Posted tagged ‘memories’

Quilt Rescue

September 19, 2010

 A few of my friends are quilters.  One dyes her own fabric in the tub of her spare bathroom and creates the most intricately quilted and  beautiful wall hangings.  Another has been the president of her local quilting guild for years.  Still another learned quilting at her mother’s knee who learned it from HER mother and left my friend with a collection of quilts and skills spanning the generations.  She just finished a quilt that is being auctioned off to raise funds for an organization benefiting the prevention of child neglect and abuse.

That’s putting her skills to very good use.

My quilting efforts hardly equal theirs but I am a quilter as well.  I generally make smaller quilts from fabric that has been preprinted with some sort of design.  I worked on one while we were waiting for our son to arrive from Korea.  I quilted around pink, purple and teal printed  handprints and then decorated the nursery to match the quilt.  He also had a small quilt with Biblical scenes and characters on it for nap time at his daycare. 

I quilted another one with a nursery saying about the moon being bright and cookies and milk at night to take to Russia when we picked up our daughter from her orphanage.  Her favorite though was the butterfly quilt I made for her several years later.  She picked out the fabric for that one herself.   She still uses it sometimes….I think.

There have been a few others…one for the first grandchild….several for the babies of friends.  And I even have an heirloom quilt given to me by my grandmother.  It was made by a relative and handed down to HER.  The last time I looked at the information I had, I think I calculated the age of the quilt to being 154 years old????  Something like that.  Pretty cool.

If you like old things. 

Which I do.

And this weekend I have been involved in a ‘quilt rescue.’  For this….

I made this quilt 32 years ago when I came home from college.  Its the very first quilt I ever made.  I’d watched a friend make one of flannel and old jeans as a Christmas gift for a boyfriend.  It looked pretty simple.  At least simpler that the bedspread quilt I’d watched my mother piece together and hand quilt. THAT was an awesome project.

MY quilt consists of squares cut from old denim jeans and squares cut from flannel fabric purchased when K-Mart actually carried bolts of fabric and sewing supplies. The backing is an old sheet and the filling a roll of thin acrylic like fluff.  It was tied at each corner and in the center of each denim  square.  Soft, dense and heavy.  It was my favorite blanket…ever.

Its the blanket that has gone to the beach and been carried in the car for scores of trips and vacations. Its the one I used as a spread on the old steel bed in my bedroom.  It is the one my dog loved to sleep on and the one that covered the floor when my son was learning to crawl.   It is also the one that protected the bedding in our camper when he decided to upchuck the toddler turkey sticks, oreos and cola when the car stopped moving after a long drive to Gatlinburg. 

Its was the blanket of choice when my stepdaughter arrived at our house for the weekend with the flu and just could NOT get warm.  She was sound asleep just 20 minutes of wrapping herself in the ‘jean quilt.’  And she generally claimed it for every visitation weekend after that for months.

It s the blanket my husband fought me for when we cracked the window in our first apartment every single night and would wake up with frost on the end of our noses.

Soft, dense, warm and heavy.

With the passage of time it has gotten even softer….a little less dense…..a little  less heavy…..but no less warm.  And it had been regulated to our camper where the need for warmth was much greater.

When that camper was sold recently, the blankets found their way to our laundry room floor.  And since we are moving  in another month or so, I was planning to get rid of what we didn’t need any more.  I was sorting through things and came to the ‘jean quilt’ on the bottom of the pile.  It was in sad disrepair. I steeled myself and tossed the old quilt……into the washing machine.

And I have spent the entire day rejoining worn edges of denim and flannel, tucking in threads that have seperated with age, removing floss ties that have all but melted away and actually quilting around the inside of the denim squares.

It’s not that perfect…or even good…by any determination.  My quilting friends probably would have advised me to start in the middle and work my way out to a new binding edge or something.  Instead I started with the worst of the squares and just moved here and there.  The underside looks pretty sad but that’s okay.  Its no one’s ‘heirloom’ but mine….and it feels pretty good to be wrapped up in the old quilt again.

Soft and dense and warm and heavy.

Some things just can’t be replaced.


