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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When one least expects it...

Bunny, our constant companion
in those dark days. 

Many years ago, I was sitting in a hospital room with my youngest child, he was almost three years old. He had recently (as in the day before)  been diagnosed with cancer.  It had been a sudden transition from a cheerful cherub of a child into a club we were not very interested in joining.

It was a four bed ward, the other three children, of various ages and degree of illness, were all asleep and I was the only parent able to be there (a gift in itself). I waffled between feeling as though a ton of bricks were on my chest to telling myself this was not happening.

 In the darkness of that night, I watched over my child as well as these other sick babies. and prayed. The night nurse was an older woman. From all appearances she was dissatisfied, whether it was from her life or what, I did not know. There was no attempt to do her tasks without waking the children or to give any comfort. While I felt empathy for her, as I would not like working the night shift, I was also concerned that these poor sick babies get as much sleep as possible before another day dawned bringing, in some cases, surgery or in other, more tests.

Read this one A LOT!
During the day shift, the nurse that took care of my boy, was named David. He was extremely kind and my son felt comfortable with his care, which was not the case with any of the other nurses, though they certainly were very helpful.

I said in passing to David, "I wish you were going to be here later to do the various pre-op things that needed to be done as you are so good with him." No more was said about it and the day progressed with scans and blood tests and parades of doctors coming through to examine our boy, one more time, before the next day's surgery.

Soon or not so soon, David's shift ended and the evening shift started, the poor woman that was so tired of her job signed in. I sighed a small sigh inside and read another story (Just Shopping with Mom) to these four very sick children, making sure to walk around to each bed to allow them to examine the pictures more closely, while dreading the various tasks ahead for the night.

As I watched the clock heading towards eight pm, knowing that was when all of the "fun" was to begin, in walked David.

The tears welled up in my eyes, the first I allowed my self to shed since this odyssey had begun, and choked out, "Thank you."

David merely looked at me and said, "I wasn't doing much tonight, so I thought I would come and help. I arranged my schedule for tomorrow so that I will be there when the little fellow comes out of surgery, so he won't be scared in such a new place."

What we give each other has so little to do with things, but everything to do with our hearts and our time. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Weather out side is frightful (to be sung)

View at the Alison Inn, Newberg, Oregon 

Last week I was in sunny Portland, that is right SUNNY Portland. It was about 60 degrees everyday and all everyone said to us was, sorry it is so cold. but at least it is not raining.

I had to laugh. I am from north of Chicago, near Lake Michigan. As I write this, the wind is blowing and the snow is falling and I am happy. I have always loved winter. Which is a very good thing as it is the climate I live in. I suppose I could hate it, but what would be the point?  I am a firm believer in making the best of what you have. Which brings me to another point.

Snowy Illinois, sticking contrast, I know!

Using what I have. Whether it is the ingredients in my kitchen cupboards, refrigerator or freezer or items in my studio, for sewing, painting, and a million other supplies,  I want to use them all up!  I want to bake, cook, sew, create with all of these supplies  until there are not any left.  I almost feel like it is the finish line, kind of like O. Henry's story, The Last Leaf*...but not quite.

So today, after I finish writing this post, I am going to continue on my quest to bake and cook "down the cupboards" and think of ways to use up all of my supplies and treasures in my studio. This way when spring comes, all of the cobwebs will be gone and the spring cleaning will have already been accomplished.

Maybe. Time will tell, I may get side tracked and just read a book by the fire. As one of my sister-in-laws once said: " the only consistent thing about us, is that we are rarely consistent!"

* For those of you that are not familiar with this particular story, it goes something like this: the main character is sick and thinks  that when the last leaf falls off the tree outside their window, they will die. Some ingenious person paint leaves and fakes the main character out. Mind you, this is a very loose synopsis. Read it for yourself. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Packing for a trip

Maybe this on, or maybe not,
 decisions, decisions...
Okay. I am packing for a trip that has come up unexpectedly.  Which while lovely has created, in my mind and no where else, dilemmas to overcome.. The questions begin:

1. Which suitcase?  The larger one is nicer, but is a pain to put in the over head compartment. Do I want to pay $25 to the airline or use a smaller suitcase? This takes way more time then I actually have on hand to spend. 

