Prussian Crochet

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?  This post is part of the Daily Prompt at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/handmade-tales/.

I love the fineness of handmade crocheted doilies.  I know they are old fashioned and not really in vogue, but nevertheless, the textures of the threads appeals to me.  I still make them by hand just as they were done in my family for years.  Crocheting with thread or “tatting,” was originally a cheap way to embellish clothing by making a decorative lace to edge sleeves or collars.  Along the way, as women often do, they figured out they could make accessories for their homes.  Doilies were made into lacey curtains, tablecloths and even covers for furniture pieces.

For me it is about creating something handmade.  The added bonus of it being a skill handed down within my family for generations has made it something I cherish.  My mother, and grandmothers, in fact all the women in our family, all crocheted doilies.  I feel like I am a part of that rich Prussian history I come from.

In addition, I enjoy the repetition of the patterns as some are done in a round form, others in a square.  Some are continuous stitches and some make a mesh pattern called “filet crochet.”  Filet crochet is my favorite.  The heart piece shown below was completed this spring.  I love counting the stitches and seeing something develop in my own two hands from a ball of thread and a crochet hook.  It is so satisfying!

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My favorite heart doily in filet crochet is shown in the next picture below.  I crocheted this in a deep plum color to match the colors in my bedroom.  I crocheted two of them and my plan is to frame them and hang them on the wall.  I decided if my craft is old fashioned then I had to come up with ways to display my creations that were more modern.

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Normally, I prefer to use either ecru or white thread.  The white or ecru colors are the most authentic to the doilies made long ago.  Although, I know my grandmother used to “tea stain” her white doilies by soaking them in tea.  They came out a rich warm brownish color.  Grandma used these on the kitchen table.  I suppose these helped to not show as many food stains back then.

I have seen commercially made doilies for sale in different craft stores.  They do not have the richness or quality in the stitches as my handmade doilies do.  I prefer the real thing and enjoy the completion of each new doily project I create.

What a Week!

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It has been one of those weeks!  I am emotionally spent, worn out and ready to move on.  One thing I have noticed as I grow older is that all this upheaval is hard to recuperate from.  I know everyone has these days (weeks) where their best laid intentions tank and go right down the drain.  I try not to have many of them, but when I do – WHEW!  Anyway, I am usually struck dumb for about a day and then I can pick up and move forward again.

The first crisis this week was that my three grandchildren who where living here in Pensacola, Florida decided they wanted to stay in Texas with their father, instead of their mother, our daughter.  They have been visiting their Dad for the summer.  They are old enough to make these decisions on their own now, so one must honor their wishes.  I will miss all  three of them.  We always lived far apart before so this was a rare treat to have them so close.  It is all about what is best for the children in the end.  They grew up in Texas so I completely understand their desire to remain there.

As a result, our daughter will move back home and regroup her life for awhile.  There is nothing wrong with that decision, and I look forward to the time we will spend together.  I am just glad that we can be there to help her.  Everyone needs a leg up sometimes.  Divorce is hard no matter who goes through it.

We also heard from our oldest daughter and other two grandchildren this week.  She just returned from a tour in Okinawa and went back to Hill AFB, in Utah.  She works for the Air Force as a civilian employee and had the privilege of living on Okinawa for about a year and a half.  Her Thai mother has been living with her due to ill health.  This was the next upset – the Thai mother has gallbladder cancer.  She has excellent care so we must wait and see what happens next.  More hard times are ahead for the two oldest daughters who must cope with the issues of their aging mother.  I just ache for them.

Yesterday, the crew came and yanked out all the overgrown bushes in our front yard.  This included the two River Birch that had web worms infesting them.  I have worked for two days now, moving rocks and plants.  Tomorrow I will buy a few new bushes (something small and not 8 of them in one flower bed) and get them set so they have time to root before the colder temperatures creep in by November.  The contractor to put sprinklers in our yard will come and give us a bid this weekend.  He will be able to plant the two crepe myrtle trees and the two Japanese maples I want out front.  That will be a relief.

