Gypsy's Travels

Saturday, February 28, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Thankful"

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Gunner will be home from his third tour in Iraq soon. For that, we are all thankful!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, M.E,

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OOOhhhhhhh....It's a BIG one!
Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Writing Retreat

I am off to a memoir writing retreat this morning.
Our group of 5-8 women has been writing together for about 5 years now. Surprisingly few have dropped out and those were for serious reasons. We lead very busy lives, so not everyone meets every time, but our meetings have a certain priority. I think it is because we not only produce some amazing stories, we also have a whole lot of fun and have developed the high level of trust necessary for true participation. In our 2-3 hours of writing, we share an intensity born of a common desire to put our life stories on paper and honed by a baring of emotions. We shed tears, laugh (a LOT), remember the past (with love and horror), and experience a whole range of emotions which meld to produce a cathartic afternoon. Now we are trying, for the first time, an entire two days.
Of course, such intensity has to be broken up so we have some fun things in mind. Writing our stories will remain the focus, but we will probably lubricate our memories with a glass or two of wine, long walks, and introspection in a pastoral setting.
I have packed a pen, paper, and chicken salad to share for lunch, along with all my regular overnight gear.
Until I return, the blog is on autopilot.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From the Memory Box - "Picky Eater"

I have been catching flak from my girls because I have not been writing about the memories they have collected. They threaten not to give me any more until I write these up. I understand, but sometimes the memories are too intense and need a lot of reflection.
This one , however, is not one of those intense ones. I certainly don't remember it, or maybe it is just so gross that I have blocked it out.

"I remember Ki eating cat food at Thanksgiving Dinner. It was gross, so she came back and managed to find something on the table to eat."
I am happy that I do not remember this incident.
DD-Ki was always a picky eater. I tried everything, but she ate an extremely limited range of foods. When I did not allow her to eat anything other than what I served, she would just not eat. There were no tantrums, no nonsense, she just went to bed hungry. I suffered, so I allowed her to fix herself a peanut butter or ham sandwich, but no junk food. I also began explaining nutritional needs to her. I had been through similar experiences with her siblings, but by not focusing on diet, they were soon eating everything.
When DD-Ki went off to college, she expanded her diet a little. She also ended up with undergraduate and graduate degrees in ....TA DA....Nutrition / Dietetics.
DD-Ki is still not an adventurous eater, but she does eat well. I guess we both learned something from the cat food.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Q-Towel

DD-Kr introduced me to this post, "An Open Letter to My Adult Children", by Northwest Ladybug. It obviously rang some bells with DD who must remember the years of the towels as well as I.
Having three girl children would have been enough to elicit a towel frenzy in itself. Couple that with having four avid, competetive swimmers, and the washing machine went from overload to on-strike. The chlorine-impregnated towels never had time to dry out, especially when they spent so much time on the floor...behind closed doors...under other wet towels, thus the daily wash.
The towels that made it to the washing machine were not necessarily the ones that had left the house. Nice, thick, brightly colored towels were carried out in the morning and thin, faded, worn towels were returned every evening. Faced with this rapid disintegration of my linen supply, I tried to insist that thin, faded towels were carried out in the mornings. This was met with rebellion.
"How embarrassing! No one wants to be seen with something like that!"
That was obvious since passive trading was taking its toll at our expense.
Nothing worked. Some of the towels my children received as gifts were made specifically for them from distinctive terry fabric. But even those disappeared at an alarming rate. One day I saw a nice square towel with a dinstinctive brown floral design on a cream background. One of the swimmers was casually draping it around her shoulders as she prepared to leave the pool.
"Look!" I pointed the girl out to my daughter. "That's the towel Aunt B made for you for your birthday last year."
"Are you sure?" my daughter asked, glancing in the general direction I indicated.
"As far as I know, there are no commercial towels that look like that!" I insisted. "Go get your towel."
DD put a restraining hand on my arm. "Oh, Mom, I couldn't embarrass her like that."
There is nothing more embarassing to a teenager than a parent, even under the best of circumstances.
I gave up and changed my focus to having proper towels for DH and myself. The reward for my persistence was discovering the Q-towel in a rock-bottom sale bin. The Q-towel was thick, fluffy, not a bad shade of gray, and it had a great big "Q" monogrammed on one end. It appealed to no one. It was concientiously avoided by everyone in the family....except me. "Q" stands for Queen, I told them. Although the rest of the family was derisive, I was happy. No one used "my" day...someone had no choice......
"Hey, the Q-towel is really nice!" The announcement was made in passing one morning, but was noted by everyone. Thereafter, the Q-towel became popular. The children still laughed every time they used it, but use it they did. It went to swimming, but it came home. I looked for more, but that was the only one I ever found.At some time over the years, the Q-towel disappeared. Kids were moving in and out from home to dorm to apartment and back again, but no one ever admitted to snagging the Q-towel.
The Q-towel has become legend in our family. One of those family jokes that only needs to be mentioned to send the whole group into gales of laughter. One of those moments when family bonds are tightened and we remember what is really important. One of these days I will find a stack of fluffy, gray towels, and I will embroider each one of them with a "Q" so my grandchildren will laugh at their parents....until they hear the story.

