Archive for August, 2008

The fig tree in the back yard is having its largest crop yet — or I am being more faithful about picking them.  Yesterday I processed 8 quarts of them into fig sauce for the freezer.  The pole beans by the driveway have been prolific, too.  The gardens have kept me busy, along with many other things — recruiting teachers for the ESL program, recruiting and rehearsing with the handbell choir, politics (’tis the season), and making buttons.  Lots of buttons.

As I recounted in the post below, I visited my cousin Jane to receive from her the dresser of my great great grandparents — called Nain and Taid in the family — Thomas and Jane, both Welsh immigrants to Wisconsin.  I feel very honored to have this piece of furniture, to be the temporary steward of it.  I am putting it’s picture here, so my sibs can see what it looks like.  Odin’s happy to have it in front of yet another window where he can survey the neighborhood.

Since I last blogged I have made many, many buttons.  Some are for a religious convention to be held in September.  Some are for Halloween.  Some are for the upcoming election.  I am not posting button photos in this blog.  More about that some other time.  Button-making has taken up a lot of time.  It might become a small business, which is a surprise.  I did finish a little knitting – here’s a photo of a finished scarf.

It is a reversible cable scarf with some twists and braids.  The yarn is an English yarn called Marble, made by James C Brett, and it is acrylic, which makes my nieces and sister happy.  I am now working on my first DPN (double pointed needle) project using a yarn called Katmandu DK from the Queensland Collection, which is a blend of merino wool (85%), silk (10%), and cashmere (5%).  (I think my sister might not wear these — but I have a ball of cashrino that might suit her.)

One final photo for today, this is Grandma Emily’s cactus — well, a daughter branch of it – and for the first time in years, it is going to bloom.  See the little pussy-willow fuzzy spot on it?  One day pretty soon it will be a big white flower.  And if I pay attention, I will get a photo of it.  And I must pay attention because the flower lasts only a day. 

Currently I am reading:  Shining Cityby Seth Greenland (a funny book — a guy inherits a dry cleaning business from his brother, but the dry cleaning business turns out to be a front for a call girl business);  The History of Myddle by Richard Gough (the history of an English town named Myddle – it’s still there — organized according to the ownership of the pews in the town church);  and A Grief Observed by C S Lewis (a journal by Lewis on his grief at the loss of his wife Joy, a book that is hard to read because his experiences of grief and questions of God so closely parallel mine.)

Grace be with you all.


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Had a plan.

Friend Steve gave me an interesting article on memoir writing.  The author, Abigail Thomas, has her students write two pages full of three word sentences about a decade in their lives.  You can not hide in a three word sentence.  I think the idea has some real potential.   Tonight my three word sentence is “Had a plan.”

This weekend I had a plan, a long list written in my planner.  This is the first weekend of August.  In August I don’t have to teach on Saturday mornings — ESL classes end in July.  So the list was a little longer than a standard weekend list.

I started out Saturday morning by sleeping in a little late.  (It was on the list.)  My second check-it-off-the-to-do-list task was clipping Odin’s claws, which used to be a two-person task and now is a physical contest of will and strength.  Gosh, he purred through clipping paw #1!   But then the phone rang.  I let it ring and had the machine get it.  But it rattled Odin enough that he started to squirm furiously, so I gave up one claw short.  The call was from my Cousin Jane who lives in Virginia.

Jane’s planning to sell her house and move to an apartment in Ann Arbor, MI.  She has family there.  Like me, she’s a widow — in fact, Dick died two years to the day before John — pancreatic cancer.  Jane’s actually my second cousin.  She’s my Mom’s first cousin, on the Welsh side.  Jane offered to give me my great great grandparents’ dresser, which they bought when they were married (in 1868 in Winnibago County, Wisconsin).  Jane and I talked a couple of weeks ago about this, and her timeline for getting the dresser moved was not urgent.  Well, late last week she met with her realtor and a “stager” and the stager wanted the dresser moved in the next week or two, to clear the way for an open house.

I called a friend with a strong son, and suddenly, “arrangements were made”.  Whereas I had planned to take the weekend to start sorting out John’s magazines and my craft stuff that been inhabiting our bedroom (to make room for the dresser) the sorting and shifting operation was reduced to a few frantic hours.  We picked up the dresser and brought it to my house on Saturday afternoon.

The dresser is large, and the sort you’d expect a hard-scrabble Welshman to buy — plain, simple and sturdy.  It went first to my Great Grandma Kate, who hated it and kept it in the back of a closet.  (Jane says Kate thought it old fashioned and also did not like her father, Thomas, with whom this dresser is most closely identified.)  Kate kept the dresser for her daughter Cecil, who liked it.  Cecil is Jane’s mother, and when Jane’s parents died, the dresser came to Jane.  Jane’s children did not want it, so now I am the keeper.

I think it is a privilege to be the keeper, but as Jane says, “one plays museum.”  I have teapots, china, glassware, quilts, photos, even formal dresses, from various ancestors.  I think if my nieces and nephew and wonder, who will be the next keeper, and of which item?

Also, I have to figure out what of John’s things will be kept.  Today I took another load of magazines and books to the Friends of Wheaton Library.  I won’t keep most of the woodworking magazines, and I’ll eventually sort through the sociology books and the science fiction – they can not all move with me when I, like Jane, move to be near family. 

Had a plan.  It was not a bad thing, to deviate from The Plan.  It was very good fortune that things clicked into place the way they did.  Thank goodness for minivans – you can move big stuff in them. Thank goodness I already had a plan for where to put the dresser.  Thank goodness for Celia and Eric (great moving team!) and thanks to Jane for the dresser.  It looks great, and when I get the clutter beside it put away – and the curtain washed, I’ll take a photo.

The list in the planner is ready for next weekend.

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