My mother. Still the most complex person I have known. She set out on a course to raise a baby girl in her 40th year of life (dad was 44). In that time, though not unprecedented, it was highly unusual. I was that baby girl! I had an amazing childhood, they loved me, took me places and provided so well! Dad was busy growing his business, she was busy with her many projects….chairing a board that built a nursing home which she voluntarily ran for many years, playing the piano in our church, teaching Sunday School, directing VBS, and women’s ministries, traveling with my dad, reading, shopping, entertaining, and raising me. When I was four, my only sister was married, and before I turned five I was already an aunt.  So, she added “Nana” to her list of occupations.

I have thought a lot about my mom this year, I have wished many times that we could sit down with a cup of coffee and talk. I am up before anyone else this morning. I have started the dishwasher, my half full cup of coffee is at my side, and my computer in my lap. Mom used to get up before anyone else (even couple of hours before I got up this morning) and she would always do what I called “banging around” in the kitchen I—make coffee, load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, and read the Chicago Tribune.

I have never thought much about wanting to be like my mom, but I hear her words unexpectedly come out of my mouth, I hear her admonitions, I hear her advice, I unknowingly follow her example in many ways, and I knowingly strive to follow her in other ways.

Honesty and integrity. Both of my parents truly modeled this. Mom could be brutal in her honesty, sometimes you didn’t really want to hear what she was about to tell you! But you knew it was well thought through, and she was probably right! She was not afraid to tell you what she thought.

Generosity. I always knew that they were generous to the church, family and friends, but they were so silent about it. I loved watching dad (or mom) take the check at the restaurant. I know that many (some whom I will never know) benefited from their generosity.

Educated. Mom was a forever learner, always reading several books at a time. When she taught at church, she would write out her own complete study. If something came up in the culture of the day—rather than speak against it, she would get a book (or several) and study it. She could speak to most any subject with a good well rounded knowledge. OK, she did like to read “romance novels” too!

Open-minded. She lived outside of the “box.” Though raised in a conservative Christian, legalistic environment, she was not a proponent of legalism in any way. She always had a broader world-view, and she encouraged me to think for myself. I remember when the rock musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, came out, I wanted it, though everyone in our faith circle was condemning it. Mom bought it, and I remember her sitting beside the stereo and she listened to the whole thing with me. She proclaimed at the end that she didn’t see anything wrong with it, in fact she thoroughly enjoyed it. That kind of thing was her norm, and I loved that about her.

Talented. Music, art, writing…you name it she could do it or play it. She played the piano in church nearly her entire life. She was so very creative! I never had a shortage of art and craft supplies, I was always encouraged to create!

Well, Mother, today I celebrate your legacy! I miss you, Happy Mother’s Day!

Little ShellyI went to bed at the usual time, but fears and violent images invaded my child’s mind that hadn’t been a part of my safe little world prior to November 22, 1963. Shutting my eyes, I saw a ghostly image of a man holding a gun standing in the corner of my room.   Curling into a ball and covering my head with the familiar safe blankets, I cried until my daddy came to sit beside me, rub my back and assure me that the image wasn’t real.  But it was. That day began as any other, I was dropped off at Parkview School where I spent my morning in Mrs. Sievers’s kindergarten class.  It was story time and we were sitting on the carpet while she read to us from one of those large picture books.  Mr. Dodd, the school’s custodian came in and told Mrs. Sievers that the President had been shot, she cried, and we didn’t know what to do–we really didn’t understand.  He came back a while later with the news that the President had died–we were beginning to understand.  Both my parents came to pick me up that day, there is something about a crisis that makes us want to hold our family close.  The Big Wheel Restaurant was as quiet as a library during lunch, then we went home and my parents watched the black and white images throughout the day and evening.

On my way to Bloomington today, the radio was playing clips, songs and memories from 50 years ago.  Something caught Elayna’s attention, she is 4 ½, and she started asking me difficult questions–I walked through the hallways of Parkview School. the house on LaPorte street, and my mind again.  As it did for all Americans at the time, It was a day that changed my world, a day that brought fear into my young life.

