So: new beginnings

Tortoiseshell butterfly on marigold flower

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but January and February have flown by. I can’t believe that it’s March tomorrow.

One of my friends calls March, “Kate Month”. She loves her birthday more than anyone I know* and plans to celebrate it all month in a wide variety of ways and in an assortment of places.

March is also “Julie Month” and “Aly Month” and “Frances Month”. A whole bunch of my coworkers can also claim this month as their own. And I’m not joking when I say it seems like everyone I know is having a birthday this month. I’m definitely going to need to restock my birthday card supply when April rolls around.

I plan to celebrate my birthday all month too. Since my new year’s resolutions really haven’t stuck and I haven’t been actively working on my vision for 2013 (minus a bit of sewing and lots of gardening), I’m going to celebrate myself by investing in myself.

More about that in a sec.

I gave my first March birthday gift last night. You see, Frances is my hair stylist/colorist. She’s absolutely amazing and I always trust her to send me home looking way better than when I arrived. Of course, I usually visit her on Saturday mornings wearing no makeup and looking like I’m planning to spend the day digging in the dirt (because I probably am). Last night was different. I sped over to the salon after work. And I had a plan.

Frances’ birthday gift was also a gift to me. You see, I told Frances to go nuts and do whatever she wanted with my haircut. She’s already been hinting that that’s what she’s been wanting to do. I give her complete freedom with color as long as she sticks to colors that people could actually be born with (she has also hinted that the primary pallet would be fun, but unfortunately, I’m not sure my clients at work would agree) and she’s always done a fabulous job.

I’m not the client who tells a stylist “cut off exactly 1/4 inch from the back” or anything like that. But lately I’ve been in a hair rut and I have just told Frances that I liked the style, just trim it. That’s why I knew she’d love the opportunity to hack it all off.

She cut about half of my hair off. With a straight razor. It’s now piece-y and can stick out in all directions if I choose to do so. It dries in minutes, doesn’t use much product and the messier it looks, the better.

It’s perfect. And I’ve been enjoying the compliments from coworkers, friends and total strangers.

Photo on 2-28-13 at 9.54 AM #2

the new ‘do

So I’m starting March with a new look. I’ll be embracing newness all month.

March here in North Texas is truly the start of spring. Our bipolar weather still has cool nights, but the days are getting warmer (we usually have to turn the AC on starting some time near the end of April). We’ll wake up one day and the plum and peach trees will be in gorgeous pink full bloom. The urban farm will be going full tilt. The grass will go from hay-like to lush green in what seems like hours.

I love it. And while I am honestly not a fan of my birthday (a story for another day), I intend to celebrate new beginnings and fresh starts all March.

Won’t you join me?

*Except for my friend Brandy (aka The Grammar Belle) who loves November with a fevered passion and constantly reminds everyone exactly how many days remain until her birthday.

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Sow: spring?

20130227-063830.jpg

Today after Bruce, the 3G Network, and I finished our cold 5:30 am walk around the neighborhood, I decided to check out the Urban Farm.

Partially inspired by an end of day conversation with a straw bale gardening coworker (hi Julia) and her tomato and pepper plants, I pulled out a flashlight to see how the seeds planted on February 18 are doing.

We’ve had weird, wildly changeable weather with rain, warmth, cold, high winds so honestly, my expectations were low. I thought everything would be a week behind or so.

Wrong!

I was pleasantly surprised to find sprouts in stock tank 2–red velvet lettuce (lactuca sativa). This heirloom variety will take 55 days to grow and promises sweet and tender beautiful wine-red leaves that will “make any salad memorable.”

I’m officially looking forward to that memorable salad. And to see what plants pop up over the coming days. I wonder what will be next…

(Tomatoes are going in the ground this weekend!)

Happy 2013 spring garden, y’all!

UPDATE: Once the sun came up, I watered everything and found a radish sprout, a mache sprout, and a pea sprout. So plenty is happening in the Urban Farm.

PS: special thank you to Bruce for getting solar lights for around the urban farm. I really didn’t need to use the flashlight once I got over to the beds.

So: a thought for the 60th post

"These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values."