August 22, 2010

I was – am – a doll person.  Not baby dolls so much but dolls.  The first one I have memories of is a blonde, blue eyed Patty Play Pal doll.   I got her for Christmas when I was five.  She was as big as I was and could wear my clothes.  There were others.  Chatty Cathy.  Tressy.  A Shirley Temple doll whose curls were matted beyond relief and so I cut them off.  She looked cuter with that shorter, more manageable bob….I thought.  I still get occasional flak for  ‘Little Miss No Name.’

She had huge brown eyes and lanky blonde hair.  She wore a burlap dress, no shoes and had a plastic tear that could be removed from her cheek.  She came in VERY handy when I would play ‘lost in the Siberian wilderness.’  Okay…so I was a history nut and a very weird child.  And the doll’s flat, out stretched palm made her a perfect complement to our neighborhood ‘spook houses’ in the garage.  A Barbie doll head and a puddle of ketchup on that palm was totally gross out material.

While I still have a trunk full of hand made porcelain dolls and a couple of AG dolls I have had for years, I have not been able to transfer the doll love to my daughter.  Dolls freak her out because they stare at her.  Always have.  Heh.

We DID get into the doll house thing for a while though.  Her big gift for her first Christmas with us was a Fisher Price Loving Family doll house.  We had it wrapped up and under the tree for about two weeks before Christmas.  Her favorite part of our days at home alone were dragging that box out, opening the gift, setting up the doll house and playing with it, wrapping it up again and putting it back under the tree before Daddy got home.  Shhh.  He still doesn’t understand how she understood where all of the pieces went when she opened it on Christmas morning. : )

My niece was – is – a doll lover.  She is in college now and has grown up several states away so our times together were pretty infrequent.  There was a shopping trip once when she was about three.  I remember a little bitty Libby standing up in the cart as we searched through a toy department killing time while her parents shopped.  We were looking through the ‘new’ Cabbage Patch doll collection and picked up one with the name ‘Libby Kitty’  on it’s adoption certificate  My husband and I looked at one another and then just grinned.  How could we resist?  We slipped the box on the shelf under the cart – secretly we thought – and went on with our shopping.  My sister walked up, saw the box and asked ‘Whose Cabbage Patch is that?”  Without missing a beat, little bitty Libby looked up from the shopping cart and said, ‘It’s mine!’  And it was…..her constant companion for a great many years after. LOL

Prince was into Brio trains, Playmobile communities and…..Star Wars.  He was 2 and a half when he wrapped his fingers around his first Luke Skywalker action figure and he never let go of it.  Never.  He also loved stuffed animals.  When he turned three, ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ was all the rage.  With a February birthdate we were able to by pass the scarcity of it at Christmas and give it to him then.  Someone had told me to save my mylar balloons and use them for spectacular shiny wrapping paper and I did.  When he woke up on his birthday, Prince had a small pile of silvery presents in the middle of the livingroom floor.  He was so excited that he accidentally stepped on one.  To his absolute delight, the package starting cackling and then skittered across the carpeting as ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ vibrated inside.  We had so much fun with that that he almost didn’t want to unwrap it!

My sister did not grow up a doll lover.  She was more into Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks.  She did own a pair of twin baby dolls that I was jealous of – Karen and Kenny.  They came with their very own – very cool – double stroller and matching outfits.  I had her SO convinced that I could look at a doll and ‘know’ their name.  She hated the names ‘Karen and Kenny’ but she could never call them anything else.  Made her furious!    She also had the entire set of Johnny West dolls.  She had Johnny, Jane, Jay, Josie, Jamie, Janice, Geronimo, a couple of horses and all of their gear.  They were her most prized possessions. Until junior high.  In a spate of ‘maturity’ she gave the entire box to the little sister of a friend and has regretted it ever since. 

My sister had another toy that she held very dear to her heart. 

Thimble City.

You may have seen one or something like it.  It was a cardboard ‘city’ mounted on short legs.  It had tiny cars and people that could be moved around with long sticks that had magnets on them.  You maneuvered items by sliding the magnet sticks under the ‘streets’ of the city.

Gosh…she loved that thing.  She would play with it for hours.

