When pigs fly…

Backyard statuary.

When pigs fly I will…

Get married again: I’ve tried this twice.  Apparently I’m not very good at it.  No more husbands.

Get a tattoo: Okay, I admit I’m fascinated by the notion.  A small rose on my left boob.  Up top.  Oops.  Where did the top go?  Or maybe a flying pig on my shoulder.  How about a tree of life on my back between my shoulders?  See how fast I went from a small rose to an entire tree.  I’ve heard tattooing can become an addiction.  Now that’s all I need.  Nope.  No tattoos.

Vote republican: I tried that a couple of times in my youth under the influence of my first husband.  It didn’t work out for me.  Or for the country.  You see, one of them was Nixon.  I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that before.  It fills me with angst just to type it here.

Buy eyeglasses from the doctor’s office optician: She’s a lovely woman and I like her a lot.  But–I discovered I could buy them for much less at the big discount stores like Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco.  So off I went to BJ’s with my prescription.  I got Armani frames with all the bells and whistles for $247!!!  I love them and they got the adjustments right the first time.  And that’s about a third of what I paid for my last ones at the doctor’s office.

Take another teaching job: I have enjoyed my ESL students this year but I find that I really dislike being tied to a schedule.  I will be seeking another way to assist in the local Latino community.  I understand there are many ways to help.  And I like spending time with them.

Cook three meals a day: This is a practical matter.  I don’t need to cook that much for me.  I can barely put a sandwich together these days.  One does get out of practice, you know.  I can see me now.  The main course would be getting cold while I put the sides together.  Too much concentration for me.  Can’t believe how many years I did it.  And I was quite efficient, thank you.

Worry about what others think of me: I remember being a youth and thinking I said the wrong thing, wore the wrong sweater, etc., etc.  I no longer care what people think about me.  There are probably several things that bring me to this point.  One is that I’m older and much of what I worried about was “fluff.”  As in don’t sweat the small stuff. Another is that I think I became embarrass-proof after teaching teenagers for a number of years.  I got immune to the teenage “gotchas.”  They are so good at it and I love their enthusiasm and youthful exuberance.

I try to keep my posts below 500 words so perhaps I will continue this rant another time.  If you’ve read this far, thank you.


Hopes and dreams.

Everything's blooming, even the pine trees.

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.  The best you can do is live inside that hope, running down the hallways, touching the walls on both sides.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver in her book Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver is another of my favorite authors.  I love the image she creates with her life/hope philosophy.  I can see myself in that hallway touching the things I love and hope to have in my life. In fact, I can see myself walking down that hall with excellent posture and a spring in my step.  Being physically fit has always been important to me.  I’m not saying I have always been fit but it never ceases to matter to me.

Everywhere I turn these days I see comments, quotes, advice about pursuing dreams, making goals, etc.  My first goal as of right now is to become as fit as I can be without hurting myself.  At my age that’s not always an easy line to draw but I can and will do it.  Because it matters a great deal.  One way I will accomplish this goal is to eat more carefully and deliberately.  I don’t think I will give up having a bit of dark chocolate a day (It is good for me, isn’t it?).  But sugar is my weakness right now.  So any other sweet fixes I need will have to come from fruits (fresh, when available).  Another thing I’ve been practicing lately is getting up and moving in one way or another when I’m feeling low.  I can go for a walk, walk in place if the weather’s bad, clean house, make another pillowcase dress (I’ve made four now.) or simply stretch a little.  Or go see a daughter or a grandchild.  Anything but sitting and moping.

My second goal is to be artistically creative.  It isn’t an option anymore, it’s a necessity.  I have to do it in order to be happy.  There are lots of ways to be artistic but for tactile me it will have to be done with yarn (crochet) or fabric (art quilting).  I found a crochet book yesterday that teaches a technique that I’ve never used before.  I’ll be working on that.  And of course I’ll be moving beautiful fabrics around and practicing my machine quilting.  I started to call it my technique but I haven’t actually developed a technique yet.  Right now I’m trying to copy what other art quilters have done so that I will hopefully get good enough to finish my in-progress project that I discussed in an earlier post Art quilt: Divorce therapy.

I’m not sure why it’s difficult for me to establish goals in my retirement.  Maybe it’s second nature for me to have goals.  It’s just not easy for me to write them down.  Maybe it’s cowardly to keep them in my mind.  Maybe I will be more accountable now that I’ve written them out for you to see.

Suffering: a human condition.

Weeping cherry in full bloom.

“… I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional.  It seems to be part and parcel of the human condition, but suffering can either embitter or ennoble.” ~ Desmond Tutu

And don’t we all want to be ennobled!  I’m sure you’ve known someone who was wronged and never got over it.  You listen to them patiently the first nine times they tell their tale and you nod and agree and wish them a happier future.  Well, truth be known, I’m probably not willing to listen more than four or five times no matter how much I love the woe-is-me teller.  I want to say “Snap out of it!”  I don’t usually but I want to.

I keep this Mary Engelbreit poster in my sewing room to remind me not to take myself too seriously.

I remember a time when my mother kept telling me over and over about some wrong that someone had done to her.  I’m sure my patience was short because she had been with me for a few days.  I was driving her home.  I said, “Mom, you need a counselor.”  In her inimitable way, she replied, “Hmmmph!  What would I want with a counselor?”  So I told her I wasn’t willing to listen anymore and she would simply have to pay someone to listen.  She was a bit indignant at first.  But the more she thought about it the more it amused her.  She started to giggle.  We both did.  Many times in the years to come she would tell family and friends, “Pat told me I would have to pay somebody to listen to me.”  (Giggle.)  And she did go to a counselor for a time after that.

Funny thing, though, when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.  As I write I wonder how many of my dearest friends have wanted to say that to me in the years since D left.  Especially the first two years.  I hope they don’t feel the  need to say it today.  I am so much better.

When D first left I had a friend in church approach me after she heard. Her husband had left her in a similar way years before.  I remember telling her that I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over.  K reassured me and told me that I needed to do that so that I could start to internalize it and understand what was happening to me.  She told me I could call her and tell it to her again whenever I wanted or needed to.  If there are angels, K is one of them.

The moral of this story:  Get a counselor before you wear out all your friends.

Happiness…The Dalai Lama

“Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Are these two men saying the same thing?  I’ve been rereading excerpts from the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness. On the one hand he seems to be saying the opposite of what Abe Lincoln is saying.  On the other hand I get the feeling he’s agreeing with Abe.

Hmmm.  I will say one thing:  Give me something simple and I will figure out a way to complicate it.  Here’s what I think, though.  And I’m trying to keep it simple.  I think they are saying essentially the same thing.  Abe was running a country and fighting a war and he probably didn’t have time to over analyze this idea.  And his way of speaking is straight forward and to the point.  I usually understand and do well with that type of advice.

As I understand it, the Dalai Lama’s job is to analyze and give advice with steps toward achieving the happiness that we all seek.  He says we must share ourselves with others in order to be happy.  Both our sadness and our joy.  Our sad times are lightened and our joyful times are heightened when we share them with others.  Come to think of it, I think that idea is also in the Bible.  I’m pretty sure I read it there fairly recently.  Can’t remember where.

So…Happiness is there for the taking.  It’s all in your attitude.  And it depends upon your spending time with other people–family, friends, and sometimes even people you don’t know.  John Donne said, “No man is an island.” In other words, don’t isolate yourself.  Interact with your fellow human beings.  That’s what I think!

A heart on fire.

A favorite t-shirt.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.”  ~ Michael Nolan

What few things catch my heart and why am I not doing them more?

When D left I wrote pages and pages in a journal  (a spiral-bound notebook).  I told him I was going to write a book about this divorce experience.  I could tell that made him a little uncomfortable.  He knew, I guess, that he wouldn’t look very good in a book I would write about our relationship, or at least the end of it.  He even had the nerve to tell me one time that he thought I shouldn’t do that because it might “hurt the children.”  I remember verbally exploding and saying something like this:  “Do you really think I could say anything that would do as much damage as you’ve already done!?”  The nerve!

It was journal writing that made me realize I enjoy writing.  Pen to paper was like draining some of that poison out of me and onto the paper and it made me feel better.  Now I compose strictly on the computer but it still has the same cathartic effect.  And not only is it the therapy I get from writing, but it makes me feel good to know that my voice is being heard.  Those of you who take the time to read my blog, I thank you.