Our third oldest daughter (my eldest daughter) has her 36th birthday today.  I looked back and remembered the day she was born.  She is a beautiful and wise woman now.  I am proud to be her mother.  It seems like just yesterday she was born…

That was my week… highs, lows, ups, and downs.  It is what it is.  I simply pick up and move forward.  I think I will indulge in a couple glasses of wine this evening!  After all, I think I earned it.

Thanks for listening,

~Colleen~

The Red Umbrella

It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!  This post is part of the Daily Prompt at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/sudden-downpour/.

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I stood just inside the door of the shabby antique store, as tiny rivulets of rain poured from my hair and clothes.  A large puddle of rain water spread beneath my feet.  An ancient old man with hair exploding out of his ears was looking at me kindly.  “May I help you my dear,” he asked?  “Looks like you got caught in the rain storm.”  The old man caught my gaze and said as comfortingly as he could, “I know just what you need – an umbrella!”

I was disheveled and still dripping wet as I stammered, “Th-Thank you.”  I knew I was making a mess of the old man’s floor however, I felt helpless to look away from his kind eyes.  They crinkled at the corners as he gently smiled.  He continued to meet my level stare and said, “I always know what people need when they come into my store.”  In his hands he held out an old red umbrella.  It was a bit tattered at the ends where the stays poked out. Otherwise, it seemed to be in good working order.

I did not want to step forward to where the old man was standing for fear I would leave puddles in my wake so, I just stood there – my feet rooted to the wet floor.  I felt stupid standing there staring like that.  The old man came forward and handed me the umbrella and kindly said, “Here take the umbrella.”  “You can have it for free.”  “I know this is what you need.”

I reached out and grabbed the umbrella.  The minute I touched it I felt a tingly sensation in my arm.  I was flooded with the most wonderful feeling.  I felt giddy with joy. I was almost manic, my high was so intense.  The old man met my eyes again.  We exchanged some kind of telepathic mind expansion communication of the purest form in that last parting look between us.  We never spoke again.  There was no need.  His simple act of kindness spoke a multitude of languages in my head.

With the umbrella in my hand, I turned and walked out the door.  The storm had abated somewhat and the sun was trying to peek through the clouds.  I opened the umbrella and walked down the street as the rain continued to spatter against my shoes.  Cars drove by splashing water on the sidewalk with their tires.

At the end of the block I turned left and walked the rest of the way to my apartment all the while thinking about the red umbrella, a gift from the old shop owner.  How kind he was to give me the umbrella so I would not get semi-drown in the rainstorm, I thought. People are not that kind anymore I mused. I felt strangely warm inside.

My apartment was just up ahead. As I grew closer I could see into the shadows of the stairwell to the lower level of my apartment building. In the corner a dirty woman was crouched. She was homeless by the looks of her tattered clothes. She held a wet newspaper in her hand trying to shield herself from the rain. Her hair was frizzy and stuck out in all directions.

Normally, I do not look at the homeless people I see in the city. To be frank I am afraid of them. So many are mentally ill these days that you do not know how they will behave. I choose to pretend they are not there. I look right through them and pass quickly.

Today was different. The woman looked at me, and I stared back at her, my breath quickening. When I looked into her eyes I saw the eyes of the old man from the shabby antique store. Her eyes crinkled at the corners just like his with tiny wrinkles spread out like sunbeams.

I smiled first and held out the red umbrella to her saying, “Here take the umbrella.”  “You can have it for free.”  “I know this is what you need.” I stood there in the shadows with the rain falling gently around me.

The old woman reached out and took the umbrella from my hand. We both stood staring at each other with those silly smiles on our faces. A peaceful sereneness seemed to come into the old woman’s face and she said, “Thank you for your kindness.”

I smiled back at her, turned and walked into my apartment. I knew I had done what the old man had wanted me to do. When the umbrella was no longer needed by me, I was to give it to someone else who needed it. I knew that the homeless woman somehow understood that wordless message too, even though we had not exchanged those words. I just knew it.

As I made a cup of tea, I looked out the window. I could see the homeless woman walking down the street with the red umbrella protecting her from the cold rain that continued to pour down on the greasy city streets below. A wind had picked up and was blowing newspapers across the street.

