Saying goodbye to grandma Mason

Earlier this week my beloved grandma, Mary Marie Mason, passed away. Obviously she meant a great deal to me. She was my inspiration as a crafter, wife, mother and overall person. I’m not sure I know a kinder person in this world. 

It was heartbreaking for my mom, who was planning to go visit grandma in just a few days, not to be there. One minute we heard that grandma had been taken to the hospital for something fairly minor and the next minute she was in critical condition with a blood clot. So there was no time for us to say our goodbyes. However, I’m sure she knew how much we loved her. And my uncle said that she seemed at peace knowing that she would probably not survive this ordeal. Perhaps realizing her body was failing her after a broken hip, she got to a place that none of us quite realized. So in a way I feel like she was spared a difficult road of transitions, loss of mobility and memory, and everything painful that comes with old age. 

It’s really easy for me to speak in glowing superlatives about my grandma because she really was that extraordinary of a person. She graduated high school early and went to college, eventually becoming a teacher. She was actually a pretty sweet, diminutive person who stayed home to raise her children and loved the traditionally female realm (cooking, sewing, decorating, church choir…). But she had an extraordinary heart. She never had much in the way of material things, but she would give you anything, anything you needed if she could. She gave up a lot to care for her mentally ill sister and later her husband. And she survived cancer. Twice.

Grandma was incredibly resourceful and thrifty. I don’t think she ever threw away a mayonnaise jar or a Cool Whip tub if she could reuse it. She put shower caps over her bowls to keep food fresh in the fridge. She was a dedicated letter writer and she always tucked a bunch of clipped coupons inside her letters. She sewed her own clothes and even doll clothes and little Barbie-sized pillows for us when we were little. She made the most intricate counted cross-stitch samplers, many of which we have framed and will cherish. Her baking was so comforting — pecan pie at Thanksgiving and lemon bars and frosted sugar cookies at Christmas. Her potato salad was legendary and she always had some in the fridge. 

But you know what I will never forget about grandma? Her hugs. When she saw you she would wrap her arms around you and squeeze you to your bones. And for a long time. It’s like she hugged you from her soul. It just felt good. 

I also always admired my grandparents’ marriage. They were happily married for more than 50 years. They seemed to have mutual interests and mutual respect for each other that you don’t often see. It slays me to think of them walking down a sidewalk holding hands or my grandma washing grandpa’s hair in the sink when he couldn’t anymore. 

My mom was saying how we carry on grandma’s legacy every day by raising Harper. My grandma loved children. She wanted several but was lucky just to be able to have two since she had endometriosis that was not easily treated at the time. I think she was probably most proud of her family — all smart, loving people doing interesting things. I’m only sorry that she couldn’t be here to see more of the next generation born. I guess that’s the hardest thing to accept — that the people you love most won’t live forever and that someday you will have to let them go. 

It’s a nice feeling to know that every time someone orders something with me they will get a little tribute to my grandma and her legacy of art, craft, thrift, and love. 

XO grandma. Miss you already. 

Another wedding weekend

Remember these people?

Well, last weekend Erin and Jason got their turn to be bride and groom, and it was yet another perfectly personalized celebration of love.

Erin was the most organized bride you’ve ever seen. She had instructional packets for just about everyone involved, and she made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. And she was crafty, too!

I loved her bouquets of gerbera daisies, complete with little bundles of dried hops. (Many of the wedding details were beer-themed, since Erin and Jason both love to home brew).

The bridesmaids were all gorgeous, talented, interesting women that I loved getting to know. One of them even flew in from Vietnam, where she was doing some work prior to the wedding.

These beautiful ladies were in charge of handing out programs.

I’ll have some more photos and DIY details for you later, but I just wanted to share how much fun I had. Congrats to the ‘hoppy’ couple!

Summer of love: Celebrating with Erin

Erin and I have been best friends since we were highly awkward seventh graders (with much embarrassing photo evidence to prove it). And now we are both getting married in the space of a month. This weekend we’re celebrating her shower in our hometown, Lawrence, Kansas.

I couldn’t be happier for these two.

