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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Setting a Table

Tulips waiting for the guests to arrive

Setting a table for dinner is a simple task. One that is done with an eye for utility. Plates, silverware, glasses and napkins ( I like to use cloth, hence the ironing written about previously).

Since I have been married, I have rarely used paper plates or paper napkins. It is a little extra work, but with a dishwasher (something that was not around when I grew up and we did dishes, and lived to tell) it really is not a hardship.

Some of my recent handiwork
I guess, it could sound a little like Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, but there you have it.

Now, setting a table for company is a whole different matter. It is one of those tasks that truly delights me. I enjoy getting out my china, a wedding gift from my mother and father in law*, the crystal and the silver.

I enjoy choosing the candle sticks, figuring out where everyone will sit and where the wine glasses will go. Planning the serving pieces and arranging the flowers for the table.

Claudia's tablecloth
Choosing the table cloth and the napkins is one of the best parts of this process. I have been blessed with: lovely vintage linens; napkins and table cloths,  I have carefully stored away.  It is as if I am walking through my past.

Nellie's napkins
The one I have taken out for the serving table is from my old friend Claudia, who has long since passed away. She would serve me lunch on her porch: table covered with this cheerful plaid. The napkins are from my husband's grandmother, Nellie. The linen is lustrous with it patina and damask. I have taken great pains to keep them stain free all of these years. (Peroxide, works best)  While she was living, I would visit her in her second story walk -up and nibble cookies served in her formal dining room, so quiet, so sedate.

One of my favorite tablecloths
My linen closet is filled with all sorts of items that, for me, a beauty to behold.
1. Embroidered pillow cases trimmed in hand made lace
2. Pulled thread work on guest towels
3. Cut work table cloths
4. Embroidered card table cloths
5. Damask table cloths and napkins
6. Pieced quilts
7. Monogrammed linen sheets

Today, my husband, son and daughter worked along side me; to dust, vacuum, wash floors and prepare food.  We are hosting the Easter celebration for my husband's family.  There is a feeling one gets when one is working along people you love, for people you love. Hard to explain, but so very beautiful to experience.

So when my son and daughter left to go out for the evening and my husband and I finished up the last few tasks to be accomplished, I was filled with: a wonderful sense of contentment;  for we had all pulled together in a harmony that comes with not the tasks accomplished, but the joy of preforming them together.

*I did not register for china, as I thought it very impractical  My mother-in-law said "nonsense! you will always buy what you need, but the things you won't ever get, are the things you will most enjoy." So she gave me the entire set. God rest her soul, I do love these dishes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Buttons: Okay, I have a few

French  Buttons

I love buttons. I love the history of buttons. I love the use of buttons.  I love the design of buttons. And, I love the art of buttons.

I have over the years managed to collect many buttons. I cannot share how many buttons, mostly because there are too many to count.

Victorian Mourning Buttons
It started with my grandmother's button box, then my mother's, then Great Aunt Ruby's and on and on and on. It was not apparent that I had a problem until much later. I am not sure what the gateway drug for buttons is, but I must have, just raced right through it, and started the "hard" stuff right away.

I like to incorporated buttons in any and every sewing project I undertake.  New cardigan: exchange boring buttons for some; a little more interesting. Who needs zippers? Use buttons. T shirt a little blah? Sew on a couple of buttons.

1880's Calico Transfer  Buttons
I have some buttons that are so wonderful; I keep "saving" them. You know, for the "right" application, I don't want to waste them.  (I do have tens of thousands of buttons; I mean really, what am I waiting for?)

Japanese Design Buttons
I once researched and wrote a presentation on the art and history of buttons. It was very interesting to see all of the ways and material that buttons are made. Even more interesting to me, is how much care and time was taken to create something, that today, we take for granted and barely give a thought to.
Embroidered 1930's Buttons

When I was a child, I would comb my mother's button box looking for all of the rhinestone buttons. I mistakenly thought they were jewels. So sparkly, so beautiful and so not diamonds. Too bad.

