Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Afternoon With Mom

My mom passed away in 2004. When we cleaned out her house after she passed away, I got the contents of her sewing room. She sewed her whole adult life, and taught me to sew when I was about 12. I remember the first thing I made was a pair of shorts and a vest from some fabric she had on hand, an ugly green striped material, but hey ... it was the 60s, so I fit right in!! She started quilting later in life, after I took it up. She made lots of pillows and a quilt for my sister, and one for my brother. She made a beautiful quilt for herself that hung on a quilt rack on the wall in her sewing room, which went to another brother after she died. She stopped crafting when dementia started to take its toll, so her sewing room sat unused for several years. 

When we cleaned out her house, I brought all of her knitting needles, crochet hooks, bags of yarn, boxes of fabric, and a big blue plastic bin home to my house. I combined the knitting needles and crochet hooks with my own, sorted the yarn and gave some away for charity knitting projects and added the rest to my yarn stash and integrated her fabric with my own fabric stash. 

The blue bin got put in the basement. It moved with us in 2010 to our new home and has been sitting in the basement untouched since then. This week, as I was reorganizing my sewing space, I decided to see what was in there.

I found 2 unfinished quilt tops with all the fabric needed to finish them. There are maybe 2 more, or maybe they are just orphan pieces from quilts she did already did. They are a few pieced blocks and lots of matching fabric, so I'll have to try to figure those out. There were also two quilted blocks she probably intended to make pillows out of, and another quilt, a preprinted wedding ring fabric that she was hand quilting and never finished. 

The first one is a pierced star. I think it is king sized, but I haven't measured it yet. She had little notes pinned with the row numbers pinned to each row. Blue was her favorite color, and there was a LOT of blue fabric in her stash. The second one is a log cabin. In with the fabric was a note card she had made with the fabrics all numbered so she would remember what colors went where. 

The last photo is the table in my sewing space with all of her projects sorted. 

I spent the afternoon, ironing and sorting the pieces and figuring out which fabric went with which project.

It don't know why I didn't look in that bin until now. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe it needed to wait for a time when spending an afternoon handling the fabric that she touched, examining the stitches that she made, seeing the notes that she wrote would be a comfort, instead of a reminder of how much I miss her every day. 

While I sorted and ironed and stacked and examined, I imagined us sitting together over coffee, talking about the projects we were working on, sharing ideas on techniques and design. I remembered sitting around kitchen tables in the quilting group we both belonged to in the 1980s, where a group of about 10 women got together once a week at each others' homes, each working on their own projects, sharing conversation and fellowship and a lot of laughter. As I ironed her blocks and pieces, the smell of the freshly pressed fabric wafted toward my nostrils and brought back even more memories, reminding me of her bent over her sewing machine, making clothes for herself, me and my sister, making curtains and draperies and pillows for the house ... and quilts. It was almost like spending the afternoon with her.

My plan is to finish the two quilts that are almost done and give the blue one to the brother (I have 3) who does not have one of her quilts, and keep the other one for myself. If the 2 I'm not sure about are, indeed, the pieces for more tops, I'll finish those and the wedding ring quilt and give one to each of my boys. 

My mom and I were very close. She wasn't just my mom, she was my best friend. She was lost to me for the last few years of her life, as the worsening dementia turned her into someone I didn't know. I missed my mom and grieved for her for years before she passed away. Since she's been gone, there has been a hole in my life that I have not seemed to be able to fill. As I work on these projects, I look forward to spending many more afternoons with Mom. I never imagined that blue bin, taking up space in my basement, contained such treasures. Or that I would rediscover it at a time in my life when being reminded of who she was, not who she became, would mean so much to me. What a treasure that blue bin has turned out to be!! 

Until next time ...


Friday, February 19, 2016

Welcome Back!!

It's been a while. Sometimes life just gets in the way. 

My last couple of posts were about my husband's cancer. I am thrilled to say that he is 2 years out now, and remains cancer free. Every time he goes back to follow up with his surgeon he (the surgeon) says "You know, you should have died!"  Honey is truly a miracle, and we know now that every day is a gift, and we are determined not to squander it. 

So what's been happening in my life? We welcomed our second grandchild last January, a little brother for Miss T,  and he just turned 1 year old. He is the happiest baby, much like his dad was, although a little quieter and more laid back!! We enjoy them both immensely and spend as much time with them as we can. 

