Friday, October 30, 2015

Dahlia lessons: You might be surprised

Last lesson (so far) from the dahlias.  I've realize this year that I just really don't know what I'm going to like and how much I'm going to like it until I actually see it.  Some of the dahlias I thought I would love have been only so-so.  And this one that I bought on clearance on a whim--well it has rocked my dahlia lovin' world.

So maybe I'd better stop thinking I know how things are going to work out...'cause I just might be surprised.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Such fun Halloween sewing this year.  First I made my first (but not my last!) table runner.  I paid to have it quilted and it's not bound yet...there's after Halloween for that.

Then on the spur of the moment I made a table runner for Alisyn so that I could make a cute pattern I'd seen online after I'd already made mine.  It turned out so cute and Alisyn was very surprised.

Then on the spur-er of the moment I decided that one of the fabrics I'd used on Alisyn's table runner was so great that I needed to make a dress for Kate that she could wear for one week this year and would still fit her next year.

So much sewing fun!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dahlia lessons: There will be more

Is it so odd that I feel like I get these little messages from the spirit, messages triggered by things like my dahlias?  Probably mostly things that I already know, but perhaps need reminders of.

Cut dahlias die oddly.  The back petals (which sometimes aren't very visable from the front of the flower) start to wilt and eventually drop off.  The front of the dahlia with it's remaining petals can look good for another couple of days until it all finally withers.

The other day I was working at the sink/kitchen window, which is where I usually put the vases of dahlias.  I glanced over and noticed that another one was starting to wilt.  As per my normal anti-change stance I immediately had a (small) sinking feeling that the flower's beauty was dying.

And then the thought came clearly to my mind, "There will be other beauty."

At first I thought that it meant (truly) that there were other flowers blooming in the yard, other flowers that I would bring to my kitchen counter.

But then I realized how much broader this idea was.  I'm always so sad when a good experience is over. (Anti-change, remember?!?)  Sad when every week at the beach is over, sad when my sister's weekend is over, time with friends, always sad.  I've been thinking all year that I need to gain some equanimity about the fact that change is a constant of life, and this little dahlia message reminded me of that.  That change is always going to happen, but that there will always be more beauty ahead.  Maybe similar beauty, maybe different beauty.  But I won't be left without.  Hopefully as I love my flowers it will help me learn to trust.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dahlia lessons: Enjoy the view from where you are

This year I'm picking dahlias all the time...anything that gets too heavy for it's plant, any time it's been windy and some stems have gotten broken, anything (last year's decision) that has the audacity to bloom facing the fence.  It's been delightful to have so much beauty in my kitchen.

One of the surprises has been this big dahlia I got on clearance a few weeks ago at a nearby nursery.  I didn't want to resist because the price on these end-of-season plants was great but I wasn't absolutely sure I loved the flowers.

Ha.  They are A-Maz-Ing.  Some of my very favorite.  (Yes, I do have less favorite in case you were wondering, much to my surprise.)

One day one of these amazing red spiky flowers needed to be cut.  It had grown oddly on its stem and I just could not figure out a way to get the front and center of the flower to face out.  I tried stuffing support things into the neck of the vase, tried different vases, even tried taping the stem to the edge of the vase to keep it in the "right" place.  

All to no avail.

One day I was doing the dishes and glanced over at my badly angled flower.  But then I noticed something.  From this sidewise view of the flower I could see into the center, see the yellow at the inside of all of the petals.  From this sidewise view the flower was big and full.  This sidewise view was actually beautiful.  And then I got curious.  I moved over in front of the flower and bent down so that I could look at the proper "front" of the flower.  And it was just kind of messy.  

All that time I'd been frustrated with the flower for not staying in a position to show it's front, and it turned out that the front wasn't that great.  It was one of those moments that I really could hear the spirit inside of my head, saying, "Just enjoy the view FROM WHERE YOU ARE.  Stop wishing you were somewhere else, or the situation was in some other way different.  Enjoy the view, because it is actually BEAUTIFUL."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

And ye would not...

The picture I do not have: Rachel sitting at the end of the church bench, head resting on her legs after getting back from yesterday's band competition at 3:30AM this morning.  I told her--come and sit by me and you can lean against me.  But not my oft prickly teenager who rarely is willing to sit by me in church anymore; she was fine where she was.

