Wednesday, May 18, 2022

I'm Sewing Again!

 WAY back in the day (40 years ago ... 30 years ago ...) I sewed a lot. I sewed my own clothes, and they were just as silly-looking as the thrift store clothes I wear today, haha! But patterns became expensive, and fabric became very expensive, and I stopped sewing.

Recently I've been watching some old Kate Jackson youtube videos. (Kate Jackson, an older lady from Northumberland, UK, not Kate Jackson of Charlie's Angels!) Kate quilts, but she also makes small sewn house decorations: pillow covers, window and door hangings, little throws. So I held my nose and jumped into the pond of sewing again. I followed her video instructions for a Log Cabin pattern pillow cover:

Front (above) and back (below). I prefer the back. Obviously, I did an inferior job coordinating the strips of fabric, and ended up with that whole swath of solid pink ... bleh. But it was a first attempt, an educational moment.
Love the envelope closure - so easy!

I'm now working on pillow cover #2. It will be better, I hope. Here is the Log Cabin front piece, done yesterday:

I also did a little window hanging using a method that Kate calls "pixel pictures." I ironed some carefully-measured squares of fabric onto a square of fusible interfacing, did some sewn seams according to Kate's instructions, and ... tada!!

I was pretty pleased with the result, and Adam congratulated me on my measuring accuracy. It's tiny, no wider than my hand, but I wanted to discover if I enjoyed it before I committed to a large one. Kate has large panels of this kind of thing in her home. She makes pillow covers with them too. She has another method for making a similar project into full-size curtains. I'm not trying that yet!

I'm knitting the final square on my 2nd mitred square blanket!

My foray into sewing has coincided with Adam's new interest in this hobby also. First he worked hard to refurbish my very old treadle Singer machine. Then he bought a $5 White machine at the thrift store. Then he bought a $50 Japanese machine online. He's gone crazy for sewing! He wants to make clothes for him and for me. I'm in favor of that, as long as they meet my high standards for Bohemian Hippie attire :)

$1/yard - not bad! Lightweight linen-like fabric

We've been buying fabric at the thrift store nearby. Apparently a lady donated over 17 big tubs of fabric! She was going to open a fabric store, and changed her mind.

Meanwhile, Leo:

"Mom, I blinked. Take it again."

His favorite spot. Beau's favorite spot too ...

I made kissy noises, and he turned around.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Where's That Winter Robe Again?

 It's freezing outside this morning! I don't mean that literally. It's actually 49 degrees. But after a few 85 degree days, 49 feels like freezing, and I'm wondering why my winter robe and turtlenecks are inside my old trunk. Brrr!

However, it's the perfect temperature for yard work, in my opinion. After I get done on Ye Olde Computer this morning, I'm heading into the Horrible Shade Bed to murder some honeysuckle vines. The elephant ears and iris need rescuing before they succumb altogether.

That's the end of the bed that's already been rescued. I'm inching my way down this long bed. It's taken a couple of weeks, and my hands ache, but it's worth it.

A friend posted an article recently about stress and our health, and I admitted to myself that it was time to back away from some stressful online reading (aka, news). The flipside of that is, I must be mindful to fill my mental time with more positive things. Gardening. Chickens. Painting. Music. More important, I need minutes in the day when I just sit outside (before the mosquitoes take over for the summer) and relax. Look up into the tree tops. Breathe deeply.

I don't remember having to be so deliberative about my mental health (for lack of a better phrase) years ago. Is it because I'm older and more mentally fragile now, or is the world a more mentally-damaging place? I wonder. 

This is an elephant ear hosta. I have three of them. The leaves are huge, but the plants themselves get massive too. It's my favorite hosta.

Granny Marigold, you'll be proud of me -- I actually baked something recently! I should do it more often, but I'm rarely in the mood to do baking. These are Mary Berry's scones with sultanas in them. They were tiny. They'll be in a youtube video soon.