It was kept in its box under our trundle bed in our bedroom.  We thought it was a safe place.  The box was big and bulky.  Sometimes it didn’t quite make it completely under the bed.  A corner would stick out.  And one night when I was about 10 and she was six, I sat up in bed and lost my cookies.


All over the bed.  All over the floor and….unfortunately….inside the sticking out corner of the open box of her Thimble City.

I still remember being in a flu fugue and seeing my mother holding my panicking little sister in her lap,  trying to divert her attention, as my dad carried the sloppy, stinky box from under our bed to the trash can.

It was a very sad day.  For all of us.

But especially me.

Because ever since that day, whenever we’d get into a fight or an argument in which disappointments were bantered back and forth, the argument would always….ALWAYS….end with….

“And you puked on my Thimble City.”

Pictures….or ‘Shots of My Mom’

June 15, 2010

Had to pull up some pictures today.  The kiddos need new pass cards for their new soccer seasons.  This requires two of the same shot – 1 and a half by 2 inches.  School pictures would do but do think I can find any recent ones??  Of course not.   So I sorted through my digital files for just the right ones to crop and copy/paste and print.  Prince is VERY persnickety about having his picture taken AND which pictures he allows the ‘public’ to see.  It amazes me that he is so shy in front of the camera.  Poor kid was ALWAYS in front of one camera or another from the get go.  I have boxes and boxes and boxes of prints to prove it.  Poor Princess was watching us go through them one day with a perplexed frown on her face.  She wanted to know where all of the pictures of HER were.

I have many, many of her as well…..but they are stored in digital folders and on disks.  She is my cyber child in more ways than one.  We bought a digital camera shortly before traveling to Russia thinking it would be easier to deal with there…..and it was.  But I have been printing her pictures lately – and tossing them into the box where I have been collecting all of our photos.

My sister and I grew up with a box of pictures.   It was a flat cardboard thing that was stored in the cubby space over my parent’s cedar lined closet in their bedroom.  Some were fastened into black paged photo albums but most of them were loose.  It was a fun, rainy afternoon activity to get the box down and pour the pictures in the middle of the living room floor to sort through them.  We did it often when I was growing up.  At least twice a year or so.  Every picture had a story or a ‘remember when…’ attached to it.  We would pass the time sharing stories, asking questions and totally forgetting the names and places of the older ones.  Sometimes I wish I had written some of this down.  Some times.

In this recent gathering up the pictures for the box I purchased, I ran across some wonderful old ones of my parents.  I was telling my Mom about the envelope I found –  which I think are  batch I secretly slipped away from HER box when they were packing up to move to Florida years ago.  Shhh.  Don’t tell….   I commented on what a gorgeous little girl she was.  I had to repeat that for her.  Several times.

“I never thought that I was particularly pretty,” she said. “Everyone always fussed over C (her older sister).  I just came along after.”

Wow.  But then I think about my own gorgeous 14 year old and her fussiness about the ONE hair that stands up on the top of her head in this year’s school picture or this week’s crop of teen acne….and the truely handsome Prince’s fussiness about what he allows me to film.   (‘Ten seconds, Mom.  Just TEN seconds.’)  And I think about my own reluctance to sit in front of a camera.

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we never see for ourselves what other people see in us.  Its a shame because I wonder how this person’s life would have transpired had she known for the beginning how really, really beautiful she was…..and is?  Would it have been any different?

Here is my Mother at four, eight, ten (my favorite!), fourteen, nineteen, twenty-something….
















…..and newly in love with the Charlie Brown wannabe that became my Dad. Wonder if he really knows how lucky he was to get such a catch?

Probably not.

You Do The Best You Can

May 9, 2010

This is my father, his mother and ‘Uncle Webb.’  I have no idea who Uncle Webb is. I have never met my father’s mother.  I know that her name was Daisy Florence and – by all accounts – she was a fiesty farm wife.  My Dad tells of how, when my Grandfather forbade her to leave the farm and removed the battery from their car so she couldn’t, she simply lifted the battery from the radio, hooked it up to the car and went anyway.  Hee.  She died giving birth to her third child – another boy – and was buried on my father’s seventh birthday….along with his baby brother.