I sat there for a minute feeling sad about the situation (her fatigue, her need to be separate from me, etc) when a scripture came into my mind.  I wonder if this is how Christ feels when he is so ready to help us with our problems and we resist his aid.  Perhaps through a need for independence, like Rachel, or because we are so distracted, which is usually more my problem.  This morning in sacrament meeting I felt a little the longing I would imagine Christ and our Heavenly Father feel: Won't you please let us help?  We are here for you, just right down the bench.  All we want is to help you feel better, to be here for and with you in your moment of need.

4…how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
 5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
 6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.  3 Ne 10:4-6

PS--I so wanted to snap a picture of her.  I could have done it so carefully no one would have known.  I had to restrain myself pretty forcefully!   

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In the Twilight Zone with trash bags

My version:
Eighteen-ish months ago I visited Lindsay and stayed at her apartment in Miami.  (Such beauty!  Such a wonderful trip!!)  At some point I asked if she had a grocery bag I could use for something.  She went into the kitchen and instead of the billowy bag I expected, put a small triangle in my hand.  I was perplexed and asked why the trashbag was so small?  She explained that in such a small apartment she had to store things efficiently.  I was enchanted by the triangle trash bag and asked her how to do it, and have spent the intervening eighteen months folding grocery bags--my own and other people's as well.

This weekend Lindsay and Katie were at my house.  I pulled out a grocery bag and Katie made a comment about it.  I explained that Lindsay had shown me the way of the triangle grocery bag.

Lindsay's version:
I've never folded grocery bags like that.  I've always tied them up in knots like this.


Isn't that the strangest thing?  I'm sure, she's sure.  But if she's right, who taught me to fold the grocery bags???

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balancing energy for shift work at the shrunken crossroads

I am frequently reminded (inside my own brain) that Julie Beck said several times in women's meetings that a person can work one or one and a half shifts, but not two.  Maybe I just remember this because I like to assuage my guilt that I don't have a two-shift body.  But I think I remember it because of what it means in my life right now.


Many years ago then-church president Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk encouraging mothers to be at the "crossroads" for their children.  He suggested that it was important to be available to talk with their children before and after school, before and after dates, etc.  When he gave this talk I wasn't yet a mother, and when I thought about it in later years I figured it didn't really apply to me because our home was all crossroads, all the time.  It was ok for me to be a mom who checked out after dinner, because I'd already spent the whole day with all of my kids.  It was ok for me to take a nap in the afternoon because I was spending all day with my kids.  It was ok for me to go to Utah for a week because normally I was spending all day every day with my kids.  Etc.


Now I find myself in the moment that is the junction of these two ideas.  The one, that no person can work two shifts.  The other, the importance of being at the crossroads, maybe even with cookies.  And all of a sudden our crossroads have gone from all day, every day to before school, after school, and some days not until 9pm after school.  I suddenly feel an imperative to really BE THERE!  But the THERE involves the beginning of the first shift and then the second shift, or maybe the beginning of the first shift, a few minutes at the beginning of the second shift and then the end of the second shift.

It's tempting now that I have days to myself do just DO WHAT I WANT.  What I have wished I could be doing for all of these years.  (Though let's be real, sadly I don't have the energy to do half of what I wanted to do all of these years.)  Instead I find myself trying to figure out the pacing puzzle every day.  Today the kids will be home then, and then, and then.  How will I order my day to have energy at the right moments???

Some days I succeed.  Success ALWAYS includes a nap.  I was a napper before, but in this "now I have to be on in the evenings" lifestyle naps are crucial.  When I don't get them I don't succeed.  When I don't get them I notice something, usually be 7 or 7:30, and that is that my face stops being able to smile.  Seriously.  Sometimes my failure has good reasons.  Sometimes it's because I've helped someone out or spent time with another person instead of getting the nap I need.  But the fact remains that I have to pace myself; allocate energy precisely if I'm going to hit the important marks.

All of this is just a reminder to myself to keep trying, to keep working on it.  Yesterday wasn't too great.  Today wasn't either.  If I keep trying, hopefully I'll get better at the balance of it all.  Crossing my fingers... nonsense title that actually does make sense ever, right?

Monday, October 12, 2015

This stage

Several times in the last year I've been able to spend time with my friend Susan, and each time we've talked about how great this stage is with it's increased freedom and flexibility.  Both of our oldest are married, we both have college kids, she has one on a mission, and our youngest are all in high school.  There is so much to love about this stage.

