Sunday, December 30, 2012

Still Life

Still Life with Goblet and Fruit by Jan Jansz van de Velde
Go now to the North Carolina Museum of Art and see the exhibition of still life paintings on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston!  The exhibit is only here until January 13, so I'm glad I was able to see it.  Still, I feel like going back, because I was needed to give a friend a ride home from the airport, and so didn't have much time to spend looking at all the paintings before I had to leave.

The title "Still Life Masterpieces" is correct, because most of these paintings are true masterpieces, including this one by Jans van de Velde, of blackberries and a glass roemer.  This electronic reproduction does it very little justice.  It is by far one of my most favorite paintings ever, because when you stand in front of it you think you can reach out and actually touch the juicy berries, or see your own reflection in the surface of the clear glass goblet.

The exhibition includes masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Gris, Peto, and many others, almost all of them a pure visual treat.  I highly enjoyed seeing these paintings, and recommend this exhibit to anyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Zipper Pouches Galore

I've been home from work today, trying to tackle items on my to-do list, but it's hard to stay focused when I have a brand new smartphone for the first time in my life.  It's like being a kid and knowing that cartoons are on TV all the time!  I have to constantly check my work email and facebook.  I'm suddenly addicted.  Plus, there are treats in the kitchen from holiday-cheer-giving friends (cookies, chocolate, stollen...) and my husband to distract me as well.  I got some dress-sewing done, and then we took a break and went to Chapel Hill to look for fountain pen cartridges and fancy soap.  Then the day was pretty much over, because it gets dark so early now!  Still, I got a few zipper pouches made.  They are fun and easy.  Tomorrow I will make even more!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My To-Do List

Ahh, it's that time of year again!  Time to wish I had started making Christmas gifts a long long time ago.  But oh well.  If I can just get a few of them done, I'll be happy.  Here's what's on my To-Do List.  I'll check it after Christmas and see how much I actually got done!

  • Finish making my temple dress (this needs to be done by Tuesday.)
  • Finish making a quilt for my brother and his wife.
  • Make 40 small zipper pouches (gifts for my employees.)
  • Buy gift cards for the FedEx guys and the mailman at work, and the cleaning people.
  • Finish crocheting a blanket for my nephew.
  • Make skirts for my nieces.
  • Send Christmas cards out.
  • Crochet hats and scarves for a few people on my gift list.
  • Get a Christmas tree and decorate it.
  • Make slippers with leather soles for my husband.
  • Go shopping for everyone else on my list (which is long).
When I write it down it doesn't seem so bad.  But I'm too tired to work on anything right now.  I won't think about it today.  I'll think about it tomorrow.

P.S.  I can blog again because I have a hotspot!!!  So excited.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Mama Kitty was little more than a kitten herself when she first appeared in our backyard.  We thought at first that she was a stray, but it turned out she was our neighbor's new cat.  But she didn't know anything about whose yard was whose, so she spent a lot of time growing up in our backyard.  She used to stalk my husband and jump out from behind things at him.  She would sit still for hours just watching the birds at our backyard feeder.  Then she grew up and became a magnet for all the tom cats on the block.  And that is why her name is now Mama Kitty.

Mama Kitty
But Durham is no place for kittens.  From her first two litters, none of Mama Kitty's babies have survived.  It's too sad to talk about that.  Though she is smart, and a survivor, Mama Kitty just wasn't able to protect her kittens from all the dangers they face here in a busy city, and our neighbor, though kind, let them fend for themselves.  So I decided that I could not sit by and watch a third batch of kittens not survive.  I was delighted when Mama Kitty chose to have her third batch of kittens in our backyard.  C and I were the first to see them, before their eyes were even open all the way.  But the tom cats started prowling around again, and Mama Kitty kept moving the kittens around.  Fearful for their safety, C and I decided we had to intervene.

When we found where Mama Kitty had stashed them, we took the kittens and put them inside our screened-in back porch.  We let Mama Kitty come and go in order to keep feeding them.  Now I am happy to report that they are big and strong and healthy.  They are full of energy, and I don't think our back porch can contain them much longer!  My allergies can't be restrained much longer, either.  I've been on drugs all month, because I'm actually really allergic to cats!

