Category Archives: Doing life

Father Time

watch

Old Father Time – I blame him for the odd passage of time these last weeks and, in fact, this last year. My watch began to run fast, the bathroom clock refused to run, its replacement ran too fast. Now I have a new watch and a new bathroom clock – one with a fake tick-tock.

Back to last January. Do you make resolutions, choose a word for the year, or just wait and see? I chose a word – or it chose me. I set up a notebook, wrote out my plans, started to make something of it. Then a strange bit of old conversation pressed into my consciousness – and I listened to it. So began the strange unfolding of my word.

I started with plans and purpose and the first project led to a serious clean out of my needle crafting supplies and that led to being able to sow them into the lives of young women with teachers wise to help them explore art and craft in many forms. boxes  Father time had gotten involved with the bittersweet realization that years of life are limited but creative ideas are not. Expecting to be energized, I found myself exhausted, slowed to a crawl even. Where was the energy that was supposed to come with ‘de-cluttering’?

In August, I needed something from the cellar. Easily distracted, I faced into the storage boxes of journals and notebooks. Looking between the covers made me ponder the fact that some words bind us to the past in unhealthy ways. August 26 - November 26go onDetermined to forget those things which need to be forgotten in the grace of God, I glanced through them, saved some treasures and recycled 15 years of time, releasing and simplifying spaces of the past.  The process went on as I looked into the guest room which from the doorway looked quite tidy… Opening the closet reminded me to photography and scrapbooking projects unfinished…

That word for the year – well, well-being. This cleaning of the attic and basement of my soul has happened as the fabric and books and paper have been cleared away. While the work has been emotionally exhausting and wearing on the body as well, it is creating well-being in my soul. The stack of empty storage boxes, the deliveries, recycling, gifting, are all evidence of the work out, long needed for my health.

indoor garden

All along, of course, life goes on with sunrises, sunsets and quiet, wonderful things, nurturing me. Like this hyacinth bulb, the first I’ve grown in the house. Wonderful, quiet growth unfolding.

Farewell, 2015!

I pray for all a wondrous, joyful New Year, 2016.

 

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

A day for musing

A quiet day, much of it spent almost nose to the ground picking up wood shaken from the trees in wind and rain. I’m mindful that this is minor damage and very grateful that our saturated ground was spared the hurricane hit. But it is a tiring chore.

So I’m sharing a brief September trip to Ithaca, home of a dear family member. As I have noted a number of times, I’m smitten with the bird cams sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

During a leisurely breakfast, we watched the live-streaming of the historic inauguration of Cornell’s new President, Elizabeth Garrett, the prelude to Homecoming Weekend. Although there were many events planned on campus, we managed to evade them all and see the things really important to Elaine :) The field light post where the hawklets were born and fledged was the first stop…

lamp post

It was lovely to stand and look around at the sights we watch on the bird cam. Then it was off to Sapsucker Woods to see the cams at the feeders and on the pond. feeders    sapsucker woods pond

It was a brilliant late afternoon and a luxury to sit on the well placed bench with family and enjoy this peaceful place.  Later we were off to the fabulous Zaza’s to celebrate my upcoming birthday. There, after a wonderful meal,  I met my new dessert love – Affogato al Caffè – “Freshly brewed espresso poured over creamy vanilla gelato”, and, available as de-caf! Such a satisfying day!

sapsucker woods pond

September

2015-09-09It was long weeks of hot and dry until today. I set myself to finish some tidying  here and there and was surprised to find a turtle. Neither of us could remember the last time we spied one here.IMG_6594Today was a dark day of waiting till the afternoon hours seemed to finally press open the clouds and the bursting drenched the area with close to 3 inches of rain. And as the hours grew dark everyone needed to be vigilant for high water and flash flooding.

August finale

2015-08-31

Well, I only missed one day outside. That one was spent sleeping and recovering from what I can most gratefully refer to as – a minor accident in my home.

