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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Almost out of our hands

Blocks laid out on the floor yesterday


Pressing seams


Pinning


More pinning


Sewing


Finished top


Backing


Cutting, pinning, ironing, sewing. That's all it takes. This will go to Jan this week, for quilting on Friday. 

I sewed all the long rows to their lavender headers and footers. Laura pinned and sewed all the rest. I ironed a lot, and that's really tiring. Last picture is Kay, folding the fabric that will be the back of the quilt.

So, who sees the one block that is a sewing mistake in the first picture. I saw it as soon as I looked at the picture, and went to tell Laura. But, she had already spotted and fixed it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lucky


Invariably I’ve found myself on the right side of lucky. It’s what happens when you expect the best and deal with the worst. This is a light hearted post, but I want to say one more time, a resounding YES to the women of Alabama.

We all have been making and using luck for close to a year now.

Luck can’t be used up, only used. I love the stuff.

I’m descending here, as in a balloon. From the big concept of luck to little bits that can be pieced together. How lucky I have nothing much to do and all day to do it. Have a granddaughter who began at age seven to piece quilts, knows how to match points and iron seams. How lucky for our friend who is a charming scatterbrain that she mentioned in the nick of time she wanted to make a quilt for her mother for Christmas.

The best luck of this quilt is that Kay can sit on Christmas day, as the household bustles around her, and chat with her mother and sew down the quilt binding.

I stopped to write this, waiting for Kay and her boys to come work on the quilt. Laura is leaving for a day with her mother, and maybe siblings, so the little house will only be close to bursting at the seams. The blocks all are sewn, trimmed, pressed, laid out as they will be sewn together.

After Kay sees the proposed layout, we will stack up and label each row, 1, 2, etc. But, more sewing than already done lies ahead. 


Each block will be separated by a strip, called a sashing, a half to an inch wide. We haven’t decided yet. It will affect the overall size of the quilt, of course. A block will be set at the intersection of the sashings around each block. My sister calls these the cornerstones. It’s part of the process of keeping a quilt square, a solid piece that can be quilted without shifting.

A quilt is a piece of construction, like anything else. Do it right, it’s done forever. It will be admired for generations, and folks will say, “How lucky you are to still have this.”

Actually, I’m really looking forward to watching Kay teach two boys how to use a rotary cutter to make pieces of the quilt for their grandmother. I’ll post more pictures, maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Amused, and actually laughing


Awhile back I swabbed my cheek and sent it off to find out who I am. Well, let me tell you. Forty percent of my genes originated in Kenya. Less than ten percent are Western European. The majority of the rest of my maternal DNA is Eastern European. Latvia, Slovenia. Hungary, Croatia. And on and on. And my mother-in-law thought she married a Bohunk.

This all is my “motherline”. Lacking a Y chromosome, my father’s ancestry cannot be traced. I would need to persuade a male relative to contribute a swab of cheek cells, too.  I am totally out of brothers, and down to three nephews, one of whom might be willing to participate. 

My mother was two percent Irish, half Ulster and half Cork.  My Dad was all Irish. I think. It may be worth asking my nephew to participate, simply to learn where those ancestors migrated from, to Ireland.

And, how about Sweet Home, Alabama. I am so proud of all the African American women and men who sent Doug Jones to the senate to fill Jefferson Davis Sessions’ vacated seat. A lot of groups reclaiming their voice.

I went to breakfast this morning with the friend I first made in the counselor’s offices; the one who got a sweet note from my brother Mel, when they were fifth graders. Most of my friends are like minded, and Linn and I exchanged a happy high five across the table this morning. Mel reveled in politics; Watergate was his specialty.  Were he alive today he probably would be constantly apoplectic. Mel had one daughter; Walt had the three boys.

The quilt we commenced last night apparently is a “meant to be”, too. You know how some things just fall into place. Simple pinwheels though they be, Laura is setting the blocks so nicely that it hurts my heart to quilt this with a sewing machine. My sister quilts professionally, but I know full well her schedule is booked six months in advance.



