Appreciate – My Word for 2014


My word for this year is appreciate.   Rather that pick a few random resolutions in January, I picked a word to reflect a new sense of consciousness I wanted to find.

If you look appreciate up in the dictionary here is what you will find.

  • to be grateful or thankful for:
  • to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on:
  • to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect: to appreciate the dangers of a situation.

I  picked this word because there are so many facets to the word.

The first definition is the easy one for me or at least I think so.    I remind myself over and over that my life could be so  much more difficult in so many ways when I want to feel bad, deprived or wish for some more.    I try to be a half full kind of girl.

The second definition is something I think I clearly can improve on.   I want to place more value on others, my blessings and my environment.    Those who I disagree with; those who reach out when I feel I don’t have time for them;  my husband who is there everyday, day in and day out; my family; my home with a full larder; volunteers who give of their time; the natural beauty outside my door; my job; a working car; my healthy low blood pressure and my pets who love me, just to name  a few.      There is so much that I possibly don’t value, it is there and I don’t think about it.    I want to improve that aspect of my life this year.

The third definition will help with the second.    So often we are not aware and when we are not aware we don’t place the appropriate value on things.     We are in too big of a hurry moving from one place to the next or multi-tasking to be fully conscious and in the moment.   Maybe the stranger  who takes time to smile just lost  a friend or family member, saying hi could make a difference.   The sales clerk’s last customer may have been a prick, so being friendly to you is their attempt to put a positive spin on their situation, am I helping her or I too busy in my pocketbook.      Being conscious of my surrounds will take time.    Something I don’t feel I have an over abundance of, time.   But unless I take the time I will never be able to fully appreciate my life.

I am thinking that to appreciate this year, I will have to slow down, be more aware and look at my life with another pair of glasses at time from time to time.  This is my wish for this year to appreciate it all.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Goals

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”


― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Odds & Ends Tagged

You Snooze – You Lose

I swap out chickens every year from my backyard flock.   Some of the older birds or ones that are not performing as well as I hoped go to the freezer.  They are replaced by new chicks.

Getting the perfect mix of chicks for my flock requires me to order from hatcheries online.    I have some personal favorite breeds that are almost impossible to find at the local ranch store.  I usually try to order the week after my employer’s conference in January.   This year I sustained an injury and have had troubles with keyboarding, so did not get  online and make put together my order.

I just checked online at my favorite hatchery that allows me to pick my order one chick at a time, though I usually go with two or three, and stocks all my hard to find favorites. I am too late.   I wanted my chicks to be shipped for a March arrival.  My choices were sold out until June and July.    I am too late.

On to Plan B.   It means I will settle for favorites that I find this year at the ranch supply. I will be watching for the announcement of Chick Days.    You can bet I will be at the first or second one they have.   I have already lost out once, I am not going to do it again.   You snooze — you loose.

Half full or half empty

If our glass is half full or half empty is all in how we look at it.    It is exactly the same, just our point of view.  I try to take the half full point of view.  I have enough problems in life either real or created. Half full makes it a little easier.

One of my new year’s rituals is always re-read a book each January.   These books are supposed to remind me of what an empty glass might and hopefully provide some inspiration for the upcoming year. The book I re-read is what I call a keeper book.   Keeper books are books that you are willing to pack and pay to have toted around the US as you move, knowing you pay for every pound in that moving van.    Keeper books are books you have lent and they were never returned and you bought again, again and finally again in kindle edition so you never have to buy it again.   Keeper books are books that change your life each time you read them; you are reminded of how harsh life can be and how amazing the human spirit is.

I am mulling over which book will be my choice this year.  While I am mulling, I though I’d share my two front runner choices for this year.

Miles to Go Before I Sleep by Jackie Pflug   I have purchased this book now a total of four times.   That should tell you how many times I have read it.   I first found out about this book when I received it as a gift from my husband for Christmas when it was first published.   It is the story of a woman who was on a plane that was hijacked.   She was shot in the head and thrown out the door onto the tarmac by the hijackers who were demanding fuel.    She laid on the pile of people who were shot before her for five hours afraid if a hijacker saw her move they would finish the job.    The book takes you from the time on the plane through her recovery.    It has taught me so much about perseverance, forgiveness, moving forward, coping with adversity, making the most of what I have and spirituality.    It was topped off when I was able to hear her speak once.   She said something that has stuck with me forever:   At some point or another along the way, we all get hijacked. It is different for each of us cancer, death, job; you will know it when it jumps up and hits you and sucks the life out of you.    The trick is taking the most difficult choices and becoming the most capable person that you are.