This is my mother’s mother… the bloom of her teenage years.  She was the oldest of twelve children.  She left home at at early age as a bride, gave birth to three children and took them away from an abusive husband and father when it was difficult to do so.  She was divorced when it wasn’t the ‘thing to do.’  She said her father helped her find a home and a job and made her stand on her own two feet as a mother and provider and she would always be grateful to him for doing that.  She would marry again, have a fourth child, lose that husband to cancer, marry again to her soul mate, lose him to cancer and marry…yet again….only to lose HIM as well.  She was in her late nineties when she died.  She instilled in her children a devotion to family that is like no other.  They supported her and helped her live on her own until the day she died.  She was Mother, Aunt Mabel, Gram and GG.

This is my husband’s mother.  She was a military wife and mom.  She raised seven children while her husband served in the Marine Corp.  World War II, Korea and Viet Nam.  After two tours in ‘Nam she finally put her foot down and said ‘no more.’  Her husband continued to serve as a Corp recruiter until he retired and then they came home to Michigan.  She worked, went to school and saw her teenagers to adulthood and parenthood.  She lost her oldest daughter to a car accident. She was able to hold her very first great grandchild in her arms before passing away.  That child just turned 12.

This is my mother, my cousin and me.  My sister is also in this picture but hasn’t been born yet.  I love this picture because – even though you can’t see her face – you can get a real sense of who my mother is.  She is caring and loving.  It is her nature to look after other people.  Her children.  Her friend’s children. Her children’s friends. Her neice (who was also a child of divorce).  Her nephew. Her softball team.  Other people’s children.  People from her various jobs.  Her Mother.  Her siblings.  A nuturer.  That’s just who MY mother is.

And I am the mother of two rug rats who were born on the opposite side of the world to women I have never met.  One arrived by a Korean airline and the other by Russian court.  They are sports nuts and I am not.  I love to read and they do not.  Every single day we grapple with our differences and our boundaries and our lessons to one another.  Raising teens is not for the faint of heart.  But there is hope for a happy ending.  Just ask my sister.  She has raised two of her own.

And survived.

As I watch my stepdaughters parent their children and deal with the continuing parenting of mine, I am reminded of the other Mothers in my life.  Mothers who coped with stubborn farmer husbands, abuse and joy, long absences with no promises, nuturing of those around them…. 

I have learned only one thing.

You do the best that you can.

And that’s all you can.


Happy Mother’s Day!

Greeeeen Acres……

May 31, 2009

  I just washed my hands.  I wish I had of thought to take a picture of them before lathering them in soap and scrubbing my nails.  They were an amazing sight.  First of all, I have never had fingernails that were long enough to have caked top soil and Miracle Gro jammed under them so deep that the top of the nails were black.  Second of all, it has been a LONG time since I have had reason to drive my fingers deep into top soil and Miracle Gro. 

We planted a garden.

Well, it’s a small sort of lawn box actually.  It’s an eight by four foot patch nestled next to our equipment shed at the top of the hill my kiddos used to practice snowboarding last winter.    We built a frame, pulled up sod (transplanting it to a bare patch next to the driveway in case anyone wonders how we could destroy actual growing grass), filled the space with 12 bags of $1.19 top soil and one huge bag of Miracle Gro soil and planted vegetable plants.  Tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers.  Two seed rows were also set in place – one with summer squash and the other with sugar peas.  We planted a half row of peas today and will finish the row in a couple of weeks in order to extend the picking season for them. It’s what it said to do on the envelope.  It’s mostly likely going to be too crowded for the size but I don’t care.  I’ll weed things out.

And I can’t wait.

