Sunday, December 15, 2013

Midnight Thoughts

Late nights, you either love them or hate it.  I don’t think there is much in between.  You are either a person who loves to see the waking of the day.  The sun as it streams up over the city, the sound of the birds as they start to wake the rest of the world.  The whirling magical hum of the night is slowly drowned out by the hum of people, cars and things that go bump in the day.  It doesn’t mean the whirling magic is gone, just so hard to hear with all the clatter and chatter. 
The day carries on with every mechanical zip and zap you can imagine, and some you haven’t even thought of.  People get louder too.  Maybe because they can’t here themselves above the clatter, maybe because they are overwhelmed with the amount of noise they are surrounded with, never a moments rest, cars, phones, computers people all trying to be heard it just becomes a buzz, like the ringing you sometimes get in your ear and no matter what you try, it just won’t go away. 
The sun begins to set and some take the time to stop and watch the fading and to take a deep breath, maybe the first of the day.  The air cools the graying of the sky begins and the night creeps in oh so slowly.  The daily rush is over, people are home and the roads begin to empty of the hundreds of cars and trucks, computers by the thousands are down, even though thousands are on as people try to connect with others.  The roads are never really empty, the night has an entire world of people who’s nights are their days and they are striving to find their connection with the magical whirling hum too.

The animals for the most part are sleeping except those who thrive in the night as it’s home to them.  City lights glow all across the city as the night continues to move in filling up the corners and softening edges everywhere.  The whirling magical hum that never scenes begins to fill the air again.  The daily grind begins to falter and the small remnants of star dreams begin to flicker and fill the air touching all things and everyone.  Some are never aware of their magic, others speak of this one special time they thought they felt something, others speak of the times and long for more, and some are touched each and every night.  Small miracles of magic filling them with thoughts of love and life. So overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of its beauty, no words could describe the feelings, and they tilt their heads upward as magic gently caresses them.   They linger in the night embracing each moment longing for the dawn to never come.
The trick it seems is to be able to hear the whirling magical hum no matter the time of day or night.  Yes, in the day the sounds of the ordinary can overwhelm us, but the voices of the night that we fill our heads with can drown out the magic as well.  All the feelings of inadequacy, lounging, loneliness, swirling around in our brains drowns out the magic we were gifted with if only we would hear and listen for the whirling magical hum.
 I have found myself guilty of just such moments when the old records begin to play telling me the lies I’ve learned to trust start to fill the air.  You are never good enough, you’ve done something wrong, you will never be loved, and you are not going to ever be successful.  Sound familiar?  Have a few of those old records hanging around?  I have been on a quest for some years now to find new music for my heart and soul.  To find new songs to sing all the time, not just in the quiet of the night or the break of day, but each time my eyes and ears and soul are listening.  Some days are really quiet remarkable and I drifted off knowing that this song is worthy of singing.   Other days, I have to pick up the chorus over and over, but the song, the song is still there and I will continue to sing it.  Old records are just shadows of sound I use to know by heart, now, now my new song fills me. Like the magic that washes over me in the deep of night it too comes and goes but I know now, it’s always just a note away.  

Bells of Christmas

Putting up Christmas decorations last night I felt the magic of memories flooding the room all around me. Memories of Christmas’s past when I was a little girl bundled up riding up to the woods with my parents to find our tree, or watching my own children run through the trees on a local tree farm to find the perfect tree for our family laughing all the while.

     This truly is a magical time of year. But it’s bitter sweet as well.  My mother passed away on Christmas Eve a number of years ago, and I know she picked the day for it was her favorite time in all the year and she wanted to always be close to us and what better way? She taught us to believe in Santa Claus, as he was the spirit of giving. She also taught me how to love, for she was a magical woman who loved with all her heart and who touched the lives of everyone she ever came into contact with.

     My mother loved bells, never sure why but she did.  On Christmas Eve of the year she passed, I got up to go start a fire in the fireplace and I had a bell that sat on the mantle for Christmas that year.  Just as I started to build the fire, it fell off and rolled across the floor.  I knew it was my mother coming by to let me know that she was with us and that everything would be OK.   Now, each time I hear a bell ring two things come to mind, my mother and the classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life.

     Just like George, my mother was the kind of woman that everyone loved.  She cared for so many in her lifetime and was loved deeply.  Life was wonderful and magical with her in it.  One year, we celebrated Christmas in July because it was the only time they could come to visit.  My mom went outside and cut branches off the Blue Spruce in the yard to create a tree for the kids out of a potato and branches.   The kids were so happy, they put some of their favorite decorations on it and we hung the Christmas stockings for Santa.  We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with fireworks and Christmas candy she had made for all of us.  That evening we all gathered together with gifts and wrapping paper spread all over the living room floor and watched our family’s favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone.

    Soon my kids will be home for Christmas and the house will be filled with joy and laughter.  As I put the ornaments on the tree remembering the year it was given a memory or two might pop up to delight me and I will smile and thank all that is for the blessings of those memories.  I will make the kids favorite desert for Christmas dinner and make sure all the special dishes are washed and ready to use.  The tree will be decorated and the gifts under the tree waiting for Christmas morning.

So with joy and singing I will honor my Mother this season and for all the Christmases to come.  You helped me believe in magic Mommy, and I love you and miss you every day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Music to My Ears

Sometimes, here at Mama Jean's, the regular duties of life take the drivers seat.  Today was just one of those days. I have a big old house that has lots of character and when I say character, I mean it’s old and things have a way of breaking.  It really is a great old house and I am lucky. I even get to rent rooms out to the best roommates ever.  They are always so understanding when things take a twist of fate, but I do feel I can’t really wait until I feel like fixing it because lets be real, that might never really happen.  
      Today was just one of those days.  Last night after working long into the wee hours on last minute orders that need to get out for Christmas I went up into the kitchen and was met with the smell of death around the dishwasher.  Not the smell I was expecting but it was late and it wasn’t going anywhere so I waited until this morning to deal with it. 

     When I went downstairs I realize it wasn’t as bad as the night before but still lingering and knew it had to be under the dishwasher. The cat had decided to bring us a treat a few nights earlier and brought a rat into the house. It escaped into the vents but that’s another story for another time so I kind of figured it never made it out.  It didn’t look too good the last time I saw it.  So I gathered up my tools and pulled the dishwasher out from under the counter.  
     I was lucky growing up. My Dad taught me all kinds of things and as a single mother for years I have often had to fix and replace things in the house.  I would call my Dad and he would walk me through it.  From heating elements in hot water heaters to entire shower units, over the years I’ve become a pretty good plumber, however I am not for hire.  Sorry, but a girls got to draw the line somewhere. 

     When we pulled it out we found the poor little rat and I felt sad that it hadn’t made it back to its own home but with the help of a housemate we had it out and ready to put the dishwasher back in.  All went as planned or so we thought.  I went out to return the tools to the garage which I had gotten out when it was light outside but in returning them realized the electricity wasn’t working, this means the extra fridge wasn’t working and since we have two and I use the other one, I had no idea how long it had been out.  What I found wasn’t pretty.  It lives on the back porch just off the kitchen and it’s outside so it’s been pretty cold so no one really noticed.  They just thought the bulb had burned out.  So I began cleaning up melted ice cream and defrosted meat.  Not a pretty picture I can assure you.  Another housemate jumped in and finished up the project and I headed out to figure out the problem. 

      Remember, I said it’s an old house with lots of character, well one is that each room usually has one plug for the whole room and even though the kitchen has a couple more, there isn’t one for the porch so we have the fridge plugged into one in the garage and the garage is dark.  So I took off my plumbers hat and put on my electricians hat, another of Dad’s gifts and go out and figure out what’s up.  A wire was loose from a connector.  I reconnect and get everything back on line.  Feeling pretty good about now until I go back in the house and head to my studio. 

