Saturday, March 22, 2014

Color Comfort

This is a small piece I have carried with me for at least twenty-five years. Too small for clothes, too special to cut into... but now it will appear in six squares of my new patchwork quilt. Out of a box and into a loved quilt... that's more special!

Nineteen different cotton prints, all washed and pressed. I cut six inch strips, then cut those strips into six inch squares. Now I have 329 squares. I have an 86" x 86" poly cotton Ikea comforter. It's light and poufy... the same I used on the last quilt I finished. More or less, accounting for seam allowances, the six inch squares will be about five inch squares after sewing, and so I'll make the quilt top 17 squares by 17 squares... roughly 85" by 85" and then I can either give it a narrow sashing all the way around, or bring the backing forward for the binding.

So. Next up... laying down the comforter and playing around with the 329 squares, to see what looks good. Random... no pattern, no plan. I'm keeping this one simple. Patchwork. Comforting colors, small prints. Romantic. Light. Airy. And tied. I've only ever machine-quilted one quilt, and it was okay but it makes the quilt kind of stiff, compact. Hand quilting would be too much of a challenge with the thick comforter sandwiched in there. Honestly, I am looking forward to finishing another tied quilt... it makes such a cozy and, like I said... poufy quilt.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Graceful Art Thou, Washburn Foo

There are moments, few and far between, when I feel composed, prepared, civilized and comfortable, myself. Those moments, when my hair is brushed, are good. When I have on clothing that is neither stained, inexplicable or utterly confounding, I like that, too. Mister Foo has these moments, when he bears an air of regal forbearance, and can carry his own in witty repartee. Oh, kitty. Thou art the very picture of class, dignity, grace... sometimes.

In most other instances, life is less dignified, less refined. Left alone, home, in the garden, Foo and I are free to be less than graceful, and this suits us most agreeably well.

But on camera, in public, like our dear Foo, I find myself barely keeping it together, and all out of sorts. Gravity is our nemesis. Fashion is our foe. We are Earth bound creatures, Foo and I. Also, I don't like going to gyms, salons, malls, or soirees.

A recent review of my "wardrobe" shows me in possession of tattered pants, dead bras, badly stained shirts, and my favorite black and white skirt (the only one I wear to church, weddings, services, gatherings, celebrations, and meetings) went through the wash with something red. My wardrobe is, once again, in desperate need of rethinking, and replenishing.

Metaphorically, this picture of Mister Foo, struggling against gravity and his floppy butt, illustrates what I look and feel like when I am faced with shopping for new clothes: I writhe, squirm, look ungainly and weird, and I get really, painfully, agonizingly confused. Really. Painfully. Agonizingly. This not hyperbole. I am being emphatic and concise. My list of objections goes something like this: 1. everything is overpriced/expensive 2. fashions today do not make me happy (colors, cuts, styles, being a billboard for some designer's name... ugh) 3. three-way mirrors 4. I've enjoyed too much buttered raisin toast 5. I stain everything I wear 6. I'd rather dig in the dirt than go into stores.

Oh, darling Foo. We are kindred spirits, you and I.

Some time ago I recognized a lesson about the energy and time I waste being concerned with appearances. Love makes us beautiful, I realized. Feeling comfortable in the world might come from more effort, less fretting, of course, but I think most especially focusing on internal happiness, and relationships, is where I want to exercise my beliefs and efforts. And, perhaps, less buttered raisin toast. I hesitate to act too rashly on this point, though.

You know, it's somewhat misleading to say I don't like to shop. I shop for friends, for my children, and that can be enjoyable. I shop in the second-hand stores, often. I browse the aisles of Pinterest, and keep a catalog of clothes that do inspire me. It's just that...

I am muddling through deep thoughts here...

Maybe, what I need is to be more like Foo. Discomfort is something I project onto him, when he looks awkward, is falling, but really he has no shame or guilt, no sense that he looks a goof. He's honest. He wears his spots, and does his thing, and he doesn't stop to think about what anyone else has to say about his belly, or his moves. He is his own true self, and nothing makes him doubt, or even consider, that he's fine, or not fine. Mister Foo can wear stripes with polka dots, sit backwards in a chair. He's cool that way.

More muddling...

I am terribly self-conscious, and at the same time decidedly non-conformist. But I don't want to be "non-comformist," in such a way that I draw attention, or make a statement. I am non-comformist in such a way that I want to wear long skirts, aprons, and boots, because those are comfortable, but if I feel that being comfortable makes other people look twice, then I get uncomfortable. Introverted eccentric. Is that a thing? When I grow up, I want to be the sort of woman who wears exactly what pleases her... pleases me.

Even deeper muddlement...

Even posting about all of this is making me squirm and writhe, because I don't want to make this all about Me, and my neurosis. I hope thinking about and coping with our appearance, our comfort levels, in public is something others can relate to in their own way, that we can talk about being beautiful and comfortable, and our own true selves, and even how to model this kind of sincerity for others. Obviously, I am not the only one who wants to enjoy my own colors and flare, but struggles with how everyone else will feel, or react. I don't think I'll be bullied for wearing a petticoat under my walking skirt, but I'm not at the level of confidence, grace and happiness that Foo has mastered.

