Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Daddy Shirt Quilt for Baby Oliver

I make upcycled rag quilts. That means taking gently used clothing, unused fabric from the thrift store and donations from crafty friends to stock my supply of fabric, waiting until I get enough of one style or look to make a quilt. My sister sends me boxes, her friends have sent me boxes, my friend Jill of Dolls For Friends sends me fabric, and sometimes I'll come home to boxes of fabric sitting on our porch. The pieces stare up at me like a puppy at the pound. "I'll be good. I'll be cute. Keep me."

Try as I might to keep my quilting supplies neat as a pin, from time to time it's necessary to pull everything out and get it all organized, again. It's then that I find some piece of fabric shoved where it ought not be shoved, I find colors stacked up together that should not be in the same room together, let alone the same quilt, and I usually end up with a few pieces to donate to the thrift store because I decide I'm just never going to grow to like them. 

Last summer was one of those days. And what did I find? A bag of ever-so-perfectly rolled up dress shirts from our friend Jeff. If you can imagine a dress shirt rolled up into a compact shape about the size of a collapsed umbrella, you have the picture. Jeff goes through shirts like no one I know. First, he dresses really well. Second, he's a teacher who dresses really well. Third, he does volunteer work where he dresses really well. Fourth, he likes to eat messy Vietnamese sandwiches that tend to spill on these nice shirts, adding to the pen marks that come with correcting school work all day. These shirts are a rag quilt maker's dream come true. My only complaint is that even with all those Vietnamese sandwiches, Jeff stays slim. If he put on a few pounds, I would have more fabric to work with from his dress shirts.  :o)

The discovery of this stash of shirts coincided with the news that Jeff and Myra were to have a baby! I didn't need to be on my second cup of coffee to put it all together - those shirts were going into a Daddy Shirt Rag Quilt for Baby!

What do you need to make a Daddy Shirt Rag Quilt? 

Cotton shirts from Daddy.
Lots of them.

You need a template, rotary cutter and some scissors.

Avoid the pen marks.
And the sandwich spills.

You may need to press the shirts first.
Oh, the "iron"y.

Cut off the buttons, the many many buttons.
Save them for a purpose yet unknown.

Now normally I would trudge headfirst into sewing the quilt, not finishing until I'm hunched over in pain, the sink full of dirty dishes, the clothes hamper overflowing, the dog feeling like an abandoned shelter puppy. But this time I did it right. I cut out the squares of fabric, threw away the scraps, vacuumed up the mess and put it all away for a rainy day. Or rather a rainy vacation day. 

One of the prettiest settings I've ever sewed in was this little extra nook at a house in Sea Ranch, CA. The weather was perfect for sewing, drippy and wet - wet and drippy. This was the start of the incredible drought-busting Atmospheric Rivers of 2017 that dumped so much water on the state we don't know what to do with it. That weekend away with some friends, I sewed up two quilts and finished crocheting a baby blanket. Storms are great for getting stuff done.

What a view.

What a table! Perfect for doing a layout for the Oliver Quilt.

And I got it done.
The colors were so nautical, so fresh.

Very Ralph Lauren,
Very Old Navy.
Very Jeff.

And we had ourselves a Daddy Shirt Quilt for Baby Oliver!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is a Baby Drizzle?

Imagine my surprise when last summer, upon hearing the news that my friend Myra was to have a baby in early spring of 2017, I heard the words "I want to throw you a baby shower" come across my lips. But there was no denying it, I said that string of words, loud enough for Myra to hear, and there is no taking back a promise like that. I was down to plan a shower - but I had lots of time, babies take forever to come.

Since every shower these days has an overriding theme that is carefully chosen by spending large amounts of time stealing ideas on Pinterest, by December I was getting into panic mode. No venue, no date, no theme, no shower. So I decided to go for broke and pull out all the stops, this was to be a shower to top all showers. One that would be Pinterested to kingdom come. The oohs and aahs would be heard three counties away. I picked a theme and ran with it. Ran and ran and ran.

Just joshin' ya.
This wasn't the theme.

From the very beginning, Myra was on board with something very practical and doable from her party-phobic friend. In fact, being the World's Most Practical Mom already, she was all for having a Baby Drizzle!

What's a Baby Drizzle, you ask? 

First and foremost, it's easy on the hostess, who in this case has mini-meltdowns just having people over for dinner.

