Friday, December 23, 2011




This isn't the Christmas I've dreamed of, it's true...

But I still want to send a greeting to you.

I'll always remember this year as the worst.

And, yes, I do wonder if maybe I'm cursed.

It's been a hard year, and you all have come through

With love and with friendship, I am grateful for you.

I know that I haven't always answered the phone.

My body is here, but my heart isn't at home.

There's an unwritten law--when one loses a spouse-

Everything falls apart in the house.

The furnace, the faucets, the drains, and the car---

But these aren't the reasons I miss him, by far!

I'm tired of sadness, I'm wearied by sorrow...

I'm sick of waiting each day for tomorrow.

So I cry when I laugh and I laugh when I cry

And don't understand why good people die.

But little by little, and yes, bit by bit.

The tree is put up, and the candles are lit.

The stores are too cheery with music and such

So I'm shopping online and not doing much.

I try to remember, though it's lonely down here

There's a party upstairs... And they are feeling the cheer.

Go hug all your children. Give your loved ones a kiss

And celebrate Christmas for those that we miss.



Monday, December 12, 2011

I Know You're Jealous!

Time for our annual Christmas Craft Nite Party. You remember my Craft Nite Group. We've know each other simply forever and started to get together when our children were babies (almost 35 years ago---Wow!) At Christmas we don't have a craft-just a party. Kathy hosted and these were gifts. She bleached the trees, decorated them, and showcased them in teacups. How cute is that!

We also draw names. This year I received an old tin box filled with ephemera and all sorts of supplies. Of course, I love it. If it's old and paper, or fabric, or tin, or wood, I am smitten. Between all the mica flakes, glitter, bakers twine, buttons, ribbons, bits and bobbles, I'd better come up with something good. More to come on the contents of the magical box.

We also received an ornament from our famous dollmaker friend, Cindee. She started making Christmas angels for each of us about 15 years ago and now she can't show up without one. I am so blessed in my friendships! Even without the presents.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Very Paper Christmas

I've decided to have a very simple Christmas this year, so I bought a skinny tree of the very cheap variety. I set it on a box to make it look taller and proceeded to embellish. Most of my decorations are made from one old book. I pleated rosettes, glued them together and added old fashioned Santas. A large one forms the tree topper. Other pages were rolled into cornucopias, filled with red berries and rosemary. Birds were cut from cardboard, book pages, and scrapbook paper, with pleated wings. And sticks from the yard are stuck randomly into the tree. My most favorite decoration is the long chain. It's made from many bits of fabric, sewed onto a heavy interfacing, decorated with all sorts of fancy stitches and ribbons, and then cut into strips and all buttoned together. I've used lots of sentimental pieces
and written names and dates and sayings on them. I even had some fabric from the clothes I made from my girls when they were small. And from doll clothes. (I was always going to use them for a doll quilt or something. Now, I finally have.) I still have more to finish, but this works for my tree and is a great memory chain. I spent a lot of time creating it, and trying out the stitches on my sewing machine. The grandkids like looking for their names. I will probably keep it out after the holiday. It may become a window garland.

There is also a wreath made of book pages. So far, that's it, except for the Advent calendars. I do need something for the fireplace.

I do miss seeing all my ornaments, and other decorations, and Christmas village, and the big tree, but this just isn't the year for them. Next year: happier times and more decorating.

I really have to apologise for the terrible quality of the photos. I am just never home at a decent time of day to take pictures lately. And I knew, if I didn't add this now, it wouldn't happen in December. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The New Thankful 2011

Every life is full. Good things and not so good things. And sometimes we have to look for the good things. I feel very vulnerable this Thanksgiving. Just a year ago, I thought that if I could just get through the holidays after Rich's sudden death, then life would get better. I never even dreamed that we would sit down to our Thanksgiving meal with another missing place at the table. Yes, it is hard to be happy, and sometimes it is hard to be grateful, but giving thanks is what this time of year is all about.

I am grateful for the friends and family who gather and the way that we can all support each other. I am grateful that we can always find things to laugh about even when we cry.

It's been a good day. Most of us were able to come to KC to spend it with my oldest daughter, Erin, and her family. They had a houseful--nineteen of us for dinner. My son's family had to stay in Des Moines because of work schedules, but we should all be together to celebrate Christmas.

