Thursday, October 06, 2022

Wedding Bouquet, the week after

My daughter is now married. Like my own marriage and childbirth, my main emotional reaction to this event was, "How am I supposed to feel?" There was joy and pleasure but also simple shock at the momentousness of the moment, so unnerving as to be unreal. These are the sort of pivots in the stream of life which you have to keep holding up in front of you and wondering over. 

I remember my own wedding bouquet, made by a florist, so huge I termed it a "bush" and ripped it down to half its size. We forgot about it at the reception. On my honeymoon, I threw it into Lake Michigan and watched the pink petal roses and white freesia float off dreamily in the vast silver and blue and gray magnificence of the Lake.

My own daughter wanted a bouquet from my flower garden instead of the florist, and decreed that I only was entrusted to make it. Her groom's mother had bought her lilies, since my daughter loves them and there were none in my garden, but I paired these with white Rose of Sharon, herbs like thyme, and even a few flowering weeds, all white or pale pink. In the center was the only white rose blooming in the garden the day of the wedding. 

Just as I did, my daughter forgot about her bouquet at the reception. When she came back from the honeymoon, she found it and said, "I don't know what to do with this now." Lake Michigan being too far away, she decided to send it to a cousin bridesmaid as a souvenir.  But I snapped this photo before it left, to help me remember and to ponder in my heart. I love the lilies with their purple hearts, and I love the trailing weeds and the delicate oregano blossoms, and the iridescent ribbon. And I love my daughter and her husband, and marriage and family and life itself. So huge. So difficult to see. Sometimes we can only see them and feel them through the snippets. Like this one. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

How to Make a Child's Cloak

This post was supposed to have been published years ago, but I never got around to putting it together. For the sake of my sister, I'm doing it now. It's fall, and fall is the perfect time for a cloak. Unlike cardigans which are more of a spring thing, cloaks seem particularly fitting to fall, mainly because, unlike cardigans, cloaks communicate mystery. And mystery is precisely the sort of ambience you want for Halloween!

These directions are for a sort of cloak poncho, the simplest kind to make and wonderful for children.

The first step is to buy the right amount of fleece in the color you want. Our family uses either gray or red, for obvious literary reasons.

Take the child you'll be making the cloak for and (you can do this in the store) measure the amount of fabric you'll need to buy to cover them from the part of the legs where you want the bottom of the cloak to fall (knees, calves, etc.) up to their shoulders, and double it. If you want the cloak floor length, measure to the floor. If you are planning on hemming the cloak (not necessary with fleece, btw, but it does add a finished look), add about two inches extra (one for each side).

When you get home, fold the cloak material in half, selvages together.

Have the child lie down on the fabric and extend their arms so that their arms and shoulders are along the fold of the cloth.

Then using pins mark a curve that runs from their wrists to the bottom center of the cloak.

Cut one side of the cloak's curve, then fold it in half and use that curve as a pattern to cut the opposing side. Nice hack I learned from a professional.

Next, cut the hole for the child's head. **The fleece will stretch,** so this hole does NOT have to be big. Keeping the cloak folded, cut a small hole the width of half the size of your child's face and about 2"-3" deep (about as deep as from their nose to their chin).

Cut the hole and check to see if your child can pull it easily over their head. If not, refold and cut a tiny bit more. Remember, it's easier to take the cloth off than to put it back on!  If you have accidentally made it too large, you can sew in from the shoulders to compensate. (Been there, done that!)

If you want the front of the cloak to be open (this will make it less warm, FYI), then fold it in half and cut the front fold.

Save the pieces you cut off: they will be the hood of the cloak. Here's where there is sewing involved. You can sew by hand: it's just a bit of finegaling, one way or another! 

Take one of the four leftover pieces and decide which one to use as a hood. The key element is that is has a long side which can completely wrap around your child's face, the ends meeting at the chin. The grain of the fabric doesn't really matter with fleece in this regard.

Fold this triangle in half after trimming it a bit to make it symmetrical, and sew from the point to the length of the back of your child's head. Leave some "flaps" at the end: don't sew up the entire triangle. 

It's useful for this bit if the child stays next to the sewing machine because while the sewing is minimal, continual fitting is key.  Have the child put on the cloak, and pin the hood on the cloak. (FYI In the version in the photo, I put a lining on the hood for extra warmth.) 

At this point you want to carefully sew the hood on the cloak. I tend to do it in four sections so that I can check the fit between-times. The "flaps" of the triangle make a kind of nice collar. This part can also be handsewn. Once I am sure of the fit, I usually sew over it again one more time.

If you've left the front open, the last thing you'll need to do it sew on a clasp or buttons. But we find that safety pins work well in a pinch, and older folks can use a brooch. .

But when you are done, your child now has a new poncho cloak that will keep them warm during these chilly months, and allow them to experience a bit of magic in the fall evenings!

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Culture Recovery Journals

For the past year, as part of my morning ritual, I've been handwriting my thoughts on recovering culture in our rapidly culture-less society in some little journals, about fifteen minutes a day. This past fall I was delighted to see the first article to come out of it published in Soul Gardening Journal. Entitled, "A Theology of Locality," it discusses how important proximity is to our souls. Catholic spirituality underlines this: the sacraments cannot be received by avatar: you need to be physically present in order to receive Christ in the Eucharist, to receive His mercy in confession, or even to attend Mass. In our Technopoly, such proximity is more important than ever.

I'm not going to post the article here, because Soul Gardening desperately needs subscriptions, and I want to encourage you all to subscribe, or even just donate. I'm sure you can get a copy of the journal it's in (issue 20) if you subscribe. But I wanted to give you an update to all of you who have been so patient with my long fallow period. Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Baby Sneakers

Today my youngest was delighting in her baby sneakers so I snapped a picture of her enjoying her feet: we received the shoes used, and, as the picture shows, they are even more well-loved now. They are certainly adorable, nearly as adorable as she is. I love the combination of the worn cotton canvas and the worn-down-to-the-plastic beads still winking in the sunlight.

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Two Desks

Working on my new novel series from 4 am to 6 am at this desk has been a blessing this past summer. I write at a salvaged desk that just fits between our two bookshelves in our parlor ("away room") surrounded by some of our best-loved books (including the History of Middle Earth, gifted to us by a great friend). Someone noted this desk is very neat. That's because the only thing I do here is write my novel. 
This is my "regular" desk where everything else in my life gets done or gets lost. I am grateful for both desks.  And there you have the two halves of my life these days.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Prayer and fasting

Please consider praying and fasting today to end abortion. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Why I love Tchotchkes

In small amounts, they can brighten my day!