Laura, sewing blocks last night

I also know things happen, so I called her today and told her about the quilt that deserves professional quilting—before Christmas. I explained Laura’s beautiful sewing (Jan expected no less; Laura was the meticulous student!), and said my plan was to ask Kay to present the quilt top only to her mother and then bring it back from Texas to be quilted, or, was there the teeniest, tiniest possibility Jan had time to squeeze in a not difficult queen sized quilt before Kay and her boys left for Texas.


Finished pile right, a few left to do, left

If we deliver the quilt next week, before Friday, Jan can do it on Friday. We certainly can deliver it in good time. Laura and I fly to Wisconsin that Friday, but Kay can find her way back to Jan’s studio, in plenty of time before she leaves Saturday to drive to Texas.  I do like this sort of present.


Why we cover potential cat futons


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yesterday yields tomorrow, which is today

For the first time in six years, Laura was sent home from school yesterday. I could tell you, for not wearing enough clothes, but that's not the real picture. 


Leftover picture of Laura's cheesecake. 
I bought her a spring form pan several cheese cakes ago.
Brilliant.

The phone rang at 8 a.m., when I am barely considering being up. The kid was sick, and number nine to be sent home, before first bell. When I picked her up, she was wearing those stupid leggins.  Possibly the fleece lined pair, otherwise, they're thin. A summer tee. The plaid blanket she received for her birthday. No coat. Less than twenty degrees out. Apparently delirious when she left, but was reprimanded for thin thinking, nevertheless.

Laura went back to bed until supper time, and so did I. In case I was catching something. After supper, Kay came over and, in her inimitable way, made my day.



She wants to make a quilt for her mother for Christmas. Math equals 25-12=13 days, if she gets up early to wrap it. Or, a day on the plane to Texas. Whatever. She thinks she and Laura can construct and quilt it in two evenings and one weekend. She might as well be a daughter of mine!



Today I started putting together the pinwheels. I'm not strong enough to rotary cut them, but I can sew them this far and then work on the cut pieces. 



It is snowing something fierce, too. I have to get Laura after school to stop at her sponsor's house (academic year abroad) to get her paperwork signed. No, my steps are not shoveled, my car not cleared. I think I'll start at 2 to leave by 2:30. I need to engage a snow shoveler.

12:30. I have ninety minutes to sew some more blocks.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Birthday party survival plan

Laura came up on and turned into her sixteenth year in good order. She wanted a party. 


Our neighbor Cathy recognized my distress, and offered to organize it. Back when my girls were in school, every birthday was celebrated at a restaurant of their choice with friends of their choice.  They thought it was really cool, and you know what this teen-age inept mother thought.


This is what Cathy did. But, wait, it gets better. And, keep an eye on the helium balloons that go missing.


The party. Edibles were East of Chicago pizza, which we highly recommend. It's almost as good as Laura's homemade. And, root beer and cherry coke. And, thank God, water. And, Laura's fab cheese cake. Gone, gone, gone. No pictures.


Some  of the prezzies.


The organizer, and her grateful neighbor. Then we all went to the movies. 


We (the young women) saw Coco in one theater, and the organizer and her grateful neighbor saw The Orient Express in the theater next door.

Orient ended fifteen or so minutes before Coco, and Cathy and I stood in the lobby looking for a current picture of Kenneth Branaugh. Well, Cathy was all over her phone; I was amused. He did come up looking OK, though.

Then, Coco began exiting. First, a hall of adults, moving quickly and looking backward, followed by such howling and wailing. Literally, a sound chamber of banshees. The Coco adults were gone before our six teens arrived, some supporting others. 

Laura, Lexie and Meredith were holding up Anneka, Annie and Kayla, the howlers. That was so SAD, the three wailed in unison. Cathy and I had splitting sides and sore ribs, both from holding it in and losing our composure.

It was dark and it was snowing, and it was time to get back, so three teens with composure and two adults with some composure, herded the three sad-o's to our cars. I had Meredith, Anneka and Annie. Before the door was shut, Anneka swooped up the balloons from the floor. "They're still here," triumphant and recovered.

"How will you get a hole in it?" Annie's little voice. "Just like that!" Alvin's chipmunk voice rejoined. "Oh, My, God," pass it to me. Don't let any out. Three chipmunks travelling home. Grandma (Jo by now) in the front seat, ribs aching, eyes streaming, Bob Dylan, Everybody Must Get Stoned...

Say ON-A-Kuh. It makes the story even better.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Rangers


I was behind a car with an interesting logo that took me a couple of stop signs to make out. It was in honor of, a memorial to a Ranger, dead in the line of duty. I glanced down and saw the license plate announced a Gold Star family. I wished them peace.

There always have been rangers, in the definition as the men ahead, finding the way, forestalling trouble, mediating. I realized that definition when I was eight or nine, and allowed into the “adult” section of our public library. Having no idea how to assimilate all those books, I decided it best to start at A and read them all.

In short order I reached Altscheler and his series on the Ohio and Kentucky frontiers. Astounding to learn Ohio was wooded across, buffalo (bison) were here when the French priests came to proselytize the natives as long ago as the sixteenth century. I devoured every book I could find, and followed the exploits of mostly white men conquering the country. Jim Bridger, a hero, John Fremont not so much. Probably because Fremont was a politician, too.

The flip side of settlement didn’t escape me. I especially followed the history of natives in my state. Ohio has fascinating local history. The Delaware tribe was a loose association of smaller tribes that intermingled freely. One young man fell out with his clan and joined another. He rose to be that clan’s chief, but always was the newcomer, and Ohio has a town named for him, Newcomerstown.

The history of our natives, people too, was heart wrenching. Those of us past middle age know the story of the Trail of Tears or the Battle of Broken Knee, which was the same kind of massacre as the shooting at the Florida night club, but not preserved in history as a terror attack by our government.

I was much longer understanding what the movement of peoples did to the land. The prairie sod had to be broken, a job unlike tilling most anywhere east of the Mississippi. The “breaking plow” broke the farmers who set out to claim the west. That migration was relentless. One of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books dealt specifically with Pa, realizing he’d homesteaded in a reservation portion of Nebraska, and moving the family back to Minnesota.

The damage to the land didn’t occur to me until junior high school, when we learned about contour plowing, to conserve lands from wind and rain. I think that was the aha moment that set me rethinking what I knew. So, plowing caused the dust bowl!

If I had it to do over, my ideal life would be anthropology, archeology, history, ruminating over what I know. Then I had a family to care for, and so I’ve come out the other end, older, probably wiser. I think back on that first book, reading about the fictional ranger, Henry Ware, and his exploits in my part of this country. A simple little book, but it set my pattern of reading all these years.

I wondered how long “Rangers” have been a branch of our army, and looked it up. Wickipedia says the United States Army Rangers were established in 1943 (the year I was born), and are headquartered out of Fort Benning, Georgia, home of my dad’s army career. But, their history predates the Revolutionary War. There is mention of Army Rangers as early as the French and Indian Wars (another fascinating chapter of our history.)

The first name of the young man on the memorial logo was Benjamin. I wish his family peace.



My Uncle, Henry Rolf. One of the few World War II pictures I have. Uncle Hank was Transportation Corps, and moved supplies in convoys, over the mountains. I think he posed this picture for his family, back home. This was in France.

You know, I'm thinking this was still stateside. Those boots are too new.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A surprise look back


A card from my neighbor, Cathy, came in the mail yesterday. It’s our year captured in a picture on the 4th of July. We were invited by my friend to watch Fairlawn’s parade from the comfort of the front yard of her husband’s office. My friend and her husband have suntanned faces because they eschew social media, but the smiles started with Cathy, and went all the way down the line.



The card made me smile, and not because I have more than half a head of hair now. It’s the blazing smile from Laura, on the 4th of July. Six months ago. At her therapist appointment this week Laura mentioned Grandma had been angry with her one time the whole year, and it was because her clothes were all over the floor.

How I laughed. Her clothes have been ankle deep on her bedroom floor since we moved in. I could not care less. I was “angry” that day I could not pull her back from social media. “Oh, Grandma had a flashback,” said Mrs. A. “What’s a flashback?,” from Laura.

