Saturday, August 31, 2013

Heirloom Treasures

The quilt arrived quite by surprise.  Roger's Mom was "down-sizing" and sent it along home with him one night.  Over fifty years old, it looks as if it has just been made.  Each stitch as straight as the day it was sewn, each piece of cloth still bright.  I was thrilled!

You see, the reason this is so special to me is that it was handmade.  I mean really handmade.  Every stitch was placed by hand, not machine. I am in awe of such work. (This is not to say that machine made quilts are not special, also.  I have seen some that are breathtaking works of art.  I am simply in awe of those made with a needle and thread by a woman/women one stitch at a time.)

There was a day when handwork was expected.  Women if they did not have a specialty, at least knew the basics of sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, lace making and tatting. In a pinch, they could do what needed to be done to make something to wear, create a gift, or darn a hole.

Unfortunately, today many young women and girls have no clue what any of this is.  If you talk about a new quilt, they pull out the nearest catalog to look at what might be on sale.  Lace is bought by the yard at the fabric store.  Knitted or crocheted goods, if not made by machine, come from far away places where women get paid by the piece.  Usually their wages are barely enough to keep their families fed.

So, why am I talking about handwork?  For me, each piece of handmade work is art, not simply something to put on, something to keep you warm, or something to protect your table tops.  For years, I have treasured doilies made by my grandmother and mother.  I have used them, delighting in having a bit of them with me. In fact, one of my prized possessions is an embroidered sampler that my grandmother started, my mother worked on and I finished.  Three generations of stitches on the same piece.  

The sampler is stained, having traveled through multiple homes over 100 years before it was complete.  To me, these are the marks of lived by my grandmother and mother.  This piece was rescued from a flood, was drenched in tea precariously placed beside it and was impregnated with the oils of three sets of hands. Age pulls the stains out of the cloth, like the patina of old wood.

Yesterday, I finished an afghan for my newest grand-niece. I am continuing a tradition begun long ago.  I hope it will become a treasured heirloom; something passed from my grand-niece to her daughter, then to her granddaughter and on.

My hopes are that this afghan will be a representation of the love that warms little Sasha at this time, when she is so new to us all.  May that warmth stay with her, bringing her comfort in times of pain and joy throughout her life.


***If you want to learn more about how quilts were used as a language, I recommend reading the book, Hidden in Plain View.

The Meaning of Quilts (contemplativeed)


Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Joy of Flowers

One of the best things we did when we began our attempts at being "Green" was to purchase a farm share.  In our community they are called CISA (Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture) shares. In other communities these shares may be called CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.  However way you call them, they are a wonderful way to support local farms as well as help keep our planet healthy.

Our share comes from a family run farm down the road from us.  Enterprise Farm is filled with young men and women who are dedicated to creating a healthy environment for both themselves and their community.

One of the best parts of our share program is that the farm offers pick-your-own veggies as well as flowers.  Each week during the summer and early fall, we can go to the farm and cut our own flowers.

Subsequently, my house is filled with small vases of colorful flora that brighten up dark corners and surprise visitors because I place them in unusual places - like in the middle of the hallway bookcase or among my family photos.

Flowers, I learned long ago, bring a healing and peace-filled energy into a space.  This is why we bring flowers to people who are ill or give flowers to those who are in mourning.  Flowers speak of love, friendship and kindness. They can welcome new neighbors or simply let someone you know that you are thinking of them.

When we get our flowers each week, we share them with some of the elderly neighbors.  You should see their faces when we bring them a fresh cut bouquet! I am always amazed at how something so simple can bring so much joy.

So, the point of this blog is two-fold.  First, I encourage all to find out about CISA/CSA shares in their community.  Second, I want to share how much flowers can mean, especially to those who are shut-in or sick.

May we all strive to make the world a better place!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

When Life Throws Curve Balls

 Photo Credit:

Sometimes, Life throws you one of those curve balls that comes out of no where, or at least appears to come out of no where.  We have a few choices.  We can run like heck to catch the ball.  Curl up and hope it doesn't hit us.  Or, we can simply stand still and wait, hoping someone else will catch it.

Recently, a curve ball was sent spiraling into my family.  Since I can neither curl up, nor stand still, I am running like crazy.  I hope and pray that this ball will be caught and all will be well.  I know this all seems cryptic, and it is.  Let me tell you a story...

My brother, Barry and I are what my mother called "Irish Twins." I was born in September and he was born in November the next year.  When we were growing up people thought we were twins.  I never minded.  I love Barry.  

 Barry and I on the first day of school - I was in third grad he was in second

Now, don't get the impression that we never had problems as siblings.  There were plenty of times when we fought, just like any other brother and sister.  But, always, when the chips were down, we had each others back.

For Barry, the chips are not only down, they are non-existent at the moment.  Barry is in liver failure.  The doctors have given him four months to live.  He is on the transplant list, but with A+ blood, they doubt a donor liver will be found in time.  The only thing we can do is hope and pray that they will find a living donor.  

How does a live donor transplant work?  Well, this is where all the "running" comes in.  You network, call friends, send messages to people, talk to folks you don't even know and then, network some more.

People who are interested in being a donor are asked to call a number where their information is taken.  If they pass the first interview, then they must go through various other stages of testing and more interviews. IF, and this is a very big IF, they match, then the transplant team is notified, donor and patient are admitted to the hospital and the doctors remove the diseased liver, replacing it with a piece of the healthy donor liver.  The donor's liver will grow back and, if there is no rejection, the patient's new liver will also rejuvenate.

So, why am I writing about this on my blog?  For one, I want to show how important organ transplants can be to people.   Personally, I have agreed to be an organ donor.  My children know and it is on my license.  Unfortunately, my blood type is different than Barry's, or I would be going through the screening process.

The other reason I am writing is to bring awareness to the need for living donors.  I know that this is not an easy decision to make.  There are risks - risks that the doctors share with any donor before agreeing to operate. That said, there is a need for many types of living donors - everything from blood to bone marrow.  

If you are interested in learning more about liver transplants, you can go to

If you are in the Massachusetts area, have A+ blood and want to see if you are a match for Barry, please call  1-508-334-2023.

Right now, the sun is in our eyes...we may not be able to catch this curve ball, but we will give it a good try.  Please keep Barry and our family in your prayers.  I know that whatever happens, we will be given the tools and Grace to carry on.