Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blessing #6 The Spice Shop

      The spice shop is a great blessing to me for many reasons.  I have met hundreds of new people through the shop, made several good friends, and have the opportunity to visit with strangers every time I work there.  I love talking to people about their lives.  It makes me happy.
      I have also learned a lot of new things about spices and business, which is as interesting as anything else. Spices are tightly woven into the history of the world, believe it or not. Think: explorers sailing the seas in search of new lands and new sea routes to the spice islands. There were fortunes to be made and lost on those voyages, not to mention lives.
      Because of the shop, I get to spend time working with Able. I think we work well together; you would have to ask him if he thinks so too.  He and I have always gotten along well....except for a short time during his teenage years. I think that's fairly common with mothers and sons. I'm happy that he has found his lovely wife Kari, at last.  They are so happy together and he is more settled now.  I feel that he is more completely himself because of her loving him. It's important to have someone who loves you more than anyone else in the world.
      Working at the spice shop is the perfect job for me right now. I can work as much or as little as I want to.  I am really only scheduled for one whole day, the day we do the order. That is usually a day with just Able and me working. If we're not too busy we have time to visit about what all is happening in the shop so I can keep up with how things are going. I can, and do, drop in on other days as well, when I am in town to visit with the grands or my daughters.  But on those days I don't have to stay there and be on my poor feet for ten hours.  I can work as long as I like and then leave, because I am the extra person and not on the clock. I am never 'on the clock' as such.  Praise God and Alleluia! I am done being on the clock. I don't even wear a watch anymore. A watch? Most days I don't even know what day of the week it is. I LOVE IT.

Oh, P.S. Happy Birthday to my baby brother Jim (and his son Nick). Thanks for letting us camp out at your house for three weeks when we were doing the training for the spice shop. Three weeks is a long time to have two extra people living in your house. I understand that and appreciate your hospitality. You guys are the best.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Big Freeze

     We had the big freeze last night, finally. It swept in at sundown, on the coat tails of a the north wind, and apparently stayed the night. I made some hot spearmint tea, lit some candles and curled up with a good book. Later, when I ventured out for some fresh air, I was greeted by the sound of dripping rain, or so I thought at first. However, the sky was clear, the air brittle with cold.
      The sound I was hearing was actually leaves, falling in a steady patter from the Mulberry tree.  I used to own a little wooden box with chimes inside, and when you turned the box over, tiny metal beads fell in a random pattern onto the chimes and made a delicate, pinging music. This sound of the last leaves of the old year falling was such a sound. And, as if the music was not enough, there was the sight of them, stepping free and turning on the breeze, fluttering down to become part of a gorgeous yellow and green carpet.
    I watched in silence, drinking it in, loving the elegance of the dance I so easily could have missed. Overhead there came the honking of geese.

Counting My Blessings #5

"Give me you tired, you poor, 
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shores.
Bring these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door. "
                                              -Emma Lazarus

     Perhaps the rhetoric by Ms. Lazarus is old-fashioned and far out of date, but I find myself wishing the sentiment were true. The words sound so noble and do stir the heart. However, we should stop pretending we mean it, if we don't; in the name of honesty. Maybe we never did mean it.
      You and I both know that folks who were living on these shores at any point in history have never been happy to see newcomers step off the boat.  I mean, after the native peoples, we all came from somewhere else. They probably came from somewhere else too, truth be told.  You and I may have been born here but about four or five generations back, our ancestors spoke with a strong foreign accent.
    Are we who we claim to be or are the Golden Doors a myth?   It bears some serious thought.

      I am thankful to live here, in the middle of this country founded on basic freedoms, with systems set up for working justice for everyone.  I know the system doesn't work as well as it should, and in some cases it hardly works at all. But if we could one day get to the place where individual honor and integrity were a higher priority than money and partisanship, I like to think the system could work well. If we could ever get past our history of racial divisiveness, I believe we could become better than we have ever been.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Counting My Blessings #4 Grandchildren

      These guys, of course. When your own children are growing up, and then moving out into their own lives, you think nothing could ever hold your heart as they do. But grandchildren are something else again, especially if you live close enough to be with them often.  In these happy young faces, you see something of your own child again, not exactly as they were, but close enough.  These little ones are obviously not your own children, but they do things, say things, give you looks, that remind you of yours. They do their own unique things as well, things which endear them to your heart.
     They restore hope to your heart, hope for the future of the world.  They are your last best chance to instill some influence, some goodness into what will come.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Counting My Blessings #3 Friends of All Stripes

Love comes to us in many guises and one of the best is friendship in all its varied colors.
Friends from school....and then life, who share our joys and sadnesses.

Friends, Aunts and Uncles who love us because they loved our parents before we were born.

Friends who are also grandparents, who love us across generations.

Friends who are willing to
share the grand adventures found in
imaginary things.

Friends with whom you travel, sharing the new and unexpected.

Friends with whom you are always safe, always loved.

Friends you have known all your life, from day one,

                  who share the journey in all weathers, whose voices blend perfectly with yours.
                                                                   I am very blessed.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Counting My Blessings #2 Quilting

I am thankful for a legacy of quilting.
     I have quilts my grandmother and great-grandmother made. I have quilts my mother made and others that I made myself or friends made for me. This one is one of my favorites. I was two years collecting material for this one and I love the look of it. I gave it to a dear friend, so she would have the stars to guide her always.
       I understand that in earlier generations quilting was a practice of necessity and frugality.  Every piece of clothing that was still usable was put to use. Now, quilting is essentially an art form (although it always was an art form). It is a way of creating something both beautiful and useful.  Additionally, quilts are gifts that usually outlive the giver.  They travel, given from hand to hand, from heart to heart through generations and across boundaries. They warm, comfort and cheer those from whom we are separated by distance or circumstance.
     I admit, I am a part-time quilter. I sew when the mood or the need strikes me and not as my major form of art.  In spring and summer, I am called to be outdoors.  In winter, which you would think would be the perfect time for me to quilt, there are books upon books to be read. That being said, once I have started on a sewing project, I am driven to work on it.  Quilts affect me the same way puzzles do: they reveal themselves piece by piece. They require patience and an open, creative mind.
     One of my favorite things about piecing a quilt is the number of times the quilter's hands are brushed gently across the fabric. Over and over the patterns are smoothed and caressed as the whole picture unfolds.  If a quilt is being made for a particular person, each of these caresses is accompanied by a breathed prayer. Love in every stitch.
      My personal thing to do with the quilts I make, once they are completely finished, is to hang them outside overnight. That way they are filled with moonlight and starlight; a secret gift hidden within the obvious one.