2. What is casual in a hotel that is $$$$ dollars a night?  I have a feeling it is NOT my usual "casual" that I wear day in and day out. That leads to an even greater waste of time as I waffle back and forth between my limited "casual " wardrobe.

3. I have suddenly decide that I must complete, oh say, a hundred tasks that have been waiting months, maybe even years to be completed, before I can leave on a jet plane. Sigh.

4. Do I have anything interesting to read? More interior conflicts arise. Should I read one of the million and one choices I have at my fingertips or do I need to go and find a new book for this occasion. Or should I take six or seven, in case, I am in the mood for something other then the one I most likely will have the time to read. (This question stems from the one time I ran out of reading material on a trip, which has left me scared for life.) 

The inside of my very messy knitting bag.
5. Which handbag should I take? Or should I take a handbag, Do I need to take two handbags?

6. Knitting, I am sure I will have time to knit, how much yarn should I take, what size needles should bring? DO I have the pattern, or what am I going to knit anyway? Maybe I won't have time to knit. (The clock is ticking as I waffle yet some more.)

SO you can see, so many questions and so little time, which is really the best way anyway. For one way or another, I will be on a plane tomorrow, my suitcase will be packed, I will or will not have what I need (or want) and in the end, I will still live.

 Life is good, sometimes, I just get waylaid.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Careful Consideration

My view of Lake Michigan. 

I wait for words,
whisper to me,

While laundry whirls,
I wait,
will it wander
past me?

Careful consideration,
allows allies avenues of
entry into my thoughts,
while wisdom
waits in the wings.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Woodpeckers - no kind thoughts

This is where I would like to work peacefully,
 with out a woodpecker driving me nuts. 
There is a woodpecker that is single-handedly attempting to make me go crazy. What is that movie, you know the one, where the main character is being sabotage to think she is loosing her marbles? That is how I have felt this whole week.

As I sit in my office each morning to accomplish all of the tasks at hand, a lone woodpecker joins me, only it is on the outside while I am in the inside of the house. It is like living in the middle of a rehearsal of the percussion section of the orchestra. Or when I was a kid, and my older brother practiced the snare drum, I can hear my mother now, "must you do that now? Find somewhere else, would you, how about the garage?"

The bird works it's way across the siding like there is no tomorrow. While I, intermittently throw open the window closest to where it is machine gunning the house, and yell things like: "Would you please stop?!" or "Knock it off!" or "Go away!". Until that is, my eighty-seven year old widowed neighbor, who I might add is very hard of hearing, comes over and asks,, "were you calling me?" Embarrassingly,  I try to explain that I am just yelling at a woodpecker, to which she relies, "What did you say?".

It even drives Clementine nuts.
Well, maybe she already is...but we love her just the same. 
Other times, I resort to getting up from my desk, running outside and waving my arms at the blasted bird, who only turns and looks at me,  and then,  VERY leisurely,  hops to the tree next to the house, looking at me like:  Boy, is she crazy. Which I am heading towards,  very rapidly.

My husband's response to the bird is less civilized. Fortunately, we do not have any C-4, which I might have wrong, but I think is some sort of explosive. Before we begin to look like Wiley Coyote,  and the Road Runner, I remind him that the bird would not be there if there were not some sort of insect in the siding. Which makes him even happier.

So, today, I am waiting for the man to come and give me
quote on cement siding to replace the cedar siding we currently have. ARGH! We have been in this house twenty-eight years and the on going discussion has been: paint again or change out the siding. The price tag will provide the answer.

 As I write this, I have visions of little woodpeckers with bent beaks, (if we were to go with the cement siding option) thinking to themselves, "Holy Cats! I had better find a new victim."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Wedding

The bride's bouquet, I made for her.

