Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dreams Lived

 Years ago, when four little sillies lived in my home, the chill of autumn would bring a shudder to my spirit.  I would foresee a season of colds and bronchitis and ear infections and asthma flares.  When the storm windows were shut in the northern Illinois home that I lived in then, it surely signaled the time of blizzard watches and shoveling your way to anywhere.  It certainly was a time of hibernation, self imposed or other, just due to the inordinate difficulty of getting most places with the anxiety of exposing or being exposed to, a myriad of germies.  Paranoid?  Indeed.  Housing two very afflicted asthmatics, where every cold precipitates life threatening situations, makes you that way.

But the seasons, they do change, and, spring, when it finally arrived in the northern climes, was heralded and applauded.

Sadly, that was how I viewed the fall season for many, many years.

But no more.

The chillens have moved on.  I've moved farther south.  The asthmatics outgrew their affliction and I know view the world in the autumnal glow as the anthem of my Third Act of Life.

(So that you do not feel empathy toward my children for their Autumnally Afflicted mother, be assured that  I kept my sighing and whining far from their tiny ears.  My husband got to hear it aplenty in the privacy of our boudoir, but he would never let me tarry their long.  His ebullient attitude buoyed us both up on those dark, cold, virus ridden days.  I would wear a cheery mask, extolling the beauty of the season while inside I wept.)

I do not say these things to cause sadness upon my young mama friends.  I share this as an encouragement.  I speak of these things joyfully, reminding you that in the thick of mommying, there is the Golden Season.  There is the time when they do not need you, in the day to day practical sense, anymore  There is a time when the coming of winter enfolds you into a season of inner peace, not isolation.  There is a time where you are not bound by the clock, calendar or dinner bell.  There is a time, before you have a foot in the grave, that you get to dance on it a bit.

And thus was today.

Hubby and I had coincidentally scheduled doctor appointments on the same day but hours apart.  Since we live two weeks from anywhere, when we travel to our appointments, we generally utilize our errand running and fetching to take advantage of the gas saving opportunity.  Today, we were able to finish up his appointment and take in a tasty lunch at Scholar's Inn Bakehouse (the Panera for retired folks; there were only one or two there that had no silver in their hair; and hits for the 70's appeased us boomers...) near both of our different doctors.  And you know, there is a Target right behind it, right?  So, right in the middle of the week, with no list or purchasing needs, we merely spoofed around, picking up things here and there as we saw a need.
We had plenty of other retail stops that we could have spoofed on with, but the day was calling us and we had a good 90 minutes to waste well.

That is another fabu thing about this thing called the Golden Season - you don't need much to entertain you.  You have a house full, garage full, cottage full, of things.  You know that your days of being a fashion maven are over and quite frankly, you just don't care about those things anymore.  Thank God.  Not that we wander dishelveledly, we just don't feel the need to compete anymore.  Ahhh...What a relief. 

So as we drifted through the back streets of Bloomington, looking for entertainment, Hubby remembered a park that we needed to visit.  Thanks to our friend, Android, we found it with no problem.  Since we have been in the Fancy Free mode for some time, we always travel with a quilt and folding chairs for such a non event as today.
Hubby grabbed the quilt and I grabbed my knitting and sketch pad and off we were to find the perfect spot for our spontaneous big fun.

The park was full of people wanting to grab the last of the season's color and temperatures and lots of big fun was going on with many people.  We found senior citizens from a nursing home on the swings, favored dogs getting brisk runs and walks.  We found students parked under trees with their textbooks and sketchbooks.  We heard small children taking advantage of the play equipment.  We listened to the squeals of joy that playgrounds bring and the quiet laughter of lovers on a memorable afternoon.  Yet we created our own little bit of memorabilia just by enjoying the day.

It was forty years ago this month that I began preparing for my wedding day.  This kind of weather reminds me of  traveling to department stores to register for things, going to fittings for my dress, vanilla candles, just then coming into vogue and the anticipation of 'our' new life.

And here we were today.  Perched on a gentle slope, far away from where we started, geographically and metaphorically, basking in the sun and friendly breeze, thanking God for the trip.
Thanks to our friend, Android, we were able to listen to the sounds of that fall, forty years ago:  Cat Stevens, Morning has Broken, Moody Blues, For My Lady, the Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music.  I knitted; he napped, we both reminisced and it was good for our spirit, our bodies and our souls.

Take heart, my dear young mamas - your day is coming soon, sooner than you think.  Plan now for the Golden Season in your heart and embrace your spot now.  Live it well and celebrate when it is done well for a heart full of peace at the completion of it.

And rest in it well.....

Friday, October 19, 2012

Persimmony Goodness

Here it is, 3.5 weeks after the Persimmon Festival and I still am mired in pulp.  Granted, I'm not complaining; just find it humorous that this little fruit has become so important in my life. 

