Social Distancing Not Emotional Distancing

Hello Everyone,

Here we are all together, yet apart.  Life sure has taken a crazy turn, hasn’t it?  I live in a small, rural community in Indiana, and today we now have ten confirmed COVID-19 cases, and now one death.  I didn’t know the man – well, I had heard his name before, and I probably knew him at one time, because he was a hunting dog trainer, and I used to sell guns (sounds like I heard a few gasps out there, but yeah, I worked in my parent’s gun shop back in the day.)  Anyway, when you live in a small town, chances are you know everyone one way or another.  Anyway, as my heart goes out to his family and friends.

There’s been lots of changes in our lives due to this pandemic.  I have to admit, this change in lifestyles has given me the opportunity to WAKE up!  I’m now working 5 days split between two weeks. So half time.  In shaking up my routine, I’ve realized what a robot I’d become.  A slave to the clock!  Have you had any epiphanies during this shake up?

My son, his fiance’, and their almost two year old are “quarantined” with us.  My son works with my husband, so he and his fiance’ feel it would be silly for them to stay away from us.  So now my afternoons are filled with being a grandma to Miss Blakely.  Her mama is a stay-at-home mom, and she likes to hang out at our house for a change of scenery (and a break!).

Blakely and I have spent time digging in dirt, repotting a plant, starting some tomatoes, and hauling gravel with tablespoons.  If I try to do some sewing, Blakely spends time rearranging the fabric scraps in my bins.  She’s an outdoor girl for sure, and if she could live in the swing outside, she would!  Why is swinging a child so boring and monotonous?  When she heads to the swingset, all of me cringes.  I’d much rather run circles around her.  But – I’m a gramma, and grammas make it happen.  So I swing her and sing, “You Are My Sunshine,” while she bobs her head back and forth, grinning and lip syncing.  She doesn’t talk much yet, but for some reason, when she wants to sing along, she just opens and shuts her mouth like she’s pretending to sing along.  It is quite adorable.

When I’m not hanging out with Blakely, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing.  Other people I talk to are painting inside their house, cleaning closets and doing spring cleaning.  But nope.  Not me.  Maybe I should be, but I feel like life is so full of duty and obligation.  When I get time for me, I’m going to use it for something I love to do.

I had signed up for a quilt along at the local quilt shop after Christmas.  As it worked out, I have yet to attend a meeting!  In January, I was sick.  In February, I was in Arizona visiting my daughter.  In March, the meeting was cancelled due to the pandemic.  And tonight was to be the next meeting, so due to the social distancing, it is cancelled again.  Luckily, we are still working on the assignments for the class timeline.  Nancy, who owns the local quilt shop, brilliantly created a Facebook page (It’s called, Show & Tell…share your creativity!!!), so we could post pictures of our work.  It’s fun to share our work, see what others have come up with and it holds me accountable!

The quilt pattern is Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell.  The ironic thing is that I don’t really love the pattern.  It’s not one that I would have chosen. The truth, and this is the ironic part, is that I signed up for this quilt along, because I wanted to be part of a quilting collective.  I wanted a reason to leave the house – besides going to work, grocery shopping, church….yeah, that’s about it.  So what did I get?  A social distancing version.

People talk about how awful this social distancing stuff has been, how crazy they are going, and how it has changed their lives, but for me – well, I’m just not going to work as much.  I get my groceries on-line or through grocery curbside pick up – that’s different.  I’m a bit annoyed by the shortage of things that used to make my life easier, but we’re making do and getting by.  I never lived a life of luxury before and have lived in near poverty, so as long as the heat comes on in my house and I have running water, I can get by.  I guess it’s not the “things” or the routine that I miss as much as things like – taking my mom’s arm when we walk.  Now we walk about ten feet apart, wearing masks, and our visits are all outside and never end with a hug or a kiss.

Blakely is expecting a little sister in August.  Her name is Ellison.  I have a bunny quilt started for her.  The bunny part of the quilt is from the Fancy Forest quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  These bunnies are so fun to make.  In fact, I just love making all those little animals.  I made a small version of the assorted animals in that pattern book, and it hangs in my family room.  I was naming the animals for Blakely one day, as she pointed at them on the wall, and of all the animal names, she decided to say, “Hedgehog.”  Not bunny, owl, fox.  Nope, she had to say hedgehog.  And let me tell you, it’s pretty dang cute. Sounds sort of like, “Gog-gog.”

I made four sunflower appliques, because Ellison’s mommy thinks Ellison is going to be a sunflower kinda girl, to put on the corners of the quilt.  They are from the Quilter’s Patch pattern book by Edyta Sitar.  

I plan to finish the top of Ellison’s quilt this week, as the fabric that I ordered to complete it just arrived yesterday!  I’ve been ordering a lot of our day to day necessities from Amazon, so a package of fabric was a nice break in those boring packages.

