Another Finished Quilt

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My last post was about a quilt given to me by my cousin, made by either my grandmother or great-grandmother, and my thoughts about these two people as I was finishing a quilt for a recently acquired granddaughter by marriage. The quilt pictured above was make at the same time for Maggie’s brother, Tika. Jim will be delivering them on Saturday when he goes to Lansing for an outing with our son. Now every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild has at least one of my quilts.

Tika picked this pattern from Janet Goddard’s book “Simply Modern Patchwork Quilts” and it was fun and easy to put together, until….  I was really close to completing the quilting on my machine when I decided that the quilt needed to be longer. It just didn’t look functional for a young man so I decided to add another “sound wave” and after much thought decided on blue-greens. I found the required 8 pieces in my stash, realized I had to buy more background, and took apart the borders on the end. Then I realized that I didn’t have enough backing and couldn’t get more. That’s when I decided to do another sound wave for the back using 24 different fabrics across the spectrum inserting it in the unquilted end. Changing a pattern mid-process creates a lot of work but I am always glad I made the decision when it makes it more aesthetically pleasing and/or more functional.

It feels good having these two committed quilts finish – I enjoyed making them but I am now enjoying being able to focus on other activities, such as writing an occasional post or two and practicing free-style machine quilting. My morning coffee on my purple porch swing today was especially joyous because I used the early morning time to do some weeding and deadheading in my flower garden. Because of a very rainy May and a scorching June, we are just now getting the spring work done in the beds around the house. As I sipped coffee, I took great pleasure in looking at the blooming July garden without the pressure of seeing untended plants. For a day or two it is tidy and neat – I feel in control. Inside, I also have had time and energy to do some long-neglected nest-building and cleaning tasks. I have enjoyed feeling alive and full of energy, until last Wednesday.

Wednesday was one of those days when I couldn’t focus on any project long enough to make progress and I felt the familiar sadness behind my eyes – like the pressure of unshed tears. I was feeling a heavy cloud produced by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before our Congress about the investigation of Russia’s interference in our past two elections and our president’s role in that interference and his obstruction of justice associated with this investigation. The behavior of our president has been a continuing source of stress because so much of his behavior has been either immoral or illegal and anyone ‘behaving badly’ in a way that hurts others troubles me. I also am stressed because I agree with so many professionals who have served in various roles in our justice system, our president’s behavior concerning Russia is a threat to our national security and our democratic form of government. I don’t have a crystal ball and I have heard no one who knows a whole lot more than I predict that justice will prevail and our country will correct course. But I want to hold hope that we can fix the deep seated problems in our government and our society that predate our current president but are getting much worse. I want to live in a country that is true to it’s founding ideals that includes elections that are fair and honest, opportunity for all people and not just for those with privilege, a justice system that treats everyone with equal respect and fairness, and compassion to help all our citizens, not just the ones who look like those in power.

Politics weighs heavy on my heart and I don’t feel like I have much control. My daughter is also in the middle of a divorce from a husband who asked for the divorce and is now making it very difficult – wanting above all else to hurt my daughter. I am feeling helpless as my daughter and granddaughters are being hurt by him and his mean behavior. Consequently I am spending lots of time doing the things that I can control – the things that seem to make my life seem tidy and orderly.

 

He Says He’s Always Lonely

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We were getting our travel trailer settled on our campsite on Lake Michigan on Monday and I noticed a man, about my age, sitting on a bench in front of his big motor home on an adjacent lot. He was sitting there watching us, just as we watch people setting up their campers. I talked to him, we laughed about him having a front-row seat, he said his wife had kicked him out, I replied with some lighthearted comment – maybe something to the effect of how lonely he looked, he said,

I’m always lonely.

I didn’t respond because, with my therapist trained brain, I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know enough about his life story to know how to respond. But JB and I have noticed their comings and going over the past 24 hours. It is difficult not to notice because they are less than 50 feet outside our dinette window. We noticed they have an electric chair and a fancy walker under the awning.

JB and I talked about how much respect we have for this couple because they are getting out and living life even though both have mobility problems. I haven’t seen much of him or his wife since that initial conversation when we arrived. The only time I’ve seen them is when they were leaving to visit the people at a neighboring camp site – they have been there all day except for short trips back to their motor home to get something. He has been with people all day long. I’ve been wondering what he means when he says he is always lonely.