Second, it's easy on the invited guests, because they don't have to wrap up their gifts in fancy bows and baubles. In fact, super practical gifts are encouraged like diapers and wipes and Target baby items.

Third, it's easy on the mom because she doesn't have to spend any energy oohing and aahing so loud it can be heard three counties away. She just gets stuff for the baby. And stuff for the baby is what a shower was invented for, I'm pretty sure.

So with Myra behind the whole idea, we had the basic outline for a Drizzle. But you can't just sit around and watch a pregnant person not open boxes of diapers, we had to have some food. And stuff to drink. And chocolate. And that's when I set into true panic mode. I contacted some friends of Myra and begged them to help me, and they must have read the desperation in my typing, because they graciously offered to help me plan a gathering that would have unwrapped diaper boxes, food of some sort, stuff to drink and chocolate.

We batted some ideas around, mostly me suggesting they do everything, before we landed on the Plan of all Plans. Alicia would set up a yummy and cozy Hot Drink Bar. Portia would do a Dessert Bar. And I would organize a Soup Bar. Who needs Pinterest with a plan like that? We all seemed to have some leftover items from other parties, and we were set to go.

Then Portia had to ruin everything and send us a gorgeous Pinterest-like shot of an "inspiration dessert bar." What??? "We were going low-down on the chow-down, weren't we? Well for heavens' sake, now I have to get tablecloths?"

As in most things I freak out about, everything turned out lovely. I do admit to doing some last minute Pinteresting on How To Make A Soup Bar Look Better In 12 Short Hours, but I didn't really have to. Our neighbor Melene offered to help me set up, and she has ideas, whereas all I have is nervous energy. I only had to get the gear set up for about 15 people to walk into the Drizzle with Crock Pots filled to the brim with simmering soups and stews, and have enough extension cords to keep that soup hot, thus preventing any food poisoning incidents, and have lots of containers to send the extra soup home for Myra and her growing family.

Got ladles?
I did, from the thrift store.

Got linens and things?
I did, from the great-grandmother-to-be.

Got signage?
I grabbed this black poster board from the garage at the last minute.
Portia brought the chalk.
I bet you thought that was a real chalkboard and were about to post it on Pinterest.

Got twinkle lights?
Found these the morning of the Drizzle, while looking for the extension cords.
Melene borrowed the greenery from the venue.

Got soup?
We sure did, but next time...

...hide those ugly cords Jessica.

You can't have a Soup Bar without fixins, that's the rule.

Portia and Alicia came thru big time on their end of the room.
Portia's chalkboard is the real deal.

Some people have talent.
The rest of us make soup.

A very blurry picture of diapers and wipes and
little outfits we drizzled on Myra. 

It's a good thing we had the Drizzle when we did. It landed on one of the few days in January that didn't have a torrential downpour of gushing water from the never-ending Atmospheric Rivers of 2017. And now Myra's little guy is going to come four weeks earlier than planned. But she's set with enough diapers and wipes to handle the first few months of drizzles, leaks and drips. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Shem, Ham and Japheth survived the Deluge of 2017

Do you name your cars? We try to, but some names stick while others don't. In our 25 years of marriage we've owned "Herman" the VW Baja Bug, "Augustine" the VW Bus, "Red" the Mitsubishi Eclipse, "Suber" for the (you guessed it) two Subarus. 

All our other cars just got their generic names, Escort, Rabbit, Dasher, Blazer, etc. Right now we have the very original designations of "Your Car" and "My Car." 

We have the same routine with our trees and plants - some we name for convenience's sake. "Have you watered Landon the Plant and The Little Stones" has much more significance than just "Have you watered the jade plants?" No one wants their jade plants to die or freeze, but you really don't want your jade plants you named after your friend's son and grandson to end up in the green waste can.

Our house currently has four trees we call by name. There is "Little Stevie" who is named after our beloved neighbor Steve. He hates Crepe Myrtles, but he still loves us even though we planted a messy tree between our two houses. The other three trees in our yard with monikers are "Shem, Ham and Japheth" - our majestic yet stress-inducing California Redwoods.

If you're thinking of planting a California Redwood in your yard, and you live in the Sacramento Valley, rethink that decision. These trees get big, really really big. They need water, lots of it. If they get big (and they will) and they don't get water (which they won't in a drought) you're going to end up with lots of firewood landing somewhere on your property. Or on your house. Or on your neighbor's house.