Although on that note, I will ask the obvious – did you ever imagine in your lifetime and this day and age to have a toilet paper shortage???

So what have you been doing to keep your spirits up?  There’s a fear and uncertainty that is graying the energy of the earth.  It’s a worse pollution than you would ever get from a factory.  You may not be able to see it, but it’s there!  I’m sure you can feel it.

I think it’s up to all of us to keep creating, because creativity sends beautiful light into the world that brightens lives and hearts.  On top of creating, I’ve spent time reading – blogs, fictional books, spiritual books…..I have read this book before, but decided to re-read it, Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  It’s a great book based on Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

Well, if you’re still reading, thank you!  Stay well and safe and create away!!!

Inspiration

So last week, my little sister, Amy, shared a podcast with Brene’ Brown on Facebook.  I was alone at the office, essential worker that I am, so I decided to listen to it.  I really enjoyed it, and I decided that podcasts were something I needed to indulge in more often.  I downloaded the app.  Overhauled Podcast App in iOS 11 to Bring Richer User Experience ...

How many times do you say, “I’m bored?”  Although bored is actually five letters, it is a four letter word to me.  I say there is always something to do!!

Today, the day was dragging by.  I was caught up with my work, and I looked at the clock.  Each minute ticking by like tiiiiiiiickkkkkkkk.  I even imagined the clock was yawning.

I got up out of my chair and walked around the back room of the office.  I’ve noticed once I get up and move around, my brain starts to move.  I think of things I had forgotten.  I find inspiration.  Some people find it in the shower, but I find it when I put one foot in front of the other.

Today I was pondering the purpose of this pandemic.  It seems like there has to be a lesson involved.  I don’t know about you, but I have definitely realized so many things I have come to take for granted.  To name a few:  two day delivery of whatever I am looking for from Amazon; disinfectants; hugs from my mom (although I don’t know if I ever took those for granted); toilet paper; bread…..

The pandemic hangs in the background.  Even on a sunny day, it is like a dark cloud, the energy oppressive and ominous.  I find the anxiety is living in my body even when I am not aware.  The other night I fell into watching a movie I’d already seen, but it was on the TV, when I walked in the room, so I finished it out.  It was the new Overboard movie.

 

Photo credit to Google Play

 

If you liked the first one with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, you need to give this one a shot.  Seconds are never, or at least, rarely, as good as firsts, but this one took me away.  When it was over, I got up off the couch with a smile on my face, and I felt how good I felt in my body, and then – then I remembered the pandemic and the change in my body was insane.  I realized I need to spend time every day taking my body into a place of peace, trust and love.

I love to read, so I decided to read a book that might help take me away.  Nature is my medicine, so I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods.  A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by [Bill Bryson]It’s his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I’m finding it entertaining and educational.  A great combo.  It even inspired me to get off the beaten path at home.  I usually stay on the mowed path around the pasture, avoiding the woods and the trails through them – most covered with fallen timber now.

 

The other day, I went down the hill, by the spring, through the dry creek bed, all the while, doing a Marco Polo recording for my daughter, who lives in the desert and misses her woods so much!  She’s quarantined with her hubby in their tiny apartment in Tempe.  I was doing all I could to share my blessings with her.

 

I hope you’re finding your peace and nurturing during this stressful time.  If you need podcast suggestions, I don’t have much to offer yet.  So far, I’ve listened to two.  Brene’ Brown’s Unlocking Us with Brene’ Brown: Brene’ on Comparative Suffering, the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball; and Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations; Oprah and Alicia Keys: The Interview.

Get out in the sun, move your body, do something creative, call someone who is quarantined alone, read a book – so many available free on-line (and everyone is staring at their phones, why not read something worth reading?)  Listen to a podcast.  Whatever you decide to do, tell me about it!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

The More Things Change….

My grandmother was an avid reader. I remember when I was a young mother of two small children living in Germany, she had written me a letter – yes, snail mail. She asked if I liked to read. I replied and said I really didn’t have time. After all, I was taking care of two small children!

Bath
No bathtub in our apartment in Germany.  So baths were in the bottom of the shower.  

Her response to me was that everyone has time to read. I admit, I rolled my eyes, feeling a bit like she was lecturing.

She asked if I would like her to send me books, and giving in, I said sure.

She sent me a large box full of books for me to read – old books and new. The Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell. Thinner by Stephen King. The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. Those are just a few I can remember. Books I probably never would have read had they not been placed before me, but I was living in a foreign country in a small village an hour drive from the air base, and I didn’t have a drivers license. Did I mention that this was in 1986 and there was no internet or cell phone and no TV signal- German signal is different than American.?

Grandma also sent several to read to the children. They drank them up. Books were the doorway to their imagination.

I became an avid reader. After all, with modern day conveniences, who wouldn’t have time to read? Right?

