I so appreciate you reading my posts and following my blog.
For a while I’ve been struggling with intense sadness related to the passing of Terry the Quilting Husband on 12/13/18, things happening in my country (the U.S.) over the past year, all the deaths and horrors of the global pandemic; and most recently the icky icky icky stuff going on in Washington DC (and around my country) post the national election in November 2020.
I am mentally exhausted and need to reboot for a while and I am putting on hold any non essential activities to focus on caring for my psyche. I plan to just focus on making things in my studio.
I had slowed down on posting for a while and found that as much as I wanted to, I did not have the energy to keep up with reading all the blogs I follow (as awesome as they might be).
So I am going to be on hiatus from blogging for a while, not posting or reading posts.
In case you are curious, as far as my plans on the tierneycreates Etsy shop, I realize I do not have the energy right now to reopen it but I am going to keep making things for the day I do (which will likely coincide with when I return to blogging).
I decided to write this post as I did not want you to think I fell off the face of the earth, and to thank you for reading and commenting, I so appreciate you all. I will still be occasionally on Instagram (@tierneycreates) sharing my creations.
A friend recently sent me this wonderful card which helped me realize perhaps I need to take a break from anything providing additional burden during this time, giving myself some “grace”.
Take care of yourselves and I wish you all grace until we meet again in the blogosphere.
I am not usually one for book clubs, at least not currently. I like to read what I want to read. I am however in two virtual “book clubs” with two friends right now on two different books: 1) a fiction physical book; and a 2) non fiction audiobook.
City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
I am reading this first book in the Daevabad Trilogy with my friend Michele.
Here is the Kirkus Review on the book if you are curious:
A rich Middle Eastern fantasy, the first of a trilogy: Chakraborty’s intriguing debut.
On the streets of 18th-century Cairo, young Nahri—she has a real talent for medicine but lacks the wherewithal to acquire proper training—makes a living swindling Ottoman nobles by pretending to wield supernatural powers she doesn’t believe in. Then, during a supposed exorcism, she somehow summons a mysterious djinn warrior named Dara, whose magic is both real and incomprehensibly powerful. Dara insists that Nahri is no longer safe—evil djinn threaten her life, so he must convey her to Daevabad, a legendary eastern city protected by impervious magical brass walls. During the hair-raising journey by flying carpet, Nahri meets spirits and monsters and develops feelings for Dara, a deeply conflicted being with a long, tangled past. At Daevabad she’s astonished to learn that she’s the daughter of a legendary healer of the Nahid family. All the more surprising, then, that King Ghassan, whose ancestor overthrew the ruling Nahid Council and stole Suleiman’s seal, which nullifies magic, welcomes her.
With Ghassan’s younger son, Prince Ali, Nahri becomes immersed in the city’s deeply divisive (and not infrequently confusing) religious, political, and racial tensions. Meanwhile, Dara’s emerging history and personality grow more and more bewildering and ambiguous. Against this syncretic yet non-derivative and totally credible backdrop, Chakraborty has constructed a compelling yarn of personal ambition, power politics, racial and religious tensions, strange magics, and terrifying creatures, culminating in a cataclysmic showdown that few readers will anticipate. The expected first-novel flaws—a few character inconsistencies, plot swirls that peter out, the odd patch where the author assumes facts not in evidence—matter little. Best of all, the narrative feels rounded and complete yet poised to deliver still more.
I am enjoying the book so far and look forward to discussing with my friend Michele.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Not only is this a non-fiction book in the “self-improvement genre” but I am listening to it as an audiobook with my friend Jenny from Central, Oregon where I used to live before I moved to the Denver Metro area in April 2019.
In my February 2020 post Musings on Self-Improvement, I swore off self-help/self-improvement audiobooks after sudden series burnout on listening to them. I’ve also been trying to stick to podcasts or music for the listening during my walks/hikes and save reading fiction or non-fiction in physical book form. During the pandemic I’ve rediscovered the pleasures of curling up with a book like in this photo below (and Mike the Miniature Schnauzer prefers it also_:
But I heard a lot about this book and it really appealed to me as an exception to my “no more self-improvement audiobook rule”.
It also appealed to my friend Jenny who is dealing with some major life changes ahead; and who likes to go on long walks in Central Oregon and listen to audiobooks.
When we both finish the book, we are going to do a “Virtual Book Group” meeting and discuss via Facetime over a pot of tea (we have to each make our own because virtual tea gets complicated – ha!).
Oh and here is the Kirkus Review on the book (which I’ve actually finished and thought was spectacular and inspiring!):
More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.
In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Here are a couple quotes from this book that seemed to be the right thing I needed to hear at the right time.
When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.
Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.
The only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me.
Be careful with the stories you tell about yourself.
Every life is an unprecedented experiment. This life is mine alone…So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been. There is no map. We are all pioneers.
Privilege is being born on third base. Ignorant privilege is thinking you’re there because you hit a triple. Malicious privilege is complaining that those starving outside the ballpark aren’t waiting patiently enough.
I have learned that if I want to rise, I have to sink first.
Speaking of my friend Michele (the one I am reading City of Brass with) she sent me an image of her with the hat I made her last year and the matching scarf I made her recently that I shared in the post Scarf for a Friend.
I think she looks lovely and coordinated (the hat and scarf match her winter jacket).
Oh and at the beginning of this post I mentioned I am not one for book clubs, at least not presently. I’ve tried several book clubs over the years and most of them was not a fit for me after a while. I did however belong to a spectacular book club, started by my friend Michele and I, when I lived in Seattle, Washington.
One of the cool things about this book club was it was a mix of male and female and had a wide age range. It was also quite diverse in culture and life experiences. It made for an excellent mix for a book club. It was called The Good Book Club and went on for many years. Several of our members were single and even met their future partners in book club.
The title of this post might confuse you and lead you to wonder: “Is Tierney now focusing on making pillows for cats and how does Mike the Miniature Schnauzer feel about this?!?!?”
What is post is actually about it how as a crafter we make a lot of crafts and give a lot as gifts; and sometimes we forget what happens to those gifts over the years. It is a sweet and special blessing to hear how a gift is still being used years later.
Such in the case of an unexpected “kitty pillow“.
I have a post from February 2015, 2015 Goals, in which I shared that I had made Little Love Note Pillows for my then open Etsy Shop (aptly named tierneycreates). Around the same time as selling these pillows on my tierneycreates shop, I gave some as gifts to family and friends. Here are some images of these pillow sets I sold and gifted:
I sort of forgot about these pillows made 5 years ago, especially with all that has transpired in my life the past 5 years (and especially the past nearly 2 years…).
Well a couple days ago, I received a text and images from my brother-in-law Sean (my late husband Terry’s brother), sharing some photos of how his cat is enjoying the little pillows I sent him so many years ago. His kitty thought they were the perfect “cat sized pillows”!
He meant to tell me long time ago but kept forgetting.
What a huge smile his text and photos put on my face! It was a nice pick me up as I’ve been feeling quite blue of late (see the Postscript section below).
Today is December 1st and I think I’ve come to accept that December is a very rough month for me.
December used to be my favorite month with my late husband Terry’s birthday (Dec 2), Christmas (Dec 25) and my wedding anniversary (Dec 29).
Now December also holds the anniversary of Terry’s (known to this blog as “Terry the Quilting Husband”) sudden passing (12/13) who had been my partner since I was 20 years old.
December also holds the anniversaries of the passing of my beloved mother-in-law “Mimi” that I had in my life longer than my biological mother; and Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer the greatest canine love of my life. The passed within a week of each other in December 2017.
I was numb during Christmas 2018; I made it through Christmas 2019 but I am thinking that this year I probably won’t do a Christmas tree as it is makes me even sadder. Unfortunately, on 12/13/18, a couple days after decorating our tree together, I discovered the love of my life deceased next to the Christmas tree.
I will get through December; and appreciate all the love and support from friends and family and I am so thankful for my partner John and our dog Mike.
Also I am always trying to remember this wonderful quote I stumbled upon early in my grief journey:
Some days it seems like every moment of the day is a battle to keep the nests out of my hair at least during the month of December…
(okay Tierney you just won the “Most Depressing Blog Post” award…I promise future posts will not be as glum)
This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and traditionally it’s a holiday where family and/or friends gather and share a large meal featuring TURKEY.