This last week end, my husband and I attended a wedding together. While we knew the groom longest, his new wife had become, over the few years they had been seeing one another, a very dear friend too. It was a second marriage for both of them, and while neither were in the bloom of youth, they were certainly in the bloom of love on this, their wedding day.

It was a small affair, maybe only seventy or so people, versus the large extravaganzas we have grown to expect with our children's friend's wedding. Each detail was them. From the invitation sent, (Yippie Skippy! we are getting married) to food served, and wedding cake, (I do love wedding cake) which was in the French style versus the American frosting upon frosting delicacy.
Flowers that I made for the reception. 

As my husband and I sat in the cozy chapel, it barely sat all of the guests, seeing so very intimately the bride and groom as they made their vows, I felt the very room breath in and out from the people around me as we watched with emotion. Some were young, on the threshold of life, some towards the end of their days, and others making a break with the life they were currently engaged, in for paths new to them.  All in all, very moving and very thought provoking.

My husband and I will celebrate thirty-five years of marriage later this month. Hearing the words very similar to the ones we promised each other all of those years ago, I felt my breath shorten, and tears sting  my eyes. I was overcome, thinking how easy it is to discount and disregard these very lofty promises of: kindness, fidelity, and honesty with one another, till death do you part.  I felt a renewed love for my spouse, while at the same time acknowledging, we have often failed in our attempts to love each other. That being said, we both have kept attempting to do so.
One of the corsages I also made.

After we moved on to the reception, and eventually back home for the night, I silently remembered these two newly married people in my prayers, knowing this endeavor called marriage, needs many prayers, much patience, and  the ability to suffer long and still be kind.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Children Have Taught Me

Clementine, waiting for a treat.
This has no bearing on this post, in any way shape or form.

Here is a list of the things my children have taught me:

1. They have x-ray eyes and can see right through me.
 (hard to get away with much around here...)

2. They have an uncanny ability to know when I am sneaking a cookie before dinner.

3. There is always one of the four that remembers my birthday and rallies the other three.
 (four if you count my husband, as one of the children)

4. Just because they look like us (their parents), they won't necessarily think like us.
 (sometimes this is a good thing other times, not so much)

5. How they performed as children, has little or                                                                                            nothing to do with how they will perform as adults.
 (this may or may not be a surprise to me,                                                                                                       depends on the day)

This is the list of what I hope I have taught my children:

Peaches, that I harvest this summer.
Could someone please explain to me
 why my husband calls me "a peach" as an endearment,
but he hates peaches? Great mystery.
1. Always be kind.
  (it cost no money, only, sometimes, one's  pride)

2. Floss, EVERYDAY, always.
   (protects your heart, your gums and your teeth)

3. Remember to say your prayers.
   ("Say your prayers O'Toole!"*)

4. Read, then read some more.
   (expands your world, and increases your            vocabulary)

5. Know that I love them, no matter what.
   (even when it doesn't seem like it, 
I do)

* Thank you, Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang, for that quote.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Clearing

Tomato, watercolor

Last week I was away. While it is only Monday, and I have been home only one full day, it feels like a life time ago.

Beans, watercolor. 

Leaving my family behind and traveling with an old friend, I headed north to paint for one whole week with no laundry to wash, no beds to make, no meals to cook, no television, computers, phones, or radios.
Tree on the way to painting studio.
This retreat was in Door County, Wisconsin at a place called: The Clearing.
It was founded by Jens Jenson in 1935 and has been providing a place to learn, reflect and reconnect with nature ever since.
Nest, watercolor

Fish, watercolors

Twelve hour days of painting with someone else making the meals and cleaning them up. Heaven on earth! Don't get me wrong, caring and feeding my family is a labor of love.

I cannot recommend this place strongly enough. It is filled with peace, wonderful people, and very, very good food.

Go to the Clearing! As fast as you are able!
Enjoy the trees,
the quiet, the peace of being
able to create

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cleaning out my brain.

