Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mission Mandala: Complete!

Last year it was Granny Triangle Madness and this year it was Mandala Mania courtesy of Lucy at Attic 24.  Just like last year I was only too happy to participate in this bit of hooky happiness. This year darling Lucy threw her fans a bit of a curve ball. She gave us a deadline of early June. I panicked.  I am still new to crochet, and I am very slow at it. I am also taking a College Algebra course this summer, add in taking care of the Bumper and I had some serious doubts as to my ability to finish this little project on time.  Nevertheless, drum roll please, I did it I finished my Mandala.

My mandala is far from perfect, in fact it is little lopsided. About with two rounds  left to go I suddenly realized I was using US terms and the pattern is written in UK terms. ARIGHT! I contemplated ripping everything out and starting over, but it had taken me three weeks to complete ten rounds. Then I stopped and looked at the emerging wheel and I decided  I liked the way it looked and I had had fun making it, so I went ahead finished using the correct terms. In the grand scheme of things it only matters that this is the best I have to offer and I enjoyed creating the mandala.

The question begs to be asked: Why bother? Well I bother not because it is for charity, or a noble cause, although that would be nice, but because sometimes amidst all the hatred and violence in the world it is good to put something in the world that is solely for the purpose of adding beauty. The world needs beauty. The human soul years for it. In Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian spirituality the Mandala form is a way to connect with the divine center and reach outward. I like that. When I make something with my hands I do it with love so I am sending love and beauty out into the world and what is more divine than love and beauty? By participating in Lucy's Yarn-dale, even though I will probably never visit the Yorkshire Dales in far away England, I feel connected to other crafters. We have all sent her our separate items and by doings so we have all become connected. Lucy may not ever meet every one the people who participate, but she holds a piece of us in her hands. How cool is that? Pretty nifty if you ask me.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Into the Garden (Part 2)

Planting flowers is serious!
It time for an update on our family's organic gardening venture, and folks we are off to a shaky start. Thanks to a lingering winter, I'm looking at you Mister Groundhog, we have been late getting the plants into the ground. In fact we only finished prepping some of the beds this past weekend! Right now I am very thankful that I am not living on the frontier back in the 19th century when all the pioneers had to eat they either grew themselves, hunted, or did without! Nana is waiting on the loan of a rotor-tiller to prep the main garden. We plan to grow the usual suspects: tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, carrots, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, and peppers. We are also trying to grow cucumbers, eggplant and pumpkins (last year the pumpkins were a dismal failure).

One bed down, the rest of the yard to go!

Fresh herbs!

This curry smells so good!

So far we have only managed to get the herbs going, nothing else is in the ground yet.

More herbs-- the Bumper planted these!
Our biggest obstacle, aside from the weather, is the Bumper. She is a willing little helper, but sometimes her idea of help is more of a hindrance-- yesterday evening every time Nana planted something, the Bumper pulled it up! It was really hard not to laugh, so finally I had to take the Bumper inside with me in order for Nana to get anything done. The Bumper was very disappointed, and pressed her face to the screen door and pouted... until she saw the kittens.

When the Bumper discovered that one of the outside cats (Mama Patches) had birthed her kittens, she ran outside and embarked on a quest to find where the kittens had been hidden. It turns out that Mama Patches got quite creative this year for the kittens have been tucked away under the eaves.  We hope she will move them down under the back porch soon.

So now we have kittens as well as a vegetable garden to tend to and the Bumper couldn't be happier!


p.s. I am also involved in some crochet mandala mania and hope to have pictures to share soon!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Saying Good-Bye

View from the front porch

I wanted nothing more than to put my fingers in my ears and hum ( I can't hear you ), when my father in law called me to tell me he would be going up to the house in Northern VA last Saturday.
I had not been all the way in that house since I left to visit my mom in January of 2012. Part of me knew that I needed to go, and try and retrieve some of the Bumper's dad 's things so I can share our story withe her when she gets older. Part of me just wanted to hide under the covers. The part that knows what is best for the Bumper won.

The Bumper's Dad
I went back not really knowing what to expect, but hoping to retrieve our wedding album and a few other personal mementos. My brother-in -law tried to warn me: the house was a mess, and I would most likely be torn between wanting to set a match to everything and wanting to keep it all. He was right.

The Bumper and her Daddy
By the time I arrived, my father-in-law, and my husband's uncle had already been there for two hours. They had packed up the kitchen and most of the living room, and put it on a moving truck to be put in storage and sorted through later.

Taking a dip on our Honeymoon
At first I just sort of wandered about, picking things up reminiscing -- "Oh hey, there is the conch from our vacation in Key West or look there is the travel guide to Hawaii from our honeymoon!", and putting them down "Oh yuck! That is vacuum cleaner we had our last argument over." I actually gave that a kick as I went out the door for the last time, childish I know, but it still felt good. Then I started moving through the rooms with purpose trying to find the items I wanted to keep and later share with the Bumper.  I was unable to find our wedding album, but some of the things I did find surprised me. I did not expect to find the St. Francis of Assisi medal I gave him our second year of "Work Camp" for the diocese of Arlington -- we spent a week guiding teenagers as they made repairs to homes in the area-- that was also the year he proposed, I did not expect to find not only his wedding ring, but also the ring I had got engraved for our 1st wedding anniversary, I had meant for it to be blessed on our 10th anniversary. He sent me mine, while I was staying with the Bumper's Nana the first year we were apart, but he kept his.

Everywhere I turned I was confronted by memories of our life together, good and bad. It was so hard, so very very hard and then I saw the bathroom in the master bedroom. He had scrawled a message of such despair that I dropped to my knees as the sobs tore through me. I cried the way I have been wanting to cry since last November. I cried for the good times we shared, I cried for love lost, I cried for who he was and who he became. It was the first time I broke down that day, but it was not the last. When the emotion finally got too much for me to bear I left, taking the champagne glass from our wedding and with tears streaming down my face. From the house I took his wedding ring, the kilt he wore when we went to Renaissance Festivals, the mortar and pestle we used to grind the cloves for the first pumpkin pie we made together, and his five year sobriety chip from AA. These are the things I want to share with the Bumper for these carry a story of love, joy and triumph.

Toes in the water
As sad as I felt, then and still feel, I was able to close a chapter in my life that day. I said good bye in a way I could not at his bedside in the hospital. On that day it was about forgiveness, and peace. Saturday was about saying goodbye to the life we shared together.

In  time I will tell the Bumper of her Dad and his life. First I will tell her the good things, and when she is old enough and ready to hear, I will tell her the rest. Above all I will make sure to tell her that her Dad loved her and wanted her. For at the heart of this is a story of love and an illness that tried to destroy that love, but in the end did not.