time is mercury. the older i get, the more i realize this. where has february gone? i've spent it like this:
i love that my beloved friend katey lives in alabama, that i can make a circular trip when going down to see mama and drive another route to stop by and stay with katey and her sweetheart of a family for a few wonderful days and nights before heading on down to montgomery. her entire family makes me feel that i am very much a part of their own; i can be myself, walter can be his own wild and wooly spirited creature self and we are loved for the creatures that we are. we spend a lot of time laughing and talking, wandering the woods that surround their house, drinking cups of coffee in our pajamas, watching movies, telling stories, laughing some more. how we met is a story that deserves another post, sometime. i never seem to have enough hours to set aside to go into detail for anything here, anymore. but i love going there, and this time katey set everything up for a valentine tea for the girls. well, for walter and his four legged buddy jack, too. i sat next to katey's beautiful mother in law, pat - such a genteel lady, is she. when katey and i shared with kevin the story of walter and jack hovering around pat and how horrified i was with walter - i swear, he does NOT beg at the table, he didn't used to, anyway - kevin didn't believe us. pat is a grandmother, remember, and those dogs knew a soft, giving heart when they saw her walk in the door with all those delicious heart shaped pumpkin bread treats. (make sure you click on the photo above and zoom in to the little torn yellow tea tag to the left of the porcelain teapot. that's katey's mama dian's special tea touch.)
katey's mama dian is a gem; she came walking through the door with all the fixings to make scones and fresh fruit/custard tarts; katey's mending "wing", as i called it, seemed to slow her down not one bit (until i patted her a bit too hard with loving one afternoon in the car), and the two of us prepared little cucumber sandwiches cut into perfect circles; these reminded me of the ones mama had so beautifully assembled for our royal wedding tea that we had at something like 5am a couple of years ago. this time around, we ladies sat and shared stories and hot tea, sweet breads and cucumber sandwiches while fog hung heavy and thick outside the tall windows of katey's lovely home. later in the afternoon, we pulled out needle and thread, and began to stitch right there at the valentine table while the fog lingered on.
i love this photograph of miss dian's hands. i love it because it is of her beautiful hands, the ones that make the beautiful quilts, and because i see the jewelry wrapped 'round her wrist that katey made for her. i see the ring on her finger that her sweetheart of a husband surprised her with one christmas, i see the stitches that she has started on a project that i am starting as well. i love katey and her family, her mama and daddy and husband and sons, all of them, so much. i'm not sure how that can be, i've only known them for such a short little while. chosen family can be like that, you see. they love me for what i am, right now. they met me as the person that walked through that door and embraced me unconditionally as my own mother and boys do, they judge me not one bit, they do not mock me, they understand my tender side as well as my stubborn ways, and i love them even more for that right back. my valentine gifts from katey, which she made entirely by hand. so much love!
these arrived that afternoon, from france; katey came dancing up the long driveway after checking the mail, so happy that the little antique laundry labels had at long last arrived the day before my departure.
my days in montgomery were some of the loveliest that i've ever, ever spent with my mother. unhindered by frantic, stressful holiday schedules or errands to run, we were able to spend long leisurely days savoring the hours with one another, uninterrupted by anything at all other than the jangling phone or every now and then, a doorbell pressed by the UPS driver delivering a movie for us to watch (skyfall! and the gentle loveliness of bright star), a book for us to read and enjoy in tandem (maurice sendak's final published book, such a lovely exquisite thing). i called no one, saw no one, made plans to be with only my mother and our pups. we had our own valentine breakfast, with tulips (my favorite flower), vintage linens that i'd bought for her, a vintage valentine i assembled with added vintage words and embroidery thread.
it rained and rained and rained the entire time that i was there, dumping something like eight inches of rain over montgomery in the short period of 48 hours; we were content to stay snug and dry within the lovely walls of her home, while i stitched away the hours making a valentine for my beloved mama from thrifted linen (j. crew thrift store shirt), antique laces, tatting and mother of pearl buttons from my ancient collection, vintage barkcloth for the backing, thrifted wool felt, and dotted swiss that was a gift from a friend. mama was thrilled, especially because she got to see the piece as it took shape (the word came first, then the x and o - oddly placed, i would have changed that but it was too late), got to see the time involved and got to see my hands, so much like her own, busy at work. such a joy it was! i'm now completely addicted to embroidery and textiles, all over again.
she hung it where she "could see it all of the time", in her lovely large bathroom next to the antique mirror that followed her there from the home where we lived for 38 years. she will keep her favorite pins on it; you see her hand there, pinning an owl that sits on a branch to the front of the heart. i sneaked another photo through the mirror - unbeknownst to her, she would have been horrified. i think it is so lovely, this candid photograph. i love my mother, so much. too much, as daddy used to say about his love for us. i know just what he means. i love you forever, daddy. i love you so much.
i got back home on a friday night, ten days ago, and my dear dear pal julie joined me late that evening for a wonderful extended stay of ten fun days. we are good about hanging loose, we respect each others' space and moods, we have no agendas and are good about doing nothing at all or doing a little of this and a little of that, tromping through the back woods along the trails, taking a side trip over to the river, checking on our geo cache at the suspended bridge, baking and cooking and watching a movie or two. (an appropriate photo of julie, as her heart is even bigger than the rock that she found by the river that day and carted all the way back to the car; i tried to make this photo look like it was taken at a long ago camp because that is what the ten days felt like, with her)
i sat and stitched on my current embroidery project in the evenings (remember, katey's mama dian and katey and i are all working on the same thing - i highly recommend anything that charlotte lyon has designed, go take a look at her blog and at her etsy shop.
before too long, julie had been bitten by the needle and thread bug, which made me happy to have her interested in stitching there in the "brocade arcade" chair next to my own blue velvet one. after a few simple embroidery stitch lessons, she was well on her way, and is now working on a pair of skull and crossbone pillowcases. i could not be more proud of my friend! we also began carving our own rubber stamps, under the wonderful guidance of a how-to book by the talented geninne zlatkis (tools, supplies, instructions are all very well explained). my first little effort, here - i was so proud, but goodness. now i am a little embarrassed:
and then, a few nights later, my second attempt - fashioned after the good old hand shadow puppet of a rabbit: i love this stamp, so much! after this initial stamping that you see above, i went back and tweaked it with deeper cuts in the border, which make the details of the lines and x's show up a bit better. inspiration struck the following evening when i considered stamping a thrifted .25 cent vintage linen napkin in my favorite sea blue green.
it worked - the ink didn't run - and i was consumed for the next two evenings with layering and stitching of bits and pieces of fabrics i've had kicking around in my stashes for oh! so many, many years.
i have a lot of ideas rattling around in my head all hours of the day and night now that involve old fabrics and threads and ribbons and beads, and it's difficult to keep myself from sitting down and picking up needle and thread instead of heading into the studio.
i am currently beginning to finally pull together some ideas and notions that have been brewing and bubbling in my head for quite a while - months, really - involving old leather and stone and glass, so that will be what surfaces next in the jewelry work. no photos yet, there isn't enough pulled together to show. when that falls into place, i'll let you know. for now, i can say in earnest that it has been a winter of quiet, one of long evenings sitting in the blue chair pulled up next to the fireplace while i stitch to my silent heart's content. i have been silent here for reasons that take too long to explore on this rainy afternoon. i'll save that for another day. for now, i wish you evenings that bring you peace, whether with words that you read, with pictures that you see, with talks that you share with a friend or a loved one, with pats on the back of a four legged friend - whatever it is that brings you comfort and a sense of peace, i wish you much of that. and longer stretches of time to do the things you love to do, with the ones that you dearly love. xo