A Good Day for Abs

It was just Abs and me Saturday night. We went to church Sunday morning and had a very nice day.....mostly.
Abs' behavior was a little contumacious in the morning, but she had calmed considerably before we arrived at church. I always put her hair in hot-rollers because she wants curls "like mommy." There is no way, short of a perm, that she can ever have curls like her mom's, but having some bouncy ones when she looks in the mirror seems to make a little difference in her outlook for the day. The weight of her hair and the humidity of our weather ensures a short half-life.

The curls were particularly short-lived Sunday because Abs got mad. I cannot even recall the reason right now. She stamped her feet,"growled" (because she was too mad to even think of words), and began pulling the hot-rollers out. I tried to reason with her as rollers flew around the room, but Abs would have none of it. So I waited until the rollers were all out and her temper was spent. Then I explained she had pulled so hard that the curls were not as tight and she would lose some of her free time because she would have to pick up all the rollers and transport them back to their case.
"That's not hard," she murmured and proceeded to put the clips on the rollers and gather them up.
There was an extra clip. One roller was missing.
I expected rebellion, but Abs gamely sought the missing roller. Under the sofa we found "Fisher Price little people", a comic book, play dishes from being served restaurant style meals we had to order (interminably), an action figure, and a lost Christmas ball, but no roller. We spent precious time searching for the missing roller until I gave up and let her continue alone. As I walked back to the kitchen, I saw the lost roller in another area.
"So sad we will be late," I pointed out.
It was not a worry for Abs. She was back on a roll.

Since Abs' mom was sick, I kept Abs for the afternoon and made chicken soup for her mom. Abs played contentedly and listened to some old 45's I have. I banned the L-P of "SwissFamily Robinson" after the 2nd time through and we moved on to an American Heritage series L-P that covered the war with Britain in 1814. That one was also banned after the 2nd time. She memorizes these things and we hear them repeated for days. She should be in good shape by the time she gets to a school history class and can already recite all the lessons. Right now she is learning the Gettysburg address because she read it from a decorative tin I had sitting out.

I took Abs home in the late afternoon. I gave her a big hug and told her I had really enjoyed the day and really enjoyed having her with me. She hugged me and said "I really enjoyed spending the day with you, too, Grandma!"
Yes, Abs has some really good days, enough to keep us going.
Hot rollers - $$; lunch at Steak 'n Shake - $10.00, time with Abs - priceless.

Odd Shots on Monday - "Peacock"

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Kyoto, Japan 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Warm"

Three turtles basking in the warm sun....
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday "No Rest for the Weary"

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More "Wordless Wednesday" here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Are Little Girls Made Of?

I had the pleasure of having Abs and Em staying with me last night. Em is getting to be such a teenager in spite of the fact that time is still 2 years away.
Abs was, as always, Abs. She couldn't go to sleep, kept coming in for a drink of water, another book, to tell me "something," and with a dozen other excuses. I finally got wise and shut her door so there was no light in the room. I don't know whether she just got tired about 10 PM or went to sleep to dream of new ways to turn the world upside down.
Abs was awake about 6:30 this morning, just after I had thought I would sneak out for some quiet time at the computer. She came padding softly in and requested her "caffeine." We had decided she might function better today after a cup of coffee since caffeine is supposed to have a paradoxical effect on some behaviors. I fixed two cups - both with milk and sugar and added hot chocolate mix to her cup since she thought it was too bitter. I made pancakes while we shared our morning coffee - mine to energize me, hers to calm her down - A grandma and an 7 year old having a morning cuppa'. Mine worked better than hers and I was able to keep up with her, more or less, when we went to church.

Her mom hadn't checked Abs' overnight bag so I had to veto the pink, frothy flower girl dress that Abs had stuffed into her small backpack. She planned to top it off with worn tennis shoes that she can't keep tied, so she stuffs the laces in at the sides.
"I don't have any other shoes that match each other," she told me.
"I am sure your Mom doesn't buy them that way," I replied. "Maybe it is because you have no light bulbs in your room so you just can't see your shoes," I told her.
I checked my closets for "clothestofitAbs." The size 14 dress was too large, so we settled on a large size 7. Being small for her age and not too fashion conscious sometimes works in our favor.

