For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to add a "Grab My Button"

I've been noticing these buttons on other blogs, so did a search to figure out how to add one -- a great way for us all to link up and gain more followers. (You'll see mine now, in my  right column.) 


So in my google search for how to install a Grab my Button, I found this Mom's blog that explains it pretty well:


http://www.mommysidea.com/2008/09/how-to-make-and-grab-button.html


WHAT TO REMEMBER: Your image MUST first be loaded up to a site like flickr.com 


I uploaded my image to flickr.com, and from there, I went to  my  image to get the CODE (not the link Url)


STEPS:


1). Go to the site url above, and copy HER code into  a javascript gadget.


2). Replace her image code, blog and title urls with your own.


It takes some focus, but it's worth it. Then we can all do a link exchange! 


Let me know if you have questions!


Sandra

Friday, April 29, 2011

No Patience!

Kenny has these little stick magnets that he’d been trying to line up in a row all morning, without their ends repelling each other. He’d been up since 6:30am. Way too early, and by the time I had both boys out the door to school, I was a raging wreck. “How many times do I have to ask you to brush your teeth? It should be one. But it’s not even three. It’s six. My limit is three.”

They were silent in the back of the car. Kenny’s lower lip was quivering. “Sorry…” he warbled.

My patience threshold had been breached when I finally had Ryan in the car, the engine running, but Kenny was still inside. He was on the carpet, still trying to line up the magnetic sticks. When he finally ambled out of the house, I began my lecture which I continued all the way to school, about morning routines. 


“My limit for asking, begging you guys, to get dressed, brush your teeth and sit down at the table is just that. Three times. Not six. Not eight. Not ten.”

This is how the morning had gone. When they hadn’t been squabbling that is.  Kenny wouldn’t let Ryan play with the magnets. Ryan had started to cry. I told Ryan to go play with his Legos, and if Kenny wanted to play, he didn’t have to share either. I’m not sure this is the best strategy, but it was a way of separating them so at least I could go back upstairs and finish getting dressed — to intervene, I’d had to come down with my makeup half on. Then I realized I hadn’t even made their lunch yet. 

I didn’t know I had no patience until I had children.  And I find myself demonstrating this impatient mothering even toward my own mother. She’s quite elderly now, and over the past couple of years has slowed down tremendously. Now here is a woman who used to be just like I am now. I remember on vacation, walking in some country village somewhere, ambling along with my dad, and my mother was yards ahead, already in the next store, so we’d lose track of her. She was always getting things done, quickly emptying flats of impatients (no pun intended), just to get them into the earth, so she could move on to spring cleaning and packing away winter sweaters.

Now I go nuts waiting at a cash register with her. There’s a line behind us at CVS. I’ve always been conscious of that, people waiting behind me, thinking that they’re all as impatient as I am. But there is my mother, trying to figure out which way to slide her credit card through the machine. If I help her, she’ll wave me off. The cashier finally, gently, will take the card and slide it for her, so that  I feel guilty for not demonstrating that same gentleness. When I know we’re already late for one of her doctor appointments, and she’s fumbling with her zipper, I finally just zip up her coat for her, as I would my children’s coats. I often help her put on her shoes as I do their own shoes, (when really they should be able to do their own, if we weren’t already late for school). I seem to have mutated into some kind of motherly creature toward everyone, though not in a nurturing sense, as much as in the one of mothers I see at Target, whisking their carts down the aisles, chanting the usual chant to their kids trailing behind, “No, you can’t have that, we’re not here to buy you presents…” keeping one eye on their shopping lists.  I even have to adjust my husband’s shirt collar, pulling it out from beneath his sweater, before he goes to work, and sometimes wipe toothpaste from his mouth.

As we pull into the school drop-off zone, the boys are utterly quiet. Usually I would find such car-quiet a reprieve, but not on this morning when I’d lost all patience. 

What I couldn’t do is let Kenny go off to school weepy.  I helped him out of the car and put his backpack on him. I cupped his face.  I kissed his nose, plastering one of my noisy “frog” kisses.  “We just need to work on that, my asking once or twice, ok?”

He nodded. His head still down.

I felt desperate now for him to have a great day; he was going on a field trip to a farm, and I wanted our bad morning to be over, to evaporate into the warm spring air, to be raised up on a light breeze like the petals from the nearby cherry blossom  tree. I wanted him to only be left with this moment, of love and, not apologies exactly, but some kind of motherly remorse. Because I already knew, driving home, that I would berate myself for my impatience.

