Thursday, January 29, 2015


Although I've watched myself making the transition from being a girl to being a woman, I still feel 15 years old. My reflection disagrees.


Transition, noun: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover; segue, shift, switch, jump, leap, progression; progress, development, evolution, flux

Lately I am thinking about transitions (see above). I even perused two dictionaries, both of which did not entirely agree with the above definitions that I culled from the Internet. (There's a lesson in there somewhere.)

About all I came up with is that a transition is a noun: the process or period during which something goes from one state or condition to another.

Change, on the other hand, is mostly used as a verb: to vary, alter, or otherwise modify, transform, etc. something or someone.

We've come to regard transition as a verb (sorry, I didn't mean this to become an English class)--we talk about transitioning from one state to another. The quotation I used at the beginning of this post shows the proper use--making the transition--of the noun.

Whew! Now that we've got that settled, let's go on with transition as a noun and what it means in Real Life.

In the past I’ve recognized I was going through a transition only after I passed through it. Does that make sense? I think so.
Now, at an advanced age, I am aware of transition as I make it . . . for example, what I’m doing differently now that I have some limitations. Such as:

Tendinitis – I knit or sew for shorter periods of time, in order to keep my
arm from going into spasms.
     Lower energy levels – My days are planned around the must-dos so that
     I don’t overdo; three events in one day are the absolute limit. Sometimes
     it’s just one, such as a big family holiday dinner with lots of folks around.

     Memory and Follow-through – I don’t do long-term projects. Small ones
     suit me now because I’ll get them finished. My life is strewn with WIPs
     (Works in Progress) that may never get to the finish line: quilts cut out
     but not sewn, half-knitted items, manuscripts of  the beginnings of stories;
     not to mention boxes of stored items in the garage that may (but probably
     don’t) contain items of value, but should be sorted.
Some days I’m not happy with myself. My Today List is longer than the hours it takes to accomplish them, now that I’m a tortoise and not a hare. (Did I used to get all that stuff done in one day?) I go to bed vaguely dissatisfied with unfinished projects, items on my list that didn’t get checked off.

Then I remember all the things that I did do—perhaps small things that never made it to The List: an email to a friend I don’t see very often; a phone call from one of the kids; bills paid so I don’t get penalties; bird feeders filled and suet put out. If I can recall these things, then I realize I’m not totally inert. I may not move as fast as I used to (Tortoise Syndrome), but I do move. And I remember that there’s always another day (probably) in which to do some more.
I suspect the real point of transitions has to do with perspective--how does a person react to the change from one state or condition to another? Here's a glimpse at my perspectives:

I'm not crazy about having tendinitis, which can be treated, but after a while its effects are definitely limiting to some of my activities. Should I give up knitting? Quit sitting at a sewing machine to make quilts for charitable giving?
     No, but I don't have to give myself impossible deadlines.

A super-busy day on the calendar has me almost dreading it. If I don't have enough energy to get through an extra activity, what's the worst thing that will happen?
     I'll take a nap when I get home--or go to bed earlier--or give myself a
     "day off" the next day to rest up.

Some of my half-baked projects can be finished--by someone else, perhaps; or by me, if they morph into something besides what they first were intended to be.
     Nothing is cast in stone; I can change my mind without penalty--after all,
     it's my project.

Transitions aren't good--or bad. They simply are. They signal the change from one state or condition to the next. (See definitions at the beginning of this post.)

Sometimes they're happy changes--from being a single gal to being a married one. Or from Mom to Grandma. Sometimes they're less desirable--aging with some of the health problems (and wrinkles and grey hair and gravity problems) that may accrue as we mature.

But if we're still alive, we're always in transition. Think about it.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

". . . whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul. . . ."
--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

If you're wondering why Thursday's Child is running late today, look outside . . . if you live in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, you probably have snow, or ice, or freezing drizzle/mist--maybe all of the above.

That's what we have here in NE Indiana.

