Frayed Edge

Monday, May 22, 2006

Paradise in my own back yard






What blooms when you plant a bowling ball! FUN! Who cares! I have bowling balls, and an empty pot in the back yard and that bowling ball belonged there.
I found paradise, I find it every year in my own backyard. Along with everyone else who plants themselves in a small patch of dirt with a cold drink, you find an hours peace and bit of paradise.
Mine however involves brightly colored wind toys, and my favorite sparkly things. Do my neighbors mind that I draped mirrored garlands through the trees? I hope not, but what those sparkly thing block is the view of the house across the street, and even better is a view of a dumpster! No one will mind if I have included a few flower pots of geraniums.

I am not the gardener I used to be, but I do love my back yard. I am blessed to have a swimming pool, I love it. When I was a little girl my fantasy house had a pool in the backyard. This is no fantasy, it is expensive and a lot of upkeep. But I love floating with a book in one hand and a frosty beverage in the other.

Husband could close the pool in a minute, I fight for it. And this could be the last summer, we may get rid of it all together. It is almost as old as the house, and really needs major renovation. The decision is to remove, or renovate. That is a question of $$$$$.

We all have those 'frayed edges' I have smoothed mine with a 4 foot spinner, and few funky wind toys and lots of sparkly things. Spring is here, I have been lovingly taking care on my frayed edges, and my bit of paradise helps.

The artist in my expresses in my space. All my space

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Time to Take down the Christmas lights



After Easter is the right time ot take down your Christmas lights, Right? I took mine down today. Well I should explain, I love lights and if it were up to me, I would have my house light up like "A Christmas Tree" all year long. But I live in a respectable neighborhood, and like my neighbors enough that I don't want them to talk about me. So outdoor lights are rare at my house, but inside. You bet.

For a long time I had several strings of chili pepper lights across my dining room window. It added a festive air to dinner parties. Late last year husband and I changed the chairs so the chili pepper were moved to the kitchen window, where they cheer the cookbooks and kitchen aid mixer.

It was almost winter and I wanted a festive window treatment, but could not decide on what to do. I bought the guadiest holiday garland, sort of an ugly silver frosted tree branch with tiny lights. Then I gusied it up with LOTS of beaded swags and sequined 'sprays'. I completed the winter scene with strings of tiny mirrors that were strung on invisible line, and 'wait for it' crystal prism's. The entire dining area would sparkle in the late afternoon. Sparkly soothes the frayed edges in winter.

We did have a definitely winter feeling, so as I was purchasing outdoor furniture this weekend I decided that it was time to change the window decor. I found some happy summer lanterns and pretty flowers to adorn the window. The pictures are a panoramic view. I moved the mirrors to the sliding glass door. I could not make them totally go away.

Summer Body Summer Meals

Time to cook in a for a summer weekend, today I made BBQ lamb, and rice. I needed a simple meal as I am trying not to eat too much. We had a salad too. This week I cooked for a funeral, I don't want to cook for any more funerals. I told the rector at my church no more funerals! This was for a friend and his mate of 44 years.

I sort of don't want to cook at all. Or eat.

Feeling pretty good about myself when I got into a pair of slacks that didn't fit a month ago. But there is Ben and Jerry's in the freezer. But I am strong! I know I am. Back to the healthy eating campaign tomorrow. I dragged out the husband for a quick walk, 20 minutes. Better than nothing and he walks fast!

I am planning to lose 8 pounds by Memorial Day. That is my promise to me. I think I got it this time. If I have to step up the exercise, I will, maybe get the bike out. Oh well. What else to I have to do, except focus on me and my frayed edges. I figure if I slim down those frayed edges will have to smooth, just because they are not sticking out so far.

Goals for the week, exercise everyday. I didn't do that last week, that is the goal. It is Sunday night, that routine includes laundry and a pedicure. Routine makes the frayed edge, smooth, as a new week of new challenges begin.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Experiencing Easter

Spring and Easter- I usually find fresh starts for myself right about this time of year.

Towards the end of winter I find myself deep in the winter quiet, it is almost like being in a dream-like sleep. I am not wanting to wake up just yet, but I am longing for the cold to go away and to see the new life of spring emerge.

Spring is here, Easter is here, and new life is all around me. I love listening to the birds gossip every morning while I sit and write in my journal. I am a avid 'morning pages' person. In the morning everything is fresh, full of potential. Combine that with the opportunity to open the kitchen door, listen to the birds and see the flowering trees, that is a awfully strong incentive to find a fresh start for your self.

I have tried to observe Lent this year in a traditional sense; I 'gave up' chocolate and other sweets. Today being Good Friday I did a little self evaluating of that observance. I rated myself at 80 percent; then asked myself if giving up anything for lent allowed for only doing it 80 percent of the time. I don't think so, you either give it up, or not. But my observance was more than denial, I wanted a chance for observation. I wanted to see what I would fill my time with if I chose not to eat chocolate. - And I can eat some chocolate.

