Accepting What Is And What Isn’t

I am not arrogant enough to claim things I do for others to be unselfishly motivated. Many things I do that benefit others are done as much for me as for them. I receive joy in doing things for people that I love, and even for complete strangers. One of my biggest joys is feeding people. Another is creating something out of fabric or yarn that depicts what they mean to me. These are simple things really…everyday actions in my household. Without the ability to do these things, I would feel utterly empty. I even think those who know me realize that nurturing others is the core of my being.

Sometimes in life we drift away from those we love. Time and desire merely pull us in separate directions. We don’t purposefully neglect people. We each tend to live our own lives and one day we wake up and realize we live in different worlds. Sometimes it takes unforeseen heartbreaking circumstances for us to come to this realization. When faced with tragic circumstances, we try to make up for lost time. Why do we do it? Do we do it for the other people involved or do we do it for ourselves? I’ve tried to think I do what I do for others. In all honesty, I do it more for myself. I want those involved to know I love them before it’s too late. I try to assuage my own guilt. I know I can’t buy back a lifetime. I know I can’t take what little time there is in a given situation and change the past. I can make sure the future doesn’t follow the path of the past. Whether this choice is out of guilt or desire of comfort, I’m not sure.

The bottom line is we must face and come to terms with the choices we’ve made and the directions we’ve taken in life. Though we might not be as close to someone as we would have liked, we’ve each taken the paths in life that have made us happy. We’ve lived our lives, the very ones designed for us. Just because we realize that opportunities are fleeting to make things the way they never were does not mean we need to do so. We can respectfully love and support one another without pretending the relationship was anything other than it was. Regretting not having spent as much time with someone does not make you love them any less.

As I write this I am accepting the relationships in my life as they are. Each is intricately weaved placing each person and myself exactly where we fit. Sometimes we might not seem to even fit except in a minor way or from a distance…even that is fine. Love doesn’t require a constant presence in one another’s lives. I don’t think love has time or room for questioning. Love is a tenderness that accepts and supports.

I leave with this essay I published on Women’s Memoirs. http://womensmemoirs.com/memoir-scrapbooking/memoir-contest-winner-reflections-on-green-difficult-memories/  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might have already read it. If you haven’t read it, it might make my rambling post here a bit more coherent.

Choosing Ripples Over Dominoes

People often speak of ripples and dominos when describing how our actions and choices effect those around us. I perceive ripples to be how goodness spreads, how one good turn touches another. I imagine the domino effect to be someone crashing and taking everything and everyone within his path with him. The domino effect could be described as a chain reaction, but I call it a path of destruction. I suppose to some degree it can be used to describe the turn of the stock market, gas prices, and our current economic status.

I’ve known people in my life who refuse to go down easily or alone. They pull and grasp at everyone within reach…not that they think it’s a lifeline to save them, but just so they make someone else look just as badly as they go down. Or maybe misery really does love company!

I feel the chain reaction of the domino effect is stronger and harsher, with attitude and more purposeful, than the gentle waves that reach out and caress the ones nearby. Ripples sway me to and fro like a lullaby while the idea of a domino effect has my head filled with idea of being crushed in a mosh pit.

I never owned a set of dominos as a child, but I was intrigued by them. I used to play them with my baby sitter, but of course we played nicely. However, my nephew (he was only six years younger) and I would set his dominoes up throughout the house. We lined them on ramps made of books. We’d make intricate designs…all with the goal of tapping the first one and watching it slam against the next, and like a tower they’d all come crashing down. We’d whoop and dance and laugh in triumph of the destruction. We’d plan more elaborate designs to try to make things like marbles fall into bowls…those never panned out.

We designed our patterns with demolition in mind. We manipulated objects so that we not only collapsed the dominoes, but took out anything they touched. The more, the better. The louder the booms, the more ecstatic we became. Each successful scheme led to an even more elaborate one. We continued until we failed. When we failed we became bored. What fun was it if our goals were not accomplished? I don’t recall anyone ever praising or admonishing our efforts. Our childish games went fairly unnoticed by a household far too busy crashing and toppling it’s own life obstacles.

I find the need at times to remind myself that I can be a ripple or a domino. I’m sure I’ve had my moments of being a domino as I have crushed a dream or two in my time, but I prefer to be a wave of comfort and encouragement. I have the power to choose my actions. I hope I don’t take anyone out along my way. As I travel through life I have the ability to be a force to be reckoned with or soft touch on the journey. What kind of an impact do we ultimately want to make on those in our lives? Do you remember those who were loud, demanding and commanding fear as having positively influenced your life? Do you recall those who touched your life in subtle ways as having more of an impact on your life as it is now?

Building A Better World, One Smile At A Time

“Smile, for everyone lacks self-confidence and more than any other one thing a smile reassures them.”
Andre Maurois

Even dogs smile!

Edification is generally thought of in spiritual terms. It is mostly in the bible that I’ve seen it used. We have the ability to edify others through our words or actions. How often do we let those opportunities slip by?

Many people are natural edifiers. There are also many destructive or toxic people. Aren’t we all drawn to people who make us feel good about ourselves? I don’t mean puffed up about ourselves, but we do enjoy feeling worthy.

I know negative people, and I try to stay a way from them. It’s exhausting trying to help them see the positive side of life. If I spend too much time in that presence, I start feeling down, and then I take others down with me.

I recently encountered someone who continuously said bad things about others or accused them of doing wrong. I kept trying to point out the good qualities of the other people and tried to get the person to refocus. Sometimes, perspective is everything in understanding someone’s actions. However, when a person tears everyone else down to builds themselves up, I kind of think the problem lies therein. I couldn’t bring myself to outright call the person out. Would you have? Or would you have continued trying to turn the conversation around? Or would you have just given up?

Do you know what I’m speaking of when I say people pretend to be lifting others up but are actually tearing them down in the same breath? You know those kind of compliments…“You’re really smart to not have an important job.” or “You look really nice with all that weight you’ve put on.” Or they compliment you but up themselves one…“I enjoyed your get together. Just wait until you have as many friends as me and you throw parties all the time.” They might even say something as crass as “I don’t care what others say. I still like you.” Gee, thanks!

Some people build themselves up by treating others like they are less than them. One of the things that truly irks me is watching someone disrespect servers or cashiers. The manner in which people handle wait staff tells me all I need to know about their true character.

My youngest child once had a teacher who made it a point to let the entire class know she did not like football players. (Maybe she was dumped by a football player in high school?!) She deemed them all stupid. There were three football players in this class, and she pointed them out. Had she checked their records, she would have found that they were all gifted students. Instead she chose to pick them apart at every opportunity. The boys developed bad attitudes toward her. It finally got so bad that we ended up having to go to conference. She apologized for her comment, but nitpicked their papers for the rest of the year. (example: simple two point grammatical error was charged twenty points for the entire paragraph instead of the one sentence.) The boys felt defeated. They hated going to class and did not have a productive learning period. I am not defending the student’s attitudes, but she was the adult and had the power to reverse the situation. Had she chosen to reward them with positive feedback, their attitudes would have been much better.

I know that in dealing with small children, I get a better response on praising good behavior than I do pointing out bad behavior. People, no matter their age, like to feel good about themselves. I do realize that children like attention in any form, but shouldn’t adults be too mature for this?

Edification need not come only in the form of moral or spiritual guidance. We can build others up simply by the way we choose to live. When we smile at someone, we lift their spirits. We have the capability to edify others by complimenting them, hugging them, helping them, teaching them, and even by taking the time to listen to what they have to say. We edify others by letting them know they matter to us. Being there for others is an important part of edification.

Attitudes are contagious. If we lift others up, they’re more likely to go out and do the same. Do you ever tell military personnel thank you for their service to our country? Do you perform small acts of kindness to your neighbors? Do you tell the people in your family how important they are to you? I don’t do any of those things nearly as often as I should. In fact, it can be scary to put yourself out there…people might just think you’re crazy…or they might just pass it on.

The One Day Quilt

I was four years old when I held my first threaded needle. I felt so grown up to be trusted with a needle and a swatch of fabric to transform into my very own handmade Barbie dress. While Mrs. Kidd, my babysitter, zoomed away at her machine, I carefully pulled the needle in and out of the fabric binding it together with my long uneven stitches. I transformed the square piece of fabric into an ill fitting tunic. Still Mrs. Kidd praised my efforts. I continued making Barbie clothes and furniture from the scraps Mrs. Kidd handed to me while she scrutinized over her projects which often included skirts and dresses for me.

I was hooked. I sewed everything in sight! I sewed together pieces of thin cardboard that came in my mother’s panty hose. I sewed those tiny fabric swatches that used to come in mail samples. I collected them to make a quilt. They were about one inch squares. I don’t think my quilt ever even made it to the size of a wash cloth. When I had no fabric or anything I could adhere with needle and thread, I still practiced my stitches by pulling a thread-less needle through the top layer of skin on my left pointer finger. I was spellbound to watch the puckers of skin lift up, no blood, no pain. I even created a small pucker flower on the inside of my palm. I lived and breathed the mere act of creating something, anything from mere scraps.

When my sister took home economics in school, I copied her machine efforts by hand. She made a halter top. I made one from her scraps. She made a granny patchwork skirt. I made one as well. I even hemmed mine and wore it to school. The girls at school were amazed and showed my efforts off to my teacher who was puzzled to think I put in a waistband by myself. Scarlet faced, I admitted there was no waistband. I had simply tucked the cylinder of patches I’d sewn together into my under panties. All was well until we played kick ball…I had to hold my skirt to me while I ran so that I didn’t end up with my skirt around my ankles. In retrospect, I am fortunate no one called social services due to the attire I was sporting. I can only imagine how ragged it probably appeared to adult eyes!

My mother was not a seamstress. She vowed, “All four of my daughters will learn to sew.” We all did learn. I don’t know if any of the other three enjoyed it. I complained about zippers and buttonholes like everyone else, but secretly I loved the challenge. Those are still not my favorite sewing options, but I also don’t refuse to attempt them. I think I am the only one who continued it after graduating high school. Thank you, Mama for making sure I had a machine to sew all the while I was growing up.

I have been in love with sewing and fabric well over forty years. We won’t talk about my fabric stash(es). Every quilter has fabrics tucked away for those just-in-case projects that creep up. I have never become an expert, but I manage to eek by. I took the basic home economic classes and learned how to master darts and zippers. I even watched my best friend sew her finger the first day we operated the machines…this time there was blood and pain! While my boys used to brag to their friends that their mom could make anything, my skills were actually much less. I could attempt anything just not necessarily master the skills. My sewing is not perfect, but is presentable.

My love of sewing settled with quilting. Sometimes, I follow patterns and other times I free form art quilts. The process is one that I become absorbed in. It is the machine, thread, fabric, and me. I have a computerized machine so I don’t use a foot pedal. I feel totally free speeding along watching my projects take shape. I love the sense of control it gives me. The best thing is that unlike life, if I make a mistake I can simply rip it out with a seam ripper, redo it, and no one is ever the wiser. There have been times I have irreparably torn my fabric with the ripper…mistakes sometimes create new opportunities or fabulous pieces of art.

I consider myself a creative person. I fiddle with all sorts of needle work and crafts. I experiment with many types of writing. It seems that what I am most comfortable with always comes back to the things I was familiar with as a child. With needlework and writing, I always return to sewing and poetry. I wonder if it provides a level of comfort deep within or if it’s more of a hereditary thing.

I love the creating process. I love the planning, the selection of materials, and the assembly of the projects. I especially love the power I feel while operating my machine.