From that point on, while I lived in Germany, I usually read one book a week. I read every book Gramma sent. And I read several a day to my two oldest children. (My third was still sitting on a cloud waiting to come into our lives.)

Now today with this coronavirus quarantine and shortage of products, I find myself washing more laundry, having to find things to use for paper towels, and cleaning constantly to hopefully discourage the spread of any virus particles that we bring into the house.

A shortage of bread left us baking bread from scratch. Bread

I hadn’t done that in 10 years. I used to love to bake, but with a full-time job and the convenience of just buying a loaf of bread, there was no need for me to bake bread. Baking was a hobby not a necessity.

This morning as I was sewing a coronavirus mask, MaskI came into a new appreciation for my grandmother finding time to read. She lived in a day when they worked from sun up to sundown. Baking, cooking, cleaning, and without all the modern day conveniences that we all take for granted. My mother tells me that my grandmother had to pump the water and haul it in buckets to the house. They had outhouses and kept cans by their bed in case they needed to potty in the middle of the night. She had the old style washing machine and wringer that kids nowadays probably never even heard of. She made her children’s clothing on a treadle sewing machine.

Grandma lived in the depression era, when things like sugar and other things were or had been rationed. Nothing went to waste. She instilled that in my mother, and she carried that forward in her thinking, as well.  She raised us with a “waste not, want not” mindset, and a “make do” attitude.

As time went on though, after getting married, and starting to work full-time with children, I bought into the convenience way of life that was afforded to us by a different economy and modern technology.

One day my son and his fiancée were talking about not being able to find baby wipes in the stores (Walmart pickup) for their toddler. I said, just use a washcloth. Funny how something that is a convenience becomes a necessity.

The shortage of products is really bringing all that to light. It’s no wonder our landfills are full. We’ve become such a convenience motivated society. We throw away so much that could be reused or repurposed, because we’re too busy – or too lazy.

Today I plan to go through my sewing fabric stash and craft closet, to find more things to use instead of paper towel. I think the Earth will thank me for that..

Stay safe everyone. Social distance, and that doesn’t mean go anywhere you want to go, but just stay away from people. That means only go where you absolutely have to, and then when you do, keep your social distance. If you have to go out, Wear a mask, bandanna or scarf.

It’s not just about you! We’re in this together. After all, we share this earth and the air we breathe!

Wrapping Up

“There’s no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.”  Not sure where I read that.  Probably a meme on Facebook.
2019 could have been one of the toughest years of my life.  The family room and half bath flooded.  The well went dry.  My beloved dog got killed on the road in a violent and shocking death.  There’s a couple more, a betrayal of trust, financial issues, etc., but really, just what I shared right there is enough to push one to the limit of wanting to say, F U to 2019.  Or as my daughter-in-law said to my son, “2019 can kiss my @$$.”
As I look at each of these stressful occurrences, I have to say that each one ended in a blessing.  
 
We now have a family room with newly painted drywall, new carpet and trim, and the half bath is now a beautiful full bath.  The renovated family room has given my husband a “cave,” so I don’t have to listen to the shows that he watches that annoy me.  It is also so nice to have the extra space for gathering and for overnight company.  I love the new bathroom, and I no longer cringe when someone has to use it due to the main bath being occupied. The old half bath was awful and overdue for renovation.  (Yes, my husband is a contractor, but you know how the shoemaker’s children go barefoot?  Yeah….) Without that flooding, we’d still be putting off this project that became a “must”! 
Although the well went dry, we didn’t have to drill a new one, which would have been SO much more expensive.  My husband’s good friend is a well guy, so he came on the off hours and put in new pipe, just down a little deeper, restoring our water supply, and bless his generous heart, only charged us for parts – no labor.  His fee was a dinner of KFC with us, our adult son and his fiancé and their 17 month old daughter. 
My beloved dog, Siddha, getting killed is a little harder. (Okay, a lot harder!). Her absence is felt daily.  And it was quite a traumatic experience.  As with all deaths of loved ones, I’m left with regrets and questions about the life I afforded her.  But the blessings are that she died instantly – no long, drawn out, painful old age.  She was 10 years old, and she was a big dog.  The future for her wasn’t looking bright.  She hated going to the vet.  
Now there’s the blessings of no dog hair, no worries that she might lose her patience with the grand baby, no one stealing food left too close to the counter’s edge, no toenails to clip (besides my own, of course, but I don’t get angry about it), no urgent wake up calls in the middle of the night when her tummy hurt, no deer poop embedded in her fur to clean up after one of our walks in the pasture (it’s hard to go for walks now, her spirit is there, and it makes my heart ache) – those are all the things I try to console myself with, as tears drip upon my keyboard.  I guess it’s a mixed bag.  This must be where I’m supposed to say, the pain doesn’t go away just because there’s a blessing there.  
Blessings come in unexpected and sometimes unrecognizable ways.  Everything happens for a reason.  And many days, the joys are not even noticed, just taken for granted.  We shower and flush the toilets without ever giving thanks for the water – an older generation might label us as “entitled.”  My mom always tells the story of when she and Dad switched from a wood furnace to oil.  She said just being able to turn up the thermostat, and not having to load wood into the furnace, was like magic!  How many of us even give it a thought? 
So as we come to the end of the lesson filled year, I say, Thank you, 2019.  You were a great teacher.  Even so, I hope 2020’s lessons won’t be as harsh or painful.  I find I’m treading carefully, waiting for the next shoe to drop.  I’ve become keenly aware of my vulnerability.  But I’ve also become aware of my strength.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  And it could always be worse!  I’m just full of over-used sayings. 
Anyway, I wish you Happy Holidays and Joyous Blessings!  May 2020 be gentle on us!  But if it isn’t, may we know our inner strength, call upon innate wisdom and recognize the blessings!

