More Memories

Are you ready?
Where are we going?
You”ll see.
Actually we were going out to lunch, a common quest at any noon time. The real question was what restaurant? We have about four favorites so the choice was limited to one we hadn’t been to last time.
As we are driving (I am at the wheel) Sea looks at the various houses along the route. I think he is looking for a future home for Katie to move to as she wants to be near to her grand kids… twin girls. It reminded me of a time many years ago when Sea was driving and I was asking the question.
I was pregnant with number four, who if you read old blogs calls herself number five. The other three were almost five, four, and and two years old. We were living in a three bed room house in Alexandria, Va. and the new baby was due in a few months.
Where are we going?
You’ll see.
The route was very close to where we lived and the road we turned into was a dead end circle with  seven or eight houses under construction. There was an agent available. I could see the signs. We pulled into the unfinished driveway of the only house with a tree.
“That one,” says Sea, and we all piled out of our VW bus and walked to the front door and into the house. It was nearly finished. We could move in, in about a month. Some of the others were still under construction. We looked over the split level four bed room house. It had a dish washer! It had a finished basement for a play room. It had a dish washer!. It was all new… with a dish washer.
The agent gave us the time line. We could move in about a month before baby four was due… on Christmas day. We took it and went home and started packing and getting ready for the move. Baby four came a week early and grandparents didn’t feel they could handle the rest of the crew so Sea took baby leave and stayed home with the three in the new house, organizing etc. (and began to understand my glee at having a dish washer.)
Sea and the crew came to take me home from the hospital right before Christmas. It was Bill (4)who asked the best question about fat Momie, now somewhat slimmer and holding this wee thing in her arms.
“Momie, do you have a zipper?”
And I went home to my brand new house and a dish washer. Hoooooray!  and one more member of the crew.

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table runners

IMG_2124My new project:

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What do you do with an idea?

I had an idea…. late Saturday night I had an idea.
I had bought some fabric with tiny birds on it. I wanted to make a table runner for Sia.
I found some green fabric already stacked to make simple octagons.
I have been staring at a particular quilt pattern in a magazine for months, trying to figure out how to make it.
BINGO… Idea blossomed.
Then I had lunch with Amelia after a trip to the book store. She bought a book called “What do you do with an idea?” by Kobi Yamada
She wrote my slice for me…an idea, the stuff, the design…. and I am off and running with a slight break for lunch. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


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of rules and rewards

We were talking about quilt rules one day with my Otterbees…. how to miter a binding, or a border. I listened and when asked how I did it, I just told them…. “my way”. I chuckled when I found an article about “rules” in an Australian magazine. They listed rules that are now all broken…bindings, perfect points, coordinated colors, hand quilted….the list goes on. In the 40 plus years since I have been making quilts everything has changed. But if you attend a quilt show, or meander through a quilt magazine, you will see some fantastic art.

Thirty years ago, when I lived in Florida, I joined a quilt guild for the first time. I had made quilts for my kids beds but never took a class or learned the “proper” way to sew, quilt and bind a quilt. I used my tiny Singer featherweight machine to stitch the pieces and quilt the tops.I made quilts to put on the kids beds for a reason. A very large quilt, that goes from floor to floor on both sides of the bed and foot to top over the pillow makes making the bed easy. Just pull it up and no one knows if the bed is properly made, the sheets tucked in, or, in fact, if there is anything hidden under the bed, like yesterday’s clothes or old toys.
I entered three quilts in the quilt show in Florida, machine sewn and machine quilted. They were hung in the show but the committee that awarded prizes was not sure what to do with a machine quilted quilt. So they made a new category. I was awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for my three quilts in their own category… and the only three in the show. My husband calls them attendance prizes.
Today it is a whole new story…. machine sewn, machine quilted, crazy array of fabrics, strange shapes- Quilting is in a whole new era. I don’t enter quilt shows today. I have another venue for my quilts.
I have had some hung in a local church. I have a few that have made it to a day care center. I gave some to a local hospital for their long halls and to a children’s hospital for the kids who have come in for long term care. I have seen them in local libraries.My daughter has some she hangs in her preschool class room. Of course my kids and grand kids all have quilts.
I was rewarded this week in a new way . A local children’s rehab office moved to a new location. I had made a few quilts for their bare walls and was curious if the quilts made it to the new location. I had to go and see and was rewarded hugely. My Eric Carle Brown Bear and The Hungry Caterpillar quilts were hung on the walls. In fact as I was given a tour of the rooms prepared for children’s rehab and play, colorfully decorated with bright colors and equipment, I saw one of my quilts on every wall, even one hung backwards as the design was faded but the bright fish fabric on the back was perfect . I was thrilled and am currently making a new fish quilt for their wall and another for a wall they missed.
This is my reward -award-for doing something I love to do, making quilts my way for people to see and enjoy, but not to pick at and ponder how they were stitched or bound.

