4.12.2015

Grand Canyon 2

Today was filled with the things that make Grand Canyon the treasure that it is. History, geology, photography, native anthropology, weather, and wonder. After a good breakfast - the kind we're not used to and only enjoy when traveling - we left the little town where we are staying and joined the stream of cars entering the park. Scott happily used his Senior National Park Pass to get into the park without a fee. We followed the tourists along the main road then veered off to the south and began a long drive to an area of the canyon called Desert View...stopping along the way at pull outs and overlooks to stare and gasp at one beautiful vista after another. When I say gasp, I'm not being dramatic. Looking down over the edges of the cliffs (with no fences or attempts to protect anyone from falling) does bring gasps. I'm not height-phobic, but I had to back away several times - it was almost more than I could handle.

We made time today for Scott to put on his red apron and be an artist. He made a sketch of an incredible view with a rock formations. Then he oil painted a picture of the Watchtower (a historic stone building that is nearly 100 years old and was designed by a woman architect named Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter) and the ledges and valleys beyond the tower. The painting is beautiful.


I loved today. It was enchanting and soul filling. I sat on a hundred-year old wooden bench and wrote a little essay. Writing calmed me. I craved the solace of sunlight and warmth, so I walked along the rim and looked out to view the horizontally-striped cliffs...layers of red sandstone, white limestone, gray shale, green sagebrush, and golden grasses. (Actually, scientists have identified 16 geologic layers.)
I enjoyed watching the acrobatics of the large, black ravens as they flew across the canyons, caught the April breezes, flipped and somersaulted. They performed gracefully, as if they knew that the visitors standing on the balcony of the Watchtower were watching and shooting photographs of them.



I took this photo just before sunset. Then for the next two hours, I just kept gazing at the view in front of me. It is the kind of scene where you'd say, "If you painted that, it would look fake." The layers were so incredible.

4.10.2015

Grand Canyon 1

I'm blogging using my cell phone which isn't nimble or quick. But I want to remember today because it has been filled with new sights and places. We're sitting in a little restaurant called the Arizona Room...right on the edge of the south rim of Grand Canyon. If we walked ten yards, we'd fall off the edge of the magnificent cliffs in this Bright Angel Trailhead area of the canyon. Below...so far down that it looks like a dark green ribbon weaving through the red cliffs, is the Colorado River. There seems to be a magnetic pull to the river - people up here just have to get down there - and back.

In fact, one of the reasons we came to Grand Canyon is so Scott could show me where he and our son, Mike, hiked two years ago - from the south rim to the north rim - a distance of 22 miles - in one day. Also on the hike were Mike's good friend Gordo and his wife Jessie, our friend Dr. Gordon Wood and his sister, and Dr. Frank Peterson and his wife Jodi. AND toward the end, were a couple of Nepali college students who helped Scott along the way when he got separated from the group and was so tired and dehydrated that he could hardly walk. Today, I said a quiet prayer of gratitude for those two young men from Nepal who let Scott join them and kept him putting one foot in front of the other as he pushed up the slick, steep, and dark uphill trail. I just did not appreciate the magnitude of the hike until I saw the trail for myself today - well, I saw a small part of the trail...but I saw the beginning and ending of the hike and that was enough.
Our selfie as we started our day exploring Grand Canyon.
It's so beautiful here. Because it's spring, the sagebrush and prarie grasses are green, there are purple and yellow wildflowers, and lots of birds in the air. The weather has been cold at night but warming up to the low sixties during the day. It's perfect hiking weather. The south rim village area reminds me of Yellowstone and other national parks with vintage-looking lodges and rock-lined pathways that were built in the heyday of national park improvements by the Conservation Corp back in the thirties. Many of the Grand Canyon buildings have Indian and motifs and architecture. If you wander into a gift shop you'd better want to buy silver or turquoise jewelry or Native American hand-woven rugs and pottery. It's all so fun to look at. (The views and the gift shops.)