“These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values.”

Considering what I wrote about last night, I shouldn’t be surprised that a Facebook status update from a man in a far away land spoke to me this morning.

It’s been something stewing away in my mind for a long time anyway.

With all of the hate, violence, and anger in the world these days, the pursuit of happiness seems to be a game of impossibility for so many. Something that you just can’t catch. Something you must chase after. You need something to be happy. A flashy sports car. A big house. A designer purse. A little blue box. A lavish vacation. A big bank account. A something. Something external.

I disagree. His holiness the Dalai Lama’s status update reminds me that “something” is not the answer. Neither is the root of the something.

That’s right: money isn’t the answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t live a life of scarcity. I live an incredibly rich life. But my “richness” has less to do with my bank account and more with my spirit.

Here’s my secret: while I have to work at it, I am very happy. Even when I’m working. Even when things aren’t going exactly right.

Choosing happiness means that I often have to force myself to look at things differently. For example, rather than looking at the gym as torture, it’s a gift of time that I give myself. Instead of cursing at the a-hole who cut me off in traffic, it’s time for a deep breath and inquiring what the moment is supposed to teach me. A difficult person is my teacher. A project gone wrong is my inspiration. A sick dog during a busy day is my new productivity tool. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my pollyanna-esque message.

Reframing those stressful and angry moments isn’t easy. And I’m certainly no saint. I still cuss when things go amiss. I still find myself being critical of others. I get angry. Stressed. Frustrated. But now I stop and I think, “what is this moment teaching me?” and then I count my blessings.

I know a family that has had many serious challenges over the short time that I’ve known them. The father (and sole income earner) almost died last year. The children are chronically ill. The family’s bank account is not full of zeros. They don’t have a fancy car or a big house. They often depend on the kindness of strangers and friends. Yet, they are some of the most joyful and happy people that I know. And they face adversity every day. The difference is that they are much more grateful than most people. Every day and every moment counts for them.

 

Being grateful has made a big difference in my life. And while I can’t change anyone, I’d like to suggest to all of the people who find themselves in an angry, hateful place in their lives to take a step back, stop looking at what others have and really look at what they themselves have. Even though they might not have all the material riches that they feel entitled to or the right amount in their bank account, they may have a whole lot more wealth than they thought.

So: long distance


blurs of cars moving on a freeway

These days “far away” really doesn’t mean all that much.

Take my work life for example. While my direct creative team coworkers (writers, art directors, designers, project managers, developers, etc.) are all in close proximity, the folks on my larger team (account service, strategy) are all in a different time zone.

Except not this week. A bunch are here for the next few days because we’re planning and doing a lot of face-to-face meetings. Two more will arrive closer to the end of the week. We always have a lot of fun when we’re all together. We try to have a dinner or at least a happy hour so we can just hang out. And even if we’re just holed up in a meeting room eating cold pizza it’s harder to not treat the time when we’re in the same place as anything but special because it doesn’t happen all of the time.

Of course, most of the time we eliminate the distance through technology. We use all of the modern tools that you’d expect to work together when we’re not in the same place: conference calls, web-based collaboration calls, video chats, email.

The same goes for our clients. Mine are located nowhere near our office. Technology definitely helps us collaborate. Still whenever I can, I like to see them in person.

Facebook lets me “talk” to my friends and family scattered all over the place. So goes my iPhone. And email. On any given night, I could talk to a couple of friends in Canada, check out the latest photos of my twin nieces, ask a vet tech friend a G-related question, and read some blogs. Sometimes, especially on holidays or special occasions, Bruce and I use FaceTime to celebrate with someone far away.

This past weekend, I shared a Facebook post from a friend of mine in Toronto. His son accidentally left his digital camera on the TTC (Toronto’s subway) and he was hoping that through the power of social media (and by a miracle of human kindness), he’d get the camera back. It was picked up by a friend in Toronto who didn’t know the person who originally posted. But she wanted to help. And then it was picked up by her friends…and several media outlets. My friend  doesn’t have the camera back, but now one of Toronto newspapers has called and is trying to help. Amazing!