When the woman got to the homeless shelter at the end of the block I saw her hesitate at the entrance door. She looked as if she was talking to someone as I squinted through the rain spattered glass to try and get a better view.

Still sipping my tea, I watched the old woman in the distance. She handed a young homeless man the red umbrella as she walked into the front door of the shelter. The woman stopped and turned. She looked back at me from a block away as she flashed the most beautiful smile I had ever seen in my life.

 

(Image captured from http://www.redbubble.com/people/becx/works/7183920-dreaming-of-red-umbrellas on 7/28/14).

I Was LIEBSTERED!

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Last week I received the nicest message from Dorne Whale and her blog entitled,  “Write Dorne – Putting Life Into Words.”   Dorne nominated me for the Liebster Award which is a way for the blogging world to discover new blogs.  I was Liebstered and really surprised!  I am relatively new to the blogging world and WordPress, so I must say I was quite honored to be recognized.  I am so glad you found me Dorne.  Thank you again for your kind nomination.

Dorne is from the outskirts of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom.  The first thing I did after reading her message was to go to a map on Google to see exactly where she lives. When you visit her blog it makes you feel like you are meeting with a good friend you have known for a long time.  Dorne  is a freelance writer and writes non-fiction articles for magazines.  She writes for “Dogs Monthly,” and has written for “The Dalesman” magazine, along with many other periodicals in the U.K.

Please take a moment to visit Dorne and her blog, “Write Dorne – Putting Life Into Words” at http://dorneawhale.wordpress.com/.  I guarantee you will leave with a new friend!

There are certain rules to accepting this award and they are:

  1. Thank the Liebster Award presenter who nominated you and link back to his or her blog.
  2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Nominate small [no more than 200 followers] blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog, letting them know that they have been chosen.
  4. Display the Liebster Award Logo.
  5. No tag-backs – meaning you can’t just nominate the person who nominated you.

So here are the questions, as devised by Dorne Whale at writedorne.wordpress.com and my answers.

  1. Where do you get your ideas from, for your blog?

I try to think of something new each day to share with the world. Sometimes it is something that was inspired by an actual event, the news, or even from a photo I took. I get great inspiration from my photos. The natural world has much to teach us if we observe it. I try to share my life as I am living it. I also get inspiration from the stories that my husband shares about his life before us. Some days I sit down in my creative room and start typing – the words pour out from somewhere deep inside of me while the candles, incense, and music motivate me. I listen to music the whole time I am writing. Music is a language all by itself.

2014-07-27 15.40.34  Here I am in my creative room… writing away!

  1. How would you describe yourself?

I am an introverted extrovert! I worked for many years as a bookkeeper and always felt stifled. Accounting gave me a square box world that always balanced to zero and was comforting, but never fulfilling. Nevertheless, I knew I had a creative side because I was always crafty and loved making things. When I went to college I really blossomed with all the writing and knew I had found my passion. I retired last year and decided to write… and Silver Threading is that journey.

  1. Are you a follower of fashion?

I am not a follower of fashion. My style is simple. Tank tops and shorts in the summer, and tank tops and a sweater with yoga pants in the winter. I like clean, classic lines. No pretense.

  1. How do you relax?

I relax with a daily walk each morning of at least two miles. I am an avid gardener and dabble with growing things. In addition from my writing, I crochet old fashioned doilies using thread. The counting of stitches quiets my crazy mind. I love spending time with my husband on our patio with a glass of wine enjoying our gardens. Some of our grandchildren live nearby and I love spending time with them.  They inspire me in so many ways.  We live in a lovely area of Pensacola, Florida. The beach is not far and quite beautiful. I am a voracious reader. I read at least 3 hours a day (including the blogs on WordPress).

  1. What’s your favorite film and why?

My favorite film is an old one – “Gone With the Wind.” I love the passionate aspirations of all the characters. Their lives are intertwined in the realizations of war, life, and love. I empathize with Scarlet’s journey and her reckoning at the end. It is so much like real life. My favorite scene is where Scarlet is working in the fields and she says to the heavens raising her fist in the air,

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

That is how I feel about life. I absolutely will not let anything get me down or hold me back.  If I set out to do something, I do it!

