Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Make the World a Better Place - Unrelated to Building Science, Energy Conservation or Crafting

I have been obsessed with the events in Paris recently, trying to figure out how the response to this terrorist event can be handled without escalating the violence. I don't know that it can - at least not by typical means. We do not have brave leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King to eloquently explain a nonviolent approach to terrorism. I can't even imagine a creative approach to "fighting" terrorism nonviolently.

Ultimately all we can do as individuals is lead the kindest, most loving life we can manage. It's not easy. I have an incredibly challenging job in the health care field. I find myself angry and frustrated about my work situation every day. I ask myself daily (hourly, sometimes every few minutes) "How in the hell am I going to continue to do this job?" The truth is that I'm not really going to do it for many more years - 2 at the most. But in the meantime I have to struggle to demonstrate kindness and love at every opportunity. I have to take a deep breath and then ask myself what is the loving response to the situation. How can I make the people I work with and the people I serve feel better, feel respected and cared for? When I fail at this, I usually know it right away. You can see it in people's faces when you've snapped at them or cut them off or misheard them or not really listened to what they are saying. I feel bad when that happens. And I try to learn from it.

My mother was an unbelievable woman. She had 4 children including my "surprise" sister when my mom was around age 40. She'd had some undiagnosed health problem before my sister was born, but very soon after she was born, my mom was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She rapidly developed severe arthritis and was in pain for the rest of her life - but you wouldn't have known. The only time she made a sound about hurting was when she was sleeping. When she rolled over in her sleep, she would moan and cry out, but you never heard it during the daytime. When she went to see her rheumatologist, he would tell medical residents in training that a special patient was coming on that day and they needed to pay attention and see what was different about this patient. My mom always greeted her doctor with a smile, asked about his family, how was he doing etc. She never complained. She didn't arrive at her doctor's office with a list of complaints like his other patients did. At that time there weren't great medications for rheumatoid arthritis so to my mom it didn't make any sense to complain. Every where she went she made people's lives better. She made them happier, she made them think better of themselves.

One time my mom told me about someone she had to deal with on a regular basis who was very nasty and unpleasant (I can't remember why my mom had to deal with him regularly). My mom made a decision to "out-nice" him. She was determined to have better interactions with him so she made a special effort to ask him about the family, to make him feel special. Before long their interactions were positive and pleasant. My mom did indeed "out-nice" him. She succeeded in making him a nicer person at least for her and I bet it carried over into some of his other relationships.

I think this is the response we have to have in our daily interactions. I'm not a politician, not a powerful person in the global scheme of things. I don't have to make decisions about how to fight terrorism. All I can do is affect the people I am around. While I have not adopted the strategy of "out-nicing" someone, I do work hard to demonstrate respect and kindness. So that is my renewed commitment after these recent terrorist assaults.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have a Lovely Christmas

I hope you are having a lovely Christmas today. I have to work a few hours, but fortunately not the whole day. My family will do all the cooking and save me some food.

I've been wanting to share this for awhile, but kept forgetting to post it. I have collected Muffy Vanderbears for over 20 years. My mom bought them for me at first, then after she died, my sister started getting them for me. I now have plenty and since they aren't making new Christmas bears any more, we've decided to stop. I have plenty anyway. 

Every year I've intended to make a little vignette with the bears and finally this year I did it. I have 2 kind of funny spaces in the stairway to my basement - one is a door to the laundry and then this shelf in the middle of the wall. 

Alison and her daughter filled the shelves with the Muffy Ice Princesses skating and the Muffy Tiffany shoppers. I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and stacked them around the scene. 

This is my vignette in the doorway to the basement laundry. That's Muffy Reinbear and the Muffy from White Christmas. I made the little flags from washi tape, add a little quilt batting and you have a snow scene. I was very tickled that I FINALLY decorated with the bears.

Again, I hope you are having a lovely day. Merry Christmas, everybody. Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Few More Christmas Crafts - Bear with me a little longer

I know that most people who read my blog are interested in the green building aspect of it. But as it is Christmastime, you have to bear with me for the Christmas crafts. Only 1-2 more weeks. 

I made a pom pom wreath sign to hang at work to remind people about the wreath making party.  I used foam core board covered with a piece of scrapbook paper, then poked holes in the board to tie the pom poms and red felt balls on. I tied them on rather than gluing in case I should decide to use them elsewhere later on. Then I hot glued a piece of ribbon around the edge of the board. I poked 2 holes to attach the ribbon hanger and poof! that's it. I typed a message for the center of the sign and then hung it up at work. (I've taken the paper off already.) I think it is pretty cute.

I never get a picture of the cupcake station with cupcakes on it because I am usually so stressed at the start of the party. This photo shows where we put the cupcakes. The chalkboard sign I made based on a recipe I found in one of my Christmas magazines - plaster of paris with flat latex paint. John framed it with some scrap wood. The sign is just screwed in so I can paint the back with another color chalkboard paint and reverse it should I desire to do that at another time.

The ribbon tree is a piece of painter's canvas covered with drop cloth material and ribbons pinned on with T-pins. Took about 15 mins. My friend, Lynn, made the felt ball trivets for me about 2 years ago. They are lovely.

Like I said, maybe 2 more weeks of crafts, then back to green building type stuff.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Recover Chair Seat - Should be easy, right?

I try very hard to re-use things and to make things that can be re-used or recovered easily. I bought a pair of folding chairs from Target that are pretty comfortable and cute, but the seat was covered with a black vinyl that started to tear.

This is Piper on the better chair which I have yet not recovered.

This is the vinyl that I took off of the worst chair. You can see why I needed to recover it. Fuzz Parker is in the background nesting on my batting. You know you can't keep a cat off quilt batting.

Here's the photo of the recovered chair. Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Except that when I removed the bottom (forcefully by hammering on the underside) I broke the rabbet which held the seat in place. I didn't realize that the seat was rabbeted in. I think I can get John to help me glue it and tack it back on. I will have to cut the rabbet off on the other seat to get that one out.