Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pieces of a Life II, III, and IV (Joan Miller) and Pieces of Our Lives

Joan Miller left behind lots of scraps of material. These pillows are made from bits of upholstery scraps found in a shoe box. I have no idea what she intended to do with them, but here's my shot at it. The  

scraps are on the front and I used dark olive green corduroy for the piping and backs and incorporated a photo printed on muslin into each. I hope someone will like them.

Here's a little crib blanket. Joan had sewn little squares into rows. I put the rows together (top photo) and then used some of my scraps for the back (bottom photo). I also used some squares of dark purple satin from a piece given to me by my friend Sharon. She suggested that babies love the feel of satin and that it might make good binding. It's really hard to work with as a binding, so I took an easy way out and put some satin squares on the back. I like the idea a lot and as long as the supply of satin holds out, I'm going to work a patch into each baby quilt I make.

Today was volunteer day for Ben and Logan. Working with the high school's chapter of the National Honor Society, Ben volunteered at a community-wide event held, of all places, at the community center. He helped run a bean bag toss game. Logan volunteered as a judge at a Junior High School speech tournament. He must have brought them good luck because Ozark won the sweepstakes and came home with a giant trophy and a very pleased speech and debate teacher. Nice going, Natalie and kids!

I made mac and cheese for dinner tonight, guess which kid decided to stir some leftover kale into his? I like kale, but I still have a hard time getting my head around the idea of a kid choosing to eat it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Season Finale

In the middle of this picture, the red-headed section leader of the front line plays his part on the vibes. Because I was at ground level when I took the picture, you can't see the drum line carrying on behind the keyboards. It was a good show, but not their best -- wait till next year!

Saturday's show was the season finale and regional championship competition. Drum corps' from all over Missouri and parts of Kansas descended on our little town and left behind several thousand dollars to sweeten the coffers of the Ozark High School Band and to fund much of next year's activities. This one day effort sure beats selling Christmas wrap and frozen cookie dough! And it was very well executed thanks to some great parent and student volunteers.

With Winter Drum Line and Speech and Debate season at a close, my taxi service goes into semi-retirement. The trio of activities demanding after-hours practice remaining on the calendar -- off-season football training, the spring Chorale Concert, and Woodwind Symphony (Ben plays tympani) -- have yet to wrap-up, but for the most part we have begun the long gradual slide into summer. Then we'll launch into band and football camps and summer school. Hopefully, by then we'll have a second car.

Today's gorgeous weather means I have to make a trip to Lowes' for weed killer. Everything green thing in the Ozarks has erupted during the past couple of weeks of warm and wet weather. Mowing season is back with us, bird nests are all over the place, and the bugs have returned. Ben hates the mowing and weed-killing -- he sees it as the destruction of insect habitat. I like it for the same reason!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goodbye, Old Friend

This little chest of drawers has performed loyally for nearly 75 years. It wore a coat of lead-based ivory paint during its first mission dutifully holding my little hand-sewn sacks and kimonos, knitted and crocheted bonnets, booties, sweaters, and soakers. As I grew, so did the garments within, until it was promoted to become the repository of cashmere sweaters and silk scarves. By that time, the baby ivory had been traded in for a much more sophisticated shade of blue. 

In the circle of life, it returned to its original assignment as a baby's chest when Robin was born in 1961. The blue paint was stripped away and a new coat of bright white (probably still lead-based) with a charming bunny decal became its uniform and eventually its shroud. It also performed double duty in the nursery of Kevin and Colleen.

The years and many moves have taken their toll. Deep splintery gouges mar the side and the top. Pulls have pulled away. And it smells really funky! It saw duty in three states and was re-posted to twenty different addresses. But in all that time, it remained in my service. Most recently it has been hidden in a corner of my closet and been demoted to holding obscure, arcane sewing equipment. The equipment has been dispatched to other locations: the garage sale pile; the trash; and for a few select items, the quilting supply cabinet. 

The little chest of drawers is now fully retired and stands sentry in the garage awaiting city-wide clean-up day. I cling to a faint hope that the folks who come before the pickup to glean what they can from other's castoffs will see some further utility in this loyal dresser and that it will be returned to active duty.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mac 'n' Cheese -- NOT!

The never-ending quest for something to feed the boys other than mac 'n' cheese or pizza continues. They both prefer high-fat carb-loaded white food to anything that might possibly provide sound nutrition. Trying to get enough calories and protein into a wanna-be vegetarian like Ben and get five servings of fruit and vegetables into strictly carnivorous Logan stretches my meal-planning ability to the limit. And oh, by the way, let's keep it low-sodium and low-fat for Grandma. It worked pretty well yesterday.

Starting with left-over mashed potatoes and roast loin of pork, I made potato pancakes to put some calories on Ben's plate. Then I sliced the pork into a  garlicky stir-fry of Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and spinach. Both boys actually liked it although Ben picked out the pork. I thought it was tasty and look forward to finishing off the leftovers for lunch today.

Then I made some tabbouleh. The thing about tabbouleh is it's hard to make a small amount. The recipe starts with two cups of bulgar wheat. By the time you get all the veggies added, there's enough to feed a family of three for a couple of months. Fortunately, I overcame this hazard by conveniently dropping the bowl and spilling approximately two thirds of the stuff all over the floor. The remaining third should do us nicely for about three weeks. Seasoned only with lemon and cumin, it's flavorful and low-salt. Also provides some nice whole grain nutrition including protein. With a bit of diced tofu added, it's a meal for vegetarian appetites. And it sneaks in five more veggies. And they ate it! I judge the success of a meal by the number of bowls of cereal the boys consume between dinner and bedtime -- last night it was 0! Score one for the grandma!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Have you ever seen an Ambien tablet? They are very tiny and horror stories abound about what happens when some people take them. I think I get it now. I don't have a horror story, but I did take ONE HALF of one of those tiny little time bombs last night.

I spent the night at Cox hospital for a sleep study to determine whether my apnea warrants a CPAP breathing device. Since my sleep pattern typically involves two or three hours of wakeful time in the middle of the night, the good doctor thought it best if I take a sleeping tablet. I was reticent, I know that many drugs behave strangely in my body, or rather my body behaves strangely while hosting certain drugs, but I went ahead. I had no problem falling asleep even though a couple dozen wires were attached to various party of my body. I had no problem staying asleep. I had no problem demonstrating sleep apnea. I had no problem falling back asleep after they hooked up the C-PAP gizmo. Waking up was a challenge.

I drove myself home, kind of wondering whether or not I was road-ready, but made it safely, probably because there was so little traffic at 6:30. I finished my cup of very strong coffee and then lay down for a little rest. I woke up at 11:00, still groggy, feeling very hungover, and unwilling to venture out onto the roads. If I could figure out how to safely dispose of the remaining half tablet, I'd get rid of it. No more for me!

As I write this, the wind has picked up and the threatened storm is moving in. Five to eight inches of rain and possible tornadoes are forecast for the next couple of days. This very early and beautiful spring, has pushed the redbud and dogwood into bloom. I hope this storm doesn't take the buds off, here's my dogwood nearly a month ahead of schedule.

 Well, I think I'll go have another cup of coffee and a little nap.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Out With the Old, In With the New

Fellow CSA members pull up bolting plants in the hoop house at Millsap Farms. Not sure what veggie these folks are working on, but Ben and I were there this morning to help get the last edible leaves from these spinach plants:
Then the plants were yanked out of the bed, fed to the chickens, and the soil was prepared for the next planting by Grace, the seventh of the Millsap's eight daughters:
The tomato and cucumber seeds I planted in little 2 inch soil blocks will find their way into these beds in a few days after germinating in an old recycled dairy cooler. The seeds sit in the dark and damp environment until they've sprouted and then they are transplanted into the waiting beds.
Look closely and you can see one tomato seed in the center of each soil block. 

 The bed is ready and waiting!

This is probably our last season with the CSA, but I hope somehow we can retain contact with Sarah and Curtis Millsap and hear how their garden and their girls grow. I'll miss them, and I really enjoyed the lessons I learned about the production and appreciation of vegetables. Otherwise, I would probably never eaten a turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, Chinese long red bean (one of my favorites!), and lots of other exotic veggies.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Break -- Not!

The boy (initials LAM) who won't allow his picture to be taken by his doting grandmother went off to a district-wide speech tournament this morning. As usual he was a gorgeous hunk in his dark blue suit which is getting just a bit tight in the chest and shoulders; after all, it is a year old and he is still a growing fifteen-year-old. When it came time to put on his jacket, he insisted it was NOT his jacket. According to him, his jacket did not have a vent in the middle of the back, did not have chipped buttons, and fit much better in the chest and shoulders. Never mind that the jacket in question was the exact same fabric and color as the pants, from the same store, and from the same clothing line. He left confident that someone had mixed up his jacket with theirs at the last speech tournament. I wish him well as he takes a difficult-to-defend position in this debate. I'm betting he'll be wearing the same jacket when he returns to the debate tournament tomorrow.

Winter Drum Line competitions have eaten into Ben's spring break. Last Saturday they competed at Nixa. They haven't done very well this year. I feel some of the enthusiasm of the group has been dampened by the departure of their band director, Brian Perkins. He was put on a leave of absence around Thanksgiving last year and finally resigned in February. Rumors swirl around his departure, but none of them seem to indicate any horrible misdeeds, and there have certainly been no charges filed against him. Whatever the reasons, the whole situation makes me very sad. Mr. P. gave unstintingly of his time and energy for the band and contributed greatly to Ben's development as a musician and a person. He allowed Ben to take a leadership position in his section, and gave him lots of time for practicing and learning outside of school hours. The band also provided Ben a framework for his social life and the opportunity to develop trust in a male role model. He has spent many hours in class, rehearsals, competitions, and road trips so the relationship went far deeper than that of any other teacher. It has been unsettling to have Mr. P. just disappear from his life with no closure and no understanding of the circumstances. It makes me very sad for Ben's loss and for whatever has happened in Mr. P.'s life. I wish him and his family strength and success as they reshape their lives. I am left with unexpressed gratitude for the contribution he has made to our lives.

While Logan is debating, Ben and I will be farming. Tomorrow is our "work share" day at the farm. I hope they have an easy grandma-type task. In the past, I have sorted seeds and started seeds in little soil clumps. I have great enthusiasm for gardening in the spring; problem is, it fades by the time summer heats up. This year I'm confining my efforts to herbs and flowers in hanging pots on the deck because we may be moving this summer (if our house sells). I don't want to sow anything I won't be around to reap! So, I'll limit my sowing and focus on sewing. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Odd Energy

Recently I've been struck by a couple of random thoughts that preceded actual events or at least my receiving news of those events. On February 29 as we took shelter from the tornadic storms that swept the midwest, I said to myself "We'll be safe; last time it was Joplin, this time it will be Branson." And it was. When the news came in a few hours later, I learned that Branson  received a direct hit  from an EF2 tornado, right along the main boulevard.

This morning I awoke thinking about Susan Drew Funderberg. Susan was a school friend of my daughter, Robin, and we are facebook friends today, so I see her postings about what is happening in her life. Six months ago she posted about her son Joe suffering a serious fracture to his leg. She traveled to see him and brought him from Colorado to her home for recovery. Susan is a very nice person, but she is not someone who is tightly woven into my life, so I don't spend a lot of time communicating with her or thinking about her. However, this morning, she was on my mind when I awoke and I wondered about her and how her son's recovery was progressing. A couple hours later, I went on Facebook and saw that she had posted the following: 
"(sigh) My son, Joe. Six months after breaking his tib/fib on left leg. Drove 9 hours from Breckenridge, CO to Jackson Hole, WY. Second day of snowboarding and he breaks his right leg. Tibial plateau, immediately below knee. CAT scan today. Surgery will be Friday. Dr. called it "riskier" than last time. Prayers, please."

My thoughts were so specific as to person and place that I find them eery. I offer no explanation or theory, I just marvel at them. You must have had similar experiences, please tell me about them.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lightening My Load

Here are some of the items I intend to get rid of before moving. I'm offering them to family members for free if they will come and get them. Please let me know if you want anything shown here. I'm willing to hold on to or put things in storage until the end of summer.  Everything that is not spoken for by the end of April will be sold. Don't be bashful -- speak up.

This little chair, a miniature Boston Rocker belonged to my brother Ken. I'd liked keeping it around because it evoked such sweet memories of such a sweet person. I miss him and I will miss it, but it doesn't make much sense to move it to a smaller house. It has a missing spindle in the back and is probably not worth anything to anyone else, but I thought I'd offer it up anyway. 
I bought this piano in about 1987 when I was taking piano lessons. It is a German-made Goetz 85-key piano with wonderful tone and touch. The hammers need new felt and it needs tuning, but it is otherwise in good condition.

Bumper pool/game table in very good condition (no chairs). The chest holds supplies and games. The game table top has a smooth side so that it can be used as a dining table.

 Virtually brand-new, small stand-alone microwave. What may look like scratches in this picture are in reality just reflections; it's in perfect condition. Probably been used twice to make popcorn.
 Maple Chifferobe in good condition. Great storage piece or as bedroom furniture.

Crib-sized toddler bed, about 100 years old -- from the Fallon, Nevada Blair home. The metal frame has been stripped and only lead-free paint has been used.  Five generations of our family have used it. I'd like to see it go to Kevin and Rachel next.

Lingerie chest and small dresser or night stand. These pieces match -- the difference in appearance is due to my poor camera skills.

I'm getting rid of this California King-sized bed with all of its linens and the folding screen that serves as a headboard. I'm only keeping the boys' queen-sized beds and my grandmothers bedroom set (I'm going to use it and get rid of my current set -- pictures will follow in the next installment). If you come to visit, we'll move one of the boys to a couch or inflatable bed and you can use theirs.
This beauty had a couple of other matching pieces and belonged to my grandmother, Minnie Pauline Nichols Blair. She called this a nursing rocker. It sits very low and is a delicate piece of furniture with a cane seat. My father lovingly restored it about forty years ago. The cane is intact. The other two pieces were a junior chair (for dining) which Colleen now has and a "slipper chair" which my grandmother used while putting on her shoes.
Last item for today is this trunk that came from the Nebraska home of Mary Haller Copley Nehring (the great-grandmother of Robin, Kevin, and Colleen). We found this and two other trunks in the attic of her home when we cleaned out her belongings. It is probably at least 150 years old.  Colleen has one of the trunks, Robin had a second one that was lost when her belongings were disposed of in New York. I've earmarked this one for Kevin and told him about it years ago, but so far he hasn't made a move to take it home with him.

So come on folks, I'm serious -- step up and claim what you would like to have or forever hold your peace!