Elayna wasn’t yet born on 9/11, so she has not had one of these moments, I pray she doesn’t.  Peace……

Watching the Tournament of Roses Parade has always been a tradition for me–David not so much–but I love it every New Year’s Day!  This year’s theme was “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” taken from the well loved story by Dr. Suess.  As I sat in the living room on 01-01-2013 with my cup of coffee and the bands playing along the parade route, I remembered 01-01-1969 (I think that is the right year–I was very young :)).  My family, my favorite aunt and uncle, and my high-school aged cousin were visiting the Meyer families that lived in California during the holidays.  Mother always said she was too short to go to parades, so she stayed back at the hotel to watch it on TV like she did every other year.  But, the rest of us bundled up, and loaded into our rental car around 4 am and drove into Pasadena so we could see the Rose Parade in person.  When we arrived we learned that we were “latecomers” to getting a good view along the parade route–people had been camping out to get the good seats.  We decided that our best option was to divide up, so Dad and I set out hand-in-hand with $5 in his pocket (he was afraid there might be pick-pockets around, so he didn’t want to carry his wallet), and a camera in his hand to find a good place where we could actually “see” the parade!  All along the route we found ourselves behind about 10 people, and I understood mother’s dilemma completely.  Dad was determined that we would be able to see the parade, after all we had come over 2000 miles and this was part of the California experience!  He started going into businesses and asking if they had a ladder that they would rent for $5.00–finally one of the business men agreed to rent us a ladder.  When he discovered that my dad only had $5 with him, he gave him a dime back, just in case we needed to make a phone call!  So, Dad and I perched ourselves on our rented ladder and watched the parade.  It is one of the “places I have gone” and one of my best childhood memories!

Yep, that was a long time ago, and I have gone to many places since that day, I have had the bumps,  slumps, and even been left behind, but it’s all good.  Elayna came over during the parade the other day, and I got to introduce her to the “tradition” of watching it.  Where will she go?  What will she do?  It is fun to be a “traveler” with her!

As we embark on another journey to Israel with some friends this week, I will try to post some thoughts and pictures of this amazing place on this site again.  Remember:

Your mountain is waiting…so, get on your way! (Oh, the Places You’ll Go)  Welcome 2013!

Our music group at our church sang a medley Sunday morning that included the song, “Oh the blood of Jesus.”  Tears filled my eyes as the reels in my mind took me back to another place and time.

We were missionaries in Kiev, Ukraine in the early 90s.  The time was difficult, and many of you have heard the tales.  During the Christmas Holidays we went to Germany, to the European Nazarene Bible College to spend Christmas with friends–other missionaries who also were also facing difficult days in their assignments.  We knew how life was in Ukraine and Russia, but our friends from Albania had a terrible medical crisis earlier that year, and our friends in Scandinavia faced loneliness and extreme secularism.  They were raising their young family in a very different environment.  They told us that they, in an effort to meet other families and give their young daughter opportunities to meet other children, had started to take her to a local preschool.  She, struggling with the language barrier, usually didn’t want to attend.  One day when her parents arrived to pick her up they noticed children playing in various places in the room, a small group was at a table quietly creating “art.”  There sat their little angel in the midst of them singing softly, “Oh, the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus, oh the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow.” 

The words of that song always remind me of that story, but on Sunday the world was dealing with the shock of the bombings and the shootings at a children’s camp in the Scandinavian country of Norway.  It seems that we deal with so much violence these days, “white as snow” sounds so good.

Oh, the blood of Jesus
Oh, the blood of Jesus
Oh, the blood of Jesus
It washes white as snow.

