Posted by: morrowsl | January 3, 2023

Not the happy New Year I’d imagined

January 1, 2023

We learned last evening that the new owner of the farm has bulldozed the house, the milk house and barns, and has filled in the pond. The sugar house is no more. And likely all the maple trees as well.

I am trying to process the news. Trying to be logical. Our son’s reaction was we knew when we let it go we were letting it go. And he’s right. It is no longer ours to say what stands or falls. Even further, our last footfalls on that soil were hollow, at best, because the life of the place departed with the three people who lived there and made it a thriving operation and a comfortable home.


There is a mourning that has enveloped me. It rides across my shoulders and plagues my thoughts.

It’s gone.

The blow to my heart is staggering.

The original house did not include either of the wings to the left and right, and the front door faced the pond. That door still had its diamond-shaped window.
The high side of the pond overlooking the fields that ran along the creek. I bid my last goodbye standing on that berm blown by a bitter wind I’d never felt there before.
This is the image on her funeral prayer card

The little red brick house, barely a grain shack when they moved into it as newlyweds. When we went through the file cabinet, with its meticulous envelopes and paper clips and notations, we found the original receipt for the cabinetry he purchased for her kitchen.

The pink bathroom tile and old medicine cabinet and custom linen cabinet, smelling of Dial soap even ten years after the last bath was taken.

The fireplace in the den he added years later. Its brick mantel and hearth spanning the width of the narrow room.

The bedroom where their only child slept and dreamed of someday flying jet planes as his model train circled the perimeter of four walls, stopping at the doorway to wait for the drawbridge to be lowered. And where, years later, that boy’s children slept and dreamed of climbing into the cab of a massive combine with their grandpa.

The pond, where countless hours were spent enticing bluegill and smallmouth with every lure in the tackle box and no less than a pound of night-crawlers.

And where, one bitterly cold March morning, we solemnly stood on the berm and opened two identical black boxes and returned dust to dust. It is akin to losing them both, all over again. My heart shatters as memory upon memory crashes through my mind like waves on a storm tossed sea.

We had toyed with the idea of going back soon. Have a look around and see what improvements might have been made since we were last there, only six years ago.

Last evening, as this news settled in the room, Mike said there’s nothing left to see.

It’s gone.

Posted by: morrowsl | December 12, 2022

On Turning 65 And Other Stuff

I think I had expected it to be harder. Or more emotional. Or even somewhat distressing.

In the end, waking up on my 65th birthday was pretty much like waking up on my 64th. It was pretty much like waking up every other day, actually. I rolled over and the four walls began to race each other for first place, crowding into a pile in one corner as I forced my eyes wide open in defiance.


It’s been a part of every November since we moved from the city to the home of our dreams, six years ago. I suspect it’s the oak trees that surround us. Literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of them. They wage war on my sinuses. And make me walk crooked.

Since moving, I’ve discovered that the years I spent ignoring my body’s warnings have come to haunt me. The early days of Black Mollys and coffee for breakfast. The motherhood years when I wished I was still swallowing Black Mollys and coffee for breakfast. The countless falls. The years of smoking, both legal and illegal, tobacco. A lifetime of drinking Dr. Peppers instead of water. Nights spent so close to amplifiers I could still feel the buzz in my chest the next morning.

And yet.

I know people who have taken extraordinary care of themselves and are in worse shape than I am. At least I can say I had fun!

So, I drag my 65-year old self out of bed every morning because staying in bed hurts more than moving. I don’t take my coffee out with me, at least not initially, because my bladder is no longer a reliable organ and it’s too damn far to walk back to the bathroom from the garden or the chicken coop.
I use the garden and chickens as my excuse to get outside every day. Chickens gotta eat. And there is always something needing done in the garden.

In summer I try not to linger. I’m better about drinking water these days, but the heat will wipe me out if I push myself. Then I’m useless the rest of the day. As it is, I usually come in and nap.

Cooler weather is different. I wear layers. And a hat. I didn’t used to wear a hat, even though I can still hear my fourth-grade teacher who hailed from Buffalo, New York, explaining to our class how much of your body heat is lost through your uncovered head. It didn’t make sense to me then. It does now. So, I wear a hat. And sometimes gloves, although I never feel my hands get any warmer in them.

