Monday, March 30, 2020

Spare a Moment for Sorrow

 I used the title of an article I just read from the Atlantic by John Dickerson.  It really resonated with me, these last eight months have been so very sad and these weeks past and those ahead are alarming.

"If you have ever lost someone you loved, you know the feeling of seeing the world through a bank teller's glass.  You observe other people laughing and enjoying their day, but you are apart from them, separated by a thick, bulletproof barrier.  You wonder how can they savor that plate of pasta or play music that loud, given what's happened."

He said, "We are all on the same side of the glass in the new corona virus world." 
I am, like you, overwhelmed.  The sadness, the fear, the isolation. The losses.  Those numbers are of people, who lived and loved and died from his virus. A moment for sorrow.

 I had to walk and find signs of life, signs of hope.

 Last year the peonies bloomed and I wept over them.
(If ever would I leave you, how could it be in springtime...)

 This year, I fear for my children and grandchildren. My brothers and sisters in law, nieces and nephews.   My friends, dear friends, old like me, in the high risk group. also my young friends, the whippersnappers.  We are all at risk.

 Looking for a break from the sadness.

Signs of new life.

The hope that spring will be followed by a healthy summer.

That the isolation, the loneliness will be replaced with gatherings filled with hugs and kisses, jokes and laughs. Little girls running through the grass. 

Greeting my neighbors, without crossing the street.  Shaking a hand, hugging a friend.
Having a house full of noise and food and slumber parties.  Toys everywhere and ten pairs of shoes at the door.  

  Reaching out. Knowing how many good and generous people inhabit the earth.   Remembering the life we lived before this, never taking anything for granted.  

 "Spring reminds us that not all is lost, in fact, it comes back around again, no sooner or later than nature intends."

Sending love out into the world.  We are all in this together, we are not alone.
This too shall pass.

Be well, take care.  Thank you for your caring.

Enjoy this day, find something beautiful in it.

Love, Penny

Monday, March 23, 2020

Songs Help Heal in Troubled Times

 I have crafted a bit, to calm my nerves.  Bought this panel from 
Missouri Star Quilt Company. and used an old canvas to mount it.  
Brought out the electric staple gun, a little bit of sewing and up it went. 

The blue ball jars are a favorite of mine,
 and who doesn't need cheerful in these very serious times?

 I also stamped this and made the pillow.  
A ad keeps coming up in my feed for a $70 pillowcase, 
yes not even the pillow form is included.  
It is embroidered on denim. 
Mine was stamped with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint 
on an old pair of jeans I cut up.  

The back is a lovely piece of linen from my pal Carmella. 
 Seriously, this is just distraction for the ever present 
and overwhelming reality of the 
deadly virus we are all faced with.

 This morning I woke up to the most beautiful 
snow covered landscape.  It was a perfect snowfall.
The roads stayed clear, the walks need no shoveling.  
Magical really, when we need some magic.

 All week and weekend I have been home, like so many of you, 
staying home to help stop the spread of the virus.  
I have spent my time being lonely.  
The first real time I've been away from my kids and granddaughters. 
Phone calls and Face Time help. 
 I've missed being there for the girls first steps, 
and they can't really understand why grandma can't pick them up. 
I have everything I could possibly need, except a hug.  
I really need a hug.
 Everyone is safely at home except
 my son Jonathan who works in a vital 
City of Chicago building.  

 I've been watching so many music artists perform from their homes.

 It has been amazing to hear the unvarnished performances, 
hearing the bare bones talents that make 
many of these performers super stars.  
Alone at night I watched John Legend, Chris Martin from Coldplay, 
Andrea Bocelli, James Taylor with his family, 
and last night Mary Chapin Carpenter.  
She sang a song she recorded with James Taylor.  
I was on my iTunes account and I purchased the song, before the next video started.  
What a comfort music is to me.

 I took these photos on an early morning walk today.

                                                      It's called Soul Companion

All of our dreams are laid out and measured
Arrows and pins and a rainbow of threads
Like hope on a string, sewn into the linings
For the courage to face the unknown ahead.

