A Grace Filled Eve

Tonight I will gather with little folks (and a few big) whom I love right here in my living room, and we’ll debate about staying up to see the New Year in.  We may or may not watch some form of something dropping to beckon in 2018, and then the laughter will turn into sighs and we’ll gather up the remnants and used cups and crumpled napkins of 2017 and go to bed.

This is as good as I can do.  I don’t have big plans and schemes for this New Year.  If I start thinking of tomorrow as a day THAT ALL BIG THINGS MUST BEGIN, I kind of sort of start breathing a little funny and want to go crawl in Miss Sophie’s crate with her and wait for spring and for this “all great ideas and good intentions” phase to pass.

Because, see, my feet are cold, and most days I have to take it one day at a time.

My Mama said that is okay.

She said do your best, that’s all your Daddy and I ask of you.

And that I can try to do.  Moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour, and sometimes day by day.

But a whole year?  In one big gulp?

I’m happy for folks who are excited about the newness of tomorrow and the 364 days to follow.  But for many of us, 2017 and 2015 and 2013 and 2011 were really really hard, and we’re still learning a new way to breathe because of what happened when the clock turned over to November 13 and 17 and December 18 and February 10 and September 26 and May 12 and January 11 and all of the other days of the year when we had hard things happen.  For some of us, each day is a new challenge, filled with moments of learning new ways to live.

Grace.

If you are of the mind of taking on new ways of living and find tomorrow a good day to start, maybe grace could be a good one to add to the list.  Most of all, be kind to yourself.  And others.  When days are hard–for you or someone you know and those you don’t, offer grace and kindness.  Grace that it’s okay to say it’s hard and stay in bed for the day, literally or figuratively, and kindness in the midst of the struggles.  A smile, a listening ear, a hand to hold, patience, empathy.

Tomorrow we will have the traditional greens, peas, cornbread, and such.  I’ll try not to do anything I don’t want to be doing the rest of the year (though I’ve found reframing certain things has helped me in this old tradition), and I won’t be doing any laundry out of respect for the ones who’ve gone before me.  We will spend time sharing stories and laughing and remembering.

And I will do my best to rejoice and be glad in the day, as my Mama reminded me I am called to do everyday.

But for now, I just can’t take on the chunk of a year all at once.  If you are struggling with another day of celebrating and being surrounded by festive spirits, know you are not alone. We are all doing the best we can and walking each other home, as Ram Dass wrote.  Come sit with me, Miss Sophie will make room, and we’ll warm our toes by the fire and sit quietly and we will be okay.  And if tomorrow is a day of new beginnings for you, I wish you all the best. Some of us will be celebrating the dawning of a New Year and some will be thankful for making it another day and some folks will be somewhere in between.  AND ALL OF THAT IS OKAY.

Grace.

Wishing you all a good night’s rest, the energy to get up tomorrow, and the still quiet of peace settled in your heart today and in all the days to come.

Love to all.

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May we all take the words to my much loved and missed friend Denise to heart today and every day–“What people in our community need the most is for us to slow down and love each other.”

Just My Type

Today something lovely joined the area of my house that is fast becoming my haven, my spot, my place to be…..and nothing more.  I lie back there and daydream while watching the clouds float across the sky as if I don’t have anything at all to do.  I sit in the midst of things from “home” and I feel like I am home.  All.  Very.  Necessary.  Things.  Tanning my soul.

But I digress.

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I found this little treasure on a local yard sale site.   A very dear lady was selling this because she and her husband need to downsize.  I fell in love with her (the typewriter, and well, actually, her owner too) from the moment I first saw her picture.  She is a 1941 manual typewriter.  Can you imagine the stories she’s seen?  The ones she’s helped to write?  And the best news of all…..she still works.  I just have to change out her ribbon.

Well, the littles are thrilled to say the least.

When we were little, my parents had an old manual typewriter.  It was beautiful and awesome and had a lovely dusty blue case.  And they let us play with it.  We thought we had hit the jackpot.  We loved it.  You really had to pound the keys to make it type, as one does with manual typewriters.  It blew our minds that Mama had typed on it regularly.  That woman must have had almost as much strength in her fingers as she had in her spirit.

Years ago I had been reading “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” and its sequels by Joan Aiken.  I loved the story.  It has been a long, long time since I last read it, but I guess there is something in it that inspired us all (at my suggestion *ahem*) to play orphanage with all of our stuffed animals.  We created a roll sheet, typing each one’s name, one finger and letter at a time.  I can remember whole weekends when Mama and Daddy indulged us and let us take over the living room with our critters and our adventures.  The typewriter was used for everything from creating menus to listing rules of order.  We kept them all paper-clipped together quite efficiently.

I wish I were that organized as an adult.

I am thrilled about the addition to our family.  She has already begun the sharing of the stories, as I heard a few good ones as she was handed over from her former owner to me.  That was a delightful part of my day actually, meeting a new friend and hearing her stories.  She admitted that she has written more than one on this very typewriter.

I am humbled.  And inspired.

And while my stories might not get written on this lovely instrument, as she sits there watching me write, I know she has a high standard for me, and I intend to live up to it.  I shall do my best to think and remember and share great stories and edit and spell check and always, ALWAYS put two spaces after a period.  It’s just the right thing to do, you know?

She thinks so too.

 

May you find something today that brings you happy memories, and may you find yourself challenged to be the best you can be….

 

Love to all.