Earlier this week, on a morning that looked much warmer than it was. When the air was thick with moisture and the leaves were raining down with the breeze. When the vertigo had given me the day off and my body was eager for activity. When I really couldn’t find any rational excuse not to, I spent a morning appreciating the fruits of my labors.

It reminded me why I still tolerate summers in N. Texas. It’s because I know they won’t last forever.

If I had to wait 65 years and learn to live with aches and pains to get to this place in this time, it was all worth it.

Posted by: morrowsl | July 18, 2022

Water Cooler Gossip

I hate summer. There, I said it. All those sun-loving folks won’t get it, but whatever. Move to Texas, you’ll reach a new understanding of summer.

My absolute main concern every summer, after making sure our air conditioning is working, is for the animals. Chickens are hot creatures with an internal body temperature of 106. For that reason, we covered the chicken run with tin roofing in a couple of areas so the girls can laze in the shade. Maybe snag a little dust bath without baking in the hot sand.

They have a swimming pool, filled fresh daily, and get plenty of frozen treats on the hotter days. All in all, being a Remote Chicken has its perks.

My other concern is for the deer. There are White-Tail deer that move through this area in several large herds. They have their babies in the woods here and bring them up close to the house to nibble on the flowers and shrubs. I don’t support teaching little ones bad habits, but I let a lot of stuff slide for the sheer pleasure it brings me to see those babies each summer!

The deer tend to hang out in the woods where it’s shady and, hopefully, cool. But we’re well into a drought here in North Texas and watering holes are getting pretty shallow. Granted, there’s a small lake and the deer have easy access. But there’s enough activity down that way to keep them on alert.
So, we had a water trough we’d used for a chick brooder that was just sitting behind the barn. We hauled it up to a shady area reachable with a hose and filled it.

And waited. And waited some more. Then, finally…

The images were taken through the kitchen window, so the quality is low. There were several passes made a good distance from the trough, each time easing just a bit closer. Finally, one brave doe took a chance. Then she brought a friend.

Since the trough has been in place, we get a lot of traffic. There’s a group of about seven does running together this season and they make a pass or two daily. There are two does with babies, who are now big enough to reach the water as well. And I have no idea how much they’re using it at night.

If we leave them alone long enough, they’ll just camp out in the shade nearby and snooze.

Seems like a good spot for a quick rest.

On the opposite side of the house, between the house and the goat pen, we set up a protein feeder. We typically feed deer corn in the covered feeders and all the animals will eat from those. But I wanted to support the mama deer with something a bit more substantial. So we have an upright feeder the squirrels and raccoons can’t access. I’m sure enterprising birds could figure it out, but I’ve yet to see any try.

These guys though…

It’s expensive, feeding wildlife. Not so much now that we’re not supporting a herd of feral hogs. And the protein feed is pricier than regular deer corn. We used to put feed out weekly, but have discovered we’re not the only people feeding these deer. And they can mow through a couple hundred pounds of corn in a week. But we make sure they have something fresh every few weeks and that makes me feel better.

In exchange, I get to watch them and take pictures of them. Those experiences are priceless.

Posted by: morrowsl | June 28, 2022

‘Round Here

I go out to the garden every morning after I’ve opened the coop and fed and watered chickens. Even if all I’m doing is pulling a few weeds, I still try to spend at least a little time there. The problem is, I’m starting to see the garden as “work” and that won’t do. The idea of a garden is pleasure.

It may be work, but it should be pleasing.

So, I’ve started taking my camera now and then, looking for pleasure. Here’s what I found.

Of course, I can’t forget the deer. And the first Pipevine Swallowtail of the year.

Posted by: morrowsl | June 14, 2022

On Being Present

I loved the show “This Is US.” It was one of those family drama shows that was so well written and thought out that you almost never saw the next thing coming. It was rarely boring, even in the middle where shows often go to die. I didn’t like all of the characters, though I did eventually gain tolerance.

I even came to love the one that had made me the most uncomfortable and irritated.

