot of stuff in them. I am always referring to them when I wonder what I was or wasn’t up to on a certain date.

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I love these city datebooks – just the right size. 
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This was such a cool calendar but it’s for last year 2016, so it will be my next purse notebook.       It has lines. It will work. 

 

I am glad that I write in my notebooks, but there is a strange phenomenon because of the habit. Once I’ve written something down, I often put it out of mind. That is why I like to go back and read my notebooks from years ago.  Sometimes when paging through an old notebook I say to myself, “who wrote this?” It looks so foreign that I wonder if someone else used my notebook. It’s a pain to have to figure out if I was quoting someone or being original. For this reason, I have a final tip for all notebook lovers. When you write, be sure to put the full date of your writing and credit those you quote.

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My present favorites.

Do you carry a notebook?

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things M

Marbles

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a happy wave of nostalgia

 

I know, another collectible. It seems all my favorite things are either practical things or occurrence that I encounter every day or they’re something I collect that has no practical anything about it.

I have been drawn to marbles since grade school when playing “odds or evens” was all the rage and challenging a friend to “10 down last” was a way to possibly win his or her best marbles from them. I remember having my marbles confiscated by the teacher. There were cat’s eyes, steelies, purees, and crackles both in regular size and boulders.

We all had marble bags. Marbles were like money, and you could be both marble rich and marble poor in the space of one afternoon. I used to hide my marble bag in various places to keep it away from my brothers, and as I got older and the craze died off, I lost track of the last hiding place. I still wonder if it was inside the huge old upright piano that my mother finally gave away. That’s where I look in my dreams (yes, I occasionally dream about grade school and marbles).

The digital age has pushed marbles into the antique/thrift shops I’m afraid, or maybe it’s just where I find them because I don’t shop in toy stores anymore. I have a small velvet bag of my favorite marbles just to remind me of how much fun they were, and I’m going to get them out and play with them the next time my young friend Gracie comes over. I’m sure it will be something new for her.

I kind of want to know – is there anyone on earth who has not made a marble pyramid with Elmer’s Glue for their mom for Mother’s Day?

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things L

Lighthouses

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Can you imagine finding this in a thrift shop?

I don’t remember when I first began to like lighthouses but I’m going to blame St. Vincent DePaul and the oil painting I picked up for almost nothing in his thrift shop. It exemplifies the drama of stormy seas and skies, and the comfort and safety afforded by the warning of the watchful lighthouse. That’s what they’re for and symbolically I take them to stand for protection and warning in other situations as well.

Lots of people are lighthouse fans and after finding this painting I began to notice lighthouse paraphernalia everywhere I went. I haven’t gone crazy with this collection but I have gotten a few gifts that are special. They include my lighthouse in crystal from St. Augustine, lighthouse bookends, notepads, mini prints and calendars.

There is a lighthouse in Seattle near my daughter’s home that I know better than the others because I have been in it and spent time reading its history. I was able to go up to the actual light room and view Puget Sound and West Seattle. On a visit to Pikes Place Market the next day I was going through the watercolor paintings of a local artist and found this one of Alki Point and had to have it.

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Watercolor rendition of Alki Point lighthouse. I have been there.

There are a lot of stories written about lighthouses and I think it’s because they are unusual places built around dangerous waters and were often inhabited by strange people. Most lighthouses today are no longer tended by people but are automated, but the stories live on. One of the better ones I’ve read lately is “Lighthousekeeping” by Jeanette Winterson. The characters in this book are everything I would want as far as intrigue and mystery and the writing is often quotable in its beauty.

Many things in the modern world have influenced our way of navigating dangerous waters, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But I think we still need lighthouses.

Lighthousekeeping

 

Have you been in a lighthouse? Have you read a good lighthouse book?

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things K

My Kayak

The first reason for having this fine thing for a favorite is that its word is a fun palindrome. Kayak is kayak no matter which way you look at it.  I love words that look quirky too and having those k’s at the beginning and end give it a nice balanced look. Balance is a very good thing for a kayak to have, believe me.

I had a birthday recently and one of my hopes for every birthday is to do something mildly scary (or new) that makes me know I am still alive and meeting challenges. I also love to share my birthday experience with someone, but this year there was no one free to help me out. I had to do something alone, and that was probably the needed scary factor – doing it alone.

