It’s a whole new baby year and I’m just beginning to emerge from my post holiday season recovery period. After the last show was broken down and packed away into the barn, I nestled in to a short but much needed period of reflection. My tendonitis needed me to pursue activities outside my normal routine, too. As a result, the web site got an extreme makeover and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve added a new domain, as well— JessWrobel.com . I know this probably seems like no big deal to you and that it probably even makes more sense, but for me this is huge. This is me shedding off some of my anonymity and stepping out from something I’d been hiding behind. My business name has long been Jwrobel. The reason? Back when I got my very first apartment and my very own phone (this would be a land line) it was considered safer to use a gender neutral initial for your first name rather than advertise that you might be a single woman living alone in the phonebook–remember those?? Have the times changed? Gender equality and sexual harassment are certainly being talked about more than I recall in my lifetime, but it is too soon to say if this national conversation will be enduring or where it will take us. I’m encouraged and for now I’ll welcome my own little bit of personal growth. I’m Jess Wrobel, and I make things.
For all the time I spend making things, very little ever gets made (or mended) for me. I may sew for a living, but my wardrobe is riddled with holes, frayed cuffs, and is frequently held together with safety pins. In what was quite a departure for me, as well as an excercise in discipline, I decided to both knit down my stash and be the beneficiary of the enterprise.
My sweater is off the needles, though yet to be blocked— and it needs it. It is something of a bastardization of the beautiful Hiro pattern. I used inappropriate yarn, lengthened the cuffs and added thumb holes, widened the collar, eliminated any waist shaping. I still plan on adding pockets, but I haven’t decided where or what style yet. I made it ridiculously large to wear cross country skiing over leggings finished just in time for — ummm— spring.
Yes. Spring has finally graced our little corner of the world. It seems overnight we’ve gone from snowblowers and parkas to throwing all the windows open and ferrying ladybugs out to safety. Thick winter boots have been traded in for muck lucks to traverse wide swathes of mud. And who could stay holed up in the studio when the landscape is finally inviting you to be part of it again. Certainly not me and my ever faithful crew. The front stoop become the official hookery of the day.
The next Bee in the Barn at Todd Farm will be a very special gathering. Sewing bees have a long history of community gatherings for a common cause and in that spirit our next bee on March 19th will also serve as a collection site for handcrafting materials, tools, and supplies to donate to Syrian refugees.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel
And let’s not forget the animals, our planet, our communities.
Scrolling through my drafts, I found this piece from over a year ago that never got published. I’m not sure why. But for some reason reading it today gave me great comfort. My now dearly departed Zoey lived six months past the writing of this, surprising us all with determination to live on and love well past her expiration date.
The New Year is always a time of taking stock, regrouping, making plans. This year is more poignant than most. We have numerous life transitions going on, but the most important may be that our 16 year old dog is phasing out. She came to us as a 13 yr old whom we thought we’d have a couple of months, at best. Almost three years later, she is our shadow, our hipbone, our much loved and constant companion. And now she is dying.
We first realized how her ailments were outpacing her in early November. We didn’t expect to have her for Thanksgiving. Her appetite waned (usually the kiss of death for a lab!). She slept longer and deeper. We were preparing ourselves.
I thought we’d be burying Zoey at Christmas, then again after she got to see her favorite people, then New Year’s. She eats sporadically. I’d do anything to help her, but she confuses me. She is skinny as sin, refuses to take any of her medications, but she is the first dog to meet me at the door with wagging tail, loves to go for her walk (aka put-put), can’t wait for a car ride, dozes peacefully touching one of us—tucked on top of my foot, curled into the the crux of Dave’s arm. We swaddle her in love and sweaters. Gauging her happiness and comfort is a minute by minute task. We wish she could talk to us.
Our life is moving in big, bold new directions. It saddens us that Zoey won’t be on that journey with us. But what she has brought to our lives, and (we hope) we have brought to hers, is an immeasurable gift. In the meantime, we are gathering the strength to help Zoey with the best path for her final days, stunned with the knowledge that her only goal seems to be to let us know how much she loves us.
It’s a bitter day out there. The wind is whipping. The sun is even intermittently hiding. My dogs steadfastly refuse to go outside and are equally unanimous in that the beautiful color coordinated tartan fleece jackets I got them make them all look like dorks. Stogie seems to lose his ability to move in his and starts to moan. Shmoo hides and hangs her head in shame. The girls are blind, so don’t experience quite the same level of mortification, but the point is made. I’m supposed to be hooking and writing out a new knitting pattern, but I’d rather be baking, and I really want to see high tide. I forced us all out of our comfort zones — they into their plaid, me into my oompa-loompa coat that I can’t move my arms in, and marched us into the cold.