I didn’t know that I would find his stick magnets, finally, all lined up in the perfect row he’d been trying to achieve all morning. That I would realize then, the reason I couldn’t get him out of the house on time was because he was too intent on this challenge. At only six years old, he’d been consumed by the moment at hand. And, at six, he doesn’t have a real sense of time yet; when he talks about something that happened yesterday, he’ll say “a thousand hours ago….”

I will leave the sticks just as they are, where he left them, lined up neatly on the living room rug. When he comes home from school, I will tell him how proud I am that he’d finally figured that out, how magnets do attract and repel each other, but that such perfect alignment can still be achieved. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ZIBBET SHOWCASE: Breath of the Dragon Pyrography

If you visit my Zibbet page here, you'll see my showcase of
Zibbet shop links. Zibbet is a wonderful community of fine
crafters. The Zibbet forum is a particularly friendly and
supportive place. 


So in honor of Zibbet and the great folks who have opened
Zibbet shops, I am highlighting items from the links fellow
 Zibbeters have posted on my blog, and here is my second:



This unusual piece is from the Zibbet Shop Breath of the Dragon Pyrography. I know little about pyrography, so this shop I find particularly interesting. To learn more about this art form, visit Connie's profile, where she gives more detail about her unique and custom wood burnings. Although she confesses to a love of mostly black and white designs, I chose one I found particularly striking, not only for its appealing color scheme, but because of the abstraction. This special piece also happens to be for sale, so check it out by clicking the title link above.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ZIBBET SHOWCASE: Handmade for You


If you visit my Zibbet page here, you'll see my showcase of 
Zibbet shop links. Zibbet is a wonderful community of fine
crafters. The Zibbet forum is a particularly friendly and
supportive place.
So in honor of Zibbet and the great folks who have opened
Zibbet shops, I will be highlighting one item per shop, from
the links fellow Zibbeters have posted on my blog:


This lovely lace doily is from the Zibbet shop
Handmade for You. All designs are handcrafted from
 templates that use a special technique called burning
 textual patterns – an interesting technique you can
 learn more about by visiting the shop. 
Handmade for You also offers some delightful 
children's items, so click on the title link above to visit
this sweet shop!


Hyper Smash

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sandra's Fiber Cybershop

Visit my latest display in my virtual fiber shop in a little corner of cyberspace – if I could open my own real corner shop, I would! But this is one way to help promote other fiber folk, so take a look, and if you like what you see, click the links to their online shops.


If you have your own fiber online shop, be it weaving, crochet, knitting, felting or anything fiber experimental (which I love!), even fiber/ mixed media, go to "Submit Your Shop Link Here," and post your link. My next showcase will be in May.


I will also feature your blog! The site is getting a lot of traffic, and the more you Tweet it and post it on Facebook, the greater the promotion for these crafters.


Just click "Sandra's Fiber Cybershop" in the title above and you will be transported magically to my shop.


Have fun! And any feedback is always welcome!
Sandra



Saturday, April 23, 2011

New 3-foot Triangle loom

My new 3-ft triangle loom! And below it, my first project, a scarf (shawl?) made out of ladder yarn. Not at ALL easy to work with as it tends to catch on the nails, but the effects are gorgeous.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Tell the Truth about Dragons – or Not

I caught myself in a lie to my children. Actually, my six year old caught me.

Kenny was taking a bath, and I was multitasking, washing him, then cleaning the bathroom while he played in the tub.

He was pouring water back and forth between empty shampoo bottles, far more entertaining than any bath toys.  “Did you know that when Katie and Hanna’s betta fish died, their mommy flushed it down the toilet?”

These were the two girls next door, and he had been playing outside all afternoon, riding scooters with them, in our driveway.

I was scrubbing behind the toilet, a place I don’t always go.  I was horrified by my own negligence, how dirty I can let things get. “Well, yes, so did we. . . .”

“We did?”

 I looked at his stricken face.

“You said you buried Bloonie. And that's even what I told Katie and Hanna. That we buried our fish. We didn't flush it.”

Bloonie had been our blue betta; I would let his bowl get as dirty as the bathroom, no doubt the reason he died.

I hadn’t forgotten that I had told the boys that: that I’d buried Bloonie. It had been an easy lie, as their faces had been as stricken then, as my six year old’s was now – how could I have told them the truth, that I sent their fish down the pipes?

Kenny was stock still in the now cold bath. One drop of water fell from his wet hair. “Mom, you lied?”

