Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Checking Out a Book About Checking Out



For years I've been fascinated by the obituaries and the death notices and they are part of my daily reading (they and "For Better Or Worse" are the first things I find in The Philadelphia Inquirer in the mornings). Sometimes, she shamefully admits, those things are the extent of my newspaper reading for the day. When traveling, I always check the obits to see what interesting folks are signing off in those areas.
. . . .
This interest is something I used to be cautious about mentioning to others, but over time that caution doesn't seem so important. Turns out I'm not alone. Katherine, a wonderful woman from church, was an avid obituary reader for many years before her own was published. She and I would sometimes phone each other in the mornings to draw attention to ones of particular interest. Seems there are quite a few of us. My cousin Doris who winters in Florida finds absolute gems which she clips and sends to me to brighten my February. Janet, one of my colleagues, likes not only obits and death notices, but has quite a knowledge of Victorian burial customs and organizes tours of Philadelphia's famous Laurel Hill Cemetery.
. . . .
A few weeks ago while driving to work, I heard Marilyn Johnson being interviewed on the public radio station. I was so interested in what she had to say that I sat in my car after arriving at school, listening until she finished. Me, who is nearly phobic about being late to work. As soon as I got into school, I tracked down Janet and told her what I'd heard and within minutes was at Amazon ordering a pair of books for us. I started reading The Dead Beat a few nights ago and realized quickly that it is so good, so rich, that it must be parceled out one chapter at a time. I highly recommend it. And now it's time to log off and go read Chapter Five.

Flutterbyes and Callapitters


Tonight I finally had the opportunity to sew for just a little while. It has been what seems like a very long time, as we've been so busy lately. I had a meeting at church, and when I came home, I laid the butterfly blocks in place on the design wall and stitched the first two rows together.
. . . .
These blocks have been hanging around for years (literally). Desertsky organized the swap and the criteria was butterflies on Fossil Fern black, finished at 9 inches. I liked the ones I received enough to want to make more, and so I did. Bonnie was in this swap, too, and she made a wall hanging out of hers a few years ago.
. . . .
It occurred to me that flutterbyes start out as callapitters, so I decided to put one of them down in the corner, kind of anticipating his future.
. . . .
Once I got the blocks made, I couldn't decide how to set them. So I had a cyberconsultation with my friend Sharon (you might want to check her blog using the link to the right) to see what she thought. I liked her idea and then decided that rather than use just one batik for the alternating blocks, I'd use lots of batiks. So it took awhile to get these blocks made.
. . . .
Now I'm sewing the rows together. They'll get a solid batik border of some sort and then a final outer border of the black Fossil Fern. I'll post a picture when it is all finished.

Missing on Memorial Day


Our family weekend in Alexandria was just wonderful. Andrew and Amy were so hospitable and their home is darling. The only thing missing was Zoe. A&A adopted her several years ago from a shelter, and her history, as Sherry would say, is laden with "issues," the nature of which are perhaps best left murky. When Zoe came to our house the first time, she removed a major piece of food from the kitchen counter and devoured it. Even though she was thorough about cleaning up after herself, she and I didn't exactly get off to the very best start.
. . . .
Over time, she started to grow on me. I noticed that her fur is very irregular -- some places are soft and velvety, other places are coarse, and then there is the ruff which just sort of stands out like a lion's mane. She's not a crazy quilt, because there is no fancy stitching, but clearly she is made from left-overs.
. . . .
She's very sweet, tries so hard to be obedient, and her response when Andrew tells her "Down!" is always instantly reflexive and cute. She's high strung, though, and with a houseful of people including a young baby, A&A decided she'd do well to spend the weekend at the canine Hilton. I'm sure this was the right decision. But we missed her nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Observed, 2006


On our second day in Alexandria, we decided to visit the National Arboretum. I had no idea there even was such a place! It was huge and beautiful. We didn't stay very long because it was a very hot day and some of us were still tired from all of the walking we had done the day before in Old Town. We spent some time visiting a grove where there were representatives of all of the states' trees. We didn't count to make sure all of them were there, but we were pretty sure that they were.
. . . .
There was much more to see and do, but we didn't have a lot of time and had to choose carefully. . . . .


