Monday, May 29, 2017

Good Remembrances of Things Past

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with quilting and contains not-so-great photos

The American Cemetery in Normandy
My tradition on Memorial Day was to call my dad and brightly chirp "I remember you!"  He was one of the lucky World Ward II vets who returned home.  Just recently in Normandy and last year at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg and in so many other ways, we are reminded of the greatest generation and how so many lives were sacrificed.  So very sobering.  The purpose of our recent trip to France was so that John could see the Normandy Beaches and for me to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  But the beauty of this trip was that it was a constant reminder of our trip to France with my parents in 2003.

My dad and Claudia at a private salon, 2003
My parents were lucky in that they lived long and full lives.  But their decline at the end was difficult to witness.  They went from vibrancy and independence and lives of service to total dependence for daily living. After they died within 6 moths of one another, I remember asking someone how long would it take to get the images of their end days out of my mind and be able to remember them as they once were.  And this recent trip to Paris?  It has made me remember they as they were.  I felt like they were on this trip with John and me - in the best of ways.  There was a srolling accordionist at one of our dinners in Paris, and he played my dad's entire repertoire, with the exception of a tango, which I requested and he played.

Evening river cruise on the Seine

In 2003 my dad had a chance to accompany Claudia Hommel, a Chicago-based singer who specialized in French songs. I celebrated my 53rd birthday on the flight over to Paris in 2003.  This means John was 63, my mom was 75, and my dad was 78.  And to put these numbers into perspective, I am now 67 and John is 77.

My mom was so frail and so small and so blank for her last years.  So to see this picture from our trip 14 years ago is joyous.  We were in the Luxembourg Gardens having hot chocolate while my dad and John went to the Louvre.  When John and I arrived in Paris two weeks ago, our hotel room wasn't ready so we went out for a walk - and there we were:  right by the Luxembourg Gardens.

A truly memorable event on the 2003 trip was returning to Paris from the Dordogne on a train that broke down.  We had to wait 45 minutes for another engine.  So what did my dad and Claudia do?  They performed.  A few left the train car, but several more came in.  And my mom muttered - with Claudia translating for those around her -  "Ive been married to this man for over 50 years.  He's played gypsy funerals, Easter Bunny breakfasts, wedding, bar mitzvahs, but this is the first broken train. "

We spent an afternoon at Giverney, and it was delightful.  There is beauty in an autumn garden, and I recall that we pretty much had the gardens and Monet's house to ourselves.  But just recently in Giverney we encountered a mob scene.  Granted, the gardens were gorgeous and in full bloom.  And everyone was there.  90% of them had selfie sticks - pretty annoying.  What a contrast from October 2003 to May 2017!

The last time I saw Paris?  It was good.  Very good.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Back in the Groove, Sort of...

Jet lag is real.Even though there's only a 7 hour time difference between Chicago and Paris, we felt it.  The first day home I tried to pay for a Starbucks with my driver's license, which I grabbed before walking to town.  Luckily, the people in that shop know me and let me have my drink on credit.  Knowing I wouldn't be at my sharpest, I purposely left two projects which require lots of repetitive sewing.  This is a jelly roll set of fabric from Janet Clare's Aubade line my Moda.  These fabrics have a softness that remind me of Cristina, the young lady who has been quiting with me for 14 years.  While she has made several quilts - including quilts for others - in my studio.
 In all these years I have never made Cristina a quilt.  She has earned for BFA from Iowa and her Graphic Design certificate from COD and is living in her first apartment, a terrific loft in Pilson.  So this quilt is for her.  These are just the building blocks so far.  It's a special pressure doing something for someone with such a strong sense of design.  But I am going to pull out all the tricks I've taught her over the years and combine them with what she has taught me.

Julie's quilt is still on the floor.  It needs some borders so that it can be used as a bed quilt.  And I think I am going to make her some matching pillow cases.  I am intending this quilt to be light and airy and a nice contrast from the last quilt I made her.  With both of these quilts, I have loved touching all these fabrics but don't necessarily want them in my house.  So it's good to make these for people I love.
The only significance of this picture is the upper narrow shelf.  It has five sets of fabric that I am eager to turn into purses or totes.  But not right now...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Leaving the Country and Coming Home to Medical Procedure

It's always a stress - albeit a good one - in getting ready to leave the country.  The "what if..." is always present.  So I'm trying to wrap things up before we head to Paris, Normandy, and the Loire Valley this Saturday.  What I worked hard to complete are two t-shirt quilts:

These quilts are for siblings.  Both went to St. Xavier for elementary school and Lyons Township for high school.  The red and yellow one is for the one who is graduating from Iowa State.  Now, all three of Janice's children have t-shirt quilts that will last their lifetimes.

This quilt is in 8 columns on the design wall.  I am hoping to get this into one piece before we leave.  John's middle child Julie is moving to Atlanta in August.  We are going to miss her dreadfully.  Somehow making this quilt is assuaging these feelings a bit, and we will just have to visit her often - and sleep under this quilt.  Her son Ryan, our oldest grandchild, just graduated from Ball State last weekend.  Ryan's brother Brandon is graduating from Lyons Township this month - he's heading to Colorado State.  And grandson Jack Mo is graduating this month, too - he's college-bound but I haven't heard his decision yet.  Big changes for our family!

At the recent Chicago MQG retreat in Racine, after making the blocks for Julie's quilt, I played - in 3-D.  I love quilts because they are flat.  So doing something dimensional is challenging for me.  Luckily, guildsters Melissa, Eileen, and Holly were there for some hand-holding. Sarah E just didn't seem to have the same issues I did.  I think I will try these patterns again.  Both require separating zippers, but these patterns are great fun.

And I tried - or am still trying - to redeem this retreat project from years ago.  I made additional blocks and now am pondering whether I want to sew them together and sub cut them or - ....

As often as I try to put these fabrics and these straps and this zipper and this pattern away, they all keep making their way back into a pile.  So this means a new duffel or tote pretty soon. 

The medical procedure is a GI one - my lower esophageal sphincter isn't working correctly.  My local GI referred me to Northwestern, and the Northwestern docs say this issue needs treatment.  I think it will be a minor one, but it's still surgery and I am figuring out - thanks to the Interventional Radiologists who worked wonders on me two years ago - the whole blood thinning issue and what to take to "bridge" the blood thinning while I stop my regular medication.  I am thrilled to have good insurance and some many terrific doctors.  And best of all?  One of my quilties, Holly, works at Northwestern and is terrific at hand-holding!

Recuperation will involved a one-night hospital stay and then a week of liquids and a week of stuff through straws.  Since I won't be able to focus on food, I can see a lot of sewing in my future the first 2 weeks of June.  A good thing...