At a slow pace

January 6, 2011

Walking  in the garden a few days after Christmas.  I was enjoying a fresh and early morning sun as  I spotted a branch of blackberry, shaped like a heart. A wild and  stubborn bush,  not ready to give in to  Winter.  The persistent branch made me think of this past Summer bounty and of the delicious marmelade waiting on the kitchen table for the family breakfast.

Fleeting images of particular moments during the Holiday Season.  I realize that the grandfather who once was as tall as his grandsons looked now small and frail. Emotion. A moment of love shared between generations, smiles and looks of complicity that belong to the three of them only. A wonderful bond.

My activities will not resume until mid-January.  These days after Christmas are “in slow-motion”. Remembering  family celebrations, animated talk around the table, gifts being offered, a surprise for everyone. Each family member had decided to offer a gift to one person only chosen by drawing lots.   Each one  kept  the secret until Christmas Day. What an excitement as the time for sharing gifts came ! I was so happy that mine was meant for my Dad! I offered him a soft warm fleece jacket in his favourite colour, grey/blue. He loved it and is wearing it almost every day since  Christmas 🙂

Taking time to sit for more reading and leaving aside other activities that can wait a little.

Sidney Poitier’s spiritual autobiography is one the best I have read in a long time. “The Measure of a Man” is the story of his life from his birth on Cat Island in the Bahamas until his recognition as a great actor in  Hollywood. When he was about 12,  S. Poitier told his sister : “When I grow up, I want to go to Hollywood and become a cowboy “. He had just seen his first movie in Nassau, a cowboy one of course. In 1963, S. Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his great performance in Lilies of the Field. He also received the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment.

Reading his memoirs is like having a worthwhile conversation with an older family member, his words are powerful, reflective, generous, humane and so moving. It makes you look closer at the foundations of your own life.

Looking forward to even more reading. Family and friends know me… and I  received several books:

The Amish Quilts,  1870-1930, showing many reproductions of quilts from private collections in Switzerland; there are also some  very interesting chapters about the origin and history of the Amish.

Matthieu Ricard, “Spiritual Paths”, a small anthology of some of the most beautiful Tibetan writings. To be read slowly too.

“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I have already started reading it and can hardly stop…

“The Rothko Chapel” by Domique de Menil. With her husband, John, Dominique founded the inter-religious Chapel in Houston/Texas in 1971. The de Menil’s dream was for the Chapel to promote interfaith dialogue, human rights and the arts. I am so grateful for this gift,  a beautiful souvenir of a memorable visit of this Chapel some years ago.

From Barbara, my English quilting friend, I received the loveliest Desk Diary you can imagine !

More gratefulness. To Marie, my inspiring and creative friend; she  sews and expresses herself  beautifully in  her quilts. Marie sent me those colourful parcels.

See all I found when I opened the pretty wrapping papers!

Wonderful handmade gifts and special fabrics I look forward to sewing  in my quilts. Precious  presents from here and there. Thank you so very much, Marie ! All is  truly appreciated.  My thoughts are with you.

January will be a slow month  for me. As my friend Marah wrote on a beautiful card :  “Never let the urgent crowd out the important”.

This is the first of her 12 calendar cards. Each month I will share a different one with you. I wish you  a lovely start of this New Year. May it bring  Peace in your heart and mind.


36 Responses to “At a slow pace”

  1. truels said

    Isa, how wonderful it was to read this post. Your message here hit right in the heart of me. I will also start the new year at a slow pace for a few months. But you and others who read my blog will learn more about that later….. But I understand SO well what you write here 🙂

    • Hello truels ! Thanks so much for your words, I am truly happy if you felt as good reading it as I did writing it. I will check you blog, truels and see what your own slow pace is about. Be well and happy.

  2. Gerry said

    This was a fine post. A benediction. I had the sort of day that makes a person grumpy and self-pitying, and this was just what I needed. May your slow-paced January bring you peace of mind and heart as well.

  3. I enjoyed the photo you took; I also read three cups of tea and could not put it down. I was so impressed with this man and what he did. Also, I have not been to Houston to visit the chapel but i am a big Mark Rothko fan and read a bio of him. I now decided I needed to read the Sidney Poitier book, thanks for sharing this info.

    • Thanks Joumana. Isn´t this book about G. Mortenson´s achievement fascinating ? I cannot put it down either, no slow pace there 😉 If you ever happen to be in TX again, there is a lot to visit in this area : the de Mesnil Collection, the Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. It´s a green haven of peace in the center of this huge city. Wonderful architecture too. I feel sure you will enjoy S. Poitier´s book.

  4. Cindy said

    What an abundance of happiness. Enjoy it, Isa.

  5. this is beautiful. do post as you finish those books! they look fabulous.

    i hope you had a wonderful holiday and welcome 2011 with arms wide open.

  6. Thank you so much for those enthusiastic comments, Serena. I will tell about the books later, right now I am in “Three Cups of Tea”,… travelling to Northern Pakistan on top of a huge truck carrying all that is needed for building a school for children in the most remote Himalaya valley you can think of ! And this is happening thanks to an American climber and the villagers who rescued him as he got lost descending the terrible K2 summit. Are you following me, Serena 😉 ?

  7. Karma said

    This is a beautiful look back at the holiday season that has just passed – and a great look at some of the things that help us to know more about you!

