Happy “2022!”

A stranded knit coaster

Hello friends,

I pretty much bailed on this blog the entire past year. I’m not sure why, and it wasn’t a decision, really, except my feelings about all the happenings in our world were much bigger than my ability to fit them into words. We are still pretty much all dealing with many of the same issues we were last year. Covid, the economy, political maneuvers by both the good guys and bad guys, climate change, food safety and TP supply. But maybe we have learned we are all stronger and more creative than we thought. We’re going to get through this and thrive again. Differently? Sure. We have all been changed, because the unthinkable has happened in a million different versions. But, maybe we will be better, too.

I have had a lot of time to practice on stranded knitting skills, and the hardest thing about it is getting the tension correct, carrying yarn in both hands and floating the unused color every 3-4 stitches along the back as you go. I’m happy to report, “By jove, I’ve finally got it!” I made my first (finished) stranded knitting project recently. Snowflake coasters!

My focus on mediumship development has remained. It has grown to the point I am now fully committed to it. I am learning and practicing with other mediums I don’t know to refine my skills and presentation of communications from spirit. I have joined a development circle of other mediums that meet weekly, as well as practicing 1:1. The next step is practicing 1:1 with friends of friends, or other non-mediums I don’t know. I have created a new, additional blog on WP to encompass that part of my life. If you are interested in following that part of my world, the new blog link is: https://messengerforspirit136467105.wordpress.com .

I still love cooking, baking, herbs and making misc. creative projects, and will continue to post those here as I do so. It is my hope you will still want to read them. Thanks for being here!


Summer in Upside-Down America

Summer greetings, friends,

First, I want to mention how much I appreciate that two of my fellow blogging buddies noticed I hadn’t posted in a while and contacted me to ask if all was well. It had been over two months since my last post. Thank you so much, that means more than you know! When I finally got the all-clear on the surgery date everything happened so fast I just went for it. I didn’t even consider that anyone would even notice my absence.

Covid-19 caused my shoulder surgery to be rescheduled three times.  Luckily, I have tested negative for Covid as mostly I just stay home. The surgery was first scheduled in Seattle for late March, then again in early May, but then Swedish Orthopedic hospital itself closed for a month. Covid numbers continued to be high in Seattle, then dropped enough by late June that I grabbed a window of opportunity and had the surgery done. I’m sure glad I did, as after all the protests the numbers have spiked upward again. The food at Swedish Orthopedic alone was worth the overnight stay. Wowza! It was not like any hospital food I have ever encountered before. They had a true chef on duty.

I think my arm and shoulder are going to be good, now. The surgery entailed a full shoulder replacement and a plate with four screws attached to the upper humerus. The surgeon had to break my humerus in three places just to dig out the old plate and screws from the prior, botched surgery, as the plate had broken jaggedly in half. I have spent 3/4 of every day in a sling since the surgery, to make sure all the structures were well supported while healing was occurring. I am almost giddy to report I am finally comfortable with key-boarding and light tasks. It has seemed like a long two months.

Prior to the surgery, I made over 30 masks for all my local friends. Good thing, since we are still all wearing them! I had a huge stash of fat quarters of Batik fabric, which is tightly woven with such a high thread count that it is pretty ideal for mask making. Along the way, I took the time to straighten out and reorganize my entire fabric stash, a task sorely needed.

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It is difficult to wrap my mind around all the adult anti-maskers that have caused our Covid experience to be more volatile than it needed to be. I know that is certainly something you are familiar with where you live, too. And we all must deal with the rabid political climate as well. I am crossing my fingers we get a handle on both in the next few months.

The Course in Mediumship I bought pre-surgery continues to fascinate me, and I am loving it. I have learned so much! I decided I am going for full certification, though I have a lot of class notes to type up, so it probably won’t actualize until October or November. The next step is to join a practice circle to hone my accuracy rate and confidence. Then, guessing by the following fall I might know what I’m doing enough to begin doing individual sittings for others.

I haven’t had any other major accomplishments this summer. But I am very excited my arm will be able to keep up with the rest of me from now on. My husband and I are pretty introverted, so we haven’t felt like we were suffering much by staying home.

Tom has made some spectacular extras for us in his woodshop during the past few months. I inherited some wonderful antique English bone china from an aunt, and I have wanted a corner hutch in the dining room to house it ever since. Tom designed and built a wonderful hutch for me.

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Next, Tom built a very cool organic bench for our wrap around porch, using live edge maple he milled. That’s where we have our coffee on summer mornings. I feel so spoiled!

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In the end, this summer is the upside-down of all other summers I can recall, but, it has still been good.

Makers Gonna Make

The title of this post is obvious slang, but the truth behind it, speaking for myself and other makers I know, is absolute. I ran into the slogan while I was surfing social media the other day, and I am hard-pressed to find a better way to say it.