As you readers know, Thursday's Child tries to celebrate . . . whatever. I have to confess--celebration in January requires a lot of effort. I have to struggle with a feeling of a "damp, drizzly January in my soul" (apologies to Mr. Melville).

I don't mind snow and even wind. But I draw the line at ice. That keeps me inside.

Charlie alter-ego
Now you're probably wondering why I whine about a little ice that keeps me from going out and about. Well--#1, I don't know how to ice skate. #2, my vehicle is the automotive equivalent of "a hog on ice." And #3, I can sew/knit/read/watch movies/nap only so long.

This is the second day this week I couldn't get to the Y. I may have to start doing laps around my rooms.

[A big ginger cat just padded across the street. Didn't slip or slide one bit. How can he do that? Does he have little suction cups on his paws?]

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes, celebration.

January in the Palmer Family is known as Birthday Month. Or, if it isn't, it should be. We have six birthdays, stretching from January 3rd to the 31st. High concentration in the last nine days of the month.

We birthday people live rather scattered around the Midwest, so there's no big family party for birthdays--we save those get-togethers for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But I'm rather pushed to get five birthday greetings out on time: two grandsons, two granddaughters-in-law, one great-granddaughter. I'm the sixth one. Or if you go by age, I'm the first.

So today, near the end of January, I celebrate the lives of the five people related to me who share January as their birth month. I give thanks for each one of them, from the 3-year-old to the 30-somethings.

May they never grow bored with life, despite January's damp, drizzly efforts.

Filled feeders yesterday

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Earlier this week I shopped at Walmart. Usually this is a weekly event, so it has become routine. Nothing special about it.
But this week I was beginning to have symptoms of cabin fever—too many days of subzero temps that kept me inside (asthma doesn’t like cold air) had begun to wear on me. I’d missed yoga classes, tai chi classes, my weekly sewing/knitting group at the church. I’d missed a church service. I’d even missed shopping—an unheard of thing for me; I try to avoid shopping whenever possible.

Yes, I’m on the telephone, I have Internet and email, I know how to write letters and mail them right from my front door. But the odd thing is, even though I had contact with friends and neighbors, and could see traffic outside in my street when people went to work, saw kids leaving home for the bus stop one block over—in spite of all this, I didn’t feel a part of that life.
Going to Walmart was A Big Deal.

My list was short—I’d loaded up the previous shopping trip a couple of weeks before, because I knew we’d be having bad weather, or at least cold-cold days, and I didn’t want to run out of the things I use most.
And even though the thermometer read 5 degrees (-3 degrees with the wind), I bundled up, wore a mask, and parked as near the door as I could without infringing on somebody’s Handicapped space.

What I hadn’t expected—what struck me almost like a spring breeze blowing across my face—was how quiet it was in the store. Even though I was a half hour later than my usual time, there were few shoppers about. Besides that, the aisles were wide again—all the Christmas and other holiday stuff had been removed until the next big promotion comes along.
I strolled along, picked out the things I needed, didn’t have to wait for aisles to clear or shoppers to move out of my way so I could get to the shelf I needed.

The same atmosphere prevailed throughout the store. And about halfway around, it came to me—this was a peaceful time.
I would never have consciously expected, or even looked, for peace at the Walmart store.

As I put away my shopping that day, I thought about peace. What does it mean? Where do we look for it?

When I was younger, I could find peace in a book. You know the kind--a story so absorbing that you don’t want it to end; I was part of that story world and it was a good place to be.
Another place where peace resided was in music—listening to records (we’re talking ancient history here), playing the piano, dancing around (with nobody but the dog and cats to laugh at me).

North Oregon Coast - September
I have found peace in nature—at the ocean, with waves hurling themselves up on the beach; in the desert Southwest where you can see for miles, literally; in a Midwestern garden full of flowering plants and birds and buzzing bees.
And a place I never thought peace could be found—a big city, like New York or London—in a cathedral where the dome rose high above us, and the sheer magnitude of the place dwarfing us into near-insignificance.

