Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quilt Camp

I am back to the real world after going to "Quilt Camp."
It was held in the appropriately named town of Mt. Calm at the Compass Center. Despite the wind that heralded a cold front and and the dark and stormy night, it was a wonderfully relaxing few days.

"What in the world do you do at Quilt Camp?" a friend asked.

"Just eat, sleep, and sew!" I answered.

Most of the 29 participants were more organized than I and arrived a day earlier, but I did accomplish a few things - I made a Linus quilt, quilted a finished project I had been putting off,

learned to make blocks by machine for a Cathedral Window quilt, talked, ate, laughed, read, slept in, and socialized. Pretty much the same things most kids do at camp, we are just a few years older.

We have a delightful group of women who attend. There is a mixture of personalities and expertise. Everyone willing to share - snacks, thread, patterns, fabric, ideas, opinions, tips, and anything else that is needed. There is a feeling of sisterhood among the participants that is deliberately fostered. From beginner to prize winner, each person is part of the group as we share stories, discuss options, and listen reflectively, support for the many life changes we share.
We sleep on comfortable beds covered with handmade quilts and peer through windows covered with quilted Roman shades. We have two large tables each, plenty of plugs, reasonably priced essentials just in case we have forgotten something, and meals provided.
What a joy to hear someone announce the food is ready and know they will clean up so we can return to our sewing machines. Delicious food - tamales from a special maker, fat hot dogs made from 100% pure black Angus beef, fork-tender ribs, salads, baked potatoes, and desserts to top it off.
We have our dates for the next two camps and are angling for another. The spaces are almost full and I am on the list!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Prove It To Me

CHESTERTON, Ind. — Two fourth-grade boys mimicking a scene from the movie"A Christmas Story" wound up with their tongues stuck to a frozen flagpole.

A portion of my childhood was spent in Golden, Colorado. We lived on a small hill in a small house that did not have indoor plumbing. We did not live there very long, but I have many memories and stories dating back to that time.

My mother who is a native Texan, should probably have been born in the "Show-Me State." She didn't, and doesn't , believe what people tell her; she always has to see it or prove it for herself. Sometimes I think my dad's goal was to see how ridiculous he could make her look. She fell for it every time.

On this particular day, Mother was pumping water from the outdoor pump. It was the old-fashioned kind that had to be primed and the handle laboriously pumped up and down until the desired amount of water was ejected into a container.
Seeing Mother at work on the pump, my dad warned her, "Don't stick your tongue on the pump or it will freeze to the metal."

I sincerely doubt that Mother had been contemplating the idea, but now she professed her disbelief as she carried the last bucket of water into the house. Then she returned to the pump and put her bare tongue against the metal. Daddy heard the noise and found Mother bent over the pump, tongue frozen to the icy steel, complaining unintelligibly. He poured warm water over her tongue, dislodging it from the metal. If there had been any damage, it wasn't apparent. Mother was still able to give Daddy a piece of her mind.

Well, I knew I didn't have the story completely right, but that was what I remembered. All the while, I was wondering why my dad would have stood there and watched my mother pumping water and carrying it in. She might have needed to do that when he was not around, but he was a bit more chivalrous in his younger years. So, here is Mother's version of the story.......
"I went outside when Dad was pumping water from the old cow-tail pump. I asked him why he was wearing gloves to pump water. He told me to be very careful not to touch the pump with wet hands when it was freezing or my hands would stick to the pump. I told him I thought that was a ridiculous notion. Then I went over and touched my tongue to the pump and found out he was right!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cheesy Dreams

Have you ever heard the old wives tale, that eating cheese causes you to have nightmares? Well, I never had heard it. Maybe it is just a British myth. Apparently it is widespread enough that the British Cheese Board funded a study.

An in-depth Cheese & Dreams study, reports that 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most unusual dreams of the whole study. 65% of people eating Cheddar dreamt about celebrities, over 65% of participants eating Red Leicester revisited their schooldays, all female participants who ate British Brie had nice relaxing dreams whereas male participants had cryptic dreams, two thirds of all those who ate Lancashire had a dream about work and over half of Cheshire eaters had a dreamless sleep.

