Tuesday, September 02, 2014


It's a big day/week/year for another reason that I was just reminded of ... this young man begins his Ph.D studies today.  (Well, he sort of continues ... Jonathan's at the same institution, the University of Denver where he completed his MA in International Studies last spring).

Thanks to his mother-in-law, Maata ji (aka Kathy Kingsley) who took this wonderful picture back in the summer.

I am amazed and humbled that I have this privilege also ... of seeing my children work hard to discover and pursue what is important to them; to strive through challenges and hardships, to persevere in the ups and downs, toward significant goals.

I don't write too much about my adult children anymore here because, well, they are adults.  Their lives are their own to share or not, with the wide world, as they please.

There are many, many times that I miss the old days; the full house, the noise, the involvement in activities of my children ... horses, chorus, theatre, football, orchestra, movie-making, soccer.  As much as I miss those days, however, I am well content in this new-ish season.  I say "ish" because we only became empty-nesters last fall. I am still getting used to it, still figuring out what it looks like to be a mother-from-a-distance.  That distance is only physical, though - each of my six, and now their spouses and children -  are never far away in my thoughts, hopes, longings, and prayers.

In the Gramma department ...

this is a pretty great week!

Today, we're remembering the arrival of the little girl that made us grandparents for the first time. 

(holding newborn Clara for the very first time)

Later this week, Clara (and her mom and brother, Levi!) arrive for a nice long visit.

And, of course, yesterday we got to spend time with Thomas and Kay and baby David.

I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of being Gramma to the these three little ones and pray for the wisdom to love them well, to encourage and support their parents, and to point them to the beauty and glory of God in all things.  It is a weighty and joyous thing to be a grandparent.

On another note, today is my parents' 60th wedding anniversary.  That's a pretty special and increasingly rare milestone. I am so thankful for their example of faithfulness, support, and love through these many years.

Happy 5th birthday, Clara, and Happy Anniversary, Mama and Daddy!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Sweet, sleeping baby

There is nothing in the world like holding a sleeping baby in your arms and looking down into his sweet face.

So very happy for baby David time today ... and for time with Thomas and Kay.  I do love having children and a grandbaby close enough for a day trip visit.  It's a big plus that Joel is just 20 minutes down the road from them!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The end of summer

"The crickets sang in the grasses.  They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. 'Summer is over and gone,' they sang, 'Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.'
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into fall - the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change...
Everybody heard the song of the crickets.  Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road ... Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. 'Another summer gone,' she sighed.
'Summer is over and gone,' repeated the crickets. 'How many nights til frost?' sang the crickets. 'Good-bye, summer, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye!'
The sheep heard the crickets, and they felt so uneasy they broke a hole in the pasture fence and wandered up into the field across the road ... a little maple tree in the swamp heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.'"
I read this chapter, "Crickets, " from Charlotte's Web to Clara the other day and thought that perhaps E. B. White felt the way I do about the ending of summer.  I never want it to end.  I want the long hot days to go on and on and on; for watermelons and corn and tomatoes and yellow squash and okra to keep ripening; for the farmers to continue bringing their produce on Monday afternoons to the little market by the railroad tracks.  I want to be hot enough that the cool, well water in the pool feels refreshing; to sweat when I walk; to hear the electric throbbing hum of the cicadas.

Down south, first frost is still a ways off.  We will have plenty of hot days in September, I'm sure.  I even thought about challenging myself to swim outside every day in September.  We'll see about that.

E. B. White, who wrote Charlotte's Web, lived in Maine, so Labor Day weekend really did signal the end of summer for him.  Fall was just around the corner, the brilliant colors of the maples and oaks, the harvest of apples, the chill of frost soon coming very soon.  We still have a bit of time.  September is not yet full-fledged fall here.  In October and on into November, we will have mild, shirt-sleeve days.

It's coming, though.  Leaves are already drying and drifting down.  The tulip poplars are the first ones that yellow and fall.  We scoop them out of the pool along with the last of the pink crepe myrtle blossoms.  I spotted a bit of red on the drooping leaves of an August-dry dogwood.  Mums are appearing in the garden centers.  Pumpkins will be here soon.

I don't want summer to end.  I'm not ready for sweaters.  And yet ...

