Remember this Room?

•February 26, 2011 • 6 Comments

And remember this quilt I was working on?

I barely see this room any more.

I know, I know, I keep saying I’m going to do something about that and I don’t. I get too caught up in other things — things that aren’t as important to me.

I’m human, we all do it. We all let something slip by that feeds our soul and allow things that don’t matter or won’t matter in six months take us over and invade our lives and take up space in our minds.

We allow time-fillers and busywork replace creativity and constructive play. We allow dusting to stand in the place of dreaming when we could be doing both at the same time. Talk about a great use of multi-tasking!

Where do you want to go that you aren’t going? What do you want to do that you aren’t doing? Who do you want to be that you are being? What aren’t you reaching for because you don’t have the time, the courage, the resources or the friend to do it with you? What is stopping you?

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply that I think you’re lazy if you aren’t busy doing something wonderful every minute of the day. Maybe your dream is to lay around in bed all day and watch television. Well, if that’s your dream, go for it!

Honestly, though, if you are reading this blog then I’m willing to bet that you are a dynamically creative person whose very soul is fed by creating beauty. Whether it is a quilt, writing a poem or loving a dear friend, whatever your creative mood and mode of the moment is, all I ask is that you do it.

Just do it.

Yours, In Many Peaces of Love,
Kim

If it wasn’t TRUE they wouldn’t print it in the newspaper

•February 24, 2011 • 5 Comments

My kid is AWESOME! Her name is now in the masthead with her new title. I’m so proud!

Tuesday’s paper (there was no paper Monday because of the holiday) held three articles and five photos of mine — one was even the centerpiece for the front page AND was a story tip I received at church from a particularly alert and always beautifully coiffed Mary Schrader!

I spent 3 hours after church watching a house move down the block, snapping photos and talking to onlookers, movers and such.

Saturday afternoon Holly the Photog (aka BatGirl — I’m Robin, of course, there’s the whole bird thing and the fact that Holly has all the cool tools and is taller and wears black really well :P) and I went to a local film festival. And then Tuesday’s Outdoors section carried my weekly “Bird Word” column along with a couple of pictures.

Yes, I know I’m bragging. So? 😀

Tell me something YOU are really proud of yourself (or your family) for doing lately. I want to hear some MORE good news!!!!

There’s a lesson in there somewhere …

•February 23, 2011 • 7 Comments

I watched this spunky little gal today as she kept guard over the seed dish on my front porch railing.

A junco would try to approach from one side and she would hop over and tell him off. Another would come in from the other side and she’d hop his way to tell him off too.

Between each scolding, she would go back to the center of the seed dish and reach down to grab one of the seeds she was so carefully guarding. But just before she could grab hold of one, another junco would come in from the side and she’d have to drop her lunch and chase after him.

This went on for several minutes. Nobody was getting to eat.

So I went outside and spread a little seed out over the railing, thinking surely she couldn’t patrol the whole four foot long area by herself.

She tried. But then this handsome guy came along.

She didn’t say a word when he flew in. She didn’t ruffle a single feather. In fact, I think I saw her bat her eyelashes at him with a girlish round-eyed innocence and a calm, sweet birdy-girl smile.

She went back to her nasty ways as soon as the raspberry-colored gentleman flew away.

I’ll leave it up to you to decided what you think is the lesson of this story. Your view will be influenced by the battles you are fighting or the things you are protecting within your own life. Or perhaps you will be reminded of the mean people in your life — or even the people that work to make them behave.

Let me know what you think — or don’t. 🙂

Making Time for What’s Important

•February 22, 2011 • 4 Comments

I subscribe to Leo Babauta’s blog “Zen Habits.” Right click that link, open it up in another tab and spend some time looking through his site. I highly recommend it.

Just in time to stop me from heading off into another rant about how I can’t find enough time to get into my studio anymore, this post arrived in my inbox.

Sometimes we keep ourselves busy doing busywork so we don’t have to do the things we really want to do but are just to afraid that if we actually find the time to do them we’ll be horrible at it and hearts will break and everyone will know we are untalented or dorky or lame or stupid or weak or any number of embarrassing things that we don’t want people to know and that we especially don’t want to know about ourselves.

