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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Looking to the Wall

logcabinpiece

If I look very closely, I can touch just one piece.  I say “I remember you.”  You’re one of those pesky dark pieces that I cut and sorted for hours  Sorting by lengths and by light or dark….trying not to repeat any grouping or pattern for the log cabin blocks.  Fabric, that was snipped, then torn with care, revealing the true grain.

As I touch the pieces – I know them so personally.  Maybe it’s one from the Civil War collection.  Or from the Thimbleberries section that I used to spend so much time admiring.  It might just be that I picked it because it reminded me of Autumn.

Regardless of which quilt I’m near, I stand and look a little longer and a little closer and remember when and why I made it.  What kind of effort it took to coordinate it.  Whether the pieces and blocks caused frustration or if it was new, but easy to do.  I look through the pictures I keep and see the quilts that were given away as an encouragement towards someone’s healing from surgery and the birth of my best friend’s baby.

My Hoosier cupboard now stands empty and devoid of it’s stockpile of fabric, notions, batting and cutting tools.  Pulling it all out of the cupboard and heaping it on the table was a quick task – but emotionally painful.  Inside I felt like a piece of me was being torn out.  Sold in one lump sum on a Friday morning in April – 14 years after it all began – I could no longer quilt.

But now, I talk to the walls (don’t tell anyone).  I see the quilts on the beds, adorning the walls, and stored in closets … and I remember everything about each creation like they were one of my own children.  So don’t think me crazed if you see me pausing to stare at the fabric on the walls.  It’s just a little separation anxiety…I’ll get over it…I hope!

Log Cabin - Feed Sack Furrows

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Arizona, or Another Trip Down Memory Lane

UNION1-615x287

The Union Public House

www.uniontucson.com

Going home to Pennsylvania is becoming a regular occurrence.  Arizona, on the other hand … now that’s a different story.

I spent 4 1/2 years living in the desert as a teenager – and graduated from high school there – before moving to North Carolina.  It’s been almost three decades since I moved, but I still have friends there.  And that means I needed a visit… so a little belated birthday trip to the Sonoran desert was an excellent plan for this year’s celebration.  A little sun, some hiking, some springtime desert blooms to admire, and at least one really good sunset.

And it was – {A really great sunset}

sunset3

Dinner out on Friday was a planned event.  Just ask Facebook.  In fact, it was so well planned that we accidentally had two postings for it.  Oops.  We all arrived separately, and not all on time… which meant we’d be waiting a while for our table, but it was a good way to start the dinner.  Warming up with conversation.

To begin with, there were four of us seated on a brown leather couch that was literally 12 feet long – we only took up the end and a small table.  We were waiting to be seated when someone started in on “Who was your first kiss?”  Or was it “Do you even KNOW who my first kiss was?”  Some drinks were delivered and an appetizer had arrived … and I knew – this was going to be an interesting evening.

Two more joined us and then the six of us were finally seated at our table on the patio.  Twenty-nine years had passed since I had seen most of them, and everyone was taking their turn telling their stories. The stories were varied – ranging from girly and giggly, shocking or sad.  Ups, downs, diseases, cures, surviving, and unfortunately…deaths of classmates.  Oh, yes, and that whole “who was your first kiss” thing came up again, complete with data phones, Facebook friend’s lists and trying to track down the “guy.”  I know who it is now, but my lips are sealed!

It started with the Swedish American, formerly a Ford’s model, who talked at great length about some very interesting life experiences.  She was a tag-a-long friend of one of my classmates.  Even the story of how the two of them met was great.  She was hilarious and interesting and I believe somewhat tipsy.

Without using any names, I’ll call one by her choice of entrée… she was “Miss chicken and waffles.”  She made me feel right at home and I think she had me laughing the hardest… A few years ago I found out that some of her family lived nearby in rural Alabama … which of course, just makes the world a little smaller … and “Miss chicken and waffles”  – well, let’s just say, I loved sitting next to her … she has the most beautiful soul.

