When Mr. Singer developed a “small” sewing machine that every homemaker could use, he opened up a world of creativity and ingenuity that had not existed in this medium before. Prior to his “domestication” of the sewing machine, people either bought clothing made by professional tailors and seamstresses, or labored for hours hand-stitching their own garments. The small sewing machine (not so small by our standards, but at least it would fit in a corner of a room) quickly made even stitches, and garments could be crafted in a day or two. It wasn’t long before the “rage” became buying or making high quality “machine-made” clothing rather than the inferior handmade item. Mom paid her way through college by “taking in” sewing, and sewing for the drama department. When I was a child, Mom had a “White Bros.” sewing machine, and my grandmother’s “Singer” worked with a mechanical foot-operated treadle. Early childhood memories include playing on the floor in my parents’ bedroom (where Mom kept her machine). Littered with scraps of thread and material, the floor in the sewing corner was the best place to sit and have conversations with Mom, who made all my clothes until I left for college. I learned to sew as a child, and by the time I reached high school I graduated from doll clothes to school clothes. In the last ten years I have gone back to making clothes and accessories. The sewing machine has become one of my most treasured possessions. Its utilitarian value coupled with warm childhood memories, insures that sewing will remain a hobby for years to come. I am grateful for my sewing machine.
I can’t remember if I have written of my early morning rituals or not, but this morning as I sit here nursing my first cup of coffee of the day, I am struck with the beautiful quiet that envelops me. In the distance I hear birds chirping (beautiful sound), and my cat, Pele, is curled up on the couch beside me. Richard is still asleep and I watch the sun rise. In this quiet place, I spend time in morning prayers and self-reflection. This is a sacred time for me as I prepare for the day ahead. I am not pleasant when this first hour of the day is interrupted. Ask Richard. I am grateful for my early morning quiet.
Recently we made a quick trip to another state. He went on business; I tagged along just for the fun of it. Since we met, Richard and I have loved traveling, both long treks and day-time excursions. We travel by car (pictured above) so that we can stop when we feel like it, make detours along interesting side roads, or even change directions if so inspired. Until recently I owned “my” car (as compared to “his” car). In fact, I’ve owned a car most of my adult life. Due to the fact that my car sat in the driveway 95% of the time after we moved to Virginia, I voluntarily sold it. Why make two car payments each month when we were essentially using one car. Of course, as one might have predicted, once my car sold I found that I “needed” it for a number of reasons. By now though, we are settling into being a one car household. I don’t know any family who does not have a vehicle to transport themselves to myriad destinations for work and play. In metropolitan areas where there is good public transport, one may not need to own their own car, but only because other vehicles are so readily available to whisk them wherever they want to go. Automobiles have become an essential part of our lives, replacing the horse and buggy of a bygone era. So, today I wish to express gratitude for the automobile!
We had originally planned to go to the National Aquarium, and then on to the National Harbor, but as often happens, plans are altered. We got off to a late start, the aquarium was too expensive, and by the time we were ready to go to the harbor, we were both too tired and decided to save it for another day. We walked miles through the District though, and enjoyed the sights and sounds. I shot a lot of photographs, and we truly enjoyed the afternoon and each other. I shot this photo in the history museum in the transportation display. Yes, that is Richard standing in the “subway train” watching the display video. We enjoy doing these types of things together and will do more before the end of the summer, I’m sure. I am grateful for days in the district being tourists with my husband!
One of the things I’m striving for in my life is balance. Since I began grad school, my life has gotten a bit out of kilter. A sedentary life is bad for one’s health, therefore I’m allocating time each day for physical activity. Morning walks are a start. I use to do things like walking, swimming at a local gym, stretching exercises and tai chi. Sadly I’ve let that part of my life go to pot and I am now paying the price. This morning was the first of what I hope will be many early morning walks. As is my custom, when I leave the house I grab a camera “just in case.” I photographed these late bloomers while out, and even though they are showing wear, they are beautiful. Besides being a great way to start my day, early mornings are beautiful as the world wakes up. (Even now I’m listening to warbling birds outside my window.) What a blessing to take the time to enjoy early mornings. I am truly grateful for early morning walks.
