Scrapped

Scrappy Happy Hollyhocks-1-1My parents came of age during the Depression, an event that had great influence on what was saved and stored away for some rainy day need-it-now occasion rather than scrapped. My brother and I fussed and fumed and laughed our way through cleaning out their home after our mother passed away. A hundred empty gift boxes crammed into bedroom cupboards. A thousand empty coat hangers. A complete set of Reader's Digests in the garage rafters bookended with complete sets of National Geographic and Family Circle. Empty Mason jars which hadn't held homemade jelly in decades. After the industrial size dumpster was filled to over flowing a couple of times, we swore we'd never do that to our children!

My brother is by nature a minimalist. I, on the other hand, am...well, an artist. Our home isn't teeming with empty anything, but there are art and sewing supplies which my children might possibly fuss and fume and laugh about at some point in the distant future. Especially since I can't bear to throw away fabric scraps. Particularly those that are created in the process of making a Lil Twister pinwheel quilt for a baby shower recently. A significant pile of scraps - 3" tall triangles, 2 1/4" squares, and 1/4" raggedy bits were left behind...too big a pile of precious sewing possibilities to be scrapped. I just knew there was a rainy day need-it-now moment right around the sewing room corner.

Tumbling Pinwheel Baby QuiltWhile the complicated looking but easy baby quilt looked like this, I especially love the improv quilt that emerged out of the pile of scraps. The black fabric, batting, improvised quilt backing, and a few buttons were all leftovers from other sewing projects...scraps too good to scrap. The two crocheted doilies were a gift years ago from a West Coast friend who was sure I "could find something to do with them." She was right. Another one found its way into the embellishments added to a fabric collage included in the recent art installation In Clothing We Remember at the Cary Arts Center.

This pile of colorful scraps got me to thinking about the ladies at the Lighthouse, a year-long, faith-based, residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse, and their willingness...to begin with...to believe that their lives were a pile of filthy rags that needed to be scrapped. Little by little, as they progressed in their recovery, learning of God's love for them, they began to see the potential for making something beautiful out of the scraps of their lives. Sometimes, those rainy day need-it-now scraps are more important to keep than we thought possible. The original pattern was beautiful. But sometimes, what we courageously, creatively do with the leftover, throwaway scraps is far more engaging and inspiring.

If you've cleaned out an ancestral home, what are some of the favorite hordes you discovered...and threw away? What are the beloved scraps you've saved that will make your children fuss, fume and laugh? Are there interesting projects you've created from scraps that others might have thrown away? If you were to describe the "wholecloth" made from the scraps of your life, what would you say? What would it look like? And what would you title your creation?

Stories

Tri-fold Book-1I've listed to a lot of stories this last week. Thankfully. They were a great amusement, comfort, and distraction as I waited for results of a medical procedure my husband was undergoing at a local hospital.

One of the disadvantages of moving away from long established relationships is that no one knows you story. One of the advantages of moving to a new area is that no one knows your stories. Those often told anecdotes that gift life with its rhythm, drama, and humor. I heard stories of skiing accidents where a heart surgeon skillfully sutured a facial wound so finely no scar remains. I heard stories of a navy man, lashed to the conning tower of a surfaced submarine, who was momentarily, though it seemed like a lifetime, submerged by a rouge wave. And the story of a prank pulled on a nurse by a patient who substituted ginger ale for his urine sample. When she worried that it looked a bit pale, the patient seized the beaker, drank it down to her horror, and said, "Let me run it through again."

The stories were well crafted, stripped of the inessentials, allowing the drama of the event to build, the blood to drip, the ocean-swelling fear to register, the quasi-revulsion, see-it-coming recoil to mingle with laughter. What a way to spend the day with two new guy friends listening to one another's stories. The books of our lives are filled with such artistry. Yet at the heart of each story is a crisis, a possible bad outcome...that ends, thankfully, with a good resolution. By swapping these ski and sea stories the guys were speaking hope into our story...even that hospitals can be a place for lightheartedness.

Our story? Though slightly more bionic, my husband is home, doing well, creating sawdust out in the garage, and making excellent progress on his Mississippi riverboat model. At the same time he is researching a more heart healthy diet...as well as more elaborate model ships. That's our story...and we're sticking to it.

What's one of your stories that names a crises, suggests potential bad outcomes, and resolves well? Have you ever considered that as a story of hope that you might speak into another person's story? Have you ever considered including that in a book of your spiritual story? If not, will you now?