    I think winter is a wonderful time for quilting. My problem seems to be that when I have a little extra money for buying fabric, I have no extra time for sewing. When I have a little extra time for sewing, I have no extra money for fabric!

    I really love the quote in the last picture.

    • Hello Karma 🙂 merci pour tes commentaires, très appréciés. J’espère qu’un jour tu trouveras le temps et un peu d’argent pour ton quilting (look in second hand shops). Yes, I love the quote too. Bon début d’année à toi et à ta famille.

  8. This is a lovely ode to the Christmas holiday. I can feel the love in the photo of your father and sons. We also draw names in our family and this year my dad got mine. I received a wonderful anthology of poetry and the poet’s companion. It is going to make for great reading in 2011. Blessings to you Isa!

    • What a beautiful gift to receive from your Dad ! I hope that now and then you will share some quotes with us ? Happy reading and all the best to you, dear Tammy. Thanks for your visits, always.

  9. sartenada said

    Lovely post. I enjoyed me words and photos. One book especially was interesting to my eyes: Quilter’s Desk Diary. wow, that must be great.

  10. Janice said

    Bonne et heureuse année, Isa. What a beautiful and thoughtful selection of presents you received. Lots of happy hours of reading, stitching and thinking! I know you will enjoy it!

    • De retour Janice ? I hope you had a lovely start of the New Year. Personally I have started reading, quilting and thinking… of ways to have more time to do all this 🙂 I am enjoying “Three Cups of Tea” and the Spiritual Tibetan Writings.

  11. I too read Three Cups of Tea and am now finishing off Stones into Schools. Learning how people live in other places seems to make us understand our own homes even more.

    A few years ago we spent a couple of days in Amish country in Pennsylvania. It was so peaceful. The quilts I saw there were absolutely amazing. They likely have an especially slow pace at this time of year too. Happy New Year!

    • I did not know Mortenson wrote a second book of his experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I will certainly get it too. I like his approach in meeting people and promoting peace very much.
      One of my dreams is to one day visit the Amish country. Thank you for your comments and valuable information.

  12. ancientcloth said

    You are sooo welcome ❤
    Thank you for your dear words, they are treasures to me.
    I love how you see beauty everywhere with your camera.
    Just want you to know my new link for my blog is:

  13. Hello Marie 🙂 I will follow you on blogspot of course and look forward to seeing more of your art and sharing your thoughts. Good luck with your new blog !

  14. That’s a beautiful shot of the blackberry bush you captured, I did shudder a little when I saw it though. Our home in France is riddled with brambles, they are impossible to get rid of unless you use horrid chemicals (which we can’t because of the lake). I have dug them up, hacked them back, tried to cover them with plastic sheeting, every time they grow back! I have learned to live with them, but they do drive me crazy! Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your words of encouragement xxx

    • Nice to see you here, Tallulah. You are right, brumbles are very stubborn. It is the same here, every year they grow further. But then their fruits are so delicious that I try to forget their thorns and invading branches.

  15. aubrey said

    Reading your pretty thoughts and looking at your festive pictures is making me impatient for Christmas!

    How many days is it?

  16. iniyaal said

    I completed a post with a similar title on my blog minutes back. Surprised to see your new post have the same title 🙂
    All those books makes me drool. I am sure you will have a great time reading them. The black berry branch picture is captivating. Wonderful are the ways nature gives life the strength to survive.

    • Just visited your blog and enjoyed the reading and the stroll through the village… Taking time now and then allows you to have a closer look at people, things and nature around you. I enjoy this greatly, so do you apparently as I read your post.

  17. Kathy said

    Hello Isa, I am so glad you are taking a break. Moving slower. January is a good time for that. I ended up taking a two week “vacation” from the on-line world and that felt really good. And it feels equally good to be back! Enjoy your winter. Savor all those good books–slowly.

    • Welcome back, Kathy and thank you for the visit. I am glad you enjoyed your break. My Winter looks a bit like Spring for the past few days but January, February and even March are still around the corner ! Savouring my books a lot 🙂

  18. Dear Isa,
    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog…coming back, what a lovely post…a benediction…

    Well, yes i guess it is true wat u wrote in my blog. In fact these days I do enjoy my company, when im alone…lot of UFO’s, DIY’s, reading, cooking….life’s not that bad when one’s alone after all…btw, doing nothing is very hard to do 🙂

    • You are welcome, Rukmini, nice to share thoughts with you over the continents. I am happy you enjoy the time just for you now and then. And I agree, doing nothing is difficult to learn… Have a pleasant week 🙂

  19. shoreacres said

    I have been following your blog quietly, but your mention here of the Rothko Chapel and the Menils brought lovely memories. I live south of Houston now, but at one time was inside the Loop and often spend my lunch hour in the Rothko gardens.

    There are two photos on my current post of another hidden Houston gem – the Italianate chapel at the Villa de Matel, Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity. It’s a venue for marvelous concerts from time to time. Even people who were raised in Houston often don’t know about it, which is a shame.

    Your holiday season obviously was lovely. May your New Year be so, also.

    • How nice to see you here, Linda. I just visited your beautiful post about the Italianate Chapel at the Villa de Matel in Houston. A real pleasure to read you, thank you. My visit to the Rothko Chapel was a memorable moment during one of my stays in Houston. A haven of peace and spirituality.
      I can well imagine how you enjoyed spending some time during the day in the Rothko gardens. Thank you for your visit 🙂

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