I feel like I’ve said that sentence a lot this summer. That’s a good thing.

Brianne and Joe on APW

photo by Laura Wehde

Remember my adorable friend Brianne and her amazing wedding?

Today you can read more about the wedding on A Practical Wedding, probably the greatest wedding Web site out there.

I can definitely relate to the feeling that you want to please people close to you while staying true to yourself. Even for those of us who have been living on our own, or with our future spouse, for a number of years already, the wedding really does represent a letting go and a moving on in life.

On moms

It makes me sad to hear that someone isn’t close with her mom because I’ve been lucky to always be close with mine. We have the same thick, wavy, and often unruly hair that started to turn gray too soon. We have the same junk in the trunk that makes jeans impossible to fit at the waist. We love writing, bargain shopping, and KU basketball. But being the same never matters as much as being supportive. And I’m grateful for all those times I’ve called her up to say, “Am I crazy?” and hear “No way.”

My mom wasn’t Martha Stewart or June Cleaver (and thank God for that, really), but she taught me to stir the flour slowly into the cookie dough, and took us on a gadzillion trips to Hobby Lobby to pick out paint-by-numbers and embroidery floss. Thanks to her, I’ve always known how to make things with my hands.

My mom can pick up a screaming newborn and pat it’s butt until it falls asleep in her arms. I look at a screaming newborn and go “what the hell do I do with this thing?” Someday I’ll know, and someday she’ll help me, and for now I’ll just say, thanks for being there, mom.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

Leslie Hall!

Last week I got to meet one of my crafty idols, Leslie Hall. If you don’t know who she is, the best way I can explain her is to say that whenever we’re having a bad day or feeling down at work, we just look up one of her videos, and it always makes us smile. Or, more likely, go into hysterics. Leslie, who incidentally is from 30 miles down the road in Ames, raps about zombies and gem sweaters, always wears gold spandex, and travels around in an RV-turned-sweater museum that she would now like to use for gay weddings. I LOVE her. Can’t get enough of her crazy Web videos.

So last Thursday when she came to a local music venue me and some of my co-workers joined a bunch of other gem-sweater-clad concertgoers for an awesome show. There were tiger costumes. There was a giant sign that said “Shazam”. There was ample-sized booty shaking. And then afterwards, we accosted her and got this photo.

My coworker, Jess, who is also from Ames, is the one practically groping her. I think we had Leslie convinced to come in, craft with us, and do a cover photo shoot. Now that would be awesome.

For your viewing pleasure, I’m including her video for “Craft Talk.” Go ahead, smile!

Two incredible women

If you were going to read any of the stories I wrote for Juice, I would have to suggest these two, part of a series that just ran. And you might want to have a Kleenex handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A Mother Moves On

After the War

Grandma says…

If I go to any more potluck church dinners I’ll have to go on a diet. Maybe church membership is culprit in the obesity cycle! (Most) of us are incapable of running/working it off!

My grandmother is an extraordinary woman and a very regular letter writer. I save them all. Her little nuggets of everyday life are what I’ll have when all the emails have disappeared into cyberspace.

Rediscovering: Sylvia Plath

Last weekend “Sylvia” arrived from my Netflix queue. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath and Daniel Craig plays her cheatin’ husband. It wasn’t the greatest movie ever made, but I did like it, and it did get into how she never really got the help she needed for her depression.

Anyway, it got me thinking that I had a copy of “The Bell Jar” around the house. I must have read it for a class in college, because the copy I have is pretty aged and has one of those ‘used’ stickers on it. But I cracked it open last night and have been enjoying it for a second time. I really like her writing style – she has great descriptions. And the subject matter (working at a magazine in NYC) of course appeals to me.

Brianne also let me borrow a book of poems I had never read.

I was telling Mike that I reread a lot of books – half of them because I never quite got them in the first place (or I read them in 10th grade, long before I could really understand their meaning) and the other half because I just get so much pleasure out of reading them. Some books I could read every week and still be happy; I just tear right through them.

Anyway, if you’ve never read any Sylvia Plath, I would definitely recommend it.