Sunday, November 30, 2008

Searching For Fungi.....

A delicate, coffee-with-cream coloured mushroom appeared on Tanya's blog today, the last day of NaBloPpMo.

I groaned.

I didn't have any exciting pictures of mushrooms in my files, and even though we routinely have all manner of fungi popping up around here, it's been dry lately......Nevertheless, armed with my camera, I set off out to the trees, to see what I would see....

This is what I saw.....

Pine branches strewn everywhere, complete with pine cones, a few days too late! The wind had been up and howling around all morning.......

But no fungi.

This lonesome leaf caught my eye.

There is something desolate about a lone leaf, ripped from his summer tree, abandoned by his fellows, at the mercy of the capricious wind.

The wind danced along behind me. He was looking for a fight. This little beauty was cowering, out of his reach, under some brush.....

Still no fungi.

The wind and the ominous gray clouds had turned to rain. At long last. We've needed it. I stood in close under the bamboo for shelter, and listened to it's urgently whispered secrets for a while, then made a dash for the shade garden, where, gray, blustery day notwithstanding, I was dazzled by these beauty berries.

But no fungi.

Despondent, damp and cold, I came inside, and had another look in my photo files.

And found, at last....

A fun guy.......

Running for cover, please don't throw rotten tomatoes! It crawled, uninvited, into my brain, when I was browsing for birthday cards last week. Throw your tomatoes at Hallmark....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Un-Pine Cone Sans Bug

Tanya's photo for our duel today was a pine cone with a bug. It didn't look good for me. I was pretty sure I didn't have anything similar in my photo files. But, I went for a look anyway. And found this. It's not a pine cone. The only bug is of the microscopic variety, invisible to the naked eye. But! It grew on a tree. Just as a pine cone does. I took this photo last November on a hike through the woods. I have no idea what kind of tree it was. I just knew these berries were a beautiful colour and a beautiful shape! Am I disqualified now??

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Tasty Morsel.....

This NaBloPoMo dropout is cheering for Tanya to cross the finish line in the next few days, carrying the torch for those of us who ran out of words and oomph, halfway through, and decided they liked it better posting whenever they damn well felt like it! Which is just another way of admitting they ran out of words! So, I'm matching photos with her, to egg her on a little!

This fellow stood patiently, very close by, as the Bean was hauling his kayak out of the water. As he removed this fish [??] from the kayak's side, Mr. Bird inched closer, one slow, elegant step at a time, hint, hint. A nod is as good as a wink to the Bean, so he tossed him the fish, which he effortlessly caught and demolished....Yum!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stolen: One Meme, Thirty two Questions

Nobody tagged me, nobody challenged me. Visiting Suburbia, I shamelessly stole it. Not only that. With flagrant disregard for the rules, I've used more than one word for each answer. Can I live with this shame, you ask? I think so. It takes much more to shame me these days than in days of yore...And so, to the questions!

1. Where is your cell phone? Damned if I know. To find it I'd have to call myself from the house phone!

2. Your significant other? In bed, unconscious.

3. Your hair? White as the driven snow. Or silver, if I'm feeling elegant.

4.Your mother? Deceased. Distant, when alive. And very smart...both fashion- and IQ-wise.

5. Your father? One of nature's gentlemen.

6. Your favorite thing? In all the world? Mother Nature.

7. Your dream last night? Muddled....

8. Your favorite drink? Tea

9. Your dream/goal? To earn a living, writing. So now you know!

10. The room you're in? Family room. Curled up on the couch...

11. Your fear? Death of those I love.

12.Where do you want to be in 6 years? Closer to children and grandchildren.

13. Where were you last night? At the airport, picking up the OC.

14. What you're not? Buxom.

15. Muffins? Almond.

16. One of your wish list items? Free, unlimited travel! I'm allowed to dream......

17. Where you grew up? Limerick, Ireland.

18. The last thing you did? Ate pizza I made myself.....

19. What are you wearing? Clothes, silly!

20. Your TV? Gave up the ghost a week or so ago. Don't even miss it!

21. Your pet? One house cat with attitude.

22. Your computer? Dell.

23. Your life? Busy/Happy.....most of the time.

24. Your mood? Sleepy.

25. Missing someone? Always.

26. Your car? Ford.

27. Something you're not wearing? Lederhosen.

28. Favorite Store? Barnes and Noble. Ross.

29. Your summer? Hot!!

30. Your favorite color? Bluegreenplum. See. One word at last!

31. When is the last time you laughed? Today, at the OC's verbal antics.

32. Last time you cried? This week, from frustration and aggravation.

Have I inspired you? To do this too? To ignore the rules and blaze your own trail? Happy to help! I'm tagging Tanya, because I know she's desperate! And Rise,the Unblogger [no me darlin', one photo, every couple of weeks, doesn't count!] to force her hand. I'd tag Lily too, but my insider info tells me she'd be more grateful if I sent her some heavy duty corks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tale of A Shelf

