I have always loved making gifts. You great grandma Billie taught me to sew, and I have made baby quilts and wedding quilts for friends and family. I have sewn goofy dolls, Covid-19 masks, and helped with Auntie Katie’s wedding huppa.
I have baked tons of celebratory cookies and rum balls, peanut butter balls, and Bundt cakes for Kosher luncheons. I have even knitted scarves and hats, for those who wouldn’t be upset about a few dropped stitches.
And now I have something new I can make and give to friends: Art Journals!
I just sent my dear friend Pat a journal, a book built from scratch via lessons from Ruth Inman. It is filled with silly poems, by me and other people. It has thoughts and thanks and bits of art to make her smile.
There isn’t another one like it in the whole world. It was made by the ME I am right now for the Pat that she is right now. It has politics, pets, wine, art, and memories of travel.
I love having a new way to show my special people how much I love them!
This has been a good week for figuring stuff out. Whether that is because of the new brain exercises I have been doing or not, I think I will keep up with them. A happy brain makes a happy Grandma Judy.
Drawing pictures with my non-dominant hand has made my whole body work harder. My left hand is figuring out how to hold a pencil, my right hand makes a fist, thinking she should be doing something, and my brain works overtime, making sense of the whole situation. It just seems to wake everything up!
This week I have gone on more walks. The sudden sunshine after weeks of rain is part of the reason, of course. Blinding sunshine through winter trees is just good for the soul.
But there’s more! For the Art Journal, I have made art I really like. Mapping my day as a board game and planning my ‘dream houses’ (yes, there are more than one!) have kept me happily introspective.
I have also figured out how to re-write my blogs so they can be printed. I sigh big sighs as I hunt up photos from years ago and cuddle up close to the feelings that they conjure.
All of these are good things. Art, writing, figuring things out, and sunshine. I am enjoying them, but also very aware that I am using them as emotional armor against what seems like an approaching storm in our country. In the coming weeks, I am going to need all the joy I can get.
I have rarely had trouble sleeping. As a teacher for thirty years and a working mom for twenty of those, I was so tired by bedtime that I was asleep before the lamp was cool. My body and brain had been running so fast all day, it was bliss to just shut down and go away for a while.
But lately, there has been trouble in sleepy-nigh’ night paradise. There are lots of perfectly good reasons for this.
We are in the middle of an ‘atmospheric river’ that is currently dumping seven inches of rain on Portland. I am a good sport about rain, but going for a real decent walk just isn’t as much fun. So I’m not getting as much exercise as I probably should.
Age may have something to do with it. What seem like little aches during the day become (you’ll forgive the expression) real pains in the neck, and can make finding and keeping a comfortable position difficult.
And then there is the news. Last night my brain kept running scenarios, not of plans, not anything I could help or stop, but scenes from a hypothetical disaster movie called “How it Ended for (your city here).” People were smashing things. Roads were blocked. It was like being in the Capital, but there was no place to be evacuated to. It was just us, and them. I won’t bother attaching photos. I’m sure they are etched into your brain, as well.
So this morning I am hobbling by on two hours sleep, determined to do the day as best I can. To not get snippy with my people, to do art and French and exercise and pet the cat. To do the day and be ready for sleep when it is done.
I try not to focus too much on scary or sad things, especially when I am writing to you. But some days they are all I can think about.
People are getting sick with Corona virus while our President calls doctors liars and sells beans from his office. Peaceful Protesters here in Portland are taken away in unmarked vans by armed Federal Police. The whole country seems to be having a nervous breakdown.
Many years ago, there was a TV show called “My So-Called Life”. It was about a teenage girl and her problems of growing up. One day she said, “Mom asked me how school was today. It was like it is every day, like a drive-by shooting. You just huddle down and wait for it to be over.” That is sort of how I am feeling.
But this could go in for months, or even years, before a cure or vaccine allows us to go back to some sort of normal life. Before we can travel to Paris or go to the movies, and not be afraid of the people we see. So while I am huddled down, I try to find the joys.
I can’t articulate them very well at the moment, but here are the sights that lift my spirits.
I love you very much, Liza, and I hope I can see you soon.
Here I am again, playing with Shakespeare! One of his more famous Sonnets is Number 29, which starts, “When in disgrace in fortune and men’s eyes…”. It talks about how hard it is to be down on your luck and jealous of other people’s successes, and how nice it is, in those hard times, to have someone in your life who loves you best.
Inspired by our current global mess, here is my take.
Parody of Sonnet 29
Now in disgrace upon the global stage Our once-proud nation fumbles forward, blind Led by a man-child driven by bent rage Fueled by the remnants of his tiny mind
In Germany their leader knows the facts And South Korea quickly got the jump But here the scientists all got the ax If, in their knowledge, they spoke anti-Trump
But there is hope out in the country wide In folks who want to keep their fellows safe We can be careful, even stay inside, E’en when the confines of our houses chafe
To save ourselves from tantrum throwing men, We need to be the grown-ups, once again
This week I got to spend a day with the Cousins. I had expected it to be pouring rain, so I thought we would to catch the number 70 bus to Lloyd Center to watch the ice skaters and play.
But it wasn’t raining, and we didn’t go. Friends of Auntie Katie had been hit by tragedy and needed help.
A house fire had burned up a whole family’s things, including every stitch of clothing, doll and stufftie. Auntie Katie had collected some clothes that would fit the children and Kestrel quickly pulled out some of her toys to donate, including a Cabbage Patch doll from many years past. “Cabby”, as we came to call her, had only one flaw: she was naked. It seemed rude to give a naked doll.
Kestrel found a doll sized blouse in a box, along with some red fabric. We decided to make pants for Cabby. Kestrel, who is eight, knows the theory of pattern making, but needed a little help. We worked for about an hour and finally produced a presentable pair of pants, got Cabby dressed, and put her in the bag to join the family.
After we took care of a few more chores, it was time for me to head home through the very cold, darkening afternoon. The leaves are just about gone now, and many trees are loaded with fruit that will keep birds fed during the winter.
This pyracanthus tree will keep a whole flock fed for a month!
There were other sights in gardens that made me smile and happy that I live in Portland.