*deep breath*

Life has been pretty dang good and it’s getting better all the time. I have very little to complain about, and if I didn’t complain about anything that is actually worth complaining about around here all it would take would be for someone to sit my ass down inside a cardboard hut in a poor part of town in this nation or in any other country big or small, rich or poor, and it would shut my mouth right up.

Let’s find some time to play with the things we really want to be playing with and stop complaining.

What do you want to do more of? What could you give up to have it?

You don’t have to answer the questions here, just promise me you’ll think about them.

In Many Peaces,
Kim

P.S. The photo above is of a song sparrow that visited me this morning. The song sparrow’s tune was the first one that learned to identify. He would sit outside my window and sing his three note, six beat song for years before I ever found out who it was that was doing the singing. They are still one of my favorite birds — and one that I have yet to get a really stunning photo of. The song sparrow, the western scrub jay and the stellar’s jay have all eluded my fancy new lens.

FAIL: Joyce Meyer

•February 21, 2011 • 10 Comments

I’m on a roll, I may as well keep going. This is the last one, the last “FAIL,” I promise — until the next one comes up.

I really prefer to be a positive-thinking person of love and faith and light — at least that’s how I like to be perceived. Only behind closed doors and with close friends and family do I allow my true cynical-self to come forth — and we’re all friends here, right?

And normally I wouldn’t spout off like this about a “preacher of the gospel” (and yes, I put those words in quotes for a reason). But this lady … this lady just flat-out pisses me off.

I know, I know. She’s an American Idol.

Well, go here and read what the Charismatic televangelist and bestselling author Joyce Meyer said on Thursday when she opened up about the death of her younger brother David as part of a message on the life of self-pity versus the life of diligence and faith.

And no, I don’t read the Christian Post. God forbid. Literally. But I do read the Internet Monk, and they keep tabs on what’s going on in and all things “trend-a-gelical”

Go and read what the iMonk had to say about the bad news of self-righteousness.

P.S. I know this post probably belongs on my prayer blog because it has … well, religious content … but, whether we are believers or non-believers, I think we can all appreciate a horse’s ass for what it is. Besides, as the cartoon on the back of our Sunday morning service bulletin said (and said so well): “I can laugh at the problems in the church because I’m one of them.”

Sending you Love and Peace,
Kim

CBS FAIL: Do We Really Care about Justin Bieber’s Views on Abortion??

•February 20, 2011 • 6 Comments

A New Favorite Treat

•February 19, 2011 • 2 Comments

Stash Tea Company is based out of Portland, Ore., so I’m not sure if it’s available back east. I am in love with this one, the chai green tea. It’s a light pick-me-up that I indulge in the late afternoon. I brew it strong in half a mug of water, then fill the mug the rest of the way with vanilla soymilk, microwave for 30 seconds, and add a heaping teaspoon of raw sugar. Yum!

And yeah, my “go-to” mug all year ’round has Santa slapped on the side. Everything’s better with Santa.

I’m a Little Bugged

•February 18, 2011 • 9 Comments

This morning I received an email that told me someone has unsubscribed from my blog. That’s the first time I have ever received such an email. Of course, email notification of unsubscribers is a new feature at WordPress, but, nevertheless, it’s the first time I’ve been notified that someone has decided my blog content is no longer relevant.

And it bugged me. I stewed on it all morning. Someone doesn’t like me anymore.

I know, I know, I can intellectualize all day long that it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t know her, I’d never heard of her. We weren’t friends in a fight. She didn’t quit me in a huff.

Of course, this is SUPPOSED to be a quilt blog, and I haven’t posted anything quilty in quite a long time. But heck, I haven’t posted often enough to piss anyone off over my off-topic subject matter either.

Isn’t it funny how a tiny little incident can upset our apple cart. One little bug can create such a huge wave of anxiety, followed by ripples of  inadequacy and self-flagellation.

It’s silly. I know. That’s why I’m telling you about it. So I’ll stop feeling so ridiculously inadequate.