Did I tell you already that Roo Roo died? He was killed by a predator. So I went to visit my good friend and fellow chicken lady, Melody, and she gave me a New Roo. His name is Mr. Sparky. He's half naked neck (which I'm not fond of) and half Wyandotte (which I love).His face it turned away from us, so that's why his head looks funny -- not helped by that red naked neck either!

That's Brownie, giving me the eye ball. She's a grumpy old lady who's only just started laying again. Recently she got herself caught in some bird netting. I disentangled her, and you'd have thought I was murdering her! She squawked and screamed. But when I got her in my arms and petted her, she calmed right down. Silly bird.

Speaking of silly:

All I can say about Leo (full name: Sir Jackanapes Leonitis Spratly, so we can also call him Jack Sprat), is that he's constant entertainment.

One day recently when Adam was off work, he made shrimp burgers. They were so very good!

The other thing I'm doing right now is the farmers market. I'm now the "contact person." Nobody wanted the job, so it fell to me. It's a tiny little market, a few vendors. But we have fun and we make a little money.

So I'm still spending lots of time each week making balms and soaps and painting cards. One of these days I'll back off of those hobbies and do more of what I really love: writing, spinning, painting. Just not yet.

That's all the happy stuff, because we don't write about the sad stuff, right? 😀 We are all here to boost each other up! No worries -- I have my little share of worries, but nothing more than usual.

Time to sip my rapidly-cooling coffee, do my daily Wordle, and head to the grocery store. Then I shall do a bit of honeysuckle murdering, just when it's flowering. Isn't that awful?

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Where's That Brake Pedal?

 I'm not sure how the speedometer on Life creeps up from "nice and leisurely" to "uh oh, here comes a curve" to "careening over the edge." But it does. This week I intend to Slow It Down!

Last time I posted was about 3 weeks ago. Since then I've been to Chattanooga and back, visiting kids and grandbaby. We had a church Seder supper and Easter. Adam and I went to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience exhibit in Raleigh. The Saturday farmers market has ratcheted up a few notches too, and I'm making all the usual products for that.

Here I'm showing my grandbaby all the photos I have of him on my laptop in a folder just for his pictures. He was interested!

It snowed in the mountains as I drove back from Chattanooga, but at home ... cascading wisteria.

Easter lilies around the communion table mean Easter is coming!

Adam made matzo bread for the Seder. It was a wonderful experience, and we also ate a delicious pot-luck dinner together.

Here's the farmers market last week. It was much busier yesterday. Folks are eager to be out and having fun in Oriental.
My Lady Banks rose bush is not as full as most years; we had a late frost. But she's still a beauty.

This is a tapestry weave (my second one) that I finally finished. It had many problems and challenges, and I learned a lot from trying to correct them. On to the next tapestry weaving adventure, I say!
Leo is fun every day. The animals -- all three of them -- are pure entertainment in a quiet house.
This may look like innocence to you, but believe me, it's absolute WARFARE. Beau and Leo are competing for the coveted spot on the plaid blanket in front of the window. At this particular moment, Leo is winning. Beau is plotting his revenge. (Don't let his crossed paws fool you.)
The Van Gogh exhibit was fabulous. We did this as Adam's birthday gift, and it was so much fun. We drove 3 hours to north Raleigh, visited the leather store for him to buy some pig skin for book binding, ate lunch at Panera, and enjoyed the "Immersive Experience" of the very creative, very engaging Van Gogh experience. They do a good job of making you feel that you are inside his paintings, I think. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

But I'm worn out. And Adam's Pemphigus illness is flaring up, so he is pretty unhappy. He's been on spring break from his teaching job, but he goes back tomorrow. Then I plan to organize my days well, get things done in a calm way, breathe deeply, take daily naps, and slow Life down. Yeah, I know ... good luck with that!

Oh, and Rest In Peace, Roo Roo, best rooster ever. He gave his all to defend his hens from a predator. We'll miss him.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Looks Like Spring!

We're well into true spring now. Daffodils are faded, as is the forsythia. We've advanced into apple tree buds, fig leaves, tiny rose tips, and blue bells. The temperatures are still quite cool many days, like today, breezy and sunny. Perfect!