In my own home, I can make time disappear and peace fill my soul just by looking through old letters from friends and relatives long gone, or photographs of my children when they were tiny, or a long-forgotten silly greeting card that reminds me of the person who sent it and how we shared the same quirky sense of humor.
Many years ago my youngest daughter gave me a big mug that I use for my daily tea. On one side is printed this message:

                It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise,
                trouble, or hard work.
                It means to be in the midst of those things and still be 
calm in your heart.
--author unknown--

Peace is to be found where it has always dwelt—right inside us.
Today I wish you peace.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

THE WORD . . .

Yes, this is a 2015 photo....
You may have come across, in your rambles around the social media, the concept of choosing your very own personal word for the year.

I’ve never done this before, because I couldn’t find one that suited me—it didn’t fit or it was the wrong color or its style didn’t flatter me—the same trouble I run into when I shop for clothes.

Now shopping for clothes is usually, for me, a matter of desperation. I need an outfit for a particular event, or my last pair of decent/favorite/clean slacks has disappeared, or I’ve gained—or lost—weight to an extent that the size I currently have on hangers in my closet makes me look like a charity case, wearing whatever the thrift store had in stock.
But enough about clothes. Back to The Word.
Other people—also writers—seem to have The Word fall upon them. It bounces up in the midst of an epiphanal event. It occurs three times (magic there) in one day in different scenarios. Or it seems to miraculously appear just when they need it.

Mine hasn’t behaved like theirs. But then, my life doesn’t always behave either, so what can I expect?

Yesterday I was recovering from Tuesday’s mad scramble of shopping, lunch with a friend, errands, and an evening church service at which I played the organ. By the time I got home, about 7:45 in the evening, the temp had dropped to 10 degrees (not counting wind chill), I was hungry because I’d had only a small meal before leaving for the church, and I was tired from a full day. The only reason I crammed Tuesday full was that I knew Wednesday, and many days thereafter, would be part of the cold wave sweeping over/settling in/annoying my little corner of the world.

So—to recover: I read most of the day. Having given away many of my books and recycled others, I’m left with only a few hundred now. Whenever a good reading day comes along, I am never prepared. There’s never a good book just waiting for me to pick it up and devote myself to its charms. Yesterday I searched for a new book that I knew I had—but the question was, where?
Eventually it was run to earth in a room I hadn’t expected to find it in. May Sarton’s Recovering: A Journal. May Sarton was an actress, poet, novelist, and lover of nature. Of all her books, I am most drawn to her journals, the most famous being Journal of a Solitude. She talks my language.

In Recovering, Ms. Sarton laments her moral dilemma, “how to make peace with the unacceptable.” [We can all relate to that on one level or another.]
“So the word that has run through these past months has been ‘accept, accept.’”
The word accept always calls to mind the opening of the Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Niebuhr [often attributed to St. Francis]:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Accepting things I cannot change demands a lot from me—honesty, a willingness to feel pain, a letting go in a relationship that won’t be helped by my interference. And a host of others.

Think I'll start with
winter...and snow
What it does not mean is to lie down and let the world run over me. Or to give in with a flounce and a snarl. Or try to change things that are not my place to change.
Definitely need that wisdom.
So, for 2015, I choose my word—ACCEPT.
It has no great romance about it, no mystique. It offers no rewards. It makes no promises.

But I believe it can give me greater peace in my soul.
Blessings on you for this new year, this time of new beginnings.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Christmas 2014 is the year I made an effort to get caught up, so to speak, on quilts for the great-grandchildren. Three of the seven have a quilt I made. The other four are getting old enough to wonder if I’m ever going to make one for them.
So this year I vowed to make three quilts—not a horrendous job, because simple patterns can turn out  gorgeous creations with the right fabrics. They’re for young children so they didn’t have to be bed size. And I didn’t have to have all three ready on the same day. Christmas in our family is rarely on the 25th of December. On the 22nd I had my first Christmas with my son and his family. And on the 28th I celebrated with my daughter in Ohio and her family.