I sat out on the grass in the sun for a long time looking at all the hardy little fellows in their mounds and tomato cages wondering if they were truely going to make it to harvest.  I was planning to purchase a watering can to make caring for them easier.  (The prince likes to squirt the little darlings with the hose not realizing he is washing away the soil around their roots. Heh) I was also wondering what sort of garden the Obamas have planted at the White House and how big of a garden my friend Mary and her little Rabbit are  planting this weekend.  And I was singing the inevitable ‘Green Acres’ theme song in my head.  Heh

When I was growing up the back end of my parent’s half acre of property in the middle of Michigan suburbia was planted and cultivated by my Grandfather.  He planted corn, cucumbers, tomatos, potatos and pumpkins (which we sold in October for spending money) every year.  We also had a stand of sour purple grapes (perfect for squirting in the faces of any ‘enemy’ we captured and tied to the clothesline post while playing with neighborhood friends), a row of rhubarb (you haven’t tasted rhubarb until you have had it straight from the bush – warm from the sun – the end tamped into a Dixie cup of sugar), raspberries (again – eaten warm from the sun out of a dusty, dirty hand) and a pear tree.  I remember detesting being sent to the fields to pick corn for dinner.  There was one summer when my father’s oil seal plant was on strike, that the garden became our supermarket.  I remember dinners of corn on the cob, sliced tomatos and cucumbers.  And that’s all.  Yum.

My mother had a love/hate relationship with those garden years.  I found out later that she liked having the produce readily available but hated having to constantly yell at us to ‘stay out of the garden!’  I can still hear her voice from the back door of our house.  Things were much more relaxing for her when my Grandfather remarried and planted his garden closer to the home he shared with his new wife.  Then that back field became a baseball field, a minibike track, home for an underground fort (my dad had a conniption about that one when his riding lawn mower took a nose dive into it one day), a tree house and a ‘snowmobile death trail.’

I always managed to carve out some little space for a garden though.  Nothing much.  Tomatoes…sugar peas…. pumpkins.  One year I was growing watermelon for fun.  Just one little melon actually formed and I went out each day to turn it so it would be perfectly round and green.  One day I went out, lifted the little thing to turn it and it was suspiciously lighter.  Something – a rabbit or a rat – had eaten a hole in the side, and then cleaned out ALL of the pink melon inside.  Arrgh.

I got married and we moved into to a ‘controlled community.’  My parents sold their house and moved to another state.   Our ‘gardens’ became  a few pots of patio tomatoes.  I had mulled over a raised garden bed for years but could never get anyone motivated to do it.  Until this year.

So today, at last,  I sank my bare toes and fingers into warm, rich and loamy soil.  I dug holes and slipped in tiny potted seedlings, added water and covered the roots with dirt.  The sun was hot and the wind was blowing cool.  And I was humming.  And wondering.  And remembering.  And loving the entire process.

Now, there are shovels and clippers and diggers to put away.  My back hurts and my bare feet itch.  And I have vegetables growing in a  garden again.

Life is good.

The Best Christmas Gifts Ever

December 31, 2008


Eh…the picture turned out a little blurry .  Sorry about that.  You can still see the red heart.    They were lost amongst the i-pods and clothes and remote control helicopters.   I had to rescue them from the mass of candy and socks and new underwear in stockings.  They are the best Christmas gifts ever.  An after thought tacked on to a quickie shopping trip.  An off hand purchase found on a stroll through the school supplies looking for the mechanical pencils that the Prince loves.  A gift to them from me….and given back to me.  Two little leather bound books with an elastic strap to hold them shut.  My intention is to write something in each of them, every day, for a year.  Nothing big or philosophical.  Just an account of daily events they might not remember.  It’s an idea I got from my parents when they gave me a notebook last summer with an account of my first trip to Florida when I was three years old….fifty years ago.  Yes…it was falling apart…and it was so much fun to read. 

In this upcoming year my son will turn 15, is facing driver’s ed, another soccer team and another year of high school.  My daughter will be turning 14  and that brings a myriad of  things she may want to remember….or forget.  If I were writing in them today I would write about her disappointment that a power outage has closed her favorite indoor skate park…until Monday.  And she has a new skateboard to try out.   I would write about his absolute delight that I consented to purchase another goalie jersey and ‘kit’ from his favorite website – in exchange for the cash he got for Christmas.  Not a huge deal but he KNOWS how much I hate to carry cash.  It flows from my pocketbook like water. 

I am not sure who is going to have more fun with this ‘gift.’  Will it be me – taking a few minutes before I go to bed to contemplate the most important event of my children’s day?  Or will it theirs when the books appear again in their hands – holding a whole year’s worth of memories??    For the next 365 days, it will definitely be mine.  I can’t wait!