I spent the first part of last year laid up with pretty bad sciatica. I just woke up one day in January with this incredible pain that went all the way down my leg to my foot. I couldn't stand up straight, couldn't walk more than a few steps without feeling like I had an ice pick in my bum. And to make matters worse, our doctor of 40 years became ill and had to retire suddenly, so we had to find a new doctor in the middle of it all, which meant I had to start all over with conservative treatment before I could get an MRI approved. Pain meds didn't work. Physical therapy made it worse. Finally, in May, I had an MRI which showed a herniated disc and I got an appointment with a neurosurgeon ... in July! Strangely, while I was waiting for that appointment, after 5 months of no improvement at all, it started to slowly get better, and by a week before the appointment, my pain was completely gone and has been gone ever since!!  I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me, where I fool around trying to treat something by myself and when I finally decide to see a doctor, it goes away!  I'm not complaining though. No pain is good!! 

Last summer, my firstborn and his wife moved back to Michigan from Florida after 11 years. They decided they wanted to be closer to family. They're glad to be back, but they are suffering through their first Michigan winter in many years ... and it hasn't even been that bad a winter yet!! It's nice to have them here though.

After being stuck in a chair for nearly 6 months, Honey and I decided that maybe it was time for us to take better care of ourselves, so we started trying to lose weight in late June. We don't call it a diet. We call it eating like we should have been for the last 50 years!! So far, Honey has lost about 94 pounds and I've lost 45. (I just hate it that men lose twice as fast as women, but that is the reality, and we just have to deal with it!) It really hasn't been that hard. We are basically eating fresh home prepared food, staying away from processed pre-packaged stuff, trying to make healthy choices and watch our portions and that has done the trick. There really isn't anything we can't eat and if there is something we really want, we have it and get back on our program afterward. We go out to eat occasionally, but we check the menu online ahead of time when we can and try to choose something that is healthy and not loaded with fat, sugar and calories. 

All of my clothes are too big and I look like some kind of a bag lady most of the time, but I'm not spending money on new clothes until I reach my goal. I've bought a few things at local thrift shops to get me through, and was able to alter a few of my things, but mostly, I just wear stuff baggy!! 

Now, the next step is to get some exercise. After years of being mostly sedentary, that's easier said than done. My kids keep telling us we should join a gym. They don't get that we need to work ourselves UP to a gym!! I'm trying to be more active around the house, now that I'm able to stand and walk a little more, but I really lost a lot of strength and endurance those months I was laid up, so it's slow going. I no longer groan and the prospect of having to run upstairs or downstairs, and I can stand up long enough to prepare a whole meal, so I'm doing some cooking again, but I'll tell you, it takes a lot longer to get it back than it does to lose it!! . I bought Honey a bike for his birthday, so come spring, we're going to try to do some bicycling. I expect we won't be able to do much more than ride around the parking lot at first, but hey, you have to start somewhere! 

I took up crochet a little more than a year ago. I took a class from our local community education department. I like it better than knitting and I've made amigurumi animals for Miss T, baby afghans, hats, scarves, slippers, dishcloths, table runners, baskets. I am accumulating quite a yarn stash, and even learned how to make T-shirt yarn to make baskets and rugs with. 


I've been trying to organize and set up my sewing space in the basement the last few weeks. While I was laid up, my sewing space got turned into the junk room ... the place where everything got dumped when we decided to "put it in the basement." I couldn't get down there very easily, so I didn't realize how bad it got, until I went down there to try to catch up on the laundry. It took me several weeks just to get to to where I could set up a sewing machine again. 

And then, of course, as soon as everyone figured out I was sewing, I got a slew of new and old mending to do!! While I was teaching my boys to cook and clean and grocery shop growing up, I should have taught them how to use a needle and thread too!! 

I got a serger for Christmas and a new sewing machine in January and I'm itching to get back into it. I'm taking an online serger class, but I had to put it on hold because while trying to make the first project, I the upper knife blade broke on my serger, so it's in for repair now. I also took in my 1971 Kenmore (my first love, and a real workhorse), and another Kenmore I got in the 1990s for tuning up. Soon I'll have 3 working sewing machines and a serger! I have so many things I want to do ... make doll clothes for Miss T, clothes for myself, curtains for the house, pillows, quilts, purses, In the meantime, I'm sorting through UFOs, and trying to get things organized. Oh, and I have managed to do a little quilting!! 

Honey and I semi-retired last year. We both still work part time and probably will as long as we are able, but we have more time to do the things we love, and spend time with the people we love, and life is good. 

So that brings me up to date. I'm hoping to do a better job of keeping this blog up. Not that anybody reads it any more. But it's fun, and who knows, maybe I still have a follower or two. 

Until next time ...