Sunday, March 31, 2019

What is Talent?

These days, I often watch "You Tube" videos to learn new things. There are so many out there, on a wide range of subjects...

Recently I was looking for instructions for making hand-built pottery mugs, ones not formed on the pottery wheel...

One of my pottery goals these days is to make some useful mugs.

One online pottery instructor, demoing hand-built mugs, made this comment: A lot of people say they're not "talented"... But in my experience, "talent" is often just doing a little extra work. "Talented" people often take a little more time and try just a little bit harder...

She makes it sound as if "talent" isn't out of reach, after all! That's encouraging!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Spring Raking Ahead!

The temperatures are slowly moving above freezing - but (fortunately) not so quickly as to cause spring flooding.

As I survey the snow in our own yard, I see it is receding a bit...

My garden boxes are beginning to emerge from the snow...

But I also notice pine needles, pine cones and even dead branches strewn over the yard. Is it a winter's accumulation? Or are spring breezes bringing them down?

I'm not sure. But I do know that, once the snow has all melted and the ground is dry, Terry and I be busy for a while raking.

In spring and fall it's normal for us to have half a dozen garbage bins full of yard waste every garbage day.

Regular garbage and recyclables are collected bi-weekly. But every week our yard waste and anything else that can be composted are taken away.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Orchid in Bloom

I haven't been painting flowers recently...

But I have been taking photos - of my own orchid as it opens up and begins to bloom.

It seems to do well at a north-facing window, receiving a little late afternoon sun.

Our house isn't as warm as the tropics - but it still thrives. Glad to see it blooming again!

In the bottom picture, I notice that another bud is beginning to open. I look forward to seeing more orchid flowers in bloom!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Flower Inspiration

The flower pictures in a book about Georgia O'Keeffe's 1939 painting expedition in Hawaii is inspiring me to get back into painting.

Unlike botanical drawings, which are usually life-size, her paintings are larger than life.

(Maybe I need a break from my winter tidying and de-cluttering spree...)

I've been eyeing this lovely mixed bouquet of flowers...

So many kinds and colors!

There's no way anyone would know that they all came from a single bouquet...

... and not from a trip to Hawaii!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Small Joys

It's not exactly spring...

Daily temperatures are just a little above freezing...

But last week - for the first time in three months - I was able to walk to our mailbox, a block and a half away, and pick up the mail.

There was no ice on the sidewalk!

There were large puddles on the road - so I had to pay attention to cars speeding by - but NO ICE on the sidewalk!!

Small joys!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"What is Practice?"

In her book The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg asks: "What is Practice?"

Her answer is that it is something we do over and over again until it becomes... a regular "practice".

I thought about some the "practices" in my life:

  • Watching what I eat
  • Walking, going to the gym
  • Posting a daily blog
  • Traveling
  • Being creative: gardening, quilting, knitting, making pots, painting
Each of these activities was something I wanted to do, so I started and didn't stop...

There are more "practices" I'd like to add to my life, like music - playing the piano and the ukulele.

But of course, they'll only become practices... IF I PRACTICE!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Margaret's Confirmation Picture 1934

In my decluttering efforts, I meander here and there... organizing closets and cupboards for a few days - then moving on to the more detailed tasks of sorting letters and photograph albums.

I was recently looking through one of my mother's photo albums, when I came across this group photo - taken on March 25, 1934, when my mother was 15.

The occasion was her confirmation at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ellerslie, Alberta - a town near Edmonton. The officiating minister is Rev. R. Krisch.

My mother is the fourth young woman from the left in the middle row... the middle, in this close up. As I look at her - age 15 - I see a family resemble to my cousins Rose-Marie and Rhonda, daughters of my mother's sisters, but not to me. I think my brother and I both resemble my father's family more.

On my last trip to Edmonton, in September, 2017, I walked around the St. Paul's church grounds. (Here is the blog post I wrote about it then. To read it, click or tap here.)

