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Friday, July 28, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

I am delighted with Sundara's idea of posting a photo on Friday of something totally unrelated to knitting that is a thing of lovely wedding cake was a handmade gift from a dear life-time family friend (and teacher to two generations of Nana's family!) for my DD's wedding a year ago last May. The simplicity of the tiers of single layers decorated only with live blossoms in the green and lavender wedding colors was just exquisite!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Work as Catharsis...

My sincere thanks to everyone who emailed and commented on my family's loss this week. What I've learned in the past, has been applied this time as well, and work (which in my case, is craft) is wonderful for helping me move through the grief and pain.

I'm finishing up orders from the Star City Cat Show, and I suppose this is the purrfect occasion to let you all know that "Nana Sadie Rose will be hitting the road once again in September.

I've been invited to participate in the National Capital Cat Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA on September 9-10! I'm excited and a bit overwhelmed by this, as it is by far the largest show I've ever attempted. Had I started a bit earlier (when I was first invited!), I might feel a little more in control of the situation, but at that point, I really didn't think it was something I dared to do.

Now, thanks to the encouragement of other vendors who have done both shows (Hi! Pat & Chuck!, Hi! Wendy!), the Star City Cat Show folks, and my own support system - including the aunt I just lost - I've decided I'm going to try it!

This show has a gate of 10,000. No, I'm not going to try to make even half that many bags, as it would be impossible. But we'll have a good amount to sell outright, and of course, I can take orders.

So if you're in the Northern Virginia/Metro DC area the weekend of September 9-10, stop by and see me...I'm told there's free parking at the Expo Center!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Quality of Death...

I'm going to be grieving for a bit. One of Nana Sadie's "Roses," my aunt, died this morning at 6 a.m. She was at home, surrounded by the people and the things she loved. We can all only pray that our lives end in such a manner.

I am grateful for her life, for her influence on me, for her love. I am grateful she is no longer in pain.

I will miss her, far more than she could have known. I pray she'll now join her parents, brothers, and sisters (those who have preceeded her in death), in watching out for all of us, to the extent that they can.

I am praying for her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. I want them to know they are loved by those of us left behind.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Quality of Life Part III...

Remember the Eat Local Challenge? In my constant striving towards a high quality of life, today I went to the little balcony garden and found...these!
I was just out there yesterday and only one or two were turning. But we're heading into a week of 90-100 degree temperatures with high humidity - in short - tomato weather! These little globes of sunshine are just the beginning of a nice little crop. These are Sungold grape tomatoes. I also have red ones, just beginning to turn...they'll be ready in a day or two.

THIS is quality of life...there is nothing that tastes better than home grown tomatoes!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quality of Life Part II...

When I started to write Knitnana back in January 2005, I dedicated one blog post to the women in my mom's generation, her sisters and sisters-in law. I mentioned one photo, one that has gone AWOL in my household, and which I would dearly love to find again, of those amazing women, dressed in the big-shouldered 1940's suits and heels relaxing on a summer porch, some on the railing, others in Adirondack chairs, just home (probably) from church. Perfectly coiffed and looking like a million bucks! They were confident, they were sassy, they were bold.

Tonight, I'm desperately wishing I could find that photo again. Two of those women are gone, my mom and her next younger sister. Another's life is slipping swiftly away, too fast. She's the one I talked about, in that earlier essay, who helped her husband build their own home, and put hundreds of jars of food by every year from the garden. Her country house is surrounded by the daffodils she loves. More and more bulbs planted every year. Inside, the house is decorated in wildflowers (wallpaper, china, paintings, even drawer pulls!), what I'd say was her passion.

Do you ever get to say everything you want to say? I think I was able to when I lost my mom, as I was with her every day for the last three months of her life. When Mom died, this woman, her sister, stepped in and tried to fill the void (an impossible task, but if anyone could have, she could). For two years afterwards, I trekked to Vermont to spend the holidays with her family, taking the train (still my favorite way to travel). She didn't want me to spend the holidays alone and my dear daughter and I were estranged at the time. This aunt and I had much in common that my mom and I didn't - especially sewing, quilting, and other handiwork. She was always exasperating, opinionated, judgemental. But we'd talk for two hours on the phone, easily, on a regular basis, always finding something else to say, so that often her cordless would begin to beep, and she'd say, "Oh before it dies, I want to tell you..." Sometimes she got it all out, more often, not. "No problem!" she'd say, for she knew we'd be at it again soon. The next time, maybe we'd remember where we left off, or maybe not, but it all got said eventually. Often she'd accuse me of needing to "buy stock in the phone company!" But it was as much her fault as mine...we could both talk the other's ear off...

