Wednesday, July 24, 2019

High Summer

The Garden in High Summer
The greens tend to become more yellow in the middle of summer and the blooms dry out a bit in the mid-day sun.

This time of year, in the middle of July, the term "high summer" comes to mind and, for me, it describes the sights, sounds and the feel of the outdoors here at home in Alexander. I pretty much live outside once the nice weather arrives in late spring. I would be okay with closing up most rooms in the house until fall. We could drape the furniture in big white sheets of muslin, the way I have seen in the movies when people close their homes in preparation for a long absence, and uncover everything when the brisk fall air returns. I like seasonal rituals and that would work just fine for me. As the cicadas sing in the bower overhead and the leaves on the trees start to have more of a dry sound when they move slightly on the breeze, I begin to get the sense that the summer is half over. And, as much as I love autumn, it does make me a little sad. The recent heat wave forced me inside for about five days because it was just too hot and humid to do anything outdoors, but it didn't change my feelings for summer. I still love summer.

In spring, summer and fall, I get hyper-focused on my gardens. We have such a short growing season here that many plants don't get growing and blooming until about now and my garden seems to really take off from July until the first frost. Yes, some of the early bloomers are finished with their show, but now the cone flowers, phlox, day lilies, black-eyed Susans, butterfly bushes and hostas are in bloom. The birds, butterflies and hummingbirds stop by and I am entertained every morning when I look at the garden while I have my first cup of coffee. Yes, gardening adds a whole lot of additional work with planning, shopping, planting and maintenance, but it adds much joy to my life. Gardening has taught me many lessons, just as my other hobbies of quilting and paper crafting have. I have learned to follow my own path, enjoy the journey, the surprise outcomes that come my way, and have learned to be more accepting of myself and what I create. I've learned to strive for what I consider to be beautiful . . . not perfect . . .  and not make myself crazy trying to make things look like they are in a magazine or someone else's garden. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. It warms my heart that my husband takes joy in creating our gardens. He cares about the things that are important to me and offers his time to help me work on planting, pruning and even shopping. It was at his urging recently, that we went for a ride and discovered two new-to-us nurseries where we picked up some beautiful things.

I can feel a bit of a shift, though, in my thoughts and I am mentally preparing to get back into my studio for sewing, wreath making and paper crafts. I have neglected my workspace to the point that the table has become a storage area, which made it impossible to use as a work surface. So, it is time once again to clean it out and reorganize it. I think it is a never-ending struggle for most creative people to get their work spaces just the way they want them.

Late afternoon rides in our old convertible . . . when the sun is lower and not so hot . . . is a real treat for me in the summer. We take to the back roads and enjoy the changes in the landscape. The ripening of the wheat to deep gold, the green windrows of freshly cut hay, and the tall stands of corn are a feast for our senses. Of course, this sometimes includes a stop for ice cream. And yes, as my mother would say if we ate a snack in the late afternoon, "it'll ruin your supper",  . . . but we don't care! If my mother was still here, I would bet money that she would eat the ice cream, too!

I've wandered around a bit in this post, not having a well-planned and thought-out message to share. It is a nice cool morning and as the day is breaking, I am consumed with thoughts of weeding, watering, and battling Japanese Beetles on my rose bushes. I can see bright sky out my window and will close here so I can get that second cup of coffee on the deck and look out at my garden. Now . . . isn't that a surprise?!?!

As always, it is my wish for you and those you love that you are happy and healthy. You are in my morning prayers and for those who are dealing with special issues, I keep you close in prayer all day long. Your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I always read your comments and will respond. And . . . until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Spinning Plates

Melmac. Say that word to anyone who grew up in the 1950's or '60's and they'll know exactly what you are talking about. I think there was a set of Melmac dinnerware in every mid-century American family's home. Ours was light green. It was a complete service for eight with serving dishes plus one additional small yellow plate, cereal bowl, cup and saucer that was mine. I loved having my own little plate and bowl. I felt very special whenever it was set at my place at the table. For more information about Melmac, here's a link:

I hadn't thought of those plates, bowls, cups and saucers for a long time until yesterday. I reached up and took a bowl out of the kitchen cupboard to use for some avocado slices. As I set the bowl on the counter, it spun around on its base making a sound that brought back a special memory. It sounded a lot like the Melmac dishes we used to spin when we set the table for dinner. It was a funny little thing that we did to amuse ourselves as we made our way around the long formica kitchen table. But what struck me today, as I recalled the sound of the spinning  plates, was how much joy my mother took in doing it with us. As busy as my mother was in the kitchen, she took the time to play along with us. She could really get those plates spinning!

