Monday, August 31, 2009

Dancing With Wasps......



Have you ever been stung by an enraged wasp? Enraged because he's trapped inside your baggy old threadbare linen gardening pants? Trouble is, you, too, are inside your baggy old threadbare linen gardening pants, and, baggy as they are, there isn't room for both of you. So, with your pants on fire, you dance wildly into the house, dash to the bathroom, trying to divest yourself of your baggy old threadbare linen gardening pants as you go. As they fall to the tiles, the enraged wasp zooms out and lands on a cabinet door.

Your husband, the man who promised to love you and defend you against all harm, has followed you to the bathroom and is watching your antics with detached amusement.

"What happened?" he asks mildly.

"I got stung by a wasp!" I gasp.

"That wasp," I add, pointing angrily at the cabinet where the dazed wasp is gathering his wits and contemplating his next move.

"I'll get him," says your hero gallantly, but too late. With the single mindedness of the thrice stung, I had already grabbed a tissue, pounced and dispatched the nasty flying criminal to insect hell. None of that "sentient being" nonsense that I sometimes use when escorting captured spiders through the front door. I'm a sentient being. That didn't seem to give the wasp any qualms of conscience.

"How did it happen?"

Does he really want me to explain this right now, I wondered, tenderly dabbing calamine lotion on my nether regions. It would be much more helpful if he would just play doctor, since I'm not quite flexible enough for the contortions needed to actually see what I'm aiming at. But, with no such offer forthcoming, I continue to dab with a little bit more ferocity.

"I sat down on a chair on the porch, and next thing I knew my pants were on fire."

Having just removed one of those hard mud, bug incubator thingies from one of the window screens, I had repaired with my prize to the porch, intent on a little scientific research. I have explained before the science deprivation we suffered at the hands of the holy nuns, so I wasn't exactly on the lookout for evil-minded wasps intent on flying up the leg of my pants the minute I sat down. With a knife, brought from the kitchen for exactly that purpose, I had just poked open one of the mud compartments and was examining, in fascination, the tiny, squirming creatures within, when suddenly, I shot out of the chair in consternation, bugs forgotten. Something very unpleasant and completely unexpected was happening inside my pants. Yes, the baggy old threadbare linen gardening ones.


And that's when he said what no person in his right mind should say to someone still smarting from multiple wasp stings, and even as he's opining, swelling up like a balloon.

"You shoulda looked!"

I shoulda looked??

Why of course, my dear! Because any prudent person, intent on a little natural science, carries a checklist in the pocket of her baggy old threadbare linen gardening pants? Which she carefully extracts and reads before sitting? One of the several precautions advised thereon being to turn the chair you have in mind to sit on, upside down for inspection, since everyone knows that the undersides of such chairs are favourite places for rogue wasps to set up housekeeping and raise their young......

Right.

Subsequent investigation revealed that my winged friend and accomplices had indeed built their Taj Majal on the underside of one of the porch chairs. Understandable, I suppose, that they would go into attack mode when an unwary human bottom plonked itself down so unceremoniously right next to where they were grooming their next generation. Understandable too that I showed not a modicum of mercy in my liberal spraying of "Wasp and Hornet Killer." I restrained myself and did not turn the nozzle in the OC's direction, much as I might have been tempted to do so.

Obviously my injuries were not life threatening; I lived to tell the tale. I even lived to laugh about it....Just not right away.

When no helpful, kind, compassionate or sympathetic words come to mind, it is wiser to leave unsaid whatever smart-arse remarks do spring to mind, regardless of how witty they might seem!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not Your Grandma's Sawtooth Block.........



We had a quilters' day out recently. We drove south [towards civilization!], stopped at one of the area's best quilt shops, effortlessly whiled away a couple of hours, and did our bit to stimulate the economy....[code for "bought fabric," shhhh!].

Then the highlight of the outing---we went to the American Quilt Society's traveling exhibition of the winning quilts from their 2008 "New Quilts from Old Favourites" contest.


This is the First Prize winner, called "Berry Patch."




What would Grandma have thought? Likely her mind would reel, as mine did. I can tackle pretty much any pattern, with adequate instructions.......




But the quilts in this show were made by a whole 'nother level of quilters; people who are artists first, and just happen to express their creativity through cloth, rather than paint or clay. My pictures don't come close to capturing the details of piecing and quilting, but they were amazing.....