I was steaming along—finished one quilt, ready for its label and washing, then wrapping in Christmas paper. Had to wait for some John Deere fabrics to be delivered—couldn’t find them locally so did an exhaustive search online and found four. Ordered a yard of each. When they arrived, I discovered three of them could work and play well together, if I used solids to coordinate. No sooner thought than done.
Sewing became a regular feature on my Today List—every morning (the time I’m most alert) right after breakfast I cut or pieced or stitched to get blocks made and rows assembled. Time was passing, of course, but everything looked good. No hitches, no delays.

Then the backing of the John Deere quilt eluded me. None of the fabrics I’d ordered, nor the ones I’d bought locally, wanted to play well together for a backing. But after a wasted day of scratching my head, throwing my hands in the air, and finally digging into big storage totes for possible replacements, I found a fabric that would do the trick: There was enough to make the backing and it coordinated beautifully.
Then disaster struck.

The sewing machine I was using to begin the quilting process quit working properly. Thread broke after only a partial line was stitched. Changed thread. Same thing. Put in a new needle. Ditto.
Changed machines. (This is the value of owning more than one sewing machine. But then I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of gal anyway.)

Now I was working with my best machine, the one with the most decorative stitches, which I would eventually use when I stitched the binding down.
All went well until the machine stopped dead—a horrendous BEEP sounded—a message showed on the read-out screen: “STOP FOR SAFETY.” Well, heck, I was already stopped.

I took the machine apart and cleaned out the fibers that gather under the throat plate. Changed the needle. Changed thread. Changed tension setting. Nothing I did changed its mind.
About that time, I lost it. Just totally lost it. The tantrum I threw would have been Olympic quality, if there were such a category.

A good thing to do after a tantrum is to get up and walk away. That always worked when my kids threw tantrums—I walked away and resumed some chore or other. So—I walked away from the sewing machines. Looked out the window at what the neighbors were doing. Made another cup of tea.
When my tantrum had truly passed, I sat down and did the best I could with the machines I had to work with. By slowing down (and there was a lot of prayer in there, too) I managed to get the rest of the quilting done without mishap. The binding went on all right. And the decorative stitching on the top, though not the pattern I wanted, at least held the binding in place and I could finally say the danged thing was finished.

Not my finest hour, and definitely not my best work.
Understand—I don’t have to be perfect. If that were a criterion, I’d have given up on making quilts long ago. But I do want my work to be the best I can do. This little quilt, about 50x50 inches, had lots of wonky stitching that I couldn’t do anything about. And I didn't have time to undo it.

On the backing I wrote my great-grandson’s name, the date, and my name as the maker of the quilt. Washed it, dried it, wrapped it in green paper, and--only two hours late--went to my son’s house for a meal and a good visit.
There's a blessing in driving an hour and twenty minutes to get somewhere; if I take back roads and don’t have too much crazy traffic, I can disable my stress along the way. Listened to Christmas carols on CD, took in the Christmas decorations on houses in town and country. By the time I arrived, I had accepted that the quilt that I was giving as a gift wasn’t going to win any ribbons, of any color. But it would be warm. And it had John Deere machines on it.

We had a good meal and visited longer than expected. Finally the three kids were getting more than a little interested in opening the presents that Great-Grandma Palmer brought.
The big smile was earlier...
The quilts were first, of course, because they were wrapped and big and squashy. Intriguing.

When the little guy who’s nuts about John Deere tractors ripped off the green paper, the smile on his face was worth any number of machine problems. He didn’t know the stitching was wonky. He didn’t know the decorative stitch I used wasn’t the one I wanted. Moreover—he didn’t care. He had his quilt, and it had his beloved John Deere tractors, planters, combines, and pickers all over it. There was lots of green (his favorite color).
He threw the paper around, put the quilt on over his head, and danced around the room. One of the best expressions of thanks I've ever seen.
I’d forgotten that my feelings, my judgments about the outcome, and most of all my ego, don’t matter a hoot. If the gift is made with love, and given with love, then it’s a good gift.

My great-grandson’s smile will always remind me of the lesson I learned.

Happy New Year from Thursday's Child! I hope 2015 is a beautiful year for you!