Typically, when I find a show I really like, I will dig into the character and storyline development to see what I can find. I watch interviews, read articles, look for outtakes and blooper videos. In my DVD movie days, I usually watched the director’s cuts discs first.
In essence, I try to find the book inside the show or movie. It makes letting the characters go a bit easier.

“This Is Us” aired its final season this spring. I’m still processing. Earlier this week, I read an interview with the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman. He was explaining how he knew from the beginning what the end would be and how it would be presented. Because the show depended heavily on flashes forward and back, planning and filming weren’t linear either. He filmed bits of the last episode very early on. That’s faith in your writing, your characters, your actors, and their abilities and commitment.
And your audience.

He was kinda being the Santa Claus for all of us. And he did an extraordinary job.

One quote from the interview has stuck with me. Fogelman, in explaining how he viewed the final episode, in which the family has an amazingly ordinary day, said he wanted to focus on “…the stuff that we forget to sit inside of and be present for.”

And I keep going back to that.

Pre-pandemic, I spent a lot of time in mindlessness. I think we all did. Caught up in the going and doing and getting and giving with little regard for the now. We saved our best efforts for the “special” days. Birthdays and birth days. Family gatherings. Dinner dates. Movie nights. Sports events and concerts.


But, what about the days doing laundry? Sitting in the pick-up line or drive-through. Giving the kids a bath or fixing dinner for just the two of you. What about the spontaneous visits and drop-offs and meet-ups? What about the evenings on the sofa flipping mindlessly through 1,100 channels and seeing nothing?

I don’t know about everybody else, but having to forfeit time with my family while we waited for vaccinations was probably the most eye-opening part of living through this pandemic. I didn’t miss the crowds or the traffic. I didn’t miss the calendar filled with stuff to do and see. I didn’t miss getting dressed up or mingling.

But I surely did miss the stuff that we sit inside of and are present for. And I am doing everything I can to never have to miss it again.

Posted by: morrowsl | May 24, 2022

The Hard Win

In late summer of 2019, one of our granddaughters fell quite ill. Normally very energetic and lively, she became lethargic and wanted to sleep a lot. She ran a low-grade fever off and on. At the time, Strep had been circulating and it was just assumed by everyone, including the doctor’s office, that she had Strep. She was given antibiotics while the test processed. Surprisingly, it came back negative. Concerning, but not excessively so. The girls had experienced a “fever virus” once before. And, since the source had never been determined, it did cross my mind that she might have whatever that was again.
For some reason, the doctor ordered a blood sugar test. The results of which sent her straight to the ER.

She was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at age eight.

And so began a new chapter for our sweet girl, her twin sister, and their parents. Not the sort of chapter any of us wants in our lives. But we don’t always get what we want.

When the girls were born, it was almost impossible to tell them apart. Thankfully, their mom color-coded them early. One was always wearing pink, the other purple. One (the purple one) developed a hemangioma within a week of their birth. Hemangioma birthmarks are commonly called port wine stains, strawberry marks, or stork bites. As it grew, we unwittingly gave her more attention than we did her sister. Part of that is guilt. She had a rather large mass of broken blood vessels pooling up a big purple spot on her otherwise beautifully perfect little cheek. It was hard not to look at it and worry how it would impact her life. WE could treat her as normally as possible, but others probably would not. And, let’s face it, kids can be pretty cruel. What would it look like when she started school? We all wanted to protect her.

Their mom is an outgoing woman who finds friends no matter where she goes. It was this trait that led her to the drug that would correct her daughter’s birthmark. An accidental meeting with another mother of twins and a leap of faith for both the parents and the doctor, since the required drug was not yet widely used for this purpose. It would take a couple of years for the drug to erase the birthmark. In that time, we all tended to baby her. Her sister surely sensed that.

At some point, I came to this realization. And made a point to focus my attention toward the pink girl.

Twins, all multiples actually, are windows into what could have been. When there is only one, you become familiar with the shared DNA. You see great-grandmother’s heart-shaped face or Dad’s square hands. You have no frame of reference for what Mom’s strawberry hair color or Grandpa’s Irish-Blue eyes would have looked like on one so young.

When there are two, you get to see all the things.