And thanks, too, for letting me think out loud so to speak.  That’s really what I’m doing.  And I’ve thought my way into realizing that I probably need to write more and it might be good to write something every day.

I started out thinking I would write a list of things I am passionate about.  I digressed a bit, didn’t I?  But this is good.  I haven’t figured out yet whether I’ll write the book but I don’t have to decide that right now.  I hope to write more about what catches my heart another day.

Now I’m heading over to my granddaughter’s middle school where she will compete in her first ever track meet.  I’m sure I don’t have to say how passionate I am about all my grandchildren.  You might have noticed that in previous posts.

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra

The fork in the road.

According to Yogi Berra, “I never said most of the things I said.” If he did say the title quote, I doubt he meant the fork in the picture.  I know one thing, though, the fork in the photo would be an easier decision for me than some of the other “forks” in the road.  For one thing, it’s my stainless pattern.  For another, it’s just lying there waiting to cause trouble.  I would take it before it got flattened or injured someone.

I think the fork Yogi is talking about refers to a major life decision.  If the road forks, it’s giving you an opportunity to take a new and better direction.  Yogi says, “Take it.”  Could it be that divorce provides that new and better direction?  Certainly the decision of divorcing wasn’t mine.  But I remember someone telling me early in 2007, shortly after I learned that I would be divorced, “This is an opportunity.  Take advantage of it.”  I should tape those words to my mirror so I won’t forget them.

So what’s this fork I’m supposed to take called?  What sort of opportunity is it?  Has something presented itself that I’ve overlooked?  Whatever it is, I will have to be more creative than I’ve been in the past.  I can’t throw money at it the way I used to do.  Can’t afford that.  Maybe that is the opportunity I’m supposed to check out:  How to live a fruitful and productive life with less money, fewer resources than in the past.  How to have lots of fun with very little money.

I don’t yet know the answers to all these questions.  I’m constantly thinking and working on them.  I hope I figure it all out soon.  I’m an optimist.  I think I’ll get it.  I have infinite patience with my grandchildren but not with myself.  Maybe that’s one of the lessons I’m supposed to be learning.  I must be giving and loving to myself.  Grace is mine for the taking if I can be kind enough to myself to accept it.  In the meantime, I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs.  I do constructive things daily.  I really do.

Looking for sunshine on a sunny day.

Jigsaw quilts.

Sometimes I’m sad and I have no idea why.  I have learned to accept when I’m happy.  Not to question.  Just accept it.  Maybe I should do the same when I’m sad.  It’s really hard  not to examine the sadness, though, and try to figure out why.  It’s especially difficult when I’ve done all the usual things to try to cheer myself up and haven’t succeeded.

I know that the weather affects me sometimes.  I’m usually pretty happy on sunny spring-like days.  Like this weekend.  We’ve had glorious sunshine and 70-degree weather for the entire  weekend.  So what’s to be sad about?  I went outside and pulled weeds and did a little spring cleaning in the yard.  I thought it might help to take in some of that sun and light and vitamin D.  Daffodils from my yard.I picked some gorgeous daffodils and put them in my favorite blue vase.  That was yesterday.  Nothing I did seemed to help.  I was still sad.

Today, Sunday, I feel better.  Still a little iffy, but better.  Weekends have been tough ever since D left.  I must say they are, as a rule, not as bad as they once were.  I think I’ve done a pretty darn good job of accepting what is–most of the time.  But when I think about it–and think about it, I must–there has been much to be sad about recently.  I don’t ordinarily worry about things I can’t change.  Like natural disasters.  But it’s been difficult to avoid worrying about nuclear meltdown in Japan and all those unaccounted for people.  And the tsunami headed for our west coast and Hawaii.  And what the Republicans are doing to our country.  And to Wisconsin.

OK.  I think I get it.  I need to watch the news less as I’m coming up on a weekend.  Holy cow!  Talk about depressing.  No wonder I’ve been sad.  Back to the pillowcase dresses tomorrow.  Happy days are on the horizon.

Pillowcase dresses for little Haitians.

My first pillowcase dress.