PS - One of the sweet pieces of the story was being able to spend the afternoon and evening with someone who knows our stories - our daughter who loved us as a mother hen.

Improv

In My DNA - Wretched Man That I Am-1Some weeks you just have to improvise. Too many balls in the air. Mostly fun, but a sad one as well. We've lost a beloved friend from church who hosted our weekly Bible study at her home. Valerie never met a stranger; she was so graciously welcoming when I first met her at a retreat last October. On hospice care for the last few weeks, the weekly study has migrated to our home and the group is improvising how to do life without this inspiring friend.

And at the same time, life goes on. We remain engaged with all the activities and responsibilities that crowd our calendars. Yet one of my projects, our granddaughter's wedding quilt came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago. A complicated pattern that requires intense attention to a tome of written instructions, I reached a point where I wasn't sure I was doing it "right." I didn't want to continue sewing units together with the very real possibility that they might all have to be taken apart...all 72 of them! The clerk at the quilt shop who specialized in these kinds of patterns had been ill, was still ill, and wasn't going to be available for consultation for another week. Have I mentioned making this quilt is all about delayed gratification? Now things were delayed more than usual.

So in the interim, an idea from Pinterest inspired some improv digging through my stash. Enough of everything was available except a pattern...which I had to improvise...more or less successfully. The pattern reminded me of DNA strands which invited me to reflect on the pleasure of creativity being in my DNA. But during the process of piecing the quilt front, I made every rookie mistake there is to make in quilting. Let's just say my seam ripper and I were on a first name basis. Which got me to improvisationally reflect on Roman 7's "oh wretched (wo)man that I am, I don't do what I want to do, and do what I don't want to do..." Yup, that's in my DNA too.

DNA - Back ArtBut it was the back art for the quilt that brought me the most pleasure...and immediate gratification. I began a quilt backing that would hopefully use up as much of the remaining fabric as possible in a way that used bold colors, large negative spaces, in a graphic composition that was both balanced and irregular ....improvisational... qualities frequently found in contemporary modern quilts. My studio design wall didn't lend itself to laying out this composition, so our large, round oak dining table became an improv design space. Only small bits of yardage remain of the substantial original pile. While this scrappy quilt was a great stash buster, the immediate gratification of this two-day project was immensely pleasurable. And taught me that the pleasure of improv is also in my DNA. The things we learn about ourselves when we're, seemingly, looking the other way!

In the midst of delayed gratification, what have you turned to creatively for a wee bit of immediate gratification? What have you learned about yourself in the process? What were the improv pieces that were a part of that learning? How might what you learned about yourself influence your future?

New

Thank YouThere's always something new up my sleeve. Combined with being a crafty (as in sly) grandma type, I had a very creatively fulfilling time this week. I also had the privilege of helping our pastor's eight year old twin daughters and his ten year son learn how to sew. Their first project? A pillowcase with a contrasting cuff and flange. Way easy and a lotta bang for the buck as they say.

Our adventure began on Tuesday with a trip to a fabric store with their mom. To my delight they swiftly moved beyond the Valentine novelty prints. Although the girls both love all things pink, they opted for contemporary fabrics with more sophisticated designs and color schemes. Their brother Daniel? He wanted something soft like satin...but in greens and brown! I love how kids embrace the creative process and make it their own.

As sewing day approached I realized with three kids and one sewing machine there'd be a lot of down time for two of the kids while the other sewed. This is where my crafty/clever grandma gene got fully expressed. I've discovered small 500 piece jigsaw puzzles at the dollar store. An easy day's entertainment during winter weather, once they're done, they're done...unless you can do something creative with them. Like smooch shades of green paint all over the puzzle while it's still assembled. Dried and popped apart, the individual pieces are great for simulating foliage on a tree. A brown paper bag stamped with a wood grain pattern made wonderful tree trunks and branches using each kid's arm and hand as a pattern. Prompted by Psalm 1:2,3 - a man's delight is in the law of the Lord...he is like a tree planted by streams of water, they added star-burst punched suns and grass clumps, and streams of water. I'll be borrowing these as project prototypes when I teach a workshop next year entitled Altered Papers/Altared Images at Montreat.