The little purple girl favors her mother in looks and in behavior. She is also outgoing. She is vivacious, quick witted, talkative, confident, fearless. She is always up for an adventure.
Her pink sister is more like their dad. Her face gets “frumpy” when she’s unhappy. She studies situations, holds back, can be timid, and frank. She will unapologetically say whatever is on her mind.
As a toddler, she once smacked her sister then put herself in timeout. She knew she’d be in trouble but she didn’t give a damn!

When the pink sister came home with a bag full of hypodermics and bottles of insulin, the game changed. Purple sister’s cheek was now mostly clear. You only know there was a hemangioma if you know there was a hemangioma. The focus of attention shifted soundly.
There were shots to give. Nerve-wracking for a mother who is only just coming to grips with her daughter’s diagnosis. Horrifying for a child. There were days of tears. Guilt upon guilt, as unfounded and senseless as that which had only just been directed at the other sister. So many adjustments while trying to keep everything as normal as possible.

And, in the midst of it all, a global pandemic. The world slammed to a stop.

Both girls are athletic. And competitive. And incredibly supportive of each other. They started taking lessons in Jiu Jitsu at age six. It is great for their bodies and their minds. And it is their best defense against rape, as sad as it is to have to even write that. They are coached by a world champion black-belt who has shaped them into fierce competitors. They joined their gym’s competitive team and have recently earned their yellow belts. Prior to Pink Sister’s diagnosis and the COVID pandemic, they were spending a lot of time on the podium, often winning gold and silver medals. A lot of their bouts were against each other. Not as productive as we’d like, since it’s like watching two halves of the same brain try to outwit each other. It got so frustrating for them. There were bouts where neither scored and the win was awarded by the referee’s decision. Sometimes, they had a chance to win one apiece. Sometimes not.
Still, they were earning points and learning as they fought. They put in the time and work to earn each new belt.

Until the T1D diagnosis.

The combination of being on insulin, eating on a schedule, having her blood sugar spike and drop, and the general issues of trying to grow a body has given our little pink warrior a lot to process. And it took what edge she might have had on her purple sibling. During the pandemic they were able to continue private lessons online, but being each other’s only opponent isn’t ideal. It is old ground, trying to best each other. Their competitive nature means they plot and plan how to force a mistake. The truth of it is, when one is dealing with adrenaline dumps and occasional shakes, the other will come out on top more often than not. Because she studies all situations, Pink Sister has determined she is not as good as she was, pre-diagnosis. She has convinced herself that she will always come in second to her sister.
The scales became unbalanced once more. Even if the attention was shared, the praise equal, the rewards identical, it was not at all fair in the mind of the one who believes diabetes is winning.

Until yesterday.

As the pandemic has receded, the girls have been able to go back to the classroom. And to the gym. Competitions are being hosted once more. This would be the second one for them this year.
There were Gi bouts in the morning with each girl facing a different opponent. Purple sister won, Pink sister lost. Purple sister went to the podium to pick up her bronze medal. Our pink girl wasn’t speaking to anyone. The tears didn’t last long, but the silent processing took awhile. Eventually she swallowed her disappointment, became her usual happy-on-the-outside self, expressed an interest in lunch, and announced that she would definitely place in the late afternoon rounds because there would only be three competitors.

It was heartbreaking to think she was accepting a loss before she even fought.

And then, she won!

Her first opponent was a girl from another city, not her sister. And she beat her. Her face lit up and her self-pride got a much needed boost. As she had predicted, she placed. The very least she could win was bronze.
One down, one to go. Her next opponent would be her sister. Again. It was impossible to gauge her emotions from across the hall. I unapologetically told her mother I hoped she kicked her sister’s ass.

In what looked like a bout from their earliest days facing each other, the two girls circled around and around. In spite of Pink Sister being the obvious aggressor, not much was gained on either side. No points awarded. Then Purple Sister went down and I thought it was over. Normally she gains advantage rather quickly, once she gets her sibling on the mat. But they were right up again and back to circling. Later, watching the video, you can hear Pink Sister’s coach call out, “You’ve wasted one minute, dancing. Let’s go!”

I’m not sure if that registered or not. The circling continued. Then, suddenly, they were both down and, being too far away and too uneducated to see it as it happens, I watched for the referee to signal points gained.

