Saturday, September 04, 2010

Sister Maria Patience

Maria has a cold, and so she and I have had some extra time together at home. She's slowed down a bit, and of course her coughing is worse at night, so she's very drowsy in the morning, and she even napped (once) during the day. Otherwise, her energy doesn't seem to wane. It's quite possible she even has as much, or more, energy than Ferris El Gato Spazo... remarkably, I caught him napping, but it only lasted three minutes.

Her first day home, she and I found some charm packs, pre-cut quilting squares, in the fabric stash, and we spent a good while laying them out and deciding on our favorite configuration for a quilt. That was fun, and it's a shame Max wasn't with us, because he has terrific quilt design skills. The prints we found are old-fashioned reproduction style prints, so our Get Well Quilt will have a classic and sweet patchwork look. Maria snipped threads and supplied pins while I pieced the twelve nine patch blocks.

Maria has always been by my side while I sew. And for more than three years she has been happy to snip threads, sort buttons, reconfigure straight pins, and even cut her own fabric scraps. It really should come as no surprise that she is ready for new challenges with a needle and thread.

Her second day home, Maria really, really wanted me to find something fun to do with her. And while she rattled off suggestions, I kept going back to sewing... what could she and I do together with a needle and thread?


I love to embroider, and recently Alicia Paulson, of Posy Gets Cozy, has been re-sparking my interest. Even when she isn't sewing I always find beauty and thoughtfulness at Posy Gets Cozy. Her new book is available, and it looks as full and inspiring as Stitched In Time, her first book. (Santa? How are you? Are you paying attention? ... hint hint)

When I asked Maria if she would like to learn how to embroider, make pictures by sewing, she reached a new level of animated and vocalized joy!

We started with a pencil drawing, and I resisted suggesting she "add more" or ask "what else do you want in your picture?" I knew her simple and dear daisy would be perfect for a beginner. I was very concerned about not overwhelming her, because even an experienced stitcher can run in to frustrating snags.

She chose her brown for the soil, and I pulled three threads of floss, then threaded the wide eyed needle. With a knot at the bottom, I positioned the needle at the base of her garden soil, and she took over from there.

I showed her how to make smaller stitches as she went around curves. We chatted amiably about the patience it takes to sew, and she agreed it was important to go slowly, not rush. She asked again, about how long to make a stitch, or where to put the needle when coming through the bottom. She kept the thread from tangling, or slipping off the needle, and she said things like, "My heart comes truly love." And "This makes my life come true." And "Mommy, you and I are sewing like ladies. I love this so much."


She was so calm, and so immersed in the quiet pleasure, that it was like sewing with a much more experienced student, and I was even able to do a little sewing too. She anticipated the colors she wanted to use for the petals. She worked well independently, and she was never disappointed about accepting help.

I have been sewing for a long time, and as I try to remember my first experience I can be almost certain that I was never this patient or naturally skilled. In fact, I am not sure I am as calm and serene, as she is, even now! I think she is a good influence on me.

She finished the dirt, the stem, and the curved leaves, she even finished the round, yellow flower head. And this morning, between coughs, she is asking if we can mix thread colors for the petals. "I want to finishing sewing Mom. Can we get started sewing, please?"

You'll excuse me, please...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Found My Camera...

It wasn't "lost," but it's been one of those weeks when anything three feet out of the way may as well have been lost.

All in brown, but staying home. Maria missed school picture day. *sad face*

And now it's Friday?
We've almost made it?
Is it too soon to take a head count, check for collateral damages? Give thanks, and breath a sigh of semi-relief?

1. Chango does not have cancer. Don't you love getting the good news first, and skipping the anxious bad news?

Oh, Professor Moriarty. He looks more handsome than ever on a misty morning.

2. Alex is a cyclist. Our summer test runs worked, and now he is his own ride. I promised I would give him a car ride anytime it snows.

3. William has a new school. He is navigating a big campus and big changes, and I am in awe of his heart, mind, soul, and handsome smile.

Zoltar is about twelve inches tall. Our neighbor says she loves the chickens! What a relief. Her home is nearest the cocky-doodle doers, so we were a bit worried about her opinion of them.

4. Today is Brown Day, and Maria is all dressed for Brown Day, and she is still sick. So. There's that. But yesterday we worked played together and began a patchwork quilt we are calling a Get Well Quilt. I think we achieved as much schooling and learning as a kindygarten girl could hope for, and the quilt is really coming along nicely.

5. Max's good friend Lucas is home sick, as are two other students from his class... so is it any surprise Max is coughing-asleep in our bed? He loathes missing school, when it means falling behind, so it is easy to gauge when staying home is actually necessary.

6. Geoff did something to his back.
(Insert my sympathetic sighs, and concern, and prayerful appeals to make it all better, please. Thank you.)

7. A professional someone gave me a kindly gaze, and a warm hug, and suggested-prescribed a massage and therapy... she knows pretty well some of the challenges we cope with, and I feel fortunate to have her on our side. Wasn't she amazing to think of the Momma?

8. Maria is leading Ferris in a parade. She holds a stick and string above her head, counting and marching, and the kitty follows close behind.

She is waiting for me to do something, like make a show, or color, or read, or watch a movie, or sew, or something! please, right now.

Sneezes, coughs, runny noses, fevers... these never do seem to slow her down, not too much.

Those hot days made a nice difference in the garden. It wasn't the best gardening season, but tomatoes are ripening, and the basil is picking up steam. And I think I will need a recipe for eggplant after all!

9. It really is Friday. And it's already the third day of September. Outside there is a gorgeous misty-foggyness, and in the garden there were things to harvest, like tomatoes, basil, and green beans. Betty laid an egg.
10. Time for a book, Pooh, Winnie ther Pooh will do nicely I think, and tea...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


My camera is out of reach, which is unfortunate. This is the first moment I have even thought of taking a picture in almost a week.

Benjamin. He is looking so sweet and serene. He is sweet and serene. We hardly recognize him. Benjamin used to be the rascal, the meddlesome youngster kitty, getting in to mischief and being pesky. No more. Ever since Ferris came on the scene, Benjamin has retreated and retired. Benjamin is meek, mild, and mellow. He is defenseless against Ferris attacks, and seems almost emotionally injured by the high energy antics of his new room mate.

I was about to find the camera and take a picture of Benjamin Franklin stretched out like a meditative sphinx on my sewing table... so handsome, and comfortable, but then Ferris sprang on the scene, pouncing from behind a stack of school papers. Moment lost.

If only Benjamin would swat him firmly across the noggin, then I think he would get his due respect. It worked for Chango, who gave Ferris a much deserved smack on the posterior that sent the youngster in a spin. Ferris does not harass Chango.

Gee, I sound a bit violent, like I think smacks and swats are the means to peace. Cats. I am talking about cats. They have a system. I have tried the brotherly love approach, but they seem to act like cats no matter how many times I quote Ghandi to them.

All the children are at school. Right now. I have both phones beside me, and an anxious, shallow breath. I know some of them are fine, some of them will excel, some of them want to be there for purple day. I know that not everyone enjoys the prospect of being in a crowd, working against the clock, facing challenges invisible to most. I also know that some way, by some means, each of them will find a path and happiness, and their own flavor of success, and I keep this faith in my thoughts and heart.

A quote was going around about how ~we must be kind to everyone, because each of us has a story, a personal struggle, something we are coping with~ Something like that. I am botching the quote, but I know the idea of it is true, which is why I did not smack the guy who cussed me out for not crossing the rails when a train was coming and the crossing guard was coming down. Just saying.

Yesterday, and the day before, were hard, long days, full of expected and unexpected challenges. Somehow I kept smiling. Somehow, I was able to reflect on how much I love my husband and children, and how eager I was to get to a space and time when we could be under the same roof... it felt like the promise of sanctuary... there's no place like home, there's no place like home. And driving home, I was overcome with happiness and gratitude, because it is beautiful here. I cannot take a picture of that either, but I can see it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31, 2006

I remember this day. Four years ago. A midweek lunch with Geoff's family. Near his office. Maria was not yet two. Ruth and Corm were visiting from Hawaii.

I am so glad to have these images. It is so wonderful to look back, smile, and recall that life is good. Good things happen, bad too, and we just keep moving forward either way. I love to have reminders of the good things.

This week has been a little rough... okay, rough and sprinkled with intense moments of suckiness. The worst may be behind us, at least I know that we have survived thus far. Whatever our stressors may be, they are real and can be challenging, and it never hurts to pause, and breath, and say, we are here, we made it, we are not giving up. And then smile, and prepare for whatever may be next.