Thursday, April 30, 2015

Starter... or Finisher?

The book, Better than Before, has me reflecting on the question: Am I a starter or a finisher?

I think I know. As I look around me at my piles of unfinished books, like these on my bedside table...


... my unfinished quilting projects...

... the garden beds I'm working on, but which I never seem to finish... (I've added top soil to the far end of this one, but stopped when the rain began. I haven't gone back to finish it!)

Looking around me, it is apparent that I am a starter, not a finisher. In fact, if I am honest with myself, sometimes I'm a little afraid of finishing. I like to have things to do, and I feel "attached" to things I haven't finished!

But I have decided (not for the first time!) that I need to become a finisher! I want to leave a pile of finished projects - not unfinished ones - behind me when I'm gone!

(Does that mean I shouldn't start anything new until I've finished what I've begun?! Now that would be impossible!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Barbie: "Alive and Well" - and "Enjoying Life"!

My "doll phase" of life did not include Barbies (which came on the market after I had lost interest in dolls.) My favorites were "walking dolls" with legs that moved and eyes that shut when lying down.

In fact, compared to my favorite dolls, seen here, I couldn't understand the popularity of this "teenage doll" sensation.

But Barbie was not a passing fad. Several decades later, Barbie dolls were still going strong and my daughter became a fan. Among other dolls and stuffed animals she loved (which are still in our basement), Barbie ranked high.

For years, a new Barbie or Barbie accessory was all she ever wanted as a birthday or Christmas gift.

(And - sentimental as I am - I still have a box full of her Barbie stuff in the basement!)

Barbie (the doll) is still on the market, but sales have apparently declined... She is, however, making a comeback on Instagram - a website where friends can share photos. She still has a lot of "friends": Less than a year after debuting on Instagram, she has 740,000 followers!

According to the fashion blog, Racked, her followers are young women who had Barbies when they were young, and apparently still love fashion, since the Instagram photos posted show Barbie in different outfits traveling the world, having fun - and making a fashion statement, of course!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Singing Again

Music was always part of my parents' life, so it was natural for them to encourage me - as a child - to sing in a children's choir at church. Since then, I've done very little singing. My mother still loves to sing - and, at 95, her voice is stronger than mine. In fact, her favorite nursing home activities are exercise classes and sing-alongs, which fortunately occur almost daily.

After reading somewhere that singing keeps people young, I wondered if I shouldn't join a choir and begin to sing again. But I never did - no time! 

However, the ukulele classes I started four weeks ago have me singing again! As my ukulele instructor reminded us in our group lesson, ukuleles play chords - we have to sing the melody.

In the short time I've been doing classes, I've developed a repertoire of a dozen or more songs. Fortunately several are favorites of my son who lives in Toronto. A few evenings ago, we were singing together on Facetime - a skype-like program - as I was demonstrating my progress in ukulele playing...

Unfortunately, however, today is my last class for this session, and I don't plan to sign up for the next one. (Life gets busy in summer!)

You can't quit now, my son said sadly. You're just starting to get it.

I plan to begin again in fall, I assured him... And in the meantime, I plan to keep playing - and singing - every day!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Underbuyer or Overbuyer?!

I have been enjoying Gretchen Rubin's book on making and changing habits, entitled Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.

(It came to my attention around the time I was reading Mindless Eating - another book about unhealthy eating habits - so it was a natural next book to read!)

I found Gretchen Rubin's chapter on "two types of people" fascinating. (It's actually entitled: "Self-knowledge: Distinctions.") It was refreshing to read about different personality types in an acknowledging and non-judgmental way.  The goal, of course, is to identify ourselves...

"Am I an Underbuyer or an Overbuyer?" I immediately knew that I'm an overbuyer: I hate to run out of things, to stop what I'm doing to go to the store. So I buy more than I need in all areas: food, clothing, books or craft supplies like fabric and yarn.

Now that I've come to the realization that I habitually "overbuy," I have begun to ask myself: Do I really need two (or more) or will one suffice? I've also found myself thinking: No need to overbuy!

The section entitled, "Am I a Simplicity Lover or an Abundance Lover?" made me realize that part of my ongoing de-cluttering dilemma is that I actually love abundance. I love to be surrounded with lots of crafts and books and things to do. But at the same time, I need more space to pursue all my interests. Decluttering, for me, is often re-organizing what I have because I love abundance!

The book has given me food for thought, making me realize that we all have personal tendencies we probably can't change!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Spring is here... but the weather is cooler again...

More like end of March than end of April, someone commented the other day, as we bundled up in our winter coats. But I'm thankful there's no snow on the ground!

A few flowers are blooming indoors. That always cheers me up!

I also have a few spring flowers out in the yard. The hellebores on the west of the yard are proliferating... and facing upward! (They have a tendency to face down.) The ones in the front yard have disappeared, making me wonder if squirrels or other animals find them tasty.

There are more scillas in bloom in my front hosta bed as well. (No hostas are up yet.)

Last year spring was late, and I wondered if all the flowers would bloom later than usual. They didn't. Once warm weather arrived, the garden returned to its normal blooming cycle.

The only question in my mind is: When will warm weather arrive?!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gardening = Game of Strategy (With Squirrels!)

Over time, my perennial flower beds become uneven.

So, from time to time, I spread a mix of top soil and compost over the beds in spring, before plants begin to emerge.

The day after I spread several wheel-barrow loads of new top soil over one of my front garden beds and straightened the brick border, the whole bed was already riddled with holes... made by squirrels planting seeds! (I wonder what they planted!)

I know they love digging in soft soil!

