Thursday, May 29, 2014


One of my closest friends has been sad lately. She told me that one of her grandsons has ADHD. He is eight, and it has taken this long for a diagnosis to be reached.

I first heard the term back in the late-70s-to-early-80s when my kids were little. None of them had it, so I never learned anything about the disorder. Over the years, like autism, ADHD is spoken of more and more frequently. Wanting to be able to support my friend, I decided to look into it, to find out what I could about ADHD.

Google provided a huge array of sites. Mindful that all sites are not good sites, not accurate sites, I went to just one, the NIH site, believing that the information would be clear, concise, accurate, and understandable.

It is.
Too much so, perhaps.

All at once I felt as though I was looking into a verbal mirror, reading about myself.

I never was the child my mother wanted me to be. My older sister was good and I was bad, and that's just how it was. I was a continual disappointment because I could not measure up to the standards that had been set.

NIH lists the traits of the three types of ADHD and suggests that anyone who has six or more of one group of traits falls into that particular category. I recognized all nine of the Inattention traits and one of each of the other types. I had these traits as a child, no doubt about it. Additionally, because of a high IQ, I was sent off to school a year earlier than necessary, making me the youngest and also least mature child in my grade. The high IQ turned out to be my friend; my report cards throughout elementary school showed high marks in most subjects and dismally low ones in listening and behavior areas. Over and over at home I heard, "You HAVE the ability. Why don't you APPLY yourself?" Obviously, I was stuck for an answer. I have no memories of doing anything right. None.

Of course my mother was at wits' end. Sixty-five years ago, ADHD was not part of the parenting vocabulary. Heck, parenting was not part of any vocabulary. She had no idea why I was so different from my good sister.

Still, it is awfully hard to have grown up with labels like "lazy," "inattentive," "bad," "doesn't listen," "doesn't try," "doesn't care," etc. So many years later, I still have trouble shaking them.

Many of the traits are still present in me. Maturity has shown me how to manage them to a certain extent.

Here's something else that has helped, something I never would have expected: I spend my mornings in a room across the hall from a classroom for three young autistic boys. Just around the corner is Gina, the little girl I came to love last year. All morning long I hear, "Nice job, Michael. Nice job listening to your teacher." "Nice job, Henry. You've earned all of your pennies!" "Good job, Gina! You are walking so nicely!" "Nice job keeping quiet hands and quiet mouth."

Ongoing praise and affirmation for things done well. Gina and Michael and Henry hear this all morning.

And so does a little girl, buried deep down inside of me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meanwhile, Back at the Church

I haven't written a whole lot about my job at the little church Not Far From Philadelphia. At this point I am working there four mornings each week, for four hours each morning. I had been hired at 20 hours a week, but there really wasn't enough to do, so I asked for a reduction in hours.

The people are awfully nice, earnest, good souls. I haven't met more than about fifteen or twenty of them, but the ones I've met are just wonderful. The rector is a sweet, young man, also very, very earnest.

About a dozen years ago, the church was thriving. The then rector had a very conservative theology and the vast majority of the congregation subscribed to it. As I understand it, when the gay bishop was installed to head the Episcopal church nationwide, this rector and his flock pulled out of this church and rented space elsewhere, leaving the diocese and affiliating with an Anglican communion based somewhere in Africa. The dozen or so remaining members  struggled along and eventually called a priest who stayed for several years and built the church up a bit; then he left and the present rector came.

The property is gorgeous, but in disarray. There isn't enough money for regular ongoing preventive maintenance, so the property committee is constantly putting out fires (figuratively speaking). The autistic school has outgrown the place and will be leaving during the summer for a bigger space elsewhere, and the vestry is vigorously seeking a new tenant. A day care, perhaps. I honestly don't know if they can stay open if they don't find a tenant.

There's a very beautiful graveyard adjacent to the church, and there's an odd situation that many of the plots belong to the people who bought them before the split, people who now worship elsewhere. Every now and again we will have an interment of a plot-holder who is no longer a member.

Such was the case this morning. A small group of people gathered to say goodbye to a man who had been a good husband and father. The memorial service was to be at another time and place, but the interment of the cremains was set for today. Yesterday I spent some time with the brother of the deceased, showing him exactly where the plot was. I arranged for the grave to be opened. The brother was distressed at the need for mowing; I arranged to have it done before morning.

The photo above is a sort-of famous one by Dorothea Lange; it wasn't taken this morning at the graveyard where I work. But it closely resembles the scene I viewed. I like it. And I liked standing at the window and looking out at the small group of people huddled under umbrellas as James was laid to rest. Those great, big, black umbrellas, the rain-clean trimmed grass and gravestones. It was all beautiful in a very strange kind of way.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Six Years

I spent a lot of last night in the Emergency Room.

As a hospital chaplain.

There were many Level II traumas, sometimes two at a time, and the staff was hopping.

Around 3:45 as I was dragging myself towards the elevator, hoping to get a few hours of sleep, it dawned on me: It was the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. And I was in the Emergency Room. Again.

