Friday, November 29, 2013

The Tenacity of Quilts

In the early 80's, God provided for this Young Mama, a neighbor, a confidant, a helper, a friend in the shape of an older mama, (just two years older than I am now), to come along side me to help me adjust to being away from my family for the first time.  Due to a job change, my young family packed up and moved three hours north from my home town.  I had a three year old and a nine month old in tow and felt lost, discombobulated and overwhelmed.  At the exact same time, my neighbor had just retired and was wondering how to fill her days.

My, my.  Did we ever cover that nagging question!

This needy young mom clenched onto her loving, caring ways with a firm grip.
This Wonderful Woman babysat my children, taught me how to paint on china, shared her vast life learned wisdom and encouraged my creativity.  I was known to ask her over for supper and have her bring the main course.  And she did with a great deal of entertainment and enjoyment. 

 

 Wonderful Woman had a plethora of friends that she introduced us to as we entangled ourselves into her life.
We were embraced readily as her buds could see what a blessing our rag tag group was to her.

 One friend in particular was an excellent crafter.  She could fashion huge wool rugs out of strips of old coats.  She could quilt like no other.  And she promised to share these crafts with me.  A stroke robbed her of much of her capabilities and as dementia took over her life, my opportunity to learn from a master evaporated.
However.
Before she met her devastating fate, she handed off to me, a legacy of her talent.
As a young woman in the 1930's, she pieced a quilt top and like most of us quilters, she packed it away, 'for another time'.
Why she deemed me worthy to complete this quilt, I have no idea but I am ever so glad she did.


 My skills were undeveloped at that time so I folded it carefully and refolded it on occasion, plotting and planning for the day that I would complete it.  Pregnant with my fourth child in 1987, I decided to attempt the quilt.  I began adding appliqued hearts to the white spaces because my fourth child was destined to be a Valentine's baby.
I probably got through two rows of hearts when my Baby Girl arrived and the reality of caring for four children prompted me to, once again, fold up the quilt and store it for another time.


 Fast forward to 2012 and my Baby Girl announced the arrival of her second child, a daughter.  With her first child, she had a clear plan of a quilt  that she wanted her firstborn to possess from her Mimi.  But the second one came before the second birthday of the first and quilt planning was less important to a very busy young mama.
Then I remembered the very vintage quilt tucked away in my stash and my memory.
I showed Baby Girl the unfinished attempt at the heart applique that I attempted for her and she liked it.  She acquired fabric scraps from her mother in law's fabric stash from her grandmother and added some checked flannel from BG's grandfather's pajamas, and we were set to begin. 


Last fall, as we awaited Baby Girl #2, I cut and sewed (enlisting the help of Most Loving Friend during a weekend visit) and prepared this long ago quilt.  Kindred Spirit friend donated fabric to me while on a visit last summer, that would work perfectly as the backing.  I added some free form black stitched embroidery to the borders, to make it more me.  I embroidered flowers, pumpkins, swirls and leaves and her lovely name, Della James, as we traveled this past October to Kansas City to visit their new location.  The heavy weight of the near completed quilt provided close quarters in the front seat of the car as we journeyed the many miles to their new home.
There was just enough fabric from the stash to complete the bindings on this quilt.
I pieced what I could salvage, determine to use the memorable fabric to it's fullest.
Then, this week, this holiday week, I worked on hand stitching all the bindings to finalize this long awaited project.
Last night, Thanksgiving Evening, seated amongst my dear ones, in front of the fire, I completed this quilt, started over 80 years ago by a woman who entrusted me to the task.

Quilters, keep an eye to legacy when creating a quilt.  Quilters, understand that your talent has merit and the memories created with a quilt is worthy.  Remember to entrust others to projects that will be seen to fruition....someday... and that your story will be told years from when you started your project and that is okay.

Quilts are stories in fabric and quilters weave the story.
See to it that you find or create your story for yourself and your family.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Most Serendipitous Birthday

If you have been patiently following this blog, you might notice that I am quite enthralled with the kismetian aspect of life.  I enjoy those 'chance occurences', those 'coincidental oddities', those 'only we could have this happen to' moments.
And this past birthday has proven, once again, that my little family certainly flies close together while we are miles apart.
Many years ago, my sisters and I would laugh, long distance, about how we managed to send our parents the same or very similar card for some important occasion.  We often sent each other the same cards for holidays.  Fun, family stuff.

