Take this Job and Craft

As we approach the end of what will surely be recorded as the most bazaar year in American history, I couldn’t let this year go by without adding a blog to my slow growing collection. 

My blog started out as a means to grieve the passing of my precious daughter.  I wanted to share some of my story and a little bit of hers as well.  Then it grew into a small business to “keep me busy” during my retirement years.  I had decided to quit my corporate job in the spring of 2018 when nepotism (among other things) became apparent.  After working there for almost 30 years, I was at a point in my life that I was not about to put up with the crap that this organization was throwing my way.  That decision was the first step on my road to finding joy.

Crafting has always brought me joy so “Road 2 Joy, LLC” had grown from a grieving mother’s blog to a full blown craft business in the final quarter of 2019. Coming from an accounting background, I was excited to use the other side of my brain to create my inventory and to decorate my “Craft Show” booth.  I spent my hours zealously crafting wreaths, gnomes, ornaments and other “joyful things” in preparation for a few upcoming craft shows just in time for the Christmas season. 

I was determined not to let the stress of the accounting preparations,  loading the inventory, setting up the booth, and meeting the “opening” deadlines invade my excitement of this new adventure.  I am eternally grateful for my husband’s assistance when it came to loading and setting up. I might add the fact that I am a tad bit OCD didn’t help. Or maybe it did!

👆Everything went quite smoothly at my first show with the exception of some unexpected internet issues.  I was excited to meet new people especially new business contacts. I even made plans to share a space in some upcoming spring and summer shows in 2020 with a lovely lady who crafted with paper products.   Her creations were so cute!  Our sales were great even though I had already decided that as long as I recovered the booth fees, I would be happy just for the experience.

👆Our subsequent craft show went just as smoothly as the first one with the exception of my “Charlie Brown” tabletop tree falling apart on me. (thankfully, I had brought two smalls trees with me). But the damage to my little “Charlie Brown” tree actually made me sad because I had grown to love that little tree. It had served as our Christmas tree these past few years since my daughter died.

You see, Sabrina always helped me decorate the Christmas tree.  She made me promise to wait for her every year “no matter what” so she could help me decorate the tree.  Every year, that is, until the Army took her away. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to unpack the ornaments from our Christmases past.  I know that the memories would overwhelm me with sadness as I touch each one.  I have decided to save that day for a special time in my Christmas future when I will have the assistance of my children and grandchildren.

Needless to say, the news of the virus and the mandatory shut downs put the brakes on any plans for craft shows in the near future. Although it saddened me to cancel the spring shows, I continued to craft and develop my website through those quarantine days. 

 These days, I somehow find solace when I enter my craft room and begin to design my next creation. My thoughts always turn to Sabrina. I often find myself smiling as I envision her joining me and designing her own creations. I know that she would love what I am doing and would be proud of the success I have had so far.

I’m not sure where I will take my business as far as continuing it, growing it or shutting it down, but for now, I am finding joy with the creative process and have had some success with my online sales. Although, I have to admit that there is no joy in the paperwork.

Joy in Family

Today is my Momma’s birthday.  I sat on my front porch this morning, enjoying my coffee and the rain pouring down.  I started reflecting on my Momma, my childhood and the joy I felt surrounded by my family.  

We grew up poor, so we made our Christmases special with homemade ornaments, building snowmen and the occasional snowball fight.  We cut strips of construction paper to make garland or if we were lucky enough to have popcorn, we used that instead.  We searched our belongings for possible gifts to give each other.  We wrapped the gifts in newspaper or brown paper grocery bags with love for the person who would receive it.

We survived “The Great Blizzard of 1978”.

My siblings, our friends and I had so much snow to play in. We doubled up our clothing and using socks as mittens, we headed out. Boy did we play! Boxes in tote, to use as sleds, we trudged upwards to conquer the snow-covered hills. One of my favorite memories that year was when my little brother and I built an igloo and used it as a cover for a massive snowball fight with our other siblings and friends.

We would come home frozen and hungry.  My Momma would help us out of our snow drenched clothing, give us warm towels to wrap around our feet and serve us whatever meal she had ready for us to eat.  I can still hear her yelling at us for not “coming home sooner because we almost got frost bite on our fingers and toes.”

 As an adult, I wanted the Christmas holiday to always be a special time for our family, and it was.  One Christmas, my daughter, Sabrina was coming home from Korea with her family.  It didn’t take me two seconds to start planning, “The Best Christmas Ever”.

I thought back to my childhood Christmases and the homemade ornaments and knew that would be my theme for this celebration.  I contacted the family and we all started participating online.  Before you knew it, we had our menu planned, we had rented a cabin in the snow, and made plans to cut our own tree.  It was truly going to be an old-fashioned Christmas.

