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November 2018

About That Holiday Shopping

So.  Last night, I went to opening night of the annual KIA Holiday Art Sale (a major fundraiser to benefit the Art School where I take classes).  I wanted to get a headstart on my holiday shopping.

Oh, I did some shopping alright. . .



(Cute pottery sheep.  Adorable, non?)  (What fiber-lover could resist?)

Does this happen to anyone else?  You go out to shop for the holidays . . . and come home with something for yourself?

Oh, well.

It's Friday.  Have a great weekend!

Unpacking . . . My Desk

I often write about the state of my desk.  Which is rarely tidy.  Or, if it is tidy, it doesn't seem to take very long before it reverts to its . . . angle of repose.  Which is definitely not tidy.  In fact, often, I feel like I'm working in a canyon -- with walls of stuff surrounding my computer!

At some point, I get to feeling claustrophobic enough that I straighten it all up.  
And then I swear that I'll keep things tidy.  
This time. 
But then . . . angle of repose.  
(Rinse.  Repeat.)

In fact, I tidied up my desk and organized everything on Sunday.  This morning, though, I can feel the canyon walls creeping in.  (And this photo doesn't show the other side of my desk.)  (Or the surrounding floor.)  (Or the cart within easy reach.)


I thought . . . let's analyze this.  Break it down.  Unpack the situation.  
What's going on with my desk?  Why do I let these canyon walls build up?  
So I took a quick photo.  Just for assessment purposes.  And do you see what I see?

1 - Behind my desk (not terribly clear, probably, in this photo) is a stack of papers for a project I'm working on right now.  I have segregated them out from my in-box, and they are neatly stacked.  But on top of them, I've placed a metal "book hug" that I use for my iPad so I can see it when I'm knitting (I use KnitCompanion for all my patterns, and need my iPad nearby).  A set of size 3 double-points are resting in it (because I need them for my next project).  And there are two sets of headphones, a pair of cheaters, a party invitation, and some checks I need to deposit.  All things I need to keep in ready-reach today.  (Except, probably for the "book hug" and the needles.)  (But they fell off the couch while I was on a phone call last night and I needed to put them somewhere in a hurry.)

2 - I keep an in-box on the corner of my desk.  It's even organized with marked file folders -- so I can neatly file away the papers that come my way!  (They remain . . . empty.)  The in-box is really just a "corral" for stacks of paperwork that is not immediately necessary (but I always know what's in the "corral", y'know?).  The in-box is usually the first canyon wall.  Because I can continue to stack stuff in it.  Even stuff that has nothing to do with paperwork!  Like . . . library books.  My iPad.  A stretchy flip belt that I can use for my phone when I don't have pockets.  And another pair of cheaters.  (Uh huh.)  My in-box really serves as a repository for things I don't want to lose track of , but that I don't need now.  I know where things are; I know what's in there . . . for later.  (Except for the stuff on top.  That's just . . . convenient.)

3 - And then . . . there's all the stuff that just winds up ON my desk.  A coaster for my tea.  Pretty cards and notes I've received in the mail.  Three or four ongoing pads for jotting ideas and random thoughts and figures (because, you know . . . I probably can't find one when I need it, so I grab another from the basket on the cart. . . ).  A tape measure (I'm buying new throw rugs, and I've been using it a lot the last few days as I finalize my decisions).  Lovely yarn (from Vicki) that I received this week. (I like to keep it near -- for inspiration - as I try to figure out what to do with it.)  (I'm thinking maybe socks.)  My planner.  My phone.  Another pair of cheaters.  (Hmmm.) (I always have ALL the cheaters - or NONE of the cheaters  - when I need them.) Random post-it notes for myself everywhere.  Business cards.  Yarn labels.  

(And that, my friends . . . is How Happen!)

Going through this exercise will NOT help me keep my desk neat and tidy.  Really, it won't change a thing.  But it does help me understand  what's going on.  Because my desk . . . is kind of an extension of my brain.  And this is how my brain works.  I like to keep my immediate projects close at hand -- where I can SEE them.  I also like to keep my not-immediate projects "corralled" in a safe space.  And I seem to have no problem working with a lot of inspiration nearby.  (And, well . . . I'm also kind of lazy and drop things where the land.)  (You might get an eye-twitch if you could see how many open tabs I have on my browser. . .)

So.  This is the official news of the day:  I am not going to worry about my desk anymore.  Now that I'm "almost 60", I think it's time for me to stop apologizing for the state my desk (which is representative, I guess, of how I think).  It's time to just accept that I'm good with canyon walls.  That I will stop to control the piles when I need to.  And that . . . while I may be a bit messy, I'm also effective.  And creative.  And I don't tend to lose things ever.

(But perhaps I really do need to get the cheaters situation under control.)

How about you?  What's your workspace like?


Join Carole for other Three on Thursday posts today!




Unraveling Family Traditions

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that on Thanksgiving - after the turkey has been eaten and tucked away in the refrigerator - we make gingerbread houses.  It's been an Annual Thing since my kids were tiny.  Over the years, we've shared this tradition with friends and various family members.  