We moved from the cutting/pinning area to the sewing machine to the ironing board all afternoon with excitement...and a little apprehension about using the unfamiliar...namely the iron. All three of the kids took to the sewing machine with ease, a learning process that requires hand, eye and foot coordination. All three were very satisfied with their first experience sewing. And then there were all the head bands they made from the scraps. The twins wanted to know if they could come back next week to begin their quilts! Mom had to remind them they were headed to the coast for spring break.  Going to the beach? Making quilts? Going to the beach? Making quilts? That's a tough one...

And of course, during the course of the afternoon, each one stuck her/himself with a quilting pin. There was even a wee bit of blood involved. Rather than have that be a discouraging experience that might dampen their sewing enthusiasm, I simply enthused that one wasn't really a sewist until one had drawn blood sticking themselves with a pin. What had been a painful experience all of a sudden became a badge of honor!

My young friends headed home very happy with their new pillowcases and an art project to boot. It was my pleasure to introduce three new sewists into the wonderful, magical, creative world of sewing!

If there was a crafty/clever older person or grandparent in your past, what was something new you learned from that person? What is something in your "bag of tricks" that a young person might love learning from you? Think outside the paint box...cooking, carpentry, home maintenance, knitting, bird watching, gardening, music, sharing a particular field of interest...anything at all that others would appreciate having handed down to them. With your particular flair attached, of course!

PS - Since sewing is no longer a gender specific activity, the term seamstress is no longer appropriate. The new term sewist is now currently in Vogue....pun intended.

Discovery

 

Fireworks - BeforeLadies and gentlemen, I have just discovered that after two whole weeks of activities and appointments cancelled because of snow and ice, a day-long evacuation of our home because of area wide power outages, the ornamental pear trees in the front yard are shaking their limbed fists in the face of winter; buds abound on the bare branches all around. Spring is going to win after all. And we've discovered that we've tolerated winter better than we imagined.

I've discovered that snowy days are the perfect occasions to explore what can be created with the amazing assortment of altered art paper left behind by one of my grandsons who self-admits he's addicted to my Fiskar paper cutter! From decorative die cut punched note cards to embellished note card houses (created by another grandson) to collaged backgrounds from the prodigious pile of paper strips, there was art to be made. And to rummaging through long-neglected art supplies with the hopes of discovering something I've never taken the time to explore...like the water-soluble oil pastels in this fireworks scribble, a product I haven't touched in over ten years.

There was also the paper pieced name tag I stitched from a pile of batik scraps generated working on our granddaughter's wedding quilt - an extreme delayed gratification project that needed an instant gratification token. While the final two images aren't fully realized yet, I've discovered begin cooped in the house for days on end, needing to entertain myself, has its benefits. Ideas begin to bud shaking their fists at boredom, just like the ornamental pears trees in the front yard.

If you were to be snowed and iced in for two weeks, what would you do to entertain yourself creatively? What interesting resource, art or otherwise, has been languishing unexplored in your home for far too long? What discoveries might await you...that you don't fully understand? I've discovered relaxing into the art making of others and simply enjoying the collaborative process of being together creatively. The end product is not the end product. Such a lovely discovery!

New

Still Life CollageWe're nearly six months into a new life here in North Carolina. Some days it feels like we just got here, but some days now we feel like we've been here forever. The hard work of imprinting a new routine that I fretted about a few months ago seems mostly a distant complaint...with occasional echoes. In the quiet days after the festive, somewhat frantic celebration of Christmas, it's a treat to reflect on the "newness" of our transition...our new life.

We've pretty well adjusted to, and fine-tuned, the new places all our possessions reside. Well, with the exception of some of my art supplies and Robert's stuff in the garage. We're both still occasionally hunting for that one thing we know we saw when we initially unpacked. Sigh...

One of my new big ahas is that we've bought a party house! A cozy living room invites intimate conversations, the open-floor plan of the kitchen, dining and family rooms provides a smooth flow for preparing, serving and enjoying food and fellowship. And a large formal dining room allows us to open our round oak table to seat up to fourteen, with plenty of room to move comfortably back and forth between the kitchen for seconds. That doesn't even include the screen porch which currently serves as a second refrigerator rather than a breezy, warm gathering place, as it did during the summer.

As a result I have a renewed interest in cooking. There's a vast new audience who have not gotten tired of my tried and true recipes. While we routinely explore new restaurants in the area, we are as likely to share a meal around our table with our new friends. And I'm teaching these new old recipes to our grandsons who assist me with some regularity as my sou chef. As you might guess, onions and lemons have played a role in their nouveau cuisine.