 As I have grown older I have taken a shine to the Czechoslovakian black glass buttons, which were hand cut, like Waterford crystal. In between, I have fallen in and out of love with the Japanese enameled, Victorian mourning, calico transfer and the carved mother of pearl buttons.

Truly, what delights me the most about this useful little item
for closing and embellishing our garments is: when I sew them on to my family's clothing, I am reminded, it is the little things that hold us together.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Computer Challenged: are there support groups?

If only there really was a key like this...
This is not an easy topic to write about. Think: AA meeting*.  (Burnt coffee smell permeating the room) Someone near you stands up and says:

I am user. Everyday I use a computer. Everyday... (Smothered choke) I cannot find files and pictures on my machine. It started from the very first document. I just did not know it would take over: (Voice trailing off to a whisper) The random photo, uploaded from a camera, lost. Inside, somewhere..."

Others nod, from their uncomfortable folding chair, in the drafty basement of the; church, rec center or deserted public building basement. There is consensus:  feelings of; shame, frustration, and fear of being exposed for the Luddite, you really are.

Sure, from a distance, you look like you are competent. You send many emails, links to YouTube videos and maybe, if you are lucky, an attached file.

Maybe this is not your world. Searching for files and photos and any other data that is stored in your computer, but it is not far off in describing mine. Or at least it was last night...

I am reasonably good at using a computer, am able to: use key-board short cuts, re-size a photos (kinda), edit documents, create power point presentations, and various other tasks that come up in my day to day existence. That being said, finding files/photos are tasks that repeatedly challenge me.

With careful planning, I can get through a day without loosing a file on my computer. On the occasions where I need to upload a photo, find a previous document from my former life; I don't know what comes over me. What worked in the past, say five minutes ago, no longer works, not to even mention what worked last week or month or millennium.

If only this would help...
Just gone.  All gone. I waste hours and hours looking for it. Photos? It is too painful. I can't even talk about it. (Head hanging down, voice getting weaker and with a sense of desperation) I ask any young person (say: 2 or 6 years old) and they find it with out even breaking a sweat.

I live in a house full, and I mean full, of people that effortlessly save and retrieve: documents, photos, excel spread sheets; the list goes on and on.  Then there is me. Sigh.

Sometimes, in my mind, I see flares going off over the roof of my house, notifying passersby: computer user drowning inside.  Enter at your own risk.  (It is dark and cold, just like the waters surrounding the Titanic) Send: E(mergnecy) M(etadata) T(echnician).

Then, the picture, document or whatever I was searching for, appears on the screen, how it got there, I have no idea whatsoever.  I welcome it like the Prodigal son. No questions asked, just glad to have it home.

My consolations are: I know where just about every item in this house is: and where to find it.

* I truly don't ridicule or diminish the useful work of this organization.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Waiting is a lonely game, sometimes.

Waiting. I am pretty good at it. Except sometimes. I am sure I am not alone in this trench.

Waiting for; a baby to go to sleep, a job to come through, the floor to dry or a train to come. All things we are often faced within our everyday lives. ARGH!

So easy to pass all of the time waiting without ever taking care of what needs to be accomplished. Paralyzed by the waiting is a common phenomenon. When in the mean time there is lots of things to be done.

Say ironing, for instance, or dishes or weeding in the garden (I am a frequent offender) tasks at hand, that our hands don't seem to want to do, while we are waiting.

Today, I am waiting for everyone to come home, an email with an answer and the dryer to finish it cycle. Why the dryer, I will never know, as all it means is: more clothes to fold. (Though it is nice to finish a task.)

This is the kind of iron I have. 
So, today, I tried to work on all of the pesky tasks that have been haunting me the last few weeks, while I wait.

So far:
1. Ironed fifty napkins (yes, 50)
2. Ironed one dozen shirts
3. Mended two pairs of trousers (for a friend's mother)
4. Ironed eight pillowcases
5. Ironed two sets of sheets
6. Hemmed rain coat for an elderly friend
7. Folded eight baskets of laundry
8. Put away, said laundry
9. Re-hemmed a dress for daughter
10. Wrote this post.

What I have not done:
1. Checked my email dozens of times (maybe or maybe not)
An instrument of torture.
2. Played solitaire (tempting, but no)
3. Watched T.V.
4. Snacked (definitely thought about it)
5. Talked on phone (hard to iron on phone, second thought maybe next time...)
6. Rode exercycle (should have)
7. Walked Clementine (Really should have)
8. Still did not snack (really should get extra credit for this)
9. Read any books (wanted to very much)
10. Take a nap (also seemed like a good idea)

So as you can see, I am feeling very virtuous.  Sigh, I am still waiting.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Scrabble on Sundays

Our set looks just like this one.

On Sunday afternoons, we (husband, two adult children, and I) play Scrabble at the kitchen table. It is after the dinner is cleared off, the dishes washed, dried and put away. It is a cozy, sleepy time that often begs a nap, but instead, we rally around the table, for a game or two.

We chat, and carry out the tasks at hand. Then if all is as it should be, one of us retrieves the game. We place it on the table, bickering,  just a tad, about whether or not we will keep score or if we need to time one another's turns (so as not to make the game take so long) or if we can use the dictionary (online or hard-copy: one vote for online, three votes for hard-copy.)

The funny thing about Scrabble is that it is not about the words or points as some might have you think. It is about time. Time spent together.  Spent together working out how to play together, not just in Scrabble...but in life.

Hard to believe, but I never realized that you could keep score in Scrabble.
(Though, in life, I am acutely aware of how often keeping score is what it is all about, sigh, too bad, I think one misses a lot that way) I don't know how I could have missed that fairly obvious point. I just thought it was a game about making words.

Let us be painfully honest here, as much as I love words, I am a terrible speller. So anytime, I get the word spelled correctly, I consider it a win. For others, not so much, I have found.

Some, which I play with, are all about the points. They carefully plot their next move, entirely basing it on the highest possible score. Probably, this does not surprise you, but then, I am always surprised...

What has slowly evolved on these Sunday afternoon's is a delicate dance of Détente. Together, we are learning; the fine art of easing expectations, scoring the game, not each other, using kinder words in conversation, and leaving the harder words for the board.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Late for the airport or how time got away from me.

So close, but so far away...

I remember a time when you could arrive thirty minutes before a flight boarded and still be able to board.  Granted, that was when airplane travel was much-less complicated and the TSA did not exist to tell me; shoes are not suppose to be worn while walking through the x-ray machine. (Why yes, I do believe they are supposed to be on my feet, thank you very much.)

Today, I was taking someone to the airport, and had a small problem with my time calculations. (Some might not say small..) We needed to leave at 11:15 AM to arrive at the airport at 12:35 PM for a 1:35 PM flight. It takes one hour and ten minutes to get to the airport. (If this sounds like a story problem from your grammar school math book, you might be right.)

Little mistake. Well, maybe a little bit of a big mistake.*
I learned to tell time in 1st grade,
too bad I don't remember how to do it.

We left at 12:10 PM for the airport. I did not realize my error until I saw the numbers on the digital clock the car. I wondered if I had forgotten to "spring ahead" the time on the clock setting...for about 2.5 seconds, when it dawned on me that I had made a terrible mistake. Even the time change, with its one hour advance can be challenging to some us non-number people.

I do believe in full disclosure. Sooo, it was at this point I looked at my friend, and said: "I think I made a mistake. I am not sure we are going to make it there in time for you to make you plane."

Long pause.
Midway is really far away, when you are late...

This is the part where I knew we were really good friends.
She said: "Well, it will be okay. One way or another we will work it out."

I said: "I am so sorry, I am--
She cut me off: "It is okay. I wondered, but I figured you lived here so... it will be okay."

She had never been to Chicago before. She came here from warm, sunny Florida to; stay in ice and snow, and, most likely, miss her flight from the looks of things. All because I am a moron.