However in 2020, time of the global pandemic, ongoing traditions likely did not work, especially with all the current COVID restrictions in place around the U.S.
In our region for example we are on “Level Red” restrictions and we are not supposed to congregate with people outside our immediate household. So that means no having relatives over for Thanksgiving.
My partner John has a son, daughter in law, and darling granddaughter in the area, as well as much of his siblings and parents in the Denver Metro area where we live. We could not gather with them for Thanksgiving due to the current restrictions in place.
I was not really in the mood for two of us to make and share a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner so we came up with the idea of John asking his son what his wanted to eat on Thanksgiving and John making it (he loves to cook) and dropping it off at his house. We decided to do the same thing with John’s elderly father and his partner who have been fairly homebound during the pandemic.
And what did John’s son choose for Thanksgiving dinner? He chose – CHICKEN STRIPS and MACARONI AND CHEESE, one of his favorite meals that his dad makes! John’s dad was happy with the same menu also so we made up several batches of homemade “mac & cheese” and chicken strips.
John set them up for delivery and then did a door drop off to each household for their “Thanksgiving dinners”!
We also included some ranch dressing for dipping the chicken strips.
John and I had the same dinner ourselves when he returned from dropping off the meals (which got rave reviews).
In a strange pandemic-times-way we “shared” a meal with family outside our household for Thanksgiving.
Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer asking for a sampling as the meals got boxed up for delivery.
Speaking of Thanksgiving and cooking, if you like podcasts, head over to my blogging buddy, Portland based author Tammie Painter’s wonderful The Book Owl Podcast for the latest episode – Cooking Up Something Good – all about the history of cookbooks! It was another fun and informative podcast!
Good Morning from my side of the pond. I thought I would share some recent images from my partner John’s early morning bike rides like I did in the post Good Morning and The Library Stack.
If in addition to making me look lazy with all his recent woodshop crafting projects, he has also been showing me up on physical fitness activities during the pandemic. Several times a week at 5:00 am in the morning he goes on a 20 – 26+ mile (32 – 42 km) bike ride (even in the chilly Autumn mornings).
He usually catches great sunrises on his ride, especially at the reservoir near our house.
Here is John just returned from a morning ride (and I have just risen from bed to make my way to my 20 foot commute to my home office, ha!):
Greetings from tierneycreates Beastie, she has not guest blogger posted in a while (Beastie Adventures). She might have a post in the future!
Well John is not early morning bike riding currently as it has snowed in the Denver Metro area.
Here is tierneycreates Beastie in her Autumn/Winter outfit all ready for the cold and snow:
So I am going to take this opportunity to share what the other crafty person in the house, my partner John has been working on.
A couple months ago we turned part of our basement into his woodshop (we had it professionally drywalled as well as electrical added, while John put in the floor and did all the finishing work), so he could have his own “craft room”.
His workshop is a work in progress and evolving. For the first time in his life he has his dream of having his own dedicated woodshop beyond just tinkering in the garage.
John and I met in mid-2019 after suddenly each losing our long time spouses/life partners in 2018. We decided that since how long you have to live your life is unknown (when you become a widow/widower you think a lot about your own mortality in addition to grieving the loss of your spouse) we would not hold back from having our dreams (within reason and within financial possibilities of course!). One of his lifelong dreams was to have his own woodshop!
(One of our shared dreams is travel and pre-COVID pandemic we had many plans for travel in 2020, but you all know about “best laid plans” when it comes to 2020…)
Mike the miniature schnauzer did a guest blog post a couple weeks ago (yes, yes, stop your disbeliefs that my dog writes blog posts, ha, ha) on some of the projects John has been working on – Guest Blog Post: A Whole Lot of Remodeling Going On , but I thought I would share some of the projects since that post.
Wood Blocking Board
I saw on Instagram wood blocking boards for granny squares and asked John if he could make me one – and he did!
Here is an image of one I found online and texted him the image:
He watched a couple YouTube videos and checked out some on Pinterest and figured it out how to make me one:
It’s going to be great to use for making my next granny square blanket – I can stack my blocks pretty high with the long pegs.
John loves Pinterest as a great source of ideas. He wanted to get our bikes off just sitting on the ground of the garage and found a cool design for a bike rack and made one for each of our bikes!
He made mine first so most of the images are of mine with some detailed images of the rack to include the little drawer he built for it also.
The little drawer is perfect to keep your biking gloves and other small items related to cycling. It is very easy to lift our bikes out of the holders.
I am obsessed with Scrabble letters. I have a collection of Scrabble letters from thrift stores and old Scrabble games. I’ve made gifts from them in the past like friend’s names spelled in Scrabble letters affixed to a magnetic strip. Recently while at a thrift shop I found a bag of Scrabble letters with individual thin magnetic strips attached.
This led to the idea of creating a magnetic board for my home office where I could write inspirational messages for myself with Scrabble letters! I asked John and he made it happen!
Currently up on the board I have the Maya Angelou quote:
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.
Custom Tables for his Woodshop
The first table John made for his woodshop was a table/stand/storage for his Miter Saw:
He used purchased plans he downloaded online to make this table and then made some adjustments for his needs.
Recently he made himself another table/stand/storage, this time without pre-purchased plans! He designed a table for his Planer with storage drawers with cool pulls he ordered online:
Exercise Room for Water Rower
And the big project that John recently completed did not technically involve his woodshop as he did much for the work in the garage – he converted part of our unfinished storage roomin the basement into an exercise room for our new Water Rower. This involved framing out and dry walling the room. A wonderful friend helped him with a lot of the initial labor related to framing, installing the drywall, and pulling electrical for lighting and wall outlets.
The artwork in the room was my idea and I found it at a thrift shop. John created the frame around the world map. I figured we can daydream about travel while we row. We found a television on sale and an inexpensive TV mount online so we can watch rowing instructional videos (or Netflix) while rowing.
We repurposed an old bookcase for our “gym” towels and water bottles like they would have at a real gym. John also put in a vent for the room for ventilation while we break a sweat.
Well I better go work on my hand stitching so I can have something to show you in the future – John makes me look pretty lazy!
He is now in love with a new fleece blanket we recently picked up and has become inseparable from it!
I guess schnauzers are fickle!
Let me close this post with a sign/piece of artwork I discovered while thrifting that I put up outside John’s woodshop door. I think it goes with the aesthetic of a woodshop and also embraces how we are hoping to live our lives:
I’ve shared many of the photos below already on Instagram but I thought I would pull them together and share a quick post about Autumn, my favorite season.
Who doesn’t love the colors of Autumn and the changing leaves?
Not only the color of the leaves but the sounds of the leaves? Usually when I’m on a walk I have my earphones in and I am listening to an audiobook, a podcast or music. Yesterday I went on a little afternoon walk and actually just listened to the trees – their dry autumn leaves rustling in the wind. It was sort of glorious.
In addition to the trees/leaves, we’ve seen some beautiful skies at sunset – my partner John captured these photos.
The other day it dropped to 48 degrees F outside so was it’s cold enough for homemade chicken noodle soup with handmade noodles!
On Instagram I shared these two images below, implying I made the soup…
But I was only adding extra noodles to the soup – actually my partner John made the soup and the noodles.
But I did make an apple pie – a perfect Autumn desert!
I was super tasty and we had it for desert after our soup and garlic bread for supper.
Now it’s time to pull out the stew recipes as well as the soups I like to make recipes. Cooler weather means lots of cooking (and maybe some more baking).
Oh I will close this post with what Mike the Miniature Schnauzer is up to – providing emotional support for more home remodelingprojects (see his guest post Guest Blog Post: A Whole Lot of Remodeling Going On) by going on trips to home improvement stores.
Here is his photo from the other day when he went to pick up more supplies and it looks like he’s trying to give the humans some directions…
I found a profound piece of “wisdom” taped to the inside cover of an old journal and wanted to share it with you, in case you also find it inspiring.
