Look Up!

Yes, look up and you can see all sorts of new things. I need to tell myself this often, since I spent an awful lot of my time looking DOWN, to see what kinds of plants, bugs, odd items and such are below my feet.

Pipes make a nice grid, plus bring the ever-popular “pop of color” to the ceiling in my office building.

But, by always looking down, I realize I do miss a lot, like the tin ceiling in my favorite restaurant, Dutch Towne. Or, like I found out last night, I miss the patterns cast by the mod light fixture in the place where I’ve been getting my hair cut the past few months.

The light fixture has bloomed into a flower.

It’s a good thing I looked up last night, since I won’t be going back to that location again.

I decided to see what I could see by looking up at my Austin office. It’s one of those open offices with unpainted concrete floors and no drop ceilings, so you see all the infrastructure. That’s supposed to appeal to millenials, you see. They like the industrial look, I’m told.

They’ve missed a big model train environment in these wire cages that hold all the wiring.

I have to admit you see some things that you can have fun using your imagination on. I keep wishing they’d put a model train track on these long tracks of wired that go all over the place.

Mmm, cozy pillows. Except they are full of fiberglass.

And the giant air conditioning duct that makes the very loud “white noise” we enjoy daily looks like it would make a very nice pillow.

This makes me dizzy. Maybe it’s a quilt pattern.

And while I admit that I looked straight ahead to see this, I keep wanting to turn the acoustical foam tiles in the recording studio into a game board.

So, if you are somewhere that doesn’t excite you visually, just look up! There may be a pattern, a shape, or an object that sparks your creativity right over your head.

Why Do I Do Stuff Like This?

I have been over-doing it in the decorating, lifting, toting, and moving department for the last week or two. I need to learn to do a few things, say “good progress, me,” and stop.

This is an old kitchen. But it’s less disgusting now. And our stuff is moved in

But no, once I get into a frenzy of decorating, unpacking, or moving furniture, I cannot stop until I feel like it looks to some unknown outsider like I’m finished.

That futon is another heavy object I should not have moved.

So today, despite having a sore back from lifting heavy objects the day before, not only did I completely decorate my new office in the old church building we bought, but I unpacked all the other office stuff, “cleaned” the kitchen (really made it less dirty), then rearranged all the furniture in the main room of the church building to look like a meeting area, an eating area, and a lounge area.

Why was I driven to make a little arrangement of random furniture?

I felt all justified when an unexpected visitor (the president of the bank who loans our business money a lot) showed up. It looks like people are working here, even though it is obviously an unrenovated space.

The lights don’t work in here, but maybe you can see the many chairs and tables I moved to make this arrangement. Not seen are boxes I moved OUT so it would look better.

My guess is that I am, at my core, a nester. I feel incomplete if the space I am in does not feel comfortable. Still, someoene MAKE ME STOP.

Pushing Past Fears: Party Time

The past two years have been a time for me to push past fears and try many things I haven’t wanted to do in the past. I won’t whine and whine, but there’d been a period where I lost a lot of friends and was feeling bad about it, so I was not being very social. I kept to myself and just hung out with my ranch friends and one or two people in Austin.

I have a welcoming heart, even if I’m scared to show it sometimes.

Because of this, I never had the open house I’d vowed to have when the Bobcat Lair house was finished. We had dinner with one or two friends, but that’s about it. I didn’t want to hold a party and have no one come.

Very proud that straightening up the kitchen gave me an idea of where I can display my Starbucks mug collection.

But, I meditated on it, talked to some wise people, and totally escaped my cocoon of self pity. I came to the conclusion that things just happen with friends and acquaintances, and I don’t need to try to figure out why. Instead, I need to live my life full of openness and welcoming to everybody, whether I’m their favorite person or not.

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Should We Torture Plants with Lights?

It is the time of year when some of us go a little crazy with decorating for the various holidays involving bringing light to the darkness in some way or another (Christmas, Yule, Hannukah, and more). Seeing all those lights, candles and blow-up characters does life one’s spirits when driving home in the dark. (I admit, I’m actually more fond of lights and less fond of blow-up things, which look so sad during the day when they are deflated.)

Never thought I’d decorate an aloe plant.

This year, we’ve brought more light to the darkness than usual, thanks to our love of battery-powered lights and a gift of a lot of regular lights that my coworker no longer wanted. 

After this photo, I also electrified Rudolph. We have so many lights.

We did put a few lights on the deck and door, but most of them are in plants, both outdoors and indoors. I even bought NEW plants to stick lights on (and I hope they will live a long time and decorate the house the rest of the year, too).

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Yoj to the World!

Anita and I have a quirky tradition that I guess constitutes a family holiday joke. My family is full of them, which explains the abundance of “Christmas owls” in the house that stem from a childhood experiece my brother and I had.

We are the Griswold family of our neighborhood. There are many lights and blinking things.

Anyway, our tradition in Anita’s and my household is to have a sign that says “Yoj” instead of “Joy.” You see, I had a sign with big red letters and lights that spelled out “Joy” at my office, back when I was big into office decorating. When we moved to the new “open office” minimalist desk spaces, there was no place for it to hang, so I took it home.

I spent at least 20 minutes looking for this dang picture.
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Everything Is Broken

Sometimes the stars align (or something more scientific happens) and the same thing keeps happening to lots of people. I think it’s often just that we pay attention to things that remind us of our own lives and that people like to commiserate, so it appears a lot of folks are going through the same things.

an egg plate
An intact Longaberger deviled egg plate. I got mine during my intense basket-buying phase in the 90s.

The past week, things have been breaking. On Thanksgiving, my deviled egg plate took a tumble and smashed, probably because I didn’t put it away properly. But, darn, it’s discontinued.

We also lost a coaster when it jumped off the table.

broken clock
Poor concrete-colored work clock in a very Humpty Dumpty state. Should it be put back together again or replaced?

After I talked to friends this week, they kept reporting broken objects in their own lives. And when I went to the reception area at work, there was poor Erin with a very smashed corporate clock (but it was ugly anyway).

Maybe it’s a metaphor for larger things. When something breaks, you have to decide whether it’s worth it to try to repair it, or to start all over again with something new.

It sort of reminds me of parts of the world in general today (governments, health care systems, stuff I shouldn’t go into). At least some things CAN be replaced. I want to be sure to keep the natural beauty I love safe, because our planet’s the only one we have.

Paying Homage to Lady Bird

Where flowers bloom, so does hope—Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson

Anyone who loves the beauty of Texas in the springtime owes thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, who spent most of her life in efforts to beautify not only Texas, but the entire USA. One of my strongest childhood memories is of a “Keep America Beautiful” commercial from the 60s, in which Lady Bird exhorted us to, “plant a tree, a bush, or a shrub,” with her Texas twang really coming out on “shruuuub.”

moo
These very large Hereford cows are why you drive slowly on the ranch roads. These are old bloodlines, and mighty fine specimens.

Since coming to Texas as fast as I could, about 21 years ago, I have visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center many times, and enjoyed the tributes to her there, I’ve read her biography, and I’ve tried to follow in her footsteps by taking care of native plants wherever I’ve lived, especially at the Hermits’ Rest.

lbj
This amazing mosaic is in the small exhibit area in the park.

So, when Anita and I were coming back from Fredericksburg last weekend, a stop at the Johnson family ranch was a must. I highly recommend it; there’s way more than you’d think to see, and it was rather moving to see both the place where Lyndon B. Johnson was born, and where he is buried. He really was tied to his land.

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