I took a big breath and said “Driving an hour to see you in a locked ward. No shoe laces, no belt, and, God forbid, no chap stick.”

“Oh,” said she. “I don’t remember that. Was that the hospital where they gave me Vaseline to use? They were pretty nice there.”

Laura thinks it’s OK her phone lives in my room half of every day, though she also says she’s busy enough now to only use it when she needs it. Knowing she puts it up to go to work and turns it off to go to meetings makes me think the same.

Tonight the birthday girl is in the kitchen with her friend Victoria, making pasta alfredo for supper. Then they will make cheesecake for the birthday party tomorrow. Victoria can’t make the party, so she came along tonight. The two of them can be up most of the night, laughing. That’s what sixteen year olds do.



And, I got a haircut today. My hair is still recovering from being half gone, but it’s getting there. And, that’s another day in our normal life.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

After lunch with Ruth


Monday I took Toby to the vet for booster shots to allow him a week at camp while Laura and I fly to Wisconsin. On tip toe I nudged the carrier down from the top shelf, and landed it on the washer. I found the cat, stashed him, and left the laundry room, to his howls, to finish up to leave. Went back to retrieve the cat, and found him glaring at me from the kitchen floor.


I told him what will happen to his special, and expensive cat carrier. He walked away. Getting him to the vet in half a carrier was no picnic.

Tuesday Laura’s psychologist asked me into the session at the outset, intending to schedule out a dismissal program for Laura. But, we told her about spending a year abroad, commencing in six or seven months, and Mrs. A was as pleased as I am. We worked out everything I should know about a support system wherever she may be. We’ll see Mrs. A monthly, until Laura goes, and all will be well.

Yesterday I saw my lovely rheumatologist, who now has an x-ray of my decrepit shoulder, so she “would know what to do.” After discussion of all the failed options to date, I now have an appointment with a shoulder orthopedic surgeon to discuss his take on arthroscopic removal of one large and many small bone spurs in residence in my shoulder socket.


Today I had lunch with Ruth. Ruth would make a bad week good and a good week over the moon. We had so much catching up, we were in the restaurant almost two hours. It’s a new one for both of us, Lager & Vine. How about that for two old ladies, though I know Ruth will have her martini at four. I miss lager, but that’s the price of decent drugs. Al Franken is on the television, resigning.  My clay footed god.


I took my first selfie with the new camera. Far easier than the last phone, after I found where not to put my fingers. Next time I’ll work out the glamour part.

On the way home I stopped at Ace, the Place with the Friendly Hardware Man, and bought a bottle of gorilla glue with an applicator brush. Tonight Laura and I will modify Mr. Razor Toes’ travel abode. I’m thinking a strip of gorilla glued fabric, inside and out, and you know who will not get through the old slit. If he keeps slitting the screen, I have lots of fabric and know where to buy glue. He’ll wish he never planned an escape from Alcatraz.



Speaking of Laura, tomorrow is her sixteenth birthday. What a difference a year makes! All the egg shells I walked on last year are gone; a whole new person lives here, now. I spent the rest of the afternoon at Cathy’s, planning pizza and a movie for six. The six will see Coco; Cathy and I will be next door, watching Murder on the Orient Express. Cathy gave me three napkin choices; I picked the one on top. It seems so right.


Monday, December 4, 2017

A word or two about slogging on


Perhaps the real methodologists among us will throw up hands and leave at the end of the next paragraph--or not.

I have resigned myself to seeing no more spectacular results until this time next year. But, fifty six weeks down, forty eight to midterm elections is a sterling hall mark; a continuing rally cry for the way forward. This business of inching forward, carrying on, moving up seems relentlessly slow.

In spite of our gains in the November ballot, the GOP mowing machine moves on. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryon did stick with Trump’s coat tails just to get the tax bill passed, and it was done. The bill will be reconciled and effected, and no matter the small concessions to humanity, the huge scope of the bill is not for decency, but strangulation of the middle class on down, to their last penny.

It will be another year before we can go back to the polls and regain our ability to begin a decade of cleaning up. But, the year will send even more to the polls who find they must repeal Trump’s tax cuts and use the revenue to expand Medicare, strengthen Social Security and revitalize the social security net. Those last words are straight from Slate magazine, together with the notion the Republicans have delivered, and now will pay their piper.

No question I am sending up the same flag, singing the old song. But I do want to add a personal note to why I know we can finish this.

In the last seven years I suffered two major, potentially life ending brain injuries. Life ending. Final curtain. Hasta la vista. And I’m still typing today. The reason: medical intervention, medical treatment, and, finally, dogged determination, complete resolution to reach a reasonable outcome.

I know it is possible to regain speech, thought, physical coordination, balance, mobility. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it is an inch by inch by inch, never ending struggle. In fact, it never ends. In fact, I still struggle for words and look up synonyms for a word I hope is close, until I find a good one. If this were twenty years ago, believe me, I would be looking in Webster’s, not on line. But, I would be looking.

The day after the day after the last presidential election, I quoted Woody Guthrie and Joe Hill. “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as he could be. ‘But Joe,’ said I, ‘you’re ten years dead!’ ‘I never died,’ said he.” Organize!

Keep up our good work of calling, writing, protesting, supporting our elected representatives. Just don’t quit. Some of us may not get to the finish line of this long recovery, but most of us will. Don’t quit. Carry On.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Whirlwind for a week or two


It’s Sunday night, I understand. We just had supper, and are grateful. Both had mighty slim pickin’s for lunch. Last week a whirlwind. The upcoming week spinning faster.  Today we were dropped into the interviews for Laura’s year abroad.

Saturday generally is peaceful, collected. Some shopping. Some cleaning. Some interesting other stuff. But yesterday I decided, time to bite the bullet, go to the phone store and pay a bazillion dollars to replace Laura’s broken phone.

She dropped it and shattered the top, which she kept together for months with clear packing tape. However, the phone loses charge quickly. Actually, that works well, since the phone lives in my room twelve hours a day, because with absolutely no other diversion, Laura sinks into the phone.

Social media is a siren song, and I bet the worst problem parents deal with. After my last scare, early this summer, when I couldn’t think my way through either of our problems, I simply confiscated her phone twelve hours a day. She gets it from six a.m. to six p.m. I’ve been told it was brilliant. I know it saved both our sanities.



The phone needs replaced, and sooner rather than later. Saturday was the day. I had her research what she wanted. I relinquished my card first to buy out the remainder of her phone. That hurt. The young man came from the stock room with her heart’s desire. Oh, yes, and mine, too, as my old phone is out of contract, and I figured I might as well upgrade to a MotoZ. Oh, yes, and the Hasselblad, too.

Laura’s new phone is like hobnailed boots. Apparently three interlocking cases and a gorilla proof screen protector is the new teenage rage. That plus ten extra dollars a month will prevent future problems. The extra money doesn’t sit well with me, but will replace the phone.




We cleared that store with exactly enough time to drop Laura for her ride to an overnight of Outbounds and Inbounds, at the Rotary Camp. Who knew the Rotary had a camp! It’s on Turkeyfoot Lake in southern Summit County, and it’s lovely. When I was young, and we all know how long ago that was, my parents brought us there for all sorts of picnics.




The Outbounds are going next year. The Inbounds are regular students who spent a year abroad and were there to share their experience. There were some foreign exchange students on hand, too. 

Today was interview day. I’d told Laura she should be thinking of everything she might be asked and how she would answer it. The couple of times I checked in, she seemed quite prepared.

We compared notes on the way home, and found we answered identical questions, different points of view. Our answers were the same, but our chat in the car about homesickness potential put a little twist in my heart. Our answers, essentially, she’s never had a “home sweet home” home. Her answer included “grandma is my home.” Don’t be teary; that just means grandma will be there for her and take care of her.

Ever one to push a point, I asked if any place she’d lived was the place her mind always would come back to, and she said, “Oh, the grey house, now that we have Kay in it.”  That did suck the breath out of me, and I’ve told the universe a hundred and one times now, thank you for sending Kay to buy my house.