Boundaries and interruptions and a red thread

C peeking out

C peeking out

Parenting means being interrupted. And it means improvising.

D itching under cast just like the doctors said not to

D itching under cast just like the doctors said not to

Long gone are the days when I craved a solitary bowel movement, or wistfully anticipated the reclined dentist’s chair for the quiet it represented (those were intense times — with two extremely active boys, neither of them particularly inclined toward napping!!).  With a seventeen and a nineteen year old in the house now, the frequency and urgency behind the interruptions have changed, but the fact of them has not. They continue — as they should.

Add to the parenting — a disabled sister for whom I am the sole support (my brother sends money from the West Coast, and that helps, but NOT with the day to day) and a husband who travels often to Asia, and you begin to get the picture here. Our dog is a piece of work, too – requiring special accommodation for getting up and down stairs, for the correct positioning of his food bowl, and a three-person-applied muzzle for basic grooming. Lately, he’s been ill (I think he’s better, but not quite sure).

Relax! I have already ranted in my Morning Pages. This was done while drinking coffee in Newtonville and waiting for the camera shop to open, so that I could purchase photo paper for D. and then deliver it to the high school (speaking of interruptions)…

(I would love to know what the business types in the coffee shop thought of this deranged-looking woman scrawling across a notebook page in ink nearly as fast as one could speak the words…)

And anyway, if I was going to rant it would be about our fucking computer ‘upgrades’ which have produced a series of repeating and ever-unfolding glitches, such that it is nearly a form of torture to blog (one of the reasons for the gaping pauses of late).

No, I would rather look at boundaries.

White House with Red Boundary

White House with Red Boundary

Last night, I surrounded the White House with an edge.  It really changes the composition, perhaps in too obvious a manner, but I’m willing to entertain it for awhile. Study it some. The thread is red, it is true, but it doesn’t scream red. Maybe that’s because it was hand-dyed in India and billed as “Meditation Thread”.

Maybe it is because there is relief associated with having boundaries. From knowing where the house ends and the sky and yard begin. Recently I have learned the difference between asserting ‘a need’ and shouting a demand.  I discovered that need does not have to be associated with basic survival.

Remedial insight, perhaps. But I share it here because I think it governs my response to this red.

The sky poofs and tuckers in places and will require some attention. I find a lot of quilting to be (in my case, anyway) the resolution of problems created earlier in the process. Not unlike parenting, yes?


buckling sky

As for the bump in the bottom edge and the frayed intersection of the thread-ends, I am going to let those be for awhile, too.  I like the idea of an imperfect boundary, or one that flexes to its surroundings. I like the idea, too, of having an obvious place where the boundary’s ‘gate’ resides, so that it does not come across or function as a solid and permanent fixture. Maybe having had a swinging door for so long makes the idea of a fixed boundary too difficult.

when the edges meet (and a bump)

when the edges meet (and a bump)

In any case, it is food for thought.  And, here are some red lines from the garden this morning. Once you start seeing a red line, or a window (right, Jude?), or a bird in your work, you start to see it everywhere.

red lines as stalks/support

red lines as stalks/support

Around the other side of the house, rhubarb is ripening! Almost time for my annual Strawberry Rhubarb pie. An exception to 2013’s gluten-abstinence will have to be made!

24 thoughts on “Boundaries and interruptions and a red thread

  1. user107055

    …i like this house guarded in red very much…i look down on my wrist..a beautifully braided piece of similar thread encircles my wrist..has for years..tied there by a much loved child safely returned from adventures in india..i guess the ends are slightly frayed ..but it was tied there with love and a whispered message that it would keep me safe when she was away..which of course, as an adult, she usually is..and so i look at this house and that is my.. ok extremely personal..but total reaction…a house made safe, boundaried by love …cynthia

  2. saskia

    oh those white stitches holding the red thread, that is just so beautiful and I love it; the whole composition has improved with the edge.

    ah yes life interrupted, what would our lives have looked like without them? I simply cannot imagine a childless life, surmise to say, it would have been different (duh)

    p.s. a small step for womankind, a huge leap for me: this morning I managed to ‘burn’ the digital highschool carreer photo’s from three(!) different sources onto one DVD to be sent off to a CopyShop for copying, so all of this year’s graduates will receive one at their graduation ceremony, whew; the thing is I did it, but really don’t know how. At times like these I am so happy with the technology that works with me rather than against;-)

    1. deedeemallon Post author

      hi Saskia – at the edge of the empty nest, I am so, so aware of how I will miss stumbling over six pairs of shoes in the mudroom or picking up ten wet towels (I kid you not) or running something here or there or someone here or there…. so yes, this is my life with children and I feel so much gratitude for it and for them!

      As for technology – I have a way of wanting it to work. To be seamless. To be an instrument. To have to visit forums to fix a problem or study YouTube videos just to figure out tagging or whatever is so awful to me, and yet – so necessary. Congrats on the DVD – I GET what an accomplishment that is!!!

  3. deedeemallon Post author

    Hi Jan, I don’t think my hands are EXCEPTIONALLY full, and I have a lot of supports in my life — but there is a way that caring for others becomes somewhat invisible or sinks to the bottom of everyone’s awareness such that I find once in awhile I have to note it — and doing that with writing seems to be my way…

    I look forward to discovering your blog, by the way. Thanks for visiting!