Still Life WatercolorI've availed myself of a number of new art adventures including a landscape watercolor class at the senior center. Frustrated with only painting landscapes, one of the other classmates asked if we could paint a still life instead. Working from two paintings by the instructor, rather than an actual still life, the painting at left is what I accomplished. Better than a kick in the chins, but not something I'd frame. But one of the most rewarding aspects of my new life, in this new place, is a willingness to try new things - of doing old things a new way.

As you can tell, the top image is essentially the same still life...with a new twist. Sopping up the leftovers from the grandsons' paint palettes, I repeatedly pressed paint soaked paper towels on a sheet of watercolor paper which I then glazed with a sunset gold Lumiere paint. The background of the still life was torn away and the remaining image glued on the painted background. Added three square collage elements and rescued a frame from someone else's discard pile. Voila! A new piece of art for our home.

However, one of my favorite old routines is decoding the daily cryptogram in our new local newspaper. Today's was especially apt as it invited a transition from reflecting on the new things of the past to a focused intention for the new present.

Attributed to Brad Paisley, a country singer, it goes like this...

"Tomorrow is the first blank page in a three hundred and sixty-five page book. Write a good one."

As we all begin a new year, my wish for each of you is that "you write a good one."

Happy New Year!

Routine

New DecorFor forty-five years there's been scant deviations from the routine of putting up our annual Advent decor. As Tevya would say it's tradition! But when you thin out the herd, pack things up, and sell the space where everything had its place...well, the well-rehearsed routine goes kaput. And as much as I've lamented the stress of imprinting routines in our new life in North Carolina, the disrupted routine of decorating for Christmas has been a great blessing.

As most of us know, the retelling of a beloved story over time becomes a routine that loses its sense of wonder. But when the accustomed places for displaying multiple nativity sets no longer exist, you unpack the cherished figures...and their story...with a freshness of new possibilities and places. The gingerbread theme houses that graced the kitchen garden window in our previous home now becomes the Bethlehem backdrop for a nativity of thread spools decorated with fabrics from long ago sewing projects for my mother and a dear friend. Created by another dear friend, and usually displayed in my sewing room upstairs, they now welcome all who enter our home through the screen porch.

The entry through our front door is a bit of a workout up a steep driveway. Even without snow and ice. Previous owners therefore reoriented a more convenient entrance to our home through the side gate and the family room door off the screen porch. An ideal refrigerated counter for desserts during the frigid Thanksgiving season, it now hosts the Holy Family and all who have come to worship the coming King.

A festive Christmas wreathes obscures the doorknocker on the front door. But the approach to the screen porch...that was another matter not part of our forty-five year routine. There was the red cardinal garden flag for the curbside mailbox. And the matching metal ornament hung on the side gate. Plus the blue spruce wreathe for the lamp post. Then the winter pine-cone, poinsettia, fruit-infused wreathe with tiny wrapped gifts for the back door. I mean who puts Christmas wreathes on their back doors in California! But it got me to thinking.

Advent is a season of preparation. A season of waiting. A season of anticipation. A season of adventure...especially when old traditions break with old routines and are seen afresh. As Celeste Allen says in her delightful Advent devotional The Road to Bethlehem - Musings on the Coming King, "every breath is 'a thing about to happen.'" So every door has been made ready to welcome those who come, especially the coming King. May all the doors of my life be a welcome entry because through Him, who has turned routine and tradition upside down, a thing has, is, and will continue to happen.

If the routine of tradition has been disrupted in your life, how have you been able to see the tradition with new eyes? How has that been a blessing to you? If you were to metaphorically welcome the coming King through your side gate and back door, what would grace these entrances that suggests anticipation of "a thing about to happen?"

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Transition

Star QuiltMoving messes with one's creativity. At least it does mine.

After six weeks in our new home where most things had found a new home, a new room, a new cupboard, or a new shelf, we were getting the hang of living in our new space. But then we transitioned back to California to visit family and friends, retrieving Robert's van so we could enjoy a leisurely drive across country on mostly secondary roads. Late summer rains left the desert green with abundant wildflowers. Wide spots in the road intrigued us. My favorite was the New Mexican community that boasted at the edge of town "Welcome to Portales, home of 17,000 friendly people, and 3 or 4 old grouches." We enjoyed an assortment of art, space, and historic museums scattered throughout New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi. My favorite...Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art in Bentonville, AR, a wonderful collection shown in an impressive setting funded by a portion of the Walmart fortune. Our road trip ended with a pilgrimage to Mary Jo's fabric store in Gastonia, NC which I hadn't visited in over twenty years. It was as spectacular as I remembered it, but felt grateful to get out of the store having spent only $50 - a couple of fat quarters here, a couple of fat quarters there, plus a lovely jacquard for a new fall colored vest. And then we were home.