Then, his hand went up. Two points for Pink! They had plenty of time left on the clock yet for Purple Sister to tie it up. They popped back up and again the coach yells, “Let’s go girls, stop dancing!” She calls for a take-down. And yet, they circle around and around, grabbing at each other’s necks, arms, legs.
When the clock runs out and the referee stops the bout, Pink Sister glances at the scoreboard and realizes she has won. Her fists ball up and her face looks like she’s just seen Santa in the flesh. The referee declares her the winner and the tears begin to fall.

I have watched the video a dozen times. Each time, I cry along with her.

In a society where winning is so important that many organizations refuse to declare a loser and all the competitors get awards, we are failing our kids. If they never learn how bitter a pill losing can be, they will expect to always win and be rewarded. Life isn’t at all like that. Sometimes, in the game of life, even when you win you end up losing.
It has been a really hard couple of years for all of us. And hard times are surely yet to come.
But, on a long hot Saturday in May, in a big arena filled with 3,000 competitors, one long-legged feisty young girl fought the bout of her life and won. She’ll have diabetes all her life. But it won’t beat her again.

Photo courtesy of Jiu Jitsu World League. Find them at and
Posted by: morrowsl | March 21, 2022

Channeling Maggie

My grandma, Maggie, was an amazing woman. She always had a big garden. At one point she kept an orchard as well. She canned, made jelly and jam, cooked all the meals from scratch. Raised ten kids.
And she quilted. Every single piece of fabric hand cut and hand sewn together, then hand quilted. She made quilts for her grandkids although, by the time it got round to my turn, her hands and eyes were just unable to do the close work any longer. I do have a quilt top she pieced. It was given to her baby sister, Great-Aunt Alice, who later gave it to me. I’ve always wanted to quilt it, but the fabric is pieces of old clothes which appear to have been mostly polyester. It is misshapen and wonky. And likely won’t make a very pretty quilt. At some point I’ll turn it into pillows or stockings or something worthy of the hours Maggie put into it.

It’s that quilt top and thoughts of my grandma laboring over her piece work that propels my own hands.

I never really took to my sewing lessons as a girl. My mother, both my sisters, and a determined middle school Home Ec teacher all tried to teach me. I was impatient. I chose the wrong fabrics and difficult patterns. I had zero self-confidence and even less determination.
Later, as a young mother, I tried again. I worked with a small group of Mormon women who got together weekly for sewing and cooking and fellowship. I wasn’t at all interested in the fellowship and only slightly interested in cooking. But they offered hand quilting lessons and I wanted very much to learn. I quilted a block I’ve long since forgotten the name of and came away from that lesson with the full realization that I had absolutely no patience for hand quilting.

Undeterred, I moved on to a machine quilting class at a local quilt shop. And immediately realized that groups of women, regardless of what is being taught and how much they desire to learn, won’t shut up long enough to get through an hour of anything. I came away with a partially constructed Double Irish Chain quilt in a hideous coral and white that was stuffed into a bag and eventually given to Goodwill.

So, when I started getting a yen to try again, I had some soul-searching to do. By the time I took that class at the quilt shop, technology had given the sewing world acrylic rulers and rotary cutters. Since then, quilting has evolved to include precut fabrics. The internet has made learning as easy as it is likely to get with video instruction. Any fabric, notion, tool you might need or want can be delivered to your door before breakfast. All that is missing is patience.

Apparently, I’m finally there.

Maybe it comes from no longer having to rush around meeting deadlines and appointment times. Maybe it’s living so far away from the city. Maybe it’s to do with realizing there’s a lot less time to savor. Whatever it is, it’s working. After several decades trying to change the predestined and inevitable, I have learned to accept things as they come and to take my time. As my friend Melissa advises, I stopped trying to push the river.

For Christmas I got a quilting sewing machine. Unlike my old 1980s model Necchi, this new machine is meant for quilting and is somewhat idiot-proof. The speed is adjustable. That alone will save me from myself. The needle can be adjusted to the left or right. It makes all kinds of decorative stitches. I’m still in the learning phase, both in terms of the new machine and the new style of quilting. I’m taking my time.

