Thursday, July 31, 2008

Finding My Voice

This whole idea of blogging is ... something.

I started my blog because I was enamored with a few powerful bloggers. Namely
I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be part of that circle of creativity and talent.

I had my Stitcher's Studio website, of course. But I've been very lax in the last couple years about keeping it updated. It's a mess of dead links right now. The only part that's really current is Cameo's Corner where I show off the things I've stitched and crafted.

So I started my blog to have a more current way of sharing my interests.

Of course, once I started blogging, I started reading more and more blogs. Boy, do I have a ton I check in on now! And what I came to find is that I was most drawn to those crafters and designers that not only shared their craft, but also were brave enough to share their life stories. Stories of frustration with kids, with miscarriages, with balancing their home businesses with home schooling, stories of married life and travels and new-born children. You know, the stuff of life.

So I started taking tentative steps in sharing a bit of that kind of information myself. I'm not totally open about my current struggles, but I do give hints to them now.

It's like these "Today's Phrase" postings. They touch on what's going on in my life, but the writing is not as intimate as what I write in my personal journals. Posting a phrase and writing a smidgen about it is, of course, more for me than for my readers. It's my own little way of giving myself a spiritual boost. Of reminding myself that I can work through my problems. Of giving myself one more day of hope.

And through these posts, I have begun to share my voice. Own it's power. And not be ashamed.

Some family members shake their heads, wondering why I put this kind of stuff out there in the world. I suppose ... it's that part of me that loves to read biographies and autobiographies. I love reading the stories of other people's lives. Of the obstacles and trials faced and overcome. Of the bravery and courage people find in tough situations. Of friendships. Of family relationships. Of loves cherished and lost. Of accomplishments -- some that only benefit the person, some that benefit all of society.

So my little life in north Idaho may not be much. It doesn't rock the country. But it is sort of cool to look at my blog statistics and see that of the approx. 30 people that do check in on me every day, they come from all over the world and many walks of life. Some are friends from Fullerton, CA where I grew up. Some are folks from New Zealand who I may never have the pleasure of meeting in person. And all sorts of needleworkers and crafters and amateur photographers and spiritual seekers in between.

I don't know that I've found my voice yet. But I am getting there. I find it particularly interesting that my 'voice' so often comes through my photography. That's a relatively new discovery. Especially that what I love is the details of imagery that are found in macro photography -- close up work. I love the beauty of the perfection in nature that is bumped right up against things that are marred or dying.

That speaks to my life experience. So much beauty. So many good experiences. All bumped up against the hard stuff of life. All part of the same image that is me. CameoRoze. Margaret.

In a way, it seems funny that it's taking me so long to find my voice. For most of my life, I've been a singer. I lead music at Mass and prayer meetings and retreats and religious education classes for more years than I can remember. I was a cantor. I've been the 'star' of a stage show. I've given recitals. I've been a part of college and semi-professional choirs. I've sung at weddings and funerals. People will see me and ask, "Do I know you from somewhere?" And we usually discover they 'know' be through my voice. My singing.

I don't sing in public very often any more. I have a sense that my singing days are mostly a thing of the past. Now is the time to find another part of voice. To allow my training in English and literature and publishing come to the foreground. And perhaps, my photography.

Last year I saw a bumper sticker that hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to be that brave. To speak what I believe, even if my voice shakes.

Here on my blog, my voice sometimes shakes. But I hit the 'publish post' button anyway.

Today is one of those days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reach Out and Touch ...

It's the end of the day.

'Twas a very nice day. Spent a short time with the Quilters this morning. Then Jodie and I headed south to Moscow. We spent a bit of time with Julie there.

Then the three of us headed west to Pullman. We had a picnic lunch with my niece, her husband and child who recently moved back to Pullman from Wyoming. Also there were my sister, my brother-in-law, and my niece from Portland.

Was SO GOOD to have one-on-one time with my sister! I think we touched each other in a gentle and unexpected way today. My time with her is so rare and precious.

All the way home, Jodie chatted with me about the important people in her young life. It was extremely nice Mommy-Jodie time.

And Dale was waiting for us as we walked in the door.

Can life be more lovely?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Biddy Pinks

These tiny flowers are smaller than the fingernail on my pinkie finger. So delicate! I call them

Biddy Pinks

The Joke's On Me

I've been through some pretty gnarly situations in my life. Most of the time, I land in tears. But it doesn't take long to inject a bit of humor to alter a perspective.

Without humor — especially self-deprecating humor — hard situations would be unbearable.

Yes. I do take life seriously. And yes. I laugh at my own foibles all the time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not So Dylan-esque After All

So ..... OK. I stretched the truth a bit.

Yesterday I implied that my hair looks like Bob Dylan's when I wake up.

Standing On End

Well, as you can see ... it does stand up of its own accord.

But ... I ain't no rock star.

Think it might have something to do with the SMALL amount of hair left on my head?

But ya gotta admit ... what little I have does try to emulate the master.

(But no ... I don't have the nerve to go out in public this way. The Internet? Ah ... it doesn't count as a public forum where I can embarrass myself in front of people, does it?)

I Guess It Wasn't True Love

I just realized ... 24 years ago today I married my first husband.



That marriage definitely didn't fly, run or rejoice.
Nor was it free. I was constantly held back.
It turned out to be very costly to me.

It cost me what little confidence I did have. It's taking an awfully long time to get that back.

The BEST part, of course, was that I have the gifts of my two oldest daughters. For that reason alone, I'm glad I went through the experience.

And I learned quite a bit about my own resiliency through the fire of that process, too.

Married love looks quite different the second time around. Dale and I have known each other over 19 years now ... have been married over 17. I don't know that this love flies, runs and rejoices, either. It's quite a bit calmer than that.

But free?

And it doesn't hold back.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Version of Re-creation

I love capturing images in the early summer sun when the dew is still covering the plants ...

Dew Drenched

... except when that means the dew on the grass soaks through my soles and my feet start feeling squishy in my shoes.

Ahh ... what we put up with for the love of our art!


I wish I could help re-create the world by planting a beautiful garden. I do so admire folks that can grow flowers and veggies. But that's not one of my gifts.

So instead, I take photos of flowers from the gardens in my neck of the woods. Or I stitch beautiful things in fabric and floss.

Is that contributing to the re-creation of the world?

Sunday Secrets: July 27, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. These two secrets struck a note today:

I really DO try to read important documents before I sign. But have you ever noticed how the paper pushers — like at the hospital or car repair shop — get real antsy if you try and stop long enough to read them first? If they are particularly pushy, I take longer ... or ask them a question about what I'm signing just to bug them. Can you say "passive aggressive"?

When I wake up, my hair stands straight up, too! No mousse, no nothin'! Now and then, I'll have my picture taken that way just for fun.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sepia Rose

Sepia Rose

I love this image. It reminds me of a pencil drawing ... but it really is a photograph. I wish I could draw like that. I'll bet my eldest daughter could take this image and recreate it as a pencil drawing. [Want to take me up on that challenge, Jeanne?]

I also love this image because it reminds of me of me these days. 50-year-old Margaret.
  • Soft
  • Many layered
  • Textured
  • Full of highlights and shadows
  • A bit marred
  • Alluring — my hues and outer layers catch your attention, then you're pulled to my core by my one-of-a-kind aroma
  • Very curvy and womanly
  • Not yet in full bloom — but almost there



My initial thought was ... Little Margaret.

Little Margaret had a "nickname" of Margaret Mary Mimi PeeWee Compact Codispoti. She doesn't exist any more. Only one living person ever calls me Mimi any more. Yet that's what most people called me before I got to kindergarten.

When Little Margaret was asked to describe herself in one word, it was "happy." Not so much now. I'm still often happy, but it is not my primary way of living in the world. "Introspective" maybe. "Pilgrim spirit" maybe ... though that's not one word. "Questioner." How about "Complex." Hmmmm. Not sure how my kids would describe me in a single word, either.

