Monday, February 15, 2010

There is something very mixed up about love... about how I show it. I tend to play it one of two ways. Either I express myself liberally, with emotional abandon, or I stay quiet and still. And sometimes when expression and emotion are most deserved, most true, I am most restrained. Very polar opposite. Very much confounds me.

And sometimes these two poles do what magnets cannot. They come together. My quiet, private love wants to come out in to the open and declare itself, which is how I wind up with obtuse posts, like this :: Personal, yet public. Emotional, yet restrained. Undeclared, and composed.

My heart is heavy for friends, and for family. This has been a difficult week. Those loved ones that I hold dear, may be far away, but the sadness I feel is close, heavy, and tangible.

When Maria was a baby her great-grandmother Marjorie sent her Emily, a doll she knit herself, a doll that has become one of Maria's favored babies. Emily arrived with a soft pink smile and charming details, like bows, and ruffled sleeves. It is the kind of doll that maybe should have been put on a shelf, protected against use. But Maria took such an immediate liking to her that we let her love her baby doll. She has loved Emily liberally, with hugs and proximity.

The love shows. Emily's dress has a small stain, so do her pantalettes. The yarn in her black hair got a small snag, and she is covered in little bits of yarn fuzz... what are those called... the little balled up dust threads that cling to sweaters? Then came the tragic day when Emily's smile came undone. Maria cried. She really cried. She was devastated, even a bit horrified.

You would think I would have done anything in the world to fix it. Fix it right away. But I didn't. I meant to. I meant to find a matching thread and a very wide eyed needle. I meant to take away Maria's disappointment and mend the loose threads, but I kept putting it off with all the usual excuses... packing, cleaning, errands, moving, moving, moving, unpacking, holidays, other plans and other projects. It isn't that I do not love Emily, and Maria, and Marjorie, and handmade gifts. I love them. I thought about Emily all the time, and I felt pangs of regret every time I put off making her all better. I loved quiet and still, when I should have loved liberally, aloud and declared. With words and actions. Delivered. Mended.

I am sad. I am disappointed in myself.
It's not just about the doll, obviously.
She was so easy to fix. And yesterday, when I stumbled upon my small crochet hooks, I did not realize that they would be exactly what I need to get the job done. And today it seems so poignant.

I pulled the embroidery floss through, making a new smile with the same thread that Marjorie used when she knit Emily. She made Emily. It never ceases to amaze me that she could make yarn in to such a sweet gift, a gift which I know is reflection of her love, her thoughtfulness, her way of living. Maria watched me and was very pleased to see Emily's smile returning. She held my arm as I tugged the threads through and finished, and Maria, said, "Won't she be glad that Emily is all better?"

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Must Glue-Cut-Glitter-Stitch Something

It's almost overwhelming how crafty I feel. Not sinisterly coiling a handlebar mustache-kind of craftiness. I need to make something.

Maybe I should sinisterly coil my own mustache. Bitter Betty is crafty that way.

Unless I clean my office/studio/nerve center first, I will be putting the cart before the horse, but it's almost overwhelming how crafty I feel and I cannot wait. Something whimsical is bursting to get out of my head. And inspiration is calling.

And if my crafting is justified and purposeful, something hyper organized for say... next Christmas, then I can have fun and relish that elusive sense of accomplishment.

I'm going to do something. Seriously. Must. craft. create. make. I'll download Lady Harvatine's "O, Holy Night" and start basting and snipping to her lovely voice and the ukuleles strumming...

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

We Nest

Geoff did come home last night. My ears are still ringing from Maria's scream of joy when Geoff's key turned in the door. He goes back to work today, but we had an evening full of laughs and catching up. Everyone slept in... bliss. We had a big breakfast... muchas gracias chicas. We even did a little cleaning.

I now have a Portrait of each chica in the nest box. It is such a reverent and solemn time when they are laying. They get calm, dare I say introspective? I don't mean to anthropomorphize too much, but they are like women in labor, quiet, intent and focused. Sometimes they hum or coo or making an almost purring like rumble. They fuss with the straw, turn, shift and turn again. Frida is such a serious little hen. She is the smallest and the most intense. Cranky really. But since she has started laying she has settled a bit and seems more tolerant of my doting attention. I am glad they let me sit beside them and visit.

Frida's eggs are the lightest color of the three. Her eggs are almost pink and they are completely covered in pinpoint white flecks. You'd almost expect to find strawberry cream inside.