Even when my machine acts up (it is generally the inaptitude of the operator not the machine!), I revel in it’s awesomeness. It’s one of my main tools of expression. Nothing comes between me and my sewing machine…except maybe my laptop.

This weekend I was at a loss for what to do. It was nasty, weather wise, so I opted to stay indoors. I didn’t want to clean house. I wasn’t in the mood to write. I even got tired of reading. I didn’t want to work on the art quilt I had started nor did I want to begin a new project. Then I decided to attempt a fairly easy quilt pattern. After a quick trip to the fabric store, I went at it. It took a total of eight hours from start to finish. It was just the rejuvenation I needed.

The Simple Life

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

People often live well beyond their means. It seems the bigger the better. The more they get the more they want. With the current downfall of the economy, I’ve witnessed many simplify their lives.

I’ve probably told you before that I come from humble means. My parents are simple, no fuss folks. My father built them a simple cedar home, nothing fancy, but he built it with his own hands and no mortgage. How many of us can say that? As it suited his needs, but maybe not the desire of someone much wealthier, he named his home “Poor Man’s Paradise”. He did not actually use the term “paradise” to mean heaven, though it is his heaven, but because he loves paradise trees. He planted them throughout his property and surrounding his home. Paradise trees grow to form a sort of canopy that provides shade.

My father has various birdhouses set up throughout his property. He has a large feeder outside of their kitchen window. My parents enjoy watching the different birds and listening to their songs. One year they had hundreds of gold finches travel through. It was a most beautiful sight to behold the massive sunniness around the feeder and throughout the yard.

Birds are uncomplicated creatures. They demand very little. In fact, they seem to make do with what they have where they are at the moment. They take ordinary objects and weave them into nests. A bird decided that here right on the rafter (underneath the roof) of the house was a perfect spot for a nest.

The intent of our visit was a family cookout. My parents had not opened their grill for over two years…since the last time we cooked out there.

Apparently, the birds knew it was vacant. Like I said, they make do with what is available. I find it rather ingenius.

Needless to say, we did not use that grill. Dirt Man wasn’t involved in Scouting for nothing…he came prepared…he had packed our grill for the trip.

I’m not positive what type of bird laid these eggs. I had guessed a wren, and I think Dirt Man told me a sparrow. At any rate, I guess they can expect to hear a few cheeps along with the serenades soon! Did you know that the male sparrow can sing up to five songs a minute? They teach their songs to the younger birds.

We can learn a lot from our bird friends. We can take what we know and teach it to others. We can try to make do with the things we have…use parts of things  together to make new items (recycle), and give what we don’t use to others who will use them. We can sing about the joys in our hearts and spread it to others. (Since I can’t carry a tune, I’ll keep you joyful by keeping my song in my heart.) The most important lesson is that it doesn’t take embellishments to live a life of value. It is not the job of someone else to make us happy. If we depend on material things to make us happy, we miss out on much in life. We can find happiness right now. Where we are. With what we have. Happiness is inside each of us…it’s up to us to reach inside and pull it out.

Reflecting The Waters Of My Life

As a child I lived in a house on a hill that overlooked this dam. My sister and I often sat up in the window of the barn to get a clear view of the wall of water cascading downward and crashing against the rocks. From our perch, I inhaled the earth of the river, the moist mustiness penetrated my bones. I listened to the roar of it’s movement and the splash as it bounced back up from the rocks and lapped against the side wall of the dam. I could almost feel the mist splash across my face as the droplets bounced back into the air. Mesmerized by the river’s shift of emotions I watched from my position of safety. The water calmly flowed toward the dam. Then it violently thrust over the wall, and rippled and waved until it settled as it continued traveling away from me. For as long as I can remember I have both loved the river with every ounce of my being and have been shaken to my core in awe of it’s energy.

