A Week Of Perfect Little Things

Monday my granddaughter Marie, who had never flown before, flew with me from her home to our home. She sat in the window seat and for two hours every other word out of her mouth was “WOW!”

Tuesday Marie and I went swimming at my friend Sue’s home. Marie immediately bonded with Sue’s grandson. It seems they both speak fluent “Minecraft.”

Wednesday she and I took a pottery class. While I was making a dish on a spinning wheel, Marie was making a small figure with clay. Isn’t it adorable? And isn’t it amazing?

Thursday the two of us went to the movie “Cruella.” We chose the dining-in experience and had our food delivered to seats. Marie loved the movie and especially loved the idea of eating chicken tenders with her feet up. “This is so fun!” she said.

That evening we had Aunt Laurie and cousin Mac over for dinner and a rousing game of Uno. Fun, fun, fun!!! When Aunt Laurie played a +4 card and was asked what the new color would be, she answered “3.” We laughed hysterically.

When Gramps was mocking the size of to-go drinks and said he was going to get a “gigunda” soda, we nearly fell off our chairs laughing.

When Marie was asked what the high point of her week was, she said “spending time with cousin Mac.” How sweet!

Friday we two took another art class. This time we learned how to pour acrylic paint on a canvas to make a marble-like design. Marie was almost shaking with excitement while choosing and mixing her paint colors.

Here are the results of our pouring skills:

Mine because I love blue, blue and more blue.

Marie’s because she loves all colors.

Saturday we flew back to her home. She was more familiar with flying this time but her nose was still glued to the plane window. We met her parents at the airport and spent some time with them before I flew back home.

Hearing Marie tell them of all her adventures of the week was so endearing. It was as if we both relived them again in the retelling.

Memories are like that, you know. They are places you can visit whenever you want. Places that stay perfect forever.

What a wonderful week we had making all those precious perfect little memories for each other!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Life Lessons From Children

The older I get, the more I realize that children have some of the best answers to the basic questions of life.  They seem to instinctively know how to manage the twists and turns of everyday living.

With all my education, experience and wisdom, I have learned to look to a five-year-old for some of the wisest lessons in getting through life.

Here are my top ten favorites:

Play is the best medicine.  Children have the ability to play with anything, anytime.  It’s how they release their emotions and feelings.  It’s also how they heal themselves.

Take a nap when you’re tired.  Children can sleep anywhere, when they need to.  What a great gift is that!

Always greet your elders with a hug and a kiss.  This is good advice your whole life – no matter how old you are.  Grannies always love to be greeted this way.

Every day is a fresh start.  No matter what happens today, no matter how bad it is or who hurts them, tomorrow is always a new day to a child.  All is forgotten and everything is possible again.  Each morning is a clean slate.

Be courageous.  Sing out loud.  Dance to the music.  Children are not confined by fear of failure or shame.  They embrace life.

Laugh every day.  Children see silliness everywhere.  Look for the humor in your everyday life.

Be active.  Get up and move.   Go outside. Find something to do.  Contact a friend. Children rarely sit in a rocking chair staring into space, thinking about the past.

Scars are badges of honor.  Scars are sources of pride to children, not signs of weakness.  Be proud of your scars.  Tell the story.   Make yourself the hero.  Pass on the wisdom.

Try new things.   Children do not fear the unknown.  They will try a new game, dive into a pool or jump on a trampoline.  Be adventurous.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Step into the unknown.

Notice the little things.  Children can be fascinated by the smallest of things – ants crossing a sidewalk, the tiny feet of birds, the wings of a bumblebee.  The things we take for granted bring them great joy.  Take notice of all the small miracles around you, and see how much more beautiful your life will be.

Becoming more childlike is one of the wisest things we can do as we age.

Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.

Lunch In The Car

With the current situation in play and all the cancellations of activities, I have come to realize how often I went out to lunch.  Quilters, I now know, are a noshing group.

Every meeting I went to was followed by lunch.  Every sewing group involved a meal or some snacks.  Every gathering of our Bee included breakfast AND lunch.

And then there was the occasional social event which was always centered around food. Eating was a big part of all my activities.  How did I not know this before?

I guess I knew it but just took it for granted.  It was always there, available, easy, reliable, comforting.  Adding a bit of spice and good taste to every occasion.  Giving every event a time for us to bond and be relaxed.

But two weeks ago everything changed.  Eating establishments began to close or sort of close.  Gathering places weren’t available.

Then my friend Lynn called.  She already had cabin fever and wanted out of the house. “Let’s go to lunch!” I suggested.  She was excited to go.

We met at a Mexican food place.  As soon as we entered, it was obvious no one was eating inside.  We could do take out.  But go where?

