Sunday, August 19, 2018

Louisiana

Remember that gaggle of geese from a few posts back?

Here's what's become of them.

They've turned into 16 nice twelve-inch Louisiana blocks.

This project needs lattice and cornerstones.  I'm thinking white-on-white for the lattices, like the background on the geese. And a nice variety of brights for the cornerstones.  And maybe a border, we'll see.

But it's going to be set aside for a bit before I can finish it.

These big blocks are much less likely to get lost than those wandering geese.

Feeling good about getting to this stage.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Quest

So the first year, Maggie and I happened to run into each other right in front of the Entenmann's display at our local grocery store. I was holding a box of apple cider doughnuts, something I'd never seen before. Maggie hadn't either. So we agreed to buy a box and split them, four for her and Frank, four for me and Joe. Later on, we agreed that while they were nice, they really weren't anything particularly special.

An August or so later, she showed up with a different brand of the same thing: Apple Cider Doughnuts. Except these were Donuts rather than Doughnuts. They looked a lot like the Entenmann's from the previous year, a lot like this picture.

Again, they made a cuppa coffee a little more special, but in and of themselves, not so much. We decided that in the future, we'd save our calories for something else.

But that third year rolled around, and one of us found yet another source, and for some reason believed they would be more authentic, whatever that might mean.

Nope.

This year's version came from a local farm stand. That would have to make a difference, I thought, and snuck a box in with the sweet corn and peaches that Himself was carrying.

Same story.

So, here's the thing: All of the ACDs that we've tried over the years look like the photo at the start of this post. And all tasted pretty much the same. Good, but not phenomenal. We give up.

This morning I decided to write about the Quest for the Definitive Apple Cider Doughnut (or Donut if you insist) and how this year is really the last year. And I Googled for images of the same, and found the ones on the square white plate (a lot like my square white plate, as it happens).

I also found this image, which is of a completely different specimen. Doesn't it look fabulous? It's gotta be different, mouth-watering, truly delicious, doesn't it?

The Quest continues.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Lancaster County Day

I set out this morning for a special annual event, one of my favorite days of the year: The day I connect with my niece and give her the backpack that I have filled to share with a student from a family of diminished financial means. There's a structure to the visit: We meet at The Old Country Store, perhaps shop a little, cross the street for a chicken salad sandwich at Kling House, back to TOCS for a bit more retail therapy, moving of the backpack from one car to the other, hugs and kisses and off to home.

The drive out was uneventful. The traffic on the turnpike portion wasn't terrible, and soon enough I was heading South on 10 to be followed by West on 340. When I started out, I was thinking of some of the unsettling things about this summer: Disruption in routine at the little school where I work, a couple of important friendships in a bit of disarray, reminders of mortality much closer than one would like. I was looking forward to the visit with Susan, but feeling as though my world wasn't particularly rosy.

That all changed.

Once I got into the Amish countryside, the farms, cows, flowers were all so beautiful. I felt myself changing and settling down inside. I'm a sucker for a good clothesline full of Amish wash and apparently today was laundry day, for I passed several wonderful specimens. When I met up with dear Susan, I was pleasantly surprised that she'd brought along her granddaughter, age 1. Emmy is a gorgeous and personable baby, with a pleasant and amiable disposition. She's recently learned to (1) wave and (2) point, and did both with delight as her grandma and I consumed our chicken salad and she her cut-up chicken nuggets.

Susan was happy to receive the backpack. She told me that Brittany, the recipient of the first backpack I'd filled, is now a college student and showed up at her home the other day with a new, filled backpack. My gift had meant that much to her that she knew to pass it on.

I bought a little Kona Snow and a magazine. On the way home I stopped at a fine farm stand where I bought a big basket of Red Haven peaches, something my husband remembers from long, long ago.

I came home content and at peace. What caused the change? Was it the Amish wash (still hanging and blowing a bit on the way home)? Checking off another year of tradition with Susan? Lunching with the very newest generation? That big basket of peaches (and some sweet corn, too)? All of those things were wonderful. But the story of Brittany's generosity, I think, was the finishing touch.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Gaggle

While I was digging around looking for finished tops and possible backings, I came across a small gaggle of four geese. And with them were the beginnings of a whole lot more. I couldn't think what I'd intended to do with them. But I sure did like 'em.

Yesterday and today I spent a little time finishing them (there is one more set that will be done tomorrow after I do some unsewing) and sticking them up on the wall. I still couldn't remember what my initial plan had been. But now there's a gaggle of a respectable size.

Himself came by and started moving them around and then it occurred to me that I must have been planning a quilt of Louisiana (one of my very favorites) blocks, perhaps with white or ash grey to finish them off.

I have no business getting re-involved with these geese. My current self-assigned task is putting tops and backs together and getting them finished and re-homed. So I'll try to leave them up on the wall until that job is finished. We'll see how that works out.

Monday, August 06, 2018

After

I have never, not even once (as they say) remembered to take a "before" picture in connection with one of our myriad home improvements over the years. Never.

