Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Dirt

It isn't your usual gift.  It is what they want, however.  The wait has been long enough, and Christmas Day seems to be the time for fulfilling their wish:  dirt please.

Begging for Dirt!

Several "slips" of zygote cactus traveled home with me from my mother's. That was in June.  Of course, they needed to hang out in water long enough to put out some healthy roots.  That growth goal was reached by the end of July.  They continued their patient wait.

In the dirt of their dreams

The fall found them draped like dreads over the squash on my kitchen counter.  And now the guilt, or the Blessings of the Season, or the Gift of Christmas moves me to fulfill their hopes.   Things I get to do today will be to find their potting soil and to give them their dirt.

May all your hopes and dreams come true this Christmas Season.  Merriest of all to YOU!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Return of the Light

I bought them last year.  Now when I opened the wrapping, the fragrance melted my insides.  These mellow candles were made in Sweden, from my favorite store, perfect for the kind of table that pleases me, and their aroma was so sweetly gentle with a hint of bees' wax that I go all limp just remembering it.

All of the many Things I get to do today have slowed or been accomplished, and setting the table for dinner unfolded at a contemplative pace.  That's when I remembered the candles, positioned them in assorted glass candlesticks, and inhaled their bliss.

May the Light return for all of you with such sweetness.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just a Tiny Bit

Here's a question for you!  How does one write about the Things I get to do today when there are so many delicious activities lined up waiting?  Shall I wrap presents and put chicken feathers in the bows? Shall I make Rosemary Olive Oil for gifts?  Shall I create a wowy-zinger salt scrub with the help of my Giant Sequoia tree?

Shall I create seed packets for sharing from those Honeymooning Lettuce plants left alone just long enough in the garden last fall?  Shall I create fun and interesting labels for the salt scrub?

OR shall I go visit my chickens?  Shall I turn them out into the yard since it's not pouring rain for the first time in 48 hours?  Shall I enclose the coop with protection against the elements to make it more cozy for featherless hens?

OR perhaps I'll jot you all this brief note, be grateful that I have eyes that see and fingers that move to do my bidding, and go to bed early.  It would be easy to go circular, just a tiny bit.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

So Thankful

I want to share one of your blessings with you.  It's your life.  During the busy and often frantic of this time of year, being still enough to appreciate the moments of your life is a rare event.

So from the Things I get to do today, please accept this six-minute gift from me to you during this Holiday Season--Gratitude in the Moment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where, Oh Where Has My Black Hen Gone?


They've come out by fistfuls.  Big, black, handsome Nina Simone Hen has lost her feathers.

A small token of the feathers
Nina has shed in the last two days.

That a hen would molt at this time of year is not a newsworthy item, facts be known. For some reason I thought Nina was immune.  When the other hens stopped laying, she did her best to keep up with an egg every other day or so.

Bare wing flesh showing today.
Then the bag of layer pellets ran out. The replacement sack seemed different, and I blamed the new feed saying it wasn't high enough in protein, saying maybe it was pullet feed instead of layer feed, saying I'll take this stuff back and get the real thing. My eyeballs bulged as I hefted the 50 pound bag out of the metal can (Things I get to do today) to inspect the tag:  Layer pellets.  Well, fine. And now the fistfuls of feathers.  It isn't the feed.  My big, shiny black hen is molting just like the rest.

Well, hurry up and get it over with.  Snow is flying.  You'll need your new coat soon.  I'll keep the heat lamp on to tide you over.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Neighbor

I love Mr. Rogers.  He'll always be my neighbor.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the in the news, my mother would say to, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'  To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are so many helpers--so many caring people in this world." - Mr. Rogers.

In the sober presence of the moment, the most important of Things I get to do today is to look for the helpers. There are so many caring people in this world. And I am comforted knowing that you are one of those many.

Friday, December 14, 2012

All Gone

The tomatoes are gone.  Out of respect, Things I get to do today will include observing a moment of silence and reflection for their magnificent presence this past summer and fall.

Here is the photo documentation of the last two, before they were sliced in half and put on the top of our Salmon Salad for dinner last night.

