It may be the dawn of a new year, but I am not writing about resolutions. I am writing about promises. These are the promises I made during the past year.
The first was a rather casual statement I made to my husband, Bob, after finding out that it would cost over $200 each for simple throw pillows for the main salon of our new boat, about a year and a half ago. In spite of the fact that I’m not the best seamstress, and my blood pressure goes up whenever I plug in that sewing machine, I offered to decorate our main salon with pillows that I would make myself…. because for that price I was willing to endure the possibility of having a stroke to make our our own decorative pillows for about 1/4 the price. Early this year I found great fabric choices at Mac’s in West Palm Beach. It’s great town to visit, and for me, a dip into Mac’s is the pinnacle of all the wonderful things to do in West Palm!
Time flew by and suddenly–during the week between Christmas and the new year– it was time for Bob to start packing for his long voyage to the eastern Caribbean. I have to admit that I had not given those pillows much thought in the months since I’d bought the fabric. It was time to get sewing.
The first hurdle was making the bias cut binding for the welting that would go around the pillows. There is an efficient way of cutting bias binding that I can never quite grasp. I may never get this down, so thank heaven for YouTube where I can find almost anything right when I need it.
My four pillows needed 11 yards of bias binding that would then turn into cording. I need to hear gasps here….puh-lease… 11 yards. It was a LOT of sewing, and it was daunting for me.
Just pinning the 11 yards of binding around the cording took an age. I really need some shout outs here for enduring this effort…. And, just so you know, that box of pins was full to overflowing before I started pinning the 11 yards of binding.
YouTube to the rescue again on how to make a pillow with a bias binding welted edge AND a zipper. Yep….that was no small feat for me, the intrepid and not so dexterous seamstress. You really can learn almost anything on YouTube, thanks to the efforts of countless folks who are so willing to share their expertise. Here is my source for inserting a zipper into a welted edge.
Happily, the pillows are now adding a touch of elegance to Pandora–two of the four.
On to my next promise….made more recently in time. In fact, it was April, in Havana, when I had the thought that I knew plenty of bobbin lace makers, tatters, knitters, and embroiderers who would be thrilled to share their excess stash with women in Cuba who love to work with their hands, but have so few choices of materials to use. The generosity of the women I know through various groups was quite astounding. The most touching incident happened during one our Cuba talks which were mostly geared to sailors. Diane was in the audience at a local yacht club for one of Bob’s talks, and she approached me to say that her sister had once owned an embroidery shop. When it closed Diane had offered to store some of the excess embroidery threads for her sister– beautiful threads, such as Danish flower thread, hand-painted embroidery cottons and silks from Watercolors by Caron Threads, and a treasure trove of other exquisite threads for handwork. Huge thanks, Diane, for letting these treasures go. The New England Lace Guild also contributed fine lace threads, books on bobbin lace, tatting shuttles and threads, and even a large stash of knitting needles. The bounty just bowls me right over.
Where’s the photo? Well, right now it’s on the camera that is traversing the north Atlantic with Bob who is on his way to the Caribbean! What a snafu! He took a fun photo of me siting on the floor ensconced in piles of beautiful lace and embroidery threads. He is out of internet range for the next 10 days, so I just have suck it up that there is no photo.
Well, now Bob has landed in Tortola (1.11.17), and is enjoying soft tropical breezes under thatched pavilions, drinking fruity concoctions with little paper umbrellas in them. And he has sent me the photo.
Bob packaged up all this swag in vacuum seal bags that are now aboard Pandora on their way to the Caribbean, where they will then get transferred to other sailboats that are headed for Cuba in the spring. Mail to Cuba is not yet an option since I’ve been warned that packages get opened and raided. These packages will get delivered directly to Adriana in Havana by various sailing friends. I know she will share them generously with other women. All good! A promise well kept.
I am in the midst of my most recent promise, so I cannot yet tell how well I will fulfill it. I never made this promise out loud, but in the depths of my heart I made it, which is perhaps a more binding place for promises. My father died over 5 years ago and left my mother in the care of my sister and me. He died with his whole family surrounding him, including four grandchildren. My mother has not been well since long before he passed away, and she has endured the past 5 1/2 years mostly alone….not so much in actuality, but certainly in her soul. She was not an easy person to care for, and my father’s death was in part due to the heavy burden of caring for her. She has been hurtling toward death for the past few months. Although she and I were not close, I felt a strong desire to help her– to be whatever she might need to me to be, in order to help her make this transition. Over the past weeks I have touched her –held her hand, stroked her hair, rubbed her shoulders– more than I remember her ever touching me or my sister. I hope it gave her solace. I hope she felt comforted.
Her time came this afternoon. It is so fresh I am probably rash to write of it so soon. It’s certainly too soon to say if I’ve kept my promise. Neither my sister or I was with her, but perhaps that is how she wanted it. Her favorite nurse was with her, and that means a great deal to me. In the coming days of this new year we hope to honor her memory and scatter her ashes as she would want.
Only today I realized what I might miss most about her — her whistling. It was a brilliant feat of delicacy and finesse. It was a mystery of nature–of human dexterity. I hope I will always be able to hear her trilling the piccolo part of “Stars and Stripes Forever” in my memory. I hope she’ll be whistling for others wherever she is–they will love it!