Bruce and I use our electronic tools to keep in touch when we’re on business trips. For us, long distance is definitely nothing new. When we “met” I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bruce lived in Toronto. Now this was pre-email and pre-commercial internet so we had the phone (expensive), plane tickets (expensive but my phone plan earned me air miles), and letters (I liked that part more than Bruce did). While it wasn’t ideal, we made it work. (It definitely led to us figuring out how to be in the same place quicker than we probably would have if we just lived across town from each other.)

The point of tonight’s ramble is that it’s easy to come up with excuses not to communicate. Or you can use what you have to bridge the distance and shorten it.

 

 

So: good kind of tired

everyone around the Midcentury is tired tonight

looks like tiredness is contagious around the Mortroski Midcentury tonight (and notice the crossed paws)

 

Lots happened this weekend. Getting roped into some neighborhood volunteer work. The final painting of the lounge fireplace. Carpet removal and floor prep in the office/tv room. Chores. Getting my car serviced. Organization. Updating the garden planner. Harvesting. Cleaning out drawers and cupboards. Realizing that we have some stuff we no longer need. A little socializing. A big old Sunday morning dog walk.

I’m a good kind of tired. And from the canine snores happening around the room, it looks like I’m not alone in my fatigue. Good thing I don’t really care about tonight’s big award show.

So: award #2 & #3?

Last Sunday afternoon I took a break from cleaning the dog-hair infested and muddy paw incrusted Mortroski Midcentury and checked in to read blog comments. Thank you to everyone who leaves them or hits the “like” button—sometimes I wonder if anyone other than Bruce is actually reading, especially when I write about non-garden stuff.

One special comment was awfully nice to see: a big THANK YOU to TailorFairy nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Learning about the award while being dirty and sweaty from fighting dog-hair covered dust bunnies, cleaning toilets, and the like was kind of funny. I was the very picture of an amateur domestic goddess (sorry no photo of that pretty sight).

That’s why I waited until now to accept this honor. There are rules after all and I wanted to put the appropriate thought into my responses and nominations.

So without further adieu, here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post. (already did)

3. Share 7 things about yourself.

4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.

5. Include this set of rules. (Done!)

6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs. (will do that momentarily)

Here goes:

1. THANK YOU, TailorFairy! It was so sweet of you to nominate SowSewSo and the other 9 blogs.  I hope to learn more about sewing by reading your blog.

2.

one-lovely-blog-awardvery-inspiring-blogger-award-21

(I’m also going to follow Sue Vincent‘s lead and make a separate Awards page to make it easier for people to know if I got nominated for an award already.)

3.

7 (random) things about me:

First: I’m the shortest person in my family and while I’m the butt of many height jokes at work, I never hit my head boarding or leaving commuter jets.

Second: My nickname at work is Hollywood, jokingly bestowed upon me by my boss after Bruce and I appeared on an HGTV show called Get Color (aka Color Confidential). Most of my friends just call me jooles.

Third: I am a citizen of two countries: the US of A and Canada, eh!

Fourth: Although SowSewSo paints me as a homebody I like nothing better than to hit the road and head out on an adventure.

Fifth: Reading a good cookbook is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon, although it drives me to snack.

Sixth: I’m not afraid of power tools, just losing typing fingers.

Seventh: I’ve had to work really hard over the past 18-ish years to become a morning person. Some days it works better than others.

4. 10 blogs I nominate for this award (I tried not to nominate anyone who has already been nominated and I am very sorry if I messed up and nominated someone who’s been nominated, but hey, at least you know that I love your blog, right?):

Blog 1: Ps, Qs & Ws
With a tagline like “Don’t be yourself, be someone nicer,” Ps, Qs & Ws reminds us all that in our busy world, graciousness and civility is not only appreciated, it’s very much needed. Though she hasn’t been blogging long, etiquette expert and event planner Laura McPherson Best’s posts are great lessons of how to be a bit better. Full disclosure: Laura is also my college friend and sorority sister.

Blog 2: The Kitchens Garden
The Kitchens Garden inspires me with stories of life on a farm as told by a NZ girl named Celi who is married to an American fella, living on the prairies. I like that she’s growing, cooking and eating using sustainable and organic methods. Added bonus: cute baby animal photos!

Blog 3:  Leaf and Twig
A daily nature photography blog where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry. Frequently breathtaking, always inspiring.

Blog 4: C.J. Black
I love poetry and always have. Most of us don’t get enough poems in our daily lives so I’m thrilled that Chris Black is sharing his published and unpublished manuscripts on a near daily basis. He’s from Wexford (I believe that’s Ireland, but if I’m wrong, someone please correct me) and has been writing and publishing poetry for the past twenty years.

Blog 5: The Adventures of Bipolar Girl
LaurelsCrown provides words of comfort for the neurotic in all of us. She is an educator who lives in paradise but through her blog you’ll understand why beautiful surroundings aren’t always enough as she shares her struggles, her joys, and her ever-tested faith. Full disclosure: LaurelsCrown is also my college friend and sorority sister.

Blog 6: loving homemade
I love to bake but I don’t do it enough to blog about it. If you want to see the results of time and effort well spent, check out Loving Homemade. Today’s post is about cupcakes, one of my favorite things to bake. Yum.

Blog 7: the drunken cyclist
I confess: I’m not a huge fan of the bicycle. Still have a facial scar and a roadrash arm scar from an unfortunate tangle with my 10-speed’s handlebars and the street when I was 15. I’m not really a fan of math either, but I love wine. And food. This is a great blog to learn more about nice things to eat and drink with a side of cycling info and a tiny smidge of math.

Blog 8: Austin Vivid Photography
I love Austin and would love to live there one day. So when commercial lifestyle photographer Heather Scramm started following me, I followed her back. She shoots beautiful images for advertising but also captures my favorite city in Texas so well.

Blog 9: Daddy’s Tractor
You may have noticed that I have a thing for growing stuff. That’s why I’m following the events on the Marshall Farm. It’s a family farm in Missouri. Since I’m pretending that I too have a farm, I like reading real farmers’ blogs.

Blog 10: Hollis Plample
Sarcasm amuses me. So do cartoons. If I could draw at all, I have a feeling my blog might look a bit like this.

Again, I am very honored to receive another award, especially considering I haven’t been blogging all that long. Thank you for your encouragement, likes and comments.

Happy Saturday, y’all!

So: stop the bullying

I’ve always been “different”. And I know what it’s like to be the outcast. It happened every time I moved to a new house and a new school. Six times, three of those six times in junior high, probably the worst possible time for a kid to be “different”.

I was the new kid that no one wants to sit with at lunch. The nerd. The brain. The bookworm. The geek. A loser. I got made fun of because I was small. Because I had glasses. Because I had braces. Because I had zits. Because I wore the kind of clothes the kids at my last school wore. Because I wasn’t street smart. Because I was innocent. Because I had a “ethnic” last name. Because I had a funny accent.

Because I was there.

So I retreated into my safe world of books and writing.

Once I got rid of the glasses and braces, saw the dermatologist and grew a bit, everything changed for me. High school was completely different perhaps because no one ever met the old me.

Maybe you were like me as a kid. Or maybe you were the name caller. Or the bystander who wanted to do something but didn’t know what to do.

As another blogger pointed out, the bullying, the name calling and the hate is still going on around us even though we’re adults. We saw it in the last US federal election. Maybe it also goes on in your workplace. Or your neighborhood.

It’s got to stop.

Mother Theresa said, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.”

Love brings good news. Love brings peace. Love brings closure. Love brings healing. Love brings opportunity. Love brings positivity.

Love brings us all together.

Love is the answer.

It’s time to love one another. And to celebrate our differences. It’s time to build each other up and make amends for the tearing down.

I thank my Facebook friends for sharing something with me that sparked this post. And I’d like to share it with you. Enjoy this breathtakingly powerful video of Shane Koyczan’s spoken word poem “To This Day”. (and if that link doesn’t work, cut and paste this one: http://youtu.be/ltun92DfnPY)

Here’s what you’ll see:

  • At 1:20, he reminds us all what we heard growing up.
  • At 2:07, we meet another girl who was bruised by words.
  • At 2:57, we learn why she’s awesome.
  • At 3:12, we meet a kid who was pummeled by pills.
  • At 4:28, we learn how many kids have to deal with this to this day.
  • At 5:23, if you’ve been bullied, you REALLY need to hear these words.
  • At 6:00, seriously, listen to these damn beautiful words.
  • And at 6:49, we get to the point that everyone should take to heart.