The chicas are easier to catch, but not necessarily easy to catch. They seem to have adopted me as the rooster (flattering) and they will assume the position when I happen by. Alex did not get cooperation when he went to pick up Betty. So, he started his morning with an invigorating chicken run. Maybe it's a good thing our backyard is a postage stamp.

Alex held Fantam for a few minutes, and I got a little misty eyed recalling when he had our first hens and he was a much younger, smaller farmer. 6 years ago... whoa, the math, the time, the changes. How does this happen? Sigh.

June 7, 2003. Alex and Gracie.

Just above the table coop, in the branches of the ficus tree, is a hummingbird's nest. She flits and calls above my head every time I visit the chicas. Then she settles in to the egg cup sized nest that is expertly fixed on a slender branch. As small as she is, her tail hangs down and her head and slim beak can be seen alertly poised above her nest. I imagine her, and the nest could fit securely in my palm.

Even after our big breakfast we still have a store of eggs. They are pretty. When we find them in the nest box they are warm to the touch. Seeing them sitting in the basket, lovely shades of café con leche, I sigh happily.

Birds are not the only ones that nest. I try very hard to overcome my longing to fluff feathers and pull straw in my own home, and resolve to make this house as homey as possible. Even now I am cranky and sad thinking of what I wish I could do, thinking of what I miss about our Rancho days. Seashells and pumpkins, sticks and stones. We live in a rich environment, in a land of opportunity, and our nest is well lined and snug. In years to come I wonder if I will read this and remember the horrible wallpaper or that the handle to the oven fell off, for the fourth time this month. I hope I remember that Maria and I watched dolphins in the reef, during one of the most pacific days on the Pacific I have ever seen.

I very quickly finished the pink and blue crocheted blanket... the one I had to rework a bit. I love it. Everybody loves it. It has such a wonderful texture and feels warm, almost like a firm hug, when it's on top of you. I promised my Mom pictures of the popcorn row and shell edge I added to the top of the blanket. The popcorn effect doesn't show too well, but it's a row of bumps that are whimsical and fun. I was so anxious to finish the blanket... anxious as though I were bored of the project and the frenzied pace I was working at, but as soon as it was done what do you think I did?

Yes, I started another one. This one is cotton too and it's lilac. I messed around with the stitch and made a pattern that reminds me of a garden bed with raised rows ready for seeds. I will call the blanket Lavender Fields. Probably this stitch has an original name, but I don't know it from any of the other stitches I make up, so Imagine it is all mine. This one feels good too. Heavy and comforting. I don't know how big I will make it, but I am trying to remember to slow down and enjoy the process. How could I ever think I was bored making the first one, when all I wanted to do was make another?

I think I would be one of those birds that makes a new nest every year, which is funny considering I am so piney for a forever home. Maybe I will settle in to our own house and be desperate to move in 5 years... but I don't care. I'll cross that creek when I get to it.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

We *Heart* Cheese

I cannot rightly explain why I chose to post the cheese for a third time. I mentioned it in yesterday's post. I showed the wax covered, Bucky faced cheese in an earlier post, and I cannot promise he won't show up again, in some future post. He cracks me up.
Look at him. He's feisty and proud, and he's Cheese! It's hilarious. Bucky can be anything he wants to be. He can be the usual mascot things like sweatshirts and bumper stickers, but the Badger, he really branches out. He's stands for corn chips and salsa, for bed sheets, lampshades and area rugs. I found tire covers with the fightin' badger boldly standing guard. I love that he came to us as cheese.

I remember after one summer visit to Wisconsin, William lamented the glaring and sad lack of mascot pride in California. He asked why we don't have a character, something dear and confident, that unites our state in a campy, spirited fervor of team and state elation. It's kind of sad that we are missing that. Not sad sad, like pollution or animal abuse, just a unique opportunity missed. Briefly, we had The California Raisins, but it didn't last, and I can't say they gave me that same amused sense of delight and familiarity that I get when I see Bucky Badger.

Bucky is like real. He's like a family member that reminds of home, and makes us sing:

If you want to be a Badger,
Just come along with me,
By the bright shining light,
By the light of the moon;
If you want to be a Badger,
Just come along with me,
By the bright shining light of the moon.

By the light of the moon,
By the light of the moon,
By the bright shining light,
By the light of the moon;
If you want to be a Badger,
Just come along with me,
By the bright shining light of the moon.

