Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Amazing Woman

My Grandmother turned 99 this week. Amazing a fact as that is, she also still quilts. Sews every stitch by hand. Then I put the quilt in a frame for her, and she will quilt an entire king sized quilt in two to three weeks. The afternoon that she takes it out of the frame, she sits down and hems it! The woman is amazing. I have always thought so, but I had a conversation while having fabric cut for her at the fabric store that I can't stop thinking about. I had eight or maybe ten pieces to cut, so the clerk, oh a woman of 55 years, roughly, was making conversation, she asked me what I was doing with all of that fabric. "Oh, it's a birthday gift for my Grandmother."

"Wow! How old is she?"


"Wow! I sure won't be able to do stuff like this if I live to be her age. My hands . . . I'm already having trouble feeling things."

"Grandma has carpal tunnel in both hands. She says she can't feel anything with either hand. But it's inoperable. Well, they could operate, but they won't. At her age, they're afraid the surgery itself would kill her."

"But my hands hurt. How does she work like that?"

"Well, Grandma hurts for sure, and her fingers are all gnarled, but she says she would go straight up if she ever stopped quilting. She just pushes the needle through the fabric, then she picks up a pair of pliers and pulls the needle through."

"Wow", she said, kind of awed. And I think it was her countenance as much as the conversation, that causes me to keep going over this in my mind.

Wow, indeed! The woman is amazing! Her hands are painful, her neck hurts, she has to use a walker to climb down the steps before she works her way across 50 feet or so of uneven sod to the little old one room house, with corrugated tin siding, that she once lived in, where she now quilts. I do believe she is happier in that one room house when she is quilting than she is anywhere else on Earth. Once she gets to the little house, she switches to a motorized wheelchair to help her maneuver around the quilt which is suspended from the ceiling. When she has sewn as far as she can reach, she rolls that thing! By herself! If she's feeling up to it, she takes it out of the frame when she's finished. Only a couple of times has she asked me to.

She has buried three of her five children, all too soon, and her husband. She was a child in the horse and buggy days. She survived the flu pandemic in 1918. At 16 she married a man twice her age, and as she tells it, "I married for better or worse, it was worse, but I stuck with it." She worked in laundries and picked cotton. She thinned peaches and pruned them standing on a three legged ladder all winter long. She has fished for food, and trapped for fur. She would have a garden now if they would let her. She set up housekeeping with eight quilts, which she had made herself.

She calls me every day. We giggle like school girls, and I am her quilting buddy.

So my amazing Grandmother, 99 years old, with painful joints, fingers without sensation, sits on the edge of her bed, and works that little tiny needle back and forth, back and forth, through hundreds of little tiny pieces of fabric, until they come together to form something magical and beautiful. It doesn't matter that it is very difficult mobility wise, for her to get from point A to point B. She is not deterred by the fact that everything hurts, I mean everything. It doesn't matter that her fingers are gnarled, or that she has arthritis. It doesn't make a bit of difference that she can't hear a clap of thunder {Her words, not mine.} She doesn't even need a can-do attitude. Whether or not it can be done, is not a question. It's not even a consideration. If there is a difficulty in her way, she just figures out how to work around it. That's all there is to it; matter-of-fact and lets-get-this-thing-done. And she does it! Still!

Wow! She really is amazing.

Happy 99th Birthday Grandma! I love you, you amazing woman you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A chance encounter

I stopped by a shop for a few things this afternoon. As I wandered aimlessly, a very nice man asked me if I was finding everything. Of course I wasn't. I explained to him that I was searching for tape for my label maker but since I have never replaced it before, I didn't know exactly what I was looking for.

My glasses didn't make it in to the store with me, and you know old I am, so you understand my need for reading glasses. Anyway, the nice gentleman escorted me to the correct department, stooped down and read all of the packages until he identified the one that I needed. I thanked him as I walked away, then I turned at the end of the aisle and called back, "I really appreciate your eyes, too!" I know, it was an odd thing to say, but I couldn't read a thing, afterall.

He responded "Thank you. I do too." As he stood, he said "It's funny you should say that . . . " then I saw something in his hand that I hadn't noticed before as he unfolded his white cane.

As it turns out, he suffers from the same condition that my Mother-in-law, Carolyn Wing Greenlee, does, Retinitis Pigmentosa. They have only the straight-ahead vision left. No peripheral vision. They are legally blind and losing ground.

Carolyn has recently published a book, A Gift of Dogs. It is Carolyn's story and those of several others in her group as they trained to become dog handlers. A quote from the book's webpage, "This book is not only about guide dogs, remarkable as they are. It’s each person’s unique story of making peace with what has been called the Nation’s Number One Most Feared Disability."

I just don't believe this encounter was a coincidence. My new acquaintance was very pleased to have Carolyn's email address so that he might discuss the new life he finds himself in with someone who has walked before him. I'm so happy to be the one who was used to give him this information.

A little Story for You

. . . that my Mother told me this evening.

