Early Morning

In the past year, I seem to have lost my ability to sleep in. It isn’t a big deal. I can still get to sleep at night, and sleep through the night, but once morning hits, I’m awake, even if it is 5:00 a.m. This is a little ironic because my baby and then kid used to rise at 5:00 every day, and I complained about it mightily. Now that he reliably sleeps as late as he is able, I wake myself at 5:00. Life is different now then it was when I was up with a 2 year old at 5:00 though. Back then, there were no quiet moments. I was parenting from the moment my eyes opened. Now, I pad out to the living area, make the pot of coffee, prepare a little breakfast, and quietly read the internet by myself. On a good morning like today, where there is no pressing schedule, I then retired to my leather chair with my stitching.

For a good two hours this morning, I stitched on my cushion project and semi-watched Bernadette Banner videos. The cats curled up near me. Bernadette’s voice was soothing and informative. My stitching was relaxing and beautiful. I didn’t need to prepare to make anyone else’s breakfast or pack a lunch. It was just the perfect way to start a Saturday. Grounding and soothing.

Later today I plan to finish my jacket project (hurrah!), then I’ll start doing some getting-ready-for-the-cleaner tasks, and finally if the weather cooperates we’ll all go to the Twinkle Light Parade together and watch twinkle lights go on by (I guess. We’ve never gone to this parade before). It will hopefully be a quiet and lovely Saturday. I’m looking forward to it, and I don’t mind one bit that the day started at 5:00.

Beautiful Machines

I’ve become a little obsessed with vintage sewing machines. I love them. There are sewing machines out there covered in gorgeous decals that are 100 years old and yet STILL WORK. They are simple enough that a regular person armed with a screwdriver and some high-quality sewing machine oil can take care of them and keep them running. And the machines were mass produced enough, and are unpopular enough, that many can be purchased for not that much money. Singer Featherweights, which was my first machine that I bought back in May, those are popular with the quilting crowd and can run over a thousand dollars. But pretty much anything else can often be purchased for under 100 dollars, maybe a little more if it comes with a nice wooden cabinet. Honestly, if I’d known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have gotten my beloved Featherweight and would have stuck to less popular models.

I’ve learned a lot since May. I lurk on several vintage sewing machine groups, poke around the internet for blogs and videos, and generally research sewing machines like they are the new special interest of mine that they are. I’ve already got three sewing machines and one overlocker, too. There is the 1941 Singer Featherweight, which is the machine I use the most. Then in July I inherited my late mother-in-law’s Singer Stylist from the 70s. I took it into a shop and had it tuned up, and now it is my trusty zig zag machine. The overlocker is a relatively newer machine that I bought over Marketplace from a local sewist who had upgraded to a fancier model. (Even in the vintage sewing machine forums, people will tell you to stay away from vintage overlockers.) My last machine I’ve only had for a couple weeks, and I’m so in love.

It is a Singer 66 treadle machine from 1923 with Red Eye decals in near pristine condition. It was made May 28th, 1923 to be exact and I am already planning to throw it a 100th birthday party when the time comes. I got it off Marketplace too, from a woman who got it as a gift in high school. She assured me it still sews, and that she sewed on it for years. I haven’t tried sewing on it yet. Instead it lives in our dining area and looks gorgeous, and I admire and pet it many times a day. Once I finish my current jacket project, I plan to clean and oil the 66 and learn how to use a treadle. Tentatively, I plan to sew up some new curtains for my husband’s home office on it. (The curtain plan is firm, but I reserve the right to chicken out and sew them on the Featherweight instead.) This machine, it has brought me so much joy. I’m not sure I can exactly explain how much, or why.

I paid 150 dollars for it, cash, which seems a ridiculously low price for so much joy. Back 100 years ago, such a machine would have been a real reach for a middle class family. It would have been a necessity for most too. People sewed because they needed to back then. But it would have been expensive enough that most would have had to take out a loan to pay for it. The machines were durable and beautiful, in part because they were so expensive and because they generally lived in people’s main living spaces. Singers became very popular not because they were the best, but because they were headed up by something of a marketing genius. The company invented the concept of buying something on layaway, and people would take home their new machine and then send a check to the Singer shop each month for years to come. I like to wonder about all the families that owned this machine before me. I like to think how beloved and admired and useful it has been for almost 100 years now.

