Another Part of My World

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A photo from my last trip to the Yingge Ceramic Museum, just because.

Since many of you seem to enjoy finding out “more about me,” I am joining in Cee’s weekly SHARE YOUR WORLD challenge. 

Here are this week’s questions along with my answers.

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I don’t use much of either. I use ketchup on the rare occasions that I have a hot dog. Ketchup and dill pickles. On occasion, I might have ketchup on a hamburger, but I’m more likely to use mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato.

I like a little mustard on a ham sandwich and as a condiment in potato salad.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Most likely a romantic-comedy, but it would be more likely a musical with several dance numbers.  🙂

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

At this point in time, my husband is the one who makes things when we go somewhere. But my favorite potluck story is from the mid-80s, when I rode a bus to my job at the University of Washington in Seattle. Potlucks were a bit of a challenge because I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff with me, and keeping things hot or cold, depending on what they were could be an issue. So I came up with my bus-friendly go to dish that I took to every potluck we had while I worked there. It was easy, and it was a hit. It involved the grocery store and assembling it after I was at work.

Peas and peanut salad.

1. From home I brought an unbreakable serving bowl, some plastic wrap,  and a serving/mixing spoon.

2. I left about 15 minutes early for my walk to the bus stop, so I could stop at the grocery store (1 block from grocery store).

3. Pick up three ingredients at the grocery store: a bag of spanish peanuts, a bag of frozen peas, a container of sour cream.

4. Catch the bus to work as usual.

5. The peas thaw while keeping the sour cream cool.

6. About 10:30, combine all three ingredients in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

7. When it’s time to set food up, remove plastic wrap, stir to mix one more time, and serve.

Bonus: since this salad was a big hit, it would all get eaten. I would just rinse out the bowl and spoon, and bring them home. Easy!  🙂

 

Thanks to Cee for another interesting set of questions. If you want to join in, here is the link: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/08/11/share-your-world-2014-week-32/

 

From Blog Challenge to Quilt-Along

The Blog Challenge

As I approach the end of October, I will be finishing up the 31-day blog challenge sponsored by Lesa Townsend at http://conversation2sales.com/.  A final report will be forthcoming when the month officially ends, but what you’re reading now is my 25th post for the month. One of the most important things about this challenge for me is that it helped me focus my intention of taking time for myself. In the past, I would have told myself that I have too many obligations, too many reasons why this challenge is an extravagance of time that I can’t afford. And yet, I did it. Regardless of the final count, I am thrilled with the results. And I’ve learned that nothing needs to keep me away from blogging, as long as I’m clear that it’s what I want to be doing.

An interesting element is that signing up for the blog challenge was a fluke. I saw an invitation in an email, and I thought, “Why not!” And so when I had the opportunity to join a quilt-along, I had a similar response. Sure, it’s the same old problem. Where will I find the time? But if I don’t try, I’ll never know. And I intend to quilt in the next couple of months, so why not have some support along the way. Let’s lay the groundwork with two quilting stories that converge in this quilt-along.

My Role Model for Fabric Play

(Photo Credit: StitchedInColor)

(Photo Credit: StitchedInColor)

Not too long ago, I wrote about my fabric play role model. (Click on the heading above the quilt to see that post.) Rachel had used a photo she had taken to match up fabric with those colors and created a palate for the quilt you see at the left. I was enchanted by the idea of using photos to create such creative palates for quilts. In fact, I love seeing what comes up in Rachel’s blog. I often save some of her ideas so I can find them later. Looking at her creative work makes me happy and ready to tackle quilting again.

I had selected a project, chosen fabric, and set a quilting date when Rachel put out feelers for a quilt-along. That idea would have intrigued me on its own, but two things sweetened the deal. First, the timing was good. The real work would take place in November and December after the blogging challenge was over. Second–and more important for me, the pattern Rachel chose for the quilt along is the very one I fell in love with when she did the fabric play–the quilt shown above. How could I say no? I couldn’t. To be honest, I didn’t try very hard.

BONUS: Once she posted the actual schedule, it turned out that the biggest push for sewing comes during the week of mid-term exams. I have to grade exams, but I have no classes to teach that week. I can focus on my other to-dos, in order to smuggle a day or two for quilting.

Like the blogging challenge, I look forward to what the quilt-along will bring in terms of quilting progress and the things I learn about myself. I suspect that this blog will feature a few updates on quilting projects in the next couple of months.

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Hu-Kou Old Street; Hsinchu County, Taiwan (Part I)

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Day Trip 2010

During my first year in Taiwan, during the academic year 2009-10, I spent part of the winter break in Hsinchu, dog sitting for one of my friends. On one of those days, a mutual friend, Mei-Hung, came and took me for a day trip. This was the first of several day trips I would have with Mei-Hung while in Taiwan, and right from the beginning, I learned that a day trip with her is to be treasured. She starts out with a loose plan, but she’s always open to opportunities that present themselves. On this first trip, she took me to the historical Hu-Kou Street in the mountainous area near Hsinchu. What an amazing place, full of culture and things to see. Best of all, it wasn’t crowded, so we could really just wander around and enjoy the sights.