But my little gang really did it this time.



 This past summer, during one of our rare visits as a group, Eldest/Administrator and Baby Girl and I, stumbled upon a most delightful booth at our local Farmer's Market.  Pam Voorhies  http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/LittleRedPorch has put together a 'little' business of making signs with all sorts of heartfelt, whimsical sayings on them, expertly combining colors and fonts to please the eye and to decorate your abode.   Needless to say, E/A, BG and I were smitten.  E/A found a sign perfect for her Hazel Jane's bedroom and I. Found. Mine.


Those that know me, know my love for my porch.  ALL of my porches from each stage of my married life.
  I plan each winter as to the layout of each year's porch, that important summer room. I have utilized the tiniest of screened in porches, rejoiced in a windowed in porch in my first married apartment and now glory in my broad eaved veranda that has been our seasonal perch for fifteen summers now.

Life slows down on the porch. 
 You are out there for only one reason: to relax.  There are no dishes to do on the porch.  There are no bathrooms to clean on the porch.  There are only cooling breezes, books and magazines to read and people to draw into this lovely.


 The conversations that have taken place on my porch, go deeper than most.  Secrets are shared, hearts are exposed and burdens are lifted.  Magical.  Spiritual.

At the time of the discovery of  Little Red Porch and it's goodness, I could not justify the expense for such a treat that I really didn't know where it would even go in my already overladen walls.  And E/A so wanted a sign as well.  I sighed, put my little covetousness on the shelf and went on my way.

But I kept thinking about the porch sign.

  Every week at Farmer's Market, I visited 'my' sign.  One week, I saw where she had come up with another one that stated, 'Life is Better on the Farm'.  PERFECT for BG's in laws.  I quickly messaged BG and her MIL and let them know that they had to get that sign toot sweet.  And they did.  And I was just the teensiest bit jealous at their good fortune.

Several times, I visited LRP's etsy and several times I was tempted.  But Hubby and I are on limited income these days since Retirement visited our home.  So I would acquiesce.

Then one day, I had a brilliant idea.  As you know, my family has a Code Word that is just for us.  LYSMICETY will show up on our notes, cards and banners. (http://sonowiknow.blogspot.com/2012/02/lysmicety.html ) Love You So Much I Can't Even Tell You is our slogan, our motto, our family solidarity.  I thought it was highly appropriate, for Christmas, to tell each of them and their families in solid, colorful, wood.  Something that will survive the years and remind them each of their importance in this family.  I could envision cousins being comforted in knowing that they belonged to each other as they visited each other's homes...

Quick as a bunny, I sent LRP and the lovely Pam a message and the process began.  I told her I was in no hurry as Christmas was many weeks away.

MEANWHILE,
 in lands far away, some Birthday Gift Planning was taking place, unbeknownst to me.

The time came when the signs were dry and ready to be picked up at Pam's Little Red Porch in a little town nearby.  I looked at my burgeoning schedule and tried to figure out how to pick up all of the signs in a timely manner.  (I do not drive and thus the arrangements.)

LRP contacted me that she was going to be headed my way and would I prefer to just meet her at the local MickyD's to make the exchange of goods and services.  I was gleeful at the ease of it and the prospect of viewing the ordered signs.

Halloween Night came with a chill, so Hubby and I decided to kindle the fireplace so that we could roast hot dogs for supper as we answered the door to the ghoulies and ghosties of Halloween.  We informed Youngest Son that this was commencing in the Big House and he could not resist a good inside weinie roast with the prospect of viewing costumed little ones at our door.

In the course of our fireside chat, I mentioned that I had an early morning meeting at McDonalds.  YS was very intrigued as to the reason: 1 Why  I would have an early morning meeting.  2.  That it would be at McDonalds.  I noticed that for a fireside chat, he was awfully interested in his cell phone, but in this day and age, it's not terribly unexpected.  I also couldn't help but notice that he asked me Three Times why I was going to McDonalds at 9am.

Being the kind of mother that I am, I replied to his queries, 'None of your business.'

When I refused to tell his nosy self, he responded to me (after much consulting to his cell screen, communicating with E/A, that I really needed to tell him since HE had a 9am meeting at McDonalds as well......

The roar of laughter that emitted from me was epic.
I could not believe the coincidence regarding the whole situation.
I could not believe that two orders headed to the same house without any pre planning, landed at the same early morning drop off by the same innocent artist who HAD NO IDEA THE TWO ORDERS WERE IN THE LEAST CONNECTED! 