Now they need homes.  They are 8 weeks old and weaned and litter-box trained, and ready to go out into the world.  As much as we will miss them, C and I know that these kittens are ready to be adopted, and it will be much better for them to go to good homes with people who can take better care of them than our neighbor will.  So, do you want a kitten or two?

Gray Kitten

The fattest and fuzziest of the kittens is the gray one.  He might have been the first-born, because he used to be the biggest and most curious.  Now some of his brothers have longer legs than he does, but he still loves to gallop back and forth across the porch at top speed.  He loves to climb and play.  I love it when he starts running around playing and gets all puffed up.  He acts all tough, but when you pet him he loves to roll over onto his back and have his belly scratched.  He has a funny mew that sometimes sounds like a little bark.  He's probably going to be a gorgeous tabby gray like his mother when he grows up.  He tends to growl at the other kittens when he eats, but it's all just show.  He's a sweetheart.
Tiger & White Kitten

The tabby and white one is very sweet, too.  His fur is white with beautiful brown striped spots.  This picture I took of him was from when he was playing and, like the little gray kitten, got all puffed up and energized.  It's hard to take good pictures of these kittens, because they are always playing and jumping up and down like popcorn!  One of his favorite games is to play in a cardboard box.  Do not invest in cat toys, because all they want is something they can get inside, claw at, and jump in and out of.  

Black & White Kitten
The black and white spotted kitten is going to be a nice lap cat.  When we first caught the kittens, C called him "Volt" because he would spit and spark like a live wire.  Now he is the complete opposite.  He is super energetic and plays like crazy, but he is always happy to curl up in a lap and fall asleep purring.  And he started out as the runt, but now he has beautiful long legs, which will probably help him to be a good hunter.  Also, he has a black spot on his back that is shaped like a heart!
White Kitten

The little whitish cream colored kitten is the only female.  She has faint gray tabby stripes on her ears and tail and paws, which will probably darken as she gets older.  She meows a lot!  Just like a girl.  But she is also a fearless climber, and loves to just jump onto something (a leg, even) and climb it to the top.

All of these kittens would make adorable pets!  My mom is probably going to adopt the white girl kitten, and foster the rest until they find homes.  But please tell me if you want one (or two!)  I'm really going to miss them, but I'll breathe so much better (both literally and figuratively) when they all find happy loving homes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


From the title of this post, you can tell there won't be a happy ending.  Well, let me tell the story.

Back in the fall, when I was hard at work clearing out dead leaves and underbrush from the backyard, preparing the garden for it's winter nap, and planning next year's crop of vegetables and flowers, I came across two very unusual papery pods.  I knew what they were: praying mantis cocoons.  Well, I don't know if cocoon is the right word, but I recognized them because once years before, I'd found a very similar one and brought it into the house.  Months later about a million praying mantises emerged and I had to catch them all and put them outside into the yard.

These cocoons looked good, and I thought I'd like to see them hatch, so I put them in a glass terrarium on the back porch, and covered it with fine screen.  I'll watch it every day, I thought, and when they hatch, I'll set them free in the garden to eat the pesty bugs.

All through the winter I checked them, looking carefully to see any signs of insect life.  I knew I had a duty to them, and a responsibility to Nature.  But time passed and my patience was unrewarded.  Spring came, it seemed, and nothing happened when I thought it would.  I wondered if the cocoons were defective in some way.  Then I got distracted and busy and you know how things go.

This morning I looked in the terrarium and saw millions of little tiny dead praying mantises.  Then I was overcome by the worst feeling I've ever had.  I killed them.  If not for my interference, because of greedy curiosity, they (or at least most of them) would be roaming free in the backyard, growing large and eating mosquitoes and all kinds of other things.  Instead, they are all dead, desiccated.  They must have hatched a week or so ago, and I completely missed it.  Maybe even one day of not checking had been enough to kill them--they were so small--I could hardly distinguish them from the dried debris in the bottom of the terrarium.