I chose denial of a favored item for several reason, one it would be a challenge, I could eat chocolate all the time- as my clothing was telling me. And that was the second reason. When your fat clothes get tight, something better change. So Lent is an opportunity to make changes, and try something new. I am feeling better for not indulging, and truly examining my reasons for overeating. I am pretty disciplined in many other aspects except eating and exercise. So a new practice has been started, and I hope it to be something I continue to live with - that is a good thing.

Food is my life, my passion, I am a chef ! But how to you manage this passion and not let it overwhelm you.

That, I certainly don't have an answer for yet, but I am thinking and acting a lot about it. Passion and desire, can I enjoy both, without, - here is the challenge -indulgence. Is the enjoyment in the passion and desire, I have to work on that.

But back to new starts- Easter is that new start, spring is a new start. I have a few new starts. I have started not one but two new jobs. I am not sure about either of them. One is familiar, - I am teaching again; the other is truly a new experience. New people in both, some familiar faces. When I left my last place of employment the first words out of my mouth were, " I never want to work for anyone ever again!" That was almost 8 months ago, and I haven't worked for anyone other than myself. Even now with these fresh starts, I am drawing a line of what I will and won't do. I haven't sought out a new job, just for a jobs sake....Except at one point an income is important. So a fresh start is happening for me and I do have a lot of uncertainty about all of this.

It has been almost 2 months since my mother's death, since that day I have tried to see myself at this time with a lot of observance, knowing that I was in a transforming period. Is this new work life part of the transformation? Sure, all of it is. I still have to allow a lot of time for being observant, to allow for change. I am sure something else is out there waiting for me and I have to allow for that to happen.

Today is Good Friday; I am going to get outside and get some exercise, follow my practice of healthful eating and go to my new job with new people and new tasks. I guess the good thing to remember is with new stuff comes new learning opportunities, I am all about new learning opportunities.

Are there Frayed Edges in the spring, everything is so new and fresh, how could there be. Easter and Spring offers a time to heal those frayed edges with a beautiful display of color, vibrant scents in the garden and possibly if we try very hard a chance to practice new tasks, new disciplines that allow the frayed edges to smooth out.

Not to sound moopy, those frayed edges will unravel again, probably tomorrow a new one with show itself in such an ugly spot. But just for today, even if it is for an hour or two, I am going to relax and enjoy spring, its fresh start, my fresh start, and the smoothness I am experiencing at this moment.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring time fun: Blossoms, Bubbles and Kites






I find myself on the grounds of the Washington monument at 7 am on a Saturday, surrounded by friends, and Kites! What more fun can one woman have.

Oh yes, I made chocolate chip cookies, and snickerdoodles.

The past few weeks I have become a tourist in my home. And it is the perfect time of year to do that.

Springtime in DC and the living is wonderful. Time with friends, time alone.

Friday March 31 I got up early and headed downtown with Husband to see the cherry blossoms. WHAT a show!

Then the next day I headed to southern Maryland to help with my friends who were hosting a Kite Festival.

All I did was show up and reaped the benefits of friendships, food and fun.

In my I have no ideea what comes next attitude, I am loving watching the world unfold around me.

There is nothing better than to watch a child run around on a warm spring day with a handmade kite! Or wake up early and do a power walk under the most amazing natural beauty of PINK trees! Oh yeah the monuments aren't bad either.

I am loving spring. Still eating healthy, walking every day. And waiting for what comes next!

Enjoy spring, be present in the moment.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Making Art from Frayed Edges

I had to get back to creating something tangible. I needed to work with Frayed Edges! My quilts often have frayed edges just like me. I couldn't think of anything I needed to work on that had any real significance, so I decided to work with the materials that came from my mothers apartment. Mom had 3 or 4 pieces of silk, must have been 30 years old. Some lovely and then she had this black and red and grey silk. I had so much potential! Another was a brown flowered piece. Both said USE ME! They had been waiting around for way too long. Other materials I used were mom's cashmere sweaters. Mom must have had 20 sweaters, most were unwearable, but wonderful fonder for creating something fun. I started by cutting up the sweaters to make quilt blocks. Soon I will have a comforting cashmere throw. Then from the sleeves I turned them into cashmere boas! How fun is that. I am not sure how my mother would feel about that, she was pretty conservative. The boas are especially fun because they are so beige, but, then a surprise of red and orchid. Those were Mom's one bit of color in her standard neutral wardrobe. After playing for awhile, I just realized there was a portrait in them. The sweater ribbing became the hair, buttons for eyes and earrings. Perfect portraits of mom. She would like to be remembered in cashmere.

A long time ago my mother painted a portrait of my sister, it was wonderful. But when I looked at her use of color, she had used a bit of green in my sisters hair. Surprised, shocked, I asked mom about it. She said to me, look at your own hair ( I was maybe 12) and tell me if you don't see every color in the rainbow in hair. She was right. I learned to be an artist from my mother. I learned to have an artist eye about color and composition from my mother. She had a great eye for art and color. She left me that legacy.

Learning about someone after they have died is so different than dealing with them when they are with you. But I am remembering all of the now. My mother loved her home and growing flowers. So I leave you with mom's cashmere and silk flower pots.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Smoothing the Frayed edge



The challenge to me now is to find new ways to pay attention. That is my thought for today, Monday the 13th of March. But Last week I focused on smoothing and soothing. I needed a recharge and even some cleansing of the spirit. I know I wanted to take care, rest and nuture my private life. For weeks I focused on my mother, my family and my responsibilities. Now I needed a little down time to let go of all of it.

Basically I found out I wasn't sure I knew how to do that. But I tried a few things. One is not eating, that may sound harsh, but for so long I cooked, ate, dined, celebrated and did it again! Now I just wanted to take the emphasis off of that. With the letting go of emotions I know finding a way to a healthier me was at the core. Being a culinary professional is a struggle to understand the need for food and the desire to eat healthy. I just want to eat all the time.
So for one week I tried not to eat. I liked that.

Second; I tried to find myself in the fray. Where was I? I am still lost in the wake of my mothers dying, and that will shape me. Who will I be at the end of this transformation. It being Lent in the Christian church gives me a perfect time to ask God who I am going to be. Asking and listening to God, allowing Him to transform me.

Want I did was; I went into the woods to see if I was there. I think, for me, leaving what is familiar is a way to see what else I know. What else might be inside of me that the comfort of my house might be covering. So with the wonderful weather, I went to a favorite place, the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac River. It was a great walk. I didn't challenge myself to much just enough to feel good about myself. Transformation doesn't take place in one afternoon, but what I need to remember is that this is a process. I am a process person, I love to be in part of the process. So just being in the moment was what I needed to enjoy. Not that I walked 1 mile or 5.

I knew outside is what I needed so I headed to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, another favorite place. I started in a nature refuge, watching birds and turtles enjoying the brilliant spring weather. I needed to see water, possibly put my feet into water other than my bathtub. It was reviving, beautiful and what I needed. I went into unfamiliar territory and explored. I asked myself serious (could I live in a small town?) and silly (why do ducks all swim in the same direction) questions as I drove the backroads of small towns. Seeing the water of the marsh's and the bay did soothe the Frayed Edge, being alone was soothing.

And I did put my feet in the icy waters, ( it is march ) of the Chesapeake. Just for a minute, that was thrilling- literally!

I am still trying to live in the moment. I am making more plans this week than I did last week. But my goal is to focus on my over all health, that means exercise. I will take advantage of the nice weather and get outside again today. I have found new sights to see, new walks to become familiar treks. Oh and I also need a job. That must be all part of the transformation.

So back to today, my Lenten reading asks me this, 'find new ways to pay attention, listen to what God is saying to me.' For many months I had to pay attention to my mother and what she needed, but now I need to find what I need. I know this is a transformation period and I am pleased to be in each moment.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sorting through the Fray, or who gets the teacups.

I have received more advice in the past 10 days, then I think I have received in the previous 10 months. But the most important was from my friend and cooking colleague, Lynn. She said to me as I was fretting about my family and their arrival; 'Susan, does it really matter who gets the teacups!' In just that voice!

What a piece of advice, it has been a matra in the past 4 days as we, my sister and brother and I had to make difficult decisions in "the disposition of her estate" a legal term, for 'who gets the teacups'. For me, the tragedy has been that my mother loved her stuff, and spent the better part of the last few years worrying about her stuff. As we sorted through papers in boxes we found receipts for furniture, paintings and jewelry, some very special. But what came glaring at me, was its 'value.' This really was used stuff, aged, stained and out of style that we disposed of to a used furniture dealer for a pittance! My mothers treasures came up to little less than used stuff, on an estimator eyes, and evaluation.

Please understand, we did look at and discuss very single item. All of us packed boxes of treasures to take home. But at the end of the day, we all had our own used stuff, furniture, we have houses full furniture, and did we need another lamp?

Some of the furniture spoke of mom, her style. And there is a part of me that wanted everything that was in that apartment. I wanted to keep that what she valued. Which leads to another phrase I remember this week is; " Honor your ancestors, and inspire your grandchildren." I want to do that, more so now than ever before. But does keeping her dresser do that?

So that last matra I used this week came to me in church on Ash Wednesday. It is from the Bible; Matthew 6 "do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. But, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there you heart will be also."

I will treasure my mothers 2 Irish china teacups that she drank coffee from every day, and I will treasure wearing the jewelry that my mother accumulated through the years. But more than that I will treasure the love and friendship I have felt through this challenging time.

One last thing, as we were getting ready to leave the apartment, stuff sorted and packed, I grabbed a silly pink chair my mother had in her bedroom. Pink silk, I don't think she ever sat in it, but I will, I will sit in it next week.

Who got the teacup's? WE all did, we got our own individual treasures and memories of mom. Some were wrapped up and packed to ship, some we will treasure in our heart.