Last week, I did a quick calculation.  I think that, over the years, I have baked just under 70 gingerbread houses!

But what happens when that family tradition . . . unravels????  As in . . . can a gingerbread house even happen if there is no one around to make it?


I thought long and hard about it.  

At first, I thought about baking the pieces and shipping them (along with candy and the recipe for frosting) out to my kids.  Kind of . . . a gingerbread house in "kit" form.  But then I realized . . . it wasn't my kids going on about what-will-we-do-if-we-can't-make-gingerbread-houses-on-Thanksgiving.  It was me.  So I nixed that idea.  (I don't need to foist MY traditions on them.)

And then, I thought about inviting one of my artsy friends over to make gingerbread houses some afternoon.  We could have a glass of wine and get fired up about our creations.  But I didn't really feel like doing that, either.

I decided to just . . . let this one go.  To realize that, like the Annual Father's Day Croquet Tournament before it, it was time to just let this tradition go.  


But then, I got to thinking about what I would do with the space on the bookshelf where I usually placed my gingerbread house amidst the holiday décor.  

I got to thinking that . . . well . . .it might actually be kind of fun to make one just for myself!

So I did!


While, initially, it made me a teeny tiny bit sad . . . that didn't last long at all!  I thought about all the fun times we'd had with the gingerbread houses over the years.  My kids when they were small.  Erin's friends as she grew older.  My mom.  Introducing the tradition to Keith and then to Lauren.  (Let me tell you -- there are good memories and lots of love baked right into that Pampered Chef gingerbread house mold!)

And then . . . I plugged in to the newest Louise Penny Three Pines mystery . . . and let 'er rip!

Merry and bright, indeed!


Joining Kat and friends today for Unraveled -- even though I'm not unraveling anything fiber-like.  Be sure to stop in over at Kat's to see what everyone else is unraveling!

May Your Days Be . . .

Here we are, late November.  Thanksgiving is behind us.  Christmas lies ahead.  I haven't started doing anything Christmas-related yet.  I haven't decorated.  I haven't started my shopping.  I haven't ordered cards.  I haven't listened to Christmas music.

What I have been doing . . . is a lot of thinking about All of the Christmas Things.  And making plans for doing All of the Christmas Things.  Not in a panic-y way.  Just in a making lists and prioritizing kind of way. 

How do I want to celebrate this season?
What are my priorities during this over-booked time of year?
How do I keep myself on track and not let myself get swept away by the crazier aspects of the holiday?

I decided that what I really want to do this year . . . is to make sure the holiday season is fun -- light and bright and merry.  When the Holiday Overwhelm comes knocking (because you know it will) (I'm talking about you, 10 pounds of Swedish meatballs), I want to remember . . . to make it fun.

So last week, I decided I needed a "theme song" for the holidays -- a phrase from a Christmas song that I can play on endless-loop in my head.  A snippet of a song to keep me on track and remind me of what I want from this very busy time of year. *

I decided on this one . . . 


Part of the last line of that old standby, White Christmas.  May your days be merry and bright . . . 

I figure that my theme song can help me remember my priority this season.  When I'm trying to decide whether (or not) to do One More Thing, or fit some other obligation into my schedule, I can ask myself:  Will it make things merry and bright?  Because I can't do everything.  And I'm tired of trying to do just that.  This year?  It's all about merry and bright!

How about you?  Do you need a theme song this year?

  • Maybe Laughing All the Way . . . if you're trying to keep your sense of humor this holiday season
  • Or All is Calm . . . if you're trying to relax and let things go
  • Deck the Halls . . . if you're focused on the décor this year
  • Or Throw Cares Away . . . if you're usually trying to do too much and end up panicking
  • How about Oh What Fun . . . if you're looking to lighten up
  • Or Comfort and Joy . . . if you're wanting a hygge-holiday

Let's sing our way through the holidays this year -- and get just what we want!

* I had the idea of finding my holiday "theme song" . . . and then I listened to the Happier podcast last week and laughed when Gretchen and Elizabeth started talking about finding a "holiday motto."  Much the same concept (only they're famous)! 


I was running an errand at World Market yesterday when I found that Merry and Bright ornament (in the photo).  Of course, I had to have it -- a lovely visual reminder of my holiday theme song.

Sometimes Mondays

. . . look pretty black-and-white.


(Heavy on the white!)

I hope your Thanksgiving time was peaceful and restful, with just enough pie.  And I hope you're easing yourself back into "regular time" today.  (Unless you happen to live in Southwest Michigan and thereabouts . . . where you're probably hunkering down for another day off.)

How's YOUR Monday looking?


Thankful Hearts

Happy Thanksgiving!


"Give us thankful hearts . . . in this season of Thy Thanksgiving.  May we be thankful for health and strength, for sun and rain and peace.  Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities, and let us ever remember that true gratitude and appreciation shows itself neither in independence nor satisfaction but passes the gift joyfully on in larger and better form."
                                                    --- W. E. B. DuBois

Thank you for sharing this space with me.  
Enjoy your day, and may your heart be filled with thanks.