Our new house only has so much space, and I’ve promised to stop acquiring machines for now. There are others I would like. In particular, I’d love to have another Singer machine with an original hand crank to power it. Or another treadle with a fiddle base from the 1800’s. Or one of the original all metal Singer zig zag machines instead of the Stylist I have now (which has plastic parts that will someday break and may not be replaceable).  Though my husband says seeing the Stylist each day makes him happy because it reminds him of his mom, so I’ll probably never actually replace it.

My little stable of four machines makes me happy. Each has a use and each is lovely in its own way. This past weekend I finally got up the nerve to practice on the overlocker, and, oh, that was fun. I’ll write more about that another day. For today, I’ll wrap this journal entry up, and get back to my jacket project, which I’m doing entirely on the Featherweight. The Featherweight is going to need a good cleaning and oiling once this project is finally done. I’m looking forward to the task.

No Words

I’ve been trying to sew myself a linen jacket. I’ve also been trying to learn to sew in little 1-3 hour chunks of time, instead of completing a garment in a four-day marathon. It is hard to find three to four days where all you can do is sew, so I figured I’d better learn how to fit the activity into my life in a different way. The result has been that I’ve now been working on this jacket for over a month. It is the project that will never end.

A lot of the issue is that I’m really slow. This is only the fourth garment I’ve sewn as an adult. I’m teaching myself how to do all of this with the help of YouTube videos and pattern instructions, and that means I don’t get much done in those 1-3 hour chunks of time. And this jacket has bias bound seams, so every seam takes a total of three passes. It is, I hope, going to look really cool and I think I’ll wear it often, but it is taking me forever.

I have a self-imposed deadline. I’d like to finish it up by the end of this coming Saturday. The cleaner comes on Monday, so Sunday will be spent tidying up clutter. That means all my sewing stuff will get put away on Sunday, and I know myself well enough to know that this will kill my momentum on the jacket project. It would be nice to just have the jacket done by then. Today there will be no time to sew, leaving Friday and Saturday to work. I think I can do it. Maybe.

Despite my frustration at this being the project that will never end, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Sewing still feels like magic to me. It is a thing I couldn’t do a year ago. A thing I never even daydreamed about doing a year ago. I’m 48, and it has been awhile since I tackled a new skill with so much history and knowledge behind it. It has been good. It has significantly improved my happiness levels.

It is of course a continuation of my attempt to fill my life with non-word-based activities. I realized at some point that everything I did was based on words. I was a writer, and for fun I read things. Too many words. My head got too full of words. My writing was drying up. So I took up embroidery, which led to cross stitch, which led to sewing, and now I do all three and I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. I haven’t given up on writing. My hope it that by filling up my batteries with all these not-words, the words will flow onto the page easier than they were before. It’s worth a shot anyway.

Along these lines, I’ve signed up to be a part of Holidailies this year, a project in which people with blogs commit to updating every day for the month of December. I’m going to do my best to post here every day this month. It will be a bit of a challenge, especially since I do not really talk about my kid and parenting here in this blog, and that is a thing that takes up a lot of my time and mental energy. Instead I’ll talk about my sewing, stitching, and writing. Probably some other stuff too.

I actually finished a project last night. I’m stitching up a little Baltic cross to make into an ornament and give to a loved one who will, I think, appreciate it. Last night I put the last stitch into the design. Next I need to finish it into an ornament, which I’ll get to right after I finish my jacket. It felt good to put that last stitch in yesterday. A little bit of beauty, done by me. No words.

In Which I Mostly Don’t Talk About Being Autistic

It has been a personally eventful month and I’m not going to write about most of it here. Mostly just stuff that rocked my little nuclear family, but that probably seems fairly small to anyone outside it. I will share that I’ve decided I’m probably autistic, as well as bipolar. It has been interesting, looking at my life through this new lens. It was all-consuming at first, but has now faded into a smaller hum in the background as I go about my business. You can’t think about your whole life through the lens of being autistic 24/7 indefinitely, you know?

I finished that mulberry dress I wrote about a little over a month ago, and have worn it joyfully several times since then. That was the last sewing project I’ve done. I’ve been daydreaming and planning for more projects, but the selfish pursuits part of the deal has mostly kept me away from the sewing machine. You see, Christmas is coming, and my other new hobby, stitching, is a thing that can be given to other people, so I’ve been spending more time doing that instead. I’ve finished a little pink and green design on a mat that I plan to give away, and I’m currently working on a small piece that I’ll finish into an ornament. It isn’t exactly a sacrifice, doing stitching instead of sewing. Both activities give me a lot of pleasure, both allow me to achieve that meditative flow state that I love so much. But I do want to at least make myself a bright pink open cardigan/jacket type garment before fall is over. Probably that will happen towards the end of October.