Actually, it made me a bit squeamish about slicing into him to get to the cheddar cheese. Geoff had to do it.

Do you know what else is different in California? In So Cal? We bring snow home. I had forgotten about this until a couple of days ago. I saw a family standing in their driveway and they were shoveling snow from the bed of their truck and dropping it in their driveway. On purpose. Put. snow. on. your. driveway. I would not know this is absurd had I not lived in Minnesota for a year, and during the worst blizzard in 100 years. But I remember throughout my early childhood seeing families return from the local mountains carrying as much snow as they could collect and piling it on their cars and in their trucks. It was like a prize, a hunter's trophy...We were in the snow! We have proof! I envied those lucky families, those cool folks with their frosted souvenir. If you think this is hilarious, then I will know you have real winter.

I wonder what Benjamin would think of walking out in to the snow. He looks like he is dressed for it, but I think it would still be a shock.

Thought... Benjamin, in a fez, would be an awesome mascot.

Do I even need to mention that I have not cleaned the sewing space, or finished any of the 3 quilts I am working on? Ah, but I did finish the crocheted blanket and it's adorable. Not sure "adorable" is a word I typically apply to things I make or possess, but this pink on pink, with baby blue, afghan with a row of popcorn stitches and a shell edge is undeniably adorable. No picture. Sorry.

There must be a lot I need to do. I seem to be procrastinating. I'm very tired. I am sleepy too.

Happy Birthday Ron. We want to take you to the movies. Our treat.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Today and Tomorrow

I say, let's begin with a joke. I don't tell enough jokes, considering how much I love jokes, especially rather bad ones. This joke came from my brother Hans:

A rope steps in to a bar and takes a seat. The bartender eyes him suspiciously and barks, "We don't serve ropes. Get out!"
The poor little rope slunk out, sad and dejected.
Then he pulled himself together, so to speak, and tied himself in to a knot and tousled his top end.
He turned around and walked confidently up to the bar.
The bartender caught sight of him and yelled "Hey you! Didn't I kick you outta here already?"
And the little rope replied, " 'fraid not."

Feeling something like a frayed knot myself, I giggle knowingly.

I am so behind!

So woefully behind.

To say nothing of my behind.

Today I am going to do somethings. Some. Things. I am being nonspecific, because I feel uncertain and uncommitted and unprepared. The holidays have taken their toll. Yes, I felt the deep, spiritual uplifting joy of seasonal gratitude and reflection, but honestly, I have to say it's a lot of work getting to that plane of existence, and sometimes the returns turn out to be something less than coal. My friend Anne may be reading this and having a chuckle at my expense... she knows what I am not saying.

Yes, so. So, I am going to clean some and move stuff around, and I am going to make a few calls and reply to some emails and then I am going to line up projects and give them serious consideration and devise a plan for finishing those projects. The new year does that to most folks... we feel a drive to begin anew and make things right and done and good. I am not alone in my quest, and I am extra inspired by Jennifer to commit to project completions. Tomorrow I will show the beginnings, middles and ends of WIPs and domestic projects.

My first thought, when thinking of joining Jennifer in tackling tasks and blogging about it, was to possibly finish the pink crochet blanket I started December 26th. I've made tremendous progress. It's getting big enough to appreciate the weight and comfort of it and to like the pattern that I settled on. I am far enough along to feel eager about seeing it complete, and even more eager to imagine it in the house that I want to move in. to. this. year.

I set the afghan on the floor so I could document the size, or the beginning, and prepare for documenting my task completion. Looks good, I though to myself. And, Ha! I guess I can have a glass of sparkling California wine, stay up 'til 1 am and crochet!

Err... or not.

On closer inspection I realized that I was 2 rows short on the last blue stripe. Grrrrr.

So, my first project or task, was to unravel two perfectly good dark pink rows of crocheting.

Yes, frayed so! lol

Then I'll add the missing blues and continue again with the dark pink, 8 rows of light pink, 2 rows of dark pink, 6 rows of blue, 8 rows of light pink, 4 rows of blue, 6 rows of light pink and 2 or 3 finishing rows of dark pink all around.

Even unraveling yarn is more interesting than the other tasks I should be attending. Check with me tomorrow and see if I get anything done, or better yet, join us and share your progress.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baking, Making and Thanking

Did you hear that?
That was the sound of the days whizzing by.
It may have also been the sound of the rivers rushing by our home as we begin to dry out from some rather impressive storms.
Lake Garage Mahal is as high as ever!
The chicas added water waders to their Santa lists.

Holly and Rich opened there home up for high production cookie decorating. They had everything in order and ready for us when we went over last week. Every color of frosting was represented and all kinds of sprinkles and fancy tips. I think Izzy and Maria were at the longest... reveling in creative, frosted abandon.

Yes, there were classic shapes, like trees and stars, but Max was drawn to the Christmas rhino. He brought back the once extinct chocolate rhino... of course how long do we expect a chocolate rhino to last in the wild?

Nick and Izzy, Tutu, Maria and Rich... we all took turns laying on sweet layers.

Even with traditional shapes, Alex find creative expression. Tasty expression.

Aloha! I was sentimentally decorating an Island lady, resplendent in her floral muumuu. Holly and I did not compare notes or coordinate, but we were still in synch. It's true aloha between these 2 sweet beachcombers.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments and feedback about the aloha memory quilt. My pride was more about relief in having completed it, but all of your praise helped me appreciate the success of it... it is pretty! You should see it now... Ruth gave it the place of honor on her beautiful pineapple bed. It's a perfect fit. The size is right and the colors fit too, matching the window treatments and the family braided rug on the wood floor.

I know I've mentioned these before, but I have to share more! They aren't necessarily easy to make, but they are very satisfying and fun... simply because it looks so cool when it's done.

It's fun to choose and coordinate the fabrics, then to fill each slim pocket. And next comes waiting to see what the children will think of them. I realize markers and pencils cannot always find their way home, but I think having a nice place to go will help the clean up process.

Sewing, baking, and lots of driving south and north and around and around, and crocheting.

I know I have been modest about my yarn mania. Honestly, I am limited in my skills, but I have been highly productive. All my girlfriends got hand crocheted and comfy-soft face cloths and lovely bars of homemade soap... the suds came thanks to my talented sister-in-law, Gretchen. There are hats and scarves everywhere. I've sent some off to parts east and north, and I am still hooked! I have got to find a friend to sit by my side and teach me how to ripple! I would love to be as Cozy as a Posie!

First Tami surprised me by sharing her color wrap pattern, and that felt like an early Christmas. Well, the surprises keep arriving, and it's awesome! Just look at what came from Mamasparks... now why would anyone think to send me a cute little chicky bag?! You may recall that Mamasparks is the amazing quilter and thoughtful friend that made and sent Blue Aloha... I feel I've hardly begun to thank her for that kindness, and now she is at it again. Maria and I had such a happy giggle about this purse. It's like a bit of origami... folding and opening to reveal 3 separate pockets. Pam, it's beautiful, and so is the clever pocket purse... am I guessing correctly that it could keep sewing needles? Thank you Mamasparks, and by the way, Maria wants me to start right away on the chicken quilt... lol!

"Fresh Eggs." Fresh eggs on my new bag and in our kitchen, all thanks to Lady Betty Orpington. If there were a reasonable way to share them, I would bring some to Pam and some more to Jennifer. It would be a heartfelt gesture of thanks for the love they have been sharing with our family.

At her blog, "Infinity More Monkeys," Jennifer posted about her handmade holiday efforts. Our family received an entire family, a clan? of her beautiful polar bears. Each of us has a bear to represent us on our Christmas tree. It makes me almost glad that we can't access our old ornaments, because these wooly friends are perfect on our little tree and they deserve center stage. Thank you Jennifer, for the bears and the music CD, for being so close and dear, even from afar.

Yes, the days are whizzing by. Not everything is done. I doubt it ever will be, but I feel blessed and hopeful, even in the midst of the frenzy. I think the holidays can be crazy, but the craziness is good when tempered with good friends, and moments spent in quiet contemplation of all that is sacred and uplifting. The fun has begun and there's more to come, as the boys will soon be out of school.

Ahhh... a break in the clouds and a chance to feel the warmth of the sun. Whoosh! Here we go!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WIP It, WIP It Good

WIP: Work In Progress.
Loose threads everywhere. And I am still attached to my crochet hooks, so everywhere I turn there are WIPs waiting for my attention.

You may have heard me mention an area quilt shop once or twice. Now when I pop in with the children, a game of chess is requisite. Kim, the proprietress, is an amazing talent. Her quilts are tales in fabric, original and lovely, and a favorite of ours is her chess quilt.