This list came out this week in the New York Times.  Each year, I'm surprised by this list - the 100 Notable Books of [fill in year here].  I mean, I regularly scan the New York Times book reviews, and I (mainly) read from the longlists of the Man Booker Prize, the Women's Prize, and the National Book Award.


And yet . . . 

I usually haven't even heard of the 100 Notable Books of [fill in year here]!

This year, I've read 5.  (Which includes one I'm in the midst of reading right now.)  And a few more are on my want-to-read list.  But not many.


Looks like my list of possibilities just got longer.  (Again.)

How about YOU?  How many have you read? 

Sometimes Mondays

. . . feel like the start of something new.


This year, I've decided to re-think all the ways I celebrate the holidays.   Kind of a . . .Kon-Mari of my holiday traditions.  I know it's time to let some things go -- and then, perhaps, I can make room for the new and the different.  Or just create some empty space to relax and enjoy.

And I'm kicking things off with a big Thanksgiving . . . shift.  
Because this will be the first year that none of my kids will be around my table.  In fact, this will be the first year that NO ONE (even Tom) will be around my table!  

This Thanksgiving, I'll be driving Tom to the airport  . . . so he can fly off for another fishing adventure at his favorite lodge in Patagonia.  I remember many, many months ago, when Tom was first arranging his trip, and he told me it would mean flying out on Thanksgiving Day.  My first thought was . . . (gasp) Not Thanksgiving!  But that thought only lasted about 15 seconds.  Because . . . why not?  We already knew the kids wouldn't be able to come home for Thanksgiving this year.  It would be just Tom and my dad and I anyway . . . 

So why not celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day???  We'll be celebrating with our turkey dinner tomorrow night! 

(And isn't this the perfect way to start my holiday shake-up?)

Big As the Nose On Your Face


Yesterday I got a new phone.  (Very cool.)  But there was a little glitch in the setting-up . . . and I needed to "erase" and "re-pair" (not repair; just re-pair . . . as in bluetooth) my Apple Watch with my new phone.  (Not cool.)  Now, if you've read David Sedaris' newest book, Calypso, you'll be familiar with David's obsession with his FitBit and Apple Watch.  I'm just . . . slightly less obsessed with my Apple Watch.  So losing all my watch data and awards and records and all of that?  I got an eye twitch.  But only for a couple of minutes.  (It's not like I lost my contacts or my photos or anything. . . )  I'm coping.

Anyway.  Here's something fun for you to read today . . . while I play with my new phone and marvel at the facial recognition feature.


A couple of weeks ago, I went to Chicago for the SOFA exhibition.  It was an overload of cool stuff.  And pricey stuff.  And some really bizarre stuff.  (More to come.  Eventually.)

Here's my favorite thing from the exhibition . . . 


It's called "Truth Be Told" by artist Joan Rasmussen.

Joan, who creates her sculptures from found objects and clay, happened to be in the gallery space when I walked in, and she was happy to tell me all about the piece -- which is about 3 feet tall and designed to hang on a wall.

Joan told me that she found the little wooden cabinet first.  The cabinet has a hinged door that opens to reveal about 99 little compartments.  She knew as soon as she saw the cabinet that it would be a perfect torso, and she added the head and limbs to form a clown.

Inside the cabinet, Joan crafted a small "tablet" to fit into each compartment.  Each little tablet has a . . . lie . . . written on it.  Properly attributed to its teller, of course.


Each tablet is attached to the cabinet, so you can easily fit them back in place, or you can let them rest on the shelf, or dangle from the compartments.  

Joan encouraged me to explore all the lies.  While most of them were political in nature (and certainly represent Joan's response to the current state of affairs), some were more innocuous . . . about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, for example.  And the last tablet in the cabinet?


A quote from Pinocchio, of course!

Best of all?  The clown is holding a counter in his hand.


Each day, Joan checks a site like this one (which tracks the number of lies Trump has told since his inauguration) and adjusts the counter appropriately.  (The counter does get clicked during the day by gallery visitors like me, who can't help but add a few clicks to the counter.  Joan encourages this.)

I loved this piece.  (I actually loved ALL of Joan's work.  It's incredible.)  It was fun and whimsical . . . all the while making a point.  

And telling the truth.


Have a great weekend!  (I'll just be sitting here.  Playing with my phone.)


In Other News

These days, I avoid watching and listening to the news, entirely.  I even limit myself when it comes to reading the news these days.  But, one thing I do every day . . . is scan the headlines.  (I want to know what's going on, but I don't want to upset myself with news-overload.  Y'know?)

Anyway.  Sometimes the headlines are . . . interesting!  My son-in-law, Keith, has a little project going.  He's "collecting" strange and humorous headlines, and I've decided to help.  (Unsure, of course, if my help is welcome or annoying.  But he's a very good sport and seems to be willing to humor me.)  Here are three I've sent him recently:

1 - From our local online "newspaper":


2 - And here's another gem from our local online news source:


3 - And, saving the best for last, here's my favorite headline EVER . . . from NPR:


(If you want to actually read that NPR story, here's the link.)

And now you know what to do if you stumble across an odd headline . . . send them on to me!  And I'll pass them along to Keith.  (Until he cries "uncle"!)


Be sure to stop in at Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts!