Sunday, February 18, 2018

Still in Silence

Last night Jerome and I attended a concert by Nordic Voices at our historic Temple Theater. Every piece on the program was composed by people born since 1949. Most of them are Norwegian. (Did I ever tell you I now live in an area of the world heavily populated by Scandinavians, primarily Norwegian?)
One piece that resonated with me so deeply was Still In Silence. There is a link to the group singing it here. Last evening's program was performed entirely a cappella. Jerome, with his life long musical training, had much to share with me about the sophistication and complicated construction of the pieces. I heard the works through untrained ears but with my heart. Amazing program.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Around the Corner

Last week Jerome and I attended a preview showing of our town's moment in the spotlight on  Milwaukee Public Television's Around the Corner with John McGivern. The preview was held in our historic Temple Theatre. John McGivern and his crew were there to answer questions and entertain the us with their enthusiasm for their job.
Last night PBS broadcast the episode and today it is available to everyone via the link above.
Filmed last summer, it provides a little wider window to this incredible place I call home.
Have a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, February 5, 2018

when life hands you several challenges, pick an easy one and get started

Recent work in my sewing space:
my quilt guild's challenge.

We were given a fat quarter of the tiny check fabric you see above. I've added the dimension of using only fabrics in my stash. My plan: use several deep tones plus some of my rich Amish black.
Some time ago I won a bundle of assorted fat quarters from the Grunge collection by Moda. It's very popular in quilt shops right now and I did use some of it in the quilts I made for Africa. But I really don't like how they play with other fabrics but when I flipped them over to their gorgeous back sides they were just right.

Searching  in my tear sheets notebook I found a pattern called The Goose is Loose that just might work for this. Since I really, really enjoy drafting my own patterns from pictures I did a basic plan on graph paper. Flying geese units are twice as wide as they are tall so the math is relatively simple.

The bed in the guest room is my design wall for the time being. I've been playing with the color arrangement of the center portion of the quilt. There are pinwheels that form where units come together that are made obvious by arranging the blocks just so. What is laid out here is just the center design of the pattern. Next up, the outer borders.
Oh, and I think the back of this quilt will use lots more of the Grunge.
What challenges have you been embracing as January has slipped into February?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Our first real snow of the season. Not quite finished with us yet, though the sun is trying to dissolve the gauzy veil across her face as tiny flakes continue.
A few views:

just beyond my sewing room/tiny guest room north window

west window next to my computer desk

upstairs sliders 
note the clay pot at the bottom of the picture: my mandevilla wintering over and climbing the bakers rack plant stand
gotta love that southern exposure!

and my beloved potting shed

There's no urgency to cleaning up the drive or walkways as we have all we need here at home, we're not expecting company, and there will be no mail delivery today. There are leftovers from yesterday's calzone luncheon in the frig, chili and soups in the freezer. I think I'll bake some cheese bread today to warm up the kitchen and fill the house with its divine smell. Oh, and brew lots of tea. 
Not sure if the local kids have a holiday or a snow day today. As an educator I can't help but think the best way to honor MLK would be to have the kids in school focusing on his life and times. Can youth  today truly comprehend his life and his passion? In 1968 did I, a naive college freshman, living in an all white middle class neighborhood on the NW side of Chicago? How have I changed since that day? How have you? 
How has America?? 
Worth some thought...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Each year I look forward to a new calendar. Actually, three new calendars.
For years and years I made calendars as gifts for my family. Each would be hand decorated and personalized with birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I only make one of these each year now, for my computer desk. It acts as my organizer.
A long time ago Jerome bought a wooden calendar frame for me which he fills each year with a new Lang calendar. He used to choose the designs for me, but these past few years he's asked me to choose my own. Are you surprised I'm drawn to birds and flowers??? This framed calendar lives in my kitchen. I tend to hold onto these and repurpose the pages for paper crafts. I receive this calendar on Christmas morning and spend the week until it's hung studying its pages. Did you know that in 2018 we'll quickly have two blue moons, January and March? Though it was cloudy at moonrise last night, and we had a bit of snow in the wee hours, the moon did illuminate the night like so much magic. Jolie gently purred and patted me awake a few times and together we appreciated that full moon presiding over the fields as we stood together at the upstairs sliders gazing in wonder at the beauty just beyond.
And then there is the amazing calendar from Anne. Each page a print of her original watercolor painting. This precious gift sits upright on my desk where it brings unceasing joy. 
At its opening, the year seems to stretch out before me full of promise and possibility. I'm thrilled to have the ability to read the writings of so many of you whom I admire, looking back on your year just past and ahead to your hopes for the days to come. Many of you write so profoundly, craft so beautifully, live so hopefully that I am drawn along to do the same.
I thank each of you for these blessings on my life. For filling the frightening voids with love so compelling that I am convinced, utterly believe, that even my life has purpose and value. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

savoring the quiet spot

Our Christmas was all it should be, a couple of days of family time and festive feasting.
Now it is the quiet time between the old year and the new. It is very, very cold and a light snow is falling. The cats have each found a cozy spot and Jerome is practicing for a church service this Sunday. I have a batch of granola in the oven and the laundry is humming away. I'm closing the books on 2017 and preparing pages for the coming year. The little pine we cut and decorated is sending its merry rainbow out into the whiteness beyond the window. There is a teakettle humming on the stove. All is calm.
I wish similar good things for you, dear friends, as the old year passes into the new. Thank you for keeping me company here on sallymomsprouts. I look forward to your peeking through my window often in 2018.
Be well and prosper.

Friday, December 15, 2017

half gone December

We took a long meadow walk yesterday before lunch. The snow enormously embossed by the wheels of Jerome's tractor from the day before, daintily embellished by footsteps of the many critters who find our trimmed trails as delightful to stroll as we do.
We spotted rabbit prints inside of the chicken enclosure though we couldn't find any obvious entry through their fencing.  A conundrum! All around the outside of the fence there were tracks of cats. After a few tentative days, the chickens are exploring their snow covered space probably wondering at it all. Why they heavily molt in November when they most need a full feather coat  against the growing cold is beyond me. We've been feeding them a supplement for feather growth and they all look well dressed now. Yesterday for the first time in weeks our egg count went up. The deepening cold requires more frequent checks to keep their water liquid and to check for any eggs before they freeze. Coats, scarves, mittens, hats, boots.
December has brought the most amazing sunsets. The best, of course, require lots of cloud cover.

With the Geminid meteor shower to arrive the 13th-14th, it didn't seem likely the clouds would depart overnight. But at 2 am I was amazed to find, not only was the sky clear, but brilliant! More lovely than I had seen in a very long time. With Orion and Beetlejuice caroling their alleluias, trails of light, mini and majestic, like the clearest of descants, added their grace notes. Instead of feeling small in the face of the universe I was drawn into the very heart of it.
Winter's night sky provides a link to what is at the heart of the Christmas season. When courage falters, look up dear friends.