This is the first completed project. My youngest daughter’s BFF had a baby and I wanted to make her some crib sheets that matched her nursery wallpaper. I had enough leftover fabric for a small quilt.

It is a small and simple project. If I’ve learned nothing about myself, I’ve learned that starting small and simple assures completion. I’m certain Maggie understood this as well. And I hope I did her proud.

Posted by: morrowsl | January 2, 2022

Meet My New Girlfriend

When the pandemic first reached the US, there were people on the news pretty much every night talking about what they were planning to do to stave off boredom and avoid overeating. And over drinking. And going batshit crazy.

I was not one of those people.

Since moving to Remote in 2016, having things to do has not been a problem. We’ve spent pretty much every day working our way through The List. Which, at this point, has consumed at least four legal notepads, a gazillion gallons of gas, two last nerves, all the daylight hours and a number of the nighttime hours as well, an entire forest of lumber, enough soil and compost to create a new island chain, my best good humor, at least one transfusion of blood, all the nails/brads/staples/screws ever forged, the USMC Drill Instructor’s Handbook of Dirty Words and Evil Threats, and enough sweat to wash the planet. Twice.

We spent 2020 doing exactly what we did in 2019 minus soccer games, Jiu Jitsu tournaments, school events, dinner out, and socializing.

While we, and all of our family, have taken COVID very seriously by getting our shots and boosters, and following safety protocols, quite a lot of folks haven’t. It’s disheartening. And it pisses me off. We’ve been very lucky and have not had anyone dangerously ill. But it feels like the clock is just madly ticking away.

The upside of the pandemic has been being able to just get stuff done without having to make excuses or start/stop/start projects so we can be with friends and family. I miss being with people. But I appreciate the time we’ve been given.

Thanks to a lot of baggage I carried around for decades, I’m not really good at just jumping off into new stuff with my eyes closed. I absolutely will not do anything for the first time if someone is watching. I never played sports and rarely exercised because I didn’t want to look ridiculous. I never tried to play an instrument. I have control issues. Which is to say, if I can’t control it, I don’t want to be a part of it.

But this pandemic has given me time to consider all the things yet to be experienced. I haven’t lived in fear or hiding, but there are things I’ve wanted to do and places I’ve wanted to see that I’ve allowed myself to talk me out of.

I am smart enough to know that jumping into anything feet first can lead to disaster. I’ll set the cruise control and mind the ditches. And remind myself, often, that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Meet my new girlfriend. Her name is Theodosia. I met her last Thursday and we had our first real date today.

Posted by: morrowsl | December 17, 2021

Simple Ornament

I’m not a naturally creative person – I copy ideas and sometimes change or expand them to fit a project. I truly envy people who can look at an old bedspring and see a garden trellis. I am definitely not that woman! But I can sometimes see a problem and figure out how to solve it. I would be in need of the trellis and start looking around for something to use, eventually spying the old bed spring and giving it a try.
Sort of a backward creative process.

I am also easily bored. The absolute hardest part of any project, for me, is coming up with new ways to do the same thing. With paper crafting especially. There are only so many ways you can stick a couple of pieces of paper together.
Once bored, I tend to force the process. My friend, Melissa, calls this “pushing the river.”

I have pushed more than my share of rivers.

This causes me to spend far too many hours reading blogs and browsing sites like Pinterest and Etsy in search of ideas. Not long ago, in one of these non-creative rabbit hole searches, I stumbled across a vendor selling old metal slide plates and paper slide mounts.

I bought both.

And stuck them in my box of “frames” and forgot about them.

But then I started working on the Christmas-themed travel books for my granddaughters and rediscovered them.

So, today I used one to make myself a Christmas ornament.

The downside is that the opening is so small – 1.25″ x 1″.
The upside is that the opening is perfect for really old photos that go grainy when you try to enlarge them.

My grandmother, Maggie, and her girls.

I’ve had this image on my computer for years. Someone posted it to a family site and I saved it. You can’t see her face. Or the coop. Or even all of the chickens. But I love it. And now, it’s hanging on my tree!