It may be spring, but it is still cold here.
I may or may not have gone over the speed limit, as we rolled along the tollway in an effort to make the flight.  We talked about all of the things we were going to do together in the future. Not once did she complain, or seem to be annoyed with  me; both of which she would have been entitled to.

It is when we are under-fire, I think; we either rise to our best self or fall to our worse self.

 This day, I saw someone, under duress, as a direct result of my stupidity, be an exemplary individual.

* Somehow, after arriving at the airport at 1:03 PM, she was able to get to her gate, board her plane, and make it home as planned. There is a God.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vernal Equanox or Spring Cleaning

If only my arms looked so good!

It is not lost on me, that today, the first day of spring, I have been a cleaning madwoman.

Ironic, to the core.

After all the term "Spring Cleaning" has been around since before I was born, so surely it is a time honored tradition.

Earlier this week, I had been looking for this burst of energy, without much success. Today, it arrived like a tornado. No joke.

I was dusting places high and places low and found that dog hair really is the enemy. If only that could be used by the Pentagon:

--No, not dog hair! Anything but that, what you want us to close down that nuclear reactor, only if you don't send the dog hair here!--

Alas, that most likely will not work.

I found items I had not even realized were missing and that made it all the easier to send them off to one of the , oh eight hundred million charitable clothing organizations, that call me every week.

There is one organization that calls me where the woman on the other end of the call is sounding more and more like an old friend.

This NOT the truck, just an example...
In fact, I did not hear form her for a bit and I was a little worried about her. I mean, she has been calling me for twenty-seven years, if something happened to her, I would never know. (I need to get out more). When Marge, that is her name, called, finally after a month or two, I was so happy to hear her crackily voice.

Marge: Hello, how are you today, do you have any clothing or small household items for us? We will have a truck in your neighborhood next Tuesday, I will send a post card, you know the one, yellow with the date we will be picking up.
 (No breath, at all. This woman has heard a lot of rejection and wants to get her words in while she can)

Me: MARGE! I am so glad to hear your voice! Have you been well, I had not heard from you in a while and was worried?

Marge: Well. actually, this is her daughter. Marge has been pretty sick, I am just helping her out. Do you have any items? Still same address and on front porch?

Me: Gee, you sound just like her. I hope she is better soon, and yes, everything is the same and I will have a few bags for you. Tell her I said "Hi"

Marge's Daughter: Okay.
(Hanging up like she is a bit spooked and I can't say that I blame her as I type this out, it does sound kind of weird!)

This is not me.


Anyway, my house is cleaner, the closets emptier, kitchen cupboards tidier and I am very happy.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Odd Ball Days

Somehow, sleeping  always seems better on a Monday...

Okay, today was going to be my powerhouse day. You know the one. All of the laundry gets done the dusting and washing of floors, folding, ironing, and 1000 other impossible tasks finished all before the end of today.

I started early. With good intentions. With really fine instincts and dedicated efforts.

This is what really happened:

1. Awoke early (read- rolled over for a "few more minutes")
2. Skipped shower, thought I would save some time and get to that…later

3. Made breakfast and ate (dawdled here, just a tad)
4. Raced to get dress to take daughter to work
5. Risked making daughter late to work, by changing laundry load
6. Went to Target.

 (This is where the time slipped into an alternate universe)
 While looking for a new shoe rack solution and new coverlets for upstairs bedrooms, I managed to:
It has captured me, send help!

a. Investigate many things that seemed amazing and captured my eye.
b. Realize, I did not bring fabric swatches or paint chips so I have no idea what color I am really looking for.
c. Managed to purchase banana-grams, band aides dog food (Clementine says "Thank you God") lint roller and a couple of other things that seemed "very important".

Then I was saved by my walking partner, who text to see if I could go for a race around the track—Thank you God,  and I managed to extricate myself from the store and drive to track.