This study could open up a whole new world. Those who complain that they do not dream, should just eat cheese. Want to order a certain type dream? Eat the recommended cheese. It would probably be best to keep a log of your own experiences so you can order the proper dream. It would certainly increase awareness of the various kinds of cheese.

What about those of us who are lactose-intolerant? That's worth a whole new study.

Memory Box - "Injecting Culture"

from the Memory Box today....

"Remember when we went to Miller Outdoor Theater and saw the story of Ninfa's?"

Ninfa's is a popular Mexican Restaurant in Houston. Ninfa is the name of a Texas woman who opened the restaurant in a corner of the failing family business after her husband died. She parlayed the restaurant into a legend. In 1982, Theater Under The Stars made her life into a musical called, appropriately, "Ninfa." I don't think it was a hit, but it was interesting to Houstonians.

I don't remember that particular play, other than attending. I do remember the wonderful summer nights we spent under the stars, on the hill at Miller Outdoor Theater. The original attraction, besides the opportunity to inject some culture into my children, satisfy my longing for the theater, and get out of the house, was the price - FREE. We would go early to get a good spot, take a picnic supper, and watch the children play while waiting for the start of the program at dusk.

My favorite recollection is lying on blankets spread over the grassy hill positioned to catch each small breeze, watching fireflies and swatting mosquitoes while listening to a concert. The orchestra was loud enough to drown the noises of chattering children and gossiping adults, allowing a short time of total immersion in the moment. The lights of the nearby city were not strong enough to obliterate all the stars so I could lie on my back and gaze into the starlit sky. I listened to the sounds of patriotic music which never fail to stir the blood coursing through my veins that makes me so proud and thankful to be an American. From the lilting piccolo to the boom of the cannons in the finale, surrounded by the people I love, I filled myself with the sounds and sights of the evening.

I am touched when my children remember those times.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Memory Box - "Lunch Out"

From the Memory Box today:

"Remember when you took DD#3 to Swenson's for a sundae after gymnastics? The waitress gave her 7 gumballs!"

I do remember taking her there several times after gymnastics every week. In fact we went so often that the waitress knew us. I don't remember the 7 gumballs but DD#3 was a picky eater and she loved Swenson's grilled cheese. I think she might have gotten a small sundae with the child's meal. A small sundae.

Wordless Wednesday- Floating Art

St. Louis, Missouri

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Memory Box - "An Experience in Germany"

From the Memory Box this morning:

"I remember when you came to Germany and Gunner left me in the hospital in labor with Em so that he could go get you from the airport. You arrived in time and then, over the next 5 1/2 days I was in the hospital, you would visit for a bit and then wander around the German countryside. You brought me a dozen pink roses for my room."

It was very difficult to make a decision on an arrival date since first babies are notoriously unpredictable. The goal was to be present in time to help out when you got home and it worked out just fine.

I was very surprised when Gunner showed up at the airport. I think he was torn between staying with you and having some stranger meet and drive me around. Anyway, it worked out fine since you waited for us. I went directly to the L&D room from the airport.

I must have appeared quite comfortable in the town as I made my way around looking in the small shops and ordering sandwiches for lunch from the various delis. As I sat on a retaining wall under a tree one afternoon, I was approached by a talkative young German woman. I told her I didn't speak German, having retained very, very little from the one course I had taken many years previously. Although she acknowledged my explanation, it did not deter her. She continued her conversation with me in German and I answered her in English. I think we could both pick out just enough words to make the ideas understandable.

One day, I strolled far enough to the end of town to find a cycling path which, apparently, meandered between the small villages. I started down the path several times. but stopped before too long since I did not know where it led nor have any idea how far I would have to go before having to walk all the way back. I onced dreamed of cycling around Europe. I wish I had had a bicycle with me then. I think I might have taken a small jaunt and explored a bit of the countryside.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Memory Box - Leather Crafting

Pulled from the Memory Box today:

"I remember when we had Close Encounters at (our Elementary School) and you came and taught leather crafting. I took your class and who knows what I made, but I was so excited to have my mom there teaching a class!"

Maybe that is what that little coaster is that has been lying around the house all these years! I don't remember teaching the class and can't imagine why I even thought of doing that. Maybe because I found a bunch of leather work tools and scrap leather at a garage sale?