     Water is leaking though the wood floor into the basement from just under the dishwasher.  Really?  Can’t the dead rat be enough?  Now I have to pull the dishwasher out again because it has a leak in the intake pipe from moving it in and out.  It’s an old copper pipe and I must have bent it.   I turn the water off, remove the pipe and it’s off to the hardware store for a replacement.  Thank goodness they are open until 9 on Sat.  Found a new flex hose for the replacement with lots of adaptors to fit any size and back to home I go.  I put the plumbers hat back on and dive under the sink.  Guess what, the value to shut off the dishwasher is behind the shut off value to the water for the sink so now I’m tracing pipes in the basement looking for the shut off value for the hot water.  The whole thing wants to come off and it can’t with the water on.  I figure out that the cold water into the hot water heater is the shut off as no water in, no water out. Can someone tell me why are all the plumbing things in the hardest to get to spots?  Pipes are right next to walls, hardly enough room for the wrench to fit, under sinks in small places, etc.  It never seems to fail that one thing leads to another at least in an old house, but with a bit of luck and a lot of ump, the connectors are replaced, the water is on and the leak is fixed.   
     I put the dishwasher back into it’s home, screw it back into place.  All the must keeps under the kitchen sink have been sorted and cleaned up with several what was I thinking things thrown away.  The fridge on the back porch is humming nicely and clean as a whistle and the kitchen smells like bleach and furniture oil from a little spill when sorting the haves and the have not’s for under the kitchen sink. 
      So, maybe I didn’t hear the hum of my machine as much as I would have liked today, but with the smell of lemon pledge in the air, the hum of the dishwasher and fridge seem like music to my ears.  Thanks Dad.  Sometimes wearing hats can be a good thing.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Magician's Quest

All around the town it's starting to feel a bit like Christmas.  Here and there people have put up their Christmas lights.   Finally, the lights I leave on my porch all year start to fit in and I can proudly stand on my porch and say, Oh yes, I'm ready for Christmas too. 

For my business, it's a busy time working on getting out all the orders for Christmas.  Each one so eagerly awaited.  Each planned for a special loved one.  Each hoping that it's the perfect gift.  I am so humbled to be a small part of each of my client’s holidays and I feel the importance of remembering this as I work on each quilt. 

I become the magician weaving and stitching my magic spell into each quilt.   May blessings fall upon the giver as they unfolded it for the first time to look upon their gift.  May the receiver have sweet dreams that carry them into the stars.  May a memory be created so dear, that it lingers with them through out the years to come.   May a tear of happiness  be caught and hidden within the folds or a bit of comfort for a night when life seems overwhelming.   May children play and laugh upon it and may love be made under it. 

As the magician, it's important to weave the perfect magic for each so I must be ever mindful as I create each quilt.  To be fully "present" as I create so the quilt becomes the perfect present for someone else.  In the creation time slips away quietly as I am unaware of the ever-changing day.  One moment I look up and the day is bright and shinning and the next it's dark and the evening has drifted in and I stop to appreciate the magic of this moment.  I see the quilt that once was just a bit of fabric here and there and now, it's a creation longing for completion...longing for it's new home.

The magician’s work is nearly finished.  Christmas magic fills the studio and I can just make out the   faint sounds of bells, and children laughing.... as the twinkling lights of Christmas shine in the window.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Afternoon Memories

Today, while working on a small baby quilt featuring a lovely tree fairy and maiden, I burst out laughing.  Now, for some of you that know me well, you might not think this was in any way odd.  For those of you who haven’t gotten to know me yet, you’ll come to know this might not be such an oddity at all. 
I had just stopped to listen to the song that happened to be playing as I was focused on creating the intricate lines of the tree fairy, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, Jiminy Crickets song from the Disney movie, “Pinocchio”.
 In fact, as I was putting the final touches on this sweet little baby quilt, all of the music I was playing were lovely Disney songs.  Song I had grown up loving and singing and songs my children had loved to sing as well.  Songs sung at the top of their lungs in total abandonment. “Colors of the Wind” as we drove through the forest on our way back from visiting Granny and Papa and they were Pocahontas .  Or a “Whole New World” as they soared in the heavens on an old throw carpet in the family room. Who could forget, “Somewhere Out There” as they stood at the window and sang to the moon.  I smiled, closed my eyes, and allowed the memories to wash over me as the songs gently played in the background. 
I thought of the parents this quilt was for and all the memories they were dreaming of as they awaited the birth of their first baby.  The memories they would build as they watched their little one dance and sing to their own favorite Disney songs.  A smile formed as gentle tears fell upon the quilt.  With each I sent a small blessing for the sweet little one and for the loving parents.  As my machine starting humming again and the music and machine became one again, I knew that I was fulfilling one of my greatest dreams for Mama Jean’s, making sure that a wee bit of magic finds it’s way into each quilt.  “One happy thought at a time." 
image Disney

