Help needed?

I’ve already exchanged emails with a couple of girlfriends about this, but want other input wherever I can get it.

I’m buying a sewing machine, a 2d-hand Janome that I’m picking up from a dealer in Cary this coming week, when I drive up for Chorale rehearsal. I’d never heard of this brand until it came recommended to me this past week – well-made, sturdy, long-lasting.

I have tried sewing before, and hated it for being fidgety nerve-wracking work. But in the past year and a half I’ve discovered pleasure in a number of activities that annoyed me, before, so I think it’s time to pick this up and try it again.  I’m going to start out by stitching up the fabric I have for my kitchen curtains, then I’m going to make a couple of half-slips and nightgowns for myself.

Do any of you have recommendations for sewing instruction books you’ve found useful and UNDERSTANDABLE over the years? Ideas for storing and organizing supplies? My sewing stuff will have to share space in a general-purpose workroom which is also my library, study, and craft-and-mend room.

I’m actually looking forward to this…

My world and welcome to it – This Week: The Mouses Saga

Once upon a time, in the Farm (portion) jokingly called Funny (as in, The Funny Farm – which it was in that season, when, albeit briefly, chickens and goats resided thereon) –
There lived a slightly sentimental female by the name of Laura, with her single cat – who is sequentially known as Him, The Cat, Bubba, and most resently, Simon.

Simon was a large cat, weighing approximately 20 lbs, yet surprising agile. He was a clever and skilled hunter, and throughout the year he was known to bring to his Laura a wide variety of samples of his prowess:

Mice. Birds. Skinks. Moles. Bunnies (see the photo). Field rats. A bat. A squirrel… Once, the Laura barely got the door closed in Simon’s face in time to prevent his presenting her with a rather charming (and still very much alive) blacksnake.

In recent times, Simon’s techniques changed. Whereas formerly he would bring his kill in to impress his Laura, he began to surmise that she might be more enthused for his skill and capability as a Mighty Hunter if she could see just how hard he had to work to capture swiftly-moving prey.

In short, Simon began to bring live prey to his Laura, for her admiration and approbation.

Coming in through an open door, or occasionally window, Simon would bring his latest captive to his Laura, with little purry mrows of invitation. And, when his Laura would look at him from whatever work she was engaged in, he would lay his Love Offerings at her feet, then gaze up to her beloved face in order to see the pride and appreciation glowing there.

Poor Cat failed to recognize that the shrieks and pointings were not of admiration. He did not realize that his Laura was, in fact, saying, “Simon! Pick that mouse up – noooo!!!! Not in here! – quick! Catch it again!!!”

— because, in very Truth, while Simon was gazing with adoring expectation at his Laura, his captive was taking the opportunity of his diverted attention to make a mad dash for freedom. On some occasions, Mouse was eventually caught again, in a plastic cup, or in the Laura’s own hands from under a bookshelf (which won the Laura with a sharp little BITE on the hand!) –

However, two of the Mouses discovered that there was a tall and heavy object against one wall, which, touched, could make pleasing noise and which was too heavy to be moved. A very safe hiding place, indeed!

And so the Mouses hid, and when all was safe and quiet, they ventured out and made their way into other parts of the House, careful at all times to avoid rousing the notice of the Cat or of his Laura. Their favorite place to encamp was the object called Stove, whence small crumbs occasionally fell – but boredom, and a Mouse-like delight in adventure, caused them to venture forth beyond the confines of Stove and into the wider House-world……….

(to be continued, I fear)

I think I’ve saved one…

Simon brought two “gifts” this a.m. –

One was a bird, already dead. The other was – is – this little fellow, still very much alive

UPDATE: I held on to Wittle Bunny Wabbit for about half an hour (I guess the photo isn’t that good, but I couldn’t loosen my hold on him or he’d have jumped straight into Simon’s cluthces again!). Last time Simon brought me a live “love offering,” it died pretty fast from its injuries. This time I – and Baby Bunny – were lucky. After Simon got tired of waiting for me to GIVE IT BACK! he went out on the deck. I carried Bun out to some wild grape vines in the back yard and released him. He took off leaping like a champ!

I asked St Francis to keep him out of harm’s way.

Photo 90

A community in grief – pray for us

Sunday morning, I was iChatting with a friend in Texas when both of us heard the siren. I watched a sheriff’s deputy come up the road in front of my house. He had to be going at least 100 m.p.h.  We wondered where he could be going, and we said a prayer for the situation.

A couple hours later, looking for weather, I found out where he had been going. A lone gunman had gone into one of our area nursing homes. At that time, six people were dead; later, two more died. Most of the victims were elderly patients of the nursing home – the oldest was 98 years old. One RN, a former Coast Guardsman, age 39, was also killed.