I also put my handwork skills to use repairing a pair of pants for my husband. His favorite pair of pants got a big rip in their front pocket from his keys a couple years ago, and he hadn’t worn them since. He brought them to me, and asked nicely if I could think of a way to mend them. I decided I could, and I made a little patch which I hand stitched into the inside of his pocket. It isn’t an invisible mend but it isn’t as visible as it could have been. I tried to convince him to let me use dark green thread, but he chose the more subdued grey that almost blends into the tan pants themselves. Doing the mending project brought me a surprising amount of pleasure, and now I smile to myself every time I see him wearing the pants, which happens a lot since they are his favorite pair.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to post here again before too long, maybe talk a little more about how I came to self-diagnose myself as being autistic. Or maybe I’ll just talk more about my stitching.

Selfish Pursuits

It is supposed to rain all day today, which is a novel thing for New Mexico. There are dire warnings of flooding, especially in areas with burn scars, so it isn’t all coziness and fun. My kid and I got caught driving in a rainstorm earlier this week and it was honestly pretty scary — all the flooded streets and of course my windshield wipers weren’t in good shape. So today we plan to hunker down at home. My kid will probably spend most of the day in his room, doing whatever it is he does in there these days. Reading and podcasts, I think. My husband will find a way to workout at home. His usual swimming or bike ride won’t work today, but we’ve got a stationary bike in the sunroom. After that, I assume he’ll be getting ready for his weekly Zoom book club. (I keep arguing that a weekly book club isn’t really a book club. More of a self-run seminar. Not that it matters.)

I plan to spend the day making a dress. Right now my dress is three or so yard of mulberry linen that has been pre-washed but not pressed. So I’ll need to press the linen, cut out my pattern pieces, possibly also press the pattern pieces, pin the pattern pieces to the linen, cut out my linen, and assemble and sew the whole thing step-by-step. I don’t expect to finish today. Maybe tomorrow if I’m lucky. I’m looking forward to it very much.

I haven’t sewn anything in a few weeks. I find myself wanting large chunks of time in which to work on sewing, and I haven’t had those for a few weeks. I’ve been daydreaming about sewing though. Reading about it. Watching videos about it. The anticipation has been immense. This rainy weekend seems like the perfect opportunity to finally transform all that anticipation into action.

One of the things that in interesting about my new sewing hobby is that so far, it is entirely for me. I’ve made clothing for me. I haven’t hemmed other people’s pants, made a shirt for my son or husband, any of that. I’ve transformed the guest room into a guest room/sewing room with two sewing machines and an ironing board. I’ve acquired a whole stash of fabric and countless little sewing notions. I’ve spent hours working on my projects, and it has all been for me. So that I can wear things that I like, that I’ve made. There is a (small) part of me that wants to feel guilty for this. But most of me is simply reveling in it. Maybe eventually I will sew things for other people, but for now, this new endeavor is all for me, and I feel pretty good about that.

This week I got some fun mail. Little tags with my full name on them, intended to be sewn into the clothing that I make. Probably they will be sewn into parts of my garments that only I will see, so they are another little thing just for me. I can’t wait.

Marking the Occasion

My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary recently. In keeping with my recent tendencies, I marked the occasion with a special cross stitch, and by sewing a new top to wear out to dinner.

The cross stitch isn’t done yet, probably won’t be for a couple more months. It is a little, or a lot, beyond my current abilities, so I make a lot of mistakes and progress is slow. Once it is done, our names and wedding date will be in the center. I plan to have it framed and then to hang it on our family picture wall. Some of the mistakes I make get picked out and corrected. Others I allow to stay, telling myself they add interest. That is probably some kind of a metaphor for 20 years of marriage but I choose to let it lie for now, rather than exploring it at length.

The top I finished the day of our anniversary, a little after noon. My husband had planned to take the whole day off of work so we could hang out together. However, when he saw I was immersed in finishing up my sewing project, he decided to work until I was done. (He works from home, so the pivot was easily made.) I knew it was a little silly to choose my sewing project over time with him, but in my defense our kid was away at sleep-away camp, and we had already spent more time just the two of us that week than we had in around 10 years. The time together was sweet, don’t get me wrong, but losing a morning to sewing seemed like an okay trade.