7. Walk around track for what seems like hours (no reflection on walking partner)
8. Pick up daughter for lunch
9. Make lunch/eat lunch and weigh whether or not I walked enough to eat 2 ginger snaps.  Decided I did (now you know why Operation pants fit…)

10. Remember to change laundry (score one, for the home team)
11. As we clean up lunch I notice the instructions for the banana-gram are in Spanish. Daughter points out that is because I have purchased Spanish edition (ay, ay ay ole!)
12. Drive daughter to work

Not my shoe repair guy, but someone's...
13. Stop at:
Shoe repair -
Me: Can you fix these sandals?
Repair guy: oh boy, oh boy, oh boy
Me: Is that a yes or a no?
Repair guy: Yes. Miserable job, but I do it.
Me: Do you stretch dress shoes?
Repair guy (looking down at my hiking boots I am wearing (note: covered in mud), looks at me with a quizzical expression
Me: I will bring them when I pick up sandals.
Repair guy: Ohhh (trailing off...)

14. Back to Target:
a. Return Spanish Banana-grams. This is where it all goes south: They only have Spanish Banana-gram.
b. I , of course,  look at all of the same things I have looked at this morning, and come to the same conclusion as this morning, after realizing, I still did not bring any of the information that will enable me to make a decision.
c. Manage to purchase several other things, which again, seem important. Sigh.
d. Texting ensures between daughter, me and walking partner.

Me: At Target, I think it is an illness. I may have to move in.
Them: I know! Have same problem.
Me: I have to pull myself out of here, before it is too late.
Them: I believe it is possible, some have been able to go into remission.
Me: Let us hope I am one of the lucky ones.

15. I drag myself out to my car and drive home, so I could write this.

I am sure tomorrow will be better, right?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Visit with a Pediatrician: Twenty-one years later

Kind of like this one, but with a baby.

Recently, I took my nephew's wife and their baby, (number three), to the pediatrician.  The little guy was to have his "first month" check up. Due to complicating circumstances, my niece (in-law) is still not able to drive or lift the baby in its baby chair. (This really isn't that hard to believe, when you have to lift one of those things...) I was so happy to help and was even more pleased to be asked.

Though to be honest, somehow, I thought we were going to a follow up appointment for the "mom". Not that it mattered, I would l have done it either way, I was just caught off guard by what happened as a result.

When I inquired where the doctor's office was, it turned out to be the same pediatric office that I had taken my own children to. (I should add here, my oldest turns thirty this week, just to give you perspective).

Upon entering the office, I was struck by the feeling of deja vu. It didn't look quit the same, but it felt the same. I was transported back. Having had of four children in five years, I had spent a great deal of time in this office. Ear infections, well baby check ups, strep throat and various other childhood illnesses.

When the baby was called, I went with, to carry all of the paraphernalia. I rounded the bend towards the examining room, there at the desk, stood the doctor that had been there at one of my darkest hours. Not my regular doctor, but the one that happen to be on call that Sunday morning in April, twenty-one years ago.
I do not know these people. but he looks so kind

He was the man, that gently, and quietly told me, my son needed to go to the Children's hospital in the city, as soon as possible. He said "let's avoid the trauma of an ambulance for the little fellow, are your other children okay?"
This conversation took place at, the unlikely time of, 7:00 am. Then the odyssey began.

Here was the doctor, standing before me, that drove down to the city, in rush hour traffic, on the following Friday night, twenty-one years ago,  to visit us, as we stayed in a small room filled with; worry, fear, monitors, eight different  tubes running into this little boy's body, and hardly any room for anything else, concrete or emotional.

It was if I was transported back to that morning.  I was interrupted in my reverie by this kind man asking, "How are you connected to this baby? (pointing to my newest grandnephew) And after I give this baby its due attention, I want to hear all about your baby. He must be grown now, right?"

This seems like a simple   For at the time, my darling boy, was given only weeks to live by people who really knew about those kinds of thing. And no one was more surprised or please (except for me and my husband), then these very same people,  when this turned out not to be the case.

And here, today, as this doctor, gently measured and examined this new baby, I could not help but be so very thankful, that on that one day, he examined, my baby.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Discovering new books versus the old ones I love...

I probably have read most of these...

I love to read. This may be an understatement.

My whole life has been bargaining with myself about what I must complete before I read the next chapter. Fold a basket of laundry, read a chapter, clean up breakfast, read a chapter, write a event proposal, read a chapter... so it goes.

I love to re-read books that have touched me. Sometimes I have a "book hang-over". You know the feeling, the book was EVERYTHING you had hoped for, needed or wanted to read. The words were beautiful the writing style was engrossing the characters were ones you wanted to spend time with.

Loved this book
Not so much...maybe,
 if I had read before John Kenney's
What if the next book does not stack up against the previous? When that has happened to me (John Kenny's Truth in Advertising versus Jonathan Tropper's One Last Thing Before I Go) I just can not read another word. It is like a fast after a feast. Necessary to take a break.

I have old favorites I read when I need: comfort, laughter  or tears, or to escape from the life I love. But, sometimes, the new ones that I find before me to read, do not seem to hold the promise that the tried and true ones do. I know, I don't want to be disappointed. If I don't try them, I also will not be surprised.  Sometimes that is is a difficult trade off.

Then...I read something. Something so beautifully written or has a story that sticks or strums a chord with where I have been or where I am at or where I am going,  or the characters become my new best friends and I can't believe I almost passed it by.

So, I am torn. I love my tried and true favorites. But, these old friends, luckily for me, are not jealous of my soirees with new books.

I am off, you guest it. To read. I have this new book....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writing: random night thoughts

This is not a picture of me...
Writing late at night. I love it.  You might ask why? It is because, quite simply, the house is quiet, the dog, Clementine, is not barking (she is snoring as I type)  and the tasks that haunt me during the day are put to bed.

The results: my brain has slowed down, just enough, that my ideas are running at the same rate as my fingers are able to type. That, my friend, is a terrific benefit. My typing is fast, but my brain is sooo much faster.

As I sit here writing, the house settles down and it almost feels like it is breathing in and out, like the old cartoons, we watched as kids.

Most of my family members are resting in their beds, and at least for the night, are at peace, with their worries done for the day. Which of course, makes me feel more peaceful too.

If this were summer, I would be hearing the crickets outside my office window, but as this is winter turning, into spring,  I mostly hear the trains: stopping at the station that is five doors from my house. Funny, during the day, I do not hear them, but now, under the cover of darkness, I can not miss them. I wonder about the people riding; home, or to work, or to where? Are they warm, are they hungry, have they someone waiting for them?  ( I hope they are going home, they have had dinner and that someone, that loves them very much, is waiting for them. Now that it is late at night, I have time to think about these people, that may or may not exist.)

The night, of the day, we moved into this house is one of my favorite memories here. It was  twenty seven years ago.  August, windows open, and the summer breeze softly flowed in. You know, that kind of dry warm breeze, where the leaves make that rustling sound. (I can almost feel it, while I type here, with my very cold fingers...)

I was tucking in my two children, (I had one on the way) I heard the sound of Taps* being played. Our home is very close to Fort Sheridan, which now, is decommissioned, but in those days,  was an active army base.  I was caught off guard by how moved I was by the music**, and I thought of the words to that timeless music---Day is done, gone the here to listen 

Now the morning revelry, which surprised us at dawn, was not quite so charming.

** In retrospect, it could have been the move or the pregnancy or most likely both. Though truthfully, I think Taps are very moving, anytime.

*Taps Lyrics:
Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lakes
from the hills
from the sky,
all is well,
safely, rest,
God is near.

Fading light,
Dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky
Gleaming bright,
From afar,
Drawing, near,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky,
As we go,
This, we, know,
God is near.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Contests: or why writing under pressure is not for me.

Limerick, Ireland, which is:
 completely different thing then a poem.
Lovely place, you should go...