From the day we moved in, nineteen years ago, I detested our lamppost. I was glad we had one (not all the houses on the street do), but it was in the style once known as "colonial" and I don't have a picture of it. 

I wanted needed a lamppost that looked more like us. But there were many other things of greater importance.

July was the month of the new lamppost. Himself wasn't content with just replacing the old one. He tore it out. He ran the line to a new location. He installed the new one. He learned a new skill -- masonry -- and built this wonderful wall and installed the house numbers he'd purchased in anticipation. 

Now, when you come to visit, you'll know what to look for.

And we'll leave the light on for you.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

A Blog Rec

Mary Poppins's lesser known sister, Elizabeth.
It's been a long time since I recommended a blog for others to enjoy. A long time. And the one I'm about to tell you about isn't my usual kind of thing. It's not about food, Scandinavia, or even Scandinavian food. It's not about quilting. It's not even about being Lutheran. The writing is a bit hurried and the cast of characters is immense (she recently provided a cheat sheet to help readers keep track), and the content is captivating.

The author is someone I've never met. She's the younger daughter of someone I'd love to call a friend but in reality that person is more of an acquaintance-plus. I think Elizabeth is not yet thirty. 

Elizabeth's daily posts remind me yet again how far we have come as women. Let's assume she's 26. She's graduated from college, perhaps even grad school, has traveled widely, is a vegetarian, knows fascinating people, has achieved a Fulbright, and is currently living in a third world country making a difference and doing said Fulbright. When I was 26, forty-seven years ago, I'd done none of those things. None. I've done some of them by now, but just think of the opportunities ahead for this young woman!

Honna and I spoke briefly recently about how odd it feels to find ourselves in our seventies (when apart from certain body parts like hips and feet and knees we certainly don't feel that old), which Erickson calls "Old Age." Here's what he says about this stage: 

OLD AGE:  Integrity vs. Despair – as an adult reaches the end of her life, she looks back at what she has or hasn’t accomplished, and feels a deep sense of fulfillment or at least an acceptance of the life she has lived (out of which will come wisdom), or alternatively, she descends into anguish or despair at having not lived a full and vital existence.

While I don't think I'm reaching the end of my life, I have felt that reflective piece over the last five years. As a young person, I didn't have a lot of my own goals; I accepted the ones my parents imposed on me: Become a secretary, get married, provide grandchildren for them. I excelled on all counts! And I am deeply satisfied by those things. In addition, I became good at cooking and sewing (opposite of predictions made by Those Who Judged), formulated an employment (too late for a career) goal, attended college, earned two graduate degrees, and took deep satisfaction in my work as a hospital chaplain. And I'm surely not done yet.

The Erickson stages may be outdated. Young adults today are at least as focused on traveling widely and exploring career options as they are on finding a partner. I see this daily in the Millennials who teach where I work.

All of the foregoing may seem irrelevant to recommending a blog about a young woman spending a year in India. Elizabeth may not play into your own deep thinking as she has with mine, but give her a look. As I told her, India was never a place I wanted to visit; I perceived it as full of disease, squalor, inequity. And it may well hold all of those things, but this writer is showing me so much more.  About the country and about being a young woman today. Here, take a look: Elizabeth's Fulbright in India.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Back To School

My niece is a teacher of gifted students in a district  that apparently has many families who are financially challenged. For such families, August presents a real hardship: It's time to get ready for back-to-school.

I remember August when I was a kid. Besides playing Monopoly and beginning to tire of the popsicle man who came around in the afternoon, there would come a day when my mother would take me to Ninth Street to get ready to go back to school. The area is now known as the Italian Market and has changed some in sixty or sixty-five years. In addition to the gorgeous veal visible in some shop windows and the caged chickens (this was long before "free range") in front of others, there were shops that had rows of plaid dresses hanging from racks outside. There was a man who would intone, "Look 'em over, ladies!" to my mother and the other mothers who had come to outfit their daughters for that important First Day. We'd pick out usually three new cotton dresses and then go down the street a bit for a pair of school shoes. And sometimes a pair of Sunday shoes.

Besides wanting to look right for that day after Labor Day, there is a need for supplies. My kids didn't get a new backpack every year, but they got all the other stuff: the notebooks, pencils, dividers, those kinds of things.

A few years ago, Susan posted on Facebook something about for those of us who no longer have children to outfit for back-to-school, would we be interested in purchasing and filling a backpack for a student whose family would find this an overwhelming expense.

It's funny how ingrained back-to-school shopping is. The joy I took picking out and filling a backpack that went to a promising young woman was immense. So I put it on my calendar as a repeat for the first week in August. And in another week, I'll drive out to Lancaster County, pay homage to The Old Country Store, meet up with Susan, turn over this year's filled backpack, and finish up with a traditional delicious lunch at Kling House. It's become one of my favorite days of the year.

You might want to try it. I suspect that if you went to any public school with a new, filled backpack, the guidance counselor would welcome you with open arms. And you'd enable a young person to start off the new year with just a little less anxiety.