Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Modern Village

In Africa they say "It takes a village to raise a child".

In America, our society full of independent thinking, climb-up-by-your-own-boot straps, I-think-I'll-have-a-deck-in-the-back-instead-of-a-front-porch suburbanites doesn't quite get the whole village thing. It's too bad because raising children isn't easy. If we could internalize the concept into our busy American lives, we'd all be better for it. My opinion, of course, but there is a lot to be said for sharing gifts, burdens, responsibilities and joys. I'll leave it at that for now....

Last night I had a small glimpse of The Modern Village. It made me thoughtful, grateful and happy.

Sitting around my dining room table, dipping fruit and bread into cheese and chocolate fondue were my "Ladies Night Out" friends. An evening glimpse of my village. We've all lived here for upwards of twenty years. A few of these ladies I've known since they were 18 and now we are pushing 50. (Some of us, uh em, have already arrived there...) We began gathering in the early 90s when our sanity required it. Ladies Night Out was just that... No kids allowed (they still aren't) and no set time to be home, just the closing time of the various restaurants at which we gathered.

We don't meet weekly now as our sanity has somehow survived the child rearing years. We are fluffing our various empty nests (whether from children fleeing, abiding singlehood or significant others ousted..). We gather when one of us hits the Big 4-0 (all passed by now) or the coming Big 5-0. It takes ten years for us all to pass those milestones. Last night, it was just the arrival of one LNO members back from her digs a couple of hours away... so we ate fondue. It's wonderful to gather around the table sharing laughter, stories and our collective history.

After a while my strapping young man-boy snuck over for a bit of chocolate fruit dipping. The group was enlivened by his clever banter. I watched and marveled that for 16 years, each of these women has had a place in my son's life, just as I have. They are his village. They have watched him grow from wild toddler (taking years off of my life and turning my hair gray) to theatrical young man, full of life, humor and goodness.

They have been there to change his diapers, babysit him, clean up his stomach contents, chase him in the yard, clap at his performances, support his fundraising efforts, feed him cake at birthday parties, reprimand him for mischievousness, give him allergy meds, remind him to get up for school, photograph him before dances, teach him Spanish, feed him pizza and share Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthday dinners.

They've helped to shape this young man's elaborate personality, just as I have. It's been the job of a village indeed. I wouldn't have it any other way. I hadn't thought about it in quite these terms until I watched him comfortably interact and share his true self with these ladies. Not too many 16 year old boys can come to the table and comfortably banter back and forth and help themselves to the food in front of ten women. He could and did.

His village and mine. Modern. Rich. Full and good.

It does, indeed, take a village.

Monday, March 15, 2010


A week from today we'll say goodbye (again) to my mother-in-law as the family gathers for her memorial. I've been creating a special Creative Memories Tribute album for her, to honor her life and remind us of the lovely person she was. I've so enjoyed making it, but it has also made me miss her more. That is as it should be.

She was a gentle, giving soul. Her spirit came alive by the water and she spent as much time there as she could throughout her entire life. Cape Cod was old stomping grounds and because of her, I was introduced to that remarkable place. I love it too, though rarely set my foot in the sand of the National Seashore anymore.

I wanted to share just a few of the pages which give honor to the mother of my gracious and loving husband. How blessed we were to call her "mother", "sister", "daughter", "wife" and "friend".

Winter Break

Death. Taxes. Parenting. Blizzards. Part of what the recent past has been made of, thus a little blog hiatus. I may be back. I may not. One never can tell :) But, as spring in the NE teases us with her presence, my thoughts come to life as well. This is good.

First a report to follow up on my Upcycling post from a while back. I've happily gathered numerous old sweaters and turned them into felt. Most worked well, but not all. Trial and error. I made my first bag and gave it to my mom. She likes RED, so this one was perfect! I'm happy with the results. Lined it with gray corduroy and put the same on the strap to offer it some stability. There will be more to come. But, a few "transformation photos". Backwards order from finish to start. I'll figure out this blog thing someday!

Mom loved it! And I am eager to create the time to make some more of them!
Next up is my OLYMPIC SCARF. I forgot to mention that pretty much the only time I ever watch TV is during the Winter Olympics every four years. I spent numerous cozy hours, not blogging, but watching athletes strut their stuff while I sat on my duff and created this Upcycled Scarf. It's a tad fragile, but I like it a lot. (Idea from the book Sweater Surgery).

When I take the time, I'm also enjoying perusing others' blogs to see their fab upcycled creations! Thanks to all who share. I'm having fun with these!