Scott has been spending a little bit of time sketching and while he sketches I write or go for walks. Today I left him at a lookout point sketching a gorgeous view and drove the rental car in search of a restroom. I missed the turnoff to the picnic area and drove and drove and drove and began to feel frantic and lost. Plus I had no cell reception nor GPS reception. I got a little panicky because the road was abandoned, and I couldn't believe the picnic area was so far away. Finally, I pulled over, found the MAP that Scott had thankfully bought and thrown in the back seat and tried to figure out where I was. I realized that I had driven WAY out of the main public area and so I turned around. When I finally arrived back, Scott was just finishing his sketch and hadn't worried about me at all. All's well that ends well, but I hate being lost and I need to be smarter when I take off alone in a strange place. Better to just stay put. I like to people watch...I should just do that. I'm reading a new book called Thrive by Arianna Huffington. If I have a good book, I don't mind sitting by Scott and reading while he paints or sketches.

Scott's sketchpad with today's pencil sketch. 
We hiked both yesterday and today...yesterday we took the Rim Trail and saw spectacular views from the top of the south rim for miles and miles. We also saw a herd of elk and lots of squirrels and ravens. And an eagle soaring from cliff to ravine. It's funny to see the tourists go crazy over the elk and deer here. Since we have deer in our back yard on a daily basis, they seem like no big deal to me. But, just like Yellowstone, if someone spots wildlife here, everyone stops whether walking or driving, to take photos and enjoy the novelty of it.  Today, we went about an hour down the Bright Angel trail then turned around and hiked back up. It was enough for my knee - I'm still being careful and healing from a tear in the meniscus. I did pretty well, but I've about decided I need to have it scoped. I loved every minute of the hike. The scenery was amazing, the hikers were entertaining, the sense of accomplishment felt good - even though it was one-tenth of Scott's grand Grand Canyon hike. 
Beginning the Bright Angel trail.

4.03.2015

decorating Easter eggs

We had a night of crafting at Sew and Sews! We met at the lovely home of Rexann. She had darling Easter decorations everywhere. We sat around two large round tables and cut and glued and talked and laughed. 



It brought back memories of our crafting/stitching days when our group first started getting together. It's hard to believe, but that has been about 35 years ago!! Many of us have sons or daughters who were babies when we started attending Sew & Sews. They now have homes, jobs, and children of their own. We laughed about our unfinished projects - some of which are still in closets and cupboards - me included. 

Lisa Ellis taught us how to decorate Easter Eggs with torn napkin pieces and egg white or decoupage. Once we got the basics, the creativity began to flow! It was fun to see what everyone was doing with simple paper napkins. 

These are some of the 48 eggs that Lisa decorated for the evening. 

Lesa and Debbie

Joni and Lisa


Mary

Karla

Michele

Kristen and Rexann

Debbie and Bonnie


                                                                    Debbie and Shari
Lisa and Nancy

Karla played for us on  Rexann's lovely piano.


Rexann's Easter decorations inspired us.

And the pies delighted us!




3.21.2015

{ earLy spRIng }

I'm just going to say it, "I love that we're having an early spring and a warm, snowless March!" And I'm not going to follow up with, "I know we need the water, but..." I'm so tired of that conversation. I talked that talk at the dentist today, and I then came right out and admitted that I don't really care about the upcoming drought...I have JUST LOVED not being cold for the past eight weeks. The dental assistant looked at me like she needed to send for the sheriff. Oh well...

I'm not going to dilute my joy with the obligatory, "But we'll pay for it in August." Or the sad truth, "The ski resorts have suffered." Rather, I'm shouting to the world that this has been the best winter ever, and (almost) everyone has been in such a good mood! Most of all, me!


3.18.2015

Lucky Us!

Happy St. Patrick's Day and what a lovely day it was. The temperatures continue to be unseasonably mild and today was another of those "I just can't believe it" days.


Did you find a four-leaf clover as a kid? I remember searching and searching for one - like for summers on end. Our grass was filled with clover and finding a four-leaf clover happened to almost everyone... and then it happened to me. I still remember the excitement I felt when I found my special clover. And from then on, I was lucky. (Except in junior high when I was under-confident, awkward and not one of the popular girls.) 