In 1971 the OC and I set off from NY on a great adventure---his AF career. His first assignment was in the Mojave Desert, in California. After a week of driving, with our not-quite-fully-potty-trained black lab puppy, Suzy, we arrived at what I was sure was the dusty and desolate ends of the earth!

But even though the OC was a lowly second lieutenant, we were lucky enough to get a three bedroom house of our own, on a quiet, leafy street on the base. Needing furniture, to dull the echoes, we went on a hunt. And bought a shelving unit. We're not talking mahogany here! It was made of pressed board of some kind, with a finish that made it look like wood. And the price was right.

We set it up in our living room and stood back to admire it. We felt exactly like grownups! It had a big rectangular space for our television; shelves above and below for books and records; a shelf just right for our record player.....

Gradually, that dry and dusty place became our home. That shelf saw Lily carried over the threshold; and her first faltering steps from chair to couch. For three years it kept passive watch over the little joys and sorrows of our day to day lives.

When Uncle Sam sent us to a new assignment, our shelving unit was loaded on the Mayflower van, and arrived, slightly more battered [always slightly more battered!] at new homes --- in Montana, California again, Alabama, twice overseas, North Dakota, Minnesota and here. When we finally arrived at our present home our shelf unit had moved with us approximately ten times, and had served us faithfully and well in living rooms, family rooms, childrens' bedrooms, and finally in my sewing room.

But it grew weary from all that traveling. And increasingly battered. And I, ungrateful wretch that I am, grew weary of it. We wanted to donate it to charity, but no-one would come to pick it up. And It wouldn't fit in the trunk of the car.It started to put down roots in the hallway where it languished after being evicted from the sewing room......

Until today.

I asked The Bean to wrestle it out to the curb. My plan was to put a large "Free!" sign on it, go back inside and see what happened. The Bean thought it a waste of time, but humoured me. He thought it too big for anyone to haul away. But he was wrong. We put it out there at five o'clock.

By six it was gone! Hauled away to a new life, without us. I hope it will be happy.

I'm just happy that it's gone!

Monday, November 17, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Sleep Some More!

Three thirty this morning. It's quiet. It's dark. We're sleeping. When Ringgg! The alarm clock jangled us awake.

"Somebody throw that thing out the window into the trees, please!" Nobody did.

The OC had a 6 a.m. flight to catch, and the airport is an hour away, so-o-oo--oo! Even though, when I came home, I crawled back into bed for a few more hours, I was still dragging all day.

You know those articles you read, about the virtues of going to bed at the same time every night, and rising at the same time every morning? Apparently it leads to health, happiness and serenity in one's dotage. The way I'm going, I'll never find out.

The OC can lie down on a rock and take a nap, in glaring sunshine, with trombones blasting six inches from his ear. It's a gift. Without it he'd have passed into his dotage and beyond, long ago. Fifteen minutes on such a rock and he bounces awake, like a child who's had a three hour nap.

Not me!

Specific conditions must be met before my eyes will close, no matter how tired I am.

The room must be dark;

and the atmosphere quiet, shhhh!

There must be a sufficiency of blankets;

socks are a nice touch;

a hot water bottle even better!

A cat curled up by my feet, in case the hot water bottle malfunctions.

And the planets aligned, just so....

Aha! I think all those conditions have been met!

Excuse me please. I've got some serious sleeping to do.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Only Went To Have A Look.....

I went to have a look at the Fall Harvest of Art festival, at a local park yesterday. The day was damp and gray. But here, damp and gray is almost a treat.

I wasn't searching for anything, just a pleasant way to spend an hour or two, while the OC was golfing.

Golfing makes me yawn.

Art shows make him yawn.

So we agree to differ....