The gathering was missing a few who promised to come, but I think it turned out perfect the way it was.  Sometimes just 5 or 6 make an excellent party… there’s more time to talk, share, and truly get to know people.  The infamous story of how two of us set the lab desks on fire with the alcohol burners in Physical Science class was told, and the laughter and fun was shared easily around this table.  Looking around, it almost seemed like a table of strangers…some of us barely knew each other.  But, common ground of the years spent in high school never leave you.  Maybe we just had one class together, but it didn’t matter at all.  We were there together that night, 29 years later … laughing, sharing, comforting and building on what we started all those years ago…

I find it appropriate that our school motto – Más Allá – translates into “Go Beyond.”  I think we accomplished that, by continuing beyond the campus of Canyon Del Oro High School as friends, nearly three decades later.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Friend

Old Tucson  {My Best Friend and Me}

A friend loves at all times.

Poverbs 17:17a

“Let me tell you about my best friend…”  (Sing with me if you know that tune!)

That was a favorite song to sing along to when I was a child in the 1970’s.  It was a theme song to a TV show called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby.

Well, so let me tell you, I have LOTS of friends and acquaintances – and strangers that I treat as friends.

Just recently I met an Hispanic couple in line at Wal-Mart and had the sweetest time talking to them while the customer in front of them was having difficulties.  Believe it or not, by the end of the conversation, I knew SO much of their history.

Because I ask.  Because I listen.  Because I care.

How DOES a man get from Peru to America and survive military service in Vietnam?  Now I know.

People need to be heard.  They need to share their story.

They need to have fellowship – on a heart level – with their fellow humans.

{YES}  Even in Wal-Mart … During a long delay … When most people would be a little aggravated …

This was the perfect opportunity to do what I was designed to do – I made a friend…

Actually, I made two.

mybestfriend2  {Still Crazy After All These Years}

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 
 

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Not All Days Are Good Ones

uturn

I’m probably just reminding myself of this fact, but not all days are good ones.

Some days are downright lousy.

And not every thought or word that comes from my brain conforms and transposes itself into something positive on a day like this.

I can be downright bitter, angry, tired, frustrated, in pain or in anguish over stuff that I can’t change or fix or focus on.

I’m not happy to say that – out loud or to myself – because it serves very little purpose.

Someone is going to bed hungry or homeless – or both – tonight in this country and I do care more about that than anything I’ve got going on in my little world.

I care about people and I care for them.  But some days I fall short of caring for myself.

Lesson One:  It’s my pity party and no one wants to come, so I’m trying not to drag anyone else in.

Lesson Two:  I’m sure I got here by my own secret path, but I guarantee I left a bread crumb trail (or Reese’s Pieces) to find my way back out of this neck of the pain-in-the-butt woods.

Lesson Three:  I should have seen it coming.  Really, how many negative thoughts or cut downs do I need to deliver before I should be realizing – “Hey, you… Shut it already!”

Lesson Four:  Write it out, but don’t publish it for at least a day.  We call that “proofreading” or in this case, an “attitude adjustment.”

Want some perspective?  I’ll ask for some, and then BY ALL MEANS I’ll take someone’s advice even when I want to roll my eyes at it.  (and I actually do – roll my eyes).

Now, I’ll get back up off the dirt where I was busy digging that pit to lie in and wallow in self-pity.

I’ll pick up those stinking Reese’s Pieces – yes, I’d still eat them off the ground – and follow them down that creepy path where I detoured from “normal.”

I brush myself off, save a few candies in my pocket for later, and step back on the path and walk with the others.

Even though I know it’s going to be just me there, like always … I can walk alone.  I’ve got candy to keep me company.

And I’m sure I brought my iPod.  I never go anywhere without my tunes.

Now, will it be Pat Benatar, Boston, or The Eagles?

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Sabino Canyon

sabino 1

Bright, early morning sunlight

Friends waiting to greet me.

A faded asphalt road

Walking, talking, and catching up.

Water flowing

Caught, temporarily, by concrete bridges

Then, let loose on the other side.

All shades of rocks

And green plants flourishing.