Posted by: morrowsl | December 1, 2021

Christmas Paper Project

When I jumped into scrapbooking back in the dark ages, I exhausted my brain trying to figure out how to creatively cover a square foot of paper. Digital was futuristic, everything was one dimensional, flat and ugly. I still can’t bring myself to look at most of the pages I did in that period.
I must not have been alone. Very quickly I started finding 8×8″ paper and books to put it in. It took a bit longer for the ephemera to catch up. Eventually things came up to speed and then warp speed, leaving me trailing behind for lack of money and time to buy and master all the new gadgetry.

I can still remember the first time I logged on to Pinterest and realized all the ideas, tips, tricks, and tutorials were right at my fingertips!

In the five years since our move, I’ve only managed a couple of paper projects. Our focus has been centered on things outside the house and most evenings I’m too tired to cough up much creativity. But recently, I’ve been spending my early mornings upstairs and have discovered how much I miss the process.

In the early summer, I created a garden junk journal for my sister’s birthday. This type of journal catches all my quirks – recycling magazines, old books, used paper, bits of ribbon and string, ticket stubs, envelopes, junk mail. The ideas are endless.
I was never really good at layering. I have qualms about covering up a pretty image. Tearing a page or image made me nervous. With junk journaling, the very idea is to hide flaws or mistakes behind layers of this and that until the resultant whole appears planned and executed. I am learning to rip and pile with the best of them!

My most recent project is less a junk journal, but still employs some of those techniques and ideas. It is a pair of travel journals I made for my granddaughters. After almost two years in pandemic lockdown, they are spending the Christmas holidays in the mountains, learning to snowboard, riding a dog sled and generally having the trip of a lifetime. I wanted to give them a means of saving the memories.

Over time, I’ve accumulated a rather large pile of leftover paper. I always go first to this stash before I cut anything new. Most projects will make good use of scraps, whether it’s paper or fabric. Junk journals use both.

It’s hard to throw away leftover paper…

Likewise, I have saved all manner of ephemera over the years. Booklets and pamphlets, maps and directional guides, warranties, ticket stubs, menus, scratched scratchers and spent gift cards, CDs and their jackets, and users manuals. Not to mention the stuff I’ve purchased browsing antique stores – deeds and certificates, photos and greeting cards, board games and puzzle pieces. I recently culled a good deal of it, although you can’t tell at all by looking! We won’t even discuss fabric scraps and buttons.

Likewise, I still have a great deal of the stickers and eyelets and punches and rubber stamps that were the tools of the earliest scrapbooking days. I did finally jettison the shape-cutting scissors.

For this project, I rifled through my assorted mess and pulled out only those things I thought I would find useful. Even so, every work surface was covered for most of the project and got me thinking that any serious time spent absorbed in this hobby would mean a serious reorganization of tools and work area.

This isn’t the peak clutter image, but close.

In all, it only took about two weeks of early mornings from start to finish. I made the covers by laminating two sheets of scrapbook paper, folding creases in the sheets to make a spine, then threading elastic beading cord along the spines to hold the pages in place. The pages are double-sided scrapbook paper, solid color scrapbook paper, and plain copy paper, all cut to size and folded in half. I covered some of the pages with decorative paper, some I left as they were.
A couple of the pages include fill-in-the-blank areas for recording things like stats from their snowball fight and things seen along the highway on the long drive to and from their destination. There are a couple of fold-out pages for writing stories or drawing pictures.

Some of the pages were left blank or simply decorated. To some I added various pockets and holders for pictures, notes, stubs, and the like. I included a map of the area they’ll be in with a folder of tickets to fill in with dates and descriptions of events.
Since they’ll be gone over Christmas, I included a spot for their Christmas wish lists.

Probably the biggest problem is fixative. I have always used double-sided tape in the dispensers but it has a tendency to not be strong enough for some things. After watching a couple of hours of You Tube videos, I was convinced liquid glue would be the answer. It’s not. Too much and your paper is lumpy, too little and it’s no more effective than tape. The quest for the best fixative continues.

The finished product. There will likely be some adjustments to be made because of the tape issue. But I think they will have fun filling them with the mementos of their mountain adventures.

Mountain adventure Christmas memory travel journals.

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