Crying from the injustice of it all, and from utter self-disgust, I poured my heart out to C.  He tried his best to console me.  Life is like that, he said.  Good intentions sometimes have horrible results.  Life isn't fair, and life is fragile.  He told me about the first time he realized it.  A tiny mole was lost trying to cross a busy road.  He saw it die, and cried--a little boy seeing death for the first time.  "It was just a tiny thing, and all it wanted to do was get off the road, but it couldn't.  Why?" he cried to his father.

"They're just insects, acting on pure instinct.  They don't even know that you killed them or even that they were killed."

"But how can I make amends?" I begged of C, wanting somehow to make the wretchedness go away.  "I don't know," he said.  "You don't have to.  It's all going to be okay."

"I'm fostering orphaned kittens," I said.  "We've put birdseed out all winter, and put up birdhouses.  We let the birds have all the blueberries and grapes, even!"  Maybe, I thought, these good interferences with nature could somehow balance out my terrible mistake.  And maybe they will, if there is even some balance that can be struck.  I suppose it would be impossible to live a life of complete non-interference and neutrality with nature.  I step on insects all the time without even knowing.  I scare squirrels away from the bird feeder.  I pull up weeds and put insect repellent on my body and on my plants.  C pours boiling water on the fire-ant colonies that he finds.  I live in a house, in a town, and drive on roads--all of which displace nature.  And yet, nature carries on.  Despite my best efforts, there will probably still be praying mantises in the garden this year, as there always are.  And a bluebird family will nest in the bluebird box, and a possum will eat the cat food we set out for the kittens, and the black-eyed susans will not overtake the yard because I will pull them up in the places where they crowd my dahlias.  If I am the master of my domain, and a steward of the earth, I will take a lesson from life.  But I will still be sad about what I've done.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This Durham Town

Last summer I took a walk in my neighborhood and photographed this building that I really liked:
Today I walked by it again and took another picture:

Crazy how things change!
Also last summer, someone painted an unauthorized mural on the side of an old building:
But soon after I took the picture, the artwork was removed.  A month or two later, a new one popped up in a new location:
It's under an overpass and right next to a tattoo parlor, which makes me think one of the tattoo artists is responsible for both of these murals. It's hard to read it from my photo, but the text is 2 Timothy 3:2, about the last days when people will be wicked. I like it, and I think the site is a great place for it, but I think I the first mural was better. On this one, the eyes are too close together. There should always be an eye's width between two eyes.  

Anyway, you gotta love Durham. It's so full of interesting things and places! After C and I looked at this mural on our walk, we crossed the pedestrian bridge that spans the highway, and on the other side of the bridge, at the end of a dead-end street, a woman was teaching about a dozen Hispanic teenagers how to dance formally. Boys and girls were paired up, music blaring from someone's car stereo, and little kids imitating their older brother and sisters.  It was such a sweet and random thing to come across.

On our way home we passed a woman gardening in her front yard, and said hello. She introduced herself, then suddenly gave us a tour of her garden. Then she gave us a tour of her house, which she is practically rebuilding, the same way we need to do ours.  It was so fascinating! She was a very nice person, and has taken on such an enormous task, but it's good to see someone fixing up something in this old neighborhood, in amongst the boarded up houses and scrap yards. Very inspiring. And now we know a neighbor!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


As you may have learned from my recent post, I broke my hand at the end of February.  Three and a half weeks ago.  I was in a car accident, which was horrible and traumatizing.  Luckily I was the only person hurt and the car was also fixable.  The accident was caused when I went to make a left turn at an intersection where I had a stop-sign, but the traffic I was crossing had the right of way.  I didn't see the car that hit me until it was hitting me on my driver's side front wheel, which must have wrenched the steering wheel in my hands and broke the fourth metacarpal in my right hand.  The other driver was fine, but his car may have been totaled.  I'm glad C had collision coverage on his car, but it was awful when I got home and had to tell him what had happened!  He is a very good man and kind, but I would have been upset too!  But things worked out okay.  I got my hand checked out a few days later (it never really hurt so I didn't think it was broken) and it's healing in a brace now.  We bought a really inexpensive used car from a friend of a friend, and we just got the other car back from the shop yesterday, so we've got two cars now, which actually makes me really happy.  Sharing a car is great, and we really made it work for a while, but there are always going to be times when it's just more convenient and safe to have two cars.