Picked green when the weather turned cold several months ago,
these two plucky little tomatoes were able to produce color and flavor
by December 13.  Good work, Jaune Flamme'

Until next summer:  Thanks for the delicious memories, the extravagant flavors, and all the sensuous, warm orbs gathered in the afternoon sun.  I love you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Dirty blinds.  Dirty cord on the left.

Slippery Slope:  I now know the meaning of that.


Washing windows meant cleaning the floor meant painting the walls meant painting the ceiling meant painting the woodwork meant getting rid of the mini blinds.

Old mini-bling hardware removed.
Ready for sanding, filling the localized painting

Some measuring and a rather quick trip to my favorite store meant that some stitching, some ironing, some removing of old dirty blinds, some hole filling, some touch up painting, some drilling, some attaching were all Things I get to do today.

Curtains at night
Curtains in daylight

The end result feels great, and it feels like it is the bottom of the slope, which would be the end, as in "Curtains."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everybody Gets Hungry

Long stretch, but worth it!
The birds (even Starlings) get hungry.  The squirrels (especially the squirrels) get hungry.  A wise person pointed out to me just the other day that if I was going to feed the birds that meant Starlings were included.  Oh.  But they eat so much so fast that after a flock leaves the tree there's little left for the other two and four-legged critters.  Feeding the birds means feeding all the birds that want to show up.
They can swallow hanging upside down.

Perhaps the Persimmon tree could be called the "Feeder Tree."  It holds a bird feeder bulging with sunflower seeds.  Only 10 days ago it was also loaded with left-over persimmons that we couldn't reach as we picked or that had already been claimed with beak or tooth marks.  The critters just swooped in and cleaned up the fruit.  At least with their bellies full of persimmon, the birds don't hit the sunflowers seeds as heavily and that, of the Things I get to do today, can be put off until tomorrow.

It takes no imagination to see that this guy is full and fat.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Jewels

I'd come out to sweep debris off the patio, and there they were.  Gems like these certainly would have been part of the gifts brought by Magi and Wise Men and Worshippers to the Christ Child.  To find them scattered rather carelessly on the cold, wet and littered pavers seemed inappropriate at best.

But Nature is like that--not attached to her beauty, letting it go graciously and without hesitation, casting her pearls and gems before the common folk.   With that ease she is able to create again and again with the seasons, her abundance flowing because she never holds back.

Safire, Amethyst, Turquoise semi-precious "stones"

The Porcelain Berry Vine has been dropping her jewels for weeks now, some to the birds and some to the patio. I've always thought the berries were prettiest amongst their leaves and don't recall seeing them so near winter.  But this, this takes my breath away and gives new perspective to all other Things I get to do today.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Woodwork

14 in 1 painter's tool.
What do I use all those
curves and holes for?

It turns out it's not all that simple.   Painting the trim, putting the decorations on the cake, if you will, has been a growth experience.  As one hitches along the perimeter of a room, first taping the edge of the carpet under the baseboard, then painting the baseboard (not the wall, thank you.  It's already done and is Pale Honey in eggshell, not white in enamel), there is plenty of time for contemplation.  If one is paying attention and finds joy in details, there's a lot to be learned.

The big curve on the right of the painter's tool cleans at
least a half cup of paint out of the roller before it is ready
to be washed!  Washing up goes so much faster.

At the beginning of this painting project (you remember it all began with washing the windows and deep-cleaning the kitchen floor), the work list said simply "paint the ceiling Air, paint the walls Pale Honey, paint the woodwork White."

Kitchen corner BEFORE

So the baseboards became white.  The woodwork around the windows was a different matter.  Cracks and dried calk between the window sash and woodwork needed to be cleaned out and recalked.  Mini blinds were taken down.  The sashes were cleaned.  And the woodwork was finally painted.

The mini blinds went back up--temporarily.  They are old.  They are dirty.  They are slightly broken here and there.  And they look hideous in the newly painted window frames.

Kitchen corner AFTER

So one of the Things I get to do today (or tomorrow) is shop for new curtains.  What a slippery slope this has been!  How truly fabulous it is to have rooms feeling clean and vibrant instead of heavy and dirty.  Who knew?