One wall in my "studio"

Today, I feel like I am cleaning out my brain. Dusting off old ideas, finding new ones under stacks of objects, papers covering my desk, and work table in my studio. Which is a glamorous word for my space I create in. I often pause, and hesitate to refer to it in this manner. It seems an  over inflated name for it.

Just a small sampling of the ribbons I have in my possession!
In reality, the primary space is a large room in my basement with several small windows which let in sunshine, thank God.  There is a large white table, and many steel shelves that hold stacks of; containers with buttons, painting supplies, sewing supplies, glue, and hot glue guns.  The walls not covered by shelves, are covered by racks of: thread, items used with my weaving looms, reeds, lease sticks, harnesses, and heddles.  The rafters, above my head,  hold wooden canvas stretchers for the floor cloths, and mural canvases, I paint.  There is also a flat file cabinet, to house the many paintings and drawings, I have never known what to do with.  Fabric, yarn, knitting, crocheting supplies abound, the collection of vintage ribbons is very enjoyable to work with, and look at. I have several weaving looms, one very large, for rugs and yardage, as well smaller inkle and tapestry looms. Silk painting supplies abound here too, the list goes on and on...

Actually, my husband thinks of the whole house as space I create in. Which may or may not be true.

Maybe it is that time of year. Heading back indoors after a summer in the garden.  Or maybe it is that time in my life. Either way, I do feel on the cusp. Of what I am not entirely sure.

I certainly have created many projects, thorough out this place I call home, and I am curious what the next creation will be.  Time will tell.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday Madness

Again, nothing to do with this post,
 but better then a picture of my messy desk,
don't you think? *

It is Saturday and the madness has begun. For some reason, all week long I was able to put up with furniture not dusted or carpets not swept, but today, I simply cannot stand it another moment.

Which, of course, causes several dilemmas.

1. My husband is home.
(Which means that interruptions abound)

2. My desk in my office seems to be yelling for me to clean it off.
(Which means I must read a 1000 things I have put off, and decide what to do with them, which of course I cannot,  which is why they are there in the first place)

3. I want to get ahead of the work that needs to be done on Monday as I am busy canning that day.
(So, I have added even more things to the infinite list of things to be accomplished today.)

4. It is beautiful outside and my garden is beckoning for me to do all of the tiding up that was not attended to during the week.
(Truly, this is a bottomless task, that will never be done, even if I do go out there and start on it. I need minions.)

5. We are expecting a house guest and her baby tomorrow and the guest room must have a through going over.
(Of course, this always takes longer then I think, and was one of the things I was going to get done earlier in the week, so it would not have to be done today.)

6. The list is getting too long to even think about.
(Maybe I will have lunch and plan some more...which will only prolong the agony. DRAT!)

I can hardly wait until next Saturday, when this will all begin again.

*This is a picture of a sampler at my very good friend's house that I have always admired. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Caught Unaware

Some of my "older work" which
 has little or nothing to do with this post.

My fingers uncurl,
(as your words
around my heart)
to draw you

Bringing into focus,
(what no eyeglasses
could ever achieve)
how dear
you have become
to me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Second Shift

My grandparent's 25 wedding anniversary photo

My grandmother, four foot eight inches in her stocking feet, managed a home, raised four children, ran a farm, worked second shift in a munitions factory, and collected water from a well for cooking.

My grandfather, six foot four inches, (note the disparity in heights)  took care of his family, worked  his farm, did leather repair, fixed any and everything that broke for miles around, picked up the slack on the neighboring farms as their owners were away at war, and worked in the same munitions factory as my grandmother, only third shift. 

My grandparents' only son, lied about his age, at fifteen, joined up and went to France to drive ambulances. The other three children helped work the farm. 