I feel the dry, brittle grass in the front yard, see the summer weary beauty berry with hints of purple in the clusters of berries. The hosta blooms are spent, their stalks, dry pokers now.  The bronze fennel has gone to seed, .  So, let the season change.  Let the cool weather come.  E.B. White said these were the most beautiful days - the days when summer was changing into fall.  I understand but don't agree.  I still prefer March and April, with the promise of growth and warmth ahead, but I'll settle into the beauty of fall when it comes. I'll put a mum on the porch and change out the summer wreath on the front door and even enjoy wrapping up in a quilt on the porch in the chill of the mornings to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gramma x 3

A week ago, weary from the roller coaster ride of a 55 hour labor and home from the birthing center, Kay and Thomas slept.  I got to hold the baby.  I snuggled that little curled up body and watched the changing expressions on his tiny newborn face.  It was the second time this year that I have had the incomparable privilege of holding a newborn grandchild.  In January, it was baby Levi and now, baby David.  First cousins who, I hope, will get to know and love each other as my children know and love their nine first cousins.

The births of these two cousins were very different in many ways but alike in this, the labors were long and did not proceed as anticipated.

I bore six children, the first in a hospital in Nairobi and the rest, with the help of midwives, at home.  People think there is something special in that - that you are a superwoman ... or crazy.  I didn't think so.  It felt natural, calm, peaceful.  I had quick labors and rather easy deliveries.  So, when I think of what my Erin and Kay went through, I am a bit in awe of their strength and courage.  They are the superwomen.

I am Gramma x 3 now and thrilled about it.  Baby David is only two hours away.  Hooooray!  And Erin will be coming down with Clara and Levi next week.  My cup overflows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We went to the beach ...

We read a lot ...

at the house ...

and on the beach.

I cooked, they cleaned.

We ate a lot of peaches.

We played the dice games we learned in Bolivia.

We rode in the golf cart.

We missed the ones that weren't there.

Gosh, I love being with these people.

Sewing with a friend

I have creative friends for whom I am very thankful.  They see things I don't see and create in ways that are inspiring and exciting.  I am encouraged by their vision for beauty and their dedication to developing their art and craft.

It is particularly fruitful when I am able to spend time with them creating.  I don't get to do it often enough. For two summers in a row, some of us worked together on quilts for the Sari Bari auctions.  But there was no auction this year, so no communal quilt making.  I'm missing that gathering together to make.

Fortunately, I did have a chance a couple of weeks ago to do some sewing with my friend, Carla.  Truly, this dear friend is one of my creative muses.  I learn so much from her.

We worked from the book, Happy Homemade: Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs.  It's a lovely little book and the designs are, indeed, quite simple.  I had sewn one dress from the book and Carla and I worked on a tunic top.  We're trying it with some leftover sari fabric first to see how the pattern fits.  I think it's going to be lovely.

I'm also altering a lovely white linen dress and a pair of linen pants for her.  The pants will be shortened and then embellished with some of the crocheted doilies pictured above.  It is a challenge to me to figure out how to alter and make a beautiful, but unworn, dress fit well.  Hoping I can get it right with C's linen dress because it will be quite lovely on her. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I'd been hoping to "make-over" that lower terrace this summer.  I reworked one bed a couple of months ago, digging and amending the soil and transplanting daylilies, hostas, and parsley. The rest of the lower terrace garden has languished, a sad assortment of shasta daisies, a knock-out rose, and lots of weeds. Back in May, I added an astilbe and a hydrangea in the shady corner, but the path was an uneven and the whole thing was weedy mess crying out for attention and restoration.

Today was the day.  I dug, moved rocks, hauled topsoil, chopped and added leaves to the beds, smoothed the path, laid down landscape fabric on the path and spread cypress mulch on it.  I lined the beds with the afore mentioned rocks (which are really chunks of concrete that we scavenged years ago), and planted and transplanted ... another hydrangea, several hostas, some impatiens, ferns, ajuga, and a lone coral bell that had gotten squeezed out by a vigorously growing hosta in bed in front of the house.

Today's work is done now and the sprinklers are running, watering in the new plants.  I am bone weary, arm hanging limp tired.  I may not be able to move in the morning.  But I like this kind of job-done-weary ... and it is a beautiful night.  The cicadas are humming and I expect I'll hear an owl or two in a little while.  Lightning bugs are twinkling here and there and the full moon will be up in a little while.

I am grateful.  So very grateful ... for arms to lift and haul, rake and dig; for legs that carry me back and forth, uphill and down; for good tools; for a well that has never run dry; for the white hydrangea and phlox blossoms that shimmer in a moonlit garden.

