right now :: covering up

The crayon smudge was the last straw.

We were given this beautiful couch.  Not too big, not too small, in good shape with firm cushions, and beautiful yellow upholstery.  Light yellow.

I knew it wouldn’t stay pretty long in our muddy-footed home.couch cover 2

I covered it immediately with a couple of big pieces of cloth, but if you’ve ever tried that you know how it goes – the covers slip and slide and every time the children turn to look out the window, which is four hundred times in a day, the fabric turns and wrinkles and becomes a lumpy mess.

Blackberry winter provided the down-time.  The days were cold and gray.  I was busy procrastinating on some other indoor work that still needs doing, and then there was the crayon smudge.

I ignored all the other things that needed doing, served left-overs for dinner, and covered the couch.  It’s a four piece cover.  There’s a long strip that covers both arms, anchored by the cushions.  There’s a long wide piece that covers the back and drapes over the front, also anchored by the cushions. And then there are two cushion covers with seats that nearly match the curtains.  Close enough counts here.couch cover1

I measured the couch, two or three times, just to be sure.  I measured the cloth, then folded and cut and sewed.

The cushions were the biggest challenge, and I just kept breathing and let them be.  I didn’t want them too tight, and so they are a little loose.  But our dirty knees and seats won’t show on the burgundy nearly as bad as on the yellow, so I’m satisfied.

My seams aren’t always straight, and my measuring isn’t perfect, but it’s a job I’m grateful to have done.  I’d like the add some more burgundy pieces to help anchor the arms.  It will save for the next rainy day.couch cover complete

Don’t be afraid.  Have fun.  Make it yourself – make it your own.

 

fixing a hole

Par for the course of this life, we do a lot of fixing here.

I’ve often thought that our lives would have a completely different shape if my Fellow Man wasn’t such a capable handy man.  The groundhogs chewed a wire under my mother’s outbuilding, where we keep a freezer of goodies.  He’s going to dig it out and fix it.  It wasn’t a day for doing that the last time we were in town, so he fired up the chainsaw and took care of some of her fallen limbs in the yard.  The chainsaw was leaking fuel.  So now, he’ll fix that too.

This time of year it all comes rushing up. The work of the garden is rapidly approaching, Everything else that hasn’t been done yet had best get done now, or else wait until next Fall.garden coming

So I’m tackling some mending, too.  I’m no fancy seamstress.  My stitches are serviceable but not particularly neat.  I don’t necessarily know the lingo, so I have to stretch my brain when I read how-to mend this or that.  But I’m finding it’s a good sort of work to do while sitting on the couch with Lulah over some school books.  I can be occupied, not too much over her shoulder, but available when she needs me, and still being productive in a meaningful, thrifty way.

When we’re finished with our clothes around here, not much is left for the thrift store.  With the exception of the kids’ clothes which seem to get shared over and over with each other, they’re more or less used up.  I’m trying to make the most of the ones that really suit us best.

And to be honest, it’s a pleasure.  The shirt I just mended was a hand-me-down from one of my best girlfriends who has awesome taste in clothes.  It’s a simple silk thermal.  Too sheer to wear alone, but perfect as jammies, or under a sweater or vest.  Not fancy, so I don’t mind getting sweaty in it, but soft to touch and light as a feather.  There was a hole in the armpit that grew until it was unmanageable.  Well worth fixing.

As I sew, I enjoy the feeling of the cloth in my hands.  It’s texture and weight.  And I enjoy watching the open hole being mended.  What started coming in two is joined back into one.

The working blue jeans of my Fellow Man will prove a little more challenging.  They have these nice gussets to help out with the hours or squatting and crawling around in the garden to come.  Not all blue jeans are made like that, and most other pants are too thin to last for long at that intensity.  After a couple practice runs on the simpler items, I will be up for the good effort.

days like this, tough on the jeans...

days like this, tough on the jeans…

There are some things I’ve learned from the process.  I watch the fabric around the mended spot.  Is it strong?  Will it tear again quickly?  Have I mended the seam far enough into the old seam line?  Does this need a patch instead?  It is also fun to find other mended areas.  I once went to patch a dress handed down from another friend, and found it had been radically altered in its past life.  There’s information in the weaving of strings.  And as I sew, I’m leaving more messages.

There’s more mending going on around here than just in my sewing bag.  As I begin the process of closing out my step-mother’s estate proceedings, I feel the changes wrought in that process.  I guess it feels like I’m sewing that hole too, and feeling the qualities of the fabric of life.tree sky

In the days immediately following Susan’s death, I felt like a huge hole had been torn inside of me.  The sensation was irreparable and terrible.  Anyone who has lost a loved one knows this feeling.  The shock and sadness rolled over me in waves, sometimes predictable, sometimes like a rogue wave, out of nowhere.  But, as time has passed, the ride has become less intense. With the coming of Spring, I feel myself able to breathe more freely, even as I examine the places in me that felt so torn and raw from that loss.