My heart was warmed with the memory of those days in our kitchen at home on the farm and I began to think about other things that I do regularly that remind me of my mother and father. For example,  when I clear my throat, I sound exactly like my mother. Sometimes the sound startles me. When I am pensive, I tend to fold my hands the same way that my father did; and when I am having a conversation with someone and need to listen intently so I can respond, I fold my left arm across my body and rest my right folded arm on the back of my hand at a right angle, while I hold two fingers to my cheek, and my thumb beneath my chin. I remember my mother holding that very same pose when we would have heart-to-heart talks. And it isn't only things about myself that remind me of them. When I was on the phone with my cousin, who I haven't seen in decades, I teared up when he uttered a very familiar chuckle. His father and my father were brothers and very close all throughout their lives, and at times, you couldn't distinguish which one was speaking unless you were in the same room. They sounded that much alike. When I heard my cousin's laughter, it was such a familiar sound, but one I had not heard in almost 40 years. He sounded so much like my father that it took my breath away and I just sat there listening and smiling through my tears. What a gift it was to hear him laugh!

A lot of what we learn in childhood and throughout our lives are not things for which we have had instruction, but from observation and mimicking. I am sure there is a scientific name for this kind of patterning. I don't need to go to the Internet and research it right now. I am writing from my heart and don't need a wordy definition or to spend an hour wandering around Google for specifics. What I am trying to convey is that we probably could stop and listen or observe our habits and find that there we are very much like those who raised us, including teachers, clergy, and even neighbors. Every time I wrap leftovers in wax paper, I make a fold along the top that I call my "Dorothy fold", after our neighbor and good family friend. I spent a lot of time with her and her family when I was growing up. While helping clear the table and put away food one summer night, she showed me that clever fold and I use it to this day. It is a funny little memory, but one I hold dear.

Do you have habits or characteristics that remind you of someone from your childhood? If you do, I hope that they bring a smile to your face when you realize where they came from. We never know the effect we have on others. I guess that is why it is good to try to be on our best behavior at all times, not that we can be . . . but I will leave those other learned habits and behaviors to your (and my) own private thoughts. What I say or do when I drop an open gallon of milk on the kitchen floor isn't the kind of patterning I am writing about! 😉

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond.

It is my wish that you and those you love are safe, happy and healthy. And, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April Showers and Sunshine

It finally looks and feels like spring! It has warmed up nicely over the past week, the grass has greened up and many of the spring bulbs have bloomed. Outside my studio window, there is a large lilac bush with tiny leaves unfurled and our forsythia survived its drastic pruning last summer and is full of branches of delicate yellow blossoms. In between April showers, we managed to dig holes this week on a sunny day with our handy gardening auger that attaches to our cordless drill and plant the bulbs that never made it into the ground in the fall because of the constant rain. We said a prayer over them and hope they will survive. We will know next spring. I have learned that if given a chance, most things in nature will grow, so I am hopeful! We have lots of plans for our garden spaces, so there is always something to do outdoors and the fresh air and sunshine feel so good on my face. The perennial garden is waking up and there are a few plants emerging. I spotted foxglove, delphinium, Asiatic lilies, sedum, and cone flowers leafing out. It is time to trim back the rose bushes so they can fill out. I waited to do any pruning, but I think we are past any damaging frosts. Let's hope so!

We completed our goal of 40 days of giving as one of the ways we observed Lent this year. We put items we wished to donate in a special box for the observance. For me, it has become a habit to look for things in ordinary places that I no longer need or want that could be a blessing to someone else. I am sometimes surprised by the things that are sitting out in plain sight that can be shared this way. The boxes for our donations are getting filled and it is a very good feeling.

And speaking of donating, I am so happy that I have found a new way to support organizations in the local community. My husband and I have always enjoyed putting together gift baskets for charity events. We know how much fun it is to attend a basket raffle and come home with something wonderful that someone donated. These events help organizations raise money and awareness about their causes. There will be two basket raffles in May to which we will be donating, but instead of baskets, we will be donating handmade wreaths.

The first event will be on May 5th to support the St. Jerome Guild at the local hospital. You can learn more about it here:

You Had Me At Meow
Approximately 24" across and 7" deep, this wreath will be included in the raffle to support the work of the St. Jerome Guild at the United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, New York. Information about the event can be found above the photo. For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.

The second event will be on May 11th to support Crossroads House, which is a hospice facility. You can learn more about it here:

Welcome To Our Patch
This handmade wreath is approximately 24" across and 7" deep. It will be raffled to support the work of Crossroads House in Batavia, New York. Information about the event can be found above the photo. For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.

There is another wreath in the making right now on my work table and this one will actually be for our own front porch. Sometimes I feel like the cobbler's wife whose children have no shoes! I constantly make things to give away or sell, but don't make things for our own home. There is a long-neglected hand applique quilt that will be getting finished soon, too; and it will be for us  . . . to keep!

I hope that you are enjoying springtime and that you feel the gift of hope that it offers. For those of you who are in need of prayer, please know that I pray for my friends, family and our world every morning and include you in those prayers.

Thank you for stopping by to read this post. Your questions and comments are welcome. You may leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook. I will read it and will respond. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you and those you love in the hollow of His hand.


Friday, April 12, 2019

April Goals

One quarter of 2019 is behind us. It seems kind of hard to believe it, but it should make perfect sense, since this is one of the longest winters I can recall! Recently, we've had several days with lots of wind, and that is a good thing because fall was so wet and winter set in so early, that yard cleanup never really happened for most of us living in Western New York State. The leaves that ended up in soggy piles and stuck to the ground swirled about in the steady winds and the 50 mph gusts. Hopefully, it will make the job of raking gardens out much easier.

I have set monthly goals since the beginning of the new year and it has worked well for me. To focus on one major idea or task seems to be a good fit for how I approach things. So, with January's goal of purging closets and drawers of things I no longer needed or wanted, and February's goal of deep cleaning some of the more neglected areas of our home met, I focused in March on communicating more with friends and family. What I have noticed, after each month has ended, is that I have developed new habits based on my monthly goals and they are now part of my routine. I didn't expect this, but from my past research about how to break or establish a habit, maybe I should have anticipated it. So, now that this has been one of the rewards of goal setting, I am happy to go on for the rest of the year with setting monthly goals.

April is the month I have chosen to focus on working on projects in my studio. It was hard to limit my time in the studio when I had other goals during the first quarter of the year, but now I can get to work on several of the UFO's in my quilt stash and new wreaths and paper crafts. That means for you, my faithful readers, there will be more photos of things I have made.

I made a birthday card in March for our granddaughter who turned 21. She likes the mixed media things we have made together, so it was easy to come up with what I wanted to make for her.

For a closer look, click on the photo.
Mixed Media
I made a cute spring wreath that will welcome guests from now until fall, and I have several more started for spring and summer. They will be posted here soon!

For a closer look, click on the photo.
Welcome to our Patch
Spring Wreath
24" across, 8 " deep

Side view of wreath 

Close up of wreath 

The gardens are bare and brown . . . but each day that I go for a little garden tour, I find one or two more daffodils, tulips, hyacynths, and bleeding hearts pushing up through the dirt. We are still experiencing cold nights and, believe it or not, it even snowed this week! But, very soon it will be time to get the leaf blower, mulcher, rake . . . and my helpful hubby . . . outside to work on all the after-winter cleanup! For now, though, I will spend April getting back into the studio and establishing some good creative-time habits.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and going on my Studio Emmy journey along with me. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I will read them and I will respond, here on my blog or on Facebook.

It is my sincere wish that you and those you love are well and happy. For those of you who are dealing with tough, sad, or lonely times, please know I include you in my prayers, whether or not I personally know about your worries and concerns. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Lace and Memories

It is a chilly morning here in Western New York State. The sun is shining brightly in a blue sky, which is not the usual for us during the winter due to the lake effect from Lake Erie that casts clouds and drops snow over the region. But, it is no longer winter. The season changed to spring three days ago. But March is very changeable and so while it is a pretty morning, it is a very cold one with a temperature of only 19 degrees and a wind chill "feels like" temperature of 5 degrees. There is an inch of snow on the ground from overnight flurries and my plans to rake out one of my little gardens where spring bulbs are popping up through the layers of dead leaves are dashed. But, this does not depress me or deter me from making the inside of our home more spring-like. I changed out the Valentine's Day décor when Mardi Gras and then St. Patrick's Day approached. There was a lot of green to be seen, and it remains still, but in a quieter voice. The dried hydrangea bloom leaf wreath that I made last fall is back up on the wall and a few favorite green depression glass pieces, pottery and such decorate the mantle, along with a handmade piece that a quilting friend made for me when I was recovering from surgery, hanging on the wall. The faded sage tablecloth that I used on the table looked pretty drab, so I decided to give my lace tablecloth a chance to shine. I have had this beautiful handmade crocheted gem for over 30 years, but have never owned a rectangular table until last January, where it could be showcased. I had used it as a throw draped over the shoulder of a wingback chair and as a cover over a plain white sheet on a twin bed, but never has it had the chance to be used as it was intended . . . on a table.

