Aug 31, 2011

Garden Bliss

How I love our little garden in the side yard.  Only 4 feet wide, we manage to grow ingredients for salsa and other things we love.  This year looks like our best year ever- we've even managed to grow cucumbers, something that has eluded us for 5 years!  We've planted seeds every year, but never grew a plant.  Excepting last year, when we didn't plant any cukes and were surprised when something suspiciously cucumberish popped up.  (It turned out to be a pumpkin plant sprouted from the seeds left to compost.  But the delight we felt was REAL dammit!)

This year the cucumbers are the stars.  Seriously.  We've grown the best tasting cukes on the planet.  Not sure what kind we planted, but I don't think they are the kind you turn into dill pickles.  Maybe a long english or field cucumber?  Of course, we are getting more than we can eat, so it is fun to play cucumber fairy and randomly deliver around to friends and neighbours.

Is there any ode to a cucumber songs?  There should be, cuz I want to sing it to these yummy guys!

These little orange mini tomatoes taste just like sunshine!

Look at my poor tomato plants!  They were so burdened that they actually crushed the tomato cage and fell right over!  This happened last year too, so I was extra careful placing the cages this year.  I guess next year I will stake them as well!!!!

Cucumber plants are well designed to hide their precious babies!  Better fun than a 'Where's Waldo' picture!

We should even get a decent amount of corn this year.


Aug 29, 2011

Door Hangers (complete with story)

Last June, one of the kids that I worked with and his mom were in a meeting with the principal at our school.  At some point he went up to the principal and said, "You are like a princess!  And a principal.  You are a princess-ipal!!!"  Of course, this was shared with some delight through the school, and so it came a few days later that the vice-principal asked our little guy, "So, if Mrs. W. is a princess-pal, what does that make me?"  Without missing a beat little guy replies. "You are a cannibal!!!"

So for a fun surprise I decided that they would need new name tags on their office doors to celebrate their new titles!
This sign uses Basic Grey "Sweet Threads" papers, which are just so yummy!  And of course a little Maya Road goodness as the base of the crown.

I don't very often get to play boy-boy in my scrappy space, so I was a bit challenged by this new territory.  I ended up having lots of fun!  The papers and some alphas are from Simple Stories "Destinations".  I don't know that much about cannibals, so it ended up being kind of pirate-y.  It was Mark's idea to add the little top knot of hair in Scully-Dude and Avery's to add the freaky vial of blood dangling off the bottom. Both those bits are Tim Holtz products.

I hope they get a laugh out of this little surprise:0) We will make deliveries today.  

And for the record, Mr. S. is a soft-spoken teddy bear of a man.  I know of no occasion where the VP has eaten any children- good, bad or in between!

Happy Monday, y'all!

Aug 26, 2011

Little bit of memory lane....

We have spent the past couple of weeks picking away at transforming the former playroom into a study.  Finally last night we were ready to move all the office things that have been stored like squirrel nuts in hidden corners of the house.  In cleaning out those spots I found a little treasure: A little notebook where I recorded some Avery stories from when she was two and three years old.  Some of my favourites follow:

Avery: How big am I Mama?
Mom: Let's measure and see. (We measure her against the wall).
Mom: You are 37 inches!
Avery: Wow!!!!!
Dad: Hey! That's three feet, one inch!!!!!
Avery (very seriously): No Dad. I only have two feet!

Avery: The worker's must be fixing my brain!!!!  I can hear again!!! (Avery had a cold and her ears were plugged.)

Avery: Mom! I have a cat in my throat.  It feels pretty scratchy!!!!

What made you smile this week?

Aug 23, 2011

On Bliss

I spent this past weekend at a yoga retreat in Canmore.  It was organized by a good friend and was facilitated by Meranda Squires.  I have never attended a weekend like this and was immediately curious when the invitation came around.  I agreed to come because I have an immense amount of respect for my friend and was looking forward to spending some quality time with her.  I know nothing of yoga or yoga philosophies but 'have curiosity, will travel' as I told my husband.  (Quite unrelated to agreeing to attend the retreat, I have started going to a local yoga studio. I still know nothing much more than how very far I have to go.)

So, I didn't really think about what I was getting into, or what might be involved.  I figured I would get to spend time with a friend I don't get to see enough of, that I would meet some interesting new people and might get a little kick in the pants to get me moving and angled towards some healthy activity.  Even when the agenda came a week or so before the weekend listing yoga philosophy and meditation sprinkled amongst the meals, hikes and yoga sessions I didn't clue in.