You have heard James Taylor sing, “In my mind, I’m going to Carolina.”  Too bad for me that Italy or Assisi doesn’t rhyme with “mind;” because that is where I am right now.  It is 9:30 at night there now (according to my computer’s dashboard–one clock is set on Indiana time and the other is set on Italy time).  I have just finished a delicious dinner (I am sure I have enjoyed Umbrian Salad and Pasta Limone) at our friend Andrea’s Trattoria degli Umbria at the bottom of our ancient street steps.  The fountain in the Piazza del Commune is continuing to pump water over the ancient stone bowls while the stone lions stand guard.  I think that the modern day St. Francis is singing over on the other side.  In my mind the air is cool (though my dual weather report tells me it is 88 degrees), and we walk across the cobble stones of the piazza, then on down the street to the basilica of San Francesco.  The sun is setting behind the soft Umbrian Hills.  There is a silent moment in the midst of the noise–it is always noisy in Assisi, but it is “happy noise.”  After our walk, we will return to our 800 year old stone apartment, and I will curl up on the couch and knit while Dave reads to me.  Then we will retire to our little sleeping loft and dream about where will we go tomorrow, what pastry we will enjoy, and the yummy cappuccino that will accompany it.

OK, I love being in my shop in Nashville, with the sun shining outside, listening to Alison’s (my cousin’s) CD, the birds, and the stone cutter’s power tools, pastries and cappuccino are truly dreams right now having started on Weight Watchers again; but the memories are sweet and I will return again….and again.

Summer is here!  It is warm, well hot actually, outside.  Bible School starts this week.  Tomorrow is the 4th of July!  Wow.

I have been so busy spring that this is a truly rare occurrence–I am sitting on the couch, Elayna is napping at the other end, the sun is shining on our torn up yard, the birds are singing, and I don’t have a thousand things hanging over my head that need to be done….I have it down to 3 right now–laundry, write bills, and decorate the stage for Bible School! I think I can manage that!

I am enjoying the challenges of my shop, it is fun meeting new people, and trying new yarns etc., it does keep me busy.  I am thankful for my sister who gives me chunks of time off like this afternoon–that nap sure felt good.

If you make it to Nashville, I am pretty easy to find.  I am usually at 90 W. Franklin Street–that is unless I am napping on the couch on a Sunday afternoon.

Since opening the shop last Thursday, I have been working every day, and that will likely continue until I complete my responsibilities traveling to Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesdays.  It is not like I am busy all the time, but I don’t have internet at the shop, so I can’t do things like blog, Facebook, e-mail, etc.  And when I am home there are things like laundry and birthday celebrations!  Beginning with Elayna’s birthday (April 24) and ending with Alyssa’s birthday (May 24) we celebrate 5 of the 8 birthdays of the hill inhabitants!  Tonight we will be celebrating Alyssa, since tomorrow will be a difficult day to get us all together (primarily since I will be working in Indy, and gas is too expensive to drive both days).

The shop is fun.  I am enjoying interacting with the people.  I am learning a lot.  And, we have been making some sales!  If you want to see pictures, check out the website:  claypurl.com.  I hope to post more soon.  I am also beginning a monthly e-mail, so if you would like to receive The Clay Purl newsletter, let me know (michelehayes79@gmail.com) and I will add you to the list.  I hope to start some knitting classes soon and some charity knitting projects too.

Yes, right now things are busy, but this morning I am enjoying the quiet of Sams Hill, the coffee, and the birds song–I think I have some left over steel cut oatmeal in the fridge, mmmmm. . . .  Oh, the washer just stopped, I better go.

It seems like every hour that I am awake I think of things that need to be done, purchased, created, or printed out in order to open the store.  Most of the yarn is in, I still have some back orders and a couple of orders that haven’t made it yet.  Don (my brother-in-law) has done an amazing job building things, creating light fixtures and helping me  out.  My sister, Mariruth, has been helping me get things priced and ready to sell–Paul even came over to help one day. The shop looks great, well I think it looks great.

