Friday, May 15, 2015

Various and Sundry

The Big Star Quilt

If you scroll down to the bottom of my blog list, you'll see the names of the disappeared. These are bloggers who blogged for a time, whose blogs I loved, and who one day stopped blogging. It happens, but sometimes it feels like you've lost a friend. I feel especially this way about Dulce Domum at Bread and Roses. Fortunately, she's left her blog up, though she stopped blogging over two years ago, so I can go back and re-read from time to time. I know several of you who regularly read this blog once read Bread and Roses, too. Does anyone keep in touch with Dulce? Have an email for her? I keep hoping she'll come back. I wonder how she's doing.


I myself have not been a constant presence this year. I think the more invested I am in home and hearth, the more time I spend blogging. This has not been my most domestic year so far, though I'm hoping that will change.

We're finally getting the garden put in. Of course, the can't-live-without tomatoes went in at the proper time, because we don't mess around with tomatoes. But I'm just getting around to the zucchini and butternut squash and the herbs. I bought a few new perennials for the flower garden--phlox and coneflowers--and today I picked up the bedding plants, mostly my beloved marigolds, but a Dianthus plant and some portulaca as well.

What I have been doing that has kept me from gardening? Writing mostly. I finished a draft of a novel and a big grant proposal for the nonprofit I volunteer with. I made the quilt pictured above. The piecing took a weekend; the quilting took forever. I've been reading lots of books about quilt history, which I grow increasingly more interested in.

I'm taking a break from the writing and the grants to try to gain some control over the house. I have plans to spend a lot of time this summer painting. Paint is relatively cheap and covers a lot of ills. I have a long list of big projects I want done, but can't afford this very minute, and probably won't be able to afford for awhile. But I can afford paint, and I can afford to make curtains for the upstairs bathroom. That will have to do for the time being.


I'm reading a couple of books right now that touch on fasting. One is Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk, a Benedictine nun, and the other is Awakening to Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith by Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove, one of the founders of the New Monastics movement. Funk writes that fasting isn't necessarily going without food, but eating in a way that is ordered and mindful. Gluttony, she writes, "is the pattern of of eating indiscriminately with no thought of how this food is feedingi [one's] spiritual life." She writes about the "original order" of things as being "friendly, natural, organic, relational, whole and simple." I like that very much.

Hartgrove lives with his family and others in a impoverished neighborhood about five miles from my house. One day a week, the members of his household fast until dinnertime. Fasting, he writes, "is not a denial of food's goodness, but rather a joining of ourselves with God's longing that there might be food enough for everyone in a world that's been redeemed." Later, he says, "By way of fasting you come face-to-face with the truth that eating points to: you are a dependent creature, and you do well to remember it."

This week I've been trying to be ordered in my eating. This is hard for me in the late afternoon, when I'm tired and bored. I've been eating a piece of fruit and a couple of Wasa Crisps with Laughing Cow cheese spread on them. That's it until dinner. It's hard for me, but I like Funk's idea of food taking its rightful place in the order of things. I like the idea that there is an order of things.


A busy weekend ahead. Will has a baseball game tonight, and tomorrow I've got a haircut and Jack has a dinner party (!). One of his friends is turning sixteen, and she and her family have invited a group of friends to have dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Jack turned sixteen himself recently. We bought him and two of his friends tickets to see some bands in Raleigh, and apparently they had a big time. Now Jack has started playing electric guitar. I don't think he knows it's my electric guitar (I don't play it much) that he's playing. That would drain the cool out of things pretty quick, don't you think?

Then on Sunday, Will is going to a birthday party at a laser tag site about twenty-five minutes away from here. I'm looking forward to the end of birthday parties, at least the kind that involve me spending my afternoons driving back and forth all over town.

I'm going to work in the garden this weekend, do some cleaning in the garage and maybe even wash my car. Good times, ladies, good times!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

We don't make a huge, big deal about Mother's Day around here--no Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant, no profusions of flowers. Usually Mother's Day consists of me taking a day off from chores and the boys being extra sweet. The Man makes dinner, the boys give me some presents, and it's all good.

Yesterday was different, because I had signed up to help with Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) at church. IHN is a program that helps homeless family transition into jobs and housing. These families aren't chronically homeless--typically, the head of the family (almost always a single mother) has been laid off from her job or has recently moved into the area and hasn't been able to find a job. She has skills, she has the will, she's just had some bad luck. IHN helps by offering temporary housing in churches and synagogues with sleeping facilities and providing meals, transportation and job training.

My co-host at last night's dinner was Amie, a woman who attends our IHN partner church and had her 5 year-old daughter Jane with her. Amie, like the women we would be hosting that evening, is a single mom. She has a good job and good support systems in place, but even so, single parenting isn't easy under the best of circumstances, and she felt a strong connection to the moms we ate with last night.

It felt good to take care of moms who don't get a lot of love. Amie, bless her heart, brought each of the three mothers big, sparkly  Mother's Day cards and gift bags. We watched the kids, served up ham and mac and cheese and banana pudding, and did the dishes. The moms, who have been traveling together from church to church for several weeks now and have bonded, sat back and relaxed or took naps.

When Amie and I were cleaning up, we talked about how for so many mothers, Mother's Day isn't a happy occasion. This led to a conversation about families in commercials, especially around the holidays. For a single parent, it's painful to watch image after image of traditional families gathering together. But what surprised Amie is when I said I thought those commercials were painful for a lot of people, just not single mothers. Our families, being human, are flawed. We all think we're doing this parenting thing wrong--and then sure enough, there's that perfect TV family proving our point.

Our discussion made me think that maybe what mothers should do on Mother's Day is gather with other mothers and tell our stories. Talk about the good stuff and the bad stuff. No bragging, just truth-telling. We can drink champagne and wear tee shirts that say "Every Day is Mother's Day" and give each other flowers. We can take care of each other, like good mothers do.