It’s not often I’m speechless in front of my own children.  Especially as I make so much about telling the truth, how you will be caught one way or another if you don’t.  And here I was: Caught. Trapped really. . . .

I could not confess.  I could not admit to the truth of the fact, that I did lie. Instead, I tried to fudge the lie (or the truth?): “Actually, it was our very first fish I buried. And . . .actually. . .I sent your father out to bury him…”

He crinkled his nose. “What fish?”

“Before you were born.”

“You had a fish?”


When we were trying to get pregnant, and I was turning manic with each failed month, I decided I wanted a fish. A fish in a bowl, or one of those small plastic tanks from Petco. Something to nurture (i.e. mother), and it was either that or hermit crabs, as I’m allergic to cats and dogs and other far more cuddly creatures.

Instead, my husband bought me a 20 gallon tank, pump, gorgeous wood stand, the works.           

Back then, as I had been in such a warped state of mind, when the first fish in the tank started acting sick, I was desperate to save the little guy. I put him in a jar and drove him to the pet store to see if they could save him. They couldn’t, and we watched him die the slow deaths of fish, when they gradually lose their balance and wind up on their sides, uselessly flapping their fins.

I made my poor husband go out and bury it in the snow.

I didn’t relate all these details to Kenny.

His older seven- year-old brother, Ryan, came into the bathroom, already done his own bath, and Kenny said, “Did you know Mom lied about Bloonie?”

Kenny went on to tell him the cold truth, that I’d flushed their dear blue Bloonie down the toilet.  “Just like Katie’s and Hanna’s mom did.”


Now I had to face the stricken face of my extra-especially-sentimental child (who was still missing the chicks they’d hatched in their first grade class, Pepper, his favorite, and cried every night to go visit him on the farm).

In the quiet voice only I would use with them, when I was flabbergasted at something they themselves had done, Ryan said, “You did?” Unlike Kenny, Ryan was not so much stricken by my lying, as by the flushing; Ryan was the one to whom most often we’d preach about how he shouldn’t ever lie, as when he didn’t know how the change from Daddy’s bureau got into his sneakers, or how the Batman Crocs toggle from the Stride Rite store got into his pocket.

Kenny, who only has ever lied about washing his hands after going to the bathroom,  can be a bit righteous, and he was in his element now: “She did. She didn’t bury him. And now I have to go tell Katie and Hanna that I too lied.”

I began scrubbing the sink. Searching for words, in vein, as I would those missing socks in the dryer.

Ryan’s lip quivered. “You flushed Bloonie?”

Ok. I was their mother. It was my job to save face in front of my children.  With hands on hips now I said, “Listen, who took care of Bloonie? I did. And when the hermit crabs died, it was two weeks before either of you noticed. Two weeks!”

“And what did you do with those?” Kenny asked.

I only fibbed this time, and just a tiny bit: “I did bury them.” Which was dumping the whole sandy tank mess over the deck railing into the bushes. Well, dumping is almost like burying. I mean, it’s not flushing. . . .

Kenny then decided to save me.  “Because crabs don’t like water.”

“Yes. Exactly right.” I went on then about how I had flushed Bloonie because fish do like water and he wouldn’t like to be dead out of water. 

Ryan leaned thoughtfully on the hamper. "Then where is he now?"


“Fish Heaven. With all the other fishes.” I turned away again, back to the sink. That stubborn toothpaste, how does it always wind up on the faucet?

“And where is that, anyway, Heaven?”

“It’s where we get to live forever,"I said, way too casually and succinctly, another kind of lie, as I don’t really know that I believe in that myself.  But I disguised it by moving into utter practical Mommy mode. "Come on Kenny, you’re turning blue, get out of the tub…”  It was time to get out of the bath, and thankfully, Kenny launched into his screamy I don’t want-to-go-to-bed mode, and the entire topic evaporated.

Of course, there is no excuse for lying. Especially to your children to whom you are trying to teach the value of the truth. Still, if only to myself in the mirror, I can admit to lying out of sheer love, that maternal instinct to protect your children from truths they may be too young to understand.

Or maybe they aren’t too young. Maybe I am just too protective; I want to preserve that innocence that still allows for them to believe in the unbelievable, as Kenny is able to believe that dragons really did exist – because they had wings, and before cars and planes, that’s how people got around. Riding on the backs of dragons.

 But then it was Ryan who had to challenge this “truth,” by telling his younger brother that dragons never really existed, not like dinosaurs.

So Kenny turned to me and said, “He’s wrong, Mamma. Dragons were real, weren’t they?”