PS.  This what I was doing when I was not blogging.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

All Is Well

Holiday Cheer from a friend to me.
Sending that Cheer on to all of you!
It's been awhile.  I've missed you.  Though I've been away from home most of the time since Thanksgiving and very busy when I wasn't, I'm finding that writing a brief, meditative or thoughtful perspective daily is as good for me as it is for you--maybe even better.

So I'm back saying hello, taking a long moment in contemplation, valuing my Space of Love, looking deeply into at least one spark of joy in each day, loving an instant when light flashes into knowing--these are all, once again, Things I get to do today.

Thank you for joining me from time to time.  When it looks like the world around us is going crazy, our time together, anchoring into the sweetness of a moment understood, will keep us grounded and sane, and will welcome peace into our souls.  May you all be blessed with Good Health, Abundance, and Great, Great Joy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

May You Be Blessed

May you be richly blessed with Good Health, Abundance and with Great, Great Joy!  May your heart be filled with peace, your life with adventure and your soul with expansion.  May you find in all the Things YOU get to do today an infinite number of things for which to be Thankful.

(I'm away visiting Mother and then Daughter.  Back on Sunday.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Knitting Peace

She's gone.  A little over a week ago her last breath came and went and was no more.

Peace and Sweet Release
The most appropriate response it seemed for me was to knit.  I'd been toying with some lanolin-rich Irish yarn for a small project--a gathering pouch for a young lad to stash collected treasures while he adventures about his yard.  I found that taking the time from the other Things I get to do today to sit rather still, hold the yarn in its serpentine around my tensioning fingers and let the thoughts of my dear friend Karen* who gifted me the yarn and who has so recently departed this physical plane knit themselves into a place of peace was a perfect way to hold her and her memory is a sacred space.

We had time to chat--I could hear her voice from a place beyond.  We laughed.  And cried a bit.   And remembered.  But mostly, I just sat with the yarn that had been hers, was now mine, and would be someone else's soon, and found a soft sweetness in releasing Karen to the next phase of her being, honoring her memory with each stitch.

*Some past posts that include Karen:  Open Season, A Gaggle of Swifts, Peace of Yarns, Gifted by Friend, Sniffing the Sights, Hilda Saves the Day, Rake Leaves/Play Ball.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dresses, a Bit Ragged and Torn

Holes and tatters in Nora Jones' garment.

They've lasted a year of 24/7 wear.  New ones are on the way.  My girls hope to look swell again for the holidays (probably not by Thanksgiving), and their new dresses will be the perfect thing.

Katy Perry Chicken looking far worse than last year's
Bad Hair months. 
Pin feathers will give way in a shower of milky dust to lush, strong feathers that will keep the girls warm for the winter season.

Today's rain has kept the hens in the shelter of the coop nearly all day. They're grateful to be loved, chicken pets instead of commercial turkeys.

And though one of the Things I get to do today is lay one of the hens to rest layered in straw and under the damp earth, I'm glad they are my pets as well. And Queen Latifah Hen, though now gone, no longer has to deal with faulty kidneys. All is well on the city farm.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Summer Dust

It's not all the same.  Summer dust is totally different from winter dust.  In the usual rain-every-few-days-except-in-August Portland, we can safely say we never have the summer kind.  Summer dust is the result of dry:  dry fields, dry dirt roads, dry earth combined with wind.  Rain puts an instant stop to the very thought of summer dust.

This past summer and fall it was amazing to see fine grit on the furniture--summer dust.  It rested most on the window sills left open to welcome a breeze and admit the comfort of fresh air during the night.  Though not much of a duster, I removed the grit more frequently than I thought possible in August, September and October.  When the rains put an emphatic end to grit in the wind, it seemed that perhaps all the summer dust had been removed from the house.

Gritty "summer dust" behind hidden behind the books
on the library wall.

