Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Warm-Up Exercise

"Okay. Let's!"

That's how it ended, my conversation with Rise last week.

After much hemming and hawing and yeah-buts.

The simple word "Let's!"

Complete with exclamation point.

Which carries with it a certain air of enthusiasm.

Which I was not feeling.

But what else could I say?

She wanted to sign up for NaBloPoMo.

No problem, you say.

But--With Me.


Since I've been feeling completely uninspired.

Since I think I may have forgotten how to string words together coherently.

Since there's so much gobbledy-gook going on in my head it's like noisy snow on the television in a hurricane.

But I have to humour the Little Blister.

That's what big sisters are supposed to do. Especially when they've been harassing the Little One to write more; calling her the un-blogger; nagging; cajoling; bullying.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Sooooo. All together now:

Yes We Can Na-Blo-Po-Mo!

That's my desperate measure.

It's not as though there's been nothing to write about around here.

I have been tending to the wounded.

What with Beans falling off bicycles and dislocating elbows;

And cats finding the one and only piece of framing glass, hidden, one thought, in the sewing room, and slicing thereon a poor little paw;

And OCs getting exercise, at speed, helmetless, on more bicycles, tumbling off, requiring the services of all the king's horses and all the king's men to staple Humpty Dumpty together again.

Oy. And Oy. And Oy.

It has not been dull around here.

One finds oneself wishing for dull.

So, if one is to NaBloBlahBlah every day for an entire month one must needs flex those blahblah muscles.

This is the first of the warm up exercises.

Do not be alarmed.

They might get better.

And the bonus is you'll get to read the writings of Rise!

You're very welcome.

I live only to serve.

Note: The top and bottom pictures, sandwiching the more pathetic photos in the middle, are of Poinciana in bloom at the top, and Tarragon at the bottom.....both in the garden right now.

All three patients are healing nicely.....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So, What Makes You Feel Like Dancing?

Can you remember the last time you gave into the urge to dance in the middle of a crowded street? Hmmm. Me neither.

I was drifting pleasantly in that half-dream state, just before waking, knowing that, as soon as I opened my eyes, the door would slam shut on the lovely landscape of sleep, when a new fragment floated to the surface of my almost-consciousness. Concerning a pair of young idealists I'd heard about on the news. It had occurred to them that every day, in expensive hotels the world over, once-used, miniature bars of soap were dumped in the garbage. Because us westerners are very picky, because of, you know, cooties! At the same time they were aware that in Haiti, one of the poorest nations on earth, disease, much of it caused by filth and lack of the means of achieving basic hygiene,is rampant.

Light bulb moment!

What if they could somehow collect all those little discarded bars of soap, sanitize and recycle them and distribute them to the poor of Haiti? They made it happen! Which is why they were on the news. So nice to hear a smidgen of good news once in a while! The news clip showed crowds of Haitian children enthusiastically washing their hands with the recycled soap, and having it impressed upon them that doing this regularly will help to keep them healthy. It is reportedly already having a beneficial effect. Which is great, but not the main point of this post....

The main point is that while they were reporting and the cameras were rolling, showing the eager children scrubbing their hands so vigorously, and the gutters filled with stinking garbage all around, a young girl got caught on camera. She was obviously happy, smiling exuberantly, white teeth flashing in her mahogany face, whirling and dancing in the street for the sheer joy it. And then the camera moved on. But her face stayed with me and followed me into my dreams.

How is it that some of us are elated to be alive, even if we have to live in abject poverty, filth, and disease-ridden misery? Even when our government is so corrupt and unconcerned with providing decent living conditions for its citizens; and others of us, whose governments provide all kinds of services, from sanitation to law and order, from education to justice, to safe living conditions, all we can do is fight and bicker and fail to appreciate our good fortune? How is that, that the haves are so discontented with their abundance, and the have-nots can step over the garbage and dance?

That girl's dazzling smile and joyful dancing will stay in my head for a long time. Maybe it will make me bite my tongue, muffle my petty complaints before they turn into words, or even fully formed thoughts, and make me appreciate the comparative splendor in which I have the good fortune to live!

So, when was the last time you had an irrepressible urge to dance in the street, just for the joy of being alive?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Hostage Situation

A friend e-mailed me recently, a pithy one liner:

"Are you being held hostage by your sewing machine?" Nine words. Nothing more.

Actually I am. Which is why I haven't been here.

I've been in the sewing room, or in the garden, sloshing about with watering cans, for a few weeks now, with only brief visits to the bathroom, the kitchen and the bed.

The guild is having our second annual quilt show at the botanical gardens at the end of October. This year we're having a boutique of hand made items to raise money for various charities. Each member is asked to contribute a few items.

A few items.

I think I got carried away. I'm back to feeling as I did one summer, long ago, when I was sent off out the country, to my grandmother's, for a few weeks, probably to give my overworked, overstressed mother a break.

