Entertainment · Inspiration · My Local World · Nonsense · Writing

Things I Love

I am blatantly ripping off this idea from Angie at Freckled Foolery, because I enjoy reading about what other writers love and how they spend their time. Note that Things I Love is about things not people. That is a whole other post. Also, I’ve been struggling a little with negativity in my writing ideas (who hasn’t, these days?) and Angie’s post lifted my spirits and made me smile.

I love:

  1. Cats. The only reason I still use Facebook these days is for pictures of people’s kids and cats. I am a bona fide cat lady, even though I only have one of my own, and she likes my husband better than me.
  2. Reading. I own WAY too many books. I need to purge, but it’s so hard. I love how social media allows us to feel as if we know writers personally. I love Stephen King and Margaret Atwood. I read a lot of non-fiction, too, like Naomi Klein and Ari Berman. I like to read books about physics, although I struggle with those ideas, it feels like good exercise for my brain. I love a good book controversy, like the one going on about American Heart. The arguments over it have gotten crazy heated, and wild horses could not keep me from reading it now. (It comes out in January.)
  3. Notebooks, journals, note paper, and pens.  My bad memory requires that I write everything down that I really want to remember, so I always have a small notebook and pen in my purse. I write my longer writing on computer, but I am a fanatical list maker, and typing a list into my phone is laborious, so I keep paper and pen handy. I am constantly searching for the pen that writes just the way I want it to (and somehow makes my messy handwriting better.)
  4. Stone walls, fences and bridges. I love how they blend in with nature, and how they last forever. I love them covered in moss, and surrounded by fall color. My dream house would have a stone foundation and stone walls in the yard with wildflowers spilling over them.
  5. Spider solitaire. It is the most soothing game. It takes just enough concentration, but not too much. I only compete with myself. It is my version of a fidget spinner. It is impossible for me to sit with nothing in my hands, so I can play on my iPad while I watch tv. (I have become my mother.)
  6. Pasta. Angel hair, bow tie, penne. If I had to pick a food I could not live without, it would be pasta. Chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts are delicious, but I would be okay if I could never have another one. Fresh strawberries would be missed. But life without pasta is unimaginable.
  7. Coffee. I don’t think I need to say more about that.
  8. Analyzing data. I can go for hours. Give me a set of data and I can mess with it for days, looking for patterns, outliers, correlations. Spreadsheets, graphs, visualizations – I love it all.
  9. Snow. I doesn’t snow much anymore where I live, but I still get excited when those first, fluffy flakes come down, even if it means the streets will be paralyzed and the power may go out.
  10. Group Me. My husband, sons and I have a family Group Me chat, and we use it to pass along important family information, but more often to share jokes and stupid memes and funny videos and comments on Game of Thrones. And of course, pictures of our food when we’re not all eating together.
  11. Yarn and knitting. My mom was a knitter, and I learned at about age ten. I love knitted sweaters and afghans and hats. Sadly, it is mostly too warm here to wear them, but I take advantage of the cold when we have it. I have an almost completed fisherman knit sweater that I have been knitting on and off for about 12 years. It is a complicated Alice Starmore pattern, and all that is left is part of one sleeve. When I finally finish that, I will wear it if it is 100 degrees!
  12. Craftsman houses. I would buy one and fix it up in a hot second, if there were any in my city. Birmingham has lots, but Hoover is a fairly new city and didn’t exist at the time they were being built. We have tons of 60s and 70s ranch houses, and there are some newly-built, fake Craftsman houses, but sadly, no real ones.
  13. Milk glass. I am not a collector, at least not of one particular thing. The knick-knacks in my house are mostly kitchy, non-matching things I inherited from my mother and grandmother. I have a set of Russian stacking dolls that someone gave my grandmother, and a Hull pottery pig bank that my daddy won for mother at a county fair when they were dating in the 40s. I treasure all these things, but especially the couple of pieces of milk glass that were mother’s. There is a flower bowl that sat on our dining table and almost always had fresh flowers in it. There is a tall pitcher that she used for daffodils in the spring. It has a chip in the base, but I don’t care. I love these things because they were part of our house when I was little.
  14. Libraries. We make it a point to visit the public library in the cities we visit. We’ve seen Seattle and New York this year. Those are two awesome ones, and completely different.
  15. Strong Wi-Fi. Yeah.