“Let’s eat in my car,” Lynn said.  So we did.  We sat in the front seat of her car eating tacos and quesadillas.  We talked.   We laughed.  We cried. (Lynn had lost a relative recently).  We made plans.  We shared sewing projects.  We spilled salsa on ourselves.

All the things we would normally have done at any lunch, we did in the front seat of her car.  It was wonderful.  Magical even.

I think when this virus quarantine is all over, Lynn and I will go out to lunch again.  And we’ll eat in the car, for old time’s sake.

A Letter To My Teenage Self

Dear Sweetie –

I know you’re busy being an active teenage girl, but I have some words of wisdom for you.  I have gained this wisdom through many years of experience and lots of trial and error.  I hope to relieve some of your anxiety and give you hope for the future.

Most importantly, know that the difficult times in life are survivable.  It may not seem that way now, but only because you have had such a short life and maybe so few hard times. Each success in hurtling a storm will make you more equipped to face the next one.  By the time you reach my age, you will be a master and a teacher, and others will look to you for counsel in the stressful times.

Don’t take yourself or anything else for that matter, too seriously.  Learn to see the humor in everyday life and you will always have a smile on your face. You will find that humor will get you through a lot of difficult situations.

Always tell the truth.  No matter what, tell the truth.  It shapes your character for the rest of your life.  Make your word and your signature your most solemn promise.

Meet all sorts of people and value diverse relationships.  Learn to make and maintain friendships.  Some of the people in your life now will remain close to you for the rest of your life.  Make good memories.

Try all sorts of interests.  Join after-school activities. Take up a musical instrument.  Try out for a team.  All these things help you discover your strengths and weaknesses – all good knowledge.  And they make you a more well-rounded person.

Don’t abuse drugs and alcohol – just don’t!!!  They bring you nothing but heartache and will steal your life.  They will take everything from you and I do mean everything – your money, your job, your family, your home, your friends, your name, your trust, your health and finally your very life.

Finally, have fun!   These are some of the best years of your life – enjoy them. Go to school with a positive attitude.  Attend school functions.  Spend time with friends and family. Explore hobbies and sports.  Keep a journal.  Look for ways to share with others.  Be goofy.

Have faith in yourself.  You will do well and will be successful.

Remember, I will always be here to help you.

Your grown-up self

My Favorite Possessions

I think about the things I would try to save if there were a fire in my house.  Those objects that are precious, have memories attached to them and can’t be replaced.   Those possessions that can give you a hug and a good feeling just by being there, being seen and being touched.

I have several of these irreplaceable items Some are out to be seen.  Some are safely tucked away.  And some are used daily.

My quilts are very important to me, but one is especially precious.  It’s hanging on the wall in our guest bedroom.  It’s so valuable to me because it is made from linens stitched by my grandmother and mother.  There are tablecloths, towels, napkins, dresser scarves and doilies in the quilt.  Then it is bordered in colorful handkerchiefs.

I can just feel those women around me when I am in the presence of that quilt.  It’s like a great big hug.  It speaks to me through its stitches and linens.  I would definitely grab it first, if there was a fire or a flood.

My great-grandmother’s bedroom set is in our bedroom.  Gramps and I have used it since we were married.   My grandmother was born in that bed.  It is made of cherry wood and is very ornate – very Victorian.  It has a tall headboard and footboard.

I can’t even tell you how cuddled and comforted I feel in Gram’s big bed.  I can just imagine the generations of women dusting those wooden boards and changing the linens and fluffing the pillows.  It’s an honor to keep up the tradition of loving my bed.  My dilemma?  I’m not sure I could carry it out in a disaster.

Now my mother’s silver tea set is very portable in case of a calamity.  It’s tucked away in a cupboard because we never use it anymore.  That’s not to say I don’t get it out and pet it periodically.  My mother had it sitting on the buffet, always polished and always shiny.  It reminds me of her in many ways.  She too was always polished and shiny.

I have some of my Daddy’s tools, which also are not very useful but are a treasure to me. He was a carpenter in the CB’s during WW II and was a general all-around fix-it kind of guy.  To have those tools that were used and touched by him so many times is a gift for me.  When I see them, I can almost hear him working and banging away on some project. Thinking of it now almost brings tears to my eyes.

Then there’s the diamond ring that Gramps gave me many years ago as a birthday present.  I wear it all the time.  It’s a daily reminder of his love and devotion to me. Coincidentally, the large diamond in the center is surrounded by six smaller diamonds, exactly the number of grandchildren we have.

The whole ring is a little remembrance of my entire family – all three generations.  I don’t go anywhere without it.

So obviously, all these possessions could not be gotten out of the house very rapidly.  But they could in a slow evacuation.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter if I have any of these items really.