My grandmother's farm was one of my favourite places in the world to go. Usually we just went out to visit on the occasional Sunday afternoon, so to be there for a few weeks was heaven. I loved poking around in the farmyard; peering in at the big, fat, scruffy, snuffling pigs; letting the little calves suck on my hand; wishing the uncles would let me ride the old, blind-in-one-eye mare, even though I'd have been scared to death to be that far off the ground on something so large and unpredictable. I loved to climb up into a loft in one of the barns where lots of old photos were stored from when the old house burned down. I'd sit up there, in the half light, for hours, looking at all those serene, stern, sepia toned faces, some of them long dead, awe struck that they all had some connection to me! I loved to go exploring up the heathery hillside behind the house. I was as happy as the day was long, wandering around in those fields, climbing over the gates, picking the wild flowers, dodging the cows, and keeping an especially wary eye out for the bull. And higher up were the piney paths through the forestry lands. Utter peacefulness, with only the larks and the bees for company. To this day I think my children were cheated not to have grown up there....

I loved the big, warm, farm kitchen, from which all the action radiated, and where the water was always close to a boil, for tea. My grandmother made the most delicious cabbage which she boiled with a slab of bacon, ummm! And always the smell of soda bread baking. I loved the homely looking chairs with the woven seats, for which my uncle, to my amazement, was able to weave new seats when the old ones got worn and frayed.

I loved the uncles' big blue and white striped mugs. My Uncle Denis had a unique technique for cooling his tea. Adding more milk would dilute the tea taste too much, so he would tip his big blue and white stripey mug over, to let some of the tea spill into the saucer, where, the saucer being shallower, the tea would cool rapidly. Then he'd pour it back into the mug, making the tea just cool enough to sip without scalding his tongue. Catching my eye, he would wink at me and grin. We both knew it would be inadvisable for me to try his technique back home! His older sister would not be impressed.

I loved the Ovaltine my daft Auntie Bid would make for me before bed each night.Daft because she'd been jilted by the man she wanted to marry and never got over it. More than almost anything else, I loved to hear her stories of when they were young. The best one was how she and my mother would sneak out through the window, after they were supposed to be in bed, and go off to the village to go dancing. There were no flies on my grandmother though, and when they came home, sneaking back in, under cover of darkness, she'd be waiting for them with an ash plant!

I loved taking sandwiches and steaming cans of hot, sweet tea out to the fields to the uncles when they were saving the hay. If the sun was shining they couldn't waste precious time coming back to the house to eat, as you never knew, it being Ireland after all, when the rain clouds would come rolling in.

And when they did, I was given a bag of old fabric scraps, and some needles and thread with which to amuse myself. And this I loved most of all. They didn't know it at the time but they were creating a monster! I was absorbed, for hours at a stretch, making tiny little dolls, and fashioning tiny clothes for them. I have no idea what became of those little dolls, but one of my favourite things to do, to this day, is to take a bag of scraps and making something beautiful from them.

So, back to the job at hand! The first item I made was this shopping bag, from scraps I'd ceased to love;

Then I made this smaller bag from the same family of reject scraps;

Then this, smaller still, passport bag.

While digging in the closet for batting for one of the bags, my hand emerged, clutching some half-made pot holders from a few Christmases ago, which I had conveniently forgotten. I think, at the time, I made so many of them I thought I'd die from doing the same thing over and over. Easily bored I am! But it only took a little while to finish them off for the boutique.

A friend and I saw a pattern for a child's apron at a quilt shop recently. It was cute, but they wanted $9 for the pattern! It looked so simple. Who buys these patterns?? I stashed the idea away in my head. A few days later, in our local fabric shop for a spool of thread [ha! I rarely get out of there with only the thing I came in for!] I found a child's apron pattern among their free leaflets. Bob's your uncle, I was off to harvest childrens' fabrics from the stash rejects. Here are the results:

Visiting a friend the other day, she showed me a pattern for that little bird at the top there. We both agreed they'd be cute for the boutique. So we made one, then and there. I left her sewing on her wings, and came home and made one myself.

But I think he's going to stay and live with me! I may make one or two for the boutique, but certainly not a whole flock of them. I think I'm getting burned out. Besides, I have my little pumpkin stitchery to finish;

And then there's the October Bunny Hill Block of the Month calling to me from the design wall,

and every time I go on blogger I find more cute patterns on more quilting sites, and California girl has a birthday coming, and Ohio girl is asking me am I waiting 'til the snow flies to come and see my grandsons, and Britboy and Beloved and Precious Bundle are coming for Christmas......

Something's got to give.

Step away from the sewing machine.

Unplug the infernal thing.

Go do a load of laundry, make supper, look smart about it!

E-mail the friend---the situation has been defused; the rogue machine has been taken into custody;

I am unharmed, but boy, did I have fun!