The gunman was stopped when one Carthage police officer, Justin Garner, came after him, unassisted, and shot him. The officer sustained three wounds to his left foot and leg; he was treated and released from our local hospital, although he’ll still have to have some outpatient surgery, we’re told, to complete his recovery. Robert Stewart, the gunman, is in custody; his injuries are not life-threatening.

WRAL television in Raleigh has done a decent job of covering this event. I’ve been watching the news briefings with the chief of police in Carthage and the county District Attorney.

Our community is simply stunned. This is not the sort of thing that happens here. When Chief Chris McKenzie was asked how many police officers were on duty, Sunday morning, there was a bit of shock registered when he said, “Two.” But then he went on to say, for the community of approximately 2,000 residents, “This is a community built on faith. On Sunday morning, everyone’s in church.”

In his first interview with the press about the incident, McKenzie, who is a local, said, “This is a community based on faith, and faith will see us through this.”

On days like this –

Some days it’s hard to remember that God cares about the minutiae of our lives, like our names, or how many hairs are on our heads, or the common ordinary tasks that make up our lives.

No water here at the Farm today. I went to wash up the kitchen, nothing. Cousin came out, wrangled the very heavy lid to the well up,  crawled inside (after using a stick to clean out the spiderwebs – I have black widows in there).

Bad switch. It’s just gone “poof!” He’s gone to town to pick up a new one. No idea how much it costs, which has me very much on edge. I have an interview next week to pick up another piano family, but money is tight this month, to say the absolute least of it.  A few inches gained, then knocked back a couple yards.

I keep telling myself, I’ve weathered worse! but the older I get the less resilient I find myself when meeting these challenges. I wasn’t raised to this kind of self-reliance, and it’s not my nature; I’m not one of those women who can just roll forward without timidity in these crises. Sickness, death, disappointments? I can face those and hold your hand when they come to you – but these very practical mechanical details of daily living leave me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

On the positive side – the weather is mild, although cold (for us) is forecast for the next few days. Sun’s peeking out a bit, which is a plus.

And I’m really, really pleased to be working on Deliberate Engagement. It’s been a bit time-consuming, but things are stabilizing, I think (?) and settling into a steadier pace. Matt’s a joy to work with. Read his page on Debate to get a glimpse of why I respect him so much and feel privileged to get to work with him. I pray that our efforts can make a concrete difference in this part of the culture wars.

Keep praying for us, please.

Update: the switch cost less than $20 – I am breathing again.

Family Gathering

One cousin is here from Georgia, another from Alabama, so last night we had the big family dinner. I think I counted 35 of us, from one month to… however old Jack is!  The cousins have held on to the homeplace because it’s the only place big enough for everyone to gather, and the house was nearly bursting at the seams.

The food is always excellent. My cousins are good cooks, Olympic-class competitive cooks – and as one’s husband observed, this fall, each of them cooks as if she were the only one providing the food for the entire gathering. There was ham and turkey, dressing and gravy, several different kinds of sweet potatoes (casserole and candied), creamed white potatoes with bacon bits and cheese, broccoli casserole, plain vegetables from the summer garden (beans, butterbeans, corn), potato salad, macaroni salad, several different platters of deviled eggs, a cabbage salad, homemade pickles, Judy’s sourdough loaf bread and rolls – all extending the whole length of kitchen counters, around the sink and reaching the far end of the “U” at the stovetop. Desserts were arranged on the back porch, on top of the deep chest freezer.

There were the usual jokes about how many helpings this cousin had gone back for – or that one needing sideplanks to hold the food steady on his plate. The girls blushed over the breach of diets so carefully followed all year long –

There was talk about how old various children and grandchildren now are – and as one pointed out to lots of laughter at ourselves, “They’re all one year older than they were when we discussed this last year!”

The newest baby is barely a month old. He was less than a week old when we all gathered at Thanksgiving, so this event was his debut into the larger family circle. I got to hold him for a while, as his mama checked on the older boys’ dinner plates. I got to hold the next littlest, now almost three months old, who tried so hard to talk to me as I held her! Holding little babies always tugs at my heart – I’d love to have another one, even at my advanced and decrepit age!

I got to visit a bit with the cousin who drove in for the day from the western part of the state, and share what a precious experience it is to be a “home-mommy” – she’s on leave from her teaching job as an experiment this year. She’s bucking a social expectation of women, and I’m proud of her for having the courage of conviction to follow her heart to be with her children just now – as I’m proud for another of the cousins for their decision to allow God to plan their family.

I think that was part of the very best of it, sharing hearts and minds in those traditional values that have made our family so strong and resilient over the years, in the face of varied sorrows. My family, although not (yet) Catholic, are grounded and rooted, fed and watered, on Christian faith. It was a good way to grow up, and they’re all quite close, even now after Mama and Daddy have gone on, and their own children grown.

The anchor still holds.