When I completed the top, I immediately put it on and had my husband take a photo of me out in our yard. I felt that familiar feeling of pride in my accomplishment, that one I rarely feel about my writing. Then we spent a sweet afternoon together, followed by a sweet evening where we went out to dinner at a restaurant that allowed us to rent their private deck in the middle of a farm field. We dined on salmon and farm-fresh vegetables surrounded by sunflowers, bees, chickens, and wandering farm cats. It was magical, and I felt great wearing something I had made myself, with my own two hands. I don’t know if a metaphor for 20 years of marriage lies in there somewhere too.

The week after our anniversary, I discovered a major mistake in the cross stitch, one I couldn’t just let lie. I spent the week picking out stitches rather than putting them in. Picking out stitches is a delicate affair, because you don’t want to cut a hole in your ground cloth. So I carefully undid my own work, day after day. Picking out stitches isn’t as satisfying and meditative as putting them in, but it is possible to get into a rhythm with it. And I guess there is a satisfaction in putting something to rights.

When I write, revision has often been my favorite part. It is so much more fun to fix something than it is to create something out of nothing, when it comes to words. When it comes to floss stitched through ground cloth, it seems I feel differently. I’d much rather create than revise my careful work, when it is made with a needle.

I have been writing this month. Nothing that counts as creative work, but I’m on a committee for my UU church that is organizing the annual pledge drive, and my job is to do the writing for that. So I’ve been writing what I guess counts as fundraising copy. It isn’t easy, and I’ve never done anything like it before. I do still put my heart into it, which is made easier by the fact that this is fundraising copy for something I do truly care about. I think it has been stretching me in interesting and productive ways. I’m learning something new; this isn’t the same old memoir and poetry. I don’t know if I get as much of thrill out of it as I have at learning to stitch, and then sew, but I do get satisfaction from learning a new form. It’s keeping me busy. It is nice, I think, to have people waiting for my words. Normally when I write, there is nobody waiting for me to finish, eager to read.

On Pride

Over the long weekend I made the Torrens Box Top from Muna & Broad. I’ve quickly become very fond of this small, independent pattern company. For one thing, they make patterns in my size, which I’ve found most pattern makers don’t, not even the ones who make plus-size patterns. For another, I love their style, sort of minimalist and oversized. I got tired of all the plus-size clothes that emphasize cleavage and try to make you look as small as possible a long time ago. I don’t necessarily need my clothes to make me look small. I’m not small, and no dress will show otherwise. And I’d rather keep my cleavage to myself, thanks. So I was happy to find their patterns, and look forward to working my way through their collection.

I was intimidated to start. Sewing a whole garment on my own seemed overly ambitious maybe? One sewist I started following suggests starting by thrifting clothes and then refashioning them to your liking. This isn’t a terrible idea, but at my size, most thrift shop clothes won’t fit me. And my current life is such that I don’t have a lot of chances to rummage around thrift shops anyway. So I decided I was going to disregard that advice and make something from scratch. I found some fairly inexpensive fabric online, and decided this first project would be what sewists call a wearable toile, something meant for practice and to perfect fit. I also promised myself that I would do my best to enjoy the whole process, to take it all slow and step-by-step. Cross stitch and embroidery have been such a joy because they bring me to a meditative state, and I hoped to achieve something similar with my first sewing project.

I started Saturday morning. Just cutting out the pattern (which I’d had printed by a print shop on large pieces of paper, another thing I’d had to figure out in advance), laying out the fabric, and then laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric took more than an hour. I reminded myself that was okay, and enjoyed stroking all the wrinkles and bumps out of the fabric, which I’d draped across the dining room table. By the time I was ready to cut, my family was ready to head out and have some fun together, so I left the fabric on the table and went with them. When I returned, I cut into the fabric, which in many ways was the scariest part. It seemed possible I would make some really dumb, irreversible mistakes. And I kind of did. I told myself not to be scared, just to cut, and then promptly cut a tiny hole in the wrong place. I stopped myself before I got too far, and told myself it was okay, I could darn that tiny hole shut later. By the time all the pattern peices were cut out, it was time to make dinner, so I stopped for the day.