Happy New Year!

Bob Wernet’s Super Chief

June 26, 2008

Every family has one, I am sure. The little greasy spoon…restaurant dive….that holds memories galore. For my children and I, it’s this place. The Super Chief. Foot long coney dogs with buttery grilled buns and messy, mild chili. The greasiest, best tasting onion rings in the world. Cherry cokes still made with real cherry syrup and bits of real cherries in the bottom of your cup that plug up your straw. I don’t think I have ever had anything else there in….forever. I know we went for breakfast one Saturday once…but it wasn’t the same.

We had an argument today about how many people the place holds. I said 33 but the Prince said I am imagining things. HE says it’s less. At any rate it’s small. They have added a small patio with picnic tables for the summer months. Maybe 4 tables. The cozy crowdedness is actually part of it’s charm. We have never had to wait for a seat. And there is always a steady stream of customers.

The Super Chief has been a favorite of my family’s for a good long while. Back then it was a drive in. You pulled your car in and someone came out to take your order. Food was brought to your car on a tray that balanced on your half open window. The perfect place for a summer evening dinner. I am not sure when they moved to this building. It may even have been a move back. My dad used to stop in for chili dogs when he was still driving a truck….way over 50 years ago. Once we gave my dad a tee shirt form the store as a Christmas gift. He was wearing it in Daytona Beach, Florida and was stopped by someone who knew the place. So they chatted a while. Memories….and chili dogs.

When my son was about 4 years old and my parents were visiting from their new home in Florida, we went for lunch. I remember him in shorts and a tee shirt, feet in tennies swinging, as I explained our family history with the place while my dad leaned against the counter and talked with deceased owner’s wife. My son had a quizzical little look on his face for a moment and then said. “Pop brought you hera when you were a yiddle girl….and now you are bring me hera.” The frown deepened a little. My guy. At four he had figured out a new concept. Continuity….and chili dogs.

The restaurant is right around the corner from the building where I would spend hours working on materials for my classroom every summer. I would drag the kids there, set them to work and promise them the work session would be followed by a visit to the Super Chief. One such late summer day we sat in a tight corner booth having a rollicking conversation as we sipped away on cherry cokes. The Prince and I had discovered a – then new – Lewis and Clark coin in my change purse. We were talking about how cool it was when the Princess piped up with some comment. The Prince was rather disdainful and told her she didn’t even know about Lewis and Clark. She informed him that she did so. It was Superman! Heh. (Before school routines involved watching a bit of ‘LOIS and Clark’ on television every morning.) That particular day a very well dressed lawyer type woman who had been reading the paper at the table next to us during our exchange, stopped by to tell me how much she had enjoyed my family that day. Heh. That’s the type of place it is. No secrets…..and chili dogs.

Another time we were there during the winter. Just the kids and I…again. Funds were a little tight that day and I knew she wouldn’t finish a whole foot long chili dog, so I planned to eat part of the Princess’ meal. When the waitress came to take our order, she asked if I wanted anything. When I said no, the Princess burst out that we didn’t have enough money. Well, two orders of onion rings, three foot longs, three cherry cokes and no bill later….we were the recipients of the owner’s generosity… something she does all the time, I was assured. Heh. Heartfelt generosity….and chili dogs.

Bob Wernet no longer owns the Super Chief. Neither does his wife. Bob passed away in 2002. The new owners have pledged to run it just as it has always been run. And just to make sure, Bob’s wife shows up for work there – every day. She has a huge candy bucket that comes out when kids are handy. The same Native American art works hang on the walls. Cheesy paintings of perfect people with feathers in their hair. There is a sculpture of Chief Pontiac on a shelf over the drink dispenser. And a drawing of Bob on the wall next to it. We took a friend with us this time. And a camera. I planned to take pictures for this blog entry. Unfortunately, we forgot to get a picture of the chili dogs before we ate them. Heh. Guess you will have to see one for yourself! Onion rings….and chili dogs

Bob Wernat’s Super Chief is located at 340 W Walton Blvd , Pontiac, MI
And they do take outs too. Phone – (248) 333-2028