This is a very special piece that I treasure. It was made especially for me by my Aunt Mabel, who lived just down the road from us in a little house that always smelled like sweet perfumed dusting powder and showed the activity of a busy seamstress, fancywork maker, baker and gardener. We were always very close and when the only grandmother I had ever known passed away when I was 8 years old, Aunt Mabel seemed to step in and assume the role. At her knee, I learned to sew and crochet. She would show me the steps to make things and I would practice until I got it right. She was a stickler for doing good work, so I became adept at ripping out stitches and trying again. I would often walk down to her house after supper and stay until after dark, even on school nights! I would lose track of time and my mother would call on the phone to ask if I would be coming home. I would stay just a few minutes more and walk back, sometimes after midnight, on a very dark rural road.

Aunt Mabel always had something new that she was working on to show me when I visited, which was several times a week; and on one such visit, when I saw a little 5-inch square of a crocheted wheat motif, I knew I wanted something made in that pattern. I asked Aunt Mabel if she could make something for me and a few years later she surprised me with the tablecloth. I was thrilled and never expected such a gift, although I think I may have hinted that a tablecloth would be my wish. The wheat motif held special meaning for me because our road was bordered by fields of golden wheat every summer and the harvest was always an important event for our farm family.
Please click on the photos for a closer look, if you wish. 
The 5"x5" square crocheted wheat motif that is used throughout my heirloom tablecloth.
Back to my story about covering that drab sage green tablecloth . . . I went to the closet and pulled out the folded tablecloth and carefully laid it out on my ironing board. I starched it and it came out beautifully. I carried it downstairs and started to drape it over the table and as I did so, my heart started to beat a little faster and when I made the final adjustments, I began to cry. It was a perfect fit. I could not have asked for a better gift. I was filled with emotions and memories and now every time I walk through the dining room, I feel such a sense of comfort, connection and belonging. Yes, belonging in my own home. The tablecloth's presence is like an anchor in a safe harbor for my heart.

The heirloom tablecloth adorns our dining room table.

Thank you for stopping by to read my post. Do you have favorite heirlooms, either passed down to you, or those you have acquired over the years? If you do, I hope you will find ways to enjoy them, or that you are doing so already, because even on a cold day such as this, you will find they can warm your heart. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I read all comments and will respond here on my blog or on Facebook. It is my hope that you and those you love are happy and healthy . . . and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Friday, March 8, 2019

I Wish . . .

Don't wish your life away. Have you heard this old adage? Perhaps it was told to you by your well-meaning elders when you were a child. I heard it plenty of times.  Dreams and wishes are a part of life, especially when we are young. Maybe dreams are more a part of our lives as young people than they are as we grow older. I seem to think about wishes quite often nowadays. I wish this and I wish that. I still wish on the first star I see in the evening sky.

I wish ________. I am certain you can fill in the blank with at least one little or big wish. For me, the wish that I have been thinking about quite a lot is the wish that I had pursued my artful endeavors at an earlier time in my life. I have so many interests that the art supplies are starting to crowd me out of my studio. More often than I would care to admit, while searching for a certain item in my studio, I stumble across supplies I bought to use in a future project. That always makes me shake my head, serves up a good dose of guilt and sends pangs of anxiety to my core. I whisper to myself, "me, and what army?" That is what I say. Really. I do. I say that because I would need an army to actually use all my supplies and actually make all the things I have in planning stages, in my dreams, or sometimes in various stages of unfinished-ness.

But before you continue reading, let me assure you that I am not spending my days heaping loads of guilt on my shoulders. I am still a dreamer. And I like that about myself. I like to think of possibilities. Of course, I may need to be reined in a bit at times before I go off on a trip to the store to buy supplies without a plan . . . or with a plan that requires the army I would like to command in my studio. Just like you, just like any of us . . . our lives are what we make of them. Unplanned and uncontrollable things happen to all of us, and to those we love; but we each have today and hopefully we each have tomorrow. So, I continue to dream about what I can make and when I am browsing Facebook, Pinterest, or DIY videos on YouTube, that list of dreams gets a little longer . . . along with my shopping list for supplies. 

So, back to the topic of wishes. I wish I was an architect because I like to learn how things are made and can be made differently. I wish I was an interior decorator because I enjoy transforming a room into something that fits its purpose. I wish I had the energy and physical stamina I used to have before my three surgeries. I wish I had planted the romantic garden of my dreams 10 years ago, so it would be lush and full of mature plants, trees, bushes and shrubs by now. I wish, I wish, I wish . . .