Well, that’s a lot, but there are so many more things. Writing this did the trick of putting me in a good mood, head cold and all. I may have to do a Part II later!

Inspiration · Making things · Memories

Buttons

Last fall, thanks to my friend Cindy, I went to Christmas Village at the BJCC. It was my first time ever. We hit the door at 9:00 am, and covered every inch of the HUGE arts, crafts, food, and gift show. Thank goodness Cindy is a veteran, and knew the best system to get around and see everything.

It is a mind-boggling event. Craftspeople and vendors from all over the southeast are there. I heard there were over 700 booths. We saw them all.

The trick and the challenge is finding the real jewels in the truly amazing amount of things for sale. I had in mind some things I wanted to look for, and for the most part, I found them. I wanted some unique Christmas tree ornaments for my sons. Found those. I wanted a “W” initial to hang on the wall in my kitchen. Found it and it’s lovely and unique and handmade.

I wanted a wooden tray to sit on my kitchen counter to hold the salt and pepper, olive oil and other things that are frequently used. I did not find that, but I found a beautiful, hand-carved bread bowl that will display on my open shelves in the kitchen. It is EXACTLY the style I love.

But the best finds of all were the people. It would not seem plausible that in that crowd of thousands, you could strike up conversations with busy vendors and laugh so much and have so much fun! I love that they live this life making things with their hands – pottery, wood, silver, paint, clay, fabric, ribbons, sauces, and dips and soups. My favorite booths were the ones where some individual person designed and created truly unique beautiful things that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

That is why the buttons are my favorite purchase. The are handmade glazed and fired knitters’ buttons. The artist made them especially for knitters, every one different, with large holes for the yarn to go through. She is truly an artist. Her pieces are beautiful and obviously made with care and love as well as talent. She was so friendly and adorable that as Cindy and I walked away, we agreed that she should be our friend.

I admire the creators of beautiful things. Today’s world needs more beautiful things made by loving hands and creative minds. Whether practical, decorative, or edible, things made by hand add a richness to our lives. A loaf of banana bread, a hand-knit sweater, a crocheted baby blanket, a monogrammed bag – I believe that they carry within them some of the crafter’s or cook’s joy.

Many thanks, makers. See you soon.

Christmas Village Festival is 2017 is November 1-5. Tickets go on sale October 2.

The quilt pictured above is a pinwheel crib quilt I made when my children were babies. It is machine pieced, and machine and hand quilted.

Beach · Family · Inspiration · Memories · travel

Vacation

I have spent the last few days slathered in sunscreen, dozing under an umbrella with this as my view and soundtrack.

Gulf of Mexico, Aug 2017

For 25 years, one week each summer, we have gone to the same beach, eaten at the same restaurants, shopped at the same grocery store, enjoyed the same delicious seafood. It is truly a relaxing vacation. We read, we nap, we walk, we cook if we feel like it. And when it is over, we come back home, more calm and more tan, and ready to fit ourselves back into our “real” lives and responsibilities.

Inspiration · Society · Writing

Project: Letters to my heroes

I have many heroes, and reading their writings, or speaking with them, or seeing them interviewed has been very important to me, especially since the election.

It occurred to me recently that it is important to tell people that their good work means something to me, specifically. Some of my heroes have gained recognition for their work, some have not. Either way, I want to let them know that they inspire me and lift me up.

So, I am starting a project to write a letter every day or so to a hero who has inspired me to do better, to give more, and to keeping fighting for a better world.

My first letter went to Jimmy Carter. He has been a hero of mine for a long time. I cast my first vote for President for him in 1976, in an old fashioned lever-pull voting machine in a country store in Red Hill, Alabama.

I am not going to publish my letters, but I will keep a list on this blog of who I write.

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Inspiration · Memories · Writing

Who am I?

I am all the regular things.

I am the checkboxes of life: daughter, sister, college graduate, wife, mother, friend. I am a Honda and a modest surburban house. I am PTO, Band Boosters, college dorm rooms and first apartments. I am the empty nest.

I am high cholesterol, and ten or so extra pounds. I am Sertraline for depression, and Clonopin for anxiety.

