the warmth of the sun in my hair

For St. Patrick’s Day I spent two days in preparation: a soda bread with caraway seed, corned beef, roasted cabbage and butter carrots – all vegan. I have a very pragmatic attitude toward cooking: I do my best, but I also know it doesn’t always work out. In this case, my efforts paid off. It’s funny I make traditional Irish fare as I don’t even care for it. I guess I love these small rituals, these observances. I also enjoy cooking – now that I don’t have to do it every day, three times a day.

I drive the two boys to the pizza parlour and hand my son my debit card. Despite the fact my children are old enough to walk here and there I have a fear of them being struck by a car – either while they are in a car themselves, or while they are walking. I tell them, “be careful”, and maybe I shouldn’t but I can’t help myself. When they were very small, I worried about drowning. I’d walk over a bridge carrying one baby and holding the hand of the older and I’d have horrible visions.

My son and his best friend are so happy together. They spend about twenty hours immersed in their own word – mostly gaming and eating and laughing – before the lad’s mother texts and asks us to send him home. My son comes and finds me shortly after and wants solace. He is a young man now but he still seeks me out. Both children do so I am surprised to think, perhaps it will always be like this.

Both Ralph and I have a weekend full of volunteer work: cooking for others and hosting events, answering phone calls and texts and email: he as an eSports advisor, me in the Recovery community. I am vaguely sensing I need some down time, a break; I am also uncertain when I will take one. I love my work (paid and volunteer) so much that in the morning I almost spring awake – but I also know I am out of balance, overworked, stretched thin.

On that account my child has finished their last paper of their community college career; they study for two more finals and are finished in a couple days. The entire family is getting used to the idea of them being finished; I know that we will then be onto driving school, and trying to fund a car, and trying to set up a (quasi-)business for this child.

Years ago when I got sober people in Recovery used to tell me about a life “beyond one’s wildest dreams”. I am experiencing that now and it is very funny. It seems to take as much focus and mindfulness as anything else, and it seems to be entirely out of my control. I do pray daily and lately I have felt so much gratitude for our health and safety. These things will be threatened in time, but every day we have them is very precious indeed.

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hot patterns plain & simple woven t dress sew-along: bodice preparation

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Hello stitchers!

Wow – December is already here! I hope, if you celebrate the holiday, that you are finding peace and serenity during what can be a very intense time of year! I know it can be difficult to sew for yourself this time of year. If you are joining me here to make yourself a holiday dress, a daywear dress, or just something special – good for you!

If you are here to make the dress as a gift – good for you, too! The sample dress I’m showing here, is going to be pressed and off to a friend just before Hanukkah. I hope she likes it!

So – who’s pumped to get started?

Yeah!

Mani-Pedi

joyeux noel

The stress and pain of the last few days since last Wednesday’s unpleasantness are still with me. I can be patient; I can wait for the hurt to pass. And I usually find myself rather rueful at just how much I take things to heart. If anything, I am more sensitive as I age – even if I behave better than I used to. I have more self-discipline, I don’t say things I regret later. I behave appropriately in the moment. I am grateful for this.

And – I suffer. I suffer even when it seems everyone else is fine. I suffer even if I’m doing the right thing, and putting one foot in front of the other. This is just how it is. I pray. I meditate. I try to look deeply.

But – I am human.

Friday: I blow the last of our grocery money on a spa date with the kids. My son is ecstatic – he can’t believe the lushness of the services offered. My daughter – well, sometimes it seems she is more than two years older than her brother.

Mani-Pedi
Today the cold and damp weather did not deter us; Phoenix’s beau has joined us for the day and the two of them huddle together in comfortable companionship in the back of my little BMW as we motor through town. Christmas shopping – on a credit card – finding the last little bits and bobs for our gifts this year. The children are happy and they are loud; they are now near adult-sized so after a bit, Ralph and I send them away in the shop so he and I can have some peace.

Downstairs and the wrapping paper stacks, and gifts, and tags – Christmas cards to send out, and so many homemade concoctions simmering on the stove. Shea butter and goats’ milk soaps, and a syrup made with citrus zest, spices, fruit. Candies cooked up on the stove; I show my daughter how I do it, without quite instructing her or making her learn. No, just preparing the ground (as I’ve always done with her!), so that one day if she ever wants to do the same, the rhythm will be in her blood, and her fingertips will have confidence, if not practice.

