Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday.

Sunlight streams through the windows, casting pools of rainbows about the floor as it pierces through the prisms that hang in them.


The scent of Oatmeal Banana Bread baking in the oven wafts through each room, making mouths water and tummies rumble.
Fresh eggs lay on the enamel top of the island, smug in their sturdy, brown shells.
Leaves spin to the earth outside, the first inkling that autumn is on its way.
Clothes hanging on the line move slightly in the breeze and cast dancing shadows on the ground below.
Saturday. What a wonderful way to end the week.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Fabric Shop.

Not very far from my house is a quilt shop with the most delicious selection of fabrics, hands down. A Scarlet Thread started out in a small house and grew to the point that three-thousand bolts of fabric were stored in a little house out back. Days were spent going in and out of the back door to get a selection for someone. Then in and out again to return them.
In June of this year, they moved to a new, larger location. I miss the charm of the little house, but I cannot walk in this new store and not feel deliriously happy.
Wall after wall of bolts of eye candy, lined up in perfect little rows. Shelves of pastels, baby prints, Christmas prints, plaids, stripes, polka dots, greet you at every turn. It makes for one very indecisive me, I can tell you.
I went there today with my friend, Cilla. She had been in England for the summer at her parent's and had not had the chance to see the new digs. You know that breath a child takes the first time they see Santa Claus? That was Cilla. It happens to everyone the first time they enter through the door.
The staff is comprised of the most wonderful women. You walk in, unknown to them and you leave as though you have just spent the afternoon with your best friends. I love them all, in spite of the fact that they encourage my weakness for a soft piece of cotton and say, "I'll cut this for you so you can go look around some more." Isn't that the nicest thing?
It is a delightful change of pace to find a place like that, where the line between business and friendship is blurred to the point that it is unrecognizeable.
Next Saturday morning, Cilla and I are going to the Scarlet Strippers Club. It is much more tame than the name implies. You go, you watch a demonstration on piecing a quilt top, you pick up your kit and away you head towards home to begin building a new family heirloom. How cool is that? All for $35!! (Batting and backing not included.)
If you ever have the chance to visit Georgia, or live in the area, put A Scarlet Thread on your list of places to stop. You'll be very happy that you did.
PS- If this sounds like a shameless advertisement for my favorite quilt shop to you, you would be absolutely correct in your assumption. It's my blog, after all. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Lady In Black.

This morning, at a traffic light on the way back home from dropping my son off at work, I saw a woman conversing with a man at the car repair garage. At least I thought it was a woman. I had a hard time discerning because this person had a clip board in her (or his) arm and I really could not tell.
I looked at the clothes for a clue. Hmmm, black tank top and black shorts. Pleated shorts. I still could not tell.
Since this person was wearing shorts, I thought the legs would be a dead giveaway. No. From the distance between us, they looked tanned and smooth. The shoes appeared to be huaraches.
So, I decided that yes, it was a woman. Cute short hair cut, nice clothes (Well, except for the tank top. That's just not a good choice for anyone over ten.), shapely legs, and summery shoes.
I continued watching the couple until the light changed from red to green. Giving one last glance to the left, The Lady in Black turned around and I burst out laughing. The Lady in question was actually The Man in Black. The moustache was a dead giveaway.
I'm making an appointment with the eye doctor today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washing Dishes.

Last night, as I stood at a sink full of dirty dishes and hot water, I realized how much I love washing up. It's a strange thing to love to do really. Scrubbing at plates, glasses, pots and pans, all with little bits of dinner still attached to them. Maybe it's the challenge of removing the remains of the meal. Or maybe it is something else entirely.
For me it's the rythmn that develops. Dip, swish, wipe, rinse, over and over again. Hot water flowing over my hands, relieving aches I did not realize were there. Frothy bubbles encapsulating them, making them tingle as the bubbles pop.
I much prefer hand-washing to using my dish washer. Although, when it's a lot of dishes, I succumb and let the machine to the job for me. No sense taking valuable time away from family and friends. But on a normal night I am at the sink, towel thrown over my shoulder and up to my elbows in suds.
Above my sink is a window that looks out over the back garden. I have an arbor made from bed springs out there with bird feeders hanging from it. On the wall that faces out towards the garden are five birdhouses that have been the home to a multitude of little avain families over the years. I can stand at the window and wash dishes and see the birds all at the same time.
This summer I have been blessed with two little hummingbirds, who happen to choose the hours around dinner time to visit the feeder I have prepared for them. They flit in and out, settle momentarily on the springs for a short rest and fly away again.
Tufed titmice, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, finches, mourning doves and wrens make their way to the feeder full of sunflower seeds, to enjoy their evening repast. Occasionally they will stop and set on the kitchen windowsill, only to fly away as I lift a dish to rinse and place in the strainer.
We have a nice relationship, the birds and I. I keep their feeders full and they provide me with endless hours of entertainment and joy. No wonder the kitchen sink is my favorite spot in the house.
When I am finished, I find myself in a state of relaxation usually unknown to me. I am refreshed and nourished - body, mind and soul. What started as a simple chore, cleaning up after nourishing my family, has become a time for me to reflect and ponder. Hot water, soap suds and observation has become my recipe for destressing at the end of a hectic day.
Who would have thought that something so pedestrian could be so powerful?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time With My Father.