I decided that I would go out in my kayak to a new place, Lake Manatee, which is a reservoir on the Manatee River east of the town where I live. I have done a birthday kayak outing once before but at that time I rented a kayak. Having my own now, the first challenge was to get it on top of my car and fastened in place, by myself. Doing something a bit difficult and awkward with someone watching on makes me feel a little like a two-year-old screaming “I do it myself!” but that’s the way it had to be since I had to know if I could do it.

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Yeah, just try to figure one of these out….

The most difficult thing was figuring out how to work the ratchet straps. I’ve never studied them long enough to really “get it” but now I do. They are very handy things but you have to know how they work.

Since I’m always a nervous driver when something is strapped on to the outside of my car, this process of loading up was very important to me. Can you imagine my kayak laying out in the middle of I-75? That’s not just mildly scary, it’s nightmare material.

I’m happy to say I did it, I enjoyed it and I lived to write about it. In the interest of keeping posts short, I’ll post my picture story and be done.

 

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Here’s how I travel. Safely in the parking lot at the lake.
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Looking a bit wild. It was windy. But, I am all color coordinated which is the important thing.
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I saw an alligator in one of the backwaters I investigated. I left rather quickly.
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It’s even more windy in the middle of a lake, and of course, that’s where I went. I don’t know why.
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It was beautiful along the shore, sun made the water sparkle.
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An outing is no good without food. I found this sheltered shore with a “hitching post” and had my snack.
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I rescued this balloon out of the water. Things like this can pose danger for water birds and other wildlife.

What do you like to do on your birthday that makes it memorable. Don’t say “eat cake” please…

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things J

Jigsaw Puzzles

I would be so wrong of me if I didn’t choose Jigsaw puzzles as my favorite J things. My family would never let it pass.  The obsession is obvious every time we gather in a group, like for Thanksgiving. But even when there are just two or three of us, it seems we have to have a puzzle to draw us together at the table. We work at it while we talk. It’s really quite addictive. Plus, I really think there’s a genetic component to this proclivity toward jigsaw puzzles since it spans three generations of our family. That’s proof, right?

I’m not naming names here, but:

Some of us bring a puzzle even if we have to fly thousands of miles with it in our suitcase.

Some of us shop all year round for the perfect puzzle for the “next one”.

Some of us panic when we run out of puzzles before we run out of holiday time.

Some of us check puzzles out of the library like other people check out books.

Some of us hide the last piece for fear we won’t get to put it in.

Some of us are afraid to go to bed for fear someone else will finish the puzzle before morning.

Some of us stay up all night to finish the puzzle before morning.

Some of us never want to take the puzzles apart and hide them under the bed for years.

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We ran out of puzzles at Thanksgiving so I had to buy this antique one at a Thrift Shop in Michigan.

Puzzles are good for the brain.  They teach your brain to think of any way it can to find the next piece, to be flexible. Sometimes the clue is the color, sometimes it’s the shape – the differences can be so subtle. We can actually feel ourselves getting smarter doing a puzzle. And doing puzzles teaches cooperation. You can only bend over another person’s space for so long before they cooperate and move to another side, as they should.

This winter we did “Puzzle Marathon” which I pictured on Facebook and am all too happy to post again here in tribute to the puzzle gene…

 

 

 

 

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And this one we had to do on the trip home through Pennsylvania
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This one was one of my favorite ones – pretty!

Seriously, this is only about half of the puzzles that we did, but you get the idea. Doing puzzles is truly one of my favorite things.

Do you do puzzles? Yes or no?

 

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things I

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Indigo Glass

I have always found the deep blue of this glass to be irresistible. It’s never been that it matches any of the décor in my rooms but that it has a singular attraction all it’s own. Deeper than the blue of the sky, or of water, it combines reflectivity and translucence in a jewel-like way.

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twelve (!) of these glasses in the set probably because they are so durable

On one of our rare anniversary outings, we celebrated in a quaint Florida town known for it’s antique stores. Purely as a self-treat, I bought a set of juice glasses that have been a delight ever since. They are heavy and sturdy, defying breakage, and yet their color and shine add a luxurious nature to whatever I put in them.

I put most of my indigo glass together on a shelf in my china cabinet because I think they make a more defined statement when grouped together. I look at them a lot and am consciously aware of visual pleasure as I look.

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Many of my indigo glass objects are garage sale “finds”. In particular, the carafe with pour spouts on both sides. Its blue is not quite as indigo as some of the other pieces but it is definitely in the blue family and it is lovely.