When I was first married, many decades ago, one of the tasks I accomplished, every morning was:
1. Make one lunch for my husband to take to work
2. Write one limerick to put in said husband's lunch

Similar to, but not the bag lunch
None of these limericks have survived. Which is probably a good thing as I am sure almost all of them started with: "There once was a girl in Lake Forest…"*

This brings me to today’s real topic. Poetry.

April is poetry month, for those of you that were not aware. This means, suddenly, or at least suddenly to me, there are an abundance of “contests” to write a poem for a prize or to be included in a poetry magazine’s publication or something. The contest organizers hope their "carrot" will inspire us (read: me, because that is who they are talking to, right?)  to submit an entry.

Completely different kind competition,
one I will never enter..
For many years now, when I think of something I want to write as a poem:

A. It is never anywhere near April.
B. When I put the words on paper, they stay there and wait, while I think about "it".  Rearrange them in my head, on paper, on the computer or backs of gum wrappers (this has actually happened. Gum wrappers are just not big enough).

Which leads to:
C. I never finish the poem by the deadline. Sigh.

Sometimes I can hear the poem, but when I write the poem, it does not sound like what I heard. Very frustrating. Sometimes, the whole poem comes in a flood and I cannot get the words down fast enough or worse yet, the poem arrives at a moment when writing it down is impossible.

Mistakenly, I have thought “I will remember". This is not true. This is delusional.  Finding an oasis in the Sahara dessert is more likely. For all practical purposes, that poem is gone.

When I have gotten it together and submitted poems I have found:
1. There is a submission fee. I get that.
2. Often it requires one to subscribe to the hosting magazine. I get that too.
3. In order to find out if one has won, one must send a SASE. I almost get that.
4. The poem has to be about something not even remotely of interest. I have found this typically means a large prize is the "carrot" ARGH! (I do not know what to write about sand removal form the Indian Coast to other coasts…Please do not take this to mean I do not care about this topic, just never thought it inspirational enough to write a poem about it.)

I have found success twice:

1. Second place:  the prize: a subscription to the magazine (I had subscribed when submitting the poem)
2. First place: the prize: $10 and a subscription to the magazine (you guessed it, I had subscribed when I submitted the poem)

I have to say, while competition is not something I usually go in for, it does get me to write. I am not even sure why. None-the-less, right now, I am working on a March 18 deadline, for a love poem contest.

I will keep you posted.

* there is a story behind why I no longer make his lunch or write him limericks, but that will have to be another day…


The Snowdrops, that make me wax poetic.

While going through the various motions of a Monday morning routine, stripping beds, sorting laundry and gathering steam to de-clutter the house from the weekend, I had occasion to step onto my front porch. There waiting for me, was a gift from the gods. Snowdrops.  Blooming. Against all odds.

These delightful little flowers had started their sojourn: back when the snow storms raged and the ice seemed to prevailed. I was not sure, after all of the setbacks of nature, if they would gather enough momentum to bloom.

The one rose bush I have not
managed to kill,... yet
I had planted them many years ago, next to, what has ended up being the sole surviving rose bush, by the front porch.  I have planted many rose bushes and have killed almost as many as I have planted.

These Snowdrops, not only continue to bloom, they have naturalized which makes them an investment which has paid me back in spades. By that I mean, not having to use the "spade" to plant any more bulbs to get these additional blooms.

While the rest of the vegetation in my gardens are dormant and to be brutally honest, ugly, these little white flowers have made my day. Gives me hope that the rest of the world, in snowy, cold Illinois, will someday soon be warm and full of other flowers blooming.

Until a year or two ago, I had never been anywhere warm when it was still cold and barren here. I have never minded winter or the wait for spring; I like the natural rhythm of nature and the gradual change of the seasons. Granted, sometimes it seems a little too gradual, but all of the same, I willingly choose these environs.

A snail, given to me by my friend.
I have recently helped my friend get to her home in Florida; it is amazing to see the earth in bloom and the skies so bright and blue, not to mention the whiteness of my skin in this land of bronze bodies.

