Life’s Simple Pleasures

I was driving the Brookelets home from school the other day and noticed that a tree on the side of the street had a lot of its leaves twirling towards the ground, which prompted me to exclaim, “Oh!  Falling leaves!  One of life’s simple pleasures.”

Miss Junebug scrunched her nose at me and asked, “What does that mean, ‘life’s simple pleasures’?”  I explained that a simple pleasure was a rather ordinary occurrence that just made your heart happy, and generally didn’t cost any money, which made it all the more special because it reminds you that you don’t need to spend money to be happy.  My girl nodded and went back to reading her book.

What I thought was a quick little explanation of some random phrase has apparently been percolating in her mind because we were driving to the library today, and saw a maple tree whose leaves had all turned a brilliant scarlet, but hadn’t fallen off the tree.  Junebug saw it and said, “It’s too bad those leaves aren’t falling off the tree because then they could be a simple pleasure for Mom.”  I explained that, even though the leaves were still on the tree, it was still a simple pleasure for me because I liked how it looked.

She looked at me through narrowed eyes, “Does that mean that simple pleasures can happen even if you spend money on them?”

“What? How did you make that leap?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “you spend a lot of time just looking at your quilts and the things you knit, and it makes you really happy.  But you spent money on them, so I thought it was a complicated pleasure.”

I laughed, “A complicated pleasure?  No, spending money doesn’t take away the simple pleasure of admiring a job well done.  I’m proud of myself for finishing a big project, and I’m pleased with the good job that I’ve done on that project, so it makes me happy to look at it a lot and just be pleased.  It’s fun to make stuff.”

“Really?” she said, “Because it doesn’t seem like you have a lot of fun when you’re making stuff.  You yell a lot, and you breathe angrily when you run out of thread.  And sometimes you burn yourself on the iron or cut yourself with the circle blade…”

I studied her face for a moment, then turned away to stare at the traffic on the road while I thought about her statement.  Then I nodded, glanced over at her and said, “You’re right…it’s complicated.”

 

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My Very Late Start to the Sweetie Pie Quilt Sew Along

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Image courtesy of Riley Blake Designs

When I first saw the pattern for Lori Holt’s Sweetie Pie Quilt last year, I literally gasped aloud, which, when in the context of creativity, is a sign I’ve recognized to mean that I should seriously consider committing to the project, yarn, fabric, etc.  I’ve learned that ignoring that first impression gasp aloud usually leads to serious regret.

But I’m an imperfect being, and told myself, “NO.  You may not commit to making this quilt.  You have a million UFOs, it has applique fer cryin’ out loud, and just…NO.”

And then the sew along was announced.  Oh, I dearly love a sew along.  “NO!”

Then the templates became available, and oh my goodness, the cuteness…”NO!”

Then I saw the quilt in real life, and it’s even better in person…”NO!  No, no, no!”

The sew along started, and I looked forward to Lori’s blog posts each Monday to see which block they were working on that week, and oh my goodness, the cuteness…”NO!  It’s birthday season!  You’re knitting a sweater, sewing up birthday dolls, and you need to make a flapper dress for the school play!  STAHP IT.  NO.”

My oldest daughter, Emily, plays the harp, which winds up with broken strings far more often than you would think, and the closest place that sells harp strings is the music store we where we rent her harp, which is in Salt Lake City, about an hour to the north of us.  During her last lesson in January she snapped THREE strings.  (It was pretty funny to watch–pretty, pretty harp music…*twang!*  Teacher and student grumble, regroup.  Pretty, pretty harp music…*twang!*  Teacher and student emit frustrated growls, then  *twang!* for no reason, teacher and student just give up on life.)  The broken strings were often-played strings, which meant that a trip to the music store was imperative or Emily would backslide into not practicing, and darn it, I’ve had to hound her and nag her to get her to the point where she’s getting somewhat consistent with practicing.  Must. go. to. music. store. fast.

Anytime I have to run an errand up in SLC, I totally have to make a day of it because it’s the big city and I live in a small city that still has that small-town feeling to it, so the lure of all the shops and dining establishments that we don’t have in my town…duh, ya need to give ’em a visit!  I made my way up to the music store, purchased the harp strings, and still had four hours before I needed to start on my return trip home.  I decided to do a yarn and quilt shop crawl.

Amidst the shop hopping, I discovered a new-to-me shop, and…*blissful sigh.*  Lots of modern fabrics, a room dedicated to batiks and Kaffe Fassett, a room for Civil War-era fabrics, and upstairs, at the top of the stairs so it’s all you see as you ascend to another eagerly-anticipated realm of fabric, they had Lori Holt’s entire Sew Cherry 2 fabric collection and the Sweetie Pie templates.  I gasped aloud AGAIN, despite having seen all of those things for months and completely knowing they already existed.  My fingers lovingly traced over the edges of the templates through the plastic packaging, and I remembered my “gasping aloud” rule.  I picked up the templates, and placed them amongst the fat quarters in my arms before turning to investigate the contents of the rest of the room.  I made it halfway through that upstairs room before putting the templates back on the table where I’d found them.  “NO.”

I headed back downstairs, poked about a bit, and then noticed that I was approaching the time where I had to start returning home.  I got in line, which was pretty long, and settled into checking my phone for any new emails and the like, but couldn’t concentrate because there was a pair of women right in front of me who hadn’t mastered the art of quietly conversing in a public space, and they kept trying to draw me into their personal conversation, so I eventually just gave up and smiled politely and nodded my head while they talked at each other and kept turning to me for…I don’t know, some sort of contribution, despite that their conversation was about which classes they should take at the shop.  (“Um, I don’t even live here…”)

Anyway, the line finally dwindled down to the ladies in front of me, who were there to sign up for a class, but, despite having come to the shop to sign up for a particular class, they had managed to befuddle themselves while standing in line as to whether or not they truly wanted to take *that* particular class, or perhaps a different class?  The dialogue continued at the shop counter, with the shop clerk casting sympathetic glances over their shoulders at me while trying to walk them towards a decision.

Finally, they decided to go with their original class decision.  Lady #1 whipped out her checkbook, and wrote the check out to the wrong shop.  This was very funny to the two women, who paused to have a glorious chuckle at the mistake.

Lady #1 flipped to the next check in her checkbook, and the two of them spelled out the name of the shop, letter-by-letter, together while she wrote.  Having accomplished the very impressive task of writing out the correct name of the shop on her check, they paused for a little victory cheer and dance before she proceeded to write the wrong amount of money to be paid to the shop onto the check.  More laughter.  The shop clerk shot me a look of extreme pity.

Check #3 was produced, they spelled out the name of the store together, had another dance, and then spelled out the correct amount of money, number-by-number, and then erupted into yet another victory dance upon completion.  A couple of high-fives later, and Lady #1 went to rip the check from the checkbook…and ripped the thing in half.

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Lady #2 straight-up exploded with hysterical laughter, and had to hold onto the counter to keep from collapsing to the floor.  Lady #1 wasn’t too far behind her friend, and the shop clerk looked at me with an “Oh my gosh, we are going to die here,” expression on her face.

Check #4.  Letter-by-letter, number-by-number, perforation-by-perforation.  A sloooow hand-over to the shop clerk.  EXPLOSION OF VICTORY DANCE, HIGH-FIVES, AND HUGGING WHILE JUMPING UP AND DOWN.  The shop clerk moved with superhuman speed to finish up the transaction, and, upon completion, turned to Lady #2…

…who pulled out a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of coins.

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I decided that it was a great time to wander through the shop once more to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.  Namely, that it was a great time to go back upstairs and have a little debate with my conscience regarding the feasibility of making my own Sweetie Pie quilt, because God was OBVIOUSLY STALLING my exit.

I declare no coincidences in this experience–the moment I picked up the templates, some five or so minutes (or was it years?) later, with the intention to purchase them, Lady #2 let out a whoop downstairs, like my own cosmic cheering section.  I looked at the templates in my hand, heard the cha-ching of the cash register, and nodded.

The women were exiting the shop when I reached the main floor, the store clerk made eye contact with me from across the shop, and upon the closing of the door, stage whispered, “I am SO SORRY.”

So, four miswritten checks and a bag of coins later, I walked out of the shop, templates and fat quarters in bag, and a couple of pieces of candy from the store clerk’s under-the-counter stash tucked in with them.  Traffic was unusually light coming home, and I arrived at my kids’ school to pick them up with five minutes to spare.  Making this quilt is obviously an important part of my life story–I mean, HELLO, the stall of the century, cosmic cheering, and free candy…so I’ve given myself over to the will of the universe.

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Rachel Wishes She Had a Crafty Mother

I was in my craft room, trying to locate a pattern that I know I purchased this week, when my youngest daughter, Rachel, bounced into the room.  This was not ideal, as I was planning to commence sewing her birthday present once I found the missing pattern.

She’s a bit of a flit-on-by kind of girl, so I assumed she’d blast me with a bit of hurried chatter before continuing on her way to some other unsuspecting member of the family, but, of course, no.  She stopped next to me and watched me for a few seconds, then said, “I want to use the sewing machine.”

I looked over her, raised an eyebrow, and said, “Oh, really?  What for?”

She giggled, “To sew a quilt!”

“Oh,” I said, “what kind of quilt?”

She shrugged, “My usual, you know…the one I always make.”

“Why don’t you make a different one?”

“Because that’s the only one I know how to make…”

“Hmmm,” I said, “wouldn’t it be nice if you had a mother who could, like, I don’t know, TEACH YOU how to make other kinds of quilts?”

“Yeah, it really would,” she said, “I really wish…WAIT! I DO HAVE A MOM THAT CAN TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENT QUILT!”

And that, my friends, was how I came to start another quilt instead of working on my kid’s birthday present.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is some massive pattern perusal happening that I need to get back to…

Mom’s Dance Party of Horror

I was doing so well yesterday.  I was teaching, I was answering questions, and I was engaging in witty banter with my beloved offspring all while trimming down some hexies to baste.  Voila!  Lots of  hexies, and school going along on schedule to boot.

My inner celebratory dance spasmed into consciousness, knocking over the can of Diet Coke I had been enjoying but a moment beforehand.  Knocking over the can directly onto my fresh-faced hexies.  Knocking over the can so violently that the carbonation went out of control and spewed Diet Coke all over everything in its vicinity.

Hexies, chairs, worksheets, notions case, everything in the notions case.  Tidal waves of Diet Coke surging outward and destroying everything in its path.

Good feeling gone.

I didn’t freak out; I calmly dealt with the offensive can of explosive horror, wiped everything up, and then commenced with watching my once-starched hexagons curl up and peel away from their freezer paper templates throughout the remainder of the day.

This is what happens when moms dance, even just “pretending” in their heads.  Heed the warning.  Lock it up.

Hopefully Diet Coke washes out, and hopefully freezer paper re-adheres…everything was going so well yesterday.  Until it wasn’t.

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