Monday, February 20, 2012

Gray skies demand salvaged color

Dreaming of phlox and double tulips and lillies… under gray skies
So its been insane around here with the weather. No I am not complaining about the super mild winter we have been prevy to. But, like every good gardener, I worry about my tulips and daffodils freezing over after they have grown over an inch. Seriously, they were over an inch the first week in February! Insane! (I wish I had a good camera to take pics of this but I am still waiting for my Christmas camera gift that has been returned 3 times already! Arghh). I remember how it snowed on my first Momma's Day where we live.  The crab apple tree just didn't produce well after it had shown off in all its wonderful flowerly gloriousness. Now I am not one to pick a fight with God, so please Lord…keep it mild for the sake of the flowers… no last minute winter storms.
This row of green is what was left last year after the daffodils, tulips and lillies were done growing. I am currently awaiting for my new daffodils to come up and I pray that snow doesn't kill what has grown thus far cause momma needs some color around here already. 

Despite the mildness, we are under London skies- gray- gray - gray. We read, visit the library for more books, read more, cook n bake, gather with family and friends, read some more and go about our home like moles under the dark earth. We miss our evening walks, bike rides and just spending entire days outside. Now I have tried to go out and enjoy the mild weather, but really under the gray skies everything seems gloomy. Even the kids prefer to stay in despite me getting them out there to romp and play. Its 45 degrees, I say. Got out and play, I say. They peek from under the books and toys and ignore me. This weekend I am determined to get them out there and playing even if its in the mud. After all, this weather does not stop me from playing a bit with crochet;)

I have been enjoying wonderful crochet sites and some crochetting of my own. The best part is that this costs me absolutely nothing! I will elaborate on this in a bit.  This is a simple granny square that my momma taught me how to make. I keep it simple by turning after each round and don't have to deal with a non-square looking granny square. You know the kind. The ones that turn out to look like pinwheels. They are still pretty neat looking in my book, but I did want something square this time around. This one is for princess A's bed (as if she needed more color!).  Gabli keeps it simple n easy. Its three dc and chain one across and three dc and chain two at the corners. When I get to the starting point, I chain three and turn and then add two more dc into the chain one below. Simple and fast. A loves the color so far and so do I.  The best part is that I saved this yarn from the dumpster. It has a sad beginning but perhaps this yarn will make it.

A family on my block, that I did not get the chance to meet, lost thier home to foreclosure. From what I found out from neighbors, they were good, hard working folks. When they lost thier home, they packed only necessities and left everything behind to live a life of less is more. A giant dump truck was brought to the front of thier home and workers were tossing everything but the kitchen sink out. I came across them with a neighbor on our evening walk. We decided to be nosey and peak in. Wouldn't you know it! I found a box full of wonderful new yarn! Yes new! We were told that it was ok to take the box since the stuff was going to the dumpster. I rescued over 20 different yarns last year. The one above is from the dumpster. I decided immediatly that I liked the family living thier even if they were gone. After all, if there is a crocheter or crafter in the family, then they have to be good people. I pray that they have been able to restart thier lives wherever they are and that yarn has made its way back into thier lives.

Now I am a certifiable germ freak, so ofcourse I had to wash them. I have never washed yarn before, so like a good crafter, I didn't bother to look up any information on doing this or even ask…. this was an adventure. I put them in pillow cases and used some of my nylons for the smaller ones. The one I am using above faired rather well.  But, others…. well take a peak…
A and I sat watching TV and undoing this tangled mess for weeks while the husbter just looked at us in pity and confusion. A loved the challenge. We pulled, pushed through, cut, added and scratched our heads at this puzzle. The hubster was relieved that the machine didn't die from the tangled mess and confused at our persistance. After a week or two or even three, I finally got them tidied up. Ahh the things I do for the love of yarn.

From being on its way to a landfill to laying on a little girls bed…. what a journey for this yarn! I pride myself in using these rescued yarns and telling thier story. Whatever I make from them, I give as gifts (I cannot bring myself to selling anything made from these on Etsy) and I let the reciever know the story. I am surprised how easily people accept the gift even if it came from a dumpster.

Sort of reminds me of God's redeeming love. He takes our discarded and messy us a good washing. And in the washing it gets messy and tangled as we deal with things about ourselves we rather keep a secret or ignore.  He takes His sweet time with us, pulls and pulls, yanks and sometimes it hurts when he cuts out what is no good, but He keeps going and never gives up. Then he tidies us up and gets us ready to make something beautiful and useful.  Thank you God for your reedeming grace. 