Out and about, the countryside views have been glorious. I’m blessed to enjoy the flowers in our yard. The child size statuary in a country town has been adorned by a red knitted cap. Fun! I’ve been thinking about the gate. It has a story it wants to tell; perhaps I can listen well and write it in the days ahead.

August went by so quickly this year. My decision to go outside every day and observe was a good one and I plan to continue into my favorite month, September. I’m looking forward to what will be offered to me and I encourage you to look about and truly see the things that might be just outside your own backdoor.

 

Comfort in stormy weathers

July started with the “thunder moon”.  Every storm that visits here brings rain, sometimes just a dust settling drizzle, other times it’s a big wash. But always we are grateful for the rains. While we live near a city reservoir, out own precious water comes from our well. IMG_6197

The rains have brought luxuriant  growth to garden plant and weed. Every time I think I have gotten control of a bed – rains come, hidden seeds sprout and I start over. My progress in garden weeding is slow.

 

With every pending storm, the air stirs the tree tops into a frenzy and when the wildness stops, I am again surprised at how much dead wood has been held in the tree tops, waiting for the shaking down for my exercise routine.

The glorious show of daylily bloom is slowly giving way to green again but these blooms, while few, are stunning – IMG_6194 and in the background, the Butterfly Bush is beginning its season.

The other week, I mentioned the wild dogwood – cornus alternifolia – Pagoda Dogwood – is my id of it. I neglected to show this bird treat tree in that post. IMG_6177The seedling planted itself under a maple tree many years ago. I thought it was a Flowering Dogwood as we have many planted by birds and squirrels. Only as the years went by, I realized the leaves were a bit different. Early, I tried to straighten it, but it chooses to grow leaning out from under a maple to face into the morning sun.

All the quiet, slow, solitary activity of summer days allows me time to tidy my soul as well. Reminiscence and introspection seem to go round with me as peaceable companions in my chores and I learn from them.

IMG_6172

My favorite thing to have with early morning wonder time is iced coffee. I’ve been using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for several years now, Perfect!

The old dark and stormy night routine

Loud, disturbing storms rolled slowly through my long restless night. After dawn, the sun came slowly through the lingering clouds and there was the lovely lush green glow of this rainy summer. after the rain

Fortunately the power held and I could proceed with the days work of pickling. A kind neighbor had called with an offer of cucumbers and zucchini. Since we did not plant a vegetable garden this year, this was a real gift.

First, I made the Zucchini into soup from a recipe given to me a number of years ago. It is very similar to this one. We love the curry seasoning and usually have it warm. I’m so pleased to have several containers in the freezer.

It has been quite a few years since I had enough cucumbers growing to make pickles or relish and I had to gather some fresh spices for them. The process is slow and I feel the connection with the long history of women in summer kitchens “putting up” from the bounty of the land when I get to do these things. It was a shock for me to look at the old cookbook and realize the first time I made Million-Dollar Pickles was July, 1975! Yes, I write in my cookbooks, leaving the date and a comment trail through my years in the kitchen.

Pickles

Jars of pickles, jelly or jam cooling on the counter always bring a feeling of satisfaction, of blessing.

 

Little faith

Last September, I wrote about finding seed clusters in the spent Calla Lily blooms. I waited and on October 31, I gathered my harvest. calla lily seeds

calla lily seeds Tiny seeds sloughed from corn like coatings. One can find anything on-line but directions are not the same as in person tutoring to me and I was left with this small collection of seeds to protect till spring. I put them in a small cardboard box and while I didn’t forget them, I also didn’t plant them as directed. But on a putter-y kind of day in early June, I sprinkled them in a pot.  My little seeds were faithful to their calling to live and sprang up!

calla lilies

They have been growing well and I’ve transplanted them into another pot.  Rain and sun will nourish them well.

cally lily seedlings

There are some areas of my life where seeds of faith lie scattered in the soil of my heart. I’m encouraged that like the Calla Lily seeds, these faith seeds are growing good roots.

