Category Archives: Inspiration

A Bounty of Food, of Flowers, of Friends

Food

If you have read about my ongoing challenge this summer with the weeds in my garden I’m going to concede that the weeds have won. Don’t get me wrong, I was willing to spend the time to pull the weeds, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. We have had unseasonable rains this year, heavy downpours of three to four inches that have turned the garden into a muck hole. With the hot temperatures the weeds have excelled with growth. Some days I think it would be easier to go barefoot to pick the vegetables, but with the abundant thistles, no thank you. I’ll wear boots or wait for another day. I’ve learned that gardens also require patience. The tomatoes have grown to full size and are turning the softest shades of yellow, but not the bright red I’m waiting for. The local weekly Farmers’ Market will fill in for what isn’t ready in my garden.

But I have to tell you that I couldn’t wait any longer to see if potatoes were growing under the still-green vines. I must confess the potatoes are a new adventure for me so I took some store bought potatoes (not seed potatoes) that were beginning to sprout and planted them. Guess what? They grew into plants with blossoms. I was careful with the shovel not to cut the potatoes when I dug under the plants. From two plants (hills) I got one medium-sized potato and about a dozen the size of golf balls. They tasted better than the store bought ones, but I think that’s because they were from my garden. We’ll see the bounty in a month when it’s time to dig the rest of the row.

Flowers

I love the colorful rows of zinnias in the garden. For years I planted a couple of packages of seeds by the house to give a boost of color to the entryway. And each fall I gathered the blossom heads when the seeds formed. Friends laughed when I told them that I’ve been hoarding the seeds for a special time. This was the year. I raked the soil, planted the seeds and waited. And waited. When the small leaves emerged from the ground I was delighted. When the second set of leaves formed I jumped for joy. My garden has become a bounty of color along with the vegetables. I treat myself and cut a fresh bouquet every three days. And the rain? They love it.

Friends

Last night (I’m writing this the middle of August) a “small” tornado touched down no more than a mile from our house. I wasn’t aware that any tornado activity could be labeled as “minor” or “small.” The sky to ground lightening erupted close by and was followed with loud cracks of thunder, shaking the house like we’ve never felt it before. The storm quickly moved to the east leaving us with a light breeze and heavy rain.

Then the phone rang. One friend after another called to see if we were okay or if we needed help. Did we have electricity? Were any trees down? Did we need food, water, a place to stay? Friends called from thirty miles away after seeing the local weather reports. Some worried when they received a busy signal on the phone and kept calling until we answered. We figured we were talking to other friends at the time they were calling. Our bounty of friends and their concern for us is humbling. We are ever so grateful they are in our lives.

Special friends were married the end of August and I have kept their gift – a quilt, of course – a surprise. They are a young, vibrant couple so I chose a rainbow of bright colors to use in the quilt to match their personalities. Have a look.

    Enjoy the day and its bounty; food, flowers, friends, and even the storms.

    Believing in tomorrow,

    Gini

TREASURE BOXES

Do you have a treasure box? Or maybe more than one?

When I ask my friends this question, boy, do I get a myriad of answers. Some don’t know what I talking about so I go on to explain that it is not a box of gold coins lost by a pirate on the high seas. It is a box of cherished mementos – treasures – that are important enough to you that the box has traveled with you wherever you live.

I have a friend who is extremely creative. She made a cloth-covered box with lace and jewels to keep her treasures in. She laughed when I called it her pirate box. She lives a full, rich life so maybe by now she has more than one box.

I keep my treasures in a plan banker’s box that is almost full. I’ve been adding to my box since high school, and every now and then I go through my box when a memory crosses my mind. I have drawings from grade school (thank you, Mom, for saving them), graduation certificates, a silk kimono from my brother when he was in Viet Nam, and pressed flowers from proms and family funerals. The most coveted treasure is a book of poems and reflections I’ve written over the years – the highs and the lows of my life.

I also have a smaller box of treasures. This one is filled with newspaper clippings, ideas written on the back of used envelopes, pictures from magazines, and photographs. All are ideas for books I planned to write. Let me tell you, I will never live long enough to write all the books that go with each idea in the box. The funny part about this box is that for some of the ideas, I can no longer remember the story that I thought would be of interest to readers or fun for me to write. But I don’t throw them away. Maybe, just maybe, they will trigger a block-buster story, and I will become the next Nora Roberts. Smile here. I can dream big.

So take some time to go through your treasure box and remember those troughs and peaks in your life. Then go live the kind of life that will add more treasures to your box.

If you haven’t started a box, maybe this is the time to find a unique looking one for those moments you want to keep of piece of.

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini

My 2020 Covid Project

My friend, Kendra, owns The Stitching Bee, a shop that specializes in counted cross-stitch handwork, as well as other needle and thread techniques. Whenever I’m in town and have a few minutes to spare, I stop in for a visit.

Such was the case in the fall of 2019. My time was limited, but it had been a while since my last visit, so I stopped. Kendra changes the samples on the walls and display cases regularly. The shop was filled with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas samples. The holidays, by design, are reason enough to entice the stitchers to buy a pattern and the necessary supplies.