I love her 3-D chess pieces, and the cozy color choices she made. She really knows how to capture the mood and feeling of her themes.

So, you may have guessed, I've been inspired. I chose some favorite prints and colors for our chess quilt. I am thinking of it being a quilt that will stand up to 4 children and days at the beach or park, camping and backyard picnics. Ours will be 56 inches square... a nice lap quilt, when it isn't a game board. The hard part was deciding on the pieces. I decided to go with something that would come together a bit quicker than little figures, so I went with beanbags, but how to distinguish them? Pawns and rooks, and opposing colors... decisions, decisions...

Since quilting and designing are supposedly just hobbies, something to do in my freetime, I finally decided to stick with simple. Basic forms and machine applique. I sketched the essential figures and then traced those on freezer paper. Yay freezer paper! This was my first time trying this handy technique and it was a happy success. Even simple is time consuming, but as I see the results and think ahead to comfy and cozy games playing together, I am motivated to keep cutting, stitching, and stuffing.

16 blue and 16 brown. I will not hand quilt this one, since my biggest, semi-secret WIP of all is still waiting for binding.

Rook and bishop. I will add just a bit of embroidery to really distinguish these minimalist designs. I stuff them with poly-fill and tiny beads, which give them a nice weight... perfect for tossing at the gloating winner...haha!

The derpday is the other major inspiration for sitting in the sewing room. Maria has been helping me make princess favor bags for her guests. She chooses fabrics and helps pull the drawstring through the sleeve. They are coming out princess-dorable, in pink and purple and also in monkey.

Alex called *dibs* on this monkey bag!

Home made favors and decor are not time savers, or necessarily less expensive than store bought, but I am dedicated to avoiding plastic and too many party disposables. Plus I am enjoying the process and playing with details for Maria's first birthday party. We've had cupcake celebrations, and coloring with immediate family, but this 4th birthday is her first invitation-favors-games and friends party and I want it to be special.

I have more to do and tea to sip. Max looks loads better today than he did yesterday, but he still won't eat. He's coughing and weak. Alex got them more than half way through book 6 of Harry Potter, and he's reading more now. Maria and I are congested, low and slow. So, I am thinking... Excellent! We will be sick now, cough-cough, and then we will be healthy and vigorous, bright eyed and brilliant all the rest of autumn and winter! It's a perfect plan!

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Meltdown Results
Well, I am happy to announce that our big meltdown was a big success. Not only do we have 22 brand new and very original crayons to play with, but we cleared all of our boxes and drawers of old, broken, dirty, sad crayons. This was a seriously fun project and I was very encouraged to read Jess' comment about collecting old crayons from schools... I definitely want to do this project again.

Not all colors melt at the same rate, which is interesting and by no means disappointing. I love the variations and deviations. Trust me, these crayons are really cool. We tried 2 of them, because we could not resist the urge to play, but I am trying to save the rest as party favors... we'll see how well I manage. Every crayon presents it's own color/s temptation!

We don't go anywhere without drawing supplies... paper, pencils, pens charcoal, crayons... necessities all.

Maria has been drawing princesses and fairies, in anticipation of her derpday. Puff sleeves! Love those!

We appreciate restaurants with butcher papered tables. When William returned from the restroom he was greeted by Alex's expressive little friend.

Do I ever give the impression that I get a lot done? I was very nearly worthless today. Maria and I are sniffling and kind of dragging. And of course it is now, when my energy is hitting bottom, that my memory manages to surface every last ball I've dropped, every person I have neglected, every chore that has been abandoned... all the stuff I am not getting done. Feh. I seem to recall that last week my list of things to do seemed insurmountable, and today it's as bad or worse. This fact is really getting me down. Once again I am leveled by the I want to never move again, but I have to, and I wish we had our own home blues. It's devastating.

I hope the universe can forgive me for taking our sniffles out into the world. I took the kids out to eat and then to our favorite independent, local toy store. We had the place all to ourselves, and it was nice to sit in a bright and cheery world and play house.

Broken crayons can be repurposed and made good again. Yarn can become a hat. I'm not sure how I will ever accomplish all the things I need to, want to, but I suppose I can hope. Imagination. Faith. Hope. Princesses and fairies, play and prayer... a bit of glitter. Every bit helps.

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