Six years ago, on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, I was in the Emergency Room, too. This time as a worried wife of a man experiencing a heart attack.

So I turned away from the elevator and went back to the triage area. I told them of my realization. And I thanked them for saving my husband's life.

A blog friend is celebrating her wedding anniversary today. That made me think that Joe and I are also celebrating an anniversary. We've had a wonderful married life of 47 years. But these last six have been something special. We had a reminder that nothing lasts for ever, not even us. And we spend more time together, go out separately less, and thoroughly enjoy the quiet times with each other.

I know that this weekend we are remembering those we lost, and that is as it should be. But it's also okay to remember one we didn't lose. And be thankful to those who made that true.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

We Interrupt This Quilt . . .

. . . for a weekend away!

A year ago, a dear friend gifted me with a night at our favorite B&B in Cape May, and for Joe's birthday (which occurred not long before the ice storm this winter) I bought two more nights. We used them this past weekend.

Just before we left home, I took this picture to show where I am on the NYB quilt. It is greener than I'd anticipated, but I'm thinking purple for setting and bordering, so it should all even out. Most of the blocks are finished. Three need their centers cut and applied. One isn't started, but its components are chosen. I'll likely put it some time on this quilt during the coming week, finishing the blocks, and then setting it aside until Gene has a big sale and the Executive Committee makes a Burkholders run. I'm really proud of what I've accomplished so far. Block 2A was the hardest one, and I said pretty many bad words while I struggled with it, but it is done at last.

So, since I don't have a lot of quilting news to share, I'll talk about Cape May, another favorite subject. We drove down on Thursday afternoon with actually minimal traffic and gnashing of teeth, arriving in time for tea. We got a reservation for dinner at Louisa's and had the usual wonderful meal there. We were seated under the blackboard, the only "private" table in the place, and kind of liked it.

Friday there was what seemed to be a monsoon. I declared it a mani-pedi day and spent a fair amount of time at a nail place. Joe read and painted. It was also a great day for a major nap. Then we had dinner at a place that was new to us, the Blue Rose. Liked it so very much; will be sure to return there on our next trip.

Saturday was a beautiful day; after breakfast we took a long walk on the beach and then up through the mall, stopping at a couple of shops. Saturday night we were back at Louisa's. If you've never been there, I need to tell you that it is intimate.  You can't help hearing what your neighbors are talking about. And you know that the same is true for them! This night we were seated next to a quiet couple about our age and on the other side of them was another quiet couple. It was a good thing we were all quiet, because the table behind was a party of six. Six very noisy people, one of which seemed never to shut up. At last he stood and said "I'll wait for you all outside," and out the door he went. The man next to us said to his wife, "Now there's a loud voice leaving." And all six of us burst into laughter and the ice was broken and within moments we were sharing wine, opinions, and stories. Such a fun evening!

We spent a fair amount of time relaxing and reading on the inn's generous porch; we enjoyed lovely breakfast and tea and stayed in a room with William Morris wallpaper. Heaven cannot be grander!

Sunday saw us shopping, visiting the Point, and finally heading homeward. The old shops beckoned us in, of course, but there were some new-to-us shops that we loved! I found a perfect birthday gift in one shop, and some Christmas gifts in another. (Am I the only person that thinks of Christmas shopping when on vacation, no matter what time of year it is?) An olive oil tasting place was just wonderful -- a friend from home has raved about an olive oil place Not Far From Philadelphia and I wasn't sure why she was so excited. Not any more. Suffice it to say that we helped them to stay in business for a while, anyway. A new cheese shop/bakery out on the west side was recommended as a lunchery, and their "grilled cheese of the day" (a panini of turkey, brie, béarnaise and asparagus!) did not disappoint.

It had been way too long since we spent a weekend in Cape May. Not planning to let that happen again!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Hyperlink!

My friend Jan had the most amazing item on her Pinterest board. It purported to be a mother's comprehensive advice to her children. But the more I read it, the more I came to believe that it is a good set of guidelines of how I want to live. Things I know, deep down, but sometimes need to be reminded of. You might feel the same way.

I saved it to my own Pinterest board and decided to put it in my blog. Then I went to the website where I found cautions about publishing stuff without permission. So I'm providing this link instead. What a good mom person this Kim Bongiorno is.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Wall: WIPs

I believe I mentioned earlier that for the first time in a good many years, I am taking a quilt class. It is a four-part series on New York Beauty, a design I have long admired. My teacher is superb. My classmates, for the most part, are talented, precise people who learn quickly. There are a one or two others who are like me. It has been fun to see the different fabrics that they choose.

There have been three classes and after each one I have completed the block taught that night and made one (or two) more using what I learned in that most recent class. There is one technique that has me flummoxed. I have not photographed those miserable attempts. Tonight is the last class and I hope I can persuade the teacher to go over that one thing just one more time. Tonight we will be learning about borders and settings.

I'm not overly ambitious. If I can make a total of twelve blocks, I'll have enough for a nap-size quilt (though whether one could actually sleep under such points, such vibrancy, such gloriosity would remain to be seen). I am glad that I have taken the class. I do not find the blocks to be easy, but that is okay. I like things that take time, that require thinking and attention to detail. I think I will enjoy making five more blocks and setting them.

It has also been a good many years since I last participated in a block swap that I didn't organize. Recently I saw one for 12" finished blocks using only Kaffe Collective fabrics. I thought I would give it a try.

There was a place to sign up and to specify what colors we wanted in our blocks. I made a little spreadsheet and consulted each participant's color preferences, made 20 nice Louisiana blocks and mailed them out. While the final due date isn't for a couple of months yet, nearly half of the incoming blocks have been received.

The blocks are all pretty. A handful of people paid attention to my request for "blues, greens, and purples" in my blocks. Two of the blocks are real disappointments: one has selvedges visible, not just in the seam allowance, but in the interior part of the block. One has some fabric that I do not believe is from the Collective.  Fortunately, I have odds and ends of nice cool-color fabric on hand and will be able to make replacement blocks for those that turn out to be unusable for my project.

Friday, May 09, 2014


Our home is on a lot that is slightly sloped. One enters the front and it is a ranch house, all on one floor. But there are stairs that go down to a fully finished basement and because of the slope, there are big windows in the back and a door that leads to the yard. My sewing studio is in the back, right by the window.

Some years ago we began hanging birdhouses from the underside of the deck and we are up to six (or seven, if one counts the two-story duplex as two units) and each summer we host families of sparrows, each of which raises usually three broods of little ones. I love watching the nest construction, the mating dance, the feeding, and ultimately the flying lessons.

This morning Joe came in from walking Blackberry to tell me, "We've had a disaster." The gray birdhouse was on the ground, and all of the nest material was strewn on the lawn. A close look revealed yarn bits, lots of feathers, snippets of cellophane, and batik, Kaffe and hand-dye fabric scraps, much of which had been plucked from offerings we had set out a month or so ago.

We didn't know what had happened to cause the house to fall, and certainly didn't know how the nest came out of the little door hole. The house had not come apart. We speculated that perhaps a narrow-armed creature (and we did not want to get more specific than that) had reached in, searching for eggs, and pulled the nest apart and out.

We were shocked. We were sad. We wondered what the sparrows were saying about us. We felt like slumlords. These birds are our closest neighbors; we provide not only housing, but several feeders and a bathing/beverage station. We try to run a full-service operation.

When he had a moment, Joe got the ladder, went out and rehung the gray house, and did a better job of it this time. He went to put the ladder back in the house and when he emerged moments later, Mr. Sparrow was on the perch and the lady of the house was inside redecorating. Back to Business As Usual.

We wondered if we should have stuffed the materials back in, but our favorite nature show had taught us that birds are far more particular about things than we would imagine, and decided to let well enough alone.

FEMA, Near Philadelphia, signing off.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hello Dolly

Lori held a doll quilt swap this spring and my name was given to Patty Harrants. Look at the pretty quilt she made for me!!!

I love the bright colors and the design and just everything about it. Thank you, Patty, and thank you, Lori, for organizing this!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Washing A Cat?

When I heard that someone I admired was going to teach a class on the New York Beauty block, I didn't hesitate very long before signing up.  I had seen Sarah's work on display and had experienced her warm, laid-back and unpretentious personality at guild meetings. I'd long been fascinated by New York Beauty but never had the courage to try it.

I had had one experience with paper piecing; a friend held my hand (figuratively) as I went through the process and while she was a superb teacher, I thought "never again." The process just didn't seem to be compatible with my brain's wiring. That same blogless friend encouraged me when I mentioned I was thinking of taking this class. More confident that I in my paper-piecing ability, she asked me if I'd ever pieced curves before and when I told her "no," she looked concerned for just a moment before assuring me, "Oh, you'll be fine!"

The class meets for two hours on four Monday evenings, and we are half-way through at this point. Our location is a terrific new sewing studio/fabric shop in Philadelphia, and the class is full of groupies who seem to follow Sarah around, taking every class she teaches. I can see why. A patient and funny woman, she has the knack for [almost] ameliorating my feelings of incompetence. Each week we learn the paper-piecing part of the block in class and make one unit. During the intervening week, I put the shoulders and the center on that unit and then make a second block.

Oddly, so far the curves part has been no challenge. And I seem to have the rhythm/process of the piecing. My snag seems to be positioning the new piece each time so that it entirely covers the outer edges of the previous piece. I'm trying to believe that by the end of the class, I'll have it down.

At our quilt retreat last weekend, at one point the topic turned to different techniques and when asked if she liked to paper-piece, one participant responded, "I'd rather give a cat a bath!" Now having done both of those things at one time or another, it is a good thing we are presently catless. I could see myself struggling to decide whether to sew along those dotted lines or to head for the sink, the shampoo, and the puss.