  1. If you were a tree, what species would you be and why?

I would like to be a Japanese red maple tree. Tiny, compact and strong, I would have delicate lacy leaves that cascade down my graceful branches. I am partial to their beauty, for in the spring and fall their leaves are brilliant hues of red. They signify a sense of calm, beauty, and balance to me.

  1. Do you believe in UFO’s?

Yes. How can we believe we are the only life in our universe? This makes no sense to me.

  1. Which do you prefer…a bath, or a shower?

Showers rule in my book. However, I love our spa (hot tub) and use it almost daily.

  1. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?

Pay off my mortgage!

  1. Who is your favorite author and why?

I love Charles Dickens and have been reading his books since last year. His descriptions of particular locations in England are incredible. I enjoy the detail, as it places me in the scene and I feel like I can see through his eyes.

  1. Do you believe in life after death?

I am a Buddhist and believe in reincarnation which is quite different from the perspective of other religions.

I am proud to nominate and share the following blogs for this award:

A Well Seasoned Book at http://awellseasonedbook.com/2014/07/26/mon-dejuener/

Mary lives in Sonoma County, California. Her blog shares her love of cooking, literature, and great commentary on life through food.  She shares many facets of her amazing life and she COOKS!  Fabulous recipes are found here!  I really enjoy her photography in all areas of her blog: cooking ingredients, gardening, and her sweet cat Chobani.

Joys of Creating at http://joysofcreating.com/

E.C. is the author of this blog and she says that she suffers from ECD (excessive crafting disorder).  She collects hobbies and crafts and shows you step by step how to make some of her creations.  If you are into gardening, crafts, needlework, etc. you will find it here.  I love E.C.’s blog because there is a little bit of everything to be found.  It is a comfortable blog to visit and I always feel welcome.  Some of her gardening tips and information have proven invaluable to me.

The Lost Garden Diaries at http://thelostgardendiaries.wordpress.com/

The Lost Garden Diaries shares that they once had a beautiful garden and then life got in the way.  So true for many of us.  I enjoy this blog because it is a journey about reclaiming the childhood garden and home of the author’s past which she planned with her Father.  I feel like her journey is much deeper than just fixing up these gardens.  I delight in the descriptions of the many plants and shrubs she discovers and learns about.  Her children play a wonderful role in the reconstruction of the gardens also.  A sense of family is felt with each visit to her blog.

My 11 questions for my nominees are as follows:

  1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. How would you describe yourself?
  3. What is your favorite music?
  4. Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
  5. What’s your favorite beverage and why?
  6. If you could be an animal, what species would you be and why?
  7. What is your favorite food type (Italian, Mexican, etc.)?
  8. Which do you prefer…a book or an e-reader?
  9. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
  10. Who is your favorite author and why?
  11. What is your favorite post from your blog and why?

Finally, to all of the bloggers that I have nominated. Thank you for your blogs.  You all inspire me with your creativity and make me work harder.  Thank you for your motivation!

Send on the JOY!

 

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I feel like I have finally arrived!  I love being retired and spending my time enjoying life.  I am sending positive vibes to mankind.  Enjoy your Saturday and spread the joy!

~Colleen~

(Image from Facebook, 7/25/14)

Tropical Splendor

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HOT orange blossoms –

a tropical interlude.

Mai-tai anyone?

TGIF!  Mai-Tai Recipe:

Mai tai

Recipe makes 1 gallon
  • 2 cups light rum
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup 151 proof rum
  • 1 cup orange curacao (orange flavored liqueur)
  • 1 cup almond flavored syrup
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 10 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 gallon fresh orange juice
  1. In a large jar or drink cooler, combine the light rum, dark rum, 151 rum, orange liqueur, almond syrup, simple syrup, and lime juice. Stir and top off with orange juice. Do not use grenadine if you want the true Mai Tai!  Serve in 8 to 12 ounce glasses with ice.  Cheers!

(Mai-Tai photo and recipe from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-perfect-mai-tai/ on 7/25/14)