I stuck close to Abs at church, reminding her of the "rules" we had agreed on and knowing she was way too flighty today to remember anything so mundane. We have a fellowship time between Sunday School and Church Service. The Girl Scouts who use our facilities had kindly provided us with mounds of delicious GS cookies. Abs got to them before I got to her, adding sugary energy ...and it was only 10:30 AM.

Fortunately, one of our most experienced and loving teachers was in charge of the Children's Moment. Although Abs had plenty to say, this teacher kindly handed her a paper to read, "but not out loud," and managed to get through the lesson before Abs finished the paper. I picked Abs up after Children's Church and had a report from another teacher.
"She was really bouncing off the walls today," this very kind, calm teacher reported.
"I tried to warn everyone ahead of time," I replied.
"Well, she had some more cookies," the teacher said. "I tried to get to her before she ate them, but she managed to eat some anyway." (I heard Teacher's daughter explaining to someone earlier that she could not afford to eat any more cookies or she would be too hyper. She is 11. Maybe there is hope for Abs?)
"Trust me, I know how fast she can be," I replied.
"She had a whole stack of cookies." Teacher indicated the size of the stack by holding her hands about 6 inches apart. "I told her to put them back, but she told me she had licked them. I threw them out." Teacher smiled, "She is obviously not an only child."

Oh, Abs, I really do love you!

Read the rest of the story here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Birthday DD-Kr

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PhotoHunt - "Nautical"

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Tokyo 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Vintage Quilt Rescued

This vintage tied, quilt appears to be from the 1930's-40's. It is made from suiting fabric, probably men's suits, and is in pretty good shape as far as the front blocks. The machine stitching has come apart - old thread, but there is a lot of life left in it yet.
The quilt backing has several worn places and has been pieced from all the same fabric.
A thin batting appears to be old flannel, not necessarily caught in the edges. The binding is not separate, but the blocks have been turned over the edge and stitched to the backing.
The quilt is not really remarkable except that it is a reminder of how our foremothers made it a point to use what they had on hand.
The remarkable thing to me, is that DS' neighbor, who is 30 something, discovered this quilt in some discarded items headed for the the tip. He rescued it and explained that he "just felt someone had done a lot of work and that should be appreciated." He is a remarkable young man, His home is filled with items that have been rescued and refurbished, to present a warm, inviting, nicely decorated atmosphere. I will help him by restoring this to a usable condition and look forward to seeing what he does with it.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - "Award -winning Quilts"

This wordless Wednesday is not exactly wordless. I have hundreds of photos of quilts from the Tokyo Quilt Show, but it really is not fair to show them without giving credit to thir makers. Here are a few I have managed to name. It is difficult when the signs are all in Japanese. These are beautiful, but not necessarily my favorites. Hopefully, I will be able to share more as time goes on.

Click on picture to enlarge.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tokyo Quilt Show 2009

I spent 2 days at the Tokyo Quilt Show. Boy, did my feet hurt! The Japanese have only taken up the art of quilting in the last few years, but they are moving forward with great speed and perfection.
The huge Tokyo Dome was the setting for hundreds of quilt entries and a multitude of vendors, American products were very popular, but I was looking for more local wares.
The crowd began arriving before the appointed opening time on the first day. There was plenty of security in place, leading me to wonder if there had been stampedes by ardent quilters in previous years. It was a well-behaved crowd with an almost palpable air of excitement. Instructions were barked from security officers posted around the edges, but I couldn't understand the Japanese so I just followed the crowd. There were only 3-4 English-looking faces in the crowd and it was fairly easy to see what was happening because we stood head and shoulders above most of the other people.
Once inside, we proceeded along paths, more accustomed to avid sports fans than quiet quilters, to an open arena blocked off with temporary walls bearing the fruit of many hours of labor. There were highly creative quilts, a lot of hand-quilting, some traditional American type quilts, and a lot of people. My favorite area focused on the use of vintage Japanese fabrics.

The centerpiece of the quilt show was a house with a picnic setting in the garden. Look carefully at the photos to notice sushi, tiny sandwiches, birds, baskets, flowers, even grass and leaves - all made from fabric.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Odd Shot Monday - "Bug Catchers?"

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Could be protecting plants from the January snows. They also do this to capture "bugs" that want to set up housekeeping. The captured can just be tossed away. No, I don't know what is under there.
Grounds of Ninomaru Palace, Kyoto, Japan 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Flying over the ice cap - from Texas to Tokyo. The "peoplewhoknow" insist it is the shortest route.
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Bridges"

Footbridge in garden of the Heian Shrine - Kyoto, Japan 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bedtime Reading

I am keeping the 3 hearts while ABW writes a paper tonight and goes to class tomorrow.
So far, so good. Junior read himself to sleep, Em watched "Ghost Whisperer", and Abs....well, Abs is Abs. She came out about 20 times for different things.