However, when Things I get to do today encompass taking down a wall of bookcases in order to paint the surfaces behind, unknowns become known.  Behind the books (and even in front of the books--gasp!) lay a significant amount of summer dust.  Perfect time to see it on its way and dust the books.  Perfect time to settle into the rain and damp of middle fall and winter and to allow time to gently bless all surfaces with the lint and fluff of winter dust.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lipstick RED

Burning Bush

Drop-dead gorgeous! I've always wanted shrubs this color.  The very same type have grown in my own yard, but in the fall, the leaves turned a reddish brown.  That was it.

Maybe it's a crisp, deep frost that helps them reach a glory-hallelujah state.  It is never cold enough here in the fall to cause this explosion of color.  But at the other house, over the mountains where our daughter lives, the show is spectacular.  And for now, Things I get to do today, appreciate the ruby lips of the lively leaves no matter where they grow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We Are So Honored

Too much in a hurry to sit still for a picture, our new
exterior house cleaner:  Ruby Crowned Kinglet.
Just a tiny fleck of his crown is visible.

Everyone is on board.  The house, in its sprucing up, has apparently put out a call to the Universe.

Working over the trellis
Even the birds, little tiny ones at that, have shown up to make their contributions.

Under the eaves, over the eaves--
we received a full inspection
Ready to have another go at the dining room window frame.

I noticed him first gleaning bugs from under the eaves at the back porch. Shortly he was back checking around each of the windows.

This sweet, tiny Ruby Crowned Kinglet has become the latest member of the crew to make sure we look sharp on the outside (since I've been paying attention to the interior only of late.)

When he checks out the window frame, his little crown flashes a huge, brilliant orange/red flare.  And because of this little guy's attention to the outside, I took a look at it myself.  "Wash the exterior walls" will find its way to Things I get to do today (but not until several tomorrows into the future.)  At the present, I really appreciate his help!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Too Many for the Road

Drunk is never a good thing.  If you are a Robin, it's even worse.  The sky and the road and windows all look the same.  This fat fellows found the "sky" had suddenly grown solid.

Abundant Porcelain Berries
Too many for the road OR the skies

The rain and the time of year conspired to bring down the Porcelain Berries and all their leaves. Nearly every morning, Things I get to do today include blowing the results off the patio. This morning's ritual moved smoothly until my eye reached this fellow--fortunately before the wind of the leaf blower caught up to him.

Drunken Robin survived his window 

He was one of many of his fellows who feast on the blued fruits of the Porcelain Berry vine.  The nearby house window looked like the path to freedom in the skies.  Not so.  He crouched on the patio without moving as I quieted the leaf blower.  A big leaf had lodged on his beak and head.  As I pulled off the leaf and took his picture, he remained motionless, waiting patiently for his wits and senses to return which they eventually did. When his drunk wears off, will he remember?  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Walls

In the day light, the color comes across a fair bit lighter

Pale Honey.  Sounds delicious to me. Our frequently rainy and often dark climate puts in a request for warm colors on the interior walls of my house.  That's where the golden tones of honey come in.

Cold air return: cleaned and replaced with
painted screws onto a clean and freshly painted ceiling
The wall painting went slick.  Handy Andy remembered her painting instructional videos.  Load the roller.  Rotate the roller back and forth when moving from the paint pan to the wall to prevent it from dripping.  Begin rolling at 1/4 of the way down from the ceiling and roll down to 1/4 from the baseboard.  Then roll up, up to the top and down, down to the bottom.  Reload and repeat.  This is amazingly fast and produces perfect results.

The above tip lays a uniform and moderately heavy coat of paint on the wall--ideal if you aren't interested in doing two coats.  Top of my Things I get to do today is NOT to be interested in putting two coats of paint on the walls.  That gave me time to do all the walls in the dining room, living room and entry in the afternoon after my morning "touch up" of the ceiling and before house guests arrived at 6 PM.  A couple of rest days are so in order.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Ceiling

Love/hate:  2 gallons is enough for a
huge mess.

Learning curves can be painful.  And embarrassing.  And time consuming.  Handy Andy, miss-I-can-do-anything, intended to spray-paint the vaulted ceilings.  A bit of a stitch in one shoulder convinced me that that rolling the ceilings would be very hard.  Spraying would be so much easier!

Several days of laying out the process in my head was useful.  Watching expert "how-to" videos on line was critical.  Gathering the right equipment was frustrating--especially when the extension pole the experts said was needed was not available to rent ($175 to buy for a one-time use).

Peak of the vault--hosed for a split second with paint

Being persistent equalled all the Things I get to do today.  With a 4-hour rental clock running, I was finally ready to take care of the ceilings.  A 30"wand on the end of my spray gun made it possible to reach the 12' peak.  Ready to go.  Pull the trigger for the first pass. SPLAT, SPLASH!  Paint showered all over me, the wall, a wedge of carpet that was exposed, the fireplace hearth, the dining table in the next room!  Not believing that the fine mist I had seen in the expert video was NOT coming out of my sprayer, I tried it again on a lower wall (preventing the drench of paint from overhead).  SPLAT, SPLASH!
Spray gun, wand and corrected nozzle attachment.
All paint splatters on the plastic were from the single squirt overhead!

Time to look at the end of the wand.  Here is where I crash straight into the sharp curve.  The wand is a tube for the paint but comes with no spray/mister tucked into the  nozzle head--I proved it to myself, twice!  So now's time to let the rental clock tick down as I clean the carpet of paint rain and finally put the "bit" from the spray gun on the end of the wand nozzle.

At the end of four hours filled with roller coaster emotions of disbelief, despair, elation and determination, the rental equipment went back.  The next morning a wiser Handy Andy put the paint roller on a very long pole, painted over the learning curve stripes, and made the ceiling look great.

Tomorrow:  The Walls

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This all started, you know, when I cleaned (really cleaned) my kitchen floor.  Be warned for your own situation.  Scrubbing can lead you to a very slippery slope.

So now I find myself preparing the interior of my house, as in living room, hall, kitchen and family room, to be painted.  According to my husband, it looks like the place forgot to take off its Halloween costume, draped as it is with ghostly, filmy plastic to protect floor and furniture from the "paint dust" from spray painting the ceiling.

Dirty, dirty

And down come the ceiling cold-air return covers.  In the twenty years of their boarding in our house, they've been cleaned (from time to time) but have never been removed and washed.  The gray heads of the screws annoy me slightly.  Among all the other painting details helping the heads look smart will be one of the Things I get to do today.

Going to spray paint these to match

Found that a 3x5 card, punched, worked just swell to hold the screws for a quick spray paint.  Photo soon of the delightful results.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For the Birds--Plant a Tree

It has no roots.  It may not live.  For a tree with leaves to be bare in winter certainly does not foretell its future viability.  But come spring, we'll know for sure.  Regardless of what shows on the tips of each branch, this odd tree will continue to serve its purpose.

Downey adjusts easily to the new location
next to the sideway--good access for Mom
 and her walker.

My mother loves to feed the birds in the winter. North of Spokane snows are measured in feet not inches.  The birds who stay are blessed by the help from Mom's feeders.  She is careful to tend them with watchful regularity.  But over the years winter snow and ice has made the old feeder location treacherous to get to if not impassable at times for even the able bodied. At 91, Mom's not going to attempt crossing the icy driveway to keep the birds' tummies filled.

Handle and hook so Mom feels safe and can enjoy filling the feeders

Most satisfying of Things I get to do today is make the new bird feeding station and insure that it is a pleasure to visit for the birds and for my mother.  An 8' 4x4 post, a 2x4 cross beam, fasteners and screws make the basics.  Three feeders are fastened to the cross beam.  Next screw in a sturdy hook to hold the small bucket of bird feed that my mom has trundled out on one handle of her walker.  Then a secure, keep-my-balance handle is fastened on well so mother's stable while she focuses on filling the feeders with sunflower seeds.

A Black-capped Chickadee and Downey Woodpecker feel at home

And now to find a "tree." Service berries grow profusely on this land. A long, lateral branch from a nearby shrub is perfect. With 18" plunged into the ground, this delicate "tree" still stands nearly 10 feet tall. As the last soil is tamped around its trunk, chickadees and pine siskins have already marked it as their own. I wouldn't be surprised if it sprouted leaves, sent out roots, and started another life in its new location after winter has come and gone.