There have been several re-builds since my mother's family attended the church in the 1930's - and I kept wondering what the church looked like when my mother was young. Did they have the same red brick building then? At that time, many of the families - my mother's included - rode to church with a horse and buggy. What would the "parking lot" have looked like on a Sunday morning then?

 Hard to imagine!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

My Latest Pottery Pieces

I'm over half-way through my 12-week winter pottery session.

I don't usually continue during the rest of the year - unlike most of the other studio potters. There are simply too many other things I want to do - like work in the garden.

The down-side of this short burst of studio time is that I don't feel I'm making much progress as a potter.

I brought these dishes home a few days ago... I love this green matte glaze. It's new to the studio this year.

Before heading off to do pottery every week, I watch You Tube videos of potters at work - to give me new ideas. I think that helps...

I really enjoy making pottery heads. These could be used to hold small plants... or pens.

Last year I had my first pottery sale - at a local fall fair. I'd like to participate again this fall.

There are only so many pots a person can use!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Good Organizing Tips

My winter reading has included both Marie Kondo books - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.

I have picked up useful organizing tips from both books... though her infectious enthusiasm for tidying is probably what has motivated me the most!

Among the tips I've found most useful are her suggestions to:
  • Fold or roll clothing and towels and store them in an upright position, rather than on piles.
  • Use boxes and containers I already have on hand for organizing rather than buy new ones.
  • Gather similar objects together and store them in the same place... One group of items I now store together are my glucose testing materials - including the log books I've kept since 2005 to write down my fasting blood sugar levels every morning. I now realize that I did a much better job of controlling my sugar levels before I retired...  Why? I wonder... Was it that I had less opportunity for snacking? Did my day involve more walking? Or is it simply an age thing? (I tend to think it's the first two...)
  • And of course, I can't forget a very powerful tip: visualize how I'd like the house to look when I'm done... which has me enthusiastically working on the project!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Enthusiasm for Life!

My mother left a pile of diaries, daily logs noting what she did each day.

As I look through them, deciding what to keep or discard, I'm struck by her enthusiasm for life!

Enthusiasm makes everything so much more fun...

Is it a gift? Or a choice? I wonder...

Hmmm. Probably a little of both...

Was it because she never mentioned what was annoying her or how her day was going? Just what she did...

(Unlike her, I sometimes use daily journaling for venting!!)

I think my mother tried to make the best of every situation - and made a point of looking on the bright side of life...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cornish Rex Cats

A regular stop on my indoor mall walks is the pet store, where I stop in daily to check out their changing selection of cats and dogs for sale...

Over the past few weeks, I've fallen in love with mini Dachshunds, Siamese cats - and most recently, a type of cat known as a Cornish Rex...
They are very lively - and they have large ears...

This one's my favorite - so cute...

The Siamese kittens are adorable, too.

Just as I took out my camera, they turned because they heard someone bringing food!

If Terry were an animal lover, I'd probably have one of each... (if we could afford it...!) The Cornish Rex kittens cost over $1000 each - depending on color. And of course the one I like is the most expensive of the two! I suspect the Siamese cats and mini-Dachshunds are expensive too.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Winter Boot Update

I own several pairs of winter boots and wear different ones, depending on where and how long I plan to be walking on ice and snow.

My most comfortable pair of boots is this suede which I wear when I expect to be walking outdoors for a while - then heading indoors to shop. They're not too hot or constricting for indoor wear. But they're not good when I have to step in puddles.

I bought this second pair of suede boots after doing online research on slip-resistant soles. Tests showed them to be the best. There was a negative comment about them - that they weren't all that comfortable to wear all day long.

After having walked for several hours in them, I'd have to agree - though adding cushy insoles might make them more comfortable for prolonged walks.

After I posted my blog on my hunt for good non-slip boots, one reader wrote to tell me about the  ice cleats she was now using for winter walking.

When one of my sons asked me what I'd like for Christmas - I suggested the cleats.