There were German prisoner of war that would march into the farm yard each morning to work and as they filed in, my mother, eight years old, would hide under her bed, with one of her sisters, in fear. Nothing my grandparents could say would shake them of this reaction. (My grandfather sponsored several of these men, after the war, to stay in this country)

Munition factory. Second shift or third. Hot, heavy, dangerous work.  To be done, after a very long day of manual work. Very few labor saving devices to help with all of the work that still had to be accomplished each day.

Later in their lives, when they would host the various grandchildren for visits, snippets of stories would tumble out:

How my aunt in her fear of the German prisoners marching in, knocked over the oil lamps used to light the house and started a fire. My grandmother in her long skirts  hauling water, attempting to put it out, while my mother and my aunt hid under the bed in fear.  Too far for the fire department, so it was either haul or burn. She did get the fire out and then she put a fire in them, to mind her. Can you blame her? 

Women working in munition factories were not treated so well by the foreman.  In fact, it was my great grandfather that was my grandmother's boss on those shifts, and I am sorry to say, her father-in-law, did not treat her well. Being Irish, small, but mighty, she let him have it right back. She once confided to me that she often blackmailed him. 

When asked how,  she said: "he was married to a  teetotaler. No drinking, no gambling or anything fun, and he use to sneak a quick snort behind his wife's* back, so I just told him I would tell her his secret. Shaped him right up. Made him real mad, but you have to use what you got." 

Now, when I think about these vignettes,  I pause, contemplate, shake myself and am stunned at what it must have been like.  My respect for her (and my grandfather) grows as I age, and comprehend more fully, their efforts.  


*My great grandfather was married three times. He was widowed twice and the third one outlived him, it did help that she was twenty years younger. All of his wives had the same name. My grandmother said to me once:
 "never any indiscreet moments that way, when they are all the same name, don't you think?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So long Summer

Whitecaps on Lake Michigan

there will be some
warm golden days...
for a while.

Surreptitiously arriving,
cooler mornings, 
thinking we won't 
catch on to what you are up to?

We know
will be 
wedging itself 
into our lives.
Like it belonged there. 

Not so fast. 
Keep those leaves
on the trees,
blooms upon the roses,
and warmth upon
the land.

At least for a little while,

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lists:for the Saturday before Labor Day

Some of the author's recent work...

My list for this Saturday before the Labor Day holiday is way too long. There just are not enough hours in this day to complete it.

It looks like this:

1. Clean all of the bathrooms (again)
2. Read one of the books that is languishing on my night table (only 750 pages)
3. Can some more tomatoes. (It is that time of year, after all)
4. Walk dear old Clementine (she is staring at me while I type, am attempting to ignore her)
5. Go to a movie tonight (if we can all agree, that story is much too long to go into here...)
6. Start the laundry so on Monday, Labor Day, will not labor (most likely a pipe dream, got to dream)
7. Catch up on ironing (this is just not ever going to be possible)
Some of the authors's soon to be work...

The reality is, like the proverbial eyes bigger than stomach, my list once again surpasses my ability to complete it. Which, maybe is not so bad.

Or to quote my friend Robert Browning:
But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, to dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again.*

*Gotta love Robert Browning! Read more at: 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Laundry will wait; these words will not

"Et tu, Brute?"

The Laundry will wait.
(all lies.)
But, does not.

It piles higher,
and higher

in the dark basement,
(like rabbits, wild with delight)
as I write these words.

Just as;
socks scurry
from the washer
to far away lands
leaving their mates...

The ironing is:
wrinkling and waltzing
around the ironing board
while I write.

I can sense
revolution brewing.
Bearings going bad in the washer,
sit ins from supporting
irons, stoves,
garbage disposals.
(I think the mixer is in on it too.)
No easy fixes here.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

House work:glad I learned how to do it.

Peach Pie, from another day, thought it looked lovely.
All day today, as I accomplished the tasks set before me, I thought of: the person who taught me how, and the times I learned them as a child.