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Tom and I started our maker’s journey when we bought our first fixer house. It was 1976, we had been married for just over a year. We were about 21 years old. We had a one-year-old daughter. I think we were generally pretty capable, creative people, but we were very challenged financially at that point. We were tired of paying high rent, had no credit history, and weren’t afraid of hard work. Neither of us had any family support, meaning no cosigning, no loans and no real interest in our project.   We knew that if we didn’t buy a fixer then and there we might have to rent for another ten years. Comparably sized, small houses in decent neighborhoods were going for about $24K at that time. We both worked full time but couldn’t afford the payments on a better house or find anyone else to carry a contract.

The house had been a rental for many years, and we heard the last renters had been a pretty hardcore motorcycle gang. The owner of the house had just gotten out of the hospital after a heart attack and was at his wit’s end. He sold the house to us cheap because he didn’t have the wherewithal to make repairs or make it rentable.

Our house was the worst 2 bedroom house on a block in a good neighborhood, in Portland, OR. It had been built in 1913. There was zero landscaping, as the grass and shrubs had run together over the years. We purchased it for a total of $10k, with $1,000 down, which was all the savings we had. The owner carried a contract on the other nine thousand dollars. Once we realized what we’d agreed to, we were positive we were nuts, but our new neighbors absolutely loved us. They brought us a steady supply of homegrown vegetables, daffodil bulbs, homemade cookies, crocheted potholders, granny square afghans, lemonade, beer, and pizza. What more do you need when you are 21?

It took us nearly two months working evenings and weekends just to get the house fit to move into. The basement floor could be viewed from a hole in the bathroom floor where a toilet was supposed to be. The carpeting in the kitchen was curled at the edges and a disgusting dirty grey-brown color, except for the occasional stains that were clearly from dropped eggs that had fallen and been left to dry in place, pet stains, black grease, etc. It looked like the gang had worked on their motorcycle engines inside the kitchen. Our friends and extended family members made excuses as to why they just stopped by for a second and couldn’t stay or come in. They hovered timidly near the front door and were probably afraid they would catch something.

The woodwork was probably worse than your imagination can conjure. It had chunks missing, peeling paint, indelible dirt, streaks of black grease, you name it. My best descriptives still fall short. The house in the movie, The Money Pit,  was completely gracious by comparison. We tore off the damaged woodwork, and Tom made new, nice moldings using a bargain table-saw and hand tools.

We installed a new toilet, fixed the bathroom plumbing and installed a tub we found at a builder’s supply sale that would at least hold water. You read that correctly.  The old cast-iron tub in the house was split down the middle as though someone had hit it with a sledgehammer, over and over. We ripped out all the carpets and the dirty subfloors, then discovered that the fir floors underneath needed some boards replaced as they had suffered water damage and mysterious blunt force chunks were missing. The old fashioned range/oven was dirty beyond belief. The first time I lit the burner to boil water for drip coffee a mouse jumped up from beneath one of the burners!

We installed a linoleum floor in the kitchen and bathroom ourselves by following the instructions in a Reader’s Digest Do-It-Yourself book. It wasn’t a super pretty floor, it was just a leftover roll from another project that the flooring company wanted to move quickly. But it worked, and it was clean and new. The upstairs wasn’t quite as bad as the lower part of the house. We were able to paint everything and it didn’t look so bad once we laid new wall to wall carpeting. We learned quickly because flooring stores didn’t install bargain flooring for free. We rented a kicker, and though Tom’s knees were pretty sore, he got it done. Within 2 months of moving in, the house looked a lot friendlier. The next summer we planted Rhodies, painted the house exterior and did some minimal landscaping. We made progress every month, and within about 2 years, it was a pretty little house.

During that first two years, we had to learn to economize every way possible. My grandmother gave me her old Singer Slant-o-Matic sewing machine, and I learned to sew and quilt so I could make sundresses and play pants for our daughter, and birthday or Christmas gifts for friends and family. Tom built some very cool birdhouses and planters for other optional gifts. I made cornstarch dough ornaments for gifts or baked goods. I learned how to do home canning.  We got by, in fact, we thrived! We realized that we both loved the creativity of making anything we could make.  We lived there for eleven years and sold the house for many times what we paid for it.  As scary as it was sometimes, and as little as we knew, it turned out that in the end, we had made a good decision to buy that place.

Four fixer houses and forty-some years later, we still love restoring old houses and making cool stuff.  Our finances are decent now, but all things being equal, we would still rather make something than buy it. Tom designs and builds wonderful furniture, from scratch. I have learned to make herbal concoctions, full-size quilts, handmade soap, and I love knitting. The best part is, now that we’re retired, we have more time to do the things we love to do. It’s still a wonderful life!