We keep our redwoods watered even in summer, because we can't afford not to. If either Shem, or Ham, or even Japheth were to decide it was time to come down, it won't be majestic. They will either take out part of our house, the neighbor's house, our trailer, our pool house or our pool. There's one small sliver of yard they could fall into and cause only some fence damage, but so far they haven't responded to my emails about it. They've just got their heads in the clouds, growing bigger and more majestic every year.

We just experienced the fourth wettest January in recorded history. Rain, rain and more rain. On this date, January 31, 2017 Sacramento is .90 inches shy of our total rainfall for the whole year. What that number doesn't convey is the gale force winds we got with our January storms. Winds that took the breath out of us. Winds that had us going to the sliding glass door and sending messages of encouragement to our three big trees, telling them to "Hang in there, You got this, Dig deep boys, Spring will be here soon." Standing at the sliding glass door talking to redwood trees, pleading with them to not fall into the point where you're standing may seem a bit crazy on a beautiful day like today, but you just had to experience those winds to understand.

On one particularly windy morning, while standing at the sliding glass door, Ernst let out a sound of distress. "Oh, no. I think Ham is leaning into Japheth." "NO!" I exclaimed, as I ran to the door made of thin glass, watching our massive trees bend from side to side in gale force winds, knowing they would reach that pane of glass should they fall. We stood and stared, trying to recall if Ham has always leaned a little towards the right. I got the idea to check my Instagram history to check if any one was off kilter. Sure enough, whew, Ham was fine, he's always had a bit of a bend in the trunk. It was time to step away from the glass and go check on Little Stevie. 

My advice? Plant appropriate trees. Water them. Prune them. But never name them. 

From left to right, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Standing tall, ready for spring.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to make a killing on Etsy. Or not.

Chicago Cubs winning the World Series?
Definitely a good thing in 2016!
I'm ready to put the year my husband had heart surgery (the second in one year's time) and the year my Mom died behind me. So, I'm more than ready to tidy up the loose ends of 2016. And that means the joy of paperwork. I just totaled up my Etsy earnings for 2016. Gulp.

I recently saw this very interesting list of factors that Etsy sellers should think about when analyzing their shops. It comes from the owner of a shop called Norwegian Wood. She's had 6905 sales on Etsy, so of course my envy meter is in the red. But being a fellow Northern California seller, I thought I'd give her advice a looksee.

Brand? I'm supposed to have a brand? Sounds painful. But I'll work on it.

Define need. And, I'm not supposed to "simply make stuff that I like making"? Oh, boy, I've got some thinking to do on this. 

Ha, Ha, Ha! "Do the math about the time and costs involved..." But that would just make me cry, and the goal for 2017 is less crying. 

Fortunately, in adding up my material costs for 2016, I did pretty well. So many friends have donated unused fabric to me, I've done all right with my expenses. I could purchase more things in bulk, such as my batting, but I just don't want to impact our home that much. So if it doesn't fit in my craft closet, it's not coming in the house.

Repeat laughing from above. Etsy is as saturated with quilts as California is from the Storm of 2017. The ground's wet, the rivers are rising and we're all trying to just tread water.

If I took better pictures, I might do better. Or should I say, if I actually made more quilts, and then took better pictures of them, I might do better. 

But with my particular product, I think I'm much better in person than over the Internet. At the close of my miserable 2016, I hauled in my quilts and hats to a little craft area at my job where a co-worker was selling her quilts. I sold a lot! But they didn't give me the money until 2017. Grr.

From what I've seen, no one else is taking only recycled, upcycled and/or repurposed fabric pieces and turning them into one-of-a-kind rag quilts with unique names and funky descriptions and selling them on Etsy. But since the quilt market on Etsy is so saturated, it's hard to stand out. Hence the need to find some in-person craft shows to do that don't cost more than a bolt of batting.

I just posted two new quilts, Willow and Calico. They took me too long to make and my profit margin is not that great, but I loved making them. Branding, time plus costs plus materials, market saturation, wants verses need, I can't think about that right now. I have some more quilts to plan. 

She never wants the Cubs to win again. Ever.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tule Fog Pea Soup

Growing up in the Sacramento Valley, I remember three seasons. Spring, Summer and Fog.
The fog was omnipresent from December through February, it was a part of what we called winter here in Northern California. It would settle in and stay for days, often weeks at a time. Sometimes it would burn off around noon, other days it would stick around all day and all night. We would drive up to Placerville or Auburn just to get out of it, just to see the sun. They call it "tule fog" here, which rhymes with "unruly dog."