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng  T  I confess I have only read this book twice.  I go back to it because the Chinese cultural revolution has since been repeated through out the world.   Governments imprison people because they fear  smart people.   When I say smart people I am not talking necessarily intellectually, schooled or high IQ.   I consider smart people to be people who don’t take what “they” say without seeking to understand; people who don’t act like sheep or lemmings.    I find inspiration in Nien because she was imprisoned to be re-educated.   She spent years in prison under terrible conditions.   She was offered her freedom many times  if she would sign a statement confessing to things that were lies.   Many others confessed to the lies for their freedom, but she did not.    She lost her health in the re-education camp.   Her daughter died during the time she was imprisoned.   She eventually was released and escaped to the US.   Her book inspires in me the value of having principles and core values.   It also has made me a skeptic and a person who is always seeking to know if what “they say” is based on a fact I accept.   I never want to be a lemming.    I knew so little about Mao and the cultural revolution before I read this book.    It has made it important for me to understand what is going on in the world.   Nien did not believe that could happen to her  or in her county and yet it did.   The book made me aware that things can happen.

I still am unsure which one I will read.   May be I will read one and make a resolution to read a second re-read on the first day of summer to keep me going all year long.

Do you have a re-read book?   If so please share it in the comment area.

Flashback to Celebrating the End of a Century

As we celebrate the end of a year I just had a flash back to how I marked the end of the 20th century.  I received a quilt top I had made with 2000 different fabrics to mark the end of 1999 back in the mail from a friend who had quilted it for me.


I had long ago forgotten about this quilt, mostly because it turned into an overwhelming project that did not pan out to this wonderful creation I had imagined when I started it.   As we approached the end of the 20th century,  there was a plethora of folks who thought if we swapped fabric that we could all end up with 2000 different fabrics from around the country if not the world.  Then each of us would make an amazing quilt using 2000 fabrics to celebrate the end of the century.

I am not exactly how we all exchanged addresses, but we did.   Each of us sent one another an envelope with 10 squares of different fabrics.   They were suppose to be quilt-quality fabric.  Some of what I received went directly to the trash clearly not quilt quality fabric even for the 1990’s when quilting was in the mist of a reawakening.    I taught quilting and used all sorts of fabrics, but was beginning to explore some art quilting and the new emerging batiks.   I used it as an opportunity to cut up what remained from quilts I had made and trade  it out with others.  Lots of what I received was that classic calico I am not sure they even print any more.

Soon my rural mail box was full of squishies every day.   This is what we called an envelope with 10 squares of fabric.   Some tucked notes in with their squares, explaining the significance of one of their squares.    Several from Canada found fabric honoring their country with the name Canada blaze on the square they sent a print with  the maple leaf that was synonymous  with their country.   One lady who own a bakery in NYC, said she bought special bagel fabric so she could include a square in each package she sent out.    I got one with an ostrich on it from a lady in Australia.   A person from New Orleans found fabric in gold and purple with figures of Mardi Gras, fabric that would likely never be found in northern Michigan.  I got an Asian print from a woman in Japan, long before they became a mainstay option for quilters in the US.    I remember this inspired me to go out and buy fabric that would represent where I lived and enclose a square of fabric with pine needles on it to tell the story of the pines where I lived.

Once I collected my more than 2000 pieces of fabrics, I purged some of what I could not believe that someone sent, or pieces that were a long ways from square, until I pared it down to 2000 pieces of fabric.   Then I thought about design and became overwhelmed by what I had and how to best organize them to sew them together.    I toyed with color rainbows, light vs. dark, designs within designs….but no matter what I came up with my project was huge and I had no way to manage it.   I eventually threw up my hands and just sewed my 2000 squares together.   When I finished it was not this wonderful master quilt I had foreseen.   It was too big for me to quilt I was now over my head again, and whatever inspiration I had when I started this project it was long gone.

I pondered and finally decided that I would send it to my friend, who was also a long arm quilter with the statement, “quilt this puppy and send me a bill.” Now this friend is a perfectionists.   She organizes her fabrics by color and light to dark.   She makes amazing quilts that have an iridescence and luminescent by using that understanding of color and light to make them sparkle.    I am sure she looked at this and want to use it as a dog blanket.    It was bundled up and put in the bottom of  a pile  almost completely forgot about,and she was hoping that the UFO (Unfinished Objects) fairies would come steal this nasty from her closet.   Some how occasionally she found it and we talked about it, but always finding its way back to the bottom of the dark closet.

Just this week it showed up in a box from the UPS man unannounced.   It was like having someone dig out the card you made for your mother in the third grade, framing it and sending it to you.   Oh my!    I called my friend and she used this an experiment in quilting style she had thought about but never tried before…to make her feathers freely come from all different directions on a long arm quilting set up that doesn’t really lend itself to that kind of style.   She said she was glad she tried it but no hurry to do it again, so much trouble.    The quilting is absolutely breathtaking.    It is the star of the quilt.    You want to appreciate this quilt from the backside and the talent of my friend.

Receiving this has taken me back.   This group of squares has provoked memories of the grand experiment.    Looking at them make me I remember a few of the folks who I swapped with.  It reminds me of the talent of friends who introduced me to quilting so many years ago.  It has also let me know how far I have come and the evolution of not only the art of quilting but also of me.