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Each quilt in the exhibit was gasp inducing, for the design and the workmanship certainly,




but most of all for how each quilter took the simple, traditional




and let her imagination soar. Compared to the twists and turns and pirouettes they put that simple block through to arrive at their finished quilts, my imagination is a sorry, earth bound thing, fit only to drool in disbelief at what can be done when you shake off the shackles of traditional techniques.




Amazing to me was how each quilter had the same set of guidelines, yet each quilt was stunningly different from the one hanging next to it.




Some of the quilts did not stray far from Grandma's methods, updating her Sawtooth block with stunning colours.....




and unusual positioning of blocks.....




Others, like this quilt from a Japanese quilter, painted bold, sweeping strokes of colour with her fabric. Only when you looked very closely could you see the enormous amount of intricate piecing that went into creating something that looks so spontaneous and exuberant.




And do I hear you asking "What about the quilt in that first picture?" "A Gathering Of Geckos" was my favourite quilt in the exhibition. I studied it up close,




and from a distance, bemused by how the quilter had come to the idea of this particular design. It probably had a little to do with her living in Arizona. It had a distinctly Southwestern feel to it. The Bean is not much interested in quilts. He will give an opinion on colour, design, whatever, if asked, but when he saw a picture of this quilt in a newspaper article on the exhibition, he excitedly declared "That's the quilt I want!" I wouldn't, however, be holding my breath if I were him!

Aren't those quilts amazing? And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish this month's humble little basket applique block......

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Random Thoughts On Real Lives and Weddings

Births, deaths, weddings, funerals. I've been thinking about these things, the significant events that cement our bonds with each other. No matter how far we roam, these events bring [or should, but life is complicated and distances are long] us home to reaffirm the connections that are most important to us. A person would like to be there at the important times in the lives of those she loves, for her own sake as well as theirs. Because everyone needs to feel part of something bigger than themselves, and to know there are a few people in the world, to whom their existence matters.

My niece got married a few days ago in London. I was unable to be there, as I'd made that trip earlier this year for another momentous event, the birth of the Precious Bundle, and Donald Trump is not my uncle. Since my niece could hardly be expected to reschedule her wedding to coincide with the birth of our newest grandson, and Dear Son and Beloved could likewise not reasonably be expected to delay PB's birth by five months, since even five days beyond the due date stretches the patience [among other things,] a choice had to be made.

Rise was sixteen when the OC and I got married. I was twenty two. She was my bridesmaid but though we were sisters, we hardly knew each other. Six years is a gaping chasm when you're that young. I was the goody two shoes, she was the one with a life. When she got married we were in California, up to our oxthers in small children, skint, so missed that, which made me sad. Swore that, when I grew up, I wouldn't miss these kinds of things.....life went on.

I was sorry not to be in London on Monday, dancing, and toasting and connecting with Rise and clan. The bride is Rise's first born, our Godchild, if that means anything anymore in a world gone secular. She has all her marbles in one sock, unlike her aged aunt, and possibly even her mother, both of whom, not being gifted housekeepers, have been known to go mad cleaning whenever their oldest daughters are due home for a visit! I'm sure she has a better grip too on why we're here and what makes the sky blue than either of us do.

But that could be a generational thing. Young people seem much more sure of themselves, much more in tune with how they feel about the world's shenanigans than I ever felt when I was young. Possibly because they were not brought up with all the fire and brimstone "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" that we were. At sixty, I'm finding that beliefs I thought had rock solid foundations were actually built on shifting sand, and are, possibly, a lot of Bokum Hallah. Which is quite disconcerting.

PBS had a Roy Orbison concert on TV tonight. "In Dreams," "Pretty Woman," "Sweet Dream Baby." I was sixteen when I first heard him singing those songs, and every time I hear them the years roll away and I'm sixteen again, breathless with the excitement of being at the brink of my real life which would surely be full of mystery and romance, adventure and visits to exotic places. Going to school and being brainwashed by the nuns about the evils lurking out there, in the big bad world, and how we'd better obey all the teachings of The Church, or else! was something to fill the time until our real life began.

But when did it begin? Did it begin when a special person of the male persuasion thought you were a "pretty woman" or a "Sweet Dream Baby?" Or when you went away to college --- that feeling of being so independent and sophisticated, though you still depended on the few pounds pocket money every couple of weeks from home? Or was it when you started your first job, when you traded skills you were born with, or had acquired along the way, for the means to keep yourself alive and warm and fed? Or did your real life begin the day you got married? Or when your first child was born?