Just a few short months ago, the cough I'd always worried about that she brushed off as "normal in our family" turned out to be the signal of lung cancer I'd occasionally wondered if it might be. She'd never smoked. But so many in that generation did, how could she not have been exposed? The diagnosis was terminal: her decision, no treatment.

Now, the candle flickers in one who was once so sassy and bold. Every one of those gals believed this: it's the quality of life over quantity. None of them want to leave those of us left behind. But they won't linger when the time has come. Not these girls.

God, bless them all.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quality of Life...

My dear friend, Birdsong, has been faced over the past several months with the sorts of life-crises that make you stop and re-examine the way you live your life, even if you are one who is normally prone to living an "examined life," to misquote Thoreau. But today, her post is a bit more poignant than before, punctuated by the news of the unexpected loss of a family member last week and her children's pleas that she promise them she'll be there for them for a good long while (would that any of us could do this!).

Having come close to losing my own life to heart disease at the young age of 43 (and on the eve of turning 50 years old) I've spent the past 6 years re-examining how I spend the hours remaining to me. The quality of my life is important to me, as I'm sure it is to most of us, tho' we may not make a conscious attempt every day to ensure it. Family, love, craft, and doing work that is worthwhile are what count in my book.

Recently a family member of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer (you'll see the addition of the white ribbon on the sidebar below, in honor of those who struggle with this diagnosis). Like Dana Reeve ("Mrs. Superman," Christopher Reeve's wife), this woman never smoked. The announcement of this diagnosis was a shock, to say the least, as society is so smug to assume that those with this disease somehow "deserve" it for their poor lifestyle choices. (Do not get me wrong, please? I smoked for 28 years. It is a terrible addiction, and one that is difficult to overcome, but no one DESERVES a potentially fatal illness, regardless.)

In the last few months, I've been reminded again of the grace of Dana Reeve as she went about the last months of her life under the death-sentence of terminal lung cancer. I would wish for each of us the ability to move through our last days (if we know they are our last) with such equanimity.

If we don't know they're our last days, can we strive for the same anyway? Birdsong has been challenged by job loss and the redefinition of herself as a successful person. Just the sort of experience I went through when I had my heart attack and by-pass surgery 6 years ago, and lost my job. Birdsong has shown a propensity to grace in the writings on her blog.

Grace under pressure. Grace under fire. For all our angst-ridden thoughts when such crises strike, is it possible to remain detached, to try to view the bigger picture in the midst of chaos?

For me, losing my health and trying to rebuild it, was the catalyst to redefining myself and rediscovering the lost love of craft. (Birdsong never lost it!) I am blessed with an employer that treats their employees fairly, and so, for now at least, am secure in that respect, though in working for a nonprofit, none of us makes a lot of money! lolol

Knitting, sewing, and writing became the creative outlets I craved when I lost part of my sight to Lupus. Both allow introspection, as the needle and my fingers glide over the fabric to create my bags, or the bamboo and yarns combine with my fingers to create lace shawls or socks. Sewing, at least for now, allows me to supplement my smaller income. Blogging has allowed me the venue to write about the changes in my life post-heart attack and post-Lupus...The life I live is one I've built slowly, sometimes falling into the good things, sometimes actively making them happen.

Today, on the 32nd anniversary of the sudden death of my father from a massive heart attack (at the too-young age of 57), I'm remembering that my life, too, will end. And I can't promise anyone that it won't. I'm not ready for it to do so, but I know it will. I try each day to accept that it will be sooner than I want. I try hard to let the people I love know that I love them. I try to say what needs to be said now, not saving it for later, when it may be too late. I pray that I'll know and exhibit the kind of grace at the end of life that I admire so much in women like Dana Reeve, if I'm allowed to know that my end is near. And I hope, when that time comes, that I can still knit. Because it is the one thing, I expect, that will allow the space and have the power to create the state of grace I wish to be in at the end of my life.