A warning of something lurking.

A sandy, dirt path amongst the mesquite trees and boulders

An offshoot to the water’s edge.

Tortoise dens passed – almost unnoticed

and snakes to be feared.

The canyon is different depending on the season

Cool and green with water flowing

Or dry with a fiercely, scorching sun.

But always a favorite destination,

always welcoming,

always needed,

always a respite for what ails me.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Expectations, Travel, Exhaustion, Silence

red bud branch

Monday I arrived home after taking a trip to Arizona.  There are so many things to write about that I have literally started 4 posts already and the only one I finished was my Five Minute Friday Flash Mob writing exercise for today.  Here’s the link for that…

https://theunfinishedchild.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/five-minute-friday-jump/

I had only been gone since Wednesday, but things can change quickly while you’re not looking.  I’m glad that I went, happy that I saw classmates from 29 years ago… but I’ve felt a hush of silence over me since I’ve been home that almost wouldn’t allow me to speak, let alone write.

And, I’m exhausted and still catching my breath…because laundry, groceries, cooking, and track practice still happen when you get home… So silence is necessary, for a time …

I remember that “a watched pot never boils.”  Well, it does actually boil…but you get antsy watching and waiting.  While I was gone, the grass got greener and taller, and every Dogwood tree is in full bloom!  It’s all so colorful!

Last year in February (2012) I recruited my family to help me start a little accent garden and flower bed in the front yard.  I desperately wanted an Eastern Red Bud tree to be the focus so we decided on a triangular shape for the garden with the tree at one point.  A triangle with soft corners, not sharp.  I had lots of help digging and pulling the clods of Kentucky Fescue and red clay out of the ground.  We planted the tree and hoped for blooms.

We didn’t get any blooms, but we did get leaves.  At least we didn’t plant it too late or kill it.

In the other two “corners” of the triangle I planted lavender plants.  They were blooming soon and quickly became OH SO FRAGRANT!!!

I tried my hand at dahlia bulbs and they did well also… they just took a little longer to grow, but they were {HUGE} – and produced flowers to cut and take inside.  That was fun and rewarding.

**I have to stop here and say, that the internet is very useful when trying all these new things!  God bless the gardeners and nursery companies that share their wisdom.  Pinterest has its good points, but the nitty-gritty dirty work done by a gardener, that has trod the soil for years, is where you’ll find some of the best knowledge.

Yesterday I took a picture.  My Eastern Red Bud tree sprouted something pinkish-purple.  ONE purple cluster.

Really? ONE?  Oh, and lots of leaves so I would know it wasn’t dead!

red bud bloom

You have to know this:  since the end of March, I’ve been spying on my tree.

With binoculars.

From the front door.

Waiting.

Waiting since March for the tree to bloom.

Before I left for Arizona, I was excited and counting down the weeks and days until I would get there.  All that time, running through my mind was …

“How long would you wait for a tree to bloom?”

The wild ones were blooming on the mountain hillsides, then the trees in everyone’s yards were blooming… so WHY WASN’T MINE BLOOMING????

How long would I wait?  How long would I watch the proverbial pot – waiting for it to boil???

I would wait until it happened.

I’ve needed a physical healing from my chronic neck pain for 5 years.  Doctors, Physical Therapists, and Chiropractors haven’t solved all my problems or pain issues and I’ve been left wondering … would I ever get relief?

So, how long will I wait?

I’ll wait until it happens.

Today that’s enough… I’ll watch and I’ll wait …

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Jump

sunset

Going…

sunset3

Going…

sunset4

Gone

*sigh*

Well, let’s just jump right into this week’s Five Minute Friday by saying… I’m at my desk writing already this morning and my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts.

I was just visiting Arizona and came home and had to jump back in where life left off.  Laundry hampers full, fridge sort of half full, pantry in decent shape, and WHEW, am I tired!