"The glass of water I left on the counter has condensation on it! Do you have any books about Japan?"
I have just returned from a trip to Japan and brought her a pair of tabi socks. I explained how they are worn and told her I have some getas (shoes) with which they are worn.
"Will you get them out?" she asked.
"No," I told her, "it is bedtime and they are tucked away in a chest full of old things."
"Well, can I have a book to read about Japan?"
"I don't have any story books about Japan," I said.
"Oh, I don't mean storybooks," she told me, "I was thinking about a book that would explain the culture and life in Japan."
"Oh, sure," I told her and gave her my guidebook. The last time I peeked in, she was diligently working her way through it.

Prosperity and..."OW!"

I don't know what it said, but copying the script was supposed to ensure that our wishes would come true and we would have health and prosperity. We both patiently, well more or less patiently, drew over the script on the paper and left it in the proper box.
Covering all your bases for prosperity in today's market? That's a good thing.

Of course, The health part ignored me before we even got out of the Temple. I was so enamored of a beautiful scene that, in rushing over to look, I hit my toe on a raised beam in the middle of the floor. My shoes were off, natch. For 2 days I thought I had broken my toe, but it just hurt like Hades and turned blue all the way up onto the foot. I taped it and still went walking.

I remember breaking my toe several years ago and calling the doctor. She told me I could tape it to the next toe or I could go to her office and she could tape it to the next toe. I saved the price of an office call.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

100 Things

The point of this is to add color to the things you have done. I wanted to do this because I thought I might just shock my children a bit.....
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - HS, Jr HS, and a "Bottle Band"
4. Visited Hawaii - several times
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland - several times and would gladly go again!
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo--not in public
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm - with awe
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train -Texas to California, we were rocking and rolling when we got off
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - both and they were all memorable
31. Hit a home run - we played ball a lot when I was growing up
32. Been on a cruise - does a day cruise of the glaciers count?
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - oh, yes!
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - my mother's Quaker ancestors were from England and Wales
35. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
36. Seen an Amish community
37. Taught yourself a new language
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David - Oh, Yes!
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa - not yet, but I understand there are lots of people there who want to give me lots of money!
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - Oh, Yes!
46. Been transported in an ambulance - yes, but never as a patient.
47. Had your portrait painted - thanks to a friend
48. Gone deep sea fishing - Alaska
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud - quite happily
54. Gone to a drive-in theater - loved those "scary" movies
55. Been in a movie - does TV count?
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - trying now
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia - not yet, it is on my list
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - and bought more than I should have
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - Dachau
67. Bounced a check - to the *gulp* IRS...unintenionally!
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - my children's
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar - and liked it!
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades - well, as much as you can in a car
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - well, "speeding" is the operative word here - let's say faster than the speed limit
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - Oh, Yes!
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem - not yet
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House - outside
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - well, I helped with a fish
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life - just part of my job.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person - and it never ceases to affect me
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit - on the fringes
98. Owned a mobile phone
99. Been stung by a bee - and a scorpion...not at the same time
100. Read an entire book in one day

I have done 71% of these things, plus a few others that aren't listed. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - "Women Only"

Mat track-side at the train station in Tokyo, Japan.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

It was a great trip!

Shibori, Sashiko, Chiku Chiku, more beautiful quilts than there are butterflies, good company, quaint sights, and interesting food became the focus of my world for 2 wonderful weeks. Susan's Japanuary #18 , to quote her, "is not your typical see-the-countryside-from-the-window-of-a-bus tour." We walked, shared taxis, rode buses, the subway, and the bullet train. All the while, Susan was explaining, in depth, the world around us. Her friends pulled aside the fabric curtains and welcomed us inside their worlds of textiles and we all soaked it up like indigo dye on natural fiber. We stenciled our own cloths, tried our hands at Chiku Chiku, and some even dipped tied fabrics into the indigo vats.

I will be covering some of our free-time and other activities. Please see Susan's site for tour information.

Some things I will miss about Japan:

  • Everything was sooooo clean!
  • Heated toilet seats - everywhere
  • Strangers coming to our aid immediately when there was a language barrier
  • A nod of the head or a bow - even between businessmen on the street
  • Civility, patience, and a sense of privacy even when you are elbow to elbow in people.
  • The sense of pride everyone has in his/her job - no matter how large or small
  • Cutting-edge technology everywhere
  • How much can be tucked into any corner without the feeling of crowding
  • The beauty of the gardens