Tag: stitchings (Page 2 of 36)

In Our Own Language 16


Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there


stitching in the car . . .


and under Adonis . . .


and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .


and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

Wordless Whispers


In the midst of block for The 70273 Project, a box lands
with a return address from Mary Ellington.
It is filled not with blocks,
but with baby dresses


and baby bonnets

and a special occasion baby’s bib.


There are two adult garments
that motivate me to stick to my diet and exercise
so that i can wear them as dusters one day soon.


“i know you’ll do something magical with them,”
her note says.


i have no image in mind yet,


but the tender clothes
already whisper to me
and oh the stories


their vulnerable lace

and tender tucks

and age-old stains
long to tell.


Thank you, Mary, for honoring me
with these special, delicate items,
for trusting me
to hear, transcribe, and share
their stories.

Maybe you want to hear their stories
and watch as their personal histories unfold?
And maybe you want to keep your finger on the pulse
of The 70273 Project?
Here’s one way to do just that.

the night that changed everything


a girl walks into a bar
and when the bartender asks
“what’ll you have?”
she says
43 years ago tonight.

no joke.

it was luck that brought us together
and love that keeps us together
the kind of love laced
with gratitude and respect
with patience and kindness
the kind of love that deepens
with age.

he continues to bring out the best in me.

i love to make him laugh
to hear him lay out the future
and ask my input
to watch him load the dishwasher
(because he does it right, you know).

i don’t tell him
(and more importantly i’m not sure
i show him – because words can’t touch it)
often enough
how much i adore him.
that needs to – and will – change.

i don’t ever want us
to grow stale
or feel taken for granted
and that takes effort,
you know,
conscious, dedicated effort.


my daughter and i went to a thrift shop
here in pennsylvania today
and it occurs to me only now
what i brought home:


his mother and i
had the most fun
taking these classes together.
we made t-shirts,
skirts, even swimsuits.
give us some of that dotted paper,
some thread and a length of double-knit fabric,
and there was nothing we couldn’t make
and nobody we couldn’t dress.
i miss those days
and i miss her.


and this
ceramic delft blue thimble.
we visited the delft factory
– the engineer and i –
on our honeymoon
(our second honeymoon)
in september
43 years ago.

we met on january 27, 1973
became engaged on april 1, 1973
and said “i do” on july 31, 1973.
there was no need to wait cause
i knew a good guy when i met him
oh yes i certainly did.

What Now?


Every time we visit Nancy,
I bring home a set of drawings.
First I scan them
then label them by set and drawing number
then I print them
and pin them to the fabric.


I stitch through the paper
then pluck the paper off
using lighted tweezers to get the teensy little bits out.

IOOL4 035 copy

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I stitched two drawings a night,

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and when we got sick
and sat on the sofa all day,

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I stitched more than two,
so I finished more than a week ahead of schedule.

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It was quite satisfying
to have a quota, a schedule, a plan
and meet it.

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There are 95 drawings in In Our Own Language 4,
and I have no idea how to assemble them
now that I’ve stitched them all.
This is known as Entering The Unknown.
I’ve been in and out of The Unknown so many times,
I’m not too worried.
I’ll see something that sparks an idea
or dream up an image
or somebody will say “Why don’t you . . . “
and I’ll be off and running again.
So if you have any ideas . . .

back in the saddle


we walked today, the engineer and i. walked for the first time since thanksgiving, really. holidays – travel – family – rain – coughing, coughing, and more coughing have put my fitbit on a pretty strict diet. i’ve missed walking. sure i’ve had 2 hours of found time to stitch every day, but walking is kindling. i solve problems when i walk. i get ideas when i walk. i clear cobwebs and make connections when i walk. i think at least 7 impossible thoughts every time i take a walk.

sometimes we walk up the falls and get our shoes muddy.
sometimes we walk in the gym and dodge basketballs.
sometimes we walk 4-8 laps through the grocery store before filling a cart with foodstuffs.
many night we walk laps around the sofa and dining room table and kitchen island.
sometimes – like today – we walk the aisles at lowe’s. the engineer drools his way down every aisle, and he never comes away empty-handed. me? i just wish fabric stores were as big with well-lit and well-defined aisles cause i’d like to walk, drool, and shop, too. i believe i could do it. i believe i’d be good at it.

i did not escape my notice that the snow shovels, sleds, and ice melt were directly across from – no more than 2 feet, i’m telling you – the seed packets and starter sets. doesn’t that just crack you up?

the good news is i’ve got my walking on again – feeding my fitbit regularly – and that’s a good thing. maybe i’ll even add that 15 minutes of yoga first thing every morning i’ve been dreaming about then pop a handful of almonds and enjoy a mid-afternoon (think 3:00) workout with resistance bands. cross your fingers. it’d be nice to do it for real instead of just in my imagination.

and all the while in the background, nancy still draws, and i still stitch.

