Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tribute To Joyce

Two weeks ago someone who played an important role in my life for several years passed away.  Not only am I sad she is gone, but I regret that over the past few years we had lost touch with each other.  The everyday work-a-day world took over and I didn’t find time to make that extra effort to keep in contact with her, which I deeply regret. But while she might be physically gone from this world, things she taught me over the years I was fortunate to share her world will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Joyce D. owned a local needlework store.  I happened to walk into The Hen’s Tooth at a point in my life when I decided to take up needlework.  I had done a little in the past, but both my girls were just babies and this would give me a chance to have a hobby and create something for them too.  From the first moments I entered the store, I was taken under her wing and guided on the path to ‘proper needlework’ etiquette.

Now Joyce was not the gentle, grandmotherly mentor.  Like a lot of people, and dogs, who are small in statue, they make up for their physical limitations by having the heart of a lion and the stubbornness of a mule.  Once Joyce got her teeth into something, you would have a hard time changing her mind.  It was often easier to wave the white flag and fall into line.  She also had hearing difficulties and would often tell people who she didn’t know they needed to speak directly to her in order for her to understand them.  On the other hand, sometimes you got the feeling she didn’t want to hear what you were saying and was just ignoring you.  Either way, it was pure Joyce.

Joyce took my needlework in hand, literally.  She taught me to stitch in hand, without a hoop, maintaining a firm and even tension on my work.  Dragging a thread across the back of the piece of work for more than a couple of stitches was a major no-no.  Likewise, making a knot with your fiber to start a new length of thread.  One of the first things Joyce would do when presented with a finished piece was to flip it over and check out the back.  The back had to be as neat as the front.  I learned that outward appearances where not enough to make a good piece of work.  The parts you didn’t see were just as important.

Under her guidance my needlework improved and I was thrilled to be asked to join in on the Thursday night stitching group.  To me this was an entry into the exalted world of dedicated and skilled folk.  Over the years, friendships bloomed and grew based on those Thursday nights around a table at the back of her shop.  Joyce sat at the head of the table, our own reigning queen.  But like any benevolent queen, she knew her subjects interests.  She knew who liked to stitch only samplers, who preferred what designers, and would have tempting goodies awaiting your delight every week.  From her chair, she lead us in solving the problems of the world or choosing what pattern we were going to stitch next.

When my needlework progressed to the point she asked me to stitch models for the shop I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Someone like Joyce thinking my work was good enough to hang on her walls as an example of the wares she carried was like a dream come true.  Out of that I learned to value my needlework as an art form and not dismiss it lightly or to give it little value.  While she instilled in me the ability to make what I was stitching look easy, it still took hours upon hours to complete even the most simple piece.  She taught me not to make light of and to be proud and not deny my ability…..she was one of the first people to make me step up and say “yes, I am an artist”.  And as a true shop owner – to charge accordingly!

Not only did I have the chance to stitch for her and occasionally fill in at the shop, but she fostered my love of writing and my off-beat sense of humor and allowed me to publish a weekly email newsletter for her shop.  To be so trusted and to be thought so knowledgeable by Joyce went a long way to boosting the self-esteem of a now single mother of two young girls.  She always passed on the praise other people gave her about the newsletter to me, never taking credit for it herself.

Joyce is missed in my life.  I am sad she is gone.  I hate the thought of her not there, threading silk fibers on a tiny needle to complete yet another complicated sampler to grace her walls.  Joyce wove herself into the tapestry of my life and made it stronger and more beautiful.  And that thread is now missing.  Farewell, Joyce.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Orange Balsamic Chicken……For One


I found this really great sounding recipe for Orange Balsamic Chicken and thought….”why not have a great Sunday dinner for my daughters?”  (This was two Sundays ago.)

So I toiled over a hot stove……


Working my fingers to the bone over these thighs……

Problem with the great Sunday dinner…..well, Texter decided early she was hungry and had a can of Spaghetti O’s and Savvy took her dad out to eat at KFC.  So there I was with my thighs on rice with a salad.  Noel would have gladly shared with me, but I wouldn’t share with someone who had four legs.  It was great as leftovers though the next week at work for lunch.

I did get a “this is great…keep this recipe” on a Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich made with puff pastry.  The cheese was gruyere and you make a white sauce to go on it.  It was goooooood.

Tonight was bacon wrapped chicken, rice pilaf and a tossed salad.  Guess the salad is to make up for wrapping chicken with bacon.  But I have been trying out new recipes lately.  Problem is I don’t remember to take pictures until afterwards and then it’s too late.

Oh, and North Carolina apples are in.  Found some really, really great apple cider from Sugar Loaf Mountain Orchards.  And tried some new apples, at least new to me, Cameo.  So I’m into apples now.  Decent citrus is starting to make it’s way to North Carolina also.  Can’t wait until there is some really good ruby red grapefruit.  Warm oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast!

Off to cut up an apple for dessert.  After all, I had this last week…..


Monday, November 15, 2010

It’s a Little Squirrelly….

DSCN1428 Fat cat aka Blaze, watches the squirrels with unknown thoughts in his head.  Actually, for such a large cat, he can move pretty fast, so I am thinking he is thinking of squirrel head for breakfast.  But the squirrels have a nest in the tree right by the deck and they throw down pine cone parts on the deck.  So I have to sweep the deck often.  Those little pine cone parts hurt on your bare feet.



There are two of them in the nest.  Savvy thinks they are after her, since they live right by her room.  Those are devious eyes, aren’t they.  Thinking little squirrely thoughts.  Don’t put food out for them often since apparently we have a possum under the house.  Wild life abounds around here – especially the deer at 6am on the road.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Procrastinating on Procrastination

I will confess, honestly, I can be the greatest procrastinator in the world.  Now that doesn’t mean I’m late for stuff.  In fact, I am anal about being early for work, school, appointments, things such as that.  But things I should be doing, like schoolwork, writing, housework….well let’s say I can find 1000 reasons not to get started on them.

Soooooooo…….I have discovered a new best friend.  The timer on my cell phone.  Yep, off all the myriad of tools on my phone, I have fallen in love with my timer.  I can set that little bugger, and for the next 30 minutes, an hour, I have to work on a particular task.  Then I can play for an equal amount of time.  Seems to be working pretty well so far.  While still a little behind (I wish I had a little behind!), I am 6000 words into NaNoWriMo.  That’s about 5000 more words than I’ve done before.  And it’s easy to set the timer for an hour and go for it.

Like for right now, I have given myself 2 hours to do “bloggy things”.  Like writing a post, catching up on other posts, drinking coffee during my bloggy time.  Finding an app I can put on my sidebar to be a timer.  Then, when finished, I will spend 2 hours on homework.  I know I have English assignment to do and some history and will see what’s ahead for the week in the land of college.

Here’s to my new best friend – Timer.