There are lots of retired folks in our area who moved here from "up north." Their bones bring them here.... Wimpy bones, like mine, that don't like to shiver [with delight, yes; from freezing weather, no!].....
And an aversion to shoveling snow!
People forget that old people used to be young people. Young and vibrant and talented. There were wood carvers there, and photographers; oil painters and watercolorists; potters and glass painters; jewelers and metal sculptors.

I zig-zagged along the pathways that meandered through the trees, stopping here for a closer look, there to admire a technique, and everywhere to marvel at the creativity. But I managed to remain unencumbered.

Until, that is, I came to this:

I was smitten at once by the soft colours, the greens, the blues and the beiges. The artist was an elderly lady, as soft and feminine looking as her paintings. If I'd had to guess, without seeing her, I'd have guessed she was much younger. So, I am guilty too!

She saw that I liked it, and was eager to sell. No, no I'm just looking. I walked away, but soon I was back, drawn by the those irresistible colours. But still I demurred. I'd walk around, and think about it..... I thought about it. Where would I hang it? I'd have to find a frame, and I'm hopeless at finding frames.....Why did I like it? Another picture to dust! I'm allergic to dusting, and knick-knacky things that constantly require it.... But this would hang, be vertical, less of a dust trap.

I walked a small circle, and then I was back. She smiled as she sweetened the pot---"I'll let you have it for---[$10 less than marked.]"

Being the sleuth that I am, it didn't take long to figure out it's charm.....I dug in a drawer for some scarves of my mother's. There's that smoky blue and soft greeny-gray. I remember her wearing them as I was growing up. The colours of those scarves are my memory of my mother. Maybe that's what drew me to the striped sweater in this picture? And that sunny sundress? And that pottery bowl which I salvaged, years ago, from a potter friend's rubbish bin! And that blue jug??

My mother and I were not very close. I wish I'd had more sympathy, more empathy, more compassion, more understanding...I wish I could have seen her life from inside her skin, even for an hour.

Too late.

She's gone.

And here I am. Grasping at straws. Wrapping myself in her colours, which are my colours now. If I ever find a magic lamp and a genie pops out, my first wish will be to see my mother for an hour. So I can hug her and let her know I love her. I get her now...since I'm a mother too......When we meet, I'll wear one of her scarves, and she can wear the other.

I wonder if everyone has such convoluted reasons for buying a painting.......

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Exhausted," quoth The Bard Of Bawn

my word today:
up 'til midnight,
every night,
to push that little button,
to keep me in the game.
but why?
what purpose?
what's to prove?
i like to write...
can't find my groove.

and then---
'til 4 a.m.
watching moments ticking by...
there's a full moon in the sky.
????? oh why?

every day i must write something,
my head feels like a pumpkin.
empty vessels make most noise.
be quiet then,
put down the pen,
and ply the needle
'til you can wheedle
something sane
from out your brain
to make it worth your while---

to write again.

There is a word for how I feel tonight.
I saw it here.


Went to investigate. Clicked. What a mistake! [but an interesting one!] That was about an hour ago, which means we're creeping up on midnight, again!

I'm going to bed now. No, really!
I have just one request....
Could someone please cover up the moon?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Snippets and Snailets and Puppy Dogs' Tailets....

Besides making a present for Lily's birthday this week, I recently finished a few other small projects. No matter how small, it is cause for celebration when I finish anything.....

A hat for Sugar 'n Spice grandchild, modeled, unwillingly [I had to snap fast!] by a grandchild of the Snips and Snails variety. Although I don't think those designations are fair.....Little boys are just as sweet and lovable as little girls!

This little guy has a mama who knits, so he and his brother have all the hats they need for winter.....Oldest son, Papa of Sugar 'n Spice, does not knit, and so I spent a couple of evenings in Ohio recently, knitting this strawberries and cream hat to keep her ears warm this winter. Lily made one for Sugar and Spice's little brother, and since her own Snips 'n Snails had exhausted his patience for modeling silly hats on the strawberries and cream number, she had to model it herself!

Teaching my friend, H, how to quilt, I had to make something myself in the pattern she chose, the better to demonstrate! So I made some place mats.

I wanted to make them in Fall colours, because, no prizes, it is Fall! But since I have the attention span of a flea, and would likely never finish them if I had to make all four identical, I decided "I'm the boss. I'm going to use different fabrics in each". I suspect the OC thinks it is all highly irregular, he having such an orderly mind and all, but he has, very wisely, kept his counsel.