I am the sixties and seventies. I am a farm in north Alabama. I am a tiny rock schoolhouse and an old yellow bus. I am tomatoes and okra. I am a long line of schoolteachers and others who treasured books and poetry. I am ghost stories and family tales. I am the Johnsons of north Alabama, decended from England and genetically eccentric.

I am Bible school and Sunday School. I am Jesus Loves the Little Children and Just As I Am. I am white patent leather Mary Janes, Easter dresses and baked ham. I am baptism by immersion and I am disillusionment.

Because my mother often quoted, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” I am compassion. Because I always had enough, but saw children every day who didn’t, I am gratitude.

Because bad things sometimes happen to children, I am childhood sexual abuse. I am years of guilt and repression. I am therapy and healing.

I am words, but not math; perfectionism, but mad disorganization; good food, but bad cooking. I am cats, not dogs; chocolate, never coconut, and always, always libraries and book stores.

I am 59 years of houses, apartments, neighborhoods, friends, events, weddings, wars, babies, car repairs, tornadoes, Presidents. I am a young mind.

I am sometimes fear, but more often optimism. I am Liz.

Blogging · Inspiration · Writing

Why I want to “Blog Like Crazy”

Writing creates a certain connection with the world that I often can’t attain in person. Even with my closest friends and family, there are still some walls that remain. Maybe this is a personal failing of mine, but I keep certain beliefs and desires and dreams behind the wall because they are too tender to hand over to others – especially the others who I love and respect the most.

When I write, and publish my writing on my blog, I tear down the wall and  become my most honest, authentic self. I often have a moment of anxiety before I click that “Publish” button, because I am putting my heart out there, defenseless, to those who know me well, family members, those who know me only by reputation, and also strangers.

I blog because there is a certain exhilaration in writing and publishing on honest, heartfelt topics. Love me, hate me, be indifferent – this is who I am. When I write, I have the freedom to be real. This is why I want to “Blog Like Crazy.”

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Weed or flower? I am both.

 

 

Inspiration

Write it Down; Move Forward

I often feel so frozen, as if I can see all the things I want to do, but I spin my wheels and never really get anything completed. I am an expert level procrastinator. All my energy is inside my head. I compare myself, unwisely, to people who are doing great things in the world. Not a smart way to live. But I had an idea that if I had a big white board, I could write down the things I have accomplished that made me feel good and proud, and then I could look at them and know that I am not frozen, and not just sitting here watching time pass. Continue reading “Write it Down; Move Forward”

Inspiration

30 Things I Love Right Now

Inspired by TJ Beitelman and Javacia of See Jane Write. Photo from Craftsy.

30 things I love right now:
1. My YMCA membership.
2. Coffee
3. The My Favorite Murder podcast
4. Atlanta, where my son lives
5. My cell phone (I know, I know)
6. New friends discovered during the recent municipal elections
7. The home stretch of our 18 month kitchen renovation
8. My funny, sweet husband
9. Pedicures
10. @SarcasticRover on Twitter
11. My reading journal
12. My fitbit
13. Smoothies
14. Ideament
15. Elizabeth Kolbert’s books
16. My tattered boyfriend jeans
17. Bryan Stephenson, author of Just Mercy
18. My cat, Zoey
19. Gerbera daisies
20. Fantasy house hunting on Zillow
21. Writing
22. The blogging community
23. Trying new craft beers
24. My sons, the best young men in the world
25. French
26. Having my depression and anxiety under control
27. Paper calendars and planners
28. Yoga
29. My new passport
30. The 3 wonderful kids I babysit

Inspiration

2016, hello.

This is going to be a different year. My mother passed away on August 4, and the last part of 2015 was spent in a blurry, disoriented state of wondering if I was feeling the right things, doing the right things. I didn’t experience grief so much as numbness. I felt as if I had been thrown out of my comfortable world of house, husband, grown kids, friends, writing – into a totally foreign world of care-taking, decision-making, and difficult, sad loss.

My husband is a wonderful person, simply because he is still here. He is here when I have nothing to give him in return but the love of 26 years, and the promise that no matter what, he is always my person, and I am always his.

So, we begin 2016. Continue reading “2016, hello.”