What fun it was to pick up the orders and have a good giggle with Pam as to her unsuspecting complicity!
What fun to see my children ban together to get their poor mama the sign that she kept referring to and whining over!
What fun to see what the whole scenario means to us!
What fun to see O'Henry sacrificial giving in action!
What fun to now have my beloved sign on my wall and all the fun filled meaning that it has to me!

Thank you Pam at Little Red Porch for your talent and time!

Thank you, dear children, for making your mama's 60th memorable and sweet - you all are the best....



(ps.  Baby Girl's birthday card came in the mail today - compare it to E/A's...Similiar?  I think so....Love. It.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Golden Pie Weekend



The planets aligned this weekend.
Three crazy busy families were able to share probably the most beautiful weekend of the summer together.
At my house.
In my garden.
Into my life.
And I am refreshed and encouraged and grounded by two lovely young women; one I gave birth to, the other I 'adopted' into my heart.  Both of them came toting the younger of their children.  A special treat for all involved.  While the absence of the elder children was felt, it was also a good, good thing to get some one on one with the youngers.  It was also good to see how dependent the youngers are on their older sibs for modeling and companionship.  Did our hearts good to see them miss their brother and sister in their own ways.

If I had just one reason for learning to sew, it would have been to be able to meet my beloved Pretend Daughter, Kris.
Because of her keen styling sense, she approached my daughter in their Bradley Classes in regard to the bags that my daughter carried, made by my hand. The normally subdued, somewhat shy PDK, asked my daughter about the bags that she carried and thus began our adoption process.  PDK and I are kindred in many areas and 'get' each other.  PDK's mama left this earth far too soon and as my relationship with PDK develops, I find that her mama and I would probably had been very good friends.  It is with great pleasure that I care for this young woman in a minimal, long distance kinda way that I believe her own mama would have been pleased with.
I just love this child bearing, droll humoring, garden hugging, book reading, crafting, husband loving, organically influenced, gourmet chef, pie baking young friend of mine.



 Did I mention pie?
I have no skill for pie.
I am too scared to make it work.  I overwork and over heat to make it any good.
I have to make up new names for the mess that it ends up being just to justify the effort.
When I found out that PDK puts together a pie at the drop of a hat, I swooned.  I do so admire pie bakers.
I had her attend my first mama's collection retreat to instruct us other not so nimble bakers, all her skills.  I took notes and watched and then later experimented.  And it got more comfortable.  I could even say that perhaps I can now say, with the right recipe, courtesy of Cook's Illustrated and freezing cold vodka, I can now make an acceptable pie.

When PDK noted on Facebook that she had collected buckets of blueberries recently, my little taste buds suddenly wokied up with dreams of fresh, blueberry pie.
The confluence of events came together when a mid summer visit was planned with Eldest/Admin and PDK and the Two Youngers.
After a bit of suggesting and begging, I was assured that berries were coming my way.

 I did have to build up quite the gumption to bake a pie for my Pie Idol.  But because of her acceptance of me and all my flaws, I pursued on to Pie Nirvana.

While the two buddies visited under the janked up umbrella I fashioned to keep them sheltered from the rays, I quietly scampered into the kitchen to create what turned out to be the Pie Epic.
Yes. In my very kitchen.  And with the resounding approval of the one that I would like most to impress.

The ladies came into the kitchen as I was putting the Epic together and I listened to the story by PDK about the day that she picked the bountiful blueberries.  Her two children accompanied her to the berry ranch.  She told of their childlike stamina and of the fun that such a jaunt provides.  She told of the chance meeting of others in her family at the same blueberry ranch.  While she spoke, my mind started unfolding the passion and love that this humble pie was beginning to represent.

Here I was, on this most temperate day, listening to the young ladies resting in my vintage lawn chairs as their children slept and they kept watchful ears to the monitors turned to their precious babes.  I listened as they shared their lives and hopes and thoughts. I mixed and rolled and cooked, doing the very thing that I love most in the world - making my lovelies comfortable and comforted.

I thought about the love the berries represented.  How PDK gathered and  picked and carried three hours in ice to get to me fresh and bake worthy.  I thought of the love of my E/A and her willingness to share her mama with this wonderful friend.  I thought of the tutelage of many a pie from my ever watchful Hubby.  I thought of the loving, detailed God that I serve, allowing this kismetian weekend to occur, custom made for me.