The worst fog I ever experienced was on a nighttime drive back from my Mom's house in Sacramento. It was almost impossible to see, but we hoped that by following the car's lights in front, hoping they were also following another car and so forth, that we could make it back to Davis. We decided for the last bit of our trip to exit the freeway and take the frontage road. Big mistake. There were no cars to follow. It was just us on a pitch black road, surrounded with a trillion droplets of water. While I watched ahead for objects in the road, such as other drivers stupid enough to take the frontage road, my husband rolled down his window and stared at the center lane as he drove. He trusted that I would scream if I saw something up ahead. No worries on that count, I was in scream mode. We got home safely, but our shoulder muscles didn't untense for days.

We just don't get fog like that anymore. I'm not complaining, because it's dangerous and depressing, but I'm sure it has to do with urban sprawl and not enough rain, which is depressing in its own right. But it makes nighttime driving much safer.

We recently took a road trip to San Diego, leaving after work. We got there at 3:00 am, and didn't run into a bit of fog. On the way down, we passed Pea Soup Andersen's in Santa Nella. I was sure my husband was saying it wrong, and I kept calling it Andersen's Pea Soup. We stopped in after a fog-free trip back up to Sacramento, to enjoy some fog-free pea soup. He was right about the name, which I hate, but I'm not going to argue with an official restaurant sign and menu.

We entered through the extremely kitchy gift shop, that must be seen to be believed. There is so much over-the-top ugly stuff to buy, that when one comes across just a regularly ugly item, it's hard not to purchase it, just to prove you didn't buy the super ugly item. I slapped myself and came to my senses and walked out kitch-free. We asked if the pea soup was vegan, and then we happily sat down to order. It came. It was thick and creamy and smooth as a baby's bottom. The color looked like something that came out of a baby's bottom, but such is the reality of pea soup. You don't eat it because of the color.

It made me realize that maybe I was missing out on the whole purpose of split pea soup, that creamy-straight-out-of-a-diaper consistency. I vowed to come home and test out my suspicions, and turn my usual chunky version of split pea soup in a dreamy, creamy if not sort of disgusting-colored bowl of yumminess.

My first bump in the road was that my husband had not purchased split peas by the barrel-full, he had bought whole dried peas. I didn't even know peas grew like that, I thought split came with the territory. But in fact, in pea processing plants around the world, there are machines that split whole peas so we can make soup the color of newborn baby poop. I needed to adjust the time on my Instant Pot. I will be writing a post very soon about my new favorite kitchen appliance of all time, the Instant Pot, but for now back to the pea soup.

I used the recipe from Andersen's Pea Soup, or rather from Pea Soup Andersen's. It's very simple, and it has no meat, nor even a piece of ham bone or any other part of a pig in it. I will forgive the Andersen's for their really tacky gift shop for offering travelers a vegan soup.

Did I fiddle with the recipe a bit? Of course I did! Besides starting with the unsplit peas, which took about 40 minutes in the pressure cooker, I added more celery and carrots and I added some mushrooms for a reason that is no longer apparent. It doesn't need the mushrooms. I also omitted the salt but added a tiny amount of hickory liquid smoke to give it that oinky good richness. Here is the original recipe from the restaurant. Make it creamy, or make it chunky, however you prefer.

Pea Soup Andersen's Pea Soup Recipe

  • 2 cups green split peas
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled into very small pieces
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a big soup pot, boil hard for 20 minutes, then turn heat down until peas are tender, about 50 minutes or so total cook time. After the mixture has cooled, and if you like your soup creamy, process in a blender. Whirl until it looks like it came from a diaper, and you're good to go.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Jessica and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad craft faire

Last week I decided to have a craft faire in my driveway. On a Friday. In Winter. On a windy day. I based this decision on the time I put some signs up on the corner and a woman came and bought three quilts off my porch. This was not that time. 

Didn't sell much. I'm going to take the high road and say I sold one thing. It wasn't even a quilt. But at least it paid for my little experiments testing out the new Square Register chip reader. Yes, I was that confident that people would stop by my driveway in the winter on a Friday in the wind and purchase quilts that they weren't really planning on buying. Sure I put an ad on Craigslist and Next Door and put up signs. If only it wasn't windy, not a Friday not winter, and at a real craft fair location. 