I do not know who to credit for this as I had no additional information on where I clipped this from; and when I tried to google it no result came up. So my apologies to whomever wrote these wonderful words I’ve copied below…
We should study the earth’s wisdom…
Have strong foundation. It will nourish you and stabilize you when life storms come.
Reach high and keep growing. Shelter and nurture others.
Share your fruit freely.
Let it go! Don’t hold your fiery spirit in.
Your passion will create paradise in time.
Keep moving or you will stagnate. You are more powerful than you know.
As you move through life, simply being yourself, you will nourish, refresh, and create incredible beauty.
Lift your consciousness to a higher level. Everything is different from that higher perspective.
Your path upward may seem rocky but it will be worthwhile.
Even if storms come, know that they are just on the surface.
Sync your awareness into your own depths where there is always calm. Even if your depths seem dark, they are rich with life. you hold, so much more than you imagine.
You are part of so much more than you realize. You may think you are a small wave but you are an intrinsic part of a large ocean.
Be still. Conserve your energy.
You have existed for a long time and have soaked in wisdom like sunshine.
Your power is your being, not your doing.
Beauty comes from diversity.
Don’t be afraid of the fertilizer in your life. You can use it to grow.
There are friends buzzing all around to help you grow. You are not alone.
You are a gift, beautiful nourishing and soulful.
It’s OK to be soft and gentle.
Be yourself, soak in the waters of life, and you will be able to grow even in unlikely conditions.
I was thinking about a different post to write this post on my morning walk with Mike the Miniature Schnauzer.
The trees have turned and the weather has cooled down and there was a delicious Autumn cool quiet to my walk this morning.
I enjoy listening to either podcasts, audiobooks or music while I walk Mike. This morning I was listening to music and one of my all time favorite songs queued up on my playlist – Why Worry by Dire Straits from of one of my favorite albums of all time – Brothers in Arms.
In the back of mind lately, always swirling around, are thoughts of the craziness going on in the world. Listening to this song gave me pause.
So I decided to save the post I was going to write today for tomorrow and instead share this song with you and maybe it can give you a little pause too if you have a lot of “thought swirling” going on in your head…
Baby, I see this world has made you sad Some people can be bad The things they do, the things they say
But baby, I’ll wipe away those bitter tears I’ll chase away those restless fears And turn your blue skies into gray
There should be laughter after pain There should be sunshine after rain These things have always been the same So why worry now Why worry now
And if you’d like to see a lovely live version of the song in a Mark Knopfler duet with the exquisite Emmylou Harris, here you go…
I thought my soul would float away from peacefulness listening to this…
By the way if you enjoyed this duet they have a brilliant album together that I highly recommend (it’s in my music collection) – All the Road Running.
Toward the end of last year (2019), we bought a large erasable calendar for the laundry room to keep track of all the things we had planned.
We had so many thing planned from March 2020 through Summer 2020 that we needed a central and visible place to keep track of everything and to make plans.
On this calendar were the basketball games we had tickets to attend, special events for my partner’s work, two conference to attend – one in Nashville and one in Orlando, a trip to Scotland and Ireland with friends in July (and a possible side trip to Paris to meet up with my sister who would be in Europe at the same time), parties/special celebrations to attend, and so much more.
Then COVID happened, and the calendar just stopped.
All those things got erased from the erasable calendar. It somedays it feels like an entire lifestyle got erased overnight.
I think why I struggled with this is that I was so looking forward to late Winter, Spring and Summer 2020.
Late 2019 was very difficult dealing with the first anniversary of my husband’s passing and early 2020 was difficult with my “snow anxiety” (see the Postscript section of the post The Hat from the Yarn from the Journey). I had made it through some “dark days” and I was so looking forward to all the fun ahead documented on our calendar…
I might be sounding whiny at this point.
We are starting to add a little to our calendar now but I do not see it returning to its pre-pandemic state any time soon.
I am okay with this, I appreciate any fun outside the home we get to have these days!
Mike the Miniature Schnauzer has been pretty happy the past 5 months with both of us working from home and not going on any trips until recently (like our long weekend to Rocky Mountain National Park).
Yes it’s a photo of Mikelet (tierneycreates Beastie’s dog) and Mike, ready to go on their walks. I put a red arrow in the lower left hand corner of the photo above so you would not miss Mikelet who is a considerably smaller miniature Miniature Schnauzer!
(Yes these are the silly things we do to entertain ourselves these days…)
A couple days ago my art quilt Giant Among the Sequoias (2018)arrived in the mail. It was touring in an exhibit: “Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young”, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, head of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN).
It was bittersweet having this quilt returned to me.
This quilt was the last “art quilt” I created before my husband Terry (Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)) suddenly died in December 2018. I remember having the quilt up in the design wall in the hallway in my former home in Central Oregon and soliciting his feedback as the quilt organically evolved.
I’ve continued quilting and making little craft projects since he died, but for the past year and a half I’ve lost my art quilt muse. I can make improvisational quilts like Seattle Scrappy (see post Seattle Scrappy (What’s on the Design Wall)) but I’ve struggled with wanting to create storied/pictorial quilt like Giant Among the Sequoias. I even passed up an amazing invitational only opportunity in the spring of 2019 which would have led to my first quilt showing at the Houston International Quilt Show.
I am so happy I had all the quilts already made when I had my first solo show at the Seattle Municipal Center in April 2019 (see post Solo Show Seattle Municipal Tower (re-post)) as I could not have made new art quilt pieces for that show.
I did not attend the opening for the exhibit “Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young” which opened March 16, 2019 in Wilberforce, Ohio. I had planned to attend it before Terry died and my sweet brother wanted me to meet him in Ohio and attend the show with me.
I just was not up to it and in retrospect I regret not attending the show and also missing on an opportunity to spend time with my wonderful brother Raoul.
Alas grief is a strange beast and now a year and a half into widowhood I have learned to tame that beast a bit, or at least live somewhat peacefully with it.
The narrative quilts are a history lesson captured in fabric.
“Giant Among the Sequoias,” a quilt created by Oregon artist Tierney Davis Hogan, is a re-creation of a forest scene made from recycled batik fabric scraps. In the center, an image of Young is stitched into the largest tree, keeping watch over the park.
“I love that because it’s quite a twist,” Mazloomi said. “It’s not necessarily a narrative quilt but it is a modern quilt in geometric form and it goes on to tell a story about his work in Sequoia Park.”
I am so honored!
My muse has slowly returned and I am going to create a storied/pictorial art quilt for an important show, which I hope to get juried into. Even if my piece is not accepted, it will be my next piece (I only have one so far) in my series Stories My Father Told Me (see series of posts Stories My Father Told Me).
I did hang up the quilt in the hallway headed downstairs to the daylight basement as there is other wall art related to national parks and the outdoors in that area.
Before I dive into this post I’d like to ask you to revisit my previous post if you’d like to: Liebster Award Nomination. I decided not to make it a two part post (because originally I was falling asleep towards the end of writing it) and to just go back and edit the post and finish it up. You will see towards the bottom of the post a header: “Update 05/12/2020”; and under that header you will find “Eleven (11) Facts About Myself”, my nominations of 7 blogs and the corresponding questions I’ve posed for the nominees to answer. I did go ahead and notify the 7 nominees in the comment section of their blogs. So if you’d like to read the rest of my ramblings related to Anna at Homeschool Guru nominating me for a blogging award head on over there (smile).
And now onto the previous Friday’s frolicking adventure…
Indie Bookstore and Antique Shop Browsing!
I am off work on Fridays (I work Monday – Thursday) and my partner John and I decided to have a little adventure. We heard last week that the town of Castle Rock, Colorado was relaxing their business closure rules during the pandemic and would allow some businesses to open.
Masked and gloved we headed out to Castle Rock as we checked and their independent bookstore Sudden Fiction Bookswas open! It feels like its been eons since I’ve been able to wander through a bookstore or a public library so I was so excited to browse.
We had an exquisite browse at Sudden Fiction in downtown Castle Rock, which sells both new and used books and we left with quite the stack of new and used books (mainly science fiction). Here are photos from that visit.
Here is my partner John all masked and gloved while browsing.
I had a lovely chat with the shopkeeper while maintaining social distancing and trying to talk through our masks. We occasionally we did have to repeat ourselves as some words do not enunciate very clearly through a mask!
On our way out of the bookstore we noticed there we other shops open in downtown Castle Rock to include an antique shop!
The only shopping I’ve done in the past couple of months was at grocery stores or “box stores” (Costco, Target, Home Depot) and what a pleasure it was to actually wander/browse through an independent retail shop.
Here are photos from our inside and outside wander (they have an outdoor garden kitsch section) at The Barnin downtown Castle Rock. We bought some new yard art there to support the business.
In the garden section out back I was particularly fascinated by their huge collection of large rusted letters. We photographed them in both color and black & white.
But alas, I could not figure out why I needed them so we did not leave the shop with any large letters!
We also ate lunch in Castle Rock at a new place called Cuba Cuba. We were allowed to walk in and order at the bar (maintaining social distance of course) and then we had to wait outside on the patio for our food. Inside the restaurant was lovely and we look forward to the day we can go inside and dine (or even sit outside on their nice patio and dine). But we happily ate our Cuban sandwiches in the car.
All the things I used to kind of take for granted pre-pandemic. What a treat it was to be able to browse in downtown Castle Rock on Friday!
Speaking of Castle Rock, we were excited that Castle Rock had loosened some restrictions but unfortunately not all Castle Rock business behaved as the Colorado governor had mandated when the restrictions were loosened as you will see in this online news article:
The word “Liebster” sounded vaguely familiar and quite German. I studied German for a year when I was in college and I remembered the German word “lieb” which means dear as in beloved.
I checked an English to German dictionary online (interglot.com) and discovered the definition for “Liebster” is: “friend, dear, sweetheart.
Sounds like a nice name for a blogging award (smile).
It’s been a long time since I’ve received a nomination for a blogging award as I’ve been blogging for nearly 7 years and it seems like these awards are primarily to give exposure to new blogs. So it was quite a pleasant and appreciated surprise.
I appreciated her comments on her post regarding my nomination:
Tierney at Tierney Creates. Queen of quilts, this is a creative and artistic blog, plus Mike-the-dog-who-thinks-he’s-a-human.
(You might be wondering why I follow a blog/website called homeschoolguru when I do not have any children that I home school. Well this blogger found me and commented on my blog a couple months ago and I took a peek at her blog and discovered it was absolutely delightful! Yes she writes many posts helpful to parents who home school but she also covers many other topics of interests and her posts are witty and engaging!)
Okay so here are the rules of being nominated:
LIEBSTER AWARD RULES
• Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
• Answer the 11 questions given to you.
• Share 11 facts about yourself.
• Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
• Ask your nominees 11 questions of your choice.
• Notify your nominees once you have uploaded your post.
By the way, it’s late in the evening, the wind is howling like crazy outside and I am sitting in bed writing while sleep is attempting to creep upon me. I might ramble during the rest of this post, please forgive me. I did not want to let too much time pass between the time I was nominated (May 5th) and when I answered the questions that come along with being nominated.
I think these questions are designed for you all to get to know me a little better, but some of you have followed my blog for years and might feel like you know enough already (or more than you want to know!)
Question #1:Do you have a book out or in the pipeline?
Yes, in the pipeline! I have an idea for a children’s’ book or a young adult book (or both), but not ready to share yet.
Question #2: How long have you been blogging and what is your favorite subject to write about?
I’ve been blogging for nearly 7 years – my blog began in October 2013 as a vehicle originally for my now closed tierneycreates Etsy shop. I do not have a favorite subject to blog about, I just enjoy sharing stories from a “Crafter’s Life”.
Question #3: If you could move to a different town, state or country… where would you be?
New Zealand – not sure what town – I’d just have to first visit all my blogging buddies that live there and see which town was the friendliest for me to build my small off grid cottage! (But I would need some serious solar power for running my sewing machine all the time).
Question #4:What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I grow wiser as I grow older and have learned to put things in “perspective”.
Question #5: Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert or even both?
I am both. I spent many years presenting as an Extrovert, but now I am enjoying embracing my Introverted side while functioned as needed as an Extrovert (smile).
Question #6: What is THE JOB of your dreams?
If someone could pay me a nice salary to blog full time and make things in my craft room, that would be it. Or perhaps I get my book (or books) published someday and use the royalties to just craft and blog all day!
Question #7:Other than blogging/writing what is the one favorite thing you LOVE to do?
Go on walks alone listening to audiobooks/podcasts, or with my dog, or with my partner (but I talk to him instead of listening to books!). If my legs and feet could handle it I would walk for miles and miles each day!
Question #8:Where is one of the first places you plan on going after quarantine is over?
Can anyone guess? Yup, it the PUBLIC LIBRARY! I cannot wait until I can run free (no worry I will be clothed) through the stacks and stacks books in the library. All those lonely books, waiting for me to check them out…
Question #9:Speaking of COVID-19, is there anything that you learned about yourself or will be changing about yourself when ‘life moves on?’
Several years ago I discovered “Minimalism” and I was trying to move towards a quality life with less stuff in my life. Then I kind of slip off that path for a while. Now I’ve been using COVID-times to refocus on what really matters in life and to be careful how I spend my money and my time.
Question #10:Is there anything as far as food that you will absolutely NOT eat?
Oh yes – Liver and Onions! I gagged it down as a child, and never again. Also I will never eat Oreo cookies or Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream – yuck! Their flavors nauseate me.
Question #11:Do you own a website for your writing?
No, not yet…
Well I am super sleepy now, as I am sure you are too trying to read all this boring information about me – hopefully you have not done a face-plant into your computer keyboard – ha!
I will continue my rambling…um, I mean completing the requested Liebster Award nomination information in my next post.
I’ve decided not to do a “Part II” to this post and just finish up on this post.
Eleven (11) Facts About Myself
I used to be obsessed with Barbies (Mattel toys Barbie dolls) from my late 20s to late 30s. It was something related to some challenging childhood memories and Barbies provided me with a lot of comfort. When I got into my late 30s to early 40s I was finally able to let my Barbie collection go. I sold some on Etsy, some on eBay and gave away/donated a lot of Barbies.
I love public libraries. Walking into a library immediately calms, relaxes and excites me. This is related to many wonderful childhood memories at the library. I think it was the summer when I was 10 years old that I spent every day at the library. I would ride my bike to the library and browse books for hours – both children and adult books. The librarians knew me well. When I lived in Central Oregon from 2005 – 2019 I got to know the Deschutes Public Library quite well and had some librarian buddies at the downtown branch. I even had several art quilts in library art shows (see post A Novel Panel Idea). When I travel I try to visit a local library whenever possible.
I’ve likely read way too many self-help books but I am still strangely drawn to them. I tried to swear off of them (see post Musings on Self-Improvement) but I might be secretly listening to one right now and just not telling all about it (smile).
Fabric scraps make me happy. Very happy. I love the idea of saving something meant for a landfill and making something (eventually, hopefully, possibly…) out of it. I’ve become more selective over the years what scraps I get from other quilters and I’ve donated many fabric scraps in thrift shops (they sell well at thrift shops) as I shared in the post A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps.
My husband (who suddenly passed in December 2019) and I adopted rescued dogs, specifically rescued miniature schnauzers, for nearly 25 years. I currently have a rescued miniature schnauzer, Mike, who is 9.5 year old. His story is in the post – Taking Chances: The Mike Hogan Chronicles (re-post). I have been thinking about the future and wondering should I continue with miniature schnauzers or explore adopting those teddy bear looking labradoodles?
I absolutely love pretzels. I’ve loved them since I was little. I enjoy quilt retreating with my friend Judy because she loves pretzels too and always has a nice stash of yummy pretzels (sometimes with a special garlic seasoning on them) to the retreat for us to snack on! (Of course quilt retreats are all about snacking, right?) My sister and I have a funny memory related to a pretzel:We like to meet up in New York City for a sisters weekend occasionally (she lives on the East Coast) and I was having the most delicious street vendor large hot pretzel I’ve ever had in my life. I gave her a bite of it. Well then I asked her to hold the pretzel while I rearranged something in my tote bag and BAM she finished off the pretzel while I was not looking, She claims to have had an “out of body experience” and does not remember finishing off the pretzel! We tried to find the vendor again for her to replace my pretzel but we never found another NYC street vendor pretzel as delicious…
My favorite genre is science fiction and for a while I was really into post apocalyptic fiction, especially if there were some type of strange mutation to humans post apocalypse! Of course with the pandemic in place I am avoiding anything in this genre as it is too close for comfort.