I’ve always enjoyed crafting and all my children and grandchildren enjoyed it as well. I taught them to crochet, sew, paint and create things from their own imaginations as my grandmother and mother had taught me. So, what better time for everyone to bring their skills to the table.

All the family members began creating their contributions to the tree decorations. .  

Some of our creations:

Of course, we wanted to incorporate some crafting togetherness, so we held an online contest on which ornament we would make at the cabin. The most likes would win.

And the winner was:

This guy

It was a delight to see the ornaments hanging on our “Charlie Brown” tree. And it really did turn out to be a beautiful tree.

That year truly was “The Best Christmas Ever”.  Yes, we made homemade Christmas ornaments, we read books, played hilariously and fun inside games, went sleigh riding and inner-tubing, had snowball fights and built a snowman.  We cooked together and ate wonderfully delicious foods.  We laughed!  We loved!

Today’s my Momma’s birthday.  It’s been raining all day.  This afternoon, I sat on my front porch, watching the rain pouring down and the fog roll in, enjoying a cup of tea with my husband. 

It’s funny how the rain makes you feel so many different emotions.  Today, I miss the joy of my family, and I especially miss my Momma.

Joy in Pets – Bootsie Finds a Forever Home

Shortly after my daughter died in the fall of 2016, a beautiful tuxedo cat took up residence under my house.  I already had an elderly 13-year-old calico cat, Callie, and I was struggling just to take care of myself, let alone think about taking care of anything else.    I tried to ignore that darn cat, but she just kept showing up.  She truly was a survivor, and she apparently had decided that my house was the perfect spot for her to make her new home.  She had an abundance of food with the wild bunnies, birds, squirrels, and shrews that also visited our property, and she loved to fish and quench her thirst in our pond.  It was becoming more often than not that I would find her either cleaning her paws or sleeping all cozied up on the cushions of my patio furniture or just sitting there bird-watching.

She tried her best to be my friend.  One morning as I was tending to my herb garden, she playfully ran past me and darted under the house.  At that moment, I decided that if this cat was going to adopt us, I should give her a name and take her to the vet.   It was official, Bootsie had found her forever home.  There was only one problem . . . Callie refused to share her home with a new cat.  One day as I opened my back door, unaware that Bootsie was on the other side, Callie actually ran out the door and chased Bootsie.  Bootsie, out of what I can only assume was pure fear, ran for dear life.  It was actually quite comical.  When I picked Callie up from under the bushes, where she had abruptly stopped, she was panting like she had just ran a marathon. It was literally 15 feet across the yard.  Poor thing had forgotten that she was an old girl. 

Out of respect for Callie’s wishes I made Bootsie a home in the garage where she would spend her nights.  I made her a comfy bed up high on a shelf, placed in front of a window, so she would feel safe and could watch the world.  She played outside each day and I put her to bed in the garage each night.  It wasn’t my ideal situation for her but at least she was safe from the coyotes and other predators in the area and Callie wasn’t having a heart attack stressing over this new cat invasion.  I would cuddle with Bootsie for a while each night before I put her to bed and she became quite accustomed to this routine. During those cuddle sessions and even through my sadness, I found my heart swell with love for this catShe needed me………………..and I needed her.

Sadly, about a year later around Christmas time of 2017, Callie became sick, we couldn’t get her to eat anything.  We offered her everything we could think of to no avail.  Eventually we made the ever so hard decision to put her down.  More heartbreak……more tears.  Ironically, the morning we were going to take her in, I offered her the one thing that she had an addiction for, whipped cream….and she ate it.  We had stopped giving her whipped cream many years ago, because she drove us nuts wanting it all the time; even waking us up in the middle of the night, meowing for it.   Although it didn’t have the nutrients that Callie so desperately needed, it made me happy to see her eat her beloved whipped cream as a last meal, so to speak.  Rest in Peace old girl…

Needless to say, after Callie died, Bootsie moved into the main house and continues to make my heart swell.  She has become a “Momma’s Girl” through and through. She follows me all over the house, waiting for me to sit down, so she can be a lap kitty.  She appears to be very grateful for her forever home.  She lets me dress her up for photo shoots… we go for walks; we cuddle.

Recently, after Bootsie became the ultimate curious cat and got herself trapped in my neighbors garage for two days without food or water, she has been grounded to the house.  My husband and I were both so sad when we couldn’t find her; crying and worried that she had become prey to an eagle or coyote.  She always came home for dinner.  She always came when I called her.  Not this time.   Although she loved being outside during the day, chasing bunnies, birds and butterflies, we decided that it was better to keep her safe.  She does get to go for walks each morning.  If you can call it that.  Some days she walks me all over the property and circles the house at least once, taking in all the new smells from the night before.  Other times, she just sits on the step and stares at the pond……. FOREVER!  Most of the time, she actually leads me to the door when she is ready to go in.  She is one amazing cat, and despite the depths of sorrow where I often find myself these days, she truly does give me joyful moments!