And then we realized we weren't in transition any longer. We were home.

And then we realized we couldn't find anything once we got home. Our first six weeks wasn't long enough to imprint the wheres of our new routines. We were once again hunting for something we knew we'd carefully put away in some new room, in some handy cupboard, or on some just right shelf. Our possessions were still in transition even if we weren't.

And that messes with creativity. Nothing was where is used to be. Nothing was where it "should" be. Just thinking about doing something creative was intimidating. So...how does one face this transitional chaos?

You start with what you know.

I'd begun a couple of test blocks of a new quilt pattern back in the spring and then promptly packed them away as we prepared our transition from the West to East Coast. With my design wall installed in my new office/sewing room I decided I could probably begin again making more star blocks...and then inserting colorful strips in the spacer blocks. I followed fairly closely a quilt design inspired by Sandi Cumming's Thinking Outside the Block. It felt good to have my hand held a little as I reengaged creatively. The blocks grew in number. I continued to do what I knew how to do.

But then my design wall became a collection of eight point stars on pointa quilt arrangement I'd not tried before. From feeling totally stuck creatively, I was suddenly trying something altogether different. My creativity began with something familiar, and was now transitioning into something new. Pretty much an apt metaphor for our physical transition from CA to NC.

We've moved here with lots that we know, that we're familiar with, but we're also being inspired by the differences that abound in a new place, and the fresh creative potential in encountering and engaging the unfamiliar. While it's still a hassle some days not being able to find what you know is somewhere in the house, I'm also finding and touching some really good stuff I'd forgotten all about. Stuff that's been fermenting for a while that says start with me. So I start with what I know trusting it will transition into something more than I originally imagined.

If you've moved or been in transition, what areas of your life does it mess with? What did you find helpful in getting beyond that messy place? What was your "start with what you know" thing? If you were creating your "mess to masterpiece," what would it look like?

PS - Thanks to all of you who've missed these posts and wondered where I've been the last few months. Your comments and emails have been the nudge I needed to get back writing.

Hot

StarsI'm hot! Not as in culturally with it or avant garde anything. Not because I'm piecing piping hot stars for a new quilt. I'm hot because the air conditioner has been broken for the last week and the mercury continues bubbling in the low to mid 90's. I'm hot under the collar irritable by the end of day when it's 87 in the house with little hope of dropping below 78 by the "cool" of the morning. Possibly... the motor to repair the air conditioner's fan will be installed tomorrow. In the meantime I managing this climatic unpleasantness by exploring the coolest opportunities I can find in the area. Let's just say we're lurching from one air conditioned venue to the next.

Earlier in the week I enjoyed a cool two and a half hour visit with Jan Kempe, founder/director of a wonderful non-profit, Faithful Hearts. Although we have very different gifts, we share a similar faith experience and enthusiasm for healing, transformational ministry. Later that day I enjoyed dipping my toe into the cool, friendly quilting scene by attending a local bee.

We continued our "Looking for La Cabana" tour exploring yet another Mexican restaurant and have visited a number of other local eateries since it was just too hot to cook. We're really grateful for the coupon book grandson Ian sold us as a school fundraiser. Lots of two for one air-conditioned options we've been glad to explore. We've already recouped the cost of the book.

Later in the week I attended an artist's lecture at the beautifully air-conditioned Cary Senior Center presented by Jan Ru Wan, a local fiber artist and educator.  Her work was inspiring, thought-provoking, and layered which inflamed my imagination. A very cool experience in more ways than one.

But the temperatures continued to build toward the end of the week. The birthday dinner for our son-in-law, planned at our home for Saturday evening, was going to be unreasonably hot. While we moved the venue to our daughter's home, our oldest grandson Nate came to our home to cook the celebration dinner. We had fun and the stuffed jumbo pasta shells with homemade marinara (his recipe) were delicious, but I was soaking wet with sweat dripping down my cheeks by the time we packed everything up and head to their air-conditioned house. Our closed-up house was a sauna by the time we returned later in the evening. Miserable. I was simply exhausted and miserable.