Little Margaret was not as fearful as I am.

Little Margaret didn't have so many hard life lessons to un-learn ... or give new perspective to.

I can remember Little Margaret ... but I don't have to mourn her. A good part of her still lives within this older version. Sometimes she sits beside me and allows me to comfort her. Sometimes she pops out and delights me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Dance: Orangey Hat

Another day, another hat.

This one is a bit bigger than the last. I used the "medium" loom and it's about the right size for a bigger kid.

I tried something a little different once again. On this hat, I used two strands of the variegated orange yarn for the brim and the tassel.

But the body of the hat is one strand variegated orange and one strand of that same fluffy thick white yarn that I used yesterday.

I like this effect.

This looks like a good hat for a cold Halloween night.

Where's This Bloom?

In Your Face

Nibble a Little

I found some joy in the simplest gesture this morning. A wave of the hand.

On my daily walk, I decided to take my 2-1/2 mile route which follows the Centennial Trail as it runs along Ponderosa Ave near my home. It's a really easy route, mostly flat with just the one small hill at the top of my street. This part of the trail is a bike/walking lane that runs along the side of the road, rather than like the main part of the trail that is it's own separate pathway, often following the railroad.

All that is to say, on this portion of the trail, there is car traffic.
(Click the map to see my route).

So today I decided to do a small experiment. I waved to every car driver, every cyclist, every runner, every walker on the trail for the simple pleasure of counting how many strangers in our mostly-friendly town would wave back.


It was quite fun to watch the looks on folks' faces.

Some looked quizzically at me as if to ask, "Do I know you?" But waved anyway.

Some pretended to not see me as they darted their eyes away from the eye contact.

Most simply raised their hand in like salute.

My favorites were the drivers that had one hand on the wheel, the other yackin' it up on the phone, and 'waved' with a single lift of their index finger or a nod of the head.

The walkers were the friendliest. They often both waved and wished me a Good Morning.

The more I walked, the more I waved, the more waves I got back, the bigger my smile grew.

It's such a simple gesture. And such an easy way to acknowledge the presence of another human. It's a lovely way to both spread joy and take joy.

Try it. Then let me know about your reactions.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Apple Baby

Apple Baby

Hangin' around and boppin' me on the head as I took my morning walk.

[And it's primarily green and blue ... like the background on Today's Phrase.]

Happy Dance: Another Child Hat

I'm really enjoying my new knitting looms. I made another child's hat in the last 24 hours.

This hat is made from two different yarns:
  • Caron Simply Soft Baby in a white variegated
  • A white mystery yarn that is fairly thick and fuzzy which was part of my Mom's stash that I inherited.
These child hats measure about 5 inches from hat brim to the bottom of the tassel. Laid flat, it's about 5-1/2 inches wide across the brim.

It Only Takes A Moment

What life blessings have I had lately by living in the moment?
  • I saw dew trembling at the end of pine needles
  • I saw a swallowtail butterfly resting on the ground at the edge of the deck
  • I reveled in the cold wetness when the sprinkler unexpectedly sprayed me
  • I calmed and reassured my daughter Julie about her fears about grad school
  • I smelled my daughter Jodie's fresh citrus scent
  • I felt the warmth of my husbands bare chest
  • I laughed when the 'old hags' teased me about my fabric choices
  • I was calmed by the voice of Jim Dale
  • I felt the breeze, cool off the river

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On My Desk - A Quilt All Laid Out

If it's Wednesday, it's time for another installment of On My Desk

This week's "desk" is a set of tables at Quilters.

I usually get to work with Susan. Because our group builds the quilts assembly-line style, different folks are proficient at different tasks. Susan and I are Jills-of-all-trades, so to speak. We do whatever job needs to be done. Lately, that means turning the quilts inside-in after they've been sewn and before they are tied. We also have been doing a bit of layout. That's our favorite job.

But Susan had to leave early today ... so I got to lay this quilt top out by myself.

This is one of our large-size quilts ... good for a double or queen size bed. To get the idea of size, each of the rectangles is 9" x 4". There are 25 rows across; 9 rows down.

We have a large stash of cut fabrics in a cabinet. So I pulled some piles that more-or-less worked together and laid this quilt out lickety-split ... in about a half hour. We call this pattern Around The World and start laying it out in the center, then build the rows out from there.

Here are close-up images of the fabrics I used:

All of the quilts assembled by St. George's Quilters are given to local folks in need.

See Order Within

Wow. It this good advice for me today!

The weird head space I was in yesterday morning didn't get any better as the day wore on. As I was headed into Coeur d'Alene to pick Jodie and her friend up from driving school, it dawned on me why I felt so out of sorts.

A storm was blowing in.

Low pressure systems have an evil effect on me every time. Usually, once I realize that's the cause, I handle the weird feelings better. That worked ... for a time.

But I had to do a major Plan B yesterday. Because of the storm ... that turned into a downpour when we got home ... there was not enough good natural light for our photo shoot. It's been postponed. Rats.

I gave up on the day before eating dinner. Peeled off my outside clothes and wrapped up in my robe. Finished knitting one adult hat (that's me, modeling it), then started a child hat.

Planted myself in front of the TV (tivo) and watched The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Ebert & Roper, and two episodes of Design Star.

By that time, I'd finished the smaller hat (that's my water bottle, modeling it). Went to bed.

Because as Scarlett O'Hara would say ... "Tomorrow is another day!"

Had a fitful night. Argh!

So as Anne Shirley said, "Today is a new day ... with no mistakes in it yet."

So ... Off to Quilters I go to renew my spirit in the company of my 'old hag' friends. Perhaps while I'm at the church, I'll take a moment to go up to the sanctuary, light a candle, and follow the advice in Today's Phrase:
Pause for introspection;
Seek order within

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Come On Baby ... Light It!

Fire Rose

I have to laugh at myself. For the last couple days, I've picked the photo I choose to post by the background of the Today's Phrase that I posted earlier in the day.

I'd like to set my day on fire — like these colors.

Later today I hope to have a photo shoot for my 15 year old daughter and her best friend. Just for fun. If we're all on fire, all in a good mood, we may just get some awesome shots. If some come out well, I'll be sure to post 'em.

Weird Head Space

My head feels befuddled today. No particular reason that I can think of ... except maybe this.

Yesterday I was contacted by a couple high school classmates on Facebook. I like being contacted. I don't have many bad feelings about high school like so many folks I know do.

But it does tend to put me in a weird head space. Thinking about the young woman I was becoming at the time. Remembering how often my naivet'e got me into trouble. Remembering how easily influenced I was by what others said ... or thought of me. Trying so hard to find a place to fit in.

When I get in a weird head space, it's difficult to "silence the world." Must mean I need to spend some time in meditation today. Get back in touch with today's inner longings, then make the best of it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Orange Splash

I seem to have a 'thing' for orange today. This photo ... Today's Phrase ...

Orange Splash

Perhaps I ought to use orange Post-It notes, eat a lot
of carrots, enjoy some cheddar cheese, squeeze some fresh orange juice, start knitting an orange hat.

Sounds like fun. But first ... time to get on to the weekly home blessing.

More on Dreams

Ya know? When it's Walt Disney that said it, you can sort of believe it! He was a living example.

I need to dream some more. Hmmmm.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Secrets: July 20, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. These secrets reminded me of stories from my own life:

I had a boyfriend in my early college years that believed in God, but also believed that he had done something so unforgivable that God would not take him back in. I don't know what that secret was.

Duncan, if you're out there, I hope you finally realized that the forgiveness of God and the ability to receive second (and third and fourth and fifth and more) chances from other people is much much greater than you originally thought. I hope that in your 50s, you have more peace than you did in your twenties.

I love the look on this girl's face. I have plenty of journals, dating back from grade school days. They are not hidden. And my middle daughter knows that she can read as much as she wants of them when I die ... and let them be fodder for her writing.