Sunday afternoon I came back to the project, and fused interfacing onto the facings for the collar. Then I did some actual sewing. I have learned that much of garment making does not take place at the sewing machine. In fact, I rearranged the guest room Saturday morning so that the ironing board is easier to use. Cutting, pressing, pinning, all these things to me seem to take longer than the actual sewing. I made sure to stay in the moment with all of these, to enjoy the process. But the sewing bit is fun, especially on my vintage 1941 machine. When I stopped Sunday evening, the facings had been sewn to the collar portion of the top, and the shoulder seams on the top were done. Me, I was getting tired, and I could feel myself wanting to rush through the next step and get sloppy, so instead I packed up for the day.

Monday morning I came back to it all. I wasn’t sure if I’d finish that day, but I ended up working from 9-2:30, and by the end, I was done. I stayed in the moment, reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the pressing, the pinning, and, yes, the sewing. And I did. That morning was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Something about doing something that is entirely new to me is thrilling. I’ve been out of my MFA program for more than 10 years. It had been awhile since I’d learned something entirely new when I first started embroidery. I find I like the dopamine rush of mastering a new skill, so I keep doing embroidery and cross stitch, and now sewing. Sewing seems to be a font of new skills to be mastered. I think it will keep me busy for a long time.

When I tried on my new top, before hemming it, I was shocked to find that it fit, and that I liked how it looked. Through it all, I was expecting I’d mess something up and end up with an unwearable garment. And I’d told myself that would be okay. But instead, I put it on and it looked like something I’d like to wear. I was excited as I took it off and went about pressing in and then stitching the hem. I put it back on, and hemmed I liked it even better. I was filled with… pride. Feeling proud of myself is something I don’t feel all that often. It felt fantastic.

So that’s where I’m at. I have a new top hanging in my closet that fills me with pride every time I look at it, and I’m planning my next project. (Black linen wide-legged Glebe trousers, or maybe a black linen tunic-length Torrens Box top. I got a LOT of linen for a very reasonable price online, and so my next 2-3 projects are going to be black linen). And I’m wondering why I don’t feel that flush of pride more often with my writing. With writing, I am always aware of how it could be better. Of how I could be better. I’m wondering, what can I do to enjoy the process more, and to look at the final, imperfect result, and feel that flush of pride?

Rabbit Holes

I have never thought of myself as a crafty person. Creative, yes, but not crafty. All the things I made were things involving words. Essays, poems, blog entries, letters, all of these were the things I created. I cooked and baked, but my interest in that waned a long time ago, and I mostly did what was necessary to feed the family and didn’t really consider it a creative or particularly enjoyable pursuit. So that is why it is pretty funny that I now find myself a person who embroiders, cross stitches, and sews.

The embroidery came first. I decided I needed a hobby that did NOT involve words and I read an article on Slate about how latch hooking was the perfect pandemic hobby. I went on Etsy and looked around for appealing latch hook kits. I found a couple, but while I looked, I also found some appealing embroidery patterns designed by Krista West at Avlea Folk Embroidery. I bought one of those two. When they all arrived, I discovered very quickly that I loathed latch hooking. I didn’t find it relaxing at all, just tedious, and I thought the resulting rug was ugly. But I also quickly learned that I loved embroidery. I wasn’t very good at it, and I found parts of it mystifying, but I found it incredibly soothing and satisfying. Gradually, embroidery led to cross stitch, also from Avlea. I liked how her cross stitch designs are meant to be finished into things you will use — table runners and mats, pillows, and more. I finished a small mat, and was as proud of my mitered corners and hemming as I was of the design. Then I finished a larger design, and finished it up into a pillow. The pillow came out great, but it took me 2-3 hours to hand sew the thing. It occurred to me while I was doing that, that a sewing machine would have gotten that portion of the job done in 5 minutes.

And that was the beginning of an enormous rabbit hole. I won’t detail it all, but I now find myself with a gorgeous vintage Singer sewing machine, a Featherweight. I love that it was made in 1941 and yet still works marvelously. I love that it is all mechanical and I can teach myself to do its upkeep. I’ve made a couple bags, and have plans to start work on a Muna & Broad Torrens top this weekend.

I also have, already!, a second sewing machine coming next month. My late mother-in-law sewed clothes for my husband and his sister when they were young. The two of them are now working to get her house ready for sale, and it occurred to me that her sewing machine might still be there and in need of a home. My husband asked his sister, and she said yes, the machine and all the accompanying sewing stuff, were still around and I was welcome to them. He’s going out there next week, and then when he returns, it will be with my inherited machine and notions. I have no idea what kind of machine it is. I’m guessing it was made in the 60’s and that it can do some things my straight-stitch Singer can’t (zig-zag stitching, mainly). I’m looking forward to getting it tuned up and learning how to use it. It will be special, using the machine that my mother-in-law used.