I am a recovering perfectionist. I still love organizing things and an organized environment but I have definitely “chilled out” over the years and don’t try to make all things perfect in my life!
I got addicted for a while to those smartphone games like Candy Crush (but I did not give them any money, only played for free) and they were distracting me from working on my creative projects. Finally one day I convinced myself to delete them from my phone!
I know what it is like to be hungry and not know where your next decent meal is coming from. I am grateful that I overcame that time in my life.
Seeing someone snuggled in a quilt I made brings me a sense of joy that I cannot even put into words!
The last part of the Liebster Blogging Award nomination is that I need to nominate between 5 – 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions of my choice. I think 11 question is a bit much, so since I am getting close to my blog’s 7th anniversary, I am going to nominate 7 bloggers and ask them to respond to 7 questions; as well as share 7 facts about themselves. I will notify them in a comment on their blog and participation of course is completely optional!
I selected blogs/blogger that I have recently followed who are posting intriguing content to give them some exposure (please know I adore you my long time blogging buddies and you deserve blogging awards everyday!).
You might of noticed if you read my post from Saturday, What’s on the Design Wall: “All the Trimmings”, I’ve been tediously working with a lot of small fabric scraps and half square triangles. For example I had to sew 200 2″ x 2″ half square triangles together to create the first section of the quilt All the Trimmings.
Watching a movie would be a great way to distract myself from the tedium but since I had to make sure the seams all lined up, I’ve been listening to music instead.
For years I’ve been listening to music on shuffle. I use iTunes and have a collection of favorite tunes loaded on my iPhone, or I listen to Pandora or Amazon, Prime Music or the awesome Colorado Public Radio Jazz station KUVO (which is available to stream online also) smartphone apps.
Lately, however, I’ve been trying something different – instead of listening to shuffled music, I’ve been listening to entire albums.
For those of you who listened to music before the music download era, do you remember buying an album (whether vinyl, cassette, 8-track, or compact disc/CD) and LISTENING TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM straight through?
Many albums are concept albums and/or the recording artists had a reason for the order in which they arranged the tracks.
For example – have you ever tried to listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moonshuffled into other songs? It doesn’t work as many of the songs on this classic album were designed to connect and flow into each other.
So for the past several weeks, whenever I am in my sewing studio working on a project, I’ve been listening to entire albums (songs in consecutive order as many of the artists intended) and it has been an AMAZING experience!
Listening to albums in their entirety have brought back a lot of memories and I thought I would share a little bit (and perhaps too much on some) of those memories about three (3) of the albums I’ve recently listened to while sewing.
I was a huge fan of the band The Police during their heyday and thought the lead singer Sting was like one of the hottest men walking the earth (you are quite impressionable as a pre-teen, ha!). But I did not really grow to appreciate the breadth of his talent until he went out on his own.
Sting spent time in South America and one of the most powerful songs on the album, They Dance Alone(Cueca Solo) is a powerful metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women who dance the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, alone with photographs of their disappeared loved ones in their hands as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 (Wikipedia).
They Dance Alone(Cueca Solo) is a chilling and powerful song, hut the for me one of the most powerful and beautiful song on this album is the song Fragile. It always bring a couple tears to my eyes when I listen.
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
I love to attend live concerts, especially when I was in my 20s and 30s (yup I am older now!) and one of the most memorable concerts I attended was when I saw Sting and his band (including Bradford Marsalis) play at the RPI Fieldhouse when I lived in Upstate New York. He was touring for the Nothing Like the Sun album and played many songs from the album as well as classic songs from when he was with The Police.
I remember nearly falling over a railing I was holding on when he came out shirtless with just an acoustic guitar to sing Message in a Bottle as one of the encores with the audience joining him in harmony midway through the song.
It would have been quite a fall and I would not be blogging to you right now so it was good I paid attention at the last minute!
I found this obscure video on YouTube which was likely from that tour, to give you a sample of my experience except Sting is fully clothed in this video (smile):
I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder as I primarily listened to whatever my parents were playing on their turnable which was usually R&B, Jazz or Blues. I remember watching the Grammys as a small child and it seemed like he was always awarded Grammys.
He did receive a Grammy in the mid 1970s for the incredible album, but I did not really appreciate the depth of Stevie Wonder’s greatness and talent until I was an adult.
I think sometime in my 30s I bought the CD Innervisions just to add it to a library I was building of classic albums and ended up falling completely in love with the album and realizing his genius.
The album is an incredible masterpiece and I think it is best appreciated listening from start to finish. I do not have a favorite song on this album as each song is a work of musical art.
Here is a sample courtesy of YouTube:
Wait a minute. I do have a favorite song from this incredible album – the sad but beautiful All in Love is Fair. I always have it on my iPhone playlist.
I first heard of ZZ Top in the 1980s during their “Pop Music” MTV phase with songs like Sharp Dressed Man and Gimme All Your Lovin. But in the early 1990s, while living in Houston, Texas, some friends at a dinner party one night introduced me to their earlier work to include the completely bad*ss album – Deguello!
When I first heard the songs La Grange, I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide, Cheap Sunglasses, etc. I was blown away!
Here’s a little sample courtesy of YouTube:
And yes, I had to stand up from my sewing machine on some of the songs and dance about the room. But during the song La Grange I was able to just sing “Hmm, hmm, hmm” in a gravely voice while still sewing!
If you like rock, like real yummy Texas Bluesy Rock, here’s another sample for you (but don’t try to craft/knit/sew to it or you might mess up your piece – ha!):
There is currently a pretty cool documentary about ZZ Top currently on Netflix called The Little Ol’ Band From Texas
I lived in Texas for 8 years and it is like living in another country outside the United States – it really is a unique place with a distinct culture! Everyone needs to visit Texas at least once in their life!
And More Music…
I was originally going to discuss 5 or more albums on this post but I knew I might lose a couple of peoples’ attention if I kept running on about albums (hey Tierney isn’t this supposed to be a blog about crafting?!?!).
But here is a list of some of the other albums I enjoyed listening to in their entirety while I worked on my endless half square triangle quilt:
Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits
The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Zebop – Santana
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
Too Long in Exile – Van Morrison
Ten – Pearl Jam
Legend – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Tapestry – Carole King
Court & Spark – Joni Mitchell
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
Talking Book – Stevie Wonder
At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash
Listening to great music gives me a lot of comfort during these challenging times and inspires me to keep sewing!
Now if you prefer listening spoken word over music for your crafting and you enjoy podcasts, I’d like to recommend a new podcast by one of my blogging buddies, author Tammie Painter: The Book Owl Podcast.
I’ve been following Tammie’s blog for a while and it was fun to actually hear her voice!
Currently there are only two episodes (well three if you count the introduction episode) and I’ve highly enjoyed them both. She takes a topic related to books/literature and presents her research in a humorous and engaging way.
You can find the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. I used Apple podcasts and I was able to pull up the podcast through the Podcast app on my iPhone.
Of course I hope this puts pressure on Tammie to give us another episode soon (smile)!
Seeing her work and her color palettes always inspires my creativity.
I’ve also started to follow her third blog (yes, like I said above, she can make you feel like you’ve been quite lazy – ha!) Sometimes You Get So Confused, which talks about her art drop offs in public places and her musings as she navigates life.
I’ve given the three clay figures, The Positive People, she generously gifted me, a special place in my tierneycreates studio!
Feeling pretty lucky to continue to meet so many awesome people in the “blogosphere”!
I shared in the post Paved Trail Inspirations, that people (likely kids/families) were writing positive messages in sidewalk chalk in the paved trails near my house which I walk everyday. Well, I like to vary my walks to include walking in neighborhoods, and during these walks I am now finding inspirational painted stones, likely done by kids, tucked here and there in neighborhood sidewalks.