I am approaching tomorrow–The Clay Purl officially opens at 10:00 AM–with a great sense of excitement.  But, there is a lot of “fear” that creeps into my thinking too–I almost panic sometimes thinking that no one will come, and if they do they won’t buy anything.  I worry that I haven’t picked out anything that anyone else will want.  I worry that I have wasted a lot of money, and….  I was in such a state last night as I crawled into bed, when suddenly I thought these things:  “Remember this endeavor was committed to God in the beginning?  Remember how you were ‘led’ to this space?  Remember how perfectly the timing worked out?  Remember, you haven’t had to go into debt?  Remember how many people have had ‘words of encouragement’ regarding your shop?”

So, I am trying to trust….

….But it sure would feel good to have people in the shop buying yarn tomorrow!

It has been a while–I haven’t had much time to write over the past couple of weeks.  I have spent long agonizing hours pouring over yarn books, internet sites, adding up numbers in order to make the initial orders of yarn and other products.  I have set up a simple website (claypurl.com).  We have lived through another Holy Week and Easter at Parkview–there is a lot of work involved in all of these services.  Things are really picking up at my job at Wesleyan Women in anticipation of the Women’s Ministries Summit this June.  I have gotten approval for the shop signs.  Paul and I have had to sweep water out of the basement several times (of course David was at Olivet at meetings when it flooded).  They have given me the keys to the shop, so we have been carrying stuff in.  Don (my brother-in-law) is building some display pieces.  The shelves should be here this weekend.  Life is moving along at a fast pace right now.

Hopefully everything will come in and we will be able to open the doors on Thursday, May 12–I originally thought to open on Friday, but didn’t think opening on Friday the 13th was a good idea.

David and I had planned on a vacation this week, but as it turns out we were only able to get away for a couple of days–nothing too exciting, but good to be away and together.  We had to come to Ohio to purchase some clay for Paul and some items for the shop.  I did get some cool things for the shop today….come in and see me after May 12!

They say that Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth,” I have to agree.  Some of my most “happy” family memories were made in Disneyland.  It began when I was ten with a trip to California that we took with my aunt, uncle and cousin (who was just a few years older than I was).  I loved Disneyland from the moment I stepped through the gate.  My sister and her family lived in California for most of my adult life, and whenever we would go for a visit, there was that family trip where standing in line with my goofy family was just as much fun as the attraction.  We taught those around us such wonderful games as perpetual motion (something my nephews made up), Rut-chi-cha, and Hi, my name is Joe.

We were in California for a family reunion last year at this time, we hadn’t been together for several years, but felt compelled to make this effort because my nephew Marc had been in such a fight with Multiple Myeloma—the latest battle was a hip replacement just a week before the family arrived.  We celebrated Marc’s 43rd birthday on April 11, and he went to his doctors at Scripps on the 12th, to get the next treatment plan.

Paul, Mariruth and I decided that a trip to Disneyland was in order, so we planned to drive up on our last day.  After waking up, Mariruth decided to stay home because Marc was not feeling as well as he had been.  Thinking he was just tired from all the happenings of the week, everyone encouraged Paul and I to go on, so I drove to Los Angeles (my first time to drive this stretch of California Freeway).  Along the way we learned they were taking Marc to the emergency room, but we were to continue on.

We arrived at the happiest place on earth, and were pulling into our parking space (that we didn’t get charged for), when David called and told me that we had better come back, they were getting very concerned about Marc.  So, Paul and I got out, went to the restroom, got back in the car, and on the freeway.  Leaving behind Disneyland and going into a hospital where my dear nephew would breathe his last breath that afternoon.  Leaving his wife, two children, parents, brothers, sister(s), aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and many great friends to ask the questions and deal with the grief.  Everyone who knew Marc, loved him.  We were able to celebrate his life in the midst of our grief that still washes over my family in waves.  We all still love and miss Marc so much it hurts.

Naturally this week I have been thinking a lot about those events that happened this time last year, but this year those days are in the week preceding Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  This Sunday is Palm Sunday, where the people of Jerusalem think they are getting ready to go to “Disneyland”…boy, do they have another “think comin!’”   Once again we are getting ready to live a week of death, but in the end—it’s “Disneyland” for all of us.

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Michele Hayes