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As with all collections, I will probably part with them when I no longer have space to display or store them. But for now they are special and favorite.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things H

Horses

This will be a short post because I can’t think of a way to explain the irrational love that I (and many other women) have for horses. I liken it to the way that a man will throw money at something like a boat that is seldom used, for I seldom have time or opportunity to be with my horse.

I have been scared near to death on a horse,

injured on a horse,

frustrated nearly to the end of patience by a horse,

money poor because of a horse,

and yet I love horses.

And though, unlike boats, they can get sick and die, also unlike boats they are living and can love you back. They are a bit like people – some handsome, some not so much, some with great personalities, some a little cranky – all kinds of apt comparisons. If you’re at the right end, they smell really nice, like fresh hay and they have wonderfully soft noses. That’s some of it, but like I said, it doesn’t really explain it all.

I have posted this sequence before but it was fun (funny) and I love to relive it.

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Ghost want to go for a ride? No? This looks like a belt and I think I need it to be tight. Don’t be holding your breath now…
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Yeah, I’m on. Nice horsey, you knew that’s what was happening so don’t act all surprised. Nice horsey, let’s go.
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You are so pretty and white. I am red and blue. We look so red, white and blue together. I make you look good, don’t I? Smile for the camera please.
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Round and round the track we go – and you lift your feet so pretty.
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We are so cool, and I am still firmly in the saddle and hoping to stay that way.
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Good ride Ghost. Now let’s get back to the barn before something bad happens…
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Whaaa!!! Getting off is supposed to be the easy part! Gimme my shirt back!
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That was embarrassing. I’m outta here. Don’t pretend you’re sad.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things G

Grandma Gwen’s Rugs

This exercise of  claiming favorite things has been interesting. I’m suddenly aware of how many of my favorites have to do with farm/country style life and the accompanying values. Today’s topic continues along that line as it shows creativity, thriftiness, simplicity and usefulness.

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This newest round rug is a favorite… but then so are all the others.

Grandma Gwen is my mom but I got used to calling her that when my kids came along. She has always been good at sewing and making things because that was what country lifestyle required. Over the years she has become famous in the family for knitting, crocheting and now making crochet rugs – rugging! This craft was one of the ways that large pieces of cloth, like sheets and curtains, were turned into a needed floor covering when they were showing signs of age.

Grandma Gwen finds her cloth in various thrift shops and garage sales, sometimes for free and occasionally at a price, if it’s a desired color. She groups the fabrics in color families that are pleasing to her, or ones that she knows will go with a particular décor. She tears the cloth into strips about 2 inches wide and stores them in plastic grocery bags.

She starts by folding the raw edges of a strip into the center and folding again so they don’t show. As the strip is prepared like this, she winds it around her finger like a spool. Then she starts crocheting a chain the length of the center of her rug. She turns the work and does single crochet back along the strip. At the ends she adds stitches as the rug grows in size.

Almost always, there is a rug in progress and they become gifts for children, grandchildren and friends. I love them, and lucky me, I have lots of them. They not only add color and character to the rooms they are in but they also feel like a gentle massage underfoot. Many family members have taken classes from her on how to make their own rugs because they are so beautiful, fun and useful.

#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

 

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things E

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North Carolina, here comes the sun…

Early Morning

Early morning is really a collection of my favorite things.

As night wears on I begin to ache physically from inactivity and wake frequently. I am always relieved and eager to get out of bed when I smell the aroma of coffee at 6:30. I program the coffee maker the night before because it makes me feel like someone has anticipated my need and has been in the kitchen before me. I am easily fooled.

Although I hear traffic in the distance, I know no one is coming to the door, or calling at this hour. I used to have to prepare for the day and travel to work. But I don’t do that now and the change is refreshing. On the average day, I have at least two hours before there is anyone in my world that I must deal with. There is a lot of peace in this.

I read things carefully chosen to remain in my thinking during the day. Sometimes I have the luxury of thinking about a passage long enough to memorize. I have rediscovered memorization and it is a joy, a challenging joy.

I write. I give it all up, in my journal. Once it is out, I know myself better.

I sometimes make a list. I love lists and they actually help me get things done.

I watch light appear magically, making the night go away. And then I see it is the sun. On days like today it stays oddly dark and there is thunder, but I know the sun is out there because it always has been.

It’s early morning and I am alive for one more day. There is purpose in that and I am eager to find out what it will be (almost all the time…).

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sunrise over inter-coastal waterway.
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Wisconsin sunrise
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Florida sunrise and clouds Inter-coastal waterway
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Florida double sunrise, pond reflections

*All photos private property, contact me for permission.