That's drizzle . . . not drivel--

Simply living... in the Pacific Northwest

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lavender Days

It's been a weird year weather-wise here, but one thing which has not failed is the lavender crop here in our vicinity.

Each summer when Sam and Sarah come to visit, we try to harvest a few handsful of stems to make lavender wands. They're wonderful to stash in your lingerie drawer or someplace in your car. The house was simply filled with heady, herby lavender aromas last night while we made are some photos showing some of the steps, if you are unfamiliar. All you need is lavender and narrow ribbon, 1/8 or 1/4-inch.
You start by tying the stems together below the blooms with a length of ribbon, then bending the stems back down upon themselves. You must use an odd number of stems. Five to seven work well. This first step, starting out, is the most challenging. After this it's a piece of cake.

Start weaving the ribbon over and under the stems.

Keep going until you reach the bottom, then tie off in whatever fashion you wish. Below are some finished ones. Sarah made a mini wand and attached it to her phone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On My Mind....Contemplation

This post is linked to Rhonda's On My Mind post at her webpage, Down To Earth.

Today I was having a wonderful conversation with a fellow who has a counseling service office in our building. The subject of mindfulness came up. In the course of the conversation, I laughingly told him I often talk to myself while I'm doing something "mindless like housework."

He countered that such activity is not mindless at all, that being mindless has nothing to do with doing mundane tasks, but with not paying attention to what it is that I am "talking" about; not being aware of my presence of mind. That is, I should ask myself to try and be more mindful of the types of things I am ruminating about while I'm doing other things.

To make this more clear, let's say I am mopping the floor. I don't need to concentrate on this task; it's pretty much habit and automatic by now. So....I should take time to be more intentional about making note of the things I'm thinking about during these moments.

What kinds of things am I talking to myself about? Do I sense any patterns? Am I re-running conversations, making my part more forceful, or re-stating so that I sounded less offensive? OR am I dreaming of trips I'd like to take but probably never will, of relationships I lost and what may have been if I hadn't, or what it will be like when I lose all my weight.

What patterns do I notice when I intentionally make note of these thoughts? Am I spending too much time being regretful? Spending too much energy worrying about something I have no control over?

If so, with what kinds of thoughts can I replace these negative thoughts (which I was not even aware of before)? Perhaps blessings. Maybe try and think about where I saw God in my life this week, today, yesterday. What can I do for someone else today? Hey, there's a thought...think about someone other than myself.

My husband crosses paths with me occasionally during the weekend when I'm going about my chores and chides me, "Hey, who you talking to?"

I may turn red -- and I am going to try and stop being so visibly verbal with myself-- but I'm going to look forward to saying to him, "Well, you know, I was just taking some pleasant self-inventory. Want in?"

Friday, July 15, 2011

This weekend's forecast: Rain and raspberry jam

It will be rainy tomorrow, so I will make jam with the first pickings of raspberries I've stashed in the freezer each evening. The tayberries are small, but the raspberries growing next to the "Man Cave" are huge! I wonder what exactly goes on in there? The berries are so large this year it's as if they have absorbed testosterone at a high level due to their proximity to the goings-on nearby.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lamenting Lost Lettering

So now I read that 41 states now are not requiring students to learn cursive writing to progress in school. It is not included in the No Child Left Behind Common Core States Standards for English. Keyboarding techniques are taught in the primary grades as the standard. Which I get, but....

This has left me with mixed feelings, leaning on the side of lamentation.

How many of us remember third grade: the smell of sharpened pencils and the sound of scratching on newsprint, our teachers encouraging us to stay within the lines. I do---and I'm glad I endured what was, at the time, grueling Palmer discipline for an 8 year-old. It was a graduation of sorts, from immature printing to grown-up writing. It was supposed to allow us to write faster-- not having to lift the pencil or pen for each letter--enabling us to conquer those future essay tests within our limited classtime. We would sign our signature on hundreds of documents, checks and contracts in our adult life. We evolved right there, on paper, Ticonderoga in hand. Is there just no time for this anymore? In the third grade? Really?

There is at least one study of students who learn a new text by handwriting which reveals greater brain activity in the areas which control language comprehension, motor-related processes and speech-associated gestures. This is just icing on the cursive cake.

I love seeing beautiful writing--writing someone has taken time and care to put down on paper. The beautiful sweeping capital letters, the flow from one letter to another. Some women I know--and a few men, my Dad included--have elegant, distinctive cursive writing which you can tell is a result of disciplined learning. It took time to learn and there was pride in accomplishment.

But these fine examples are going by the wayside. I'm afraid the Boomers may be the last Palmer devotees. My daughters boast their ball-and-stick D'Nealian writing methods, one even preens, "I love my all-caps's cute!" Others among their peers state they've printed all their lives and got all A's. What's the big deal?

I could get really cynical and project that one day we'll devolve to the point of not needing writing at all. We'll just circle back to cave writing with pictures. But I do try and keep an open mind. I know we are living in a technological age, and you need to get on board or get out of the way.

But, please, write me a lovely cursive note sometime. Just to show me it's still out there somewhere besides the national archives.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On My Mind today...

The first pint of raspberries are in the freezer, so it must finally be summer. Although today is quite chilly. I wonder whether we will get a true summer here or not this year!

I have an abundance of chives and parsley. I made a very nice chopped herb-garlic-olive oil marinade for some delicious pink tomatoes I bought at the Farmers Market last Saturday. It was great, but our breath---OMG!

I lost three pounds this past week on Weight Watchers. This is my major challenge this year. I hope to be down at least three sizes by the time we travel to Florida next May. I think it is a reasonable goal, but I'll need to be very diligent.

Here are some parsley pictures--such a pretty green!


Tied, and --


At the WW meeting, the topic of the lecture was "realizing dreams." The speaker encouraged us to think about our dreams and how we go about making them come about (goals). I was a bit stunned to begin with, as I could not identify a personal dream. The last goal I set for myself and accomplished was earning my Bachelor's degree. Seven years ago! The related dream was working in public information-public relations in the health care field.

Well, then the bottom fell out of the economy and my dream was dashed by every out-of-work journalist fleeing downsizing newspapers and flooding the job force. Subsequent layoffs in the government sector have diminished hopes of ever realizing that dream of spreading the gospel of public health to my community. Non-profits employ established and tenured reporters and editors who used to work for dailies.

I am happy where I've landed, but the speaker challenges me to look inside and figure out if there are dreams I'm too distracted by daily life to dream. The only challenging goal I work toward right now is the weight control. So....of what do I dream now? What do YOU dream, reader?