Thursday, April 26, 2018

Flower Power

It's time to scratch the itch.  I went to a greenhouse yesterday to buy my flowers.  I never wait until May.  I want good selection, no crowds - make that hoards buying for Mother's Day-time to think.  It's kind of like I decide we are done with winter and it's time to move on. Yes, we are expecting two more nights of very cold temperatures but the red geraniums I buy can be hardened off at home at this point.  I bring them in at night but put them right out again in the morning.  This weekend they go into their pots and permanent homes. 

I love this day.  I could go with a friend or even PH but I go alone to think. And choose carefully. And not be distracted from my mission.  And not be talked into or out of what I want. I don't want to be chatting with someone and then get home and find I missed half of my list. 
 Red geraniums are top on the list.  I buy hanging baskets and when I get them home I take them out of the basket, pop them into the urns and pots set up around the house and voila! Instant color and no waiting for growth. Red geraniums make me smile.
 I walked up and down the aisles for so long I got a blister on my heel.  It was worth it.
 I lost three lavender plants over the winter so bought three more plus four more (!!!)
 We live in the forest and have very little sun.  Most of the ground is rocky and nowhere but directly in front of us in a pot can something wonderful be seen and enjoyed.  It's a weird situation but the forest has become our landscape and yard.  I fill the porch pots with geraniums but do miss peonies and other posies.  I don't even know what this gorgeous flower is and I had to force myself to leave it on the table.
Pansies like cold weather so they are the first things we see garden centers feature.  The cold encourages them to hug the ground and grow close rather than bolt and grow leggy.  But they don't like heat so they don't last the whole season.  I like flowers like these in other people's yards along with tulips and irises and daffodils.  I like a flower that will last till October.  Like geraniums.

But the power of flowers goes well past spring and summer.  The little group of quilters I get together with here has begun doing something I think is unique.  Several months ago one of our group lost her mother. A few weeks ago another lost her mother.  Last week another lost her mother-in-law. 
Our group doesn't send an arrangement or basket of flowers to the funeral home. Our little group gives our friend a basket of flower fabric.  There are no rules, no color scheme, no homework to be completed for a show and tell.  We simply all give a yard of fabric in a basket. It is given in good faith, good intentions and goodness of hearts.

Friday, April 20, 2018


    Do you love a special cake?  Do you remember a special cake from your childhood?  My mom would make a cake over a pie any day.  She thought pies were too much trouble for what you got out of them.  But cake.  That was different.  On our birthdays the smell of our birthday cakes baking often was what woke us in the morning.   My brother's favorite was Boston Cream Pie (cake) and I made my very first one this Easter.  I've never eaten nor baked one before. And I'm a baker.
    Cakes are what we  contribute to a funeral or carry with us when we visit a sick friend.  Marge always offers her standard 'Funeral Cake,' a light cake filled with blueberries.  At funeral lunches I go for a piece of cake for dessert because there's nothing like a sheet cake made in someone's kitchen.
    We have our favorites, right?  I prefer chocolate/chocolate (cake/frosting), but I can remember sometimes craving yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Never, never, never, ever, ever, ever chocolate cake with white frosting.  Poor PH.  His mother frosted their brownies with white frosting and I won't do it for him.  I tell him it's a sacrilege.   Actually, when we were kids my mom didn't frost our cupcakes because we kids didn't like the frosting much.  It was usually scraped off into the wastebasket so she just didn't bother.
   Julia Child said " a party without a cake is just a meeting" and she was right.  A cake carried to the table never fails to bring sighs of appreciation.  Maybe because we don't take the time to make a frosted layer cake anymore.  Maybe baking at home just isn't done anymore.
    There was the era of the bundt cake, the simple fluted hole in the middle dense cake sliced along those fluted lines.  I use the bundt pan to make a killer cream cheese pound cake that will make you cry.  Let's not forget cheesecake!  Plain cheesecake with a fruit topping?  Groan. And gingerbread cake. What would fall be without that?  Coffeecake, warm from the oven for special breakfasts or when a friend is expected to drop by. When my son was about 4 years old a friend come by and we sat and talked over pieces of a cinnamon coffee cake.  He sat there politely and finally got down from his chair and told my friend, "if you're not going to eat that I will!" and he took her piece and did eat it. Who would stop him?
    Cake is the centerpiece of a celebration. In my other life I made wedding cakes.  I sold decorated cakes. Our pictures are taken next to our cakes verifying the celebration they stand for.
    And sometimes, as in the picture above, we just have to make a cake to celebrate a peach.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Sewing Machine

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

 The Sewing Machine’s story is told through the lives of four generations:  Jean, Connie, Ruth and Fred. Oh, and the sewing machine, a Singer 99K, a machine that was hand cranked with no reverse.  Beginning from Jean’s story in 1911 and the strike at the Singer factory to Fred now, we find these lives stitched together in ways these four people would, right up to the end, never imagine.  The old machine saw each become a little more personally and financially independent, contributors to their communities, it saw them through emotionally difficult times, but quietly.
     The threads on the bobbins, a secret message sent on one of the bobbins and hidden with thread, journals recording every piece stitched with the machine along with a sample of the fabric, repairs to the machine, the care each generation gave it and their dependence on it, these are all woven into the story, all making you want to pull your little Featherweight machine out and buff it up and use it for something soon.
      This story will make you wish you had kept a stitch journal of each item you sewed with your machine.  It will make you want to get your great-grandmother’s treadle fixed and learn how to use it, it will give you a special appreciation of those who have gone before us, leading their quiet lives while sitting at their machine.