Trent, my son-in-law, is always the cook, and the the rest of us just plan to stay out of his way, and handle the cleanup. He takes his Turkey very seriously, even wearing a chef's coat when putting our delicious dinner together. Jim always spent a lot of time in the kitchen with him, so I know he felt the loss this year. But the other men stepped in. In some ways today was a comedy of errors, and we really felt Jim's presence in many ways. We really thought he and Rich might have been playing a few tricks. There was a little problem with the turkey when they realized that the oven wasn't on, so dinner was delayed! Next, one of the sterno cans under the chafing dish caught fire and we had a little tablecloth disaster right before dinner. Everyone was screaming, and shouting and laughing, because for some reason we are always laughing in the face of disaster in this family. And, right then, one of my dead husband's favorite songs started playing on the radio!!

It was a great meal, though perhaps not our most elegant, with our makeshift centerpiece and singed tablecloth, and tired and hungry children.

We are starting to look forward to happy times. Middle daughter Meg will be moving to her dream home within a couple of months, and we are finally beginning to plan Bridget's wedding, which will be held there in the fall.

"Life goes on, though good men die." (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Monday, October 31, 2011

What? October's Over?

So, looks like I almost missed this month! But, wait, I have some photos. Not very good-I can't seem to get the lighting and background thing right. I am always taking my photos late at nite or early in the morning. Even though I know that I shouldn't. And I have to apologize for not being able to figure out the secret of getting my photos where I want them to be. I know this should be much easier than it is.

First, I won a prize. And what a prize it is. Paulette, made this beautiful Practical Magic art book for me. It's one of my favorite movies, and you can be sure that the book will stay out, and not be put away just because Halloween is over. Visit her blog and you will see more pages, and lots more beautiful things. Thank you Paulette. It was a wonderful surprise.

And I made two Halloween books myself. One, I sent to my dear friend, Fleur, just barely before the holiday was over, and the other I may just have to keep, since it didn't get mailed in a timely manner. I folded the pages of old books, added lots of pictures and paint, and voila! Stand up journals.

I went to the annual giant booksale this fall, looking just for books, I could tear apart and alter. I'm not too successful at that, even though I love art books. Once, I get them home, I can't bear to take them apart. I am trying to not have more books than I have shelves, but I am honestly thinking that may never happen.

I did have a bit of fun with my decorating. The first picture, now that I have given up trying to get them where I want them to be, is an old tin document box. I think this one was actually for art supplies. I opened the door to the compartment, stood the box on its' side, and added a few things to make it spooky. Now I'm going to take it apart and start changing it for Christmas. Don't you love it when you can use something you've had forever in a completely new way?

I did have a very busy month. I think I've overcommitted myself. I'm hoping that my new sewing machine-more about that in another post- will break me of the recently acquired habit of wandering around stores shopping for nothing, instead of going home to my quiet house.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Portrait from Tess and Wise Words

Tess, who will be four in November, drew this picture for me. She calls it "Grammie in the Rain". I knew I had a black cloud over my head, but I had hoped I was hiding it from others. This week is the one year anniversary since we lost Rich. At the time I thought that was the worst thing that could happen. I don't know how I could have gotten through it without Jim. This week we will all be spending a lot of time together. Tomorrow the littlest of the grands will help me get out the Halloween decorations. This weekend we will all spend time cleaning up the yard for fall and celebrating life.

"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its' place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good." Anonymous

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

More Loose Change

The runner is finally done, and I am quite pleased with it. Lovely felted wool pieces are stitched onto a calico base. I made it a bit smaller than originally intended so that it would also fit as a banner on the fireplace. I've never used this space before, but with a tension curtain rod, I can hang this right up. What a versatile piece it has turned out to be. I've also made an eyeglass case and a pincushion. I think my next project will be a sewing case. I'm having fun just having all the little pieces of wool to choose from. Now, as I look at the first picture, I realize that is before it was finished. I added some embellishment to the leaves and flowers later. Well, you get the idea--it's done, it's done!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Penny For My Thoughts

I've been looking for something crafty to do-something which only takes a part of my brain, and this is what I have come up with--Penny rugs--a nineteenth century applique technique using wool. This looks big, but is actually a small mug mat. Now I'm in the process of making a table runner. I just ordered some wool pieces from etsy, so I am waiting until they come before I progress much farther. I did buy a yard of white wool with a coupon (50% off) and have been dying little pieces of it. Wool is very expensive, so this is a good way to get a variety of solid colors.

I have also been working on some memorial pieces as Christmas gifts. Well, not so much working on them as thinking about them. I call them "Grief Goods". Maybe there's a market. Baby steps.