My dad used to "tool" leather and made some some beautiful things. I watched him a lot, so maybe that is why I considered myself knowledgeable enough to "teach" children. Anyway, it had the desired effect - made my children "proud" of me. Of course, by the time everything I did embarrassed them, they had forgotten how proud they had been at one time. That's o.k. History is repeating itself...:)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Memory Box - Travel & T.V.

From the Memory Box:

Remember when we went to Colorado in the van? We had the black & white T.V. that would run for two hours on a battery and the four of us watched Kramer vs Kramer. At the end of the show, (DD#1) had to keep flipping the switch to get a bit of a charge so that she could see who starred in the show. How in the world did we get reception, speeding down the highway?
It was a 15 passenger van. We thought it would provide enough room for four children that we would not have any problems. NOT! However, one of the bench seats in the middle of the van could be flipped around so two of the bench seats could face each other. A table could then be pulled up, attached to the wall of the van on one side and rested on one leg on the other side.

The T.V. was portable, very small, and had only a black and white picture. It could be plugged in to an electrical outlet or run on its battery. Although the battery did not last long, the novelty of it did make the trip a bit easier for a couple of hours.

Another way I maintained a couple of hours camaraderie, but it only worked one time, was when I told the children we would be going through snow.
"Keep your eyes open," I said, "you will miss it if you aren't being observant."
The exercise kept everyone's attention for quite a while, even though they were sceptical and kept asking when they would see it. Finally, I pointed out to them, as we sailed past in the car, the little green sign on the side of the road that said "Snow."
They tried to argue, but I was adamant that we had gone through a small town named Snow. Therefore, we had gone through Snow.

Photohunt - "Important"

Preparedness is Important.... leads to survival.....

....and happy endings!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thursday Theme Challenge - "Small"

Photographed at the Butterfly House in Collodi, ItalyPosted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Italy

The cobbler

The violin maker

See more Wordless Wednesday photos here.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

From the Memory Box - Cowboys & Indians

I drew another memory from the Memory Box today.....

"Remember when (DS) would play cowboys and Indians with (a neighbor boy)? he would let us play and promptly tie us up. You would say 'DS, UNTIE YOUR SISTERS!'"
DS has always been quiet and steady. He learned early how to get others to do what he wanted without too much fuss. I think one reason was that he waited until it really mattered to him or else he made sure it really mattered to the other person. DDs #2 & 3 were always begging him to play with them. Eventually he would give in, but it would not be the game of their choosing, or if it were the game of their choosing, he would change the rules drastically.

Playing cowboys and Indians is a case in point. The boys were about 5 years older than the little girls. I would hear the commotion outside as the girls harassed the boys and interrupted their games. I didn't think too much about it when the sounds changed to girls on one side of the house and the boys mysteriously silent, but I went out to check anyway. I found the girls tied to the poles of the swing set and the boys nowhere in sight. That is when I yelled to DS to "UNTIE YOUR SISTERS!"
"But the Indians tie people to the stake!" everyone protested. The girls were just happy to be included.

Years later, DS' persuasive skills which had been so carefully honed as he played with his sisters, stood him in good stead when he worked as a bouncer at the Driskill Hotel. A man well on the way to complete inebriation, was causing quite a ruckus. DS confronted the man and asked him to leave.
"You wanna' make me?" the man asked, his speech slurred by too many tips of the glass.
"Hey, you wanna' fight, man?" DS questioned aggressively.
"Shure, come on, mishx it up," the man replied, attempting to stand without falling.
"Well, let's just step outside," DS goaded.
The man staggered out the front door, followed by DS. As the man reached the sidewalk in front of the Hotel, DS stood in the doorway.
"Go home. Don't come back in." DS told him calmly.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Trip to the Dentist

I had an appointment with the dentist last week. My early dental experiences were less than favorable, so this prospect was not a pleasant thought. "In the old days" when I had a tooth filled, there was sure to be pain. The dentist did his best, but there was not only pain, there was the drilling vibration and pressure, inducing a feeling of absolute terror and helplessness. I don't know how long it takes to forget those times.