I've thought about blogging, but didn't entirely know what to say. Terrible news from Ukraine dominated my brain for many weeks, and now, like the rest of the world, while I still read about it daily my mind is becoming sadly accustomed to the idea of what's happening there. We are numb to their suffering in the same way that they become numb to the fear of the air sirens. A friend-of-a-friend in Kiev kind of jokes about how they opt to sleep in their beds because they're just tired of the bomb shelter.

Our ladies' Bible study group is now studying Elisabeth Elliot's compilation of her newsletter articles called Secure in the Everlasting Arms. Each section of the book focuses on an aspect of Elliot's wisdom, and we're now examining how we respond, how we pray, when we suffer -- or should I say, when God designs suffering for us. We all struggle with this whole idea. It's a good study.

I found some good books at the local thrift store. I finished another Pilcher book (Sleeping Tiger) very quickly, and am now in September, for which I abandoned the Cahill book halfway through. I'm admitting to myself that I now enjoy fluffy romances (well, NOT Danielle Steele) like Pilcher and Mary Stewart, and I mustn't feel bad about not reading Dickens and Austen much anymore. It's okay!

I'm painting cards. Here's my latest favorite.

There's something loose and whimsical about that ink-and-then-dabs-of-watercolor style that I find relaxing and appealing.

Adam taught me how to use the riding lawn mower! Yippee!! I mowed nearly the entire property this past week. A bit exhausting, but I like to help, and he simply doesn't have any time right now to do it. I feel so farmy when I'm mowing on it. I get so much grass in my hair, and I send the fire ants flying when I run over their hills!

I can't really think of any news from here for you. Life is much the same, for which we are grateful. I've always heard people say we should be thankful for our troops, that we sleep peacefully in our beds at night because of our troops. I know very few people in the military; my daddy was in Korea. Adam's dad was in Vietnam, but that was before my time. Now I understand a little, as I think of women just like me in Ukraine, how much they value their soldiers who stand between them and an enemy. How they sleep in their beds, or don't, depending on how far away their soldiers can keep that enemy away. I live in a home of peace, surrounded by a county and state and nation of peace -- layers of peace. What a privilege that is! Thank you, soldiers!

Leo doesn't know he has a blissful life. He's so chill.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Today, I Will Paint.

Today I will paint first, and later I plan to make a batch of soap. Spotify is playing relaxing Spanish guitar throughout the house. The animals sleep. Overhead, the fans whirr on a day promising rain. We are in between needing heat or air conditioning. I am so comfortable.

But my brain. My brain is reading news because I feel I must know what is happening elsewhere. It is not a greedy feeding for information. It is a deep hurting, a longing, to participate in the smallest way with those suffering on the other side of this globe on which we are all imprisoned. Some are hiding in windowless cement boxes underground, telling themselves they are safer, but feeling trapped and buried already. They clutch their babies. I think of Jesus's words: "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house. And whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! Moreover, pray that when you flee, it will not be in the winter...." (from Matthew 24)

Why do some suffer and live in terror, while others paint and watch their pets sleep while fans whirr overhead?

I've wondered this for many years. I had suffering years, while my friends had joyful ones. Did they ponder my suffering in this way?

I pray for them during the day and wake thinking of them at night, the families in Ukraine. Is it true that somehow my ease is important because it symbolizes what they fight for, what they strive for? If no one lived in peace on the earth, would the candle flame of freedom and joy be blown out forever? I must treasure the peace and comfort I live in, in order to long for it for them. While their freedom is stripped away from them, I want to hold the candle high and say, "It's still here! It's still burning! Keep fighting!" Somehow, the lives of those living in freedom validate the intense battles of those fighting for it.

I read a website several times daily with updates from Christians inside Ukraine. One person wrote this:

 "Yesterday from the news we learnt that our army destroyed several planes which were bombing our territory, destroyed several land enemy groups. We confessed to each other that we feel glad to know that the enemy dies. And then we began to think what’s happening and how terrible the war is that makes us be glad to the death. 