We went to a section of Asian plantings and wandered around on a beautifully kept path and looked at the various things that were there. We could imagine that people who live in the area might make frequent visits to the Arboretum to see the different plantings in bloom. We also thought we might like to come again on a day that was not quite so hot and sunny.
. . . .


We came to a section called Capitol Columns and I needed to take a picture of them. These columns had been transported to the Arboretum from the U.S. Capitol Building at the time of a renovation (at least that was my understanding -- if I'm not correct, surely Andrew will set me straight) and arranged in a shape vaguely reminiscent of the shape of the Capitol. They look so majestic standing there.
. . . .




Just as we were getting ready to leave, Sam got a phone call. Unfortunately, it was from Dick Cheney and Sam didn't have a lot to say to him.
. . . .


On the way back to Glenside on Sunday night, Joe and I had NPR on the radio and heard a Memorial Day tribute. It was really excellent in that not only did they pay tribute to fallen heroes of the past, but they also acknowledged the senseless deaths of 2700+ men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan in these recent years, and honored the women and men who continue to serve us in those countries. I was glad to have heard it. I thought back to all of those motorcyclists we'd seen in Alexandria -- so many of them were self-identified as Vietnam Vets -- and I thought about how in recent years Memorial Day hasn't really been much more than a Day Off but now, all at once, it is very important once again.

Monday, May 29, 2006

In Which We Gather at Amy and Andrew's


Joe and I thought we'd like to visit with Andrew and Amy over Memorial day weekend, and once we mentioned it to the rest of the family, they decided they'd like to go, too. So A&A had an onslaught of visitors! Tom and Anastasia stayed with them, and the rest of us stayed at a nearby Sheraton.
. . . .
Friday night after T&A and Joe and I had arrived, A&A served us a delicious dinner out on their deck. It is a great space and they use it as a dining room as much as they can. Easy to understand why.

On Saturday morning, they entertained is all for a scrumptious french toast breakfast.
. . . .
We spent a lot of that day wandering around Old Town Alexandria, in and out of shops, dodging unanticipated raindrops. We were amazed to find countless motorcyclists in town, many of them Vietnam Vets.
. . . .

. . . .
Everyone had a chance to spend time with Sam. He was so good! It was his first experience with hot weather, and he seemed to like it as much as his mom does. Anastasia and Tom had fun posing with him. He didn't cry much at all, and when he did, he was quickly and easily distracted by someone or another!

A&A had bought him a marvelous hat. He looked fetching in it, and he didn't seem to mind wearing it. He's like Tom in that he has quite a strong negative reaction to sun in his eyes. The hat does the trick. (But I don't think that is what a "hat trick" really is.)
. . . .


Sam and Tom had quite a bit to say to each other.
. . . .


His hair is quite curly now. He can hold something in his hand and get it into his mouth but can't quite manage the grab. It won't be long, though.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday Morning Dream


Thursday morning I dreamed that after I got out of the shower and came back to the bedroom in my robe, suddenly the Pre-K arrived! They were right there -- all ten of them -- in my bedroom, without their usual "May We Come In, Please?"
. . . .
While it is always nice to see the Pre-K , I was a little taken back and mentioned to them that I wasn't dressed yet and not quite ready to receive guests.
. . . .
That didn't bother them. So I got busy finding my underwear and my shoes and my dress and things and when I looked back at them, the room now looked quite a bit like the Upper School Lobby and the Pre-K had things strewn all over. Everything had millions of little pieces: Crayons and coloring books; jigsaw puzzles much too sophisticated for their stubby little fingers; Playmobil people, and blocks of all sizes and shapes. And they were happily occupied with their work.
. . . .
I was dressed by now, and I decided to just let them be. I went into the kitchen and got busy because I knew that with this load of guests, I was going to need lots of pancakes.

Guest Bloggist: Sherry Johnson, My Darling Daughter


So I had some time this evening while I was waiting to go pick up Cara at the airport (only 2 hours until she arrives!) and I decided to check our your blog. Nice updates. Then I thought I would try the “next blog” thing that you told me about. This was okay. I looked at a couple and then ended up at this one: http://lightningtothenations.blogspot.com/
. . . .
The weird thing about that one is that the same font and a similar format as yours was used to set it up. But the subjects were things like “I popped a pimple” and “I want a f#$*ing schnoodle.” It was a weird feeling.
. . . .
I remember when I was a kid and used to see things that had been typed on a typewriter and my immediate first thought was “Mom wrote that.” Like the typewriter was your handwriting and I would recognize it in strange places before I realized that you didn’t write it after all.
. . . .
It was a similar feeling with this guy’s blog because I’ve never looked at anyone’s blog but yours until today. The first few that I looked at were completely different and all of a sudden it seemed like I was back at yours again. And I couldn’t imagine you posting anything about schnoodles or pimples.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cuter and Cuter


At 3-1/2-months, Sam is happier and more personable each time I see him. He's become quite proficient at saying "Goo," and is working at something that sounds like "P-Boo." "Goo," I think, must be the beginnings of "Gramma." If we put something into his fist, he can get it into his mouth. I think very soon he'll be able to initiate a grab himself.
. . . .
He likes to hear Grandpop intone "Old Man River," and his father's renditions of various national anthems. He likes anything that I sing. Either his musical taste is very eclectic or he is suprisingly diplomatic for one so young.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

She Showed Up on Thursday Morning


Skip's sermon this past Sunday spoke directly and emphatically to me, the way they do sometimes. The texts were about love of neighbor, and the challenge at the end was for us hearers to be on the look-out for the person God would be asking us to minister to this week.
. . . .
The sermon falls at the same point in the liturgy each week. This time, though, it was especially appropriate that the sermon asking us to be Christ to our neighbor came just before Eucharist, where we take Christ within us, and then are sent out.
. . . .
It has stayed with me all week. Since I didn't know who it might be, I've found myself being a little bit nicer, a little bit gentler, and even -- gasp -- a little more patient. I've gone out of my way to be pleasant to cranky parents who've called the school and I've been more cheerful about Joe's need to be out for business a little more than usual. I initiated a couple of phone calls to people I'd been neglecting. That kind of thing. On Monday when I was driving to school, the rain was coming down so torrentially that it impeded visibility -- I kiddingly emailed Skip I'd slowed WAY down in case the person God was putting in front of me was up and about early on a wet morning; I certainly didn't want to HIT her!
. . . .
So it has been a good week, holding this thought in the foreground
. . . .
She showed up on Thursday morning. She's a parent of a student at the school, and for some time now, each time she passes through the lobby, she looks in my window and waves to me. I was sure we'd been introduced at one point, but I really had no idea who she was. I always smiled and waved back as she went out the door.
. . . .
Thursday morning of the week I was watching out to see who God wanted me to minister to, she got as far as the lobby door, turned around, came in and sat down. Started to talk about what has been going on for her this year, the short-term and long-term struggles she faces. I listened. She went on. Of course, I realized quickly WHO she was and WHY she was in my office, and it suddenly became very easy for me to do what often is difficult or awkward. When she spoke about "seeing someone," I started talking about the Stephen Ministry program at St. Paul's, and how it works. She looked very interested. She asked where the church was, what time the services are, saying that since she has moved, the trip to her church is much too long and she was thinking of looking around. And, yes, she happens to be a Lutheran.
. . . .
I wrote down the address and the times of the Sunday service and she said she might well come to visit this Sunday. She said she'd think about Stephen Ministry and come back. And then she went on her way, with the little post-it note in her hand. Her always-friendly smile was a little bit bigger.
. . . .
So I smiled to myself, too, thinking that the person had shown up and it had been good.
. . . .
And then it dawned on me that I really wasn't sure whether Skip had said "person" or "persons." And the week isn't over yet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Feliz Cumpleanos, Viejo Verde


The quilt for Frank's birthday is finished. I'm pleased with the way it turned out.
. . . .
This afternoon I was a guest speaker for the second grade. They are working on their Pioneers Unit and I was invited to come and talk to them about quilts. They already knew pretty much about quilts. They knew that a quilt must have three layers and they knew that the pioneers made quilts out of their old clothing to keep warm. They even knew the names of some of the more common blocks!
. . . .
I took along two duffles of quilts to show them, explaining about pieced vs. applique and about tying, hand-quilting, and machine quilting as ways of holding the three layers together.
. . . .
I took Frank's quilt along and showed it to them and asked them to show me where the block was. At first they traced around the green squares. Then I told them that there were actually two different blocks, not one, that made up the quilt. They looked puzzled for a minute, but it didn't take long for them to identify the 36-square block and the green and tan hourglass block. It was fun to see how they marveled when they caught on.

Mother's Day, 2006


Sherry, Chris, and Sam came to visit.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Same Pattern, Different Fabrics, Part Two


A few months after my first Whackie Girl was finished, Lloyd needed some help recovering from surgery. I thought a nice quilt for his naps would be just the thing. Out came the Whackie Girl pattern and I went to work.
. . . .
It went together much more quickly and easily than the first one did. I used a commercial fabric that has a slight Japanese attitude to it for the background, and Daiwabo taupe fabrics from Japan for the rest of it. I was pleased with the way this quilt turned out, and so was Lloyd.

Same Pattern, Different Fabrics, Part One


I thought it was time to publish some of my quilts and talk about them a little bit. "Whackie Girl" is a pattern I discovered last summer while on vacation. Actually, it was Joe who discovered it. We were at Chautauqua and he accompanied me on a run to the LQS. While I was waiting for my fabric to be cut, he came over to me with the pattern, saying that he liked it and thought I should buy it. Now, what quilter in her right mind would decline such a suggestion? (Rhetorical question)
. . . .My first Whackie Girl was made from Laurel Burch's Christmas fabrics. At one point the blades were problematic, but when that happened I was on retreat with the White Oak crowd and Honna, Marsha, and Helen quickly talked me back into sanity with a proposed revision to the pattern. It worked out well. I finished the quilt and gave it to Sherry for Christmas.

Friday, May 12, 2006

El Viejo Verde


In my very first blog post, I wrote about the decision to not hurry to have Frank's quilt finished in time for his upcoming birthday, but rather I would get the quilt as far along as I comfortably could, give it to him on his birthday, with the promise to finish it before cold weather returns. "After all," I rationalized, "it isn't like he's going to need it in July."
. . . .
Frank and his wife Maggie are relatively new but very dear friends. They are another case where the "generally speaking" piece of the circles of relationships concept doesn't quite work for us. We discovered them to be our neighbors when we moved seven years ago, and quickly learned that we enjoy each others' company enormously and hold many interests in common.
. . . .
Frank and Maggie are funny, easy-going, liberal Democrat, music-loving gourmets, to sum up their most obvious characteristics. They are Cubans who are remarkably tolerant of "mi Espanol rota" (my broken Spanish). Frank's upcoming birthday is his 85th; Maggie is closer to us in age.
. . . .
One evening they introduced us to the concept of "El Viejo Verde" (the old green men) which they explained as kind of a teasing Spanish equivalent of "dirty old men." The next time we got together, Joe and I sported green ribbons in Frank's honor and presented him with one to wear, too.
. . . .
Ever since deciding to slow down on Frank's quilt, I've felt vaguely uneasy and couldn't pinpoint why. Another dilemma was whether the quilt I was working on for Frank was really right for him. It is made of lovely neutral fabrics in one of my favorite patterns. Simultaneously, I'd been working on a second neutral quilt, one that was much farther along, and it was planned to be a gift for a friend's September wedding.
. . . .
The second quilt was all finished except the binding, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought that perhaps this quilt was Frank's, and the original one was the wedding gift. I went back and forth for a little while.
. . . .
Then a few nights ago as I was stitching the rows together on what had been Frank's quilt, I realized what was at the root of my discomfort. I immediately stopped my work, reached for the second quilt, and began to bind. Binding doesn't take very long. It will easily be finished before Frank's birthday. And he will be pleased.
. . . .
And so will I, because, you know, you just shouldn't give a guy an "IOU" for his 85th birthday.

He Would Need Them When He Came Back


Joan Didion's book, The Year of Magical Thinking, stays with me. It was written during the first year after her husband died.
. . . .
For Joan, an example of the "magical thinking" was when she was cleaning out John's closet. She was able to do an extremely difficult task until she came to his shoes. She couldn't get rid of John's shoes because "he would need them when he came back."
. . . .
In a book that was filled with poignant incidents, this was perhaps the most moving. I'm a bit of a novice at grief myself, despite having lost both of my parents. There was sadness and confusion at those time, but it strikes me as odd that at 61 years old, I've only had one real experience with grief.
. . . .
That would be why the piece about the shoes resonated with me. When I was cleaning out Florence's closet a few weeks after she died, I would have waves of a terribly guilty feeling -- I was afraid that she was going to come into the house and find me going through her things. I thought she would feel so betrayed.
. . . .
I've learned through being with others in their grief that the magical thinking can take different forms. One woman was confusingly euphoric in the early part of her widowhood; after reading Joan's book, I've thought that perhaps this euphoria was this widow's form of magical thinking -- I wonder if she was magically thinking that now that the time of suffering and indignity and terror was past, perhaps NOW he would be able to return, whole. That would be cause for euphoria.
. . . .
We save some of the possessions of our lost ones as a way of keeping them with us. I use Florence's mixing bowls almost every day. That, I think, she would not find a betrayal, but rather a pleasure.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

WIPs, UFOs, and PIGS


My friend Jan wrote in her blog about her WIPs, UFOs, and PIGS, something that has been very much on my own mind of late. Most quilters have an abundance of Works In Progress, UnFinished Objects, and Projects in Grocery Sacks.
. . . .
One of my quilting lists has a UFO challenge, where we each register projects to complete at the rate of one per month. That has helped some. But some of the time I end up completing a totally different project. One month I won the drawing -- it yielded me about a dozen unrelated Fat Quarter cast-offs. Seemed like a bit of a self-defeating project.
. . . .
Just under a year ago I developed an Excel spreadsheet of UFOs, thinking that this would help me get organized and get them finished. Had I been thinking realistically, I'd have realized that over the coming year, not only would I not finish all of them, but, in fact, I'd add many, many more.
. . . .
Coming very close to a year since the establishment of the spreadsheet, the number of projects finished actually IS greater than the number that was added, netting me a total of approximately three or four projects finished in the year. But I press on (you should pardon the pun).
. . . .
This week my hand-sewing group of about three years now, the Uvulas (don't ask) met. Four of us each brought PIGS (Project In Grocery Sacks) and swapped them. We each have until October to complete the PIGS that we received. It was fun to watch the openings. Emily found an assortment of murky heart blocks, none of which seemed to have a common color. Bonnie withdrew five red/white/blue SWASTIKA blocks -- can't imagine what she'll do with those. Helen got my three batik turtle blocks complete with additional blue batik fabric to aid with the finishing. I was the lucky one, I think. I opened my bag to find five very goofy, charming and exceedingly long-legged chicken blocks and some yellow and white pinwheels. Don't know what to do with them, but if this blog lasts as long as October, we'll find out together!

Thoughts on a Friendship


Cathy and I have known each other casually for more than twenty years, but have only been close for about the past five or six. This came about in an unusual way; her close girlfriend died and God said to me, "Cathy's going to need a friend. You're it." Since God is seldom so forthcoming, I knew not to argue. Besides I already liked Cathy.
. . . .
We don't see each other one-on-one very often. We don't talk on the phone even once a month. But there's a deep connection there, and we both know it. I realized about a year ago that Cathy's one of my go-to people. In the past year, she's been there for me on matters of tremendous importance, quickly helping me to separate my paranoia from the reality.
. . . .
She is a fine listener, she's nonjudgmental, she's quick to come to clarity and -- perhaps most important -- Cathy has the capacity to hold a viewpoint on a subject that is a polar opposite of mine and allow that to be, without feeling she has to convert me.
. . . .
I guess the striking thing about the relationship is that we both presume a history that doesn't quite exist. Sure, we were passing acquaintances for many, many years. Then, so suddenly, we realized we meant something to each other, without having to go through the usual exploratory phases of a friendship.
. . . .
Woody used to talk about circles of relationship and what he said made sense to me. It was about how there are circles of relationship around us and those circles that are closest to us are the smallest and those farthest out are the largest. According to Woody, generally speaking, those in that smallest, most intimate circle are those we've had a relationship with the longest. Those in the outer circles are people we haven't known as long, people who are untested, unproven. Most of the time this is true for me. Then there's Cathy, but God put us together and God makes and breaks the rules.
. . . .
One other thing. If you know Cathy, then you'll understand the picture. If you don't know her, enjoy it anyway.

Hail to the Chief?


In the main lobby of the school, right now, a group of Middle School boys has formed a kazoo band that is intoning "Hail to the Chief."
. . . .
Strange thing is, it seems to make sense.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Never Let Me Go"


For my birthday, Rich gave me this book and I read it last week. It was unsettling, to say the least.
. . . .
I've never really liked novels that are set in the future. When I was a college freshman, I wrote a major paper for an English class, comparing a group of them. I found them all to be dystopic and depressing.
. . . .
Never Let Me Go is so well-written. While I detested the premise of it, I couldn't put it down, and I was impatient to find out exactly what was going on in this peculiar world that Kathy, Tommy and Ruth inhabited. Students at what seems at first to be a typical English boarding school, they don't seem to have any families or any kind of life away from the school. Eventually we realize that they have been developed as clones to provide organ donations.
. . . .
Despite my distaste for the basic premise of the book, there were a couple of themes that spoke to me.
. . . .
The scene where the group of students discovered a woman in the world beyond the school whom they believed to have been Ruth's "possible," that is, the person she was cloned from, got me to thinking about the need for family, even or especially for those who have never ever known family. Kathy's dancing with an imaginary baby was another piece of this theme. We have a basic drive or urge to know those we came from and to know there will be those who come after us.
. . . .
In one long scene, Tommy and Kathy as young adults meet with -- almost confront -- two of their former school teachers. These women talked about how clones were treated in other settings; they wanted to believe that in the wonderful school that they had run, they were doing something good, by providing an education and a life for the clones.
. . . .
That raised the question, "How do we use others to make us feel good about ourselves?"
. . . .
The breeding of people with the intent of using them only to donate organs to others raises the hard question, "How do we use others in general?"
. . . .
I can't say that I liked the book. I can say, though, that I am glad that I read it and that it was very difficult to put down.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bodacious


Bodacious is our year-and-a-half-old cat. Joe took this terrific picture of him.
. . . .
Bodacious is trying hard to grow into his name. So far he hasn't made much progress.

The Apple of My Eye


This is Sam, more formally known as Samuel Eugene Johnson, who was born on February 1, 2006.
. . . .
Our lives are enriched beyond what we ever would have anticipated. Dottie and other friends had said, "Grandchildren are the best yet." I knew they were wrong: What could be better than my own children?
. . . .
They were not wrong. Sam is the best thing ever. He's recently perfected the art of the toothless grin and when he does it, we just melt.
. . . .
In this photo, Sam is lying on the quilt that the Fat Quarters women (my on-line quilting group) made as a gift for me. While I've been a participant, and even an instigator, of these gift quilts for our members, opening the present made my eyes fill and my throat tighten. Grandchildren are the best. But friends are right up there.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"A is for Aunt Amy and Aunt Anastasia"


Sherry, Amy, Anastasia. Each grew up with a brother or two, but each without a sister.
. . . .
Now Sherry's brothers have married (well, ALMOST married, in Tom's case) wonderful women.
. . . .
And Sherry, Amy, and Anastasia now each have two terrific sisters, ready made, without any of the usual sibling struggles.

Stay Still so the Bunnies Will come


The Pre-K class has two soft brown bunnies in their room. They live in a bunny habitat of some sort and are gentle souls.
. . . .
In the afternoons, 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, who in general are much too grown up to think they need a nap, do at least need a rest. Jenny has them get out their mats and lie down for a little while. Then she opens the bunny habitat and lets Olive and Ruby come out to wander around the classroom. "Stay still," she tells them, "so the bunnies can come."
. . . .
If the children lie still, the bunnies might come near them, might hop over or between their legs, might sniff or nuzzle their own soft little cheeks. But only if they lie still.
. . . .
And so they lie still, hoping that the bunnies will come. And sometimes they fall asleep.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Basket


When I was a little girl, there was a large woodsy area close to my home. In one part of it there was a big field of what we called "bluebells." They are more formally called "grape hyacinths." They were always in bloom around May 1. In a nearby area was a great big patch of violets. Neither the bluebells or the violets grew in our yards at home, and we thought this area of the woods to be a magical place.
. . . .
At the very end of April, we'd make small baskets out of construction paper and flour-and-water paste. On May 1 we would go pick bluebells and violets and put them in the baskets and leave them on the doorsteps of people in the neighborhood. We loved doing it, but never got much feedback on it.
. . . .
I work at a Quaker school and my very best friends there are the members of the Pre-K (4-going-on-5-year-old) class. Yesterday I came to work to find a basket with a blooming impatiens plant hanging on my door handle.
. . . .
It was the first May basket I ever received! I was SO happy!
. . . .
Imagine waiting 50 or more years and then finding out how happy you had made your neighbors . . . .

Having Fun, With Intentionality . . .


This past weekend, Andrew and Amy came to visit. Saturday, Sherry, Chris and Sam came down and we all hung out, played games, and ate together. It was just wonderful. Sometime on Sunday, Joe pointed out that we don't have many weekends like that. Of course we don't have many weekends with four of our six together with us at the same time. But I think what Joe meant was that we don't have very many relaxed weekends, where we spend more time doing what we WANT to do than what we NEED to do.
. . . .
The stuff we NEED to do will ultimately get done.
. . . .
It was awfully nice to just lounge around with the kids, play with Sam, cook together, read, and enjoy each others' company for the better part of two days.
. . . .
A couple of weeks ago Joe and I went up to Doylestown to a photography exhibit and then to dinner. Not a particularly fancy place, but a nice place. Again, we had that feeling of "we don't do this kind of thing enough." He has a little list of places he'd like to go locally. I want to pay more attention to that list.
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Coincident with this, I was reading Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking which she wrote the year her husband died. It made quite an impact, this short little book did. One of the themes in it was her husband's having mentioned that they didn't do enough deliberately fun things. Now this seemed a little bit of an odd comment thrown in with descriptions of their life of privilege, visits with Julia Child, jetting off to Paris, cooking with Katherine Ross, etc. But this was something that was important enough to John for him to mention it to her, and for her to remember.
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Over the past year, the year of two weddings, a baby, and a gallbladder, my life has changed a lot, all in ways for the better. We now have six kids, rather than three, plus Sam. It is harder than ever to coordinate schedules so that many of us can be together at one time. This is a priority now, and it needs to be acknowledged as such, and made intentional.
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I don't want to look at the calendar to see when we can do stuff together and find that so many dates are full already. I want it to be easy for Joe and me to drop everything to be with them.
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"We don't do enough fun things" was a bit of a mini-epiphany for me. We do fun things, and we should do more of them. We should have space available for them.
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This morning I wrote a letter of resignation from a group that I've been involved with for about eight or nine years. I'd been feeling less passionate about the group for a little while, but just couldn't make the break. Letting go of this group to free up more time for fun things was the right thing to do, and once I did it, I felt relieved.
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I'd also put myself under some pressure to get a quilt made for a friend's upcoming birthday. Getting it finished and off to the machine quilter and back and bound in the space of just a couple of weeks was POSSIBLE and I was convinced that I could and should do it.
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But making a quilt is something I do for fun. And I don't like to do it under pressure. And so yesterday I decided to show the quilt in whatever stage it is to my friend on his birthday with the promise to have it to him before cold weather sets in and he will need it. Again, I felt freed by this decision.
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Tonight is dinner and symphony orchestra with Maggie and Frank, one of the "funnest" things we do. There have been weeks when life has been so busy that going to the orchestra morphed from something we wanted to do into something we had to do.
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Not this time!