I feel very lucky today. Mostly, I'm lucky because of my great family...specifically, seven awesome grandkids. I love each of them so much. Each one is adorable, smart, and outstanding. None of them lives here in Logan - but we get to see them quite often, and it's always a treat. 

In searching for photos of each of them, I realize I need to kick it up a notch! Their moms won't believe that these are the best individual photos I have out of 20 million photos on my camera roll. 

Brookelyn - 8th grade

Bailee - 5th grade

Carter - 1st grade

Claire - 3 1/2

Lizzie - 3 1/2

Emmett - 5 1/2

Hollis - 2 1/2 

3.09.2015

{ designs I love }


Speaking of Orla Kiely...here are some favorite images from this designer that I've loved for many years. I first bought an Orla Kiely notebook in (of all places) Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Scott was taking a painting class, and I had some time to wander through the shops downtown. I had planned to stitch while he painted, but finished my project quickly and went looking for something to do. (This was before laptops.) When I saw the little notebook I was tempted jump up and down right there in the shop. It was just what I needed to fill my time. And the graphic design was so happy! I wrote a lot in that notebook over the next few days.
Orla Kiely is an Irish designer based in London. She received a degree in art and design in Dublin then worked in New York and London - where she designed for Esprit. In 1997, she started to design handbags and soon was selling many many out of her home. With the help of her husband, her company became successful very quickly.



My next Orla Kiely find was a journal in a little shop in the Cincinnati airport. We had a long layover on the way to...where?..so I decided to go walking. My walk took me to a little shop with an unexpected corner filled with Orla bags, home decor items, and notebooks. I loved it. (I also remember buying a book in that shop called "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life" by Donna Markova.) 
One day, when I was in a Target store, I stumbled onto an Orla Kiely section! Of all the places...Target. The best items sold out quickly. I bought a cutting board and kitchen towel. 

I found this on the Anthropologie website. I LOVE this purse - especially the perforated leather. And that color!  I've never "invested" in an Orla Kiely bag. (Probably never will.)
Orla Kiely also designs beautiful simple clothing and shoes. Oh, and buses. 

3.06.2015

doodle a little


I love to collect notebooks, journals, pads of paper, even 3x5 cards. I keep a little stash of 3x5s in my wallet so I always have something to write on. Notebooks are everywhere.

I want to fill my notebooks, but sometimes I just can't think of anything to write. I'm so weary of my journals and how they drone on with the same old stuff that I always write about...the old angst about myself that's so tiresome. So, I went online and found lots of information about "what to write when there's nothing to write." One website suggested you open your journal every day and start by making a sketch. The simple act of putting pen to paper will get you started, and the words will come once the drawing is finished.

That's laughable. I can't draw...not even stick figures. But I am VERY inspired by the art journals of many artists/writers. Especially Mary Ann Moss who blogs at Dispatch from LA. So I decided to try the suggested sketching/writing exercise by copying a sketch from Mary Ann's blog that I like so much. 

I went to the blog and found a little flower to draw. Turns out, my little flower looks nothing like the one on Dispatch from LA. OK, it's a disaster. The flower was too difficult for me. I need something easier to sketch. Something with simple graphics. I need to doodle...not draw. I remembered my favorite Orla Kiely notebooks and the simple leaf design that I love. I turned to a new page in my notebook and copied the simple leaf design onto my page. Yes, that's more my style...doodling rather than drawing, and the colors make me happy. I then wrote about an interesting experience that happened yesterday.