This NaBloPoMo lark is wearing me out! Today, singularly uninspired, I went trolling through my archives, all the way back to November 2006, when I first participated in NaBloPoMo, to investigate what, exactly, I had found to blather on about for thirty whole days! For 14th. November, 2006, this is what I found. What can I say? I'm a big believer in recycling!....especially when inspiration comes dropping so slowly, or not at all....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How To Make A Present For An Obama Mama...

Months before her birthday you see it made up in a quilt shop. It draws you like a magnet, and you, who are leery of buying even one more pattern, when there are so many already at home, unhesitatingly fork over the cash and take your prize home.

"She's going to love it!" you gleefully gloat to yourself.

Weeks go by. The pattern sinks under the tide of fabric and papers and instructions and tools that seem to constantly ebb and flow across the sewing table. You flip the calender to November, and your memory to 1972, to another, long ago November, and it doesn't seem right, or fair, that the years raced by so fast, so sneakily, while time didn't seem to be moving much at all. But it always was. And always is. Marching along from day to day, from week to month to year to decade to lifetime, and the momentum builds and you want to push the pause button, or maybe even the rewind button, just to savour some of the moments....But it's too late. The universe has no patience with your nostalgia. It's got the present to be concerned about........

Speaking of present---did I just get side tracked? Panic sets in. Where is that pattern? I know I saw it here just the other day! Finally, it floats to the surface. Time to assemble the raw materials..........

She never used to like pink that much. But since her house is awash in testosterone, and she is outnumbered three to one, she's fighting back. She's wearing more pink. She's countering the storm troopers and Han Solo with some Princess Leia....

First you read the directions through to the end, so there won't be any unscheduled panic attacks.....

Then, scissors in hand, you commence to snip. And snip. And snip. In accordance with your instructions.

Referring frequently to the pattern, you fold and press and pin. Then, very carefully, you stitch.

Next, taking a deep, steadying breath, you plunge into unknown waters and apply the magic paper....

......and once again, stitch, with care.

At last the stitching is done. Almost finished, you think. But you have reckoned without the paper removal, still to come.

Then, once again, you snip, and snip, and carefully snip some more. A lot more. And finally it really is done.

On the day of the birthday! With the birthday girl a thousand miles away.

So, if you decide to follow these directions, make one small adjustment. Start the whole procedure two weeks before the birthday instead of one!

Happy birthday Lily dear! I hope the card, at least, arrived on time. This will follow shortly! Hope the "frowing up" and "eye-radia"-suffering storm troopers didn't dampen your day too much!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday


No water entry.


....will be prosecuted.....

Just as...

....soon as....

.....we fish them out...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaBloPoMo Makes My Warts Show

Last night, at a few minutes to midnight, I pressed "publish." Whew! Ten days of NaBloPoMo, and holding. But, as I crawled into bed, I had misgivings.........I blog about whatever occurs to me, about what happens to be going on in my head, especially when I'm under the NaBloPoMo gun.

But maybe there are some things that should be off limits? Maybe I should only talk about cheerful, upbeat stuff? And keep the gloom, the irritation, the frustration, the impatience, the uncensored, unpolitically correct Molly to myself? And how believable would she be? Besides, I argued with myself, who am I writing for? My official answer to that is "Me!" But, truth is, I love when people take the time to put in their two cents. I love to feel I've connected.....

The OC gets up before I do, and so, when I arose, I crept quietly past his office, knowing he'd probably already, in his capacity as chief snoop on my blog, had a look, to see what mischief I had wrought while he'd been snoozing. He smiled and said "G'morning!" [that's our version of "g'day!"]. And so I relaxed a little. It can't have been that bad. After fortifying myself with coffee, I slunk over here to see if there were any comments. And what did I learn?

I learned, once again, that bloggers are empathic souls who roll equally easily with problems shared and mumbly grumbling, as with happy carefree times;

That no family is as perfect as it might seem. We all have problems. Sometimes problem children, sometimes problem elders. Fniucking** about them doesn't mean we don't love them; it just means we're human; that we get frustrated; and exasperated; that once in a while we need to have a little rant. Just a little one.... And then our heads will clear and we'll get things back into perspective.

I learned I'm not the only one to have to stifle a yawn when a story I've heard, at least a million times, is trotted out as a priceless, newly resurrected gem, never before recounted, by a man who is inordinately proud of his prodigious memory.....