These are unusual and challenging times and I love that people (real life “Positive People”) are trying to reach out to each other with encouragement!
I am taking a break from posting about the natural geologic beauty of Colorado like I did in my previous two posts. Instead I have a sort of follow up to my 04/16/2020 post Solo Show Seattle Municipal Tower (re-post).
My first solo show at the Seattle Municipal Tower (sponsored by the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture) ended in July 2019, and I’d already moved to Colorado. The City of Seattle ended up purchasing 3 of the quilts from the show for their permanent collection; and private collectors purchased 2 more, so that left 7 quilts (or 6 I forget) to be returned to me.
Thanks to my friends Colleen, Donna and Judy, the quilts were held for me until I attended a quilt retreat in Washington state in November 2019.
I noticed when I picked up the quilts that had not sold, the City of Seattle had also included all the placards from the show! Below is an example of one of those placards created by the City of Seattle’s gallery curator and his team:
I was not sure as to what to do with these placards, but after moving back into our current house (after due to the COVID related financial crisis we decided not to buy a new house), I decided to create a gallery in my house with the remaining art quilts and their placards.
The gallery is scattered about the house upstairs and downstairs; and is found in hallways as well as bedrooms.
I also mounted on the wall of my studio the placards for the quilts that sold as well as the main poster for the show.
I am not sure how long I will leave the placards up along side the remaining art quilts, but for now I find it entertaining. I guess when you are stuck at home during the COVID times you have to discover new ways to entertain yourself!
Speaking of entertaining oneself, I’ve been thinking about the instruction/suggestion below that I discovered on a morning walk as sidewalk/walking path art (see post Paved Trail Inspirations):
Social isolation is the standard now in the “time of COVID” (how I refer to these times), and my partner John and I have been trying to be creative with finding simple ways to entertain ourselves (besides exhaustive online television network watching).
One of the things we do a couple times of week is having “walking cocktail hour” when we take Mike our miniature schnauzer for a walk in the evening. We load our portable tumblers with our cocktails – a microbrew for me, an Old Fashioned for him, and head out on our dog walk!
And no one knows what is our tumblers…(smile)
I always wonder what pets are thinking about the COVID times and the humans always being around. I already telecommuted full-time and now my partner is also telecommuting, so we are always home together. Here is Mike trying to make the best of us both working on our laptops and fitting in a snuggle with the humans…
Some of you might now be working from home for the first time during the COVID times. I’ve been working from home (or telecommuting as my employer calls it) for over 14 years.
Instead of “telecommuting tips”, I thought I would share some home office tips and a little tour of my home office.
Home Office Tips
Make it cozy and comfortable
Try to make it feel like a separate space from the rest of your home
Don’t stay in there all day! Stand up every 1/2 hour from your desk and at least every couple of hours leave the room to take a little break.
Have a TV or music in the room or listen to podcasts or something – you can simulate having background noise like you would at work
Let your pet (cat, dog, iguana, porcupine, etc.) hang in the room with you and have a cozy spot for them
Tierney’s Home Office Tour
My home office is shared with the upstairs guest room and I’ve decorated it with my favorite schnauzer/dog themed art, some quilts and some tchotchkes!
It makes me smile to work in the room (and during a really boring conference call, I can lie on the bed and listen to it…)
Oh – if you’d like to see close up photos and read more about the flags about the guest bed, here is a post I did in May 2017 on these flags –The Flags Outside My Window
I’ve also turned the closet of the guest room/office into a multipurpose closet with 1/2 of the closet for off season clothes storage (and a place for guests to hang their clothes); and non-sewing craft storage.
I had a mismatched collection of baskets I’ve collected over the years and I used them in an old storage shelf/bookcase (that fit perfectly in 1/2 the closet) to store my paper crafting, jewelry making and miscellaneous craft supplies. I am pleased with the re-purposing.
It is a fun room to work in. It might seem a little busy and overstimulating to some people but it works for me. Create a space that works for you!
Who knows how long you will be working from home during these times, so my suggestion is to make it a fun and stimulating place to work!
One more thing to add – I am very grateful to my employer for really supporting their workforce as most of the company transitions to telecommuting. We have increased video conferencing meetings; wonderful updates from leadership team via video; as well as frequent webinars on taking care of yourself as a remote worker and managing stress during these uncertain times.
The dictionary site merriam-webster.com has a fantastic definition of the word Perspective:
the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
This is the perfect description of what I’ve attempted to do when my partner and I had to make the difficult decision last week to back out of our new house we were having built. So we cancelled the purchase just a couple weeks before closing.
The house was nearly complete and was quite lovely:
But due to the current financial crisis (and the hit we took in the stock market, etc.) and the global pandemic/its related uncertainty, it did not feel like the right time to buy the new house or to move, so we decided to stay where we are at for a couple more years.
So we’ve spent the past 5 days unpacking our boxes/containers and settling back into life at our house.
I was sad for a brief moment (just a couple tears, not an “ugly cry” or anything) of not getting the new house, but then here is where “perspective” really came in:
We already live in a nice neighborhood with neighbors we know and plenty of green spaces to walk about in (while keeping social distancing)
We are both employed and are doing great telecommuting together
We are both healthy and feel safe
Our current home is comfortable and we had fixed up/repaired anything needing repairing before we put it on the market (we took if off the market last week of course)
Mike the miniature schnauzer loves his current home
Keeping “perspective” we realized that the bulleted items above are way more important than getting a brand new house.
In addition to unpacking over the past 5 days, we’ve been re-imaging how our home is decorated and reconfiguring layouts in various rooms. It has been a really fun way to spend our time (when not working at our jobs) when we have been housebound due to the statewide “stay at home” order.
One the big things I did was to unpack my sewing/crafting studio and reconfigure it!
Here is my studio in progress:
In my next post I will show you my unpacked and reconfigured studio (or perhaps I’ll have a guest blogger, the tierneycreates Beastie, give you a tour!). My partner built me a new design wall for it!
In the suburban section of the Denver metro area in which I live, we are allowed to go outside for exercise during the “stay at home” order. Behind our home are walking trails and we can see families walking or bike riding through the day together. More than I’ve ever seen prior to the pandemic.
I think this pandemic is unbelievably horrible and I am sorry for all the lives and livelihoods lost. If there could be any silver linings in these dark days I think it would be how we seemed to have paused from our busy lives and perhaps shifted our perspectives to what really is important. It seems like many families are spending so much more time together and making the best of it.
Today during a virtual/video conference call work meeting, our department leader asked what is the first thing we plan to do when the pandemic is over. Most people said go visit a family member or friend we had not seen in person and give them a big hug.
I’ll close this post with an image of the sidewalk art (by some of the kind hearted people of the Denver area) I discovered as I walked my dog the other day.
I began this post a couple of days ago and then got really blue about what is going on in Italy and other parts of the world, not to mention my own country. But I think we need to carry on with “regular life” as much as we can (while we socially isolate and for some while we “shelter-in-place”), so I pulled myself out of my blueness and I am finishing up this post that might seem a little frivolous at this point but…
Remember mid-February? Remember when you had access to all the toilet paper you needed (or could possibly dream of) and terms such as “social distancing” were not part of your vocabulary/life?
Well let’s take a brief break from our global pandemic in this post and let me share my semi-failed experiment in my first planned “complete relaxation vacation” (but if I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would not have failed at the relaxation vacation experiment!)
You might look at these photos and think: “Wow, what a vacation/holiday in paradise”. This is what normal people would think. However for John and I it was a “Relaxation Vacation Experiment”.
And we may have failed at this experiment…
John is a widower and as many of you know I am a widow. Our former spouses were both the type who liked to do “Always Busy/Scheduled Activities/See As Much As You Can” vacations.
I was with Terry the Quilting Husband since I was 20 years old (nearly my entire adult life) and every vacation we went on was filled with endless sightseeing and other busy activities. I am not complaining we had some wonderful vacations and I got to visit some major historical sights and battlegrounds in the U.S. and Europe (Terry was a Military History buff) on our trips as well as fun and playful vacations like Disneyland, etc.
John’s previous life was the same – his vacations were filled with trying to do as much sightseeing as possible during the vacation time allotted.