The good thing, back to that high road business, was that I got my inventory all figured out and accounted for. I found a little piggy hat I didn't know I had made, missing some eyeballs, but still oinking to go. I discovered some items that need to be removed from my Etsy shop, because they weren't in my craft closet. If they're not in the closet, they don't exist. And I found a quilt that's completely ready to be sewn together, it just needs some cream colored thread from Joann's Fabric.

So with my ego in the gutter, but with the garage all swept out during the un-fair event, I'm ready to move on. It's time I put some time into my Etsy shop, it's been a while since I took a look at it from a first time visitor's point of view. Maybe I'll do that on Friday, but only if it's windy.

My closet full of adorables.

I also got my gift tags all made.

Finding the piggy hat was my biggest accomplishment.
No worries, he's got eyes now. 

I went to a baby shower last night, and gave as gifts these crocheted items. The first was for the baby's big sister, it's a little blankie for her dolls. The second photo is the car or stroller blanket I made for the baby-on the-way. Crocheting takes my mind off quilts, so I'll be doing more projects in the near future.

Friday, November 25, 2016

My most expensive quilt yet

Still fretting over the fact that I couldn't do a craft fair this year, I'm trying to get my quilting mo-jo back. I have a few very wintery items that look so cute in person, but not that great in photos. Of course I could retake the photos, repost on Etsy and stop my complaining, but where's the fun in that? 

I was so hoping for the up close and personal that only a craft fair can give. The big ones scare me, and are very expensive. The sellers, or rather vendors, are pros at what they do, they have equipment that goes up in a flash and they have lots of stuff to sell. I just want a semi-folksy one, where people walking around with a burning desire to purchase an upcycled rag quilt stop and stare, their mouth wide open in surprise and say, "I. Want. That." Let it go, Jessica, let it go, no craft fair for you this year. They moved the date, you can't do it, move forward.

Two quilts I had cut out but had not yet sewn together awaited my attention. It's definitely easier sewing them up on a completely different day than I cut them out on. Less disruption, less mess, more table space for that thing...what's it called...starts with a D...Yes, dining, there's more room for dining without finding quilt fuzz in the lentils when I stay organized, do things in a measured way and take my time. 

Voila, I introduce Bah-bah-rah the Sheep Quilt and Annie the Raggedy Little ABC Quilt! They are both snug as a bug in my supply closet in the guest room. The Etsy descriptions says about Bah-bah-rah:

Bah-bah-ra (and please don't call her Barbie, she hates that) is ready for some all-season, sleep-inducing, counting-sheep-until-you-snore snuggle time! This blue and white sheep-themed rag quilt is just the thing to add a bit of extra warmth to your bed, a touch of whimsy to your sitting chair and some wooly wonder to your couch.

Measuring 4 feet square, Bah-bah-ra likes to call herself a quilt, because "throw" doesn't always end well with lambs. She's petite yet sturdy, warm but not too warm, and is ready for years of spills and thrills, washings and dryings, and will continue to get softer and softer, as all good sheep do.

This one-of-a-kind rag quilt is made entirely from upcycled materials. Flannel, denim, cotton, prints, checks, florals - this has it all yet still is easy on the eyes and the touch. She's sandwiched with cotton flannel to increase the sheepy feel, and will continue to get more wooly with use. She's been snipped but not sheared, washed in perfume-free detergent, dried and groomed in my wolf free home. I'm not sheepish to say, she's so ready to join your flock!

The listing description leaves out the whole part about this little lamb of a quilt depositing a large wad of quilt fuzz in our washer's drain pipe, causing a small flood in the garage, taking up untold hours of my husband's weeklong vacation from teaching, the various contraptions he's purchased to help unclog this mother of all clogs, and the endless quarters I fed into the washing machines at the laundromat down the way to get us some clean clothes. We still have a clog and, admitting defeat and moving foreward, we have an appointment with a plumber. If I add up materials + labor + shipping & handling + plumber, I may have a new price range for lovely Bah-bah-rah. Probably the same cost as the entry fee in a really great craft fair. I coulda been a vendor!

Shhhh, the sheep are sleeping.

They like to sleep all curled up.

Counting squares has been discovered to be much more advantageous than counting sheep.

