Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Day Will Not Come Again....

Don’t buy me diamonds, though I’m partial to pearls!
Don’t feed me caviar, I’d rather have---squirrels---

[well, maybe not quite, but I'm being creative...]

Don’t send me orchids or lilies or roses.
If you love me just take me where wild flowers growses.

Walk with me ‘neath trees of fantastical shapeses,

And wander in fields on erratical traipses.

For music we’ll tune in to buzzing of beeses
And soft moaning whispers of breezes in treeses……

Okay, so I'll never be Poet Laureate, but I seized the day! Yesterday's gone; tomorrow's a closed book, but today I was happy, here, now, on a morning walk, with flowers and trees, chirping birds, sunshine, buzzing bees, and a boy, jogging in the green stillness who loves all these…..

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lessons From A Quilt

Ta-Dah! That's a Molly Bawn drum roll. An insipid little squawk I realise, but it marks a momentous occasion. I finally finished "the star quilt" for my Little Grandson. I'll be accepting pats on the back at the end of this post! I started this quilt when LG was born. This summer he will be four. Yes, I am suitably ashamed, though, in my defense, it should be noted that I did make him an interim, machine-stitched quilt, so he wouldn't be quiltless!

But now it's really finished! It's even in the mail. At the post office yesterday, the man behind the counter asked if I'd like to insure my package. Hummph! I've heard some horror stories of quilts made by friends being lost in the mail. For items made by hand the only compensation one gets is replacement of the materials used! How would you even begin to put a price on something stitched with love for a small boy, son of someone who was once your small boy? I decided to take my chances.

Four years is a long time. In my grandson's case, it's a lifetime! In that lifetime, making this quilt for him, I learned some lessons, some of them quilt related, some totally not.

I learned that---

I love figuring out new patterns and techniques.

That piecing goes quickly for me.

That things slow down at the layering stage,

And barely crawl at the basting stage. Yawn!

That even the most daunting journey/intimidating quilt is made one step/stitch at a time.

That there’s good reason to use black batting on a dark quilt---what was I thinking?

That a black quilt and a white cat should not be left in the same room together,

Because, the white cat is fatally attracted to the black quilt.

That masking tape is a white-cat-owning-quilter’s best friend.

That nobody calls you at four a.m. to give you good news.

That only a lunatic would do this much hand quilting on a quilt for a small child.

That by the time all the hand quilting is done the child will no longer be small.

That what I have to say is not always as important as listening to what someone else has to say.

That I should never say “It’s almost finished,” because, the quilting gods/goddesses will hear and punish me for excessive optimism.

If my mouth is closed my foot cannot be inserted therein.

If I didn’t blog I’d get a lot more quilting done.

If I didn’t quilt I’d get a lot more blogging done.

If I didn’t blog or quilt I’d read more.

If I didn’t blog, quilt or read, my house would be much cleaner.

If I didn’t do any of the above, I’d have to shoot myself, and then it wouldn’t matter.

Lest the quilt seem too staid for a small boy, I used this playful fabric for the backing. Since I love how Erma Bombeck compares children to kites, it seemed fitting. What I would like more than anything is to see my son's face when he sees the quilt. It's taken me so long, he thinks it's just a story I tell, this Star quilt, a figment of my imagination.

But it is no figment.

It's REAL and it's FINISHED!

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Lemon Tree, Very Pretty..."

Friday morning, dark and early, an hour down the deserted road to the airport, we learn the flight’s been cancelled. His attempt to return to the frozen north foiled, the OC cannot help but grin at the prospect of an extra day in La-La land. Land of parental dotage, confused and confusing wife, offspring irreverent and obstinately un-humble, choruses of groans when all you want to watch on television is golf and soccer --- enough to make a guy pine for a cold and lonely hermitage in the north, were it not for the possibility of one more round of golf in the balmy sunshine, an afternoon nap, perhaps; maybe even a little puttering in the garden…..

Lazy, lolling-around afternoon, no rush, no urgency. Then out of nowhere, a wild hair. He must prune the lemon tree. Never mind that the targeted branches are half way to heaven. He will not be deterred.

“The Bean will do it!” I protest. The Bean, in his opinion, does not approach such undertakings with the proper degree of enthusiasm or gravity.

“I will not push you around in your wheelchair when you fall and break your already dodgy back!” I threaten.

You've heard of “pissing into the wind?”


He was going to do what he was going to do.

The ladder was extricated from the garage and hauled to the hapless tree. The necessary, lethal-looking surgical tools were located. From there it was all go. Up he went and commenced with the lower branches. Dutifully I stood below, collecting them as they fell, burying my nose in their intoxicating perfume before carting them off to the tree branch cemetery at the back. Even as he climbed higher, and stretched more precariously, he seemed solidly planted. I was at the ready to catch him as he fell. Rigghht…….Having long ago lost my taste for “holding the flashlight,” I wandered off.....