So he and I came up with the idea that for the first time in our lives, we should go on a vacation in which we do something crazy…RELAX!
In our minds, we would enjoy our first completely relaxing, have nothing scheduled, lie around on the beach and read books, vacation.
John’s sister has a lovely condo in Cabo San Lucas and so we thought that would be a perfect (and not too expensive) way to have a mid-Winter relaxing vacation in a warm and tropical place!
Things started out promising – we managed to goof off a couple hours wandering and sitting around the beach and reading books on our first afternoon in town.
We even invented the “Shoe Coaster” (patent pending) for our special beverages on the beach!
Unfortunately we grew a little bored of just hanging out on the beach after a while.
There were lots of wonderful restaurants on the beach so we tried just hanging out for long stretches “relaxing” at restaurants on the beach. Here I am on the way to the beach or a restaurant on the beach, preparing for some more “relaxation”:
The truth is, after just a couple days of this “relaxation” stuff, we were bored out of our minds.
Yes we did do some sightseeing in the main area of Cabo San Lucas but everywhere you walked someone was trying to sell you something and after a while I just felt like a “dollar” walking around for vendors trying to get.
We did one afternoon however have a lovely lunch at the marina area of Cabo and we did have brief sweet moments of “total relaxation”.
But like the creature in the image above, after a couple of days we decided all this relaxation vacation stuff was “for the birds” and not for us!
After an awkward discussion where we finally both admitted (previous we were each secretly thinking it without telling the other) we were absolutely bored out of our minds with all this relaxation (we had even tried just staying the condo and binge watching a Netflix show when we’d had enough of the beach, etc.) – we decided to change our flight and come home early from vacation.
Are you shaking your heads in disbelief at this point?
(To be honest, now, with what is going on in the world, I too am shaking my head – I wish I had stayed longer in Cabo and embraced relaxation…)
We both accepted we had “failed” at the “Relaxation Vacation Experiment”.
Actually we did not fail, we learned.
We learned that we like to more active vacations in places where there are lots of museums and historic sights to see. We are not the “lie on the beach and relax” kind of vacation people.
And that is okay (smile).
The day before we were scheduled to return home early our enthusiasm returned and we decided to fill our last full day in Cabo having a less traditional experience: we decided to go “Farm-to-Table” restaurant hopping. I guess there is a big farm-to-table movement in Cabo and we thought it would be fun to explore.
Luckily we had a car during our trip so we drove to a remote area for our first Mexican farm-to-table experience. The road to this farm, Los Tamarindos, was a quite bumpy (unpaved) and a little scary (in the middle of nowhere) but it was so worth the drive. We had an amazing meal and experience and here are a couple photos:
The food was not just fresh and amazing, it was sort of a spiritual experience!
After our first farm-to-table experience in Mexico, we were hooked and headed to the next farm, Flora Farms, where we did not sit for a formal meal but wandered around and amazing cocktails and the most delicious ice cream cone in my life!
This trip and these photos seems like another lifetime, like another world.
Hoping you all stay safe in the reality of our current world. Hang in there.
This hat is for my sister Rianna, who helped me more than I can ever put into words or thank her for during the most difficult time of my life in December 2018, after my husband suddenly died.
As I shared in the 12/23/18 post Stories from the Road, Part I, after my husband died I flew to the Eastern Coast of the U.S. (on a plane ticket my brother Raoul brought me) and my sister drove me across 4 Eastern states to see family and to attend a celebration of life for my husband with his family in Upstate New York. (My husband and I are originally from the East Coast of the U.S., both growing up in New York)
I was in a shocked daze but hanging out with my sister was a beautiful and bonding distraction. She drove me over 800 miles round-trip and on our way back from Upstate New York we stopped in a quaint town called Tarrytown, New York.
I knew at the time I needed to leave Central Oregon where I lived the past 14 years with my husband and start a new life somewhere, when I was ready, but moving to Colorado was not a fully formed idea yet. I was considering moving to New York to be closer to my siblings.
So we stopped in Tarrytown and wandered around for several hours as a break from being on the road.
While in Tarrytown we discovered the Flying Fingers Yarn Shop, and while browsing my sister brought a skein of yarn over to me and said: “Would you knit me a hat with this?”.
A little over 14 months later, I’ve finished the hat for my sister with the yarn she selected on the road trip:
I love variegated yarn and I think the pattern created by the variegations in the yarn is yummy!
My sister has curly hair (lots of it), so I made the hat a little bit wider and longer than I normally do. Here are some photos of me modeling the hat for my sister when I texted her images of the finished hat (I wanted to show her I added in extra length to the hat).
A handmade knitted hat is not enough to thank my sister for how much she was there for me during the most difficult time in my life but it is a little token of my appreciation.
When I write posts like this, though I try not to my make blog too “grief-y” these days, it reminds me how much love I have in my life from family and friends.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety this winter, especially when we have heavy snows in the Denver metropolitan area where I now live.
Likely this is related to the worse winter of my life in early 2019 (after the worse Christmas season in my life when my husband died 12 days before Christmas).
There were constant major snowstorms in Central Oregon in January and February 2019 and I was constantly shoving feet of snow just to get out of my driveway.
Previously, my awesome husband always handled snow shoveling (occasionally I would help and we would “team shovel”) and suddenly after his death, I now had to constantly do it on my own (while sobbing uncontrollably in my grief).
This continued until I finally admitted to close friends my struggles and my wonderful friend Jason once he found out what I was doing, brought his snowblower over and told me no matter what, I was not to shovel snow anymore! He drove across town daily if needed to my house to take care of the snow removal (we had an endless dump of snow daily for a while in Central Oregon in winter 2019)!
I think when heavy snow hit the Denver area in January and February 2020 it brought back those awful grief memories and it manifested itself in “Snow Anxiety”.
No worries, I am working with my healthcare provider on this anxiety issue. Living at 5280+ feet above sea level, in the Rocky Mountains, there is going to be snow. So unless I am planning to move somewhere tropical I need to resolve my “Snow Anxiety” issue.
One thing that is helping with my anxiety is knitting and quilting projects!
This morning over breakfast I was reading an article in a crafting magazine discussing the mental health benefits of handwork and came across the most wonderful quote from Anne Lamott that I will close this post with:
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
Northern California is a beautiful part of the U.S. While visiting my Quilting Sisters Kathy and Lisa in the Sacramento area in April 2019 I got to appreciate some of the beauty of Northern CA.
I stayed with my friend Kathy, her husband Matt and her awesome new Chocolate Labrador puppy, Riley. They have incredible wooded areas on their property and just hanging out at their home I got a taste of the beauty of Northern CA.
One morning, I watched three wild male turkeys trying to court a female turkey right off their back patio:
I put an arrow where the female turkey was and she did not seem very interested in any of them (she kept wandering away) while they took turns (or simultaneously) displaying their plumages!
Kathy took me on a day trip to South Yuma River State Park and it was amazing! I will let the rest of this post serve as a photo essay as I show you some of the images from our visit to this stunning state park.
Next post (which is the final one in this series of posts) I will share photos and stories from our Quilt Shop Hopping in Northern California!
I am also sneaking into this post a continuation on my series of posts Life in B&W, in which I pretend I am a photographer showing you the stark beauty of Black and White photography.
Here are a couple of the images I took during the day trip in B&W for your enjoyment (or you can roll your eyes, ha!).
Oh yes there we a lot more, but I figure four images is enough to expose you to 🙂
Currently I am on “holiday”, as my friends on the other side of the pond would call it. I am taking a lovely break from the snowstorms and biting cold of the Denver Metro area and relaxing in paradise. I’ll share a future post about my current adventures, however, as promised in a previous post, I want to catch up on some of my 2019 adventures I did not blog about.
For those of you just joining us, in December 2018 I suddenly and unexpectedly loss my best friend and husband of many years, Terry the Quilting Husband, and became a widow. So the 2018 holiday season and winter 2019 were a very dark and sad time in my life.
Thank goodness for my wonderful family and friends, who were an amazing support system during very dark days.