Once I was placed on the bridge in a car, I imagined the bridge collapsing beneath us and splattering our bodies against the sharp rocks. I don’t think I felt this way before Hurricane Camille. It was then that I became aware of the power of water. I began to fear the river, but only from the bridge. I could sit on the banks below the dam and bridge and be perfectly content with sliding off the muddy bank into knee deep water. I’d even venture waist high and savor the singing of the water trickling around the rocks.

Many a night, my sister and I roasted wienies on a bonfire while my brothers and dad fished. We ran barefoot through the damp sand crunching sand between our toes and listening to the serenade of the bullfrogs and cicadas. Our hair matted to our heads as we stretched across the sand to watch the stars dance across the sky as the moon lit up the river. There was something sacred about touching our ears to ground. This simple act allowed us to not only hear but touch through vibration the very life that surrounded us. We listened to cars spin gravel at the curve before the bridge and then listened to the tires screech across…when the cars reached the safety of road after exiting the bridge it was if our ears were pulled forward when the echo over the water deepened into the solidity of ground.

All of these tiny droplets of water combine to create a body of water that constitutes the river. The residents of this town connect to form a community. It is the community of the past, present, and even the future combined that create the history of Schuyler.

From this point you can see where the powerhouse was literally ripped from the dam.

A good forty years have passed since I last stood upon that bridge. I was a young girl, and it was a fairly new bridge at the time as Camille had washed the old steel bridge away. This past weekend I stood upon that bridge and contemplated the strength and the beauty I’ve drawn from that river. I’d watched many a dream crash upon those rocks or drift out to sea. I’d been that tangled mess of roots that cling to the muddy banks, but most importantly the water nourished and sustained those roots…we’ve all endured. Like the river, I’ve rerouted and formed new paths in life that have resulted in a most unexpected journey of blessings.

The sheer power of the water is overwhelming when you hear it roaring and lapping against the rocks. During Hurricane Camille the river leveled to the height of the dam. I remember, at age six, the terror of seeing life as we knew ripped from us. My town was torn apart…damages physically and emotionally crippled us. That very same river that had sustained us and threatened to take our lives restored us.

Like life differs from every perspective, so does the river from the angle of the dam, the bridge, or the bank. And we all know perspective is everything. It is how we approach life, what we experience, and how we remember. Life to each of us is what we take from it…we can take the fish, rocks, tree limbs, bad or good memories, beauty, energy, or sustenance from the river. The choice is ours.

If you stand in a certain position on the bridge and the sun is shining just so, you can see all the colors of the rainbow at one moment or another develop and linger over the mist that forms as the water crashes and splashes on the rocks after it passes over the dam. As I watched the colors form and disappear, my memories did the same. I realized I’ve lived a life of color and beauty, anything of less color or beauty has been painted over by something much greater.

When I was a little girl, this rock was massive and smooth. Over time, wind and water has delicately carved it into a unique piece of art, much like my life experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.

The back side of this dam looks entirely different from the front side. The water is placid and reflective where there is no gentleness about the water plunging over the concrete wall. I suppose people’s appearances can be quite distinct from their innermost thoughts and feelings.

This soapstone slab smokestack survived the big flood of 1969. The powerhouse and bridge washed downstream. These are remnants of a time gone by, just as we are remnants of a once bustling town. We are connected on some level whether we acknowledge it or not. Each of us is marking our place in this town’s history, all equally important to the flow of time.

I am not an engineer or a scientist, so I can’t rightly claim to know exactly how a turbine extracts energy from the flow of water. Simple human that I am, I am energized and renewed by the water’s flow. Both the touch and sound renews me. I respect the river’s power to give or take life. It’s danger humbles me, and it’s beauty blesses me.

Steam no longer escapes from the chimney stack. It serves as a reminder that we were here, and we thrived. Some day, the rocks might crumble thus causing the smokestack to fall, just as we eventually make our way to the other side. It doesn’t negate what this river or town brought into our lives or what we brought to it. The most important of things live on in hearts and memory.

