Monday, April 20, 2015

Precious Moments

We met in junior high school when we were both library geeks. The librarian was a wonderful woman who taught us how to shelve books, write over-due notices, and to make new cards for the books. We laughed and learned together, convinced that our after-school activity was much more worthwhile than hockey practice.

She had a harder life than I have had. She became pregnant while in high school, and as was the custom in those days, she spent a semester away from home "helping an aunt in Boston," and never saw her son after he was born. The doctor arranged the adoption. Her first marriage was to a man who turned out to be an alcoholic (her mother was also one); two more boys were born before the marriage came apart.

She was a faithful caregiver to her father who was tragically struck down with ALS; after he passed, she was able to fulfill her dream of owning a gift shop. She'd since married a lovely man who adopted her two boys, and for a while it looked as though her luck was changing. The gift shop was very successful; she was smart enough to have a diverse inventory -- something for everyone.

I used to tease her about the Precious Moments figurines in the room to the left. I thought they were the ugliest things I'd ever seen. She told me I'd be surprised at how well they sold.

She was a member of my church and of my Circle and once a year the group would go to the seashore where one of our members owned a home. We always roomed together and giggled late into the night, remembering stories and people from elementary and junior high schools. When I was in seminary and doing field ed at an inner-city church in a terrible neighborhood, she went with me each Wednesday  night for Bible study; we both learned a lot -- and not just about the Bible.

Need I tell you what she gave me as a gift when I graduated?

Then her older son suddenly died. Of a heroin overdose. She had no idea he had been using; she had become close to the girl she was hoping would become her daughter-in-law and clung to her after the loss, until she realized the girl had been the source of the drugs.

Then the sun rose in her life one more time when she was contacted by the boy -- now a lovely man in his 40s -- who had been taken from her so many years ago. He lived out west and made frequent trips to visit her -- after her mother's death she had moved to Maine (and year after year she would send me a freshly made Christmas wreath for my front door). Her husband and surviving son were comfortable with him; so much so that when he was in a terrible accident out west, they made no objection when she went out to spend a month or so assisting in his recovery.

It was while she was there that the cancer struck. And wasn't discovered until it was Stage Four. In her lungs.

We didn't have much giggling time together after that. I saw her one time after she moved back to Philadelphia and entered treatment that proved to be futile. The pastor asked if I would like to preach her funeral sermon. I told him I couldn't. I just couldn't.

She's been gone for five or six years, now. Yesterday my friend Kathy put something silly on Facebook about Precious Moments and all these memories of Sue flooded my consciousness. Time together in the library, at St. Simeon's, at Joan's shore house; times in church, at Circle, out to lunch. Times laughing together and times crying together.

All precious moments indeed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


They're here and there in the quilting blogiverse, and now they're in my head and won't get out. This photo is from Google images. These are not my blocks.

My blog friend Nicole has succumbed and hers are gorgeous. It was looking at Nicole's blog that got me to Googling and oohing and aching.

They are Steam Punk blocks.

They involve templates. They are reputed to be fiddly. If I weren't so opposed to the word amazing, I'd use it here. Because I can't seem to get them outta my head.

I'm wondering when one of my local peeps is going to show up with them. I'd put even money on Bobbi or Pat as most likely to indulge. And I predict it is just a matter of time before dear Mrs. Goodneedle jumps in.

I have so many WISPs and so many other possibilities Pinned and just in my head. The pattern is not inexpensive and then there is the cost of the templates.

But are they not absolutely spectacular?

Trying to Be Strong, Near Philadelphia

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Caribbean Adventure, Part Three

After nine or ten days aboard Star Flyer, stopping at little, out-of-the way places, we disembarked in St. Maarten (the Dutch side), which shares an island with St. Martin (the French side). Again, we stayed a night to explore and learn more about the island before heading home.

At the beach resort, again we were fortunate to have a ground-floor room. This was the view from our patio. We played in the sea, the pool, and the hot tub; we enjoyed a Dutch food called bitterballen that was odd and yummy.

The first afternoon we went to downtown Phillipsburg, a shopping mecca, with many upscale stores along with more local-appeal shops that were more to our taste. Still, we didn't do a lot of shopping. We enjoyed a block-long open-air market of local specialties, where we bought just a few things.

We found the taxi drivers in St. Maarten to be amiable, helpful, and entertaining. I figured they would know where to get good local food, so I asked the man who took us back to the resort from downtown. He recommended Lee's, a place close to the French side, and we discovered that he did know where to get good local food. Lee's was an open-air place with island specialties. I enjoyed a dinner of a fish that was new to me, swai, along with fried plantains (yum) and rice. For dessert, of course, we shared key lime pie.

Another taxi driver was exceptionally helpful. We had heard that on the French side there was a "butterfly farm." I'd never heard of such a thing, and we had a cabby take us out there. He accompanied us on the tour and took our picture inside.

The butterfly farm was a large area completely encased in screen. The guide told me that at the peak they have 55 different species of butterflies and moths, but presently -- due to a hurricane -- they have only 35 species, though they are rebuilding. The butterfly farm was a highlight of our trip for me; I was fascinated by being up close and personal (yes, they would land on our hands and arms if we had butterfly food available) with these beautiful creatures.

And so the report of our Caribbean Adventure comes to a close. It was, as I said, not the kind of vacation where we exulted in the various ports, where we brought home all kinds of souvenirs, where we did a lot of touristy things. It was, instead, a vacation of relaxation, being warm, reading, watching the sea go by, and meeting absolutely delightful fellow travelers.