As I scrubbed the numerous bathtubs in my home, I recollected how that was my chore growing up. Unlike now, there was only one bathroom which we all used.  God forbid you missed your time slot in the morning, (mine was 7:15 am) because you might not get another opportunity until someone took pity on you. Every Saturday morning I would carry the bucket filled with rags and supplies and begin at the tub and clean everything from there to the door, knowing there would be an inspection by my mother.

Washing the stairs I was reminded of all of the times I did this task.   I did not want to dust stairs, as I was sick of having the job.  I was: "short, and therefore closer to the ground, so it would easier for me then my siblings". Trumped up reason or so I thought at the time.

Or cleaning up the dishes and wiping down all of the counters, table, chairs and moldings to prepare for the peaches I was going to can after lunch. I assisted with the canning as a child and "did" the dishes too.

All the while I was working on these things, my family worked on dusting and vacuuming, washing floors, sweeping of the deck and front porch, mowing grass, and tending to the garden.
Some shots of the garden.

When I was young, I mistakenly once said to my mother: "you only had children so you would never have to do dishes again!" Not a politic thing to say to your mother, I realized then and even now the audacity of saying that still stings my conscious. My mother worked harder then all us put together, though  I never heard her complain or slack off, just silently do the work that needed to be done.

I hope that was what I did today. Silently (and I hope happily) did all that needed to be done, while those around me did the same.

It is a good feeling to have home and hearth clean and tidy, and while I did not enjoy the process while I was a child, I did learn the process. Which has served me well and interestingly, has become something I do enjoy doing and am grateful my mother took the time to teach me. Though at the time, to be totally truthful, I did not seem to want to learn.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Baking Cakes Late at Night

Cake, waiting for the
whipped cream frosting.

It seems I always do my best work late at night. Or maybe it just takes me so long to get to it, it is late at  night.

I generally "save" the thing or task I most want to do until all of the other chores are accomplished.

This is because:

A. I love having a "carrot" to work towards.
B. I think: if I like doing it, my not so favorite work, must be done first.
   (I think of it as eating the rutabagas before dessert is allowed.)
C. Many detours pop-up as the day unfolds.
    (It is amazing I accomplish any task early or late!)

So, I find myself, this evening, making chocolate cakes. Two of them. One is never enough. No, actually, I am making one for a friend, (a labor of love, really) and know that my family will be very sad if that one cake goes out the door and there is "none" cake for them inside the door. So to speak.

The house is quiet, Clementine is NOT barking, (which may or may not have something to do with being dark, not seeing if people are walking past our home), I hear my two adult children upstairs preparing for bed, and my husband is away on business. (Which means, I am staying up way too late, and reading way too much. Is that even possible? To read too much?)
Favorite Chair, note: dog laying despondently
 on the floor as she sees her favorite spot being taken.

Soon, I will go and frost the cakes and clean up the loose ends in the kitchen.

I will go through the steps of putting this house to sleep for the night:
Start the dishwasher, (normal wash)
Lock all of the doors, (front, back, patio doors times two)
Put the footstool on my husband's favorite chair,
(or Clementine feels it is fair game to be her favorite chair)
Tun off all of the lights, (basement, garage, and so on...)
Check and see if there are any messages on voicemail,
(three: two that will require responses and one for window washing, which I will not respond to)

Go into my room close the door, prepare for bed.

This late night, this peaceful moment, allows me the space to gather my thoughts, thank my creator and slide into sleep, at last.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

School Days Over or maybe not so fast.

There are no more buses stopping at my driveway. Or for that matter trains or cars transporting anyone from my home off to school. 
Buses just like this
 picked my children up.

Up until last year, since 1987, my husband and I have had at least one if not all of our four children in school. All different kinds and ways of schooling. Nursery school, public school, private school, home-schooled, community college, private college, state universities, and graduate schools. Some times it has been a rough ride and others, smoother than anticipated.  

When not walking, this is where Clementine hangs out.

So this fall, as I walk Clementine, and see the school bus drivers practicing their routes, I am transported back to those days. 


The kindergarten bus stopping for my eldest child, watching him climb up those steps, almost too far apart for him to manage, while his three younger siblings watched in awe. 