::evil grin::

There's plenty of seeds for great stories there. As my youngest daughter says,
"Mom, you're a high color woman."

This being 50 thing is A-OK. My skin shows all kinds of signs of events my body has endured. I got my hair cut this week, and there is more and more gray. As the curls fell in my lap, I realized just how much they look like my grandmother's. That makes me smile.

I'm getting much more at peace with my body, too. I've been toying with the notion of nude photography. I bought a book this week that allows my imagination play with the notion.

Paying Homage to My Favorite Fruit

Every year I feel the necessity to pay homage to my very favorite fruit, the raspberry. This love of my life deserves an annual close-up, don't you think?

Sittin' Raspberry

For previous photos, look here.

And here.

Maybe next year I should dress it up. Give it a beanie, some google eyes, have it wave a flag or do a trick on roller skates.

Treasure Hunt

My first thought when answering this question was, "Memories."

After all, the memories I have, the stories that make up my past, are all my own, hidden inside my head.

But I had to reevaluate that notion almost as soon as the original thought formed. Though I do treasure many fine and uplifting memories, I have a lot of not-so-pleasant memories as well. When I examine them, instead of them resting in the past, the feelings those memories elicit come up to the surface and I get a negative physical reaction to them.

Something that negative ... I'm not sure I'd call those treasures. I actually do better when I don't dwell on such things.

So what is a positive hidden treasure in my life?

I actually think it's not all that hidden. It's my life now. It's all that I've built over 19+ years with my sweet husband. And I'm not talking about just the physical stuff ... the family, the home, the money in the bank. All that is good, of course! All of that is the treasure that is my life.

But it's more. Now is the treasure. Being 50. Having a life partner who I thoroughly enjoy. Having a voice and being heard. Having health. Having sweet friends. Having some causes to put my energy into. Coming into my own.

When I start to wobble, I try to remember to stop, look around, breathe. And realize one thing:
This is the good stuff!

It's Worth It

THIS is why I stitch quilt blocks for charity.

Here is Natalia's quilt.

The block I stitched is in the bottom row, second square from the right.

My heart soars knowing that a little something I stitched here in north Idaho in 2006 has made it half way around the world to a small girl who lives a challenged life due to an illness.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Dance: Loom Knit Hats

Here are four hats I've knitted over the last few weeks using my new knitting loom set.

These are super simple to do — even though I'm a bit knitting needle challenged. (With needles, I can do simple knit and purl ... enough to make a scarf).

With the knitting loom, you wrap and lift.

I'm making these hats from some yarn that I inherited from my mom and will be donating them through the charity group I participate in.

You can read more about my hats and the looms in Cameo's Corner on my website.

Extraordinary Cherry

So ... what's so extraordinary about this?

On the surface, perhaps nothing. Yet no matter how much focus or energy I put into it, I could not leaf out and grow a cherry on my being!

These little guys grow on a line of trees at the edge of the park that sits in a hollow at the end of our block. Pretty, how the light reflects off them, don't you think?

You Are Incredible!

One time when I was in a whiny mood, my husband said to me in an exasperated voice, "Don't you know you're more capable than you think you are?"

That stopped me short.

No. No, I really didn't know that. Wow.

If we can stop the whining and focus our energies ... WOW ... we really can do extraordinary things.

I challenge you. Focus your energies. Do something extraordinary (for you). Then leave a comment and tell me about it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Petal Plush

In honor of the beautiful poem I received last week (see previous post),
I offer this rose.

Petal Plush

Happy Dance: Cathi's Thank You Note

My counselor found a poem and said that as soon as she read it, she thought of me.

So she bought it (framed, with a photo) and gave it to me.

When I read it, the poem had me tearing up. It really does suit me and addresses the topics Cathi and I discuss in a really positive way. The poem gave me a new perspective on what it means to 'let go.'

