All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult

Teachable?

YA and I went to Easter dinner at a neighbor/friend’s home.  Everybody had their Fauci ouchie and three of the other 4 folks could be said to be “in our bubble”.  The fourth person was a close friend of the friend/neighbor.  I liked her right away and was interested in the mosaic art that she does.

The topic of my Ukrainian eggs came up and she asked a lot of questions about how they are made.  At one point she said “oh, that would be a fun thing to learn to do”.  So I offered to teach her; she was so excited I thought she might fall off her chair.  She asked if I could teach her twin sister as well – they apparently like to do these kinds of things together.  In for a penny, in for a pound – I agreed.

Since I’m actually putting the egg table up this weekend to start my Solstice eggs (yea, I know, just a tad early), I thought this would be a good time for lessons.  Instead of a traditionally colored pysanky (white, yellow, green, red, black) I’m going to design a beginner egg that will have various shades of blue.  The reason is simple. My Solstice egg this year will be using the blues and I don’t want to mix a bunch of different non-blue colors just for this lesson.  The process is exactly the same so I won’t be short-changing them.

I’ve taught Ukrainian eggs before – to two different friends and to YA when she was little  – all of these lessons were a long time ago.  Even though I’ve taught before, I find myself a little more nervous about this time.  Maybe because I will teaching two at a time?  Maybe because I know she is an artist herself?  I expect my jitters will fade away quickly once we get going.  At least I hope so… jitters and hot wax on eggs don’t go together well!

Have you ever taught anything?  What do you think you’d be good at teaching?

Dream State

I have very few bad dreams.  Or at least not that I remember once I’m awake.  But I had a doozy last week, the kind that leaves you wanting to stay awake so that you don’t fall back into it.  I made a trip to the bathroom, splashed my face, had a glass of water and when I got back into bed, I dreamt, but not the same nightmare scenario that had woken me.

I was starting a new job in a big business building downtown.  My new boss owned the whole floor, although his actual business only took up five or six rooms.  I don’t recall if I knew in the dream what I was supposed to be doing.  The rooms of the business were messy and it seemed clear that there wasn’t an actual office (or even desk) for me.  I had been given no direction about where I was to settle.  I was pretty well-dressed in the dream, although my dream self was a little worried that I didn’t have many nice work clothes. 

Of course, in part of the dream, I wandered out into a hallway and had trouble finding my way back.  My boss was in and out, fairly frenetic, again giving me no clue what I was supposed to be doing.  I worried about how I would get downtown every day.  I wondered if I should take matters into my own hands and order a desk.  Oh, did I mention that my new boss was Barack Obama?

I’ve probably said here before that I view dreams as a recycling of the day to day detritus in my subconscious.  Usually I can track bits of my dreams back to a waking trigger, but I’ll admit this one has my stumped.

Any dream interpretations for me?  Any good dreams you’ve had lately?

Happier

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day for walking – even if a bit windy.  I walked along Minnehaha Parkway and as I looked down at one point I saw the words “Happier” and “Ed Sheeran” written in chalk on the sidewalk.  While I know who Ed Sheeran is, I wasn’t sure if I knew the song, so I whipped out my phone and looked it up.  It was very nice:

I don’t usually listen to music or audiobooks when I walk.  I prefer being present in the outside world and I’m not so sure that earbuds are all that safe.  I also need more attention than you would imagine to make sure that the dog is staying in a good state of mind.  But it was nice to listen to the song for a bit as we walked.  It won’t make me an Ed Sheeran fan but I liked the idea that I was hearing a song that someone else thought enough of to chalk it for passers-by.  We kept going along the parkway and I didn’t see anymore song titles.  Just the one.

If I could leave just one song written on the sidewalk for others to come across, what would it be.  One of my absolute favorites is the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, especially the rendition done by Cantus.  But what message would I be sending the world with that one?  So I think I’d have to write “Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  I think this is a song the world needs to hear.

I’ll supply the chalk.  What is the one song you want to add to the sidewalk?

I Can Resist….

Yesterday Guinevere and I turned right at the bottom of the driveway instead of our normal “to the left” on our walk.  I got a really good look at my boulevard and was so surprised to see not just the daffodils starting to sprout up, but also the tulips, lilies and even a teen tiny peony tip.  And, of course, even a few creeping charlies.  Even though a few baboons have already mentioned that they’ve seen things popping up, it still surprised me to see so much this early. 

At least it still feels early to me; I can’t even keep track of the times I’ve had to cover up my plants in my straw bales after Mother’s Day due to a frost warning.  However seeing everything popping up makes me want to get out there and clear out last year’s leavings, despite knowing that it might not be safe yet.

I’m normally very good at delaying gratification.  I always eat the cake first and leave the icing for the end.  I have no trouble saving gifts until it’s the right time to open them.  Most of the time I’ll pick the ickiest chore to do first and save the things I like better for later.  But now I am itching to get out there with my grubby jeans and gardening gloves, to starting cleaning up and making way for spring.  I’m not sure how to keep myself inside this weekend.

How to you forestall temptation?

