Winter Solstice and Gifting

141219 DawnThis is my favorite day of the year.  It’s the end of the seasons for me and the beginning of new.  Today is the shortest day and the end of darkness with each day becoming a few minutes longer until June.  It may not seem like minutes of daylight are increasing but I know that we are back on that swing and just knowing that makes the shorter days more tolerable.

Christmas is this week and I have 4 days to finish up all projects for the holiday.  I think I made everyone’s gift this year except one. Most gifts will be delivered today maintaining the lifelong tradition of homemade goodies for neighbors and friends.  The holiday wouldn’t be special for me if baking was taken out of the equation.  The recipes are dusted off – these cookies are only made for the holidays.  The smells and tastes bringing childhood back to me as they are molded and baked (and eaten with the numerous cups of coffee needed to pull this off).  The last things made yesterday were the dog biscuits for Chester’s friends.

The gift giving for family has been dialed back.  I’ve had to purchase some raw material but for the most part none of it remotely resembled the finished product.  I’ve given each individual a lot of thought and put the spirit of that into each piece made.  I’m hoping they feel the love because that’s was the gift is really all about, a token.

I’m fortunate to have the ability to do this.  I sometimes think that everyone is capable of making their gifts. I honestly think they should try, the gift is so much more meaningful for the gifted and the giver.  I also realize that telling my loved ones to make me something instead of buying it can put on a lot of pressure.  For those that aren’t confident in their ability to create this can be a serious burden.  I also think I say that to push them into the mindset of crafting and art.  Doing so is a gift in itself – you will never know the satisfaction of creating something with your hands until you try.

I’m putting everyone on notice now for next year.  Create your gifts, start thinking about them now.  Do a little search on the internet, you can find a tutorial for everything.  Learn a new skill, even if it’s just a new recipe. Cook a good meal, share with those you love.  For me it’s never the finished product but what went into the creation of it.  What did you learn?  How peaceful did you become while doing it (that may take time).  Put your love into the finished product and the recipient will see it – honest.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Reflection

141126 Back Forty Snowstorm

I woke up this morning to the silence of a house without power.  It wasn’t unexpected.  Around 5:00 I decided to get up and stoke the wood stove, try to get things together for coffee without a coffee maker.  As I walked down the stairs the lights came on, the furnace fired up and within minutes coffee was hot in my cup.  Ahh, little gifts.

The anticipation of this holiday always keeps me awake the night before.  It’s a throwback from childhood when family gathered at the house for food, fun and the Macy’s parade.  Most of these relatives I only saw once or twice a year.  I loved being surrounded by people who loved me, what child doesn’t?

While lying awake I considered all that I was thankful for, an exercise that I do fairly often.  It keeps things in perspective.  Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  I try to look at everything as being a miracle.

The thing that continues to come into my head as both a miracle and something I am profoundly thankful for is my ongoing reunion with Scott.  It’s been difficult to wrap my head around having a son that is back in my life.  Left as an infant, returned as an adult.  Bone of my bone flesh of my flesh.  Someone who has been with me through most of my life’s journey in spirit yet I was the only one that knew it.

My daughters bringing him into the fold – slowly, cautiously at first then with open arms.  They speak of him with love and amazement at the similarities only relatives have.  My husband helping me work through the demons that have followed me from one lifetime to another.  My friends that continually point out what an amazing story this all is.  A miracle in many, many ways.

Look around you today, take notice of those miracles – those little gifts.  The beauty of the snow, the birds that grace our feeders, the fox tracks through the yard.  Look at the smiles on the faces of those you love. Treasure those messages from those unable to join you for the holiday.  Remember those that have gone before you that made the traditions you celebrate now.

Everything is a miracle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hand Made

Lomogram_2014-06-13_10-21-44-AM

Yesterday the weather wasn’t conducive to gardening, or much of anything outdoors.  Although there was plenty to do in the house (like vacuuming) I decided to finish up the project on the loom.

This is a 72″ runner with a linen warp and wool weft.  I made it for a friend of mine who has been one of my weaving cheerleaders since the beginning.  She has an older home and her love of blue and white traditional overshot drove the project.  I told her last year that I would make her something and that’s what lead me to the linen warp.  It was an experience.

These are my favorite projects, the ones I make for particular people.  It’s a different kind of effort.  As I said before it’s really the process not the project. Once it was off of the loom, fringed and wet finished I photographed it and then folded it and got it ready for presentation.   The gifting is my favorite part.

The end of last year I was weaving some beautiful twill towels with the intention of gifting one of them to one of my biggest cheerleaders.  The intent was Christmas as he wondered how he could get on my Christmas list.  Well, as usual, life got in the way and they weren’t ready by Christmas, or by January.  His health took a turn for the worse after the holidays and in my heart I knew this was the end.  It all but stopped my progress on that project.  It came to a screeching halt actually.  He passed away in March and with that I had to change my entire mindset on those towels.  I did finish them and gifted them to my oldest daughter – they were her colors.  In weaving the last of the warp though he was constantly on my mind.

I don’t know how to explain what happened when he died honestly.  The week after his death I was a total mess, trying to find meaning in what had transpired surrounding it.  After his memorial service I was at total peace.  Not just peace with his passing, peace with everything.  It was as though the moment he died he took all of my lifetime crap with him when he left.  I just had to be quiet enough to see it.  Now I always knew we had a connection and over the past year or two he was more than ready to lend an empathetic ear but this was unexpected.  There is no other explanation, the calm with my life came when he left.  Thank you.

The loss of a dear friend, in the middle of a project like that gives urgency to finishing things when they are made directly for someone.  I really want this to go to its intended home.  Although I have never seen her table I imagine it laying there and the pleasure it will give to its recipient.

Last year, after winning a blue ribbon on an overshot throw at the Eastern States Exposition, Paul wrote on my post about it.  “Hands made this. Hands were used by a person. A person made this. It holds and conveys the sense and feel of those hands and the spirit of that person. Yes, it is beautiful.”  There are people who intrinsically understand this about things that are hand-made.  Maybe it comes from making art of your own because I know many people who don’t get it.

I will continue to weave and create beautiful things and giving many of them away.  I think a little piece of my soul goes with them most of the time and I gift to those that can see it.

Lomogram_2014-07-31_03-28-54-PMThe bonus on most weaving projects is I always warp a little longer than required so I can play at the end.  The photo above is a small table runner I made in a variation of the pattern and that one stays on my table.