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On both sides of Hu-Kou Old Street (300 meters long), vendors of all kinds offered merchandise and foods of all kinds. According to information found here, Old Street first started in 1893 when a north-south railway station was established. However, the economic development didn’t last long because the station was relocated in 1929. In recent years, efforts were made to restore Old Street and make it a center of economic growth and culture again. You can go to http://travel.hsinchu.gov.tw/page.aspx?wtp=3&wnd=142&id=510 for more information.

One interesting building located on Old Street is the Catholic Church established in 1965 and featuring Italian architecture. After being shut down in 1993, “Old Hukou Catholic Church Museum”  was reopened in 2001 as a center for local arts and literature. Here, you can see us in the interior of the museum. I love the traditional hakka fabric that is draped from the beams. This fabric is also made in bright blues, greens, pinks, and purples. I know that before I leave Taiwan, I will make some kind of quilt with these fabrics or bring some back with me. They always attract my attention, regardless of the color.

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2_D300890-Tasty, You have to try once, Hakka f...

(Photo credit: 棟樑‧Harry‧黃基峰‧Taiwan)

An interesting cultural phenomenon, especially among young people in Taiwan, is to take photos of their meals before they eat. This is one case where it would have been great to have photographed lunch. Mei-Hung ordered a variety of traditional hakka dishes, which I remember thoroughly enjoying. Without any pictures of my own, I offer this one I located on the internet.

After lunch, there were more shops to visit, and we headed out for afternoon coffee. This tea shop below was tempting, but my host had other plans–a trip to a particular coffee shop that would lead to a magical afternoon involving three of my favorite things.

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NEXT:  Three of My Favorite Things (Hu-Kou Old Street, Part II)

Time for Me

time flies

time flies (Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker)

Everyone is familiar with the feeling that time is just flying by, that there isn’t enough of it, that if we just had a little more of it, or if we could somehow manage it better, life would be less hectic. I mean, I hope it’s not just me. But for me, I must admit, I am often my own worst enemy when it comes to time.

If you know me very well at all, you know that I tend to be very busy most of the time. You would probably also know that no matter how much stuff I get done, I always have more waiting around every corner. In fact, if I wanted to never have a moment to/for myself, my to-do list would gladly oblige such insanity.

Ironically, this post about time for me has taken far too long to write, because other things keep getting in the way. Now, I know that I am my own worst enemy in this regard, and that I am the only one who can change it. Which is why I have made some really big steps toward that goal. I’ve made progress, even beyond the simple fact of recognizing it’s a problem. I know that I don’t want life to rush me by, leaving me wondering what was all of that rushing around about. I do have plans in place, and I have begun to follow through. But in the meantime, I still have to dig out of the current situation.

Bookshelf clutter

(Photo credit: HomeSchoolingHoarder)

It’s a lot like the clutter in my apartment. I know it has to go. I have already set up little appointments of time for myself to do the work of sorting things out and getting the non-essentials out. But the piles of clutter, and the endless to-do lists didn’t happen overnight. Therefore, the most important thing for me to remember as I work toward the life I envision for myself is to remember that finding my way clear is not going to happen overnight, or even in a week (or month) or two.

So when I thought about this post I almost called in “Making Time for Me.” Then I thought about crossing that out and replacing it as shown below:

Making Taking Time for Me!

What do you think? For example, can anyone really “make” time. No, it’s pre-made, or at least pre-allocated, and try as we might, we can’t somehow manufacture more of it. Of course, when people talk about making time, they’re really talking about managing it in a different way. Changing the way they use the available time they have. I may get up an hour early in order to have more time to read (or whatever else I choose to do), but I’m still not really making any “new” time. Taking time seems more proactive, and while I can’t take any time that doesn’t already exist, this concept does seem more about actively managing how I spend my time.

I used to think the answer was in discovering some new time management secret. I have gotten myself tangled up in trying lots of time management systems and tricks. I even have a few favorites when I need a little boost, but the real challenge of making my life better is to change my thinking about what I do and don’t say “yes” to. For my New Year’s “resolution” for this year, I incorporated a moratorium on taking on new projects and responsibilities. It worked well for several months, so maybe I need to dust if off and put it back in place.

The great thing about facing this process of digging out is that I realize that my thinking about things has changed a lot. So that even though I do have to dig out, I don’t feel as discouraged by the whole thing. Partly because I have decided to take time for me. In the past, I often put off quilting or pleasure reading or blogging if there was work to be done (and there was ALWAYS work to be done). As part of the process of reimagining my life, I make sure to put me first at least some of the time. Quilting and blogging are finding their way back onto my schedule. Today, you see evidence of the blogging. Soon, there will be quilting news.

594 days to 60.