My current dentist, Dr. Albert Fasti, is a marvel of solicitude and pain-free dentistry and has been for the time I have been seeing him - over 30 years. He has all the latest toys and knows how to use them wisely. First he numbs the gum with some anesthetic on cotton so he can inject the Novocaine into the nerve. The injection is through a long thin wire and is controlled by a computer. When the computer senses the medication is backing up, it stops until more is needed. This is a painless procedure. A small timer sounds at each step of the procedure, indicating that everything can be timed individually. He never asks, "Are you numb yet?" The onset of numbness is expected at a certain time. After the filling is placed, a laser beam "sets" the substance. When finished, the tooth is intact, set, and ready to perform its function. It takes longer for the Novocaine to wear off than it did for the entire procedure.

DD#2 LOVES to go to the dentist. That is a tribute to the care she has received over the years. I don't quite feel that way, but I am learning not to dread it. I wonder why he always has fresh-baked cookies in his waiting room?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Let the Little Children Come Unto Me"

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!
Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?


Abs finally made it to overnight status.

"Grandma, can I spend the night and go to church with you in the morning?" The plaintive little voice resonated with longing. I could have told her no and she would have been absolutely crushed, but she would have accepted the decision, cried a little, and journeyed on. I would not have expected temper tantrums, recriminations, or begging. I did not, however, tell ABS "no."

Sunday morning dawned clear and cool as we dressed for church after finishing off plates of pancakes. Abs looked adorable in a maroon dress with little white collar. She put on her black boots and I put her hair in "pigtails." I finished dressing as Abs twirled and danced in front of a floor length mirror.
"Uh-oh! You can see my panties when I do that," she said, and disappeared into the other room. When she returned, she had on a pair of long, black stretch pants, sprinkled with silver glitter, under her dress. Abs tucked the pants into her boots and commented on how cute they were, "bagging, just like real stockings."
She wrapped herself in a red, fringed shawl, and announced that she was ready to go. I can count on Abs not to make a scene when I say no to an overnight, but I can equally count on her to wage war when I try to interfere with her sense of fashion.

"Let's go!" I said.

I have two main rules for Abs in church. The rules are born of experience. The first is to not talk unless you are asked a question, then only give one answer. The other is to keep your hands to yourself. I forgot to remind her of these before we went in to the sanctuary. She grabbed a packet as we went to our seats. The packet contained a book, a couple of pipe cleaners, 2-3 colored index cards, paper, a pencil, and a stencil. The packet is supposed to quietly entertain a young child until time for the Children's Moment at the altar followed by their departure for Children's Church.

Abs quickly began making cards from the paper and index cards in the packet. She knew there was not much time before she would have to put it all away. After each card was made, she reached out to hand it to someone who caught her fancy during the morning. Sometimes it was just a person sitting quietly to one side, another time it might be a child who has shown her a kindness. She managed to pass out four cards this morning, and I noticed each recipient had a broad smile after Abs' visit.

The children's lesson was on "The Good Samaritan" who helped someone in need when no one else would.
"What are some things that should NOT influence us when we see someone who needs help?" the leader asked.
The children toss out out suggestions.
"Whether they are clean."
"Whether they are different from us."
"What they are wearing!" shouted my little fashion plate whose pant legs had come out of the boots. There was tittering throughout the congregation.

The leader progressed to the prayer which the children were asked to repeat. There were several short sentences to the prayer and all the children dutifully repeated the phrases as requested, except one. One little voice spoke the first 2-3 words of the sentence, then sang, like a cantor, the rest of the phrase....all the way through the prayer. The first time the singing occurred, it was quietly noted. The second time, there was a rustle as some people turned to a neighbor to share a smile. As the singing continued, members of the congregation were obviously struggling to keep their mirth in check, until, after the final sentence and its vocal reprise, there was a burst of appreciative laughter. Abs, blissfully unaware of her effect on the whole congregation, skipped off to Children's Church leaving a roomful of smiles behind her.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Photohunt - "Delicious"

Piggies with coins, frogs, and healthy looking fruits.....all marzipan.....Florence, Italy

More photos @ PhotoHunt

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Friday, January 4, 2008

A Gift

I received an unexpected gift. It was waiting for me on the front doorstep right after I returned home from my Christmas Holiday, so I suppose one of my neighbors had accepted it from UPS and saved it for me. I have great neighbors!

