Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lessons from the Garden: It takes work

I've been doing an inordinate amount of gardening this summer, and I think I'm seeing connections between gardening and the rest of my life. Today's insights are all about the work involved in gardening:
  • Be prepared for ongoing maintenance work. While there are some things in life that one can finish and be done with, most require ongoing maintenance: Touch up that paint job, work on your relationship, feed the dog. Every time I turn around, the garden needs to be weeded . . . or mulched, or aerated, or whatever. I don't think I knew when I started this how much ongoing labor is required to keep up a garden.
  • Some tasks aren't fun. No matter how many (many!) times I weed, I never really enjoy it -- it's sweaty, grueling, unrewarding work. Again, this is true in so many areas of my life: no matter how much I enjoy something, there are always some parts of it that I just have to slog through.
  • It always takes you longer than you think. I may go out with the idea that I will weed the entire front garden that day, but I'm lucky if I can get a quarter of that done in a day. This is a lesson I never seem to learn -- with every project I undertake, it invariably takes me *much* longer than I expect (this is known as the planning fallacy).
  • Putting effort in early on can save you effort later. If I were to really weed thoroughly in the early spring, there would be fewer weeds later in the summer. But I never have enough time to do a thorough spring weeding, so I pay for it later with many more hours of weeding. This isn't true of all things in life, but it's worth remembering for some things.
  • You don't have to do it all yourself. I do most of the gardening work myself, but I have a landscaper come in to do things that I don't have time, skill, or tools for -- I have them do tree planting and pruning, for example. And then, of course, Q has been a huge help -- not only does he help me weed sometimes, but he spent hours putting in our new, wonderful paths. Again, this is a lesson it's hard for me to learn -- I tend to think I have to do everything myself, but there is no shame in getting help from others.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Beaded bellydance belt

I finished beading this belt last year, but never got around to taking pictures. I'm working on the matching bra at the moment. Click on the pictures if you want to see them full-size (the details are clearer in the larger versions of the pictures).

The front of the belt

Detail of the central motif on the front of the belt. I sewed on every bead and sequin individually -- these are not appliques. The motifs are a mix of glass seed beads of various clear and silvery tones, Swarovski crystals, and Czech glass beads, edged in sequins and more glass beads. The top edge of the belt is edged in bugle beads and sequins.

Detail of the fringe. I designed the fringe and sewed all the beads on individually; it's a mix of silver-lined, glass seed beads and three types of Swarovski crystals.

The back of the belt.

The back of the belt; the angled shot gives a sense of the dimensionality of the beading.

Detail of the central motif on the back of the belt.

This beading takes an amazingly long time to complete and I can't even estimate the number of hours or the number of beads in the project. But I love the way it came out.