Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lucy Locket

What do Mother Goose, Niagara Spray Sizing, my dear grandma, and a patchwork pocket have in common? They are all childhood memories so inexorably entwined that I can’t think of one without the others.

Whenever I hear nursery rhymes, I recall snuggling up to my grandmother. She smelled of freshly pressed cotton sheets which she ironed by day and tucked around me at night. Grandma had endless patience for reading aloud and my favorite bedtime book was The Real Mother Goose. Although some of the poems made little sense to my toddler brain, their sing-song rhythm was like a lullaby.

Lucy Locket was a particularly puzzling verse. Just how did she manage to lose a pocket? How careless would you have to be to lose something that’s sewn right into your clothes? The illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright just reinforced my notion that this was a morality lesson for absentminded children. Lose your pocket, or anything else for that matter, and you’ll end up crying!

Fast forward almost fifty years to a hospital visit from my friend, Mary. She made me a patchwork pocket, designed to tie around the waist and keep sewing essentials near at hand. For the time being, I can tie it to my walker to hold a cell phone, tissues and lip balm.

When I opened the gift, the first thing I thought of was Lucy Locket. As I started to recite the verse, Mary chimed right in:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sweet Surprises

Thanks for your kind hopes for my recovery. I haven’t been able to get to the computer as much as I’d like, so if I haven’t replied to you personally, I apologize. Please know that each visitor to my blog and each comment left there is precious to me. I’m continually surprised by the encouragement and support of people I've never even met. Amazing!

Progress is slow, but I’m already walking better than I did before my hospitalization in December. The other day, I was surprised by how far I walked and had my son measure the distance -- 25 yards!

That very same day, a surprise arrived in the mail-- this sweet cupcake quilt. Amy at Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts made it to commemorate her 100th blog post and I was the lucky winner! She used gorgeous fabrics and artfully quilted it with freeform feathers. Those happy springtime colors will keep me smiling throughout the winter months. Thanks Amy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Global Warming?

Winter in the Midwest has been uncharacteristically warm. Last week’s 50-60 degree temperatures melted away any vestige of dirty snow loitering on our sidewalks and streets. Personally, I’m looking forward to the next big snowfall, with hopes that our ordinary suburban scenery will change into something magical.

First Snow

I wake up in a snow globe scene--
A shimmering, glimmering world, pristine,

Where crystalline silence fills the air
With blinding brightness everywhere.

A crisp, clean coat of powdery white
Has changed the landscape overnight.

The snow has washed the dirt away
From dingy streets and sidewalks gray,

And icy glitter frosts the trees
With tinsel, twinkling in the bitter breeze.

Here, time floats very slowly by,
Like snowflakes suspended in a glycerin sky.

If only life’s dreary, cheerless days
Could be transformed in this simple way:

Turn the landscape upside down,
Give a gentle shake, then gaze around--

Perhaps the drabness will be replaced
By a wonderland of wintry grace.

© 2004 Diane Burdin

Both this poem and the photo, taken by my brother
Carl, were inspired by Thanksgiving Day, 2003.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Look Ma, No Hands!

Things are already looking up for 2008! For those of you following my recovery, here's an exciting update. Two days ago, my sons helped me stand and support myself with the walker. I tried taking a few steps, albeit baby ones, and ended up taking ten! Yesterday, the home therapist came to evaluate me and I was able to take 16 steps. As an encore, I did a 360 degree pivot, all without anyone hanging on to me. It was a triumph that gives me great hope for recovery!

As everyone else puts their Christmas decorations away for another year, I’m just beginning to enjoy ours. Many of these holiday treasures evoke sweet memories of crafting with our young boys. These special handmade gifts were stitched for aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, some of whom are no longer with us. They’ve become irreplaceable family heirlooms.

We made this Christmas wall hanging when the boys were 7 and 10 years old-- just old enough to use a needle and thread. I satin stitched a simple Christmas tree to a background and let them embellish it with buttons. Their handwritten quilt label is just as precious as the tree itself.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Christmas That Never Was

Belated holiday greetings to you. How was your Christmas? I spent the month of December in the hospital and missed the entire festive season. The closest I got to celebrating was seeing holiday lights out the rear window of an ambulance!

A severe reaction to an MS medication threw my body for a loop, causing high fever and violent muscle spasms. A new medication is helping control my excessive muscle spasticity and physical therapy at home should help restore my strength. Nevertheless, prayers for my continued improvement are most welcome and may be the intangible factor that makes all the difference!

Even though the holiday was over, when I finally got home, we pulled out some of my favorite holiday decorations. This whimsical Christmas tree quilt is a Gwen Marston design, with a few subtle changes. Instead of using Gwen's tree pattern, I substituted one William doodled when he was six. I changed up the colors too, (Gwen's quilt had a red tree, teal background, and purple border) drawing my colors from the funky Japanese fabric I put on the back.

Christmas trees and hearts. Go figure!

I chose a more conventional green border and loved accentuating it with freeform swirls.

William’s Christmas Tree
16” x 22”
Hand appliqu├ęd and quilted
 Diane Burdin, 1999