In the years that I have become a Mitchell-ite, I have found it necessary to gauge how the seasons are going according to the mighty Persimmon Tree. I know that you can predict the depth of snow and coldness of the coming winter by reading a persimmon's seeds.  This year, the seeds clearly showed 'spoons' (snow shovels), miniature spoon shapes in the inside of the seed.  This indicates heavy snow this coming winter.

  I know that it is the last tree to bloom, the last to shed it's leaves, and the only fruit that I know of, that you don't pick; you wait for it to drop, to get it at it's perfection.  And  this year was a good batch.  Far from the locals expectation, the drought did the trees a favor.  By needing to dig deep for it's moisture, the roots were strengthened and encouraged to branch out and grow.  This deep feeding brought forth and amazing crop. 

 Living a block from Main Street and nowhere near the country, I had over a gallon of the delectable fruits  literally brought to my door.  That's how we are in Mitchell - The first thing someone will ask you Persimmon Festival Week  is, 'Do you have enough persimmons this year?'  I was just walking my dog when my neighbor stopped me to see if I needed any.  Apparently, I had this persimmon coveting look on my face when I walked by his twin trees (you have to have a male and female tree I learned this year.  Makes sense.) last month.  Before long, he had delivered to my son, a gallon full of cleaned persimmons ready to be processed.

And I was ready.
Shortly after arriving here, I learned that one has to have a hand mill available for a few weeks each year.  It took me awhile to get the whole thing together.  The stand at one sale one year.  The wooden pusher another.  Of course, I could have bought a new one, but what fun is that?  It's much more fun to get the stories from retiring persimmon processors.  Usually, they just shake their head, puzzled why this newby would be so excited about covering their kitchen, most of their towels and the prospect of wearing orangey fingernails for a day or two.  You see, persimmons are a high maintenance fruit.  They are small but full of very large seeds.  You can't afford deseeding them and risk losing precious pulp.  The only way is to push all the orange goodness through a sieve and get your hands in it.  Messy and impossible, but kind of a ritual around here that we all go through together.  Bondworthy I guess.

After watching the video on Dymple Green, I felt a compulsion to stretch my persimmony wings.  When I heard her mention that when she was Pudding Chairman and a novelty option was added to the pudding contest - desserts of all kinds involving persimmons were accepted except cookies...Well, you can guess what I was going to invest my extra pulp into, right?

Can you smell that ambrosia?  The mixture of the pungent fruit, the cinnamon, the cloves and nutmeg?
Oh my.
As I wrap this up, I have one more cookie sheet ready to go ...
The Aroma of Fall in Mitchell  Indiana...
Yum...  (thanks for the recipe!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Passing Time

It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it is like a weird vacation.
Not one that you send postcards from or even really enjoy, but it is a very large alteration in the regular SOP of the day...

This past weekend, I spent the whole time in bed. Nearly every hour.  Not with influenza or a wracking cough or sniffles but a very real threat to the standard of health that I am used to.

I have testing this week to determine just how bad off I am or am not, but finding myself on my back for a lengthy period of time found me scrambling to retool my usual form of busyness.

I had to lie pretty flat so I knew that some hand sewing was still an option.  And bein' sincin' I've got me a new grandgirl due next month, that was pretty much a no brainer.  But yet, my odd state of mind wanted some other form of diversion from the usual. Some other thought consumer guaranteed to busy the mind and occupy the hand.

And I found it.  My art box of pencils, crayons, paints and markers.  I gathered up a burr oak acorn, a regular acorn, a bouquet of oak leaves, a branch of crab apple and a bit of my tulip popular (not all at once but on walkarounds from keeping me from getting too stiff), I proceeded to draw, draw, draw.  I used the pencils and the crayons and giggled each time I had to sharpen the pencils.  It kept reminding me of the odd, random Walmart trip on Prince Edward Island (yes, even PEI has a Wally World!) that Hubby and I along with Kindred Spirit Friend and her hubby, enjoyed  last summer.  We needed a few supplies and one of the things I needed was a good pencil sharpener for the fascinating Vera Bradley pencils I had brought along with my vacation notebook.  I found myself writing so much that I worn the lovely pencils right down to the wood.  Thus, the pencil sharpener search on PEI.  (Perhaps we have been the only pencil sharpener tourists there ever; they were pretty hidden).  

I digress.  My mind has become a bit dull on bed rest....

So, as the days ahead reveal the medical updates this aging body might be in need of, I vow to never leave my home without my pearl cotton, my scissors, my pencil and sketchbook AND my PEI sharpener.