My soul companion
Out in the world somewhere
My soul companion
I'll meet you there

I'm packing my compass, trusted and tested
My dog-eared maps to study and fold
Into a pocket, I'm traveling light now
All that we have is all that we hold.

My soul companion
In my heart you are
My soul companion 
Just like a star

 There are no boarders, there are no boundaries
There are no fences up around me
But I get quiet and I get lonely
Just like everyone

These are the old roads, these are the stations
I look for my ride, you wait for your train
These are the chances, a life's incantations
These are places that don't know our names

My soul companion
Love finds it's own way in
My soul companion
Now let us begin
My soul companion
Out in the world somewhere 
My soul companion
I'll meet you there. 

Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter

If I ever needed my Soul Companion, it is now.
 My soul companion
In my heart you are
My soul companion 
Just like a star.

Thank you for stopping by.
Sending a virtual hug to all my dear readers.
Enjoy this beautiful day, and be safe.
Love, Penny

Monday, March 16, 2020

Love in the Time of COVID-19

 Jon and Charlotte had a party for their girls, Irene and Stevie to celebrate their first birthday.  We took as many precautions as possible.  We elbow bumped instead of our usual hugs with guests 
but with family we still hugged. In a year for all of us that has been, to say the least, difficult, we so needed a happy event.

Jon and Charlotte
Irene and Stevie

Happy it was, joyful even.  How could it be anything else with these two precious and amazing girls?
Many people did not attend, which was understandable considering the horrible news of late and the fact we still know so little about COVID-19 and it's transmission, even how many people are infected.  The guests I talked about were Jon and Charlotte's very best friends, and they are really great friends who traveled to be with Stevie and Irene to celebrate. We all enjoyed watching the girls crumble their cakes, Stevie all the while signing MORE!

Penny and friends
Spending time with my brother Jeff, my sweet nieces Amy and Gina and visiting with Grandma Roseann was really nice.  SIL Doug cheered me up when I got emotional.  We all had our moments.
There is no doubt that Tyke's a part of these beautiful little girls.  I found one photo in particular that made me see his DNA in the twins, just like I do in Penny.  The silly gene is strong in the Willoughby's, and so is the love.

Great Uncle Jeff with Stevie

Everyone pitched in afterwards and Charlotte got some time with her old friends.  I had the pleasure of hosting the birthday girls and Mom and Dad for 4 days.  I am crazy for these girls and they seem to be equally crazy for me.  They are also crazy for Auntie Kristen and cousin Penny who came to help out with the girls.  Don't forget Auntie Amanda, Irene has taken to her and Irene is very curious about bearded Uncle Mikey. To say that I am so very proud of our family would be an understatement. We are closer than ever and so enjoy each others company.  Everyone helped cleaning up and Jon and Charlotte, were left with lots of food and drinks they shared with family and friends.  Everyone went home with lunch for the next day and cookies and cake for dessert.  What could have been a disappointment turned into a wonderful time of sharing and happiness.

As a very wise man (my dearest Tyke) always said, "We'll get through this." and I believe he was right then and are words I hang onto now.  Stay safe my friends, if you need TP I have a basket full.  I fear for my family as we all do, but I have faith that we will come out of this crisis stronger and kinder. 

 Until next time...

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness always.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny  

Monday, March 9, 2020

As Our Twins Turn One

These tulips lasted two weeks.  They got taller and taller!

 Just a quick post as there is much to do.  Yes, Stevie and Irene will turn one year old in just a few short days.  I am rushing to finish a little project, scrap booking their first year.  I say little with irony, because it has been the most difficult project attempted since the loss of my sweet husband.  The timing of these two events, the birth of our granddaughters and Tyke's death overlap in the most difficult way.  What should have been the happiest of times, was tinged with sadness.  That's exactly what I have experienced while putting together this book.

