HOW TO DEAL WITH THE UNEXPECTED

I’m not sure I need any more surprises, but even as I write this, the lights keep flickering, leading me to believe we might lose power any minute.

How apropos.

If we do lose power, so be it – if I’ve learned anything over the past few days, it’s that I will invariably get by.

You see, I was traveling this past week.

What was expected to be a brief, 3-day trip to Asheville, NC turned into a full week away from home.

By the second day of my travels, I suddenly found myself dealing with several unexpected snafus – a huge snowstorm in Seattle, which resulted in delayed travel plans, plus a phone call from my son saying he’d been stricken with a severe case of food poisoning.

Talk about the unexpected!

It was time to take a deep breath and assess my situation. In the end, the experience taught me a few things:

 

A Perceived Setback Could Be a Blessing in Disguise

In my case, while the blizzard in Seattle prevented my immediate return, it also opened up space for an entirely different opportunity. I flew to Austin, Texas instead, where my son was in need of some TLC.

Likewise, the unwelcome snags, or delays, in your home improvement project might actually lead to an even better solution. Rather than fight it, why not go with the flow?

In my humble opinion, things have a tendency to unfold exactly as they were meant to all along.

 

Prepare Ahead of Time

Chances are the unexpected is going to happen, especially when you travel.

From now on, I plan to pack an extra change of clothes, even if it seems totally unnecessary. A pair of sandals can’t hurt either, cause you never know where you might end up (it was sunny and 78 degrees in Austin).

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THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES

A few weeks ago, I attended an innovative & enjoyable interior design event, held at the Theo Chocolate factory in Seattle.

If you’re wondering what chocolate has to do with design, this struck me as such a fun concept I couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more.                                                                    

As it happened, the chocolate fest was held in tandem with the viewing of a locally owned fabric collection from O’Ecotextiles.

What these two companies – and their products  – have in common is an environmentally conscious footprint. In other words, from start to finish, both the chocolate, and the fabrics, are sustainably manufactured!

On their website, Theo’s Chocolates boasts they are “the ONLY Organic, Fair-Trade, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in the United States!”

O’Ecotextiles describes their fabrics as “Opulent, Yet Organic” and “Sensuous, yet Sustainable”.

Tempting, yes?

Well, I’d like to share some sobering statistics about the many fabrics, luscious and otherwise, that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.

What most of us don’t realize, is that there are over 2000 chemicals used in fabric production.

That’s right – 2000!

You can be sure that most of them are highly toxic, and harmful to both your health and the environment.

Yet the average person has no idea.

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A GLIMPSE INTO A CHINESE GARDEN

There’s a wonderful story in Chinese lore, about a 4th century calligrapher named Wang Xizhi.               

As the story goes, Wang gave a party at the local Orchid Pavilion, a gathering that was attended by a group of celebrated poets.

Wang devised a literary game, whereby the poets were to sit by the side of a small stream while cups of wine floated on by, each cradled in a leaf.

Whenever the floating cups came to a stop, the poet closest by had to either drink the contents, or compose a poem.

You can imagine that after some time, this would have been quite a merry little party, as the poets became drunk from cup after cup of wine while writing their poems.

The poems were eventually compiled into a famous anthology, to which Wang wrote the preface.

True story!

You will often find it depicted in Chinese paintings.

This story was re-told to me last week, when I visited the Seattle Chinese Garden.

In reality, the Garden is still a work in progress, the sort of place where hard hats are required.

Yup, it’s under construction.

Still, a brief slide presentation prior to the tour, helped us visualize how this lovely garden will look when the transition is complete.

Perhaps the most striking feature is the Moon Gate, such as the one pictured above.

The idea is that you enter the world through the Chinese Moon Gate. It’s very poetic.

At first glance, it might not seem clear whether the Moon Gate is a door or a window. Turns out, the raised step (that gives the impression of a window sill) is intentional.

According to Chinese belief, evil spirits are unable to negotiate the step, thereby keeping those spirits at bay.

A proper Chinese Garden must also include the following four features:  Water, Rocks, Plants and Buildings.

The buildings, in this case, would be temples, or meeting places with names such as ‘Gathering Together Hall’ or ‘Floating Cloud Pavilion’.

And of course, an Orchid Pavilion.

I’m sure I could be just as content in the ‘Greeting With Happiness Court’.

There will also be a ‘Willow Pavilion’, and a ‘Running Cups Pavilion’ names that evoke the gracefulness of the willow tree, or the wonderful story about the floating cups.

The ‘Pine and Plum Pavilion’ refers to the so-called Friends of Winter – there are three total, the third one being bamboo.

The idea being that pine and bamboo stay green throughout the Winter months, while the flowering plum begins to blossom just as Winter transitions into Spring, a fitting symbol of growth and re-birth.

A team of artisans and construction workers from China is currently stationed here in Seattle, working hard to bring this garden to fruition.

It’s been a long time in the making.

I can’t wait to see the results when the Garden is complete!