Here's the poem in its entirety:
Like the petals of a rose
That fall off in the night
My past lets go of me.
No longer am I colored by
Should have been —
Could have been —
Might have been —
I am tinged with the subtle colors of dawn
Forgiveness —
Acceptance —
and Love —

No longer content
To whisper in the darkness
I am singing hello
In the freshness of morning
Learning and growing
Believing there is much more to me
Than I have ever been told
As I turn my back to darkness
And my face catches the morning sun
I am awake to the joy
Of who I am

With eyes open and accepting
I step softly into a new world
Arms open to embrace the wonder
Of this dawning me.

— Sue Albrect

You can read more about my thank you note in Cameo's Corner on my website.

Letting Go ... Not as Simple as it Sounds

I've been making good progress in my studio. Sorting. Throwing stuff out. Putting things away. Steadily working on a few select projects. (I may have a thing or two to post here before too long!)

What do I hope to gain? A semblance of order. Some focus. And a resurgence of my creativity.

Out of necessity, I've also had to declutter a few people in my life. I was feeling bad about it until I remembered a line from the Desiderata:

Avoid loud and aggressive people
They are vexations to the spirit

Indeed. When I hyper focus on those that irritate me, my spirit is vexed indeed!

What do I hope to gain? The wisdom that allows me to show compassion to myself.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Heck, NO!

I'm feeling rebellious today. I don't want to say YES to anything right now.

:: wry smile ::

Perhaps, then, it's not the correct time to blog about a phrase I picked out two weeks ago.

So ... you tell me. What do YOU think when you see this phrase?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On My Desk - Mom's Strawberry Pie

If it's Wednesday, it's time for another installment of On My Desk

This week's "desk" is the kitchen counter. Again! (What's gotten into me?)

Yesterday, our dear little Jo turned 15 years old. What she really wanted for her birthday was time with her boyfriend to go to a movie, time with her best friend and a wad of cash to go to shopping ... and a strawberry pie.

She's not much of a cake kind of girl.

I hadn't made this confection in several years. It's my all-time favorite dessert, though. My mom's recipe for a fresh strawberry pie.

Only ... I don't really have the recipe. I just sort of remembered how to do it by helping my mom. But here's the idea:

Start by making a single crust pie shell. My favorite recipe comes from the Crisco cook book ... but I substituted real butter for the Crisco. Ummmmm!

While that's baking, cut up a couple pints of strawberries ... some in biggish chunks (the best berries) and the rest in little-ish bits.

Watch that pie crust. You want it baked, but not browned. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Throw the little-ish bits of strawberries into a sauce pan. Add a tinch of water. Turn on the heat. Mush up the berries. Add a bit of sugar (or combo of sugar and artificial sweetener). Cook it until it gets to a jelly-ish consistency and starts to bubble. Stir it a lot, cuz it burns easily.

When it looks a bit like dull jelly, it's time to add a thickener. So scoop a blob of corn starch into a bowl and add enough water to dissolve the starch. Drizzle this into the strawberry slurry. Stir constantly now. The slurry now starts getting a nice and thick and shiny. It smells great!

Take the pot off the burner and let it cool.

In the mean time, dump a glob of creme cheese in a small bowl (4 to 6 oz ought to do). Add a smidgeon of milk. Stir it around with a fork until the creme cheese is very spreadable. You don't want it too liquidy ... but a bit more spreadable than, say, tub-o-margarine.

If the pie crust is cool, carefully spread the creme cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Stick the thing in the refrigerator so that the creme cheese can set up a bit.

Now take that pot of cooled strawberries and add in the most of the biggish chunks of berries. Take the pie crust + creme cheese out of the fridge. Spoon the chunky strawberry mixture into the pie shell, covering the creme cheese. If there doesn't seem to be enough berries, add some more of the biggish chunks on top to fill in.

When you serve this pie, add a dollop of whipped topping.

It's the best. Really. My pie crusts come out wonderfully flaky and light. The strawberries are sweet and tart and smell divine. But it's the creme cheese base that adds the kick.

Oh, mammy!

(I think I was 'channeling' Mom yesterday as I played in the kitchen. We spent a lot of years side-by-side that way. Sure wish she were alive to have shared our girl's birthday with us.)