So do I tell the truth or tell a lie again? I compromised. I told him dragons were real if you are willing to believe they were.

           
            




Monday, April 18, 2011

New Bracelets and Rope Maker

Some of my latest, simple rope bracelets with beads, to complement my necklaces:

For those who don't know what a rope maker (or "machine" as it can be called) is, it's a wonderfully simple wooden tool (see below). The complexity of rope making is all in the combination of textures and colored yarns you choose to twist together. I find that ever intriguing, the final result, always the least expected:

It's hard to explain exactly how this works, but essentially you tie one end to one of the hooks, then wind it in and around the other hooks and those pegs attached to the table. Then crank the handle and watch your rope emerge!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Never Smile at a Monkey



On the way to Gramma’s, my six year old was telling me why you should never smile at a monkey: because he will think you are baring your teeth for a fight. And never stare at a snake. “Oh, and DON’T touch an electric caterpillar because its spikes will kill you.”

These are things he said he’d learned from a book they’d read in school, but I hadn’t heard about before the long drive to Gramma’s house. It actually wasn’t all that long, a little over an hour, but as our two boys have gotten older, as much as they love going to see Gramma (who let’s them play with her tool box and cats), they complain more about the long “boring” drive.

The thing I’ve discovered about this drive is that it’s the one time I can enforce a kind of boredom when my kids don’t feel compelled to be doing something every moment. They don’t have the choice of computer time or TV. Neither owns a DS. They don’t have all their games and toys.

When they were little, I’d time the drive around their naps. Now that they are older and starting to read, I give them each a pile of books to thumb through, or their sketchbooks for doodling. Or I turn on the radio, and they are instantly quiet and gazing out the window. Ryan will lose himself in his own world of “action spider,” where he makes his hand crawl up and down the window. Kenny might drift off to sleep, or, as much as I’m not thrilled with it, contentedly pick his nose.

By enforcing this boredom, when, if they aren’t reading or drawing, there is really NOTHING to do, their minds are free to wander to places otherwise they may not have time for in their daily lives of school, homework, and even intense pretend play. There are those big questions that come up, like Ryan asking me about whether dead people are buried under those “rocks” in a graveyard. Even those questions about how they were born come up again, and Ryan will tell Kenny about the “door” in Mommy’s tummy. Or the less-big questions but still hard-to-answer ones: “What is rust?” Kenny asked, days after I’d asked him not to leave his scooter out in the rain because it would do just that, rust. At the time, he’d just been annoyed that he had to put his scooter away.

When they were little, the questions were more practical: “Why can’t we just get a ladder and climb up to the moon?” Ryan once asked. That was when he was still little enough to believe cars had faces, and he would remark on all their expressions – trucks had the friendliest faces and sports cars the meanest.

This “boredom” I would also call daydreaming; their minds wander to things they’ve learned but hadn’t really had time to ponder, like why exactly we don’t fall off the earth when it is turning. And that the sun is actually still shining when we are asleep. (They used to think the sun went to sleep at night and woke in the morning.)

“Did you know we have a mirror in our eye?” Ryan said on one trip, something he was learning in his first grade health class, but that I didn’t necessarily get to hear about before this, when they’d be preoccupied with the drudgery of homework, after riding scooters or playing cars. He also was learning that our hearts have “doors” that open and close. And Kenny was learning about monkeys, snakes and caterpillars.

Then we’re almost be to Gramma’s house. At the turning point in the road where there is a pond, they stop listening to music, or asking questions, or ruminating on all the new things they’ve learned, to see if there are the two swans that have been there all winter. Now that it’s spring, we look to see if they are building a nest, as every season there will be baby swans to watch grow.

“We’re almost here already?” One or the other will ask.

“Yup. Already.”




Monday, April 11, 2011

HUGE Life Questions!








My seven year old figured out what a graveyard is the other day. It’s the same graveyard we’ve driven past a million times, on the way to Stop & Shop, but this was the first time he’d actually taken notice.

“Mom, what are those stones?”

We were at a red light. I’m always least prepared for these life questions, now as I’m going over in my head what I need from the store, having again forgotten my shopping list.

“Are there dead people there?” He answered, before I had to.

“Yes, Hon.” Seemed like a very long red light.

“So… there are bodies there? Under the stones?”

Ah. Green light. “Yes, Hon…” I said way too vaguely, making my turn, pretending some distraction as I figured out what to say next – I already knew my son was very afraid of dying. As afraid as he was of throwing up. Maybe the reason I'd never before pointed out a graveyard.

“I don’t want to ever die…” he said. “Are YOU going to die?”

God bless his younger brother (six!) who then piped up, “Everyone DIES, Ryan," Kenny said, happily tossing a tennis ball against the roof of the car.  "But then you just come back and are alive all over again. And that just keeps going on again and again…”

I was speechless, and that’s fine, since they seemed to be working out this issue between them. Giving me a minute’s space to figure out how my six year old had been able to come to his own conclusion about death. Perhaps it had something to do with whatever he was learning in Sunday school, about resurrection, though I hadn’t broached that subject with them yet, either.

In any case, this answer seemed to sit well with his older brother, and by then we were pulling into the Stop & Shop parking lot, and I was reminding them of the usual, that coming shopping with me did not mean I would be throwing any extras into the cart. For this moment at least, I had a reprieve, time to think up some kind of answer to these HUGE life questions – or at least how to better figure out answers on the spur of the moment, in the car, over Cheerios, or in the bath just last night, when Kenny wanted to know which was the hottest planet. Well, not exactly a "life" question, just another rather large, perhaps obvious, one that I couldn’t answer. ( Though I did remember that Pluto must be the coldest as it is the farthest from the sun . . . .) When I became a mother, did I ever think I  could wind up so dumbfounded in front of my own children?

Pushing the shopping cart around the store, Ryan was unusually quiet, and my heart ached for him; he was mulling over a truth he was just beginning to figure out, and I realized there wasn’t really an answer I could have given him about dying much more comforting or truthful than the one his brother gave.  Because whatever truth there is about an afterlife or a resurrection or whatever, no other truth can soften the reality that one day, sooner or later, our earthly life, with all its tactile joys, will have to end. 

So maybe winding up dumbfounded as a mother isn’t so awful. Maybe some of these answers our children can only figure out for themselves, on their own terms, while quietly pushing a shopping cart around a grocery store.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Unknown Neighbor



Ever hear of a Gladiron? I hadn’t either until I stumbled (literally, it was quite dark) on one, in the attic at an estate sale. I didn’t get to see the actually machine, as it was in its 1950’s box, but saw a drawing of it on the cover, with a ecstatic housewife in a perky apron, ironing away.

There was also a baby carriage from around the same time, with those large thin metal spoke wheels, and an old highchair. There was the white Christmas tree that for the past ten years, I’d seen lit up in their front window – this house was actually a neighbor’s. They were gone now. But in ten years, not only had I never met them, I’d never even actually seen them, except for a shadowy figure in a window which I now knew, from having rummaged through some old glassware laid out on the counters, was over the kitchen sink.

I don’t usually stand in those lines for estate sales, but since this one was on my street, I couldn’t resist. There was a plastic flower wreathe still on the front door, and a bent old  Welcome sign creaking in a breeze, as we all waited for the next  batch of eager scavengers to be allowed entrance; it was still early, but a couple of vans had already loaded up the big finds, a dining room table, velvet apholstered chairs.

I didn’t know that once inside, how much I would feel just like that, a vulture scavenging old bones.  Rummaging through old clothes, books, costume jewelry and faded china, I was getting to know this family better now that they were gone, than in the ten years we’d lived there. I’d driven by their house countless times. I’d seen an old Lincoln in the driveway. And that shadowy figure in the kitchen window. Other than that, the only sign of life had been a new geranium hanging on the porch every summer. From the walkers, canes and wheelchairs in the basement, I imagined they’d long since become housebound.

I liked to think that they’d been an older couple who had sold the house to retire somewhere warm, Florida, or to be nearer their children.  But they seemed to have taken nothing with them; except for the big grandfather clock in a corner, everything they’d ever own seemed to be for sale. I gathered now that they had died. I just hoped there was at least one child somewhere, who was interested in preserving something of this family’s past.  Before this house will probably be gutted, the old carpeting and paneling ripped out.

I considered a couple of old Christmas ornaments, and a cracked cedar chest. I didn’t have the heart to buy a thing, and left the tag sale empty-handed. Left to wonder again, as I did this winter after the elderly lady living right next door to us died, how little we know about our neighbors. At least about this last generation, the one who'd been around long enough to remember Gladirons. But is now gradually, quietly, being phased out, to make room for us, the newer preoccupied generation, the one that  seems rarely to be home, in the full sense of actually getting to know the housebound elderly couple down the street. Before it comes to that, rummaging through their past long after they are gone. 

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