When I wrote Growing.  Up, up and out of the ashes. on February 24, I mentioned a project I think is worthwhile, making dresses for little girls in Haiti.  Two readers, Caroline and Tish, indicated interest.  I don’t know what the official site for this project would be.  I googled Haiti pillowcase dresses and found numerous sites about this project and similar ones as well.  Caroline, there are  sites for the same type project in Africa.  With your love of the Dark Continent, you might be interested in one of the African projects.

Several sites give instructions for making the dresses in a variety of sizes.  If you have extra fabrics lying around you can use that instead of pillowcases.  There are instructions for both types, including templates for the armholes.  The pillowcase is quick because the hem is already done for you.  I don’t know if you can tell in the photo, but I put a little daisy decorative stitch around the top of the hem.  Also, the armhole cutouts make perfect little pockets for the dress if you’re so inclined.  There are many ways to make them look like dresses, not pillowcases.

I had a meeting with my group at church yesterday and we decided Henry Ford’s assembly line would serve us well.  We can turn out more dresses faster that way.  We have decided to make it an ongoing project in our group.

FYI:  One of our pastors met with us yesterday and confirmed the story about the rapes.  She went to Haiti recently.  For me, that makes the need all the more urgent.

Happy sewing if you choose to pursue this work.  I know it makes me feel glad to be able to help.

My friend Ozzy.

White-bellied caique.

“I can look reality right in the eye and ignore it. –Garrison Keillor

The white-bellied caique is a type of Amazon parrot.  Ozzy is a re-homed bird who lives now with my friends DR and L.  I called him my friend in the title of this piece but the truth is:  He hasn’t chosen me to be his friend.  Parrots choose whom they will like.  Dogs will love whoever feeds and cares for them and will quickly become that person’s best friend and companion.  Not so with birds.  Ozzy, as I said, lives with DR and L.  He chooses DR and tolerates L even though L is a primary care-giver.  And he tolerates me.  One night when I whistled as I worked, he looked up at me and whistled back.  Will he choose me one day?  Probably not.  But it’s okay.  I still like to look at him.  He’s beautiful.  And if he ever does choose me, I bet he will be forever faithful.

I thought that was the case with D.  I thought he would be my lifelong companion and best friend.  The frustration, confusion and pain I felt when he walked out on our marriage and relationship of 30+ years is still incomprehensible and painful today.  Why was I chosen one day and not the next?  And why on earth have I looked this reality in the eye for four years and so often ignored it?  I find it amazingly stupid of me to still have days, like today, when I would like to ignore it.  I think it’s called loneliness.  Fortunately, it doesn’t get to me very often anymore.  More often than not, I accept my reality and even like it.  In my weaker moments I still miss him.

Art quilt: Divorce therapy.

Ideating an art project.

“Only love interests me, and I’m only in contact with things I love.” ~ Mark Chagall

I’m working on a small art quilt.  It’s about 12″ x 15″.  I have to start small because I’m trying to learn new techniques, new to me, that is.  The last one I made was 9″ x 12″, I think.  I also used a pattern, loosely, and a video to get the hang of it.  There’s a photo of it in one of my early posts– The pros and cons of being queen. The one I’m working on now will be much more creative, I hope.  Even though I added my own touches to the last one, it was still someone else’s design.  This one will be mine.

I’ve mentioned before that I love fabric and color.  Also, I have been reading/studying/admiring art quilt magazines and books for the past few years.  This is how I do things.  I study and study.  Think and think.  And eventually I decide:  Hey!  I can do that.  I want to do that.  I’m going to do that.

I’ve made quilts before, the traditional patchwork type that Granny used to make.  And I love them.  I still have mental images of my great-granny’s quilts on the beds in her house.  Beautiful.  But for whatever reason, I have reached a stage of life where I don’t like the restrictions of a precision-quilted piece.  Art quilting is free, creative, whimsical, spontaneous.  Just the way I want to be.

I think all of this speaks to who I am today.  The restraints of a marriage and a relationship are gone.  I didn’t want a divorce but I’ve had to accept it anyway.  And now I find that, in my personal life, I don’t want restraints.  I feel free.  I like it.

Here’s my work-in-progress.  I hope it will be a work of art when it’s finished.  I hope I will be, too.  I’ll post the finished quilt.  The finished me will take a bit longer.