Anticipation

Well, it you read my blog and wonder where I’ve been, I’m sorry for my absence.  Let’s just say – I forgot myself for a while!  Anyway, I’m back, and I hope to stay!
It’s a cool August day.  What?!  Yeah, hard to believe, but I’m loving every minute of it.  And it’s Friday!  Whoop! Whoop!  And to top that sundae with whipped cream and a cherry, the weekend forecast promises temperatures in the 70’s!  My favorite!
I was in the back room at work, pacing back and forth while I ate my chia pudding, and I saw a girl get out of a truck to go into the judicial center next door.  She had on jeans and a sweatshirt.  I had to smile.  It really isn’t THAT cool out.  It took me back to those days of my youth.  School shopping done, I was equipped with new jeans and a cool sweatshirt, but with August normally so hot, they would hang in my closet for another month or so before I actually needed their warmth, forced to wear the summer clothes that I was so tired of.
I don’t know if everyone has had this experience.  Maybe it’s just us fall lovers.  I mean, I know there are the die hard summer lovers – like my husband.  He loves summer and wearing shorts, so he will still be wearing shorts and t-shirts when the rest of us are putting on long pants and sweatshirts – and rolling our eyes at him!  He’s becoming more and more cold blooded though, so we will see if he still plants his feet in summer and refuses to move when the leaves start to blow.
When I worked at a local real estate office, there was a woman that worked there who hated fall!  I know!  Unbelievable!  She said that fall just reminded her that winter was around the corner, and it made her depressed.
I think of fall as a reprieve from the heat.  I’d rather put on more clothes than take them off – for lots of reasons!  Ha!  My husband, Mike, had a point the other night.  We were watching a movie where the snow was coming down in the scene. The actors were bundled up in coats, hats and boots, and the roads were treacherous.  Mike groaned and said, “Yuck!”
I laughed and said, “I thought you were looking forward to ice fishing!”  He had mentioned that earlier in the week when he was watching an episode of Northwoods Law.
“Yeah, I am,” he replied, “but summer is just so much easier.  You can just walk out the door.  No coat, just flip flops or tennis shoes, and just go!”
I had to agree.  That was the best part of summer.
I’m not a summer person.  I hate being hot worse than I hate being cold.  I don’t like to sit in the sun, because I have had to have lots of basal cell carcinoma (non-invasive skin cancer) removed – starting at age 36, and my dermatologist recommends that I limit my sun exposure.  This also means that I am not tan, not pink, not golden – I am lily white and glow in the dark.  And with age, my once firm and muscled legs, are now covered in crepey skin that looks like crumpled paper bags.  Shorts are not my friend.  Another reason to welcome those skin covering jeans.
I’m not a fan of sweating. In fact, getting too hot makes me feel like I’m going to explode or burst or something.  It’s like the heat is closing in, and I can actually feel like I’m going to have a panic attack or a temper tantrum from too much heat.  And living in the Midwest with the humidity???  Forget it!  I cannot even express my disdain for humidity.  People make fun of those of us who don’t mind the Arizona heat as much as the Midwest heat when we say it’s a “dry heat,” but I’m here to tell ya, that makes a world of difference!
Gosh, I was giving myself anxiety just writing about it!  Time to focus on this present gift of unseasonably low temps and moderate humidity!  I’m in the mood for making apple dumplings, wild rice soup, pumpkin bread and decorating the house with black, brown and orange.
As a quilter, it’s great to have this little glimpse of things to come.  It sets the mood for fall sewing.  I’m one of those people that doesn’t do well sewing for Christmas or fall in summer, just as I don’t do well sewing for the 4th of July in winter.  It’s like the season rules my mood and my mood rules my choice of projects.  So maybe this weekend, I’ll pop out a pumpkin mini quilt or a brown and orange log cabin, or…….As always, too many quilts to make and not enough time.
Then there’s the energy boost that I get from this cooler weather.  It makes me want to paint rooms and clean…I can see a weekend battle coming on.  Will I cook?  Will I sew?  Will I jump in and paint that breezeway that has needed painting for over five years?? As my mama always said, “We shall see what we shall see…”
Until then, TGIF!  Enjoy your weekend!!

