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My daughter Lily is very tenacious. When she decides to do something, there is no stopping her. She learned how to ride a two-wheel bike when she was five because she wanted to. Wearing a helmet and kneepads, she taught herself how to rollerblade, because she wanted to. Ed and I don’t know where she got this tenacity, but it’s serving her well.Now she’s 8, and she’s learning how to knit. I expect that she will be wearing a scarf before the winter is over.

Lily knitting

I haven’t been knitting this winter. Instead, I’ve been gaining weight. It must be all the hibernating I’ve been doing. And the nibbling. The peanut butter crust here; the piece of cheese there; the leftover Christmas chocolates late at night. I decided today I was going to walk. The sun is shining and the temperature is hovering at the freezing point. My goal was to walk my usual two miles, the miles I had mapped out when I was in training for a certain 39 mile walk.

From sump pumps streaming water to melting snowbanks, sidewalks in our neighborhood are covered with patches of ice. About halfway through my walk, I saw a big, slippery patch ahead. I decided to move to the street to avoid it. As I walked down a driveway, I didn’t notice a small patch of ice at the bottom of the concrete.

I. completely. wiped. out.

My foot slipped out from under me. My hip crashed to the ground, my shoulder bashed into the blacktop, and I was surprised that I had fallen down so suddenly and so completely. Like I was the Queen of the Trampoline, however, I bounced back up, brushed off my hands, and kept walking.

I contemplated going around the short way, heading for home. I shook out my hip and my shoulder, which felt pretty good, and decided to finish my walk.

I just turned 44, I’m overweight, and I’m going to feel that fall in the morning. But I know where Lily gets her tenacity.

From me.


Nothing Like the Sun

Copernicus had it all wrong. Obviously, I am the center of the universe.

embroidered sun

What else would explain my eight year old daughter climbing into the middle of our huge, king sized bed, and squishing her body so completely next to mine that I am in danger of plummeting off the edge?

Lily and Emmy are drawn to me. No matter where I go, they are soon behind. There must be invisible threads pulling them toward me. They can be totally absorbed in something, but as soon as I go into the bathroom for a moment of privacy they become disoriented. MOMMMM! Where are you?

They always find me.

Making sure everyone is happy, I get in the shower. As soon as I have a nice, bubbly lather in my hair, I hear screaming. MOMMMMM! Lily isn’t being nice to me!

I’m banishing them to the far corners of the globe when I ask them to play in their bedrooms, begging them to give me some space. But Mom, why do we have to play UP THERE? They don’t even realize that once they get older, their bedrooms will become their havens. They will need to go slam the door and escape from Mom for hours. Mom, who will be old and needy and who just doesn’t understand.

Those days haven’t come yet, however. When I’m in the kitchen making dinner, they soon appear, getting underfoot as I stir the stew. When I’m in the basement doing laundry, they are at the top of the stairs, demanding my attention. When I dash outside to put a trash bag in the garbage can, their little noses press against the screen door, wondering why I ventured outside WITHOUT THEM.

Around the same time every day, however, their orbit is suddenly shifted. The garage door goes up. The side door opens, and suddenly, the strings attached to me snap.

“DADDY!” they cry, running to jump on him.

Then as soon as he disappears for a couple of minutes, they are abruptly back in my orbit.

Their little arms automatically go around my neck. Their legs curl around my waist. Their sweet chubby cheeks fit next to mine. Their love warms me like rays from the sun.

Perhaps I am not the center of the universe after all.


My two little suns
My two little suns

I’m linking this post up to the Yeah Write challenge, where we are reminded to read books, read more books, and to take a long break from reading blogs by people who don’t read books.

This post was inspired by the book I’m currently reading: A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness. The main character is a scholar of the history of science. Click the button above to read more blog posts by people who do read books, starting on Tuesday. Then go back on Thursday to vote for your favorite five.


As I was reading blogs the other day, I came across this saying on I Got Nothing by Janice that made me laugh.

fabric stash

I already have a large box full of fabric, which is threatening to overflow. I will need another box soon. I know, however, that my small stash of fabric is nothing compared to other sewists. I received most of my stash from my mom when she died. One of my sisters and I divided it between us.

Mom loved to browse in fabrics stores and buy all sorts of fabric for her quilting. My sisters and I knew exactly what type of fabric she was drawn to, having been to fabric stores with her on numerous occasions. She loved beautiful, colorful fabrics with traditional designs and intricate patterns. She didn’t like yellow or brown, although she used yellow in her latest quilts. She tried to buy some “ugly” fabrics to bring variety to her quilting, but could just never bring herself to do it.

During our visit with our Dad over Christmas, we were looking at a quilt on the guest bed, trying to decide if Mom had made it or bought it. We all pretty much decided that Mom had bought the quilt. My sister Meredith pointed out that several of the fabrics weren’t designs that Mom would have bought, and the stitching was sloppier than Mom’s sewing style of neat stitches.

Mom saved the smallest scraps of fabric. She saved scraps with holes in them from where she had ripped out seams. Worthless scraps. Right? What can you do with a bunch of scraps?

I have those scraps now. My sister has some scraps. We are incorporating those fabric scraps in quilts of our own. Those worthless scraps are turning out to be quite beautiful.

My quilts are more modest than my sister’s. I’m still in the process of making a throw quilt, with a backing and batting, which I hope to be able to throw on my lap this winter as I sit in front of the TV watching Big Bang Theory.Scrappy Dresden Plate

Heather’s quilts are of the artist variety. Her quilts stretch long and tall with intricate designs sewn on the front. Scraps of Mom’s fabric are incorporated into her quilts as well.

Heather's quilt displayed at the Peoria Art Guild in August, 2012
Heather’s quilt displayed at the Peoria Art Guild in August, 2012

Not all scraps are tangible. My sister Meredith’s quilting consists of beautiful phrases of music.

Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith's composition "Flock of Geese")
Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith’s composition “Flock of Geese”)

We leave intangible scraps of ourselves all over the place. How often has someone told you, “I was thinking about you the other day!” because of something they saw or did that reminded them of you? Or perhaps you smell a certain scent in the air that reminds you of someone you love. (Cinnamon rolls equals Grandma!) Whenever I hear a Def Leppard song, I instantly think of my husband, who has every single album they ever recorded.

Little scraps of us. Not worthless, but meaningful.

(Leave a scrap of yourself below…write a comment!)




My quilt will not be completed in time for Christmas. I was so hoping it would be. I began sewing the blocks last February for a quilting class, and am really amazed that I have gotten this far. Some months I spent hours meticulously sewing my quilt blocks; other months passed by without sewing one stitch. I wanted to have a warm, cozy quilt on my lap at Christmas time.

I have spent some time in December working on the final step: quilting the backing, batting and quilt top together. My quilt blocks are coming to life. As a novice quilter, I didn’t realize how the actual quilting task would bring such rich dimensions to my quilt.

Pieced block on the left, quilted block on the right
Pieced block on the left, quilted block on the right

It occurs to me that these stitches I am making are much like the stitches that give dimension to my life.

Some seams I have chosen to rip out; the stitches went the wrong way and did not add the right kind of dimension to my quilt block. They remind me of old boyfriends and broken relationships. These stitches were difficult to rip out, painful even, and yet my life is better without them.

When I pressed my foot too heavily on the presser foot of my sewing machine, the seam got away from me. It was sewn too quickly and became crooked and uneven. I decided to leave these stitches in my quilt. I hope that washing and using this quilt will soften the crooked line and make it less noticeable.

Over the years, the crooked line on my chest has become softer, whiter and less noticeable than that raw, red scar that was placed there after my cancer diagnosis. This is a dimension I didn’t want in my life; a dimension of surgery, chemotherapy treatments and medication. I can’t rip out these stitches; they are permanent. Over the years, however, memory of cancer fades. It all seems like a dream; did I really lose my hair? Did I really take Tamoxifen for five years? Sometimes I even forget that I am a “survivior.”

Then there are the deliberate hand stitches; the invisible seams that were slowly and carefully made. They are unseen and yet add so much to the quilt. They are the love that permeates my life; the unconditional love I have for my children, the love for my family and friends, the love of my husband. The unseen Love from my Lord Jesus Christ, whose birth we are about to celebrate. Love will cover us this Christmas with its cozy warmth, bringing rich dimension to our lives.

Hex Stripe, sewn by hand
Hex Stripe, sewn by hand

What brings dimension to your life?

I’m joining other writers for Open Grid at Yeah Write. Go on, click the button. You know you want to.


For Want of a Match

The red tip fell apart as it struck the worn black edge of the box. It simply crumbled, so that nothing was left except a bare wooden stick without a flame. It was my last match.

My fingers were not frozen, as the character’s fingers in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” were. The man tries so desperately to get his matches to burn. His feet are wet, his fire was doused by falling snow from the tree above, and he grasps a whole bunch of matches in his frozen hands in an attempt to light them. He succeeds in lighting the matches; but they all fall into the snow, extinguishing, leaving him to an icy death.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl faces a similar fate. She is not alone in the Yukon Territory like the desperate man above. She must sell her matches before she goes home, however, or she will face a beating from her father. She lights match after match to stay warm on a wintry New Year’s Eve, until finally her grandmother comes down to take her up to heaven. Her frozen body is found with a burnt bundle of matches in her hand and a smile upon her face.

I was only trying to light a candle. That last match was for want, not necessity.

Do you remember when you learned how to strike a match? My father taught me when I wasn’t more than seven or eight years old. I had to learn to be sure and quick and to strike the match firmly against the black strip, then move my fingers away from the flame quickly lest they get scorched. I soon become the family candle-lighter. I would light the candles we had on our dining room table in the evenings before dinner, which added a nice little touch to our family meal.

I used to have a stockpile of matchboxes. Matchbooks from weddings, white with little gold bells on the front, the happy couple’s names embossed on the cover. Boxes of matches from bars and restaurants, free advertising placed in the ashtrays. I would take them even though I didn’t smoke; I had plenty of other uses for a good box of matches.

It is now illegal to smoke in restaurants and bars in Illinois. Matchboxes, to my dismay, have all but disappeared. Including from my kitchen cabinet. I scrounged around and found a long-tipped, liquid-fueled lighter.

Lighting candles with a lighter just isn’t the same. There’s not that satisfying scratchy feel you get when lighting a match. A lighter doesn’t have that same, good sulfur-y smell. My aunt always keeps a book of matches in the powder room next to her kitchen. A good guest, after using the facilities, will light a match, the overpowering smell the whole purpose of lighting that match. A lighter just wouldn’t do.

I suppose I’ll have to give in and go buy some matchboxes instead of getting them for free.


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