"Please, pray for us to live this through and be able to heal from the anger and hatred and feel our hearts with love and peace. Please, pray this prayer for all Ukrainians."

As they fear being murdered by an enemy army, they ask for prayer against feeling anger. They ask me to pray that they love their enemies. This is the power of Jesus's love and His gospel, to love our enemies and those who oppress us. This makes Christianity radical and unique. I am stunned at the beauty and humility of humans whose souls have been transformed by Jesus to feel this way.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

O Lord, Bless Even Me!

 What do we want, if we could be given the best gifts in the universe?

We want to possess the kingdom of heaven, to have it be ours. We want comfort.  And in addition to possessing heaven, we would actually like to own earth too. We want both. We want to be satisfied, for all our longings and needs to be met fully. We want mercy, kindness to be extended to us. We would love to see God! How thrilling that would be! We want to be called by everyone, "children of God," and to be shown as His children by receiving vast rewards in heaven. We'd frankly like to have all that right now.

Jesus tells us how to have all these blessings:

Be poor (or crushed, or small) in spirit, be in mourning become you're in grief, be gentle, and hunger and thirst for righteousness (do we, ever?). Be merciful to others, pure in our hearts, and be peacemakers. Be very glad when we are reviled, persecuted, insulted, and ill-treated for Jesus's sake; this is the supreme blessing!

For months now, we've been reciting the Beatitudes each Sunday during worship. I've pondered them. They're like a burr that gets under your skin, and you must address it. Each time, Adam asks us pointedly, "Christians, how are we blessed of God?" And we reply in unison, "When we are poor in spirit, when we mourn, when we are gentle," and on and on. Each Sunday is is a little harder to say. 

I want the rewards, but I'm reluctant to be the kind of person who gets such rewards, to do the suffering, the self-examination, and the changing. 

We often, in our studies of Christianity, find that Jesus's religion that He's presenting to us, is radical, extremely radical. It tells us a message that no other voice is willing to say. The Beatitudes is certainly one of those messages.

"When you mourn, you are blessed." Try telling that to people!

Friday, February 18, 2022

one word poems

 Margaret (Mags), dear blogging friend, has set me on a rabbit trail of poetry, for which shove I am very, very grateful.

I had stopped writing poetry. No idea why. I assumed it was because I'd aged out of the poetry-writing years of life. It was too much of a struggle, too hard. And the ideas for poems did not come to me as clearly as before. They used to come into my head and stick like a burr and develop themselves until I had to spit them out on paper.

Mags gave me this idea: write a poem each day in February, prompted by one unusual word.

I thought, "Hmm." I read a few of her one-word-prompt writings and liked them very much indeed. I thought, only to myself, "Why not? Why not make a little folder on my desktop and write a poem from each of these little words?" The little words are a list of unusual vocabulary words I gathered nearly 20 years ago while reading Trollope or Goudge, I'm not sure which.

I wrote it on an Elisabeth Elliot newsletter, back before such things came via email. Somehow, I kept it all these years. Miraculously, it was in the first place I searched for it!

I've written a poem most days in February since I started. I told myself I'm writing them ONLY for myself. I do not have to consider a reader. I do not have to consider if it is understood, if it is structured, appealing, tight, edited. Nothing. I spit it out when the word prompt has worked its magic -- i.e., when the word from the list has sparked an image in my head, an idea with an image. Then I write it down and try only not to explain, but to show. Poems that explain things are boring from the first word.

They often end abruptly and look a bit like ee cummings's, but they feel right to me, like good chocolate on my tongue. Perhaps now that I'm old I'm ready to write poetry just for me and not care about the world of readers, rather like wearing flowy gypsy skirts at last. Here's one I think I'll share, short and sweet:


when I am old enough

to play in mud puddles

big deep mud puddles

bottomless puddles

splashing laughing

in my Sunday shoes


then I will know

it’s time to go