Monday, November 23, 2015

Tune Up

The piano tuner is here today. He's been here for over 4 hours, striking each ivory key over and over and winding the copper strings with his tuning hammer. bing bing bing bing bing Two strings have broken, which made me almost cry because now the piano restoration guy has to come out and replace them and ouch! It's all expensive. But what a beautiful sound is coming from this old beauty already. Can't wait for carols at the spinet this Christmas.

This past week was insanely busy. One of those weeks where you realize, at dinner time, that you never got around to eating your (now soggy mush) cereal. I think we had pizza two or three nights last week. It was that non-stop. I've been looking forward to this Thanksgiving week for so long. It's time for a rest, folks. Let's take a rest.

Thank you... thank you so much... for all the Etsy orders last week. I had so much fun knitting things especially for y'all. My only regret was that the Thanksgiving cloths were so few; next year I'll do much better, I promise. And for Christmas this year, too. I'm going to be Mrs. Brinknitsalot this week. (Such a burden, right? Ha.) Last night, I made egg nog and some of my favorite cookies and watched the Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network and knitted. So relaxing! Looking forward to several similar nights this week.

How about you? Doing anything special for Thanksgiving? I hope wherever you are and whoever is around, you'll feel the peace and comfort that only God can bring. Special prayers this week for those who are missing someone. 

Sounds like the piano tuner is nearly done. Better get back in there. Have a wonderful Monday evening. -Brin

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

Come ye thankful people, come. Raise the song of harvest home. 
All is safely gathered in. Ere the winter storms begin. 
God, our Maker, doth provide.
-Henry Alford, 1844

God, our Maker, doth provide.

My heart has been humming this old tune for days. I want to tell you why. I want to tell you a story from my weekend.

On Saturday, a few folks and I stood under a huge oak tree in a downtown city park with 1,412 pairs of socks. It was the culmination of weeks of collecting socks for our city's homeless. We passed them out, pair by pair, to a steady stream of weary-looking faces. I shook hands and wrapped my arms around and looked in the eyes of as many as I could. It, like all the other times, broke my heart. 

I took a step back, mid-way through, to breathe and blink away a few tears. The last thing I wanted was for these precious people to see sadness- or worse, pity- on my face. I took a step back and looked across the park and noticed a tall, older man staring back at us. He stood, still as a statue, watching our little spectacle. I didn't know whether to be unnerved or wave. I turned back to my socks and my small crowd and quickly forgot about him.

I forgot all about him, actually, until I heard a strong, clear voice a little while later asking who was in charge. It was the tall man. He was directed toward me and suddenly, he was by my side. I'm Frank, he said softly. I'm with my grandkids in the park. We've seen what you are doing.

His voice didn't match the body it was coming out of. It was warm and melodic. He was a white-haired tower with angles and elbows. I looked up at him and nodded, and saw that he had the kindest face I've seen in a long time.

Here, he said, and pressed some wadded up bills into my hand. 

Thanks so much, but you don't have to, I replied.

We've seen what you're doing, he repeated. 

I thanked him, clumsily, and added something about the need and the people and... something. But he was already turning away, heading back up the hill to the spot where I saw him earlier. 

Again, I forgot all about Tall Man until I found the money in my pocket several hours later. I pulled it out and smoothed both crumpled bills... a large bill, and a one dollar bill. It was a strange amount to give, and I said so others.They nodded. It was strange.

Only it didn't seem so strange when I added up, later, exactly what the sock drive had cost me, personally, that day. And when I circled the total and looked at those crumpled bills, I smiled. And then I began laughing. And then I began crying... was EXACTLY... rounded up to the nearest whole dollar... exactly the same amount I'd spent. 

God, our Maker, doth provide.

Money's been tight this year, what with the layoff and all. It's been incredible watching God provide... watch Him come through in a clutch... watch my account get down to $2.09 with the electric bill due and then, suddenly, a check in the mail. (Thank you, Nina.) It's been humbling and yet amazing to watch sales in my Etsy shop come through at just the right time. I think I've knit with more gratitude and hope this year than ever before.