I and I shall smile....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Passing It On

 My mother's hemming skill was non existent.  Buttons were better off lying on the counter rather the humiliation of being on a garment. Her pitiful attempt at trying to convince herself that she knew something about sewing by keeping a 'sewing box', was all a sham.  But my grandmother, her mother, now, there was a seamstress.  The original repurposer, the Depression taught her how to take a coat and redo it to the point that one could not recognize it.  She created clothing for those with figure problems that made it hard to buy off the rack.  Grandma didn't see it as a talent, just a necessity.  A pregnant widow with five other children to care for in the 20's was not an easy thing to bear.  Sewing kept her at home with her children and made a living for them.  My mother remembers the thread filled chaos that ran rampant through their home.  She remembers being the one who had to clean up the aftermath and because of that she developed a disdain for the hobby of sewing.  Grandma viewed it as a hard way to make a living so she didn't promote it with her five daughters.

Genetics as they are, produced in me the desire, nay the drive to create with fabric.  As a child, I would use Kleenex to fashion clothing for my dolls and stuffed animals.  When I could scavenge a cast off piece of fabric, I would delight in the cutting and rudimentary stitches necessary to connect pieces of cloth together to pass as a garment for my toys.  Fortunately for me, my lovely mother in law took the time in her very busy life to instruct me the way of the cloth.

Imagine my absolute delight to find on this earth, at this time in history, a room full of young girls with very similar passions and drive with me being their very eager tutor!

Our most wonderful library and it's most fabulous children's librarian, Miss Jacqui, in conjunction with others, designed an opportunity for young girls (and one boy) to find solace and instruction to the skill of sewing by yours truly.  As God would have it, He hooked me up with a former Home Education teacher, so that the students could see that rulers, measuring tapes and templates could be utilized.  Miss Martha kept us all in line but challenged her orderly ways.  God Bless Her.  Plus, she was struggling with a bronchial/throat thing to boot.  What a trooper.  Me, a room full of junior highers, AND a virus!  

Even though I can't remember things too clearly these days, I recognized the looks on their faces when they saw the fabric, the tools and, wonder of wonders, The Machines!

The library had made sure that all of the machines were in spic and span order and thankfully, the girls gave the workhorses a run for their money.

Not waiting for the most perfunctory lessons in machine usage, tool implantation, pattern reading, these budding designers wanted their hands on the scissors and the fabric.  And we let them.

Instruction on machine usage was an as needed basis and off the cuff.  Labels for the thingamajiggy that does this or that was introduced as we went, repeating constantly, 'make sure the needle is in the highest position before removing your fabric!'

Abundant canvas was provided some years ago by Rabbit Rita,  anticipating her move, which was completed this past August.  I knew she would be proud of the contribution she made to an introduction to expressive art.  Thank you ritabunny!

A couple of kindred spirits used the canvas as an opportunity to create their own illustrations for their Tote Bags, the first craft to be undertaken. I was giddy.
Exactly something I would do.  I took it one step further and took the sketch of the wonky cat and embroidered it's big anime eyes and she proudly placed it on the front of her bag.  I was ecstatic.

The discussions that accompanied this foray in creating and designing, made Miss Martha scratching our collective heads in wonder.  What exactly were they talking about??  What is a nyan cat??  Who watches Black Butler and what about all the references to some disembodied gaming character that they all seemed fakily afraid of?  The two of us oldsters were in more foreign of a land than the girls without names for thread. But it was delightfully fun.
Three days, two hours a day, once a month.  That is the plan to take these young whippersnappers from wildly interested to some semblance of order and pattern reading.

I believe it can happen.  I believe it will be like breaking a stallion but I think with a little cheese, some crackers and apples (a snack that was inhaled each day), I do believe we (I speak for myself, Miss Martha!), these wildly creative newbie designers can quite possibly become the someones you could hear from in the future.

I see myself in each of their adolescent faces and sigh with the hopefulness of it all.

Lord, protect them in their endeavors and in their day to day so that one day they can use their talent for Your glory and honor....
(After all, I did find the Bible hiding away in this tiny nook of a public school!  There is hope!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I was not a sweet mother.
I was not the smiling all the time, milquetoast type of mama.
I meant business and ruled with a hard fist.

Make no mistake - I adored my little children but I could not afford to let them slip through their childhood without understanding that authority is a fact of life and who better to learn it from than mama.

I slathered love upon them and affection was freely applied but underneath it all, they knew that I had expectations that they needed to meet in order to become good friends, worthy citizens and adored spouses.

I believe that I have finally discovered what the core of my mothering, the heart of my teaching, was for my four little ones:


We learned that a person's space, belongings, beliefs all needed to be treated with respect.  If they hit or damaged another person or thing, the weight of understanding the disrespect that came from that, was full of implications and responsibilities.  If they complained or had an attitude that was inappropriate for the circumstances, they were taught that was disrespectful to the One that designed them.  If they disrespected laws, ours or the states, there was a tangible price to pay.  For instance: a son's first speeding ticket brought him 7 hours hard labor of scraping and priming a needy garage, a hated, hot job.  If another's toy was broken, hard earned money from their own account was used to pay for a replacement along with an apology.  Not taking care of clothing or rooms amounted to disrespect to their father who worked hard to provide what they had.