I learned that others wonder, too, how we, who presently have the world so firmly by the tail, will deal with the tribulations to come? The misplaced glasses, the fading eyesight..... And the problem of how to find the former without the latter? The brittle, so-breakable bones, the creaky joints, the southerly migration, or total disappearance, of bosoms; the hearing loss. Eh? What's that you say?---THE HEARING LOSS!! And how about those trips to the back of the house? The ones where, once you get there, your mind is blank, and you scratch your balding pate, and wonder what in heaven's name you came here for?? And so you return to the scene from whence you started, in hopes of a glimmer..... It's all good exercise, if you want to look at it in a positive light.

I've warned my daughter, that when these signs and portents become chronic, I'm to be taken out quietly to the north forty, like old Yeller........never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, now is the time to develop the hobbies that will keep our minds occupied so we don't drive our children to distraction with daily organ recitals.* The way I see it, if I'm trying to figure out an intricate quilting pattern in my head, that'll leave less room in there for dwelling on the condition of my liver.....

When I look, in dismay, at the amount of fabric I've accumulated, and the number of patterns I've earmarked in scores of quilt magazines, I remind myself that they represent insurance against idleness in my dotage. I'll feel so useful,[and isn't that the biggest issue?] to be stitchin' something for someone---I may not know who, but I'll trust my children to find homes for all my finally finished projects!

Then there's the small matter of wanting to spend enough time in Ireland to hike all around the coast, taking millions of pictures, and filling notebooks with random babbling, and painting.........

The trouble with the in-laws is they never had the leisure, or the means, to develop hobbies. They were too busy learning new languages at every new place along the way. Hobbies were a luxury enjoyed by people who weren't strapped for cash; people who struggled daily to make a living, so they could feed and clothe and educate their children, so those children could grow up and marry people who would wonder why the in-laws had no hobbies.

And so it goes.

**Fniuking: a "word" of uncertain origins, invented perhaps, by one of our children and meaning grumbling and grousing about something or someone.

*I wish I had invented this one! An organ recital is what you get when you ask a hypochondriac "How are you today?"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Those Were The Days, My Friend.....

The Ancient Ones have had interesting lives. One of the things I'm always saying I must do is write down all their fascinating stories......Some day.

Old age and failing health have taken their toll. Their world has narrowed so much, that sometimes, all they want to talk about is the latest ache or pain, the newest medication, or the most recent visit to the doctor. I'm interested, in general, of course, but the mind reels in rebellion when every minute detail is reported, and the possible ramifications dissected and discussed, as if it were truly scintillating stuff.

Which it is not.

To my profound embarrassment, I have, on occasion, lost the battle to maintain consciousness in the face of the onslaught. The male of the species has a wider range of topics. But it is no less exciting to be his captive audience when he decides to wax pontifical on politics, world affairs or religion.

Because his views are the only rational ones. If he were in charge of the world it would run smoothly, like a well oiled machine. There would be order, and discipline, not to mention hangings and court martials. Everything would be either right or wrong, black or white. Politicians would be honest; young people would be respectful, or else! Doctors would be more courteous and not keep people waiting; teachers would have control of their classrooms; drug dealers would be shot; crime would be non-existent; what criminals there were would be doing hard physical labor and would be on diets of bread and water.....

And we'd all live in a yellow submarine.

But, today I was in luck. He was in the mood to reminisce about his youth. Which I really do find fascinating. Much more so than his latest squabble with the insurance company. Because he has lived through history, and experienced, first hand, things I can only read about. Things I'd prefer to only read about.

It doesn't matter how smart you are, he opined, everybody needs a little luck. He mentioned several close calls he's had in his life. And then he reached back even further, to when he was seventeen. He was a schoolboy still, but was a member of a resistance group, fighting against the country that had taken over control of his country. He was caught [because, he says, he was young and stupid and nationalistic...] along with a few of his friends. They were lined up against a wall to be shot.

But then a car drove up. In it was a major in his country's army, wearing a white band around his hat, as a symbol of surrender. With the major was a general of the country now in power. The car stopped and the major jumped out. He had recognized our boyo and told the general that he was the son of a friend of his and did not deserve to be shot.......

And so he regale me with his tales of how much better the world was, back when he was young, in the old country. When men were men, and women were their servants, and children were seen and not heard, and there was discipline, respect and order in the world.....