Plugging along at the everyday work here at the house kept me from taking a 3 day nap – because I was exhausted from travel and hiking and talking and watching sunsets and walking at high altitude on Mt. Lemmon and eating.  {Boy, I had the best piece of pie at a restaurant up there}

But I’m done jumping around here trying to catch up, and it’s time to download all that has happened in that 5 day trip.  I finally have a clear schedule, and maybe a clear mind to type and reflect.  And I’m excited.

 Although… I’m wanting one more day … to bask in the sun, amongst the blooming desert, hiking Sabino Canyon, and laughing with old friends …

And another day living without the laundry, the threat of severe weather, or those pesky allergies …

Reality, then vacation, then reality …

Memories…into words…words on to paper…etched forever…

Jump up for more coffee and a shower and some food and more writing that needs to be done today!

Have an excellent Friday everyone!

*******

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Five Minute Friday – After

susie2

After all these years…

Brian tosses me into the air over and over again.  I can’t get enough and I squeal “Do! Gain! Mo!” which in my little tiny toddler voice means do it again, more.

No matter how many candles are on my cake, I will never get those words out of my mind.  They are on the tip of my tongue at every family gathering and have to be one of THE best memories of my childhood.

My brother seems to like that memory the best as well.  He reminds me of it every time he has a chance.  It doesn’t matter that I’m 47 and he’s 57 and that I was probably 2 when I first started saying it.  These memories and that kind of time just stands still in a family.

The time when we all lived under one roof.

The time when we all shared one bathroom.

The time when we all ate at the same dining room table.

I was the baby of 5 kids and they all apparently thought that I was “their” baby.  I hear all sorts of stories about my arrival into the family and how everyone watched after me.  I also hear my sister and brothers point the finger at who was the first one to drop me.

And after all these years… it never gets old.  The retelling and the warmth of those memories… they’ll be ours forever.

*******

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Travelog – A Trip Home

orange hill

As I slip between the Endless Mountains, my urgency to get home is amplified.  Even in the “almost” darkness I can see the silhouettes of the trees to my right and the hills on both sides of the road.  Darkness arrives quickly in October and had I known I was going to take this side trip I would have chosen a flight that landed closer to home than Philadelphia.  The change of plans was all my doing, or undoing I guess you’d call it.  I was headed to my hometown, leaving my former agenda in the trashcan at home.  I scanned the road, the cars, and the bank of the river – I did not want to meet up with a deer while driving a rental car.

I’m sure it was close to 5:30 when I pulled into the Hampton Inn’s parking lot, relishing the fact that I had a nice place to stay in such a small town.  Occasionally I stay with a friend, but this is where I wanted to be on this visit.  I could hardly wait to go for a run tomorrow on the streets and sidewalks where I spent most of my childhood.  This wasn’t where I learned to drive because I was only thirteen when I moved from this small town, so getting back on the sidewalks was on my list of things to do.  It’s an odd thing to most people to say that you miss walking the sidewalks of your hometown, but it’s one thing that would just make this trip all the better.  Years after I moved when I was an adult, I would actually find driving around town to be quite disorienting.  Over that time away, I leapt from skateboards and bicycles to being married with three kids and driving a mini van!

Another thing about “home” I was looking forward to, or maybe salivating over, was getting some real Italian food.  There have always been many Italian families in this little corner of America, and until you live away from this place, you never understand why your parents talk endlessly about the food.  My husband and I can appreciate this after living in Germany – we STILL talk about how great the Greek, Italian, and Syrian food was in our little German town.

So, after checking in I head to my favorite pizza place for a calzone and take it back to my room complete with soda from the vending machine.  Another thing I don’t indulge in very often is soda… but I HAVE to have some with my calzone or it doesn’t feel complete.  I’m pretty sure there were M&M’s for dessert too.

Between the sheer delight at the gastronomic feast and a good movie on TV, I check in with few friends to solidify our plans for the next 2 days.  Another little gem of this small town is a breakfast and brunch cafe complete with many homemade bakery items.  Their omelets are excellent and their bakery carries gluten-free products and some desserts exclusive to Pennsylvania.  I think every meal I had that weekend was literally “a slice of home.”