I watched in awe too. That he was going, that I was watching him go and that it was the beginning of the many times I would watch all of them "go" one way or another.

What I know now, which I did not know then, was that while they were the ones heading off to learn new and sometimes very unhelpful things, I was the one really learning. 

I was/am learning that if one does this parenting job well, these individuals we give birth to, love, teach, provide for, and guide, will not need us, but will want us. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Plum Jam or is that jelly?

Such lovely peaches, don't you think?

This morning, along with a friend and my eighteen month grand niece, I picked a half bushel of peaches, a half bushel of yellow plums, and a half bushel of  apples. All of which grew in my aforementioned friend's yard.

It was a glorious morning, blue sky, scattered clouds and just enough heat to make one feel like summer is golden.

Once the fruit was washed and quartered, it was put in a large pan and cooked till it was soft enough to go through a sieve and begin the real work; becoming apple-butter and plum jam.

The peaches were not quite ready for prime time, maybe tomorrow.

Plums cooking away.  

Through a series of events, the sweet, hot, rosy liquids become, what I like to say, nectar for the gods. Or maybe just everyday regular people that enjoy jam on their toast. Or eating it with a spoon out of the jar. One never knows what way one will eat this delightful taste of summer in winter.


Working side by side with a friend, eating the fruit of the earth, with the added bonus of  watching a small child's enchantment of being able to  pick food off a tree, is a pretty wonderful thing.

 All in all it was a lovely day's work.


 Albeit, (perhaps), a little sticky.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The County Fair: no silent judging here

Loved walking around the fair
 looking at the livestock. This one really
 caught my eye.

This last July, I was a judge for the Lake County Fair. My category:  4-H sewing projects, level one.  I was delighted to be asked and I was even more delighted to meet the young people that submitted their projects.

There were boys and girls ranging from the age of six to the age of sixteen. Pretty broad spectrum in which to find a common platform to determine the winners. Luckily for me the 4-H coordinator hosted a seminar for the judges, she provided helpful information and guidance on how to accomplish this equitably.
I would not have challenged
this beauty. Very fierce!

The process was to evaluate the work; craftsmanship, how well they followed the criteria, documentation of the project,  and  interview the entrant.

My favorite part quickly became the interview portion of the program. Hearing each child's process of how they came to choose the fabric, pattern, complete the item and whether or not they enjoyed and/or would continue on sewing, was fascinating to me.

All of the entrants were very pleasant and lovely to spend time with. I have to admit there was one young man that really enchanted me.

Gotta love a goat!
When I was viewing his photos that showed his process of accomplishing his project, he stopped me to make sure I realized, his cape, was billowing in the wind. (He had assembled and sewn, entirely by hand, a red silken cape, which he was wearing the throughout the interview.)

"Do you see?!" The cape is blowing in the wind! I thought of that, using a fan to make it look like a real super hero's, isn't that great?! I mean, pretty good, right?",  looking at me with glee and expectation and hoping I "got it".

"Very nice! What a thoughtful touch." I said.

Waiting to enter the ring. 
I asked him if he would sew other projects in the future.

"I have got several planned for my friends so we can play Star-wars together, but my dad says that it is kind of creepy to sew clothes for other boys, so I'm not sure."

"Don't think of it as making clothes for other boys, think of it as making costumes or uniforms for games, maybe? Use to be men did all of the sewing and were known as "tailors", very sought after, even today some of the best designers/sewers are men." hoping to help alleviate his fear and reduce the stigma of his desires.

"Ohhh. I did not know that!" his face breaking into a broad smile.

As he walked back to his seat to await the awarding of the ribbons, I overheard him say to his mother, (his father was video taping the entire event):
"I can make as may costumes as I want and my last name doesn't even have to be Taylor!"

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Glance Across a Room: can change things

Does not look like much, but seldom do we expect life
changing moments to occur in  mundane events.