Two days ago, she stopped at the grocery store but didn't need much, so she didn't take a basket. As she shopped, she decided to pick up a few more things than she could really hold comfortably, and some dropped from her arms.

Mom ~ "A really nice looking young man, handsomely dressed, with a beautiful smile, came over to me and asked if he could help. I said, It looks like I need help."

He picked up the things that she had dropped and refilled her arms. When she had finished her shopping and found a place in line at the checkout, the handsome young man was at the same register with two friends about the same age, and all equally handsome. There was another person in line between the three of them and my Mother.

When it came to be her turn, the clerk turned to my Mother and said, "That young man paid for your groceries!" She asked Mom, "Do you know why?" Mom answered, "No, do you?" Of course the clerk did not, and told my Mother furthermore, that she had never seen him before. By then, of course, he was gone. I want you to understand, Mom doesn't appear to be needy. It couldn't have been that, it was plain and simply a random act of kindness.

You can imagine how touched she was. We talked about how something like this restores your faith. She wondered, why? And why me? And worried that she couldn't thank him. Life is not always kind, we all know that, but boy, take one kindness like this bestowed upon a stranger, and you can undo a whole lot of unkindness! Can you just imagine how this has touched my Mother?

I sure hope this thing catches on!

Mom said, "I kept thinking that he had such a beautiful smile. Now I know it was his heart showing through."

There's a Mouse About the House

My daughter had a run in with a rascally little varmint in her garage . . . opened a drawer in a storage unit, and a mouse ran out . . . She screamed. . . . Isn't that what you would do?

Her three year old son, running to her aid, "Mommy! You went Aaaaahhhh!"

Mommy answers, "It's okay, Honey. I saw a mouse!"

Three Year Old, " Was it a mean mouse?" {Because, certainly it had to be a mean mouse or Mommy wouldn't have gone, "Aaaaahhhh!"}

"No Honey. It wasn't a mean mouse."

So he holds his hands apart in large measure to demonstrate how giant this monster mouse must have been. "Was it a big mouse?" {Because, certainly Mommy wouldn't have gone, "Aaaaahhh!" for a tiny, cute, adorable, little furry mouse.}

"No, Honey. It was just a little mouse."

Ooh, the precious, sweet, innocent mind of a three year old. How scary to know that there are giant mean mouses jumping out at people in the garage. I don't know how they're gonna fix this one. Surely they don't want him to know what happens next.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adjectives Fail Me

I just don't know what to say. This is a clipping from the old scrapbook that I bought while antiquing in Reno. I'll transcribe it for you. I really don't know what to say. I'll let you decide.


For some years various ladies of Los Banos and vicinity have been annoyed from time to time by advances from a would be "masher." He has been, and might continue to be, a useful and influential citizen, but on account of this habit, his inordinate vanity, and the firm belief that his attentions are acceptable to old and young, married and unmarried alike, he has injured his reputation and destroyed his influence for good in this community.

A few days ago a lady whom he approached determined to ridicule him and let him "see himself as others see him," or rather to let "others see him as he sees himself." She staged a play that any moving picture would have been glad to secure and perhaps did secure, a la Fatty Arbuckle.

She admitted him softly at the door into a darkened room as per agreement at 7:30 p.m. sharp, stepped aside, and he was received into the arms of a Kimono-clad young man! A moment later, when the lady switched on the lights - behold the "masher" hugging the lady's substitute, who was ducking his head around to avoid the attempted kisses!! Somebody called out "Break" when Mr. Masher fell back paralyzed, gazed a moment at the young man and laughing lady, glanced around the room at the masked assembled audience, backed out of the door and disappeared into the night, followed by jeers and laughter of the witnesses within and without.

~unsigned, undated. However, another clipping on the same page is dated 1911~

Monday, September 21, 2009

Antiquing Trip

While antiquing wasn't our "real" reason for going, it's good enough, don't you think? I bought mainly trinkets for jewelry making, but we had the nicest time finding them. I shopped at Junkees in downtown Reno. I follow Tracey's blog, and she mentions it often, although I believe that she's giving it up in favor a move to the Pacific Northwest. Still, it was a nice sized antique mall with a lot of fun offerings, and one really wonderful booth full of fantastic buttons!

I picked this album up, you know, just out of curiosity, and it turned out to have a nice collection of old newspaper clippings lovingly pasted inside.

Full of poetry and mostly undated articles, I was hooked. It was ten minutes later when I was still reading it, and didn't want to put it down that I realized it was going home with me.

I am attributing it's practically perfect condition to having been carefully stored in the original box.

A bit about our trip, we spent two days enjoying Reno, antiquing, the Riverwalk, a little wine, some really fine dining, and okay, a little gamblling, then moved down the hill for our class reunion. Stayed the next two nights in his hometown, behaving like tourists, retracing our dating haunts and those of his childhood. Nice. Really, really nice.
I think I'm going to photograph the individual clippings in my nifty new book and transcribe them here. There is one dear series of articles . . . the story of a love. I kind of think the one pictured below is part of it, maybe, porbably the first mention. I'll begin by transcribing this one. It is . . . oh, I'll let you read it and decide on the correct adjective!