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In Our Own Language 4:34

What Comes Between Starting and Finishing


I am trying to stay on task this year,
having no more than three cloths in the works
at any one time,
finishing one project
before starting another.

(Wish me luck.)

One project must be portable –
able to fit in a small bag
that will fit in my purse or tote
because we travel
– a lot –
Which is why it often takes so long
to cross the finish line.


I am using my machine on some projects,
(I couldn’t’ve finished the Christmas presents
– table runners for my son and his wife –
without the assistance of my sewing machine)
but always there is a bit of hand stitching.

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Stitching In Our Own Language 4
is my night-time stitching project.
If I continue to stitch 2 drawings a night,
I will be finished in 10 days.


It’s quite satisfying to lay out a plan
and stick to it
and quite satisfying to complete things.
It’s a feeling I want to experience
more often this year.


If It Is Not Too Dark

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Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.
Get some fresh air, try to smile.
Say something kind
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens by.

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Always exercise your heart’s knowing.
You might as well attempt something real
Along this path:

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Take your spouse or lover into your arms
The way you did when you first met.
Let tenderness pour from your eyes
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.

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Play a game with some children.
Extend yourself to a friend.
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and plants –
Why not let them get drunk and wild!

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Let’s toast
Every rung we’ve climbed on Evolution’s ladder.
Whisper, “I love you! I love you!”
To the whole mad world.

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Let’s stop reading about God –
We will never understand Him.

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Jump to your feet, wave your fists,
Threaten and warn the whole Universe
That your heart can no longer live
Without real love!



In Our Own Language 4:27-33

Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.



The body is a sensing instrument of consciousness.
Without the body and the mind, the trees couldn’t see themselves.


Usually we think that we are looking at a tree,
but the tree is looking at itself through us.


Without this instrument,
the tree doesn’t get to see itself.


We are the sensing instruments of the Divine.

– Adyashanti

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In Our Own Language 4:24
Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law, draws.

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I, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch.

A(nother) Squeaky New Beginning


Happy New Year from Jeanne and Nancy

Every New Year’s Day, my Grandmother would finish breakfast, get lunch on to cook, then take her seat in the chair underneath the telephone. She’d pull out the baby blue zippered 3-ring binder that held all sorts of important information, turn to the curled-up page where she’d written all the family phone numbers, and put her finger beside the name at the top. Carefully, making sure she got the number right, she dialed one number after another.

“Hello?” answered the receiving party.

“Hello. Is this 1-9-7-6?” Grandmother would ask, clamping her hand over her mouth so the person on the other end would take her seriously.

“No,” they’d say, thinking she was referring to a phone number, “this is 5321.”

“Oh yes, it is so 1976,” she’d say, “check the calendar,” her laughter erupting as she slammed down the phone. She’d take a few deep, satisfied breaths to collect herself before dialing the next number on the list.

New Year’s Day is the only day my grandmother ever turned prankster, and she wore that year-turned-telephone number prank slap out. Today, ignoring caller id because that’s not important to the memory, my cousin Stacy and I race to call each other on New Year’s Day, asking simply, “Is this 2-0-1-6?”, laugh, and hang up.


Happy New Year, y’all. I hope you’ve had your black eyed peas and turnip greens and pork cause there’s no need in tempting fate. But listen here: whatever resolutions you make, whatever resolutions you break, may 2016 hold delight around every turn. May you laugh more than you cry. And may you never question – or let anyone else question – your worthiness.

Now let’s get on out there and have ourselves a big time, why don’t we.


Doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, Nancy and I continue doing what we do . . .

Nancy draws:

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And I stitch:

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And we watch to see where that carries us.

Many Faces of Joy




There’s the joy of becoming reacquainted with the sewing machine that was a gift from The Engineer on our first Christmas some 42 years ago, paid for with winnings from two radio contests. And the joy of using that sewing machine to make gifts – four long, skinny quilts to grace the holiday tables of my children, my mother, and my brother. The joy of (re)learning that while I like learning new techniques from others, I do not like following patterns. Makes me scratchy, irritable.



There’s the joy of having a roof that holds under the constant onslaught of viscous thunderstorms and torrential rains. The joy of watching the flood waters stop four steps short of coming into the house.

There’s the joy of tissues with lotion woven in. Of Mother mixing me up some of Mama Helen’s special cough syrup that uses only 3 ingredients: Maker’s Mark, lemon juice, and honey. The joy of a text that comes from my daughter while I’m in the doctor’s waiting room promising to take care of me while the antibiotics do their job.






But neither the raging weather or the raging sinus infection dampened the joy of being with family. The joy of hearing my daughter sing at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The joy of hearing how the younger generations intend to get after the future while swapping stories from the past that give roots and clues. The joy of laughter and camaraderie that become our heritage and history.



I took the Storm-at-Sea to enjoy the joy of stitching . . . but I didn’t get much joy done on that front.

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