As a child, my teachers may have wondered about me. Teachers would tell me I was bright, but I was also told I needed to try harder. I'm still in touch with one of my elementary school teachers. He may agree, if he remembers what it was like to have me sit in his classroom for the fifth and sixth grades. Even my teachers in the lower grades observed and encouraged me as I dawdled and daydreamed . . . always drawing in the margins of my papers. But I learned to work fast, when it mattered, to get something finished and handed in with those little drawings often in the margins.

My parents emphasized being a good girl, not making waves, being polite and respectful, and of course getting good grades. That was a given. I wish they would have noticed my artistic side. Playing the piano and singing in the church choir and school choruses and musicals was as artsy as I got. Getting the carbon papers from my father's farm contracts was always a treat, as odd as it sounds today. I would find places on the carbon paper that still had some ink on them and use them to draw flowers, birds, trees and I would practice writing in cursive. My father had to hide his pens because I would use up all the ink in them if I found them by writing and drawing. He started giving me fancy Papermate pens and refills for Christmas so I would stop taking his from his desk! Now I have drawing paper, colored pencil sets, paints, brushes, lots of pens with colored ink and I have taken a few art classes.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie Uncle Buck is when John Candy's character makes a visit to the assistant principal's office at his niece's school. I so identify with his niece and not just in my memories of being a six year old, but as sixty-six year old! Take a look at this clip from the movie:

I will continue to pursue my artsy side and sometimes I may be a twiddler, a dreamer, a silly heart and a jabber box. I can continue to wish, but I also need to act. And if people don't understand or approve, I will ask Uncle Buck to explain a few things to them. We all need an Uncle Buck sometimes, don't we?

Photo source: CityNews
Thank you for taking the time from your day to read my post. As always, your comments and questions are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond. It is my hope that you and those you love are happy and healthy; and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mardi Gras in Alexander!

Fat Tuesday is in two days and then on Wednesday, the season of Lent begins. Still buried under snow, and with daytime highs in the teens and nighttime temperatures in the single digits, it is not like celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But, when I saw the pretty mesh, ribbons, beads and masks at the store last month, I knew I needed to make a Mardi Gras themed wreath. The traditional colors of purple, green and gold that signify the carnival season are a refreshing change to the red and green of Christmas and pink, red and white of Valentines Day. Full of color and life, it is a welcome change while we wait for signs of spring to emerge. It may already be meteorological spring and in just seventeen days, it will be astronomical spring; yet in Western New York State, it will be a few more months until we can really experience the sights and sounds and smells of spring. But . . . that is just how it is here. It is a fact of life in Western New York. Winter has its own beauty and gives our earth the rest it needs under a blanket of snow, but once the ground warms up and signs of life return to the brown fields, then we can say it is really spring. For now I am happy to stay inside where it is warm and not go out walking on the ice and snow.
For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.
Mardi Gras Wreath
The wreath is approx. 24 inches across and 7 inches deep.
People have contacted me about selling my wreaths.
They are for sale locally for $65 and can be shipped by USPS at an additional cost.
I finished out the month of February and stayed on task with my goal for the month of deep cleaning the rooms in our house. I used Mrs. Meyers products and have been pleased with their effectiveness. They do the job and they smell nice. I am happy to have found my very own cleaning products and not the same old products my mother and grandmother used. The scents of Windex and Pine-Sol were never my favorites and I was not convinced that they did a great job, anyway!

My goal for March is to get more connected with people and be a better communicator. I have let the ease of technology create a false feeling of connectedness. I miss hearing the voices of my friends and relatives. I wonder what the future will be like as people text more and talk less. In their golden years, will their memories be brightened by remembering text messages they received? I don't think so. I think we remember things that we are more involved in, such as a conversation in person or on the phone, than the current form of communication via textspeak and emoticons. So, friends . . . don't be surprised if you hear from me via a letter, or a phone call. I really miss talking on the phone. I hope to do more of it in March.

It is my hope that you and those you love are happy and healthy. I hope you are communicating in meaningful ways with those you hold dear. They can't know how much they mean to us if we don't make the effort to reach out to them and let them know. I urge you to do it now. I planned my March goal in January...long before I had any thought of writing this post. In February I missed the opportunity to communicate meaningfully with a friend after I learned her precarious health had taken a turn for the worse. She passed away last week. I can't go back. I can't call her or send her a card. Reach out. Communicate. You won't regret it.  ♡

Your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and I will respond. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.