There I was Friday night feeling quite satisfied after making the drive all by myself (without having gotten onto the scenic route once) and experiencing the first of many satisfying community vegetarian meals.  I have to admit, I didn't even really get what was going on as we were organized into a circle and instructed into a comfortable, precise sitting position.  Meranda has a lovely, soothing voice and I listened as she began a guided meditation, feeling peaceful and content.  Eventually we were asked to think about the feeling of bliss... and then left to do so for ??? minutes.  And so I was mentally immersed in the simple pleasure of the bright burst of sweetness  from the sun-warmed cherry that explodes in your mouth with the gentlest of pressure from impatient teeth.  The feeling that settles around you those few moments after sexual release where you are both completely relaxed and alive in every cell of your body.  The sound of my daughter's voice drowsily speaking as she returns from some far off thought saying, "I love you, Mom." The fresh cup of coffee that greets me every morning, sitting there on my night stand enticing me to alertness, placed there by my husband- a gesture of love and care.  The warm comfort of a cat curled in your lap, purring, trust-filled.  It was lovely.

We were called back to awareness of the room, and began a discussion of using this feeling of 'bliss' in a practiced and regular way.  To meditate on it often, to access it and promote systemic well-being and calmness.  This is in fact when it began to dawn on me.  Meditation. I lost the train of conversation as I tried to wrap my head around this experience.  I just meditated.

I went to bed still thinking about the experience. Thinking about the ability to call up the feeling of bliss at will.  Like wherever, whenever. Maybe even continuously.  And I started to wonder if that was even a good idea.... What if it robbed the extraordinariness from those unbidden and unexpected moments of bliss that startle you to the present- to take notice of the here and now?  What if because you could experience bliss at a time convenient to you those organic moments of perfection would slip past unnoticed, unremarked? Should the feeling of bliss be another thing to schedule into our busy lives?  Would it be like a drug where your dose needs to get bigger and bigger to have any effect, only to bring you to a crash too painful to allow you the freedom to exist away from the feeling?

I fell asleep thinking that I probably think too much.  Not that I thought up an answer to the above questions.  Someone wiser that me must know and maybe one day they will share.

Will I make meditation a regular part of my life?  I don't know that either.  I do many things already to manage stress from creative pursuits to visualization (I have more on this later, but I found the spot I imagine on a mountain top of all places!!) and breathing techniques.  If I do add meditation to my repertoire, I don't think it would be in a group setting.  At this point, sitting in the approved posture for an extended period of time is physically uncomfortable for me and as it was delicately pointed out to me this weekend, my discomfort makes others feel distracted and uneasy.  I was embarrassed to learn that needing to shift to regain blood flow to my toes interrupts the concentration of others.  Maybe one day...

What I do know is that I am fascinated with this process, and am open to more understanding of meditation benefits.  That the weekend was much more than I ever imagined it would be.  For my body.  For my mind.  For my soul.

Namaste. Peace.

Aug 11, 2011

Some scrappy things to share!

Renos are pretty much at a close around here, Mark took our daughter and niece swimming this afternoon and so I found myself with a few hours to play!  I decided to check out one of my favourite sketch sites for ideas to get me going, and found a perfect starting place.  Twisted Sketches posted this sketch, with the 'twist' of tiny- any way, anyhow!  I went looking for some photos to play with and came across some old 4x12 pictures from a disposable camera that we took with us on our first Mexico vacation.  Love the way 'Tiny Taste of Heaven' came together!!  Thanks to the Twisted Sisters for such great inspiration!  If you want to see any of the images larger, just click on them!
This layout uses Webster's Pages and Simple Stories paper and alpha stickers, some Prima and Zva Creatives bling, a 7 Gypsies paper clip, Pink Paislee wood shape and some Ranger Perfect Pearls spray (which doesn't show in the picture, but added a nice shimmer to the background paper).

The remaining layouts are from a crop I went to in February, but have never gotten around to photographing and posting.  So here they are now:

These are some pictures from one of our treks this Christmas in Mexico- repelling into a cenote!  I think I used MME paper and trims, Glitz designs ephemera, Jillybean Soup letter, and Zva bling.  Oh! And some super old Making Memories metal letters. 'Life is a verb'! Oh yeah!

 This layout uses K & Co papers, Harmonie, American Crafts and Prima letters, Heidi Swapp chipboard, fontwerks stickers, and a beautiful crocheted flower made by my friend Carla.  This layout was published in Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine in the summer 2011 issue. How cute was I?