Glenn Close’s Golden Globe Acceptance Speech

Allie, my niece, came for QC (Quilt Class) last night. allie It’s hardly a class anymore.  As I said in my previous post, my husband says it’s really just Allie and me getting together to eat.  And sometimes, he is right (about this and other things.)
The class started out as my teaching two of my nieces to quilt.  I have so many nieces; I literally probably can’t count them all. But out of all these nieces, Allie and Rachael were close to each other and close to me and had expressed a desire to quilt.  We made a plan one summer to meet one night each week, and together, we would make quilts – just wall hanging size (which you can see in prior posts.)
As life goes, though, after the original project was complete, Rachael went back to school to get her doctorate, so doesn’t have time to join Allie and myself anymore.  Allie has brought a friend or two, here and there, and although it’s not turned into any long term projects or anything consistent, I, at least, hope they have been introduced to something new, and in turn, maybe sparked a creative fire in their souls.
Allie and I have always been kindred spirits.  Quilt Class is just a modality for us to discipline our relationship.  We get together in the name of quilting, but if we end up making Figgy Piggy Flatbread instead, then that’s what we do.  We let the night evolve – sometimes with a plan, sometimes without.
Last night was frozen pizza and conversation with a little fabric cutting for some oven mitts for Allie’s prospective new digs.  (Her dad is remodeling a house he bought, so Allie and her friend, Marley, can rent it from him, but it won’t be ready for a while.) Anyway, while we messed around in the Quilting Studio, we chatted about Allie’s life and the direction she is going – her hopes and dreams, friends and family.  It was a great conversation, and I felt like she needed to talk about it, and I needed to hear it.  She may be my niece, but she’s also my friend, my faux granddaughter and sometimes, my stand in daughter.
As I sewed a few more strips on the Pineapple Blocks img_5325that I’m working on, Allie stopped cutting fabric to show me a video of Glenn Close’s Golden Globe speech.  She said, “I want you to watch this.  There’s one part that really got to me.”
So she pulled up the video
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dofJq1FzT8U, and we both watched and listened.
It was inspiring and moving.  I admit, as I listened, I was listening for Allie.  To see how that speech applied to her life.  But I found myself feeling a little punched in the gut, because it was so poignant.  After all, I am a woman.  And her message was to women.
“You know, it was called The Wife. I think that’s why it took 14 years to get made. To play a character who is so internal, I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life. And in her 80s she said to me, “I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.”And it was so not right. And I feel like what I’ve learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands if we’re lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, “I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.””
I pulled three lines from that speech:
“I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life.”
Although I understood what she meant about her mom, I wanted to know the full definition of the word sublimate.  Google, my best friend, told me:  to divert the energy of (a sexual or other biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.
After Allie left, I stood at the kitchen sink, rinsing the dinner dishes, as my husband sat in his recliner reading a book, and I had to wonder, have I come much further than my mother?  How much am I still sublimating to my husband? Old patterns are so hard to break.
I go to work and take care of the house, and my husband pitches in most times.  But most times, his needs do come before my own. Maybe this part of my life needs a little work…..
“We have to find personal fulfillment.
I am the one that carries the health insurance for my husband and myself.  He is self-employed.  I don’t love my job and many times, I feel like I was put on this earth just to make it possible for my husband to live his dream.  I envy his freedom and the creativity that his job requires, but I watch him and realize that he has a lot of stress and pressure that I would not want.  I take time each day to spend in my quilting studio.  And I make creativity in my life a requirement and daily engagement – because it is necessary for my sense of fulfillment.
“We have to follow our dreams.”
I’m not sure what my dreams are anymore. (I need to explore this and write about that in another post.)  In the early 2000’s, I started to dream of becoming a successful author.  I was going to be like Martha Beck or Liz Gilbert.  I was going to inspire women through my writing.  As time went on, rejection slip after rejection slip, I lost my zest.
I switched venues and started to quilt again.  More importantly, I realized that inspiring women doesn’t have to come with my name in lights or a book contract.  It can be more of a ripple effect.  If I can touch one life, then maybe that life will touch two, and so on.  You get the point.  Touching lives doesn’t have to be some huge ordeal.  Not to sound cliche’, but you can touch a life just by sharing a smile on the street.  I know a smile on a dreary day has touched MY life before.
More than anything, I think that it’s not WHAT we do, it’s the energy in which we do it.  Nurturing and caring for others is very honorable.  It can also be fulfilling!  As long as you don’t do it from the energy of obligation or the victim.
Life is definitely a balancing act.  The message to take care of yourself can imply that taking care of others is “less.”  The truth is that not all of us are ever going to be in a position to receive an award, to make a speech to millions or have a book published, but that doesn’t minimize our power.
I don’t know how Glenn Close’s mother could say she didn’t feel like she accomplished anything. I think it is sad that she couldn’t look back at her life and see, even just through Glenn, that she accomplished a LOT!  I don’t know her mother, but I do know she raised a beautiful woman with enough heart to believe in herself, become one of the most amazing actresses ever, and who gave this inspiring speech that touched millions of women everywhere, and I’m sure, even some men!  Talk about a ripple effect!!
I guess, in conclusion, QC reminded me of my ripple effect.  I remembered that I am not the victim of my life.  I remembered that I may not be a successful author or even have a thousand followers on my Instagram account (LOL), but even if I touch one life with my art or my words, then I am fulfilled.

Serendipitous Ignition

Every Wednesday my niece comes to my house for Quilt Class, which we have now dubbed QC.  My husband says it’s not really a class, it’s just Allie and me getting together to eat.  Ha!  Very funny!  In reality, that’s kind of true sometimes.  Sometimes, Allie and I just feel like making homemade pizza or figgy piggies and having a nurturing girl time.  One time, we decided to rent the movie, “Book Club,” and watched that instead.  For the most part, though, we sew.

This week, Allie couldn’t come on Wednesday, so we switched to Thursday.  My Thursday was a bad day, and I almost cancelled, but decided I didn’t want to disappoint Allie.  At the last minute, she asked if her boyfriend, Elijah could come visit for a little bit.  I said that was fine.

We all made our way to my studio, where Elijah started asking lots of questions about the process of quilting.  I used unfinished projects and finished projects to show him the different steps involved, but then asked if he just wanted to try it.  He agreed, but he’s kind of hard to read, so I didn’t know if he was just “playing along.”  After his first seam, though, it was obvious that he was really into it.  He giggled that down deep, cat that ate the canary giggle, and I knew he was hooked.

Allie and I had already discussed doing small projects, some Improv blocks that we could then turn into Christmas ornaments or zipper pouches for the upcoming holiday.  So Elijah’s first project was a foundation pieced Improv block.

Elijah was totally in his element.  I kept thinking, “I need to film him!  I’m never going to be able to illustrate his reactions!”  He was so animated, and I had never seen that side of him.  He dipped his hands into the scrap bin like someone who won the lottery!  After every seam, he almost gave a little hop.  Over and over, he exclaimed how cool it was.

Joy is contagious, and it was just what I needed.  There is nothing more thrilling than watching a creative spark turn into an inferno.  My heart about exploded when he hugged his finished project to his chest like a new baby.

Allie texted me later, after they had gone to hang out with some friends.  She said, “Jim (that’s her nickname for Elijah) is showing his quilt thing to our friends, and they are all gushing over it and Marcus wants to come to quilting class!”

Looks like I had better tune up the old Singer my brother gave me.  And it looks like I have some rearranging to do.  Need to make room for more students.  I’m so blessed!

Staying Home

A Facebook memory popped up yesterday that is haunting me.  It was from our fall trip to Arizona last year.  I gazed at the picture, my daughter at the Botanical Gardens, and I sighed.  Yep.  Sure wish I was there now.

Abigail and I had talked about my visiting this fall, but she has a lot on her plate, and other family visiting, and a trip with her hubby coming up.  She was just here in August.  We spent the entire week together.  We painted.  We made paintings.  We cooked.  We visited other family.  It was very relaxing, and we both felt fulfilled and reconnected when she said good-bye.  Yet, here I am, two months later, and I am missing her.  But let me be honest.  I miss Arizona, too.

Arizona just feels right to me.  When I was little, I always said, “When I grow up, I’m going to live in Arizona.”  I have no idea where I got that romantic notion – maybe it was a message from my heart.

Every time I get off the plane and step onto the tarmac, I feel like I just came home.  All the worries, cares and stresses of life seem to slide out of me or off me like ice cream in the desert – but with no sticky residue.

Allegiant Air keeps tempting me with emails of great rates.  I find myself saying, Well, just go – hang out by yourself – sleep in – go shopping – it doesn’t matter if Abigail can’t be with you every day you are there.  But I know it would still be in the back of her mind, causing her that feeling of needing to be somewhere else.  And it really isn’t in my budget.

I need to find my “Arizona” here in my Midwest surroundings.  Soooooo, I’m going to hold onto my dream.  (We’re heading there in February.)  I feel like Diane Keaton as Erica Barry  in “Something’s Gotta Give.” Remember when she finds out she’s going to be stuck at her BEAUTIFUL beach home (Click here for pictures of the set) on the east coast with her daughter’s sick boyfriend (who is Erica’s age), and she says, “Okay, I can do this.  I’ll just cook, listen to music and write.”  Something like that, anyway.  You get the gist.  I tell myself, Okay, I can wait till February.  I’ll just cook, write and sew. (If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a good one- one of my all time faves!)

Sew – I mean, So, here I am.  Right now I’m working on a scrappy pineapple quilt.  I watched a video tutorial by Missouri Quilt Star.  I decided to splurge on the Pineapple Trim Tool that she uses.  It’s by Creative Grids USA.  I’m telling you, it is addictive!

When I first got it, I decided to start small.  So I made this Christmas/Holiday table topper.  Although I might use it as a wall hanging.

Then, I had this epiphany!  I could use up a bunch of leftover strips that have been accumulating in my bin for YEARS!  I mean, the strips only have to be at least 1 3/4 inches wide.  And honestly, I’ve used 1 1/2 inch strips.

I got these cheap basket like tote thingies from Dollar Tree. (Have you ever shopped there?  Everything is a dollar!!)

Anyway, I sorted lights into the green ones and darks into the blue (or vise verse – can’t remember at the moment.)  And I’ve been making scrappy pineapple blocks.  So fun!  No destination in mind.  Just a creative road trip.  It might not be Arizona, but it will have to do and it’s doing nicely!

What creative road trip have you been on lately?  Does your creativity take you places, too?  I’d love to hear about it!

Ready, Set, Go

It’s time for a vacation!  Tomorrow we leave on our yearly winter getaway to Arizona.  My daughter moved there about five years ago.

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My daughter, Abigail. Botanical Gardens (2017)

Very convenient!  The winter prior to her moving there, I had declared to my husband that I wanted to start going someplace warm in February.  February is the longest winter month.  It’s the month that the last of the Vitamin D has been sucked from my body.  Living in the Midwest, the sun is hard to find in the winter months!

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Beautiful Midwest Winter

I need a replenishment to get through till May when the flowers start to bloom and brighten the earth.

The other day, I looked at the empty pots on my patio and started planning in my head what to plant.  I had to remind myself that I still have a few months to wait!

We had all the arrangements for our trip west planned out.  My mother-in-law was coming, as is the routine, to stay at our house and give Siddha, my dog, a bunch of grandmotherly love, while I am not there.  Sid tends to mope about or sit in the chair in the front porch, looking out toward town, waiting for me to come home.

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Sid on high alert – it may be a long wait!

She’s such a mind reader, I don’t know why she can’t understand when I tell her I’ll be back in a week.  Last night I was standing on the back porch, waiting for her to do her thing.  She headed toward me to go in, then heard my phone text alert. She stopped, then turned toward my mom’s house.  How did she know that my mom was texting me to come over?  I get lots of texts, and lots of texts from my mother, but it’s only occasionally that they prompt me to head to my mom’s house.  Maybe Sid does understand that I’ll be gone for a week, and that I’ll be coming back, but maybe she still doesn’t like it!

Anyway, my mother-in-law’s brother passed away unexpectedly.  A wonderful life-loving man – died in his sleep.  I’m happy for him; who wouldn’t want to go that way?  But it was a shock to everyone who loved him.  So now my MIL is gone to New Hampshire to be with family and attend his memorial service.

Luckily, my son, Alex and his fiance’, Tara

Alex and his fiance', Tara
Alex and Tara

live nearby and said they could stay at our house and take care of Siddha,

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Siddha

till Tuesday when my MIL, Sara, can get back.  Whew!  So last night I hit the grocery store and bought a bunch of food for Alex and Tara and eventually, Sara.  Hopefully, that will make it a little more worth their while.

Our flight goes out late tomorrow.  I’ll have time to take my mom to WalMart, vacuum the house, mop the kitchen, clean the shower and finish packing, without feeling like I’m under a time crunch.  I hate rushing!!

I can’t wait to feel that Arizona sun!  To sleep in without setting my alarm to get up for work.  To hang out with my hubby,

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Hubby and me in AZ

who is always at his best on vacation.  And last, but nowhere near the least, I can’t wait to see my girl!  (I miss her more than I let myself realize, because if I realized it, really felt it, it would be the undoing of me.)

Hasta la vista, Midwest frigid temperatures!  I’m off to visit the sun!!

 

Sentimental Christmas

What is it about the holidays that make one travel back in time?  The other day I was reminiscing about spending time at my uncle and aunt’s house when I was eleven.  I grew up in a house of seven to nine children (some left before others were born), so you can imagine how lost in the crowd a child might feel.

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My Mom, my siblings and I at Christmas last year (2016)

Spending time in their house, as my aunt was just expecting her first baby, I felt like a princess.  Suddenly, my opinion mattered.  People cared what I had to say and what I wanted to do.  I look back quite often with gratitude, as this was a wonderful gift to me.