Also thank goodness for my (surprising to many) plans to leave Central Oregon and move to the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area (see series of posts Colorado Bound) as it gave me something else to focus on besides my all encompassing grief over the loss of my life parter.
One of the wonderful things my friends did to distract me from my loneliness and grief was to invite me to visit them and I shared the first fun trip I went on in 2019 in the post Fabric Fangirl Frenzy with my Quilting Sisters Judy and Dana (for the backstory on my Quilting Sisters see the posts Quilting Sisters I, and II).
In April I visited with my my Quilting Sisters Kathy and Lisa who live in the Sacramento, California area and this next several posts are about that wonderful visit!
It’s All About the Puppy
I stayed with my Quilting Sister Kathy and her husband Matt. They had just adopted a Chocolate Labrador puppy named Riley.
I love dogs, and I absolutely LOVE PUPPIES, and I fell in love quickly with Riley (so much so that by the end of trip the officially made me Riley’s “dog godmother”).
I spent a lot of the weekend cuddling with Riley (good therapy). She was a puppy of course and very active and crazy by nature but I set up a system of “Swaddling” her in a towel the evening to relax her and give us a break from her crazy puppy energy.
Kathy, Matt, Riley and I went to a local brewery and had a wonderful time with the pup! Here are some photos from our brewery time (and the brewery staff was very patient and accommodating when the pup had an “accident”).
More Pups and even a Cat
My Quilting Sister Lisa is a brilliant Veterinarian as well as the owner of Supreme Point Kennels – she shows and breeds Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.
Kathy took me over to Lisa’s home for a visit (and before we headed out on a Quilt Shop Hop Adventure which I will share in another post in this series) and I got to visit with the herd at her house which includes several gorgeous Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, a Giant Schnauzer, several rescued dogs and a cat.
I was in furry creature heaven at Lisa’s home! There was a lot of petting and snuggling going on! I really got a kick out of the cat who just thought he was another one of the dogs and was very comfortable with the large dogs and being part of “the herd”.
Lisa was working on an awesome Griffon themed quilt from a class she took on portrait quilts:
As I mentioned earlier in this post, during the most difficult time in my life, I was so supported (and still supported) by a wonderful network for family and friends.
During my visit to the Sacramento, CA area I got some time to be “loved on” and snuggled by my California Quilting Sisters which was very nurturing and healing.
Here we are snuggling on the sofa at Kathy’s house (I took a break from snuggling with Riley the pup to do human snuggling instead – ha!):
And here I am feeling all warm and cozy, sipping a Jameson Irish Whiskey that Kathy’s husband Matt poured for me, while knitting (working on the hat I discussed in this post The Ball of Yarn (which eventually became a hat)), sitting under one of Kathy’s handmade quilts, and watching baseball with my Quilting Sisters.
And for a beautiful moment in the midst of my grief, I felt at peace and quite loved.
I have a whole category on my blog called Audiobooks and Podcasts. Many of these posts have to do with the latest “self-improvement” genre audiobook I’ve read. Most of these audiobooks I’ve borrowed from local libraries via their Overdrive or Hoopla apps.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ve likely endured many reviews on various non-fiction “self-improvement” books I’ve listened to and occasionally read hardcover.
Recently another reserved “self-improvement” audiobook became available for download, The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma, and in the midst of listening to the book, I turned it off and exclaimed: “Enough of this #$%&, I am tired of ‘self-improving’!”
As I was sharing in a recent conversation with my friends Michele H. and Anne T., I am completed burned out on listening/reading anything that has to do with “self-improvement”.
I’ve read a jillion (this number is way bigger than the imaginary number a zillion, ha!) self-improvement books, gained plenty of insight and attempted to live the best life possible but that did not stop awful things happening like my spouse suddenly passing away in December 2018 (yes, yes I know that you cannot read self-improvement books to protect yourself from bad things happening, but I guess in the back of my delusional mind I thought I was safe from major disaster as I was always trying to be the best person possible..).
I admit that some of the “self-improvement” type genre books such as Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (see post New Library Stack and Option B) helped me tremendously on my grief journey. And I am sure there are some other books out there that could help me, but I am just too burned out on the genre to read anymore right now (or anytime in the near future).
I am so done with “self improving” for now.
Now it’s time to find some good yummy fiction to listen to or read!
The irony of this recent decision is the moment I said “enough with the self-improvement” genre, every audiobook I had on reserve at my local library became available. So I actually have in my current online library account the following “self-improvement” books I can now borrow/download for 21 days:
The Self-Love Experiment by Shannon Kaiser
Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson (okay he did write a really awesome self help book I listened to a while ago: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, and it helped me “chill” on a lot of things)
Meta Human by Deepak Chopra
Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood
The Third Door by Alex Banayan
It is sort of the like the “self-improvement” genre was having a major go at me as I was trying to give it up by sending me everything I had reserved at once.
Nope, returned them all!
(I wonder if now I will become a terrible and grouchy person since I’ve stopped “self-improving”…)
As I mentioned in a recent post, I did a lot of traveling in 2019. I’m going to spend time in January 2020 catching up on the stories I did not get a chance to share in 2019.
I’ve always appreciated how parents traditionally encourage their children’s creativity and artistic endeavors by displaying their art on the refrigerator. However in March 2019 I witnessed a very awesome way in display “kid art”.
In March 2019 I visited Denver, Colorado to tour potential apartments as part of my move from Central Oregon to the greater Denver metro area (see series of posts Colorado Bound). I stayed with my friend Michele who drove me around to tour apartments.
She and her husband Blair have a lovely home and at the top of their upstairs landing, they have an amazing display of the art of their three children!
All the pieces are nicely (and maybe professionally framed) and the entire wall is dedicated to celebrating the artistic talents of their children at various ages.
Here is some of the wonderful art up close:
This is lightyears beyond the traditional “art on the fridge” that I’ve seen at other families homes. I love that this couple turned their children’s art into an art gallery!
Originally I had planned to begin a series of posts about my “New Year’s Crafting Resolutions“. I was going to provide a catalog of my unfinished projects and a plan to start working on them (sort of like the recent cool series of posts by Melanie @ Catbird Studios in which she shares the contents of her cabinet of unfinished projects), however suddenly I have begun packing up my studio.
Why? Because my partner and I have decided to go forward with selling his house and buying a house together.
The first step in this process is getting his house ready for sale and it is time to paint over the bold turquoise of my studio (see post New Studio) and make that room the same neutral color as the rest of the house.
Since he will be listing the house in the near future, and it needs to get “staged” for sale, I will keep my studio packed up. But that is okay, I have a plan for creative endeavors for the next couple months while my studio is packed up: It’s time to pull out the handwork!
I will post about that plan in the future.
The funny thing is I was recently preparing to return to working on my Farm Girl Vintage blocks and finish up a 20 block quilt (see series of posts Farm Girl Vintage Blocks) as I shared a couple days ago on Instagram:
I’ve completed 19 blocks and only needed to make one more 12.5″ x 12.5″ block to make one of the sampler quilts in the book which uses 20 blocks.
But since my sewing machine is getting packed away, that will have to be on hold for now.
What’s that famous saying that comes to mind…oh yes:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
It’s been a long time since I had a post in my series of posts Audiobooks and Podcasts. So I thought my first post of 2020 would be a recap of some of my favorite audiobook listens in 2019.
I constantly listen to audiobooks, especially on my twice a day dog walks and while crafting. Occasionally I listen to fiction but my favorite genre is non fiction, especially books related to personal growth.
Below I share my favorite listens in 2019 along with a link to the Publishers Weekly or or Amazon.com book review; and a quote from the book that resonated with me.
“Souls have deep connections and unique contracts that span centuries, exist back and forth in time, and bind us in ways we can’t really understand…. These connections are ancient and everlasting, and they already exist in our hearts, even if we’re not always aware of them.”
“Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”
“Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.”
“Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”
I discussed this book in my 2/16/19 post Soup’s On
“When real transformation does occur in someone’s life, it usually happens through evolution, not revolution. Every time we make a choice to confront our fear, our character evolves and we become more courageous. Every time we make a choice to move through pain to pursue a purpose larger than ourselves, our character evolves and we become wiser. Every time we make a choice to move through suffering, our character evolves and we become stronger.”