Oh-oh! I think I'm about to lose consciousness again.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quilts In The Gardens.......continued

Our little quilt show at the botanical gardens yesterday was such a success everyone wants to make it an annual affair. Other quilt groups in the area want to be included, which would be great! The more the merrier. There were several sections of the gardens that had no quilts yesterday, so there's definitely room for expansion.....We even had some vendors peddling their quilty wares.......

Before the show, we wondered if birds, and the possibility of birds doing what birds sometimes do when sitting on tree branches, might be a problem. Such activity is completely natural, but some quilters might be outraged at Mother Nature if their quilts were, to put it delicately, fertilized! No such problems arose, I'm happy to report. The only birds who caught my attention were these.......

Even the squirrels behaved themselves and stayed in the background. We are in Florida though, and if there's one animal everyone expects to see in Florida , especially if they have students at UF, it's the Gator!

On the subject of orange and blue, here's a bright Snails Tails quilt....

Stars were a recurring theme.......

As were appliqued flowers......

Here's Jane, a good quilting friend, who had her eightieth birthday today...Happy Birthday Jane! That's her pretty wall hanging, beside her.........

This hanging was one of my favourites!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you've probably seen my kitty. I dragged him out of mothballs and gave him a turn in the fresh air yesterday.....

This last quilt was best of show at a much bigger quilt show this year. No prizes for guessing why!

I had a wonderful time during my few hours on quilt patrol. I met some very interesting people, from as far away as London, and Finland. Everyone was in a relaxed and friendly mood. I talked to the Finnish lady for quite a while. She was in awe that "humans could do such beautiful work!" I'm pretty sure she's going to leave no stone unturned when she goes home 'til she finds someone to teach her how to quilt!

I hope you've enjoyed following me around. We plan on doing it again, so if you're in this part of Florida, in this part of next year, be sure to stop by our Botanical Gardens!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"You're Closer To God In A Garden.....

.....Than anyplace else on earth." Especially if there are quilts on display throughout the garden!

One of my favourite places is a small Botanical Gardens, designed and maintained entirely by members of the local garden club. Many quilters like to garden. Some gardeners, while not being quilters themselves, admire quilts. A few months ago, some gardeners and some quilters put their heads together and decided to have a quilt show in the botanical gardens. Everyone in our little guild was asked to loan some of their quilts for display. I loaned four of mine. We had a total of one hundred and three.

Today was the day!

The weather was lovely. The sun shone, but not too brightly, the better not to fade the quilts! The advertising worked. More than two hundred people, who had never been to the gardens before, turned up for the show, in addition to regulars, quilters and gardeners.

So sorry you couldn't come.....but follow me! I'll give you a peek.

Here we are at the entrance.....

Here you can see the first quilts, just ahead......

Before we proceed, please heed this gentle warning!

Here's one of mine, on the left. I made it for The Bean when he graduated from high school. I don't think he likes it very much, even though I'd saved animal prints for a few years, since he's been animal crazy all his life. C'est la vie....

I'll bet whoever this was made for appreciates it! Of course I like the colours here better too.

Take a good look at the quilt in the middle here. Who would have believed that purple and brown would look so good in the same quilt? It was gorgeous!

Since I spent the whole afternoon on quilt patrol at the gardens, I had no time to blog! So I will have to continue this tomorrow, or risk being thrown out of naBloPoMo for non compliance with the rules. It is three minutes to midnight! Ciao!

Friday, November 07, 2008

When We Were Very Young.....

The first mistake of my adult life was deciding to become a physical education teacher. The nuns tried to encourage me to go to university [how I wish I'd listened to them!] and get a degree in English, or History, or some such useful subject, and come back and teach with them. My strongest objection to this line of thinking was that I knew they had a secret agenda---To deprive me of fun, and boys, and parties; to chop off my hair and stuff me in a habit at the first opportunity, and lock me inside the walls of a convent for the rest of my life! Besides, I'd been swotting my brains out all through secondary school and wasn't inclined to continue to do so! My decision to apply to physical education college was made on sound scientific principles:

1.I loved to play tennis

2.I loved to be outdoors

3.I thought I'd love teaching. I liked it a little, with serious reservations.

4. I didn't want to spend the next several years poring over text books

5.I didn't want to become a nurse, for the idiotic reason that my mother had been a nurse, and I wanted to be original! Even though I now think I would have enjoyed that line of work, and might even have been good at it.

