Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Farewell My Father

 
By now I am sure that many of you will have heard that in the early hours of Saturday morning, my mum lost her best friend, my sister and I lost an amazing dad and my daughters lost a loving and doting grandpa (or Gong Gong, as they called him in Chinese).  My beloved dad, about whom I posted only a few short weeks ago, unexpectedly lost his battle with cancer, dying peacefully in his sleep at home.

While the grief is still raw and sometimes almost incapacitating for me, I wanted to put down my thoughts about my dad as a tribute to him because I know that I will not have the courage to share about how much he means to me at his thanksgiving service on Friday and cry in front of what I expect to be a large crowd of people.  I can, however, handle crying over the laptop while I type these words from my heart.

I have always believed my dad to be a godly, humble and amazing man, but it is only now, after his passing, that I truly see how much he impacted everyone around him as my family and I receive outpourings of love, condolences and good memories about dad from the many people who loved him as a friend, colleague and/or mentor.  So many of dad's friends, fellow church members and colleagues have sent us such beautiful letters telling of how much he meant to them and made the effort to befriend and encourage them.  I want to thank each of them for sharing with me just how much you will also miss my dad.

From a daughter's perspective, my first impressions of my dad were of how much he loved my mum and made the effort to take care of her and us kids.  Every evening my dad would call mum from work to say that he was headed home for the day and that he would see her soon.  And when he arrived home, one of the first things he would do would be to head to mum and give her a peck on the lips.  There were other things he did to show his love for mum too, but you cannot underestimate how much of an impact his little signs of love and his way of living had on me as an impressionable child!

As I grew older and got to know my dad more as a person rather than just as my "dad", I swore that I would not marry a man like him because he was just such a complete dag who had no style and was a little old-fashioned and geeky.  Shallow, I know, but that is how my teenage mind worked!  But when I married my best friend, Malcolm, I realised with a bit of shock that I had done the very thing that I had sworn not to do, I had married a man who was a lot like my dad.  Like my dad, my beloved husband is a bit of a dag and a lot of a geek.  But, the important personal characteristics I saw in my dad - humility, intelligence, compassion and caring for others, love, faithfulness, kindness and most importantly a strong faith in God and understanding of his word, the Bible - have stuck with me and influenced my choice of life partner.

Another strong memory I have of my dad is of his wicked, and very dry, sense of humour and the constant "dad jokes" and comments that my sister and I endured.  He had a way of delivering comments that would have people, including, sometimes, those of us who knew him well, staring at him in confusion as they tried to work out if he was joking or being completely serious.  I was an accident-prone child (and am now an accident-prone adult) and often asked for bandaids (because they cure all childhood hurts!) but my dad, being ever practical, would examine my wounds and refuse to give me a bandaid unless it was a gaping wound gushing copious amounts of blood.  If I whinged non-stop about a stubbed toe or banged funny bone (which I did quite frequently), dad would say, "Well, just chop it off and then it won't hurt any more, will it?"  As a parent, I now see the wisdom in his bandaid judgements and the humour behind his "just chop it off" comments, but it was hugely irritating at the time!

Once my sister and I became teenagers and insisted on buying our own clothes and accessories (with mum and dad's money, of course!), dad unleashed his wit on our choice of clothes and shoes.  Clothes he deemed to be too skimpy were always greeted with, "Did that shrink in the wash?!" and I remember returning from a shopping expedition with a mildly expensive pair of sandals and having dad exclaim something along the lines of "You paid WHAT for a dried out strip of leather?!"

But in spite of all his comments, my dad always happily provided for us, paying for music lessons, expensive musical instruments, school excursions and sports equipment and uniforms.  He was often frugally-minded, but he was only frugal with himself.  While he owned clothes which were almost as old as I was, he was always generous with his family and friends.  He was generous with not just his material wealth, but also with his time, always showing interest in people's lives and goings on.  One example of this was his little notebook in which he wrote down all the funny stories mum told him about  my two "monkeys" whenever she babysat or came to visit us while he was at work.  Another example were the many emails he sent to me full of links to interesting scientific papers, articles on child raising, photos he'd taken of the kids, etc, etc.  He used to send me so many emails, which I did not always read, that I joked about dad being my own personal email spammer.  And now I realise with sadness that this is something I will no longer have and will miss.

The way my dad led his life in the last six months leading up to his death has also been an example to me and, I hope, to many others too.  There has been much recent debate about "dying with dignity" and "the right to choose", but I want to show you an example of both true living and true dying with dignity and integrity. From the time he first felt his symptoms of illness and had uneasy thoughts that it might be cancer, to his diagnosis and through every stage of his treatment, he never ceased praying to God asking for comfort, strength and healing.  He also never stopped communicating with his friends and family and enquiring after others, even though the pain he suffered made it hard for him to sit at the computer.  I have to admit that if I had been in dad's shoes, I would probably have given in to despair and spent my time moping or ranting, but he continued to send encouraging emails, letters and helpful web links on Facebook to everyone right up until the night he died.