Anticipation: The Shen Yun Performing Arts World Tour

一年内三临肯尼迪 神韵经典再现华府

(Photo credit: 精彩绝伦的表演)

Reviving 5000 Years of Civilization

I’m so thrilled to be going to see this performance tonight. On the Shen Yun Performing Arts World Tour, there are two stops in Taiwan, and one of those locations is only a 30 minute taxi ride from my apartment. OK, maybe it will take longer in rush hour, but I don’t care! I haven’t been to a live cultural performance in several years, and never in Taiwan.

A chance email arrived all in Chinese, with a note to click the above link if I didn’t speak Chinese. I’m so glad I did. Take a look at this:

However, I almost lost out. I only waited two days, but when I went to buy tickets online, the night I wanted was sold out. Then when I found just a few seats for tonight, it turned out I couldn’t buy the tickets online anymore. And the instructions for those of us who are pokey about following through were only in Chinese. Luckily, it turned out that we could buy the tickets at the convenience store. So off we went, and I was able to secure the tickets. Whew!

So tonight’s the night, and even though I have a ton of work to do, taking a break is definitely the right thing to do. I’ll explain more about that when I report back on this event.

If you want to learn more, the website has an incredible array of information about all things Shen Yun, including absolutely stunning pictures of some of the costumes.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, even if doesn’t include an awesome outing.

亚城神韵高潮迭起  终场再创票房奇迹

(Photo credit: 精彩绝伦的表演)

Keywords: Power Containers

(ReDiscovering Keywords)

I haven’t always thought of keywords as powerful, but they now play a key role in making my life less stressful and more infused with meaning. I have dabbled with keywords over the years, as my friend, Joycelyn, has developed and used keyword lists in countless ways. As she points out, single words can “evoke a concept or a mood or an attitude or a way of being , . . [that] can send you off on a journey . . .” As someone who knows how the written word can  inspire, motivate, heal, and challenge, I had failed to recognize how much power can reside in a single word. But there was no denying the power it held for for Joycelyn, or the impact it was having on her life.

A few months ago, she challenged me to select a seasonal keyword for fall. She had chosen one, as well as a song to go with it. I had to admit, the idea came at a perfect moment. A thematic focus was something I certainly needed. I was feeling really scattered and overwhelmed. And her explanation of using the keyword for a season at a time made sense to me. Choosing a focus for a year was a little too long, but changing every month might be too often, but a season seemed just right. I felt like Goldilocks and that I had just found the perfect bowl of porridge.

My Fall Keyword

I hemmed and hawed over my selection, looking for the right keyword. One that captured my motivation, my inspiration for the season. I was already well aware of the consequences of my over-commitment, and I needed something to help me focus; something to help ground me when I started to feel overwhelmed by the seeming impossibility of ever catching up. I eventually settled on clamoring. For me, it evoked an image of lots of things all vying for my attention. For one reason or another, one (or several) would emerge as the top contenders at any given time, until something else was pushed into consciousness, sometimes by internal urgency, but more often something clamoring from outside. The point is that even the things from outside could be traced back to my unbridled assumption of tasks, ideas, and projects.

(photo credit: Gustave Miller)

(photo credit: Gustave Miller)

Interestingly, I had a really hard time coming up with a song, whose lyrics fit my theme. Realistically, I had to acknowledge, looking for the “perfect” song for my theme of clamoring seemed to be pointless considering all the things on my already overly-full to-do list. I moved to classical music and settled relatively quickly on Ravel’s Bolero. The dissonance throughout the relentless rhythm that builds and builds throughout the piece seemed to fit the way I felt about all the clamoring. But I also thought that maybe having a visual focal point was as helpful to me as the aural one. After looking around, I found this painting, Clamor, by Gustave Miller (see website). I love how it all the parts of it try to demand equal attention. I was ready.

The power contained in that keyword changed my life throughout the fall. I became more and more conscious of how my life was slipping away because of all the things clamoring for my attention. I hardly had a moment to think. The power of that word led me to my conscious decision to have a moratorium on new responsibilities and to focus on making space in my life for what was really important. In fact, I needed space to discover what I actually think is important. My schedule has dictated what I do, and I need to find time to listen to my heart instead of my calendar. My calendar needs to serve me, not the other way around.

My Winter Keyword

A Clear Path

A Clear Path (Photo credit: Michael Loke)

As fall leads to winter, my keyword clamor led me to a new keyword for winter. Clearing. I’m a little late in choosing this one, but it’s perfect in terms of the school calendar. We just finished our 18 week semester. I have four weeks before classes start again. I need to see how much of these excess responsibilities I can move through before classes begin. I will also build in restorative breaks, reflection time, and other gifts of time to help bring a sense of space and well-being to my hectic life. I will make friends with the calendar and with myself.

The picture on the left will become my visual cue for this season. I especially like its title, A Clear Path. As I explore the keyword clearing over the next several weeks, I like the image of creating a path to the new life that I will envision during this time. For music, I’m going to use Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I will primarily use Winter, but since I want to reconnect with my sense of the seasons, the entire album will be a good way to reconnect with the seasons, as I use my semester break for clearing.

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