The best part of breakfast or brunch is, of course, spending it with friends that have made a huge resurgence in my life since their 25th class reunion.  I left in 8th grade, but I was invited to attend the reunion and really enjoyed finding out how close you can still be after the passing of nearly 30 years.   Marriages, kids, the passing of classmates or parents, and lots of “I wonder where so-and-so is” were discussed.  More than that though, there was this deep-seeded feeling of having never left.  It’s almost a lovesick feeling to leave everything you’ve ever known in your short life and then come back and feel so welcomed and missed by your dear friends.  And each time I leave, I eagerly await the next visit.

In Girls Scouts we used to sing a song that said “make new friends, but keep the old … one is silver and the other is gold.”  I’m not sure why that stuck with me all those years, but like a seed that is planted on good soil, eventually it grew.  It’s something that you really come to understand years later.

When I read some of the other verses to this song, I knew and understood how precious even just one friend from childhood can be.  “A fire burns bright, it warms the heart … We’ve been friends, from the very start.”

Life is hard – in case you didn’t know.  We all take turns hitting low spots in the valleys or spending a little time on top of the hill feeling that all is well and good in our lives.  What’s really great though, is when you can share these times with the friends that know you through-and-through and maybe have a laugh about it, or just exchange the knowing and understanding look that says “I’ve been there too my friend.”

Sometimes, words aren’t necessary with a really good friendship, just the knowledge of who we are and where we came from…

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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The Woods, the Hike and the Writer

writing rock

Hiking in the woods.

It’s something I do.

It’s something I love.

It might be hard-wired into my DNA because walking in the woods, or just being outside, has always been a constant in my life as both a child and as an adult.  It’s kind of like food – my body needs it or I get weak without it.

Recently, I had a great day hiking – well, truthfully, I’ve never had a bad day hiking – but a few weeks ago I had to force myself to get out and go to our local mountain so it was GOOD that I did it.

I chose a path that I’ve used many times, so I could just think and breathe and relax and not have to worry about the color of the paint markers on the trees.  Heaven knows I was not in the mood for a barely blazed trail with only its plastic flags, and a leaf-covered and barely-trodden path.  I really needed a no-brainer day to clear my cluttered mind because it was in chaos.

I had my ipod along for some music – that day the mood was James Taylor, Carole King, and some Carly Simon.  I knew when I got down the path to my favorite area, there would be a rock edge to sit on and time to write down some thoughts – and that’s what I was really in the mood for that day.  Sitting on a rock and writing.

The wind blew cold and pretty strong, but thankfully the sun was out because I was in need of its rays.  I was bundled up, with a scarf and gloves and I looked in the back of the truck and realized I left my rugged hiking boots at home.  No big deal –  I knew the path was well-worn and pretty smooth in most places – so I used the hiking shoes.  It wasn’t like I was going to turn around and go home, ya know?

By the time I got to the bluff I couldn’t write down fast enough all the things I noticed on my way in.

1st – Someone closed the bathrooms … Re-direct to a different parking area

2nd – I had to trek along the blue trail to get to my white trail

3rd – This meant, I would be going the opposite direction on the white trail

4th – Hey, wow, the paint on this side of the trees is REALLY bright

5th – Hey, it gets really muddy up here in spots!

6th – How about those secondary paths around the mud?  That’s convenient!

Re-directed, over and over…that’s what the day felt like.  Even when I had started the drive, I was reminded that I would have to take a kid to the University in order to use the car.  And at the base of the mountain, I realized I forgot to drop by the church to leave some papers there.

It was just one of those days …

Redirection is like change.  It can be irritating, or it can make you notice aspects of the trail that you would normally tune out.  It can make you more aware of what you normally do not see.

This day of hiking and re-direction was not lost on me.  I spend too much time lost in the everyday stuff which can get mundane.  It causes me to lose focus or my ability to notice wonderful things.

Two days later I was enjoying a really warm day that stood in stark contrast to the day I went hiking.  It finally reached 70 degrees.  I was again, very aware of what I normally do not see… It’s been a long winter!  I welcomed the warmth!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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