My mother has been on vacation since the middle of July. She spent three weeks with my brother and his family in Delaware and now she is in Massachusetts with her older sister. She will be there until the end of September.
This has given me the opportunity to spend time with my dad, just the two of us. I am loving this time together.
My dad is a changed man when my mom is away. He is relaxed, funny and more energetic. He has a standing joke that he uses on any unsuspecting soul. Here it is:
"I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that my wife left me. (Enter dramatic pause here.) The bad news is she's coming home at the end of September."
He recited this little attempt at humor to his cousin's wife, Eunice, on the phone the other day. He had no more gotten the first part out when she burst into tears and told him she could not believe it. "Why, after almost fifty-two years!? Oh, no!" She was upset and he had to back-step and apologize and tell her it was a joke. She was not amused. Serves him right.
We have been able to go through some family things, genealogy and pictures. I am trying to write down the stories he tells about his family so they will not be lost. His illness last year has given me a new perspective. Instead of tuning out, I tune in and focus. They may be things I have heard since I was small, but they are important to him. It is up to me to make sure they are preserved for our future generations. They will want to know who we were. At least I hope they will.
My husband and I took him shopping today. At the grocery store he uses an electric scooter. He is dangerous to put it mildly. For some reason, he enjoys sneaking up on people, waiting for the opportune moment and then "Beep-Beeping!" at them. He puts on his little old man smile (which makes him look slightly maniacal) and zooms past as they move out of the way. Smart people, because he is not above clipping your ankles if you don't move fast enough. Trust me on this one.
In spite of his little quirks, and he has many, my dad is a great guy to be around. We joke, we laugh, we get along better than we ever have. As much as I love my mom, I'll be sad when she comes back and I lose uninterrupted time with Dad.
I think I will have to take him shopping more often.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Shadow Knows.

Last night, after finishing up the last few pages of The Miracle At Speedy Motors (by Alexander McCall Smith), I turned off my bedside light and settled in for a good night's sleep.
My husband's lamp was still on, casting it's milky glow over the room. What I realized, as I turned to face the wall opposite my side of the bed, was that it also cast shadows. Large shadows. Of me.
There is nothing more startling than to see yourself stretched out across the wall, every bump and curve outlined in a crisp division of dark and light. I started to giggle.
Fifteen feet of me tickled my funny bone. I shifted slightly, watching my shadow mimic my movements. Running my outstretched hand along my side, I became a dinosaur. My hands together, flapping in unison in the air, I was a mountain range with an eagle soaring over me. Lying still I could see the places that need improvement. Each and every one of them.
Having had enough of my enlarged image, I reached over and turned off the offending light. I finally settled in and drifted off to sleep, determined that today I would begin a course to improve the shadow that loomed in front of me.
Is there any wonder why I dreamed of Gulliver last night?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looking At Things In A New Light.

Lampshade Like.



Lampshade Love.



Amazing what a few paper flowers can do.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gray Days and a Sweet Breeze.

Today was a beautiful day. Gray skies and a breeze that, in the morning, brought a little chill with it. It's days like these that make me feel like staying inside, opening the windows and breathing in the first tinges of autumn.
It did warm up, but still it was nothing like our normal August weather. The storm that ate Florida is the reason for the cloud cover. I feel horrible that those living there are being deluged with rain and trying to hold on in high winds. But, I am grateful for the respite from the heat of summer here and the hope that we may get some of the rain that Fay carries with her.
There is something about a gray day that brings memories of when I was a small girl in Massachusetts. In the fall gray days were treats, especially if they were accompanied by a Nor'easter coming off the Atlantic.
I remember my parents piling us into the Buick, driving to the sea wall at Brant Rock and watching the surf pound against it with all of its might. The color of the ocean changed from deep, jade green to black with foam that flew in the air and stuck to whatever it landed on. Usually, it was our windshield. It was frightening and beautiful at the same time. But those trips to the sea wall instilled in me a love for the weather, no matter what it brings.
Gray days mean being home home with the lights on, curling up with a good book and thinking about soup. I really don't know why I think of soup, but I do.
Chicken soup, hamburger soup, clam chowder (New England style, of course!), corn chowder, baked potato soup. While my mind knows that it is still summer and autumn is a bit away, the thoughts of the cozy, warm things that accompany it fills me heart and soul.
They say that patience is a virtue. When it comes to autumn, I am not a virtuous woman. I want to hurry it along, push summer away, bring the rake out from hiding and take my sweaters down from the attic. But I can't.
I think I'll just pretend and go make some soup.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Telephone.