Here's my doodle:
And here's what I wrote:

Sometimes when you least expect it, a good thing happens that just changes your outlook and puts a spring in your step. That kind of thing happened to me yesterday. I had been helping my mom with errands she needed and the day was fading fast. I took her home after an hour in a dress shop in the mall trying on tops and sweaters. Then another slow walk through Bath and Body Works to buy soap. After I took her home, I decided to grab a Diet Coke at the gas station. I needed energy because in a short hour and a half, I had to go back to mom's and take her to a birthday party for her longtime friend, Iva Lou, I filled my soda cup and approached the cash register where a big, scruffy college guy was working as clerk. He jumped from his perch on the counter, smiled, and said, "So what are you doing today...anything fun?" I said (kind of woefully), "Oh, I'm taking my 85-year-old mother to her friend's 90th birthday party at an old folks' home." He said cheerfully, "That sounds fun." I replied, "Not really." And then the unexpected sentence that sent me out the door with a smile on my face. The young man shared this attitude-altering suggestion: "Just look at it this way...you'll be the youngest one there!" And then he grinned at me.

3.02.2015

tidy up and earn billions

On Friday (Feb. 27), the Wall Street Journal ran a full page article and picture on the front of the Arena section. The Arena section is about books, movies, tv, art, music, theater, etc. For a book to land on the front page is pretty fantastic and the publicity would be like having a recommendation from Oprah.

I was completely surprised to see this little book:


I bought my own copy of this book about three months ago when I saw it on Amazon. When it arrived, I read through the first two chapters, then the next two, bonked my hand on my head and said to myself, "This is going to take some serious discipline AND a serious think-outside-the-box attitude. I laughed as I thought, "I can just picture Scott and me in the storage room, going through boxes, holding each item in our arms and asking each other, "Does this spark joy?" And then thanking the items for their service to us as we throw them away. 

For the author, Marie Kondo, a professional organizer, the criteria for getting rid of clutter is not to decide what things you don't like and throw them away, but rather to decide what things bring happiness and joy and keep only them. (Then, throw the rest away.) It's an inside out method that she says works.

The author of the WSJ article mentioned, and I agree, that the approach is very Japanese. But it has caught on in America to the point that fans have started clubs and social media pages to share their tidying up successes. The article says, "They use the author's name as a verb that can refer either to purging or to meticulous folding...as in: "I Kondoed my recipe books from three shelves to two." There are also YouTube videos including this one showing the author working with a magazine editor in New York City. I loved watching this video and especially the Japanese bows at the end.

Here are some of Kondo's suggestions:

Tip #1: Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. 

Tip #2: Gather every piece of clothing you own...every last piece from all over the house...and place it all on your bed. Divide the clothes into categories. Go through the clothes and decide which items give you joy. Donate or discard the rest.

Tip #3: Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore.

The book goes on to explain how to store the clothing you keep. Marie Kondo believes in folding most clothes rather than hanging. The Wall Street Journal shows her step-by-step method for folding a sweater and then calls her a global publishing phenomenon. 

So...I have to wonder, why is this book and author becoming such a sensation? I'll have to finish reading the book before I come up with an answer. But it's fascinating. 



2.28.2015

Happy Valentine's Day

February - the shortest month - seemed to fly by this year. Maybe it seemed extra short because of the unusually warm weather - that's my best explanation. I enjoyed decorating this year - sometimes I think I won't bother (no kids to decorate for), but I'm always glad when I fill my house with hearts. and love.

I loved my Valentine's Table Runner. I finished it last year after Valentine's Day, so this was my first year to enjoy it. It decorated my kitchen counter along with pink and red candies. I think anyone could easily sew this table runner. The center tumbler blocks are so fun to make - it's magic how you sew those uneven blocks together and they come out in perfect rows. The applique is quick and easy using your machine. (The pattern is available from Kimberbell Designs)




This is Kim's version.


Add here is mine.

I loved using browns, tans, and taupe prints for this project.

I also loved my pillow which was made by my friend Teresa Lewis! Look at those buttons! And the hand embroidery. Teresa is a beautiful, prolific pillow maker. 

I loved loved the sugar cookies our d-i-l Sierra made. Her cookies are my favorite gift from her!

 I loved my handmade card from Becky! The ombre hearts have always been a favorite look and now I have a card of my own. 


I loved the flowers I bought at Sego and took to a friend...especially love that hobnail vase! I picked it especially for my friend because it looks old fashioned and girly.