Meanwhile, I just can't wait for my hand to fix itself!  I think my knuckle is going to look different on that hand, but I don't care how it looks--I just want to use it!  I'm right-handed, and it's hard to not be able to use that hand fully.  For example, today I was trying to plant things in the garden, but I can only use my left hand to pull the weeds, dig the holes, place the plants, pick up the watering can... everything gets done, just more slowly and awkwardly.  Still, I think I am getting more ambidextrous and am happy that my left arm is getting more of a work-out!  It's good to learn new skills, right?

So, as for the garden: we have peas, lettuce, okra, and squash planted so far, and C is just itching to plant beans.  We'll plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons later on, and C is trying to root a fig tree to go in the center of the backyard.  Also, I've put the dahlias back in the ground and planted ranunculus bulbs.  Next on my list is herbs (basil and cilantro), sunflowers, and zinnias.  Also, I am going to plant some daisy seeds from the 60s!  My niece gave me a vintage pink plastic daisy car ornament from when Amoco used them as a promotion item, and they came with actual daisy seeds in the package.  Who knows?  Maybe they will grow?  I will try to blog more about things!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spoonflower QR Code Quilt

I work at a fabric company, and every year we have a staff design challenge contest.  Here is the story of my project this year.  When you get to the end, be sure and vote for me!

A QR code, or Quick Response code is a somewhat new technology that, when scanned by a smart phone or iPad app, takes you to a website or texts you with more information about a product.  You see them everywhere now, from cereal boxes to bus stops.  From the moment Jake got his new phone, he was obsessed with them.  I remember he used to talk about how production at Spoonflower could be more efficient if we could just walk around scanning QR codes to look up orders and find out information about rolls of fabric.  As for me, I just liked how they resembled little patchwork quilts.  So when the staff challenge was announced, the idea of making a QR code quilt seemed perfect.  

Our first step was to pick our QR code.  Every web page has a corresponding code, so we had a lot of silly ideas about what site to choose.  For loyalty’s sake we chose Spoonflower and with a simple free online code generator, Jake was able to print out an image of the QR code for the Spoonflower site.  We used this as a guide for our quilt.

We wanted our quilt to be more than just a black and white grid--no cheater quilt for us!  So we decided to make individual designs that would be cut up and incorporated into the larger QR code pattern.  We each made two designs: one predominantly black, and one mostly white.  Looking back, we realize we could have used any two colors with a high contrast, but the QR codes we are familiar with are black and white, so that’s what we did.  Keeping with the code theme, each one of our designs features a different code of communication, and each one spells--can you guess?--Spoonflower!
Jake chose to use binary code and smoke signals in his designs.  And he wants you to know that you don’t even need a computer to make a fabric design!  He drew his smoke signal design with a stylus on his iPad, using a program that would work on an iPhone too.  (He of course needed a computer to upload the drawing to the website, however.)  I’m pretty sure he became the first smoke-signal-fabric designer that Spoonflower has ever had.  I made designs using Morse code and the semaphore flag alphabet.  The night I made my Morse code design, someone actually ordered a swatch of it about an hour after I uploaded it!  (I wonder if they know it spells Spoonflower?)

We chose Kona cotton for our quilt, because it’s so soft and easy to work with.  The Spoonflower QR code is made of 625 squares (25 rows of 25) so for a roughly queen-size quilt, we printed 3 yards of each design and used 4-inch squares with a half-inch seam allowance.  Jake and I argued about whether or not the quilt should be totally gigantic, but I think he’s glad we kept it somewhat small.

As soon as our fabric was printed and ready to go, however, tragedy struck.  I broke my hand.  If only my car accident had occurred after the Daytona 500, I would have known to let go of the steering wheel on impact!  Sigh.  I broke the fourth metacarpal in my right hand, and I’m right-handed.  Still, I was determined to make this quilt, so I just sewed myself a cute cast cozy and started using the left-handed rotary cutter instead.