Please do your part to stop the bullying and start bringing us together by loving one another. (Thank you.)

PS: If you like Shane’s work, visit http://www.shanekoyczan.com, sign up and he’ll send you a poem each month.

So: odd day

Today was an odd day.

People in my life who are normally confident professionals were not, even though they are exceptional at what they do.

It was very cold, then warm, now it’s on the verge of cold (time for frost cloth again so this will be a short post).

Weird things happened. I stopped at the grocery store after work and got chatted up by a 20-something chef with a flip phone who wanted to show me photos of his Sicilian-Mexican food. Yes, I was wearing a wedding ring. But it’s clear he wasn’t very observant since he thought my cart full of diy breakfast taco bar ingredients (I have breakfast duty tomorrow at work) and chocolate fondue fixings (ladies’ pinterest party on Saturday afternoon) signaled that I was a mom. Huh?

There was a plethora of chaos today. Confusion and controversy ran rampant. Coming home after a long day was a relief.

However, it was a little like the olden days of my career path: I spent most of it writing.

It was a surreal day. Hopefully such a day was not had by all.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to tuck the plants in for the night.

Sow: weather change

It’s back to the wild North Texas weather again. Rain. Wind. Thunderstorms. Mud. Back to 40°F temperatures. Pollen galore.

And it’s not even consistent across the metroplex. A coworker mentioned that there was some sort of snow-like ice pelt-y thing that wasn’t hail landing on her front lawn. She didn’t even know what to call it. At dinner tonight with some friends, the husband mentioned snow in Oklahoma.

Yet today was the first day my favorite nursery had tomato plants. Go figure.

Spring comes shockingly early in North Texas. Spring bulbs are already poking through the soil. Our daffodils are already 3-4 inches out. There are buds on the peach and plum trees. I’ve seen a neighbor’s tree with big pink flowers in full bloom. In February. Tomorrow it will be 66°F.

I still can’t get used to it.

A green zebra from our spring 2012 crop

A green zebra from our spring 2012 crop

However, I’m not complaining. My plan still is to pick up eight lovely tomato plants either Friday night after work or on Saturday morning and get them in the dirt on Sunday. Don’t worry, I’ll keep the frost cloth handy.

 

Sow: resow

Today, life’s full of…

little victories: After yesterday’s dirt-fest-a-rama, seed planting-a-thon, and weed whacking,  this desk jockey didn’t wake up unable to move today or hobble around the office. Yay me!

big annoyances: Yesterday was the highest pollen count of 2013 so I woke up this morning with stuffy head and a snuffly nose that has remained with me until about 30 minutes ago. Boo!

words with friends: Not the game app, just quick connections. Lots of good news, hope, inspiring projects, adventures and tales of love about to happen.

important reminders: Like reading is fundamental!

You see, after yesterday’s fun, I was looking through the seed packs, mentally patting myself on the back for getting so much done, cleaning up the garden, harvesting a bunch of stuff, yada yada yada. Then I got to the pea packs:

notice the important instructions...

notice the special germination instructions. doh!

Oops. I remembered to soak the beet seeds because I did that last fall. At least now I know exactly why the fall pea crop never grew! I thought it was because the pole beans crowded and choked it out. Nope. I never soaked the peas. (I also don’t recall that instruction being on that particular packet—I got it for free by answering a gardening survey.)

So last night I made sure to soak the peas I had remaining (I had planned to use them in the fall).

I resowed both the snow peas and the shelling peas this morning.

In 5-10 days we’ll quickly know if soaking matters. I’ll either have exactly the right spacing of cute little pea seedlings 2 inches apart, ready to climb their trellis, or I’ll be pulling out a bunch of pea shoots (luckily you can throw them in salad)!

(I hope that we’ll get to eat some pea shoots.)