This Thanksgiving season, there's a collage of the most beautiful pictures coming together in my brain: those tired, homeless faces. The Tall Man and his crumpled, exact gift. The piles of socks under that tree. The check in the mail. The piles of yarn that are getting knit into... provision. Beautiful provision. It isn't even Thanksgiving, and yet... it is. At my house, and in my heart, it already is.

I needed to announce my latest Thanksgiving cloths and let y'all know that there's a limited number in the shop today, but somehow I couldn't without telling you the story behind it all. The story about my weekend and my providing God. About the socks and the Tall Man. And I want you to know: I'm wishing the same for you today, and praying that the spirit of thanksgiving will find you and bless you this season, too. Whatever it looks like and whatever form it takes, I'm praying the same for you.

Thanks for being here.  -Brin

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Queen of Poly and the Bird on a Dark and Nearly Storming Night

They call me the Queen of Poly. Well, okay, they don't. But they should. Because Lord have mercy, cans of polyurethane have become my most constant companions as of late.

This is a picture I took five minutes ago of the master bedroom's floor. I realize it is not a gorgeous picture. To me it is, but probably not to anyone else. You see, I spent two hours sanding this floor with a palm sander. I spent 2 hours sweeping, vacuuming, and tack clothing this floor, and another hour picking splinters out of the cracks. I spent 8.5 hours on my hands and knees staining every square inch of these 80+ year old oak floor boards. And then yesterday, I smeared coats of polyurethane over this floor until it was as smooth and shiny as a skating rink. It took all. day. Pretty picture? No. But am I showing it to you anyway? Heck yes I am.

Besides, I haven't told you the best part yet. 

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, fine. It was a dark and soon-to-be-stormy night. But it was really dark and the wind was picking up. And there I am, all alone in this big, empty room with my poly bucket and my poly stick. The lights are blazing in the room but outside it's night, so the huge, uncurtained windows are like black holes. They're kind of unnerving; people can see in, but I can't see out. It is quiet. I sink my poly pad into the poly bucket... pppppfffffffffttt... and watch as it soaks up poly. I try to ignore the big, black windows. I'm just about to move the poly pad to the floor and apply the final coat when suddenly...
...a bird flies at my head! I scream, throw the poly stick, and tear across that stained floor and past the black hole windows, my sock feet slipping and sliding the whole way. I run out into the hall and slam the door behind me. My heart is pounding. How in the world did a bird get in there? 

After a minute, I crack the door and peek in. I look around quickly and when I don't see the bird, I open the door wider. Maybe the blasted bird flew into the sun porch. That had to be it. Maybe if I can close the sun porch door, the bird will be trapped out there and at least I can finish my final coat of poly in here. I venture across the slick floor, eyes on the door. And I'll be danged if, halfway across the room, the bird doesn't swoop down out of nowhere and flap up beside me again!
I race back to the safety of the birdless hall. Again, I wait at the door, peeking in every few seconds to see where the blasted bird is. I crack open the door, it's on the floor in the corner. I crack the door again, moments later, and it's perched on the window sill. I crack the door yet again, and it's on the ceiling fan. And then... oh, my friends... and then, I heard it:


The bird messed all over my scarcely-dry-but-still-needing-a-final-coat of poly floor!

You all. That was almost it for me. That was almost the moment I decided to move back to Dallas, get a condo, and resume my former life. There I was in my dirty jeans, my chia pet shirt, and my slippery socks... hair wild, arms sore, and half-high on poly fumes... and a bird had just messed all over my beautiful floor. It was just too much.

Monday, November 2, 2015

My Messy, Thrilling Life Newsletter

How are you doing? Make it out of that weekend okay? Yeah, same here. Okay. Let's all just take a second, close our eyes, and take 5 deep breaths.

Better. You?

Whew. Okay. So, happy November! Can you believe it's that time again... already? If you're a subscriber to the shiny new My Messy, Thrilling Life Newsletter, than you got a LOT of me yesterday, including some never-before published photos, a November preview, a Hedge House update, some details on the new book, and a secret coupon code to the Etsy shop.

For you early subscribers, what did you think? For you folks who haven't joined us yet, please do now so you don't miss any holiday goodies! Click here to subscribe and join the party.

I have a lot on my plate today, but let's meet back here and make Perfect Pumpkin Bread tomorrow, shall we? See you then...

Y'all, it's November!  -Brin