Planters

Now that we’ve had some nicer weather, I’ve been farther afield with Guinevere.  On the way home from the library yesterday, I passed a display that I had seen several times last year.  The homeowners have two big planters out on their little boulevard, one on each side of a tree.  There are plastic eggs, pretty sticks and butterflies.  The fun part of seeing this again is that the owners have clearly freshened it up.  Instead of dirty and faded as you would expect after the winter, the eggs are new and bright and the butterflies are all intact and fluttering in the wind. 

This is not a display that can be easily seen from the house; the homeowners must have decided at some point to make sure the planters are cheerful and welcoming for folks who are walking by.  I feel like it’s a gift to me and other pedestrians.  This is important to me; in today’s environment that seems so overwhelmed by hate and nastiness, I am really trying to pay attention and acknowledge when people are intentionally kind (well, unintentionally too I guess).  I’m thinking about leaving a thank you card in their mailbox.

We talked a out Little Free Libraries last week – books, produce, treasures, even sticks.  I hope that everybody is seeing other acts of kindness as they go about their business and that it inspires us all to try to step up to kindness when it’s needed.

Any other kind/nice stuff that you’ve seen lately?

Contain Yourself!

Photo Credit:  Bored Panda

After a request for photos yesterday, I thought I’d expand a bit on the wild dog story.

My first trip to South Africa was with a client who wasn’t crazy about working with my company.  Her previous company had just gone through a merger and she inherited the job of overseeing the travel programs.  We were already contracted for two programs when she came onboard so even though she had contacts in another incentive house, she couldn’t change suppliers at that point.  She was professional about this but she never seemed happy or excited.  Now it’s completely plausible that she just wasn’t a person who like to emote but we’ll never know.

We had a large group, bigger than any one safari camp could hold, so we needed to check out three different camps and decide which winners would go in each.  That meant that we had to stay in each of the three camps, one camp each night.  Boo hoo. These were luxury camps with incredibly nice rooms (all three camps had gorgeous indoor bathrooms and great outdoor showers), amazing food and, of course, the safari runs.  You got up very early for the first safari run of the day (think 4 a.m. early) – heavy “snacks” before you left then a massive breakfast when you got back 3 hours later.  Then a late afternoon safari, getting back in the dark for a huge “boma” dinner.  And you’re in Africa all this time.  Amazing.

It was all I could do to contain myself during the trip.  (Actually I can hardly contain myself on any of my trips.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve gone on a site inspection that hasn’t been wonderful.) My client was the opposite; she was doing her job by being there but she couldn’t muster any enthusiasm.  It wasn’t surprising when she bailed on the last safari run of the trip.  When the driver and guide came to pick up the Account Exec and me, they told us that they’d heard from other guides on the radio that there might be wild dogs up near “the cut line” (this is the edge of each camp’s territory.  Guides are not allowed to take their charges into another camp’s territory).  They said if we wanted to try to find the wild dogs, it would take a bit and we’d have to head straight there.  The Account Exec and I immediately agreed.  As we were driving up, we both acknowledged that if the client had been with us, she would not have wanted to do this.

Well thank goodness she didn’t come.  The wild dog pack was indeed on our side of the cut line and it was amazing.  They weren’t too worried about us so we were able to observe them for almost 2 hours.  There were a lot of puppies and they were very cute.  It was a defining moment during the trip, a trip with many unbelievable moments.  The photo above is not mine (long story about where those photos are currently stored) but it is very similar to some of the photos I took that day, especially when the dogs and pups came a little closer to the jeep. The puppies are much cuter than you would think, with huge ears and puppy faces.

Even now, after almost 20 years, I feel sorry for that client.  I hope she enjoyed South Africa, even if she didn’t show it.

What makes it hard for you to contain YOUR enthusiasm?

The Pacifier

With the nice weather over the weekend, my nextdoor neighbors got their chalk out and went to work creating a village on their driveway (designed by Margot, who is 6).  When I stepped outside to appreciate it, Matilda (the almost 2-year old) informed me that she had a new bed.  Turns out it is just her crib but with the side down and a bed rail attached, but she was happy about it.  There was more big news… last night was her first night without her pacifier.  It was apparently a trade – the pacifier for the big girl bed.  I laughed and thought about my experience with pacifiers when YA was little.

When I went to China to pick up YA, there was a big list of “suggested” items that I take with me; a pacifier was on the list so I dutifully packed it.  YA, even as Tiny Baby, was not interested.  After a couple of futile attempts, I stuck it back in the duffel bag.  Nonny was at the airport when we got back to Minneapolis and she stayed for a week or so while I got my feet underneath me.  Nonny was absolutely sure that if she presented the pacifier enough times, Tiny Baby would accept it and all would be right with the world.  (It’s funny looking back because Tiny Baby was not fussy, there really wasn’t a great need.)  But Nonny kept trying and every time TB rejected a nook, it would end up on the side table or a chair or someplace where it became irresistible to someone else:  Baron. 