Because I carry all the people and memories in my heart, where they are safe from every disaster and can never be lost.

For The Love Of Selvedges

So what the heck is a selvedge anyway?  Well, for those who really don’t know, it’s the edge of either side of a woven fabric, so finished as to prevent raveling.  That’s according to Merriam-Webster, that is.

To me, it’s the fun narrow border of a fabric that usually has written words and color dots, and more recently, colorful designs.  Selvedges have become so charming, I am absolutely enamored with them.

Sometimes selvedges will have more than just the name of the company and/or the name of the fabric.  Nowadays they will have words of wisdom, like these.

How can you go wrong, when your fabric tells you how the world should be!

And the selvedges with those cute characters!  I mean, who doesn’t love colorful, charming, little animals or objects just marching across the edge?  Usually the objects pertain to the pattern of the fabric and sometimes . . . who knows where the idea came from?

But I save all selvedges – the smooth edged and the ruffly edged.  I cut the selvedge plus at least one inch of fabric.  That way, when I overlap the selvedges to make fabric, I will get some of the color.

Which is why I save the selvedges – to make more fabric out of the strips.  Sounds insane, I know, but it is so great-looking.  I have covered my sewing room chair with that fabric. Here’s a photo:

Also made a tote.

Basically, once you make a piece of fabric from the strips, you can do anything with that fabric.  Use it like any other fabric and sew into any shape you want.  The possibilities are endless.

I’m not sure why selvedges speak to me the way they do but I sure am hooked.  I confess that once I bought some fabric only because the selvedge was so outstanding.  My love of selvedges is so well known, that many people now save them for me.

It’s kind of like being a drug addict and having dealers who give me the drug for free.  I mean, really?  I once even talked a lady at my Quilt Guild Meeting, who had won a bag of selvedges as a door prize, into giving me the whole bag.  I think I need an intervention.

So next time you see a piece of fabric, look at the selvedges.  Careful!  You might become addicted, just like me!

Oh, I see some now!  Gotta go!

A Cat Named Starsky

It all started when I looked out into the backyard one day and saw a white rabbit hopping around.  He looked very domesticated and very lost.  So, of course, we adopted him and named him “Hutch.”  We thought that was very clever.

Within a month, I was coming home from work in the rain and saw a small cat in the street.  I stopped to see how I could help and when I opened my car door, a wet black cat jumped into my lap.

And that’s how we adopted a completely black cat who subsequently was named “Starsky” after the TV series “Starsky and Hutch.”  Now we thought we were practically brilliant at naming pets.

When I took Starsky to the vet to be checked out, the tech asked me all the necessary questions including the cat’s name.  I said I was a little embarrassed to tell her the cat’s name and she said that was okay – she had heard them all.

So I told her his name was Starsky, and how he got his name.  She said that was not bad. She actually thought I was going to say his name was “Sammy Davis Jr.”  Now that would be a great name for an all black cat!

We eventually gave Hutch to a friend who owned a farm, but Starsky lived with us for many happy years.  He grew up to be the best cat ever.

He was calm, gentle, playful and great with our two children.  They could easily dress him in clothes and he would never make a fuss.  Or put a hat on him and he would just stare at me with a “come help me” look on his face.

We even have a picture of him with red checkers all over him and the poor cat is just frozen in position.  He was the best!

He would let me carry him anywhere and would sleep on my lap.  He also slept at the foot of our bed at night.  He was quiet and didn’t snore a bit.  But he could also be playful. Have you ever seen a cat play fetch?  Well, our Starsky would!

If anyone would throw a bottle cap or fire a rubber band down the hallway, that silly feline would run as fast as he could, snatch the object and trot back with it in his mouth. Casually he would drop it at the thrower’s feet and wait for the next toss.

This would go on for as long as the thrower had energy or until Starsky got distracted by something fun . . . or maybe food.

Which brings me to poor Starsky’s weight problem.  He loved to eat and he was no athlete, so eventually he ballooned to a whopping twenty-five pounds.  Vet said, “Put him on a diet!”.

That’s when the begging began.  Our wonderful gentleman of a cat became a real pest for food.  At every meal there would be a little black paw running along the edge of the table, just in case any crumb happened to be there.  Steady as clockwork.

And our Starsky was a pacifist every day of his life.  He wasn’t a good fighter either.  I know, because after every disagreement with another cat, he had an injury on his backside.  Never anywhere else.  Always the tush – from him running away, I suppose.

Our Starsky set the standard for all the other cats we ever owned. He was the most mild-mannered, cutest, gentlest, funniest, best cat ever.

He left a huge hole when he was gone.  Hard to believe for such a small animal.  We still talk about him in all our “remember when” stories.

Everyone should have a pet like Starsky to enjoy and then remember forever.