6. Most influential of all, I'd read every book about girls' boarding schools that Enid Blyton had ever written.....

When I got there I found that---

1. Everyone else in my class was better at tennis than I. Because, while I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been on school tennis teams; while I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been playing field hockey, while I hardly knew the difference between a hockey stick and a hurley. While I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been at schools that actually taught gymnastics! We had had no such instruction from the nuns, because firstly, and lastly, it would have involved shorts [legs on display!] and issues of modesty. The burka-type clothing favoured by the good sisters was hardly conducive to success at doing cartwheels and handstands and flips....Suddenly I was finding myself with frequent urges to go somewhere quiet and swot my brains out, especially if it saved me from having to go out on a hockey pitch, with a whistle dangling from my neck, and give an Oscar-worthy performance of pretending I had even the faintest idea how to umpire a match.

2.Being outdoors was lovely....when the sun shone. Not quite so delightful when the wind was howling and the icy rain lashing down.

3.I wasn't that wild about being around children all day. Especially not the children in the schools in Dublin where we regularly did our student teaching. They also knew more about hockey than I did. Many of them gave the impression that they'd been born with a miniature hockey stick in their hand. Handy for getting back at the doctor for slapping you....

4.There were still text books to be pored over. Anatomy, physiology, theory of teaching, creative movement treatises. But it made a pleasant change from making a total ass of myself in gymnastics class.....

5.Girls who had decided to become nurses didn't have to ride their bicycles, in blinding rain, the length and breath of Dublin, in search of secluded [impossible to bloody well find!] schools, where they were to show up, poised and cool, ready to teach the little darlings sports, whose rules and regulations they had only a passing acquaintance with. And........

6. Enid Blyton was, indeed, a writer of fiction!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hitler Is A Quilting Instructor

When we met a few months ago, in a Tai Chi class, neither of us would have believed our eyes if we'd been given a peek into the future and seen ourselves, on an afternoon in November, crawling around together on the floor of my sewing room. And yet, that is exactly what my friend, H, and I were doing this afternoon!

On our breaks in Tai Chi class, the subject of quilting came up. It wasn't even one of us. One of the men in the class mentioned that his wife was working on a quilt. Which made me perk up and ask if his wife was a member of the quilt guild. And if not, why not? [I was shy when I was younger. Then I found out what a colossal waste of time being shy was, and I've been making up for lost time ever since.] H chimed in that she loved quilts and wanted to make one. Some day. And so it started.

End of break, back to Tai Chi. The course ended, and even worse, our instructor moved to another state. We were sad to lose him, and sad that we wouldn't be seeing each other any more.

Says who?", said H.

She organized the diehards among us to meet, once every few weeks, down by the gulf to practice Tai Chi in the great outdoors.

It was wonderful. There were only three or four of us each time, but we had such fun, doing tai chi, talking, enjoying the breeze in our hair, and being in sight of the water. More and more, when H and I talked, the subject of quilting came up. I offered to teach her. She accepted. And so it was that this afternoon we were crawling around on the floor of my sewing room.

We've had three sewing sessions in as many weeks. Today she finished her eighteenth and last, nine patch block. She's a very good student. And I'm the Hitler of quilting. "It vill be perfeckt! If not, you vill rrip, and rrrip, and rrrrip!"

Here's how it looks so far---

Don't you like her colours? We went to the fabric store and got batting, and fabric for backing and binding. She never expected to fall so hard, so fast, but I can see all the signs of addiction developing........I'll give you weekly updates until she finishes her table runner. So be warned! Taking a tai Chi class could have dire, unexpected consequences!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordless [Almost] Wednesday

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," and random beauty found in a ditch.....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A First For The Bean

We didn't set out to have five children.

But being told "Isn't that nice, now you're done!" after our second, made us stubborn; made us mutter to ourselves "That's what you think!"

We preferred to be the ones deciding how many children we should have. Us and the Big Guy.

The OC grew up with only his twin sister and his parents. No brothers, no cousins, no aunts, no uncles, no grandparents. Everyone else related to him was back in the Old Country. He would have liked to have brothers and cousins, but he wasn't consulted. So that our children wouldn't be so alone, we had five.

We didn't tell the in-laws about pregnancy # 3 until we were six months along; later with #4; later still with #5. Didn't need anyone raining on our duckling parade!

