Saturday, April 17, 2021

Big Week

 What a week!  We haven't had this much activity in months.  Really. Twelve Months.  All fully vaccinated, we safely saw friends on Tuesday evening and on Thursday evening, and Friday morning Friend Laurie was here and it was SO very nice to talk face to face again.  We got so accustomed to doing nothing, we forgot how nice something is.

Then on Friday evening our Adelaide was in the town play (four parts, mind you) and we went opening night. She was in a squirrel costume and had the first spoken part in the play The Trial of Goldilocks. She was really good, if this grandma and grandpa say so themselves!  

       It was so sweet.  After the play her two besties since Kindergarten asked for her autograph!

And today our Charlie was playing a lacrosse game here, from all the way across the state.  Really. A two hour drive for them but an absolute treat for us!
 I joined a swap.  The little quilts are to be no bigger than 24 inches, no smaller than 12.  This is 18.  Civil War fabrics and pattern. This is the Carolina Lily but because I'm not very good at teeny pieces I did just one lily instead of the usual four.  I had this all packed and ready to go ( but thank goodness didn't seal the envelope yet ) when I realized I didn't take a photo for my files.  So, unwrap it, unfold it and snap! 

I need a nap. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Dictionary of Lost Words

 The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Many years ago when I was working in a school library one of the teachers was teaching a unit on biographies. Each student would write about a person.  She told her students that they could pick anyone "but a dead white man."  And then she told me so I could direct the students to "someone else."  Because if you think of it, history is written by white men, by the victors, but in order for there to be a victor there had to be another side, another view, another hope.  I thought of that while reading The Dictionary of Lost Words.

The Oxford English Dictionary took decades to compile.  Words were collected by white men, mostly elderly, and a word could only be included if at some point in history it could be proven to have been written down. Sometimes it took years to collect, study and validate a single word.  The men worked for many, many years in a garden shed in Oxford.   Esme's father was one of these men.

Esme grew up sitting under the table in the shed listening to the men parse a word, listening to the scratch of their pens, learning just by observing,  the system of filing  and compiling.  She grew up with words.  One day a word written on one of their slips fell to the floor.  It said, "bondmaid" and she put it in her pocket and then into her trunk of treasures hidden under a bed.  When she learned what the word meant 'slave girl' she realized there were words that were not included because they were spoken, no one had written down the words spoken amongst the vendors in the market or shops or just understood by mostly women.   

Esme realized the Oxford dictionary would not contain all words, as the men said it would.  It wouldn't contain the words common women used.  Women who didn't know how to write them down, and didn't need to because the words were learned by speaking them.  Esme took paper and pencil out into the world of women and started to write down everything she didn't understand for her own dictionary of lost words.  She asked for meanings when it wasn't apparent, she asked for words to be used in a sentence, and she wrote them down.

The story takes place just before the first World War and during the Suffragist movement in England.  Esme is out of her comfort zone but then again, no she isn't.  She is with her words.  This book is fascinating.  The only word I can think of.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter Fun

 I hope you all had a nice Easter day.  For us it was a truly beautiful, warm, sunny, blue sky day and believe me, in Michigan that doesn't happen often. We've had Easters with snow or rain or wind or winter coat cold.  But not yesterday.  Yesterday it was beautiful in more ways than weather.  

We finally cooked a meal for a group and invited daughter and  her family in.  We included SIL's parents, who happen to be fully vaccinated Friend Marilyn, who I talk about all the time here and Husband.  Because the house wouldn't be full of cousins yet this year, we thought we should do something fun especially for the girls.  Turned out it was fun for everyone.

 Activity One.  Egg toss.  Everyone got an apron to wear in anticipation.  We drew numbers out of a bowl and matching numbers were teams.  Well, that turned out perfectly.  Daughter and SIL were a team, PH and I were a team, though I wasn't too sure about the devious twinkle in his eye, and the girls were teamed with Friend Marilyn and Other Grandpa. I couldn't have planned that better if I tried.

As with all egg toss competitions, the toss starts out easy.

                            And then you have to put some thought into how to catch a raw egg.

 And then you have teams that are trying to be nice to each other. Just look at Friend Marilyn's gentle lob to Elizabeth.  No fair!

                                  But the inevitable is still going to happen.  It IS an egg toss!


 Next we moved to the driveway.  That long, twisty, steep driveway full of ruts, cracks and holes for an egg roll race.  We used plastic eggs for this one and the day before, PH and I tested how far the eggs would travel with or without a little ballast.  We tried an egg empty and with one, two or three marbles in them.  We determined the eggs with two marbles traveled best and farthest and had the most chance of getting through the ruts, cracks and holes.