The next step was to cut the fabric into squares and plot the chart of how to sew them together.  It seemed right that no adjacent squares should be the same design, so in order to plot the layout of all the squares, I drew a map on graph paper of how to sew the squares together.  It’s like a code all on its own!  It took a long time to make this chart with my left hand, but it was so useful during the sewing process.

Jake and I sewed the squares together into strips and then sewed the strips together.  Jake sewed!  This was the first time he had ever sewed, but it was perfect because what can be easier than sewing squares together?  Turns out that sewing machines aren’t as complicated as they look.  After a few squares he was a natural.  He even learned how to load a bobbin. 

Jake’s dog, Grace, a rescued Boxer, looked on with curiosity.

Grace helped us sort the strips of squares.  A huge thank you also goes out to my mom because during this part of the process, she came to Spoonflower and helped Jake and I sew the rows of squares, trim the seams, and iron them.

My mom joked that the only time she sees me is when I need help with something, but I actually need her help a lot!  My mom is a very talented crafter, and she inspires me in so many ways.  I’m blessed to have her live so near!  In fact, she would not let us give up when it was late and we’d been sewing all day.  “I’m not leaving until I see the finished quilt top!” she said. “We have to scan it and see if it works!”  So Jake and I sewed like the wind and finished the top of the quilt.  Then we held it up and he scanned it with his phone and... it took us to the Spoonflower website!  Despite our sewing imperfections (I think some of the Morse code squares might be upside down) and tons of loose threads, it actually worked!

The next day we spread the quilt top over a backing made of plain Kona, with a layer of batting in between, and my mom helped us pin it all over with safety pins. Pin basting helped us keep it all together so we could sew it without a quilt frame.  The next step was to sew down each seam, through all the layers of the quilt, both vertically and horizontally. 

For all you real quilters, please do not be horrified.  This was a quick quilt, renegade style.  A close inspection of our handiwork is not recommended!  However, this quilt does two things: it takes you to the Spoonflower website and it keeps you warm.  What more could a person want?

The very last step was to fold up the edges of the Kona backing around the sides of the quilt top and sew through all the layers.  Gart saw me doing this part, and it was his first glimpse of the quilt.  “I’m geeking out!” he said, incredulous that it actually was a scannable QR code in quilt form.  Yes, it’s a melding of very old and very new technologies.  We hope you like it!  Meanwhile, Jake will be taking a nap in it.

Now that you know the story, please click here and vote for me!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"Winters in Neely are mostly sadly predictable and barren and colorless and genuinely forlorn. Momma is the one of us who tends to suffer most through the season. She holds up well enough until Christmas and on into the New Year, but by the first week in February Momma is a lost woman. On February afternoons Momma turns on all the lamps in the house and sits in the livingroom in one of Grandma Yount's burgandy boudoir chairs where she applies herself to the same novel she has been reading off and on for six years now...

But no matter the lamps and the distractions, the last two weeks in February tend to take Momma under and occasionally she frets and cries and tells Daddy how she has to get away from Neely, how she has to get away from February, how she'd nearly be willing to die for a spring day. And Daddy puts his arms around Momma and rocks with her to hush her up, and sometimes he'll drive us out to the Holiday Inn on the by-pass where he treats Momma to a meal she doesn't have to cook or wash up after, and Daddy talks to the waitresses and talks to the other customers and tells me and Momma how he's been considering pulling up roots and moving to Buffalo where he says Momma can have her own caldron to stew in and I can go to the store with actual ice under my sled runners and Daddy tells how he'll buy us a fleet of Buicks to run off into gullies and just generally slosh around in. Wouldn't that be grand? Daddy says. Wouldn't that be the life? And Momma abides him with a smile."

from "A Short History of a Small Place" by T.R. Pearson

That is just at tiny part of my favorite part in my favorite book, and I think about it every February. We were lucky this year with a very warm mild winter, but the last week or so has been pure winter. Nights in the 20s, cloudy gray days, wind, blackbirds in the bare trees, me sniffling with a cold... I'd nearly be willing to die for a spring day right about now. I have been working in my sewing room all morning, ironing mostly because it's warm and soothing, but C and I took a walk outside to look at the buds on the trees, just to remind us that Spring really is on it's way in. If we can just get through February...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sewing Project

I'm home sick with a cold.  Blah.  But the good thing about being home sick with a cold is that I get to sleep in until noon, eat cookies for breakfast, eat potato chips for lunch, and get caught up on my sewing.  Here is my latest project: a paintbrush holder for E.  She is an art major in college now and needs a cute way to carry around her paint supplies.  The brushes fit in the slots and the whole thing rolls up, then is tied with a soft ribbon.

