Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goodbye 'Nore

My mom died on March 30th of this year. My relationship with her was so layered and complex that it would take a long time to cover all of it. There was a lot of good, some bad, and in recent years I spent so much time taking care of her and making the 120 mile trip down to see her every three or four weeks, that some of it was just sheer work. Most of her life she was a delight, though, and she tried not to make too much work for me.

She was funny--really, really funny. A silly sense of humor with just a touch of sarcasm to make it interesting. She was intelligent, well-read, loved flowers, sewing, visiting with her kids and grandkids. She was very creative and resourceful. Her life was not easy, but she was upbeat and hopeful most of the time.

My brothers, at first, were asking me what I'd do with all my free time now that I wasn't taking care of her. I thought, "Oh, no problem," and the first two months I was busy with inheritance stuff and forms and signatures and coping with other situations where I was needed. All of a sudden, now, two months later, I find I've actually been knocked off my pins by this. I try to talk about it but it's like I have no voice. I think I need to just journal about it for a while and not worry about other stuff. Transitions--they're never easy. But I was with her for the last week, and I was with her the day she died. I'm glad I was lucky enough to have that chance. It was hard, but at least I know she wasn't alone.

I think of her when I cook, when I look at my own child, when I talk to my brothers. She was the glue that held the family together. I was lucky to have known her. What a lady.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Paul Simon Says It All

Well, Blogger is intent on me showing my picture first so I bow to superior strength. I know I'm a little late for February, but I've been having so much fun having my son home for my birthday that I didn't get it uploaded until now.

One of my favorite quotes is: Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
—Elizabeth Stone Once your child leaves home for school or to start their own lives is a profound life change. Every minute of every day I'm aware that, even though I'm still at home, my heart is wandering around out there. I wouldn't want it any other way--I'm proud of his independence, his courage and his determination to make his life amazing. (And he's doing a superb job of it.) But there my heart is, out there with him. It's a colorful house (perhaps more-so metaphorically) and there's always a cat in the window, but Evan's always there with us, in our hearts.

But, getting back to Paul Simon...all day I've been singing "Have a Good Time" in my head:

Yesterday it was my birthday / I hung one more year on the line. / I should be depressed, / My life's a mess / But I'm havin' a good time.

54's not so bad! I wouldn't go back to my 20's or earlier for all the money in the world. My 30's were nice, but really busy. My 40's were even busier. Now I'm busy, but it's a good busy. More elements of play. Less fretting over things being perfect. (As Anne Lamott says, "I was 35 years old before I realized that a B+ was a good grade.") A much smoother life with less radical ups and downs. My mom is still declining but...each day is pretty darned good. It's a happy little house, getting more colorful all the time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bead Journal Project Year 3

I was part of the Bead Journal Project in 2008, but skipped 2009 because I knew I'd be busy with my son's graduation. This year I signed up again in order to get myself into the sewing room to get something creative done. I know this sounds selfish, but I've decided that this is my year. I give my time and energy to lots of people, but this is my year to do things for myself--lose weight, nurture my creativity and just quiet the chaos for a little while each day.

Do you have the experience of going faster, doing more, giving 150% and just gets more and more frantic? This year I want to give birth to myself, figuratively speaking. Hence the egg. A fresh start. Growth. Nurturing. You'll see an owl and a heart inside the egg--a hope for wisdom and love. Not just love for everybody else in my sphere--but for myself, as well. If I don't take care of myself I run out of energy for everybody else, too. This is my year. Yay, me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What a wonderful novel to start the new year! Major Pettigrew is one of those characters that I'd love to invite over to dinner. Simonson has written a character so full of flaws, virtues and inner conflict that you can't help but love him. The novel revolves around a conflict between following your heart and accepting new ways of looking at things, and wanting to retain the courtesy and civility of the past. Change is never an easy thing, and Major Pettigrew does a lot of self-examination in order to grow and change, while still retaining the true courtesy and refinement that makes him a man that everyone can count on in a crisis.

Major Pettigrew's relationship with Mrs. Ali, a woman from a Pakistani family and a shop keeper in the village, gives us a good view into the elements of change in a society. It's never easy, it's fraught with conflict from the people who don't want to think or change their attitudes, and it has it's rewards once you give up your resistance to change. Mrs. Ali and Major Pettigrew have a relationship that transcends ethnic differences and traditions. They have a delightful, energetic relationship, full of intelligence, love of words and books, and they are both very witty. I loved the conversations between the two. I identified with the Major's insistence on manners and courtesy.

This is one of my favorite books from the last few years. Not classic literature at all, no, but it's skillfully written, a great plot and wonderful characters that I'd like to know personally.

I read an advanced reviewer copy--the book will be released in the US in March.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Profound gratitude

I've been privileged to know and love a lot of dogs and cats in my life. As with people in your life, you're closer to some than others, but I've always felt that dogs and cats have as much individual personality as any of the humans I've known. And then there are the extraordinary ones--the ones that you can't even use the word "pet" with. They're friends. And in Levi's case, a friend of the heart and soul. When I was happy, he was joyful. When I was unhappy or upset, he was inconsolable. (And would go to get other family members to come and "fix" whatever was wrong with me.) He would give me a kiss every night before we went to sleep. Sometimes four or five kisses. When I came back from six weeks of taking care of my dying father, he kissed me over ten times--lying down and then coming back for another and another. I'd missed him, too. He developed liver and pancreatic cancer this summer and we had to put him down on August 1st. Nobody has been more loving or loved, no matter what their species, though, and we all still miss him and talk to him all the time.

I've been working on Christmas presents, so didn't have time to make a postcard that was as good as Levi deserved, but I wanted to make sure that my gratitude for his life and his love was documented during this holiday. I'm thankful for so many things, but this year, Levi was at the top of my list.

Thank you, Levi. It was an honor to know you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Woman-Heaven 2009

My friends, Susan and Linda, and I have had a tradition (for the past four or five years) of going to the quilt show in Spokane in October and then going somewhere for a short quilting retreat to sew and talk and laugh and eat. This year was the best one yet--so good that we've started calling it "Woman-Heaven". This year, as we did last year, we went to a vacation rental house on Newman Lake, northwest of Spokane. We did a lot of sewing, an incredible amount of laughing and we're all still recovering from the fabulous food.

The first thing I did this year was a postcard for a monthly postcard challenge on Vicki Welsh's fabulous website . The theme was "If I woke tomorrow with absolutely no obligations I would _______________". For me the obvious answer is reading. I can give up almost anything except reading.

If you can't read the quote, it's, "People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."--Logan Persall Smith.

And here is what the lake looked like outside our window. There was mist or fog every morning when we woke up, but this just made it more beautiful.

Proof that we were doing what we set out to do. We need a bigger table.

And, oh my gosh, how can you beat mini-eclairs. We were all hooked. But we "balanced" it with grapes and guacamole. Yeah--"balance", that's it.

You can see how hard Linda's been working by the threads on her legs.

The weekend gets better (and, well...longer) every year. I couldn't have two better friends.