My retaliation: surrounding emerging plants with rocks!

(If gardening involved only planting and weeding, I'd have so much less work to do. But here in our neighborhood, it's a game of strategy ... with squirrels! I wish I could say that I'm winning, but at best it's a tie. They're relentless! ... But they do keep me on my toes!)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Neighborhood Renewal

Last week, Terry and I drove to his favorite bakery in an older part of town, a neighborhood called Hintonburg. It's always a treat to go there for almond croissants and coffee.

Later on we wandered around the neighborhood, marveling at all the new restaurants that had recently moved in.


Urban renewal was taking place!

I could live here, Terry commented. It reminds me of a downtown Toronto neighborhood!

I like it, too, but we don't have to move here, I replied. We can come whenever we want... It's not that far away!

(Besides, we appreciate places more when visiting them is a treat!)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Soccer Field Construction

Ten years ago, a college soccer field was built near our house. In winter a plastic dome covers most of the field - and it becomes an indoor sports facility.

We were surprised to see the field torn up recently.  There didn't seem to be any problem with it.


We later discovered that the soccer field was actually being enlarged - to regulation FIFA size. Later this year, a FIFA women's tournament is going to be held in the city. Our neighborhood field is going to be one of the practice areas.

Terry loves soccer - so I expect him to be out daily watching! I suggested he put up a tall life-guard chair so that he could sit in our yard and watch, unimpeded!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Pottery Mugs

This week I head back to the pottery studio, after a two-week break.

My goal, last session, was to make mugs. I made a few, in my hand-building studio time. They all have rough edges.

My strangest hand-built one was inspired by some animal motif mugs I saw online. I was trying to create an image of a cat wandering through tall grass!


Making mugs was also one of my goals in my class on the wheel. I managed to make a few. I also experimented with using colored clay ("slip") to decorate the mugs. I'm not really happy with these.

My instructor, Liz, helped me with this one - but I didn't succeed in making the subsequent ones (above) as tall or thin...

That will be my goal for this coming session: taller and thinner... and without uneven edges! (It's not as easy as it looks!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Cleaning

In Israel, many households view spring cleaning as a religious obligation as they prepare for passover.

I don't have any religious compunction to clean - yet this spring, I've been anxious to clean the windows, dust and vacuum closets, and get rid of clothing that no longer fits.

(What is it about this season that makes us want to start afresh, both inside and out?!!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hellebores Beginning to Bloom

More early spring flowers are beginning to bloom in our yard. (The first were Scillas that emerge in my front Hosta bed, before the Hostas come out.)

Now the Hellebores are beginning to bloom. I wish I could say I love them, but they are always a bit of a disappointment... Low-lying, they seem to bloom downwards! With their light color, they don't stand out, either. I really have to search to find them!

Maybe I need to investigate some of the more colorful ones I see online. I wonder if they would survive in our Zone 5 garden area.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Neighborhood Fire!

Every few years we smell smoke... and discover that there is a fire in our part of town.

Yesterday Terry saw a billow of smoke blowing over my mother's nursing home (which partly adjoins our property) and wondered how far away the fire might be...

It created a haze to the west...

When skies had cleared, we decided to investigate.

The fire was in a neighborhood apartment building northwest of my mother's nursing home, about half a block away.

It was big enough to make the news!

We walked around talking to various people, happy to hear that no one had been injured. But, for now, none of the residents of the building would be allowed to even enter it.

With part of the roof destroyed, I wonder the building is reparable or if if will have to be torn down. I guess time will tell.

When we left, firemen were still perched up on high ladders - where they will probably stay all night long, to make sure the fire is all out.

Paramedics were parked nearby.

The Salvation Army was there too, ready to help those displaced by the fire.

It was reassuring to see so many community resources come together at a time like this!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gardening Season

Gardening season if finally here...

Or rather, raking season!

(I currently have 9 plastic garbage bins ready for next Wednesday's pick up!)

What I love most about having perennial flower beds is the sense of anticipation - and surprise - I get every spring... wondering what flowers will appear.

First flower of the season in my garden? This little blue Scilla.

The Hellebores aren't far behind - currently in bud. Hopefully they'll be blooming soon.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ottawa Saree Store

I like to walk in neighborhoods I don't usually visit. It's almost like being away!

Recently walking down MacArthur Street, I was surprised to see a store that sells Indian sarees.


And, of course, shoes to match! I didn't realize that they also carried Indian-style jewelry, or I'd have gone in for a peek.

I wonder what other interesting stores can be found in Ottawa. (Maybe I need to plan a "new neighborhood walk" once a week, to find out!)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Personal Pottery Update

My winter pottery session has ended. Twice a week, since January, my goals were to improve my skills on the wheel... and to have fun hand-building.

I had hoped to make a few usable mugs! (I can't seem to make them tall and keep them straight!)

In the forefront are three of my early attempts, together with a head I made in my hand-building studio time. One of the intended mugs has a turned-out top, so I guess it will have to be a bowl... (Or a vase!)

(The items in the background were made by other potters.)

By mid-March, I had improved a bit.

I want to continue practicing, so I've booked half day sessions in both the hand-building and wheel studios for May and June.

(Pottery - playing with clay - is very addictive!)

I've started making some mugs in my hand-building studio time.

Even these aren't flawless!

This intended-mug will probably be a vase, too!

Nothing is working for me tonight, one woman commented in class a few weeks ago.

I just love the feel of the clay in my hands, another replied. My goal isn't to make perfect things - just to have my hands in clay!

(Now that's an attitude I can agree with... though it is gratifying when an item turns out nice!)