Baron was an 85-pound ball of fluffy, sweet, calm Samoyed.  He wasn’t the brightest bulb but he was sure that these pacifiers that Nonny kept leaving around were meant for him.  Of course as soon as he absconded with one, it became off-limits for the baby; slowly but surely over that week, we went from having a collection of 10 baby pacifiers to a collection of 10 dog pacifiers.  If ever there was a dog that didn’t need a pacifier, it was Baron.  He had self-soothing down to an art.  Eventually he chewed them all enough that I had to throw them away and we never had any more, since Tiny Baby didn’t need or like them.  Nonny wasn’t amused but I thought it was hilarious.

Do you have any self-soothing practices?  Are they working well for you?

Mad Kitty TWO

We have a mad kitty again. 

We noticed that she had a lump on her chest last weekend.  Since she had a fatty tumor last year that required surgery and some serious recuperation and a real notch out of my wallet, we were worried.  I made the vet appointment and then checked on the lump every day.  It seemed more fluid filled and it turned out to be a hematoma – the skin gets pulled away from the muscle and the body tries to fix it by filling it up with fluid.

It’s a fairly easy fix if your kitty isn’t mad.  These days you sit in your car in the parking lot while the vet deals with your animal.  They call you on the phone to let you know what’s going on and what they recommend.  When they called me, they said that Nimue was unhappy and uncooperative.  She’s gotten more uncooperative over the years; she used to be a sweet little thing but I guess some of her vet experiences have made her decide she’s not crazy about being there.  They said they would need to sedate her in order to give her a little tummy shave and to drain the hematoma.  I ok’d this and about 50 minutes later, they called me again to give me the final update along with after-care recommendations, which included putting a shirt on her (if possible) to keep the incision site clean for 24 hours.  They said they had given her a little bit of sedative reversal, she would be coming around soon and they brought her out to me in her carrier.

Well, it’s easy to put a shirt (borrowed from the neighbors) and an unconscious cat.  It took her a LONG time to come out of her sedation – I was very relieved when she started to blink and she continued to be really zonked out for most of the night.  By this morning, she was awake and moving about but NOT happy about the shirt.  We ended up taking it off at about noon but she’s still a little crabby.  Treats are OK but not much scritching or cuddling is allowed for now.  Hopefully she’ll be back to her happier self soon.

Do you ever sleep too long?  Does it make YOU crabby?

Little Library

Now that I don’t have to layer up too much, I’m out walking the dog again.  It’s been fun to see the neighborhood anew, although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed in the last few months.

What has changed are the books in the Little Libraries.  These are the little nooks that people have put up in their yards, encouraging folks to take a book or leave a book.  We have a good number of them in the couple-of-mile radius around my house.

I almost never take a book from a Little Library, although occasionally I’ll take one out to flip through it a bit.  I did take an Italian workbook once – no one had done any of the exercises – I work on it occasionally.  I’ve taken a couple of kids books and then returned them to a different little library when I was done with them.  But it’s fun to look.

I have a friend down on the parkway who takes the Little Library concept to a new level.  She actually curates her collection, changing out titles to fit the season or upcoming holiday.  Right now there are a bunch of Easter and Spring titles – she always has some good books for kids.  She has also installed some little string lights in the box, although I’ve never seen it at night to know if it actually lights up.  There is also a tin of dog treats (home made) in her little library and in the summer, a bowl of water underneath for passing dogs. 

So it should have come as no surprise that there is a new addition to her library this week.  A stick library for dogs – photo above.  I couldn’t convince Guinevere to take a stick – she keeps quite busy sniffing while we walk to bother with a stick – although I suppose I could take a stick for her to play with once we get back to our yard.  I did snap the photo and send it off to my friend with a little note of thanks. 

I’m looking forward to this spring and summer to see what else becomes part of the Little Library landscape!

Have you ever taken a book from a Little Library?  Left a book?  Do you have a Little Library at your house? 

What to Read

My “other” book club got started 32 years ago.  With a few exceptions we’ve met every month for all those years.  We choose the books 6-8 months at a time and it has to be consensus and our preference is for books that none of us has read before although occasionally someone will say “I’ve read it but I’d love to read it again and talk about with you all.”

Deciding on the books can be stressful at times.  Two of us are voracious readers, one reads a lot of newer items, two of us read a wide range of genres, one pretty much prefers fiction.  For many years we used to all purchase the book in question but starting several years ago most of us moved to library books instead (money for some, space for others).  This means that the book has to be readily available in our various library systems.

Then there are the other issues that have cropped up over the years.  One of us is sick of “sisterhood” books (Snow Flower & the Secret Fan), one of us is tired of books about China, one of us feels overloaded by WWII titles, one of us doesn’t care for “old-fashioned” language which leaves out a lot of classics.  Three years ago, two of our members battled breast cancer, so books about the big C are still out of contention.  And I suppose it might go without saying that the last year everybody wants lighter fare. 

It’s gotten to be a research project these days to try to find good titles.  One of us doesn’t like to suggest titles; she takes it pretty personally if we end up not liking a book she has recommended.  (This isn’t a problem for me – the three worst books that we’ve ever read (and we agree on these) were all my picks!)  This increases the stress a bit on the rest of us. Hopefully if I start now I can find a few good ideas by next week when we have to come up with the next six months of reads.

Any suggestions for me?