Once upon a time, I used to run through the river…now, the river runs through me.

****Post I wrote about Hurricane Camille of 1969 

****Poem I wrote about Hurricane Camille of 1969

A Sunsational Sky

Friday was the most gorgeous day thus far this spring as the temps neared mid eighty. Dirt Man and I were able to shake the beach mid afternoon and head for the hills, well the mountains to be more accurate. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea. We took a few back routes to escape the traffic, and stopped for a lovely leisurely dinner.

We were met with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. The rays radiating from the sun appeared like beams to carry us straight to the sky. It made me think of Jacob’s ladder…don’t ask me why but it did come to mind. By the time we pulled over to get some photos, most of the multiple rays that were from each side and underneath had lessened to just a couple. Dirt Man did the honors of catching the beauty on camera. Wylie ran, rolled, and romped through the open field while he clicked away and I was lost in thought.

After we took off again, the sun transformed into a massive bright ball of fire. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite as majestic. I wanted Dirt Man to pull over right then to get a shot, but he insisted that we only had three miles to the river and it would be even more beautiful. There really was not a place to get a good clear view. We continued to the river. While we missed getting a shot of the fireball, this is the unbelievable shot Dirt Man stole from the sky! Don’t you just love the way the water reflects the pink from the sky?

This photo is taken at the bridge that crosses over the James River. I admit every sunset seems a bit more incredible if I’m viewing it near the water. I felt truly blessed to have witnessed the transformation from day to dusk in colorful sky and water.

And what is this you ask. Well, it is a tin roof. Yes, that night we were abruptly awakened by the massive downpour of rain upon the roof. After I recouped from the initial shock, I settled into a restful slumber. Many years have passed since I have slept beneath the pitter patter against a tin roof. I was soothed until the rain stopped and was replaced by the BOING BOING BOING of the water trailing off of one corner of the upper roof to the lower roof…but it was time to get up anyway!

‘Cairn’ival Of Life

Dirt Man and I are forever rambling through the woods. We usually start off on a trail and then we see the path less taken. Or perhaps there is no other path, but we are drawn to an object of interest. Yes, we have a strong tendency to veer off course, but that is where the most interesting things are frequently found. I tend to have absolutely no idea where I am anyway, but when I get so absorbed into nature and my own thoughts, I become completely lost. Even if Dirt Man might not know “exactly” where he is, he is never quite lost, just temporarily misplaced. He has a great sense of direction and always leads me back home. He is my compass. Without him, I’d roam in circles forever trying to find my way home.

A path that led us astray

Dirt Man and I were recently hiking a park that we often visit, but took a trail we hadn’t previously taken. Then we saw a sand dune off to the side of the trail. Dirt Man thought it would be a great idea to see where the path led. We headed through the woods hoping to connect with another trail. We (I) got tangled up in greenbrier, and we found yet another lesser traveled path…this led to the ranger’s station. Uh oh! We didn’t think we were supposed to be there, so we (he) decided we’d roam through the woods until we hit a different trail that he knew ran into it at some point. Sure enough, after a bit of scrambling we heard voices which led us back to the bike/walking path. While I had no clue where I was, I had complete confidence in my guide (Dirt Man). I trusted that his internal GPS would lead us out of the woods.

Cairns are stack of rocks that people use to mark a place. Sometimes, it’s used as a means of finding your way back. Sometimes, it’s used as a memorial. It can be used simply as a landmark to remember where something is. We saw some cairns on the trails out west when we were hiking. According to Wikipedia, “In some regions, piles of rocks used to mark hiking trails are called “ducks” or “duckies”. These are typically smaller cairns, so named because some would have a “beak” pointing in the direction of the route. An expression “two rocks do not make a duck” reminds hikers that just one rock resting upon another could be the result of accident or nature rather than intentional trail marking.”