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's Beginnig to Feel Like Christmas Round Here

Believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner.  The sound of carols are starting to pop up in my brain as I look at the order sheet, and then at the piles of fabrics stacked on my worktable. How many days before Christmas orders have to be out the door?  41.  The last possible date to ship and hope it will get there before Christmas is the 20th of December for me.  I began to think; oh my it’s beginning, the holiday hustle.  Much like a dance with specific steps every minute seems to count and I wonder, if only for a moment, will I get it all done?  Is there any way to push Christmas back a month?  I sort of secretly wish this each year… and then I just burst out laughing. 

You see, one thing that I’ve discovered is like most artists, or at least a large percentage, I seem to work best with looming deadlines.  I plan and scheme in my head, how this year will be different.  This year I will be organized, I will do my bookkeeping each week and

I will not lose any receipts.  I won’t misplace and find the same special order block I need for the quilt I am starting next and will always have the right color thread I need in the middle of the night when all the stores are closed.  I will buy extra needles to make sure I’ve “got it covered” and never and I do mean never, run out of coffee.  I laugh again as I see my empty coffee pot and think, oh yes, there’s that wonderful 24 hour store just down the road and maybe I can pick up milk too.  Oh, I wonder if they have thread? 

How incredible is it, that I’ve been able to create and sew for Christmas dreams and wishes for the past four years?  Each year I get so excited about finishing up a quilt and getting it out in the mail.  I imagine it all wrapped up and waiting under someone’s Christmas tree.  Even though they don’t know me personally, I am part of Christmas’s all around the world and I am touched.  I feel a bit like Mrs. Claus.  I even have an elf this year for the first time.  I must have been really good this year. 
So, I may not be rocking around the Christmas tree yet, but I am starting to feel the magic and hear the reindeer stopping on the roof.   I wonder if when I’m at the store I should pick up carrots for the reindeer…. Do reindeer eat carrots or should I think more winter greens? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love Is All Around

Today as I was working on a quilt for a couple celebrating an anniversary I am struck by the memories of love.  How amazing love is between two people, how we all hunger for finding the one and how sacred the bond is.  Each wedding quilt and anniversary quilt I work on blesses me.  New love with all its possibilities.  Everything is waiting for them on the journey of love.  Building a life together, buying a home, creating a family. Celebrated love, the years of dedication and work, the family they’ve built, the bridges they have learned to build and trust between each other.  I try when building their quilts to think of their journeys and weave and stitch blessings and well wishes into each one.  May the always find ways to feel love in a new and exciting way, way they find comfort in each others arms when the world seems to be tumbling all around them, may their children and families be blessed by their love.  May they know a love as deep and real as my parents shared.
My father loved my mother deeply until the day he took his last breath. When my mother passed before him I didn’t honestly believe he could survive without her, but I humbly asked him to stick around a little longer for me, and he did.  I will be eternally grateful for the time I had with him in his last year.  They were a love destined by the stars to find each other.  The first time my father saw my mother he knew she would be his wife and he would love no other.  They were married less then six weeks later.  They had over 50 years together.  They traveled the road all lovers’ travel, with highs and lows but through it all they were joined together in a bond no one could deny.  My parents loved to dance and often people would stand back and give them the floor when they were dancing because they were so beautiful to watch together, flowing and in perfect rhythm with each other, never a missed step. 
My father had a love of poetry and would leave my mother little love notes hidden through out the house where someday she might find them.  In a book she might open or at the bottom of the flour canister because she loved to bake.  Each one dated and each expressing his love.  When he passed away and I was cleaning out their trailer, I found just such a note hidden away in her tea tin.  It was dated several years back but I know the words he wrote to be as true then as they were the day I found them.  I placed those words in a pair of shoes on a desert mountainside the night I spread their ashes on a trail they loved to hike.  As I watched the ashes drift to the top in swirling wisps I could see them dancing together into the heavens.  My mother and father together again and for always, watching out over the family they had created. 
So to each client I have the honor of building a quilt for, to celebrate their love, I place a seed of the love my parents shared in hopes that one day in the far distant future they find themselves dancing into the heavens together as well.