 A big hit(!) with the children was the Confiscation Bag.  This idea originated with my third pregnancy. My burgeoning body kept me from picking up all the blocks, Legos, Barbie shoes, G.I Joe equipment, He-Man and Skeletor's swords, so after countless reminders, I set out to teach a lesson that worked wonders.  When the time came to sweep and pick up, I would announce loudly that I was Confiscation Bag bound.  If there were any child like item in my bedroom, if there was any item left on the floor, if there were clothes left unattended, it got 'confiscated' to a very large brown grocery sack.  If the item became needed, then a cost was given for the redemption.  I can clearly remember needed socks on a Sunday morning that would have to be paid for from their allowance or earnings that were hard earned.  I can hear you say, 'Ha!  You gave them the allowance anyway!  They don't lose!' Ha, I respond!  Our kids were expected to pay for their own clothes and shoes and toys. Since they invested in them, they knew how much they cost and how important to them to take care of all of it.  I can still picture one small son faithfully polishing the shoes that HE bought out of his own account. They received a goodly sum but there was expectations from that sum. Gifts for friends and toys they wanted came from this allowance.  If they accepted yard sale clothing or consignment clothing, then we would pay for that.  We purchased dance costumes for recitals and classes.  We bought ball team uniforms.  We paid for equipment because we knew that someone else was holding them to a standard or excellence with the wearing/using of said equipment.  I would remind them that misusing the privilege of being a part of a team was a disrespect to the organization and the people that spent a great deal of time in the sharing of their talent.  

Often, after a grocery run, I would gather the children if front of the very full refrigerator and tell them that indeed, it is a privilege to be able to feast our eyes on a full refrigerator.  That it was a gift from God and we were not to misuse it.  We were not to complain about the food that we were given; we were to try new tastes and not complain or make faces if they did not agree.  They did not have to eat something that they didn't like but they certainly were not to be rude in their negative response; they were simply to say, 'I don't care for this but thank you anyway.' Then they were invited to prepare a PBJ for themselves for dinner.

Once, one of our teenage children told me, while cuddling with me in my bed, 'I think I want to take up smoking'.  I was caressing her long hair and without missing a beat, I informed her that while I appreciated her telling me, smoking with asthma could be a nasty thing.  In typical 15 year old response, she nodded with her head but not her heart.  True to her word, she continued in her pursuit till the dastardly day when she was  caught by her strict fundamental school, whose rules clearly stated that cigarette smoking would equal dismissal.  I pointed this out to her when she enrolled and she proclaimed it bullocks.  I further pointed out that the reason that was given was that God has given us our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and should not be defiled.  Long story short, she was expelled, the principal called with the bad news and when I told him that I was aware that she was considering this habit and the ramifications of such, so just send her home.  Trust me when I say that the LAST thing this rebellion bent 15 year old had in mind was to be home-schooled with her two youngest siblings!  The pain and suffering that she put herself through over this very bad ending to what sounded like a fun thing, was almost painful to watch.  But I did.  Later, when the habit continued (of course), and I caught her hanging out her bedroom window, blowing smoke, I let her know that no longer would we buy her asthmatic inhaler.  The End.  Left it at that and once her hard earned money went to expensive asthma medicine, she learned  No yelling, no wailing at what we did wrong, no threats of terror, simple natural, retribution to the disrespect to her body and her authorities.

Wasn't all this investment in time and follow thru hard and time consuming?
You're damn right it was!  Hardest thing in the world to stand strong with the wrap of love time after time.
But eventually, it gets easier.  It gets more self explanatory as they get older.  They come to the conclusions on their own and start to see the results of bad choices sooner.  The time invested when they were very young and consistently insisting on respect in all areas, is very satisfying as they age.

The reaping of the harvest, as it were.

So it is with a great deal of parental satisfaction, a great deal of thanksgiving from the Father who instructed and led me and a great deal of joy that I share this important message in light of the weekend that I just experienced.

Watching your adult children, now parents themselves, handle their life situations, their parental responsibilities, their spousal needs, their spiritual feeding,  their civic duties with a great deal of respect and humble service, makes all the quiet, inward tears and painful observations of lessons hard learned, all worth while.

I praise God for the strength to have ridden these children hard, to expect much from them for they had been given much.

I am so thankful for the adults my children have become.  I am pleased that this world is blessed by them.  I am humbled by their wisdom and joy.  

Now, I can be their friend.  Now I can spoil them indulgently.  Now I can enjoy their spunky spirit and raucous, fun personalities.  Now I can go to my reward with the peace that comes from no regrets and a job well done.

May you be strengthened daily (hourly, minutely, secondly)  by the power of God as you parent.  And may you delight in the outcome....

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