It's been six weeks now that I have been alone. It does not get easier. Of course, I already knew that. I don't know what the future will bring. Right now I am just getting through the days. And the nights.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

JIM MORAN June 23,1949-June 30, 2011

I am a widow. Jim did great for three days after his surgery. Then started having probems. Wednesday morning he coded and they shocked him back, but we could see he was gone when we got to the hospital. We took him off the respirator on Thursday and he died three minutes later at 9:26. I am in shock, as are all of us. We thought we would have more time, even though we knew it was terminal. We found out yesterday that cancer tumors were in eighty percent of his liver. We didn't know that it was that extensive. I truly believe he was trying to save us the pain. His heart stopped as he was lying in bed, just like Rich's. He has always said he wanted to die alone, and not have everyone watching him, but he didn't get that wish. We were all there throughout the night. I've always said I wanted to go like Melanie a la GWTW, so I'll probably lie alone somewhere for a week before someone finds me. God delights in playing tricks with me, it seems. Once again, I am dreading the next few days, as we do all this with the same cast, different leading man.

(this picture was taken on Father's Day-I still can't believe he was sick)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Be The Lighthouse




After our son died last September, we found a "bucket list" when packing up his apartment. One of the items on it was "Own a lighthouse". I must admit, I never knew that, and I never even thought about lighthouses. Now, I see them everywhere. And that isn't easy. We live in the midwest, so they aren't usually something that one notices. And since I realized that the Moran family motto means 'Shine in Darkness', somehow it all seems connected.

Last week, it hit me again that our incredible run of bad luck isn't over. As we sat in the oncologist's office and heard the news that my husband's stomach pain was not the hernia that he had thought it was. Instead it is a stage 4 malignancy that has already spread to his liver. And, wouldn't you just know it, on the doctor's wall was a large painting of a lighthouse!

And, yes, now we are officially, the family that no one wants to be.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day



Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth

Empty the dustpan--poison the moth

Hang out the washing--make up the bed

Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue

(Lullabye, rockabye, lullaby loo)

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

(Lullabye, rockabye, lullaby loo)

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew

And out in the yard there's a hullaba-loo

But I'm playing "Kanga" and this is my "Roo"

Look, aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?

(Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow

But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs! And dust go to sleep!

I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep!

I discovered this poem many years ago when my fifth child, Rich, was a baby.

Happy Mothers' Day everyone, and especially to the five wonderful children

that I have been privileged to raise. It seems like yesterday that you were

all babies and we were "blissfully rocking".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In The Pink

Okay, this isn't a difficult project, but definitely one with a lot of meaning. Last summer, when I was going through my six and a half weeks of radiation, the very worst part of it for me was the clothes pins. Yes, I guess I must be weird. But something about putting on that ugly hospital gown every day and fastening it with two clothespins was just awful! So when my craft group decided we really needed to do a project for others at some of our monthly gatherings, this was my first thought. We painted a bunch of them bright colors and decorated them with stamps, and pictures, and uplifting, inspirational words. I think if they bring a smile to just one patient, they are worth it. Today I delivered the pins and had my one year mammo and visit with the oncologist and everything is good.
Actually now that I think about it, the very worst part was when the hot young tech drew lines and arrows all over my bosom with an indelible marker.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Soul Restoration

Remember this class? It's over now, but still a big,big part of my life. Monday and Tuesday they are sponsoring a contest, and inviting students to blog about what the class meant to them. Well, very simply, I loved it. It came at a perfect time for me, and let me mess, and glue, and cut, for hours at a time, without having to think too much about my sorrow. They are having a second class in June. I'm not too sure what it will be like, but it involves lots and lots of index cards. The winner will get free registration to the class for herself and for a friend.

I mentioned the time line before and how it made me see that I have really had a good life and that it has gone by very quickly. We also made another book about soul restoration and a book of Promises for the future. I am still working on that one. I also did a lot of journaling. Some of it was pretty dark, but I needed to do it, and it helped. I think my very favorite project was the Truth Cards. I put mine on a little easel and have one out every day to remember my own personal truths. Every person's truths are different, but they are all very motivating and uplifting.