A cardinal was lecturing us, loudly, from a nearby tree, possibly warning us not to darken the door of his nest. I fetched my camera, hoping for a picture of his piercing redness and cheeky stance. He led me a merry dance though, flying over the roof to a tree on the other side, then, as soon as I’d followed and found him, back again.

Entertaining myself thusly, I rounded the corner of the house and came upon this fine fellow,

enjoying an evening repast on the front lawn.
He froze.
I froze.
Very slowly I lowered myself onto the path. Nary a twitch, but he kept his eye on me. I inched closer,lowering myself further until belly met path, the better to get a tremor-free shot. He was very co-operative and held perfectly still while I clicked, but seeing that I wasn’t going away, he gathered up his fluffy cottontail and bounced off into the bushes.

The OC, meanwhile, dodgy back unscathed, descended from the ladder to admire his handiwork. Gathering up the remaining branches, I murmured admiringly at the lovely job he’d done. I showed him the fruits of my grovelling about on the front path.
He smiled and echoed my murmuring.

And so it goes.

Saturday morning, at the same obscenely early, dark and quiet hour, he went winging north, to the cold but peaceful hermitage. And here am I, wondering again exactly what I’m doing here…..

When besieged by doubt there’s only one cure---Start a new project.

Which is exactly what I did.

Hand piecing, my lovelies. ‘Tis good for the soul.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"The Tedium Of Decrepitude"

I just read Anna Quindlen’s latest offering “Good Dog. Stay.” All eighty two pages of it. Thirty one pages of print, fifty one of photos. Not exactly a daunting read. But she got me thinking. Pulitzer prize and best selling novels notwithstanding, she is never intimidating. She could be my sister, my next door neighbour, or me. She writes about the plain topics that concern ordinary people like us.

In this instance it is the putting down of a beloved family pet, Beau, a black Labrador who has been part of her family’s life for fifteen years.

“I’ve put in my time around people whose bodies were failing, who were clearly marooned in some limbo between illness and death. I hated the way the medical profession felt obliged to continue to poke, to test, to treat, even when cure or comfort was not in the cards. With people, it’s assumed you’ll do everything; with animals you have the luxury of doing the right thing. A Supreme Court justice once said that one of the most important rights is the right to be left alone After nearly fifteen years of loyal companionship, Beau had earned that right.”

My mother-in-law has also earned that right. She is eighty eight years old. She weighs about ninety five pounds. Her back hurts, her bones are riddled with osteoporosis, her hearing is shot, her false teeth don't fit properly and her heart is weak. And you could eat, not only off her kitchen floor, but off the floor in her garage. Her windows sparkle, and dust is barred from entering. She makes me look like a wimp, though I do not even aspire to such paroxysms of cleanliness. She has good insurance, so doctors continue to poke, to test, to treat, and to prescribe more pills, and she goes along with it all, hoping, if not for a cure, for at least a little comfort, a little respite from pain.

She had a recent alarming jaunt to the hospital in an ambulance when her lungs were filled with water. She’d thought it was the pollen in the air that was making it so hard for her to breathe. It wasn’t a sure thing that she was going to make it. They dried out her lungs in the ER and hooked her up with a mask to help her breathe. I waited with her until they had a room for her, and while we waited she talked, yes, even with the mask! She wanted to be sure I knew some things, wanted to be sure things would be done the way she wanted, and she kept coming back to one thing......

She wanted me to tell the doctor to just give her a shot, to hurry things along!

“They’re not allowed to do that Grandma! That’s what got Dr. Kevorkian thrown in jail!”

But she wasn’t convinced. It seems to her such an eminently sensible solution. She’s in pain. She’s elderly. Nothing they do will make her better, or restore her to her former, legendary vigour. So, if she’s ready to go, and they have the means to make the going painless, her attitude is “Why not?” It could never be that black and white for me. I'd hear the voices of the nuns in my head, insisting---
“God gives life, only He is allowed to take it away.”

But she has things she wants to see resolved before she goes, so she rallied, with the doctors' help. Her lungs are working reasonably well again. She’s home now, enduring what Garrison Keillor waggishly calls “the tedium of decrepitude” for another while! Her windows sparkle still, her floors are spotless, and the dust flees in terror before her broom. Life is good again, for now. She will see her Pride and Joy, the OC, this weekend, and life has no greater pleasure for her than that!

Anna Quindlen’s book also reminded me of a sad day when I had to take our first child [pre-Liz!], our beloved black lab, Suzy, to be put down, and of yet another when the OC and I both took our Maggie to the vet for the same purpose. It felt strange to be making life and death decisions for other living creatures. But it felt right too, to put an end to the pain and misery old age had brought them. After all the joy they’d brought to our lives that seemed like the least that we should do.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008