They are called Stabil Icers.

I didn't wear them a lot this winter, mainly because Terry didn't want me out walking - in case I'd fall. But this spring he has needed me to help him with drainage issues caused by snow melting - then re-freezing.

They were amazing! Walking around on glare ice without the slightest slippage, I felt as confident as superwoman! (Normally that's not me in winter!)

They attach and detach very easily from boots as well, unlike other cleats I've owned.

Everyone in Ontario should have a pair!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

If It Sparks Joy...

These days, I often ask myself if this or that item in our house "sparks joy"...

If it doesn't, maybe I should get rid of it...

But if it does, maybe I should be using it more...

So I've pulled out this lovely plate to use on a daily basis...

This cup and saucer as well. (It was a gift from my son...)

Slowly, I'm making a point of using "special" dishes.

It's a small change, but it brightens my day...

Monday, March 18, 2019

New "Traditions"...

It's interesting how family traditions change over time...

On a recent birthday, our family meal was breakfast at a diner...

Supper was "raclette" - a Swiss meal of mostly veggies and melted cheese served on boiled potatoes...

(There was a bit of meat - a few strips of bacon.)

Not something Terry was used to eating!

And, instead of birthday cake, we shared half a dozen doughnuts...

A new tradition?!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Winter Walking - Indoors!

When my mother first moved to Ottawa, she lived across the street from a shopping center - where she would "mall walk" for at least an hour every day.

She loved her convenient apartment!

If bad weather prevented her from going out, she'd clip on her pedometer (to count her steps) and walk up and down the corridors - until she had completed 10,000 steps!

Walking 10,000 steps became her daily goal.

Occasionally in summer she'd try walking outdoors, around the pool, but the sidewalks were sometimes uneven.

It's easy to trip and fall.

This year, for the first time, I've started to "mall walk," too. The roads and sidewalks have simply been too icy for me to venture outdoors.

I go mall walking several times a week, I recently told a friend.

I can't walk outdoors either, but don't need a mall, she replied. All I need is a supermarket. I walk up and down the aisles, back and forth, back and forth... There are a lot of aisles.

I'll have to try that, I thought...

So now, even a trip to Costco - where I invariably lose Terry - is an opportunity to take a long walk.

Even a dollar store has lots of long aisles for walking!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Preparing for Spring

The weather is warming up. Temperatures are expected to be above freezing for the next few days...

Anticipating snow melting off the roof, Terry has been busy clearing drains with buckets of hot water... drains both under the roof and on the ground.

It's one of those things he does every spring.

You don't appreciate everything I do around here, he tells me...

Oh yes, I do!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring Snow

Yesterday morning we awoke to discover that it had snowed heavily overnight...

Our almost-clear street was again covered with 4 to 5 inches of fluffy fresh snow.

It would be discouraging - except that temperatures are supposed to remain above freezing for the next few days...

So hopefully it will all melt.

The city is so sure that this will happen that they haven't even bothered to plow our street...

(Or, at least, that's what I assume...)

Hopefully - hopefully - this was our last snowfall of the season!

I'm SO ready for spring!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

How Far Can I Walk?!

Early this winter we had freezing rain - which left a slippery base on roads and sidewalks.

From time to time, together with snow, more freezing rain would fall - leaving people like me (who don't want to risk falling) with limited walking options...

It has been so bad that one local resident, a man about my age who lives alone, hadn't been out of the house all winter. A concerned neighbor recently called the police, who came and cleared his driveway and walkway. The man was fine - living off food he happened to have in the house...

(I wonder how many more such stories will emerge once the ice melts!)

Fortunately Terry has managed to keep our driveway clear - or at least passable for me to get to the car. Then, to get exercise and walk, I drive to a shopping center...

But finally the ice is beginning to disappear... and yesterday I walked down the street, avoiding icy patches.

How far could I get before being blocked by ice? About half a block...

At that point, I headed back home.