While I have been happy to help my friend, I could skip Florida.  To some this is a shocking statement. But to me, this warm, sunny place, this premature glimpse of spring, the no-see'um bites, and reptiles (I could live without) cheapen the Midwestern springs, I have always loved.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oh Please! Clementine a-waits

Ready? Please, aren't I waiting nicely?

Everyday, I am greeted by a smaller than average Australian Shepherd.  Everyday, I am reminded that it really takes so little to love life, if you are a dog. Breakfast at seven and walk a little later in the morning and if everything is good, a few other dogs to play with in the fields near our home.

Unfortunately, I was away for ten days and Clementine, the aforementioned dog, has suffered greatly. I would love to think: it is because I was away and she could not live with out me, but I know better.  It is because, while I was away, she spent a great deal of time waiting for the other members of her pack, AKA: my husband, or the two adult children, that still live at home, to return home from work.

Clementine, resting in the Tomato beds.

Since I have returned home, my time has been spent taking care of  mundane tasks: mail, laundry, recovering from "no see 'um" bites. Along with the other numerous tasks, crying for attention,  I have been attempting to bring the "exercise void" up to the proper quota of a herding dog's standard.

While this "opportunity for exercise"  it is good for the "operation pants fit" program,  not so much for the rest of my day.
So, between applying coats of roll on Bendryl, to quell the desire to itch through wool socks, (darn those little bugs!), and clearing off counters, I have been wading through: mud, sleet and snow for my little barking friend, Clementine.

I often complain about her barking. But...if I am truly honest, I must admit, it would be much too quiet around here without her. So, forgive me, I must go...and walk one more time around the block...with Clementine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Quilts or always behind schedule

While I attempt to be timely and prompt in all arenas of my life, (For instance: all of my four children arrived early, see sometimes I do things ahead of schedule.), I often fail. As much as I plan, prepare and organize things ahead, deadlines often escape me.

One of the finished quilts, Alleluia!
For my nieces, nephews, and friends that have recently gotten married, I like to make quilts for part of their wedding present. By recently, I mean in the last four years.

I am happy to say, that while being unemployed has not been part of my plan, it has given me plenty of time to catch up on sewing these quilts.  So far, since September, I have finished: 5 quilt tops, had the tops machine quilted, finished the binding and sent them off to their respective recipients. Whew.

Some of the quilt tops were appliqued with lace doilies. These pieces of lace were made by various family members and it seemed like a great way to showcase their handwork.   I had been storing these pieces of lace for a really long time, wracking my brain on how to use them.  Quilting them in place helps insure that I will never have to stretch these pieces of lace, in my life time, again. (of course, I did not think to photograph them!)

Other quilt tops have been pieced with fabrics I have collected in my travels. Then I have sewn trim from my rather large stash of vintage French ribbons (still a lot of them left, mmm).
Just need to bind this one: then out it goes!

And still others, have been quilt tops made out of various vintage quilt squares I have "inherited" and added to, making the finished size a bit larger.  (Think: no one else wanted these bits and pieces and so I brought them home and housed them for the last 20 years)

I have been on a quest to complete not only the quilts that I have sent off to the various newlyweds, but also to complete projects and ideas that have been on the back burner for years. It has been a good use of my energy and time during this period of reflection about what I will do for employment in the coming years.

I have only two more quilts left to make for wedding presents. I am almost paralyzed by these last two. They are for my son and daughter that have both gotten married in the last year and half.

While I wanted all of the gifts to be lovely and meaningful, I want these two to be even more so. I want these two quilts to wrap my grown, married children with love, and hope and faith for a married life that is to be a beautiful journey, even when nothing seems that way. I want these quilts to be hugs from me on dark days and reminders that they are loved and always will be.

So, when I look at the fabric choices and the pattern choices and the stitch pattern choices, none seem enough. In reality, I know that the physical will never be enough. It is the life time of caring, that really matters, so I will have to let those expectations go, and just start sewing.