For the outer fabric I used a heavyweight cotton twill from printed in a floral design by Zesti.  The inside is lined with quilting-weight cotton in a gray linen-esque chevron design by Holli Zollinger.  The roll is large enough for my sister's longest paintbrush, 14.5 inches, but can accomodate anything a bit larger or much smaller too.  Basically, the brushes fit into the slots and are further secured by two strips of elastic.  Maybe two strips of elastic was overkill, but at least they all will be secure!

I'm thinking of making some more of these to sell on etsy.  But not today... It's time to go back to bed and watch movies, since this day is supposed to be all about rest and recovery.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Spring Flower Revue

Spring is here!  Actually it has been here for quite some time.  In mid-December a silly narcissus decided to awaken from its hibernation and bloom in our yard.  It has been freakishly warm, but I will be the last one to complain.

I'm overjoyed that my favorite spring flower has finally appeared: the flowering quince.  Quince is a nasty thorny bramble in any other season, but when its flowers appear, all gorgeous vermilion, the contrast between stark grey branches and luscious flower makes my heart melt.  I remember going for a midwinter run once upon a time, and coming across a quince in full bloom.  Surprised and amazed by a bramble bush with such a display of beauty, I stopped my run and stared at it for many long moments, soaking up inspiration and joy.  I have loved the flowering quince ever since then.

Other things are coming up in the yard at last, too.  The purple crocuses are mostly clustered in the warm sections of the yard, but there is one brave explorer I found wandering through the underbrush all alone.

There is also the usual swathe of daffodil greenery under the grapevine, but they are packed in so tightly and in such a shady spot that they never bloom.  C and I keep meaning to dig them up and spread them out.  It's their only chance to ever live a real flower's life, but for some reason I never feel like digging up damp soil and bulbs in the shade on a breeze 50-degree day.  And then in the fall, when all the daffodil leaves are hidden, I would not even know where to dig for all the vines and summer weed-jungle in the way.  Sigh...  There is much to do in our yard!

Still, there are a few intrepid daffodils that have sprouted here and there and are happy enough where they are to bloom.  Some are normal looking, and others are just crazy.
Fancy Daffodil
One of our neighbor's little girls just loves to look at flowers.  Whenever she sees us, she runs over to ask if she can come into our garden and look at all the flowers.  C usually leads her by the hand from flower to flower, letting her sniff and admire them.  Then she runs home and begs her dad to plant flowers in their yard.  Maybe this year I can help her plant a little flower garden of her own.

For Christmas, the neighbor girls gave C and me a bluebird house.  Their father says he keeps seeing bluebirds everywhere and thought maybe one would like to live in our yard.  I think he's actually seeing blue jays, which are a quite different thing, but the thought was sweet, and who knows?  Maybe a bluebird family would like to live in our yard.  I've never seen a bluebird here in Durham.  With all the cats nearby, I kind of doubt the baby bluebirds' chances of survival, but we do have a large songbird population that enjoys the sunflower seed selection at our bird-feeder, and perhaps a fearless wren will nest here if the bluebirds won't.

C says that bluebirds like to nest in houses that back up to woods and face a large clearing, so we mounted the house on the back fence and are hoping for the best.  In front of it the bridal veil bushes are budding and popping out in little tiny white blossoms like miniature popcorn strands.

Bluebird house
Soon there will by hyacinth, tulips, snowdrops, dogwood, honeysuckle, gardenias, and all the rest.  But while we say hello to all these spring flowers, we say goodbye to another.  The camellias are all but done, and more lay spent and brown on the ground than are blooming on the bush.  Those that bloom turn brown with the slightest heat and fall heavily.  The fat camellia shrub stands full and green surrounded by its fallen rosettes, which are still beautiful though brown and look like they belong on Victorian dresses.

