I took the last couple weeks off work; a much needed break from a role that can be quite intense at times. I love my work, but some days, most days actually, it feels like I just sit down in the morning, plunge in, and when I finally come up for air another day has sped by. Gone forever.

Home offices are lovely, but there are no water cooler conversations or coffee moments with co-workers to break up the day. So I am grateful for the barnyard crew who leave me no choice but to head outside around noon to hand out lunch and free / pen various groups. My barnyard obligations force me to break entirely, for a good ten minutes, from my screens and documents and email and meetings.


In my late fifties now and aspiring to some form of “semi-retirement”, part way through 2019 I started booking Wednesdays off. So far it’s been great but doesn’t always work. Although my amazing team works hard to deflect, and my calendar is blocked from all-but-urgent meetings, I often end up with an hour or two’s work to do anyway. Priorities. Obligations. Self-imposed, of course.

This year though, I’m starting things off right, with no work and all play, which for me translates to getting a bunch of personal projects done. I am my father’s daughter, and have inherited his “industrious” gene. Yesterday, while organizing my office closet, I rediscovered a bundle of silk embroidery thread packets that I had gotten sometime last year at the thrift store. Two bundles actually, one all creamy shades of white and the other a riot of intense jewel tones, picked up because I saw the word ‘silk’, brought home and tucked away in anticipation of magical stitchery projects to come, some day when time would permit.


A little tattered at the ends from being stored who-knows-where for many, many years, but still hanging in there, the paper skein holders date from 1894 to 1903. And when I unfold and carefully press one open, the silk inside is pristine, shiny, vibrant.

They “cost no more than Poor Silks – so why not use them?” asserts one of the ads, offers and instructions filling every corner of the considerable real estate on the forty inch long papers. Why not indeed? I bet the copywriter who penned those words had little idea that in the year 2020, a future customer would read them and reflect “yes, quality and here’s proof, 125 years and still going strong.”

Who bought them, I wonder? Based on the available information, it would have been a contemporary of my great or even great great grandmother’s. Someone who dressed in full length gowns with leg-o-mutton sleeves, at least until the turn of the century.


This embroidery silk has far outlived not only its purchaser’s priorities and obligations, but her as well! 

This is a good reminder; time pauses for no one. I am back to work tomorrow, with all its myriad joys and frustrations. I shall take care to ensure I stay true to my priorities, as I carefully delegate away my obligations and thereby gain the time to embroider my retirement projects with vintage silk thread.

And make up for the sobriety of my youth, with, say for example, this lovely purple.