                                                                     On your mark, get set.....
                                                                   Here they come!
Look whose blue egg won the day!  He's very proud of his prize AND winning. And yes, that's a gold medal he devised with beads and chocolate coins and a glue gun.  Everyone got one of those to wear. SOME in the group thought he had an advantage because he pre-tested the course the day before and thus knew which ruts, cracks and holes to avoid.  But not so, not so. Once launched, there is no controlling a plastic egg holding two marbles on a long, steep and curvy driveway. 


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Duck, Duck, Goose

 Remember that game when you were a kid?  I couldn't help but think of that when I took photos of the latest finishes and not finishes.   When we were locked down I pin basted five quilts and saved them for this winter to quilt.  I forgot, though, constant quilting is a terror on my hands and my thumb splits so it didn't go as fast as I'd hoped.   BUT! I do have these to show



I gave this one to a machine quilter.  There was no way I could get my fingers to accept all of these seams AND these fabrics are all very old and very different from each other.  Friend Jan gave a pile of these stars to Friend Marilyn and I and we split them between us.  Marilyn gave me the background fabric and I appliqued them down.  Frazzled edges,  silks, shirtings, there were so many different fabrics.  I sent it out with the instructions to "just get the seams secured!" 

                                                                       Not finished.

Friend Sally was cleaning out.  She asked if I'd like some dresden plates.  I said sure!  So she sent a box.  In the box was a pile of dresden plates all in original 30's fabrics,  many hexie flowers and these blocks she got in an exchange.  I didn't want to add to the pile on MY shelves so simply put a sweet border on each block and attached them together.  But there were only eleven.  I didn't want to make another one.  I took one of the dresden plates, appliqued it down to a white and bordered it.  If you notice that one and the green one ext to it are out of seam alignment with the squares above them.  That will be fixed.  I was trying to decide if I could live with it but it's an easy fix so I will.  This isn't big, it would make a nice size for a little girl.   And I don't think that little dresden plate is out of place at all. 


Again, too many seams so I sent this along with the star strip quilt to be machine quilted.  You have to understand this is a huge concession for me.  It's completely out of my scrap tub and no rhyme or reason to placement. But I love it and have been curling up with it at night.


The backing for this one?  An April Cornell tablecloth. The French toile scene is perfect for the Belgian waffles and strawberries .

                                                                          Not finished.  

Almost. But not quite.  It will be a pillow and that's why it isn't finished.  I've made exactly one pillow in my quilting life and while this needs and will get more quilting, it's the pillow construction that's holding me back.

I made some bunny cookies a couple of weeks back and stuck them in the freezer for decorating.  It came to me that maybe using stiff, cheap, dollar store paintbrushes would be a good way to frost them.  Paint it on.  So I made some frosting, called the girls over and they got to work.

 It turns out stiff, cheap paintbrushes are a great way to decorate a fuzzy bunny cookie. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

What I Learned

 A year and a week ago we returned home from England.  Three years ago we met Brian for the first time. He is my grandpa's nephew but Grandpa never knew him. Never knew Brian's father, his brother.  Adoption can do that to families, this story starts in 1905, and searching for family through can bring families back together.  We fell in love with Brian immediately.  Never have we met someone who we both instantly connected with and didn't want to leave.   So, last year we went back to Brian.  

Because we had the leadership we had here in the U.S. we didn't think this Covid thing was anything to be overly concerned about. Certainly not in the pandemic category.  But while we were there the world imploded.  England wasn't in a panic when we first arrived. Life was normal, subways were crowded, trains were peopled, stores, restaurants, pubs, theaters all open, crowded and normal.  We had our jet lag day of rest then left with Brian for Brussels for three days.  It was in those three days that all hell broke loose and we started to hear people talk, hear the phones ring in the hotel with cancellations, see empty restaurants, quiet streets.  Upon returning to Brian's home outside London we discovered we had to get out as soon as possible.  With his help - because he is far more tech savvy than we are - we found a flight home via Amsterdam.  Brian kept track of us all the way.  In Amsterdam I got an email message, "You made it to Amsterdam!  Good!  Flights are shutting down here"  in just a matter of hours.   When we arrived in Detroit I got another email, "You made it home!  Good!  Delta has pulled out of London!"  All in one day.

We were so relieved to be in Michigan again, when we deplaned I said I now understood why the astronauts kiss the earth when they return.  But, oh, we were so sad.  So lonesome for Brian. We counter that by talking about him every single day.  Open a bottle of wine? Toast Brian. Tink.

We returned to absolute silence.  No cars, no stores open, empty expressways, no school buses, no sound anywhere because everyone was hunkered down, hiding for what we thought would be two weeks. We were ok with that because having arrived from England we were ordered to stay quarantined for 14 days.  Surely this would be enough?  We walked in the cemetery across the street for fresh air and exercise.

But those two weeks became a year.  And this is what I learned.


I learned that I am grateful and lucky. I always knew it but now I know it.  We are retired.  We didn't have to worry about a paycheck or losing our jobs or homes because we couldn't pay for them.  We knew where our next check was coming from, and it did, regularly.  We had good food to eat, we had a view out the windows, we have a warm home, we have a home.  

I learned that wearing a mask isn't a big deal and in the winter actually keeps my face warm.  I learned that it's a very small price to pay to protect myself and the people around me so this stupid virus doesn't continue to spread.  What I don't understand is the people who refuse to mask are also the ones condemning the shutdowns.  Do they not understand the dot-to-dot?

I learned I have very little patience peopling with people who don't or won't do the simple little thing of wearing a mask to keep each other safe.  I was sad to learn how so very many of those people are so selfish. Up until now I knew selfish was out there but didn't know how many were out there. Now I do and that makes me sad.  But a lesson learned.  I can be stubborn, too. 

I learned that I am not fond of Zoom birthdays with grand kids - I know how fast time goes and don't want to miss one of theirs, but I also learned a Zoom birthday with the grand kids is better than nothing.  Conversely, I have come to love that Zoom is a way to see quilt friends in Australia and all over the world and Dodie in Florida and yes, Brian.  Don't you wish you knew and bought stock in Zoom?

I learned that sometimes when doing something for yourself you are unwittingly doing something kind for someone else, filling their need.  And dammit, right now, kindness DOES count.  We are seeing too much selfish and not enough kind.   

I learned that being away from people for so long, it's an adjustment to be around them again.  For a year it's been PH and me and we know each other well enough after 47 years to know when to get out of each other's way.  But I also know that after years of working and kids and working and kids we are here alone and have been for this year and if anything happens after this, well, we had this year together.

I learned not to take friends for granted because someday someone could take them away - for a year. I spent time this year keeping in touch.

 We haven't been inside a restaurant, movie, anyone's home nor they in ours. Cancelled were birthdays and holidays and quilt retreats, festivals and concerts. We don't have small children to educate at home while balancing our work lap top on our laps, and we don't have loved ones in nursing homes and none of us got sick because we were hyper careful. I learned that even in these seemingly endless days the days do develop a rhythm and they pass, one after another. We are healthy, fed, housed, in touch, and I learned that we may not have everything we want but what we have is enough. And for that I am grateful and lucky. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Buried Treasure

 It was a bright, sunny, blue sky day today so we took a ride to Lake Michigan to see the l882 shipwreck of the Comfort  that's reappeared.  For decades it was covered with sand but the high lake level the past years has washed the sand off and now revealed a buried treasure.

It's just right there, as you walk along the approach to the pier and the dune gives way to the beach and lake, it's just right there like a whale skeleton.

They ask that people resist the urge to take a nail or a splinter of the wood as souvenir and I hope people listen to that plea though in this day and age, I doubt they will.

There were maybe ten people there, all helping each other take pictures of each other and stepping out of the way when we wanted a particular angle to our own.  Kind of like Senior Citizen Day at the beach.
It sure was a pretty day on Lake Michigan. Chilly but so pretty.
On the way home we stopped for ice cream at Norm's.  A single serving was about a pint in size.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Strawberry Waffle


One year ago today we were in Bruges, Belgium with Brian.  We knew as food went we had to have Belgian waffles, fries, beer and chocolate.  The first thing we did after putting our bags in our hotel rooms was to find the waffles.  We were hungry after the train ride under the English Channel and into Belgium and waffles were on top of our list.  

We all chose something different as we settled into a restaurant that served only waffles.  PH had chocolate ice cream, Brian had vanilla and I had strawberries and ice cream.  When we got home I found, quite by accident as I was looking for something else, these checked fabrics in beigey colors.  "Hmmm..." I thought. "These look like the squares in waffles."  It was about 1 a.m. but I was pulling everything I could find that said waffle. Then I thought, "strawberries!" and started pulling pinks and reds.  The next day I was cutting squares (waffles) and sewing them together (by hand) into a strawberry waffle quilt.  Now a year later I'm quilting it and in keeping with the waffle squares it's just quilted in squares. At first I was not happy with myself that it took a year to get around to quilting this but on second thought decided it's a good way to remind myself why I made it and who we were with and everything happens for a reason.