I was able to speak to my son for exactly one minute on Saturday. He is in Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood, waiting for his basic training to start. It was supposed to begin last week, but has been pushed back to tomorrow.
He has been gone for almost three weeks now, so it was lovely to hear "What are you doing?" when I answered the phone. That's how he always responds to "Hello." Silly boy. What do you think I'm doing? I always answer the same, "Talking to you!"
Through the little miracle that a telephone is, I was able to hear him tell me that he has: been to the dentist, received his shots (except for penicillin because he is allergic), studied his rank emblems, written us two letters, bought new running shoes, had his picture taken and learned how to take apart an M-16, of which I am so thrilled.
I wonder if Alexander Graham Bell had any inkling of the power his invention would have in this world? Because of his telephone, we can be in our cars and call our moms. We can access the Internet and find information on any given subject, including Mr. Bell. We can hear the voice of our sons (and daughters) who are 700 miles away. All because he was trying to make life easier for his deaf mother and wife.
When Nathan was in Mexico serving a mission for two years, he could only call us twice a year- once on Mother's Day and again on Christmas. The anticipation of a phone call and the sound of his voice made me very, very happy. I could not wait to hear what had been happening in the life of my oldest child. It is the same now, only I will get to hear from him once a week.
So, thank you Mr. Bell, for your extraordinary invention that allows mothers everywhere to stay in touch with their children. You will always be one of my heroes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Birth.

My daughter's cat, Merideth, had kittens last night. From 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon until 11:30, when she finally gave birth to the first kitten, my daughter stayed by her side.
Massaging her back, stroking her head, that girl gave comfort when it was truly needed. Merideth would not let her leave her side.
For brief moments, she would allow me to give her beloved a bit of rest, but really, all she wanted was to be petted and encouraged by the one who loves her the most.

As long as my daughter was near, Merideth was content,
even as she began to deliver the first of two sweet, white kittens.

They are beautiful, Merideth. You did well.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Egg. In Miniature.

Flora laid her first egg this morning.

Compared to Hazel's eggs, Flora's is a wee one. But sweet nonetheless.

Have you ever watched a chicken lay an egg? I have.
Last week I watched as Hazel struggled in her nesting box, trying to find footing and a comfortable spot. It took twenty minutes.
Even then you could see that this was no easy task. Panting profusely, Hazel suddenly lifted up, fluffed her feathers and filled the nesting box with her body. A few pushes and I heard the egg tap on the floor of the box.
It took her a minute to relax. Then she hopped down, drank copious amounts of water and waddled back to the chicken yard through the pop-hole.
What I witnessed was a miracle, small and beautiful. I will never look at the humble chicken in the same way again. Nor will I take the fruits of their labor - those small, perfect eggs, for granted. Each one is a treasure, a gift from the hen that created them.
Is there any wonder that, when the hens have put themselves to bed for the night and I check to make sure all is well, I gently stroke their backs and whisper "Thank you." to each of them?
Chickens are miracles unto themselves, and caring for them is a pleasure I think everyone should be able to experience.
Try it. I think you will agree.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What Could Be Sweeter.....

Than a page full of birds?

This is for my friend, Dawn, who loves birds,
and for anyone else who loves them as well.
Just right click and save these darling creatures for use in your art.
Have a happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's the Story, Morning Glory?

One perfect little blossom,
A volunteer who chose my garden.

What could be better than this,
A surprise on an ordinary morning?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hazel's Eggs.

Soft, pinky brown. Smooth and perfectly oval. Hazel's first egg.

Twin setting suns. Brilliantly orange and gleaming. Breakfast for one.

Thank you, Hazel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Childhood.

Running in unison, they came around the hedge,
Legs the color of creamy coffee, kissed by sunshine,
Still wearing the innocent curves of childhood.

Stopping at the curb, the legs untangled and
gave way to children playing on a Sunday afternoon.
Sweet smiles graced their faces as they crossed the street.

Gathering together again, they round a corner
And disappear into the shadows.
I am running behind them.

I am small, no more than seven, gathering
Courage to ask to play.
"Catch us! Catch us if you can!"

My legs move as if in slow motion,
My body slowed by hesitation. I want to go, to run, to play.
"Wait for me, will you?"

A sound sears through my thoughts.
It is the man behind me in his old, blue pick-up.
Move along, he motions.

I turn the corner, not wanting to leave.
Where have I been?
I was chasing childhood.


Original work by Karin K. Smith 2008