I not only physically lose my bearings, but I tend to withdraw into myself at times and have a difficult time emerging and settling back into the comfort of my surroundings. I am a thinker, a roamer in my head. It’s a place I work out the complexities of life. Sometimes, it’s a soothing place, and I need a gentle nudge to bring me home. Other times, it can be like the teacup ride at an amusement park…I get so dizzy and disoriented I have to return to reality, less I get sucked into what feels like another dimension. I carry a road map in my soul which reminds me of the intersection between my heart and brain…this keeps me from living mindlessly by emotion only, but also reminds me not to follow the road without actually living while walking it. I suppose it keeps me in balance and from wandering too far in either direction.

Wandering, whether in my mind or through the woods, is very much a part of who I am. Having the security of a home to come back to is just as important to me. My daily cairns take on many shapes and sizes. If I am away, it is the vision of home that propels me. If I am home alone all day, it the sound of Dirt Man coming in the front door. During the day it might be a text from one of my kids or a call from my sister. Sometimes, all I have to do is see the sun shining through the window or hear an airplane fly overhead, and I am reminded that I am a part of something much bigger than myself.

There are times in life that chaos rules. I find it important during this times to focus on anything other than the drama at hand. When I am lost or overwhelmed, I sometimes simply close my eyes and I am transported away from the voices that pull me from the peace. I’m sure it seems to some like I am always going somewhere…and I am; I am traveling on the journey of my life.

The lovely and wise Rebecca of AltaredSpaces wrote this incredible piece on cairns awhile back. It has stayed with me, tucked in the back of my mind. Whenever I feel lost I think about that post and look for a cairn to guide me home. It might be laughter, a trickle of rain, the scent of a citrus sage candle, a gentle breeze, or simply the taste of chocolate that delivers me safely to where I belong. How I return doesn’t so much matter as much as the fact that I do come home. I suppose we all need an escape now and then, whether it be a hike through the woods, a memory, or a daydream. And as crazy as it sounds, we can escape the pressures of everything around us by simply being, by not being sucked into the drama around us but living in the moment right here, right now.

Quilt Show 2011

It just dawned on me that I hadn’t posted any pictures from the quilt show that Patti and I attended about three weeks ago. Patti and I make the trip out to look at the amazing quilts on display every year. Of course, we also shop at the many vendors present as well. This year there were about 800 quilts displayed. I think I posted about 32 on my Facebook page, and after much deliberation narrowed it down to my favorite eleven. Why not ten? Well, I realized after I picked ten, I had forgotten the one with the Spanish moss…and I just couldn’t leave that one out!

I find it amazing that this is a quilt and not a painting. The buildings and boats are an amazing piece of work in itself, but to imagine how this artist pulled off their reflection in the water is astounding. It took amazing skill and an eye for color to achieve this masterpiece.

This totally makes my heart sing. I love the innocent joy on the faces of these children. When is the last time you lay on the ground with a group of friends and watched the clouds and laughed and played? Have you ever? Do you have any idea what you’re missing? Apparently, these children know more about what is important in life than we do.

This is a beautiful portrait. The intricate details stretch from her facial features to her dress and continues on throughout the displays of foliage, birds, and butterflies. The most outstanding part is the roses which are velvet.

This is a lovely nature scene. I wish I could just step into the boat and row around a bit in the tranquil water. The trees are awesome, and I love the limbs hanging over the water.

I love the way the artist has the personalities of these furry friends shine through. You can almost feel the softness and the rolls of the neck just by looking at them. You want to lift them up and pet them.

There’s a lot of detail in this diner scene. I was amazed at the diner itself, but was enthralled that the artist takes us inside to each table, thus letting us take a peek at their lives.

Here’s another fabulous portrait. The collar of his shirt and coat extend from the fabric of the quilt. She also used real buttons and button holes on the clothing. She captured a great expression on his face. The use of colors in the background fabrics enhance the detail work of his dark coat.

I think this one is incredible from the detail of the tent to the expression on the womans face to every minor detail that speaks volumes. I also love the stippling in the sky.