In my One Year Later blog I was just talking about how there is a prayer for everything in the Book of Common Prayer. While writing this post I thought I’d go look to see if I could find one to fit this moment. Sure nuff:

For Quiet Confidence: O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit life us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

“The Bird Word” at Lewis County Outdoors

•February 16, 2011 • 2 Comments

My weekly bird column, “The Bird Word” is now available on the Lewis County Outdoors website each week. I’m so excited and I feel so … well, grown up! 😛

All of the bird photos are mine. I’m so lucky to have such cooperative birds! They work for mere peanuts, you know.

I also write an Outdoors feature article every once in a while. I have one coming up on the double-crested cormorants. An interesting bird with a lot of enemies!

To the right you can see a photo that was published this week. It was taken while my oldest son and I went razor clam digging last December. What a great night! I want to go again.

This newspaper reporter/photojournalist gig seems to be working out for me, at least it’s paying the bills and keeping me busy!

This weekend I’m meeting Congresswoman (person?) Jaime Herrera Beutler at a local town hall gathering. I used to pay attention to politics, I knew who all of the state and local elected officials were — I was PAID to know who they were. I haven’t paid attention in years. Perhaps now that I’m getting paid again I had better, uh, PAY attention, eh?

Loving Major Pettigrew

•February 15, 2011 • 8 Comments

I am enjoying this read so very much! Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson.

That’s MY Girl!!

•February 14, 2011 • 5 Comments

My dearest daughter Tara is no longer the newsroom assistant for The Chronicle. She is now a page designer and web diva. I’m so proud!

And look closely at the copy she is holding up. She was pictured here as captain of the newsroom spelling team “Hi Oktane Spelurz.” A team that won first place just the other week. Her boyfriend in standing next to her, and the two editors — her bosses and mine — the executive editor and the assistant editor are pictured on either end. What a crew!

Again, I’m so proud!

Wholeheartedness

•February 7, 2011 • 4 Comments

The Bird Word

•January 26, 2011 • 8 Comments

I started writing a weekly column I call “The Bird Word” just two months ago. Some weeks it’s a bit of a struggle, some weeks the words just flow. This is one of the good weeks. I hope you don’t mind my sharing this week’s Bird Word. It’s a lot of words, and it’s about birds:

The Birds of the Walmart Parking Lot

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle

I am not an expert birder. Not by a long shot.

I can still remember the excitement I felt at seeing a particular new and spectacularly plumaged guest at my feeder. He was new to me, anyway, and it wasn’t that long ago.

The beautifully iridescent black feathers glowed purple, green and blue. A bright yellow beak and a snowfall of largish off-white spots was sprinkled over his shoulders and down his chest.

He was big and he was stunning and he was awkward.

He stumbled gracelessly around my platform feeder, mewling like a newborn calf and looking like a lost traveler from places far away and unknown. As I dove for my bird identification book, my hands were shaking from the thrill of new discovery.

Moments later I learned that my visitor was a European starling, wearing his winter jacket.

I laughed out loud at my own foolishness. A common starling.

Honestly, I was hoping for something exciting, a rare sighting. Something with an interesting name — a blue-footed booby, perhaps.

I was embarrassed at my ignorance, though I consoled myself with the idea that I wasn’t in the habit of studying the starlings. They didn’t come to my feeder to eat.

Besides, I told myself, a little ignorance — even of the common things — should be welcomed as an opportunity for learning and another chance to discover a world that (even though it is right there under our very nose and in our own backyard) often goes unexplored and underappreciated.

Saturday afternoon I was reminded of my startling European starling discovery of long ago as I sat in the Walmart parking lot. The sky was a bright blue and the birds — gulls, starlings, red-winged blackbirds and others — were soaring overhead, flying from lighted perch to lighted perch, keeping their eye out for any messy McDonald’s French fry munchers that might emerge from the whoosh of the electronic doors guarding the entrance to bird food heaven.

I looked up from my seat and saw a largish gray-brown bird perched atop a shopping cart stand. My heart skipped a beat when my mind failed to fit a name to the unfamiliar, newfound friend.

I grabbed my camera and rolled down my window to capture the moment. My mind flitted back to the memory of my former embarrassment, but I remained undeterred. This bird was new to me, I decided, and I wasn’t going to allow the joy of the moment or the opportunity for new understanding slip away.

Practitioners of Zen Buddhism call it the “beginner’s mind.”