Next week C and I are going to build new garden boxes and plant lettuce.  Maybe even peas!  Flowers are all well and good, but summer's bounty of food is just around the corner.

Camellia carnage

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The church lessons today were all on service and, as we always do, C and I discussed the topic on our way home.

"How are we supposed to love all of our neighbors?  Even the ones that murder?!" he wondered.

"Maybe the best love we can give them is to stop them from murdering anyone else?" I mused.

"Also," C continued, "how do I let people serve me?  I don't need anyone to do anything for me!"

It's true.  C is very self-sufficient, but whether he likes it or not I am going to cut his hair this week!

Anyway, I thought back on the previous week and all the ways C has given service to people around him.  He stays at home most days, but he is always on the lookout for ways to help people.  Mostly me, but he happened to provide a tremendous service to the neighborhood this week.  He was inside the house cleaning out the front room (it's going to be my parlor!) and he smelled smoke.  It didn't smell normal so he went outside to investigate, only to discover the next-door neighbor's front lawn on fire.  No one was home, and all the dry oak leaves on the grass had been ignited by some passerby's cigarette (we guessed). Who knows how long it had been smoldering, and if left unchecked it could have caught the picket fence on fire and then the house.  C retrieved a fire extinguisher from our house and put the fire out.  One wonders how many cars had driven by and done nothing.

C served me last night when we went to the church to change the bulletin board, which is my job.  I pretty much just sat and watched while he did all the work for me--stapling the fabric to the board, leveling the posters, hanging up the high things and then carrying everything out to the car when we were done.  He even coached me at basketball when we took a break in the church gym.

And every day he serves the wild birds by putting a handful of sunflower seeds in the feeder out back.

Now he is serving his family by visiting his elderly parents, while I sit at home being anti-social.  Almost as soon as he drove away, I wished I would have gone with him.  But then again, I want to curl up under the electric blanket and watch Downton Abbey at nine.  I think I have a lot to learn about service from my husband!  I love him so.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ancient Ideas

Happy New Year!  I decided to turn my i-tunes on random shuffle and pretend that the first song would be an indication of how the new year would be.  Well, "Sad Status Quotient" by the Pernice Brothers is not the happiest song that could have popped up, but I will take what optimism I can from it.  The lyrics begin, "Trying hard to be a better person.  Hindsight's 20 and my visibility is worsening.  All the acolytes are choking, but my faith in life's unbroken.  Wanna leave this room better than I found it..."  Then it goes on to mention survivors being picked out of train-wrecks and plane crashes.  Well, that's pretty depressing unless you stop and think, well at least there were survivors!  The singer goes on to realize that his seemingly new ideas are actually ancient, and that people live on even when waiting for the sky to fall.  And the harmonica is so wistful and gorgeous.

None of this has anything to do with my own life except that I do want to be a better person, and I've been having kind of a bad day.  Sigh.  I know it will get better!  And I know that I can be a better person if I just start trying harder.  Mostly I'm just depressed that I forgot to hand in my tithing check at church today and I wanted to give it to Bishop before the new year started.  I know, I know.  Not the end of the world.  But then I got home and got locked out accidentally and C couldn't hear me pounding on the back door!  I had to go find my emergency whistle which I keep in the garden in case of stranger danger.  Then he heard me.  And it would have been fine to be locked out because it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon of 65 degrees in December, which I love because I can read outside without mosquitoes biting me, but I was starving and the only thing remotely edible in the backyard is the sunflower seeds in the bird-feeder under the oak tree, but I'd have to fight the chickadees and woodpeckers for it!  When I finally did get some food and go outside to read, thick grey clouds were covering up the sun and the wind was cold.  Now I think it's going to get really cold, as a real winter should be.  So much for the balminess we've enjoyed so far.

Anyway, my faith in life is indeed unbroken, and my goals for the new year include leaving this room (literally and metaphorically) better than I found it.  I plan to do good, be wonderfully happy, and accomplish things.  Who's with me?