I remember a tv show when I was a child called "Queen For A Day". Women would come on the show and talk about how awful their lives were. At the end of the show, the most pitiful one was chosen to be Queen. Maybe I am mixing it up with Miss America, but it seems to me that she got a robe, a crown, and flowers. And she always seemed to win a washing machine. I sort of feel like I have become those women, because so many awful things have happened to me in the last year. Some of them I have never even mentioned, because, really, how much can you believe??? But, as someone, who has always been pretty happy and content, 2009 and 2010 were like one of those barrels you see rolling down a big hill in old movies. Over and over and over again, and then another big bump, while I just tried to hang on as best as I could. I really think, that if I can't win the class, I should at least get the crown.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Here we are all, about to enjoy a lovely St Paddy's Day. Green eggs and ham, such a way to start the day. Finn and Tess about to get on the float. Tess loved it all. She thought everyone was there just for her. Can you say "Irish Princess"? Cass and I went home while everyone else enjoyed the parade. The weather was nice, and what a crowd. Later, I collected the other children and we had fun the rest of the day, while the rest of the family got a little bit more Irish as the day progressed. I didn't listen to any Irish music this year. Usually I start early in February. We had the shirts made as a tribute to Rich. There were 50 of them out and about today. They have the family motto "Lucet in Tenebris", which means "They Shine in Darkness" Tess told me that Uncle Wich was busy in Heaven today looking after us.
These things, I warmly wish for you-
Someone to love, Some work to do,
A bit of o’ sun A bit o’ cheer
And a guardian angel Always near.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happiest of Valentines to you from The Victorian Gypsy

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Soul Restoration

I know I promised myself that I would post more, but I have been spending every available minute Mod podging, collaging, journaling, cutting, pasting, and thinking. I am totally involved in this wonderful workshop. I knew I was a brave girl after everything that has happened to me in the past year, but I can use all the reinforcement that I can get. Right now we are working on a time line, which is kind of scary because it only goes to age 80. Now I imagine that some of you think that is an advanced age, but to me it seems like it is right around the corner, especially as I see how quickly my time has gone so far. So I am adding an envelope at the end of mine to put all those things I will still want to do after I am eighty. I know several women who are still volunteering, working at jobs they love, traveling, and enjoying life in general. That's the way I plan to be.
Seriously, this is a great class. I am learning all sorts of things. There are four weeks left, and I will be sorry to see it end.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Year, New Words

Everybody picks words for the year any more, rather than resolutions. Obviously, my word for the year should be procastination, since we are already five days into 2011. I have two words. The first one picked me, but I think I need it. The word is ACCEPTANCE. There are so many things I want to accept. This is kind of a no brainer, I guess. This year I want to accept that sometimes there are no answers. This is a tough one for me, because I expect everything to have a reason.  I accept that I will not do all the things I want to do, because I accept the fact that I'm not so young as I think I am. I do not accept getting funny emails about all the awful things that are part of our lives now that we are old. I laugh, but I do not accept them. I accept that taking care of my health is something I have to do now, not later. I accept that treats are okay, too.  I accept that every day isn't a perfect day, but that there is something perfect in every day.
My other word, the one that I am deliberately choosing is SOAR. This is my year to soar, and to shine, and to enjoy. 
Also I do have a goal. Before this year ends, I would like to have at least 200 followers on my blog. So please, follow me, and ask your friends to follow me. It's going to be good.  Just accept it.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Forecasting A Happy New Year

Don't you love this post card? Wishing good fortune is always a part of New Year Festivities. I know I'm a day late. Not the best way to start a new year, but I have been busy. I'm still undecorating the house. It seems to be hitting me harder than the original decorating. I pack a few ornaments, cry a little, pack a few more, take a break. Hopefully, I'll finish the tree tonight or first thing in the morning, and then tomorrow it will go back out to the garage. When we had a live tree, it always let me know when it was time to banish it from the house. Droopy, prickly branches were obvious. But, now, the artificial trees look as good after Christmas as they did before.
I enjoy that empty space when the tree is gone. I didn't really make resolutions this year, but I am doing a lot of space clearing. For a person who hardly ever shops, I tend to accumulate things at an alarming rate. I am trying to eliminate the things that I don't absolutely love. As William Morris, the Victorian designer and artist, said, "Have nothing in your house that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I look around and I just have way too much stuff. So, no resolutions, but a definite determination to clean up, clear out, and have some sort of control. That's how my life is now. William Morris also said, "The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."
Nothing matters, yet everything matters. I'm not sure if someone else said that first, but it explains so much about the way I feel.

A Blank Slate

Here it is. 2011. And not a minute too soon. A New Year. A Blank Slate. We never know what any year will bring, it's true, but I am wishing you, and me, and everyone in the world the best of everything.