 

 

Old Sewing Scissors and Things Made New

This morning our Princess and I had a Mama/Princess event.  Aub was at work, and the Fella and Cooter were out doing their “Guy’s Breakfast.”  So my girl and I went to Bare Bulb Coffee for a tie-dyeing and “upcycling t-shirts into scarves” class led by one of my favorite local artists Micah Goguen and his trusty assistant.

It.  Was.  BIG Fun.

Princess working on her tie dye project.

Princess working on her tie dye project.

Gathered with friends and folks we had not met before, we cut, we twisted, and we bound with rubber bands–so many rubber bands–and then we bleached two color tees (one green and one yellow)-and our Princess added beautiful color to her white tee.  The bleached ones we have already washed, and I love the patterns that came out in them.  The tie-dyed one will be revealed tomorrow.  She is almost beside herself with excitement.

Our Princess' tie-dyed scarf project, waiting for the reveal.

Our Princess’ tie-dyed scarf project, waiting for the reveal.

We returned as a family this afternoon to dye pillowcases to brighten the stays of young ones at the Children’s Hospital in Macon.  For a little guy who didn’t want to go, Cooter had a great time.  He loved blending the colors and turning the white pillowcase into something cheerful and fun.  Cooter, Princess, and my nephew Shaker all enjoyed themselves, and after they’d colored a pillowcase for a child in the hospital, they each were allowed to decorate one for themselves.  They were told that sleeping on it could help them remember to pray for and send light to someone sick in the hospital.

Shaker's pillowcase project.....he was really getting into it by the time he was working on the second one.

Shaker’s pillowcase project…..he was really getting into it by the time he was working on the second one.

Beautiful, right?

This morning my knitting diva friend–Micah’s trusty assistant, who can do anything from building a deck or stairs for her dogs to climb into bed to knitting and sewing clothes for her grandchildren and their dolls, was teaching us how to make the scarves once our fabric was ready.  As she began showing us the first step, she looked around.  “Where are my scissors?” she asked, checking the counter and tables.

Someone reached to hand her a pair of theirs.  “Here, these are really good scissors.”

My friend shook her head gently, and said, almost to herself, “No, let me find my blue-handled ones.”  And then she did.  The lesson continued.

It made me smile.  Just an hour earlier when my girl was getting ready to cut her shirt as directed, she was having a hard time with a pair of scissors.  A kind woman behind us offered us her scissors.  “Here, use these.  They are dressmaker’s scissors.  They are made for cutting fabric.”  (They may have been, but my girl still struggled a bit, which made me wonder about an “operator” issue.  Never mind that, she did get it cut and we moved on.)

It tickled me later when I started thinking back on my day.  And as I laughed to myself, I was also laughing at myself.

I don’t know if it happens all over, but us folks around here, we take our sewing scissors seriously.  In case you didn’t know, yes, sewing scissors are only for sewing.  And they are treasured and taken care of.

Which is probably why I asked if I could have my Mama’s sewing scissors.

To my knowledge they never touched anything other than fabric.

Okay, not more than one time.  And I said I was sorry.

Those scissors were special.  They were always ALWAYS where they belonged (but then again, not much in Mama’s house wasn’t) and they always cut precisely.  I guess because she took them to be sharpened as they needed it.  I can remember seeing signs at Hancock’s Fabrics back in the day with the date the scissors sharpener “truck” would be there.  I guess Mama either took them there or Daddy might have sharpened them for her.  Either way, she took good care of those scissors.  And we knew we were to leave them alone.  They were NEVER EVER to touch paper.  Good heavens above, under NO circumstances were you ever to use them for a school project or even for cutting patterns as I recall.  And I only did once.  I felt so guilty over that, but as they are still cutting just fine, I guess the damage wasn’t irreparable.

I’m just as serious about my sewing scissors.  I don’t let the children use them at all.  I even got other scissors for cutting the fleece for blankets because I heard that fleece can dull them.  (And I am picky about my fleece scissors too–I have the ones that are spring loaded to make it easy for cutting the strips.  I often wonder why the fabric cutters in fabric stores aren’t issued those scissors–they sure can save your hands.)  I am sure I have traumatized a child or three when I’ve seen them casually reaching for my sewing scissors for a craft project.  Oh good gravy no.

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to learn a new craft.  Mixing and changing colors–there is something soul-stirring in that.  Creating. All those shades of light and dark coming together to make beauty.  And finding a new purpose for something old and worn out, well, that fills me with hope.  I am looking to be repurposed myself sometimes.  To be made over for a new way to be in this world.  And I’m grateful for the memories of my Mama and her scissors and to have people in my life who still live with the old ways.  Sometimes–no, I’m starting to realize more and more–most of the time, the old ways ARE the best.

I was just thinking, sometimes it’s best to hold on to the old, but sometimes it’s best to create something new…..and sometimes you can do both at the same time…..

Life sure is a funny thing sometimes, isn’t it?

The transformation from t-shirt to scarf…..creation, I love it!

The bottom part used to be the same color as the top part of the shirt.  Who would have thought that bleach would turn it such a beautiful red clay color?

The bottom part used to be the same color as the top part of the shirt. Who would have thought that bleach would turn it such a beautiful red clay color?

Cutting off the bottom seam and then cutting the strips.  So thankful for a GOOD pair of sewing scissors.

Cutting off the bottom seam and then cutting the strips. So thankful for a GOOD pair of sewing scissors.

Almost finished scarf--haven't decided if I'm going to embellish with some old costume jewelry or not.  But very fun, yes?

Almost finished scarf–haven’t decided if I’m going to embellish with some old costume jewelry or not. But very fun, yes?