I was young, but receptive. Sometimes those two things do not go together, I am sure you have noticed this if you have any interaction with children. But all the same, at this time in my life, I was both.

"If your boss, the executive vice president, asks if you have work for his brother, you say yes, and hope he is not a problem" my mother said at dinner the day this request was made of her.

In turn, she said later, he was the best employee she ever had and was delighted the wunderkind ended up being her summer help, Christmas help, and any other time he could get away from school help.

"So funny, great sense of humor" she would say, as if this was hard to find in a twenty year old male.
"So smart, catches on quick, hardly have to show him once and he has got it" which was high praise as she is a women that hates waste, in time or supplies.

Having heard my mother speak of this red headed boy with delight, I was prepared to like this new member of her team. It was several years of hearing about him before we actually met.

I was still in high school and he was "older", in college, he had a very steady girlfriend, named Lisa, (I have never liked that name, petty, perhaps, but there you are.), my mother said he was devoted to her.

It was May, I was meeting my mother at her office, not something I had ever done before, to go shoe shopping together.  A friend dropped me off  at the front door.  I entered the building, without knowledge, walked down the stairs, as she had instructed me to do that morning at breakfast. There I found my mother waiting for me.

Before we left for the store, she walked me around the office, introducing me to all of her staff, (which while I had never met them previously, I felt like I knew).
And here he is now. 

Right now, as I type this, I feel frozen in time while I remember this moment. 

My mother led me into the next room, I saw for the first time, a redheaded young man sitting on a desk, laughing. It was a splendid laugh. The kind where you what to be included in the joke.  Friendly, kind, not hard or mean or cynical.

I do not remember any words spoken.
I only remember thinking:
I do not want this moment to end.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Task at Hand

Nothing what so ever to do with any of the words on this page.
I just like the look of it.

As I write this, the laundry waits. As do the breakfast dishes and the other various and sundry tasks that fall into my lot this morning.

I was born and bred on accomplishing household tasks and while I bask in the glow of a washed an polished home, I still find myself, literally, aching to place these words upon the page. (I would have said paper in the days of my youth, but paper no longer captures my words before they fly off into nether regions of my mind, a computer screen is the vehicle at hand.)

I have begun stories, too numerous to keep track of, which never seem to have a ending. Perhaps it is because these stories are in progress. I am  waiting, watching, and wondering  along with everyone else, on how it will all work out. OR if it will all work out.

Which maybe exactly why I keep plodding along, attempting in between loads of laundry, to capture thoughts before they evaporate.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Looking out my eating area window. 

Tonight, I accompanied my daughter, to a art gallery "talk". This is where a artist talks about: their work, process, inspiration or themselves. This artist was a photographer and she was intrigued with the idea of domestication. I found the entire evening fascinating.

Her photos were of table with  food or dishes or flowers in various states of disarray.  Which to be honest, made me want to start making dishwater, wash dishes and sweep it all up. While displayed in a painterly fashion, all I could think of was: This is a mess.

Maybe that is the whole point. Most homes, if lived in, are messy. My dining room table is always in a state
Me making pizza for dinner, which once again,
has nothing what so ever to do with this post. 
of almost being cleared off, the breakfast dishes poised to hop into the dishwasher (if only they would do it themselves), and on and on.

There is a subtle push and pull between keeping a house and living in a house. The desire to have it tidy, clean and orderly versus the desire to enjoy the time, people and activities while inhabiting the house. Which often, seems mutually exclusive.

I think it is because, in a sense, we are all domesticated, whether we like it or not. What with our quiet or not so quiet rebellions, and in our attempts not to be domesticated we still find out we like clean clothes, hot meals and the garbage taken out.

So in fact, the artist has done her job. She has inspired me to think about "Domesticity".

Since I viewed her work, I have washed off the face of the kitchen cupboards, cleared off the counters and tidied up the dining room table's surface (which incidentally, just cries out for objects to rest there).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Rains

Looking out my window
This summer rain;



as it
my window...

to the

Lulls me

silent, soft