Annie is a little, um, well, she's a bit puffy.

She tries to work out, but she just can't lose that extra bit of fluff.

But she didn't clog the plumbing, she's pinning all that on Bah-bah-rah.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What to do when someone dies

This was supposed to be one of the last photos I took with my Mom. She was in a nursing home, I was flying back the next day to California, and I didn't think I would see her again. So what did we do? We took silly pictures of our genetic similarity, the ability to bend our fingers upward into ski jump shapes. My Mom's fingers at 93 years old were not gnarled with arthritis or pain, she even still had remnants of her last manicure. I got her ski jump fingers, but I didn't get her pretty nails.

We also talked while I caught audio of it. We sang the Wallpaper song together. I told her she was the Best Mom Ever. I cried a bit, but I don't think she could tell. I haven't been able to listen to that yet, but someday I will. Then I kissed her goodbye and told her I would see her next time we were together.

More weird hand photos.

This in fact is the last photo I took with my Mom. It's after I flew out again after my Mom went into hospice. It's pretty obvious I didn't think it would be the last photo, because I look really goofy. This was a Thursday, I hadn't slept since Tuesday night. Little did I know I wouldn't fall asleep again until Saturday morning, after my sweet Mom died. There was still a long, long haul ahead of us here, I didn't have a clue what was in store.

I used to think I knew what to do for people when there's a looming death in the family, or when a death has occurred. But I've learned a lot from being on the receiving end. None of the following suggestions were because of anything people did not do for us, rather, because of the outpouring of love towards my Mom and my family, I've been inspired to brainstorm ideas. Ideas to tuck away for the future when someone needs more from me than the words, "I'm so sorry, what can I do?"

First and foremost, show up.
You cannot mess that up.
Just visit, or call, or text, or email.
Communicate in any way. Silent hugs work too.

Flowers are nice.
But so are gift baskets, food baskets, plants, and cards.
Each and every card means so much. 

On the subject of food. In the depths of either a long hospital stay or a hospice experience, food becomes a wonderfully practical way to show love and care. "Shovel ready" foods are especially great, something that goes down fast and easy and is a few button pushes on the microwave from being ready to eat. Two of the favorites of my family were some homemade pot stickers and lasagna. I appreciated the big salads, because who can even think of making a salad during a time like that? Not me, but I needed some good healthy food that didn't take one bit of brain power.

Others brought over some breakfast things. Arriving with a favorite coffee drink would be terrific too. Think easy to eat, throw away containers, clearly marked cookware, freezable, comfort food, nothing involving knives or cooking or calculations of any kind. My family also received some wonderful fruit baskets, and from California our friend Marilyn sent a huge tray of dried fruits and nuts, we attacked that like starving squirrels. 

Many of my family's friends visited up until almost the end. It could not have been easy for them to see my Mom deteriorating so quickly. We often use the reasoning that we would rather just remember people in their better days, and sometimes that's what the person or the family wants. But those visits, those dear friends standing in my Mom's room turned into a hospice room, looking serious and devastated, made me feel comforted. It was so sad, but they were not afraid to show up and be there with us. 

A friend offered to put together a beautiful program for my Mom's service. My sister-in-law Chris went through a lifetime of photos to find some for the program, and then created three lovely photo boards for the dinner after the service. Another friend dug through their photo albums and found a picture of my Mom at her baptism, we had never even seen it. We put it in her program. A funeral is such work, when you're at your lowest, so getting a perfect photo from a friend is a wonderful gift.

A pretty orchid from our friend Joan.
In the back, a plant sent from Doug and Colette.

One of the photo boards my sister-in-law Chris made.

When my husband and I got home, we arrived to food left by our dog sitter, fresh flowers from friends, cards, lunch dates, invites to a cabin trip, hugs and tears and lots of love. 

It was a month today since my Mom died. My brain fog is finally going away. My husband has a theory that when someone we love dies, someone we have loved all our life, our brain undergoes a physical transformation. All our synapses related to that person start getting rewired, and it's not pleasant. I can't say my brain actually hurt, but it came close. I felt fuzzy headed for weeks. This is above and beyond the grief, this was a mental journey I had no choice but to make. I'm not a daughter anymore, I don't have a Mom. Rough stuff, even when you know it's coming. But every time I needed a bit of encouragement, there it was in the form of a card, or a call or a hug. Thank you.