Sunday, October 30, 2011

My sons

Both of my sons were home together this weekend, a rare and sweet treat.  Rob and his father share a love of and season tickets for Penn State football, and that is often the reason for Harrisburg Campbell fall travel to State College.   Friday the weather report was calling for a historic October snow storm, and we all agreed that a trip in the middle of it simply was not a prudent decision.  But early Saturday, the flakes hadn't even begun, and Rob decided if he left early he might just beat the storm. So come ahead he did, arriving in good time on for the most part decent roads. It was so good to have him here...

I spent a good part of the day Saturday sewing up costumes and costume adornments for the fall MASH production of "Antigone" Rob is directing while two of three boys (Jim included) bundled up and trudged off to a snowy, messy and less-than-pretty Penn State win.  Our power stayed on, I made an apple pie, we were warm, JoPa had his 409th win, and we were here together safely.  A wonderful weekend....

The costumes don't look like much on the hangers; it's a Greek thing, I guess.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The colors of fall are disappointing this year.  All the rain diluted the brilliance of a changing season, and a look out the back window reveals foliage resembling more a lackluster end of summer than an almost Halloween.  I miss the flaming reds, the blazing yellows, and the burning oranges that so often set the spirits afire in October. 

In my quilting class on Saturday, our teacher talked to us about color.  While we laid out our project pieces, she spoke about "value," the lightness or darkness of hue, in color.  An interesting quilt will most likely contain fabrics representing a range of values from light, to medium, to dark.  No wonder picking fabric is challenging for me. Not only should I seek compliment and variety in pattern, but I also ought consider harmony and hue of color.  I understand more fully what my daughter and son-in-law, both artists, mean when they speak of color theory.

And I also realize why I question the choices I sometimes make in fabrics... like this one, a table runner I just finished.

While it is certainly filled with fall colors, when it all came together I regretted the fabric choices I made. I wasn't sure why until Saturday when Deb described the importance of value.  She told us one way to check value in our piecing is to turn the picture into black and white and see the contrast.
So I did and I see what I might have done differently--change the tan in the four-patch or change the intensity of the orange.  Obviously, I am still learning...

The notion of value in color made me think about my own life and the interplay of light and shadow within.  I tend to be on the serious side, with my spirit life resembling these pieces I patched together. I need to swap in some lighter hues for the more somber ones.  Smile more, laugh more, whistle, sing, skip, and delight more.  By simply holding life more lightly, I ought to create a more pleasing pattern for all to enjoy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beginning to think Christmas

This week held one delightful day of putzing, time to dally around the house, cooking, cleaning a bit, straightening up, and arranging autumnal adornments.  I love those days of easy freedom; believe me, the luxury of doing that at my leisure is certainly not lost on me.

Even though fall is just now in full swing, I have been thinking a bit about Christmas.  I have two gifts already knit, folded up and stashed in my knitting closet, awaiting blocking.  I also have a few gifts bought and tucked away in cubbies and chests. In addition, one knitting gift is on the needles and one sewing gift was begun Saturday during my second quilting class.  I am learning how to use triangles!

I like making things to give to people I love and care about.  I think on those faces and those people during the making, and that for me is the best part of gifting.

The older I grow and the longer I live the less having and getting stuff appeals to me.  For the most part, I think in our country we have more than enough to use, manage, and organize, so heaps of presents under the tree is not what I aspire to create.  Truly, the story and reality of the incarnation, the intentional gathering together of the people I love, the family traditions, the quiet beauty of the season, and the passage of time each successive Christmas marks are the things I cherish.  May it be thus for all of us this year...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Twenty something years ago as teacher with three children to grow and a big old (circa 1815) house to clean and keep in order, I pleaded with my husband to consider adding the expense of a biweekly house cleaning service to our budget.  He agreed, and for well over two decades, from September to June, I have not really thought a lot about keeping the kitchen floor mopped or the bathrooms scrubbed; it has just "magically"  happened.  Last week we cancelled our cleaning ladies because of a week spent in North Carolina, so that means, this week I am doing the cleaning.  Thus far, I have conquered the top two floors of our house.  I have scoured the tub, sucked cobwebs from ceiling cracks, dusted vases, washed plants, gotten down on my hands and knees to wipe the bathroom and kitchen floors, and even moved furniture to confront dust bunnies hiding behind.  

Cleaning more deeply than we pay others to do for us, I am surprised that it feels kinda right.  My mother was a meticulous housekeeper and cleaner.  So is my sister-in-law.  I never got that gene nor obtained it by osmosis.  But at almost 60, I finally think I know what clean and orderly looks like, and I have a semblance of how to get there. Now that I have the time to actually do it, it feels as if I am getting reacquainted with my and room-by-room.

When it became known that I intended to retire, I received advice from other retirees.  Mostly it was to go away in September when the busses roll, and not to commit to anything for a full year.  With probably a certain sense of hubris, I started off retirement ignoring the first suggestion, coming to regret it as September waned.  As I neared retirement, I scanned our church newsletter and volunteer opportunities mentioned in other newsletter, planning the groups I might join and the causes I might champion when I was freed from the bells of school.  I even made promises and started off September scribbling things to do into my calendar....

Now well into October, I am starting to see this retirement thing a bit differently and beginning to understand the wisdom of the year hiatus from commitments.  Maybe it is decades of bells and rigid schedules of where I am to be and who I am to be with, but  I really am not ready to solidly commit to much other than my yoga class and a few mornings of working out.  Getting my body in shape and my house in order is helping oddly to reshape a shifted universe. I will work on the soul and spirit after some more time passes....

My mother (gone 11 years and I still miss her so..), sitting at our kitchen table in our old house in Huntsville (in front of those curtains I once sewed).  Yes..I know, posting this photo (and probably writing this post) is total self indulgence.