Friday, March 18, 2011

special gift, special friend...

i can't wait to share...
this is one of the birthday gifts
i created for my darling nancy -
sister of my heart & too far away friend.
her birthday was a bit over a week ago, so...
for my nans i knew that not just any gift would do.
i wanted to make her something special,
as she is so very special to me.

so along with a hefty supply of my homemade granola
(which nans refers to as her "comfort food")
and a week's worth of crocheted dish cloths
(a casual hint before christmas -
"what i could really use are some of those crocheted dish cloths!"
see nans? i didn't forget; i just hope they stay together!)
i created a set of jewelry, especially for her...

i've long wanted to play around with the fun vintage
collections of findings, charms and such
that i've spied in the craft stores,
on etsy, and pretty much everywhere.
so on a rainy/snowy saturday morning a few weeks back
i went in search of the perfect pieces to create
a one of a kind gift for a
one of a kind friend.

it was such fun matching pieces i already had
along with treasures i found at the store.
i was in heaven that afternoon in my craft room...
at my work table, thinking of this dear friend,
working on these fun pieces, an audio book
spinning a story for me in the background
(the widower's tale by julia glass - excellent story).

i was thrilled with how the necklace
and matching earrings turned out.

the charms are not without their meaning...
the heart represents our relationship.
we are, indeed, sisters of the heart,
and the bird represents flight;
flight as in although my nans is far away
this is to remind her of how i look forward
to the time when she will again "fly away home"
to me, to her book club gals,
all of us who miss her and can't wait for the
time when we're together again.

i adore the corner of my house that's left just for me,
a bedroom left vacant by daughter #2.
it's mine now and i love it.
and i simply love the possibility
of the things yet to create.
when i take time, make time
to let my imagination take flight.
and what better inspiration
than a gift for a friend
who is, in turn, a gift to me.

happy weekend...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

on shamrocks and the color green...

funny, isn't it, how on st. paddy's day we all feel a bit luckier wearing a bit of the green? there's not an irish bone in my body, but i feel it too - a touch of luck for me courtesy of the tiny green crystals that accompany the silver shamrock accessorizing my otherwise blah all black outfit today. i wear the necklace in honor of my gram - elizabeth shirley mccauley milanich. does a name get any more irish than that? well, except for the milanich part, which is serbian and courtesy of my gramps.

my gram was as irish as the day is long. red hair with a gorgeous natural curl, deep blue eyes, and a smattering of freckles that made her only that much more lovely. beautiful, really. because of my gram, i can't get through a rendition of "danny boy" or "when irish eyes are smiling" without a good cry. for my gram was that - a true irish rose with eyes that smiled like no other.

i've a few facts to share today on the wearing of the green...legend has it that the custom was born with the color of the shamrock. st. patrick himself was said to have used the leaves of the shamrock to teach about the trinity - the stem representing one divine nature and the green leaves are the three persons which comprise that nature; father, son and holy spirit. i like that idea, what it symbolizes.

another explanation for the wearing of green on st. paddy's day dates back to the 18th century. the irish were said to have worn green in an attempt to remain invisible to leprechauns. i guess the story goes that the little guys were color blind when it came to green. leprechauns had the stinky little reputation for pinching people, did you know that? me either. but if you wear green, they can't see you, therefore they can't pinch you:)

on the flip side, some folks say that the green is actually thought to be the leprechauns favorite color, therefore considered to be an unlucky color in ireland. an irish bride would never be caught wearing a stitch of green on her wedding day!

so there you have it. i guess either way - whether you're wearing green or not - beware of the pinch of the leprechaun. ha! with that, on this gorgeous st. paddy's day in chicagoland (where temps are expected to be in the mid 60's), i leave you with, what else?, an irish blessing...

may your blessings outnumber
the shamrocks that grow
and may trouble avoid you
wherever you go

wishing you the luck of the irish,

p.s. corned beef, cabbage and a hearty loaf of rye are what's for dinner tonight.
i can't wait!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

notes on lent and the blessing of a good friend...

there's nothing quite like a having a friend that you can share your faith with. someone to discuss the wide open range of heavenly things and how they apply daily to our lives here on earth. i'm lucky enough to have such a friend. her name is carolyn and if i had a dollar for each time i've said to her "i'm so glad we met," well...i'd have enough for a plane to ticket to somewhere, that's for sure.

we met over a shared sandwich. well, we weren't sharing the same sandwich actually. we weren't even sharing the same table. i was sitting with a few friends and carolyn was at the table next to me. i happened to notice that carolyn was eating the same sandwich as i was - a "to this day memorably delicious" panini with warm, savory goat cheese, apricot preserves and almonds tucked inside. i've yet to recreate this sandwich, but it's on my list, none the less.

at a break in the conversation at my table i leaned over and said to this stranger, "isn't that the most delicious sandwich ever?" she started with a laugh (which has since become music to my ears) and whole heartedly agreed with me. that gave opening for carolyn to ask me about the conversation we'd been having - books, book clubs, etc. her best friend having just moved out of state and across the county, carolyn was in particular need of the company of friends - a group to become a part of, and had also had a long expressed interest in becoming a part of a book club.

not one to leave anyone on the sidelines of life, i eagerly invited carolyn to join us for book club and long story long, she's been a part ever since. not part of just one book club, but of all three that i lead at the library. i'm happy to say that in the time since, we've become dear friends as well. friends who share interests, hobbies and above all else, a strong and abiding faith.

last christmas we became "advent buddies." carolyn found a little booklet of daily scripture readings and devotions which led us through a month long celebration of the season of advent. the shared experience lent a much deeper meaning to christmas for me. i truly needed that, the "more" part, as it was the first christmas where my dad would be watching it all from heaven.

since then, and in the weeks leading up to lent, carolyn and i both agreed that we'd like to progress from "advent buddies" to "lent partners." again we went in search of a method of study, a booklet to guide the way. find one we did, and we are now on our individual yet together subsequent lenten journeys. we haven't discussed the "what we're giving up" part of lent, not on purpose but pretty much because it just hasn't come up. and that's not what's most important, i think, about lent. people get so hung up on that part and fail to dig deeper into the true meaning of repentance, of giving up, of letting go.

turning away from, confessing, admitting to things which cause us to stumble. things which hide our true nature, and in turn cause us to hide from god. and to have a season in which to come clean - repent, be renewed - isn't that the greatest gift? to sacrifice, to be made new, to draw ever closer to a loving god that gave everything he could possibly give - what more could i ever ask for? nothing. absolutely nothing. my life is a gift. and carolyn is a gift, a friend to share my faith with. a friend to ponder life's ultimate questions with. who is honest, loving and of such integrity. and her laugh, heavens...her laugh. if only you could hear.

on that day, at the restaurant, i opened up to a stranger. not an accident. there are no accidents where god is concerned. and through opening up myself to carolyn, god has opened himself up to me in a way i've never experienced. through advent, through lent, through ways yet unknown to me. and through the musical laughter of a good friend.

his ways are marvelous, they are mysterious, they are perfect in every sense. and they are right for me. for that i live my life as a prayer, in gratitude.

his love,
his peace,
may they be your's...

photo: early pre-spring morning in the forest preserve:)