We oohed and ahhed while the perfume of this masterpiece permeated the air.  We patiently waited for it to cool properly by walking the dogs and babies.  We tested and guessed and proclaimed it Ready.

Hubby had hustled off the store to get just the right vanilla ice cream to accompany this gastronomic event.

I cut into it.
It did not run.
It did not stick.
It was golden in just the right places.
The steam from it was just the right temperature.
The ice cream melted just the right amount.
And I presented PDK the first piece, the silence of reflection and our anticipation was palpable.

And then it happened.
It was pronounced the Best Pie Ever.

I'm sure it was because she was in my presence and I had just fed her the Ultimate Summer Supper that encouraged her enthusiastic statement, but it melted my heart as easily as the ice cream on that very warm pie.


Even her three year old son appreciated the yumminess of the event.  Leaving barely a morsel and essentially nothing on his face and clothes and looking for more on his mama's plate, made this eager to please Mimi, euphoric.


We sat for awhile extolling the virtues of pie.  I pronounced it an act of love.  I pronounced pie making a gift, beyond just a dessert.  I pronounced it a wonderful way to end an amazing day. 





 (Did I mention that PDK is also a certified massage therapist?  Did I mention that she carried her portable, heated massage table 3.5 hours to allow me to enjoy the fruits of her wonderful training and enjoy the Best Massage I Ever Had Right in My Own Front Room.  I could cry.  I did.)

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of friends who arrive bearing more gifts than they are even aware of.....)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wonderfulness

Let me get this straight.  I am not a crier.  Ask my family.  Ask my friends. Hubby is the designated crier in our family.  Commercials, movies, news reports, sermons, the sight of his grandchildren, a low balance on our Discover card, you name it - he cries.
Not me.
Nope, hard hearted Hannah this girl.  Years of callous built up on this heart and I can stare down a bully at 2 feet and win.
However.
Lately, I have found a bit of Crying Karma visiting my squishy heart these days.
Lately, I have been known to excuse myself rather than be caught up in the throes of a heavy duty cry.
Why is this?
Hormonal imbalance?  Overdose of real life? 
Who knows.  But I do know that it has knocked me on my keister.  Having no governor on my previous reigned in emotions has made me vulnerable to all sorts of breakdowns of late.


 Hear me clear: I am not sad.  I am not overwhelmed in a negative way necessarily but I am moved to a point lately that I cannot contain all the emotions welling up within me even with my iron will constitution still firmly in place.
 I blame it on grandchildren.
Yep.  That is the start of it and I'm pretty sure the undoing of this previously very controlled lady.


 And it's not just the grandchildren that is the root of all this emotion.  It's their blamed parents.
It is the progeny, the fruit of my loins that has me all in a dither.
It is the realization that these people, that formerly lived in my home 24/7, not to mention my womb for nine months, that has me over the top.


 You pray, you hope, you research, you read, you cajole, you threaten, you yell, you cry (well, some do), you cross your metaphorically speaking fingers and hope to the Dear Lord that  you did something right.

And then, and then, they have children.  They become these people that you love to visit.  These people that make you laugh, make you proud, make you glad that you gave birth to them.  These people are highly functioning, amazingly friendly, witty beyond belief, servants of God.  And it truly has nothing to do with me.


Your children have children.  You visit when it is acceptable for it is not about you.  Never has been.  You watch their family dynamic.  You quietly work around, tiptoeing, not really wanting to disturb the magic that you are observing.  You want to be a fly on the wall but in a helpful way.  You wish that your lackluster memory could contain all the images that you are soaking in:  Daddy comes home from work.  You know that he has worked long and hard and has to be bushed after not getting much sleep because of a newborns sleep habits.  You see his tired face come into the door and in the background you hear this high pitched little voice run toward her daddy enthusiastically,  'Daddy's home! Daddy's home!, arms reaching up. The previously weary employee magically alters into the super hero his little daughter thinks he is. He brightens, and when asked, 'Daddy, you play with me?' agrees to joining her little gathering of stuffed animals and proceeds to voice each little fuzzy buddy with a hilarity that makes me laugh out loud.  Magical stuff.  And this has been  repeated in each of the babymoons that I have participated in with my three producing (so far) children.

Hence the tears.