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Sunday 1950

Sunday 1950.
I would wake up with one thing on my mind. I had to write something for English class. It was the standard weekend homework assignment. I don’t recall if there was a topic given occasionally. I just recall “write something”. We were given two grades. The top grade was for content, the bottom for those nit-picky things english teachers worry about: spelling, grammar, paragraphs etc. I remember this because I recently came across one of my weekend themes.
It was written one Sunday afternoon about sitting in my room, pencil in hand and trying to think what I would write about. I turned down an invitation for tea with my mother. I did nothing, according to my writing but write about doing nothing and somehow the afternoon turned into dinner time. I put a period at the end and turned it in Monday morning. The top grade was an A. The bottom grade wasn’t but then it never was. No one is perfect.
In those days I didn’t have TV, or an i-phone. I didn’t text … go to the movies…. have a date….not even a typewriter to write with, just a pencil, though I might have had to rewrite it in ink.
What is it kids do today on Sunday afternoons? It was a different world back then. How boring it would be for a teen today, but I don’t recall being bored, just annoyed that I had to ruin a weekend writing something. Needless to say writing it on Friday never entered my mind. Never do it ahead of time was my mantra….
Sunday 2015…. homework… write something for Tuesday. We live on a lake. This past month the fog has come in so we can only see the docks of the people on either side of us, the tall trees on either side of our dock, an occasional parade of ducks. The houses on the hills across are gone. Shangri-La created every morning. It is quiet, but then I have not put on my hearing aids yet so, of course it is quiet. Sometimes I can hear an eagle screeching at its mate on the trees near by.
Is this any different from 1950…. Now I have a life time of memories to write about. Many I have covered already. I will think of an event… oops already wrote that. You would think after all these years there would be more stories but today it is the fog, the quietness that
seems to be on my mind , like that Sunday 65 years ago when I sat and stared out the window and watched the afternoon fade away.
(see Nov. 1, 2011 —

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you never know what information is going to be useful when you grow up

I remember sitting in a small office near the gym having to read  texts and answer questions about what I read while my classmates were in the gym having fun.
I remember French class which I entered a year after the rest of the class had started French, trying to keep up with Lisa, whose family spoke French and German at home so it was just recall for her.
I remember sitting in a math/physics classes staring out the window when Carol starting asking questions which confused me. I understood the first time.
I remember a geometry class where we had to memorize the theorems word for word. I moved mid year to another school where memorizing was not the teachers plan. I aced geometry when that was taken out of the process.
I remember the SATs and questions about shapes when lying flat, what would they look like put together? They didn’t teach that in my school but I loved trying to figure that out.
I remember a college art class mixing paints to get a certain color.
Now… I reread if I don’t understand. I use what little French and Latin I know in crossword puzzles. I love to look at quilt pictures and try and figure out how they are made using graph paper, rulers and pencil to recreate the design to my desired size. I toss around fabrics to get the right color.
Is this what everyone is like? Of course not. I have no idea what Lisa and Carol do today, or the other classmates who were better at one thing and not at another. Even my kids are all different, a writer, glass work and physical therapist, artist and boat lover, computer and math, swimming teacher…. and the next generation, who knows. It seems like education is trying to put everyone in a mold. oh well, I don’t  teach any more. It is fun to see where the genes appear in the next generations- art, writing, academics, sports, music… the list is endless. Just foster it, encourage it, don’t stomp on it.

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Kids – the 5th one

Number five is visiting with her husband this week. She is not my fifth child, she is the fourth, but when she found out that Bill (#2) occupied two numbers on my telephone (business and home), she found out she was relegated to number five. So when she calls from California, where she lives, she begins with “Hi. this is number five.” and I respond with “Hi five.” and from there we learn what she is up to and she listens to the not so exciting news about us.
She graduated from college as a math and computer science major and found a job in Ca. At some point she left that and now does gorgeous marquetry woodworking and teaches swimming locally to college kids, adults and at one point preschoolers. She had to get advice from her preschool teaching older sister to learn how to deal with wiggly preschoolers but managed that too. She has no kids of her own but invites the various nieces and nephews to visit her when they are old enough, greeting them with such suggestions as… “We have to go to the grocery store. What junk foods won’t your mom let you get and we will splurge.” They visit all the local attractions in southern CA including playing volley ball at night.
She came this week to see the new twins for the first time and I am sure she will find some way for them to visit…. a long time from now.
She arranged a visit with her brother to check up on those two not so little girls and arranged a visit with Amelia’s two kids, grown and on their own. We just provide bed , and a car.
Meanwhile I sit here and marvel at how helpful they are – in between visits to see the various bird watching sites in the area. They are new “bird brains” so it is all new and different. Me… someone says “See that bird over there. The one on the third branch down…. (several more directions and then… “oops, it just flew away.” I’ll wait for the kids pictures which are spectacular, and don’t fly away.

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Some days my “forgettery” seems to work over time. I lose a name, or get up to look for something, and have to sit back down and start again. Well, I have been doing that for ages. That’s not new.
Yesterday a friend brought an album she had made of a house they purchased  that needed a lot of work to make it livable. They moved in when heat and water were available and started working. The pictures of all the work they did is amazing. As she said, if they had known how much there was to do….. what — might not have started? might have given up? Who knows. The album is a wonderful memory of the work they did do and the pride they have in their accomplishment.
This reminded me of two albums Katie made for me at the time of our 50th wedding anniversary. I brought them out to share as well. I hadn’t looked at them in the 9 years since.
Katie made one album of me and my sister from babyhood til I was married. Oh my! My friends told me they would not have recognized me. Some people change a lot as they age. I guess I did.
Included among the artfully arranged pictures was my writing. I recall sending Katie stories I had written about my life and she put them in there, not always with pictures of the event, or near, but only I would know that.
What memories the pictures and stories brought back. My writing,…. me. I was overwhelmed. Memories and stories. How wonderful.
The second album was of me from married life to the 50th reunion… of kids arriving and growing up, of places we traveled to. She left blank spaces for me to write in. I didn’t and now must get my brain to work again to fill in the blank spaces in the album and in my brain. What a great project as we approach our 60th reunion at the end of this year.
Got to get that “forgettery” to stop working and remember wonderful years of kids and work and travel.

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We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Three of our clan were missing, but we added two very tiny ones to the family gathering. Katie took off a month of work to come and help Alex and Jo through the first few weeks of giving birth to twin girls. Kaylee and Zoey were certainly the center of attention on Thanksgiving day. The two not so little girls arrived the day before and while Mom made the pecan pie, the girls and I watched a million ads between the parade events in NY on TV. But when someone said “The twins are here” they raced upstairs to hold and cuddle and observe two very tiny little beings.
I did manage the turkey, cranberry sauce and squash and the family provided the rest. How many Thanksgiving feasts had the men in the kitchen, making the gravy and stuffing, the veggies and cutting the turkey., then overseeing the array of dishes as the family gathered to fill their plates for the meal.
I was amazed when everyone was seated and seemed to wait for all to be ready. What was I supposed to say…
“One, two, three, go” seemed to be the words that came out of my mouth and everyone dug in and the room became quiet. Did we need to say “thanks’. It was obvious that everyone was thankful to be there, seeing family and enjoying life. What more could I say.
The rest of the day was so full of conversations I could not keep up with it all. Who was where and doing what. Everyone got to hold the babies, except me. I sat and watched them grin and stretch and sneeze. That was enough for me, while others were cleaning up in the kitchen , and feeding or holding or changing babies.
Happy Thanksgiving… what more can I say.FullSizeRender

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Field trips

What was my schooling like compared to  today? I don’t remember a whole lot about elementary school: a teacher who made me move to the front row because I was the postal station for the boys on all sides of me and got caught passing their notes –  an assembly where we marched in to a huge theater like place to music and then marched out – or about when I moved to a Quaker school and recall Quaker meetings where there was no music. We did perform Die Meistersingers rewritten for grade 6 by the music teacher.

Today we went out to lunch and passed a middle school where a group of students were working on a garden with a covered structure for growing things. We saw a parade of kids walking down the street… they could have been headed to a museum. I doubt they were out for a lunch time stroll. We saw another group of kids returning from a boat trip out in the bay. Wonderful!
I taught with a teacher who would take his class on field trips just before vacation times. I thought he was nuts until he told me why. The kids are crazy waiting for vacation, why not get them out and doing something they will like. I followed his example after that when I could.
He took them to the grocery store and I did that as well, walking across the street and exploring the aisles with a list of treasures to discover, and, of course, the bakery where they were all given a cookie.
Over the years I recall a trip across the school yard where we counted dandilions and put them in piles of ten. In Florida we went to a museum where we had to rush the 3rd grade boys through a certain art exhibit which was hardly the kind of art we had planned to see. I took a first grade trip to a museum where the docent asked the class what the local Indians used for a tooth brush and the entire class chimed in “camel’s hair tooth brushes”. They had listened well to the Bible stories they heard at chapel once a week where Noah and Abraham and others woke up every morning, put on their Reeboks and brushed their teeth with camels hair tooth brushes before going about their task of the day
Why do I think of this today… because the trips out of school, the occasions that were not the routine, those are what I remember, and I suspect that is what the kids remember as well. Keep those field trips going, even across the street or around the corner. The kids will remember

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