Friday, February 10, 2012

Slowing down to ponder my roots and read about mice

I don't find it right to type into this my online journal without pictures. The pictures are one of the reasons I wanted to this. I like to take pics of things that make me slow down and take a second look. I have been dealing with a sick camera for some time now. As a matter of fact, I have bought three cameras in the last 6 weeks and have had no luck (all have been returned due to poor performance). I am no photographer, so I need a simple camera that catches the glimpses of things that make me smile. I have had to continue to use my old HP until I find a new one. The battery no longer charges, the on and off button is broken and it overheats… but it will do for now.

If there is one thing that makes me smile or stop and take a second look, its stories of mice using our every day things to make their homes or living as humans do. Now, don't get me wrong. I rather NOT have these little bacteria laden creatures in my home; But, I also do not faint at seeing one.  I think my fascination began when I discovered Tom and Jerry as a child. Jerry's cozy little nest was too cute. He was up-cycling when it was not in fashion: a matchbox was a bed, a pop top over a spool was a table, a thimble a cup and a post card was wall art. Growing up not so well off, Jerry reminded me that a home is what you make of it with what you have been given. So our furniture was mismatched, a bit worn and a bit wobbly .. it was was still warm and it was always home.
I just finished, the book pictured above and I loved it. Celeste finds the perfect home and adventure in this beautifully written and illustrated book. Sure its a juvenile book, but I will not read much of anything else these days outside of the office. The career I have chosen is not an easy one. I tire of reading case reports, newspapers or behavioral health journals. Juvenile literature is my way of escaping reality into a world where the impossible is possible. And, when it involves little mice making homes, I gotta read it!

I have also been working very very hard at slowing down - this is my new years promise. As a result I ponder a lot more than usual. I ponder about being Puerto Rican. My kitchen makes this subject come to mind.

Brazo Gitano and Turron: Sweets from Puerto Rico thanks to the bro-in-law. Brazo Gitano is a Guava Roll sprinkled with powdered sugar. Turron is a hard almond candy. In front are Mexican sweets. My favorite is the puerquito (the brown sweet). Its made with brown sugar and molasses among other things and shaped to resemble a piggy.... So good warm and with a cup of Abuelita Chocolate. 
I can safely say that most Puerto Ricans I know are very very proud of their culture. I know my family is! I dare you to find a Puerto Rican that does not have a couple of Puerto Rican flags in the home or some trinket from the island.  I always say that although I was not born on the island, the island was born in my heart. Yet, I am not as loud about my roots as most folks from the island are. I am not sure why this is. When people ask me my nationality, race, etc. I simply state "ImARican". I am American. I was born in America and very proud of that! Yet, I grew up a Rican (another way of saying Puerto Rican) making me somewhat confused at times. Someone told me to just say that I am bicultural. That makes more sense that not. Latina's from the South America or the Caribbean look at me as an "Americana". Yet Americans see me as Latina. ImARican and my kitchen tells this story. I was born in America but Puerto Rico was born in my heart.  

Yup, my kitchen reminds me of my roots. Like every good Latin home, I keep   Cilantro at hand. I will post the recipe for my mother in laws delicious but spicy salsa verde (green salsa) that uses cilantro. I joke that they put this stuff and jalapeño on everything including pancakes. I actually have eaten cornbread with pieces of jalepeños and it was delish!

My grandmother and mother kept crocheted items around the house. Crocheted items or doilies- another sure sign of a Latina in the house. 
 Finally, these wonderful molds. The copper colored one belonged to my mother in law when she first married. My husband grew up looking at this one and a silver colored fish mold. One whole state away…….
 ….I grew up looking at the very same silver fish. This one belonged to my grandmother along with a wonderful rooster. There was something about sitting in my grandmother's kitchen after school for my daily cup of cafe while the sun filtered through the soft white curtains and hit this fish that made the whole thing seem magical. Then again, maybe it was the caffeine hitting a 7 yr old.

 Slowing down recently has meant questioning my roots. My kitchen yelled loudly:  You are an ImArican. American born with and island in the heart.

To know where we are going
We must know where our roots are imbedded
To question who we are 
We must know who they were
To have a brighter tomorrow
We must never forget where we come from
From Gabli Musing,