You gotta have friends…

Have you ever unexpectedly run into an old friend?  Was it awkward?  Uncomfortable?  Or did the good memories wash over you and come flooding back?

When by chance my sister Jeanne and I are able to spend Christmas together, we have a tradition of heading out on the 26th in search of half-priced holiday treasures and other bargains, along with a tasty lunch and day of no cooking or cleaning up!  This past December 26, our agenda included fabric stores.  One of our first stops was Ann Arbor Sewing Center.  Jeanne had a question about her machine and I was checking out their fabric offerings.  While meandering through various rooms, I passed a display of different sewing machine models, and there she was at the end of the row.  A beautiful, used, older model Husqvarna, so very much like my old friend, my eyes felt a little misty.  

In 1979 when I was newly pregnant with my first child, I bought my first used Husqvarna, a good quality brand from Sweden.  It was my partner in creating an overabundance of open bottom sleeping bags for baby-to-be and other layette items.  I then graduated to nightshirts and rompers for toddlers, chair pads and curtains for our home, halloween costumes and even a few pieces of clothing for me.  I made pillows, sewed patches on lettermen and band jackets, and mended many a tear.  

One December long ago I was frantically trying to finish up several pairs of Christmas flannel pajamas. Flannel fabric has a tendency to shed or pill and you end up with lots of annoying fibers clogging your sewing machine.  I decided to take a break from sewing and clean it.  Unfortunately, in my over-zealous effort to clean out my machine, I took it apart one step too far and was unable to get it back together.  With my kids napping, I was in no position to load up the machine and the kids and head to the dealer.  So, in desperation, I phoned for help.   I am not a mechanically inclined person.  It amazed me that in the next 30 minutes, that very kind and patient person on the other end of the phone was able to direct me step by step until I had put machine back together and me back sewing before the end of nap time!

I received a badge for sewing in 4-H when I was in grade school.  In junior high, I took Home Economics and made a ghastly 1970s polyester skirt that my instructor deemed “too short!”  During my high school years, I was intent on making halter tops, hot pants and maxi dresses, items that weren’t available in small town Indiana.  Sadly, I drifted away from sewing until I bought my machine in 1979.  For the next thirty years, we enjoyed a marvelous friendship.

So it’s understandable that it was a sad day for me when I realized that I needed to retire my trusty old machine.  It was used when I bought it in 1979, and in 2017, much had changed in sewing machine technology and no one wanted to work on mine anymore.  I eventually bought another machine, another brand, a plasticky, computerized one.  We never bonded.  

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Maybe it’s because I have more free time or maybe it’s the influence of Project Runway and all the fabulous sewing blogs, I find myself eager to jump back into the world of creativity. And now I have my new used machine.  When I was at the counter completing my purchase, I asked the clerk if they used to be on Main Street in Ann Arbor.  Why yes they did!  I was buying my second machine from Ann Arbor Sewing Center.  If this friendship works out half as well as the first, I will be a very satisfied seamstress.

C’est la vie.

The party’s over…

After Emmet and Henry left this past Sunday to head back home, I plopped down in a chair next to Mr. Smith.  I must have been wearing my melancholy face because he said, “What’s wrong?”  My response was “the party’s over.”  The shopping, gift giving, visiting, eating, and drinking frenzy was over for another year and I was left with January.  I thought I had escaped the clutches of my old nemesis this year, but before my visitors had made their way out of the state of Pennsylvania, I felt the inertia creeping in.

I have always had a difficult relationship with January.  The mornings are cold and dark, you have to take down your Christmas decorations and store them away, and there are way too many people at my gym.  A quick internet search of post-Christmas blues revealed I’m in good company.  A 2005 Gallup survey asked 1,000 Americans about their favorite month (the most recent year they asked this question).  No surprise to me, January ranked dead last, right behind February. 

The internet is also chock full of suggestions on how you can beat the winter blues.  Eat right, exercise, make something, do something for someone else, organize, get out of the house, plan a trip.  The list goes on and on.  These are all great suggestions, but some days I’m just not in the mood.  My bed is warm and cozy in the morning and Mr. Smith is always agreeable to bringing me a latte there before he’s off to work.  Then it’s so easy to linger there, pick up a book or waste an hour on my phone. With no job to define my schedule, it’s up to me to structure my day.

