One Month Away








In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free.
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


Today I visited the community garden plot–one month away from the day I can start digging.  It’s a perennial plot, which means it doesn’t get tilled over every year unless I do it. The local park district tills all the annual plots.

This picture shows the remnants of last year’s kale, and the promise of next year’s raspberries.  I  don’t know what it is about gardening, but I’ve noticed that many people who like to sew also like to garden.   I’m not sure that the inverse is true. I am not an elegant gardener. (I am not an elegant sewist either.)  But if determination counts for anything, then I’m in with the best.

It’s getting harder these days to till everything by hand with a pitchfork.  I bought a Mantis rototiller a couple of years ago and I get my strong young nephew to help haul it and plow.  Last year, halfway through the plot he stopped and turned to me.  “This is hard work!” said the high school football player.

I laughed.  Kid, that’s just the turn of the soil–way more work to come.

Of course food is work.  For centuries, as human beings, we did nothing else but work for our food.  We survived long enough to reproduce and then teach our kids how to work for food.  Now our kids are all playing Minecraft–because food is in the pantry or just a run to the grocery store or the drive-thru.

Ah, but in the summer.  In the summer, food comes from the ground.  We share it with the ground squirrels and the birds and the bugs.  But we share it just the same.  And this fallow time of year is quite a reminder that the promise of new life is just around the corner.   Guaranteed.

Just Like Grandma Used to Make – Almost

This time of year, I really long for some snow.  Like everyone else, I’m really sick of it by March, but late November, early December, give me a little bit of holiday cheer in the form of weather.

At a recent community supper, I was lamenting about the lack of snow and how much I wanted to see it this year and global warming, blah, blah.    A friend looked at me and said, “As long as the weather stays moderate, I can work outside.  Working outside makes for a decent income.  When weather gets cold, we need different kinds of contracts–indoor work.  And while I can still get that, it’s never enough.  The longer I can work outside, the better.”

Oh. Now I see.  (I was blind and now I see.)   I don’t need the weather outside to be frightful, even though a fire is so delightful. I’d rather see people keep their jobs and income.

As for snowflakes, I can make my own.  Grandma used to make wonderful doilies by hand, some of them no larger than the palm of your hand. I still have a few.  But times have changed a bit, and now I can make ornaments with basically the same look, only they are done on an embroidery machine.  Free-standing lace is what they are called.  No teeny tiny crochet hooks.  Though I love the look of handwork, too often, I just don’t have the time.

I used two layers of Aquamesh  Washaway stabilizer.  Once the design stitches out,  cut away the bulk of the stabilizer, and rinse the rest under warm water. It disappears almost instantly.  I prefer Aquamesh over Badgemaster, having used them both now.  Badgemaster has a gummy, gooey feel to it as it rinses and does not seem to rinse as easily.  But in a pinch, it will work just fine.

Then just lay them flat and pin them onto a piece of styrofoam.  They dry out overnight, and maintain a slight stiffness.  Whenever I do this part it reminds me of the way my mom used to wash out doilies (she made plenty of them too).  But she had to starch them to get them to hold a shape, while mine will have a slight residue of the stabilizer to keep them in their shape. It’s a little hard to see the pins in the photo, but they are essential to maintaining the shape and flatness of the ornaments.  Free standing lace embroidery is everywhere these days, and I’ve seen some gorgeous designs for the holidays.

Most of these came from a collection by OESD called Snowflake Elegance #12429.

And I guess they are still homemade, though I have been contemplating exactly what that means.  If it’s made on a machine, is it really made by hand?  When I ask myself that question, I think about what Grandma might have done if she could have gotten her hands on a machine like I have.  I think about my mom and her knitting machines.  And the question then becomes not whether or not I should make use of technology, but with my heritage, why wouldn’t I?