I photographed the box next to an 8 1/2" x 11" envelope to put the size of the box in perspective.

Then I opened the cardboard box and found it filled to the brim with those little, cushiony air-bags. It was absolutely filled to the top. It looked empty but I really thought no one would send a present of air-bags, and I had not ordered anything.
....I dug down under the airbags, all the way to the bottom of the box....

....and found....

...the most sinful chocolates! It was only a small basket, about 4" x 5", holding a dozen Nirvana chocolates, but they were beautiful! These are hand made in the shapes of nuts, mushrooms, and such. A thin, chocolate shell with a rich, melt-in-the-mouth filling.

I limit myself to no more than one each day, but they are almost too pretty to eat.

Many thanks to my benefactor!

Bread and Life

Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.
-Nikolai Berdyaev
If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second.
- Edward Bellamy

My up-the-street-neighbor, KH, came down last night bearing a loaf of bread. It was so fresh from the oven that it might have burned my hands had she not wrapped it in brown paper to keep it hot until she arrived. I lost no time cutting a slice and slathering it with butter (actually margarine, but anything yellow and spread on bread is called "butter" in our family....unless it is obviously mustard). The fragrance impelled me to eat the slice as soon as it was prepared,while the butter was still melting into the hot bread.

This was not the first time KH had gifted me with such a delicacy. The results are never exactly the same since she adds different grains / nuts / seeds, whatever sounds good to her at the time of baking. She says it is a no-knead recipe, but the results belie that fact. A lovely, crisp outer crust with a dense (dependent on the additions), moist inner texture, the bread not only tastes wonderful, it is good for you.

The friends and neighbors in my community make life easier and more interesting. We walk and talk together, write together, and break bread together. I am blessed.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thursday Theme - "Shopping"

There are many things to shop for in Seoul, Korea, but this day I stopped to peruse a street vendor's stand near the park. Note the 2 silver-colored pots on the right hand side of the stand in the first photo, then follow as I inspect the contents more closely. I did not try this delicacy, but by the number of empty shells in the area, I would think it was a popular snack.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - "Meeting the Street Gang"

While this could be wordless, the explanation should make it more interesting.

Our son was born in Peru while we were living there. When I pushed him in a stroller in public, I usually kept him covered because he attracted so much attention, especially from the children. So many children crowded around, that it was hard to maneuver the stroller. Then they wanted to touch his fair skin, stroke his blonde hair, and hold his hand. He was delighted with the attention, but I had a hard time letting them handle my young child. They would run over from their street games and I could never be sure how clean their hands were. They certainly did not look clean.

This day, there were so many children crowding around, that I put DS in the car and the local children followed, peering in at him through the closed window. He loved it and waved frantically at them.

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Happy New Year - 2008


That translates from Webdings font to HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It rather reminds me of the tween years when we devised our own codes so our parents would not know what we were writing. Actually, we weren't writing anything earthshaking, it was just nice to know we were in control of something.

I am finally beginning to relax after Christmas "vacation" and two days of driving to get home. There was a ton of mail (figuratively speaking) waiting at the PO and it was (mostly) a joy to go through. I LOVE the Christmas letters people send with their cards. I understand they get mixed reviews from recipients, but I love catching up with what has been going on in my friends' lives.

Our family dynamics have changed drastically over the past couple of years, but we still work to keep family at the forefront. It does take work! Gone are the days when almost everyone lives within a short driving distance of one another. I could always count on seeing my grandparents and great aunts during the holidays when I was growing up, but as our own families expand and move about, it requires a concentrated effort to maintain family ties.

Gunner's brother is a prime example, having made a one-day trip across the country to see his daughter, as reported by the "El Paso Times," 12/17/07 :

Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Steinbring fought back tears Sunday as he held his daughter, Sgt. Nicole Steinbring, 21, after she returned from Iraq on Sunday at Fort Bliss. Thomas Steinbring, who is stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., flew in for the day to see his daughter. (Photo by Vanessa Monsisvais / El Paso Times)

I am off to lunch at DD #2's home - ham, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens. I won't eat the collard greens, they are not good luck in my book. I will eat plenty of black-eyed peas and cornbread. Gunner will be leaving for a 3rd tour in Iraq in a few months, so we will make sure he eats plenty too.