Funny that the only photo I have of food at the moment is breakfast food. How appropriate since my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. It is so easy to take food for granted, and one look at me will tell you that I don’t lack for food. Too many people have to do without, though. My prayer is that those of us with too much can become a little less gluttonous, and those who live with hunger will be fed. I use to chair food banks in our town (several different places) and it always amazed me how many people needed help just to put food on the table. Not too long ago, we were in the same boat, and if not for the local food bank we would have had to do without. It took a while for me to get around to this subject, but I am truly grateful for the food that graces our table several times each day. May we each find ways to share with those who are not able to provide for themselves and their families as well as we do. (GIVE to your local food banks on a regular basis!)
What would we do without the ubiquitous telephone? I remember the old rotary telephones and shared party lines back in the day. Not too long ago I remember seeing a video of children put in a room with an old rotary phone just to see what they would do. Not one of them knew what the thing was, much less how to use it! Do you remember when there was only one phone in the homes of most families? To own two was a luxury. Also, there was no call waiting. Arguments between siblings were all too common, especially among teenagers, each wanting access to the phone. Remember the busy signal letting the caller know that the callee (or someone from the callee’s residence) was on the line? Upon hearing the signal, the caller just hung up and called back later. Mom and Dad monitored our once or twice a year call to grandparents, limiting each of us kids to just a few words so as not to run up the phone bill. That was back when we used to write letters to stay in touch. From those early memories of telephones we have evolved through multiple phones in each home, to cordless phones, to personal cell phones for everyone in the family. Yes, phones can be obnoxious. But then they always have been. Last night as I talked to Mom who lives hundreds of miles away, I thought of how fortunate I am to talk to her almost daily regardless of the miles between us. And we can talk for as long as we want. My kids are scattered across the country, but we are able to chat whenever the mood strikes. I get to hear my grandchildren’s voices, and my oldest grandson is old enough that he and I can carry on conversations. I love to hear about his days. Even when shopping, Richard goes one direction and I go another, but our cell phones make it easy to find each other when we are ready to move on to our next rendezvous. I can’t leave out the emergency calls, too. In the event of an emergency, I can summon help immediately thanks to my cell phone. We may wax eloquent about the “good old days,” but today I am grateful for our phones!
After a day on the road, a nice, comfy, warm bed is absolutely wonderful! I could have gotten a photo of a neatly made bed, but that wouldn’t have conveyed the same message as this one does. Yes, it is a motel, and no, it isn’t as good as our bed back home. But I’m thankful that we have beds to sleep in. I remember once sleeping in a bed where the mattress support was nothing more than interlaced rope tied to the frame, and the mattress was a simple thing stuffed with cotton (as in cotton bolls). I’ve slept in sleeping bags on the ground, feather beds which were heavenly. . .mostly, and rolled mattresses that were laid out on the floor for us kids to sleep on at my grandparents farm-house. Whatever the type or make or comfort, I must say that I am always grateful for beds.
My husband is on a business trip and since I am on a break from my studies, I joined him in his travels. It was a spur of the moment decision, but I am sooooo glad we are traveling together. Road trips are one more thing we do well together! Of course when one is traveling by car, pit stops are a necessity, and most states have kindly provided places to pull off the road so the weary traveler can take a little R&R from driving. Rest areas are islands of loveliness anymore, with beautiful landscaping and picnic tables, play areas and walkways for pets. I photographed these flowers at a rest area in Ohio. When I got out of the car, they are the first things I noticed. Lovely. I am grateful for beautification efforts anywhere.
When I was a child I had a deathly fear of bees. I’d been stung a few times, so I knew that these little critters could cause a lot of pain. In adulthood however, I have learned their value to the entire ecological chain (as much as a non-scientist can glean). Pollination is the process that keeps the world going ’round, so to speak, and bees are a primary pollinator. Honey bees provide delicious golden honey for our consumption — not that honey is made specifically for us, after all, many creatures enjoy its sweetness, but you have to admit that honey is a delectable delight when dribbled over warm toast, or used to sweeten our tea. (Honey is also great for soothing the pain of a burn. I know!) Richard pointed out this bumblebee on a walk yesterday. The photo is not great, but during this time of concern for the dwindling number of bees and the effect that might have on our world, I wanted to express my gratitude for the bumblebee and all other bees. (There is a HUGE lesson re: the importance of this miniscule bug…but for another blog. If I write it I’ll link it back to this gratitude.) Yes, I am grateful for the bee!