Friday, July 11, 2014

needle and thREAD #33

I'm doing a little happy dance because needle and thREAD is back!  I've missed it while Elizabeth's been otherwise occupied this summer. But for me, it hasn't just been the summer.  I just looked back to see when my last needle and thREAD post was and I'm shocked!  It was waaaaay back in January.  Really??? Where, oh where has 2014 gone???  Well, I know where it's gone ... new baby Levi, Make Welcome, wedding, travel, and many other good things that in the looking-back-upon at this moment seem to be a joy-filled, busy blur.

Anyway ...with all the comings and goings in the last couple of months, my studio has been fairly quiet. A quilt got finished back in May and a bit of pre and post-wedding stitching.  But, with all the travels, the machine has mostly sat quiet.  Now that I'm home, though (well, except for one more little jaunt to the beach next week), I've got lots of "to be finished" projects in piles, and plans for new projects lined up.  I'm itching to sew.

But let's back up, first.  Here's the pre-wedding stitching ...

-Kailie's wedding hairpiece

I felt honored when she asked me to make something and I wanted it to be extra-special.  I read a bunch of tutorials on organza flowers, tried several different type of organza, burned my finger on melted organza once or twice, and finally ended up with a flower I really liked.

The large flower on the left is layers of organza with candle curled edges.  The center of the flower is burlap from one of our rice bags, stamens (found in the Wilton section of the craft store.  Who knew?), and three antique buttons from my grandmother's button collection.

The flower on the top right is made from lace and seam trimmings from Kailie's mother's wedding dress.  There is a small beaded heart that was attached to the lace bag her mom carried and Karen gave us permission to cut it off and use it in Kailie's hairpiece.

The bottom right flower is made from scraps of lace and muslin that my mom used to make my wedding dress.  There is a bit of burlap ribbon and a scrap of lace edging (bottom right) from the corner of an antique hankie.

I so enjoyed making this for sweet Kailie and was delighted to see how lovely it looked on her that day.

-Clara's hairpiece and sash

Clara got an organza bow, too, with a bit of orange/coral ribbon and an antique button in the center to match her sash (which was the closest we could come in color to matching the lovely coral bridesmaid's dresses)

I also stitched that bit of lace to her sash, picking up a little lace design element in the bridesmaid's dresses.

Then it was home and a bit of "thank-you" sewing.  Three of Kailie's bridesmaids had been major helps to me in preparing the rehearsal dinner and I used some of the scraps from M and K's quilt to make wristlet zipper pouches for them.  

Since making the pouches, the machine's been idle.  But not for long ...

While traveling is not conducive to much machine sewing, it's great for reading.  Long, international flight, airport layovers, etc.  My kindle has been put to good use this summer.

I'm continuing to make my way through all of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries.  I'm currently in Strong Poison which is #6 in the Lord Peter Wimsey series.  I don't think I will ever tire of these books.

A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul Miller was recommended by a friend, so it's another book that made its way onto my kindle.  Miller uses the story of Ruth to delve into what it means to live a life of love and he does a good job of capturing the essence of what it means to persevere in authentic, covenant love.  Here are a couple of passages to give you a flavor of the book:
"Hesed [steadfast love] is one-way love.  Love without an exit strategy.  When you bind yourself with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is."
"Love doesn't go though the day with a measuring stick, testy over the unevenness of life.  Our undying, never-stopping love, reflects the Father's undying love for us in Christ Jesus." 
"Instinctively, we like neat categories of saint or sinner.  But like many of us Naomi is ambiguous. Accepting ambiguity is immensely helpful in the work of love, because when we encounter the strange mixture of good and bad in another person, we tend to lock onto the evil and miss the good.  We don't like ambiguity.  We prefer the clarity of judging."
"A lament put us in the openly dependent position, where our brokenness reflects the brokenness of the world ... holding it in, not giving voice to the lament, can be a way of putting a good face on it.  But to not lament puts God at arm's length and has the potential of splitting us.  We appear okay, but we are really brokenhearted." 
Notes from a Blue Bike and The Hundred Foot Journey were quick airplane reads.

Finally, I finished Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit.  I must say that I found this book quite interesting in the beginning, but the last few chapters were a plod. Like a walk that's left you feeling fatigued, I was just ready to get to the end and be done.  Glad I read it, but glad to be done.

Lots of books in the queue as I work my way toward this year's goodreads goal of 50 books.  I'm almost at halfway.  Next week at the beach will put me over, I'm sure!

needle and thREAD