People’s lives get woven together.  The influence of our parents, partners, children, and friends all get bound, tight or loose, smooth or bumpy, together into the fabric that becomes our life.  The color and texture of Susan’s personality have been woven into my days from the very beginning.  And my threads were woven into her life too.  She was in her mid twenties when I was born, and she never lost track of me after that.  We shared a lot.

momo and lulah

susan with newborn lulah – loving that moment.

Her death tugged at every piece of me.  I still miss her physical presence.  I miss her voice, and the simple act of calling her up and making visits here or there, sharing the children with her.  But I’m learning something as time passes.  When I drop deeper into the quiet places inside me, I find her there.  I can see her clearly.  I can hear her voice, and even get an earful of her opinions.  I can pull those threads forward and sometimes see through her eyes.  And, I can still learn from her.

I learn to not harbor regrets, and not to withhold love.  Susan believed what she believed un-apologetically, but she also didn’t hold it against anyone who disagreed with her, at least, not for long.  She didn’t let differences make gaps in her friendships, and she would reach across any gap that formed.  She gave what she could give to those who needed it, without hesitation, expectation, or frilly gesture, with un-adorned generosity.  There’s a lot to remember, a lot to learn from that example.

She also taught me to learn from the people I love.  I can remember her quizzing me about things I was into as I was growing up.  She would listen, not necessarily understanding much at first, but then she would pick up my interest in her own mind and heart, and bring it back to me later with a question, an agreement, or a challenge to help me go further.  She may have only started into my study to be closer to me, but she also let whatever information I shared grow her.beautiful coriander seed

I remember, one of our last visits, she had been reading something about the organic food movement, and she had been following the blog.  She said, “You know, you’re really onto something with this seed-saving thing.  That’s a really big deal.”  And it touched me to know that she was paying attention, and actually studying what we were up to.  From here I can look back and see that she did that with so many of the children in her life (most of us are grown now).  It inspires me – that kind of active love, and openness to learning.

So, I am heartened, to be able to remember these beautiful and admirable qualities of this person who was so central to the course of my life.  And to still find her so alive in my heart.  It is in the continued weaving of our lives that we carry forward the personality, the color, the feeling, of those who we’ve loved, who are no longer walking the earth with us.

There doesn’t seem to be much way around the initial pain that accompanies death, for the living.  But as I examine what at first felt like a rip in my inner world, I find no hole to mend.  Instead, there is the fabric of life, made stronger again by experience, and by love.  I will not stop missing Susan, out here in the world, but she’s not really gone from me. Not one bit.balloon sky 1

the good the bad and the pattern

motherhood, an ever changing, constantly challenging, truly gratifying journey. i became a mother nearly 15 years ago with the home birth of my dear eldest son. no one could have prepared me for the depth of love i felt for him from that moment on, to this day. when my daughter was born, i wondered how could i love another child as i did my first? alas, with her birth my heart burst open again and filled instantly. and one time again with my now nearly 3 year old,   my sweet william. this delightful treat motherhood brings us;  an insight into the depths of love.

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this story is not meant to be a tale of  maternal love however, i am just pondering all that these children inspire in us each day. you see it is a rainy dreary late winter’s sunday and the combination of the awful outdoor conditions and my decision to give up caffeine today of all days, has me feeling a bit, hmmm how can i say this, low energy.  somehow, despite the clear “don’t bother me now” vibe i must surely be giving off, or because of said vibe, madeline is just FORCING me to learn to sew:  she won’t let up. you see this winter we have been dabbling with sewing. it has been quite gratifying but we reached a moment between aprons and doll’s clothes where we both wanted more. and so, on our last trip to town, we bought a pattern.

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yikes. new language. new skills. dots and darts and selvedges and seam allowances and i think i might have been quite content just to stare at the pattern a little while longer.

you know, we are sailing ahead into spring, indoor craft time is drawing to a close and  i am happy with my  learning curve for the year. this was my winter of the thumb gusset which brought my knitting to a totally new level.

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sewing:  i was happy were it sat.  we knew how to operate the machine, we were putting some cute stuff together, all good. but not my little girl. madeline is definitely pushing this one. so with a non caffeinated, slow moving, wishing it would stop raining self i dove into the deep end with my companion and by golly we are going to have a sun dress by the next time the sun shines!

i figure we don’t always define how we live together. when someone is up the other needs a pull.  that is the joy of living and sharing, sometimes it isn’t easy, but no one would want it to change. these dears were born to us to share with us. we learn and grow together always, when we want to and when we don’t.