The intricate architecture in this is suberb! I like the incorporation of the trees. This one is fabulously stippled throughout. I can’t remember the artist’s name, but she has had much other work displayed previously and all is fantastic.

Run for the hills if you have a clown phobia! I am impressed with the many faces of the clowns and the  many acts of the clowns. The bright colors against the black background make the clowns almost pop off of the fabric.

I had to include this one not only because of my love of Spanish moss but also because of the detail work of the simple shed. This quilt reminds me of the places Dirt Man and I hike. I love the holes in the decrepit shed and the rusty hinges.

Somebody’s Child

She crossed from the McDonald’s parking lot to the median of the busy intersection. She stood about three cars in front of us. She was all of about twenty. Her blonde hair tumbled from the hood of her gray sweat jacket. With her skinny jeans, stylin’ boots, and backpack she could have been a college student from any of the nearby campuses. And then I saw her whip out her piece of cardboard with bold black letters that covered three lines with girlish undetectable scribbles along the sides.

HOMELESS ANYTHING HELPS
 
My heart sank. I thought this is somebody’s child. The mother in me wanted to jump out of the truck and scoop this child into my arms. I wanted to tell her everything would be ok. I wanted to feed her and find her shelter…but there we were on a busy road a few cars away. I didn’t even have a manna bag in the truck to toss out to her. (Manna bags are bags of food, snacks, and water that we made at church once and kept in our cars to hand out to the homeless.) I wasn’t sure what I had to offer her and couldn’t reach her unless we turned around and came back through. Unfortunately, we did what most people do and drove by with the traffic in front of us. A huge part of me felt so guilty. I said a prayer asking for her protection and that her needs be met.

I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I kept thinking that she was somebody’s child. Had her family run upon bad times with the current economic situation? Was she a runaway? Was somebody wondering if she was alive? Was she abused in some way? What was her story?

Then I thought maybe she is nobody’s child. Perhaps due to unforeseen circumstances she had no parents or relatives to take care of her. Maybe she had been a part of the foster care system and had reached the age where she couldn’t receive services to get her on her feet. The questions plagued me all the way to our destination. On the way back, I looked for her but didn’t see her. I said another prayer for her.

It aches me to see things like this in my own community. I am disappointed in myself that we did not turn around and try to do something for her. I hope someone behind me was a better person and more equipped to direct her where she could get the help she needed. I’ve prayed for her for the last few days. I so want to believe that this was just a Spring Break collegiate experiment for some sort of dissertation while a larger part of me cannot let go of my own guilt for my lack of action and responsibility to somebody’s child in need. I’ve always liked to think that if something ever happened to my husband and me, somebody would step forward to guide our children if they were in need.

We are all somebody’s child. Even after we grow up. As a responsible parent, we spend our days kissing boo boos, hoping to mend problems, teaching life skills, and directing our children in what we conceive to be the right path. You know the heartache of not being able to fix what is wrong in your child’s life. You know they reach a point in life that they have to take responsibility for their choices and actions. It’s difficult to deliver tough love. Was this homeless child an action of tough love? Though you might not call a twenty year old a child, I do. I don’t think they’ve had enough life experience to be expected to fly completely on their own with nowhere to turn when things fall flat.. An even every young adult needs a home to come back to when circumstances in life are overwhelming.

And bigger than that, we are all somebody’s child as in the children of God. Deep down, I know above and beyond all things humanly possible that He will ultimately take care of this child. It just reminds me that maybe we should bear in mind when we deal with others that they are also somebody’s child. Will it make us act and react in a gentler and kinder nature? Will we be more generous and loving by doing this? We probably won’t solve the world’s problems, but we might make a small dent in it becoming a better place to live.

I pray for this girl’s safety. I pray that she will not turn to drugs or prostitution. I pray that she will receive aid and guidance to get her life on the right path. I pray for a bright future for her. If you are a praying person, will you please say a prayer for somebody’s child?