My husband's funny. He's also thoughtful and patient and a good cook, but it's the funny that I love most. Like this morning he was in the mud room (east coast reference) and I was asking J "who's in there? Is dada in there?" and I hear this old-lady voice say "ho hum, nobody in here but us chickens. bwok bwok!" Maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, he hit the big 4-0 this year. I kind of got out of the thoughtful, milestone-gift thing because I'd given him a DAUGHTER just three weeks prior, but this summer I wanted to re-visit the birthday and give him something more, well maybe not more, but something else (I trotted the "I gave you a daughter" thing out again for Valentine's day so it was starting to get a little played).
I wanted something that was more specific to him and his life than a quilt, so I decided to do a little embroidery/applique, wall-hanging thing. I started with the idea of sailing - he's sailed since he was young, mostly with his dad (I lasted all of one afternoon on the water, but he admitted after the fact that I was right, we HAD almost capsized and I haven't been back). Sailing went with the idea that life/love/happiness is a journey and not a destination, which I like, in spite of Oprah. (We kind of miss her though, don't we?)
I started with the sails. They represent the places he lived that made him who he is. The size of each sail corresponds to how long he lived there. Pink/orange represents the Caribbean where he grew up, purple for his alma mater, and green for New England where he has been ever since.
Boat: The boat I named after J, and made yellow, because, and try not to puke here, we sometimes refer to her as "all that is goodness and light." I figure she'll take him on lots of adventures in this lifetime and it's his job to steer her toward safe waters.
Anchor: The anchor is a J for Julie, I'll keep him steady if he needs it.
Cat: The cat who sails with him sports four long whiskers; one for each cat he has adopted and loved. For the record the first two lived a combined total of 22 years and the other two are still alive, so it's not as bad as it sounds.
Fleur de lis: The little flag on top is a fleur de lis, because I married an eagle scout, and he is nothing if not prepared.
Birdies: The birds who fly with him are Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. They sound like seagulls to me, but he thinks they are songbirds. They make up his favorite band of all time, Sleater Kinney. There was a period of mourning when SK broke up, and when he comes home from Wild Flag concerts these days it's like he's just come home from a holiday visit with a divorced parent. I try not to pick at the scab. And frankly I'm a little more appreciative now that I've gotten into Portlandia (featuring Carrie? Right?), an awesome show that you shouldn't miss.
I knew I wanted to put a quote on there, but was getting really frustrated with googling adventure, journey, sailboat, etc. I finally found this one by Louisa May Alcott, and promptly butchered it with short choppy stitches where I should've gone long, but hey - I am not afraid of thick floss for I am learning to wield my embroidery needle, or whatever.
I wasn't sure about this quote initially, because I don't feel like it's very reflective of our relationship and I didn't want it to sound too negative or like we've really had to OVERCOME something when that doesn't feel true. But in the end I think it's a great approach to life in general, and maybe one that both he and I shy away from sometimes when it comes to big life decisions.
The inside-joke (like between me and me) of this thing that cracks me up whenever I look at it now, is how wrinkly it's gotten (it was perfectly smooth when I framed it). Background: I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets. I can't even start my Christmas shopping until December because I just give the gifts as soon as I get them. Every time a preview comes on for Life of Pi I ask everyone whether they'd like to know the secret twist at the end because I read the book. In fact just last week I snuck off to pick up a quilt from the longarmer that I was going to bind as a surprise for Christmas and as soon as I walked in the door I shouted "I can't stand it" and whipped the quilt out of the bag to show it off. So anyway, I did a lot of internet asking to find out how you frame something like this, and the general consensus is that you sew each set of opposite sides of the picture together in back. Well, who has the patience for that when the intended recipient is IN THE NEXT ROOM? So I just taped it with blue electrical tape and called it a day. The tape doesn't seem to be holding up so well, but hey. I'm just learning to sail this ship, ok?