Our youngest, The Bean, went with his Dad to vote this evening.[He'll tell you, if you ask, that his mom is an alien!] He's young. Everything is black and white to him. No gray. He's really interested in this election. Figures he and his peers will be living with the results for a long time, and need to get out and make their voices heard. Beats lethargy any day of the week!

His opinions, however, put him at loggerheads with the Ancient One, who is also opinionated, and doesn't hesitate to tell The Young Bean he doesn't know what he's talking about. Which goes over like your garden variety lead balloon. The Bean loves it that his vote counts just as much as that of the Ancient One. And the kicker is --- The Bean voted for the guy who's going to win!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Better Late In Life Than Never

My father was fond of saying "Youth is wasted on the young!". I think he was right.
I have spent my life dabbling, and am, alas, no longer young, but I have, at this late date, finally discovered my true calling.

Recent events have made it obvious that I am up there with the esteemed Sherlock and his sidekick, Mr. Watson, when it comes to powers of deduction! Having wasted so much time already, I do not intend to procrastinate about this. I have procured a place at the highly competitive National Private Eye Institute, and will be starting my intensive course there next week. Keep me in mind if you have crimes to investigate, or mysteries to solve. References can be obtained by contacting Isabelle or Thimbleanna, who are both familiar with my work.

If you'll excuse me now, I have a suitcase to pack.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tales Of A Brazen Hussy

Once every two months I have an appointment in a town south of here. It takes me an hour to drive there.

And the rest of the day to come back.

Because I visit all my favourite haunts. Taking, as my old teacher, The Mag, said, when explaining how a donkey gets up a steep hill, both sides of the road with me. Not that I'm comparing myself to a donkey, although there are those who might gleefully jump at such an opportunity!

My first stop last week, after my appointment, was at Rainbow's End, the mother of all quilt shops. A place in which I could blissfully spend an entire day...I don't need to go into a quilt shop, any quilt shop, ever, until I'm ninety, by which time I may have run out of fabric, and my quilting tools just might be a tad worn out and need to be replaced.

But before you berate me for my lack of backbone, let me hasten to tell you that I was on a very important mission. In hot pursuit of a pattern I'd spotted on a previous visit. From which to make upcoming birthday and Christmas gifts.

I planned to show great restraint, to take a deep breath at the door, plunge in, and walk purposefully to the back of the store where the patterns are kept, looking neither to left nor right. I would find my pattern, do an about face, pay, and get the hell out of there before those siren fabric bolts could tempt me off my straight and narrow course!

I could hardly keep the simpering smirk off my face, so virtuous did I feel.

But, Fate conspired against me. The one pattern I needed was the one they'd run out of. Popular pattern. Go figure.

After a brief interlude of mental hand wringing, I devised a cunning plan! I would check the back of the designer's other patterns for her contact information, and, could I be so brazen, call her? She lives right there, in that smallish town.

As soon as I was back in my car I dialed her number.

What were the chances she'd be home?

What were the chances she'd think I was a brazen hussy for disturbing her?

A friendly female voice answered. Yes, she had the pattern. She'd be delighted to mail it to me. She'd even throw in a bonus pattern she'd designed that wasn't for sale in the stores yet! Lucky I'd called when I did since she was just going out the door. She'd pop it in the mail while she was out!

I gave her my address and she was about to hang up, when I thought of something---didn't she need my credit card number?

"Oh, don't worry about that. I'll enclose an invoice," she assured me.

Now, I'm a trustworthy person, but I don't expect total strangers to realize that.

Any doubts I'd had, about being brazen enough to call, quickly evaporated! The pattern arrived the very next day. The invoice was for exactly what I'd have paid for the one pattern in the store, and true to her word, she'd included the bonus pattern! You'll see it one of these days---when I finish it!

Meanwhile, back at Rainbow's End....I'd come sooooo far! It really would be a shame to leave without at least a peek at the sale shelves. If you're a quilter I'm sure you'll agree. So, with my backbone liquefying on the spot, I had a teeny tiny peek....

And found these fabrics, at fifty percent off. It would have been irresponsible to leave them there. Christmas is coming for the snowmen; the cream will make a perfect backing for my sister's quilt, which will be getting made any decade now; and the pumpkins are perfect for some place mats I'm making right now......

But I've sworn off quilt shops, for at least six months....

Unless you call and beg me to accompany you because you are shy, or bashful, and absolutely must have a brazen hussy along to give you courage......