And as most of us know, miserable is often managed very successfully by going to the movies. So far we've been to three in the last few days...the recently released When the Game Stands Tall, an inspiring faith-based sports story, the brilliant classic Citizen Kane, and Cantinflas, a drama about the Mexican actor who starred in the original Around the World in Eighty Days. Interspersed among these cool destinations are drives into the lush forested countryside in our air-conditioned car in search of the latest and greatest air-conditioned ice cream shop featured in some local publication recently perused in our wonderful air-conditioned local library.

Like cats on a hot tin roof we've hopped from one cool place to another until there's no choice but to head to our hot home and hope the temperatures have dropped enough that the bedroom fans will draw in enough cool air so we can sleep without being drenched in sweat. I think it will be seriously cool if the air conditioning guy shows up as scheduled. AND fixes the A/C. I'm done being hot!

Can you tell?

When was the last time you were temperature challenged? What cool avenues did you explore to solve the problem?

PS - Ten days out and the air conditioner has still not been repaired. Now I'm getting hot under the collar. Nevertheless, we will be heading back to CA soon to pick up my husband's van, visit family and friends, and then drive back across the country. I'll catch up with you in a few weeks. Pray for all the air-conditioners we're counting on over the next few weeks!

Effort

Fruit CocktailI'm back...but it's been an effort. It's been nearly two months since I've sat down at my computer to create what had become a weekly discipline for four years. How quickly one gets out of a routine when other things in life take precedence. But seriously, I have a good excuse. Many of them in fact. From mid-June to the end of July I've spent my time cleaning, purging, sorting, and packing our home of forty-five years - save for the five years we lived in Spain and England in the second half of the 70's. Since I have a well honed penchant for orderliness and organization, it was an effort I thoroughly enjoyed.

However, it was a bit stressful when the movers began to dismantle the house in what seemed like a haphazard fashion. But their job was to put all our possession in a huge moving van like a jigsaw puzzle...to be shared with two other folks moving across country. One to Durham, NC and the other to Pennsylvania. Taking longer to load the van than expected, we left for a dinner engagement. Relieved to not see the moving van back out of the cul-de-sac with all our possessions, we nonetheless returned later to lock up the empty house enjoying one last bittersweet walk through. All was as it should be...well almost. In an awe-inspiring effort to empty the garage, it was more empty than expected. The movers had packed our mailbox!

A number of years ago my husband had created a mail slot through the wall next to the garage door and built a laminated wood box large enough to receive several weeks of mail when we were on vacation. It rested on support braces, but wasn't attached to the wall. So the movers being faithful to their mantra "if it's not screwed down, it gets packed," did exactly that. What could have been a sad, saying-goodbye ending became a hilarious farewell to our beloved home. I will be forever grateful for their diligent efforts.

There was a lot of happy/sad saying goodbyes to family and friends over the next several weeks, but the day finally arrived when we took possession of our new home and the effort of moving in began. Although unaccustomed to high 90's heat and humidity, we both worked at breakneck speed because there was ALWAYS one more thing we could put away. By the beginning of the second week we were working at half-speed. The house was largely in order...but not yet quite what we could call home. In many ways a house becomes a home through the routines learned by living in it over time.

I knew my medications were in a left-hand cupboard, but I looked in all three left-hand cupboards in the kitchen before I found them. And that is just one example of what my very wise friend Melinda calls "the effort of imprinting a new routine." There is no question that there's a huge amount of physical effort that goes into moving. And that isn't as stressful as the thousands of questions that have to be asked in the process, or the thousands of decisions that have to be made...all having implications one way... or the other. BUT we are finding the effort of imprinting a new routine to be the most stressful. Enough so that it invites a hankering for old timey comfort foods.

My husband returned from the store with a carton of small curd cottage cheese and a can of fruit cocktail one afternoon. These salad ingredients haven't appeared on our dinner menu for three or four decades. So looking a little sheepish, he confessed to feeling a bit stressed out and in need of some comfort food from childhood. Days later he fixed a more sophisticated, grown-up salade nicoise for a dinner guest. Leftovers remained from both meals. They appeared on our dinner plates side by side a day later...perhaps an edible expression of our growing efforts toward imprinting new routines. Both of us are aware of our lessening need for old comfort foods as we get more familiar with the fruit cocktail routines of our new life, our new home, and our new community. Some days it requires more effort...and comfort... than others.

What new routines might you be in thel process of imprinting? What is most stressful about that effort? What old timey comfort are you most drawn to during times of stress?