His statement that he is always lonely didn’t match his reality today – unless he really is lonely when he is around other people. This would mean that he has closed off his heart, his being, and isn’t accepting the caring and nurturing that comes with being with the people he chooses to be with. People who have been really hurt in a previous time, when they were vulnerable and didn’t know how to protect themselves, build walls around themselves as a protection to being hurt again. That could be it but I would need to know a lot more about him and this is not the topic I want to write about today.

What I have been thinking about is what is going on in our brains that we don’t think about. These self messages that are just there, reinforced by years of repeating them to ourselves, without thinking. It could be that there are times that he is lonely – he may be an extrovert and when he is closed up in the house during the long, grey, cold Michigan winters (he said they never leave the state), he is lonely. Could it be that he is overgeneralizing – isn’t letting the reality of a summer day camping with friends intrude on his self message, or self definition, of being lonely?

I have been watching sunsets over water for many, many years. We have spent a good part of our camping days over the past 50 years on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior watching the sun set over the water. During the past 7 years we frequently watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Every time I watch the sun set, I feel a sense of sadness because another day of my life has finished. This evening we were sitting by our campfire and could see the sun beginning to set so we walked up the grassy dune to watch it. It was quiet and beautiful and I began to think about the loss of another day – gone, never to be lived again. And I began to feel the sadness.

But I stopped myself from thinking my version of “always being lonely” or whatever. Instead I thought, “What a beautiful end to a wonderful day.” I’m so glad I had this day to live with my husband. We did some fun exploring, relaxed, ate good food, took a wonderful nap, and watched a beautiful sunset. I don’t have to bemoan the loss of a day because I lived the day simply but well.

I have more to say, but it is getting late and I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep to refresh my mind and body. Friends will be joining us tomorrow and I look forward to sharing another day well spent with them. And I want to make sure to think about my thinking – so I can update my brain with current data.

Breakfast at Blueberries

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We have a Sunday morning ritual of going to early church and then to Blueberries for breakfast. We never deviate from this routine when we are wintering Florida – right down to what we order. Our ritual has become routine so they no longer give us menus. We start with coffee, and I order two eggs over medium, whole wheat toast, and fruit. JB orders a short stack of blueberry pancakes that come with a hot blueberry compote. I then give him an egg and toast, he gives me a pancake and we both eat out of the fruit cup. Every Sunday – except when we deviate by adding bacon or potatoes. Today we were in an extra happy mood so we added Canadian bacon and a fresh squeezed orange juice.

Anyone driving up US 41 out of Naples can tell that Blueberries is a good restaurant for breakfast because of the people waiting on the porch for their number to be called. We have had other things on the menu – before we settled on our usual. We know the Greek omelette is wonderful, filled with feta cheese and fresh spinach. Friends have told us the eggs benedict is the best they have ever had. We go there for lunch or supper when we are hungry for a gyro sandwich. They make a really good one because the owner is Greek. The service is the efficient and non-intrusive kind that is found in Europe because most of the servers are Eastern European immigrants.

We don’t wait for a table, we wait for two seats at the counter (first come, first serve). We love the counter because we can watch the servers as they efficiently work together to keep the coffee and food moving. Four machines are constantly brewing fresh-ground coffee and whoever has a few free minutes is emptying grounds and starting new pots, even the owner. I enjoy the end of the counter where we can see the dance that takes place as plates of food coming from the kitchen are sorted by order and given the finishing touches, like a shake of powdered sugar, a cup of fruit, a scoop of butter, blueberry compote. Then whoever is available carries them to the correct table – or in our case to the counter.

We love going to Blueberries and have been going for enough seasons for the staff to recognize and greet us with smiles and a warm “How are you today?” We look forward to seeing them when we return each fall. But we also experience an extra joy that comes from sitting at the counter. Maybe you have noticed this if you are a counter sitter. We have the joy of talking with people who are sitting next to us. Sometimes we recognize people who we sat with before and we greet each other – but mostly they are regulars, too; and thus neighbors who we don’t know, yet. Blueberries is the place where we go and feel at home even though nobody knows our name.