To sparkle

Amaryllis

I drink in the beauty long delayed and so welcomed. No matter the time of day, these lily-like flowers enchant. Life locked in bulbs with a mysterious time clock – leaf, bloom, rest – go round the seasons.

Amaryllis

I’m honored that my minor contributions to their wellbeing allow the cycle to continue and they flourish. The name Amaryllis means “to sparkle”.

Amaryllis

Outside, the same clock of life ticks. Green leaves push hard through frozen ground, leaf litter, snow and ice.

 Snowdrops

And morning surprises with snowdrops seeded into lawn and weed patch – nature’s seed time and harvest continues.  In the gentle rhythm of seasons, the light of life can shine deeply into dark and hidden places. In prepared soil or hostile environment, in tender care or neglect, snowdrops grow and bloom.

I’m observing lessons of both hope and warning to consider what is growing in the soil of my life and heart. Today, I choose hope for myself – to see in these blooms a willingness to embrace life, the new thing springing forth even in what seems to be wilderness. Choosing life, growing in obedience to Creator God, persevering as from a seed growing through harshness of soil, sometimes bitter cold, flood or drought and even life’s mowing seasons and on to maturity, bringing forth beauty to delight the soul of another whether or not they understand my name or words or calling. Perhaps then I would sparkle too.

Amaryllis

A Simple Gift

snow day    The words of the old Shaker song go round in my head. Finding myself in “the place just right” seems hard some days – like the other day when I realized that the inkjet cartridge had leaked black all over lovely wood and then I picked up the wrong can of paint and though I thought it looked a bit dark – it was wet… I went on painting. And then I had to paint again. <sigh> I know, in the grand scheme of life, not so big a deal but it is the little things some days that seem to overflow the cup. What do you do with those days? When the wind blows hard and there are even waves in the birdbath.

IMG_4512

In 1985, it was really big deal to have our beloved Nana diagnosed with dementia. We tried keeping her at home with helpers, but the disease took her away in giant steps. Too soon, for her safety and well being, it became a necessity to place her in a care facility. It was a time of busy grief.

Christmas was coming. I had so much on my mind that day I drove the beltway – from where and to where – I no longer remember. But on that drive, the thought came to me that we could give her an album quilt for Christmas. Only one problem. I had no idea what an album quilt really was but I thought of blocks, large ones, that would tell a story, the story of her life.

I went to a small quilt shop with my idea and the staff was so helpful with the project from beginning to end; even supplying fabric from personal stashes when I cut the border fabric wrong and there was not enough to finish.

I sent fabric and the plan out to family and everyone worked on squares that said something about her life. Everyone worked quickly, taking comfort in being able to do something, anything, to bring some comfort to her, and ourselves. Soon, all the blocks were back and it was time to make the quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

Sewing the blocks and borders together was the easy part. Then came backing and batting and I recall taping it to my kitchen floor as the only place to stretch it out and layer it. Finally it was pined together and ready to quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

I called my friend Lucy. She was a Southern girl with a country background. Did she know how to quilt? “Quilting should enhance your design, don’t do too much.” What did that mean?! I stitched some, and then some more. Then came the binding – and somehow – it was done – by Christmas.Nana's quiltThe quilt became a great gift to us as we felt we could wrap her in our love. Nana used the quilt for 4 1/2 years. At first the staff thought it a nuisance, then it changed their view of this wonderful woman. It gave her an identity, a life; it became a conversation point. It reminded them that she was loved and cared about.

There is nothing fancy about the quilt but it is now a family treasure, faded, worn and soft.

And today? That gift to Nana, opened a space for me. For when the wind blows hard, the ink spills, the paint goes on wrong… there is a calm that comes with fingering fabrics, hearing the whirl of the machine.

                   quilt     quilt

We woke to snow today, rather like a celebration to remember Nana on her birthday, with love.

Loretta    1906 – 1990

Nana