Today, I woke up with my ex-boyfriend of almost thirty years ago on my mind.  I lay there in bed thinking – why am I thinking about him?  Then I started to worry – was this a premonition?  I had recently heard that he is on kidney dialysis for a genetic disease.  It makes me so sad.  He was an extreme outdoors man; I can’t imagine him being stuck in a bed.  I did the only thing I could do.  Said a prayer and started my daily routine.

Later in the morning, as I stood on my patio waiting for my dog to do her business, I had a flashback of my oldest son, not quite two years old at the time, sitting in the red metal car that my (now) ex-husband and I had given him for Christmas.  I had found that antique at a garage sale and put it in the storage cage in the basement of our apartment building till Christmas Eve. I wonder if I can find that picture….He was the cutest little towhead with blue eyes.  Sigh.  Those were the days.  He’ll be bringing his sixteen and twelve year old children up this weekend for our Christmas celebration.  I’m excited to see them!

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My oldest son, Drew and his wife, Bethany and their two kids

Christmases with small children are the best.  Children get lost in the magic of Christmas, and it is contagious!  My dad, who has been gone over five years now, loved to see the children open gifts, but he thought adults buying for each other was stupid.  He said, “If you want something, why don’t you just go buy it?”  Yep, a real romantic.  Not!  He was conservative and practical.  And Mom says that’s the way she liked it.  I’m not sure if I ever believed her, but I guess she just appreciated Dad for the provider he was and didn’t need the show.

In 1987, when I was a single mom of two children, I was living on a very meager income.  Abigail was six and Drew was two and a half.  My oldest sister and her husband bought us a Christmas tree and gave us their old Christmas decorations for it.  Then they bought a bunch of presents for the kids and wrapped them.  They put the gifts in a big cardboard box and put it on my front porch.  I told the kids that Santa left it there.  This story is one of love and generosity.  My sister, Kathy – and my other siblings, for that matter – has always had a generous heart.  She loves to buy and give – even when it’s not Christmas.  Her own kids were only fourteen and twelve at the time, and she still took the time and money to make sure my kids had a good Christmas.

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Mom, Me, my oldest sister, Kathy and my youngest sister, Amy Christmas shopping this year.  (2017)

Right before the Christmas of 1988, the guy that I was just thinking of this morning broke my heart.  I was hurting pretty badly.  My little sisters, Carol and Amy, and my niece, Marie, who were only fifteen and thirteen years old at the time, bought me a beautiful scarf and a Swatch brand watch.

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Amy, my niece, Miranda, my sister, Carol, my niece, Marie and Me (2017)

They didn’t want me to not have any gifts to open for Christmas.  It brings tears to my eyes thinking back.  I still remember that scarf.  It was so soft – navy with white flowers.  The Swatch was multi-colored with that plastic see-through band they came with.  Having gone through a divorce in 1987 and then having my heart broken in 1988, their undying love brought joy to my aching heart.

My husband, Mike, is horrible for figuring out what I bought him before Christmas.  And he always lets me know that he knows – or he tricks me into telling him.  I could never understand why he would want to ruin his surprises.  But one year, I got him!  I bought him the rolling tool box he was wishing for.  I hid it in the shed behind our house.  Just so he wouldn’t get suspicious at no gifts for him under the tree, I took an orange and wrapped a note around it telling where to find his gift and wrapped it in a coffee mug box.  He thought I gotten him a softball!  That was my best success at surprising him!

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Mike, Me and our youngest son, Alex – Christmas 2015 at Mike’s brother’s house

A few years ago, Mike proclaimed that he wanted rain gear (for fishing in) for Christmas.  He showed me exactly the jacket and pants in the Cabela’s catalog.  He wanted them so badly that he kept bringing it up.  Of course, I ordered what he wanted, but every time he mentioned the “rain gear,” I said, “Did you say reindeer?  You want reindeer?” The kids were grown by this Christmas, so I got them in on my plan.  I told them to buy their dad some type of reindeer and wrap it up.  I hid his rain gear in the back closet.  On Christmas Day, every gift he opened was a reindeer – one was a little stuffed ornament, one was the stuffed guy that sits on the table and sings, “Up On the Rooftop,” and another was a hard resin knick knack.  Every gift he opened, I would say, “You said you wanted reindeer, remember?”  By the time he opened the last gift, I think he was truly wondering if he got his rain gear.

My daughter, Abigail, lives in Arizona and has for five years now.

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Adam and Abigail (living my desert dream)

I send them a box of gifts and goodies each year.  She works in the retail business, so chances are, she’ll never make it home for Christmas.  I try not to dwell on it and anticipate our yearly February visit with her!

My youngest son, Alex, is now engaged and expecting his first child.  Next year, we will have a little baby to buy gifts for!

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Alex and his fiance’, Tara          Christmas (2015)

I’m sure I could go on with memories past, but it’s time to focus on the present.  I’ve still got baking and preparations to do at the house.

So I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!  Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me.  And if you feel like sharing your favorite memory with me – holiday related or not, I’d love to hear it!