 No babies visited this weekend and I had this beautiful girl all to myself.  Here she is making a couple of pages for the scrapbook.  Penny loves her cousins, and also loves stickers and ribbon and all the trimmings scattered over the tables.  

I added a couple of pages featuring Charlotte's lovely Mom and the girls great grandmother.  

 It's hard to remember when they were so tiny.  Those months were a blur, and hard to revisit.
It will all be in my made for TV movie, I always threaten to write.  

 So along with  my little project, I have two tiny cakes to bake,  The ones that the girls will get to mess up.  I went to Williams- Sonoma with a gift card in hand and found this small double bundt pan.  They are the same size but completely different, a perfect analogy for our twins.  

At HobLob I found these perfect little cake stands.

 These tiny paper plates jumped into my cart at Michaels.
Wouldn't they be perfect for a tiny slice of bundt cake?

Also from Williams-Sonoma these Unicorn themed decorations.

Won't those cakes drizzled with frosting and sprinkles, decorated with unicorns and rainbows be sweet on these little stands?

 Penny and I traveled all the way to Antioch to visit a scrapbooking store.  We also visited our favorite nursery and found the cutest little accessories for our fairy garden.  

 The garden has been over wintering in the house and is doing surprisingly well.

 There is Penny the fairy peeking out of the polka dot plant.

 A sleeping cat hidden beneath the foliage.

One of the gnomes.

I also wanted to mention and thank my dear daughter Kristen for deleting over 5,000 emails for me.  A task that has been a frustration to me for literally years.  A technical wiz like her father, she even swore and used some of his mannerisms while finally fixing the problem. I changed the cartridges on my printer (after being given the wrong ones and having to return to Best Buy) and Kris was able to scan another project I have been unable to tackle.  We laughed, I cried remembering my technical support guy, and how many times I fired him.  It was one of those,  the cobbler's wife has no shoes thing. He had so much work of his own, I wouldn't let him spend time on my computer.  I miss yelling to the next room, Honey,  how do I...

I am off to work.  There are pages to be made and cookies and cakes to be baked. I am sorry for the photos in this post. I am not sure why they are so washed out, but I will see my photographer son Jon this week for the festivities. I am sure it is an easy fix, for him.;-)

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, March 2, 2020


Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the Sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night,
and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? 
and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
-Kahlil Gibran

I think our house is perfectly happy right where it is, 
with the family and friends contained in it's walls.
The joys and sadness experienced here make it 
more special to us all.  A place of warmth and comfort, 
where babies play and children learn.
A place where grownups lose
some of the responsibilities of being grownup.
A place where Mom is, with beautiful memories of Dad. 
 A ho-made dinner and a couple of store bought pies
 to celebrate two wonderful men, 
my son Jonathan and my SIL Doug.

 Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.
-William Cowper (1731-1800)
Perfect pink tulips from the grocery.

The first time drawing.  Stevie made dots, lots and lots of dots.

A thoughtful moment for Irene, should I color or should I eat this?

These little ones, I love them so much.  My baby grands love me right back and I am so grateful.  
Down on the floor, first they rip off my glasses.  
I am laughing so hard, I yell to Auntie Kristen, take a photo!

A beautiful gift from my creative pal Mary Ann.  
I have mentioned a few friends here,
but I don't think I've ever written about Mary Ann.
We met years ago when I helped her with a project. The rest is history, a friendship was forged.
We've made so many gift baskets for Mary Ann's charitable 
causes over the years, we are a well oiled machine. 
Mary Ann has a knack for gathering things that all go together 
to make a beautiful basket for a charity auction.
All I have to do is show up, and arrange the basket contents in a pleasing way.
Anyway, Mary Ann has been a comfort to me in the nine months since I lost my dearest.
(How is that even possible, nine months?)  
Every few days, a text message, saying she is thinking and praying for me...and she hasn't stopped.
She continues to be a caring and comforting reminder to me that I am not alone.
I have the blessing of so many good and true friends like Mary Ann, some I've mentioned, but many others who have stepped up and took caring a step further. You know who you are...
I thank you all so very much.

Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny