Tag: writings (Page 2 of 63)

Living Gratitude

To all who brighten days with laughter, kindness, and thoughtfulness,

To all who spill goodness into the world at every turn and opportunity,

To all who keep a respectful, open heart to those with differences large and small,

To all who shine light into the darkness,

To all who dare to think for yourselves and allow others to do the same,

To all who help commemorate the 70273 precious souls,

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from The Engineer, Nancy, and me.

Going to The Dog

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Meet Phoebe, our Corgi, a Christmas gift from our children in 2002. Today is her birthday, and so you don’t have to do the math, I’ll tell you: she is 14 people years old today.

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Her preferred mode of transportation is a golf cart. Until about 6 months ago when her hearing began to decline, you could say “golf cart” and out she’d scoot. Now it’s the loud, shrill beep-beep-beep of reverse that gets her attention.

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Her wants are few, and her needs are simple: breakfast and supper with sprinkled treats in between and at bedtime. She likes a squeaker toy (which the good ones do for about 5 minutes before she’s demolished the voice box) and a walk every day around 4. Phoebe doesn’t demand more than her fair share of our paycheck and what we get in return is priceless.

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Phoebe gets along with everybody going into fierce protection mode only if somebody messes with her people with the intent to do them harm.

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Not one to dictate how you should live in your own backyard, Phoebe doesn’t really care how big you dig holes or how many bones you bury there. She doesn’t care if you walk around the house in your underwear or put furniture and appliances on your front porch. She only asks that you don’t try to make her do things your way or tell her what she can and cannot do in her yard.  Tend to your own backyard and afford Phoebe the same consideration, and you’ll get along swell.

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It’s a given: some folks like dogs more than they like cats while some folks like cats more than they like dogs. Phoebe is respectful of the fact that everybody’s different with different preferences and perspectives which is why you’ll never read a post on her Facebook timeline ordering people to unfriend you if they think differently from you. Phoebe values individuality and personal relationships far more than that.

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You know, without cluttering the environment with a single yard sign, without enduring a single robocall, without losing an entire forest to unsolicited junk mail, I think I’ve just convinced myself to vote for Phoebe as a write-in candidate this November.

P.S. That last photo? It’s her head shot from a local performance of “Annie.” She played the role not of Daddy Warlocks but of Sandy. We’re not afraid to do things a little differently in this neck of the woods.

Of Turtles and Home

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A house is not an end in itself, any more than “home” is just one geographic location where things feel safe and familiar. Home can be any place in which we create our own sense of rest and peace as we tend to the spaces in which we eat and sleep and play. It is a place that we create and re-create in every moment, at every stage of our lives, a place where the plain and common becomes cherished and the ordinary becomes sacred.”
― from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison
Thank you to my lifelong friend Susan Bray Green for reminding me of this book last week. I’m enjoying it the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time.
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This is my home this week: the Wild Wing of Hughes Hall at Arrowmont. Camp, I call it, and it is the best kind of camp: a week long arts and crafts time . . . although what I learn this week is nothing like the lanyards I excelled in at Camp Inagahee, and my friend Dianna isn’t along. This week, I fly solo.
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Monday I spend the entire day feeling befuddled as I walk on unfamiliar ground, trying to grasp what it is we’re doing and what lies ahead of us so I can plan.  I sleep 13 hours Monday night.
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Tuesday is Photoshop day, and for this former freelance graphic designer, it is a homecoming. I feel a skoch better . . . but only a skoch because it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I used Photoshop, and what with all the upgrades through the years, about the only thing that is the same is the way it’s spelled.
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Wednesday my best laid plans go kaput, but I keep moving, even though I’m still not quire sure where I’m headed. I make good use of some of the sit-a-spell-and-rest spots.
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These signs aren’t posted (this one right behind my dorm room) just for the cuteness factor – a bear stops by at lunch time. A real skinny woman makes herself bigger and says authoritatively “Go away,” and the bear did. It’s funny how an animal that is so huge has no concept of size. And speaking of lunch, these camp meals are infinitely more delicious than what we were fed at my childhood summer camps. And nobody makes me clean my plate or drink milk.
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Today (Thursday) I’ll print, (and tomorrow I’ll no doubt print do-overs for the ones that don’t quite turn out the way I’d like. It’s a given.)
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The dorm room is comfortable in its simplicity, and the studio is magnificent. I have asked The Engineer to bring a tape measure when he comes to fetch me on Friday so I can at least dream about recreating one atop the mountain. The work table is sturdy and gives the sense it can withstand anything. This table is a partner, an accomplice, a studio assistant. It is constant, ready, and able. The top is covered with a layer of padding and topped off with white vinyl. Underneath the table is a built-in shelf, perfect for storing bags and whatnot. A strip of electrical outlets runs down the side of each wall so there’s never a need to search for a place to plug something in or a need for a multi-outlet gizmo. Several other outlets hang from the ceiling, making them perfect for irons. There is a place for and room for everything.
The design wall is massive – I need a step ladder to fully avail myself of it, and for one who hasn’t room for a design wall in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug, this is like working in a dream. There really is a tremendous difference when you can see things from a distance.
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Done by Jeana Eve Kelin
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This week renews my desire to print on fabric, and I’ve learned things that will take me further on that adventure.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recreate this technique, though, (even if I could!) because (a) Jeana’s technique requires painting, and I do not paint and have sub-zero interest in learning; (b) I like my quilts to warm you up when you get cold and to make you feel better when you’re feeling puny; and (c) this process is rather tedious and technical while I prefer intuitive and take-it-as-it-comes. But then I’m certainly old enough to know to never say never . . .

(Please excuse any formatting ick. WordPress is being difficult.)

The Stanzas of Fatherhood

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From my daddy
(his granddaddy),
my son learned
that making space in his life to
pursue what captivates him
doesn’t make him selfish,
but instead makes him a better person
in every area of his life.
He learned resourcefulness, and
that it’s quite possible to make a good living
doing what you love.
He learned to honor the past.
contribute to your community,
the importance of family.
He learned roots.

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From my father-in-law
(his paternal granddaddy)
my son learned perseverance, tenacity,
a can-do/will-do/just-you-watch-me attitude.
He learned that nothing – and I mean nothing –
can take you down unless you let it.

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From my husband
(his daddy),
my son learned loyalty,
fiscal responsibility,
logical thinking.
He learned to work hard enough
to have an impressive career,
but never so hard as to
miss out on family time and happenings.
He learned how to fix things,
how to plan for the future
how to treat women
– as well as other men – with respect.
He learned self-reliance and confidence.
He learned consideration for self and  others
and where to draw the line
to avoid abdication of self
which does nobody any good.
From his daddy,
my son learned humility, patience,
generosity and kindness.
He learned how to be a good husband
and a good dad.

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My son, Kipp, is now a daddy himself,
and through him,
his son (my grandson),
will learn all the things
passed down through his
daddy’s male ancestors.
He will learn self reliance and kindness
confidence and loyalty
dependability and patience.
He will learn to tell the truth
even when it hurts,
(and, for purposes of entertaining,
how to lie convincingly).
(Wait – that might come from the maternal side of the table.)
He will learn love and curiosity
humor and responsibility
accountability and gratitude.
He will learn to
delight in the success of others
as much as he delights in his own.
He will learn how to make his family proud,
how to be a contributing member of society,
how to take good care of himself and others.
He will learn how to be A Good Man
and a Good Father.

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This is what good fathers do, you know:
they take the best of their forefathers
and pass it on,
setting aside the inevitable not-so-good stuff
to leave it on the side of the road.
And in doing that, good fathers raise good men
who raise good men,
who raise good men,
making the world better
for men and women, boys and girls
for all of us.

ThreeGenerationsOfChambersGuys

Happy Father’s Day, y’all.

Hearting Orlando

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On the lake,

Skiing

some folks ski

Tubing
some go tubing.

Beach

and some stay on the beach.

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Some like to go fast,
while others like to putter along the edge of the lake,
looking at docks and houses.

CigarBoat

Some folks have cigar boats

kayak

some prefer kayaks

Pontoon
some like pontoon boats,
booze barges, my mother-in-law called them.

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Some folks leave their pets at home,
while others bring their Corgis.

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On the lake,
we float over each other’s waves
and say not Dammit
but Wheee!

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On the water,
we show consideration for each other
and obey certain rules of etiquette
to keep us all safe
while allowing us to enjoy the water
as we will,
each in our own way.

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For the life of me,
I don’t see why we can’t
live together on land
as we do on water.

Walking Diary

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The Engineer: Do you see the Rainbow Trout?

The Artist: Not yet, but would you just look at that heart and
that exclamation point sunning themselves right beside each other!

Then whoosh – in that snap of a moment,
I have my way into the piece I’m writing.
And I have my segue.

I declare: walking is as necessary to writing
as inhaling is to breathing.

How The Engineer Spent His Birthday This Year

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Yesterday Morning – 6.3.2016 – on the occasion of The Engineer’s Birthday . . .

The Artist: How do you want to spend your birthday?

The Engineer: I want to take you to that quilt show you just told me about that’s this weekend in Waynesville.

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So we took a nice, leisurely drive over to Waynesville, NC

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Shady Ladies Self Portraits

And attended the Shady Ladies Quilt Show.

BarnQuilt3The Old Rice Barn by Evelyn Case

BarnQuilt2The Old Rice Barn 2 by Evelyn Case

BarnQuilt5Crabtree Barn by Lisa Heller

The Engineer especially enjoyed the barn quilts

CarQuilt50 Stude by Marilyn Sullivan

and the quilt of the old car
(The quilt is not for sale, but the car is.)

At an even more leisurely pace, I shopped in the boutique, picking up some hand dyed fabric and a couple of other women’s UFO’s (I’m bad to do that) among other things like a quilted eyeglass case for my shiny new sunglasses and a quilted notepad for my pocketbook.

Later in the truck . . .

The Artist: I’m sorry I took my time looking around.

The Engineer: No need to apologize.

The Artist: But it’s your birthday, and I spent a couple of hours of it looking at quilts and shopping. That doesn’t seem right.

The Engineer: It’s really okay. I enjoy watching you look at things that really capture and fascinate you.

Now I ask y’all: Did I pick a good one or what?

(Remember when asked how he wanted to spend the day and he said he wanted to take me to that quilt show? Well, I did hear him mutter under his breath at the end of the sentence: “I’d rather get it out of the way today than to have to dread going tomorrow.”)

But still . . .

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We went to eat at one of his favorite restaurants in Waynesville, a place we enjoyed many meals with his dad before he died. They gave The Engineer a free big ole’ scoop of ice cream. (And brought 2 spoons.)

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And I came home and backed him that pound cake he likes so much. Even let him eat a lot of the batter (which really isn’t all that unusual, actually).

Happy Birthday, Andy. I really enjoyed your special day, start to finish.

Of course any day spent with you is special-with-a-capital-S.

It’s Her Birthday, and I Got the Gift

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Today is Nancy’s birthday,
and don’t you know that
She is The Gift.

 

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the gift of laughter

 

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and love

 

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and reminders of what’s important and what’s not.

 

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of being content with what you have and where you are
instead of looking for That One Special Thing
that will make you happy or make your life Complete.

 

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She’s an example of how to accept help from others
without feeling needy or inadequate
or obligated.

 

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She gifts so many with her art,
her smile,
her Being.

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Becoming Nancy’s sister-in-law might just be the best gift
The Engineer ever gave me,
and let me tell you what:
he’s a fantastic gift-giver.

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Happy birthday, Nancy.
Here’s to many more years of
drawing and stitching
laughing and loving
and good health.
Cheers. Clink.

Not Once a Year

. . . but once a day,
I utter a big, fat, juicy Thank you
to the Sweet Spirit of Surprise

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for the woman who birthed me, Ada (left)
and the woman who continues to help raise me, Helen (right)

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for my grandmother, Maude

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for my grandmother, Katie Belle

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for my great grandmother, Ever Leila
(Isn’t that a fabulous name?)

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the woman who raised my husband and raised him Right, Mary

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and for the people who made me a Mother.

I am luckier than I deserve.

Our Little Houdini

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Hospital Room 534
Orange City, FL
Wednesday
3/23/2016

Nancy is not as alert today as she was yesterday, though I think her tongue is receding in size. Tired of the catheter, she simply wiggles her way out of it, leaving it on the side of the bed. They decide to leave it out, and I am not sorry about that decision.

I  kick some serious ass today, and I feel really, really good about it. Boot one doctor, despite being told by many that it couldn’t be done. Put others on notice. Have an eyeball to eyeball with one particular nurse, and it goes so well that within 5 minutes of my little treatise about both of us being on Team Nancy, she was wheeling me in a reclining chair, pillow, and blanket. Without me asking.

Undoubtedly the best part (aside from booting the asshat doctor) . . .

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Around 4 am I sit in my recliner, stitching. My feet are up and my chair is positioned about an arm’s length away, facing Nancy. In one sure and swift move that takes less than 90 seconds, our little Houdini wrestles her hands out of the protective mittens – without disturbing the velcro binding, mind you – and yanks that tube from her nose.

I fetch Nurse CeeCe who comes into the room and takes her position in one side of Nancy while I position myself on the other side.

“Did Jeanne do that?” CeeCe asks Nancy, giving a curt nod in my direction.

“Yes,” Nancy says, waiting a beat before busting out into a full body chortle. She laughs about once every 17 years, and let me tell you, the sound of her laugh spreads to those around her quicker than poison ivy on a hot day in a wrestling ring.

The three of us keep laughing, and every time we stop to catch our breath, I say “You pulled that tube out your own self, and you’re blaming it on me,” and the chortling starts all over again.

Three women, laughing their heads off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It is one of the sweetest moments of my life, one I will carry tucked into my heart forever. The sound of Nancy’s laughter is delightful in and of itself. And the cognitive connections she makes to enkindle that laughter – that astonishing element of surprise because sometimes I  don’t give her enough credit – well, wow.

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