We're not mentioning any names, but according to a chance remark over heard by a Standard reporter last week, there is a certain nice young man in this town who can hardly sleep at nights for thinking of a certain day in that dear old month of June, when he shall journey to a nearby city and claim as a bride the girl of his dreams. Ah me, what a happy day that will be for the young man. And in the meantime, if you should happen to see him on the street and he has that faraway look in his eyes, just pass him by quietly, for to rudely awaken might be a shock that might lead to serious consequences. And, oh, yes, we most forgot to tell you that the young lover has made a solemn vow not to wear his garters until the happy day in June when he leads his bride to the altar, and if you look closely, sometimes you can see his little sockies peeping timidly out over his shoe tops. Could a sweeter vow than that be made? Love is a wonderful thing.
If you know who the young man is, please, please, do not tell him that we breathed a word of this, for it's all supposed to be a deep dark secret, and if he knows that everybody knows it, he might not like it.

~undated, unsigned

{The couple in the first photo? Just a wonderful old picture that I had to have. Sadly, it has no note on the reverse. and was not part of the album.}

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


My family knows this. Now I'm gonna risk it all and share it with you. I have a little secret. I live in a world separate from ugliness and noise and traffic, and possibly even separate from real life. They tell me that sometimes. {smile} I love it. It's a beautiful place. I am very happy there.
Example: While stopped in awful traffic at a huge intersection, I saw something wonderful and grabbed my ever present companion, my trusty Fujifilm Finepix Camera.
This is what I saw amidst the traffic congestion.

Collaborative Project

Months ago, a few of us began work on a collaborative art book project. This is the cover of my completed project. Dede Warren bound the books, added the photograph and white-ish trim, and facilitated the project. You'll have to check out her blog to see what else she's up to. I may be having too much fun over here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I've been playing

I woke up this morning feeling fine,

had something special on my mind . . . .

Doo do da doo da do doo, da da do do dooo, Oh yeah . . . .
Something tells me I'm into something good,

something good . . .oh yeah, something good. . . .

My apologies to the authors of the song. Is it the Beatles? The Monkees? Herman's Hermit's? I think it's Herman's Hermits, but the lyric sites have never heard of it. So they say. . . Anyway, they were no help at all. Ah well . . . memory serves up what it will. Sam found it, go figure. . . it is Herman's Hermits. That explains why I know it. {grin} And the reason for the song in the first place? I really did wake up, at 5:oo AM with the plan for doing this box on my mind. I felt pretty fine, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Perfectly Lovely Morning

I rose early. Just couldn't sleep. Then I remembered the balloon festival. En route, I picked up a steaming hot latte, a freshly baked croissant, a just picked, juicy, ripe peach and a hunk of cheese. Perfect. Wish you had been there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm not up to much . . .

Dear Friends,

How are you? What have you been up to? I haven't been doing much. That's what people keep telling me. . . . Rather, I haven't been doing anything.

An acquaintance, over the years has reiterated her idea, a few times, that I do nothing. No nuance here, she comes right out and says it. Once she actually said to me, "You don't DO anything." Recently, she noticed that my husband had been gone for some time {He was away at a forest fire. My Hero.}, she asked me, "What have you been doing? Your husband's gone." I wish I could get the tone of voice in here, it implied that the obvious answer was, "Why, I've been eating bon bons beside the pool."

As I think of it, I suppose that would have been possible if I had popped them in my mouth while I swept the pool. . . Or while I watered around it, or . . . maybe while I was on my hands and knees cleaning the pool sweep!

Perhaps she had noticed my long relaxing strolls. . . . In fact I did take some! I donned my walking shoes and pushed the lawnmower across our yard, and our neighbor's.

There were also the days that I spent visiting my Mother. We had such a lovely time. . . while we unloaded boxes and furniture into her new home. It's going to be positively wonderful!

I'm certain to an observer it appeared that I was hanging out in the bars, tossing back margaritas. {If I had been, it definitely would have been margaritas.}

Maybe she was thinking of all of the fun and playful days with my son, daughter-in-law, and their wonderful little boys. We played until all hours of the night at the house they've just moved out of. {There's a whole lotta movin' going' on!} I can't tell you how much fun it is to scrub bathtubs and tote boxes somewhere near midnight! Giggle City!

There, too, was that lovely day with my Grandma, lolling around the beauty parlor. A new haircut and perm can make a woman feel like a new person! Even give her a new lease on life. That's what 99 year old Grandma tells me.

Yes, I see it. Now that I take a look back at the way I spent my time relaxing while my husband toiled in the fire mountains of Yosemite, I see what she saw. Now though, I am resting in the knowledge that apparently, I make it all look effortless. {grin}

~ Much Love!

Graphic ~ courtesy of The Graphics Fairy