The Plan was I'd fit myself to earn a living, earn it, travel, take wonderful photos in those aforementioned exotic places, write scintillating stories and be unafraid and brave and daring and able to converse with anyone in a variety of languages.......What's that saying "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans?" How true! Of course there was a nebulous knight on a white charger in the plan, who would obligingly come along after I got the wanderlust out of my system and had a secure grip on the tail of the world. But he had his own Plan and came charging out of the mist on his white horse [actually it was a Pontiac LeMans, and it was burgundy, details, details} way before my Plan called for him to do so.

Which required major adjustments to both Plans. Well maybe, possibly, more adjustments to one plan than the other.... But it was still good. Not quite as tidy as I would have liked, but a tidy life might bore me to death. Besides, life is a work in progress, not something hanging in an art gallery or a museum, and I shouldn't want to squeeze it to fit my daydreams, to make it like a television show, where all the boo-boos are fixed, all the ruffled feathers smoothed, misunderstandings squared away, egos stroked, and problems resolved by 9:58 p.m. so they have a couple of minutes to roll the credits.

Part of growing up [I'm still trying!]is facing the facts: That even though you think you'd write great scripts for your children's lives, and your OC's life, and the lives of the in-laws [who have never hesitated to try to write your scripts for you!] you shouldn't. They need to write their own scripts, dream their own dreams, deal with the "not according to plan" things that happen in every life and learn from them. The best you can do is be there with your mouth closed, and your heart open, on the off chance they might need you. And, of course, be there [if possible] to dance at the weddings, rejoice at the births and mourn at the funerals.

I was at my niece's wedding in spirit, dancing my heart out! I like weddings. I'm the old fossil who still believes in the old fashioned tradition of standing up before kith and kin, promising to love and cherish through thick and thin. A wedding is not the beginning of a person's real life though. That starts the day we are born, which I finally figured out, and my niece has probably known since she was in diapers. But it is the start of a whole new chapter. Here's hoping it'll be her happiest chapter yet!


A brief e-mail from the new Mrs. declared the day "brilliant! The best day of our lives!" I'm still waiting for the more in depth Rise Report......

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Scribbling My Life Away


Writing . . .
Originally uploaded by korestore
Three years ago today was the date of my first blog post. Is it possible? How could three years have flown by so quickly? There were no comments on that first post and I told myself I was OK with that. I'm good at lying to myself when the need arises.

If I write a blog post and nobody reads it, have I satisfied the urge that made me write it in the first place? I would have to say that yes, I have had the satisfaction of organizing my thoughts, which, unwritten, are usually a chaotic jumble. I have had the satisfaction of arranging words in a manner that pleases me and says, as best I can, what I want to say, which, admittedly is often something that is of very little consequence to anyone but myself.

As time went on and I wrote a few more, a couple of people started to comment and I had to admit I had lied to myself. Just organizing and writing down my thoughts gave me a certain level of satisfaction. But when another human being read what I wrote and felt moved to make a comment,I was over the moon!

When the OC was a small boy he used to tell his mother that when he grew up he would buy her a farm in Australia and bring supplies by helicopter every few months ~ Australia's a big country and I guess he planned on this farm being way out in the bush. Then, when we lived in Montana, he thought that some day he'd like to come back and live out in the middle of the prairie. Since I do not share his hermit-like tendencies that idea made me shudder. Not because I didn't like Montana. I did. I just knew I wouldn't like being isolated from other human beings. I like people. I like being around them. I like talking to them. I'm interested in where people are from and what they think about and what makes their world go around. The OC's job, however, meant that every three or four years we'd move to a new place. We'd have to leave a familiar place and familiar friends and go somewhere totally new and establish a life for ourselves there. Which was in some ways exciting, but in others extremely tiresome.

Worst of all was leaving friends. You'd have acquaintances everywhere, but making friends was not so simple, so that when you did you were loathe to leave them. You'd write for a few years, then it would dwindle to a card at Christmas, and eventually just peter out. There was usually one person at each place, though, who was such a kindred spirit that the friendship survived, in spite of miles, and sometimes continents between us, and those are the friends I treasure still.

Then three years ago I discovered blogging, a whole community of people who like to write, with whom I can connect whenever I feel like putting something out there, or commenting on something they've written. I've "met" so many interesting people, with whom I never would have connected without blogging. I love the interaction and I love the glimpses into other lives, often in other countries, and most of all I love the realization that we are all more alike than different.

So, thank you to all my bloggy friends for your interest, your encouraging comments, your patience when drivel flows from my pen, and not least for the pleasure of reading some of the clever, intelligent and often downright hilarious things you all write!

Here's to the next three!