He also spent the last few months of his life completing his tax return and trying to sort out important paperwork so that mum would not have to carry that burden.  In his unassuming way, he prepared for the eventuality of his passing, but he never sought to hasten it, choosing instead to keep trusting God and to keep living his life to the best of his ability.  And so I truly believe that my dad could say, in the words of Paul:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Creative Space - Doilies and Flowers

My apologies for my relative silence in blog land of late.  I am really struggling to balance being a mum (the winter months are so painful due to the heavier clothes I need to wash and dry and not being able to let the kids play outdoors), running my online stores and crafting!  Anyway, with cheeky monkey number two's birthday coming up in a month's time, I have been doing a little birthday crafting this past week.  Of course, there are flowers involved as well as my button stash.  And the vintage doilies under the flowers are feeling a little forlorn as they wait for me to turn them into buntings and scarves for Domum Vindemia which is now open on both Etsy and Madeit.     :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Creative Collective Snail Mail Swap

As many of you know by now, I am enjoying taking part in monthly projects inspired by the Creative Collective monthly themes.  The project for June is a snail mail swap, which was designed to provide something fun in your recipient's letterbox rather than the usual slew of bills and junk mail trying to convince you to buy the latest DVD, vacuum cleaner, etc.  Being a "snail mail" swap, I immediately got thinking about paper craft and vintage books (I know, I need to get out more, LOL).  Sooooo...here is a sneak peek of some of the items my three swap recipients will soon find in their letterboxes.  I know I've photographed the items in their entirety, but it's a sneak peek because I threw in a couple of extra little goodies into my package too.    :)


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My Crochet Lace Belt

I am sure that by now most of you will know that I just looooove vintage lace, especially vintage crochet lace.  I love crochet lace so much that, not only have I used it in some of my fabric cuff designs, but when I saw a funky lace belt tutorial on the Versus blog, I decided that I had to give it a try!  It was a nice, quick project to whip up and the only thing that held me back from completing it straight away was my complete lack of useable belt buckles in the house (I say "useable" because we have plenty of belt buckles already attached to people's belts but I didn't think my family would approve of me plundering their belts so that I could complete mine).  In the end, I found a retro-looking belt buckle at the op shop, though I think I will stick to using D-rings the next time I make one of these belts.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Fabulous Friday Find - A Sewing "Periodic Table"!

Okay, this week I have another geek meets craft find I just had to share with you! Carla, of the Scientific Seamstress blog, has put together the funkiest version of the periodic table of elements - a periodic table of sewing elements!!!  This brings back memories of high school chemistry classes where I struggled to learn the periodic table off by heart (I think I had it remembered all the way to krypton [Kr]), ha ha ha.  For those of you who love your "scientific craft", Carla is kindly sharing her periodic table with her blog readers.  Follow the link to her blog and you will find a download for the print version of the table so all you have to do is print it out and then hang it up in your craft room with pride!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my beloved dad's birthday, so as he "celebrates" his birthday in hospital (mum told me that the nurses served him an ice cream ball topped with candles and sang "happy birthday" to him), I thought I would share a little montage of photos taken over the past five or so years before he got sick.  Happy birthday dad (aka Gong Gong - grandpa in Chinese)!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

My "Pride and Prejudice" Range of Jewellery and a Sale

Mr Darcy headband

I was shocked to realise today that although I have been creating my Pride and Prejudice pieces for at least six months now, I have not once blogged about these slightly quirky additions to my stores.  For those of you who aren't already in the know, I started on this side of my jewellery making when I found an ancient and battered copy of Pride and Prejudice at a local fundraising bookstall.  Knowing that many people (including many of my friends and family) love this Jane Austen classic, I decided to set snippets of the vintage pages into cameo settings and turn them into jewellery.


Elizabeth Bennet brooch

My Pride and Prejudice range originally started out with brooches and bouquet pins but has since expanded to include necklaces, bracelets, rings and hair accessories.  The response to these creations has been so positive that I am preparing to expand my range of vintage text jewellery to include snippets of text from classics such as Jane Eyre and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as well as other Jane Austen novels.  But in the mean time, I am having a quick Facebook sale on my current range of Pride and Prejudice creations which you can find here.  You'll have to be quick so you don't miss out on your favourite piece!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Fabulous Friday Find

This post is for all of you life science and/or knitting afficionados (I sort of count myself in the former group) out there!  While surfing the web the other day I found this AMAZING knitted skeleton artwork by Ben Cuevas.  It is part of a special mixed media piece he created for an exhibition in New York and I am just blown away.  I mean, how does one even come up with a knitting pattern for the various bones in the human body?!?!  You can find more pictures and the full details about this fantastic knitted skeleton on Ben Cuevas' blog.

image knitted skeleton art ben cuevas

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Sweet Pair of Mushrooms

craft book Felties by Nelly Pailloux

While I was shopping for the felt to make my felt flower wreath (see my last post) the other week, I came across this cute little book at one of my local craft stores.  This book,  Felties by Nelly Pailloux, is full of sweet little felt creatures which can be put together using your felt scraps, fabric glue and a little hand sewing.  Needless to say, the two cheeky monkeys were very taken by this new addition to my craft book collection and immediately started pointing out the projects they wished me to make for them.

felt softie plushie mushroom toadstool girl toy

We all thought the "mushroom girl" pattern was really cute so the rummaging through my felt stash began!  Those of you who already own this book will probably notice that I haven't followed the pattern to the letter.  My girls seem to have inherited my inability to follow patterns exactly and both decided that they wanted to choose their own colour combination rather than follow the one in the book.  I also discovered that I have absolutely no sequins in my craft stash (how remiss of me) so I had to raid my bead stash for some beads to make the little flowers on the mushroom girls' stems.
These little toys were fun to make, although the small size of the project and the fact that it is all done by hand did result in a lot of moaning and grumbling on my part when I stabbed myself in the finger or dropped whichever part I was working on at the time.  That being said, the advantage of this teeny project (the finished girls are about 8cm tall) is that I carried it around with me in a little pouch and pulled it out while I was waiting at school/kindergarten pick ups and at swimming lessons.  Once the memory of my needle-stabbed fingers fades, I will decide which "feltie" to try next.  I think several of the designs could be adapted into brooches for adding to birthday cards or using as present toppers.
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