This January I decided to borrow a page from my sister Jeanne (and Sir Isaac Newton’s) book.  As a personal reminder, Jeanne has Newton’s First Law of Motion written and hanging on her wall: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…  Along with packing up the Christmas decorations, I’m going to pack up the inertia and send it on its way.  I will push myself out of bed in the morning and have my morning latte with Mr. Smith before he leaves for work. And I won’t wear my melancholy face.

C’est la vie.

Gentle January…

I am easing into the new year.  My holiday decorations are still up and we are still delighting in family visits.  This past Thursday, our granddaughter Eleanor came for lunch with her parents.  They had spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s with friends in New York City during which her dad introduced her to Carnegie Hall by sharing cupcakes in the lobby.

Perhaps contemplating being on stage at Carnegie Hall.

On their drive back home, they made a side trip to Wilkes Barre for a late, leisurely lunch. Mr. Smith made a tasty pot of potato leek soup and I tossed a salad.  Eleanor entertained us by picking up different of my Santas and saying “Ho, ho, ho” in her best Santa voice. Even though we were together for Thanksgiving, Mr. Smith and I both saw changes in Eleanor, mainly her growing vocabulary.  She is growing up bilingual and it is amazing to see her segue between English and Mandarin. 

Yesterday morning I was up early and off to the gym, not just to log some miles but to “weigh in”.  Back in the middle of November when I was down for the count with a lousy cold and feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t feel like working out, I got an email from my gym encouraging me to “maintain, not gain” over the holidays.  Members wanting to take part in this challenge needed to pay $25 and weigh in before Thanksgiving for a starting weight and on January 4, 2020 for an end weight.  The three people to lose the highest percentage of their body weight would each win $75. Despite my cold, I got myself over to the gym, weighed in and paid the fee.  I won’t know until Monday if I’m in the official winner’s circle, but when I weighed in this morning, I was down 4.7 pounds!  Whether or not I win the money, not having gained over the holidays makes me want to do a happy dance.

I didn’t spend too much time basking in my triumph as we were expecting more visitors.  Emmet and Henry were headed up to spend the night with us.  Emmet has a goal of bringing each of the boys up for a solo overnight twice in 2020, scoring us six visits!  Getting to visit with a grandchild one-on-one is a special treat.  Mr. Smith made a delicious Lobster Pasta (there go my 4.7 lbs!) and Emmet brought an amazing Chardonnay.  

Henry I went for a walk, talked about his favorite classes at school, his love of tae kwon do and the state of the world, or at least the selection of treats at the local convenience store.

This holiday season has been a gift for me. It’s been an opportunity to take a breath, relax and connect with friends and family, enjoying the luxury of time. Maybe it’s unpacking the ornaments that have been collected over the years and the memories connected to them or maybe it’s the Christmas cards from old friends, but I’m always a little nostalgic this time of year. But while I’m happy to honor the past and happily anticipate the future, I never want to underestimate the present. After all, these are the good old days.

C’est la vie.

Bonne année…

Happy New Year to all of you and happy birthday to my blog!  

One year ago today I gathered my courage and pushed “publish” on my inaugural post.  I set a goal of posting twice a week and I am thrilled to say I met my goal!   It amazed me to hit the milestone of publishing 104 posts in 2019.

In my January 1, 2019 post, I wrote about starting the year with reflections instead of resolutions.  And 2019 gave me much to reflect on.  Mr. Smith and I managed the move from New York to Pennsylvania with minimal complications, but we are both aware that we won’t retire here so we spend some time contemplating and discussing where our golden years will take us.  And I lost my dear mother-in-law Pat in October and my sister Suzi in November.  The end of those lives gave me pause and reinforced that life is transient and not to be wasted.

During our recent Christmas road trip, in addition to an abundance of Christmas music, Mr. Smith indulged me with some playlists from the Seventies.  While listening to Carly Simon croon Anticipation, it struck me that Anticipation may be my word for 2020.  There are already some events on my calendar that I’m excited about. As a self-confessed planner, there is nothing I love more than having upcoming adventures to plan and organize.  I’m also excited about growing my blog.  Technology doesn’t come naturally to me, but I have some things I want to conquer this year and I anticipate success.  And if my awesome editor has her way, I’ll get back to work on my book.

I thank you all for reading.  I appreciate and treasure each and every comment.  I hope that 2020 brings you new adventures as well as a surprise or two.  Because as we know – these are the good old days.

C’est la vie.