My husband and son take the dog out for his last walk of the day. A hot shower, pajamas. Maybe one last sliver of sharp cheese, and crackers. It is gorgeous to have days off, now that I work again. Several in a row. Gift-wrapping and tidying the house, and soon the celebration with the family.

thus he does it of a winter night

When I was a young girl – I couldn’t have been older than eight, as we still lived in our bus – I received a pair of Smurf pajamas for a Christmas gift. I loved them – unequivocally. I don’t remember caring much about the Smurfs one way or another, as we didn’t have television and I rarely saw the program. No, what I loved were the colors, and the design: a graphic-printed white torso, cerulean blue leggings and sleeves, and crimson cuffs at wrist and ankle. Today I know the material was probably that horrible polyester that cheap kids’ sleepwear is made of. But then? They were my favorite garment. We were staying at some sort of RV park or camping site when we opened gifts, and Christmas morning I remember petitioning my parents to let me wear the pajamas throughout the day. They, being relatively loving hippie ilk, let me be. There’s a picture somewhere of me standing in front of a camper, hip cocked. Pleased as punch!

I remembered these pajamas quite suddenly tonight, as I stitch up the cuffs for a pair for my son. The pajamas I’m making tonight will be homemade, not storebought; the fabric, an expensive cotton custom print in one of his most dear video game universes. Most of the gifts we’ve slated for the holiday have been homemade – put into the works months ago, in some cases. We are making food delectables from scratch, and I am designing (and hiding!) something special for each child, and my husband. Ralph and I once again put together a special Christmas card; the cards and the selected deep teal envelopes sit downstairs at our crafting bench. Tonight, my husband and I will sit together by our fireside and wind balls of yarn to make – but, well, you never know who might read here.

Remembering my modest childhood, and the relative comforts we have today, I am reminded to slow down for the holidays. There are so many loved ones to thank, to gift, to shower with affection and recognition. It can be very tempting to try to rush through it all – to hop online and search for sales, or run to the mall in desperation. But instead, I refer back to my lists. I try to be cautious. I put aside tonight’s sewing – I’m feeling tired, and my eyes are fatigued from working so intensely at home and in my job. I take an early shower, and a late dinner, with my family – who are more dear to me than life itself.

It’s a time for introspection, and gratitude. A time not to let the house be cluttered but rather to keep it ordered and clean. A time to cherish the season, because we never know if we shall get another.

stitch by stitch, inch by inch

Tonight feels very special. The day was a quiet, reflective one – populated here and there by debilitating nausea while my kidneys work stuff out.

My work goes well. I am constructing, slowly but steadily, a tailored wool blazer. The weather outside is crisp, sunny – and has that wild edge, the verge of a storm. In the afternoon I head out to the kids’ school and help my son’s class make a fall craft – grating crayons, pressing the colors into wax paper, cutting out fall leaves. It’s a simple project but the children take to peeling and grating crayons with alacrity – and every one of them enjoys sprinkling the flecks on translucent paper and watching the resultant blooms under my old steam iron.

Tomorrow the children and Ralph don’t attend school or job – so tonight, while they are off at a meeting, I clear up my sewing work, sweep the floor, set some essential oils out in the diffuser, light a new candle for my shrine, put away laundry, and lower the lights. I am feeling nauseated and dizzy, but I pace myself so I can get the house ready. The cats pad in and out of living space – peeking into the master bedroom where Ralph’s floor-refinishing equipment provides new terrain.

Today I only talked to a couple people outside my family, and the classroom of children. This felt nice and reflective. A little different, too, than most my days!

Ralph and the children return. He brings bowls of vegetables out the fridge, kneads masa. Tex Mex puffy tacos with Chile Con Queso, rice, fresh tomatoes. I am secretly working on a Christmas present for him which I have to carefully hide so he won’t discover it. The thing is, I could trust my kids to never ever tell.

They don’t grass up.

Fall Projects

that will probably become clear later, like the French Revolution

Fall Projects

The summer weather turned so fast I’m still reeling. We are amidst autumn traditions now: baking pumpkin bread, knitting, sewing up wool garments. I’m keeping busy in Halloween sewing (ONE more day. Well, one-and-a-half), rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar (I got my apostle name today! #w00t), and of course – raising my kids, caring for the home and five pets, and putting the time into my Recovery life. Kidney stones got the better of me a few days ago for a couple days but I hung in there. I’m still watching and reviewing vampire films like a menace. What can I say? Life carries on.

JCS, Keeping WarmKeeping warm in a chilly theatre.
Sequin Removal

This was my life before I knew anything different than the removal of sequins. Don’t worry, I got a lot faster at taking them out. I have removed one hundred billion sequins. The results are going to be amazing, but mostly the results are going to mean I am no longer cutting sequins, which is something I keep thinking I’m doing, because it’s the only thing I’ve been doing, ab aeterno.

Punkin

A little punkin’ & a big punkin’. Which is which?

My little ones had their school counseling sessions today with their father. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are performing well, and better than that, they love school. I still miss them terribly during the day but the satisfaction I get knowing they are where they want to be (for now) is worth my occasional restlessness.

Nights I find myself having trouble falling asleep. But I have a warm bed, and loved ones, and (for now) some health. Life is very special. It is a miracle!