Having a beginner’s mind means allowing a sense of openness and eagerness to come forward as you make new discoveries or as you learn to apply new meanings to what has become familiar.

We may see the same bird again and again and again, but each time we see it — if we use a beginner’s mind — we learn a little more and we can deepen our appreciation for the bird’s unique beauty and the gift of its presence.

When I arrived home later that afternoon, I determined that the bird I had seen perched above the shopping carts was a female Brewer’s blackbird. Her mate — a stunningly glossy, greenish-black bodied, purple-headed male — had been walking the pavement below her.

I learned that the Brewer’s blackbird usually travels in small flocks of their own kind, but like to team up with larger flocks of starlings, brown-headed cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds to hang out in lowland fields and wetlands throughout the winter.

The Brewer’s blackbird also enjoys the bountiful hunting grounds of Interstate 5. They love to eat vehicle-struck, roadkilled insects.

One bird book identified the Brewer’s blackbird as a bold and cocky bird, the bane of a chicken farmers existence, “they have even been known to settle into a barnyard, intimidate the resident poultry, and fatten up on the furnished grain.”

Sometimes it is a challenge to bring the sublime into the mundane, but it is a worthy challenge.

Try putting on the “beginner’s mind” the next time you spot a common bird outside your window. Seeing the same old bird in new ways breaths fresh life into my nature-loving, wonder-seeking, beginning-birder’s mind. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

What are the unique qualities of this bird’s flight pattern? Does he seem nervous or bold? Is she social or standoffish with the other birds? What seed seems to be her favorite at the feeder?

And please, write and tell me what you see at your feeder. I’d love to hear about your birds.

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys watching and photographing the wildlife in action in her own backyard in Cinebar.  Contact her via email at kz@tds.net.

Climbing Mountains (of Batiks)

•January 18, 2011 • 6 Comments

I’m using Bonnie’s method to make my Delectable Mountains blocks for my son Stosh’s quilt. It’s SO easy and SO satisfying to pull beautiful batik after batik from my stash and cut, sew and then paste it up on my mish-mash of a design “board.”

I was going through some photos this morning and noticed that my recent picture of a Northern Flicker scaling an evergreen in my side yard made the most perfect color inspiration for these two mountain quilts. (The other one is for my grandson, Stosh’s son.)

I buy 1/3 yd. cuts of batiks, that way I can afford to buy nearly everything I like and I have a large variety to choose from. My batiks are stored in drawers, sorted according to color family, filed away like pages of inspiration in a file drawer of intense cotton-covered dreams. (I sometimes just open those drawers to sigh over the shades and shadows, tones and tints and hues.)

If you think you might was to try this quilt, start with a pile of 9″ squares, cutting as you go through your stash. You’ll need just 32 light and 32 dark to make a lap-sized quilt.

A happy stash is a useful and growing and ever-changing stash! Let’s go shopping!

♥Kim

Turning My Mourning into Dancing

•January 17, 2011 • 15 Comments

While my oldest son Stosh was busy painting, repairing and cleaning (I almost have a NEW bedroom!!), I spent some time in The Studio. I worked on his quilt a bit, worked on my Flee to Egypt quilt and finished this:

Nancy, Near Philly stitched and fused the inside piece with the dancing ladies. She sent it as a comfort to me, a gesture of sisterhood and understanding. I love her, she is one of God’s favorites and one of mine too! (And come on, she’s a NANCY! As the saying goes around here, “Nancy” isn’t a noun, it’s a verb.)

The picture above doesn’t show the colors as well as it could, but the one below puts it in perspective. Isn’t it PERFECT for this setting?

I decided to bring my bedroom curtains into my living room, the colors in the curtains blended to well with my vintage chair. A few days later I had been to see Bobbi at Sisters and saw that she had a ton of lovely fabrics in the same tones as my “Mourning into Dancing” piece — as I was tucking it into my purse to take with me to the fabric store, I noticed the colors seemed to be all in the same tones as the curtains and the chair. Light bulb moment!

I sit in the green chair that is on the right, so I have a wonderful view of my dancing sisters. Life just gets better and better every day.

Sitting in my new room with my new floor and freshly hung curtains (I’m going to have to make some tiebacks, they have bits of leftover binding holding them back now), I feel like a new woman.