I am a peripheral observer in these homes.  Sure, I have a place in their hearts.  Sure, I have served my time as their priority, as it should be. My time with them as influence and advisor is over. And they are doing  quite well without my daily input, thank you very much. They have lives and circles of friends and futures in continuing generations.  When Maddox, the little angel I just spent time with, is a mere 20 years old, I shall, Lord Willing, be 80 years old.  Reality Check.  I am quite alright with the fact that I am mortal.  I am quite alright with the idea that my prime has passed and that I shall be peripheral in most things from henceforth.
But the overwhelming emotion I feel when I see, I feel, the amazing joy, in the result of the hopefulness many years ago, well, it gushes out into submissive sobbing at the goodness of our God and how He works.  He took a crazily dysfunctional girl, placed her in the life of just the right boy and what comes forth, can only be credited to our Lord.

I weep for the joy, I weep for the heartache that young people face while raising families, I weep for the pain of challenging situations that only make you stronger but painful to watch.  I weep for all the joys ahead of them; some of them with me in the picture, some of them not.  I weep for their futures, for the depth of the love that they will experience as they add years to their marriages and as they watch their own children please them in the way that they have over the top pleased me.

I weep in my humanity and in God's goodness...

To God be the Glory and He will dry my abundant tears in due time...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Luck O' the Irish!

Pshaw.
Who am I kidding?
Luck has absolutely nothing to do with all that went on in this old house this past weekend.

 The gathering that commenced had everything to do with the unmitigated, miraculous gift from the gracious hand of God.  Period.

 There is no other explanation of the incredible blessing that a gathering of that magnitude could take place.  There are schedules to orchestrate, travel in fickle weather, illness to hopefully stave off, menus to design, recipes to cull, bathrooms to clean, beds to make and all the endless everyday that happens in life.  
How else could this be done except His powerful Hand?





 And speaking of His Hand, what about the reason for our gathering?
To celebrate the lives of people that have profoundly influenced so many.






Hubby, celebrating an exuberant 60 years.
Miss Viv, whose birth altered my life forever, turning The Big Four.
My Thirdsie, my intellectual, philosophical, mercurial, hilarious son, turning a chapter in his life at age 28
My absent son in law, Baby Girl's Hubby, who makes us so proud and pleased to share him with his family, turning 26.
These special, special people were created and designed for this world, this family at this time, is nothing short of divine.





Former babies of mine, turning delightfully into the most wonderful of adults and bringing their babes into the gathering, is something that is not easy to describe.


Seeing parenting skills that are remarkably, comfortably familiar yet vastly improved upon, makes me smile down to my toes.



Watching the next generation play with the things of play of many years ago, brings to life the bygone days....


Feeling the joy of adding an additional Big Girl pretend granddaughter with all her wit and input and help, well -over the moon....


I think you get the idea.
*sigh*




































Now, the REAL reason we gather:
The. Best. Corned. Beef. Recipe. Ever.

4 lbs corned beef brisket
2 onions, sliced
1 bunch parsley, tied
1 bay leaf
1 onion stuck with cloves
Pepper to taste
1 large carrot, sliced
2 lbs small round new potatoes
2 lb cabbage, cut in wedges

Place beef in large pot, cover with cold water.  Bring to boil; discard water.  Add fresh water to cover, and all the ingredients except potatoes and cabbage; bring slowly to boil, uncovered.  Skim foam.  Cover' simmer gently about 4 hours.  Remove parsley, cloved onion.  Add potatoes, followed 10 minutes later by cabbage. Cover; simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes and cabbage are cooked.  Makes 6-8 servings.

(author's note:  My group of 11 consumed 4 hefty briskets...All that was left was photographed and used in the BG's Hubby's own recipe: Corned Beef Hangover Omelets, the next day.

VERY IMPORTANT!!  YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS MAKING THE IRISH MUSTARD SAUCE!!

IRISH MUSTARD SAUCE!
1 TBLS cornstarch
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 tbls butter
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp grated horseradish
2 egg yolks, beaten

Combine cornstarch, sugar, mustard and salt in heavy quart pan.  Add water. Stir over low heat until mixture thickens and boils.  Remove from heat; add butter, vinegar, horseradish.  Beat a little of hot mixture into egg yolks, then add yolk mixture back to pan.  Cook slowly, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly.  Serve with corned beef. 


Enjoy!!
(interested in the Irish Soda Recipe from Dublin?  Leave a comment! :D 

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