Saturday, December 26, 2009

with mirth and good liquor we'll lead merry lives

In the end I made a flying trip home to Green Bay for the funeral...which happened to be on my birthday. After cancelled flights, diverting into Chicago and renting a car I finally made it home about eleven fifteen on Sunday. No one was surprised to see me home. It felt right to be there, to be able to say goodbye and grieve with my family and the people who knew Grandma best. The funeral was simple...afterward we went over to Bethany United Methodist and had sandwiches...then we went back to my parents for more reminiscing and I worked like a fiend trying to get Lily's stocking done in time for Christmas. I only hope Santa was able to fill it since I wasn't. Tuesday I flew back to Virginia, which was much less of a headache.

A day and a half of work later and it was Christmas. My Christmas present to my friends was a party Christmas Day evening, so Jeff and I spent Christmas Eve cooking and getting ready. Today we are relaxing. I have a bridesmaid dress to finish, laundry to do and a car to clean out for my drive down to Florida tomorrow, but I'm not stressing.

It has been an interesting holiday season. I don't know if I care to repeat it, but never before has so much joy and sadness been mingled together. Thanks everyone for your prayers and thoughts...I'm doing okay, looking forward to some quiet time in 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

a melancholy walk

Kismet must be walked, come rain or wind or sleet or snow...all of which we are getting tonight. So before it got too bad, I slung him into the car and we went down to the historical area. The snow surprised me when I walked out of the building. It was the fat white fluffy flakes, the kind that melt. Kizzy looked a little nervous at first, glancing up shocked at the stuff falling out of the sky. By the time we got downtown it had switched to the small, half melted sleety snow. Sticking to the grass and buildings, the first time I've seen Williamsburg sheathed in snow.

Today is my grandmother's ninety-fifth birthday. Her last. All day I've had a feeling, something jerking me from behind, something needing my attention. So when we got out of the car--familiar houses swathed in cold sticky snow--I called home. Aunt Bettie answered and told me the news. Platitudes about no more pain and being in a better place. I agreed. Could you ask my parents to call me when they got home from the hospital. Heaven. Walking without pain. Reunion. When I hung up the phone, I doubled over like I'd been disembowled. Screaming in tears would have wrecked the peaceful night, so I gasped for breath instead like I'd just been pulled out of the bottom of the ocean. My hood turned into a cowl sheltering my face, hiding it from people walking by (do they think I have a stitch in my side?) so that all I could see was marl, snow, and a happy beagle, tail wagging. He looks out at the historical area, nose twitching at the promise of sippets from Chowning's, treats from interpreters, fat, inattentive squirrels...

So we walked. Him, back and forth like always, me straight ahead, mechanical. Feet are two little iceblocks inside totally impractical shoes. Kismet loves the snow. I am getting a hold on myself. What now? What plans? What's next? I shouldn't be here walking Kismet, I should be-- But beagles must be walked. Hail, snow, sleet, death.

We come to Market Square. In the summer, I pretend to be in a militia here. Now it is a field of white, reflecting those snow-pink clouds, making it seem warmer than it is. Turning to go past the Randolph house a sudden snatch of song finds its way into my ear. "...Christ the Saviour is born...Christ the Saviour is born." A choir is singing "Silent Night." They repeat the first verse, faint across the green. Cressets are set up, blazing away, and a crowd is gathered. I don't wait for the path, but plunge across the virgin inch of snow to the courthouse, where a choir is singing from the steps. (imported from England. 1772. my brain reminds me) By the time I reach them, they have moved on to "I Saw Three Ships" and I am calmer. I am reminded that life goes on. My life goes on. I am not disembowled, I am freezing. I move closer to a cresset and feel warmth on my face.

The music follows us down the street. People stop me and fawn over my beagle like they always do. At Chowning's, Kizzy gets two treats to keep him warm. People are friendly. The music is hovering like a warm vapor rising from a cup of cider, keeping people content in the cold. I am very sad. But it is the sadness of acceptance, of laying down a burden too great for any person to bear. I suppose I prayed as I walked, although if I did there weren't any words. I stop to compliment the choir--they are from a Methodist church--and they invite me to service on Christmas Eve.

I wonder if there will ever be another Christmas that isn't tinged with melancholy. Some of the best secular songs have it--that dose of melancholy that evens out the unabated joy. "I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams." "Through the years, we all will be together...if the Fates allow." If I'll ever join another family gathering without making a mental list of who is not with us. It hurts almost as much knowing that my children won't get to meet her, know her like I did. But that's me being selfish again. Maybe this is what growing up is. Now I am the adult, it is my turn to buy the presents and bake cookies. To leave the receiving and frosting to the kids. Now that I am the adult I have to walk the dog, no matter what.

Here's hoping everyone is staying warm.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin, mother and child.
Holy infant, tender and mild.

Sleep in heavenly peace...sleep in heavenly peace.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hanger moment

I'm sure other sewers will appreciate the moment when your project goes from a pile of fabric strew about the room to a garment that can be hung on a hanger. I call this moment "the hanger moment." Original, huh? It's like reaching the top of a hill and knowing that from now on, you can just sled down the other side. Usually this is where I get hung up...I get frustrated with the finishing (in reality, I have no patience) so clothes go unfinished, details get ignored in my hurry to get the garment on my back.

The hanger moment occured today around three fifteen...I'm standing up in a wedding in late December, and the bride asked me to find something vaguely 1920s as a bridesmaid. I finally found a pattern in Norah Waugh's "The Cut of Women's Clothes 1600-1930," a Poirot Dress. Nicole was able to upscale it, cut out a muslin, and then drape the actual dress for me...I'm just putting it together. It was hard finding a gown that was not bias-y and plunge-y, yet one that was flattering to my voluptuous shape. I like the dress I found...I just hope that it's going together okay. Sewing silk crepe after months of wool and linen is proving challenging.

Man, it is cold up in here today. I am working on a writing project that I may get paid for if I do not screw it up, but all I really want to do is cuddle up with Kismet, who has a much better handle on this Saturday thing. He is lying in bed, snoring. Man. Wish I was a beagle. Then I'd be warm. sigh.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's the little things...

Are you working on something new?


That is not like you, George

I've nothing to say

You have many things

Well, nothing that's not been said

Said by you, though. George

I do not know where to go

And nor did I

I want to make things that count,
Things that will be new...

I did what I had to do...

What am I to do?

Move on...

Stop worrying where you're going-
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on

I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be-
Look at all the things you've done for me

Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-

Notice every tree...

Understand the light-

...Understand the light...

Concentrate on now-

I want to move on
I want to explore the light
I want to know how to get through,
Through to something new,
Something of my own-

Move on
Move on

Stop worrying it your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision-
They usually do
You keep moving on

--Sunday in the Park With George