  4. Chloe

    With three between 15 months and 5 years (and no. 4 on the way), I am constantly struggling with my boundaries. I find it incredibly difficult to let my creativity really flow in the few minutes I am allowed to myself during the day and miss with a passion my long-lost late nights. It’s very difficult to not resent the children when there has been so much I’ve discovered that I want to do, and to really let go of that drive in order to be able to enjoy their all-too brief childhoods. The irony is that pre-motherhood I had nowhere near as many hobbies as I have now!! I keep telling myself my time will come…. I love your house; I have a long-ago started white project which I must return to at some point – thanks for the reminder 🙂

  5. deedeemallon Post author

    great blessings on you Chloe — you will be ‘underwater’ for quite some time. The good news is, quilting can be done in ten minute increments, which is part of why I started doing it so many years ago. I happen to think that resentment is also a fact of life with children – unless you are a one percenter with all the help you could possibly desire.

    1. Chloe

      Thanks Dee, I guess the trick is to just not let the resentment eat away too much of the joy of motherhood – there is a lot of that too, after all x

  6. deedeemallon Post author

    fascinating, Chloe — from annekata’s blog that you link to above —

    I often use red sewing thread, partly because I like when the hand sewing is visible and partly because it reminds me of the Germany expression “Der rote Faden“, or in English: “The Red Thread” refering to a main theme or idea in a story. So why not make it literal by using a red thread and weaving it through a garment.

    I loved learning about the red thread in the British naval ropes as a way of identifying them, too!

  7. Michelle in NYC

    Ah–the uninterrupted life might just be as static as the unexamined one. Meanwhile, I hope that strawberry rhubarb pie manages to be made next week, when I will travel up to Westfield (on the 20th) and you can expect a call with the plaintive cry “any pie left?”, and “can you bear another interruption?”…red threads say life line to me…life line!!!

  8. deedeemallon Post author

    Good point, Michelle…
    and I haven’t forgotten your imminent trip to Massachusetts. I’ll be emailing you soon.

  9. Mo Crow

    ah that red thread, love the bump,reminds me of a favourite quote from an interview with Tom Baker aka Dr Who “they were quite wobbly… like life really” re the sets from the 70’s.

  10. Julierose

    Hi Dee–I am in a different place right now –farther down that road of life in years…I do remember “those days” though very well…some times I feel that I wish they were all back–warts and all–others I sigh and enjoy the quietness..and stillness…, you turn around and wonder where it all went so fast…I know it sounds trite, but it is SO true. My Mom in her Nursing Home at 94 really “time travels” now…I am amazed by her ability to cope with so many unknowns….

    I love your little house with the interruptions…it kind of shows where you are residing right now…back and forth we go–if only in our memories… Julierose

  11. handstories

    i often find boundaries and rules to be comforting- you know where you are. this raising of children…sigh. I’m just behind you a few years. often feeling completely lost & wishing for clear edges of what to do. this is a good solid house you’ve stitched. (& that little patch of pale green w/dark green markings…I’ve just cut up one of my favorite, worn to rags, shirts made of that fabric for cloth work. do take care of you!

  12. deedeemallon Post author

    Mo Crow – I am going to get to Dr. Who one of these days… my library carries all the series, and one of my heroes (Craig Ferguson of the Late Late Show) adores the show…

    Julierose – I really, really get the part about it all passing so fast!! I know why, now, strangers would stop me when the two boys were little and say, “Enjoy it! It’ll be over before you know it” . . . even though at the time (frequently, not always) I really wanted to punch those strangers. As for your Mom, as Grace noted in the forum, soon enough, that will be us (if we are lucky, I suppose….)

    Hi Cindy. feeling lost seems to be part of the package too. I THINK i’ve gotten over the regret about not having had a career, but I have quite a ways to go to process various regrets about parenting….

    can’t wait to see what you do with the shirt!

  13. deedeemallon Post author

    cynthia your comment just came up – thank you for the red thread story and for sharing its frayed end and its message of safety…

  14. perlhuhn52

    You post brought back so many memories, having my first child at 23 there have been so many things just started and not yet explored – no “roter Faden” to follow I thought. When they left the nest I jumped into my job with new energy and now that I´m retired it took me only some weeks to find my red thread which has always been there – to create with my hands. A lot of unfinished things and only little finished from over 30 years.But that doesn´t matter, in the boundaries of these years it helped me to get through. Now I have a lot of time and only some duties and can set my boundaries myself. What a luxury!
    That read thread means for me – that is my place and I think a good boundary for a house.

    1. deedeemallon Post author

      Thank you for sharing this, Doris – I love how you describe various phases of your life – and the red thread both connecting them all and protecting the house…

  15. Anonymous

    Hi Dee; you SWORE!!!!Hahahaha. It feels really funny to hear/read you swearing! Tho I do it regularly! Pooters and IT bring ripe language dripping off our tongue. I’m in the ‘lookaftering’ part of my mum’s life. Not easy; she’s not an easy person to help. I enjoy passing by your blog,via Saskia’s.

  16. Anonymous

    which is refreshing to hear, Dee! Me too! And apologies that it comes up as ‘anonymous’ on my posting; I assumed my name would come up. It’s Jan, from Wakefield in Yorkshire, England. The industrial North. Greetings from t’other side of the sea. Jan.

    1. deedeemallon Post author

      Hi Jan. thanks for stopping by! It’s nice to have fiber friends in the UK. One of my grandfathers was born on Hartlepool. He was a Jacques.

  17. Pingback: White privilege is an invisible thing | Dee Mallon and Cloth Company

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s