Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Wrapup

We went from this Blackened, brined Martha Stewart-ish divine bird to . . .


. . . this parade of the plastic containers in fewer than two hours thanks to . . .
. . . this group of cousins and their various parental and grandparental appendages.
(Nicholas, Ben, Logan, Nikki, Alicia, Sadie, and Adam)

Doesn't this photo look like it belongs on the cover of a foodie magazine? These two sweeties -- Krista and the pumpkin trifle -- were an important part of the feast. Krista and Amanda made this masterpiece the night before and it was indeed a feast for the eyes and the tummy.

Amanda (center) and her girls, Nikki and Alicia

These photos were taken either by Amanda or by her friend Kerri -- I had forgotten my camera.
It was a wonderful party, and we heard many heartwarming expressions of gratitude. Ben had me in tears expressing gratitude for a safe place to live after the terrible events in his early life. Logan followed that up with an expression of gratitude for pumpkin pie. So much in character, both of them. For that I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Working Titles


This morning I "test-napped" the quilt I finished late last night. Based on that test, I can honestly tell you, it's a very good quilt. I slept for three cozy hours under my comfy wool-stuffed blankie embraced by all the love and memories that went into its creation. That may be the only nap it will give, because I plan to hang it on the wall of a guest bedroom. But I'm sure it will warm that room.

Before sending it to the wall, I have to name it. The name and some vital statistics will go on a label sewn on the back. But I'm struggling with what to call it. I've used several names during the process of making it, but I'm still undecided.

This quilt is a humility quilt. It is filled with mistakes and learning experiences. I have purposely left those mistakes in the quilt, so that it can tell the story of my learning. I am aware of its flaws just as I am aware of those in the people I love and in myself. Those "flaws" are simply cherished variations on the human condition and they remain as a testament to my love for the foibles of all those dear to me.

Here are some of the candidates for the name of the quilt:
  • Late Bloomers -- this was the first name I came up with, chosen because I came to quilting late in my life. The designer of the quilt called hers "Flowers for MacKenzie" because she made it for her granddaughter, so I thought I might stick to the flower theme for the name.
  • Old Dog, New Tricks -- kind of the same line of thinking. I am pleased that I have learned a new skill at this stage. Also there is a dog in one of the blocks.
  • Wool Gathering -- the batting of the quilt is wool. So, the quilting process involved "gathering" the wool. For me, quilting is a deeply meditative process. I play music and let my mind wander as I make the rhythmic, repetitious stitches. I make certain that I think positive, pleasant thoughts, so those qualities are stitched into the fabric. I had to put it aside for a couple of days when my friend's daughter had a stroke, because I was so enraged over what I considered to be a manifestation of violence against women for economic gain. I couldn't allow that anger to be embedded in my quilt.
  • Good Grief -- many times my thoughts turned to memories of departed loved ones. I spent hours in the company of Robin, Ken, and my grandmothers. Those are memories of joy and love and were hours of joyous reunion.
  • Picking up the Pieces -- In addition to memories, I reflected on the joy I now have in my life with Ben and Logan, which I describe with a metaphor alluding to the scraps of fabric I pieced together and to the life we have stitched.
  • Birth of the Elephant -- This is the name I have used for the last several weeks. It refers to the 22 month gestation period of both an elephant calf and this quilt. It also refers to a family joke Ken and I shared and I will try to explain. When Ken was a child, Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill took him to a dinner show at the Nugget in Sparks. He was thrilled and told me about it with great excitement. The show was "Bertha the Elephant" but I misunderstood and thought he said "Birth of the Elephant." We went on to imagine what Birth of the Elephant would be and decided it would be a ballet parody of the "Dying Swan." It came to represent clumsiness in the pursuit of grace. In some ways, I feel that is what I have achieved with this quilt.
Let me know what you think I should call it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Family in Uniform


Uncle Bill Blair served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, before there was an Air Force branch of service. He flew 40 missions as co-pilot of a bomber in the South Pacific. Bill and Margaret Crehore were married in 1945. Margaret passed away in 1994 just short of their 50th wedding anniversary. Bill still lives in Pasadena in the home where they they raised their girls. He is a busy man with many hobbies and passions. He has enjoyed displaying his restored music boxes (really huge machines, not little boxes) and his restored Norden Bomb Site. Last summer he drove cross-country alone to attend a convention and spent a few days here with us. We love it when he comes to town.