You raise the bar, Mister Washburn Foo. You raise it high.

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring, Here Is A Goat!

{Maybe later today I'll insert a poem, or other deep thoughts.
Otherwise, I think this picture of Tasha Tudor Goat says it all.}

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Speaking of Pleasures...

When I reflected on the concept of guilty pleasures, I should have included dishes in my list of happy obsessions. Dishes thrill me! And saying that, I feel that I am not fully conveying my profound fascination and delight in pretty dishes, bowls, cups, saucers... oh my! I like their shapes, the colors, prints. I like that a dish can be a tiny and functional piece of art. It's satisfying to justify its purchase, when it can be useful. I like changing the mood, the season, the feel of a day with just the right plate or bowl.

For as long as I can remember, I've watched for a set of Christmas dishes. I haven't found them, not yet. But these autumnal flowers, the chrysanthemums, like sea anemones, if they were mine, these would come out every fall, especially for Thanksgiving. I would press a table cloth in their honor. I am imagining a splendid feast, and simple weeknight dinners, when the days grow shorter, and we crave warm gatherings. The egg-shell blue dishes would be set in spring, in time for blossoms and garden teas, in time to lift my spirits with thoughts of new life, and whimsy.

Someday, if I'm not careful, my cupboards, the closets, every shelf and nook, will have a set of dishes, a stash of saucers and cups, and upstairs... nothing but quilts and sheets! Just thinking about it makes me giddy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Little Bit Irish

When I was growing up, St. Patricks's Day meant a classroom craft, and wearing green. When we were a bit older, my mom started making corned beef and cabbage for the occasion, a tradition that raised some eyebrows, because... I guess, it wasn't quite so common for everyone to celebrate the day. No one would ever suggest we were even the teeniest bit Irish, but every time that dish was set on our dining table, a friend would pause, and ask. Not that it really matters. These days, St. Patrick's Day seems to have become a bigger deal, and a deal for everyone, no matter how teeny bit Irish you are! Maria has been coming home from school with stories about 'leprechaun traps, finding treasure, more candy, gifts, surprises,' and she sighs a wee bit wistfully. Poor darling! Her momma will go to great lengths to make Groundhog Day a thing, and goodness knows we need very little impetus to to roll out a humdinger of a party, but the beer-and-candy, industry driven holidays leave me cold. However, enriching our cultural experiences, learning something new, and making it a bit our own... that's something I can get into!

I may not be the teeniest bit Irish, but my children are, and they have this lovely, innate attraction to Irish music and culture. Lark in The Morning and The Waterford Boys get more playtime here, than any pop tune ever will. William designed a pattern for a bow tie that we made... green, for St. Patrick's Day. And besides Maria's wide-eyed lament about the sad absence of shamrock shakes and green pancakes, there was an expectation that something should be forthcoming to mark St. Patrick's Day. And so we did make a to-do, with our own Irish flavors and nods to heritage and culture.

William asked for an Irish Stew, a vegetarian Irish Stew. I've never had either variety, but I read a few recipes and gathered a few ingredients, and created a simple, yet rich, soup of leeks, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and butter. And Max made an Irish Soda Bread! I found the recipe for him in Alice Water's Art of Simple Food. (At long last, we've cooked another recipe for the cooking group! Oh, gosh... the last three posts referring to the cooking group are my excuses for not keeping up with the cooking group. No shame.) Anyway, I left the baking to Max and he handled it beautifully! This was my first taste of an Irish Soda Bread and I thought it was delicious... a great complement to hot soup. And he made it look so gorgeous, too, like a four leaf clover! And just like my mother, I cooked corned beef, with huge wedges of steamed cabbage. The cabbage is my favorite part! For a bit o'gold we drank sparkling Chardonnay grape juice from pretty glasses.

Dinner was delicious, and after we ate we were out in the garden, planting, playing tag, herding chickens, and enjoying a cool breezy evening. While we cleared dishes, William made dessert... are blondie bars Irish? Probably not. But those were delicious with strawberries. Everyone's homework was completed early, so we finished our wee holiday by watching The Secret of Kells. Nothing missing, but Geoff. Geoff we are missing, a lot. But, with a little luck, we'll be seeing him more regularly, soon. That's the end of the rainbow treasure I'm watching for!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Five Good Things

Good things...

1. Finding breakfast in your own backyard.

2. Finding a parking space... against all odds!

3. Knowing loved ones {my Mommy, Anna Banana} have flown home, safely.

4. All the cleaning and chores Maria, Max, Alex and I accomplished... with smiles, and conversations.

5. William successfully completed a course in Industrial Silicone Molding, and liked it.

Yesterday, our weather was as hot as July! And even though some of my friends have been slammed with yet another round of winter weather, I hope everyone can think of some good things to share.