 This layout uses Glitz Designs and The Girl's Paperie papers, Zva bling, Best Creations covered cork embellies, and letters from Basic Grey, Pink Paislee, Sassafrass, Heidi Swapp, Rose Moka and Girl's Paperie. This is one of my favourite layouts ev-ah!  Even had to do the trendy banner thing:0) Mark took this awesome picture of me!

And this layout uses Cosmo Cricket papers and chipboard, Basic Grey letters and bling, Magenta stickers, Prima Bling and trim, Glitz Designs ephemera.  When I got home from the crop Mark informed me that my aunt and uncle did not dance to Randy Travis' song, but rather an Anne Murray song.  Well, they could have danced to 'Forever and Ever' and because I believed it to be so, I got to use that rockin' ampersand from Basic Grey!

Thanks for looking!

Aug 7, 2011

A lesson and a few cats' lives!

To those of you with perfect children, I have a confession.  Mine is not perfect.  She negotiates everything.  She doesn't want to do her chores. She is perplexed by the subtleties of friendships and can be a force to reckon with.  She has many talents and lots of potential and has yet to find that thing that grabs her so passionately that she is driven to understand nuances and give more than surface effort to it. She rarely listens the first time she is told something and frequently will go ahead and do what she's been asked not to just for the experience of it all.  It is the last that brings us to 'the lesson'.

On Friday, she had the notion to tie a skipping rope around her cat.  Not sure why but I am guessing that she wanted to walk the cat.  This was not her first attempt at tying a rope to the cat.  She has been caught many times before and warned not to do this.  She has probably been hearing this rule for at least 4 years.  What can I say?  I give her bonus points for perseverance and determination...

Back to Friday.  Cat with skipping rope tied around it's middle.  Cat escapes and heads for the hills, presumably fearing for it's life.  A sweep of the neighbourhood turns up nothing.  

Saturday morning came, but the cat did not.  Avery doesn't mention the cat, yet seems off all day.  Edgy, clingy, unfocused.  A full day ensues, adventures happen, but not a word from her.  After supper I went out and searched farther afield for the cat, scouring the nearby golf course and adjoining streets with no luck.  Bedtime came and although she was obviously tired she had trouble settling down and getting to sleep.  After a series of requested cuddles and other delay tactics, she finally fell asleep- for about an hour.  She woke up confused, crying, and certain that she had not fallen asleep and that she wouldn't ever sleep again. We sat her down and asked what was going on.  She finally sobbed, "I guess I am feeling guilty."  We comforted her and then made a plan for what we could do to find the cat in the morning.  She went off to bed, this time to a better sleep.

By this time, I was really starting to worry about the cat, hoping that she had freed herself from the rope and was sulking somewhere near.  But more than that, I was worried for Avery.  While I was glad to see her dealing with her mistake honestly and truly working to make things right I was afraid that the lesson would go too far.  I didn't want a serious injury or even Nina's death on her conscience either.  Although we've explained all the reasons tying up a cat is a bad idea, her limited life experience prevents her from truly understanding the consequences. My heart hurt.

Sunday morning Avery started on a poster as soon as she got out of bed.  Before posting them around the neighbourhood, we planned to do some more walking around looking for Nina and hoping to find an abandoned skipping rope.  We walked for a couple of hours along the far side of the golf course where there is less development and more mice.  No luck.  Returned home for water and to regroup, more worried than ever.  After a rest, we headed back out to search the area I covered the night before.  Maybe this time...

We got to the end of our street when we heard a frightened yowl and quickly located the source as a large, dense pine tree.  There we found Nina! The rope was wrapped around the lower branches and she was trapped.  We unraveled her and brought her home.  She promptly fell asleep- a deep intense sleep even for a cat.  She was exhausted!!  I don't know if she was trapped in the tree for all this time, but we walked past it several times and she said nothing.  If she hadn't spoken up, we would never have spotted her there, the branches were so thick.

After several hours of sleep, Nina stirred and moved all the way to my lap.  She purred her love and gratitude for an hour and I dared not budge, sitting there in a quiet and rapidly darkening room.  When Avery went to bed, Nina joined her, laying across her legs and purring her forgiveness.  Avery beamed, quivering under the sheets.  "I am shivering with delight!", said she. Nina spent the whole night curled up by Avery's side.  When she woke, she ate and drank and is now perched in a window sill, peacefully surveying the yard.

So.  A lesson learned.  A few lives removed from Nina's collection.  Heartache and celebration.   As my clever and astute friend Kathy put it, "If we could, every one of us would spare our children from all pain. And we would have kids with no compassion, no caring, and no understanding."

My child is a work in progress... and perfect to me.