Brother Ken Blair served in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War era. He had been a student at UC Berkeley when the draft lottery was initiated. His draft number was 2. To have more control over his destiny, he enlisted and remained state-side for his entire service. Ken died in 1993 and I still miss him every day.

Brother Rick served in the US Army Reserves. I believe this picture was taken in 1964, the year my twins were born. He served six months of active duty and six years as a weekend warrior. He now lives in Napa with his bride, Kathy, where they are enjoying their first year of retirement. He has two children, Hollis and Jason.
Brother Mickey (I can't call him by any other name, though most friends called him Mike after he was grown up), served in the Air Force from 1959 to 1963. He served in the Canine Corps working with German Shepherds. Dogs (and all kinds of animals) were a passion of his. His two children, Lynette and Scott, live in Nevada. Mickey died in 1989.



Hollis, Hollis, Hollis. What can I say? She always amazes me. Bright, creative, energetic and full of surprises. I haven't seen her for several years but have hope she will find her way to Missouri soon. Ben and Logan need to spend some time with her! She is currently in transition in the Air Force, planning to be a medic.

This may give you some idea why and how Hollis amazes me. I love her to pieces and she fascinates me!

Uncle Bill is full of surprises, too!

A few other family members not pictured have also served: Ben and Logan's grandfather, Steve Maples, just retired from the Army Reserves. He served many active tours in many awful places, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others.

Ben and Logan's father, Steve, served four years in the Navy.

Roger Moore, my former husband, father of my children, and grandfather to all my grandchildren, was in the Navy when we met and married. Robin was born while he was on active duty on Whidbey Island, Washington.

I don't think of ours as being a "military" family, but these folks have racked up many years of service.

Monday, November 9, 2009

YAZ

The daughter of a friend had a stroke yesterday. The daughter has been using the YAZ birth control product. My friend posted the following message on her facebook wall:

"Friends - Our daughter suffered a stroked today. The ER doc pointed a straight line to YAZ (birth control pill). He said he sees 3 cases a week of stroke due to Yaz. Please share this info with anyone you know who may be using this product."

I am so sad for them and so angry. ONE doctor in ONE hospital sees THREE cases a week and the product is still on the market. What do you suppose the worldwide toll is?

After posting the message on my facebook wall, a relative responded that she is taking VAZ. I am praying she will not take another dose. I have been in tears all afternoon and do not know how to function in my hysteria. But I must find every means possible to tell everyone I know to not take a single dose of VAZ. There are other choices -- call your doctor now! Stop taking VAZ. Have a baby, use a condom, abstain, you can get through this! But don't take VAZ! My friend had discussed the risks of VAZ last week with her daughter. The girl was "busy" and didn't get around to following up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wait till Next Year (Maybe We Won't Be So Boring)

Dogwood November 8, 2008



Dogwood November 8, 2009

Indian Summer is in full swing -- 72 degrees and climbing. It's been wet and warm this fall, no hard freeze yet, so I'm not sure why the tree is barer and why it didn't get as brilliantly red. It is slightly mildewed maybe due to the very damp weather last month. Very few tornado threats this year, not much hurricane activity. Boring is good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Obsessed

Here's some hand quilting detail on the quilt that currently consumes me. It's hand appliqued and hand quilted and I've been working on it for nearly two years. But, now I believe the end is in sight. I should have it done by Thanksgiving. I've learned a lot in the process. I think my hand quilting is quite adequate -- I get about seven stitches to the inch and it looks pretty good IMHO. And I LOVE doing it -- it really nourishes my obsessive tendencies and spares me from unpleasant obsessive activities, like housekeeping.


Logan's Obsession

Logan awoke yesterday morning and told me we had to get a chocolate cake mix and frosting. He had a notion that a chocolate cake with bananas and vanilla ice cream would be really good. So, he mooshed bananas in the batter and made this vanilla ice cream filled cake. He will serve it for dinner tonight when his girlfriend (!) dines with us.