The funny thing is that I've spent my whole life dreading it, sure that I would be miserable without my houseful of little kids.  Despite the fact that said houseful always exhausted me and sometimes made me miserable!  But change is change, and as I have now come to realize I dread all of it.

This weekend Lindsay and Katie came to visit.  We had a terrific time.  Segways and desserts and rain and waterfalls and beautiful vistas and endless conversation.  Not much sleep at any point, of course.  And then they flew off home yesterday, I drove back to church and taught my Relief Society lesson, and came home to take a 2.5 hour nap.  Then I was actually in bed by 10:30 (a rarity for bedtime-hating me) and decided at 9:30 this morning (still in my pajamas) that I was ready for another nap, which feeling I did not fight.  

When I got up from my nap I ate and then decided to put this puzzle together that's been sitting around for almost a year.  It was easier than I'd realized and went together quickly, and I enjoyed the peace of working on it in the living room.  Still in my pajamas.

I'm loving this stage.  I need to remember this--that the dread turned out to be needless in the end. (This time and so many others.)  That life keeps being good, and in some ways gets even better.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

After the game

By the time we are all done closing up the concession stands the field is empty, bare under the still bright lights.  Most of the debris from the high school crowd has been swept up and someone is driving a little cart around picking up garbage.  By this time my feet hurt so much all I can think of is getting off of them.

Russ and I volunteered to help with the concession stand several times last year (as part of our band parent volunteer hours) and at the end of the season were asked if we would be willing to take over running it.  It seemed like a reasonable way to meet our volunteer responsibilities and we agreed.  Between last year and this year whoever ran the other concession stands pulled out and for the first game we ran all three--one under the grandstand, one on the visitor side of the field, and the band concession stand near where the band sits.  The night of the first game we were at the football field from 5 until 10:30 and I'm sure if I'd had a pedometer I would have put over 10,000 steps on it in those 5 1/2 hours.

The second game we didn't have to do the visitor's concession but poor Russ was on his own--I was in Utah for girl's night and Kate's wedding reception.  Our team was playing another local team on a scorching evening and they were run ragged selling cold drinks all evening and trying to keep the chocolate from melting.

Last time things seemed a bit calmer, though there were several panicked runs to Costco for more buns when we realized that we were running out faster than expected.  The one thing that didn't change was the sheer exhaustion at the end of the evening.

It's made me think of my own life of a teenager and the awareness that I never saw my mother as a human being with a full life of her own.  I think I saw her as most teens see their parents--as a person who existed mostly within the context of my own life, a person who of course was there to make things easier and better for me.  A person who provided food and did seem to be working a lot and who sometimes frustrated me and let me down.

I'm sure I never saw her as a person who had her own full inner life going on.  I never saw her as someone overwhelmed by the job in front of her, I doubt I realized the exhaustion she experienced by the end of every day.  I never thought about her getting up in the night to feed babies or wishing she could have a break with friends or a date with my dad.

One day my kids will know, just as I know now.  They'll know the things we didn't want to do but did for them.  They'll understand about the fatigue and the worry and the work, that these are so much a part of every parent's life.  The appreciation we may feel is lacking now will not be then, not when they understand.

Every now and then these moments happen; moments when I wish I could call my mom on the phone and tell her something.  And this is what I'd tell her now.  I'd tell her that I love her even more now that I'm seeing her sacrifice from this side.  I'd apologize a million times over that I was so self absorbed that I forgot to notice that she was a real person, and say that I'm glad I came to know the real her before it was too late.  And I'd thank her for all that she did for me--the things I remember, the things I don't remember, the things I never knew about.  All of it, done for me, just like I do it now for my own kids.

Purse sadness

I just happened upon this purse. I was shopping for Josh for something else and I saw it on the clearance rack and was immediately taken by it, especially at a deeply discounted price. I think someone must have swiped the little brand label that was meant to hang on it and that was part of the reason it was so cheap. I have carried it and loved it for the last year and a half in a way I did not know I could love a purse. Now the straps are starting to break and I think my heart is breaking a little along with them.

I've always been a very practical purse person, carrying a cheap Walmart black purse that met my needs. But I don't know that I can ever go back to living that way again. Its not that I'm going to spend a lot of money for a purse because then the cost / benefit analysis would be all off. But I'm determined to find another purse that I can love...for the right price.  Wish me luck!