The day I stopped she had a non-holiday sample of a pattern called “Baskets,” designed by Karen Kluba from Rosewood Manor, hanging by the register. I couldn’t look away. I liked everything about the piece; the colors, the symmetry, the use of space.

Kendra and I talked for a bit catching up on families and friends. But I kept looking at the sample on the wall. Kendra smiled. She knew she had a sale.

“Get everything I need – pattern, floss and fabric. I’ll pick it up when you call that it’s ready,” I told her. I didn’t remember much of the drive home. I kept thinking about the “Baskets” and how much I would enjoy stitching the piece.

I wasn’t able to begin stitching when I got the supplies home. Life has a way of changing plans in our house. Often, it seems. The holidays came and went, then the pandemic arrived. When the scientists recommended limiting gatherings and celebrations and suggested a stay-home policy I knew it was time to start my “Baskets” project.

This was a large piece to do, not one that could be finished in a weekend. So I read the directions, threaded my needle and made the first cross-stitch. After finishing the top row of baskets, I realized that there was no place in our house that was open enough to hang the finished piece. Then I knew that an antique picture from my Grandmother’s house would be the perfect frame and place for it to hang. For many years the picture had hung in my office, but now was the time for a change.

I needed to rearrange some of the design elements to make the stitched piece fit the frame. So I photocopied the pattern, cut it apart and put it back together so the dimensions matched the frame.

Now I was really excited to stitch. I worked on it every day, more hours some days than others, until it was done.

Kendra’s husband framed my hand-stitched piece using Grandma’s frame. When I step into my office my handwork reminds me that I was able to successfully complete my 2020 COVID project. I get to enjoy it every day.

Believing in tomorrow.

Gini

Giving Thanks for Family Traditions

Webster defines traditions as events that are passed on from generation to generation. The tradition may be a story, a belief, a custom, or a talisman of some sort.

I find traditions comforting, especially those that have passed through more than one generation. Give me the history behind a special one-of-a-kind spoon that Grandma used to prepare a favorite family dish, or a cameo that great-grandmother Erla wore on her wedding dress. I can listen for hours to these stories.

Wisconsin in November brings out a tradition that dates back to early settlers in the region, that of the harvesting of meat to sustain the family through the long winter ahead. Nowadays it is common to see fluorescent orange clothing (or pink for the ladies) hanging on clotheslines or porches as the hunting season nears. Some claim the crisp weather removes human or household odors from the clothes enabling the hunter to be more concealed from the wildlife. I wonder if that is true or if this a tradition that has become part of the adventure.

This year with the raging pandemic there will be smaller family groups gathering as well as fewer spontaneous drop-in visitors. One fallout is that smaller turkeys are being bought for the traditional meal. What if there isn’t any turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce left over for sandwiches on Friday? I, for one, say we can’t let this tradition be lost. Buy a big bird, mom.

Let us also think of new traditions that can be started this year. Maybe we bring out the cloth napkins grandma used that have been kept in a box in the attic, or instead of rushing through the meal to watch the next football game all electronics are turned off during the meal and conversation becomes meaningful.

We can be grateful, happy, and hopeful in this month of Thanksgiving. Maybe that should become a tradition of its own.

Believing in Tomorrow,
Gini Athey

The Power of Positive Thinking

It’s been six months since COVID-19 changed everything. How we shop, how we socialize, how we work, how we communicate, the learning environment, where and how we travel, and even how we dress (masks required!)

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the “new normal”, especially when it looks like these changes will remain in place longer than we anticipated.

Developing a positive attitude in the wake of change and uncertainty is a challenge, but one well worth the effort. When so much is beyond our control, one thing we can determine is how we think, feel, and react.

The benefits of a positive attitude include increased energy, better problem-solving, greater confidence, and more satisfying interactions with people. People with a positive attitude are more creative, more resilient, and live longer than Negative Nellies.

When you are feeling sad or worried or anxious, cultivating a positive attitude may feel just as overwhelming as all the other challenges you’re dealing with. Start with small shifts to build towards greater positivity. Here are five ideas to get you started.

  1. Pay attention to your words and vocabulary. Replace negative, pessimistic phrases with optimistic, empowering ones.
    Instead of saying “I can’t go out to eat,” try “Cooking at home allows me to try new recipes and make healthier choices.”
  2. Start a gratitude journal. Every morning or evening, take five minutes to jot down three things you are grateful for. Reread your entries when you need encouragement.
  3. Connect with people who lift you up with their own positive energy and outlook.
  4. Keep a list of things that inspire you-music, movies, books, blogs, exercise, rituals, etc. Get a daily dose of inspiration to stay on track with your positive outlook
  5. Relish small pleasures. It’s easy to focus on what we’ve lost and what we’ve had to sacrifice, but there is still joy to be had in life. Be intentional about recognizing the pleasure and joy in small moments, such as the perfect cup of coffee, a leisurely walk along a quiet country lane, fresh vegetables from your garden, time to read new books and reread favorites, starting a new hobby, assembling a care package to send to a friend (and envisioning their smile of surprise), and so much more.

How are you staying positive? What inspires you? What encouragement would you offer to others? Keep up the good work and have a wonderful August.

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini