Monday, January 29, 2007

Ba Da BUMP Bump Bump Bump . . . .

The new organist at our church is way cool. Since her arrival, the ranks of the choir have swelled, the kids are singing as a group again, and she has a way of making the organ do things that none of us suspected it could do, of turning the -- the -- volume, for want of a better, more linguistically correct term, up all the way at just the right time so that the music actually somehow penetrates our very souls.
. . . .
Yesterday was one of those days. It was during the last hymn, and we were still full of that when she began the postlude.
. . . .
This is going to be one of those blog posts where disparate elements come together.
. . . .
Bonnie and I share a subscription to Netflix and we'd decided that one of our winter projects would be to revisit -- and in some cases visit for the first time -- all of the episodes of Masterpiece Theatre's "Upstairs, Downstairs." Neither of us thought we'd ever seen the series in its entirety. The DVDs come to Bonnie first and then to us.
. . . .
On Friday afternoon we were delighted to find the first DVD in the series stuck in our door. And that evening we built a fire -- the first of the season -- and watched three of the four episodes, back-to-back. Late on Saturday night, after our dinner guests had gone, we watched the fourth. We were immersed in Eaton Place. By Sunday morning we still had Rose and Hudson and the Bellamys and the music in our heads.
. . . .
Imagine, just imagine, our delight then when the postlude began with the familiar "Ba da BUMP bump bump bump bada bada bump. . . " of the Masterpiece Theatre theme music! Right there in our own church! Joe, of course, turned to me and said in his deepest Alistair Cooke tones, "Brought to you by the Mobil Corporation," which set me to giggling. I said I was going to tell the organist and he raised an eyebrow the way he does, implying that she wouldn't get it. "She will," I told him. And she did.
. . . .
P. S.: Just in case after reading this, you need to hear it again, it's called "Rondeau" by Mouret, and it's terrific all the way through, not just the opening ten or twelve bars that we hum.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Take or Send?

A couple of weeks ago when Joe and I were in the car on our long drive down to Virginia, we got to talking about shopping. I had been to the mall earlier in the week for one of those twice-a-year major shopping trips for basic necessities like socks and pillows and the like. So shopping, something I don't generally look forward to unless it is for fabric, was fresh in my mind.
. . . .
We remembered how back when we were kids, if we went shopping with our parents at a major department store, when a purchase was made, the clerk would inquire, "Take or send?" The big department stores in Philadelphia had some kind of an arrangement with UPS and it didn't cost any more to have your package sent home instead of being burdened with it while you did the rest of the shopping. And the next day there was all that fun of a package arriving, even though you already knew what was inside..
. . .
Joe talked about how his parents went to Trenton for their major shopping expeditions. I don't remember my parents going shopping together ever. My mother took care of any shopping that had to be done.
. . . .
A couple of times a year she would "go downtown." It was always planned well in advance and was usually scheduled for a "Clover Day," the big sale at Strawbridges. If a trip downtown fell during a time that I was off from school, I got to go along.
. . . .
I don't have a whole lot of good memories of times with my mother. But the shopping downtown is surely one of them! We'd take the 9:09 train, arriving about a half-hour later, and then walk from store to store, making our purchases and having them "sent." Several of the department stores were clustered together down around 8th and Market, and we'd go there first. Then, when we were close to finished with all of the things on the list, we'd walk up to Wanamakers, our favorite store. We'd have lunch at the Crystal Tea Room and had to take the elevator to get there -- it was probably on the 8th or 9th floor of this very large department store. We always got the same thing for lunch: Tea sandwiches, tea for mother and chocolate milk for me, and chocolate mint ice cream for dessert. I can picture those sandwiches and taste that ice cream to this day.
. . . .
After lunch we'd do whatever shopping remained at Wanamakers and then came the very best part of the day -- before we would go and catch the train for home, we'd cross Chestnut Street, passing the blind pencil salesman who never seemed to look any different from year to year, and go into the great big Woolworths where we'd go downstairs to where the children's things were kept and pick out a brand new book of paper dolls for me. The clerk never asked, "Take or send." She knew I'd want to start cutting them out right away.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thinking Inside the Box

It was Gabrielle who came up with the concept, actually. She was hanging out in my office during some sort of interval in the Blood Drive, and picked up the latest pictures of Sam: the one in the new hat, the one in the highchair with the spaghetti face, and the one of him peeking out of the carseat box.
. . . .
We got to talking, the way moms do (even though her youngest is 7 or 8 [shame on me for not knowing exactly, especially when my blog links to Emma's website] and my youngest is 28), about how different our lives would be if we'd not had children. We talked about the trips we would have taken, money we'd have had to spend and the magnificent appliances we'd have bought (and never used because we'd go out to dinner every night). Then it hit us: We wouldn't know what to do with the empty box that the new refrigerator came in! If we didn't have kids, we'd have no idea whatsoever! We reminisced about the boxes we'd acquired and the uses our kids had had for them and agreed that they were the best playthings ever (take that Fisher Price!).
. . . .
And then she said it. "Those people who came up with the concept of 'thinking outside the box' got it all wrong. It's thinking -- and being -- inside the box that matters!" And for a moment or two, both of us were about six again.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tinned Meat Product

I have a secondary email account that I check once a month or so. I discontinued its use because all at once it started to fill up with spam. My current provider must have a much better filter because I seldom receive unwanted email. Of course occasionally I don't receive something I should have received, but that is a complaint for another day.
. . . .
Today was once a month or so. It had been a long time and there were 199 messages, all but two of which were tinned meat product.
. . . .
I'm aware that most of it is computer generated; nonetheless, some of the names and subjects were amusing. I didn't open anything, but did take note that I'm privileged to receive mail from:
  • one Siddiqui Danish who "don't want no short ramrod man"

  • Fernando Norwood who admonishes me to "take it easy"

  • Mama O. Unearths who urges -- shouts, actually -- "TURN AROUND DON'T DROWN"

  • Mongolism Q. Indefinitely who can't quite bring himself to mention what he is offering in any kind of a subject line, but somehow I doubt it is something I want

  • Olive Hurt (Hurt, Olive?) writing to accept my application

  • McBride the Tale who wonders whether I know yet

  • Lara Xiong who writes "of debbie on pooch" -- guess she's done Dallas.

  • Elsie who enigmatically cites "condition"

and countless more, most of which have to do with the size of body parts that I don't have, prescriptions for medicines I don't need, and consolidation of debts that I don't have.

. . . .

Is it possible that there are people who actually open and read this stuff? The preponderance of it leads me to believe, sadly, that they not only do but then proceed to act on it. Perhaps they are all acquainted with Augustus Hoover, who cautions, "Don't be left behind!"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One of Those Weeks

It's one of those weeks. You know, the kind where there seems to be more to do than hours to get it all done? I haven't had one for a while, but suddenly this one is upon me, and it's making me crazy. I used to have lots and lots of these weeks, and seemed able to handle them with aplomb -- or something very similar to aplomb -- but the older I get the more stressful they are. Perhaps I've used up my aplomb.
. . . .
I have to be out every single night this week. I have transcription to fit in for my part-time fabric-supporting job. I have the Christmas decorations to get put away. I have my Sunday School lesson to prepare. It's a lot. Usually I can manage these weeks better if they are book-ended by relatively free weekends. That's not the case this time. We were away this past weekend and have a couple of things scheduled for the upcoming one.
. . . .
Creative time-management is called for. Knowing I had a meeting after school and then the board meeting to attend last night, I brought my Sunday School materials to work with me. Had two hours between the end of the one meeting and the start of the next and decided not to go home and return, but spent that time in solitude in my office and got the lesson very close to finished. That was a big load off my mind. Can work in the xeroxing today after school and use my lunch time to polish off the lesson.
. . . .
Got home a little after ten last night and Joe, God bless him, had taken down the advent wreath and was putting the trains away. I'll have two hours after school today and will spend one of them transcribing and the other putting the Swedes and nativities away for their year-long nap. Then off to tonight's meeting after dinner. Similar plan for tomorrow would involve the tree.
. . . .
Next week looks much more sane. But it is days away. If anyone could lend me about a cupful of aplomb, I'd be grateful.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Two

Two-Fer Meme. This meme has been working its way around the blogs and now it is here!

Two names you go by:
1.. Mom
2.. Nana

Two parts of your heritage:
1.. Swedish
2.. Funny

Two things that scare you:
1.. Pat Robertson
2.. George W. Bush

Two everyday essentials:
1.. Coffee
2.. For Better or Worse


Two things you are wearing right now:
1.. Tan jumper
2.. Black Shirt

Two of your favorite bands or musical artists (at the moment):
1.. Philadelphia Orchestra
2.. Enya

Two things you want in a relationship (other than love):
1.. Laughter
2.. Listening

Two truths:
1.. I seldom let people know when they've hurt me
2.. If I don't sew and/or read every day, I get cranky

Two favorite hobbies:
1.. Quilting
2.. Blogging

Two things you need to do this week:
1.. Prepare my Sunday School lesson
2.. Put away the Christmas decorations

(and I'm worried about finding the time to do them!)

Two stores you shop at:
1.. Barnes and Noble
2.. Whole Foods

Two favorite sports (Sports? Favorite sports?? Me? Oh, dear . . . . ):
1.. Bull riding (as a spectator)
2.. Jacks -- remember jacks? Do jacks count? I was pretty good at jacks . . . .

Two shows you like to watch:
1.. Men in Trees
2.. Everything else I liked to watch has gone off the air

Two things you’d buy if money were no object:
1..A second floor addition
2..A hot tub


Two wishes for 2007: (Both of these were D’s answers and there’s no point in changing ‘em!)
1.. Continued good health for my friends and family
2..That the direction the US has been taking socially and politically for the last several years would make a big change for the better


If you want to answer this one for yourself, tell me so in comments and you can consider yourself officially tagged!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eating our Way through Virginia

It may never happen again.
. . . .
Enjoying a meal with each of our kids, in their own homes, on three consecutive days.
. . . .
And, oh, it has been wonderful.
. . . .
We left Near Philadelphia on Friday mid-day and arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, a little after four. Amy wasn't expecting us until after five, so we went down to the shopping area and, well, shopped. There was a terrific store there that might well have been called Grandparents' Downfall. We found some cute overall outfits for Sam's first birthday and Joe, the guy who just loves to play with hand-puppets with kids, picked up a life-size white fluffy duck.
. . . .
Andrew and Amy entertained us royally. Their guest room is comfortable and they wanted to explore a French restaurant in town that they'd passed before. And so we did. It was very charming inside and the food was good. Joe opted for some berry-filled crepes for dessert, despite Andrew's warning that he was making crepes for breakfast the next day. And so he did. They were filled with cut up bananas and poached peaches and sprinkled with sugar. Joe pronounced them better than the French restaurant's. A&A were still in the mid-to-late stages of the headcold, so we didn't hang around long after breakfast. We left around 11 in the morning and continued our trip to Anastasia and Tom's place in Richmond.
. . . .
As on Friday, we were blessed with minimal traffic. We had no trouble at all getting there. We visited at T&A's place and they started talking about going out someplace for some lunch. We spoke about the crepes that A&A had made and Tom got to drooling and decided we should go over to Can-Can where he knew he could get a good crepe. We all did. These were chicken and mushroom lovelies. Nice. But not as good as A&A's.
. . . .
Saturday evening T&A decided we should go out to dinner at Helen's restaurant downtown. And so we did. And what an experience it was! The reviewer only gave Helen a 12 out of 20 on whatever scale they were using. We gave it an A+ on our scale. It was just a wonderful meal, and we would gladly return to Helen's anytime we had the opportunity. You might want to consider it if you are ever in Richmond:
http://www.gayot.com/restaurantpages/info.php?tag=RIRES030601&code=RI
. . . .
We didn't have dessert there. Anastasia had made brownies and Tom a key lime pie at home. And we were given our birthday gifts a little early. We stayed at a Holiday Inn since T&A really don't have a lot of room for guests, and returned to them this morning for Anastasia's home-cooked breakfast which was just yummy. It included a Southwest version of those breakfast casseroles and she was kind enough to share the recipe.
. . . .
Driving home, we considered whether to stop at Annapolis. The second best quilt shop I've ever been in, Cottonseed Glory
http://www.cottonseedglory.com/cottonseedglory/index.htm is there, and we've often stopped and had lunch in downtown Annapolis and then Joe takes a nap in the car while I peruse the quilt shop. We decided we really needed to stop. The thing is, though, the restaurant we like in Annapolis is a French place that specializes in -- you guessed it. We partook of the chicken and spinach variety which were better than Can-Can's, but, again, not up to the standard set by A&A. Joe needed an ice cream cone after we ate, and we wandered around the waterfront while he ate it. I was tired by the time we got to Cottonseed Glory, and actually didn't buy anything. That shop used to carry the Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazines, and I was anticipating picking one up, but apparently they've discontinued them. Our LQS doesn't carry them any more either; the only place I know that does is that place out in Bird-in-Hand that has the green rulers. Anyway.
. . . .
So we're home again, safe and sound, after another day of really not much traffic on I-95. Tomorrow night we're having dinner at Chris and Sherry's. Chances they'll serve crepes? Slim to nonexistent. Unless they read this blog in the morning!

What's My Type?

Over the years I've done the Myers-Briggs pretty many times, so this result didn't surprise me. I'm pretty close to the center of the scale on the P-J line; sometimes I come out a P and other times a J.
. . . .
One time the entire church council took the big version of the test. Some of the ST types hated it but most of the rest of us not only liked it, but found it to be relatively accurate. It was a good thing for a church council to do as we began working together for the next several years.
. . . .
I think the Myers-Briggs is a pretty decent tool.

You Are An INFJ
The Protector
You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.
You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Marsha as Mentor

Marsha is nothing, if not practical. That's not to say that she isn't a rampant stash-builder like so many of us. But she uses everything up. She'll set aside her scraps as she finishes a quilt and when she has time, she cuts them into standard sizes and puts them away. She's amazing. She accepts itsy-bitsy scraps from the rest of us with the greatest delight. "My limit is an inch and a half," she proclaims. I've never put that to the test. I hate to see a good woman fail and I know she'd feel too sorry for the miniscule tidbits to cast them off.
. . . .
She has a scrap quilt that she hand pieced. She's the only person I know who does hand piecing, as a regular activity. Em and and a couple of others do a little of it, but I was amazed at Marsha's full-size quilt, entirely hand pieced in odd moments here and there. Somehow it is a "free" quilt -- made from scraps in segments of time that would otherwise have gone to waste. She explained that she'd cut squares all the same size, put them in a baggie, and then hand-pieced 9-patch blocks in the dentist's waiting room, during the kids' play practices, in front of the television, probably even sitting at red lights, for all I know.
. . . .
I decided to give it a try. I have a lot of left-overs from a couple of Moda projects that I did in the past year or so, and I thought I'd cut them up and bag 'em.
. . . .
Later today we're leaving for a weekend trip to visit our sons; having something small to take along made sense since my current handwork is quilting the border on Joe's quilt. On my way to the Moda, however, I just about tripped over the tote that holds the Daiwabo scraps. And lots of them were already cut to 2.5 inch squares, left over from the two quilts I'd made. It was only a half-hour or so of work to press them and cut some more. I now have a little tote bag outfitted with a baggie of 2.5s, a baggie of what appear to be 2.5s but really should be checked, a 4.5 square ruler, a 6x1 straight ruler, a very small Olfa mat, pencil, and my old small rotary cutter. Am ready for the trip (once I get my clothes packed and find the directions to Andrew's!). Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bravo!

We've been Philadelphia Orchestra subscribers for the better part of twenty years. Since our son is a violist, we've always requested seats that would give us a good view of the viola section and have come to look upon those players as some sort of very distant relatives that we don't know well at all.
. . . .
Recently, though, I've been looking elsewhere. The Orchestra's tympanist is a school parent; his twin daughters are in our eleventh grade. So I know him. A little. Since he's located behind the violas, I don't feel a sense of conflict. Occasionally my eye even wanders over to the other members of the percussion section.
. . . .
There are times when, at the conclusion of a piece, some in the audience will leap to their feet hollering, "Bravo!" This has fascinated me. Not being a musician myself, I didn't understand what made one performance worthy over another of such a response. I remember thinking, "What kind of confidence must a person have to do that?"
. . . .
You can see where this is going.
. . . .
Last night, the main piece was Copland's Symphony No. Three. I'd never heard it in its entirety before, and I loved it. Well before the start of the fourth movement, I'd begun to look away from the violists and back towards the percussionists. I recognized the "Fanfare for the Common Man" as it began, having had no idea that it was a part of this larger work. As it built and swelled, I found I couldn't take my eyes off of Don and his tympani and his mallets (even noticing that some of them were different colors). I was utterly captivated and pulled into the piece.
. . . .
At its end I found myself on my feet, hollering, "Bravo!"
. . . .
It wasn't about confidence. It was about doing what I couldn't not do. Thanks, Don, for unknowingly teaching me this. Bravo!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Baskets, Blooms, and Stars


This is a quilt that I just loved making. I bought it as a BOM and it came kitted up with the patterns and the fabrics for each of the twelve blocks and also for the blue and yellow star cornerstones. I added the tan lattice and the border and the binding fabrics. Each block was bonded and then hand buttonhole stitched over each and every raw edge.
. . . .
I find the hand buttonholing very relaxing. I did several of the blocks at Chautauqua the second year we were there. I'd spend an hour or so in the morning either cutting and bonding the design elements for the block or machine piecing the borders. Then I'd sit at the Amphitheatre during lectures and concerts doing the buttonhole stitch.
. . . .
Kat did the machine quilting for me and I was just thrilled with her creativity. I really like this finished quilt, but it doesn't belong in my home. It doesn't go with our decorating style and it doesn't fit a bed. It's a journey quilt rather than a destination quilt, if you follow my train of thought; that is, it was the process of making it that brought me joy and satisfaction, not the having of the finished product.
. . . .
But it is somebody's style, and all of the work that went into it will be appreciated by a recipient. Ben is likely to get married in a year or two. So is Kendra (well, it will probably be longer than that for her). Either of them would be a good recipient for this quilt. Meanwhile, it will stay here and wait for its home.
. . . .
These pictures show close-ups of Kat's quilting. None of the pictures for this series is as sharp and clear as I wish. My camera and I are having "issues." Clicking on any of the pictures, though, should make it larger if you want a closer look.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baskets for the Basket Maker

It was Molly who started the whole thing, really. One day she wrote, "Why don't we swap basket blocks using Civil War fabrics? We could use blues and grays."
. . . .
Someone else suggested, "How about if we use unbleached muslin or old-style shirting fabrics for the backgrounds?"
. . . .
And a third quilter added, "Gray Civil War fabric is hard to find. How about we allow some purple baskets?"
. . . .
Molly agreed. And so it happened. We all set to visiting the reproduction fabrics websites. We searched for basket patterns that we liked. In some cases we invented basket patterns that were very 1860s in appearance. I did my appliqued baskets while I was at Chautauqua in July. We all sent our blocks to Molly and she swapped them out.
. . . .
When they came home, I was filled with delight. I put them up on my design wall and bought some nice large print blue Civil War repro fabric for the lattice and the setting triangles. But Joe liked the way they looked on the gray of the design wall and persuaded me that a gray background would be nice. He was right. I used the blue print for the outer border.
. . . .
When the quilt was sandwiched, I knew that this quilt should not go to the machine quilter. Machine quilting just didn't seem appropriate for a quilt that appeared to be from the Civil War period. While I enjoy hand-quilting, I do not hand quilt many projects, and this was not to be one of them. The remaining method actually seemed to me to be the most appropriate for this quilt: Tying. I used muslin-colored DMC floss, six strands at a time, and the quilt seemed to me to want to be tied more closely than usual. And now it is finished.
. . . .
My co-worker, Jenny, teaches the Pre-K class that I've written about in a few previous posts. These little four-and-five year olds bring joy and sunshine into my life every week of the school year and it is at Jenny's initiative. One of Jenny's hobbies is making beautiful baskets, and she has made one for me as a thank-you gift each year that I've made a quilt for the school auction using self-portraits by the Pre-K class members. I'm going to give Jenny her quilt tomorrow morning. While I don't always name my quilts, this one is called Baskets for the Basket Maker.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Epiphany


January 6, as you probably know, is Epiphany, the day that legend says the Magi came to call on Jesus. My liturgical hanging for Epiphany is simply the Magi superimposed on the Christmas hanging. I used three purples, the color of royalty, for the kings' clothing. The background is green, the appointed color for the season of Epiphany. Again, I chose batik fabrics because they remind me of stained glass. The Epiphany drapes on the Christmas hanging are reminiscent of a pastor's stole.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Time to Be

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.


A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.


A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.


A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.


A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.


A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.


A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
. . . .
It is one of the most familiar Scripture passages, coming from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. It has been in my mind lately. The end of one year and the start of another is a time for reflection. This year there is a strange combination of the news of the world -- with its juxtaposition of intensity and horror along with complete and utter ridiculousness -- and an awareness of the personal sadnesses of so many around me.
. . . .
My own life is blessed and I'm so aware of it. There is so much joy for us just now. But so many around me are experiencing terrible pain: the sudden loss of a daughter, a too-young daughter/wife/mother in hospice care, a days-old infant needing heart surgery, and yesterday the news that a coworker is in the last days of her battle with lung cancer.
. . . .
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds me that all of this is a part of life; that there are good times and there are bad times. (And, of course, I take particular delight that "a time to sew" is included among the good times.) My Lutheranism reminds me that God is with us in both the times of joy and the times of sorrow.
. . . .
I do the end of year reflecting, and the planning and hoping for the year to come. I find myself thinking back to a time when a young mother I'd known since her adolescence moved into our neighborhood. Wanting to welcome her and help her connect with other women, I invited her to join the book group. Her response surprised me. She said she would not join at that time: "I'm spending so much time doing. I don't have enough time just to be." It was as if she had read one more verse in the passage than the rest of us had: "A time to do, and a time to be."
. . . .
The picture at the top of this post was taken at Loon Lake. Joe and I were there primarily to attend a concert of Tom's. Loon Lake is about ten times quieter than Lake Woebegone. While there, we had plenty of time to be and we liked it. While being, we learned about butterfly gardens. And I took some photographs to help me to remember.
. . . .
My very first blog post was about my desire to "have fun with intentionality." http://nancynearphiladelphia.blogspot.com/2006/05/having-fun-with-intentionality.html
I've been able to do this, and it's been grand. In this new year, I hope to spend some time with Ecclesiastes, to understand it in a new and deeper way. Included with that would be to put into practice Laura's corollary: "A time to do, and a time to be."