I’m loving my new hobbies. I am working on a large and complicated cross stitch right now, and I’m constantly researching sewing, because the things I don’t know are legion. I think the thing I like about both is how they force me to inhabit a beginner’s mind. I embrace the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m open to all this new knowledge. It is such a joy, learning new things in my late 40’s. I had been in a bit of a rut, and embracing these new hobbies have given a spark to my daily life.

Fixing It

This sign has been in our front yard since we moved in. The dog hunched over in pooping stance and the word “No!” painted across its side. I’ve contemplated removing it many times. It sends a message I don’t really want to send. I don’t feel precious about the patch of lawn on our front yard anyway. In fact, once we have the energy and funds, we plan to xeriscape the area. But I’d think to myself, do I really feel pooping-dogs-yes! ? And so I left the sign up.

At a block party this weekend, my husband said everyone he talked to about our house asked, “Is it the one with the no-pooping-dog sign?” And he’d have to say yes. We agreed we would finally take the stupid thing down, but we didn’t get around to it right away.

Yesterday, I heard the news of the massacre at Robb Elementary while I was in the pick-up line at my child’s school, waiting to pick up my own 4th grader. I felt nauseous at the news. I teared up and took deep breaths to try to stay in control of myself. When my kid got in the car, we chatted, and I kept it light. I already knew I’d have to tell him, but not yet, not yet. We drove home and he talked about how his friend has been to Meow Wolf in Las Vegas.

And when we got home and I pulled into the car port, I immediately, without thinking, got out of the car and marched out to the front yard, took this picture, and then pulled the silly little sign out of the dirt. My child hollered after me, “What are you doing? I want to go in the back way, not the front!” I grunted back, “I just want to take care of this.” It was lodged firmly in the dirt. It took both hands and all my strength to pull it out. In the end, I think a part the stake broke off and is still buried under the desert willow tree.

I carried it with me to our backyard, and stuck it in a flower bed there where it still is, ridiculously saying “No!” to nobody but us when we walk by it. The front yard is open season. Come poop on it, dogs of the neighborhood. Please get your person to pick up after, but poop all you like. We are a poop-yes household. We have no control, it feels, over the things that matter. No matter how hard we donate and vote, no meaningful gun-control laws ever seem to get passed. We drop our beloved child off at school every day and if we think about it too hard, our hearts are in our throats. There is so much wrong in the world. But dogs may poop on our useless lawn.

Bird Friends

One thing I’m learning is that the side yard in my new home is beloved by birds. I’ve been sitting out here on the patio and writing most mornings this week. The house is hot because temperatures have been high and our swamp coolers aren’t turned on yet. But the west patio is in shade all morning and it is deliciously chilly. After a night of being too warm, it feels wonderful to sit out and feel cool air nipping at my bare toes in sandals. I don’t know a lot about birds, so I can’t identify them very well, but so far I’ve seen doves, robins, roadrunners, finches, hummingbirds, and woodpeckers. Yesterday morning I even managed to get a picture of a woodpecker as it hopped along the trunk of one of our trees. I love being visited by all these bird friends. The cats love it too. They sit by the screen door of the patio and chirp and chatter.

It is probably my happiest time of the day, the mornings spent outside with my computer and my words. I don’t feel like I’ve been writing anything especially brilliant, but I’ve been doing the writing work out here and that feels satisfying. I’ve been sitting on one of my new Mother’s Day chairs, the ones modeled after the Terrace chairs on the Memorial Union at the UW-Madison, and that has added to the happiness of the mornings. It brings back memories of some of my best times in Madison when I was a young adult. I loved the Terrace, and time spent there chatting with friends, studying, and writing. Having a little piece of that memory here in my new home is a joy.

At the Terrace, bird-friends mostly came in the form of mallard ducks. It was fun to watch them swim, and waddle around begging for popcorn. Here there are no ducks, not unless I venture out to UNM’s duck pond. But there are the hummingbirds that buzz past me like little jet planes. There are the woodpeckers who hop along the trunk of the tree and occasionally make that rap tap tap that rings out across the block. There are the robins who hop along on the ground looking for critters. Maybe best of all, there are roadrunners who easily hop over the fence and then look at me long and hard, as if sizing up my worth. I’m glad this new neighborhood had roadrunners. I’ve always considered them a lucky sign when I spot one. And who doesn’t like a little luck, as they go about their day?